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[XTalk] Re: recipients of HMt

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    Dear Jeffrey, I must confess that I m often unable to understand parts of what you wrote below, or what points you re trying to make. It seems reasonably clear
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 2, 2000
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      Dear Jeffrey,

      I must confess that I'm often unable to understand parts of what you wrote
      below, or what points you're trying to make. It seems reasonably clear
      that you're very unhappy with my arguments and methodology, but it is not
      always so very clear why.

      So maybe I should try to explain my position a little bit now.

      I certainly don't feel that I need to _prove_ that Hebrew was widely used
      in Jerusalem in 1 c., or that gospel origins were lectionary, or that
      gospels were based on prophesy historicised, etc., etc. Great many
      articles and books have been written on all these subjects, and many
      highly reputed scholars hold these positions. What new can poor little me
      contribute in these areas, except for a little note here and there, a
      little brick for the wall that's already been built? We all stand on the
      shoulders of giants, so to speak, as someone better than me remarked so
      pithily. So your demands that I should instantly provide detailed studies
      and reviews in all these areas sound a little strange. Surely such things
      take time?

      OTOH what I feel I have to show here is merely that HMt is _plausible_ in
      the context of ancient Jerusalem. Once this is established, then no
      serious obstacles will remain in the way of recognizing HMt as ancient.
      Actually, Howard already pretty well did this, so even here I don't have
      to try too hard. It's a good idea that those who are interested in these
      matters should read his book.

      I can no more prove that Hebrew was widely used in Jerusalem in 1 c, for
      example, than my opponents can prove the opposite, my dear friend. None of
      us can prove such things. All these things are speculative to some extent
      in the absense of hard evidence. Historians usually have to deal not with
      hard proof, but with a balance of probabilities.

      OTOH I have already proven that HMt could not have been a medieval
      translation, and reposted these arguments. So those who want to establish
      that HMt was a medieval translation should deal with these arguments --
      their work is all cut out for them!

      In your post below often I cannot understand what your assumptions are,
      what do you think mine are, and what is being debated as you see it.

      On Sat, 1 Jan 2000, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:

      > Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
      >
      > > On Thu, 30 Dec 1999, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
      > > > Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
      > >
      > > > > As to the audience of HMt, this would have been the Semitic branch of the
      > > > > earliest Jesus movement in Israel, mostly in Jerusalem. They were
      > > > > religious Jews who would have been very familiar with Hebrew. One of the
      > > > > major insights in HMt for me personally is the very important role of John
      > > > > the Baptist. This indicates that the followers of JB and the followers of
      > > > > Jesus were often the same people -- the two movements overlapped from the
      > > > > earliest time.
      > > > >
      > > >
      > > > Thanks for this. But wasn't the language of the "Semitic branch" (if
      > > > there really was such a thing in **Jerusalem**,
      > >
      > > Jeffrey,
      > >
      > > Do you mean there were no Jewish followers of Yeshu in Jerusalem speaking
      > > a Semitic tongue? You surprise me.
      >
      > What I mean is whether, given how long Jerusalem had been under
      > Hellinization, it is reasonable to think that Jerusalemite followers
      > of Jesus would have had a Semitic tongue as their **primary**
      > language, let alone **only** spoken Aramaic or Hebrew, as you seem to
      > imply they would, and **only** Hebrew** as the argument for the
      > antiquity of HMt seems to demand. It surprises **me** that you didn't
      > see that **this** is what I was saying.

      I read the above a few times, but still remain at a loss what to reply.
      Perhaps you should clarify a little? Are we arguing about the **primary**
      language of the original followers of Yeshu here? If so, I think it was
      Semitic.

      > > > or if such a thing even makes much sense, pace Hengel) Aramaic?
      > >
      > > Maybe their language was Aramaic. Maybe it was Hebrew. Maybe both. It's
      > > possible that Hebrew was used a lot more in Israel than is generally
      > > assumed.
      >
      > > Also, perhaps a distinction can be drawn between the language used in
      > > cultic observances and in everyday life. For example many educated Italian
      > > Catholics pre-Vatican II could understand and use both Latin and Italian.
      >
      > Oh I suppose it is possible.

      Thank you. This is all I wanted to establish. In light of this, I don't
      really know what to do with the rest of your comments on this subject?
      They seem besides the point somehow.

      > The question is: on earth should we think it **likely**?

      What is **likely**, Jeffrey? That many educated Italian Catholics
      pre-Vatican II could understand and use both Latin and Italian? If you
      have any doubts about this, your doubts are misplaced, I assure you.

      > What textual or inscriptional or ethnographic evidence do you offer,
      > or can you appeal to, to show that what is generally assumed is not
      > correct?

      What is generally assumed? That followers of Yeshu were bilinguial? I
      think this is correct.

      > Or is this just an argument from silence?

      What argument?

      > But please note that even IF it were the case that "Hebrew was used a
      > lot more in Israel than is generally assumed", what you **still** need
      > to show is (a) not only that amongst the type of people to whom HMt
      > was purportedly written

      For whom was it written, Jeffrey? Did you get a direct line from G*d about
      this? Please remember that all these things are speculative to some extent
      and the evidence is often ambiguous. Historians usually have to deal not
      with hard proof, but with a balance of probabilities.

      You may be assuming more than you have a right to here.

      > Hebrew was the language of cult AND that they
      > would have understood it (Latin was the language of the cult of my
      > youth, but I did not understand it), but also, and more importantly,
      > (b) that HMt is fundamentally cultic in nature.

      See my opening remarks. Many scholars think so.

      > Until all three of these things are demonstrated with some degree of
      > certainty, and not just offered as possibilities, the case is not very
      > well established.

      Your opinion only.

      > > It is well known that much if not most of the story of Yeshu as found in
      > > the Gospels was prophesy historicized -- based on OT texts.
      >
      > It is? Certainly I've come across this claim. But that the claim is
      > true is something that I doubt is really the case

      And you have a right to hold your views, my dear and esteemed friend! It's
      a democracy here, you know?

      > or is as widely accepted as your "it is well known that ..." alleges.
      > In any event, it is, more importantly, wholly irrelevant to the case
      > as you make it,

      I disagree.

      > since what you have claimed (in a previous post) constituted the
      > earliest layer of HMt was sayings, not narrative.

      I don't follow your logic.

      > The claim about historisized prophecy in the Gospels only focuses on
      > the narrative not the sayings material.

      So how did my previous remarks about sayings contradict this?

      > > In Jerusalem, these texts were Hebrew.
      > >
      >
      > Were they really? May I ask how you know this?

      That's what most people think. May I ask how you don't know this?

      > In any case, I note that this is hardly so is hardly so for a
      > purportedly Palestinian text such as Q, where we find, say, in the
      > wilderness testing story that it is the LXX and not the Hebrew text of
      > Deut. 6-8 that is used.

      Do you think the original language of Q was Greek?

      > And it is even less so for AMatt or his sources since those sections
      > of his Gospel which have the greatest claim to be a theologoumenon
      > (i.e., the infancy narratives, and especially the virgin conceiving
      > bit) AND Jerusalmite in origin (M material)

      This is debatable.

      > are soundly based in the LXX and the points that are made by them
      > could not have been made if the Hebrew OT was used.

      As I already said, gospel production may have been proceeding both in
      Greek and in Hebrew separately but in parallel.

      > Note too the early chapters of Luke and of Acts which are, given their
      > style, Semitic in origin, but again use the LXX whenever appealing to
      > scripture, either directly or indirectly.

      Luke is a late gospel and is irrelevant in this case.

      > > Gospel production may have been going on in parallel both in Hebrew and
      > > Greek. Some of the Jesus people probably used OT normally in Hebrew, and
      > > so they would have used them in producing HMt, while the Hellenists may
      > > have used the Septuagint to produce the Greek gospels.
      > >
      >
      > The problem for me with this statement is not only that no evidence is
      > offered

      What evidence? I've offered no evidence. I merely offered a possibility.

      > to show that what is stated within it as possibilities are plausible
      > or likely, but that you go on to reify what you yourself state are
      > possibilities into historical certainties.

      Sorry you don't like my idea.

      > > I'm sure many Jews in Jerusalem knew Hebrew rather well.
      > >
      > > > And if so, wouldn't it be more likely that if anyone wanted to write a
      > > > Gospel or any other dominical traditions document for this this
      > > > branch, he/she would have done so in Aramaic, not Hebrew?
      > >
      > > But was this gospel used primarily for religious propaganda? Probably not.
      > > It may have reflected ritual or lectionary use more.
      >
      > And your evidence for this claim,

      No claim was made. Try to read more carefully, Jeffrey.

      > especially IF, as you have said in a
      > previous post, HMt was actually the Logia, is what? More importantly,
      > what is your evidence that a document written for ritual or lectionary
      > use would NOT, as you implicitly claim, have been written in Aramaic?

      Because the OT is not written in Aramaic.

      > How then do you explain the Targums, which **were** explicitly
      > intended for ritual and lectionary use and give evidence for a
      > tradition that this was the practice at the very time in which HMt was
      > purportedly written?

      I don't understand how the Targums may strengthen your case, whatever it
      may be?

      > > > After all, the evidence indicates that when Jesus was addressing his
      > > > "own", he used Aramaic rather than Hebrew
      > >
      > > What evidence exactly do we have for this? All such evidence is ambiguous
      > > AFAIK.
      >
      > The evidence is that when the ipsissima verba of Jesus is transmitted
      > by Paul

      But then the question of authorship and dating comes up...

      > or by other early Christian tradents, Jesus is reported to have spoken
      > in Aramaic not Hebrew -- even when praying and quoting the scriptures.
      > This is ambiguous?

      Sometimes Jesus is reported to speak in Hebrew, it seems. Such as Jerome
      (Epist. 20.5 in reference to Mt 21:9) attributing to Yeshu the words
      "Osianna barrama", which means "ossana in excelsis".

      > > > and this indicates that Hebrew was not something this Semitic branch
      > > > would have been familiar with.
      > >
      > > I disagree. I assume that gospel creation was started by the original
      > > followers of Yeshu. So do you mean that the followers of Yeshu, all Jews,
      > > who historisized all that OT prophesy didn't know Hebrew? A strange
      > > assumption indeed on your part.
      >
      > Leaving aside for the moment that once again you beg the question (in
      > assuming not only that there is a great amount of historizied prophecy
      > in the Gospels but also that, even it IF is there, it is based on the
      > Hebrew text of the OT AND that those who did this were all Jews -- is
      > Luke a Jew?

      I beg to disagree.

      > Is all of his historisized prophesy traditional?), my answer to your
      > question is that I have no idea. But given that what **appears** to be
      > theologoumena in the NT is based upon the LXX and not the Hebrew text
      > of the OT

      Greek gospels are usually based on LXX. No mystery here. But is HMt so
      based? This is a question that needs to be answered, and the answer not
      merely assumed according to your personal bias.

      Why is it so incredible that the earliest Jesus movement texts should have
      been non-Greek? Too many people want to turn Yeshu into a Greek, and this,
      I think, is unfortunate. Why should the prevailing assumption be that the
      role of the Greek would have been so prominents at earlist stages?

      > (I take it you haven't read Lindars' _ New Testament Apologetic_ or
      > Stendahl's _ The School of St. Matthew_ ),

      I'm familiar with Stendahl but not with Linders. Please teach me about his
      valuable contribution.

      > and given also, by the way, the evidence of the creation and existence
      > of the Targums, the evidence would actually seem to be **against**
      > their knowing it.

      I don't yet see what the Targums may prove for you.

      > In any case, you really need to note that this is not the issue at
      > hand -- and for you to imply that it is, is to engage in equivocation.

      Your opinion only.

      > The issue is NOT whether or not any purported "semitic branch" knew
      > Hebrew, but what their **primary** language was,

      Do you know what it was?

      > and therefore what they were most likely to be addressed with when
      > Jesus or someone from the Jesus movement wanted to communicate with
      > them. As Fitzmyer has shown, this was most likely to have been
      > Aramaic.

      But we have plenty of indications from Patristic sources that a Hebrew
      gospel or gospels was/were widely attested very early among
      Jewish-Christians. You have to deal with this evidence too, but so far
      you failed to.

      Best regards,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

      "What are among the moral convictions most fondly held by barbarous and
      semi-barbarous people? They are the convictions that authority is the
      soundest basis of belief; that merit attaches to readiness to believe;
      that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and skepticism a sin; that
      when good authority has pronounced what is to be believed, and faith has
      accepted it, reason has no further duty" -- Thomas H. Huxley
    • Robert M Schacht
      Yuri, I am reluctant to engage in this debate ; I think the responses made by Jack Kilmon and Jeffrey Gibson have been cogent and reasonable, as well as more
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 2, 2000
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        Yuri,
        I am reluctant to engage in this "debate"; I think the responses made by
        Jack Kilmon and Jeffrey Gibson have been cogent and reasonable, as well
        as more convincing than your arguments have been. I will confine myself
        to only one of your remarks:

        On Sun, 2 Jan 2000 16:12:17 -0500 (EST) Yuri Kuchinsky
        <yuku@...> writes:
        > ...
        > OTOH what I feel I have to show here is merely that HMt is _plausible_
        in
        > the context of ancient Jerusalem. Once this is established, then no
        > serious obstacles will remain in the way of recognizing HMt as
        ancient....

        This is a very strange argument: If something might be true, than it must
        be true?
        There are serious obstacles indeed, and Jack has outlined many of them.
        You have chosen either to ignore his arguments, or twist his words, or to
        reply with speculations and opinions rather than substantive evidence.

        At best, you have made a case that *some parts* of HMt *might* be
        ancient. Of course, if the ancient parts merely repeat what is already
        known, then HMt has no interest. It is only of interest if it offers
        independent testimony that differs in some way from other ancient
        manuscripts of GMatt, and that those differences are both independent and
        early. By this I mean only to grant that the bare possibility exists-- a
        long shot, say 1:25 against, and I am being generous to grant even that
        much. But mere possibility is not the same as plausibility, which you
        have, IMHO, failed to establish. And even plausibility is not the same as
        probability or likelihood, as you suggest. In other words, on a scale of
        0 to 100, where 100 represents certainty, and 0 represents no evidence
        whatever, your case seems to be in the 0 - 5 range, IMHO.

        So unless you can offer better *evidence* (not mere speculation or
        opinion) than you already have, and have more substantive
        counter-arguments to those that Jack has raised, this subject has little
        interest for me, and I will have nothing further to say about it.

        Bob
      • Jeffrey B. Gibson
        ... Wow. At least two logical fallacies (an appeal to authority, an appeal to [alleged] popularity, an appeal to pity -- and then later on, but snipped here,
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 2, 2000
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          Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
          Dear Jeffrey,

          I must confess that I'm often unable to understand parts of what you wrote
          below, or what points you're trying to make. It seems reasonably clear
          that you're very unhappy with my arguments and methodology, but it is not
          always so very clear why.

          So maybe I should try to explain my position a little bit now.

          I certainly don't feel that I need to _prove_ that Hebrew was widely used
          in Jerusalem in 1 c., or that gospel origins were lectionary, or that
          gospels were based on prophesy historicised, etc., etc. Great many
          articles and books have been written on all these subjects, and many
          highly reputed scholars hold these positions. What new can poor little me
          contribute in these areas, except for a little note here and there, a
          little brick for the wall that's already been built? We all stand on the
          shoulders of giants, so to speak, as someone better than me remarked so
          pithily. So your demands that I should instantly provide detailed studies
          and reviews in all these areas sound a little strange. Surely such things
          take time?

          OTOH what I feel I have to show here is merely that HMt is _plausible_ in
          the context of ancient Jerusalem. Once this is established, then no
          serious obstacles will remain in the way of recognizing HMt as ancient.
          Wow. At least two logical fallacies (an appeal to authority, an appeal to [alleged] popularity, an appeal to pity -- and then later on, but snipped here, an argument ad ignorantiam tantamount to " You cannot prove that God does not exist, so He does.")  AND a factual error (in the misrepresentation  what I've been asking you  to do with respect to certain claims you've been making and which are the presuppositions of the "HMt is ancient" thesis) all in the space of  a a couple of paragraphs!

          But leaving all that aside,  I note that from a methodological point of view,  this is hardly all you need to do since you were NOT arguing that each or any of your theories, the truth of which are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the validity of the "HMt is ancient" thesis,  were **only** plausible. You were claiming that they, and not  the alternatives I was suggesting, were actually historically **the case**. So in this instance, showing plausibility is not enough. One must also show that the were what you claim them to be.

          Let me put it this way. The "HMt is ancient" thesis can be regarded as tentatively plausible IF, as it assumes must have been the case, Hebrew was a language that was  spoken at the time HMt was purportedly written and IF the Hebrew in which it is written is the Hebrew that allegedly was spoken in this time frame. Therefore it is incumbent upon anyone who wants to make the case for the antiquity of HMt not just to state or to argue that it can't not be demonstrated (argument ad ignorantiam -- see http://www3.ca.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-of-proof.html), but to **show** that the conditions upon which the validity of the thesis rests are more than just suppositions. But in  the absence of **some** evidence (and THAT was all I was asking for) that Hebrew **was** spoken

          (and there **are**, as Fitzmyer notes in his "The Languages of Palestine in the First Century A.D." [see also A. Dupont-Sommer, _Les arameens (L'orient ancien illustre. 4; Paris, 1949; F. Altheim and R. Stiel, "Jesus der Galilaer", _Die Araber in der Alten Welt, Berlin, 1966] , lots of things that we should, and could reasonably,  expect to see if your claim were indeed the case, the having of which would validate the claim, and the palpable dearth of which makes the claim suspect,  i.e., first century inscriptions on sarcophagi in Hebrew rather than (as we have them) in Aramaic or Greek, first century non Biblical literary works (ala Josephus') in Hebrew rather than Aramaic or Greek, writing on pottery in Hebrew rather than Aramaic and Greek, official and governmental communications in Hebrew rather than in Aramaic or Greek, non literary Jewish texts [letters, receipts, bills, house records, inventories] in Hebrew rather than Aramaic or Greek,  prayer books and lectionaries in Hebrew rather than (as we have them) in Aramaic or Greek, biblical commentaries in first century Hebrew rather than Aramaic or Greek, reports from Gentile ethnographers about how common Hebrew was in all strata of Jewish society or amongst Jews in Jerusalem, etc.)
           
          not only is your claim mere (wishful?) speculation, but  the "plausibility" (not to mention the validity) of the thesis that is based upon it is highly suspect.

          In any event, it is not at all clear to me that you have shown even that the very claims you make to support your thesis are themselves. The arguments you have been using have all been circular. More importantly,  your conclusion that once you show the plausibility of your thesis about the antiquity of HMt, the antiquity of HMt follows as a certainty and  as a matter of fact, is an affront to reasoning and sound historiography. In historical argument, establishing that X is plausible (given the validity of certain  assumptions -- which themselves need to be demonstrated) does NOT establish that X was historically the case. There are, I note, lots of "plausible" accounts of who shot JFK (plausible, of course **once** you accept certain assumptions). But that they are plausible does not mean that any of them are true. To use the language of logic (of which you claim to be so well versed), it means that their proponents have provided only one of the necessary  but NOT the sufficient conditions for those claims' truth. That you have have confused the two conditions  does not bode well for your claims, made repeatedly in your posts on this thread, that of all the contributors to the discussion, you are the only one who has been employing sound historical methodology.

          JG
          --
          Jeffrey B. Gibson
          7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
          Chicago, Illinois 60626
          e-mail jgibson000@...
           

        • Yuri Kuchinsky
          ... Well, thank you, Bob, but so far we only have your opinions. I would like you to deal with evidence, please. ... Sigh... You misunderstand what I said. My
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 3, 2000
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            On Sun, 2 Jan 2000, Robert M Schacht wrote:

            > Yuri,
            > I am reluctant to engage in this "debate"; I think the responses made by
            > Jack Kilmon and Jeffrey Gibson have been cogent and reasonable, as well
            > as more convincing than your arguments have been. I will confine myself
            > to only one of your remarks:

            Well, thank you, Bob, but so far we only have your opinions. I would like
            you to deal with evidence, please.

            > On Sun, 2 Jan 2000 16:12:17 -0500 (EST) Yuri Kuchinsky
            > <yuku@...> writes:
            > > ...

            > OTOH what I feel I have to show here is merely that HMt is _plausible_
            > in > the context of ancient Jerusalem. Once this is established, then
            > no > serious obstacles will remain in the way of recognizing HMt as
            > ancient....
            >
            > This is a very strange argument: If something might be true, than it
            > must be true?

            Sigh... You misunderstand what I said. My words stand on their own, and
            your interpretation of them is incorrect.

            Why is it so difficult for you to understand, Bob, how my general argument
            is structured?

            1. I have now proven that HMt could not have been a medieval translation.

            2. I have now demonstrated, or will do so in the future, that no serious
            objections to HMt having been composed in ancient times exist.

            3. Therefore, the balance of probabilities points to HMt being ancient.

            Any questions?

            > There are serious obstacles indeed, and Jack has outlined many of
            > them.

            For example?

            > You have chosen either to ignore his arguments, or twist his words, or
            > to reply with speculations and opinions rather than substantive
            > evidence.

            Your opinions only. I'm waiting for the evidence.

            > At best, you have made a case that *some parts* of HMt *might* be
            > ancient.

            Thank you.

            > Of course, if the ancient parts merely repeat what is already
            > known, then HMt has no interest.

            You seem to have neglected to read my posts on the subject. And, seeing
            how you're now speculating about the contents of HMt, obviously you
            haven't even read HMt yet. I wonder why then are you in such a haste to
            offer us your unsupported opinions here?

            > It is only of interest if it offers independent testimony that differs
            > in some way from other ancient manuscripts of GMatt, and that those
            > differences are both independent and early. By this I mean only to
            > grant that the bare possibility exists-- a long shot, say 1:25
            > against, and I am being generous to grant even that much. But mere
            > possibility is not the same as plausibility, which you have, IMHO,
            > failed to establish. And even plausibility is not the same as
            > probability or likelihood, as you suggest. In other words, on a scale
            > of 0 to 100, where 100 represents certainty, and 0 represents no
            > evidence whatever, your case seems to be in the 0 - 5 range, IMHO.

            These are unsupported opinions again. Is this all I'm getting from you?

            > So unless you can offer better *evidence* (not mere speculation or
            > opinion) than you already have, and have more substantive
            > counter-arguments to those that Jack has raised, this subject has
            > little interest for me, and I will have nothing further to say about
            > it.

            Your post is content-free. I invite you to deal with the long post full of
            evidence I've posted yesterday. Here it is,

            http://www.egroups.com/group/crosstalk2/3407.html?

            Why are you running from the evidence, Bob? Is this the scientific
            appproach that is expected in a scholarly discussion? Your approach,
            hardly inspires confidence.

            Please try to offer something more than unsupported opinions in the
            future. Why do I have to beg people to deal with my arguments? The
            situation is very strange indeed. This is the group think and
            dogma-hugging of the worst sort, I'm afraid.

            Yours truly,

            Yuri.

            Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

            You never need think you can turn over any old falsehoods without a
            terrible squirming of the horrid little population that dwells under
            it -=O=- Oliver Wendell Holmes
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