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A new forum: The historical Jesus

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    Here s something that I received from David Busch, Executive Producer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Religious Radio Programs. It might be of
    Message 1 of 21 , Dec 5, 2005
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      Here's something that I received from David Busch, Executive Producer of
      the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Religious Radio Programs. It
      might be of interest to some. But I must admit that I am puzzled how a
      forum that says it is dedicated to discussing the quest for the
      historical Jesus and the relevance of that quest for contemporary
      theology promotes itself under the sensationalist title "Jesus:
      "History or Myth". If Jesus never existed -- as the "myth" in the title
      implies -- then the quest is a wild goose chase, and any relevance the
      quest has is based on an illusion.

      ********

      Hi:

      I am from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Later today we are
      opening a general interest e-forum called, "Jesus: History or Myth?"
      It's intended to open up questions about the quest for historical Jesus,
      and its relevance for contemporary theology, for a general audience.
      The "Historical Jesus 101" e-group to which your site points is no
      longer operating. Perhaps you might point to our forum, please, and/or
      alert members of Xtalk to its existence? It will run until shortly after
      Easter 2006.

      http://www2b.abc.net.au/religion/jesus/forum/

      Thank-you.

      David

      David Busch
      Executive Producer
      ABC Religious Radio

      Phone +61 7 3377 5273
      Mobile +61 438 646 559

      GPO Box 9994
      Brisbane Qld 4001
      Australia
      Fax +61 7 3377 5171

      Visit us on the web at:
      http://www.abc.net.au/religion/
    • Ernest Pennells
      [Jeffrey Gibson] ... implies -- then the quest is a wild goose chase, and any relevance the quest has is based on an illusion.
      Message 2 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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        [Jeffrey Gibson]
        >"History or Myth". If Jesus never existed -- as the "myth" in the title
        implies -- then the quest is a wild goose chase, and any relevance the
        quest has is based on an illusion.<

        Doesn't that depend upon your working definition of "myth"? I have faint
        recollections of that debate when "The Myth of God Incarnate" was published.
        Some of the articles therein treated myth as derivative from events. On
        that basis my conservative soul (off topic) finds this label less
        objectionable than "fiction".

        Regards,

        Ernie Pennells
        Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B
        Level 12 Apartment 4
        28 Corniche el Nil
        Cairo, Egypt
        Tel: (20-2)526 6383 Mobile 0121001490
        http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
      • Tony Buglass
        Jeffrey wrote: If Jesus never existed -- as the myth in the title implies -- then the quest is a wild goose chase, and any relevance the quest has is based
        Message 3 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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          Jeffrey wrote:
          If Jesus never existed -- as the "myth" in the title
          implies -- then the quest is a wild goose chase, and any relevance the
          quest has is based on an illusion.<

          Ernie replied:
          Doesn't that depend upon your working definition of "myth"? I have faint
          recollections of that debate when "The Myth of God Incarnate" was published.
          Some of the articles therein treated myth as derivative from events.

          The idea that "myth" = "not historical" was at the heart of the Bultmannian
          understanding of demythologising, if I've understood Bultmann correctly. He
          argued that if something could be defined as mythological, it was therefore
          almost by definition not historical.

          That understanding was challenged long before "The Myth of God Incarnate"
          by Wofhart Pannenberg in an essay in "Basic Questions in Theology" vol.3
          (which I encounterd as a second year undergrad and didn't know whether to be
          amused that anything written by Pannenberg could be considered basic, or
          afraid of having to tackle anything which could be defined as advanced!).
          As I remember (my undergrad days were a long time ago...) Pannenberg argued
          from a religious studies approach that ancient religions had a mythological
          framework, beginning with a primal age (eg the Genesis creation myth, the
          Gilgamesh epic, etc) which enabled questions about the present to be
          answered - such as "why is growing food such hard work?" "why does
          childbirth hurt so much?" The radical contribution of Hebrew thought was
          that it began to treat historical events in a mythological way - so the
          Exodus from Egypt (whatever the details of the event) was a real historical
          event in the history of Israel, and together with Sinai became the
          mythological foundation for the identity of Israel. Thus a historical
          episode was endowed with mythological significance. (As an aside, I would
          argue that the same process happens in the modern world - the role of
          Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain in particular and WW2 in general in the
          developement of the late 20th C British identity is surely mythological.)

          The implication of that was to challenge the assumption of Bultmann's
          exegesis that anything which was mythological (eg the resurrection of Jesus)
          must necessarily be unhistorical. The question of historicity must be
          answered according to more relevant criteria - evidence, criterion of
          plausibility, etc. So it is neither incoherent nor impossible to deal with
          a historical quest among mythological material.

          Cheers,
          Rev Tony Buglass
          Superintendent Minister
          Upper Calder Methodist Circuit
        • Tim Crosby
          Does anyone know whether sex-change operations were performed in the Roman Empire in the first century? I stumbled upon the following three passages which seem
          Message 4 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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            Does anyone know whether sex-change operations were performed in the Roman
            Empire in the first century?


            I stumbled upon the following three passages which seem to me to imply this:


            Justin Martyr, Apology, 27

            Philo Leg. 3:41

            Diodorus Siculus 32.10-12


            (Rather than citing them, I would rather have different individuals look
            them up in various translations to cross-check)


            Have I misinterpreted the texts?


            Do you know of any other passages in the primary literature?


            Do you know of any discussion in the secondary literature?


            Tim Crosby

            Hagerstown, MD
          • Jim West
            ... No- that is not correct. Bultmann s program wasn t demythologizing anyway, it was remythologizing (since thats what Entmythologieserung means- or
            Message 5 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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              Tony Buglass wrote:

              >
              > The idea that "myth" = "not historical" was at the heart of the Bultmannian
              > understanding of demythologising, if I've understood Bultmann correctly. He
              > argued that if something could be defined as mythological, it was therefore
              > almost by definition not historical.

              No- that is not correct. Bultmann's program wasn't "demythologizing"
              anyway, it was "remythologizing" (since thats what
              "Entmythologieserung" means- or at least what it meant to Bultmann).
              Bultmann is often wrongly accused of a destructive, anti-gospelism but
              nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Bultmann's whole
              enterprise was aimed at removing the first century mythological layer
              and making the gospel (and the bible) meaningful for modern folk who do
              not live with the "Worldview" of first century Jews or Greeks or Romans.
              Bultmann's attidtude towards the historical reconstruction of the
              historical Jesus was skepticism- because he did not view it as essential
              for faith. He was, of course, quite correct in this. Any God that can
              be confined to history isn't worth worshipping.

              So far as Bultmann's alledged disbelief is concerned (and this untruth
              is often bantered about by the fundamentalists whose whole faith
              requires history since it is really faith in history rather than faith
              in Christ) Bultmann stood at the entrance of the Church in Marburg
              nearly every Sunday, holding the box for the collection benefitting the
              poor. He was a pious man. Not a pagan man (which is why the
              misrepresentation of his system nearly infuriates me no end).

              >
              > The implication of that was to challenge the assumption of Bultmann's
              > exegesis that anything which was mythological (eg the resurrection of Jesus)
              > must necessarily be unhistorical.

              But those events that have no precedence and no after occurance are
              "a-historical" (not unhistorical- there is a serious difference between
              the two). That is, in Bultmann's thought, "above" history or "beyond"
              history and thus not subject to historical verification.


              The question of historicity must be
              > answered according to more relevant criteria - evidence, criterion of
              > plausibility, etc. So it is neither incoherent nor impossible to deal with
              > a historical quest among mythological material.

              It is impossible to discover history in mythological material. Myth is
              super-historical and not chained to it nor defined by it.

              Best

              Jim



              --
              D. Jim West
              Biblical Studies Resources - http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
              Biblical Theology Weblog - http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
            • Lisbeth S. Fried
              Dear Jim, Could you please explain what you mean here? Any God that can be confined to history isn t worth worshipping. Thanks, Liz Fried Ann Arbor [Non-text
              Message 6 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                Dear Jim,

                Could you please explain what you mean here?

                Any God that can
                be confined to history isn't worth worshipping.





                Thanks,



                Liz Fried

                Ann Arbor



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jim West
                ... What I mean is that any God who can be confined to historical categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn t really any sort of God at all. God
                Message 7 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                  Lisbeth S Fried wrote:
                  > Dear Jim,
                  >
                  > Could you please explain what you mean here?
                  >
                  > Any God that can
                  > be confined to history isn't worth worshipping.
                  >

                  What I mean is that any God who can be confined to historical
                  categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
                  sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
                  that can be put under a microscope isn't God.

                  Best

                  Jim

                  --
                  D. Jim West
                  Biblical Studies Resources - http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
                  Biblical Theology Weblog - http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
                • Daniel J. Gaztambide
                  Dear Everyone, I can t help but to both agree and disagree with Jim West. On the one hand I emphathize with his assertion that God can t be put under a
                  Message 8 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                    Dear Everyone,

                    I can't help but to both agree and disagree with Jim West. On the one
                    hand I emphathize with his assertion that "God can't be put under a
                    microscope- and anything that can be put under a microscope isn't God."

                    On the other, I can't help but notice that many religious traditions
                    (including Christianity) make very strong historical claims, historical
                    in the sense that they actually took place. Among them are healing
                    miracles- God takes an action upon the body of a human being. I would
                    agree with Jim West that God Him/Her/It-self could not be studied (How
                    would you go about that? Try to capture God-molecules?), but these
                    effects upon the "material world" might lend themselves to scientific
                    study.

                    For example, I'm working on a paper examining the healing miracles of
                    Jesus. Within most historical reconstructions the question of miracles
                    are bracketed outside and allowed an agnostic isolation. The reports
                    within the NT tell us that in many cases people came to Jesus asking for
                    healing, he asks them if they believe, they reply positively, and he
                    declares them healed. Could their faith truly have healed their bodies?

                    Now usually this is when we go "myth and history are interwined" and we
                    can't study this phenomena. Recent research in psychoneuroimmunology,
                    however, has shown that a belief can actually have an effect upon a
                    person's physiology, from averting disease to causing or allowing greater
                    susceptivility to a disease. With this kind of material as hermeneutic
                    lens, we could theoretically study the healing miracles.

                    God as a transcendental reality seems outside the realm of microscopes
                    and test tubes... but what about the effects of this reality upon our
                    reality? What might be gained or lost by trying to study THAT?

                    Best,

                    -Daniel J. Gaztambide

                    On Tue, December 6, 2005 11:27 am, Jim West wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > Lisbeth S Fried wrote:
                    > > Dear Jim,
                    > >
                    > > Could you please explain what you mean here?
                    > >
                    > > Any God that can
                    > > be confined to history isn't worth worshipping.
                    > >
                    >
                    > What I mean is that any God who can be confined to historical
                    > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
                    > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
                    > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.
                    >
                    > Best
                    >
                    > Jim
                    >
                    > --
                    > D. Jim West
                    > Biblical Studies Resources - http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
                    > Biblical Theology Weblog - http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com
                    >
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                    --
                    Daniel Gaztambide

                    http://profiles.yahoo.com/priestwguns777

                    Henry Rutgers Scholar (Psychology and Religion)
                    Rutgers University
                    New Brunswick NJ 08901
                    31045 RPO Way

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                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                    ... I ve only glanced at the first two references, and they appear to describe making eunuchs. As this area is not exactly my specialty, I cannot really say
                    Message 9 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                      At 10:37 AM 12/6/2005 -0500, Tim Crosby wrote:
                      >Does anyone know whether sex-change operations were performed in the Roman
                      >Empire in the first century?
                      >
                      >I stumbled upon the following three passages which seem to me to imply this:
                      >Justin Martyr, Apology, 27
                      >Philo Leg. 3:41
                      >Diodorus Siculus 32.10-12
                      >
                      >Have I misinterpreted the texts?
                      >Do you know of any other passages in the primary literature?
                      >Do you know of any discussion in the secondary literature?

                      I've only glanced at the first two references, and they appear
                      to describe making eunuchs. As this area is not exactly my
                      specialty, I cannot really say much more of any use, but there
                      is a recent article in the Journal for the Study of the New
                      Testament presenting a lot of background about eunuchs in Roman
                      antiquity that may prove helpful to you:

                      J. David Hester, "Eunuchs and the Postgender Jesus: Matthew
                      19.12 and Transgressive Sexualities," JSNT 28.1 (2005): 13-40.

                      Stephen Carlson
                      --
                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                      Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
                      Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
                    • John C. Poirier
                      ... Wouldn t it be better to say that such a God isn t really the God of *classical theism*, but he/she could be the God of biblical theism? John C. Poirier
                      Message 10 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                        Jim West wrote:

                        > . . . [A]ny God who can be confined to historical
                        > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
                        > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
                        > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.

                        Wouldn't it be better to say that such a God isn't really the God of
                        *classical theism*, but he/she could be the God of biblical theism?


                        John C. Poirier
                      • Tony Buglass
                        Jim wrote: No- that is not correct. Bultmann s program wasn t demythologizing anyway, it was remythologizing (since thats what Entmythologieserung
                        Message 11 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                          Jim wrote:
                          No- that is not correct. Bultmann's program wasn't "demythologizing"
                          anyway, it was "remythologizing" (since thats what
                          "Entmythologieserung" means- or at least what it meant to Bultmann).

                          Tony:
                          Well, I argued years ago that he was really re-mythologising, because he did
                          interpret the Gospel into what he understaood as 20th C terms, which were
                          defined by his existentialism. However, not to nit-pick, but that is not
                          what the word means. "Ent" means "from", which becomes "de" rather than
                          "re" as a prefix.


                          Jim:
                          Bultmann is often wrongly accused of a destructive, anti-gospelism but
                          nothing could be further from the truth. ... So far as Bultmann's alledged
                          disbelief is concerned (snipped) Bultmann stood at the entrance of the
                          Church in Marburg
                          nearly every Sunday, holding the box for the collection benefitting the
                          poor. He was a pious man. Not a pagan man

                          Tony:
                          Agreed.

                          Jim:
                          Bultmann's attidtude towards the historical reconstruction of the
                          historical Jesus was skepticism- because he did not view it as essential
                          for faith. He was, of course, quite correct in this. Any God that can
                          be confined to history isn't worth worshipping. [snipped] ... the
                          fundamentalists whose whole faith
                          requires history since it is really faith in history rather than faith
                          in Christ

                          Tony:
                          Perhaps the emotive (and misrepresentative) words are "confined to history"
                          and "faith in history". If God has chosen to become involved in history
                          (which is what incarnation means, and part of the whole HJ question, I
                          reckon), then history is important to the questions.

                          You have re-affrimed the point I was trying to make, that Bultmann's
                          understanding of myth mor or less determined itself as non-historical, and I
                          still think Pannenberg successfully refuted that position.

                          Cheers,
                          Tony
                        • Bob Schacht
                          ... This discussion is in danger of veering off topic, but let me bring it back by focusing on what we mean by history. Various meanings are adduced, e.g. *
                          Message 12 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                            Jim West wrote:

                            > . . . [A]ny God who can be confined to historical
                            > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
                            > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
                            > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.

                            This discussion is in danger of veering off topic, but let me bring it back
                            by focusing on what we mean by "history." Various meanings are adduced, e.g.
                            * History is "what happened." i.e., history is reality through time,
                            however imperfectly it may be perceived by humans.
                            * History is whatever people have decided to remember and record, e.g.,
                            history is written by the victors, and is therefore biased.
                            * History is the verifiable record of what happened, or whatever it is
                            that Jim West means when he says history, which seems to be different from
                            the previous bullets.
                            The first bulletted meaning above can also be aligned as the *goal*. The
                            second bullet refers to the data from which history is written, while the
                            third bullet is the data of history filtered through some particular system
                            of understanding. For example, "history" is whatever professional
                            historians say it is.

                            There are probably other meanings, too. These do matter, because it has a
                            bearing on what we mean by the "historical" Jesus. This always comes up,
                            implicitly or explicitly, when the subject of miracles comes up. By Jim's
                            reckoning, if I understand him correctly, miracles cannot be historical,
                            even if they happened. You can see how this can get discussions all fouled
                            up with misunderstandings.

                            Bob
                            University of Hawaii


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • John C. Poirier
                            ... Bob, I agree that the confusion is terminological, but it goes beyond the definitions that you give. Part of the problem lies within the twentieth-century
                            Message 13 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                              Bob Schacht wrote:

                              > This discussion is in danger of veering off topic, but let me bring it
                              > back by focusing on what we mean by "history." Various meanings are
                              > adduced, e.g.
                              > * History is "what happened." i.e., history is reality through time,
                              > however imperfectly it may be perceived by humans.
                              > * History is whatever people have decided to remember and record,
                              > e.g., history is written by the victors, and is therefore biased.
                              > * History is the verifiable record of what happened, or whatever it is
                              > that Jim West means when he says history, which seems to be different from
                              > the previous bullets.

                              Bob,

                              I agree that the confusion is terminological, but it goes beyond the
                              definitions that you give. Part of the problem lies within the
                              twentieth-century platonizing trajectory, which differentiates between
                              "being" and "existence" (a distinction that comes out of classical theism,
                              but not biblical theism), aligning God with the former and history with the
                              latter. This of course is a much bigger problem with Karl Barth's theology
                              (and with today's postliberals, etc.), but I fear it also lies behind
                              Bultmann's stance.


                              John C. Poirier
                            • Lisbeth S. Fried
                              I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was totally pointless. Liz Fried Ann Arbor _____ From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                              Message 14 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
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                                I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
                                totally pointless.

                                Liz Fried

                                Ann Arbor

                                _____

                                From: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com] On
                                Behalf Of John C. Poirier
                                Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 1:41 PM
                                To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: RE: [XTalk] myth vs. history



                                Jim West wrote:

                                > . . . [A]ny God who can be confined to historical
                                > categories, investigation, or scientific discovery, isn't really any
                                > sort of God at all. God can't be put under a microscope- and anything
                                > that can be put under a microscope isn't God.

                                Wouldn't it be better to say that such a God isn't really the God of
                                *classical theism*, but he/she could be the God of biblical theism?


                                John C. Poirier




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                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Bob Schacht
                                ... Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which considers history to be what happened in the past. In the strong sense, this view
                                Message 15 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                  At 03:57 PM 12/6/2005, Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:
                                  >I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
                                  >totally pointless.
                                  >
                                  >Liz Fried

                                  Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which
                                  considers "history" to be what happened in the past. In the strong sense,
                                  this view was that history = what God did in the past, especially with
                                  regard to the People of the Covenant. That is, History = a summary of the
                                  Acts of God. Nothing else was considered very important.

                                  West is writing of "history" in a different sense, where history is a
                                  summary of the data from the past *after* it has been filtered by
                                  modernists, which removes every fingerprint of God in the process.

                                  Bob


                                  Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                                  University of Hawaii
                                  Honolulu, HI

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • John C. Poirier
                                  ... Yes, I agree. Lest you misunderstand my point, I was lodging a complaint about how classical theism has screwed things up for modern theology, and
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                    Liz Fried wrote:

                                    > I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
                                    > totally pointless.

                                    Yes, I agree. Lest you misunderstand my point, I was lodging a complaint
                                    about how classical theism has screwed things up for modern theology, and
                                    pointing out that the biblical view is of a God "manifest in history" (as
                                    you put it)--even to the point of experiencing time! Twentieth-century
                                    Anglo-American Christian theology doesn't seem to have a clue about any of
                                    this.

                                    I could go on, but this is not a theology list.


                                    John C. Poirier
                                  • Gordon Raynal
                                    ... Bob, This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need noting: 1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those who
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                      On Dec 7, 2005, at 3:49 AM, Bob Schacht wrote:

                                      > At 03:57 PM 12/6/2005, Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:
                                      >> I would have thought that any God that was not manifest in history was
                                      >> totally pointless.
                                      >>
                                      >> Liz Fried
                                      >
                                      > Of course. This is the perspective of the writers of the Tanakh, which
                                      > considers "history" to be what happened in the past. In the strong
                                      > sense,
                                      > this view was that history = what God did in the past, especially with
                                      > regard to the People of the Covenant. That is, History = a summary of
                                      > the
                                      > Acts of God. Nothing else was considered very important.
                                      >
                                      > West is writing of "history" in a different sense, where history is a
                                      > summary of the data from the past *after* it has been filtered by
                                      > modernists, which removes every fingerprint of God in the process.

                                      Bob,

                                      This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need
                                      noting:
                                      1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those
                                      who hold to plenary inspiration and complete literalism, I know of no
                                      theologians Christian or Jewish since the Enlightenment who would
                                      accept such a blanket statement as regarding the whole of TANAKH.
                                      Actually such a view that you are stating (I don't know if you truly
                                      hold to it?) is a very modern view that arose out of the
                                      Fundamentalist/ Modernist debates that began in the late 19th century.
                                      And, although I am not going to discuss it here as this is a historical
                                      list, the phrase "Acts of God" is, to say the very least, a very
                                      complicated phrase that needs careful parsing and not simply a phrase
                                      that helps one distinguish actual occurrences in space/ time and
                                      fictional/ mythic communications which aim to talk about the meaning of
                                      the "events," but do so in entirely through literary imagination.
                                      2. One major reason for this (that does have to do with this list) is
                                      that the actual literature of the TANAKH is inclusive of many genres of
                                      writing (<g> not to mention the book of Esther that doesn't even
                                      mention "God:)!:). To aver that the ancients, in general, and the
                                      Hebrew writers, in particular, didn't understand such as genre and such
                                      literary devices such as metaphor, irony, hyperbole, etc. is to not pay
                                      heed to the literature itself. Understanding such is absolutely vital
                                      to making sense of the literature we have. Whatever "events" one is
                                      wanting to hold onto as "factual occurrences," even with those a
                                      careful understanding of the communications about them requires a very
                                      careful literary and historical analysis for our access to them is
                                      through literature.
                                      3. Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fictional story
                                      telling has been and often is one of the most potent forms of
                                      theological communication.

                                      Gordon Raynal
                                      Inman, SC
                                    • John C. Poirier
                                      ... Gordon, I know Bob can fend for himself, but I think you have misunderstood what he said. He said that the writers of the Tanakh . . . consider[]
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                        Gordon Raynal wrote:

                                        > This sort of post is veering into theology, but a couple things need
                                        > noting:
                                        > 1. First (and regarding a brief theological comment) save for those
                                        > who hold to plenary inspiration and complete literalism, I know of no
                                        > theologians Christian or Jewish since the Enlightenment who would
                                        > accept such a blanket statement as regarding the whole of TANAKH.
                                        > Actually such a view that you are stating (I don't know if you truly
                                        > hold to it?) is a very modern view that arose out of the
                                        > Fundamentalist/ Modernist debates that began in the late 19th century.
                                        > And, although I am not going to discuss it here as this is a historical
                                        > list, the phrase "Acts of God" is, to say the very least, a very
                                        > complicated phrase that needs careful parsing and not simply a phrase
                                        > that helps one distinguish actual occurrences in space/ time and
                                        > fictional/ mythic communications which aim to talk about the meaning of
                                        > the "events," but do so in entirely through literary imagination.
                                        > 2. One major reason for this (that does have to do with this list) is
                                        > that the actual literature of the TANAKH is inclusive of many genres of
                                        > writing (<g> not to mention the book of Esther that doesn't even
                                        > mention "God:)!:). To aver that the ancients, in general, and the
                                        > Hebrew writers, in particular, didn't understand such as genre and such
                                        > literary devices such as metaphor, irony, hyperbole, etc. is to not pay
                                        > heed to the literature itself. Understanding such is absolutely vital
                                        > to making sense of the literature we have. Whatever "events" one is
                                        > wanting to hold onto as "factual occurrences," even with those a
                                        > careful understanding of the communications about them requires a very
                                        > careful literary and historical analysis for our access to them is
                                        > through literature.
                                        > 3. Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fictional story
                                        > telling has been and often is one of the most potent forms of
                                        > theological communication.

                                        Gordon,

                                        I know Bob can fend for himself, but I think you have misunderstood what he
                                        said. He said that "the writers of the Tanakh . . . consider[] 'history' to
                                        be what happened in the past". He did not say that the whole Hebrew Bible
                                        is historiography. I don't see how anything that Bob said emerges from the
                                        "Fundamentalist/ Modernist debate", and I don't see how any of it dispenses
                                        with the importance of understanding the literary aspects of the Hebrew
                                        Bible. If the earliest readers of (say) Jonah understood that it was just a
                                        parable, that would not detract from what they thought "history" was, or of
                                        how God related to history.


                                        John C. Poirier
                                      • Ernest Pennells
                                        [Bob Schacht] ... We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake. Regards, Ernie Pennells Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B Level 12 Apartment 4 28
                                        Message 19 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                          [Bob Schacht]
                                          >History is whatever people have decided to remember and record<

                                          We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake.

                                          Regards,

                                          Ernie Pennells
                                          Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B
                                          Level 12 Apartment 4
                                          28 Corniche el Nil
                                          Cairo, Egypt
                                          Tel: (20-2)526 6383 Mobile 0121001490
                                          http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
                                        • Bob Schacht
                                          ... Hey, I like it! Bob [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          Message 20 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
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                                            At 04:09 AM 12/7/2005, Ernest Pennells wrote:
                                            >[Bob Schacht]
                                            > >History is whatever people have decided to remember and record<
                                            >
                                            >We might add that MYTH is more like MYTHtery than MYTHtake.

                                            Hey, I like it!
                                            <g>
                                            Bob


                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Richard Bartholomew
                                            Radio National from Australia has a documentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing on Robert Eisenman - downloadable as an mp3 for the next few weeks:
                                            Message 21 of 21 , Dec 8, 2005
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                                              Radio National from Australia has a documentary on the
                                              Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing on Robert Eisenman -
                                              downloadable as an mp3 for the next few weeks:

                                              http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/spirit/stories/s1521682.htm

                                              Richard Bartholomew
                                              (Osaka University)



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