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

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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 1 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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