Re: [WSW] The Golden Rule, Tobit, & Love Thy (Dead) Neighbor
- To: WSW (and CGC)
In Response To: Whalen
I am not going to pick up on Whalen's "alternative." There are too many
options in the middle. But he begins thus:
WHALEN: Beginning with the Golden Rule that you tracked (can I say this?)
“from Tobit all the way eastward to Confucius”—wherein on the trade route
[outside cities and unpoliced by any state], it is just good sense (to
Mo-tzu too) to observe the Golden Rule.
BRUCE: My sense is that the Golden Rule runs the other way. If you look into
the Tobit commentaries, you will find that (1) Tobit is later than Mwodz,
not to mention Confucius; it is from Han times, and more particularly, from
somewhere about the time when Han Wu-di was laboring to keep the trade
routes open and unmolested), and (2) the narrative of Tobit involves trips
to foreign places (including Media). The oldest Tobit was apparently in
Aramaic; it was popular at Qumran. That perhaps brings it into sufficient
propinquity with the thing we are talking about.
If you look into other places where correspondences with Eastern wisdom
exist (and this I warmly recommend; it is not safe to do history by
snippets), you will find what look like reports of contact with trade
centers cropping up. Hillel is another place to look, and it was perhaps not
for nothing that Hillel himself was known as "Hillel the Babylonian."
There is pretty good agreement (and the agreement, as it seems to me, is for
pretty good reasons) that, of the Christian canonical gospels, Mark is
earliest, followed by Matthew and Luke in pretty close succession. So what,
an outsider might ask, do Matthew and Luke add to the previous (Markan)
picture of Jesus and his teachings? In part, a lot of stuff that has
extraPalestinian associations. Some of the associations are Egyptian, some
Indian, some Chinese. Or at least the earliest textually extant counterparts
(there are a lot of stages missing in the middle, sometimes) seem to be from
those places. And sometimes these things with foreign counterparts not only
OCCUR in these middle Gospels, they occur CLUSTERED in these middle Gospels.
(See my paper from back in the Nineties, somewhere).
This is an interesting pattern, is it not? One in which I have so far been
unable to interest anyone at either end of the trade route, but I am working
[E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst]
Random sample. Tobit 1:17 "And my clothes to the naked: and if I saw any of
my nation dead, or cast about the walls of Nineve, I buried him." As is
enjoined in Analects 10:16a (c0380), no? Maybe somebody, some day, some
century, will undertake to read Tobit (not long) against the Analects (not
long either), and tell the rest of us what they find.