From the HJ to the historical disciples
- Reply to Tony Buglass
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
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
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
I will stop here. I want to go back to the parable of the sower.
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- Reply to Wieland Wilker
Yes, you are right. We cannot exclude the possibility of
non-eye-witnesses altering the historical events. My original statement
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.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On
Behalf Of Wieland Willker
Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 9:43 AM
Subject: [XTalk] Re: From the HJ to the historical disciples
Joseph Codsi wrote:
> The eyewitnesses play here a pivotal role. All we know about thehistorical Jesus is based on their testimony.
This sounds reasonable.
> So if there is a discrepancy between what the historicalThis I think is debatable. It can just as well come from the
> Jesus was and the way he is described in the gospel, they
> are likely to be responsible for it.
Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
- Reply to Tony Buglass
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
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
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?
P.O. Box 116-2088
Telephone (961) 1 423 145