Thanks for your response. Below are some comments:
> Gordon Raynal wrote: "The question: Why "the creeps?""
> All of this effort going into a project that seems to be hopeless is
> creepy. Or at least it seems hopeless given the set of questions
> that are presently being asked.
> If one asks different sorts of questions, such as
> "what was the state of affairs vis a vis what became Christianity
> before Paul's letters?" without presupposing that the answer
> should necessarily principally include a person's biography, well
> then some sort of progress might be possible.
I agree that this is the meat of the matter. But as for Jesus, looking
across the resources I think we can sketch out the core of his
contribution to this phenomena. That's all, I think we can do, but I
think that is a worthwhile part of this study.
> GR "Comments: 1. If Mark is what we have, then in principle no
> historical research can be done. One has to have more than one
> source, eh;)? All the talk about "Mark's historical reliability"
> or "trustworthiness as a historical resource" is simply an assertion
> without data to back it up. As you note, going on to Matthew and
> Luke is of no help whether they derived their stories textually or
> from "oral traditions," for where there is repetition, then it's
> Mark's basic story being repeated and then for all those confounding
> changes that are either shared or unique to each, we have no source
> materials for them. We're stuck with single sources and one can do
> no research beyond that! I wouldn't use "creeps," (and am interested
> in why you do) I'd just say that we should stop pretending to do
> historical study."
> Indeed so. In fact the movement for the past couple decades seems to
> be toward doubting Mark's historical value. As I wrote before,
> fairly reliable people argue that Mark's beginning is fiction,
> Mark's conclusion is fiction, Jesus' basic self-presentation
> (chapters 8 – 10, 13) is fiction, the nature miracles are fiction
> and it is certainly not the case that there were in fact demons with
> whom he discussed his identity issues.
Shucks;)! What cool conversations;)! Being a pastor, I regularly
confront all sorts of "possessed persons" and thankfully in some cases
I have helped them to get to the psychiatrist's office!
> Who really thinks that the
> individual incidents reported are ones that really happened? Jesus
> and his disciples were walking through a field stealing grain
> when… Jesus went back to Nazareth and then… and so forth.
> Heck, people underestimate IMO the significance of the fact that
> those who revised Mark, and I think I'll include John, disagreed
> pretty profoundly with it. That's why they rewrote it, that's
> why Luke made a preface denigrating those previous sources he was
> stuck with. But they do not seem to have had anything else to work
> with. They don't know anything biographical that's new or
> different, just that they don't like the Mark's persepectives
> on various matters.
Agreed, except I think some of the teaching scenes and meals scenes are
paradigmatic summaries of "times back in Galilee." Matthew and Luke's
utilization of Q to fill out the content goes along with this, in my
> It's also creepy how Mark must necessarily have relied, if his
> history includes anything like actual factual reports, on sources
> that it is his principal purpose to denigrate. The idiotic betraying
> disciples and the family who thought him possessed or mad and who he
> rejected, these are presumably the sources Mark relies upon for his
> account, especially for the central chapters and chapter 13, and
> etc. It's actually rather post-modern of him to write a book
> showing the utter unreliability of the persons whose reporting is
> purportedly the foundation of his text.
LOL;)! He was ahead of his time as regard creativity, that's for sure!
> GR "2. Despite all the assertions for those who want to be
> heirs of Schweitzer's reading of Mark, I'm not sure why they want to
> call Jesus "an apocalyptic prophet." Mark's Jesus is no such thing,
> he's the suffering servant messiah who is glorified to heavenly
> rule. This is right clear from the first sentence, eh;)? And the
> legacy of this group is not best described as an apocalyptic
> community, but a cultic community. That the apocalyptic resources
> were utilized as **part** of casting who this messianic figure was
> goes without saying, but Jesus is more importantly cast in terms of
> classical prophecy, the Davidic covenant, the role of new Moses and
> Solomonic wisdom (and let's not forget Melkizidek:)!). That some
> communities early on went a bit zoo-y on "end times" ferment only
> tells us that some of those Gentiles didn't quite get the
> ramifications of Jewish eschatological thought (this sort of zoo-i-
> ness has a rather long history, itself). All the Gospels, yes, even
> Mark, are exegetical works meant for what they've been used for for
> nigh onto 2 millennia now... feasting celebration, sermonizing,
> scriptural reflection, etc. If we want to peer underneath Mark's
> messiah (and to do this one has to affirm some resources available
> to us from such as Paul, Thomas, Q, the Didache, Josephus... so we
> have more than one source to work with), well this goes to show, in
> my view, that Mark didn't think Jesus was "an apocalyptic prophet"
> either:)! One who "only speaks in parables" isn't doing prophetic
> utterances by any definition from the Hebraic heritage!"
> I agree for sure. Mark's Jesus is apocalyptic in pieces, but that
> is not primarily Mark's main point by any means. The only time he
> really gets off on God's impending slaughter of humanity is in
> chapter 13, a discourse heard by 4 souls who are, if we accept the
> overall narrative, pretty much guaranteed not to understand it. And
> isn't it generally concluded that somewhere between little and
> none of it was actually spoken by Jesus?
As I noted to Mike's note, it looks like 13 is a later addition to the
work. I'm not against "Mark" whoever the heck the writer is, being the
one to add it. But it really cuts into the flow of the story and is a
rather odd sort of intrusion. And, per what you say, it's not really
"an apocalyptic prophetic" sort of railing, but a conversation with 4
folks... who as you've already notes are not the most reliable folks in
the world for Mark's story;)! So, if Jesus was having this really bad
day and did say these sorts of things to his 4 rather oblivious
companions, one can hardly make a case that he is defined by being "an
> Paul is said to be quite the apocalyptic fellow and a firm Jesusite
> and yet there is not a single time when we agree that Paul
> accurately calls upon the sayings of Jesus to support his
> apocalyptic views. If Jesus was mainly an apocalyptus why has this
> been forgotten by Paul?
> Of course, IF we want to say that Mark's
> is a fictional Jesus, then the apocalypticism of Mark (cptr 13) will
> have been retrojected there from the later apocalyptic groups.
> Thomas, of course, is anti-apocalyptic, denying directly that Jesus
> taught such stuff, perhaps in response to the growing tendency to
> retroject apocalypticism onto Him.
> While I do not agree for a nanosecond that the gospels are "works
> meant for what they've been used for" nor that Jesus was, in
> Mark, that host of things you say he was cast to be, I do agree that
> he is the suffering servant messiah first and foremost. And, of
> course, we can be fairly sure that he didn't, if he was an
> historical figure, think that that was what he was.
> GR "3. Back to the other subject line about historical research +
> the viability of Christianity hanging in the balance, folks would do
> well to read a book like Jaroslav Pelikan's book about Christ across
> the centuries. That book rather nicely lays out the many view of
> Christ that have been variously created and focused on across these
> 2 millennia. They are numerous and they go to show the rich tapestry
> of what reading the Gospels has led to. Back to Schweitzer's rather
> stoic picture of a failed, but courageous millennial figure this
> rather makes much sense in light of the European world at the turn
> of the last century. And this is to say, that Schweitzer's
> characterization fits nicely as one of the creative works of
> exegetical imagination. Notably he left the schoolhouse and went off
> to doctoring after this leaving the growing nightmare world for a
> place where he could practice a bit of human care. If that's the
> legacy of his sort of portraiture, then hey, not bad! But, of
> course, the making of exegetical portraits isn't doing history."
> And since the Gospels are exegetical portraits, where does that
> leave us? It sure does seem that everybody creates a Jesus to fit
> their own selves, doesn't it? You can criticize Schweitzer for
> this, and I keep noting that Crossan's Jesus is a fine American
> liberal. Preachers figure Jesus and or the evangelists were mainly
> interested in sermonizing and scriptural reflections, professors
> know they were primarily teachers, and Mormons find them to be
> prototypical of persons of the Mormon faith. But I guess this isn't
> news. Yet isn't it creepy how everybody knows that people make their
> image of Jesus like themselves and yet, having acknowledged this,
> away they go doing it anyhow.
Oh, I don't know... folks want role models or anti-role models;)!
Better than Paris Hilton or.... (fill in the blank for the countless
others that crop up across time);)!
I rather think such as Pelikan does a nice job tracing the serious
creative attempts as casting the figure of Jesus. As this is an
important cultural phenomena (and I think about how such as MLK, Jr.
and Malcolm X have been variously iconized across my lifetime... and
right now I think about Malcolm in life and then 30 years later showing
up on a U.S. Postage Starmp) there are more and less helpful attempts
at doing this. What I have in mind is that attempts that help encourage
some virtuous behavior are on the good side of such human creativity.
But having noted that I think historical study is a value in its own
right and that honesty is an important (duh, huh:)!). As one is
careful with any shards of the ancient past, a good dose of humility
and care is needed with these, relatively few, shards about Jesus and
his earliest compatriots.
> Maybe the non-paralleled sayings in Thomas reflect the Real Jesus
> and He was, therefore, not anything like anybody in Christendom
> today. or maybe not.
LOL... of such theories, there will be no end. Completely off the
subject, but to end on an amusement.... a recent edition of the on-line
"Onion" had this hysterical story about "proof" of "skeleton people"
who lived in ancient Egypt. Check it out. A lot that has been written
about Jesus and all sorts of other folks is about on the same level.