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Re: [XTalk] A new forum: The historical Jesus

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  • Jim West
    ... No- that is not correct. Bultmann s program wasn t demythologizing anyway, it was remythologizing (since thats what Entmythologieserung means- or
    Message 1 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
      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 2 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
        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 3 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
          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 4 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
            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

            Writer/Co-writer, "AramaicNT.org"
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            ---
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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 5 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
              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 6 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
                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 7 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
                  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 8 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
                    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 9 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
                      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 10 of 21 , Dec 6, 2005
                        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 11 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                          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 12 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                            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 13 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                              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 14 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                                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 15 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                                  [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 16 of 21 , Dec 7, 2005
                                    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 17 of 21 , Dec 8, 2005
                                      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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