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Re: FW: [XTalk] Jesus was neither Jewish nor Christian

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  • Frank Jacks
    ... Thanks for this invitation although I am not sure that such is needed since your own statement makes the case for what I had in mind ... and does so both
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 10, 2007
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      > From: David Hindley [mailto:dhindley@...]
      > Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 12:20 PM
      > To: 'No Reply'
      > Subject: RE: [XTalk] Jesus was neither Jewish nor Christian
      > Clive,
      > Would you expand a bit on what you mean by the term "political citizenship?"
      > I've seen several commentators who noted that Herod the Great's considerable contributions to the Roman leadership won the "Jewish" people a number of very significant concessions. In particular, he got he Romans to agree to treat all "Jews" as members of an EQNOS with quazi-political overtones. "Jew" in this context seems to have an ethnic designation, so I cannot find satisfaction with the idea that the term is supposed to refer only to residents of the district of Judaea. Herod, an Idumean by region, was king of a wide ranging area that far exceeded Judaea alone. He won concessions only for Judeans, but not Idumeans, or Samaritans, or Galileans, or Itureans, etc?
      > It seems he won concessions for some group that was a common denominator within all these regions within his rule, but also managed to extended those same concessions to all people who shared this common factor wherever they lived in the empire. On the other hand, it also seemed these concessions were being granted to members of a pre-existing group, nominally centered on the Jerusalem cultus and its high priest, with the privileges being extended to members who were by chance distributed throughout the empire.
      > In other words, members of this EQNOS no longer had to live in the temple state area (Judaea) to enjoy the rights and protections normally enjoyed by members who lived in that region. No matter where they lived in the Roman empire, they were able to form their
      > own courts of law, assemble freely to practice their ancestral customs, and no one could force them to live contrary to those customs. "Ancestral" customs suggests "Jew" is an ethnic designation. The many gentiles living within the borders of Judaea are never called "Judeans" by anybody. Yet the rights granted to "Jews" are like those granted to a formal political body, such as citizens of a Greek polis.
      > Respectfully,
      > Dave Hindley
      > Newton Falls, Ohio USA
      Thanks for this invitation although I am not sure that such is needed
      since your own statement "makes the case" for what I had in mind ... and
      does so both clearly and cogently. Your very last sentence is a most
      excellent summation of my point, that the
      nation-state of Jerusalem/Judea was dealt with by the Romans "back then"
      as having members/citizens who were not limited by geographical
      location. I would only add that the Jews themselves saw themselves as
      just such.

      To illustrate a bit further (while not laying out any formal hypothesis
      since I have not yet myself fully explored this dimension), so much of
      what is often taken as "religious" or even "theological" language turns
      out to be political or at the very least taken from the realm of
      political issues and claims, the most obvious being the central terms of
      "Christ/Messiah" (for a king of the line of David) and "kingdom," which
      we normally explain as metaphors but why not in their simple and
      original meanings?

      Yes, this would place Jesus or at least his follows who were the
      "founders" of Christian traditions and practices as nationalists, who
      proclaimed the coming day when the Jewish nation would once again enjoy
      political independence; certainly "the political" gets attenuated in
      subsequent Christian history (perhaps congruent with its separation from
      Judaism?) until it is repoliticized by becoming co-opted into being
      Constantine's "department of religious affairs."

      Likewise, it seems to me that both the Pharisees and the Sadducees who
      have been all too often perceived as religious denominations behave more
      like political parties, since both aspire to obtaining political power
      and authority if only to enforce their own understanding of Torah upon
      the entire citizenry. As I used to suggest in my classes, you can
      identity which variety of Jew a person back then was not just by such
      religious tests as what he meant by "Torah" but also by whom he
      considered ought to have and to wield political authority.

      Finally, as for "Jesus and Torah" (as the touch-stone of "Judaism"), I
      would respond to the other recent postings by the observation that in
      the gospels at least Jesus is arguing with Pharisaic rabbis about the
      interpretation of Torah which would at least seem to "include him into"
      the cultural/political/ethnic realm I envision; similarly, he goes to
      Jerusalem at Passover in the Synoptics ... as a pilgrim fulfilling the
      obligations of Torah? And what about the other Galileans with him?
      They all seem to be "acting like Jews," much as those from the Diaspora
      hoped to show up at the Temple for the great feasts (mo'edhim). Sure
      looks like "being a Jew" to me (???).

      Truth to tell, before I go further into this, I should confess that I
      have not yet read the several volumes that E. P. Sanders helped create
      about Jewish and Christian identity, so I frankly am not yet ready to
      argue about how "the Jews themselves" saw themselves and so whether or
      not they would have accepted this term by which they were known by other
      cultures and nations.
      Perhaps Paul's letters clue us into the fact (???) that "the Jews"
      themselves saw themselves as "Israelites," not at all meaning
      "members of the northern kingdom" (i.e. Galilee) with its own separate
      traditions and practices; here, I suspect that the Jews saw themselves
      as "Israelites" in the sense of the "kingdom of David" or "the twelve
      tribes," united by "Torah & Temple," even as they argued vociferously as
      to just what that meant in practice!

      Thanks for asking if only because it gave me an excuse for sharing,
      sharing something that is not intended as a argument for any fixed
      position but rather a perspective that I have come to over the years ...
      and fairly reluctantly so, I must admit. Following the example of Matson
      in his recent posting, I might add that much of my graduate work was
      with W. D. Davies who also directed my dissertation ... and who was the
      only member of my examining committee who was interested in its
      content!!! (Smile!) So most of my "oral exam" was a chat he and I both
      enjoyed while the others listened in, with varying degrees of interest
      ... if any! (Smile!)


      Clive F. Jacks, Th.D. (Union Seminary, NYC)
      Professor of Religion, Emeritus
      Pikeville College
      Pikeville, KY

      (but now happily retired back home in the metro Atlanta area!)
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