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Re: [XTalk] RE: Word pictures in the synoptics

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... [snip] ... Ron is here following the Jesus Seminar -- see The Five Gospels, Written Rules of Evidence, e.g., p. 21, first red bullet: * The evangelists
    Message 1 of 20 , Feb 8, 2011
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      At 02:36 PM 2/8/2011, Matson, Mark (Academic) wrote:
      >Ron Price wrote:
      >

      [snip]


      >While from a form or genre standpoint one should make a distinction
      >between a fairly simple metaphor or simile and an extended parable,
      >I am not at all sure that one can be so absolute about the conclusion:
      ><< These parables seem to reflect the styles and theological
      >messages of the respective authors and so are unlikely to go back to Jesus>>.
      >In fact I think that conclusion is axiomatic, not deductive.
      >
      >Let me add to this just a bit:
      >
      >1. Why is it unlikely that Jesus might have told some more extended
      >parables as well as short pithy sayings? To assume that Jesus only
      >talked in short "tweet-like" messages is to create an image of Jesus
      >that I find difficulty to imagine. Who would follow a person who
      >only spoke in aphorisms?
      >
      >More likely, it would seem to me, is that a person skilled in
      >communication would be accomplished in various forms or figurative
      >(and non-figurative) discourse. The pro-gymnasmata in Greco Roman
      >circles show that early in one's education students learned to
      >expand and contract chreia (=short parabolic stories) to fit the
      >communicative situation. That this was central to early rhetorical
      >exercises suggests that this skill was perceived as an important
      >part of effective speaking. It strikes me that this would be an
      >almost universal quality in an effective communicator....

      Ron is here following the Jesus Seminar -- see The Five Gospels,
      "Written Rules of Evidence," e.g., p. 21, first red bullet:
      * The evangelists frequently expand sayings or parables, or
      provide them with an interpretive overlay or comment.
      and then on p. 28 where several of the red bullets give priority to
      aphorisms and parables. However, Ron is emphasizing the aphorisms (in
      concert with some of the Members of the JS) against the parables. But
      I'm on your side in this case, as I was years ago on this list when
      discussing the supposed priority aphorisms. Story-telling is
      certainly a very important characteristic of leaders and teachers in
      the ancient world-- such as the "Aesop's fables" type, and the
      authors of the Tanakh, while they didn't necessarily package their
      stories in parable form, used story-telling frequently. So it is
      entirely reasonable to supposed that Jesus told stories, not just aphorisms.

      Bob Schacht
      Northern Arizona University





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Ron Price On: Sayings and Parables From: Bruce Ron has suggested that it is useful to contrast two types of what he calls
      Message 2 of 20 , Feb 8, 2011
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        To: Synoptic
        Cc: GPG
        In Response To: Ron Price
        On: Sayings and Parables
        From: Bruce

        Ron has suggested that it is useful to contrast two types of what he calls
        "word picture," namely (1) "short pithy sayings or 'aphorisms', e.g. salt,
        lamp, speck & log, pearls & swine, harvest, mustard seed, lost coin,
        unmarked graves, lightning, thief in the night;" and (2) "full-blown
        parables aimed at explaining Christianity. For instance, Mark has the Sower
        and the Vineyard; Matthew has the Talents and the Last Judgment; Luke has
        the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son." Ron feels that the latter are
        "unlikely to go back to Jesus."

        I wind up agreeing, but after some considerations and further suggestions.
        Those who already agree need go no further. For those interested in the
        technical aspects of the question, I add these work notes:

        1. Ron's first group are perhaps not all strictly speaking "aphorisms" as
        they are delivered in the Synoptics; I would rather say that they have in
        common the fact of being comparisons, Gleichnisse. Whether they were
        pre-Jesus aphorisms is another question, one perhaps not strictly relevant
        here.

        2. By "full-blown," I gather Ron means the story parables, and indeed all of
        his cited examples fit that model. This is the usual sense of the word
        "parable" in modern times. But modern times are, well, modern. I am not sure
        we can safely operate with modern impressions in ancient times.

        But what would be better?

        Presumably ancient ones, but where do we find them?

        3. Taking (with Lachmann and some others) Mark as demonstrably our oldest
        account of Jesus, and taking (with von Ranke and some others) the oldest
        account as presumptively the least mythified account, and thus best
        evidence, it is interesting to ask, Does Mark use the word "parable," and if
        so, what does he mean by it? Klyne Snodgrass has assembled the answer on
        p567f of his book. Mark does use the word "parable," and with one exception
        it refers to Gleichnisse (3:23, 4:2-34, not all in the interpolated aside to
        the disciples, 7:17, and 13:28, where the translation "learn its lesson"
        obscures the original text's PARABOLHN). The exception is 12:1-12 (the
        Wicked Tenants), which is not only a story parable, it is an allegory; that
        is, it is very far down the typological road (if in fact there is a
        typological road, as I here assume there is) from anything else in Mark.

        But Mark does not extensively record the teaching of Jesus (a gap which
        Matthew and Luke make haste to supply), and rarity is thus not a conclusive
        argument; perhaps this lonesome and thus dubious example is still genuine.
        We may experiment by assuming it genuine, and then ask: Is there evidence to
        the contrary?

        I suspect there may be, in the form of signs that often accompany an
        interpolation. The segment in question is Mk 12:1-12. The technical question
        is this: What is the condition of things on its margins?

        As Mk 11 ends, Jesus is conversing with the chief priests and scribes and
        elders, about his authority for making a disturbance in the Temple (the
        money-changers bit, preceding). Then (omitting for the moment the passage
        under consideration) some of the Pharisees and Herodians try to trap him
        with the question of taxes to Caesar. Then the Sadducees have their sly
        question on the Resurrection. Finally, one of the scribes, with the
        potentially dangerous question on the Best Commandment, and this is the last
        of the series, since it ends by saying "And after that no one dared to ask
        him any question."

        The conclusion seems to tell us that we are at the end of a series of clever
        challenges ("questions") to Jesus's authority and understanding, a series
        which begins at 11:27, and that he won all of them.

        So much for our experiment of reading the series without 12:1-12. We now put
        it back in the series. So situated, the evidence against it is of this kind:

        1. It is not a outsider challenge like the others, but a primary statement
        of Jesus, made on his own initiative and not in response to anything.

        2. It ends with the death threat that is present also in some of the earlier
        Conflict stories, elsewhere in Mk, but is not present in any of the other
        episodes in the present series.

        3. Its audience is undefined, but evidently (12:12) includes "the
        multitude," that is, the parable is "told against" someone or other, but
        they cannot arrest him because of the presence of a friendly crowd. The
        crowd is not specified (and if it be thought to be implied, is not elsewhere
        taken as a potential actor) in any of the other segments in the Questions
        series.

        4. Finally, the other segments in that series are introduced with a formula:

        11:27 "the chief priests and the scribes and elders came to him"
        12:13 "and they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians,
        to entrap him in his talk"
        12:18 "and Sadducees came to him, who say there is no resurrection, . . ."
        12:28 "and one of the scribres came up and heard them . . ."

        Except that the last is in a way pendant on the preceding, we have here a
        fairly definite pattern, which ends (is formally closed) with the 12:34b
        remark quoted above. This is a formal ending very much like the one which
        closes the series of Gleichnisse in Mk 4; it marks a unit of the Gospel, and
        it tells us that we have reached the end of that unit.

        With all this seemingly intentional pattern, 12:1-12 is discordant and thus
        inconsistent. It has no introductory formula, it is not a question like the
        others, and it specifies the presence of an active crowd. I conclude that it
        is a late layer of Mark, not necessarily added by another person, maybe Mark
        or a colleague, but after the main narrative of Mk 11-12 was complete and
        finished.

        How late 12:1-12 might be, in absolute date terms, would be interesting to
        investigate, but time-consuming to discuss. I accordingly forbear. It is
        enough for present purposes to have suggested reasons why 12:1-12 was not
        part of the original design of this part of Mark.

        If then we take the testimony of the earlier parts of Mark, we find that it
        gives no countenance to the idea that Jesus taught in story parables. Or
        even that story parables were common (and thus might have affected Mark's
        portrait of Jesus) during the period reflected by the early layers of Mark.
        That, wherever exactly we locate it, was evidently an interesting period,
        which in terms of known later practices we can fairly call primitive. It had
        no Christian hymns (only Jewish hymns and psalms), no LP (only the Schema),
        no baptism, and no fast days (though at one point those are, as it were,
        envisioned as future practice). It is still a very Jewish version of Jewish
        Christianity.

        In that sense, Mark seems to be not only a credibly early portrait of Jesus
        and his death, but to reflect an also credible picture of some very early
        posthumous followers.

        In sum, I do not find in Mark, either in Jesus's practice or in that of his
        earliest followers as reflected in Mark's original story of Jesus, any
        warrant for the idea that Jesus (or those who first preached his doctrine,
        at least within the purview of the author of Mark) used story parables.

        This does not of itself tell us anything about the message of Jesus. It
        does, I think, tell us something about what can plausibly be attributed to
        the rhetoric of Jesus. It does not identify any one form of presentation as
        reliably early, but it does, I think, identify one form as very probably
        late: the story parable.

        This, of course, eliminates as presumptively by Jesus some of the best loved
        bits in the literature. I can't help that. The later elaborators of the
        Jesus tradition added something to what had been there previously, and it
        seems that the story parable as a literary type is one of their more
        successful new ideas (along with the Flight into Egypt, the Sermon on the
        Plain, eloquent even in its somewhat stuffy Matthean remake, the Good
        Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and much else).

        I think it is a mistake to regret this. Few, even in this accepting day and
        age, will consider the Pericope de Adultera a genuine report of a Jesus
        event, but the Pericope still has its emotional appeal and its homiletic
        usefulness. It has its public, and welcome to it. It is merely out of bounds
        for the historical researcher.

        So suggested,

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst

        Copyright © 2011 by E Bruce Brooks
      • Ronald Price
        ... Mark, Actually I didn¹t suggest it was unlikely that Jesus told long parables, but rather that the long parables preserved in the synoptic gospels do not
        Message 3 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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          Mark Matson wrote:

          > Why is it unlikely that Jesus might have told some more extended parables as
          > well as short pithy sayings? To assume that Jesus only talked in short
          > "tweet-like" messages is to create an image of Jesus that I find difficulty to
          > imagine. Who would follow a person who only spoke in aphorisms?
          >
          Mark,

          Actually I didn¹t suggest it was unlikely that Jesus told long parables, but
          rather that the long parables preserved in the synoptic gospels do not seem
          to go back to Jesus.

          > But there is also a sense that if a longer parable echoes any of the theology
          > of an evangelist, it must be the evangelist who "made it up". Why? Would it
          > not be as likely that various evangelists saved and reported those stories
          > that did match up with their perception of what Jesus was all about?
          >
          In theory this seems entirely reasonable. But I think there are two
          practical considerations which weigh against the idea of these longer
          parables being adaptations deriving from Jesus. Firstly some of these
          parables appear to be closely tied to the author or his Sitz im Leben. Thus
          Goulder reckons that the stylistic features of the Good Samaritan story are
          so much its essential ³stuff² that if they were taken away, nothing would be
          left. From a rather different angle, the killing of the son in Mark¹s
          Vineyard parable so closely reflects the Pauline (Christian) view that God
          sent his son, only to be rejected and killed, that it would become rather
          pointless without this episode.

          Secondly if we think that these longer parables did come from Jesus, we
          should be asking how they were transmitted. The only option appears to be
          oral tradition. But can we really believe that they would have survived the
          four or five decades while the Jesus movement was being transformed from a
          local sect into a widespread major religion? While realizing that there has
          been much ink spilt on this topic, I can only indicate my own negative view
          of the reliability of oral tradition in these circumstances.



          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Ron Price wrote:
          >
          >> > There appear to be two quite distinct types of word picture in these
          >> > gospels.
          >> >
          >> > (1) There are many word pictures in the form of short pithy sayings or
          >> > 'aphorisms', e.g. salt, lamp, speck & log, pearls & swine, harvest,
          >> > mustard seed, lost coin, unmarked graves, lightning, thief in the night.
          >> > Many of them exhibit the characteristics of Semitic poetry, and a few
          >> > retain other traces of the Aramaic language. These features are consistent
          >> > with the view that such sayings had been formulated by the early Jesus
          >> > movement, or even by Jesus himself.
          >> >
          >> > (2) The synoptic gospel writers went a significant step further by
          >> > introducing full-blown parables aimed at explaining Christianity. For
          >> > instance, Mark has the Sower and the Vineyard; Matthew has the Talents and
          >> > the Last Judgment; Luke has the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. These
          >> > parables seem to reflect the styles and theological messages of the
          >> > respective authors and so are unlikely to go back to Jesus (see e.g.
          >> > Goulder on the Good Samaritan, Gundry on the Last Judgment, and c.f. Drury
          >> > who argues for the possible or even probable Markan composition of the
          >> > Sower).
          >> >
          >> > I suggest that this distinction is fundamental to understanding both the
          >> > teaching of the historical Jesus and the meaning of the sayings attributed
          >> > to him.
          >
          > While from a form or genre standpoint one should make a distinction between a
          > fairly simple metaphor or simile and an extended parable, I am not at all sure
          > that one can be so absolute about the conclusion: << These
          > parables seem to reflect the styles and theological messages of the
          > respective authors and so are unlikely to go back to Jesus>>. In fact I think
          > that conclusion is axiomatic, not deductive.
          >
          > Let me add to this just a bit:
          >
          > 1. Why is it unlikely that Jesus might have told some more extended parables
          > as well as short pithy sayings? To assume that Jesus only talked in short
          > "tweet-like" messages is to create an image of Jesus that I find difficulty to
          > imagine. Who would follow a person who only spoke in aphorisms?
          >
          > More likely, it would seem to me, is that a person skilled in communication
          > would be accomplished in various forms or figurative (and non-figurative)
          > discourse. The pro-gymnasmata in Greco Roman circles show that early in one's
          > education students learned to expand and contract chreia (=short parabolic
          > stories) to fit the communicative situation. That this was central to early
          > rhetorical exercises suggests that this skill was perceived as an important
          > part of effective speaking. It strikes me that this would be an almost
          > universal quality in an effective communicator.
          >
          > 2. But there is also a sense that if a longer parable echoes any of the
          > theology of an evangelist, it must be the evangelist who "made it up". Why?
          > Would it not be as likely that various evangelists saved and reported those
          > stories that did match up with their perception of what Jesus was all about?
          >
          > I would allow that they may have often edited or modified them (consciously or
          > unconsciously), and even that some are composed by the evangelists ex-nihilo.
          > But what I see in Ron's post is something more emphatic: that expressions of
          > a theological perspective that coheres with an evangelist's major themes must
          > be the creation of the evangelist.
          >
          > I would argue that we should be far more cautious here about attributing some
          > stuff to Jesus and other stuff to evangelists. An evangelist will have heard
          > reports of this Jesus, and he (forgive the gender issue, but I expect the
          > evangelists were male) would then attempt to tell coherent narrative about
          > Jesus that captures the essence of what he understood about Jesus. Would the
          > evangelists' understanding not have been influenced by the oral
          > reports/stories themselves? In other words, perhaps the theological messages
          > they relay is a reflection of Jesus' own? Granted, the final product is an
          > interpretation of the stories, as understood by the evangelists. Everything
          > we have is an interpretation of reports mediated by an evangelist. But I'm
          > having a hard time with such a hard and fast distinction here.
          >
          > For instance, I see the parable of the sower and the vineyard as very likely
          > coming from Jesus (or, to put it another way, I am not sure why I would deny
          > that). Certainly the vineyard parable explains some of the opposition to him
          > that came from the Jewish leaders. The "interpretation" of the sower
          > parable... well that is a bit different. I can even see the extended
          > metaphors in John 10 being Jesus material. Why not the prodigal son? Or even
          > the talents?
          >
          > I am not sure how we can decide this simply on form.
          >
          > Mark A. Matson
          > Academic Dean
          > Milligan College
          > 423-461-8720
          > http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Ronald Price
          Apologies for my previous email, which was sent off by mistake before it was completed. It was never like this in the good old days of dial-up ! ;-) ... Mark,
          Message 4 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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            Apologies for my previous email, which was sent off by mistake before it was
            completed.
            It was never like this in the good old days of dial-up ! ;-)

            Mark Matson wrote:

            > Why is it unlikely that Jesus might have told some more extended parables as
            > well as short pithy sayings? To assume that Jesus only talked in short
            > "tweet-like" messages is to create an image of Jesus that I find difficulty to
            > imagine. Who would follow a person who only spoke in aphorisms?
            >
            Mark,

            Actually I didn¹t suggest it was unlikely that Jesus told long parables, but
            rather that the long parables preserved in the synoptic gospels do not seem
            to go back to Jesus.

            > But there is also a sense that if a longer parable echoes any of the theology
            > of an evangelist, it must be the evangelist who "made it up". Why? Would it
            > not be as likely that various evangelists saved and reported those stories
            > that did match up with their perception of what Jesus was all about?
            >
            In theory this seems entirely reasonable. But I think there are two
            practical considerations which weigh against the idea of these longer
            parables being adaptations deriving from Jesus. Firstly some of these
            parables appear to be closely tied to the author or his Sitz im Leben. Thus
            Goulder reckons that the stylistic features of the Good Samaritan story are
            so much its essential ³stuff² that if they were taken away, nothing would be
            left. From a rather different angle, the killing of the son in Mark¹s
            Vineyard parable so closely reflects the Pauline (Christian) view that God
            sent his son, only to be rejected and killed, that it would become rather
            pointless without this episode.

            Secondly if we think that these longer parables did come from Jesus, we
            should be asking how they were transmitted. The only option appears to be
            oral tradition. But can we really believe that they would have survived the
            four or five decades while the Jesus movement was being transformed from a
            local sect into a widespread major religion? While realizing that there has
            been much ink spilt on this topic, I can only indicate my own negative view
            of the reliability of oral tradition in these circumstances.

            Ron Price,

            Derbyshire, UK

            http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ronald Price
            ... Bob, Occasionally I agree with them, but ³follow² ? I don¹t think so. ... I agree. But this only ticks a hypothetical background and I think we need to
            Message 5 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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              Bob Schacht wrote:

              > Ron is here following the Jesus Seminar .....
              >
              Bob,

              Occasionally I agree with them, but ³follow² ? I don¹t think so.

              > .....it is entirely reasonable to supposed that Jesus told stories, not just
              > aphorisms.

              I agree. But this only ticks a hypothetical background and I think we need
              to go further than this. So here is another JSem statement with which I
              agree (Five Gospels, p.25):

              ³Only sayings and parables that can be traced back to the oral period, 30-50
              CE, can possibly have originated with Jesus.²

              I put it to you that none of the longer synoptic parables can be traced back
              to this period.

              The crux here may be illustrated by the JSem¹s take on ³The Samaritan². Here
              it seems that they have not followed their own rule. For their claim that
              dialogue and parable must have circulated separately prior to Luke is hardly
              enough to constitute a tracing back of 50 years or so.

              Ron Price,

              Derbyshire, UK

              http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Ronald Price
              ... I was trying to be more general. But ³Hebrew poetry² is fine by me. ... That¹s easy. Among the logia sayings reconstructed on the web page below, I
              Message 6 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                Gordon Raynal wrote:

                > ..... I note, however, that your connection point is to "Semitic poetry" and
                > not the aphorisms and proverbs found in the Hebraic tradition. Why not this
                > connection?
                >
                I was trying to be more general. But ³Hebrew poetry² is fine by me.

                > I would be most interested to hear your take on the selection of
                > sayings that gets to "the gist" of this early "voice print."
                >
                That¹s easy. Among the logia sayings reconstructed on the web page below, I
                think those in sections A, B and C probably all go back to the HJ.

                Ron Price,

                Derbyshire, UK

                http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/syno_sQet.html




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                ... I understand this is what you are proposing. But I tend to see the sitz im leben arguments as somewhat circular. We deduce the sitz im leben based on the
                Message 7 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                  Ron Price wrote:

                  > In theory this seems entirely reasonable. But I think there are two
                  > practical considerations which weigh against the idea of these longer
                  > parables being adaptations deriving from Jesus. Firstly some of these
                  > parables appear to be closely tied to the author or his Sitz im Leben.
                  > Thus Goulder reckons that the stylistic features of the Good Samaritan
                  > story are so much its essential ³stuff² that if they were taken away,
                  > nothing would be left. From a rather different angle, the killing of the
                  > son in Mark¹s Vineyard parable so closely reflects the Pauline (Christian)
                  > view that God sent his son, only to be rejected and killed, that it would
                  > become rather pointless without this episode.

                  I understand this is what you are proposing. But I tend to see the sitz im leben arguments as somewhat circular. We deduce the sitz im leben based on the text, then decide what in the text is valid based on our assessment of the sitz im leben.

                  But I do think (a) some of the parables may well show more of the evangelist's interest (ie., be more compositions than "oral tradition"). This has to be decided, though, on a parable by parable basis. Part of my reaction earlier was what I sensed was a wholesale categorization. The Good Samaritan may well be embellished by Luke to the point little is left, though the central point of who is one's neighbor fits well with what I would consider core Jesus teaching.

                  The vineyard parable, though, strikes me as quite possibly pure Jesus material. Granted, it is allegorical. Quite possibly the identification of the "son" could be a later embellishment of Mark. But the use of a story to suggest that the Jewish leadership had misused its role as leaders, and using a vineyard motif to do it, seems very likely. And the eschatological judgment motif fits with one aspect of Jesus' teaching.


                  > Secondly if we think that these longer parables did come from Jesus, we
                  > should be asking how they were transmitted. The only option appears to be
                  > oral tradition. But can we really believe that they would have survived
                  > the four or five decades while the Jesus movement was being transformed
                  > from a local sect into a widespread major religion? While realizing that
                  > there has been much ink spilt on this topic, I can only indicate my own
                  > negative view of the reliability of oral tradition in these circumstances.

                  And here you have put your finger on a major disagreement I have with your approach. I don't think it unlikely at all that over a period of 4 to 5 decades that story-parables would not survive. They aren't that long. The research of Lord and Parry with Serbo-Croatian epic tales suggest that long connected stories survive just fine, with a certain amount of flexible variation, if the stories emphasize important features worth passing on.

                  I guess one question is the term "reliability". Are we talking about exact word for word reliability? I wouldn't count on that either. But if we mean the essence of the saying, then I can see such oral stories being maintained well for quite some time. Especially of those telling the story thought their originator had been raised from the dead and was soon to bring about a new kingdom of God! Surely that would have been a tonic to add a little more importance to the stories.

                  Mark A. Matson
                  Academic Dean
                  Milligan College
                  423-461-8720
                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
                • Gordon Raynal
                  Ron, Just a quick note to say thank you for sending this link anew. I looked at this several years ago. I m glad to have it again and want to spend some time
                  Message 8 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                    Ron,

                    Just a quick note to say thank you for sending this link anew. I
                    looked at this several years ago. I'm glad to have it again and want
                    to spend some time with it before I respond further.

                    Gordon Raynal
                    Inman, SC
                    On Feb 9, 2011, at 7:03 AM, Ronald Price wrote:

                    > Gordon Raynal wrote:
                    >
                    >> ..... I note, however, that your connection point is to "Semitic
                    >> poetry" and
                    >> not the aphorisms and proverbs found in the Hebraic tradition. Why
                    >> not this
                    >> connection?
                    >>
                    > I was trying to be more general. But “Hebrew poetry” is fine by me.
                    >
                    >> I would be most interested to hear your take on the selection of
                    >> sayings that gets to "the gist" of this early "voice print."
                    >>
                    > That’s easy. Among the logia sayings reconstructed on the web page
                    > below, I
                    > think those in sections A, B and C probably all go back to the HJ.
                    >
                    > Ron Price,
                    >
                    > Derbyshire, UK
                    >
                    > http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/syno_sQet.html
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                    >
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                    >
                  • Ronald Price
                    ... Mark, Doubtless most commentators would agree with you. But to me there is a major snag, because having tried to reconstruct the original collection of the
                    Message 9 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                      Mark Matson wrote:

                      > The Good Samaritan may well be embellished by Luke to the point little is
                      > left, though the central point of who is one's neighbor fits well with what I
                      > would consider core Jesus teaching.
                      >
                      Mark,

                      Doubtless most commentators would agree with you. But to me there is a major
                      snag, because having tried to reconstruct the original collection of the
                      sayings of Jesus, it¹s not just that I find no longer parables (a stylistic
                      consideration), but also I find not a single saying in which Jesus commends
                      any outside group. The nearest is when standards followed by tax collectors
                      and Gentiles are accepted as a sort of norm which the followers of Jesus
                      should aim to exceed. Also crucial in this case is my conclusion that the
                      reference to Samaritans in Mt 10:5b belongs to the original mission
                      instructions, and the Good Samaritan parable is hardly consistent with the
                      instruction to bypass Samaritan towns.

                      > The vineyard parable, though, strikes me as quite possibly pure Jesus
                      > material. Granted, it is allegorical. Quite possibly the identification of
                      > the "son" could be a later embellishment of Mark. But the use of a story to
                      > suggest that the Jewish leadership had misused its role as leaders, and using
                      > a vineyard motif to do it, seems very likely. And the eschatological judgment
                      > motif fits with one aspect of Jesus' teaching.
                      >
                      The allegorical nature of the parable, which appears to be unparalleled
                      among the definitely early material, should raise yet more doubt about its
                      authenticity. Sending the ³son² makes for a dramatic climax and doesn¹t seem
                      to me like a late addition. Jesus was indeed conscious of the persecution of
                      the prophets as shown in Mt 5:12 // Lk 6:23 (which we would probably both
                      agree is part of an authentic saying). But here Jesus is not making a dig at
                      the persecutors. Rather he is using the persecution as an illustration to
                      encourage rejoicing. As I reconstruct them, the authentic Jesus sayings
                      (from which I think the woes to the Pharisees should be excluded as hinted
                      in my reply to Gordon ­ they¹re all in section D of the reconstructed logia)
                      show no interest in history except for incidental illustrations.

                      Ron Price,

                      Derbyshire, UK

                      http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Gordon Raynal
                      Ron and all, I just want to comment on one of your lines in your response to Mark Matson and it comes in the form of a plea: ... One approach to the parables
                      Message 10 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                        Ron and all,

                        I just want to comment on one of your lines in your response to Mark
                        Matson and it comes in the form of a plea:
                        On Feb 9, 2011, at 1:23 PM, Ronald Price wrote:

                        >>
                        >>
                        > The allegorical nature of the parable, which appears to be
                        > unparalleled
                        > among the definitely early material, should raise yet more doubt
                        > about its
                        > authenticity.

                        One approach to the parables is to understand them simply as
                        allegories. That is indeed how the authors of the Narrative Gospels
                        use them and there are those like Snodgrass who simply say that
                        parables are a kind of allegory. I strongly urge you and all to
                        consider another perspective, if nothing else than to understand why
                        the scholars of the Jesus Seminar see them differently, and so see
                        Jesus differently. So, I'd recommend Crossan's "In Parables" and "The
                        Dark Interval." Charles Hedrick's "Parables as Poetic Fictions," B.
                        Brandon Scott's, "Re-Imagining the World" and/ or "Hear Then the
                        Parable," or the collection done in honor of Robert Funk, "Funk on
                        Parables."

                        Gordon Raynal
                        Inman, SC
                      • Bob Schacht
                        ... It is important, in this regard, to understand the culture of the times, which could change. For example, allegories as an explanatory device waxed and
                        Message 11 of 20 , Feb 9, 2011
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                          At 02:38 PM 2/9/2011, Gordon Raynal wrote:
                          >Ron and all,
                          >
                          >I just want to comment on one of your lines in your response to Mark
                          >Matson and it comes in the form of a plea:
                          >On Feb 9, 2011, at 1:23 PM, Ronald Price wrote:
                          >
                          > >>
                          > >>
                          > > The allegorical nature of the parable, which appears to be
                          > > unparalleled
                          > > among the definitely early material, should raise yet more doubt
                          > > about its
                          > > authenticity.
                          >
                          >One approach to the parables is to understand them simply as
                          >allegories. That is indeed how the authors of the Narrative Gospels
                          >use them and there are those like Snodgrass who simply say that
                          >parables are a kind of allegory. I strongly urge you and all to
                          >consider another perspective, if nothing else than to understand why
                          >the scholars of the Jesus Seminar see them differently, and so see
                          >Jesus differently. So, I'd recommend Crossan's "In Parables" and "The
                          >Dark Interval." Charles Hedrick's "Parables as Poetic Fictions," B.
                          >Brandon Scott's, "Re-Imagining the World" and/ or "Hear Then the
                          >Parable," or the collection done in honor of Robert Funk, "Funk on
                          >Parables."


                          It is important, in this regard, to understand the culture of the
                          times, which could change. For example, allegories as an explanatory
                          device waxed and waned in popularity from time to time and place to
                          place. In Origen's time, IIRC, allegories were rather popular and, so
                          to speak, de rigueur. However, if you tried to use some of the same
                          allegories now, you'd be met by stares of incredulity. So among the
                          questions that one must consider are:
                          * to what extent were allegories a popularly acceptable form of
                          explanation (a) about 30 C.E. or so (b) among Jews (c) in Galilee (d)
                          who spoke Aramaic?
                          * to what extent were allegories a popularly acceptable form of
                          explanation (a) about 30 C.E. or so (b) among Jews (c) in Galilee (d)
                          who spoke Greek?
                          and ditto with (a) = 55 C.E. , 80 C.E., or 100 C.E. , (b) = among
                          Greeks, (c) = In Judea, in Egypt, or in the Diaspora, and various
                          permutations of these possibilities.

                          Perhaps some of the sources cited by Gordon control for one or more
                          of these variables.

                          Bob Schacht
                          Northern Arizona University

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Gordon Raynal
                          Ron, Thanks again for sending you understanding of a re-constructed sayings Gospel. Most interesting. I want to make two observations and so will send two
                          Message 12 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
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                            Ron,
                            Thanks again for sending you understanding of a re-constructed sayings
                            Gospel. Most interesting. I want to make two observations and so
                            will send two emails, under different titles... so this one about the
                            mission agenda).
                            On Feb 9, 2011, at 7:03 AM, Ronald Price wrote:

                            > Gordon Wrote:
                            >
                            >> I would be most interested to hear your take on the selection of
                            >> sayings that gets to "the gist" of this early "voice print."

                            Ron Wrote:
                            >>
                            > That’s easy. Among the logia sayings reconstructed on the web page
                            > below, I
                            > think those in sections A, B and C probably all go back to the HJ.

                            In B4, which you do attribute as going back to HJ, your create your
                            understanding of the Mission Agenda saying by choosing different parts
                            of the sayings cluster from the Synoptic Gospels. You take, "Go
                            nowhere among the Gentiles..." from Matthew 10:5. You, however,
                            change the tense of the verb in the proclamation of the significance
                            of the Agenda from, "the kingdom of God has come near" (Mt. 10:7 & Lk.
                            9) to "The Kingdom of God is getting near." In the mission you drop
                            out the charge to heal. And finally you accept as from Jesus the
                            judgment comparison about Sodom.

                            What to say? First, your own reconstruction is an amalgam. As
                            presented, it describes simply a proclamation task for the "sent
                            ones" (apostles). It is entirely circumscribed as an exclusive
                            national mission. And framing this activity with "is getting near"
                            means that the effort is rather much a promotional tour for "a coming
                            attraction," so to speak, and not something complete unto itself.
                            This certainly fits the assumption that Jesus is a prophetic figure
                            inspired by an apocalyptic hope. The problem is that you've created
                            this text.

                            Leaving aside the question of Q for a moment, save for G. Thomas, all
                            the testimonies we have of the agenda itself (Matthew, Mark and 2
                            renditions in Luke) include healing. Paul, when he talks about the
                            movement in I Cor. talks of "healers." Now, it is a separate question
                            as to what that word and the recommended task actually included, and I
                            leave that aside for now. What I want to emphasize is that you have
                            taken out 1/3 of the ***demonstration*** acts of those sent. (the
                            actions of lodging in welcoming homes (presence/ relating), dining
                            (commensality) and "healing.") The effect of this is that the mission
                            is really reduced to a proclamation movement and so the apostles are
                            now "prophets." That reframes the action of the agenda significantly.

                            Second, by changing the tense of the verb about the significance of
                            this agenda from "has come near" to "is getting near," you completely
                            reframe the point of the agenda and the expectation of what is being
                            demonstrated. Now picking up Q and going to the earliest rendition in
                            Q 1 (found in Luke 10), the significance of the actions and shared
                            relationships in a welcoming home is that there ***is*** a
                            demonstration of "the KOG come near." In plain terms, where there is
                            joy and welcome, the sharing of shalom, the delight of shared
                            commensality and where illness is tended to, then the closing
                            summation "has come near" points to those activities as exemplifying
                            "God's rule." If you will look at Psalm 103:1-5, for example, we can
                            find a description of the experience of God's presence, and the
                            complete range of recommended actions cohere with making that
                            experience come alive. This charge to "speak Peace," then has actual
                            connection to commanded actions and has real life consequences of
                            actually sharing a meaningful "peace experience."

                            Third, by accepting the Matthean framing about the exclusivity of this
                            mission, you are forced to push aside what Mark really wants to
                            emphasize with Jesus in the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman and
                            what earlier Paul was obviously excited about, namely that this
                            "ministry of reconciliation" had no boundaries, but was for the
                            world. Retrojecting a Matthean frame on top of HJ and the original
                            enactors of this mission overruns not only Paul and Mark, it also
                            actually overruns the Torah notation from Genesis 12 that God's
                            Covenant of Blessing was for the whole world and all that Prophetic
                            dreaming language of a world that is redeemed. Hence your choices
                            paint Jesus to be an ultra nationalist "talking head" prophet who
                            decided to ignore or just didn't believe the very significance of the
                            apocalyptic dreams, a world redeemed.

                            I, of course, do not think that "apocalyptic dreaming" was on Jesus'
                            mind, and one reason for that, besides the language that he majored in
                            and the clear evidence of sayings that tell otherwise, is precisely
                            the mission agenda language as we have it. "Say to them that the
                            Kingdom of God ***has*** come near." This is not a longing for a
                            future dream, but rather a call to "make it real."

                            Again, I appreciate your sharing your reconstruction. I very much
                            think it is your own and that it vitally misses not only key elements
                            of the actual mission agenda, but also misses the point of the
                            experienced significance of the agenda. Per Paul in 2 Cor. 5, I think
                            this is best described as "a ministry of reconciliation," and I think
                            it worked! This is to say, I think people experienced reconciliation
                            and hence a reconciliation movement was begun.

                            Gordon Raynal
                            Inman, SC
                            >
                          • Gordon Raynal
                            Ron, Here s my second reflection. In the note about the mission, I cut out your link for others to refer to. Sorry! Here I will leave it so as readers can
                            Message 13 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
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                              Ron,

                              Here's my second reflection. In the note about the mission, I cut out
                              your link for others to refer to. Sorry! Here I will leave it so as
                              readers can easily check out your rendition of the aphorisms of Jesus.
                              On Feb 9, 2011, at 7:03 AM, Ronald Price wrote:

                              > Gordon Raynal wrote:
                              >
                              >> ..... I note, however, that your connection point is to "Semitic
                              >> poetry" and
                              >> not the aphorisms and proverbs found in the Hebraic tradition. Why
                              >> not this
                              >> connection?
                              >>
                              > I was trying to be more general. But “Hebrew poetry” is fine by me.
                              >
                              >
                              > Ron Price,
                              >
                              > Derbyshire, UK
                              >
                              > http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/syno_sQet.html
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              In A 8 you maintain the cluster (in short form) "other cheek," "coat
                              as well," "give to anyone who begs," "[from borrowers], do not ask
                              back," "love your enemies," "sunrise/ rain fall," and "be
                              compassionate." Matthew, Luke and the Didache work to preserve this
                              clustering in their own ways, and I would note in the Didache that
                              this is at the very heart of the interpretation of "the Way of Life"
                              and interprets the core meaning of "Love God, neighbor, self." If one
                              does accept Q, then this tight clustering of the core of these sayings
                              likewise connects to the sum of Torah as both Hillel and Jesus framed
                              it (found in Luke 6:27-30). Q/ Luke 6:31 gives Jesus positive framing
                              of "Do unto others...." Hillel had framed the core of Torah in the
                              negative, "Don't do to others."

                              My first comment is that I think this saying cluster gets us to the
                              heart of the ethos of the "ministry of reconciliation" (per Paul's
                              language). I think that both Paul's "fruits of the Spirit" in
                              Galatians 5 and James' "Wisdom from Above" are poetic ethos
                              reflections precisely on this core of sayings.

                              Second comment. Whether in Q or in your rendition of an early sayings
                              Gospel, and is true in Mark, Matthew and Luke as regards the aphorisms
                              attributed to Jesus, we find them clustered. The act of clustering
                              aphorisms changes their function. In all these works they now become
                              "proclamations" and/ or "teachings." Quite understandably, after the
                              speaker is long gone, there is clear purpose in this. One purpose is
                              simply to remember the sayings by association with similar sayings or
                              similar themes. A second purpose is to focus on proclamation and or
                              teaching. This both works to frame an understanding of Jesus as a
                              preacher and/ or teacher and serves therefore to authorize these words
                              as "original preaching/ teaching" and therefore as the curriculum for
                              the readers/ hearers of the works they are found it. These are worthy
                              and very necessary goals. Aphorisms may indeed be used to preach and
                              teach. In general terms this effect from the clustering produces the
                              moral stance and so education of the community. Allegorizing
                              aphorisms (and parables) is a key task so that one has "word pictures"
                              to direct learning and action based in this curriculum. As nearly 2
                              millennia of lessons and sermons show, a lot has been made out of the
                              aphorisms (and parables) by this starting with the clustered sayings
                              as proclamation/ teaching. All good. One need not plumb behind
                              this... except...

                              Aphorisms are wisdom words. They are word puzzles. Spoken aloud they
                              are a form of present tense speech and interaction communication. At
                              the living level of communication with others, the use of such
                              language forms is not so much about educating (you can think about a
                              conversation/ interaction later), but about "puzzling" together "in
                              the moment." The aim of such is "to make sense." And obviously the
                              importance of "making sense" is not some abstract activity, but a real
                              life encounter issue.

                              Consider this analogy. At cross roads on streets there are (or should
                              be) "Stop" signs. Now that sign is indicative of laws. One may see
                              the sign and inquire into such issues as public safety, the state of
                              the courts, the justness of it being placed on one corner and not
                              another (who has the right away at a given intersection), etc. But
                              the ***immediate*** purpose of this sign is to get you to do something
                              when you see the sign. If you don't do that something, you could well
                              be dead!

                              Now that analogy is to a present tense "command" example. A "Stop"
                              sign is not a puzzle:)! The word commands. The color red commands
                              (and so stop lights don't need the word written on them). The
                              octagonal shape commands. All of this is for a very good reason, of
                              course.

                              Continuing on. There are times in life, although dangerous, that one
                              should ignore the Stop Sign. Ambulances and firetrucks, for instance
                              are allowed to do this so lives can be saved. Hence they are armed
                              with loud sirens and when they are blaring, one needs to pull over to
                              the side, not proceed across an otherwise clear street ahead until one
                              knows where they are and their path. The command to Stop in that sign
                              is therefore conditional. Real life is not at simple as even a stop
                              and go sign.

                              And now to the meat of the matter. In this analogy, imagine someone
                              going around and painting the Stop signs green! If not done as an act
                              of vandalism or outright banditry, that would ***really*** present
                              drivers with a puzzle. The word would say "Stop," the color would
                              say, "Go!" What would the sign actually be communicating? This
                              puzzling sign would serve to challenge the whole basic education about
                              safe driving and traffic flow!

                              Now, admittedly this is an absurd example, but it allows me to get to
                              the point. "Love your enemies" said out loud and heard as a wisdom
                              puzzle is indeed quite the puzzle. Per the many who have said it (and
                              I heard it out the mouth of Robert Funk, for example), "if you love
                              others, they're not your enemies." As a word puzzle it blows up the
                              usual ways in which basic human interactions occur. So what's the
                              point of doing that?

                              Well, obviously, somethings in life... like safely driving down the
                              street are as simple as learning and following commands (one
                              exception, if you're going to be an ambulance or fire truck driver).
                              Life typically is about problems and solutions and "command language"
                              is all about "the typical circumstances in life." But then we also
                              face in "real life" situations and circumstances for which problem/
                              solution and so, command and obedience is simply inadequate. Simple
                              right and wrongs, even if they are discoverable, are not adequate to
                              figuring out the best course of actions given the circumstances. It
                              takes "puzzling" to figure that out. Best of all, if persons are
                              awakened to puzzling together, then the chosen course of action has
                              the potential, at least, to resolve the puzzle in the best manner
                              possible. Therefore, speech that can arouse such puzzling, especially
                              in significantly confusing times, has the potential ("if one has ears
                              to hear!") to help foster "a common sense." And when typical "common
                              sense" fails, then "extraordinary good sense" is the order of the
                              day. If and when that is found, well that is just amazing.

                              Understanding how wisdom language works is not about philosophizing or
                              theologizing abstractions, it is all about "making sense" in the here
                              (and hear) and now. When the issue of the circumstances cry out for
                              "reconciliation," then the potency of language that enables such a
                              social interaction to come alive is potentially amazing. To say the
                              least (watch what is going on now in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen) ***real
                              reconciliation*** is one tremendously tough puzzle to figure out.
                              Multi-party spirit reigns. If a voice arrives that effectively will
                              unite the voices in discord, ***then*** some real progress can be made
                              towards the new day of freedom. When the realities of finding the
                              cords that bind are effected (thus overwhelming the sense of discord),
                              something amazing can happen. Let us hope some one or ones are able
                              to effect this.

                              Back to Jesus. To insist on listening to each aphorism on its own is
                              not a plea to forget the effectiveness and meaning found in the
                              clustering of the sayings towards moral edification. That is a
                              valuable thing unto itself. But to not plumb behind that clustering
                              and past that educational (problem/ solving) function is to miss the
                              present tense function of the language. It is to actually miss Jesus'
                              voice at the most vital level for it is to miss the opportunity to be
                              more than educated. It is to miss the invitation to puzzle together.

                              "Love your enemies" is a WHOPPER of a word puzzle! Per the Jesus
                              Seminar, it pretty much sums the center of the puzzle that Jesus
                              raised. (see "The Five Gospels" page 147). And so finally to your
                              division of aphorisms from parables, the very reason "Good Sam" makes
                              it to the list of authentic Jesus speech even though we only have it
                              from Luke, is that heard as a parable, and not just a moral admonition
                              about being nice to strangers, it very much enlivens the very heart of
                              the "Love your enemies" puzzle. Even if Luke created the parable, it
                              ***is not*** an allegory. It is a jaw dropping puzzle.

                              To conclude, I'd rather like to leave you with the image of Jesus
                              going around Galilee, Herod Philip's domain, up into the region of
                              Tyre and finally down to Jerusalem painting all the Stop Signs green.
                              Some thought he was a criminal. Some thought he was insane. Some
                              didn't get it. Some got it and were horrified. But, now connecting
                              to that Mission Agenda, some really "got it" and shared home and table
                              and experienced social/ relational healing. That was "real stuff,"
                              not some future hope. That was reconciliation experienced and
                              enlivened in the sharing. As opposed to "Party Spirit," that was
                              "Shalom Shared." And far from being some pontificating on grand ideas
                              or simply teaching Jewish ethics, this was then and now dangerous (run
                              the list of those who turned to at least some aspects of real
                              reconciliation work: Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.,
                              Malcolm X after he returned from Mecca, Anwar Sadat, Rabin, it is
                              often deadly work where precisely those on the inside get most upset
                              and murderous). Historically Jesus belongs with that group of folks.
                              And my point here is that this was not a moral education movement, nor
                              a dreaming of the future movement, as the actual mission agenda words
                              show. And further, the language of aphorisms and parables precisely
                              worked to foster the movement. Reconciliation is never simply "a
                              problem to be solved." It is a kind of healing that must be figured
                              out. Whether in marital therapy or all the way up to the contest of
                              nations, "problem/ solution" thinking is necessary, but never enough.
                              Engagement in real puzzling is what is needed and that is precisely
                              the value of the language heard as word puzzles. Whatever one's
                              source theories.... however valuable the words brought together are
                              for proclamation and educational purposes, to not slow down and to not
                              listen to each saying on its own... in the present tense... in the
                              present circumstances... is to miss the very core of how the language
                              functions. I'm not in any way for underrating the other uses of the
                              language. But, I am very much for "trying to hear." That means... a
                              saying at a time... a parable at a time... and the willingness to "let
                              the puzzle sink in."

                              Your own listing nicely preserves the core language of Jesus. I don't
                              think any such animal ever existed, but that actually doesn't bother
                              me much. As is evident in this note, I ardently hope that folks will
                              take the time to not start with bundles or clumps or particular
                              Gospels, but simply listen and be puzzled.

                              Gordon Raynal
                              Inman, SC
                            • Ronald Price
                              ... Gordon, Thanks for expressing an interest. ... The Critical edition of Q is an amalgam. Why would you expect my reconstruction be any different in this
                              Message 14 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
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                                Gordon Raynal wrote:

                                > Thanks again for sending you understanding of a re-constructed sayings
                                > Gospel. Most interesting.

                                Gordon,

                                Thanks for expressing an interest.

                                > In B4, which you do attribute as going back to HJ, your create your
                                > understanding of the Mission Agenda saying by choosing different parts
                                > of the sayings cluster from the Synoptic Gospels ... your own reconstruction
                                > is an amalgam.

                                The 'Critical edition of Q' is an amalgam. Why would you expect my
                                reconstruction be any different in this respect?

                                > The problem is that you've created this text.

                                Of course I have. That's what reconstruction is all about, recreating what
                                is deemed to be the original from the various extant texts.

                                > ..... You, however,
                                > change the tense of the verb in the proclamation of the significance
                                > of the Agenda from, "the kingdom of God has come near" (Mt. 10:7 & Lk.
                                > 9) to "The Kingdom of God is getting near."

                                The context (B7, from Mt 10:23) indicates that this is the original meaning.
                                The change of tense probably suited the synoptic writers, and especially
                                Luke (c.f. the Lukan agenda reflected in Lk 11:20; 17:21)

                                > In the mission you drop out the charge to heal.

                                Yes I do. In my opinion this is clearly derived from Mark, who was the first
                                to claim that Jesus had been a healer. Note how in Mark the basic
                                instructions (6:8-11) make no mention of healing. Mark redactionally wrapped
                                the healing around the outside (vv.7 & 12-13).

                                > It is entirely circumscribed as an exclusive national mission.

                                So you think the original mission was to the whole world? That seems a tad
                                over ambitious to me. Twelve men to evangelize the whole world? I don't
                                think so. In any case this view is contradicted by certain texts which
                                Matthew retained, but Luke deemed inappropriate for the mission to the
                                Gentiles.

                                > And framing this activity with "is getting near"
                                > means that the effort is rather much a promotional tour for "a coming
                                > attraction," so to speak, and not something complete unto itself.

                                Indeed. This seems to be indicated by Mt 10:23b.

                                > Leaving aside the question of Q for a moment, save for G. Thomas, all
                                > the testimonies we have of the agenda itself (Matthew, Mark and 2
                                > renditions in Luke) include healing.

                                And Matthew and Luke both copied many of the Markan stories about healing,
                                so it is not surprising that they would adjust the mission statement in line
                                with the Markan version to match the stories.

                                > ..... What I want to emphasize is that you have
                                > taken out 1/3 of the ***demonstration*** acts of those sent. (the
                                > actions of lodging in welcoming homes (presence/ relating), dining
                                > (commensality) and "healing.") The effect of this is that the mission
                                > is really reduced to a proclamation movement and so the apostles are
                                > now "prophets." That reframes the action of the agenda significantly.

                                Indeed. The mission was about a message, just as the Christian mission has
                                been in modern times except for some evangelicals who claim to be able to
                                heal. On scientific grounds we must judge the latter to be a sham.

                                > where illness is tended to .....

                                You sound like Burton Mack. The gospel writers had no such inhibitions, and
                                I cannot believe that the "healing" to which the synoptics refer is merely
                                tending the sick. When Mark refers to healing he is clearly referring to
                                miraculous healing (Mk 6:13). Mack's 'pay attention to the sick'
                                interpretation is a liberal fudge.

                                > Third, by accepting the Matthean framing about the exclusivity of this
                                > mission, you are forced to push aside what Mark really wants to
                                > emphasize with Jesus in the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman and
                                > what earlier Paul was obviously excited about, namely that this
                                > "ministry of reconciliation" had no boundaries, but was for the
                                > world.

                                I am not pushing anything aside, but carefully placing texts in their
                                appropriate historical context. We then have the natural sequence: the
                                original mission to Israel instigated by Jesus and his first followers was
                                transformed by Paul and the synoptic writers into a mission to the world.
                                The story of the Syro-Phoenician woman was a part of the latter
                                transformation.

                                > Retrojecting a Matthean frame on top of HJ and the original
                                > enactors of this mission .....

                                The frame was correctly retained by Matthew. Mark and Luke omitted it
                                because it contradicted their Paul-inspired vision of a worldwide mission.

                                > Hence your choices paint Jesus to be an ultra nationalist

                                Well he was surely a nationalist. Christ = Messiah = God's anointed king.
                                Had his vision not included an element of nationalism, he would not have
                                been crucified.

                                > ... "talking head" prophet who
                                > decided to ignore or just didn't believe the very significance of the
                                > apocalyptic dreams, a world redeemed.

                                Jesus was expecting the imminent arrival of the kingdom - there wasn't even
                                going to be time to evangelize all the towns in Israel. So what would have
                                been the point of planning a world mission?

                                > I, of course, do not think that "apocalyptic dreaming" was on Jesus'
                                > mind, and one reason for that, besides the language that he majored in
                                > and the clear evidence of sayings that tell otherwise, is precisely
                                > the mission agenda language as we have it. "Say to them that the
                                > Kingdom of God ***has*** come near." This is not a longing for a
                                > future dream, but rather a call to "make it real."

                                You make a great deal about the tense, but it really doesn't make a lot of
                                difference. The real question is whether the kingdom is near in space or in
                                time. My wording "is getting near" unambiguously indicates the latter
                                because that's what the whole context implies, and if you're unhappy with Mt
                                10:23b, then look at e.g. Lk 17:30, where "on the day" refers to a future
                                time, not a place.

                                The net result of my interpretation and my consequent reconstruction is a
                                realistic historical sequence for the emergence of the new religion of
                                Christianity out of the older religion of Judaism, and that's in addition to
                                a credible sayings source, which Q as normally reconstructed is certainly
                                not.

                                Ron Price,

                                Derbyshire, UK

                                http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/
                              • Gordon Raynal
                                Hi, I appreciate your response in contrasting our differences. I ll let most of them stand for others to see and or comment on the list. ... For the record
                                Message 15 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
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                                  Hi,

                                  I appreciate your response in contrasting our differences. I'll let
                                  most of them stand for others to see and or comment on the list.
                                  On Feb 10, 2011, at 12:07 PM, Ronald Price wrote:

                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >> In the mission you drop out the charge to heal.
                                  >
                                  > Yes I do. In my opinion this is clearly derived from Mark, who was
                                  > the first
                                  > to claim that Jesus had been a healer. Note how in Mark the basic
                                  > instructions (6:8-11) make no mention of healing. Mark redactionally
                                  > wrapped
                                  > the healing around the outside (vv.7 & 12-13).

                                  For the record regarding whether or not Jesus was a talented folk
                                  healer, I don't know. I'm fine either way. There's no point arguing
                                  that the Q rendition is the earliest gathering of the whole agenda
                                  (the Thomas version is the earliest and simplest, in my view).
                                  Whatever the medical level of care Jesus or these earliest folks
                                  offered (whether praying with/ for individuals or "casting out
                                  demons"), the central gist of the "healing" in the text is certainly
                                  "social healing." And this is simply derived from not only Paul's
                                  description of the movement, but also a whole cluster of sayings/
                                  scenes that serve to sum up the mission. Certainly by the time
                                  Corinthians was written, however, there were medicinal healers
                                  actively involved in the movement.
                                  >
                                  >> It is entirely circumscribed as an exclusive national mission.
                                  >
                                  > So you think the original mission was to the whole world? That seems
                                  > a tad
                                  > over ambitious to me. Twelve men to evangelize the whole world? I
                                  > don't
                                  > think so. In any case this view is contradicted by certain texts which
                                  > Matthew retained, but Luke deemed inappropriate for the mission to the
                                  > Gentiles.

                                  I perhaps didn't say this well. I think the initiation and praxis was
                                  regional (again Galilee, the region of Tyre-Sidon, Herod Philips
                                  domain, Samaria and Judea). But I think Jesus understood quite well
                                  the implication of Torah and the Prophets. Matthew, especially, is
                                  emphasizing the unique focus on Israel. This a part of his theology,
                                  and in my view represents the important arguments that were going on
                                  in the 80's and 90's.

                                  >
                                  >
                                  >> And framing this activity with "is getting near"
                                  >> means that the effort is rather much a promotional tour for "a coming
                                  >> attraction," so to speak, and not something complete unto itself.
                                  >
                                  > Indeed. This seems to be indicated by Mt 10:23b.

                                  So, a plain statement is in the text is changed on the basis of "an
                                  indication" outside the text? I certainly don't think Mt. 10:23b
                                  belongs to HJ.
                                  >
                                  >>
                                  >
                                  >> ..... What I want to emphasize is that you have
                                  >> taken out 1/3 of the ***demonstration*** acts of those sent. (the
                                  >> actions of lodging in welcoming homes (presence/ relating), dining
                                  >> (commensality) and "healing.") The effect of this is that the
                                  >> mission
                                  >> is really reduced to a proclamation movement and so the apostles are
                                  >> now "prophets." That reframes the action of the agenda
                                  >> significantly.
                                  >
                                  > Indeed. The mission was about a message, just as the Christian
                                  > mission has
                                  > been in modern times except for some evangelicals who claim to be
                                  > able to
                                  > heal. On scientific grounds we must judge the latter to be a sham.

                                  A clear statement of our fundamental disagreement.
                                  >
                                  >> where illness is tended to .....
                                  >
                                  > You sound like Burton Mack. The gospel writers had no such
                                  > inhibitions, and
                                  > I cannot believe that the "healing" to which the synoptics refer is
                                  > merely
                                  > tending the sick. When Mark refers to healing he is clearly
                                  > referring to
                                  > miraculous healing (Mk 6:13). Mack's 'pay attention to the sick'
                                  > interpretation is a liberal fudge.

                                  I don't mind sounding like Mack in this regard. It is not "a liberal
                                  fudge," it a fair description of a social movement centered on
                                  "reconciliation."
                                  >
                                  >>
                                  >
                                  >> Hence your choices paint Jesus to be an ultra nationalist
                                  >
                                  > Well he was surely a nationalist. Christ = Messiah = God's anointed
                                  > king.
                                  > Had his vision not included an element of nationalism, he would not
                                  > have
                                  > been crucified.

                                  I would urge you to re-read precisely the prophetic hope language
                                  regarding the Promised King and I would also remind you that the term
                                  "Messiah" is used to talk about Cyrus of Persia! Even if Jesus were
                                  centrally formed by the apocalyptic dreams of the Israelite
                                  apocalyptic materials, that language is very much about the
                                  restoration of the whole of creation. And in terms of service to the
                                  world, Daniel is renowned for that!
                                  >
                                  >> ... "talking head" prophet who
                                  >> decided to ignore or just didn't believe the very significance of the
                                  >> apocalyptic dreams, a world redeemed.
                                  >
                                  > Jesus was expecting the imminent arrival of the kingdom - there
                                  > wasn't even
                                  > going to be time to evangelize all the towns in Israel. So what
                                  > would have
                                  > been the point of planning a world mission?

                                  According to your gathering of the language. I simply do not buy this.
                                  >
                                  >> I, of course, do not think that "apocalyptic dreaming" was on Jesus'
                                  >> mind, and one reason for that, besides the language that he majored
                                  >> in
                                  >> and the clear evidence of sayings that tell otherwise, is precisely
                                  >> the mission agenda language as we have it. "Say to them that the
                                  >> Kingdom of God ***has*** come near." This is not a longing for a
                                  >> future dream, but rather a call to "make it real."
                                  >
                                  > You make a great deal about the tense, but it really doesn't make a
                                  > lot of
                                  > difference. The real question is whether the kingdom is near in
                                  > space or in
                                  > time. My wording "is getting near" unambiguously indicates the latter
                                  > because that's what the whole context implies, and if you're unhappy
                                  > with Mt
                                  > 10:23b, then look at e.g. Lk 17:30, where "on the day" refers to a
                                  > future
                                  > time, not a place.
                                  >
                                  > The net result of my interpretation and my consequent reconstruction
                                  > is a
                                  > realistic historical sequence for the emergence of the new religion of
                                  > Christianity out of the older religion of Judaism, and that's in
                                  > addition to
                                  > a credible sayings source, which Q as normally reconstructed is
                                  > certainly
                                  > not.

                                  It certainly represents a reconstruction of Christianity. We will
                                  continue to disagree about not only the core nature of the mission,
                                  but also the sequence.

                                  Thanks again for sharing your link.

                                  Gordon Raynal
                                  Inman, SC
                                  >



                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Ronald Price
                                  ... Gordon, That¹s not too dissimilar from Mt 10:5b. ... That may be so, but I think Jesus had enough problems trying to find God¹s solution for his
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Feb 11, 2011
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                                    Gordon Raynal wrote:

                                    > I think the initiation and praxis was regional (again Galilee, the region of
                                    > Tyre-Sidon, Herod Philips domain, Samaria and Judea).
                                    >
                                    Gordon,

                                    That¹s not too dissimilar from Mt 10:5b.

                                    > But I think Jesus understood quite well
                                    > the implication of Torah and the Prophets.
                                    >
                                    That may be so, but I think Jesus had enough problems trying to find God¹s
                                    solution for his compatriots. If he thought that the imminent arrival of the
                                    kingdom would affect the whole world, it was surely a secondary effect. If I
                                    remember correctly, the restoration of Israel was assumed to be first in the
                                    prophetic pronouncements.

                                    > So, a plain statement is in the text is changed on the basis of "an
                                    > indication" outside the text?

                                    I¹m not so much changing the text as trying to reconstruct the underlying
                                    text, and I may not have got all the wording exactly right. Anyway, here is
                                    another try at my reasoning.

                                    (1) There are some authentic statements about the kingdom which are
                                    ambiguous as regards timing, but those that are clear point to a future
                                    coming, A21, C1, C12, c.f. C21.
                                    (2) The redactional tendency to portray the kingdom as having arrived is
                                    already clear in Matthew (Mt 11:11-12) and in Luke (Lk 17:21).
                                    (3) On Mk 1:15, Hooker makes the perceptive comment that when asking about
                                    the meaning of particular words, we are asking questions about Mark¹s use of
                                    language, not about the words of Jesus. (Admittedly I believe there was an
                                    intermediate stage here, namely putting in writing the sayings of Jesus, and
                                    that does complicate the issue.)
                                    (4) Unlike the majority of commentators, I take the sayings collection to
                                    have been in Aramaic. So there is often an inevitable slight change in
                                    meaning between what was written in the collection and what the synoptic
                                    authors wrote in Greek.
                                    (5) I believe Jesus was seriously concerned about the plight of his people
                                    under the yoke of the Roman occupation. I cannot therefore picture him
                                    indicating that the kingdom had in any sense come already. There may be a
                                    partial analogy in Egypt right now.

                                    By the way, in criticizing some evangelicals who claim to be able to heal, I
                                    was not of course referring to what you call Œsocial healing¹, but rather to
                                    claims of miraculous healing.

                                    Ron Price,

                                    Derbyshire, UK

                                    http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/



                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • Gordon Raynal
                                    Hi Ron, Thanks for the continuing dialogue. Let me say that I think you are doing a good job of painting out the understanding of Jesus that begins with the
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Feb 11, 2011
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                                      Hi Ron,

                                      Thanks for the continuing dialogue. Let me say that I think you are
                                      doing a good job of painting out the understanding of Jesus that
                                      begins with the understanding that the key is found in "the imminent
                                      expectation" of the Kingdom of God. Ever since Schweitzer this has
                                      certainly garnered the majority appreciation of those specifically
                                      working on the Historical Jesus/ Early Christianity questions/
                                      issues. As you noted yesterday and is certainly true, starting with
                                      these sayings/ this part of the Israelite tradition and so this
                                      mindset for Jesus, one can assuredly paint out a plausible
                                      reconstruction of the historical figure of Jesus, his earliest
                                      followers and the development of a new religion out of an old one. I
                                      certainly see no end in sight of the basic contest of starting points
                                      and the result "word picturings." And I am fine with that because of
                                      the richness of the literature we have access to (multiple
                                      perspectives increase the vantage points to understand it) and because
                                      even amidst the different perspectives there are a number of
                                      commonalities which the diversity helps us understand in richer ways.

                                      This said, then a couple of responses.
                                      On Feb 11, 2011, at 10:22 AM, Ronald Price wrote:

                                      >>
                                      >>
                                      > That may be so, but I think Jesus had enough problems trying to find
                                      > God’s
                                      > solution for his compatriots. If he thought that the imminent
                                      > arrival of the
                                      > kingdom would affect the whole world, it was surely a secondary
                                      > effect. If I
                                      > remember correctly, the restoration of Israel was assumed to be
                                      > first in the
                                      > prophetic pronouncements.

                                      "If he thought that..." is, of course at the center of our dispute.
                                      I, of course, think that the "center of thought" is found in the "here
                                      and now" nature of wisdom communication, in the directed action of the
                                      mission agenda as exemplifying/ making alive forgiveness/ redemption/
                                      reconciliation (not sorta making it happen, but actually making it
                                      alive), and then in the specific aphorisms that precisely indicate
                                      this "here and now/ hear now!) sayings.

                                      Bottom line, there are both anticipation and realization sayings
                                      attributed to Jesus. Generally "your school of thought," sees "the
                                      anticipation" sayings at the critical heart of the matter and then
                                      "the realization" sayings the later reflections of the community.
                                      Those of my school of thought see it exactly the opposite. Therefore,
                                      not to endlessly argue, but rather to "paint it out," then simply
                                      consider this alternative. And I do this, probably overly
                                      simplistically, but simply here for a short note to show the alternate
                                      plausible modeling:

                                      Situation: The Israelite homeland had been essentially a province of
                                      the Rome since Pompey came in and basically overwhelmed a Civil War,
                                      siding with Hyracanus II and his Pharisee faction against Aristobulus
                                      II and his Saducee faction. Thereafter between the parties known to
                                      us from Josephus and the Jewish and Christian writings, there was all
                                      manner of internal conflict between the political leaders, the Temple
                                      establishment, the majority Pharisee Party (parties?), the Saducees,
                                      the Essenes and such as "bandits, prophets, messianic wannabees" (per
                                      Horsely's language). And never forgetting that the religion of Israel
                                      was an international religion (Jews dispersed from old Babylon all the
                                      way to Spain), and never forgetting either, the old "family" divide
                                      between "Jews" and "Samaritans," the situation was complex,
                                      multifaceted and there were sharp internal divides. The example of
                                      the conflicts at the death of Herod the Great, as Josephus reports,
                                      were but one example of the complexity and the contest of voices.

                                      This noted, focus on "the anticipation" sayings leads to various kinds
                                      of portraitures of Jesus best understood in relationship to the voices
                                      "for Liberation," in some manner. In your above statement you use the
                                      language of "trying to find God's solutions for his compatriots."
                                      And, of course, I'm really interested in how expansive your and
                                      anyone's understanding "of compatriots" is? Galileans? Galileans and
                                      Judeans? All Jews in the Diaspora and the homeland? The question of
                                      "national"/ "international" very much relates to "the Jewish
                                      situation." (Obviously, according to Josephus, for example, there were
                                      a lot of Jews quite happy to live in Rome.) At any rate, those who
                                      focus on the anticipation language regarding an actual change in the
                                      political circumstances, obviously have to admit that this
                                      "anticipation" was utterly wrong. For those who say it's all about
                                      some sort of "religious or spiritual liberation" and really an "after
                                      life," then Jesus can either be excused for his wrongness about the
                                      imminent timing issue or focus can be placed that his "imminent"
                                      language was about quickly arousing a movement and that his head was
                                      actually into "only the Father knows the hour." In broad strokes
                                      those are the basic options. And so the understanding of the ordering
                                      of texts basically proceeds in a fashion of a forceful anticipation
                                      movement that inexorably became an institutionalized movement that
                                      later led to the explosion of all kinds of writings and factions. For
                                      example, pretty much the Gospel of Thomas has to be late, dependent
                                      and basically quasi heretical, if not outright heretical on this
                                      modeling.

                                      And so quickly, the alternative of " here and now reconciliation"
                                      movement. In the above situation, the very nature of the question of
                                      "what defines us" was huge! And in such circumstances, having a clear
                                      vision of identity that effectively communicates is sure to get
                                      attention, if effectively shared. Second, a reconciliation movement,
                                      in principle, is about gathering as much diversity that can
                                      cooperatively function together as possible. Such movements are by
                                      their very nature very dicey, because "Party Spirit" can blow them
                                      apart. But where actually effective a new kind of identity can be
                                      effected that supersedes the former divided understandings of
                                      identity. And effectively this kind of effort can even have effects
                                      reaching far beyond the original particular situation and issues. And
                                      this is the picturing that I favor as original. And therefore I find
                                      it no surprise at all that there was quite the diversity of writings,
                                      because reconciliation movements even when effective gather
                                      individuals and groups from a number of perspectives who continue to
                                      use their primary interpretive lens to communicate about the new
                                      movement they are a part of. And in my view, this is what we see.
                                      The literature we have shows Jesus being "pictured" from a whole
                                      variety of lens and thus quite naturally he was variously titled,
                                      "Christ," "Son of God," "Son of Man," "High Priest after the Order of
                                      Melchizedek," etc. etc.... I do not think we have the founding of a
                                      particularly ideological movement that was reframed, rather a
                                      reconciliation movement that brought together a whole array of Jewish
                                      voices who left us this rich heritage of reflections.

                                      I'll simply end this very sketchy reply with this note. I have no
                                      need to Q to come up with this. I don't even need to go outside the
                                      Canonical materials and extant texts therein. But the two gems that
                                      absolutely do help me sketch this out are Thomas and the Didache. And
                                      sometimes for a thought experiment I'd ask you to simply do a sayings
                                      comparison between Thomas and Mark. The tradition way of seeing the
                                      relationship will be to suggest that Thomas shows a later
                                      "spiritualizing" or Gnosticizing redaction of the more pure Markan
                                      forms. I think that has the order wrong ***as regards*** a comparison
                                      of the individual sayings/ stories. (I do think Extant Thomas is
                                      later than Mark and shows a clear redaction spin put on many of the
                                      sayings, but I quite think the there is a core in Thomas that is
                                      indeed pre-Markan.) So, forgetting Q and your own reconstructed
                                      sayings Gospel, I urge you to do a comparison of these two actual
                                      texts and not ones based on theoretical constructions. And again,
                                      simply try reading the individual sayings in both orderings.
                                      >
                                      >> So, a plain statement is in the text is changed on the basis of "an
                                      >> indication" outside the text?
                                      >
                                      > I’m not so much changing the text as trying to reconstruct the
                                      > underlying
                                      > text, and I may not have got all the wording exactly right. Anyway,
                                      > here is
                                      > another try at my reasoning.

                                      But you do change the wording of the sayings as is presented in the
                                      literature.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > (5) I believe Jesus was seriously concerned about the plight of his
                                      > people
                                      > under the yoke of the Roman occupation. I cannot therefore picture
                                      > him
                                      > indicating that the kingdom had in any sense come already. There may
                                      > be a
                                      > partial analogy in Egypt right now.

                                      Again, I'm wondering the extent of his concern went and what it would
                                      look like, if say the Antipas, the Sanhedrin and the majority of the
                                      Pharisees had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. What would that have
                                      looked like?

                                      But from my perspective... the creation of an effective reconciliation
                                      work clearly gives evidence to Sabbath made alive in the world. My
                                      actual preference what what the phrase "Kingdom of God" is indicative
                                      of is "the Ruling Suasion of YHWH Elohim's Shalom made alive." (Or
                                      something like that!) In the Israelite Wisdom heritage such as
                                      Proverbs 3:14-18 and in the Psalmic heritage Psalm 85 do nice jobs of
                                      expressing the sense and the poetry of what this makes for in life.
                                      >
                                      > By the way, in criticizing some evangelicals who claim to be able to
                                      > heal, I
                                      > was not of course referring to what you call ‘social healing’, but
                                      > rather to
                                      > claims of miraculous healing.

                                      I understand. I really have no clue if Jesus himself was a talented
                                      folk healer or not. That the movement made this a specific priority
                                      was obviously early and important.

                                      Gordon Raynal
                                      Inman, SC
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