Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Is there a consensus on the Historical Jesus?

Expand Messages
  • Joseph Codsi
    I find David B. Gowler s task quite interesting. But I feel the need to go beyond the question: **What Are They Saying About the Historical Jesus?** Is there a
    Message 1 of 26 , Jun 12, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      I find David B. Gowler's task quite interesting. But I feel the need to
      go beyond the question: **What Are They Saying About the Historical
      Jesus?** Is there a way of going from **What are they saying?** to
      **What conclusions can be drawn concerning the HJ?** Is there a
      scholarly consensus on certain points? Are we any closer to the creation
      of a new knowledge concerning the Historical Jesus? Is there a way of
      going beyond the formulation of personal opinions and speculative views
      to firm knowledge? If you were asked to say what has been achieved so
      far in terms of creating a new knowledge about the HJ, what would you
      say?

      Here are a few very specific questions. Can we answer them today with
      confidence, and is there a consensus about them?

      Are the following events that are reported in the gospel historical of
      not?

      1 - The three predictions of the Easter event (death and resurrection),
      (Mark 8:31-33 // 9:30-32 and 10:32-34).

      2 - The demons who recognize the secret identity of Jesus (Mark 1:23-26
      // 1:33 and 3:11).

      3 - The division of the sawyer's parable in two parts, and the
      privileged treatment of the disciples who are entitled to the
      explanation of the parable (Mark 4:1-20)

      4 - The profession of faith of Peter (Mark 8:27-30).

      5 - The transfiguration and the recommendation to keep this event secret
      until the resurrection (Mark 9:2-13).

      I will stop here. There is no need to lengthen the list. How would you
      assess what has been achieved so far?

      Peace,

      Joseph
      ================
      Joseph Codsi
      P.O. Box 116-2088
      Beirut, Lebanon
      Telephone (961) 1 423 145
      joseph5@...
    • Joseph Codsi
      Tony Buglass [TonyBuglass@fish.co.uk] asked the following question:
      Message 2 of 26 , Jun 13, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Tony Buglass [TonyBuglass@...] asked the following question:

        <<I'm intrigued as to why you ask this particular question, Joseph, and
        why you choose these episodes from which to do it. You've been on this
        list long enough to know that there will certainly be no consensus
        regarding these particular gospel events...>>

        Tony,

        FIRST. Yes, you are right; there are a lot of things among the gospel
        events about which there is no consensus as to their historicity.

        SECOND. This is precisely the problem. What the Jesus Seminar set out to
        prove 25 years ago could not be done. It was not possible to go from
        personal opinion and scholarly speculation to firm knowledge.

        THIRD. Many seem to conclude from this failure that the quest of the HJ
        cannot yield any firm knowledge, and that we have to live with our
        uncertainties.

        A PARABLE

        This situation reminds me of the story of the Fox and the Grapes by Jean
        de La Fontaine (1621-1695).

        Le Renard et les Raisins

        Certain Renard gascon, d’autres disent normand,
        Mourant presque de faim, vit au haut d’une treille
        Des raisins mûrs apparemment,
        Et couverts d’une peau vermeille.
        Le galand en eût fait volontiers un repas ;
        Mais comme il n’y pouvait atteindre :
        « Ils sont trop verts, dit-il, et bons pour des goujats. »

        Livre 3, fable 11

        I am sure you can find a good translation of this fable. For the time
        being, my translation will do.

        The Fox and the Grapes

        A Fox from Gascony - others say from Normandy -
        Was dying of hunger, when he saw at the top of a trellis
        Some grapes, which were clearly ripe,
        And covered with red skin.
        Our gallant fellow would have dined on them;
        But because he could not reach them,
        "They are too green, he said, and good for peasants."

        NOTE. Gascony is a former French province located in South-West France.
        The Gascons are known for being fanfaron and braggart. The Normans are
        known for being crafty and shrewd. The story shows that even crafty
        people can fail and give bad excuses for their failures.

        APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE

        I use the similarity between the fox and modern scholarship to raise a
        possibility. What if gospel scholarship is faced today with a similar
        situation? We see a lot of things that are likely to be true, but we
        cannot prove that they are true. In order to reach the grapes, it is
        enough to use a ladder. Without a ladder, the Fox cannot possibly reach
        them. Similarly we need a ladder that can make our research conclusive.

        The ladder is only a tool. We can either borrow it from other
        disciplines or create it for our specific needs.

        ONE LAST REMARK

        I have mentioned a series of texts from GMark that have puzzled Tony.
        Why on earth have I made such a choice? The answer is that the study of
        those texts can help us build the ladder we need.

        Peace,

        Joseph
        ================
        Joseph Codsi
        P.O. Box 116-2088
        Beirut, Lebanon
        Telephone (961) 1 423 145
        joseph5@...
      • Joseph Codsi
        Reply to James McGrath James, I will go quickly over your four points. First point
        Message 3 of 26 , Jun 14, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          Reply to James McGrath

          James,

          I will go quickly over your four points.

          First point

          <<Did Jesus predict his death beforehand? This is certainly not
          impossible, even on a purely human level, since one didn't need
          supernatural knowledge to know what might happen if one stirred things
          up in Jerusalem at Passover in the time of Pilate.>>

          I have no problem with this statement. But I wish to emphasize that what
          is important about the prediction of the Passion is not the mere fact of
          dying, but the kind of death that awaited Jesus. Also the announcement
          of the resurrection after three days would be, I should think, much more
          significant.

          I am not interested in what is possible or believable, but in what
          actually happened. So when I ask whether Jesus predicted his death and
          resurrection, I do so with the intention of proving that he did not. I
          will base my conclusion on the testimony of those who reported the three
          predictions that are found in GMark. The second prediction of the
          Passion (Mark 9:30-32) is made of two testimonies, one is made openly
          and the other one is made with a coded language. The first testimony
          says that Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. The second one
          negates the first testimony. It is a way of admitting secretly that the
          prediction is not an historical fact.

          Second point

          <<As for the second question, it seems that a historian can never ever
          state that demons recognized the secret identity of Jesus. Whether a
          historian can conclude beyond reasonable doubt that people who would
          have been identified in the ancient world as demon possessed said these
          sorts of things about Jesus is a different issue, and the distinction is
          an important one.>>

          It is not what the demons said that is important, but who got the idea
          of making the demons say what they said and behave the way they behaved.
          The same remark applies to the behavior of Jesus in the same episodes.

          Third point

          <<The parable of the sower: It seems that there is a large degree of
          consensus that the interpretation of the parables is secondary, although
          the truth of the matter is that there is really no way to prove this.
          How could anyone from our vantage point in history confirm whether or
          not Jesus spoke to a small group of disciples privately and explained a
          parable, much less whether he explained it in precisely this way?>>

          Without its explanation, the parable would be meaningless. This means
          that Jesus could not have done what GMark says he did. Somebody else is
          responsible for the manipulation of the parable and the insertion of
          verses 10-12 that have become the real focus of the parable, but which
          are totally alien to it and are without any historical foundation. I
          think that all this can be said with the certainty of sound knowledge.

          Fourth point

          <<Peter's confession seems highly plausible. That the church would
          invent a saying in which Jesus tells Peter not to call him 'Christ' to
          anyone, and then not long after calls him 'satan', has always seemed
          unlikely, although Wrede's Messianic Secret hypothesis claimed just
          that. And so here too there is a useful way of showing the difference
          between scholarly consensus and probability on the one hand, and the
          theories that sometimes get the most attention.>>

          The context in which this episode is set in GMark is not historical. It
          contains two things that are historical: (1) Jesus' order to the
          disciples not to make of him the subject of their religious discourse
          (8:30) and (2) the rebuke of Peter (8:33).

          The rebuke of Peter could not have taken place in the context of the
          first prediction of the Passion, since this prediction never took place.

          Peter did not proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah. He urged Jesus to
          play that role and accept the leadership of a messianic movement. This
          is why he was rebuked and the disciples were ordered to keep their silly
          dream to themselves.

          I have said, so far, many things that seem preposterous and highly
          unprofessional. I'll be glad to discuss them one by one, if you are
          interested in the creation of a new knowledge concerning the gospel of
          Mark.

          Cheers,
          Joseph
          ================
          Joseph Codsi
          P.O. Box 116-2088
          Beirut, Lebanon
          Telephone (961) 1 423 145
          joseph5@...
        • Joseph Codsi
          Reply to Tony Buglass Tony, Thank you for your interest in the questions I have been raising. I realize that the use of parables can sometimes be
          Message 4 of 26 , Jun 14, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            Reply to Tony Buglass

            Tony,

            Thank you for your interest in the questions I have been raising. I
            realize that the use of parables can sometimes be counterproductive. So
            let me move to your own parable. If you asked me the way to Cork, I
            would answer: "You cannot go there by car; you must fly." This new
            scenario assumes that you are driving through the streets of London and
            ask me the way to Ireland.

            The problem with my parables is that they give a hint that is not clear
            enough to put you on the right track. A parable can sometimes hide
            instead of revealing what we seek. But this is not a fatal mistake. A
            frank dialogue can help us overcome an obstacle of this nature.

            You wrote:

            <<To use a broad brush, I can sketch out a number of issues raised by
            these stories - the relationship between Mark's narrative and history,
            the nature of Mark's sources, the possible origins and transmission of
            the material, the miracle stories and "what really happened", the
            question of the existence and nature of demons, and how or whether we
            need to strain those narratives through a filter of local and
            contemporary mythology. And when we've done that, what sort of ladder to
            do you expect we'll find?>>

            What you have described here is what is being routinely done in the
            field of gospel studies based on the critical historical method. This
            method has its limitations. It can at best help you build a shaky stool
            not a firm ladder. This is why I am looking for a different method and
            trying to invent new tools that can be used in the new methodology.

            Many say that what I am trying to do cannot be done. No consensus can be
            reached among gospel scholars on many important questions, because
            history is not an accurate science. I used the fable of the Fox and the
            Grapes to suggest that what is impossible for the historian can be
            possible for someone else. If gospel study is not yet a real science,
            let's elevate it to the rank of a real science. Let's create a new
            science.

            I know that what I am saying here does not help you overcome the
            frustration of having to sink your teeth into what is still totally
            unknown. Instead of assuming the role of a prophet who transmits the
            knowledge that has been revealed to him, I am inviting you to discover
            with me something new and important. The problem is that you cannot do
            that without being prepared to change the way you look at things.

            I can illustrate this point by going back to an exchange that took place
            recently between Daniel Grolin and Bob Schacht. At 11:14 PM 6/11/2005,
            Daniel Grolin wrote:

            <<When I think of importance I think of people who changed views on
            matters relating to the HJ.>>

            On June 13, Bob Schacht commented on this statement:

            <<That's an interesting way to put it. For many, it would be an
            undergraduate teacher who got the student to re-think their received
            assumptions about the HJ. For me, that occurred right here on CrossTalk,
            back in 1996, and I would credit Stevan Davies, Bill Arnal, David Kaylor
            and a few others. But they probably won't make your list.

            <<As in most theological seminaries, the process you speak of often
            begins with tearing apart those received assumptions. Some people go at
            this task with great gusto, caring little for the personal consequences.
            Others go at this task with sensitivity, with a gentle prodding instead
            of the blunderbuss.>>

            What Bob Schacht is talking about here is the initiation process through
            which we pass from the naive views of the novice to the more mature
            views of the scholar. This is not a religious initiation but an
            intellectual one. I am speaking of another intellectual initiation that
            calls on the scholar to venture on uncharted grounds and look at things
            in a new way.

            Every initiation is problematic, because it calls for revising our
            assumptions and our convictions. What matters here is to be prepared to
            change our views. The natural tendency is the closing of the mind and
            the instinctive rejection of whatever challenges our professional
            assumptions.

            All I am saying here is that we have to learn to read the gospel with
            new eyes. We will be able to see in it what we have been unable to see
            so far. Here the analogy with X-rays can be helpful. There are things
            that cannot be seen with ordinary means. We can see them if we invent
            new instruments with which we can see the invisible.

            Analogies of this nature are pure form that lacks content. The content
            will come from the new way we read the gospel, the source of our
            knowledge of the historical Jesus. The gospel is a testimony of those
            who have believed in Jesus Christ. Whatever is written in there is said
            with the sole purpose of confirming the faith. This means that, whenever
            it is necessary, the witnesses don't hesitate to transform the facts to
            make them compatible with the faith. What is likely to happen when an
            eyewitness is compelled, for reason of faith, to change the facts? He
            will have a serious problem, won't he? He will do what must be done, but
            on the other hand, he will have a bad conscience for having changed the
            historical truth. This bad conscience will transpire in his testimony,
            not openly but covertly and in a coded language, in which he gives a
            hint at what he has done. The coded language is not directed to the
            others, but only to the witness who is trying to clear his conscience.
            This is why we pass over it without recognizing its true nature. We
            don't understand it, but we have no way of understanding it until we
            learn to recognize it as a coded language and manage to decode it.

            Tony, I will end this post with a word on your request. You said:

            <<There is a useful discussion lurking somewhere in these woods, but I
            think you've dropped us into such a deep thicket, all we can see is
            trees. Perhaps it would help if, before trying to chop some down to
            make a ladder, you tell us what sort of ladder you're actually looking
            for. I gather from your comments on the Jesus Seminar that you don't
            like their ladder - tell us why? And what about critical realism, or
            plausibility?

            <<Let's see if we can start from a clearing, rather than a thicket.
            Give us a signpost, Joseph!

            I know you are entitled to substance, not just form. The substance is in
            the few texts I have mentioned. I will prepare something so that we can
            read them together. We will build the ladder we need as we progress in
            our reading. This is likely to take some time. I am not good at writing
            long monologues. I prefer to listen to your spontaneous reactions and
            try to satisfy your own need to know and understand what I am talking
            about. I'll prepare something on the dual identity of Jesus (the demons
            who reveal his secret identity).

            Cheers,
            Joseph
            ================
            Joseph Codsi
            P.O. Box 116-2088
            Beirut, Lebanon
            Telephone (961) 1 423 145
            joseph5@...
          • Mike Grondin
            ... Joseph- I have read you advancing this view before, and it does seem to me to be a new and interesting analysis, but I must say that I don t think it has a
            Message 5 of 26 , Jun 14, 2005
            • 0 Attachment
              --- Joseph Codsi wrote:
              > All I am saying here is that we have to learn to read the gospel
              > with new eyes. ... The gospel is a testimony of those who have
              > believed in Jesus Christ. Whatever is written in there is said
              > with the sole purpose of confirming the faith. This means that,
              > whenever it is necessary, the witnesses don't hesitate to
              > transform the facts to make them compatible with the faith. What
              > is likely to happen when an eyewitness is compelled, for reason
              > of faith, to change the facts? He will have a serious problem,
              > won't he? He will do what must be done, but on the other hand,
              > he will have a bad conscience for having changed the historical
              > truth. This bad conscience will transpire in his testimony, not
              > openly but covertly and in a coded language, in which he gives a
              > hint at what he has done.

              Joseph-

              I have read you advancing this view before, and it does seem to me
              to be a new and interesting analysis, but I must say that I don't
              think it has a snowball's chance in Gehenna of ever being accepted
              as a consensus view. The problem is that believer-scholars will
              never accept your premisses, in spite of the sop you throw to them
              by talking about eyewitnesses. Your expressed hope that scholars of
              many different stripes will follow you in building this new "ladder"
              is, I'm afraid, a naive delusion. I'd suggest you just go on about
              the business of explicating the analysis and forget about consensus.

              Regards,
              Mike Grondin
              Mt. Clemens, MI
            • Bob Schacht
              ... Joseph, I think that this is probably an oversimplification based on anachronism [projecting modern (or at least post-Nicene) beliefs onto the First
              Message 6 of 26 , Jun 14, 2005
              • 0 Attachment
                At 10:11 AM 6/14/2005, Mike Grondin wrote:
                >--- Joseph Codsi wrote:
                > > All I am saying here is that we have to learn to read the gospel
                > > with new eyes. ... The gospel is a testimony of those who have
                > > believed in Jesus Christ. Whatever is written in there is said
                > > with the sole purpose of confirming the faith. ...

                Joseph,
                I think that this is probably an oversimplification based on anachronism
                [projecting modern (or at least post-Nicene) beliefs onto the First
                Century] and assuming uniformity where there probably was none. It is my
                understanding that there were lots of ideas about who Jesus was in the
                First Century, and while the theology of Mark and Paul regarding the Christ
                won out, in the long run, there were Jewish Christians who thought of Jesus
                somewhat differently.

                Maybe its a mistake to think that there was *ever* uniformity of faith,
                even in the immediate post-Nicene era before the Great Schism. Today, for
                example, what "confirming the faith" means to a Southern Baptist is a
                rather different matter than to an Episcopalian from Vermont, or a
                Unitarian Universalist from almost anywhere. But, we digress.

                Mike responded:

                >... I'd suggest you just go on about the business of explicating the
                >analysis and forget about consensus.


                I agree.

                Bob


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Joseph Codsi
                Reply to Mike Grondin Hello Mike, Good to hear from you. I respect your judgment concerning the problem as you see it: **The problem is that believer-scholars
                Message 7 of 26 , Jun 15, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  Reply to Mike Grondin

                  Hello Mike,

                  Good to hear from you. I respect your judgment concerning the problem as
                  you see it: **The problem is that believer-scholars will never accept
                  your premises**

                  You are putting your finger on a touchy and important question. I wish
                  to make here a clarification. I am not interested in questions of faith.
                  I think questions of this nature cannot be discussed and that we have to
                  respect the religious convictions of scholars as well as people.

                  I am interested in questions of knowledge. Now I agree with you that
                  knowledge can collide with the tenets of the faith. The classical
                  example here is the case of Galileo. This example shows that when
                  knowledge and faith collide, the instinctive reaction is that the faith
                  rejects the new knowledge. The faith needs time to adjust to the new
                  knowledge. Slowly it revises itself so that the new knowledge will no
                  longer be perceived as incompatible with it. In the long run, sound
                  knowledge will be exorcized and sanitized. This is so, because the faith
                  cannot survive if it is perceived as opposed to sound knowledge. The
                  faith has been adjusting through the ages to the world in which it had
                  to exist. It is true that it usually seeks to impose its views onto the
                  world, but when the world becomes resistant to a particular view, sound
                  knowledge prevails.

                  We live today in a world of rapid change. Bible and gospel scholarship
                  used to be viewed by Church leaders as incompatible with sound theology.
                  In the last 50 years things have changed. There is hardly a theological
                  formation that does not include Bible and gospel scholarship. No
                  theologian can ignore today what is going on in this field.

                  The problem as I see it is not a question of good or bad will on the
                  part of scholars. We all have our limitations and we are affected by
                  them. But this is not the only issue. It is not even the most important
                  one. What is far more important is the end result of our collective
                  research. A formidable amount of labor has been put into the field. The
                  results are very good at the peripheral level (our knowledge of the
                  Jewish and Greco-Roman world) and unsatisfactory at the central level
                  (the knowledge of the Christian event as history). All this effort
                  reminds me of the mountain that gives birth to a mouse. I am speaking
                  here of the quality of our conclusions. We cannot agree on important
                  questions, not because of bad will, but because of our methodology. We
                  have been unable to produce a new knowledge. We are still immersed in
                  speculation. Our research is, in what pertains to the central issue, at
                  a pre-scientific stage.

                  Mike, I am not trying to downgrade the importance of the conflict
                  between knowledge and faith, history and theology. The big difference is
                  between people who are aware of the problem and those who are not. As
                  long as a scholar, a thinker, a researcher is aware of the problem, he
                  or she can do competent research.

                  The conflict between faith and history is at the very heart of the
                  Christian event. It was lived, according to my theory, in a very acute
                  way by those who were at the same time eyewitnesses of what happened
                  during the life of Jesus and witnesses to the Easter faith. To the
                  extent the Christ of the faith was other than the historical Jesus, to
                  that same extent contradiction is at the heart of the Christian event.
                  If the Christian faith transformed Jesus after his death into something
                  and someone he was not during his life, then we must find evidence of
                  this transformation in the conflicting testimonies that are contained in
                  the Gospel of Mark and are confirmed in the Gospel of John (The
                  psychological dimension of the problem transpires in GMark. The same
                  problem is transposed into a theological discourse in GJohn).

                  I think CrossTalk can be a good forum for the introduction, the
                  discussion and the fine-tuning of my new approach to the study of the
                  Christian event in its dual polarity (what pertains to the historical
                  Jesus and what pertains to the Christ of the faith).

                  If it is true, as I think we can prove it in a scientific manner and
                  with scientific accuracy, that the historical Jesus knew nothing of the
                  Easter revelation concerning him, he cannot be held responsible for the
                  duality of the Christian event. So we should concentrate our research
                  not on Jesus, but on those who transformed him after his death and
                  attributed to him a new identity. It is this new identity that Mark's
                  demons reveal in 1:23-26 // 1:34 and 3:11. I will study this question in
                  the first chapter.

                  Peace,
                  Joseph

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
                  Behalf Of Mike Grondin
                  Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 11:12 PM
                  To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [XTalk] Re: Is there a consensus on the Historical Jesus?

                  --- Joseph Codsi wrote:
                  > All I am saying here is that we have to learn to read the gospel
                  > with new eyes. ... The gospel is a testimony of those who have
                  > believed in Jesus Christ. Whatever is written in there is said
                  > with the sole purpose of confirming the faith. This means that,
                  > whenever it is necessary, the witnesses don't hesitate to
                  > transform the facts to make them compatible with the faith. What
                  > is likely to happen when an eyewitness is compelled, for reason
                  > of faith, to change the facts? He will have a serious problem,
                  > won't he? He will do what must be done, but on the other hand,
                  > he will have a bad conscience for having changed the historical
                  > truth. This bad conscience will transpire in his testimony, not
                  > openly but covertly and in a coded language, in which he gives a
                  > hint at what he has done.

                  Joseph-

                  I have read you advancing this view before, and it does seem to me
                  to be a new and interesting analysis, but I must say that I don't
                  think it has a snowball's chance in Gehenna of ever being accepted
                  as a consensus view. The problem is that believer-scholars will
                  never accept your premisses, in spite of the sop you throw to them
                  by talking about eyewitnesses. Your expressed hope that scholars of
                  many different stripes will follow you in building this new "ladder"
                  is, I'm afraid, a naive delusion. I'd suggest you just go on about
                  the business of explicating the analysis and forget about consensus.

                  Regards,
                  Mike Grondin
                  Mt. Clemens, MI
                • Joseph Codsi
                  Reply to Tony Buglass Thank you Tony for insisting on straight answers. I think I can see now what you are trying to say. For you, what is important is the
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jun 15, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Reply to Tony Buglass

                    Thank you Tony for insisting on straight answers. I think I can see now
                    what you are trying to say. For you, what is important is the point of
                    departure (***"here" is precisely where we are; we can't start from
                    somewhere else***). For me, what is important is the vehicle we use to
                    go from one place to another. You cannot go from England to Ireland by
                    car alone. You must take the ferry to cross the sea. You must combine a
                    ferry crossing with a car ride. This means that you must combine the
                    historical critical method with another method in order to solve an
                    important aspect of the gospel problem. I am not saying we can resolve
                    in this fashion all the questions we can think of. We can solve,
                    however, an important question concerning the two identities of Jesus as
                    the unclean spirit identifies them in Mark 1:24-25 (**Jesus of
                    Nazareth** and **the Holy one of God**)

                    THE CONSENSUS QUESTION

                    The lack of consensus was my starting point. When we are dealing with
                    opinion and speculation, we cannot reach a consensus. Mike Grondin tells
                    me, **forget about consensus**. This brings me to clarify an important
                    point. I am not after consensus, but after the creation of new
                    knowledge. Consensus is a political concept. It is a very good way of
                    arriving at a collective decision. If a consensus cannot be reached,
                    then we rely on the choice of the majority (voting is judged better than
                    divination nowadays). But when we are dealing with questions of
                    knowledge, the mere fact of having a consensus on something is not
                    enough to establish sound knowledge. There are such things as received
                    ideas and collective prejudices. This is why I prefer to speak of
                    creating new knowledge. This is the purpose of every research. A
                    research that fails to create new knowledge is a failure. It remains at
                    a pre-scientific stage.

                    Speaking of consensus, you told me in your first post:

                    ***You've been on this list long enough to know that there will
                    certainly be no consensus regarding these particular gospel events...***

                    I agreed with you on this point. Otherwise I would not have been
                    critical of the quality of what has been produced so far.

                    I am not a consensus seeking politician, but someone who is interested
                    in creating new knowledge in the field of gospel studies. Am I trying to
                    invent the wheel? You tell me. Your judgment is important to me. So I
                    invite you to a joint venture, at the end of which you will be in a
                    position of formulating a final judgment.

                    THE CHOICES I HAVE MADE

                    Speaking of the list I have mentioned, you wrote:

                    <<"Here" in the context of this conversation meant a choice of example
                    passages from GMark which as far as I could see were far from the best
                    starting point for the exercise you apparently had in mind - finding a
                    consensus on HJ.  Your chosen passages contained several layers needing
                    interpretation, unpacking, demythologisation, etc.  Predictions of the
                    death and resurrection are a case in point: even if Jesus could have
                    reasonably anticipated his death, and could (as an item of faith) have
                    anticipated resurrection (albeit not so soon!), the shape of the gospel
                    accounts suggest they were re-written in the light of subsequent events
                    (or claimed events).  I have no difficulty with the principle of that
                    exercise, but my point was that each of those layers would itself
                    provoke debate and disagreement, and thus make the search for consensus
                    less likely.>>

                    You are right. The passages I have chosen are far from being simple.
                    This is precisely why I have chosen them. What is common to them is a
                    peculiar form of double talk. I will show that this double talk is
                    characteristic of a troubled mind. In order to understand what is being
                    said, we must sympathize with that troubled mind and put ourselves in
                    its place.

                    Did Jesus really have two identities and personalities? Did he try to
                    keep his second personality hidden? A "yes" answer would mean that his
                    was the trouble mind. But there is also another possibility. The
                    troubled mind could have been someone else's. If we follow the
                    manifestations of that troubled mind through GMark, we can give of it an
                    accurate profile. We won't be able to identify the name of the person
                    who is acting here, but we will be able to specify the conditions that
                    apply to him or her or them.

                    Two thousand years ago, the supernatural was part of the natural world.
                    One thing is clear. The troubled and disturbed mind believed in the
                    supernatural and lived in a mythical world, where demons were as
                    ordinary citizens as people. What matters in order to understand the
                    troubled mind is not what I think today. If we are dealing with a
                    troubled mind, it must have been troubled and deeply disturbed not only
                    by our standards, but even by the standards of the ancient culture.

                    Please don't let what I am saying here about the disturbed mind upset
                    you. This condition is not incompatible with sainthood.

                    Peace,
                    Joseph
                    ================
                    Joseph Codsi
                    P.O. Box 116-2088
                    Beirut, Lebanon
                    Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                    joseph5@...
                  • Mike Grondin
                    Joseph- I understand the general point you re making, but the question is whether your interpretations - however much I might personally agree with them -
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jun 15, 2005
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Joseph-

                      I understand the general point you're making, but the question is
                      whether your interpretations - however much I might personally agree
                      with them - constitute "knowledge", or, better, interpretations
                      which cannot be reasonably denied. This would be difficult enough
                      were your interpretations relatively presupposition-free, but they
                      aren't, for you state:

                      > ... we should concentrate our research not on Jesus, but on those
                      > who transformed him after his death and attributed to him a new
                      > identity.

                      At best, the conservative religious scholar (CRS) would presumably
                      say not that early Christians "transformed [Jesus]", but that they
                      came to recognize who he was. Perhaps comes to the same thing in the
                      end, but as Church councils can attest, little words mean a lot.
                      Similarly, I expect you would not find wide support among such for
                      your earlier assertion that:

                      > Whatever is written in [the gospel] is said
                      > with the sole purpose of confirming the faith.

                      ... in spite of Jn 20:31. But when you say that you're " ... not
                      interested in questions of faith", this seems to imply that you're
                      not, for the moment, interested in defending your premises against
                      the CRS view, but that you feel that in the long run they'll have to
                      come around. If so, then would it be correct to suppose that the
                      immediate "consensus" you speak of would be among non-CRS scholars?
                      But then I would ask whether your premises and interpretations hold
                      hope of being widely accepted even within that smaller group?

                      Let's take the Transfig scene (#5 on your list of five) as a test
                      case. I quite agree with you that Mk 9:9b ("He gave them orders not
                      to relate to anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man should
                      rise from the dead.") is a dead giveaway that there's something
                      fishy about the story. But what? One possibility is yours - which is
                      presumably that some event of this general description occurred, but
                      that it was later "transformed" (transfigured? :-) or re-interpreted
                      by a faith-outlook into a supernatural occurrence. This reminds me
                      of the suggestion put forth in the 60's book _The Passover Plot_,
                      that Jesus DID meet with two other men on a mountain, but that they
                      weren't Elijah and Moses (after all, how would Peter, James, and
                      John know _who_ the other two men were?), but were, rather, Essenes
                      with whom Jesus had a secret relationship (and who would later take
                      away the body, as I recall). Anyway, this is one interpretation, and
                      it follows your general presupposition that the story had a factual
                      basis, but that the event was redescribed in light of faith. Another
                      interpretation, however, is that the scene was wholly symbolic
                      fiction - and the reason it was said to have been "kept secret" is
                      that Mark made it up, and was relying on the fact that the disciples
                      involved were then dead and thus couldn't contradict him. Still a
                      third interpretation might be that Peter or John made up the story
                      themselves. Or maybe the four of them went up the mountain to
                      partake of some hallucination-inducing agent?

                      The point is that even for a non-CRS, there are a variety of
                      seemingly-reasonable interpretations of the pericopes in question.
                      Why is yours to be preferred? To put it another way, why should we
                      think that your interpretation counts as "knowledge" - especially
                      since we cannot verify the presupposition that there was an
                      historical kernel to the story?

                      Regards,
                      Mike Grondin
                      Mt. Clemens, MI
                    • Timothy E. Kennelly
                      ... than ... at ... The entire agenda to discover new knowledge is on poor ground in any field concerned with the interpretation of texts, particularly
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jun 15, 2005
                      • 0 Attachment
                        > I am not after consensus, but after the creation of new
                        > knowledge. Consensus is a political concept. It is a very good way of
                        > arriving at a collective decision. If a consensus cannot be reached,
                        > then we rely on the choice of the majority (voting is judged better
                        than
                        > divination nowadays). But when we are dealing with questions of
                        > knowledge, the mere fact of having a consensus on something is not
                        > enough to establish sound knowledge. There are such things as received
                        > ideas and collective prejudices. This is why I prefer to speak of
                        > creating new knowledge. This is the purpose of every research. A
                        > research that fails to create new knowledge is a failure. It remains
                        at
                        > a pre-scientific stage.
                        >

                        The entire agenda to discover "new knowledge" is on poor ground in any
                        field concerned with the interpretation of texts, particularly ancient
                        texts. You can not do more than understand the text as the author
                        understood it, or as he wished that it might be understood, or both if
                        the two things are different. Any "new knowledge" is a distraction. It
                        is knowning what has been known before, that is what is needed. A
                        scholar worthy of note has indicated that Spinoza is much more original
                        and creative than Maimonides, but Maimonides is much more profound. The
                        modern drive to do and say some new thing will not make the text and it
                        meaning apparent.

                        Very Warm Regards,

                        Tim Kennelly
                      • Joseph Codsi
                        Reply to Mike Grondin Mike, I would not so much oppose **the conservative religious scholar (CRS)** to those who are not CRS. As long as we are talking of
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jun 16, 2005
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Reply to Mike Grondin

                          Mike,

                          I would not so much oppose **the conservative religious scholar (CRS)**
                          to those who are not CRS. As long as we are talking of honest scholars,
                          religious conviction is not of the essence. By "honest scholar" I mean
                          someone who is prepared to change his or her mind when new knowledge is
                          introduced. In such a scenario, all scholars, whether CRS or not, will
                          eventually have to change their mind and adjust to the new knowledge
                          that will be deemed final. As long as we are dealing with opinions and
                          speculative views, there is no compelling reason to change our views in
                          one way or another. Many theologians think in this fashion and say it
                          openly. The quest for the historical Jesus unites all sorts of people.
                          The need to know is the same for all. What has been frustrating to all
                          of us is our failure to move from a questionable to a firm knowledge.

                          Modern scholarship is, as I said in an earlier post, in the case of the
                          Fox who sees some attractive grapes up a trellis. They are **good to eat
                          and pleasing to the eye**, but because of the distance, we cannot
                          consummate the act of picking and eating. As a matter of fact, the
                          grapes we are talking about are a mixed bag. Some are ripe and good to
                          eat, but others are still green. The problem is that we cannot say for
                          sure which is which. We need to discover the key that can serve as a
                          sure guide for what constitutes sound knowledge concerning the Christian
                          event.

                          The new knowledge I am talking about concerns a very specific point. The
                          historical Jesus knew nothing of the Easter revelation. Nothing had
                          transpired, during his life, about what was going to happen after his
                          death. The disciples of Jesus were the only ones who could have known
                          that. During the life of Jesus, they had not a single hint at what was
                          about to be revealed in the Easter event concerning Jesus, namely that
                          he was the Messiah and the Son of God. The Christian understanding of
                          the Easter revelation evolved with the passing of time. But even if we
                          go back to what is likely to have been its initial state, and if we read
                          it in a strictly Jewish context, a huge difference would remain between
                          the historical Jesus and the Christ of the faith. In this situation, the
                          disciples had to resolve this formidable problem.

                          They resolved the problem in the following way. They said that Jesus
                          was, to be sure, the Messiah and the Son of God of the Easter
                          revelation, but that he had kept this point secret. They added to this
                          explanation another one of the same nature. God, they said, had caused
                          them to be blind, so that they would not be able to see the true
                          identity of Jesus "before the resurrection".

                          When the time came to recall what had happened during the life of Jesus,
                          they did not tell it as they had perceived it when they were blind, but
                          as they perceived it once their eyes were opened. This means that they
                          projected their Easter faith back onto the historical Jesus, revealing
                          in the process what had been kept secret during his earthly life. They
                          told the pre-Easter story as one should understand it "after the
                          resurrection".

                          This means that the witnesses took the liberty of projecting not only a
                          new meaning on past events, but even of creating new events. I call
                          those new events "theological". I mean to say here that although they
                          are historically incorrect, they are theologically correct. A good
                          example would be the predictions of the Easter event. Because no such
                          predictions were made by Jesus, they are historically incorrect. But
                          because they are deemed necessary in order to confirm the Easter faith,
                          and to the extent they do that, they are theologically correct.

                          This brings us to the heart of the matter. If the witnesses have altered
                          the facts for reasons of faith, they have altered the historical truth.
                          Although justified on theological grounds, these alterations are
                          material lies. This situation put the witnesses in a bind. In order to
                          confirm the faith, they had to falsify many events and change the image
                          of the historical Jesus. The good thing is that the disciples are honest
                          liars. When they lie, they are honest enough to say so. But they do so
                          in a covert way. Their witnessing to Jesus Christ takes the form of a
                          double talk. On the one hand, they invent theological events in order to
                          bridge the gap between the historical Jesus (who knew nothing of the
                          Easter revelation) and the Christ of the faith. This is done overtly. On
                          the other hand, however, they say covertly something that has the effect
                          of negating their earlier affirmation. Example: After the second
                          prediction of the Easter event (Mark 9:31), they say that they could not
                          understand what Jesus was saying (32). This is their covert way of
                          admitting that the said event did not occur.

                          The study of the witnesses' double talk confirms the fact that the
                          witnesses coped as best they could with a serious problem. The cause of
                          the problem was the fact that, during the life of Jesus, everything went
                          as if he had no knowledge of the Easter revelation concerning him. The
                          logical consequence of this discovery is that the Easter faith made of
                          Jesus, after his death, what he was not during his life.

                          The new knowledge that can be arrived at in this fashion is, as you can
                          see, very limited. Its consequences, however, can be important.

                          Cheers,
                          Joseph
                          ================
                          Joseph Codsi
                          P.O. Box 116-2088
                          Beirut, Lebanon
                          Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                          joseph5@...
                        • Joseph Codsi
                          Reply to Tim Kennelly Tim, Just a word on your following statement:
                          Message 12 of 26 , Jun 16, 2005
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Reply to Tim Kennelly

                            Tim,

                            Just a word on your following statement:

                            <<You can not do more than understand the text as the author understood
                            it, or as he wished that it might be understood.>>

                            This is true when one is dealing with an ordinary author and an ordinary
                            book. Mark is not an ordinary author and his book is not an ordinary
                            book. The supernatural has nothing to do with this. What makes the
                            gospel so different is that it goes back to witnesses who had to play
                            two contradictory parts. As eyewitnesses of what happened during the
                            life of Jesus, they had to say the historical facts. But as witnesses to
                            the faith, they had to transform the historical Jesus in such a way as
                            to make him identical to the Christ of the faith.

                            The analysis of their testimony as Mark has transmitted it is,
                            therefore, the cornerstone upon which I build my theory.

                            What complicates the matter is that, in the case of the gospel, more
                            than one person has contributed to the making of the book. The gospel is
                            an individual as well as a collective work.

                            Does that help?

                            Cheers,
                            Joseph
                            ================
                            Joseph Codsi
                            P.O. Box 116-2088
                            Beirut, Lebanon
                            Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                            joseph5@...

                            "Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge will be digitized and
                            available, one hopes for free reading on the Internet, just as there is
                            free reading in libraries today."
                            Michael A. Keller, Stanford University head librarian.
                            December 2004
                          • Mike Grondin
                            Joseph- I m disappointed that your latest note fails to address most of the major issues raised in the note to which it was supposedly a reply. Instead, you
                            Message 13 of 26 , Jun 16, 2005
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Joseph-

                              I'm disappointed that your latest note fails to address most of the
                              major issues raised in the note to which it was supposedly a reply.
                              Instead, you reiterated a number of dogmatic assertions which, lacking
                              argumentation against alternative views, would scarcely be counted by
                              anyone as "knowledge", old or new.

                              Mike Grondin
                            • Joseph Codsi
                              Reply to Tony Buglass Tony, I think you did not reed carefully enough what I said about the disturbed mind . Here is what I wrote: **Did Jesus really have two
                              Message 14 of 26 , Jun 16, 2005
                              • 0 Attachment
                                Reply to Tony Buglass

                                Tony,

                                I think you did not reed carefully enough what I said about the
                                "disturbed mind". Here is what I wrote:

                                **Did Jesus really have two identities and personalities? Did he try to
                                keep his second personality hidden? A "yes" answer would mean that his
                                was the troubled mind. But there is also another possibility. The
                                troubled mind could have been someone else's.**

                                I did not mean to say that Jesus had two personalities. The gospel
                                speaks of him as if he had two personalities. If we take the gospel to
                                the letter, then we admit that he had a psychopathological problem. But
                                there is also another possibility. Someone else could have made up the
                                story about Jesus. In this second case, the person who has done so would
                                be the one with the disturbed mind.

                                A disturbed mind is the condition of someone who is struggling with a
                                serious problem and trying to resolve it as best as one can. Example: a
                                little boy who sees his father kill his mother. The memory of this event
                                is so unbearable to him that he blocks it out of his mind. He tries to
                                live as if he had not seen anything. In situations of this nature, the
                                disturbed mind is the innocent victim of circumstances that are beyond
                                its control.

                                In order to avoid possible misunderstandings between us, I will
                                anticipate the conclusion I will arrive at. No, Jesus did not have two
                                personalities. He did not try to keep his second identity secret. He was
                                the innocent victim of a problem his disciples encountered after the
                                resurrection. In order to resolve that problem, they decided that Jesus
                                must have kept his second identity secret. According to the divine plan,
                                as they imagined it, his second identity was to be revealed after his
                                death and through the Easter revelation. This is how they rationalized
                                the fact that the historical Jesus behaved as if he had no knowledge of
                                the Easter event.

                                The conclusion I am anticipating here is based not on Mark's word, but
                                on his faithful transmission of the disciples' testimony as it had
                                reached him.

                                Do you find this clarification helpful?

                                Peace,
                                Joseph
                                ================
                                Joseph Codsi
                                P.O. Box 116-2088
                                Beirut, Lebanon
                                Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                joseph5@...
                              • Timothy E. Kennelly
                                Joseph, I will allow that you have a point if and only if you are correct regarding the position of the author and concern about the historical Jesus; however,
                                Message 15 of 26 , Jun 16, 2005
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Joseph,

                                  I will allow that you have a point if and only if you are correct
                                  regarding the position of the author and concern about the historical
                                  Jesus; however, we are still back to understanding the author or
                                  origin of each pericope or teaching, its choice and placement in the
                                  text, etc.. All of which is nothing new, it is old knowledge we seek.

                                  I am inclined to treating the text as one treats fiction.


                                  TEK

                                  --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Codsi <joseph5@i...> wrote:
                                  > Reply to Tim Kennelly
                                  >
                                  > Tim,
                                  >
                                  > Just a word on your following statement:
                                  >
                                  > <<You can not do more than understand the text as the author
                                  understood
                                  > it, or as he wished that it might be understood.>>
                                  >
                                  > This is true when one is dealing with an ordinary author and an
                                  ordinary
                                  > book. Mark is not an ordinary author and his book is not an ordinary
                                  > book. The supernatural has nothing to do with this. What makes the
                                  > gospel so different is that it goes back to witnesses who had to
                                  play
                                  > two contradictory parts. As eyewitnesses of what happened during the
                                  > life of Jesus, they had to say the historical facts. But as
                                  witnesses to
                                  > the faith, they had to transform the historical Jesus in such a way
                                  as
                                  > to make him identical to the Christ of the faith.
                                  >
                                  > The analysis of their testimony as Mark has transmitted it is,
                                  > therefore, the cornerstone upon which I build my theory.
                                  >
                                  > What complicates the matter is that, in the case of the gospel, more
                                  > than one person has contributed to the making of the book. The
                                  gospel is
                                  > an individual as well as a collective work.
                                  >
                                  > Does that help?
                                  >
                                  > Cheers,
                                  > Joseph
                                  > ================
                                  > Joseph Codsi
                                  > P.O. Box 116-2088
                                  > Beirut, Lebanon
                                  > Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                  > joseph5@i...
                                  >
                                  > "Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge will be
                                  digitized and
                                  > available, one hopes for free reading on the Internet, just as
                                  there is
                                  > free reading in libraries today."
                                  > Michael A. Keller, Stanford University head librarian.
                                  > December 2004
                                • Joseph Codsi
                                  Reply to Mike grondin Mike, I did not mean to dodge your questions. But I cannot deal with everything at once. I will discuss today what you said about the
                                  Message 16 of 26 , Jun 17, 2005
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    Reply to Mike grondin

                                    Mike,

                                    I did not mean to dodge your questions. But I cannot deal with
                                    everything at once. I will discuss today what you said about the
                                    Transfiguration. You said:

                                    <<Let's take the Transfig scene (#5 on your list of five) as a test
                                    case. I quite agree with you that Mk 9:9b ("He gave them orders not
                                    to relate to anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man should
                                    rise from the dead.") is a dead giveaway that there's something
                                    fishy about the story. But what? One possibility is yours - which is
                                    presumably that some event of this general description occurred, but
                                    that it was later "transformed" (transfigured? :-) or re-interpreted
                                    by a faith-outlook into a supernatural occurrence.>>

                                    My interest in the Transfiguration story is that it is used to introduce
                                    the remark you have quoted (Mk 9:9b). How I would interpret the
                                    Transfiguration itself is another question.

                                    The Transfiguration story reveals the second identity of Jesus, the one
                                    the demons revealed in the first chapters of GMark, and the same one
                                    Simon Peter is said to have recognized somewhere in the vicinity of
                                    Caesarea Philippi. There is in GMark a continuous thread running through
                                    those three events. On the one hand, the secret identity is revealed. On
                                    the other hand Jesus negates the revelation in some fashion. He tries to
                                    silence the demons. He tells Simon Peter and the other disciples not to
                                    publicize his secret, and he gives the witnesses of the Transfiguration
                                    a specific order. It is only in this last case that the order is made
                                    temporary.

                                    All this illustrates the double talk I have spoken of in an earlier post
                                    concerning the second prediction of the Easter event. We have here a
                                    series of affirmations that are immediately negated in some way. I am
                                    primarily interested in the purely formal **affirmation/negation**
                                    opposition. The content of the affirmation/negation is not important at
                                    this early stage of the investigation. The affirmations are plain. They
                                    pose no difficulty. They are an anticipation of the Easter revelation
                                    concerning Jesus. What is problematic is the negation. When we try to
                                    give content to the various forms the negation takes, we rationalize. We
                                    cannot help but speculate. If we ask: "what is really negated in all
                                    those occurrences?" my answer is, "Let's wait and see". We cannot answer
                                    the question before understanding what is going on here. What is the
                                    significance of this double talk? How are we to understand it?

                                    I think our interpretation of all those events depends on whether we
                                    consider them to be historical or not. So we must discuss this question
                                    first. Let's see if there is a way of resolving it.

                                    I propose to proceed in the following way. I will introduce a text that
                                    reads the stories in the traditional way. Then I will criticize it. In a
                                    third step, I will show that the testimony of the witnesses who are
                                    responsible of the stories confirms that they could not have been
                                    historical.

                                    A TRADITIONAL READING

                                    <<Jesus forbids the news that he is the Messiah to be spread by the
                                    devils (1:25.34; 3:12), by those he cures (1:44; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26), even
                                    by the apostles (8:30; 9:9). The silence is not to be broken until after
                                    his death (Mt 10:27j). Since the prevailing idea of the Messiah was
                                    nationalistic and warlike, in sharp contrast with his own ideal, Jesus
                                    had to be very careful, at least on Israelite soil (see 5:19), to avoid
                                    giving a false and dangerous impression of his mission (see Mt 13:13e;
                                    Jn 6:15). Some have claimed that this command of silence ("the messianic
                                    secret") is an invention of Mark. But it may well have been Jesus' own,
                                    to which Mark has given special prominence. With the exception of Mt
                                    9:30, Mt and Lk record the injunction to silence only in passages which
                                    are parallel with Mk, frequently omitting it even in those cases.>>

                                    The New Jerusalem Bible, note m, at Mark 1:34.

                                    CORRECTION

                                    The reference to Mt 10:27j is a mistake. The notion that the silence is
                                    not to be broken until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead is
                                    in Mark 9:9.

                                    NOTE

                                    The English version of the Jerusalem Bible I have quoted goes back to
                                    1985. The French original goes back to 1955.

                                    * * *

                                    COMMENT

                                    I find the Jerusalem Bible's note on the messianic secret a good way of
                                    summing up the traditional and literal way of reading the gospel.
                                    Everything is taken to the letter. The historicity problem is mentioned
                                    en passant, but is not taken seriously.

                                    The note mentions three sets of texts: (1) Jesus and the demons, (2)
                                    Jesus and the people he cures, and (3) Jesus and the disciples. All
                                    those with whom Jesus deals receive the same order not to make him
                                    known.

                                    This strange behavior on the part of Jesus is explained as follows:

                                    <<Since the prevailing idea of the Messiah was nationalistic and
                                    warlike, in sharp contrast with his own ideal, Jesus had to be very
                                    careful, at least on Israelite soil (see 5:19), to avoid giving a false
                                    and dangerous impression of his mission (see Mt 13:13e; Jn 6:15).>>

                                    This is a classical way of guessing at what Jesus must have thought. But
                                    if Jesus was really concerned with the way his Messianic identity could
                                    be misconstrued, all he had to do was to elaborate a discourse in which
                                    he would have discussed this point. He was able to elaborate a discourse
                                    concerning the Kingdom of God. It would have been much easier to
                                    elaborate a similar discourse concerning his Messiahship. The mere fact
                                    that no such discourse has been reported shows that the explanation is a
                                    bad rationalization.

                                    If Jesus really wanted to keep his second identity secret, how are we to
                                    explain the many instances where he is shown as the one through whom God
                                    was acting (his miracles, his signs, his words)? Here the case of the
                                    people he cures is very interesting. On the one hand, he heals them, and
                                    on the other hand he orders them to keep the wonderful thing that
                                    happened to them secret! This attitude of Jesus is so contradictory that
                                    nobody obeys him. This is beautifully illustrated with the following
                                    statement: "Then Jesus ordered them not to tell no one; but the more he
                                    ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it" (Mk 7:36). The fact
                                    that neither the demons nor the ordinary folks obey Jesus cannot be
                                    dismissed as meaningless. This is, as I said, part of the double talk
                                    (affirmation/negation).

                                    Things could not have happened the way they are told. I would extend to
                                    all those stories what you said about Mk 9:9, "there's something fishy
                                    about the story".

                                    It is true that the intention of the gospel is to induce the reader to
                                    interpret the stories as the Jerusalem Bible did. I think this is
                                    perfectly clear and there is no way of denying it. But I also think the
                                    Jerusalem Bible fell in the trap of that intentionality which is present
                                    in the text.

                                    We are to judge a tree by its fruit. If the fruit is bad, then there is
                                    something wrong with the tree itself. This logic constitutes a
                                    compelling reason for rejecting the naive reading of the Jerusalem
                                    Bible. This is enough to discredit the literal reading of our texts.
                                    Things could not have occurred the way they are told. This does not
                                    prove that none of the events that are involved in the double talk is
                                    historical. It simply points us out in that direction. The decisive
                                    proof will come later.

                                    In order to go from a sound opinion to a proven fact, I have to complete
                                    the study of the passages where the disciples talk about themselves and
                                    acknowledge that, when they failed to understand Jesus' allusion to the
                                    yeast of the Pharisees, he said to them, "Do you still not perceive and
                                    understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see?
                                    Do you have ears and fail to hear? [...]" (Mk 8:17-18). I will have to
                                    include in this preliminary survey Mk 6:52 ("They did not understand
                                    about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened"), and the splitting of
                                    the parable of the sower with the insertion of verses 10-12 which
                                    purport to justify the absurd way in which Jesus is said to have treated
                                    his public.

                                    I will resume this talk tomorrow.

                                    Peace,
                                    Joseph
                                    ================
                                    Joseph Codsi
                                    P.O. Box 116-2088
                                    Beirut, Lebanon
                                    Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                    joseph5@...
                                  • Joseph Codsi
                                    Reply to Tim Kennelly Yes, you are right. No matter how we read the text, we are still dependant on it. So there is nothing new here. What is new is the
                                    Message 17 of 26 , Jun 17, 2005
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      Reply to Tim Kennelly

                                      Yes, you are right. No matter how we read the text, we are still
                                      dependant on it. So there is nothing new here. What is new is the
                                      discovery of the double talk that is in the text, and the way we deal
                                      with the double talk.

                                      For more details, please read my reply to Mike Grondin.

                                      Cheers,

                                      Joseph

                                      -----Original Message-----
                                      From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
                                      Behalf Of Timothy E. Kennelly
                                      Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2005 6:00 PM
                                      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: [XTalk] Re: Is there a consensus on the Historical Jesus?

                                      Joseph,

                                      I will allow that you have a point if and only if you are correct
                                      regarding the position of the author and concern about the historical
                                      Jesus; however, we are still back to understanding the author or
                                      origin of each pericope or teaching, its choice and placement in the
                                      text, etc.. All of which is nothing new, it is old knowledge we seek.

                                      I am inclined to treating the text as one treats fiction.


                                      TEK

                                      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Codsi <joseph5@i...> wrote:
                                      > Reply to Tim Kennelly
                                      >
                                      > Tim,
                                      >
                                      > Just a word on your following statement:
                                      >
                                      > <<You can not do more than understand the text as the author
                                      understood
                                      > it, or as he wished that it might be understood.>>
                                      >
                                      > This is true when one is dealing with an ordinary author and an
                                      ordinary
                                      > book. Mark is not an ordinary author and his book is not an ordinary
                                      > book. The supernatural has nothing to do with this. What makes the
                                      > gospel so different is that it goes back to witnesses who had to
                                      play
                                      > two contradictory parts. As eyewitnesses of what happened during the
                                      > life of Jesus, they had to say the historical facts. But as
                                      witnesses to
                                      > the faith, they had to transform the historical Jesus in such a way
                                      as
                                      > to make him identical to the Christ of the faith.
                                      >
                                      > The analysis of their testimony as Mark has transmitted it is,
                                      > therefore, the cornerstone upon which I build my theory.
                                      >
                                      > What complicates the matter is that, in the case of the gospel, more
                                      > than one person has contributed to the making of the book. The
                                      gospel is
                                      > an individual as well as a collective work.
                                      >
                                      > Does that help?
                                      >
                                      > Cheers,
                                      > Joseph
                                      > ================
                                      > Joseph Codsi
                                      > P.O. Box 116-2088
                                      > Beirut, Lebanon
                                      > Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                      > joseph5@i...
                                      >
                                    • Joseph Codsi
                                      Reply to Tony Buglass Tony, When I say that GMark s demons speak as if Jesus had two personalities, I do not say so because this fits my ideology or because I
                                      Message 18 of 26 , Jun 17, 2005
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        Reply to Tony Buglass

                                        Tony,

                                        When I say that GMark's demons speak as if Jesus had two personalities,
                                        I do not say so because this fits my ideology or because I find that
                                        satisfactory. I am simply reading what is in the text. In the first
                                        exorcism, the unclean spirit addresses Jesus as "Jesus of Nazareth",
                                        which is the name of the man, Jesus. Then the unclean spirit reveals the
                                        second personality of Jesus, which is identified as "the Holy One of
                                        God". You are reluctant to speak in this case of two identities and two
                                        personalities. You wrote:

                                        <<Does the gospel really speak of Jesus as having two personalities? Or
                                        one person with more than one role? You used the word identity - "Jesus
                                        didn't try to keep his second identity secret" - is there a helpful
                                        distinction between "personality", "identity", and "role"?>>

                                        One can argue that the Greek world "prosopon" means "role" as well as
                                        "person". The first meaning refers to the mask that was used in the
                                        theatre to identify the role each actor was impersonating. But I find it
                                        difficult to say that, in our text, Jesus was impersonating the Messiah
                                        who is identified as "the Holy One of God". Is it not obvious that far
                                        from impersonating the Messiah, Jesus objects to the said title?

                                        We are always tempted to fool around with the text and twist it in a
                                        given direction. But the text often resists. It forces us to be honest
                                        and acknowledge the shocking reality. I am not saying you should not be
                                        shocked. This is something you cannot help. I agree with you that one is
                                        tempted to become monophysite when one is confronted with a passage that
                                        is more Nestorian than Nestorius. If it is OK to oversimplify things, I
                                        would say that Cyril of Alexandria's fault was that he built his
                                        Christology on the Gospel of John, while Nestorius favored Mark.

                                        What used to have great importance in the past is no longer important
                                        today. The irony of history is that each one of Monophysitism and
                                        Nestorianism could claim for itself a gospel. Orthodoxy could not.

                                        So relax, Tony. Who knows? Maybe we are, after all, in the process of
                                        inventing the wheel.

                                        Cheers,
                                        Joseph

                                        ================
                                        Joseph Codsi
                                        P.O. Box 116-2088
                                        Beirut, Lebanon
                                        Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                        joseph5@...
                                      • Mike Grondin
                                        ... Well-put, and I think your criticism of that explanation is spot-on. But I continue to be bothered by the presence of unacknowledged ... The assumption
                                        Message 19 of 26 , Jun 17, 2005
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          --- Joseph Codsi wrote:

                                          > ... the [NJB] explanation is a bad rationalization.

                                          Well-put, and I think your criticism of that explanation is spot-on.
                                          But I continue to be bothered by the presence of unacknowledged
                                          assumptions in your presentation - as in:

                                          > In a third step, I will show that the testimony of the witnesses
                                          > who are responsible of the stories confirms that they could not
                                          > have been historical.

                                          The assumption that there were "witnesses" - i.e., that there WAS a
                                          historical kernel to all five of your case studies - is the crux of
                                          the problem, as I see it. Nor is it clear that you even need this
                                          assumption. Suppose, for example, that Mark made up the Transfig
                                          scene in its entirety. Then the "negation" in 9:9b would be his,
                                          rather than him passing it on from someone else. In fact, is it not
                                          more likely that that would be so than that he had failed to excise
                                          the "negation" contained in an oral report he was simply writing up
                                          - just as Matt and Luke excised some of the negations they found in
                                          Mark? In contrast, ISTM that your view requires BOTH that (1) Mark
                                          was in receipt of oral reports containing negations, and that (2)
                                          Mark didn't excise those negations because either (a) he was a
                                          scrupulously faithful reporter, or (b) he had some reason of his own
                                          for retaining them. (The reasoning becomes even more strained if the
                                          original story passed through several hands before reaching Mark.)
                                          Such a scenario is certainly possible, but prima facie, Ockham's
                                          Razor favors the simpler view that the negations (and hence the
                                          stories) were Mark's own.

                                          But even if you don't buy that, wouldn't it be better to excise from
                                          the start of your presentation any assumptions that you don't need,
                                          and aren't prepared to defend in the end? Otherwise, you'll be going
                                          through all five cases talking about "witnesses", and then you'll
                                          end up saying, "Oh, but maybe there weren't any after all." At which
                                          point, that admission could do nothing other than to cast doubt on
                                          all the work that preceded it. On the other hand, if you feel that
                                          you really do need the assumption of an historical kernel in all
                                          five cases, then maybe you should spend some time at the outset
                                          defending that assumption.

                                          Regards,
                                          Mike Grondin
                                          Mt. Clemens, MI
                                        • Joseph Codsi
                                          Reply to Mike Grondin Mike, I am glad to see that we are getting closer to understanding each other. You are right. Mark does not behave like Matthew and Luke.
                                          Message 20 of 26 , Jun 18, 2005
                                          • 0 Attachment
                                            Reply to Mike Grondin

                                            Mike,

                                            I am glad to see that we are getting closer to understanding each other.

                                            You are right. Mark does not behave like Matthew and Luke. I would
                                            compare him to a professional detective who goes to the scene of the
                                            crime, notices very strange things, but is professional enough to report
                                            exactly what he saw. Matthew and Luke investigate the same crime scene,
                                            but tamper with the evidence. They change some facts so as to make them
                                            understandable. They suppress other facts because they don't know what
                                            to do with them. Their respective reports are not reliable.

                                            There is, of course, another possibility. Mark could have been so
                                            Machiavellic as to invent the entire crime and plant the strange
                                            evidence. Why am I so reluctant to accept this possibility?

                                            Here the major objection is a question of motive. Why would an
                                            evangelist tamper so freely and so massively with the information he was
                                            working with? It seems to me that the natural thing to expect from an
                                            evangelist would be to follow in the steps of Matthew and Luke. The
                                            tendency would be to suppress not to invent what makes no sense.

                                            When the tampering with the historical facts is so systematic and so
                                            massive, we cannot blame it on a normal person. This leaves us with
                                            someone who is either an enemy of the faith or who is compelled to act
                                            in this strange fashion. I discard the first possibility as out of the
                                            question. The good intention of those who have acted in this fashion
                                            cannot be doubted. We are left with the second possibility. We need
                                            someone who was well-meaning but who was compelled to alter the
                                            historical facts for reasons beyond his control. Moreover the culprit
                                            must have been in a position to know that the historical facts do not
                                            match his altered story. Now only an eyewitness can fit the last
                                            requirement. So a Mark would fit the bill if we make of him an
                                            eyewitness to the events he is narrating in his gospel.

                                            We are not dealing here with theological speculation, but with
                                            historical events. A very large degree of freedom is permissible in the
                                            field of theological views. This is indeed perfectly natural. Paul is a
                                            very good example here. But we are dealing in this case with something
                                            very strange and definitely abnormal. The invention of new facts on the
                                            part of an eyewitness cannot be a matter of personal opinion or
                                            theological orientation.

                                            Let us visualize what we are talking about. We are talking of an
                                            eyewitness who says that Jesus predicted his death and resurrection,
                                            knowing that this is not true. How could that be possible? This is what
                                            we must account for.

                                            THE CASE OF PIOUS LEGENDS

                                            Pious legends are a common literary form. They are a way of honoring the
                                            memory of great men, heroes and saints. They form at a relatively late
                                            date after the death of the hero. Pious legends often speak of the
                                            wonderful circumstances which have surrounded the birth of the hero. The
                                            infancy gospels fall in this category.

                                            Legends take time to form, because they are a collective work. It is
                                            often impossible to tell who invented them. They belong among folk
                                            tales. Because they are the expression of good intentions, and because
                                            it is customary to include marvelous things in them, nobody loses sleep
                                            over their historicity. Besides, the literary form is easily
                                            recognizable. Legends introduce themselves as legends. They don't
                                            attempt to pass for accurate history.

                                            What we have in GMark tries to pass for history. I must say that it did
                                            so successfully for a long time. Another difference is that the
                                            tampering with history leaves its author with a bad conscience. And this
                                            transpires in the text.

                                            THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE OF THE SUSPECT

                                            When they try to solve a crime, detectives find it extremely helpful to
                                            draw a psychological profile of the suspect. The same technique can be
                                            used here. The suspect I am looking for must fit the following
                                            conditions:

                                            He must be an eyewitness of what happened during the life of Jesus. He
                                            must have been compelled to alter the memory he had of the past on
                                            certain specific points. He must have been aware of the fact that he was
                                            tampering with history, and therefore he must have felt bad about it.
                                            Finally the suspect can be either a single person or a small homogeneous
                                            group.

                                            The compelling motive is the need to bridge the huge discrepancy between
                                            the historical Jesus (as the eyewitnesses had known him during his life)
                                            and the Christ of the faith.

                                            THE NOTION OF WITNESSES

                                            I will make here a clarification concerning my definition of witnesses.
                                            I am speaking of the disciples of Jesus as eyewitnesses of what happened
                                            during his life. But I am implying as well that the disciples have
                                            altered the facts in many cases. This makes of them "false" witnesses.
                                            So when the witnesses tell us that Jesus predicted the Easter event,
                                            they tell us about a fictitious fact which existed only in their mind.
                                            So they are not eyewitnesses in relation to this specific event. They
                                            are its inventors. But they remain eyewitnesses in relation to all the
                                            other things that pertain to the historical Jesus.

                                            Your last post made me realize the misunderstanding I was creating in
                                            your mind, because I was unaware of the ambiguity of my language. You
                                            wrote:

                                            <<The assumption that there were "witnesses" - i.e., that there WAS a
                                            historical kernel to all five of your case studies - is the crux of
                                            the problem, as I see it. Nor is it clear that you even need this
                                            assumption.>>

                                            Obviously if we are dealing with fabricated accounts, there WAS NO
                                            historical kernel to the stories. In this case, the witnesses have made
                                            up the stories, none of which has occurred the way they claim it did
                                            during the life of Jesus. Even if wee assume that the Transfiguration is
                                            an Easter event, a mystical experience in which Jesus appeared to a few
                                            disciples -- event that was transposed into a pre-Easter context -- the
                                            fact would remain that no such experience was lived during the earthly
                                            existence of Jesus.

                                            I hope this clarification will be useful.

                                            Peace,

                                            Joseph
                                            ================
                                            Joseph Codsi
                                            P.O. Box 116-2088
                                            Beirut, Lebanon
                                            Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                            joseph5@...
                                          • audi account
                                            Reply to Tony Buglass Hello Tony, You said:
                                            Message 21 of 26 , Jun 21, 2005
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              Reply to Tony Buglass

                                              Hello Tony,

                                              You said:
                                              <<I think you are interpreting the text, and not necessarily in accordance
                                              with other aspects of Mark's writing. The theme of the text is the authority
                                              of Jesus, primarily as a teacher - people were amazed at the authority
                                              (exousia) of his teaching in contrast to the derived authority of the usual
                                              teachers. The possessed man then enters the conversation, first
                                              addressing Jesus by name, and then declaring that he knows who Jesus
                                              is - the Holy One of God. The exorcism takes place, and people are
                                              again amazed (ethambethesan - conventional miracle/exorcism
                                              language?) at his authority and "new teaching".>>

                                              Your analysis of the text is correct except for one thing. Jesus fails to
                                              control the unclean spirit in respect to keeping him from revealing his
                                              secret identity. This is precisely what does not fit at all in the context, as
                                              you have accurately described it.

                                              In the first part (verses 21-22), Jesus goes to the synagogue and teaches
                                              there. We do not know what he said. All we know is the reaction of the
                                              audience: "They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as
                                              one having authority, and not as the scribes."

                                              In the second and central part (verses 23-26), takes place an exorcism.

                                              In the third and final part (verses 27-28), we go back to the reaction of the
                                              public. This time the authority of Jesus is recognized in relation to two
                                              points. The first point goes back to what was said in the first part about
                                              Jesus' teaching. The second point includes the authority he has over the
                                              unclean spirits.

                                              The third part remains silent about what is specific of this particular
                                              exorcism, namely two things. The first thing is the fact that the unclean
                                              spirit reveals the true identity of Jesus. The second thing is that the public
                                              does not show any interest in what the dispute between Jesus and the
                                              demon was all about, namely what pertains to Jesus' secret identity. The
                                              public reacts as if the exorcism had been an ordinary one. Jesus healed a
                                              man who was believed to be possessed. He just ordered the unclean
                                              spirit, "Come out of him!" **and the unclean spirit, convulsing him and
                                              crying with a loud voice, came out of him**. Nothing else happened
                                              according to the third part.

                                              This is how I would reconstruct the kernel of the story as far as reporting
                                              the historical facts is concerned. A reporter could have told the facts and
                                              the reaction of the public exactly like that in a pre-Easter context. After
                                              the resurrection, however, the exorcism was transformed into an epiphany
                                              scene, where the messianic identity of Jesus was revealed. What is
                                              strange in this story is that the revelation is not made by a heavenly voice,
                                              but by a demon. The object of the revelation is, however, exactly the
                                              same. It has to do with the messianic identity of Jesus as "the Holy one
                                              of God" and "the Son of God".

                                              NOTE - The precise way of understanding those messianic titles is not of
                                              the essence here. You can understand them the way you want. The
                                              divinity of Christ is a peripheral question as far as my interpretation of the
                                              text is concerned.

                                              THE DEMONS AND THE DISCIPLES

                                              What the demons are revealing in the three passages of GMark, in a pre-
                                              Easter context, is exactly what the disciples proclaimed in a post-Easter
                                              context. So the demons and the disciples did the same thing. The
                                              demons are bad not because they tell a lie, but because they reveal the
                                              Christian mystery prematurely and disobey a clear order. This is what
                                              those who have altered the story in the light of the Easter revelation want
                                              us to believe.

                                              There is another similarity between the disciples and the demons. To the
                                              extent the disciples altered the historical truth for reasons of faith, they
                                              are responsible of a material lie. This makes of them demons. They see
                                              themselves as demons, even though they felt compelled to alter the
                                              historical truth for theological reasons. What they said about Jesus was
                                              theologically correct and historically incorrect. Their theological
                                              correctness justified the historical incorrectness. But the fact remained
                                              that they had altered the historical truth. This was enough to cause their
                                              internal problem. On the unconscious level, they associated themselves
                                              with the demons. This is how I would explain the fact that they have
                                              chosen the demons as vehicles of the Easter revelation in the pre-Easter
                                              context.

                                              What I am saying here cannot make sense for someone who considers
                                              as historical what pertains to the revelation of the messianic identity of
                                              Jesus that is made by the demons.

                                              Tony, I think this is the major reason why you are so reluctant to accept
                                              the way I am reading the text. You said:

                                              <<I think the story as we have it is very Markan in shape. The recognition
                                              of Jesus by the possessed man is not recognition that he has two
                                              identities, much less two personalities, but that Jesus of Nazareth is
                                              *really* the Holy One - a recognition which contrasts with the stupidity
                                              and blindness of the disciples. Even the crowds can see that something
                                              new and special is going on. The disciples continue to be obtuse. Now,
                                              I'm sure that Jesus' disciples would have had some difficulty coming to
                                              terms with such radical implications, but I can't believe they were quite as
                                              thick as Mark suggests - either he really had a personal axe to grind, or
                                              this is really authorial rhetoric, the classic dramatic device which has a
                                              character ask the question which allows the author to tell the audience
                                              what is going on. This is about a possessed man seeing who Jesus
                                              really is, and disciples failing to do so.>>

                                              The realism with which you read the text shows that it is not easy to
                                              reverse the traditional way of reading it. I cannot blame anyone for going
                                              along with the clear intentionality of the text. But I should think that the
                                              critical approach to the text would become meaningless and utterly
                                              useless, if we cannot question the intentionality of the text. This kind of
                                              questioning becomes all the more unavoidable, when there are compelling
                                              reasons for doing so.

                                              I suggest, therefore, we go back to my last two posts to Mike Grondin on
                                              the "messianic secret" and the note related to it in the New Jerusalem
                                              Bible. We judge a tree by its fruit. I propose to apply this method to the
                                              traditional reading of the Markan texts that are related to the "messianic
                                              secret". Let's ask the following question: "What are the compelling
                                              reasons why the intentionality of the Markan texts must be questioned?"

                                              Let us try to be accurate in the way we read the texts. Even when we read
                                              them in the traditional way, the least we can do is avoid tampering with
                                              the text by projecting on it what is not in it.

                                              The obtuseness of the disciples is a Markan theme. But this theme is not
                                              mentioned in the text of the exorcism. The way you sum up the entire
                                              episode is not accurate.

                                              HISTORICAL FACTS AND LITERARY FICTION

                                              <<This is about a possessed man seeing who Jesus really is, and
                                              disciples failing to do so.>>

                                              When you say that Mark is responsible for shaping the episode the way it
                                              is, you imply that his story contains historical facts as well as literary
                                              fiction. The problem is that you do not say what is history and what is
                                              fiction. In the end you read the Markan story as if it had been entirely
                                              historical. There is here a lack of consistency.

                                              <<Even the crowds can see that something new and special is going on.
                                              The disciples continue to be obtuse.>>

                                              Here again your assessment of the situation is not accurate. As I have
                                              pointed out above, the reaction of the audience in verse 27 ignores what
                                              pertains to the revelation made by the unclean spirit concerning Jesus. As
                                              far as the crowds are concerned, no such revelation ever took place in
                                              their presence. This is how their testimony has been transmitted to us in
                                              verse 27.

                                              We tend to project our personal views on the text, and we do so without
                                              being aware of what we are doing. To the extent this is true, the
                                              exchanges we are having on Xtalk can be useful. What is at stake here is
                                              not a question of good or bad will. It is above all a question of awareness.
                                              The creation of a new knowledge is not a question of good will. New
                                              knowledge is produced through the revision of old prejudices. We create
                                              new knowledge when we show that what used to be considered true is
                                              actually false. This is exactly what I have been doing in all our exchanges,
                                              knowing that the creation of new knowledge can be an arduous and long
                                              process.

                                              The temptation is big to play it safe and remain silent. Only those who
                                              take some risks contribute to our collective research.

                                              Peace,

                                              Joseph

                                              ================
                                              Joseph Codsi
                                              P.O. Box 116-2088
                                              Beirut, Lebanon
                                              Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                              joseph5@...
                                            • Joseph Codsi
                                              Reply to Tony Buglass So far we have agreed to disagree. Our failure to resolve a specific problem related to 3 Markan passages shows that the way we read the
                                              Message 22 of 26 , Jun 25, 2005
                                              • 0 Attachment
                                                Reply to Tony Buglass

                                                So far we have agreed to disagree. Our failure to resolve a specific
                                                problem related to 3 Markan passages shows that the way we read the
                                                texts is not objective. I see in the texts what you do not see in them.
                                                Unless we can find a way of overcoming this difficulty we will remain
                                                stuck in our respective worlds.

                                                Had the texts been simple and univocal, we would not have had such a
                                                hard time assessing what is in them. For reasons beyond our control, we
                                                see one side of the coin and we act as if the other side did not exist.
                                                What we do not see does not exist.

                                                We see the sun move around the earth; we do not see the earth move
                                                around the sun. So we reject Galileo's discovery. Galileo knew he was
                                                correct, because he could use a small telescope. Those who looked at the
                                                sky with their naked eyes could not see what can be seen through a
                                                telescope.

                                                I think that the historical critical method is, in relation to the
                                                fundamental equivocation of many Markan passages, as an astronomer
                                                without telescope.

                                                What we need is not a physical instrument, but a new way of looking at
                                                things. I think we should look at the text with new eyes. We should not
                                                be afraid of seeing things that may not be in the text. We can always go
                                                back and correct a reading when necessary.

                                                When I say that the demons speak of Jesus as if he had two
                                                personalities, I am aware of reading the text in a particular way. This
                                                does not mean that I believe that Jesus had two personalities. It simply
                                                means that there is in the text a clear intentionality, which aims at
                                                conveying such an impression. What becomes interesting then, is to probe
                                                the mind that is thinking in this strange fashion.

                                                I can think of another way of reading the same texts. To the extent
                                                there is a confrontation between Jesus and the unclean spirits, the
                                                story can be read in connection with the temptation in the desert. In
                                                GMatthew and GLuke, there is a triple temptation. In GMark, the
                                                confrontation is not analyzed in the context of the temptation (Mk
                                                1:12-13). We have instead a triple confrontation with the demons Jesus
                                                expels. The temptation takes then the following form: Jesus is
                                                proclaimed as the Messianic king, but he resists the temptation by
                                                refusing the title. In the same way as in Mt and Lk Jesus refuses the
                                                kingdom, he refuses here the messianic title.

                                                I know that this reading deviates from the intentionality of the text.
                                                But there is no harm in exploring another possibility. This new reading
                                                would not have been possible if Jesus' response to the demons had not
                                                been ambiguous to begin with. The same thing can be said of his reaction
                                                to Peter's declaration: "You are the Messiah". Matthew has lifted the
                                                ambiguity by having Jesus praise Peter for his perceptive mind. I think
                                                the ambiguity of the Markan text is an important feature. The art is to
                                                be able to account for it in a satisfactory manner.

                                                In this preliminary stage, which consists in pointing out the
                                                ambiguities or the odd features of many Markan texts, the time has come
                                                to move to the discussion of the second text on my list, the parable of
                                                the sower. Is it reasonable to assume that Jesus told the parable to the
                                                public without its explanation? If Jesus did not reserve the explanation
                                                of the parable to the inner circle of the disciples, someone must have
                                                altered the facts. Who is likely to have acted here and what was the
                                                motivation?

                                                So long,
                                                Joseph

                                                ================
                                                Joseph Codsi
                                                P.O. Box 116-2088
                                                Beirut, Lebanon
                                                Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                                joseph5@...
                                              • Joseph Codsi
                                                Reply to Tony Buglass Hello Tony, In my last post I sounded pessimistic and critical. I wish to correct this impression. I think our exchanges were quite
                                                Message 23 of 26 , Jun 27, 2005
                                                • 0 Attachment
                                                  Reply to Tony Buglass

                                                  Hello Tony,

                                                  In my last post I sounded pessimistic and critical. I wish to correct
                                                  this impression. I think our exchanges were quite interesting and very
                                                  helpful. They forced me to clarify my position and to recognize the
                                                  difficulties I had to deal with. So I wish to thank you for your
                                                  questions as well as your patience.

                                                  I felt the need to sum up my theory in a post entitled: "From the HJ to
                                                  the historical disciples". I hope this will allow you to better
                                                  understand what I am saying. My thesis is very specific and concerns the
                                                  dual role the disciples had to play as eyewitnesses of what went on
                                                  during the life of Jesus and witnesses of the resurrection. Either there
                                                  was harmony between those two roles or there was contradiction. In the
                                                  first case, the testimony of the eyewitnesses as it has reached us in
                                                  the gospel would be historically reliable, because they would not have
                                                  had to alter the facts for reasons of faith. In the second case, their
                                                  testimony would have altered the facts in such a way as to harmonize the
                                                  historical Jesus with the Christ of the faith. The overwhelming evidence
                                                  goes in the second direction. This is what I claim. The ball is,
                                                  therefore, on my side of the court. I have to prove my case. Using Bob
                                                  Schacht's analogy, I would say that I have to make the infra-red rays
                                                  visible.

                                                  In an earlier post, I used the X-rays analogy. What is not readily
                                                  visible can be made visible through the creation of special tools. This
                                                  is only an analogy. When I apply it to the way we read the text of the
                                                  gospel, I assume that there is a coded language behind the clear
                                                  intentionality of the text. The coded language remains invisible to the
                                                  naked eye. As a matter of fact it has remained invisible to the readers
                                                  of the gospel for the last two thousand years. This is why I speak of a
                                                  new discovery. The discovery concerns something that had been there all
                                                  the time, but that had remained unrecognized.

                                                  Now you can be skeptical about my claim. This is perfectly natural. It
                                                  is up to me to show you that what I am seeing in the text is really
                                                  there. But I cannot force you to see what you do not want to see. An
                                                  analogy will help me explain what I mean.

                                                  Let's say I have discovered something at the bottom of ten feet of murky
                                                  water. You cannot see it unless you are prepared to dive with me. This
                                                  means that you must know how to swim and dive to that depth. Most people
                                                  are likely to have a problem with the diving part and holding their
                                                  breath long enough to reach the target and see it.

                                                  I cannot force you to dive. But I can help you with the necessary
                                                  training, so you can dive safely.

                                                  As you can see, the supernatural has nothing to do with what I am
                                                  talking about. I am not inviting you to partake in a supernatural
                                                  experience, but in an intellectual exercise. We are dealing after all
                                                  with well-known texts. The only unusual thing is the way I propose to
                                                  read them.

                                                  Cheers,

                                                  Joseph

                                                  ================
                                                  Joseph Codsi
                                                  P.O. Box 116-2088
                                                  Beirut, Lebanon
                                                  Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                                  joseph5@...
                                                • Joseph Codsi
                                                  Reply to Tony Buglass Tony wrote:
                                                  Message 24 of 26 , Jun 29, 2005
                                                  • 0 Attachment
                                                    Reply to Tony Buglass

                                                    Tony wrote:

                                                    <<When I see the claim that you have found something which hasn't been
                                                    recognised for 2,000 years, my antennae start twitching - there's
                                                    something running here which I don't understand. Hence my earlier
                                                    questions about methodology - what have you seen which makes you suspect
                                                    a *coded* language? Especially a coded language which nobody else has
                                                    seen? And a language which isn't susceptible to already accepted means
                                                    of examination?>>

                                                    Tony, it is OK to be skeptical. I am not asking you to believe without
                                                    seeing. But if you want to see, you will have to do some work. You
                                                    cannot see by remaining where you are. If the diving analogy is not good
                                                    enough, I will take another one, borrowed from the story of Philip and
                                                    Nathanael.

                                                    ***Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom
                                                    Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from
                                                    Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of
                                                    Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."*** (John 1:45-46)

                                                    Nathanael took the necessary steps to go and see for himself. But I can
                                                    think of some people who would not investigate Paul's claim about the
                                                    resurrection. The Athenians stopped listening to Paul. They had heard
                                                    enough to dismiss his views as tales and fables.

                                                    The closing of the mind is a formidable problem. I cannot overcome it.
                                                    You are the only one who can give me the benefit of the doubt and open
                                                    up to a new possibility. So I invite you to come and see first. You will
                                                    have the opportunity to judge the evidence and reject it "en
                                                    connaissance de cause".

                                                    * * *

                                                    I downloaded this morning an article by Philip Davis entitled: **Do We
                                                    Need Biblical Scholars?** (Jim West had recommended it). I found the
                                                    paper very interesting. It raises the question of research in the Bible
                                                    field (ancient and new Testaments). Please read the following paragraph.

                                                    <<My colleagues and I at the Department of Biblical Studies in the
                                                    University of Sheffield were once visited by a senior academic
                                                    administrator as part of his duties in keeping abreast of research
                                                    activity. How, he asked, did we (could we) conduct research on the
                                                    Bible? Surely it had been written long ago and was presumably complete.
                                                    After two thousand years of scrutiny, was there much left to say? This
                                                    was the challenge from a fellow academic, an intellectual (albeit
                                                    churchgoing). The idea of the Bible as an object of academic research
                                                    (rather than presumably an elevated form of Sunday-school teaching) was
                                                    not something he could easily comprehend. His ignorance was not
                                                    facetious, but (more frighteningly) genuine.>>

                                                    As I see it, there are two problems with Bible academic research. One is
                                                    religious prejudice; the other one is academic prejudice. Both are a
                                                    hindrance to research. Both have to do with the closing of the mind. A
                                                    closed mind rejects a priori certain possibilities, simply because it
                                                    finds them unacceptable. It is relatively easy to recognize the problems
                                                    religious faith can have with certain findings of biblical research. It
                                                    is more difficult to recognize similar problems rooted in academic
                                                    prejudices. The pioneering road is always a lonely one. Those who would
                                                    not follow the beaten tracks of the established schools (who identify
                                                    themselves as academia) must swim against the main current of the day.
                                                    We are naturally allergic to what questions the way we see and judge.
                                                    Scholars can have bitter disputes among themselves. This is part of the
                                                    human condition. Disagreements are the engines of research.

                                                    As long as you feel somehow threatened by what I am saying, you are
                                                    likely to close your mind to it in a protective move. Fear is beyond our
                                                    control. If you are afraid of diving, this can mean that you are not
                                                    ready for what I have found. Now what I have discovered is twofold. On
                                                    the one hand, I have discovered something concerning the historical
                                                    Jesus: as far as the disciples are concerned, he acted as if he knew
                                                    nothing of the Easter revelation. This point became a big stumbling
                                                    block for the disciples, once they had become witnesses of the
                                                    resurrection. On the other hand, I recognize the shortcomings of the
                                                    historical critical method and the need to open up to a
                                                    psychopathological analysis of the disciples' behavior. The way they
                                                    speak of themselves in the gospel of Mark shows that they had a serious
                                                    problem. When an eyewitness is forced to change what he had seen and
                                                    heard, to the point of inventing events that had never taken place (the
                                                    triple prediction of the Easter event), the said witness cannot be
                                                    considered normal.

                                                    If you find what I am saying here disturbing, and if you are afraid of
                                                    diving in the murky waters of the Markan pond, you should abstain from
                                                    doing so. I do not know what is bothering you most, the methodology or
                                                    the findings that are based on it. Maybe you should relax and sit back.
                                                    Let someone else dive with me.

                                                    There was a time when I used to be critical of those who seemed naive to
                                                    me and continued to believe in fairytales. I realize now that there are
                                                    a lot of things that are beyond our control. This is particularly true
                                                    of what goes on in our mind. We can be rational only to a certain extent
                                                    and in relation to what goes on on the conscious level. Deep down, we
                                                    find ourselves in a pre-rational world, where our feelings are the rule.
                                                    They control us; we do not control them. We cannot be held responsible
                                                    for what controls us. It makes no sense to argue about what is beyond
                                                    our control. The only rational thing to do is to notice our differences
                                                    and respect them.

                                                    This does not mean that we are stuck in our respective prejudices. We
                                                    can pass from the unconscious to the conscious. We can become aware of
                                                    our prejudices. This is what initiations accomplish. Initiations are
                                                    always an ordeal. They revolutionize the way we look at certain things.
                                                    But initiations are always partial and incomplete. Nowadays things are
                                                    changing so fast we go through many initiations during our life.

                                                    Diving in the murky waters of the Markan pond is an initiation. New
                                                    knowledge and methodology will be introduced. There is here a double
                                                    ordeal, one related to the faith and another one related to the
                                                    scholarly profession. On both accounts we will have to revise our views
                                                    and move in a new direction.

                                                    * * *

                                                    **The Tibetan Book of the Dead** is a ritual which purports to accompany
                                                    the dead person on the final journey to the other world. Death is
                                                    conceived of as the final and great initiation into the new life. The
                                                    ritual consists in helping the person who has just died overcome the
                                                    ordeals of the great initiation. The dead person is assaulted by
                                                    frightening spirits. But those spirits are illusory. The best way to
                                                    overcome our fears is to recognize their illusory nature.

                                                    The fears that can paralyze us today are of the same nature. They cease
                                                    to frighten us when we become aware of their illusory nature. In the
                                                    same way, our prejudices cease to control our mind, when we realize our
                                                    error. What is so catastrophic if we recognized that the historical
                                                    critical method has its limitations? Why oppose the combination of more
                                                    than one method?

                                                    It is true that the Easter revelation recognized in Jesus the one "about
                                                    whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote". But the Easter faith
                                                    is based on what the disciples believed after the death of Jesus. If the
                                                    same disciples had not detected, during his life, anything that
                                                    anticipated this faith, and if they had to alter the historical facts in
                                                    order to confirm their faith, then they would have had a serious
                                                    problem. Traces of that problem are found in their own testimony as it
                                                    has been preserved in the gospel of Mark.

                                                    When I speak of coded language, I do not speak of an intentional coding,
                                                    but of a language where the unconscious reveals itself in a subtle way.
                                                    This interpretation allows me to recognize two things at the same time.
                                                    The first one is that the disciples have invented the triple prediction
                                                    of the Easter event. The second one is that they admit that the
                                                    prediction never took place. The triple prediction is theologically true
                                                    and historically false. I conclude that the triple prediction is not an
                                                    historical event, but solely a theological event. A theological event is
                                                    an event that is a logical consequence of the Easer faith, in as much as
                                                    the said faith requires that the historical Jesus and the resurrected
                                                    Christ be one and the same person.

                                                    Peace,

                                                    Joseph
                                                    ================
                                                    Joseph Codsi
                                                    P.O. Box 116-2088
                                                    Beirut, Lebanon
                                                    Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                                    joseph5@...
                                                  • John E Staton
                                                    Joe, Your apparent characterisation of Tony as a closed-minded obcsurantist is wide of the mark. One test of any so-called new method of criticism must be
                                                    Message 25 of 26 , Jul 2, 2005
                                                    • 0 Attachment
                                                      Joe,

                                                      Your apparent characterisation of Tony as a closed-minded obcsurantist
                                                      is wide of the mark. One test of any so-called "new method" of criticism
                                                      must be whether it makes more sense of the facts than the "old
                                                      criticism", or requires one to believe even more impossible things
                                                      before breakfast. From what I have heard of your theory on this list, I
                                                      believe your theory falls into the latter category.

                                                      I was, however, interested in your story about Philip Davies. He taught
                                                      me when I was at Sheffield University. We had many animated discussions.
                                                      I would like to have been a fly on the wall.

                                                      Best Wishes
                                                      JOHN E STATON
                                                    • Joseph Codsi
                                                      Reply to John E. Staton John, I am sorry if I gave you or anybody else the impression that I characterized Tony Buglass as a closed-minded obscurantist. I have
                                                      Message 26 of 26 , Jul 3, 2005
                                                      • 0 Attachment
                                                        Reply to John E. Staton

                                                        John,

                                                        I am sorry if I gave you or anybody else the impression that I
                                                        characterized Tony Buglass as a closed-minded obscurantist. I have a
                                                        great esteem for him, and I owe him a lot for keeping the discussion
                                                        alive.

                                                        You said: **One test of any so-called "new method" of criticism must be
                                                        whether it makes more sense of the facts than the "old criticism"**

                                                        Agreed. The second part of your statement was: **or requires one to
                                                        believe even more impossible things before breakfast.**

                                                        I think Galileo's theory could have been characterized in this fashion
                                                        by some of his contemporaries. I admit that my theory is based on the
                                                        reversal of the way we look at the gospel question. You are entitled to
                                                        your personal assessment of what I have done so far. You would be right
                                                        if I failed to "prove" my theory.

                                                        We tend to reject whatever questions our religious or professional
                                                        views. Skepticism can be healthy. But the closing of the mind is not.

                                                        I would have liked to ask Philip Davies a few questions about academic
                                                        research in the gospel field. Maybe some day we can organize a chat on
                                                        this point.

                                                        Peace,

                                                        Joseph
                                                        ==================
                                                        -----Original Message-----
                                                        From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
                                                        Behalf Of John E Staton
                                                        Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2005 9:43 PM
                                                        To: Crosstalk
                                                        Subject: [XTalk] Re: Is there a consensus on the Historical Jesus?

                                                        Joe,

                                                        Your apparent characterisation of Tony as a closed-minded obcsurantist
                                                        is wide of the mark. One test of any so-called "new method" of criticism

                                                        must be whether it makes more sense of the facts than the "old
                                                        criticism", or requires one to believe even more impossible things
                                                        before breakfast. From what I have heard of your theory on this list, I
                                                        believe your theory falls into the latter category.

                                                        I was, however, interested in your story about Philip Davies. He taught
                                                        me when I was at Sheffield University. We had many animated discussions.

                                                        I would like to have been a fly on the wall.

                                                        Best Wishes
                                                        JOHN E STATON
                                                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.