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Re: [XTalk] use of "the criterion of embarrassment" outside of Historical Jesus studies

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  • Horace Jeffery Hodges
    We might be surprised by some things that the Hadith find unembarassing . . . but one embarrassment would surely be the so-called Satanic verses.   Jeffery
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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      We might be surprised by some things that the Hadith find unembarassing . . . but one embarrassment would surely be the so-called 'Satanic' verses.
       
      Jeffery Hodges


      --- On Wed, 1/21/09, Bob Schacht <r_schacht@...> wrote:

      From: Bob Schacht <r_schacht@...>
      Subject: Re: [XTalk] use of "the criterion of embarrassment" outside of Historical Jesus studies
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 11:16 PM

      At 06:36 PM 1/21/2009, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
      >Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:
      > > Jeffrey:
      > >
      > > The simple answer to your question is "NO".
      > >
      > > Let me add a comment though. For a lot of reasons, I find the
      > criterion of embarrassment one of the least convincing to me. It seems
      > to me that those who wield it seem to "know" what would be
      embarrassing
      > to "the church", as if (a) the church (as a collective) wrote
      the
      > documents, and as if (b) the church was "unified" in belief, and
      as if
      > (c) we knew all the possible contexts and pretexts that serve to
      > interpret a clause/phrase/event.
      > >
      >Mark,
      >
      >I appreciate your comments. But I was not asking whether the criterion
      >is a good or an adequate one, . I was asking whether any historian of
      >antiquity has ever applied it in the service of determining the
      >authenticity of sayings and deeds attributed by ancient historians
      >and/or authors of "lives" to the figures whose lives and deeds
      they are
      >intent to narrate.
      >
      >Jeffrey

      Jeffrey,
      I appreciate Mark's comments, too.
      But more to the point, I have another direction for your inquiry to take:
      The field of Islamic scholarship concerning the Words of the Prophet. You
      perhaps recall that besides the Koran, Moslems of one sort or another value
      their oral tradition (the Hadith), around which has grown the
      "<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith#Science_of_hadith>Science of
      Hadith",
      as well as the parallel scholarship in Jewish scholarship concerning the
      Jewish oral tradition (the Mishnah).

      In fact, I think Biblical scholarship is altogether too insular in this
      regard. If the criterion of embarrassment were worth more than a hill of
      beans, one would think that one would see echoes of it in scholarship about
      the Hadith and Mishnah.

      But unfortunately, I cannot offer any particulars.

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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    • poirier
      Mark Matson wrote: we often see rehearsed and re-rehearsed the old Schweitzer observation that we peer down the well of history and find ourselves
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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        Mark Matson wrote: "we often see rehearsed and
        re-rehearsed the old Schweitzer observation that we peer
        down the well of history and find ourselves reflected".
        I'd just like to point out that it wasn't Schweitzer (who,
        for some reason, is always credited with this) but rather
        George Tyrrell who wrote about scholars peering into a well
        and seeing their own reflection.
        John C. Poirier




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Bob Schacht and Mark Matson On: The Criterion of Embarrassment From: Bruce As Jeffrey has pointed out, he did not
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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          To: Crosstalk
          Cc: GPG, WSW
          In Response To: Bob Schacht and Mark Matson
          On: The Criterion of Embarrassment
          From: Bruce

          As Jeffrey has pointed out, he did not want an evaluation of the Criterion
          of Embarrassment, rather, information of its use outside NT. But the
          question of methodological adequacy has come up, and to that I respond. With
          an example, at the end, of the criterion of embarrassment as used outside NT
          (a different example than the one previous shared with Synoptic). Meanwhile:

          BOB: If the criterion of embarrassment were worth more than a hill of beans,
          one would think that one would see echoes of it in scholarship about the
          Hadith and Mishnah.

          BRUCE: Those who attempt to recover the original state of any tradition are
          in a tiny minority of those who study that tradition. This being so, it is
          perhaps not too surprising if the amount of serious investigation along
          these lines is not very large in the first place.

          And sometimes the minority is an endangered minority. Those who probe into
          the original state of the Homeric texts, or the actual political context of
          Alexander, or the authenticity of the Chinese classics, or the chronology of
          the Upanishads, may fail their interviews, or lose their jobs, or have their
          computers sabotaged, or even get death threats, but none of the people who
          make those threats (as far as I know, or as far as my immediate colleagues
          inform me) will actually kill you. The case is different with the Sikhs and
          with Islamic fundamentalists. They will.

          BOB: But more to the point, I have another direction for your inquiry to
          take: The field of Islamic scholarship concerning the Words of the Prophet.

          BRUCE: Given the above, I have to wonder whether this suggestion may not be
          ill-considered. Let those who have survived it recommend it to others. The
          best invitation to swim is one issued from inside the pool.

          CRITERIA

          A priori, I doubt that any one "criterion" by itself is likely to do the
          whole job, whatever the job. In my own efforts, I try to bear in mind the
          censure of Housman about those who substitute gimmicks for thinking. All the
          "criteria" are surely capable of misuse as gimmicks or attempted shortcuts.
          The trend of the evidence is usually more persuasive than any one piece of
          evidence. And as applied to the Historical Jesus, some criteria seem more
          likely to confound than to further an investigation. The "criterion of
          difference," for example, seems to hold that if some bit of evidence
          indicates a Jewish Jesus, or for that matter a Christian Jesus, that
          evidence is to be rejected. The result would seem to be a Jesus without
          cultural connections at either end of the trajectory. Such a Jesus is
          perhaps a little too different to be credible. A better guideline, it seems
          to me, would be a higher-criticism analogue of the Tischendorf rule: That
          reading, or that hypothetical state of a not directly known tradition, is
          likely to be original which best accounts for the other readings or states.
          Or in HJ terms: That Jesus is likely to be Historical which best connects
          with Jesus's probable Jewish origins on the one hand, and with what the
          earliest posthumous Jesus movement demonstrably made of it, on the other.

          MARK: It seems to me that those who wield [the criterion of embarrassment]
          seem to "know" what would be embarrassing to "the church," as if (a) the
          church (as a collective) wrote the documents, and as if (b) the church was
          "unified" in belief, and as if (c) we knew all the possible contexts and
          pretexts that serve to interpret a clause/phrase/event.

          BRUCE: Granted, if we knew all that we could probably do without any further
          criteria at all. We could mail off our book manuscript and sleep long. And
          yes, "the Church" is not an ideal locution, but I think it is generally
          understood that by it, in these contexts (or by any of its longer
          circumlocutions), we mean not some already monolithic and book-producing
          entity, but "the relevant segment of the audience for a particular concept
          or text." How much we know or can responsibly infer about that segment
          depends on other things. It need not be always zero.

          Nor need judgements without such background knowledge be always invalid.
          Sometimes the features of the sample are enough ground for a judgement about
          the sample. Thus, I think it is familiar and uncontroversial in text
          criticism that we can sometimes see places where a scribal change has been
          made out of what it is reasonable to call embarrassment, eg the statement
          that Jesus was crucified "between two OTHER criminals" (Lk 23:32). Like the
          implication (dealt with in Matthew) that Jesus's baptism implies a
          previously sinful Jesus, this one may well have caused discomfort as seeming
          to accept Pilate's view of Jesus. I think we are on pretty firm ground if,
          with Metzger and now also Ehrman, and without biographical knowledge of the
          scribes in question, we take the various cleaned-up versions of Lk 23:32
          (and more than one type of cleanup is attempted) as, in all probability,
          pious and respectful emendations of the more problematic reading. Piety is
          the flip side of the coin of embarrassment. Both sides of the coin seem to
          me (as to Metzger and Ehrman) very probable as motives in ancient times.

          This of course is safest done where we have two extant manuscript readings,
          or two extant states of tradition, and are interested in assigning
          directionality. But this can be the case, in a well designed investigation.
          Investigation design should indeed concentrate on such cases, and not try to
          operate directly on single bits of data, let alone rely on single rules of
          thumb for the interpretation of those single bits.

          Is not the principle "lectio difficilior" in effect a cousin of "criterion
          of embarrassment?" Not that lectio difficilior can safely be allowed to do
          your thinking for you either (a simple typo always creates a lectio
          difficilior, which however is always the less preferable reading), but that
          mnemonic is surely part of the valid toolkit. The fact that you can cut
          yourself, or ruin your dado, with a chisel does not mean that the chisel
          should be avoided. A sufficiently practiced hand may sometimes be able to
          cut straight with it.

          MARK: It just seems to me that in this criterion we often see rehearsed and
          re-rehearsed the old Schweitzer observation that we peer down the well of
          history and find ourselves reflected.

          BRUCE: The charge of self-reflectivity is often made, though seemingly in
          most cases about the work of others. The danger of importing oneself into an
          investigation is admittedly great, but it is also well known, and the
          methodology of history has developed in part as a protection against it.
          That what I have called the "Nice Jesus" is likely to be a projection of
          gentle and well-disposed and eminently likeable persons in our own time
          seems to me obvious. Its actual refutation, however, is not automatic; it
          would depend on a better study of the ancient evidence. A constructed Jesus
          who is agreeable to the present day is not ipso facto unhistorical. It
          merely does not constitute an intrinsic argument for its own acceptance.

          Whatever the specifics, immersing oneself in the milieu of the time is
          probably the best corrective for continuing to think out of one's own time.
          I don't think that failures of emotional detachment on the part of earlier
          scholars necessarily condemn all present efforts in advance. History, like
          Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto, is one of those things that some people
          are better at than others.

          We learn about the past by watching the past do what it does. If scribes
          change or supplement a reading, if Evangelists alter an old story or add a
          new one, we are being handed data about their preferences and proclivities.
          It seems to me that embarrassment, and its obverse, piety, do turn up as
          reasonably attributable motives in such situations. Among other and also
          reasonable motives.

          A BAD EXAMPLE

          No criterion, and no two criteria, are necessarily safe. One also needs that
          intangible which I have called tact (and which Housman called thought). Part
          of tact is simply a sense of proportion.

          A C Graham noticed the many stories in which Confucius is described as
          visiting Laudz, and as either rebuked by him or instructed by him. These are
          stories of a chastened Confucius, and though they are funny, they are not
          very comfortable for orthodox Confucians. Graham focused on that discomfort.
          He invoked what amounted to the criterion of embarrassment to assert that
          these stories reflect early Confucian tradition. He was able to add the
          criterion of multiple attestation, since typologically there are a lot of
          these stories. The result, despite having those two criteria on its side, is
          absurd. And how can we find this out? One way is to notice that none of the
          texts containing these stories is earlier than the year 0285, whereas
          Confucius died in 0479. A second is that the texts carrying these stories
          are not only "Dauist" in character, but elsewhere express explicit and
          general hostility to "the Confucians" (in Chinese, Kung or Ru), and in other
          stories, not considered by Graham, either attack Confucius or show him as
          being converted to Dauism, and going to live in some primitive swamp. A
          third is that the text supposedly written by Laudz (the Dau/Dv Jing) was
          demonstrably still under construction as of the year c0288, and that even
          the first of its probably several successive authors cannot be put earlier
          than the 04c, so that any story about a meeting between Confucius and Laudz
          is necessarily anachronistic. The larger and also the better judgement,
          then, is that these Confucius/Laudz stories are Dauist satirical propaganda
          against Confucius, and not genuine tradition. That they are numerous merely
          shows that they were effective in their time. Finally, we have evidence from
          Graham's writings about his own sympathies in the matter: he was not greatly
          attracted to Confucianism or its written expressions, and he was
          enthusiastic about Dauism. Graham was an example, then, of the projection of
          self into ancient debates. But the material was at hand, had Graham been
          sufficiently detached from his own sympathies to make use of it, for a
          better judgement. The case was not hopeless; it need not have been affected
          by Graham's own partisanship in ancient quarrels.

          So perhaps also, mutatis mutandis, with other ancient problems and our
          feelings about them. We should let our own hates be, and work at empathizing
          instead with the hates of antiquity. For which, in the 1c Mediterranean,
          there seems to be considerable material available.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts
        • Ron Price
          ... Mark, While it is true that this criterion is often misused, in some cases there is evidence of embarrassment within the gospels themselves. Thus for
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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            Mark Matson wrote:

            > ....... I am saying that it is very hard to say with
            > security what would have been deemed "embarrassing" to the writers and readers
            > of the earliest narratives.

            Mark,

            While it is true that this criterion is often misused, in some cases there
            is evidence of embarrassment within the gospels themselves.

            Thus for instance in editing Mk 9:1, Matthew omits "with power", thus
            showing embarrassment at the possible implication of the Roman occupiers
            being overthrown by force, and Luke further omits any mention of Jesus
            "coming", introducing a form of 'realized eschatology' and thus obliterating
            the embarrassing failed prediction of the original saying.

            Curiously the embarrassment continues into our times with the NRSV's
            implausible translation of Mk 9:1b: "... until they see that the kingdom of
            God has come with power".

            Ron Price

            Derbyshire, UK

            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
          • Tony Buglass
            Bruce: A priori, I doubt that any one criterion by itself is likely to do the whole job, whatever the job. This was Meier s conclusion, in Marginal Jew -
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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              Bruce:
              A priori, I doubt that any one "criterion" by itself is likely to do the
              whole job, whatever the job.

              This was Meier's conclusion, in "Marginal Jew" - he says on p.184 that there is "no magic key unlocking all doors." His survey of the various criteria argues that they need each other to achieve a balanced approach to the problem. Theissen suggested in ""The Quest for the Plausible Jesus" that the search for criteria that would give a clear answer had failed, and therefore offered the criterion of historical plausibility - he aimed to find a Jesus who could plausibly have existed in his historical context (1st C Judaism) and plausibly given rise to the known historical effects of the Christian movement. For example on p.241: "The more convincingly we can uncover the connections of Jesus to his Jewish context, the more certain we will be that we are penetrating behind the post-Easter Christian pictures of Jesus in order to find the historical reality prior to Easter, and that Jesus is not a product of the history of early Christianity, but of Judaism."

              Cheers,
              Rev Tony Buglass
              Superintendent Minister
              Upper Calder Methodist Circuit

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG In Response To: Tony Buglass On: The Criterion of Embarrassment From: Bruce TONY: Theissen suggested in The Quest for the Plausible
              Message 6 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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                To: Crosstalk
                Cc: GPG
                In Response To: Tony Buglass
                On: The Criterion of Embarrassment
                From: Bruce

                TONY: Theissen suggested in ""The Quest for the Plausible Jesus" that the
                search for criteria that would give a clear answer had failed, and therefore
                offered the criterion of historical plausibility - he aimed to find a Jesus
                who could plausibly have existed in his historical context (1st C Judaism)
                and plausibly given rise to the known historical effects of the Christian
                movement. For example on p.241: "The more convincingly we can uncover the
                connections of Jesus to his Jewish context, the more certain we will be that
                we are penetrating behind the post-Easter Christian pictures of Jesus in
                order to find the historical reality prior to Easter, and that Jesus is not
                a product of the history of early Christianity, but of Judaism."

                BRUCE: I like a lot of it, and as for the title, I would probably have used
                it myself if Theissen had not got there first. The quoted piece is good too.
                But on the debit side, I notice this quote on p171, at the end of the long
                second chapter of the work. Unlike the above summary quote, which is in fact
                by Theissen, this one is by his co-author Dagmar Winter, on whose thesis the
                book is essentially based. Winter says, concluding that chapter: "And
                finally, the historicity of Jesus is a via inevitabilis. It encourages us,
                in the reality of the historical present with all its complexity,
                contradictions, and ambiguities, to dare to follow the footsteps of Jesus
                through history."

                That strikes me as a call to discipleship in the present tense. To me, any
                such presentist notion, any idea that the past is justified by its relevance
                to the present, is fatal to the objectivity and indeed detachment which the
                historical enterprise as such requires. First recover the past, and then if
                you happen to find it useful in your own life, fine for you. But the search
                itself should not be guided by the thought of eventual utility. To the
                historian, what is true is useful enough.

                These matters have been much discussed in the trade, by myself among others.
                Some of the dangers of relevance thinking are mentioned on the page of our
                Project's Outline of Methodology which is devoted to Bias; see

                http://www.umass.edu/wsp/methodology/outline/bias.html

                Whether it helps I do not know, but the pictures are pretty, and one of them
                is sharp.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
              • Loren Rosson
                ... of reasons, I find the criterion of embarrassment one of the least convincing to me. It seems to me that those who wield it seem to know what would be
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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                  Mark Matson wrote:


                  >>For a lot
                  of reasons, I find the criterion of embarrassment one of the least convincing
                  to me. It seems to me that those who wield it seem to "know" what
                  would be embarrassing to "the church", as if (a) the church (as a
                  collective) wrote the documents, and as if (b) the church was
                  "unified" in belief, and as if (c) we knew all the possible contexts
                  and pretexts that serve to interpret a clause/phrase/ event... It just seems to
                  me that in this criterion we often see rehearsed and re-rehearsed the old
                  Schweitzer [Tyrrell, per Poirier] observation that we peer down the well of
                  history and find ourselves reflected.<<




                  I'm not sure how
                  the self-portrait charge applies to a reliance on the criterion of embarrassment,
                  though I tend to agree otherwise with what Mark is saying. I used
                  to view embarrassment as one of the more useful criteria in getting at HJ
                  material, but am these days more skeptical. Just briefly looking at three classic
                  cases where the criterion has been held forth as yielding positive results
                  shows how faulty and dated the methodology starts to look: (1) Jesus' crucifixion,
                  supposedly embarrassing, was a badge of honor (an honor-reversal) to
                  Christians like Paul and the gospel writers. (2) Jesus' baptism by John was
                  certainly embarrassing to the post-70 gospel writers (which they apologetically
                  defend), but would it have been so to the earliest Christians? (3) Jesus'
                  prophecy of the apocalyptic timetable is, again, a true embarrassment to the
                  gospel writers, but it could have served the interests of the early church. I
                  think it was Meier who suggested that Mk 9:1/Mt 16:28/Lk 9:27 may have originated shortly
                  after Jesus as an assurance to first-generation Christians that they wouldn't
                  die before the apocalypse (answering, in effect, concerns like those behind I
                  Thess 4 and I Cor 15). Just because something is embarrassing by the time of the
                  gospels doesn't necessarily point to *Jesus himself* as the originator of the
                  saying, though we may obviously grant the likelihood or plausibility
                  increases.



                  Mark
                  Matson said that he finds "the criterion of embarrassment one of the least
                  convincing", and for the above reasons agree it has limited utility.
                  But the criterion I really have a problem with is dissimilarity (to Judaism or
                  Judeanism). I think this criterion is almost entirely useless... but that's
                  another story.

                   

                  Loren
                  Rosson III

                  Nashua NH

                  http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com/






















                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Ed Tyler
                  I don t think I have ever seen the term used outside HJ studies, but the method certainly is. One instance that comes to mind is discussion on the Old English
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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                    I don't think I have ever seen the term used outside HJ studies, but the method certainly is. One instance that comes to mind is discussion on the Old English poem "The Battle of Maldon, where it is generally held that the poem accurately describes the flight from the battle by the sons of Offa: Godric, Godrinc, and Godwig. (Godric riding away on the horse of the fallen Byrhtnoth). This account is accepted as historically accurate based upon precisely the same reasoning Meier articulates for the criterion of embarrassment: An English poet writing as a contemporary of the Viking incursions would hardly invent cowardly deeds of notable Englishmen. They appear in the narrative because the poet was stuck with them: Those guys ran away and people knew about it. There are any number of analogous cases in the study of old chronicles.

                    Of course if you can demonstrate that a tradition shows the "progressive suppression or softening" that Meier mentions the case for embarrassment could be stronger, but then one would need to demonstrate also that the motive is to shed the embarrassment of a historical act and not instead the result of doctrinal or ideological shift that led later writers to find the earlier account "embarrassing" whether its material was historical or not.

                    Ed Tyler
                    Baton Rouge, LA




                    ________________________________
                    From: Jeffrey B. Gibson <jgibson000@...>
                    To: Crosstalk2 <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 1:01:48 PM
                    Subject: [XTalk] use of "the criterion of embarrassment" outside of Historical Jesus studies


                    As we all know, there is a tool used in Historical Jesus studies
                    that is called the criterion of embarrassment. It is employed, along
                    with other tools such as the criterion of discontinuity and the
                    criterion of multiple attestation, as a means to help determine whether
                    or not certain actions or sayings by Jesus that appear in the Gospels
                    are historically probable. As John P. Meier notes

                    The point of the criterion is that the early church would hardly
                    have gone out of its way to create material that only embarrassed
                    its creator or weakened its position in arguments with opponents.
                    Rather, embarrassing material coming from Jesus would naturally be
                    either suppressed or softened in later stages of the Gospel
                    tradition, and often such progressive suppression or softening can
                    be traced through the Four Gospels. (A Marginal Jew, Vol 1, 168):

                    A notable example of something declared through the use of this tool to
                    be historically probable is the Gospel claim that Jesus underwent the
                    baptism for the forgiveness of sins that John the baptist called his
                    co-religionists to undertake. Why would early Christians invent the
                    story since it makes Jesus out as a sinner?

                    Does anyone here know of the use of this tool _outside of NT studies_?
                    Has it been applied by historians of antiquity to the reputed deeds and
                    saying of any ancient figure other than Jesus?

                    Jeffrey

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

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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                  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                    ... Ed, Thanks for this. Now, can you tell me where this discussion may be found? Jeffrey -- Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon) 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. Chicago,
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 22, 2009
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                      Ed Tyler wrote:
                      > I don't think I have ever seen the term used outside HJ studies, but the method certainly is. One instance that comes to mind is discussion on the Old English poem "The Battle of Maldon, where it is generally held that the poem accurately describes the flight from the battle by the sons of Offa: Godric, Godrinc, and Godwig. (Godric riding away on the horse of the fallen Byrhtnoth).
                      Ed,

                      Thanks for this.

                      Now, can you tell me where this discussion may be found?

                      Jeffrey

                      --
                      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
                      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                      Chicago, Illinois
                      e-mail jgibson000@...
                    • Rikk Watts
                      Hi Tony, Am I right in seeing here merely a cosmetic revision of the old idea Bultmannian idea that the problem is what the church does with Jesus? And
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 23, 2009
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                        Hi Tony,

                        Am I right in seeing here merely a cosmetic revision of the old idea
                        Bultmannian idea that the "problem" is what the church does with Jesus? And
                        doesn't Kaseman's response still apply?

                        Is there any hard first century evidence of a Jesus who is significantly
                        different from the post-Easter figure?

                        Consider: we have a story around 66 AD or so of an apparently pious first
                        century Jew who takes Israel's foundational meal‹Passover‹and declares that
                        it's no longer about the Moses thing, Israel's founding moment, or the past,
                        but about him and his coming death. He changes the menu, and apparently the
                        celebratory dates. Can someone explain to me, using Troeltsch's three
                        principles‹criticism of sources, analogy, and correlation‹whereby a first
                        century Jewish author could get to the point of being able even to imagine
                        such an innovation? I say Jewish because of Theissen's assertion that Jesus
                        is a product of a Judaism; so I'm assuming the meal, as the records suggest,
                        was originally Jewish.

                        I have to admit this is kinda fun.

                        Rikk Watts


                        On 22/01/09 2:56 AM, "Tony Buglass" <tonybuglass@...> wrote:

                        > Bruce:
                        > A priori, I doubt that any one "criterion" by itself is likely to do the
                        > whole job, whatever the job.
                        >
                        > This was Meier's conclusion, in "Marginal Jew" - he says on p.184 that there
                        > is "no magic key unlocking all doors." His survey of the various criteria
                        > argues that they need each other to achieve a balanced approach to the
                        > problem. Theissen suggested in ""The Quest for the Plausible Jesus" that the
                        > search for criteria that would give a clear answer had failed, and therefore
                        > offered the criterion of historical plausibility - he aimed to find a Jesus
                        > who could plausibly have existed in his historical context (1st C Judaism) and
                        > plausibly given rise to the known historical effects of the Christian
                        > movement. For example on p.241: "The more convincingly we can uncover the
                        > connections of Jesus to his Jewish context, the more certain we will be that
                        > we are penetrating behind the post-Easter Christian pictures of Jesus in order
                        > to find the historical reality prior to Easter, and that Jesus is not a
                        > product of the history of early Christianity, but of Judaism."
                        >
                        > Cheers,
                        > Rev Tony Buglass
                        > Superintendent Minister
                        > Upper Calder Methodist Circuit
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                        >
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                      • Karel Hanhart
                        Ron, You have touched on a very difficult text, a text one keeps on mulling over. I also believe omissions may occur because of embarrassment. The question is
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 3, 2009
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                          Ron,

                          You have touched on a very difficult text, a text one keeps on mulling over.
                          I also believe omissions may occur because of embarrassment. The question is what the embarrassment is about.
                          Mark certainly is a "powerful" Gospel in that in story time great stupendous miracles are performed. It is rightly held Mark is expressing in this manner because of his faith in God's supreme power. The Spirit came "into" Jesus at his baptism and nothing not even crucifixion and cruel death would hinder the Spirit to accomplish the sacred purpose. His faith is not dualistic with Satan amassing his forces to "destroy" Jesus and readers wondering who would win the battle. Rather the opposition looses the battle before it has even started.
                          If what I wrote thus far is correct, Mark and his readers would understand the destruction of the temple in 70 as a great debacle, an utmost attempt of the forces of evil to undo the reign of God.
                          Mark 9,1 should in that case be interpreted in terms of Rom 11,25. The fall of Jerusale, a disaster for any true Judean, would paradoxically be instrumental in the mission to the Gentiles.

                          However, Matthew would afterwards omit "with power" as he was worried that Mark's "forceful" interpretation of a Jesus word, could easily be misunderstood. Is this interpretation acceptable?

                          As I stated above, the passage is not only important, but one keeps on returning to it.


                          yours cordially,

                          Karel Hanhart



                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Ron Price
                          To: Crosstalk elist
                          Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 11:41 AM
                          Subject: [XTalk] The criterion of embarrassment (was: "use of ....."


                          Mark Matson wrote:

                          > ....... I am saying that it is very hard to say with
                          > security what would have been deemed "embarrassing" to the writers and readers
                          > of the earliest narratives.

                          Mark,

                          While it is true that this criterion is often misused, in some cases there
                          is evidence of embarrassment within the gospels themselves.

                          Thus for instance in editing Mk 9:1, Matthew omits "with power", thus
                          showing embarrassment at the possible implication of the Roman occupiers
                          being overthrown by force, and Luke further omits any mention of Jesus
                          "coming", introducing a form of 'realized eschatology' and thus obliterating
                          the embarrassing failed prediction of the original saying.

                          Curiously the embarrassment continues into our times with the NRSV's
                          implausible translation of Mk 9:1b: "... until they see that the kingdom of
                          God has come with power".

                          Ron Price

                          Derbyshire, UK

                          Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm





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                        • Ron Price
                          ... Karel, I agree that this aptly summarizes Mark s presentation. ... Here I m not so convinced. The destruction of the temple was a great debacle only to the
                          Message 12 of 18 , Feb 21, 2009
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                            Karel Hanhart wrote:

                            > ....... The question is what the embarrassment is about.
                            > Mark certainly is a "powerful" Gospel in that in story time great stupendous
                            > miracles are performed. It is rightly held Mark is expressing in this manner
                            > because of his faith in God's supreme power. The Spirit came "into" Jesus at
                            > his baptism and nothing not even crucifixion and cruel death would hinder the
                            > Spirit to accomplish the sacred purpose. His faith is not dualistic with Satan
                            > amassing his forces to "destroy" Jesus and readers wondering who would win the
                            > battle. Rather the opposition looses the battle before it has even started.

                            Karel,

                            I agree that this aptly summarizes Mark's presentation.

                            > If what I wrote thus far is correct, Mark and his readers would understand the
                            > destruction of the temple in 70 as a great debacle, an utmost attempt of the
                            > forces of evil to undo the reign of God.

                            Here I'm not so convinced. The destruction of the temple was a great debacle
                            only to the Jews.

                            > Mark 9,1 should in that case be interpreted in terms of Rom 11,25.

                            This is where I beg to differ. I see Mk 9:1 as an original saying of a human
                            Jesus who was sometimes wrong. I don't think it has anything to do with
                            Gentiles, for the mission of the historical Jesus was restricted to Jews (Mt
                            10:5,23).

                            Ron Price

                            Derbyshire, UK

                            Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                          • David Cavanagh
                            Ron Price wrote:in response to Karel Hanhart ... To that, I would add that there is considerable evidence in the gospels that Jesus said/did something that was
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 21, 2009
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                              Ron Price wrote:in response to Karel Hanhart
                              >
                              > The destruction of the temple was a great debacle
                              > only to the Jews.
                              >



                              To that, I would add that there is considerable evidence in the gospels
                              that Jesus said/did something that was understood as a symbolic
                              pronouncement of judgment on the Temple (Mark 14:58, see 11:15-17; 13:2).
                              >
                              >
                              > I see Mk 9:1 as an original saying of a human
                              > Jesus who was sometimes wrong. I don't think it has anything to do with
                              > Gentiles, for the mission of the historical Jesus was restricted to
                              > Jews (Mt
                              > 10:5,23).
                              >






                              Here, along with Caird, Borg and Wright, I would suggest that Jesus'
                              statement while couched in terms of an apocalyptic kingdom coming in
                              power, referred to his certainty that God would vindicate him (which the
                              early church saw fulfilled in the twin events of the resurrection and
                              the destruction of the Temple.

                              David Cavanagh
                              Major (The Salvation Army)
                              Florence (Italy)



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                            • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                              Ron Price wrote, replying to Karel Hanhart: ... Here I m not so convinced. The destruction of the temple was a great debacle only to the Jews. Mark Matson
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 21, 2009
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                                Ron Price wrote, replying to Karel Hanhart:

                                Karel Hanhart wrote:

                                > If what I wrote thus far is correct, Mark and his readers would understand the
                                > destruction of the temple in 70 as a great debacle, an utmost attempt of the
                                > forces of evil to undo the reign of God.

                                Here I'm not so convinced. The destruction of the temple was a great debacle
                                only to the Jews.


                                Mark Matson replies:

                                I don't think I agree with either of you. For those who were steeped in more apocalyptic expectations of God's intervention, and the hope and desire for a New Temple, and thus the inbreaking of a New Israel, the destruction of the temple could well have been seen as the beginning of a new order of things. And indeed that may wall have been (=probably was) the view point of Jesus. From this perspective, Jesus' sayings in Mark that anticipate the destruction of the temple need not have been ex eventu, but might well reflect the expectation of those within Judaism that were expecting a radical break in history, who where critical of the existing practice of the priesthood (without necessarily believing that the temple was inhently bad or that sacrifice would be done away with), or who simply saw the world as moving in a downward spiral and awaiting God's redemption, which would naturally have involved a new temple.

                                E.P. Sanders in Jesus and Judaism does an excellent job, in my opinion, of showing precisely the extent of this anticipation of a new temple within 2nd Temple Judaism. I am away from home right now, and don't have ready access to my library, so I can't point specifically to the extensive evidence proferred for this.

                                But I don't think it is a given that (a) Mark's or his readers would have view this as a debacle, nor (b) that even all Jews would have viewed it as so. Of course Judaism was varied, as the oft-used plural "Judaisms" suggests.

                                Mark A. Matson
                                Academic Dean
                                Milligan College
                                http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm


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