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Re: [XTalk] Re: Diversity

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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