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From the HJ to the historical disciples

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  • Joseph Codsi
    Here is a summary of my theory on the dual role the disciples had to play as eyewitnesses of what happened during the life of Jesus, and as witnesses of the
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 27, 2005
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      Here is a summary of my theory on the dual role the disciples had to
      play as eyewitnesses of what happened during the life of Jesus, and as
      witnesses of the resurrection.

      A reconstruction of the disciples' dual experience

      Instead of concentrating on Jesus, I propose to concentrate on the
      disciples of the first generation, those who were eyewitnesses of what
      happened during the life of Jesus, and who became, after his death,
      witnesses of the resurrection. As witnesses of the resurrection, they
      proclaimed the Easter faith: Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God.

      At the beginning, the "apostolic" discourse concentrated on the
      resurrected Christ. It was centered on the present, and was
      future-oriented. The need to go back to the past and to recall what
      happened during the life of Jesus appeared at a second stage. The case
      of Paul illustrates this point. He knew just a few things concerning the
      historical events that had taken place during the life of Jesus. The
      Easter event was for him the central event. Paul's theology was based on
      it, not on the theological teaching of Jesus.

      The need to go back to the teaching of Jesus materialized in the
      creation of "gospels" containing his words. The real gospels appeared
      later, which combined Jesus' words and action.

      At a first stage, the eyewitnesses had to recall what Jesus had said. At
      a second stage, they had to recall what had happened during his life.
      This going back to the past and recalling of what had happened took
      place many years after the death of Jesus, and at a time when the
      Christological discourse had fairly developed. The immediate consequence
      of this theological development was that a big separated the historical
      Jesus from the resurrected Christ. This created a formidable gap between
      the two realities.

      In the confrontation that took place between Paul and Peter, Peter is
      reduced to a theological midget. Paul is the theological giant. Peter's
      big handicap goes back to his ties with the Jerusalem conservatives. He
      is caught between two contradictory currents in the church. He
      hesitates, says Paul, because of weakness of character. But I can think
      of a much more important reason. Peter was not sure Jesus would have
      approved of Paul's theological views concerning the gentiles and of the
      way he had transformed the Christian movement. Paul had not known the
      historical Jesus. He felt free to deviate from his views. Peter was in a
      different situation.

      Let us imagine Peter being asked, after the Jerusalem council, to recall
      what had happened during the life of Jesus. How is he likely to have
      handled the discrepancy between the historical Jesus and the Christ of
      the faith?
      A possible scenario

      Let us imagine the following scenario.

      As far as Peter's recollection of the facts was concerned, nothing had
      transpired that could show that Jesus knew the Easter revelation. None
      of the disciples had a way of knowing in advance, not even through the
      slightest hints, what pertained to the resurrection. As far as the
      disciples were concerned, everything happened as if Jesus ignored the
      most basic tenet of the Christian faith. Clearly this was theologically
      unacceptable. So Peter and his companions had to look for an
      explanation. Here is the way they have explained the mystery. They were
      sure that Jesus knew what was going to happen after his death, but for a
      mysterious reason, they thought, he wanted to keep this knowledge secret
      during his life. According to the divine plan, the Easter revelation was
      not to be anticipated, and Jesus went along with this disposition. What
      pertains to the "messianic secret" in the gospel of Mark is the way the
      disciples accounted for their disconcerting experience. There is also
      another explanation. God, they thought, had prevented them from seeing
      all the signs that made it clear that Jesus was aware of the Easter
      revelation.

      The dual explanation is confirmed in the gospel of Mark. The demons who
      reveal the secret identity of Jesus are rebuked by him. Those incidents
      show that Jesus wanted to keep his true identity secret. The fact that
      God had prevented them from seeing the true identity of Jesus is
      confirmed by their mysterious blindness. It is true that Jesus had taken
      care of them and treated them as insiders to whom the mystery of the
      Kingdom was revealed (cf. Mark 4:10-12). But they were treated,
      nevertheless, as outsiders in what pertains to the Easter mystery. A
      mysterious force had made them unable to see and hear what was otherwise
      visible and audible (cf. Mark 8:17-18).

      When we read the gospel of Mark, we do not notice the preoccupation of
      the disciples with this fundamental problem. This is so because the
      disciples never meant to tell us about their problem. They kept it for
      themselves and they solved it for themselves. So there is, in their
      testimony, a discourse that is addressed to their fellow Christians, and
      a discourse that is addressed to themselves. This second discourse is
      visible and understandable to them not to the public. Because of this,
      we can speak here of a coded language. The art consists in spotting this
      peculiar language and decoding it.

      Let us go back to the Markan episodes where the demons reveal the secret
      identity of Jesus against his will. Apparently the confrontations
      between Jesus and the demons are historical events. They show, in a
      subtle way, that Jesus did not want his second identity to be revealed
      prematurely. This is confirmed by the order not to speak of the
      Transfiguration before the resurrection (Mark 9:9). This is what the
      disciples want their fellow Christians to believe. In reality, however,
      they have made up those stories in order to resolve their personal
      problem. The stories show that Jesus wanted to keep his true identity
      secret during his life. But the stories do not say what actually
      happened. They are fictitious events (invented by the disciples) which
      confirmed the theory the disciples had elaborated in order to resolve
      their original problem: Jesus' apparent ignorance of the Easter
      revelation.

      A similar remark can be made about the mysterious force that caused the
      disciples' blindness. Their inability to see and understand what was, in
      and of itself, visible and understandable is the consequence of a divine
      action. God had prevented them from seeing and understanding. Apparently
      they are reporting what had happened as it had happened. In reality,
      nothing of the sort happened. We are dealing here with a fictitious
      account, the purpose of which is to confirm the theory of the disciples.

      The historical truth is that Jesus knew nothing about what the disciples
      were going to make of him after his death. God, on the other hand, had
      done nothing to prevent the disciples from recognizing the second
      identity of Jesus. The Easter faith has simply made of Jesus after his
      death what he was not during his life. But because this was
      unacceptable, the disciples had to transform the historical Jesus so as
      to make him compatible with the resurrected Christ.

      In this new problematic, Jesus' triple prediction of his death and
      resurrection becomes a central piece of evidence. It goes without saying
      that the disciples want us to believe that Jesus had spoken of his death
      and resurrection on the third day. But are they, in this respect,
      reliable witnesses? Have they not invented the triple prediction in
      order to bridge the gap between the historical Jesus and the Christ of
      the faith?

      In order to resolve this problem, we must pay attention to the
      psychopathological consequences the invention of the triple prediction
      must have had on the disciples. If they have invented the triple
      prediction in order to show that Jesus and the resurrected Christ are
      one and the same, they have altered the historical truth. They are not
      reliable witnesses. But they had to alter the historical truth for
      theological reasons. This means that what they were forced to do was,
      theologically speaking, necessary and correct. Historically speaking, it
      was incorrect.

      As witnesses of the resurrection, they had to uphold the Easter faith
      and show that Jesus knew what was going to happen to him after his
      death. But as witnesses of what happened during the life of Jesus, they
      knew that Jesus had not predicted his death and resurrection.
      Consequently the disciples experienced a severe conflict between the two
      roles they had to play. This resulted in a psychopathological problem,
      which manifests itself in the way the disciples speak of themselves. The
      evidence, as we can see it in the gospel of Mark, is clear that they
      were deeply disturbed.

      Had the disciples said not only the theological truth but also the
      historical truth, they would not have had any conflict between their
      dual testimony. The mere fact that there are clear traces of a severe
      conflict between their two roles, confirms my theory.

      The gospel is, from Mark to John and passing by Matthew and Luke a
      discourse concerning "Jesus Christ, Son of God" (Mk 1:1). The central
      aim of the entire discourse is to show that the historical Jesus is one
      and the same with the Christ of the faith. This is hardly an objective
      account of what happened during the life of Jesus.

      Is there a way of separating the weeds from the wheat, the historical
      from the fictitious? According to my theory, we can say for sure that
      Jesus knew nothing of what was going to happen to him after his death.
      This means that the Jesus of the faith is not historical. Now the Jesus
      of the faith is one and the same with the resurrected Christ. So
      whatever anticipates the Easter faith in a pre-Easter context is not
      historical. Anything beyond this is likely to be speculative. What the
      historical Jesus wanted to do and the way he understood his mission
      remain problematic. We can say what he was not. What he really was is
      likely to remain a mystery.

      The specific point concerning Jesus' ignorance of the glorious future he
      was going to have after his death is based on the testimony of the
      eyewitnesses as it has reached us in the Gospel of Mark, and as the
      gospel of John confirms it. What is characteristic of GMark is the
      disciples' psychological problem and its implications. Forced to alter
      the historical truth, they are honest enough to admit, in a coded
      language, their action.

      ================
      Joseph Codsi
      P.O. Box 116-2088
      Beirut, Lebanon
      Telephone (961) 1 423 145
      joseph5@...
    • Joseph Codsi
      Reply to Tony Buglass Just a clarification about the summary of my theory. You made the following remark about it:
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 30, 2005
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        Reply to Tony Buglass

        Just a clarification about the summary of my theory. You made the
        following remark about it:

        <<Most of what you write touches upon issues which have been the stuff
        of critical gospel scholarship for years, summed up I suppose by the
        difference between the post-Easter retelling of the pre-Easter story.
        On that wavelength, I think I'm asking "so what's new?" You don't seem
        to me to have developed anything which can't be examined by the usual
        tools of scholarship.>>

        Tony,

        There is a difference between the enunciation of a theory and its
        demonstration. In my last post, I have said what my theory was all
        about. I have pointed out how limited in scope it was. At the same time,
        I have tried to specify the shift in the way I propose to look at
        things. The new title I have given to that post puts the finger on this
        point: "From the historical Jesus to the historical disciples".

        Between the HJ and us there are many intermediaries. 2000 years of
        interpretation, ecumenical councils, gospel writers, the traditions they
        used, last but not least, the original eyewitnesses of what happened
        during the life of Jesus. The eyewitnesses play here a pivotal role. All
        we know about the historical Jesus is based on their testimony. So if
        there is a discrepancy between what the historical Jesus was and the way
        he is described in the gospel, they are likely to be responsible for it.
        I propose, therefore, to concentrate our investigation on this point.

        The disciples and eyewitnesses have provided us with significant
        information about themselves. Let us analyze this information and see
        what it reveals.

        I am not basing my discovery on a new gospel written by Jesus Christ
        himself. I can only rely on the gospels that have been in our hands for
        centuries. I am using the same texts everybody else has used. So you are
        right when you say that I am doing here what everybody else has done
        before me. The novelty of my approach is in the way I read and interpret
        certain texts, which are related to the testimony of the
        disciples-eyewitnesses.

        So I suggest you wait and see how I will read the texts I have chosen.

        * * *

        MIDRASH

        What you are saying about the literary form of the midrash is
        interesting. I have no problem reading the infancy gospels as midrashic.
        They express a legitimate theological point of view through the use of
        legends. This means that they were not invented by eyewitnesses
        purporting to report exactly what had happened in their presence. Those
        stories are pious legends. They have very little, if any, historical
        value. Their value is theological. They have no relation to the
        disciples as eyewitnesses.

        But things become totally different when we turn to a testimony
        pertaining to the prediction of the Easter event. When the disciples say
        that Jesus predicted in their presence his death and resurrection, they
        are not reporting a pious legend. If, on the other hand, the disciples
        are honest enough to admit, in a coded language, that no such prediction
        has taken place, then I would speak of a "theological event" instead of
        a midrash. A theological event is an event that has no historical
        reality. It is justified solely on theological grounds. It is required
        by the Easter faith of the witnesses. In this particular case, the said
        witnesses had no choice but to alter the historical facts for reasons of
        faith.

        * * *

        I will end this post with a quote from Teilhard de Chardin. He wrote:

        <<Il n’est guère de travail plus pénible à notre esprit (ni qui se
        heurte plus vite à un effort impossible) que de sortir de soi-même pour
        retrouver la pensée de ceux qui sont spirituellement loin de lui.>>

        Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Le sens humain, février-mars 1929.
        Œuvres, tome 11, Les directions de l’avenir, Seuil 1973, p. 22.

        <<There is no work that is more taxing upon our mind (nor that is so
        quickly confronted to an impossible effort) than to get out of itself in
        order to meet the thought of those who are spiritually far from it.>>

        Teilhard was speaking of his own experience and of the opposition to his
        evolutionary views. To open up to new ways of thinking is no simple
        matter. This can be a formidable task. We tend to reduce these questions
        to good or bad will. I think they go beyond this kind of problematic to
        the depth of our unconscious. It is possible to open up to new ways of
        seeing the world. But they necessitate an initiation of sorts that can
        be slow and, at times, difficult.

        Cheers,

        Joseph
        ================
        Joseph Codsi
        P.O. Box 116-2088
        Beirut, Lebanon
        Telephone (961) 1 423 145
        joseph5@...
      • Wieland Willker
        ... This sounds reasonable. ... This I think is debatable. It can just as well come from the non-eye-witnesses. Best wishes Wieland
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 30, 2005
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          Joseph Codsi wrote:
          > The eyewitnesses play here a pivotal role. All we know about the historical Jesus is based on their testimony.

          This sounds reasonable.


          > So if there is a discrepancy between what the historical
          > Jesus was and the way he is described in the gospel, they
          > are likely to be responsible for it.

          This I think is debatable. It can just as well come from the non-eye-witnesses.


          Best wishes
          Wieland
          <><
          ------------------------------------------------
          Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
          mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
          http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
          Textcritical commentary:
          http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
        • Joseph Codsi
          Reply to Tony Buglass Tony, What you and Wieland Wilker have said is correct. I did not mean to exclude any action by non eyewitnesses, but to include the
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 2, 2005
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            Reply to Tony Buglass

            Tony,

            What you and Wieland Wilker have said is correct. I did not mean to
            exclude any action by non eyewitnesses, but to include the action of
            eyewitnesses in the transformation of historical events. The notion of
            "theological event" illustrates this point.

            Can a midrash be written by an eyewitness? A midrash, it seems to me,
            can only be produced by a non eyewitness and in the midst of a community
            who has specific views as far as political and religious questions are
            concerned. The midrash reflects the condition of place and time in which
            the said community was trying to say itself by redefining its distant
            past.

            A theological event, on the other hand, can be created by an eyewitness.
            In this case, however, the eyewitness will have acted with the knowledge
            that he has altered the historical truth.

            Is there a historical kernel to a theological event? This is possible
            but not necessary. In what pertains to my theory, only the theological
            events that are attributable to the disciples and eyewitnesses are of
            interest. The way Matthew has altered the profession of faith of Peter
            as it had reached him in the Markan version has no importance for my
            theory.

            In what pertains to the gospel, a theological event takes the form of
            inserting a post-Easter view into a pre-Easter context. In order to do
            so, an insertion point is needed. In one case, the insertion point is an
            exorcism. The theological event takes the form of transforming an
            ordinary exorcism into a confrontation between Jesus and the demon, in
            which the unclean spirit reveals Jesus secret identity without paying
            any attention to the stern order to keep silent. In another case, the
            insertion point is the parable of the sower. In what pertains to the
            triple prediction of the Easter event, the insertion point is not clear.
            We must look for it. The second prediction of the resurrection is
            located on a lonely road somewhere in Galilee. The first prediction is
            located on a road in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi. The third
            prediction is located on the road going up from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
            The physical road symbolizes the spiritual road of initiation. Luke has
            developed the theme of the road in relation to the Christian initiation
            (cf. Lk 24:13-35 and Acts 8:26-40).

            The first prediction is the only one that is associated with another
            event: Peter's profession of faith. The problem is that even Peter's
            profession of faith is a theological event. The only historical event
            that is associated with it is the order to keep silent (which is
            identical to the order Jesus gives to the demons). The first prediction
            of the resurrection, on the other hand, is associated with another
            historical event: the rebuke of Peter.

            In order to understand what is going on here, we must reconstruct the
            historical circumstances in which Jesus rebuked Peter and called him
            "Satan". Right now, I can only notice the dual parallelism between those
            two events and the confrontations with the demons. The disciples
            identified themselves with the demons, and peter is identified with
            Satan. Connections of this nature are very important in my theory. They
            allow me to see what is going on in the mind of the disciples and what
            they are struggling with.

            One last remark. I don't think there was a historical kernel to the
            triple prediction of the resurrection. The reason is simple. The
            witnesses who are responsible for that theological event are honest
            enough to admit, in a coded language, that no such prediction ever took
            place.

            I will stop here. I want to go back to the parable of the sower.

            Cheers,

            Joseph

            ================
            Joseph Codsi
            P.O. Box 116-2088
            Beirut, Lebanon
            Telephone (961) 1 423 145
            joseph5@...
          • Joseph Codsi
            Reply to Wieland Wilker Wieland, Yes, you are right. We cannot exclude the possibility of non-eye-witnesses altering the historical events. My original
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 2, 2005
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              Reply to Wieland Wilker

              Wieland,

              Yes, you are right. We cannot exclude the possibility of
              non-eye-witnesses altering the historical events. My original statement
              was misleading.

              We tend to assume that it is much easier for a non eyewitness to alter
              the historical facts than for an eyewitness, especially when we do not
              doubt the good intentions of the people involved. A reliable witness
              tells the truth. This is so under normal conditions. But under abnormal
              conditions, it is possible to have an eyewitness who changes the story
              and even invents certain things that are not historical (the prediction
              of the Easter event, for instance). He does so not by free choice, but
              by necessity and for reasons of faith.

              Because of this, I find the role of the disciples as eyewitnesses
              pivotal in the transmission of what happened during the life of Jesus.
              They transmit the facts under the modality of transforming them, if and
              when they see it necessary.

              Eyewitnesses and non eyewitnesses have contributed to the creation of
              the Jesus of the faith, as the gospels have fashioned him. There was a
              theological necessity behind all this. What is unique about the
              disciples-eyewitnesses is that they knew they altered the historical
              facts. This explains why they identified themselves with the demons who
              revealed Jesus' secret identity against his will.

              So if there is a discrepancy between what the historical Jesus was and
              the way he is described in the gospel, the disciples and eyewitnesses
              can be held responsible for it. I am speaking here not only of a
              theoretical possibility, but of a strong likelihood. What is still
              missing at this stage is the confirmation of my theory.

              Peace,

              Joseph

              =================

              -----Original Message-----
              From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
              Behalf Of Wieland Willker
              Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 9:43 AM
              To: Crosstalk
              Subject: [XTalk] Re: From the HJ to the historical disciples

              Joseph Codsi wrote:
              > The eyewitnesses play here a pivotal role. All we know about the
              historical Jesus is based on their testimony.

              This sounds reasonable.


              > So if there is a discrepancy between what the historical
              > Jesus was and the way he is described in the gospel, they
              > are likely to be responsible for it.

              This I think is debatable. It can just as well come from the
              non-eye-witnesses.


              Best wishes
              Wieland
              <><
              ------------------------------------------------
              Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
              mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
              http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
              Textcritical commentary:
              http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
            • Joseph Codsi
              Reply to Tony Buglass Hello Tony, I wish to say a word about your frustration with the difficulty I have with your insistence on clear answers. I sympathize
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
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                Reply to Tony Buglass

                Hello Tony,

                I wish to say a word about your frustration with the difficulty I have
                with your insistence on clear answers. I sympathize with your
                frustration, but please try to understand the difficulty I have to
                overcome.

                I have stated my theory. John Staton finds that it "requires one to
                believe impossible things before breakfast." I am sure he is not the
                only one to think in this fashion. How do I propose to "prove" my
                theory?

                Everything is based on the gospel of Mark. The proof takes the form of a
                novel reading of the Markan texts. Among the major passages I have
                identified as important, the parable of the sower and the
                misunderstanding about the yeast of the Pharisees play a pivotal role.
                They allow me to identify the question that was troubling the disciples.
                On the one hand, they acknowledge that Jesus initiated them into the
                mystery of the Kingdom of God. He treated them as those who are
                "inside". He told them: "To you has been given the mystery of the
                Kingdom of God" (parable of the sower). On the other hand, they admit
                that Jesus treated them as those who are "outside" (the yeast of the
                Pharisees). This different treatment cannot be pertaining to the Kingdom
                of God. It must be about something else. So the first thing we should do
                is identify the topic in relation to which Jesus kept them "outside".
                Here we do not have a clear identification of the Christian mystery as
                it is said in the Easter revelation. The identification is done
                indirectly, and through the mediation of the Eucharist. The allusions to
                the feedings of the five and four thousand are linked, in the mind of
                the disciples, to the Eucharist. Now the Eucharist is a recollection of
                the death of Jesus and a participation in the Easter mystery. The
                reference to the Eucharist allows me to link the blindness of the
                disciples to the Easter mystery.

                This dual admission, on the part of the disciples, means that they had
                been initiated into the Kingdom of God, not into the Easter mystery.
                This is how I prove that, on the basis of the disciples' own testimony,
                they had not been instructed in the Easter mystery. What follows
                immediately and without any doubt is that all the things that are
                mentioned in the gospel and which locate, in a pre-Easter context,
                things that pertain to the Easter revelation are not historical.

                I invite you to discuss the dual testimony of the disciples as I have
                identified it. Am I seeing in the texts what is not in them?

                Cheers,

                Joseph

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