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Re: [XTalk] Paul's silence on Jesus as miracle worker

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  • Bob Schacht
    At 08:37 AM 8/2/2008, Daniel Grolin wrote: Daniel, Let me take this opportunity to thank you, and a number of others, for their substantive contributions to
    Message 1 of 29 , Aug 2, 2008
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      At 08:37 AM 8/2/2008, Daniel Grolin wrote:



      Daniel,
      Let me take this opportunity to thank you, and a number of others, for
      their substantive contributions to the recent exchanges on XTalk, beginning
      with Jeffrey Gibson's initial question on July 29 that set the current set
      of threads in motion. I think such contributions as these are what keeps
      several hundred people subscribed to this list.

      A little bit more below.



      >----- Original Message ----
      >From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
      >To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      >Sent: Friday, 1 August, 2008 1:33:05 AM
      >Subject: Re: [XTalk] Paul's silence on Jesus as miracle worker
      >
      >Dear Gordon,
      >Sorry for the delay in answering.
      >
      ><<While you find midrash too broad and an unhelpful way to categorize
      >the story writers imaginative process, I will simply have to
      >disagree. One can see this process within the confines of the Hebrew
      >Scriptures (look at the Flight from Egypt narrative as a prime
      >example (the layers of early and later story telling that are in the
      >received text we have and then the various ways the story is played
      >over in the Psalms, the Prophets and then the extra Biblical
      >writings). I find this sort very illuminative of the story telling
      >traditions and the connections to the Gospels are blatantly obvious
      >in many ways. Take, for example, the opening movements in the
      >Synoptic stories of Jesus... Israel of old went to the waters, passed
      >through the waters, spent 40 years in the wilderness, entered the
      >land in triumph/ Jesus the Christ recapitulates this movement in
      >Mark's Gospel... to the river, through the river, 40 (days not years)
      >in the wilderness and then he enters the land victoriously casting
      >out demons, not Canaanites. The play over plot framings, particular
      >stories, particular theological and ethical and communal issues is
      >directly related to this old, old pattern of story telling which we
      >clearly can see within the bounds of TANAK and then see practiced,
      >for example, from Mark to Matthew and Luke. So we will have to
      >disagree here, and...>>
      >
      >Allow me to clarify. What I am proposing is not that the type of intertext
      >which you have pointed to are not there. What I am suggesting is that
      >these forms of intertext, are not a distinctly Jewish in nature, they are
      >only of the sort that you have in any type of literature. My objection is
      >not with the idea that we have intertext in the Gospels, my objection is
      >that using "midrash" will appear to suggest that we are dealing in genre.
      >Phrases like a "type of literature" or speaking of this or that as "being"
      >midrash. On the other hand it is fair to speak of pesher as a genre and to
      >point out the clear similarities in method used by authors of DSS and the
      >evangelists, I think is entirely appropriate.
      >
      ><<here, as well. I also don't agree that Jesus, the historical fellow,
      >is best understood under the rubric of "prophet." That is certainly
      >one of the ways he came to be cast later on in the rich soup of
      >titles and roles ascribed to him. No argument there. But on the
      >basis of what I think we can know about the authentic speech of Jesus
      >and the way the core of that authentic speech was preserved (both in
      >words and other sorts of formulations) I think the best "position
      >description for him (or title) is that of "a sage" or better "a
      >Jewish wisdom word artist!" Why? Because I think what we can know
      >of the fellow is found in the wisdom aphorisms and parables. Now,
      >could he have also been a healer? Of course. I have nothing against
      >that idea, but I simply see no evidence for that view>>
      >
      >Obviously this opens the field wide open for any number of discussions.
      >First of all there are some underlying methodological issues that at the
      >outset are not a given. Now following, Drapper, Horsley, and Kelber and
      >others, I have started to question the soundness of the current trends in
      >Form Criticism (e.g. see "Oral Performance , Popular Tradition, and Hidden
      >Transcript in Q" ed. Horsley). Horsley's criticism of Theissen's broadly
      >accepted theory of Wandering Radicals has also made me reconsider the
      >accepted model of Christian origins (Horsley, "Sociology and the Jesus
      >Movement"). Without endorsing the approach I could also point to Sanders
      >who starts not with sayings, to find out who Jesus was (which almost other
      >HJ scholars do), but start with an event, namely the condemnation of the
      >temple. From there he adopts the view of Jesus as an oracle prophet
      >(Sanders, "Jesus and Judaism"). While I do not agree with Sanders
      >conclusion I think there is a methodological issue that he brings into
      >focus with his approach.

      I for one would welcome more discussion on these methodological issues.
      For example, methodologically speaking, if we follow your characterization
      of Sanders' method, how does one rightly choose an event *as the place to
      start,* and how does one frame such an event in a neutral way that does not
      presuppose where the ensuing discussion will wind up?

      I suppose one could begin with an event established outside of the canon,
      and hence putatively independent-- e.g. something from Josephus
      (acknowledging that there are problems with the independence of Josephus,
      as well).


      >Now you point out that what we can know that Jesus was a word smith. I
      >will go further and say we can be fairly certain that he was an oratory
      >genius, but that does not contradict the preposition that he was a healer,
      >or prophet. Furthermore the proposition that Jesus was the leader of a
      >prophetic movement also has limited usefulness. Clearly the Jesus Movement
      >had something that other prophetic movements, whether action prophets or
      >oracle prophets, which enabled it to survive the death of its founder.
      >Jesus' social program was a rallying point for group formation (e.g.
      >Malina's 'Early Christian Groups: Using small group formation theory to
      >explain Christian organization' in Esler "Modelling early Christianity:
      >Social-scientific studies of the New Testament in its context").
      >
      >My appeal to prophetic movements is not that it can best explain the
      >origins of Christianity, but to point out that how Jesus was understood
      >was not merely a function of oral communication, but also action. Crossan
      >has made this point in connection with his later clarification of his
      >position of Jesus and cynics ("Birth of Christianity"). People understand
      >what they perceive through what Berger and Luckmann term the social
      >construction of reality. These heads of prophetic movements not only
      >spoke, but also acted in such a way as to communicate their claim. My
      >point therefore is that we should not assume that Jesus merely
      >communicated and was communicated in speeches, but that part of the
      >communication was carried out through doing. Furthermore since traditional
      >stories of great figures of the past was part of the social construction
      >of reality Jesus would be able to make the claim of being "like the
      >prophets of old" through acts that would be interpreted
      > precisely so.
      >
      >Now we agree that these stories suggest the perception by some followers
      >of Jesus was a Elisha-Elijah figure. I would add that this view also
      >appears in the saying tradition. My question, however, is what should one
      >make of this early view of Jesus? I would say we should take it seriously,
      >and explore whether or not such a view may have its origin with Jesus. My
      >first question is where are we most likely to find such a view of Jesus,
      >and my answer is that Galilee was probably a place where Elisha and Elijah
      >enjoyed a great deal of popularity, since this was where they were active.
      >The bulk of miracle stories also bear traces of sharing concerns of
      >peasants/artisans. These stories would be of interest and be circulated by
      >people of lower class who were the primary recipients of the benefit of
      >these miracles in the narratives themselves.
      >
      >None of this is a denial of the presence of intertext in these written
      >texts that we are left with, but the presence of intertext does not mean
      >that the narrative itself is purely a construction of source texts that
      >the evangelist composed.
      >
      >I think that it is time the scholarly community re-examined the soundness
      >of how Wrede is used and the discrediting of the Markan narrative
      >tradition. I think Theissen's "The Gospels in context" takes some initial
      >steps in showing the locale of some of the Markan traditions. But I think
      >on the whole the practice of Form Criticism needs to be reconsidered.

      This too is a point worth debating. I wonder if we can draw Ted Weeden out
      of lurkdom?

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii



      >Regards,
      >
      >Daniel Grolin
      >
      >
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Kenneth Litwak
      ... While you find midrash too broad and an unhelpful way to categorize the story writers imaginative process, I will simply have to disagree.Ken:  Gordon, so
      Message 2 of 29 , Aug 2, 2008
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        --- On Thu, 7/31/08, Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:
        > Dear Tony & Gordon,

        >

        > I would like to object to the proposition that the literary form of

        > the stories are "often midrashic". Not because it isn't true, but

        > because it isn't helpful. The manner in which the term is used is

        > simply too broad.

        >

        > Strack and Stemberger state ("Introduction to the Talmud and

        > Midrash", p. 235) that Midrash cannot really be defined, only

        > described (which is at the heart of the problem), and they do so as

        > follows: "a literature, oral or written, which stands in direct

        > relationship to a fixed canonical text ..." This furthermore

        > includes not only the text as they stand, but also the events they

        > refer to. Of course, taking the terms so broadly you might call the

        > Gospels midrash, but that is hardly helpful. Almost any surviving

        > Jewish text (and a great many Christian) can be termed midrash. In

        > other words Midrash is just "intertext". I object to the use of

        > Midrash, because it seems to imply that there is Jewish/Israelite

        > literature that does what the Gospels supposedly did by adopting

        > stories from the Elijah-Elisha cycle (and call it "midrash"). As

        > far as I have been able to learn that is not the case. The Gospels

        > do have something that looks like a form of Midrash,

        > namely Pesher.


        While you find midrash too broad and an unhelpful way to categorize

        the story writers imaginative process, I will simply have to

        disagree.Ken: 
        Gordon, so you are basically saying, "I don't care that I'm misusing a technical term ina way that no one else woudl support and that therefore is of no value in communication.  No matter who objects to it, I'm going to do it anyway."  Is that a fair summary?  Richard Hays in _Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul_ showed many years ago the problems of attaching the term "midrash" even to Paul's explicit interpretations of Scripture.  FIrst, in that case, and in yours, it is grossly anachronistic.  "MIdrash" as an established technique is from the Rabbinica period, after about 200 A.D., so far as we know.  Second, "midrash" is a form of interpretation, a way of explaining Scripture.  There is no evidence that it equals "taking elements fomr a biblcial narrative and inventing a completely new narrative about something else out of whole cloth."  So when you use midrash to describe anything in the gospels, it is simply invalid from a technical
        point of view.  Why do you insist on an invalid use of the word "midrash"?

           On top of that, you have not actually pointed to any literature contemporary with or prior to the gospels that share the same genre(s) of bios or historiography that evince what you are suggesting.  You may not accept those genre identifications, but for example, I have not seen anyone provide any evidence at all that meaningfully challenges Richard Burrdige's demonstration from actual data (not merely assertions) that Mark is an example of Greco-Roman Bios.

             Third, as to the specifics of the Elijah-Elisha narratives having parallels in the gospels. Thomas Brodie has demonstrated this well in many places.  However, an important point beyond or next to his needs to be made.

           As many, such as Baumgarten or White have shown (White especially), no one ever recounts history-as-it-happened.  That's a 19th centuiry myth invented by von Ranke and others of a Positivist persuasion. Rather, we only ever write or read history-as-it-is-narrated.  When you connect this fact that hsitory is always and only what is narrated in precisely the way an author wishes to present it, and combine that with the fact Hellensitic historiographers sought eagerly to both imitate those who came before them and to show how those in their narratives were part of peoples in the past (see works by Marincola, as well as The Past is a Foreign Country), it is not at surprising that Luke, as one example, would seek to show how Jesus of Nazareth was like Elijah and Elisha in the past. 

           However, it is entirely possible, and indeed likely, from a generic point of view (that is, the genre of Luke as Hellenisitic historiography), that Luke is only making those connections and narrating them because that is how it happened so far as he understood, as opposed to narrating other things he might have known or oculd have chosen to say. 

           You seem to be making the facile assumption, indeed, one might say presupposing as an a priori, that because one or more elements in the Scriptures of Israel are echoed in some manner in a gospel narrative that htereore it os obvious that the gospel account is an invention and the story recounts something that never happened.  You have not offered anything to support that, however, except your repreated "I disagree."  With all due respect, such an argument would get a very poor grade from me if a student tried it. It carries no weight with me certainly.

        Ken Litwak

         

        _._,___


















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Gordon Raynal
        Hi Ken, ... You are correct, of course that midrash is a technical term that is related to what you speak of, but it is also a term that I have heard used many
        Message 3 of 29 , Aug 3, 2008
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          Hi Ken,
          On Aug 3, 2008, at 1:48 AM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:

          >
          > .Ken:
          > Gordon, so you are basically saying, "I don't care that I'm
          > misusing a technical term ina way that no one else woudl support
          > and that therefore is of no value in communication. No matter who
          > objects to it, I'm going to do it anyway." Is that a fair
          > summary? Richard Hays in _Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of
          > Paul_ showed many years ago the problems of attaching the term
          > "midrash" even to Paul's explicit interpretations of Scripture.
          > FIrst, in that case, and in yours, it is grossly anachronistic.
          > "MIdrash" as an established technique is from the Rabbinica period,
          > after about 200 A.D., so far as we know. Second, "midrash" is a
          > form of interpretation, a way of explaining Scripture. There is no
          > evidence that it equals "taking elements fomr a biblcial narrative
          > and inventing a completely new narrative about something else out
          > of whole cloth." So when you use midrash to describe anything in
          > the gospels, it is simply invalid from a technical
          > point of view. Why do you insist on an invalid use of the word
          > "midrash"?

          You are correct, of course that midrash is a technical term that is
          related to what you speak of, but it is also a term that I have heard
          used many times to talk about the particular creative story telling
          process we find in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures themselves.
          Where did I hear that? Well, one place was at the local temple and
          in several lovely discussions of the creativity we find within Torah,
          itself, not to mention the rest of the Tanak. The rabbi and the 2
          lay teachers (both college professor PhD's) freely used that term in
          regard to this particular kind of Hebraic/ Jewish story telling
          creativity. I think that is most appropriate and it is that that
          I've been talking about.
          >
          > On top of that, you have not actually pointed to any literature
          > contemporary with or prior to the gospels that share the same genre
          > (s) of bios or historiography that evince what you are suggesting.
          > You may not accept those genre identifications, but for example, I
          > have not seen anyone provide any evidence at all that meaningfully
          > challenges Richard Burrdige's demonstration from actual data (not
          > merely assertions) that Mark is an example of Greco-Roman Bios.

          Open the OT... there are a whole lot of stories to where you'll find
          exactly what I'm talking about. For a key one and I don't have time
          just now to do a verse by verse review of this and so will only give
          an off the top of the head response (and BTW... this is one of the
          things that aforementioned rabbi and teachers talked about), but the
          story of the escape from Egypt within those texts has a story of
          escaping slaves through the marsh land under YHWH Elohim's guidance,
          the Song of Miriam which adds the element of "horse and rider thrown
          into the sea," the ramping of this story to the whole text
          understanding of Moses with his Staff from God parting the waters,
          the Israelites safely marching through and then the Egyptians getting
          crushed. And then (again pardon my forgetting the dating) but the
          later rabbinic story that Moses didn't make for just one column of
          water to walk through, but rather God made for 12 columns, one for
          each tribe that is extra Torah text. That's a fine example of
          developmental creativity that is both behind and beyond the Exodus
          story. Fine by me, if you prefer using a different term for this
          kind of theological story creativity, but again the local rabbi was
          quite happy to use it.
          >
          > Third, as to the specifics of the Elijah-Elisha narratives
          > having parallels in the gospels. Thomas Brodie has demonstrated
          > this well in many places. However, an important point beyond or
          > next to his needs to be made.
          >
          > As many, such as Baumgarten or White have shown (White
          > especially), no one ever recounts history-as-it-happened. That's a
          > 19th centuiry myth invented by von Ranke and others of a Positivist
          > persuasion. Rather, we only ever write or read history-as-it-is-
          > narrated. When you connect this fact that hsitory is always and
          > only what is narrated in precisely the way an author wishes to
          > present it, and combine that with the fact Hellensitic
          > historiographers sought eagerly to both imitate those who came
          > before them and to show how those in their narratives were part of
          > peoples in the past (see works by Marincola, as well as The Past is
          > a Foreign Country), it is not at surprising that Luke, as one
          > example, would seek to show how Jesus of Nazareth was like Elijah
          > and Elisha in the past.

          All of this simply gets to our fundamental disagreement about what a
          narrative gospel is. You are obviously convinced by the authors you
          site that we're dealing with biography. Citing all these who
          convince you of this, does not convince me. I'm fine with
          disagreeing about this.
          >
          >
          > However, it is entirely possible, and indeed likely, from a
          > generic point of view (that is, the genre of Luke as Hellenisitic
          > historiography), that Luke is only making those connections and
          > narrating them because that is how it happened so far as he
          > understood, as opposed to narrating other things he might have
          > known or oculd have chosen to say.
          >
          > You seem to be making the facile assumption, indeed, one might
          > say presupposing as an a priori, that because one or more elements
          > in the Scriptures of Israel are echoed in some manner in a gospel
          > narrative that htereore it os obvious that the gospel account is an
          > invention and the story recounts something that never happened.
          > You have not offered anything to support that, however, except your
          > repreated "I disagree." With all due respect, such an argument
          > would get a very poor grade from me if a student tried it. It
          > carries no weight with me certainly.

          For you this is "facile." So be it. Again, I'd just say open the OT
          and there are bucket loads of stories where one can discover this
          kind of creative theological story telling.

          Gordon Raynal
          Inman, SC
          >
          > Ken Litwak
          >
        • Daniel Grolin
          Dear Ken, I agree with what you are saying here, even if I would not have put it so bluntly. I to think that Burridge s determination of the genre of the
          Message 4 of 29 , Aug 4, 2008
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            Dear Ken,

            I agree with what you are saying here, even if I would not have put it so bluntly. I to think that Burridge's determination of the genre of the gospels as bioi as a major problem for those positing it as a largely imaginative work. In addition I would point to Byrskog's book "Story as history and history as story". Another book of possible relevance is Bauckham's "Jesus and the eyewitnesses", I have yet to read it and determine for myself if I find it viable.

            Regards,
            Daniel


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          • Kenneth Litwak
            Hi Gordon,   I m not gong to intersperse my comments because that would not be helpful, even though I think that means I m breaking some protocol.   Instead
            Message 5 of 29 , Aug 9, 2008
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              Hi Gordon,

                I"m not gong to intersperse my comments because that would not be helpful, even though I think that means I'm breaking some protocol.   Instead I want to focus on what I see as a significant problem in your presentation. 

                 It is, I believe, axiomatic that a writer must craft a work in a genre that an audience can recognize and knows how to interpret.  I'm hardly the first person to say this, so I don't need to defend it other than to say that if a "gospel" were a special  genre, or sui generis, no one in the first century or afterwards even, would have had any idea what it was or how to read it or interpret it. 

                This implies that the gospels were written according to established principles of well-recognized genres.  Otherwise, their audiences, from Rome to Ephesus, would have had  no idea what they were or how to read them.  So, with reference to your view,

              1.  Name for me the principles or elements of midrash that a first-century audience, either Jewish, Gentile, or mixed, would have clearly recognized.  I can do that for Bios or historiography but midrash I can't. 

              2.,  Can you tell me the Second Temple models (excluding the Scriptures of Israel) that would have been well-known as examples of midrash and that look like the gospels?

              3.  What are the examples of midrash form prior to the first-century A.D., known across the empire, that feature a Jewish sage who looks like a cynic and nothing else?

              4.  You point to the Scriptures of Israel as themselves being examples of midrash.  Since you cannot point to the story that lies behind the Exodus story and the like so that we can see clearly exactly how those original stories were modified and turned into fictional accounts that bear no relation to anything that ever happened, much as you seem to think the gospels are pure fantasy or close enough that they are useless for learning anything about any real event. That is what I gather you have been saying in your various posts.   Why is it that Jesus' contemporaries don't seem to have recognized the Exodus story as a fictional account based on some other story?  What a modern rabbi might have to say is not relevant for how the text was understood by first-century Jews or Gentiles.  Indeed, it seems rather odd that Josephus would rely upon what you consider total fiction in his efforts to defend the Jews as a noble and ancient race.

              Ken Litwak

              --- On Sun, 8/3/08, Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:
              From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
              Subject: Re: [XTalk] Paul's silence on Jesus as miracle worker
              To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
              Cc: "Michael Ensley" <mensley@...>
              Date: Sunday, August 3, 2008, 10:47 AM











              Hi Ken,

              On Aug 3, 2008, at 1:48 AM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:



              >

              > .Ken:

              > Gordon, so you are basically saying, "I don't care that I'm

              > misusing a technical term ina way that no one else woudl support

              > and that therefore is of no value in communication. No matter who

              > objects to it, I'm going to do it anyway." Is that a fair

              > summary? Richard Hays in _Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of

              > Paul_ showed many years ago the problems of attaching the term

              > "midrash" even to Paul's explicit interpretations of Scripture.

              > FIrst, in that case, and in yours, it is grossly anachronistic.

              > "MIdrash" as an established technique is from the Rabbinica period,

              > after about 200 A.D., so far as we know. Second, "midrash" is a

              > form of interpretation, a way of explaining Scripture. There is no

              > evidence that it equals "taking elements fomr a biblcial narrative

              > and inventing a completely new narrative about something else out

              > of whole cloth." So when you use midrash to describe anything in

              > the gospels, it is simply invalid from a technical

              > point of view. Why do you insist on an invalid use of the word

              > "midrash"?



              You are correct, of course that midrash is a technical term that is

              related to what you speak of, but it is also a term that I have heard

              used many times to talk about the particular creative story telling

              process we find in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures themselves.

              Where did I hear that? Well, one place was at the local temple and

              in several lovely discussions of the creativity we find within Torah,

              itself, not to mention the rest of the Tanak. The rabbi and the 2

              lay teachers (both college professor PhD's) freely used that term in

              regard to this particular kind of Hebraic/ Jewish story telling

              creativity. I think that is most appropriate and it is that that

              I've been talking about.

              >

              > On top of that, you have not actually pointed to any literature

              > contemporary with or prior to the gospels that share the same genre

              > (s) of bios or historiography that evince what you are suggesting.

              > You may not accept those genre identifications, but for example, I

              > have not seen anyone provide any evidence at all that meaningfully

              > challenges Richard Burrdige's demonstration from actual data (not

              > merely assertions) that Mark is an example of Greco-Roman Bios.



              Open the OT... there are a whole lot of stories to where you'll find

              exactly what I'm talking about. For a key one and I don't have time

              just now to do a verse by verse review of this and so will only give

              an off the top of the head response (and BTW... this is one of the

              things that aforementioned rabbi and teachers talked about), but the

              story of the escape from Egypt within those texts has a story of

              escaping slaves through the marsh land under YHWH Elohim's guidance,

              the Song of Miriam which adds the element of "horse and rider thrown

              into the sea," the ramping of this story to the whole text

              understanding of Moses with his Staff from God parting the waters,

              the Israelites safely marching through and then the Egyptians getting

              crushed. And then (again pardon my forgetting the dating) but the

              later rabbinic story that Moses didn't make for just one column of

              water to walk through, but rather God made for 12 columns, one for

              each tribe that is extra Torah text. That's a fine example of

              developmental creativity that is both behind and beyond the Exodus

              story. Fine by me, if you prefer using a different term for this

              kind of theological story creativity, but again the local rabbi was

              quite happy to use it.

              >

              > Third, as to the specifics of the Elijah-Elisha narratives

              > having parallels in the gospels. Thomas Brodie has demonstrated

              > this well in many places. However, an important point beyond or

              > next to his needs to be made.

              >

              > As many, such as Baumgarten or White have shown (White

              > especially), no one ever recounts history-as-it- happened. That's a

              > 19th centuiry myth invented by von Ranke and others of a Positivist

              > persuasion. Rather, we only ever write or read history-as-it- is-

              > narrated. When you connect this fact that hsitory is always and

              > only what is narrated in precisely the way an author wishes to

              > present it, and combine that with the fact Hellensitic

              > historiographers sought eagerly to both imitate those who came

              > before them and to show how those in their narratives were part of

              > peoples in the past (see works by Marincola, as well as The Past is

              > a Foreign Country), it is not at surprising that Luke, as one

              > example, would seek to show how Jesus of Nazareth was like Elijah

              > and Elisha in the past.



              All of this simply gets to our fundamental disagreement about what a

              narrative gospel is. You are obviously convinced by the authors you

              site that we're dealing with biography. Citing all these who

              convince you of this, does not convince me. I'm fine with

              disagreeing about this.

              >

              >

              > However, it is entirely possible, and indeed likely, from a

              > generic point of view (that is, the genre of Luke as Hellenisitic

              > historiography) , that Luke is only making those connections and

              > narrating them because that is how it happened so far as he

              > understood, as opposed to narrating other things he might have

              > known or oculd have chosen to say.

              >

              > You seem to be making the facile assumption, indeed, one might

              > say presupposing as an a priori, that because one or more elements

              > in the Scriptures of Israel are echoed in some manner in a gospel

              > narrative that htereore it os obvious that the gospel account is an

              > invention and the story recounts something that never happened.

              > You have not offered anything to support that, however, except your

              > repreated "I disagree." With all due respect, such an argument

              > would get a very poor grade from me if a student tried it. It

              > carries no weight with me certainly.



              For you this is "facile." So be it. Again, I'd just say open the OT

              and there are bucket loads of stories where one can discover this

              kind of creative theological story telling.



              Gordon Raynal

              Inman, SC

              >

              > Ken Litwak

              >



























              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Gordon Raynal
              Hi Ken, ... Obviously humans tell stories and if the markers of the recognizable conditions of life on planet Earth are there, then it will be recognizable.
              Message 6 of 29 , Aug 9, 2008
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                Hi Ken,

                On Aug 9, 2008, at 3:27 AM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:

                > Hi Gordon,
                >
                > I"m not gong to intersperse my comments because that would not be
                > helpful, even though I think that means I'm breaking some
                > protocol. Instead I want to focus on what I see as a significant
                > problem in your presentation.
                >
                > It is, I believe, axiomatic that a writer must craft a work in a
                > genre that an audience can recognize and knows how to interpret.
                > I'm hardly the first person to say this, so I don't need to defend
                > it other than to say that if a "gospel" were a special genre, or
                > sui generis, no one in the first century or afterwards even, would
                > have had any idea what it was or how to read it or interpret it.

                Obviously humans tell stories and if the markers of the recognizable
                conditions of life on planet Earth are there, then it will be
                "recognizable." Narrative realism is a good term to describe the
                craft of all such stories. As to how to interpret this particular
                kind of story, interwoven into the very fabric of the story are the
                authorial chosen keys. In Mark we are presented with the
                foundational key from the outset... this is "a good news" of Jesus
                Christ the Son of God. And, if you'll allow me to jump to John's
                Gospel for a clear statement of the intent of all the gospels: "But
                these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the
                Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life
                in his name." (John 20:31 NRSV)
                >
                >
                > This implies that the gospels were written according to
                > established principles of well-recognized genres. Otherwise, their
                > audiences, from Rome to Ephesus, would have had no idea what they
                > were or how to read them. So, with reference to your view,
                >
                > 1. Name for me the principles or elements of midrash that a first-
                > century audience, either Jewish, Gentile, or mixed, would have
                > clearly recognized. I can do that for Bios or historiography but
                > midrash I can't.

                If one accepts that the point of this kind of writing is theological
                affirmation (sort of clear that Jesus is proclaimed from the start of
                Mark as "Christ the Son of God"), ethical espousal and deliberation,
                communal ethos affirmation and development centered around
                characterization (identity affirmation of the founder), then the keys
                to laying out the Scripture search to make for this characterization
                are plain enough. Matthew takes Mark and makes it ever so explicit
                from the beginning with the key choice of "son of Abraham" and "son
                of David" as two of the prime characterization markers. As the
                theology and ethics take off from the received heritage then one sees
                the various kinds of moves utilized: direct quotation of Scriptures,
                comparison with earlier characterizations, recapitulation of specific
                events or series of events, actions and the words that go with them,
                but also thematic or simply metaphorical association. These are core
                elements that the gospel authors used quite creatively! As the
                received weave of the Hebrew narrative is so rich they had a lot to
                work with.
                >
                >
                > 2., Can you tell me the Second Temple models (excluding the
                > Scriptures of Israel) that would have been well-known as examples
                > of midrash and that look like the gospels?

                As I'm asking you (and all) to think in terms of the art of story
                telling, then there are analogs in every culture found in the growth
                of culturally specific story traditions. Just read works in Greek
                mythology to see the wondrous imagination of those mythmakers. The
                Israelite writers were not doing something odd or unrecognizable.
                What differentiates the story telling process has to do with the
                espoused theology and ethics. Midrash, as a term, is useful in
                pointing to how the interweave of story telling built on top of
                itself within the framework of espousing said theology, ethics and
                social praxis.
                >
                > 3. What are the examples of midrash form prior to the first-
                > century A.D., known across the empire, that feature a Jewish sage
                > who looks like a cynic and nothing else?

                Now this is an interesting sentence and I'm not entirely certain all
                you are trying to imply with it. You'll have to open that up for
                me. But, in the first place, I don't want to start with (capital C)
                cynics. I want you to look backwards into the Israelite heritage
                itself, first. And what do we find there? Wisdom works? Yes! Job,
                Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, for those specifically
                identified as wisdom works... and the first is a story book wisdom
                book! Before proceeding onward from TANAK we also find noted wisdom
                discourse across TANAK. And then proceeding onward we find that
                these Hebrew folk had a very living wisdom heritage, as is seen in
                such as ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. Inside the Scriptures
                and continuing wisdom discourse and wisdom story creativity was quite
                alive among the Hebrew folk. And I would like to suggest to you that
                such as the books of Ruth and Jonah are in fact extended parables and
                that they provide nice wisdom crafted works we find in the OT
                Scriptures themselves. But then you have already presented an
                example, not native to Israel, and that is the Cynic philosophical
                heritage. Well worth everyone's time to investigate some of the
                stories and words about such as Diogenes of Sinope for comparison to
                how such kinds of words work. Burton Mack's book on Q has a very
                good discussion of the parallels and what was a bit different about
                the Hebrew folk and Jesus and friends, in particular.

                And I just have to say this... real wisdom communicates across all
                cultures because "sense" makes sense:)!
                >
                > 4. You point to the Scriptures of Israel as themselves being
                > examples of midrash. Since you cannot point to the story that lies
                > behind the Exodus story and the like so that we can see clearly
                > exactly how those original stories were modified and turned into
                > fictional accounts that bear no relation to anything that ever
                > happened, much as you seem to think the gospels are pure fantasy or
                > close enough that they are useless for learning anything about any
                > real event. That is what I gather you have been saying in your
                > various posts. Why is it that Jesus' contemporaries don't seem to
                > have recognized the Exodus story as a fictional account based on
                > some other story? What a modern rabbi might have to say is not
                > relevant for how the text was understood by first-century Jews or
                > Gentiles. Indeed, it seems rather odd that Josephus would rely
                > upon what you consider total fiction in his efforts to defend the
                > Jews as a noble and ancient race.

                My response to this paragraph: why do you assume I think the gospels
                are well described by the term, "fantasy?" And why do you assume
                that ancient folk did not understand the craft of story telling?

                And I'll end on this related note. Nearly 30 years ago in my first
                seminary course on theology, one of the very first discussions in the
                class was on the nature of theological language. My very traditional
                Reformed theology prof made it very clear that theological language
                is the language of metaphor. Powerful, image rich story telling of
                many kinds of genres is rooted in the language of metaphor, of
                course, and hence story telling is a prime form of that theological
                and ethical communication. Jesus understood that! He told
                parables. I don't find it the least bit odd that his followers did
                precisely the same sort of thing in his honor.

                Gordon Raynal
                Inman, SC
                >
                > Ken Litwak
                >
                >
              • Ken Olson
                Hi Ken, I ve had a lot of difficulty following many of the arguments about the gospels that are based on genre, so I m hoping you can clarify a few points for
                Message 7 of 29 , Aug 9, 2008
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                  Hi Ken,

                  I've had a lot of difficulty following many of the arguments about the gospels that are based on genre, so I'm hoping you can clarify a few points for me.

                  First, don't we have a large number of ancient works that don't fit easily into any single established genre (i.e., a "pure" genre), such as Apuleius' Memorphosis or Philostratus' Life of Apollonius, for example? And don't a number of works borrow elements from other genres, such as Thucydides' use of diagnosis in his history or, in the gospels, Mark's use of apocalyptic in a bios (if the gospels are indeed bioi)? It seems to me that genre conventions were never rigidly maintained, or at least they were often crossed. Finally, what genre would some of the apocryphal works like the Gospel of Peter or the Infancy Gospel of Thomas belong to? Were their authors' literary geniuses doing something that had never been done before, or were they following some known generic conventions?

                  Best,

                  Ken

                  Ken Olson, PhD Student, Duke University



                  To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.comFrom: javajedi2@...: Sat, 9 Aug 2008 00:27:19 -0700Subject: [XTalk] Gospel Genre -- to Gordon




                  Hi Gordon, I"m not gong to intersperse my comments because that would not be helpful, even though I think that means I'm breaking some protocol. Instead I want to focus on what I see as a significant problem in your presentation. It is, I believe, axiomatic that a writer must craft a work in a genre that an audience can recognize and knows how to interpret. I'm hardly the first person to say this, so I don't need to defend it other than to say that if a "gospel" were a special genre, or sui generis, no one in the first century or afterwards even, would have had any idea what it was or how to read it or interpret it. This implies that the gospels were written according to established principles of well-recognized genres. Otherwise, their audiences, from Rome to Ephesus, would have had no idea what they were or how to read them. So, with reference to your view,1. Name for me the principles or elements of midrash that a first-century audience, either Jewish, Gentile, or mixed, would have clearly recognized. I can do that for Bios or historiography but midrash I can't. 2., Can you tell me the Second Temple models (excluding the Scriptures of Israel) that would have been well-known as examples of midrash and that look like the gospels?3. What are the examples of midrash form prior to the first-century A.D., known across the empire, that feature a Jewish sage who looks like a cynic and nothing else?4. You point to the Scriptures of Israel as themselves being examples of midrash. Since you cannot point to the story that lies behind the Exodus story and the like so that we can see clearly exactly how those original stories were modified and turned into fictional accounts that bear no relation to anything that ever happened, much as you seem to think the gospels are pure fantasy or close enough that they are useless for learning anything about any real event. That is what I gather you have been saying in your various posts. Why is it that Jesus' contemporaries don't seem to have recognized the Exodus story as a fictional account based on some other story? What a modern rabbi might have to say is not relevant for how the text was understood by first-century Jews or Gentiles. Indeed, it seems rather odd that Josephus would rely upon what you consider total fiction in his efforts to defend the Jews as a noble and ancient race.Ken Litwak--- On Sun, 8/3/08, Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>Subject: Re: [XTalk] Paul's silence on Jesus as miracle workerTo: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.comCc: "Michael Ensley" <mensley@...>Date: Sunday, August 3, 2008, 10:47 AMHi Ken,On Aug 3, 2008, at 1:48 AM, Kenneth Litwak wrote:>> .Ken:> Gordon, so you are basically saying, "I don't care that I'm > misusing a technical term ina way that no one else woudl support > and that therefore is of no value in communication. No matter who > objects to it, I'm going to do it anyway." Is that a fair > summary? Richard Hays in _Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of > Paul_ showed many years ago the problems of attaching the term > "midrash" even to Paul's explicit interpretations of Scripture. > FIrst, in that case, and in yours, it is grossly anachronistic. > "MIdrash" as an established technique is from the Rabbinica period, > after about 200 A.D., so far as we know. Second, "midrash" is a > form of interpretation, a way of explaining Scripture. There is no > evidence that it equals "taking elements fomr a biblcial narrative > and inventing a completely new narrative about something else out > of whole cloth." So when you use midrash to describe anything in > the gospels, it is simply invalid from a technical> point of view. Why do you insist on an invalid use of the word > "midrash"?You are correct, of course that midrash is a technical term that is related to what you speak of, but it is also a term that I have heard used many times to talk about the particular creative story telling process we find in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures themselves. Where did I hear that? Well, one place was at the local temple and in several lovely discussions of the creativity we find within Torah, itself, not to mention the rest of the Tanak. The rabbi and the 2 lay teachers (both college professor PhD's) freely used that term in regard to this particular kind of Hebraic/ Jewish story telling creativity. I think that is most appropriate and it is that that I've been talking about.>> On top of that, you have not actually pointed to any literature > contemporary with or prior to the gospels that share the same genre > (s) of bios or historiography that evince what you are suggesting. > You may not accept those genre identifications, but for example, I > have not seen anyone provide any evidence at all that meaningfully > challenges Richard Burrdige's demonstration from actual data (not > merely assertions) that Mark is an example of Greco-Roman Bios.Open the OT... there are a whole lot of stories to where you'll find exactly what I'm talking about. For a key one and I don't have time just now to do a verse by verse review of this and so will only give an off the top of the head response (and BTW... this is one of the things that aforementioned rabbi and teachers talked about), but the story of the escape from Egypt within those texts has a story of escaping slaves through the marsh land under YHWH Elohim's guidance, the Song of Miriam which adds the element of "horse and rider thrown into the sea," the ramping of this story to the whole text understanding of Moses with his Staff from God parting the waters, the Israelites safely marching through and then the Egyptians getting crushed. And then (again pardon my forgetting the dating) but the later rabbinic story that Moses didn't make for just one column of water to walk through, but rather God made for 12 columns, one for each tribe that is extra Torah text. That's a fine example of developmental creativity that is both behind and beyond the Exodus story. Fine by me, if you prefer using a different term for this kind of theological story creativity, but again the local rabbi was quite happy to use it.>> Third, as to the specifics of the Elijah-Elisha narratives > having parallels in the gospels. Thomas Brodie has demonstrated > this well in many places. However, an important point beyond or > next to his needs to be made.>> As many, such as Baumgarten or White have shown (White > especially), no one ever recounts history-as-it- happened. That's a > 19th centuiry myth invented by von Ranke and others of a Positivist > persuasion. Rather, we only ever write or read history-as-it- is- > narrated. When you connect this fact that hsitory is always and > only what is narrated in precisely the way an author wishes to > present it, and combine that with the fact Hellensitic > historiographers sought eagerly to both imitate those who came > before them and to show how those in their narratives were part of > peoples in the past (see works by Marincola, as well as The Past is > a Foreign Country), it is not at surprising that Luke, as one > example, would seek to show how Jesus of Nazareth was like Elijah > and Elisha in the past.All of this simply gets to our fundamental disagreement about what a narrative gospel is. You are obviously convinced by the authors you site that we're dealing with biography. Citing all these who convince you of this, does not convince me. I'm fine with disagreeing about this.>>> However, it is entirely possible, and indeed likely, from a > generic point of view (that is, the genre of Luke as Hellenisitic > historiography) , that Luke is only making those connections and > narrating them because that is how it happened so far as he > understood, as opposed to narrating other things he might have > known or oculd have chosen to say.>> You seem to be making the facile assumption, indeed, one might > say presupposing as an a priori, that because one or more elements > in the Scriptures of Israel are echoed in some manner in a gospel > narrative that htereore it os obvious that the gospel account is an > invention and the story recounts something that never happened. > You have not offered anything to support that, however, except your > repreated "I disagree." With all due respect, such an argument > would get a very poor grade from me if a student tried it. It > carries no weight with me certainly.For you this is "facile." So be it. Again, I'd just say open the OT and there are bucket loads of stories where one can discover this kind of creative theological story telling.Gordon RaynalInman, SC>> Ken Litwak>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Gordon Raynal
                  Hi Ken, ... Well, let me start here, as I haven t studied those other works, and simply make clear I don t think Mark or John are a bioi. ... G. Peter and
                  Message 8 of 29 , Aug 9, 2008
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                    Hi Ken,
                    On Aug 9, 2008, at 2:26 PM, Ken Olson wrote:

                    >
                    > Hi Ken,
                    >
                    > I've had a lot of difficulty following many of the arguments about
                    > the gospels that are based on genre, so I'm hoping you can clarify
                    > a few points for me.
                    >
                    > First, don't we have a large number of ancient works that don't fit
                    > easily into any single established genre (i.e., a "pure" genre),
                    > such as Apuleius' Memorphosis or Philostratus' Life of Apollonius,
                    > for example?
                    > And don't a number of works borrow elements from other genres,
                    > such as Thucydides' use of diagnosis in his history or, in the
                    > gospels, Mark's use of apocalyptic in a bios (if the gospels are
                    > indeed bioi)?

                    Well, let me start here, as I haven't studied those other works, and
                    simply make clear I don't think Mark or John are a bioi.


                    > It seems to me that genre conventions were never rigidly
                    > maintained, or at least they were often crossed. Finally, what
                    > genre would some of the apocryphal works like the Gospel of Peter
                    > or the Infancy Gospel of Thomas belong to?

                    G. Peter and Inf. Thomas show the same kind of authorial creativity
                    we find in the canonical ones. One of the great things about the
                    discovery of those outside the canonical four is a greater breadth to
                    the creativity and a look at how long this creativity went on.
                    Against your good Duke professor and member of this list:)! I do
                    think there was a Q and Dr. K is right that we can identify layers in
                    that development. I also think G. Thomas is susceptible to the same
                    sort of analysis. I do think G. Mark is the first narrative Gospel
                    that we know of and I think 80 represents a good date for it.
                    Starting from there we have 2 other accepted texts that show the very
                    same creativity process quite alive and well! I think we can see in
                    and between texts this kind of creativity going on.

                    > Were their authors' literary geniuses doing something that had
                    > never been done before, or were they following some known generic
                    > conventions?

                    I think they are well described as literary geniuses. I think this
                    kind of story creativity had long and deep roots, generally in all
                    cultures, but specifically in the Hebrew Bible roots. The example I
                    offered "in text" is the creativity we see inside the Exodus escape
                    narrative. I continue to favor the call of this "midrash," because
                    it points to the core source stories and the way they were creatively
                    used.
                    >
                    > Best,

                    same to you,
                    Gordon Raynal
                    Inman, SC
                    >
                    > Ken
                    >
                    > Ken Olson, PhD Student, Duke University
                    >
                  • Rikk Watts
                    Jeffrey, Missed this... yes I m still alive (just got back from some months of travel, and a rollicking sail across the Pacific : ) ) I guess I d have to
                    Message 9 of 29 , Sep 22, 2008
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                      Jeffrey,

                      Missed this... yes I'm still alive (just got back from some months of
                      travel, and a rollicking sail across the Pacific : ) )

                      I guess I'd have to think at what point in Paul's present letters he'd need
                      to do so. I.e. he appeals to his own wonder working, but not that often, and
                      usually in response to challenges to the authenticity of his apostleship.
                      That being so, I guess we'd expect some comment re Jesus' mighty deeds in a
                      similar situation. I can't think of any place in the Pauline materials where
                      he is defending Jesus.

                      Regards
                      Rikk


                      On 29/07/08 1:40 PM, "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000@...> wrote:

                      > To my knowledge Paul, who appeals to miracles he performed in his
                      > communities as attestations to the power of the Gospel, never speaks of
                      > any miracles that Jesus wrought, or of Jesus as a miracle worker. Am I
                      > correct in thinking that this is the case?
                      >
                      > And if it is, how is Paul's silence on this matter to be explained?
                      >
                      > Yours,
                      >
                      > Jeffrey
                    • Darrell Bock
                      Jeffrey: A thought to add to Rikk s response. The issue of the miracles was to attest to Jesus. The resurrection came to take that role in a comprehensive way,
                      Message 10 of 29 , Sep 23, 2008
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                        Jeffrey:

                        A thought to add to Rikk's response. The issue of the miracles was to
                        attest to Jesus. The resurrection came to take that role in a
                        comprehensive way, since not only was it seen as God's vote, but
                        placed Jesus at God's side. As such it trumped everything else. Even
                        more fascinating is that Paul proclaims Jesus' role in creation (1 Cor
                        8:4-6; Col 1:15-20). One might call that a miracle. My point is that
                        the transcendent aspects of Jesus dominate Paul's presentation.


                        Darrell Bock
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