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Where to look for HJ

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  • Ernest Pennells
    The discussion headed ...consensus... prompts me to pose a related question, because I find myself a bit puzzled at the preponderance of discussion on this
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 27, 2005
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      The discussion headed "...consensus..." prompts me to pose a related
      question, because I find myself a bit puzzled at the preponderance of
      discussion on this list that focuses upon literary issues. ISTM that this
      far outweighs the level of interest in questions about historical context.
      I am left feeling that a list purportedly devoted to the Historical Jesus is
      a strange place for preoccupation with theological fiction and hypothetical
      documents :-{. The unhistorical Jesus, perhaps? ;-). Those topics are
      certainly relevant, but they do seem disproportionately high profile.
      Historical probing draws less response.

      If I may fly a test case, one of the bees in my own bonnet (there's a
      humming hive up there) is the context for the birth narratives. The
      contrasting accounts of Matthew and Luke both make clear connections with
      Herod. Given the fact that his Judaean royal lineage was non-existent, his
      credentials as a Jew contentious, his enthronement a Roman project, his
      rule established by force of arms, and his purge of the Hasmonaeans
      thorough; the very mention of his name is enough to establish a highly
      controversial context for the birth of a Son of David upon whom a number of
      people are said to have pinned high hopes.

      Matthew seems content to dismiss Herod as a slayer of infants, snubbed by
      wiser men.

      Luke merely mentions him by name in the first sentence of his narrative,
      but engages the context of his rule very effectively with birth stories that
      set out with an elderly country priest (echoes of Mattathias) in the Holy
      Place, instructed by Gabriel to give his future son a Maccabean name.
      Judging by his own name, and his family's reported reaction against
      Gabriel's proposal, we may assume this family was not Maccabean. This
      lowly country priest had credentials rooted in tradition - unlike
      Herod's/Rome's appointees to the ranks of chief priests. ISTM that adopting
      that name and attributing the choice to divine directive was highly
      provocative in the Herodian era. This sets a tone for what follows.

      The improbable story of the infant Jesus being taken to the temple for
      dedication becomes another jibe against the incumbent priestly regime, which
      is ignored in favour of "devout" witnesses to the destiny of this child.

      All somewhat polemical! I have found scant discussion of this polemic in
      the literature - am I looking on the wrong shelves? (Suggested sources
      welcome).

      Alongside this specific case in point I am flagging a broader question as to
      whether intense analysis of texts (survivors, postulated, or fraudulent) is
      the best way to discover HJ. Thus far, I have carefully avoided using the
      word "politics", which appears to be a bit of a turn-off for some listers.
      But then, historical investigation stripped of politics sounds like hobbled
      methodology to me.

      Come on lurkers - be provoked ;-).

      Regards,

      Ernie Pennells
      220-50 Songhees Road
      Victoria BC V9A 7J4
      Tel: 250-381-5676
      http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
    • David Hindley
      ... connections with Herod. Given the fact that his Judaean royal lineage was non-existent, his credentials as a Jew contentious, his enthronement a Roman
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 28, 2005
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        Ernie Pennells stated:

        >>The contrasting accounts of Matthew and Luke both make clear
        connections with Herod. Given the fact that his Judaean royal
        lineage was non-existent, his credentials as a Jew contentious,
        his enthronement a Roman project, his rule established by force
        of arms, and his purge of the Hasmonaeans thorough; the very
        mention of his name is enough to establish a highly
        controversial context for the birth of a Son of David upon whom
        a number of people are said to have pinned high hopes.<<

        Here's an Herodian thought experiment for you. Julius Africanus,
        in a discussion about the different genealogies in Matt & Luke,
        asserts that the family of Jesus accounted for these kinds of
        conflicting genealogical claims by blaming Herod the Great. They
        (meaning members of Jesus' family) claim that Herod had the
        public genealogical records burned to cover up the "fact" (which
        wasn't actually a fact if Josephus, no lover of Herod,
        accurately relates things) that he was of illegitimate birth.

        Were these stories, the forms of which can be treated
        effectively as hypothetical sources, formulated pre or post war?
        Were they formulated to answer criticisms of the different
        genealogies if Matt & Luke (unlikely, since Jewish Christians
        did not seem to use Matt as we have it or Luke)? Were they
        making various claims about Jesus to bolster his royal image? If
        so, how might that image differ from the campus radical guru
        modern scholarship seems to be serving up based on their
        interpretation of the hypothetical "Q"?

        Can "Q" be interpreted as something *other* than a (somewhat
        garbled) sample of Jesus' actual teachings, such as an anonymous
        wisdom collection pressed into service by Gospel writers, or
        just early Christians in general, to soften Jesus' rough edges?
        Admittedly I am not aware of anyone - beside me - who has
        suggested this.

        So, hypothetical sources are indeed important, if they mean the
        difference between Jesus the radical sage or Jesus the
        religio/political revolutionary.

        >>All somewhat polemical! I have found scant discussion of this
        polemic in the literature - am I looking on the wrong shelves?
        (Suggested sources welcome).

        Oh, it was popular in the 60's & 70's. S.G.F. Brandon comes to
        mind. He, or someone like him, wrote _The Fall of Jerusalem and
        the Early Christians_.

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio USA
      • Ernest Pennells
        [David Hindley] ... Luke,asserts that the family of Jesus accounted for these kinds of conflicting genealogical claims by blaming Herod the Great.
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 29, 2005
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          [David Hindley]
          >Julius Africanus, in a discussion about the different genelngies in Matt &
          Luke,asserts that the family of Jesus accounted for these kinds of
          conflicting genealogical claims by blaming Herod the Great.<

          What strikes me about the conflicting genealogies is that Matthew stays on
          firm biblical grounds by citing the king list of Judah, from David to
          Jehoiachin, whereas Luke contradicts what must have been common knowledge
          by conspicuously omitting the name of any monarch who sat on David's throne,
          but nonetheless names Zerubbabel and Shealtiel who were descendants of David
          denied the throne. Sounds like a deliberate mistake to me. The best clue I
          can detect is the contrast between Matthew's fondness of the title "Son of
          David", and Luke's apparent avoidance of it, except when Jesus is greeted
          that way as he approaches Jericho.

          [David Hindley]
          >Brandon comes to mind. He, or someone like him, wrote _The Fall of
          Jerusalem and the Early Christians_.<

          Am not familiar with that title, David. Brandon's theme tended to be
          insurrection. No shortage of literature on that front. The polemic I was
          addressing targets Herod and the priestly regime of his era. Some may think
          that a subtle distinction, but I find it fundamental to the L-A narrative,
          with implications for other gospel tradition.

          Regards,

          Ernie Pennells
          220-50 Songhees Road
          Victoria BC V9A 7J4
          Tel: 250-381-5676
          http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
        • Ernest Pennells
          Amid a day full of distractions I sidestepped the core of your message, David. Incidentally, it is nice to be engaging with old sparring partners, but where
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 30, 2005
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            Amid a day full of distractions I sidestepped the core of your message,
            David.

            Incidentally, it is nice to be engaging with old sparring partners, but
            where oh where are all those lurkers I tried to provoke!

            [David Hindley]
            >Were these stories, the forms of which can be treated effectively as
            hypothetical sources, formulated pre or post war?<

            I honestly don't think we have any substantive evidence as to the decade in
            which the gospels or their sources were written. The theories are just
            that. Robinson's "Redating ..." felt plausible to me when I read it, and
            matched my mood at that time, but I admit that one could create quite a
            list of significant events that fail to show up in the NT. What seems more
            important to me is material that seems well rooted in the narrative
            context - fact or fiction. Exploring that is challenge enough and offers a
            better key to historical evaluation IMHO.

            Take baptism for instance. Stripping away preconceptions from two millennia
            of Christian praxis to evaluate JBap's use of baptism, then explain how
            baptism emerged as an initiation rite within the church after featuring
            nowhere in the Synoptic account of Jesus' own ministry, is a puzzle of
            substantial proportions. The gospels themselves don't try to fill that gap
            with explanatory events, although they do inject a theological overlay:
            for the forgiveness of sins. Josephus rightly challenges that Christian
            distortion. John's baptism was Jewish; an oft repeated rite primarily
            concerned with preparation for entering the temple. That makes it a good
            match for his call to PREPARE and the message of Yahweh's return. The
            disconnect between JBap and the temple is what seems highly significant to
            me, offering a particular lens through which the continuing narrative ought
            to be viewed.

            [David Hindley]
            >Were they making various claims about Jesus to bolster his royal image?<

            Undoubtedly. This is an obvious candidate for fictional extrapolations.
            Hence my earlier question on XTalk about the likelihood of tribal
            affiliation with a southern tribe being likely in Galilee. People were
            identified by name, paternity, and home community. Am I right in saying
            that the tribal affiliation of the twelve passes without note or comment?
            Very odd, if the import of twelve was rooted in the twelve tribes of
            Israel. Tribes were allotted territory. Mention of a man's tribe might
            therefore reflect geography rather than antecedence. Would that make
            Jesus, Son of David, of the tribe of Judah, a misfit in Nazareth?

            Regards,

            Ernie Pennells
            220-50 Songhees Road
            Victoria BC V9A 7J4
            Tel: 250-381-5676
            http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
          • David Hindley
            Ernie, ... Matthew stays on firm biblical grounds by citing the king list of Judah, from David to Jehoiachin, whereas Luke contradicts what must have been
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 3, 2005
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              Ernie,

              >>What strikes me about the conflicting genealogies is that
              Matthew stays on firm biblical grounds by citing the king list
              of Judah, from David to Jehoiachin, whereas Luke contradicts
              what must have been common knowledge by conspicuously omitting
              the name of any monarch who sat on David's throne, but
              nonetheless names Zerubbabel and Shealtiel who were descendants
              of David denied the throne. Sounds like a deliberate mistake to
              me. The best clue I can detect is the contrast between
              Matthew's fondness of the title "Son of David", and Luke's
              apparent avoidance of it, except when Jesus is greeted that way
              as he approaches Jericho.<<

              Luke does tend to be more Roman friendly, in the sense of not
              wishing to offend Roman sensibilities, and those sensibilities
              included a healthy suspicion of anything even remotely
              suggesting rebelliousness. Matthew was interested in explaining
              (away) the charge of rebellion (from the royal attribution Jesus
              seems to have received or perhaps claimed during his lifetime)
              as misunderstandings.

              >>Am not familiar with that title, David. Brandon's theme
              tended to be insurrection. No shortage of literature on that
              front.<<

              Brandon, S. G. F. (Samuel George Frederick), 1907-1971. _The
              fall of Jerusalem and the Christian church: a study of the
              effects of the Jewish overthrow of A. D. 70 on Christianity_,
              London: S.P.C.K., 1951.

              >>The polemic I was addressing targets Herod and the priestly
              regime of his era. Some may think that a subtle distinction,
              but I find it fundamental to the L-A narrative, with
              implications for other gospel tradition.<<

              The nature of any "priestly regime" that might have existed at
              the time, and whether their authority extended to Galilee or the
              Jewish Diaspora, hinges (I think) on the form or constitution of
              the temple organization. Unfortunately, most of the hypotheses
              about this form seem to be from critics interested in the
              relationship between the Roman authorities and Jews in general,
              or those interested in land-tenure or Roman taxation policy, and
              not so much the critics involved in NT scholarship.

              FWIW, for a variety of reasons I think that the form was that of
              a "temple state" under the general control of the governor of
              Judaea. It probably had authority over land in Judaea (with
              exception of significant tracts of Roman controlled land),
              collecting the tithes and taxes authorized by the Torah. Romans
              considered the Jewish people, no matter where they were, as
              members of a collective EQNOS, but Jews were pretty much
              expected to organize and govern themselves in these place they
              were settled according to their ancestral traditions, as much as
              they were able. While these collectives of self governing Jews
              were nominally subject to the temple (state) in Judaea, the
              level of control the temple authorities may have actually
              exercised was probably limited to supervising the transport of
              voluntary tithes and gifts from the provinces to the Temple, and
              advise to these congregations on points of observance of the Law
              and Jewish traditions. At that time, due to the limitation of
              the land under control of the temple to the Jewish sections of
              Judaea, these gifts likely constituted a good portion or even
              the majority of the income of the temple (state).

              >>I honestly don't think we have any substantive evidence as to
              the decade in which the gospels or their sources were written.
              The theories are just that. Robinson's "Redating ..." felt
              plausible to me when I read it, and matched my mood at that
              time, but I admit that one could create quite a list of
              significant events that fail to show up in the NT. What seems
              more important to me is material that seems well rooted in the
              narrative context - fact or fiction. Exploring that is
              challenge enough and offers a better key to historical
              evaluation IMHO.<<

              I would differ as to what constitutes "substantive" evidence. We
              have fairly detailed knowledge of the significant historical
              events of the period from Josephus and some non-Jewish sources.
              When we try to date early Christian documents we have to fit
              them within this historical framework by identifying ideas and
              possible historical allusions contained in them, and this is
              done by means of literary criticism. The problem is that there
              are huge numbers of possibilities. Critics differ on the
              methodologies employed to reduce these possibilities to a
              manageable number of "most-likely" ones.

              >>Undoubtedly [Jesus' family was making various claims about him
              to bolster his royal image]. This is an obvious candidate for
              fictional extrapolations. Hence my earlier question on XTalk
              about the likelihood of tribal affiliation with a southern tribe
              being likely in Galilee. People were identified by name,
              paternity, and home community. Am I right in saying that the
              tribal affiliation of the twelve passes without note or comment?
              Very odd, if the import of twelve was rooted in the twelve
              tribes of Israel. Tribes were allotted territory. Mention of a
              man's tribe might therefore reflect geography rather than
              antecedence. Would that make Jesus, Son of David, of the
              tribe of Judah, a misfit in Nazareth?<<

              My opinion is that there is some evidence that in that period
              tribal names were used as geographical indicators, but they were
              also still used in the older sense of a genealogical
              relationship, however tenuous. Don't mix up actual genealogical
              claims, which would also contain tribal association, with
              geographical labels.

              Any claim to royal lineage, though, by Jesus or his fans would
              have had serious repercussions. This probably explains why they
              seem to have ceased to exercise any authority after the 2nd
              rebellion.

              Respectfully,

              Dave Hindley
              Cleveland, Ohio USA
            • Ernest Pennells
              [David Hindley] ... offend Roman sensibilities,
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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                [David Hindley]
                >Luke does tend to be more Roman friendly, in the sense of not wishing to
                offend Roman sensibilities,<

                I am inclined to put it more forcefully than that - his profiling of
                centurions, for example, seems positively pro-Roman. As his concluding
                sequence is about using Roman courts to defend Paul against summary justice
                from Jerusalem's hierarchy, that is an understandable strategy. The case
                for identifying Theophilus as a former High Priest appears to clash with
                that stance, unless one regards the HP as leaning toward Rome heavily
                enough to be open to attacks on his fellow office holders.

                [David]
                >... The nature of any "priestly regime" that might have existed at the
                time, and whether their authority extended to Galilee or the Jewish
                Diaspora, hinges (I think) on the form or constitution of the temple
                organization.<

                I agree that the Galilee-Judaea distinction requires close attention.
                Despite the Galilean origins of Jesus of Nazareth and the twelve, the
                gospels do give major profile to Jerusalem. In addition to being the place
                of his destiny, it was also the principal seat of the religious code that
                Jesus challenged. My own inclination is to see the Pharisees as spokesmen
                for that regime in an area too far from Jerusalem to be much populated with
                priests. I know that there is also an argument about scant evidence for
                significant numbers of Pharisees in Galilee at the time, calling in
                question the profile given to them in gospel tradition, but is it right to
                draw negative conclusions from information gaps. What evidence is it
                legitimate to demand from that time, consistent with data that is
                available?

                [David]
                >Unfortunately, most of the hypotheses about this form seem to be from
                critics interested in the relationship between the Roman authorities and
                Jews in general, or those interested in land-tenure or Roman taxation
                policy, and not so much the critics involved in NT scholarship.<

                But here is a revealing spotlight to focus upon HJ. To reiterate a
                recurrent theme of mine, I am impressed by the provocative contrast between
                Jesus' reputation for friendly alliance with tax collectors, alongside his
                hostility toward temple traders. This strikes me as strident theatrical
                polemics regarding legitimate-v-corrupt revenue collection. Rome/tetrarch
                friendly: temple hostile. That speaks volumes!

                I am also intrigued by the apparent dichotomy between Jesus' reported
                antipathy toward the temple hierarchy, and Luke's minority witness that his
                disciples remained in Jerusalem and made the temple the focal point of their
                early ministry.

                [David]
                >I would differ as to what constitutes "substantive" evidence ... The
                problem is that there are huge numbers of possibilities.<

                Hence my reservations about "substantive" vis-a-vis dating tradition.

                Regards,

                Ernie Pennells
                220-50 Songhees Road
                Victoria BC V9A 7J4
                Tel: 250-381-5676
                http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
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