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Re: Diversity

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... [snip] ... I have no interest in defending Mack, but I think Rikk(?) goes too far in minimizing the importance of diversity. We don t need 48 different
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 30, 2006
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      At 09:41 AM 3/30/2006, David B. Gowler wrote:
      >Rikk Watts? on Thursday, March 30, 2006 at 11:15 AM -0500 wrote:
      > >Thanks David
      > >

      [snip]

      > >The language to which you object was Stark's own. . . .
      >
      >My side comment was that early Christianity was "quite diverse" from the
      >beginning. . . .
      >But a few comments about Stark's work per your previous post:
      >
      >
      > >. . . .Demographically, on Stark's and Hopkins' projections the number
      > of the early
      > >(= late second century) Christian house churches and attending literate
      > >adult males would have been very small (the later around 600). . .


      >. . . Stark ends up "assuming" that there were 1000 Christians in the year
      >40 (p. 5).
      >
      > >
      > >Sociologically, Stark notes that Irenaeus mentions two dozen heretical
      > >groups and a bit later Hippolytus lists almost 50. . . .
      >
      > > . . . in the catalogue of its 48
      > >different sects and sub-groups most are either defunct and/or relatively
      > >tiny whose existence in no way detracts from the existence of a much larger
      > >core group. Why should we expect I's and H's lists and the experience of
      > >early Xty to be any different, based on the dynamics of conversion to a
      > >marginal group?
      >
      > >So yes, there was not doubt diversity but it seems highly unlikely that it
      > >was anything like the kind of thing that Mack, Ehrman, et al suggest. . . .

      I have no interest in defending Mack, but I think Rikk(?) goes too far in
      minimizing the importance of diversity. We don't need 48 different sects
      for diversity to be important. First of all, there is the diversity
      represented in the NT itself, principally
      * The Jerusalem church under James et al., clearly reflected in Paul's
      letters, e.g. Galatians, the "circumcision party", i.e., the so called
      "Jewish Christians" and later the Nazoreans
      * Paul's Mission to the Gentiles and thereby the Gentile churches in
      the diaspora
      * The followers of John the Baptist, who are occasionally encountered
      in Acts & Paul's letters;
      * The followers of Apollos and other Alexandrians, as revealed in Acts
      & Paul's letters
      I think I'll stop there for the moment-- I'm not trying to be exhaustive,
      but each of those 4 was more than a minor distraction. They were riven by
      such issues as must one be Jewish? Must one be circumcised, &/or observe
      Jewish dietary restrictions? Is baptism important or not? Was Jesus
      divine, or human? If divine, was he divine from birth? or from his baptism?
      or only after his resurrection? What eschatological expectations were in
      order (e.g., parousia?) What writings/teachings are foundational or
      authoritative?

      Consequently, if there were 48 different sects, it does not bother me in
      the slightest that most of them were probably minor and of no consequence.
      We can get all the diversity we can handle from 4-6 major groupings.
      Furthermore, we can see in the way the early church developed that there
      were a series of regions under the authority of a Bishop-- perhaps no more
      than half a dozen (Alexandria; Antioch; Judea [Cesarea/Jerusalem];
      Damascus; Corinth; Rome; Lyons) or so. Each one of these had its own
      tendencies and special issues, and a person at its head to render
      decisions. So, for example, if the Bishop of Antioch disagreed with the
      Bishop of Alexandria over some matter of substance, who before the
      ecumenical councils under Constantine had the authority to decide? (I hold
      the view that the Roman See was not deemed authoritative until later).

      I realize that Irenaus and others sought to attack "heresy" and heretics,
      and that some in the first few centuries were so branded (Valentinus;
      Tertullian?; Origen) But even "heretics" could find a Bishop who would
      provide cover, and so even heresy was a tool with limited authority in
      those days.

      I'm writing this off the top of my head without my usual resources, so
      please forgive (and point out) any errors in the summary above.

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jeff Peterson
      ... We re coming off a generation of scholarship which has emphasized the diversity in earliest Christianity, and I think it may be time to ask just how
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 30, 2006
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        On Mar 30, 2006, at 5:14 PM, Bob Schacht wrote:
        > I have no interest in defending Mack, but I think Rikk(?) goes too
        > far in
        > minimizing the importance of diversity. We don't need 48 different
        > sects
        > for diversity to be important.

        We're coming off a generation of scholarship which has emphasized the
        diversity in earliest Christianity, and I think it may be time to ask
        just how diverse we know earliest Christianity to have been, to
        require evidence for the diversity that's claimed (rather than simply
        taking it on the word of the best respected scholars of the past
        generation), and to insist on as much precision in dating this
        evidence as we can manage, so that we don't assume diversity on
        points where it didn't exist. (I've got a little exercise along these
        lines on one particular question -- were there first-generation
        Christian communities that weren't oriented on a narrative climaxing
        in Jesus' death and resurrection/exaltation? -- up at http://
        www.austingrad.edu/facultyrsc/peterson/TheologicalDiversity.pdf. I
        conclude that we have no evidence that non-cross/resurrection
        communities existed during Paul's active ministry.)

        Along those lines, I'd have the following responses to Bob's roll
        call of evidence.

        > First of all, there is the diversity
        > represented in the NT itself, principally
        > * The Jerusalem church under James et al., clearly reflected in
        > Paul's
        > letters, e.g. Galatians, the "circumcision party", i.e., the so called
        > "Jewish Christians" and later the Nazoreans

        The list conflates different groups; some later Jewish Christians
        rejected Paul as a heretic, but the "pillars" recognized him as a
        fellow apostle conducting a mission authorized by Christ, and they
        recognized his uncircumcised converts as members of the
        eschatological people of God. (In the essay linked above I offer
        reason for accepting Paul's testimony about the right hand of
        fellowship, etc.) Limiting our view to the first-generation evidence,
        we have reason to recognize diversity here on two points: 1) there
        were messianist Jews in Jerusalem or Antioch (or both) who did not
        regard Paul's gentile converts as full members of their community
        (the "false brothers" of Gal 2:4; the "ones who came from Judea" of
        Acts 15:1 and "members of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed"
        of Acts 15:5). This faction was rebuffed by the leadership in
        Jerusalem and Paul's gentile mission was recognized as valid (Gal 2:6–
        10; Acts 15:19–30).

        2) Those who "came from James" thought that Jewish messianists
        shouldn't eat in the company of gentiles (Gal 2:12–14), best
        understood not as a repudiation of the agreement in Jerusalem but as
        taking a "conservative" position on a halakhic question not treated
        there, viz., should Jews maintain the common practice (noted by
        gentiles in antiquity) of keeping aloof from gentiles in order to
        avoid inadvertent involvement with idolatry, violation of kashrut,
        etc. (perhaps specifically out of concern to comply with Exod 12:43–
        50, if early Christian table fellowship in general had a paschal
        character, or if the particular meal recounted in Gal 2:11ff did).
        Those from James in effect say, "What's wrong with separate but equal
        Eucharists?" and Paul replies, "Everything! Separation denies the
        unity of the body of Christ and takes a wrecking ball to the
        eschatological temple that God's in the process of building, in
        fulfillment of the promises to the fathers." But the dispute betrays
        no disagreement on the significance of Christ, and as Hengel and
        others have noted, the dispute that Paul recounts with Peter depends
        on a fundamental soteriological and christological concord between them.

        > * Paul's Mission to the Gentiles and thereby the Gentile
        > churches in
        > the diaspora

        We might note that Paul thought his churches to be in substantial
        theological agreement with the gentile community he didn't establish
        at Rome, and also with the venerable Jewish apostles who were
        resident there (Rom 16:7).

        > * The followers of John the Baptist, who are occasionally
        > encountered
        > in Acts & Paul's letters;

        Never in Paul's letters, and in Acts only in Ephesus (19:1-7), and
        there not presented as a group organized in distinction from the main
        line of disciples, just as persons who hadn't learned about the entry
        ritual. (I grant that Luke may be sanitizing more profound
        differences, but we ought to start with clarity on what the evidence
        says before concluding that we know what it means.) The only other
        evidence we may have from the first two generations is the references
        to John and his disciples in the gospels, and one's confidence on
        that score will depend on how much mirror-reading one is prepared to
        indulge in; I'd say the evidence may well reflect organized Baptist
        communities (though not Southern Baptist!), but it may also simply
        indicate Christian concern to handle the embarrassing fact that the
        one they confessed as Son of God, Lord, and every other honorific
        they could find to hand was remembered to have been the disciple/
        initiate of a senior charismatic Jewish prophet.

        > * The followers of Apollos and other Alexandrians, as revealed
        > in Acts
        > & Paul's letters

        There's no indication of any doctrinal daylight between Paul and
        Apollos in 1 Cor or Acts; Apollos was a rival for the allegiance of
        some Corinthian Christians, but this need not have been doctrinal;
        anybody who's served on a theological faculty and observed the
        response of students to different teachers, even those in fundamental
        agreement with each other, has seen a dynamic in play that is
        sufficient to account for what Paul says about Apollos and himself in
        1 Cor 1-4. In particular it should be noted that Paul offers Apollos
        and himself jointly as models for the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:6) and had
        urged Apollos to return to Corinth (1 Cor 16:12); both of these were
        most unlikely if Paul and Apollos were working to further different
        visions of the gospel.

        > I think I'll stop there for the moment-- I'm not trying to be
        > exhaustive,
        > but each of those 4 was more than a minor distraction. They were
        > riven by
        > such issues as must one be Jewish? Must one be circumcised, &/or
        > observe
        > Jewish dietary restrictions? Is baptism important or not? Was Jesus
        > divine, or human? If divine, was he divine from birth? or from his
        > baptism?
        > or only after his resurrection? What eschatological expectations
        > were in
        > order (e.g., parousia?) What writings/teachings are foundational or
        > authoritative?

        I don't see any of these points at issue in the first generation (nor
        does Jerry Sumney in his careful analysis of what we can conclude
        about Paul's opponents). Such questions begin to arise (so near as
        our evidence permits us to judge) toward the end of the second
        generation, and evidently the first questions arose not about
        Christ's divinity but about his full humanity, or so I'd take John
        19:31–37 and (more clearly) the Johannine letters to attest.

        Jeff Peterson
        Austin Graduate School of Theology
        Austin, Texas
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Agreed! ... Before delving into the evidence, let me say in general that the difference in our approaches can be described metaphorically in this way: We
        Message 3 of 10 , Apr 1, 2006
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          At 02:29 PM 3/30/2006, Jeff Peterson wrote:
          >On Mar 30, 2006, at 5:14 PM, Bob Schacht wrote:
          > > . . . We don't need 48 different sects for diversity to be important.
          >
          >We're coming off a generation of scholarship which has emphasized the
          >diversity in earliest Christianity, and I think it may be time to ask
          >just how diverse we know earliest Christianity to have been, to
          >require evidence for the diversity that's claimed (rather than simply
          >taking it on the word of the best respected scholars of the past
          >generation), and to insist on as much precision in dating this
          >evidence as we can manage, so that we don't assume diversity on
          >points where it didn't exist.

          Agreed!

          >(I've got a little exercise along these lines on one particular question --
          >were there first-generation Christian communities that weren't oriented on
          >a narrative
          >climaxing in Jesus' death and resurrection/exaltation? -- up at
          >http://www.austingrad.edu/facultyrsc/peterson/TheologicalDiversity.pdf.
          >I conclude that we have no evidence that non-cross/resurrection
          >communities existed during Paul's active ministry.)
          >
          >Along those lines, I'd have the following responses to Bob's roll call of
          >evidence.

          Before delving into the evidence, let me say in general that the difference
          in our approaches can be described metaphorically in this way: We both see
          smoke; you insist that there's no proof of fire; I concede the point, but
          suspect that there is fire anyway, even if proof is not entirely convincing.

          Another general observation is to dwell for a moment on what we mean by
          "diversity." At this early date (ca. 40 to 100 C.E.), we should not expect
          well-formed sects with theological doctrines all written out in formal
          detail, and formal criteria for group membership that differentiate one
          group from another. What I mean by these groups is intended, *at most,* to
          be of the same sort as Josephus' "sects" of the Jews.

          We should also keep in mind that authority structures within the Jesus
          movement were still evolving. You write below of "a group organized in
          distinction from the main line of disciples." That is a higher order of
          distinctiveness from what seems reasonable at the time. To what extent were
          the pharisees "a group organized in distinction from the [dominant Jewish
          authorities]"? This is not an idle rhetorical question with an obvious answer.

          The authority of the "pope" in Rome was extremely limited; the letters of
          Paul and Clement claim authority, but also complain of diverse factions who
          don't heed their authority. Irenaus would not have had so many heresies to
          condemn if there weren't diverse factions of significance.


          > > First of all, there is the diversity
          > > represented in the NT itself, principally
          > > * The Jerusalem church under James et al., clearly reflected in Paul's
          > > letters, e.g. Galatians, the "circumcision party", i.e., the so called
          > > "Jewish Christians" and later the Nazoreans
          >
          >The list conflates different groups; some later Jewish Christians
          >rejected Paul as a heretic, but the "pillars" recognized him as a
          >fellow apostle conducting a mission authorized by Christ, and they
          >recognized his uncircumcised converts as members of the
          >eschatological people of God. (In the essay linked above I offer
          >reason for accepting Paul's testimony about the right hand of
          >fellowship, etc.)

          How do you know that this "recognition" was universally held through time?
          It sounds to me like you may be over-generalizing, and taking at face
          value, the assertion of a few lines of text. However, I have not yet read
          your full essay, so perhaps I will be persuaded later on.

          >Limiting our view to the first-generation evidence,
          >we have reason to recognize diversity here on two points: 1) there
          >were messianist Jews in Jerusalem or Antioch (or both) who did not
          >regard Paul's gentile converts as full members of their community
          >(the "false brothers" of Gal 2:4; the "ones who came from Judea" of
          >Acts 15:1 and "members of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed"
          >of Acts 15:5). This faction was rebuffed by the leadership in
          >Jerusalem and Paul's gentile mission was recognized as valid (Gal 2:6­
          >10; Acts 15:19­30).

          What you do here is (a) admit the diversity, but then (b) sweep it away by
          the assurances of a few lines of text.
          Let us also remember that history is recorded-- and preserved-- by the
          winning side in most conflicts. We do not have a random sample of texts
          from the First Century C.E.

          It still seems to me that you are taking these texts too much at face
          value. Remember, I come to these texts with a background in anthropology,
          so I do not easily take for granted that written texts fully represent the
          actuality "on the ground".


          >2) Those who "came from James" thought that Jewish messianists
          >shouldn't eat in the company of gentiles (Gal 2:12­14), best
          >understood not as a repudiation of the agreement in Jerusalem but as
          >taking a "conservative" position on a halakhic question not treated
          >there, viz., should Jews maintain the common practice (noted by
          >gentiles in antiquity) of keeping aloof from gentiles in order to
          >avoid inadvertent involvement with idolatry, violation of kashrut,
          >etc. (perhaps specifically out of concern to comply with Exod 12:43­
          >50, if early Christian table fellowship in general had a paschal
          >character, or if the particular meal recounted in Gal 2:11ff did).
          >Those from James in effect say, "What's wrong with separate but equal
          >Eucharists?" and Paul replies, "Everything! Separation denies the
          >unity of the body of Christ and takes a wrecking ball to the
          >eschatological temple that God's in the process of building, in
          >fulfillment of the promises to the fathers." But the dispute betrays
          >no disagreement on the significance of Christ, and as Hengel and
          >others have noted, the dispute that Paul recounts with Peter depends
          >on a fundamental soteriological and christological concord between them.

          Isn't this a bit like saying that Catholic and Orthodox churches have
          concord about soteriology and christology, so there isn't much difference
          between them? It seems to me to be a way of sweeping significant
          differences in Church Order under the rug and ignoring them.

          At any rate, I think it is clear by now how we approach the same data a bit
          differently, so I'll not extend the argument ad nauseum. You are right that
          we should be paying attention to the details of evidence, and I appreciate
          your follow-up details to my brief catalog. I appreciate your response, and
          I look forward to any other thoughts on these lines.

          Thanks,
          Bob Schacht



          > > * Paul's Mission to the Gentiles and thereby the Gentile
          > > churches in the diaspora
          >
          >We might note that Paul thought his churches to be in substantial
          >theological agreement with the gentile community he didn't establish
          >at Rome, and also with the venerable Jewish apostles who were
          >resident there (Rom 16:7).

          He thought they were, but he hadn't been there yet, and we don't know about
          the quality of information he was relying on. Seems a slender reed to bear
          so much weight.


          > > * The followers of John the Baptist, who are occasionally
          > > encountered in Acts & Paul's letters;
          >
          >Never in Paul's letters, and in Acts only in Ephesus (19:1-7), and
          >there not presented as a group organized in distinction from the main
          >line of disciples, just as persons who hadn't learned about the entry
          >ritual. (I grant that Luke may be sanitizing more profound
          >differences, but we ought to start with clarity on what the evidence
          >says before concluding that we know what it means.) The only other
          >evidence we may have from the first two generations is the references
          >to John and his disciples in the gospels, and one's confidence on
          >that score will depend on how much mirror-reading one is prepared to
          >indulge in; I'd say the evidence may well reflect organized Baptist
          >communities (though not Southern Baptist!), but it may also simply
          >indicate Christian concern to handle the embarrassing fact that the
          >one they confessed as Son of God, Lord, and every other honorific
          >they could find to hand was remembered to have been the disciple/
          >initiate of a senior charismatic Jewish prophet.
          >
          > > * The followers of Apollos and other Alexandrians, as revealed
          > > in Acts
          > > & Paul's letters
          >
          >There's no indication of any doctrinal daylight between Paul and
          >Apollos in 1 Cor or Acts; Apollos was a rival for the allegiance of
          >some Corinthian Christians, but this need not have been doctrinal;
          >anybody who's served on a theological faculty and observed the
          >response of students to different teachers, even those in fundamental
          >agreement with each other, has seen a dynamic in play that is
          >sufficient to account for what Paul says about Apollos and himself in
          >1 Cor 1-4. In particular it should be noted that Paul offers Apollos
          >and himself jointly as models for the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:6) and had
          >urged Apollos to return to Corinth (1 Cor 16:12); both of these were
          >most unlikely if Paul and Apollos were working to further different
          >visions of the gospel.
          >
          > > I think I'll stop there for the moment-- I'm not trying to be exhaustive,
          > > but each of those 4 was more than a minor distraction. They were riven by
          > > such issues as must one be Jewish? Must one be circumcised, &/or observe
          > > Jewish dietary restrictions? Is baptism important or not? Was Jesus
          > > divine, or human? If divine, was he divine from birth? or from
          > his baptism?
          > > or only after his resurrection? What eschatological expectations were in
          > > order (e.g., parousia?) What writings/teachings are foundational or
          > authoritative?
          >
          >I don't see any of these points at issue in the first generation (nor
          >does Jerry Sumney in his careful analysis of what we can conclude
          >about Paul's opponents). Such questions begin to arise (so near as
          >our evidence permits us to judge) toward the end of the second
          >generation, and evidently the first questions arose not about
          >Christ's divinity but about his full humanity, or so I'd take John
          >19:31­37 and (more clearly) the Johannine letters to attest.
          >
          >Jeff Peterson
          >Austin Graduate School of Theology
          >Austin, Texas

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

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Rikk Watts
          Hi Bob, Sorry this one must have slipped past. We are all agreed there is diversity and in the NT. And I assume that you agree the issue is not its existence
          Message 4 of 10 , Apr 1, 2006
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            Hi Bob,

            Sorry this one must have slipped past.

            We are all agreed there is diversity and in the NT. And I assume that you
            agree the issue is not its existence but what it signifies particularly as
            to whether the early church's movement toward some kind of canon as being
            faithful to the apostolic teaching is the result of the history of a shared
            common tradition rather than its cause.

            Re your four or five examples, surely we need to be a little more nuanced
            than simply listing variations as though they are all of the same order and
            significance. I doubt very much that the question of circumcision was of the
            same order as the question of Christology. Strictly speaking I am not
            persuaded that the followers of John the Baptist per se should be regarded
            as a variation within early Xty. As to Apollos (I'm not sure I know of other
            "Alexandrians"‹is it appropriate to speak of them as though they are a
            distinct movement?) what is the nature of the diversity you see here? How is
            it that Apollos represents more than a minor distraction, if he represents a
            distraction at all? Some of the Christological points you list look more
            like trying to work out the implications of a common affirmation and
            therefore are subsequent not prior in nature. Similarly, as noted above,
            questions of canon in a sense presuppose the idea of an appropriate common
            core, not give rise to it. In other words even to speak of variation or
            diversity within early Xty presupposes some kind of common core which
            deserves the label Xty. What was that? What did these people have in common
            such that it outweighed their differences on other matters?

            Every movement I know, apparently as a brute fact of human nature, has its
            own spectrum of diversity, but they are still movements being bound more by
            what they have in common than separated by their differences. It seems to me
            that if we are not to get carried away with our own rhetoric we need to be
            much more careful in weighing and analyzing each item, bearing in mind too
            that the rhetoric is often strongest among those who have the most in
            common.

            Regards
            Rikk

            > I have no interest in defending Mack, but I think Rikk(?) goes too far in
            > minimizing the importance of diversity. We don't need 48 different sects
            > for diversity to be important. First of all, there is the diversity
            > represented in the NT itself, principally
            > * The Jerusalem church under James et al., clearly reflected in Paul's
            > letters, e.g. Galatians, the "circumcision party", i.e., the so called
            > "Jewish Christians" and later the Nazoreans
            > * Paul's Mission to the Gentiles and thereby the Gentile churches in
            > the diaspora
            > * The followers of John the Baptist, who are occasionally encountered
            > in Acts & Paul's letters;
            > * The followers of Apollos and other Alexandrians, as revealed in Acts
            > & Paul's letters
            > I think I'll stop there for the moment-- I'm not trying to be exhaustive,
            > but each of those 4 was more than a minor distraction. They were riven by
            > such issues as must one be Jewish? Must one be circumcised, &/or observe
            > Jewish dietary restrictions? Is baptism important or not? Was Jesus
            > divine, or human? If divine, was he divine from birth? or from his baptism?
            > or only after his resurrection? What eschatological expectations were in
            > order (e.g., parousia?) What writings/teachings are foundational or
            > authoritative?
            >
            > Consequently, if there were 48 different sects, it does not bother me in
            > the slightest that most of them were probably minor and of no consequence.
            > We can get all the diversity we can handle from 4-6 major groupings.
            > Furthermore, we can see in the way the early church developed that there
            > were a series of regions under the authority of a Bishop-- perhaps no more
            > than half a dozen (Alexandria; Antioch; Judea [Cesarea/Jerusalem];
            > Damascus; Corinth; Rome; Lyons) or so. Each one of these had its own
            > tendencies and special issues, and a person at its head to render
            > decisions. So, for example, if the Bishop of Antioch disagreed with the
            > Bishop of Alexandria over some matter of substance, who before the
            > ecumenical councils under Constantine had the authority to decide? (I hold
            > the view that the Roman See was not deemed authoritative until later).
            >
            > I realize that Irenaus and others sought to attack "heresy" and heretics,
            > and that some in the first few centuries were so branded (Valentinus;
            > Tertullian?; Origen) But even "heretics" could find a Bishop who would
            > provide cover, and so even heresy was a tool with limited authority in
            > those days.
            >
            > I'm writing this off the top of my head without my usual resources, so
            > please forgive (and point out) any errors in the summary above.
            >
            > Bob Schacht
            > University of Hawaii
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
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          • Bob Schacht
            ... Hi, Rikk, Thanks for your response. I m not sure whether I agree on that last point or not. In some ways, I m more interested in whether the apostolic
            Message 5 of 10 , Apr 2, 2006
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              At 12:13 PM 4/1/2006, Rikk Watts wrote:
              >Hi Bob,
              >
              >Sorry this one must have slipped past.
              >
              >We are all agreed there is diversity and in the NT. And I assume that you
              >agree the issue is not its existence but what it signifies particularly as
              >to whether the early church's movement toward some kind of canon as being
              >faithful to the apostolic teaching is the result of the history of a shared
              >common tradition rather than its cause.

              Hi, Rikk,
              Thanks for your response. I'm not sure whether I agree on that last point
              or not. In some ways, I'm more interested in whether the apostolic teaching
              fully reflected that of Jesus, or merely reflects their understanding of
              what they thought he was saying. I'd like to think that the Holy Spirit
              guided them, but our tradents may differ in how well they reflected that
              guidance! <g>

              >Re your four or five examples, surely we need to be a little more nuanced
              >than simply listing variations as though they are all of the same order and
              >significance. I doubt very much that the question of circumcision was of the
              >same order as the question of Christology.

              Au contraire, I rather think that for some, the interest may have been
              reversed.
              For some, the issue was a matter of identity: To be a Jew, is it sufficient
              to be a child of Abraham, or does one have to follow the Law? Is salvation
              a national matter, or an individual one? To be a follower of Jesus, was it
              necessary to acknowledge him as divine? And if so, when did he become divine?

              In other words, I think there was diversity about what the key "questions"
              were. Pondering matters of Christology was something that did not weigh
              heavily on most people's minds, IMHO, at least not in the First Century. We
              must be careful about retrojecting later concerns onto First Century
              issues. I'm not saying that no one was concerned about Christology from the
              start; the issue is over the extent to which it was THE issue.

              > Strictly speaking I am not
              >persuaded that the followers of John the Baptist per se should be regarded
              >as a variation within early Xty.

              So then how do you think it came about that Baptism became a critical part
              of Christian ritual? In all of the Gospels +Acts, there is exactly one
              vague verse in John that suggests that Jesus baptized anyone. Baptism just
              does not look like something Jesus did, or even thought important. On the
              other hand, it looks to me like John had a lot of followers, and it was
              from among those followers that many of Jesus' followers were recruited.
              Why else pay such attention to John, and Jesus' baptism by John in *all* of
              the Gospels?

              > As to Apollos (I'm not sure I know of other
              >"Alexandrians"‹is it appropriate to speak of them as though they are a
              >distinct movement?) what is the nature of the diversity you see here? How is
              >it that Apollos represents more than a minor distraction, if he represents a
              >distraction at all?

              We know that Alexandria was an extremely important center of Jewish
              Christianity, and that much of that history was probably erased by the fire
              at Alexandria. Our historical record of the development of Christianity is
              enormously biased by Paul's letters and Acts. Yet, both (Acts 18:24-19:1; 1
              Co. 1:12; 3:4-6; 3:22, 4:6; 16:12; Tit. 3:13) refer to Apollos, and imply
              that he had a different way of following Jesus such that Corinthians were
              declaring themselves as his followers. Paul apparently thought that he
              represented a distraction, and he knew a lot more about that situation than
              we do. Paul apparently got into arguments with him, and lost, which is one
              of the reasons apparently that Paul retreated to the line, "I preach only
              Christ, and him crucified." Of course, this is my conjectural
              reconstruction of the slim clues that we have about Alexandrian followers
              of Jesus.

              > Some of the Christological points you list look more
              >like trying to work out the implications of a common affirmation and
              >therefore are subsequent not prior in nature. Similarly, as noted above,
              >questions of canon in a sense presuppose the idea of an appropriate common
              >core, not give rise to it.

              It seems to me this is all backwards. With my anthropological background, I
              look at two sets of things: What holds the movement together, and what
              tends to pull it apart? In the early decades, I see a lot more pulling it
              apart than keeping it together. My list of questions I don't see AT ALL as
              a posteriori. .

              > In other words even to speak of variation or
              >diversity within early Xty presupposes some kind of common core which
              >deserves the label Xty.

              This makes no sense to me. The only common core is Jesus. Nothing else. Who
              he was, what his life meant, what he taught, what he said, and what he did
              were NOT common core, IMHO. Not one of those things was common core. Or, at
              least, it remains to be demonstrated what was, indeed common core. IMHO the
              "common core" was retrojected back onto the historical data by people who
              were determining what normative Christianity was to become.

              If the word "diversity" is too loaded for you, how about variation? and
              before you try the same line back at me, you can calculate the average of a
              random variable with a uniform distribution, but that doesn't mean that the
              average has any metaphorical "central tendency."

              >What was that? What did these people have in common
              >such that it outweighed their differences on other matters?

              Ah. Weighing those differences is a tricky matter, no? You apparently
              weight those differences much differently than I do.


              >Every movement I know, apparently as a brute fact of human nature, has its
              >own spectrum of diversity, but they are still movements being bound more by
              >what they have in common than separated by their differences. . . .

              If we are not to indulge in wishful thinking, we have to weigh carefully
              not only those movements which held together despite differences, but also
              those that splintered out of control until they disappeared like spring
              runoff into desert sands. We don't know as much about the latter, because
              they don't survive.
              There have been zillions of "movements:"
              * Most of them do not survive the death of their founder (Charismatic
              founder effect)
              * Some of them are perpetuated by a core of dedicated disciples who
              knew the founder and who are dedicated to the same vision. Many of these
              movements die because the first generation, who knew the founder, are
              unable to communicate the founder's vision or charisma to a third generation.
              * Perpetuation is based on ability to recruit new members and inspire
              their commitment to the movement's vision.
              There are Catholic and other religious orders today that are dying because
              their remaining members are aging, and no new members are enrolling.

              So I find your critique unconvincing. However, thanks for your response; I
              appreciate it.

              Bob

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

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Ron Price
              ... Rikk, True. ... This may seem self-evident, but surely it cannot be applied to the situation of Paul. For, whether intentional or otherwise, Paul s gospel
              Message 6 of 10 , Apr 5, 2006
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                Rikk Watts wrote:

                > Every movement I know, apparently as a brute fact of human nature, has its
                > own spectrum of diversity,

                Rikk,

                True.

                > but they are still movements being bound more by
                > what they have in common than separated by their differences.

                This may seem self-evident, but surely it cannot be applied to the situation
                of Paul. For, whether intentional or otherwise, Paul's gospel was to give
                rise to a new religion. Therefore there must have come a time (which
                probably lasted many years) when the fundamental differences between Judaism
                and nascent Christianity were like steam in a heated pot with the lid
                screwed on - all ready to explode when the pressure reached a critical
                level. A serious rift between James and Paul would thus perfectly match the
                high-pressure situation to be expected when Christianity was being born
                (sorry about the mixed metaphors) out of its mother, Judaism.

                Ron Price

                Derbyshire, UK

                Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
              • Rikk Watts
                HI Ron, haven t heard from your cheery self for a while. Hope all is well. ... Not quite sure what you mean here. I thought we were talking about diversity
                Message 7 of 10 , Apr 5, 2006
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                  HI Ron, haven't heard from your cheery self for a while. Hope all is well.

                  >> but they are still movements being bound more by
                  >> what they have in common than separated by their differences.
                  >
                  > This may seem self-evident, but surely it cannot be applied to the situation
                  > of Paul. For, whether intentional or otherwise, Paul's gospel was to give
                  > rise to a new religion. Therefore there must have come a time (which
                  > probably lasted many years) when the fundamental differences between Judaism
                  > and nascent Christianity were like steam in a heated pot with the lid
                  > screwed on - all ready to explode when the pressure reached a critical
                  > level. A serious rift between James and Paul would thus perfectly match the
                  > high-pressure situation to be expected when Christianity was being born
                  > (sorry about the mixed metaphors) out of its mother, Judaism.

                  Not quite sure what you mean here. I thought we were talking about diversity
                  within early Xty. You seem to be addressing Paul versus Judaism (which would
                  be after the very earliest decades that I think David Gower had in mind and
                  which I contested because it seemed to me that the early movement was too
                  small to sustain much serious diversity‹whatever that means!; I'd say the
                  same thing for the next hundred years or so; it seems to me that it is
                  really only after that that one has sufficient cultural and geographical
                  spread and numbers which is when the documentary evidence for the serious
                  heresies begins to appear‹not that we should read heresies in the light of
                  subsequent ugly experience).

                  Are you suggesting that the break between Paul and Judaism created an
                  opportunity for considerable diversity within early Xty? Sorry about my
                  being obtuse.

                  BTW I wouldn't just include Paul here. My scholarly expertise, if I have
                  any, is in the NT use of Israel's scriptures. After years in this field I am
                  convinced that the NT writers share a fundamental hermeneutic when it comes
                  to reading Israel's scriptures in the light of Jesus. Have they all been
                  subject to a Pauline filter? I don't think so (hence the diversity, even if
                  to my mind over played). It is this that suggests to me a common core.

                  James and Paul might differ on what people should and to what extent keep
                  the Law and its on-going significance, though surely our evidence here is
                  mighty scanty (but it keeps us in business right by giving us gaps to fill
                  with imaginative theories). But who's to say a) that a given reconstruction
                  of James is correct (e.g. we don't know if the agitators' in Galatians
                  really had James' support and what if Acts 15 is not just Luke's imaginative
                  reconstruction‹Hegel is still hanging about even in a world that has
                  supposedly discovered Kierkegaard), b) that the anti-Paul "James" does not
                  represent a minority conservative retrogression to avoid tension in
                  Jerusalem (why's Peter suddenly absent from Jerusalem?). The problem is
                  there is much we don't know. But I would reiterate that the common
                  hermeneutic of the NT docs points at least in my mind to a strong common
                  tradition.


                  Rikk
                  Regent College
                • Ron Price
                  ... Rikk, Yes, thanks. ... As I understand it, the topic was diversity within the early Jesus movement. ... Crucial here, surely, is how we view the outcome of
                  Message 8 of 10 , Apr 6, 2006
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                    Rikk Watts wrote:

                    > HI Ron, haven't heard from your cheery self for a while. Hope all is well.

                    Rikk,

                    Yes, thanks.

                    > I thought we were talking about diversity within early Xty.

                    As I understand it, the topic was diversity within the early Jesus movement.

                    > You seem to be addressing Paul versus Judaism (which would
                    > be after the very earliest decades that I think David Gower had in mind and
                    > which I contested because it seemed to me that the early movement was too
                    > small to sustain much serious diversity‹whatever that means!;

                    Crucial here, surely, is how we view the outcome of the Council of
                    Jerusalem. If James was demanding a separation of the Jewish and Gentile
                    missions, and if James was a supporter of the former while Paul was a
                    supporter of the latter, then that looks to me like serious diversity.

                    > Are you suggesting that the break between Paul and Judaism created an
                    > opportunity for considerable diversity within early Xty?

                    No. I am suggesting that the early Jesus movement started (ca. 29 CE) as a
                    sect within Judaism. After the crucifixion it began to attract people
                    sympathetic to Gentiles (ca. 36 CE) and to develop a theology (Jesus as the
                    Son of God etc.) and a liberty (no need for circumcision etc.) which had the
                    appearance of a heresy within Judaism. Most of the original members of the
                    Jesus movement (James, Peter etc.) probably never accepted the new theology
                    or the new liberty. There was thus a sharp division between those who
                    rejected the new ideas (championed by James) and those who accepted them
                    (championed by Paul). This was the main division within the early Jesus
                    movement ca. 35-60 CE.

                    With the dramatic successes of Paul's missionary activity, and the growing
                    numbers and confidence of the new "Christians" in lands beyond Israel, the
                    Gentile-friendly faction within a sect of Judaism was transformed (ca.
                    60-100 CE) into the thriving new religion we know as Christianity.

                    > BTW I wouldn't just include Paul here. My scholarly expertise, if I have
                    > any, is in the NT use of Israel's scriptures. After years in this field I am
                    > convinced that the NT writers share a fundamental hermeneutic when it comes
                    > to reading Israel's scriptures in the light of Jesus. Have they all been
                    > subject to a Pauline filter? I don't think so (hence the diversity, even if
                    > to my mind over played). It is this that suggests to me a common core.

                    I think that all the NT documents, with the possible exception of the
                    Epistle of James, have been subject to a Pauline filter (by which I mean
                    that they show the influence of Paul's thinking). The gospels and later
                    writers do reflect the diversity of their period, but it is a diversity no
                    longer centred on whether to accept Jewish regulations and strict Jewish
                    monotheism, for these (at least the former) had already been largely
                    abandoned. Diversity now involved other issues such as how to deal with the
                    delay in the parousia, whether to present Peter as a failure or as a hero,
                    whether women should be respected as equals, and just how divine was Jesus.

                    > James and Paul might differ on what people should and to what extent keep
                    > the Law and its on-going significance, though surely our evidence here is
                    > mighty scanty ....... The problem is there is much we don't know.

                    I guess this is what makes the discussion so interesting. If the historical
                    evidence answered all the questions unambiguously, there'd be nothing to
                    discuss!

                    Ron Price

                    Derbyshire, UK

                    Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                  • Loren Rosson
                    Laura Miller of Salon reviews/contrasts Baigent’s “Jesus Papers” with Tabor’s “Jesus Dynasty”. I’ve been through Tabor’s book and am not too
                    Message 9 of 10 , Apr 7, 2006
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                      Laura Miller of Salon reviews/contrasts Baigent’s
                      “Jesus Papers” with Tabor’s “Jesus Dynasty”. I’ve been
                      through Tabor’s book and am not too wild about it,
                      though obviously anything stands as a remedy to
                      Baigent.

                      http://salon.com/books/review/2006/04/07/baigent/

                      From the review (you have to read an add before
                      reading the full thing):

                      “The most intriguing discovery to be found in ‘The
                      Jesus Papers’ will probably only interest those of us
                      who pursue the odd and somewhat pitiful hobby of
                      crank-watching; it's finally clear from reading this
                      book that it was Baigent -- rather than co-authors
                      Leigh and Henry Lincoln -- who actually wrote ‘Holy
                      Blood, Holy Grail.’ . . . The style of ‘The Jesus
                      Papers,’ a masterly counterpoint of bluster, false
                      humility and self-righteousness, matches that of ‘Holy
                      Blood, Holy Grail’ like a fingerprint. . .

                      “Readers who have only recently learned, via ‘The Da
                      Vinci Code,’ of the complicated history of the New
                      Testament, are much better served by books like
                      Tabor's [‘Jesus Dynasty’] than by conspiracy-mongering
                      like ‘The Jesus Papers.’ . . . Like Baigent, [Tabor]
                      doesn't believe in the literal truth of the
                      resurrection, but unlike Baigent, he keeps his
                      religious beliefs to himself. . .

                      “Like all efforts to re-create historical events from
                      the New Testament, ‘The Jesus Dynasty’ is by necessity
                      highly interpretive and contestable, but it's
                      certainly more grounded than the fantasies of ‘The
                      Jesus Papers.’ Tabor is primarily interested in
                      recovering the history of Jesus' immediate family --
                      his mother, four brothers and two sisters -- who, he
                      maintains, played a far more important role in the
                      young religious movement than is generally known. . .

                      “If [Tabor’s] book can't win at least a few readers
                      away from ‘The Jesus Papers’ this Easter, then, well,
                      there is no God.”

                      Loren Rosson III
                      Nashua NH
                      http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com/

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                    • goranson@duke.edu
                      Apparently Baigent lost his court case against Da Vinci Code Brown: http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1218040,00.html Stephen Goranson
                      Message 10 of 10 , Apr 7, 2006
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                        Apparently Baigent lost his court case against Da Vinci Code Brown:

                        http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1218040,00.html

                        Stephen Goranson
                        http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
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