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Re: [XTalk] Word pictures in the synoptics (mission agenda)

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  • 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 1 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
      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 2 of 20 , Feb 10, 2011
        Hi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Thanks again for sharing your link.

        Gordon Raynal
        Inman, SC
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Ronald Price
        ... Gordon, That¹s not too dissimilar from Mt 10:5b. ... That may be so, but I think Jesus had enough problems trying to find God¹s solution for his
        Message 3 of 20 , Feb 11, 2011
          Gordon Raynal wrote:

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

          That¹s not too dissimilar from Mt 10:5b.

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

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

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

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

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

          Ron Price,

          Derbyshire, UK

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



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Gordon Raynal
          Hi Ron, Thanks for the continuing dialogue. Let me say that I think you are doing a good job of painting out the understanding of Jesus that begins with the
          Message 4 of 20 , Feb 11, 2011
            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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