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Re: [XTalk] Prelude to Replies: Jesus' Hidden Transcript

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  • Theodore Weeden
    ... Bob, I apologize for not getting back to you by now. You have posed below some very good issues to me which I want to address adequately. To do so I
    Message 1 of 26 , Apr 8, 2005
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      Bob Schacht wrote on March 30, 2005:

      >> > Since we are relying here on the Gospels, I think we must remember that
      >> > they were written at a time when the Temple Hierarchy was no longer to
      >> > be
      >> > feared; hence, with respect to them, the "transcript" had no further
      >> > reason
      >> > to be "hidden," even though during Jesus' life, that was a factor to
      >> > consider. Thus, that which was hidden, as regards the Temple
      >> > bureaucracy,
      >> > could at that time be revealed without fear.
      >>Bob, I am not relying upon the Gospels, per se. But, rather, in my
      >>reconstruction of Jesus' hidden transcript, I am relying primarily upon
      >>tradition that goes back to the historical Jesus himself. The five
      >>I cite, along with other aphoristic material identified in the Jesus
      >>data base of the _Five Gospels_, in particular, as being authentic sayings
      >>of Jesus, are cases in point
      > Ted,
      > Thank you for taking my comments seriously and for providing an exhaustive
      > response. However, I do not want the main points to be lost in the thicket
      > of a line-by-line rejoinder, so please allow me to try to summarize a
      > little.

      Bob, I apologize for not getting back to you by now. You have posed below
      some very good issues to me which I want to address adequately. To do so I
      found I needed to review some recent Q scholarship, as well as
      socio-scientific works on the character of Graeco-Roman culture in the first
      century CE. One of the works I have had to order via interlibrary loan. I
      hope to reply to the issues you raise as soon as I can. The analytical work
      I have been doing on Q with the help of the insights of Bill Arnal (_Jesus
      and the Village Scribes_) holds promise of providing additional support for
      my reconstruction of Jesus' hidden transcript.


      > If I recall correctly, you raised two main points about Jesus' message:
      > one
      > with regard to the Temple establishment in Jerusalem, and another with
      > regard to the Roman occupation of Judea, Samaria and Galilee. You claim
      > that Jesus had a problem with the former, but none with the latter. You
      > claim (later on in this message) that the Gospels were not themselves
      > "hidden transcripts," even though they were not intended for Roman eyes
      > (possibly excepting Luke). Nevertheless, you were able to reconstruct
      > Jesus' "hidden transcript" about the Temple establishment from the
      > Gospels,
      > but fail to find any hidden transcripts in these same Gospels that the
      > Romans would find offensive-- until the Temple Incident, when Pilate
      > suddenly took such offense that he had Jesus killed.
      > I will try to express my point, that I don't think you have addressed
      > sufficiently, with greater clarity and brevity
      > * Roman power during the period when the Gospels were written was
      > greatly to be feared, and Roman persecution of Christians was no merely
      > theoretical possibility, but a present danger.
      > * The power of the Jewish Temple establishment during the period when
      > the Gospels were written had already been thoroughly crushed and not to be
      > feared.
      > * The gospels were written for the purpose of evangelism, and were
      > regarded as open, not secret, books. This is revealed with consistent
      > clarity in contrast to the emerging work of the Gnostics by the time of
      > Valentinian, and likely sooner.
      > * At the time the Gospels were written, there was no need for "hidden
      > transcripts" about the Temple Establishment in Jerusalem.
      > * During Jesus' life, there probably was a need for "hidden
      > transcripts" *in Judea* with respect to any subversive feelings about the
      > Temple. However, it is not clear to me that there was any such need during
      > the life of Jesus, *in Galilee.*
      > * In Galilee, it is clear that Mark has taken pains to depict Jesus as
      > at odds with those in power, whether or not his use of Pharisees was
      > anachronistic. And it seems that this conflict extends well beyond
      > whatever
      > Jesus thought about Herod Antipas' treatment of John the Baptist. However,
      > Mark seems to portray these differences in a rather different light than
      > Jesus' differences with the Temple authorities in Jerusalem.
      > * One of the clearest and most rock solid things we know about what
      > Jesus talked about is that he talked about the Kingdom of God. And he
      > seems
      > to have done so quite openly, both in Galilee and in Jerusalem. The
      > "hidden" part of that transcript, however, is what he meant by it. The
      > Parables of the Kingdom are notoriously opaque and unhelpful in this
      > regard. But yet its not clear to me that all this talk about the Kingdom
      > had anything to do with the Temple incident. I think you are
      > underestimating the political repercussions of his Kingdom speech.
      > In your effort to follow Scott, you make a great deal of when Jesus was
      > "on
      > stage" and when he was not, asserting that it was only in Jerusalem,
      > during
      > the Temple Incident, that Jesus finally went "on stage." This seems to me
      > a
      > rather peculiar reading of the Gospel of Mark, and must require a very
      > technical definition of what it means to be "on stage" that defies popular
      > usage. In fact, Mark makes a big deal of when Jesus is "on stage" and when
      > he is not throughout the Gospel:
      > NRS Mark 3:8 hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great
      > numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region
      > around Tyre and Sidon.
      > In fact, I count the word "crowd" (ochlos) 29 times in Mark before they
      > even get to Jerusalem. It is hard not to regard Jesus as being "on stage"
      > at these times, especially since he wasn't just hanging out with the boys,
      > but "teaching" them, etc.
      > But then of course we also have Mark 4
      > 10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve
      > asked
      > him about the parables.
      > 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom
      > of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables;
      > 12 in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed
      > listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be
      > forgiven.'"
      > and Mark 8:14-21, etc., where Jesus and the disciples are clearly
      > represented as being "off-stage".
      > Thus, your use of Scott seems somewhat contrived or laborious to me.
      > Please excuse my snipping of your detailed and learned arguments. I hope I
      > have adequately summarized them above, and have not in the process lost
      > or,
      > worse yet, trivialized your meaning. If I have overlooked important
      > segments of your case, please bring them once again to my attention.
      > Thanks,
      > Bob
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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    • Theodore Weeden
      David Hinley wrote on April 2, 2005 ... David, I apologize for not replying to your post already. It so happens that some of the issues you raise with me in
      Message 2 of 26 , Apr 8, 2005
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        David Hinley wrote on April 2, 2005

        > Ted,
        >>>In perusing the Jesus Seminar's data base of sayings of Jesus
        > (authentic ["red" or "pink"] or inauthentic ["gray" or "black"]:
        > see Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and the Jesus Seminar, _Five
        > Gospels_, 549-553) and the data base of specific acts of Jesus
        > (again, authentic or inauthentic: see Robert W. Funk and the
        > Jesus Seminar, _The Acts of Jesus_, 556-569), I can find nothing
        > in either data base that indicates that Jesus' kingdom-of-God
        > ideology was formulated against the ideology of the public
        > transcript of Roman imperial rule. At best, from what I can
        > ascertain from these data bases is that Jesus took at an
        > ambivalent, almost value-neutral position toward Roman rule and
        > domination. The only saying attributed to Jesus in which he
        > specifically mentions the oppressiveness of Roman imperial rule
        > is his saying about paying taxes to the emperor. When shown a
        > coin with Caesar's image, and questioned about payment of taxes
        > to Caesar, Jesus replied, "Render to Caesar the things that are
        > Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Mk.
        > 12:16f.7/GThom 100; cf. Mt. 22:21; Lk. 20:25).<<
        > Ted, IMHO I think you are placing much too much weight on the
        > Gospel accounts of Jesus' actions and sayings as Jesus' own
        > unedited transcripts! You were just arguing for a strong
        > fictional element in Mark, so this puzzles me.

        David, I apologize for not replying to your post already. It so happens
        that some of the issues you raise with me in your post are similar to those
        that Bob Schacht has raised with me in his post of March 30, 2005. I am
        having to do some research that is taking quite a lot of time in order to
        respond to the issues Bob has raised. I will respond to your post as soon
        as I complete my reply to Bob. My reply to him may well address the issues
        you raise in your post here.


        > Assuming that a written account of Jesus' life would be a form
        > of public transcript rather than a special "backstage" view if
        > the real Jesus that closely follows his unedited transcript,
        > isn't it better to proceed as if the authors of the NT Gospels
        > and Acts present a partial rendering of the *author's* (or their
        > congregation's) full transcript, with the missing transcript
        > replaced with a "performance," rather than assume they preserve
        > Jesus' actual "hidden transcript?" (1)
        > Hence the reason I see the Gospels and Acts as essentially
        > apologies for Christianity as it existed in the Gospel author's
        > own time and place, directed to the power structure. "We are not
        > dangerous people. Our founder was a misunderstood moral teacher
        > fulfilling a God-given role in the cosmic scheme of things.
        > Killed on account of the jealousy of the rulers of his own
        > people the Jews, who were unable to see God's cosmic plan, we
        > Christians, though non-Jews, have now grasped the true
        > significance of his role and have been adopted as God's favored
        > children in the place of Jesus' own people, who did not
        > understand. [i.e., the "Jews" revolted, while we are observers
        > of a private mystery cult that accepts the Roman order of
        > things, please don't root us out like rebels]"
        > Any true words of or accounts about Jesus must be recovered from
        > the edited "performance." These sayings and accounts are
        > mentioned because they relate to the power struggle between the
        > Roman elites and the Christian movement (as reflected in the
        > NT), perhaps as examples of bad things elites charged Christians
        > or their founder with doing/being. Christians found it necessary
        > to refashion them to better fit the perceptions of Roman elites.
        > Scott has a lot to say about both rich and poor (that is,
        > classes of folk) rationalizing the validity of their particular
        > transcript.
        > Sincerely,
        > David Hindley
        > Cleveland, Ohio USA
        > 1) Scott, James C, _Weapons of the Weak_, Yale UP, 1985:
        > "Dissimulation is the characteristic and necessary pose of
        > subordinate classes everywhere most of the time ..." (p. 284)
        > "The fact is that power-laden situations are nearly always
        > inauthentic ... the *normal* tendency will be for the dependent
        > individual to reveal only that part of his or her full
        > transcript in encounters with the powerful that it is safe and
        > appropriate to reveal ... The greater the disparity in power
        > between the two parties, the greater the proportion of the full
        > transcript that is likely to be concealed" (p. 286, emphasis in
        > original)
        > "[T]he weaker party is unlikely to speak his or her mind; a part
        > of the full transcript will be withheld in favor of a
        > 'performance' that is in keeping with the expectations of the
        > powerholder." (p. 287)
        > If we wish to recover more than just the performance, we must
        > move backstage [into safe settings where class members can
        > communicate as more-or-less equals] where the mask can be
        > lifted, at least in part." (p. 287)
        > PS: Boy I wish Scott used "point of view" rather than
        > "transcript!" Sounds like Scott is influenced by the issue of
        > intertextuality, but didn't like the term.
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