Re: [XTalk] GOSPEL (OF THE KINGDOM) OF GOD
In this rather long run of notes, it seems worthwhile to at least put
in a few thoughts from the "other side," simply so it won't be lost in
On Jan 18, 2011, at 6:02 AM, Ronald Price wrote:
> Bruce Brooks wrote:
>> ..... [in their rejection of the eschatalogical Jesus] the JSem
>> have gone with
>> the wrong end of the timeline.
First, terms matter. The Jesus Seminar did not give up on "an
eschatological Jesus," the consensus rejected that HJ was best defined
by apocalyptic eschatology. There are wisdom eschatologies, as well
as apocalyptic eschatologies. And regarding prophetic and apocalyptic
resources, themselves, a.) the notion that there is simply one reading
of them and what they mean is false and b.) it is in the wisdom
materials that we find the social program Jesus lays out, the core
ethos of said program, not to mention the genius that Jesus had in the
creation of parables. Even if one thinks that Jesus was essentially
"apocalyptic" in orientation, if one casts off the parables and
aphorisms as late or worse, not from Jesus, one is going to slash from
the man a major part of his genius.
> I agree.
>> Not a single saying in Mark is either red or pink in the eyes of
>> JSem. All the good stuff is in Mt/Lk, that is to say, they credit
>> the Nice
>> Jesus of the Second Tier Gospels. And ignore all the rest.
> But here you are plain wrong. Mark has one saying in red and more
> than a
> dozen in pink.
Let's, for the sake of argument, leave aside the work of the Jesus
Seminar, John Dominic Crossan (for instance: "In Parables"), Robert
Funk, John Kloppenborg, The International Q Project scholars) and so
leave aside the whole question of Q, layers in Thomas, the work of the
Didache, and simply start with the old majority notion of the order of
the extant writings. What do we find?
Paul in I Corinthians 1:30 notes the first thing about understanding
both Jesus and the cross: he was "wisdom come from God..."
The ethos summation that is found in Galatians 5:22 ff (Paul's poetics
of the "fruits of the Spirit") is a poetic rendering of wisdom words.
(the parallels for this are clearly seen in James 3:17-18, and the
opening frames of "the Way of Life" in the Didache.)
Paul precisely uses the Aphoristic "Abba" prayer in his writings.
Paul describes the Mission as "a ministry of reconciliation" and
speaks of the wisdom trope of "a new creation" in II Cor. 5, and this
similarly accords with the mission agenda as it is laid out (and I'm
sticking with the traditional ordering: I Cor. 9, Mark, Matthew, Luke,
implicit in John, the Didache and Thomas).
This Mission summation is communicated in the summation of "Grace and
Peace to you from God our Father..." and this begins every authentic
Pauline letter and is continued in the duetero-Paulines.
On to Mark: 4:33-34 says what it says! And the summary words that
close chapter 9, before Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem is an
aphorism and accords with the above noted Mission which Mark has laid
out in chapter 6.
Matthew and Luke (whatever their source) only increase the wisdom
language. And the Lord's prayer is an aphoristic prayer. (see Hal
Taussig's marvelous book).
John begins with a creation "hymn" (or poem) and this is the classical
focus of wisdom communication. (see Proverbs 8)
The Didache, once more, frames "the Way of Life" and so the
interpretation of Torah with Wisdom language.
And if you think Thomas is simply late, in it we do have a collection
of wisdom sayings that interestingly point to James the Just as being
the original Jerusalem head honcho, which, of course, Acts confirms.
And yes, once more, the Jamesian tradition as found in the Epistle
frames the ethos core in terms of "the wisdom that comes from above."
Now I note this here in relevance to Mark writing around the Roman
Jewish War or thereafter, because in fact the Markan redaction of his
selection of wisdom words works from earlier forms. And so now giving
up on this rejection of Q and its layers, Thomas and its layers, what
spreading these sayings out from as many sources as we can find them,
which is what the Jesus Seminar in fact did, is that one can find
"cores" and "redactions." The Jesus Seminar did not "start at any
end" in the study of these sayings... (see the close of Crossan's big
HJ book), they looked at every available resource and made scholarly
judgments based on the broadest sweep of examples that are available.
To sum this us as "ignoring" is fundamentally wrong, and simply
doesn't show a serious engagement with the scholarship.
I'll simply end on this note, to dismiss wisdom isn't very wise:)!
And further, if one dismisses it, one dismisses the great (serious)
humor of that material. And I seriously think that mirth, if you
will, is precisely what accords with all this "grace and peace"
language, all this "fruits of the spirit" language, and yes, the
profundity of the challenge to the Temple establishment and the Roman
Empire that Jesus (or someone!) made. And so I'll close with Mark's
own "crowd words" when Jesus went home: from Mark 6:2, "On the sabbath
he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were
astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all of this? What is
this wisdom that has been given to him...." Yep, I think they heard
rightly. They "got it." Seems we ought to try!
> Ron Price,
> Derbyshire, UK
>> To: Crosstalk
>> In Response To: Bob Schacht
>> On: Kingdom of God
>> From: Bruce
>> Bob warns us not to disregard the conclusions of the JSem (2010):
>> BOB: The Fellows of the Jesus Seminar are inclined to the second
>> Jesus conceived of God's Rule as all around him but difficult to
>> God was so real for him that he could not distinguish God's present
>> from any future activity. He had a poetic sense of time in which
>> the future
>> and the present merged, simply melted
>> together, in the intensity of his vision. But Jesus' uncommon views
>> obfuscated by the more pedestrian conceptions of John, on the one
>> side, and
>> by the equally pedestrian views of the early Christian community,
>> on the
>> BRUCE: In other words, Jesus was misunderstood by nearly everybody
>> in his
>> own time and for decades thereafter. Nothing is impossible, but
>> this theory
>> makes Jesus out to be about the worst communicator in the history of
>> Some people, and I find myself among them, are interested in the
>> Jesus: the Jesus that really lived and talked and happened. Others
>> are more
>> interested in the tenable Jesus: the one that can be preached and
>> held up as
>> edification to the young in our current world. I think the JSem as
>> a group
>> pattern with the latter, and that this is nowhere clearer than in
>> the idea
>> Bob quotes: that Jesus preached not a literal but a pervasive
>> Kingdom. I
>> would fill in this statement in three ways.
>> THE KINGDOM IN THE GOSPELS
>> There is a clear Kingdom Trajectory in the Gospels, and I here
>> consider it
>> previously established and operationally certain that the order of
>> Gospels, or more specifically of their final textual states, is Mk
>> > Mt > Lk
>> 1. John the B clearly thought that the world was going to end, and
>> a new
>> order of things would replace it. Just what that order would be
>> like, we may
>> leave undecided, but he (and his audiences) anticipated a near-future
>> historical event. Something not true now, but about to be true.
>> 2. Jesus . . . well, that is the argument. But at least in Mk 13,
>> Jesus is
>> describing a geophysical catastrophe which will accompany the last
>> days, and
>> this is certainly compatible with the kind of things John was
>> saying. The
>> more so if, as some of us find, Mk 13 is even a late addition to
>> Mk, but in
>> any case the demonstration for Mk comes out this way.
>> 3. Luke largely takes over the Mk 13 talk, and much else compatible
>> with it.
>> His own additions are heavy on the theme of, You do not know when
>> the master
>> will return, so keep yourself in shape (etc etc). This too, and
>> there is a
>> lot of it, presupposes a future event, unpredictable (which Jesus
>> is made
>> also to insist in Mk 13), but finite; not yet realized.
>> At the same time, Lk also has Jesus say, "The Kingdom of Heaven is
>> you." Meaning, it is already near and is resident in the community of
>> believers, rather than (so to speak) vice versa. This idea has no
>> in Mk. Here is a little idea beginning to sprout up alongside the
>> idea, and to point in a quite different direction.
>> 4. In John, this "already here" and "not of this world" theme is even
>> In sum, and insofar as the Gospels are any clue, an original
>> expectation is giving way to a presentist affirmation. To coin a
>> imminent becomes immanent.
>> I think we see here a group moving away from what was increasingly an
>> untenable position, and into something more teachable and less
>> vulnerable to
>> one more week when nothing happens.
>> THE KINGDOM OUTSIDE THE GOSPELS
>> 1. In Paul, if we take Paul seriously (meaning, chronologically and
>> interpolations), we see the same progression: less and less
>> assurance about
>> whether Paul himself would be present for the expected Final Event.
>> The same
>> line is followed, but increasingly so, in the postPauline material.
>> 2. In that segment of the postPauline material which is not directly
>> attributed to Paul, we find serious discomfort, as a practical
>> matter, with
>> the idea of a literal future Kingdom. This explodes more or less in
>> 2 Peter,
>> where people outside are jeering at the expectation of a near
>> future end of
>> the world. According to my dating of 2 Peter (and nobody I know
>> puts it
>> earlier), it is about 60 years since Jesus died, or more than two
>> generations (never mind the one generation to which a firm promise
>> was made
>> in Mk 13), and people are saying, Where is this Coming of Jesus?
>> And then
>> they laugh themselves silly. And 2 Peter, not following the usual
>> deuteroPauline line, says rather lamely, Well, you see, God's
>> timescale is
>> not the same as ours. Leading to jokes like the one that begins,
>> God, what
>> to you is a million years?
>> So there are two strands of development, both tending to abandon,
>> or if not
>> to abandon, to be embarrassed in public by, the idea of the Kingdom
>> as a
>> future literal historical event. Unless we want to invert the order
>> of the
>> Gospels, or to stand the Paulines and the Deuteropaulines on their
>> that's what the early Jesus followers were doing, across two or three
>> It follows, I think, that we are on pretty safe ground in
>> identifying the
>> Literal Future Kingdom as the early idea, and the Community of
>> Kingdom, the presentist Kingdom, as the late idea. And it would
>> also seem to
>> follow that Jesus, being at the early end of the Kingdom
>> Trajectory, most
>> likely held and preached a version of the Literal Near Future
>> Every meeting should close with prayer, right? I am not certified to
>> administer a whole prayer, and so instead I will quote part of one.
>> This is
>> not in Mark, so it is not demonstrably early, but it is in all
>> pre-Lukan, and the form in which Luke gives it was somewhat
>> elaborated by
>> Matthew. Here is the part of the prayer:
>> Thy Kingdom come,
>> Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
>> This does not speak of believers emulating God, or of the community
>> believers as a whole emulating Heaven. It expects a future
>> situation, in
>> which (as is not now the case) God's way of doing things will
>> obtain also on
>> This is not the Gospels (though it does show up in the Gospels),
>> and it's
>> not Paul, and I am not going to use the tricky word Church. I am
>> going to
>> call it early praxis: what the early believers (or a recognizable
>> subset of
>> them) did and sang and prayed, not too long after the death of
>> Jesus. I
>> think it qualifies as a third piece of evidence, in contact with
>> but not
>> dependent upon, one or more of the other two, that the Kingdom
>> was originally future.
>> If so, it must follow that the JSem have gone with the wrong end of
>> timeline. This is not surprising. They did as much (as I and some
>> pointed out, oh, decades ago) with their Gospel evidence, their
>> dance of Red
>> and Pink. Not a single saying in Mark is either red or pink in the
>> eyes of
>> JSem. All the good stuff is in Mt/Lk, that is to say, they credit
>> the Nice
>> Jesus of the Second Tier Gospels. And ignore all the rest.
>> So now we have explained the JSem, and perhaps that is a step in the
>> direction of clearing up the Historical Jesus question at least a
>> That the JSem enterprise is successful, I need not say; it is on
>> the record.
>> If you tell people what they are predisposed to like, they will
>> welcome it.
>> If they sold stock in JSem, I would buy some, as a hedge against,
>> well, the
>> coming global economic conflagration. But their position seems to
>> me at
>> bottom sentimental and not historical; it is reached by ignoring
>> what to the
>> historian is the earliest evidence. I am accordingly not moved by
>> the JSem's
>> many pronouncements, and their publications in many colors, to
>> neglect what
>> the body of evidence for 1c Jesus and his followers, left to
>> itself, can
>> perhaps still tell us.
>> E Bruce Brooks
>> Warring States Project
>> University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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- <<Ariel, D.T., A Survey of Coin Finds in Jerusalem,
Liber Annuus 32, 1982, pp 273-326.
Unless we have an old print copy in the pre-1985 stack here,
the data for denarii in Jerusalem is out of reach
just now, so, at least for the time being, I'll just shift to your
view that there weren't that many around in the city.
I'm having trouble getting hold of it as well, so I'll have to go by
memory, unfortunately. I did contact Ariel himself, but he's got nothing beyond
a single paper copy. While it's not strictly on topic, I do have H Gitler's
'A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NUMISMATIC EVIDENCE FROM EXCAVATIONS IN JERUSALEM'
(Liber Annuus 1996), which covers bronze coinage from the city. No
imperial bronze is recorded from before the 4th Century, after the abolition of
the provincial mints, and their replacement with imperial ones.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]