RE: [XTalk] Essay: Orthodox Death Tradition Misrepresents Jesus
- Since Stephen Carlson has already answered Loren's question, this is in
response to Stephanie Fisher asking in effect my view of Acts 20:28 and
Jeffrey B. Gibson asking about "the willingness to pay the ultimate price"
[endnotes omitted my my response]:
The strongest expression of the purpose of God in the cross occurs in the
first sermon in Acts. Peter told the men of Jerusalem that Jesus was
delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
This is repeated in the prayer meeting described in Acts 4. All concerned
Herod, Pilate, Gentiles, and Israelites, the praying group affirmed were
gathered together to do whatever thy hand and plan had predestined to take
place. Luke has made it clear that they were agents of God in the
enactment of God's will. The cross must be seen as the accomplishment of
divine purpose. As Paul prepared to depart from Ephesus for his voyage to
Jerusalem he warned the flock about the dangers they would face. His
departing speech included these words:
"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has
made you overseers to feed the Church of God which he obtained with the
blood of his own son."
Marshall has based his argument for a Lucan theology of the cross in part
upon this verse. Marshall has based his arguments upon words attributed by
Luke to Paul that are unmistakably clear. Luke speaks of the Church of God
which he obtained with the blood of his own son which is not far from the
image of redemption utilized by Paul.
Lucan writings emphasize the power of God and in that limited sense, Luke is
in agreement with Paul's assessment of the power of the cross. Luke uses
this terminology more often than any other New Testament writer. He does
so to demonstrate the truthfulness of the information Theophilus, the High
Priest, has heard about God's recent intervention in human history. God's
power is evident in the miracles performed by his representatives and is a
validation of their role. One miracle in particular performed by Jesus was
most impressive and about which the High Priest was informed. When the
temple guards came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword and cut off the
ear of the servant of the high priest. The Lucan Jesus restored the ear.
All of the gospels tell the story of the arrest of Jesus. Only Luke tells
about the miracle of the restoration of the ear. Such an outrageous claim
could not be made to the High Priest unless it was true. Matthew, Mark and
John writing later eliminate all friendly overtures and emphasize hostility
to the Jews because Matthew, Mark and John are reacting to their perception
of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews.
This miraculous restoration of the ear played the same role as the raising
of Lazarus does in the Gospel of John. It was a display of the power of God
as a prelude to the resurrection. Paul, like Luke and John, regarded
Christ's resurrection as the preeminent display of God's power. But Luke
attributes no saving efficacy to the cross. For Luke, by the power of God,
Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This divine activity is a consistent
Lucan emphasis. Luke stresses God's plan and movement of divine history
more than Matthew and Mark. This theme is developed cautiously given the
beliefs of the High Priest and the marginal status of immortality and
resurrection in the belief structure of first century Judaism.
One can only conclude that Luke has revealed his awareness of Paul's
theology of the cross and has accurately reported what Paul said to the
church in Ephesus. It does not follow that Luke has substituted Pauline
theology for his own. Luke shows his awareness but does not agree.
Richard H. Anderson
- Bob Schacht wrote on September 2, 2005
> At 07:50 AM 9/2/2005, Ernest Pennells wrote:Actually, Bob, I was trained as a form critic by my mentor James M.
>> >I would wonder if you would not, after reading my thesis, agree with me
>>that Mark is close to being a literary genius.<
>>The strongest component of your argument is the parallel motifs in the
>>stories. The explanation you have explored is that Mark worked from
>>Josephus. There are other explanations. Unfortunately we have little
>>information on sources used by Mark or Josephus. It is generally accepted
>>that literacy was limited - particularly among the peasant community from
>>which HJ drew his first adherents. Storytellers played a major role in
>>preserving and shaping tradition. The extent to which the Evangelists
>>directly upon that oral tradition is not known but is surely the earliest
>>source. Verbal similarities often suggest copying, but we simply don't
>>know when that process commenced.
>>You portray Mark as a literary genius, and your frame of thought is
>>reflected in this quote: "When Mark sought material to fashion his passion
>>narrative, he turned to two primary sources which he may well have had at
>>hand, the Septuagint and, I suspect, Book VI of Josephus' Jewish War."
>>That grants no acknowledgement to oral tradition. I don't think I am
>>unfair in plucking this sentence from your essay because, on my reading,
>>it captures the flavour of your line of thought, focusing upon the
> Actually, I had been meaning to add something along these lines to my 8/17
> post to Ted, and that is basically this: Ted was trained in the arts of
> literary criticism, and he does a most excellent job within that paradigm.
> As I understand it, they are basically trained to look for prior *written*
> sources-- and as we see in the case of Q, reconstruction of written
> is included. In the literary paradigm, as I understand it, operates with
> the idea that if you can't find a prior written source, then the author of
> your earliest known source created it. There is usually some wave of the
> hand to oral tradition, but their scholarly apparatus (again, as I
> understand it) does not include much on how to deal with it.
Robinson, and fully immersed in Bultmann and Dibelius, first courses Jim
taught in seminary at Candler School of Theology in 1955-56 (when I was his
student), and then as his Ph.D. student at Claremont Graduate School (now
Claremont Graduate University) from 1960 to 1964, when I received my degree.
Robinson introduced me to redaction criticism, particularly
redaction-critical analysis of Mark, via Willi Marxsen's _Der Evangelist
Markus_, and with that as a foundation I moved in my own direction with Mark
as I wrote my dissertation, "The Heresy That Necessitated the Gospel of
Mark" (1964). In the dissertation and more clearly so in my 1971 book,
_Mark-Traditions in Conflict_, I imaged Mark more as exercising the freedom
of an author, which without me knowing it, was, if I may say so, was
something of a precursor to the literary-critical study of Mark, though I
self-consciously wrote from the vantage point of redaction criticism. In
1966, I presented my redaction-critical thesis on Mark as a paper, "The
Heresy That Necessitated the Gospel of Mark," (subsequently published in
revised form in 1968 by _Zeitschrift fuer die neutestamentliche
Wissenschaft_) at the SBL annual meeting to the entire New Testament section
of SBL (in those days the SBL was much, much smaller and all New Testament
papers were read at the New Testament session). Norman Perrin was present
in the New Testament session that day (along with Dieter Georgi and others
whose work I had drawn upon in my dissertaation) and read his own paper on
the Son of Man to the session following my paper. Following his reading of
his paper, there was a break, and he rushed down to me and asked me, having
heard my paper, where he could get my work. At the time, he was writing
his little volume for Fortress Press, "What Is Redaction?" Perrin
subsequently wrote me and asked if he could have a copy of my paper in order
to present my argument as an example of redaction criticism of Mark, and he
did so on pp. 54-56 of _What is Redaction Criticism. Perrin, thereafter,
encouraged me to produce a book based upon my dissertation thesis and went
to bat for me with the editors of Fortress Press who were initially
reluctant to publish my controversial thesis. But under the urging of
Perrin, _Mark-Traditions in Conflict_ so the light of day. I am very
indebted to Norman for his advocacy of my work in the guild.
So I was trained as a form critic, basically following Bultmann's
perspective on the oral tradition, and became a redaction critic. It has
only been in the last 20 years or so that I have become interested in
literary criticism as a methodology. And I do tend to begin with
literary-critical methodology now in the investigation of biblical texts.
With respect to oral tradition, I still tend to be more Bultmannian in my
view of the evolution of the oral tradition. My reading of Werner Kelber,
James C. Scott and Jan Vansina has only served to enforce that Bultmannian
orientation, though, unlike Bultmann, I do think that one can recover
evidence of the oral tradition prior to the Gospels (including Q and Thomas)
preserving authentic Jesus tradition. And I have posted as much in XTalk
Theodore J. Weeden, Sr.
Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University