Re: [XTalk] From the HJ to the historical disciples
- Joseph wrote:
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.
Wieland has already touched on this. Changes to the testimony could have
happened at a number of stages in the transmission - either in the telling
by the original eyewitness, or in the passing on by the first (oral?)
tradents, or in the writing and assembling of what eventually became the
canonical gospels. Changes might therefore have nothing to do with the
original story-tellers, and whether they did or did not, they might not
cause the psychopathological esponses which give rise to your coded
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. ..[snipped] If, on the other hand, the
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
You're making a distinction here *within* what has often been described as
midrash, and a distinction which I have touched upon in other discussions by
referring to midrash as "the new myth". Briefly, when Bultmann identified
material which he believed to be mythological, he assumed it was therefore
not historical - mythological could not be historical. Wolfhart Pannenberg
argued however that one of the distinctive features of Hebrew thought was
its ability to use historical events in a mythological way. The exodus from
Egypt was a historical event, albeit probably not in the form of the story
in the book - Hebrew tribes did leave Egypt. Whatever the true historical
nature of that event (where it happened, how many or few of the tribes were
involved, etc) something happened which in Hebrew awareness became the
mythological foundation of their identity as the nation of Israel. He
concluded that just because an account was mythological, it is not
impossible that the story was based on a historical event of some kind.
Midrash seems to have become a popular word in the last ten years or so of
NT scholarship, and has carried the assumption that any story which is
midrash is therefore not at all historical. Personally, I think that is too
sweeping an assumption, and each instance needs critical examination to
So your distinction between midrash and theological event is helpful in
itself, but of course begs the question that lies behind my comments above -
how do we determine whether there was any event behind the midrashic
account? We're back to where we started, and the need for the critical
tools developed for the task. In the case of the triple resurrection
prediction in Mark, it is pretty much conclusive that those accounts in the
gospel have been edited into that shape and place by the gospel author for
dramatic and theological reasons. Only the most conservative of readers wil
insist that they happened exactly like that. The question is whether Mark
created what you call theological narratives de novo for his own theological
reasons, and they are entirely theological fiction - ie Jesus never
predicted his resurrection - or whether Mark had received a tradition that
Jesus did in fact predict his resurrection. To illustrate the point Wieland
and I have made, that tradition could have changed at any stage in its
transmission. For example, it is quite possible that Jesus, as a devout
Jew, anticipated his resurrection on the last day. If he and his disciples
discussed the risks of his martyrdom at the hand of the authorities, it is
not unlikely that the reward of resurrection featured in the conversation,
possibly in a manner similar to the Books of the Maccabees. When Jesus was
killed, and the first Easter event/experience took place, such conversations
would be recalled and dwelt upon, and possibly given new significance. So
the tradition handed on by the first eyewitnesses could indeed have included
prediction of a resurrection on the third day rather than the last day -
"well, this is what we thought he was talking about, but obviously this is
what he really meant..." Or that could have taken place as later hearers
received the simple eyewitness testimony that Jesus predicted his
resurrection. And Mark then developed the tradition he received for his own
dramatic and literary purposes. Which raises the question - according to
your definitions, is the resurrection prediction essentially teological
event (ie entirely non-historical) or midrash (ie midrashic development of a
What is particularly significant for your theory is the role played by the
eyewitnesses, their response to that role, and whether the evidence we have
allows us to see it. In the above example, disciples discovering what they
thought Jesus really meant would not feel any dissonance or discomfort at
retelling the story to draw out the proper meaning. There would be no
psychopathological response, and no coded language. What you have seen as
coded language on the part of the disciples may instead be theologically
influenced language from a later stage of the traditioning process. In
order to demonstrate the grounds for your theory, you would need to
demonstrate in the first place that you do have the words of the
eyewitnesses, and then that they would respond as you suspect to changes
they made in the tradition. I don't think you have yet established those
grounds, and I wait to see how you will do so.
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.
Teilhard avait raison, je crois! However, I have been a member of this list
(predominantly lurking, but occasionally surfacing) since about 2000. Very
rarely have I seen disputes arising out of ill will. This has seemed to me
to be an excellent forum for people who are engaged in honest study, and
developing their thinking through open debate and discussion. I have
learned a great deal, and am very grateful to my fellow-listers. Clearly,
everyone brings an agenda to the debate, and sometimes that agenda is more
obvious than others. The important thing is that the discussion is open and
honest -how each of us deals with the implications for our personal agenda
may or may not be relevant. I admit to a degree of curiousity about you,
Joseph - apart from knowing that you are in Lebanon, and suspecting that
your first language is French, I know nothing about you. Is there a
particular professional insight that you bring to the discussion? Might
help us to know!
Rev Tony Buglass
Upper Calder Methodist Circuit
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- Jospeh wrote:
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
The midrash reflects the condition of place and time in which
the said community was trying to say itself by redefining its distant
Why distant past?
I don't accept this definition. I suspect this confirms my view of "midrash" as the "new myth".
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
The question is not whether or not it is necessary, but whether or not it is true. Granted that we might not be able to recover it, but anytheory which simply brushes it aside is open to question.
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.
Is that parallelism significant in these terms, or simply part of the wider dualism of a Judaism and Christianity which believed itself to be in a permanent struggle with Satan and sin? And does the language arise from Jesus, from the disciples (in this significant way), from the disciples (in a differently significant way), from Mark, etc?
I have been asking questions of this sort since the beginning this thread. I have yet to see an answer to my questions. I have seen frequent re-assertions of your theory, but without any really attempt to address the difficulties I have with the grounds for your theory. It's a bit frustrating, Joseph. How can a conversation take place when the participants simply talk past each other?
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
I will stop here. I want to go back to the parable of the sower.
And here we are again, with this stubborn return to assertions of "coded language" and a theological event. You have not yet established that there really is a coded language. What you term coded language can be explained by existing means of analysis, and arguably better explained by those means. In order to demonstrate that your theoory is better, and prior theories inadequate, you must address some of the questions which are raised by your claims. If you can do that, I wll take your theory and its method seriously. But I do need to feel that you are taking other points seriously. How can you simply assert that "no such prediction ever took place"? You weren't there. It might be likely that Jesus didn't make *that* prediction, but I have already offered you a perfectly possible alternative explanation, which I you simply ignore.
So you have some work to do, I think, before you are in a position to carry listmembers with you in your exposition of the sower.
Rev Tony Buglass
Upper Calder Methodist Circuit
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Joseph Codsi writes
> How do I propose to "prove" my theory?It seems to me, Joseph, that you simply don't have enough evidence yet to
> 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.
prove your point. Mere plausibility is not enough. There is probably no such
thing as "proof" of such a hypothesis. Even if Mark appeared before us in
the flesh and admitted that he lied, that would not be proof. Even if we
discovered an ancient copy of Ur-Mark that told the story as you claim it
really happened, and all scholars in the field agreed in dating the text to
the early first century, that would not be proof.
But we can amass evidence, and assign a weight of probability. Here is one
example of the kind of evidence I am looking for: You might give historical
examples of other literature (in any field) where other scholars have said
that the text clearly betrays that the writer knows he is creating a lie
because of certain artifacts in the text. Failing that, can you at least
give other examples from the text of Scripture, outside of Mark, where this
same phenomenon occurs?
As soon as you claim to "prove" something or assert that "what follows . . .
without any doubt," you run into trouble. If that were true, then everyone
on this list would immediately agree with you. If instead you would use
language like "it seems compelling to me that . . ." it might be more