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from network to organization and organizations: part one "the need"

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Hi Bob and all interested, These next notes will focus on the development from Jesus and friend s time in the late 20 s up to what we find Paul talking about
    Message 1 of 3 , May 18, 2009
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      Hi Bob and all interested,

      These next notes will focus on the development from Jesus and
      friend's time in the late 20's up to what we find Paul talking about
      in the 50's as regards organization. First I want to very briefly
      describe the need that aroused the missional agenda, in the first
      place. Second I want to talk about the nature of a network. Then I
      want to talk about organizational development. To keep these notes
      fairly short, I'll write a note on each one of the three points.

      The Need for "a ministry of reconciliation."

      The turn of the ages that Octavian, become "the August" one, made
      for was at once an amazing feat and deeply troubling for many
      populations and many who were subjected to this new era by military,
      economic, religio-political and the social engine that was Rome. By
      military might and by political savvy (including clear and direct
      theological affirmation), Octavian managed to do what Alexander the
      Great had only been able to dream about since he died at such a young
      age. Octavian, with his defeat of his rivals, Antony and Cleopatra,
      created a 3 continent empire that stretched from Britain to
      Palestine, from Germany to all across N. Africa. The extant plaque
      from Asia Minor erected in honor of Augustus is a powerful testimony
      to this world changing era:

      "Whereas Providence (the goddess)... has... adorned our lives with
      the highest good: Augustus... and has in her beneficence granted to
      us and those who will come after us [a Savior] who has made war to
      cease and who shall put everything [in peaceful] order... with the
      result that the birthday of our God signalled the beginning of Good
      News for the world because of him... therefore... the Greeks in Asia
      Decreed that the New Year for all the cities on September 23... and
      the first month... observed as the month of Caesar, beginning 23
      September, the birthday of Caesar."

      Here was the Roman theology. We are reminded of it every year in
      that the most powerful agricultural growing months are named for
      Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, times when the corn is readying
      for the harvest, time in the modern world where countless people take
      vacations to discover some peace, July and August.
      And we carry the oddness that the key "new year month"... the 7th
      month of the Roman calendar, hence Sept- ember, is our ninth month!

      What did this mean for Jews?
      Well, on the one hand, for centuries Jews has spread out across the
      imperial worlds and had been able to maintain their identity and
      their worship of YHWH Elohim. The book of Esther is one testimony
      about both the savvy way they were able to survive the harshest
      times, but also a testimony of how they were quite able not only to
      fit in and endure hostile surroundings, but even advance into the
      ranks of the ruling elites. That said, we also have the testimony
      from the Maccabees and their resistance to the likes of Imperialist's
      like Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Both the celebration of Purim and
      Hannukah were added to the remembrance calendar. But more
      specifically what of the Augustan era? I will note the following:

      1. With the coming of Romans in the 60's B.C.E. the Jewish homeland
      lost, yet again, its sovereignty.
      2. The last High Priest King, Mattithias, was murdered by Herod the
      Great. The late Hashmoneans were hardly David like, but this take
      over by "a half breed," meant yet a further move away from the kingly
      ideals of the ancient Israelite tradition.
      3. Actium happened and life under Rome switched from being subjects
      of a fairly loose Republic to being under the Imperial thumb that
      claim divine authorization, a son of God, a savior.... This "good
      news" was stamped in some way on every coin of the realm.
      4. Herod the Great switched sides from Antony to Octavian and so was
      Octavian's puppet, "half breed" king. He spent tons of the money he
      made, yes doing a total makeover of the temple, but then also
      building temples to honor the god, Augustus on Palestinian soil.
      Plus he famously destroyed his own family members who stood against
      him. Not exactly a unifying, peace making kind of a guy;)!
      5. At Herod's death there was no clear heir, civil war came, Herod
      Archelaus killed lots of his own subjects, Judea, Samaria and Galilee
      were a place of bedlam. On order of Augustus the Kingship ended! No
      more, even a sorry half breed king, on David's eternal throne.
      Rather the land was partitioned by Imperial edict and a Roman
      governor ruled Judea and Jerusalem. Coponius was installed in 6 C.E.
      followed by Ambibulus (9 C.E.), Rufus (13 C.E.), Gratus (15 C.E.) and
      Pilate (26 C.E.)
      6. It was the governor's (Prefects) who approved the High Priests
      and so the Temple and its leadership were forced into collaboration.
      7. In the face of all of this the normal "party" nature of any
      society provided no single unifying voice. In Josephus and the
      literature we hear about much "party spirit" (both in terms of
      actual organized parties: Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, "the 4th
      Philosophy," to use Josephus description, plus "bandit groups,"
      prophets and wonder workers with followings, and those faithful to
      the Herodian rulers).

      So... foreign domination (with the attendant oppression, injustice
      and violence that always sustains such), no king, a compromised
      Temple establishment, and "party spirit." Options for Jews? "If you
      can't beat 'em, join 'em." "Pray and this, too, will pass." "Keep
      you head bowed and endure." "Foment acts of rebellion." "Sound the
      alarm, gather your weapons, and wait for the right time to strike to
      run the Romans away." "Live 'the pure life' in a commune." We find
      in our available literature versions of the above. But there was
      another option: unite and don't give in to "party spirit."

      We find this sentence attributed to Jesus (Matthew 5:24), "...first,
      be reconciled to your brother...." This is another option and one
      that directly takes on the subjugation of the Romans and the
      divisiveness within Judaism. Jesus and friends pushed for this
      pattern of response. And in my view, that was "Good News."

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
    • RSBrenchley@aol.com
      Message 2 of 3 , May 19, 2009
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        <<3. Actium happened and life under Rome switched from being subjects
        of a fairly loose Republic to being under the Imperial thumb that
        claim divine authorization, a son of God, a savior.... This "good
        news" was stamped in some way on every coin of the realm.>>

        Does Augustus ever call himself 'Son of THE god'? He certainly claims
        the title 'Divus Filius' on some of his coins, but this surely means 'Son
        of a god', ie son of the divine Julius Caesar, his adoptive father. A very
        far cry from being the son of, say, Zeus or Jupiter! Soter was used as a
        title by some Greek kings, usually by the founders of dynasties, ie Ptolemy
        Soter, who took power in Egypt following the death of Alexander. The sense is
        surely that he has 'saved' the people from the bad rule of his Egyptian
        predecessors. So Augustus could claim to be the 'saviour' who had rescued the
        Romans from the upheavals of the Imperatorial period. It's a far cry from
        the claims made for Jesus, yet I think there is a connection.

        Regards,

        Robert Brenchley

        Birmingham UK



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Gordon Raynal
        Hi Robert, ... Good point of clarification. We re dealing with polytheistic culture, of course. In the Republican era, almost all the coins show a god s face
        Message 3 of 3 , May 19, 2009
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          Hi Robert,

          On May 19, 2009, at 12:55 PM, RSBrenchley@... wrote:

          > <<3. Actium happened and life under Rome switched from being subjects
          > of a fairly loose Republic to being under the Imperial thumb that
          > claim divine authorization, a son of God, a savior.... This "good
          > news" was stamped in some way on every coin of the realm.>>
          >
          > Does Augustus ever call himself 'Son of THE god'? He certainly
          > claims
          > the title 'Divus Filius' on some of his coins, but this surely
          > means 'Son
          > of a god', ie son of the divine Julius Caesar, his adoptive
          > father. A very
          > far cry from being the son of, say, Zeus or Jupiter!

          Good point of clarification. We're dealing with polytheistic
          culture, of course. In the Republican era, almost all the coins show
          a god's face on the obverse. This changes with Julius Caesar and
          there afterwards. The gods are relegated to the reverses and on the
          coins you find all of these statements like, "Divi Filius," and
          "Father of the Fatherland," etc. And there is the language of Caesar
          as a title and then Octavian's claim to be "the August" one. Such
          language did claim lineage from the divinized Julius Caesar. But
          then Augustus had the Senate vote him as "a divine son of... a god"
          while he was quite alive. Just checking out eBay, the inscription on
          the denarius minted between 7 and 5 B.C.E where his two young sons
          are on the reverse, the obverse description reads: Caesar Augustus,
          Divi F. Pater F. Patriae. Another denarius features the bull
          representing Jupiter and, in a butting stance, hence the claim of
          divine military power and the obverse reads Augustus Divi F
          (filius). At his death the Senate voted full deification. Later
          imperial coins, show this divinization power claim by the living
          emperors. A favorite coin is one where Gordian III is on the obverse
          and he stands "at the right hand" of Jupiter on the reverse (the
          right hand holding the thunderbolt). Leaving all thoughts of
          metaphysics aside, this was all Divine Power claiming language and
          symbolization.

          > Soter was used as a
          > title by some Greek kings, usually by the founders of dynasties,
          > ie Ptolemy
          > Soter, who took power in Egypt following the death of Alexander.
          > The sense is
          > surely that he has 'saved' the people from the bad rule of his
          > Egyptian
          > predecessors. So Augustus could claim to be the 'saviour' who had
          > rescued the
          > Romans from the upheavals of the Imperatorial period. It's a far
          > cry from
          > the claims made for Jesus, yet I think there is a connection.

          One question is when/ where/ by whom the various claims were made. A
          second question is what was originally being affirmed by that
          language and how did that affirmation develop over time. The first
          place I want to look in the Jewish tradition is to the internal
          received traditions (the Torah, Nevi'im and Ketu'vim). The second
          place is to look at the broader religious, social and cultural world
          at the time of the writings, and then move forward from there to
          think about developments. I say this because often people claim that
          assigning certain titles to Jesus, like "Son of God" (meaning
          specifically son of the Jewish God) was a metaphysical claim from the
          beginning. I think that is simply wrong. Psalm 2, for instance,
          makes the claim about David, [God says] "You are my son: today I have
          begotten you." This is not a metaphysical claim, it is a political
          power claim." Interest in metaphysics is later in the Christian
          tradition, when the Church Fathers were up to defining and defending
          their faith in terms of the pagan philosophers. At the outset, such
          language was all about making Scriptural fulfillment claims. We see
          this clearly in the little formulas like the one we find as
          buttressing Paul's "Grace and Peace to you..." words in Romans.

          As for connection? I think the writers were quite intentionally
          pouring over the scriptures to talk about fulfillment and doing so
          with a clear eye on the current Roman theology in order to make
          distinct counter claims. "Who really rules" is far from an abstract
          question. It had to do with "to whom do you bow the knee," "to whom
          do you pay taxes," "to which temples must I go?" etc. etc.

          Thanks for your note!

          Gordon Raynal
          Inman, SC
          >
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Robert Brenchley
          >
          > Birmingham UK
          >
          >
          >
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