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Re: [XTalk] Word pictures in the synoptics

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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
                                >



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                              • 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 15 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/



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                                • 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 16 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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