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Re: Paul's silence as a miracle worker

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  • John E. Staton
    I take Bob s point from his reply. Indeed the point I was trying to make appears to be the very point Stevan was making. People remember Jesus as a healer, so
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 2, 2008
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      I take Bob's point from his reply. Indeed the point I was trying to make
      appears to be the very point Stevan was making. People remember Jesus as
      a healer, so he must have done something which people interpreted as
      "healing". Perhaps the kind of stuff Gordon refers to in his follow-up
      message (which I had not read before I posted last): I think perhaps
      more than that, though I accept that is a matter for debate. However,
      most people one knows who have a reputation as a "healer" (even the
      quacks) have usually done *soemthing* to make people give them that
      title. Maybe it would not qualify today as a kosher medical healing, but
      somebody at least must interpet it as a healing. My "take" on spiritual
      healing is that its effects are mainly psychological, and the conditions
      relieved (if any) are psychosomatic, and I would not be surprised if
      such were the case with biblical miracles. However, as I am continually
      told on another list, this is purely speculation.

      As for Gordon's point about gospel genre, I completely disagree. I share
      your view about Genesis 1 (though fossil-hunting is not my "thing", I
      accept the rationale behind it), but the gospels make no sense to me if
      they are not intended to be understood as in some sense biographical. It
      makes no sense to me that a movement can coalesce around a figure and
      no-one is interested in the facts of their life and their actual words.
      Obviously works written in the first century do not conform to modern
      critical standards, but to suggest that first century people had no
      interest in historical does less than justice to what is known about
      people of their time, and in addition flies into the face of all
      knowledge of human nature! When people follow someone, they want to know
      all about them. They might make the odd thing up as well, but they won't
      be satisfied with a complete load of phooey.

      It might well be convenient to be able to short-circuit the problems
      with the historicity of the gospel account by saying they were never
      meant to be understood that way, but I am afraid things aren't that
      simple. We have to accept that the gospel writers believed they were
      telling us, more or less, what happened - though perhaps spiced up a
      little. If we can't accept the historicity of this or that pericope, we
      have to live with the possibility that sometimes they may not have got
      everything right.

      Best Wishes

      --
      JOHN E. STATON
      www.christianreflection.org.uk
    • Gordon Raynal
      Hi John, Thanks for your note. It nicely spells out our honest differences and this is the sort of thing I hoped my long note might inspire. Here, just a few
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 2, 2008
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        Hi John,
        Thanks for your note. It nicely spells out our honest differences
        and this is the sort of thing I hoped my long note might inspire.
        Here, just a few responses. (see below)
        On Aug 2, 2008, at 8:27 AM, John E. Staton wrote:

        > I take Bob's point from his reply. Indeed the point I was trying to
        > make
        > appears to be the very point Stevan was making. People remember
        > Jesus as
        > a healer, so he must have done something which people interpreted as
        > "healing". Perhaps the kind of stuff Gordon refers to in his follow-up
        > message (which I had not read before I posted last): I think perhaps
        > more than that, though I accept that is a matter for debate. However,
        > most people one knows who have a reputation as a "healer" (even the
        > quacks) have usually done *soemthing* to make people give them that
        > title. Maybe it would not qualify today as a kosher medical
        > healing, but
        > somebody at least must interpet it as a healing. My "take" on
        > spiritual
        > healing is that its effects are mainly psychological, and the
        > conditions
        > relieved (if any) are psychosomatic, and I would not be surprised if
        > such were the case with biblical miracles. However, as I am
        > continually
        > told on another list, this is purely speculation.

        One does need some historical data to move beyond that:)!
        >
        > As for Gordon's point about gospel genre, I completely disagree. I
        > share
        > your view about Genesis 1 (though fossil-hunting is not my "thing", I
        > accept the rationale behind it), but the gospels make no sense to
        > me if
        > they are not intended to be understood as in some sense
        > biographical. It
        > makes no sense to me that a movement can coalesce around a figure and
        > no-one is interested in the facts of their life and their actual
        > words.
        > Obviously works written in the first century do not conform to modern
        > critical standards, but to suggest that first century people had no
        > interest in historical does less than justice to what is known about
        > people of their time, and in addition flies into the face of all
        > knowledge of human nature! When people follow someone, they want to
        > know
        > all about them. They might make the odd thing up as well, but they
        > won't
        > be satisfied with a complete load of phooey.

        I am curious why you characterize myth-making or (my preferred)
        extended parable making as "a complete load of phooey?"

        Is not artful, metaphorically rich "story telling" a profound means
        of human communication? (often, more profound that "reporting the
        facts?") I do not know if or where you draw the line on what
        Scriptural stories are simply the result of artful story tellers
        (Adam and Eve? Moses? David? Jonah?), but if you do draw a line
        somewhere, then the question becomes what are the fundamental
        differences between those stories that arise from the human
        imagination and those stories which are "fact" based? Are the ones
        after that line "more powerful," "more true," "more meaningful"
        because they have some "facts" or are "all fact based?" This is not
        a hermeneutics list nor a philosophical or theological list and I'm
        not for getting into an extended conversation on that here, but I
        will simply say that the artful use of made up stories is far from "a
        complete load of phooey," and Jesus as a parable teller is proof of
        that:)!
        >
        > It might well be convenient to be able to short-circuit the problems
        > with the historicity of the gospel account by saying they were never
        > meant to be understood that way, but I am afraid things aren't that
        > simple. We have to accept that the gospel writers believed they were
        > telling us, more or less, what happened -

        Why?

        > though perhaps spiced up a
        > little.

        And so to just one example. See Mark 1:21 ff. If one posits what is
        behind this story is that Jesus was a talented folk healer/
        exorcist... surely a common enough sort of healer in the ancient
        world... then are you for saying that Mark "spiced this up a little,"
        by telling the story in this way? What exactly is "the spicing up?"
        you are suggesting? Is the "spicing up" a fictional tool? Is that
        "phooey" added to facts? Is the "spiced up part" where the heart of
        the pericope's communication lies? If so, then isn't "the spiced up
        part" what's really important?

        > If we can't accept the historicity of this or that pericope, we
        > have to live with the possibility that sometimes they may not have got
        > everything right.

        And this is where you and I disagree. I'll simply end with this
        sentence of two words: Art endures.

        Thanks again for your note...


        >
        > Best Wishes

        and same to you.

        Gordon Raynal
        Inman, SC
        >
        > --
        > JOHN E. STATON
        > www.christianreflection.org.uk
        >
        >
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      • Karel Hanhart
        John, If the Gospel author, say Mark, didn t want his miracle story to be taken literally, he should make that clear to his readers. The story should in some
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 23, 2008
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          John,

          If the Gospel author, say Mark, didn't want his miracle story to be taken literally, he should make that clear to his readers. The story should in some way be true to what Jesus taught and did. That's how I began to explore the possibility of midrash.
          Take the story of the man with the withered hand (3,1ff). "Withered"or "dried up" is a strange way of naming a disease. The reaction of the Pharisees and the Herodians is absolutely outrageous after a healing (3,6!). So the exegete asks himself - why would Mark want to write such an illogical story (not taking the easy way out of a later insertion into the text which in turn is outrageous).
          1. In midrash one searches the scripture when meeting a conundrum of this kind. Midrash should be controlled by rules. In this case there is only one incident in the LXX where a hand (or arm) is "withered" (LXX: 1 Ki 13,4). In Bethel the arm (hand - yad) of the king of the Northern kingdom "withered" ordering the prophet from Judah to be seized. It is a hapax, a sure clue in midrash.
          2. In the first century the Northern kingdom of old was associated with the Samaritan region.
          3. Jesus' attitude toward Samaritans varied favorably a good deal from that of the Pharisees and of Judeans in general.
          4. The story, therefore, isn't illogical at all; all the more since in Mark's days a good number of Samaritans joined the ecclesia.
          Conclusion: Mark did indeed make something clear to his readers. The story teaches a fundamental aspect of Jesus' actual teaching. It tells of how Samaritans were "healed". And it also explains why the reaction of the opponents was so strong even outrageous. One may have second thoughts about this reaction - as I did at length elsewhere - but the exegesis meets the requirements of historicity and symbolism.
          The healing was miraculous though not magical.
          cordially

          Karel



          ----- Original Message -----
          From: John E. Staton
          To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2008 2:27 PM
          Subject: [XTalk] Re: Paul's silence as a miracle worker


          I take Bob's point from his reply. Indeed the point I was trying to make
          appears to be the very point Stevan was making. People remember Jesus as
          a healer, so he must have done something which people interpreted as
          "healing". Perhaps the kind of stuff Gordon refers to in his follow-up
          message (which I had not read before I posted last): I think perhaps
          more than that, though I accept that is a matter for debate. However,
          most people one knows who have a reputation as a "healer" (even the
          quacks) have usually done *soemthing* to make people give them that
          title. Maybe it would not qualify today as a kosher medical healing, but
          somebody at least must interpet it as a healing. My "take" on spiritual
          healing is that its effects are mainly psychological, and the conditions
          relieved (if any) are psychosomatic, and I would not be surprised if
          such were the case with biblical miracles. However, as I am continually
          told on another list, this is purely speculation.

          As for Gordon's point about gospel genre, I completely disagree. I share
          your view about Genesis 1 (though fossil-hunting is not my "thing", I
          accept the rationale behind it), but the gospels make no sense to me if
          they are not intended to be understood as in some sense biographical. It
          makes no sense to me that a movement can coalesce around a figure and
          no-one is interested in the facts of their life and their actual words.
          Obviously works written in the first century do not conform to modern
          critical standards, but to suggest that first century people had no
          interest in historical does less than justice to what is known about
          people of their time, and in addition flies into the face of all
          knowledge of human nature! When people follow someone, they want to know
          all about them. They might make the odd thing up as well, but they won't
          be satisfied with a complete load of phooey.

          It might well be convenient to be able to short-circuit the problems
          with the historicity of the gospel account by saying they were never
          meant to be understood that way, but I am afraid things aren't that
          simple. We have to accept that the gospel writers believed they were
          telling us, more or less, what happened - though perhaps spiced up a
          little. If we can't accept the historicity of this or that pericope, we
          have to live with the possibility that sometimes they may not have got
          everything right.

          Best Wishes

          --
          JOHN E. STATON
          www.christianreflection.org.uk





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Gordon Raynal
          Hi Karel and all, ... Thanks for your note on midrash and miracle. I think the profitable historical conversation to have regarding Jesus and healing is
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 24, 2008
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            Hi Karel and all,

            On Sep 23, 2008, at 3:31 PM, Karel Hanhart wrote:

            > John,
            >
            > If the Gospel author, say Mark, didn't want his miracle story to be
            > taken literally, he should make that clear to his readers. The
            > story should in some way be true to what Jesus taught and did.
            > That's how I began to explore the possibility of midrash.
            > Take the story of the man with the withered hand (3,1ff).
            > "Withered"or "dried up" is a strange way of naming a disease. The
            > reaction of the Pharisees and the Herodians is absolutely
            > outrageous after a healing (3,6!). So the exegete asks himself -
            > why would Mark want to write such an illogical story (not taking
            > the easy way out of a later insertion into the text which in turn
            > is outrageous).
            > 1. In midrash one searches the scripture when meeting a conundrum
            > of this kind. Midrash should be controlled by rules. In this case
            > there is only one incident in the LXX where a hand (or arm) is
            > "withered" (LXX: 1 Ki 13,4). In Bethel the arm (hand - yad) of the
            > king of the Northern kingdom "withered" ordering the prophet from
            > Judah to be seized. It is a hapax, a sure clue in midrash.
            > 2. In the first century the Northern kingdom of old was associated
            > with the Samaritan region.
            > 3. Jesus' attitude toward Samaritans varied favorably a good deal
            > from that of the Pharisees and of Judeans in general.
            > 4. The story, therefore, isn't illogical at all; all the more since
            > in Mark's days a good number of Samaritans joined the ecclesia.
            > Conclusion: Mark did indeed make something clear to his readers.
            > The story teaches a fundamental aspect of Jesus' actual teaching.
            > It tells of how Samaritans were "healed". And it also explains why
            > the reaction of the opponents was so strong even outrageous. One
            > may have second thoughts about this reaction - as I did at length
            > elsewhere - but the exegesis meets the requirements of historicity
            > and symbolism.
            > The healing was miraculous though not magical.
            > cordially
            >
            > Karel

            Thanks for your note on midrash and "miracle." I think the
            profitable historical conversation to have regarding Jesus and
            healing is indeed the social healing that a reconciliation movement
            makes for. That sort of healing indeed has personal health benefits
            (for example: new and/or renewed relationships make for restored
            living in many ways, and enabling real social justice leads to such
            as better care, food sharing, shelter, etc.). I'm personally rather
            wary of trying to make more than generalized individual psychological
            analyses of "healed individuals" because, in the first place, I don't
            think the kinds of creative stories we have give us actual data that
            is necessary for meaningful psychological specifics, and in the
            second place, such focus moves us away from the very nature of the
            texts which have to do with wisdom, theology, ethics and social
            formation.

            Gordon Raynal
            Inman, SC
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: John E. Staton
            > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
            > Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2008 2:27 PM
            > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Paul's silence as a miracle worker
            >
            >
            > I take Bob's point from his reply. Indeed the point I was trying
            > to make
            > appears to be the very point Stevan was making. People remember
            > Jesus as
            > a healer, so he must have done something which people interpreted as
            > "healing". Perhaps the kind of stuff Gordon refers to in his
            > follow-up
            > message (which I had not read before I posted last): I think perhaps
            > more than that, though I accept that is a matter for debate.
            > However,
            > most people one knows who have a reputation as a "healer" (even the
            > quacks) have usually done *soemthing* to make people give them that
            > title. Maybe it would not qualify today as a kosher medical
            > healing, but
            > somebody at least must interpet it as a healing. My "take" on
            > spiritual
            > healing is that its effects are mainly psychological, and the
            > conditions
            > relieved (if any) are psychosomatic, and I would not be surprised if
            > such were the case with biblical miracles. However, as I am
            > continually
            > told on another list, this is purely speculation.
            >
            > As for Gordon's point about gospel genre, I completely disagree.
            > I share
            > your view about Genesis 1 (though fossil-hunting is not my
            > "thing", I
            > accept the rationale behind it), but the gospels make no sense to
            > me if
            > they are not intended to be understood as in some sense
            > biographical. It
            > makes no sense to me that a movement can coalesce around a figure
            > and
            > no-one is interested in the facts of their life and their actual
            > words.
            > Obviously works written in the first century do not conform to
            > modern
            > critical standards, but to suggest that first century people had no
            > interest in historical does less than justice to what is known about
            > people of their time, and in addition flies into the face of all
            > knowledge of human nature! When people follow someone, they want
            > to know
            > all about them. They might make the odd thing up as well, but
            > they won't
            > be satisfied with a complete load of phooey.
            >
            > It might well be convenient to be able to short-circuit the problems
            > with the historicity of the gospel account by saying they were never
            > meant to be understood that way, but I am afraid things aren't that
            > simple. We have to accept that the gospel writers believed they were
            > telling us, more or less, what happened - though perhaps spiced up a
            > little. If we can't accept the historicity of this or that
            > pericope, we
            > have to live with the possibility that sometimes they may not
            > have got
            > everything right.
            >
            > Best Wishes
            >
            > --
            > JOHN E. STATON
            > www.christianreflection.org.uk
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
            >
            > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-
            > subscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-
            > unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > List managers may be contacted directly at: crosstalk2-
            > owners@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
          • Jeffrey B. Gibson
            ... Should? According to whom? ... Again should according to whom? ... What is your basis for saying this? And is it a actually a disease that is being
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 24, 2008
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              Karel Hanhart wrote:
              > John,
              >
              > If the Gospel author, say Mark, didn't want his miracle story to be taken literally, he should make that clear to his readers.
              Should? According to whom?

              > The story should in some way be true to what Jesus taught and did.
              Again "should" according to whom?
              > That's how I began to explore the possibility of midrash.
              > Take the story of the man with the withered hand (3,1ff). "Withered"or "dried up" is a strange way of naming a disease.
              What is your basis for saying this? And is it a actually a disease
              that is being described here? More importantly, you seem to be ignoring
              (or are you unaware of?) the fact that ξηραίνω* *is certainly used by
              ancient medical writers in their descriptions of certain medical
              conditions and non functioning body parts.
              > The reaction of the Pharisees and the Herodians is absolutely outrageous after a healing (3,6!).
              Only if one sees that what they object to is the act of healing on a
              sabbath. But what if Mark's point in telling the story as he does is
              not to have Jesus prove the legitimacy of something he intends to carry
              out within the story , but of something he has said or done /prior/ to
              the healing and against which his opponents have raised questions or
              objected.

              > So the exegete asks himself - why would Mark want to write such an illogical story (not taking the easy way out of a later insertion into the text which in turn is outrageous).
              >

              It seems to me that you engage in petitio principii in assuming that the
              story is illogical. It seems to be on the assumption that what Jesus
              is “up to” in Mark. 3:1-6 is justifying a healing that he wished to
              undertake in violation of Sabbath law. But that this /is/ what Mark
              presents Jesus as "up to" is highly questionable. I have tried to show
              why in my (as of yet) unpublished article "Mark 3.1-6 as a “Sign Story”.
              Solving the Pericope’s Interpretative Difficulties" which is available
              in a draft form in the XTalk files section (go here
              <http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/8FXaSLw_ZuL1NndN4GMVFBbzT8lpKBvGrvDmu78329PpqjeN0pIjnQmc_GyMlP18RHIZhpD4roocO_VS68iN/MK31-6LatestPDF.pdf>).


              > 1. In midrash one searches the scripture when meeting a conundrum of this kind.

              You have yet to establish that there is a conundrum of any kind in this
              text, let alone that it is part of Mark's compositional style to employ
              or engage in Midrash. So your claims are extremely question begging and
              assume what needs to be proven.
              > Midrash should be controlled by rules. In this case there is only one incident in the LXX where a hand (or arm) is "withered" (LXX: 1 Ki 13,4). In Bethel the arm (hand - yad) of the king of the Northern kingdom "withered" ordering the prophet from Judah to be seized. It is a hapax, a sure clue in midrash.
              >
              Why do you assume that the only thing that would give meaning to Marks
              description of the medical condition of the man whom Jesus cures in Mk.
              3:1-6 would be the LXX reference to Jereboam's "withered" hand,
              especially since (1) this reference speaks of Jereboam's hand
              "withering" as a result of dive retribution against him when, in
              reaction to a prophet's denunciation to Jereboam's building an altar in
              Bethel, Jereboam reaches out to harm the prophet, and is prevented by
              God from doing so, (2) there's nothing in the Markan texts that suggests
              that the man with the withered hand is an object of God's wrath or that
              he was someone who had opposed god's spokespersons, as we might expect
              if the Jereboam story was the backdrop of Mk. 3:1-6, and (3) since
              "withered" was part of ordinary medical vocabulary?
              > 2. In the first century the Northern kingdom of old was associated with the Samaritan region.
              >
              Do we have any indication that Mark makes this association?

              > 3. Jesus' attitude toward Samaritans varied favorably a good deal from that of the Pharisees and of Judeans in general.
              >
              Do we find any evidence of this in Mark? Isn't the claim above based on
              Luke's presentation of Jesus?
              > 4. The story, therefore, isn't illogical at all; all the more since in Mark's days a good number of Samaritans joined the ecclesia.
              So Luke tells us. But does Mark? Where is there any indication in his
              Gospel that he is aware of Samaritans, let alone of Samaritans who
              "joined the ecclesia"?
              > Conclusion: Mark did indeed make something clear to his readers. The story teaches a fundamental aspect of Jesus' actual teaching. It tells of how Samaritans were "healed".

              It does? Funny how this does not show up as a tops anywhere else in
              Mark, even in the scenes where Jesus is presented as "healing" those
              outside the pale.. Aren't you reading the theology of Acts into Mark?

              And aren't you also ignoring the fact that when Mark speaks of Jesus
              dealing with/healing those who were considered by first century Judaism
              as being outside the pale, he does not use symbolism, nor does he delve
              into Midrashic techniques (which would hardly be known or apparent or
              intelligible to his audience in any case), to do identify their
              ethnicity? On the contrary, he /specifies/ their ethnic identity.


              And Karel, PLEASE do not quote the entirety of the messages you are
              responding to.

              Jeffrey

              --
              Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
              1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
              Chicago, Illinois
              e-mail jgibson000@...



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