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[Xtalk] Re: Messianic Consciousness

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  • ron.price@virgin.net
    Mark Goodacre argues that Jesus was a healer and was therefore likely to have thought of himself as the Messiah. On the first point I doubt whether the
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 3, 1999
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      Mark Goodacre argues that Jesus was a healer and was therefore likely to have thought of himself as the Messiah.
      On the first point I doubt whether the historical Jesus was a healer, and in this I am following J.K.Elliott in his excellent little book "Questioning Christian Origins", p.47. The healing stories were created by Jesus' followers because they thought that the Messiah & Son of God must have done such things.
      On Jesus' view of his own mission: of course Jesus came to believe that he was the Messiah towards the end of his ministry. That's why the Romans had him crucified, because he posed a threat to peace. In the entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-10), Jesus was acting out the prophecy of Zech. 9:9 and thus claiming to be the Messiah to those who understood the scriptures. Mark's story of an anointing (14:3-9) is a distorted record of a real event in which Jesus was openly proclaimed as Messiah. In Paul and Mark, CRISTOS was already in the process of being relegated to the status of a surname, partly in order not to bring too much attention to the political connotations associated with this title.

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, UK


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    • Stevan Davies
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      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 3, 1999
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        > From: "Mark Goodacre"
        >
        > Surely one of the ways of getting hints about someone's consciousness is to
        > look at that person's actions, especially actions that might seem to be in some
        > way characteristic or defining. Take, for example, the question of Jesus'
        > healing activity. Most of us are agreed that Jesus was known as a healer and
        > that this was felt to be one of his key attributes. What we then need to ask
        > is: might Jesus' healing activity have proceeded from a "messianic
        > consciousness"? Surely the answer here is yes, it might well have done.

        Gee. I was not aware that "healing activity" was connected with
        "messiah." I thought a messiah was a ruler who would free Judea from
        foreign control and set up a perfect law abiding state. Messiah =
        physician is a new one to me.

        > After all, a Jew in the first century who went around healing and evangelising
        > the poor might remind his fellow Jews of cherished Scriptures that connected
        > anointing with healing and evangelism, Scriptures like Isaiah 61. Indeed they
        > might have thought: how could one heal without being anointed by God to do so?

        Gosh. Doubtless, as in every society ever, there were medical
        professionals of various sorts going around healing folks. Perhaps
        all were thought to be anointed by God to do so, although this seems rather
        dubious. There were magician healers, and professional exorcists, and
        presumably herbal healers and who knows what all else.

        So I don't think "he heals therefore he was anointed by God" follows.
        Nor does, for that matter, "he was anointed by God and therefore he
        heals" necessarily follow.

        > But then the question must be: is there anything more than the possibility that
        > Jesus was perceived in this way? Is there any actual evidence that Jesus'
        > contemporaries construed his healing activity in the light of texts like Isaiah
        > 61? We know of Luke 4.18ff, but this is surely Lukan redaction. But that
        > does not exhaust the evidence. I am fond of looking at texts in Q and the
        > following one clearly alludes to Isaiah 61 and construes Jesus' healing and
        > preaching activity in messianic terms:
        >
        > [Mat 11:2-6] Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he
        > sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or
        > shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what
        > you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are
        > cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good
        > news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me."
        >
        > I think that one of the problems here is the old one of the loaded terms
        > "Messiah" and "Christ". When we start talking instead about "anointing", we
        > can ask whether or not Jesus might have thought himself to be "anointed" by
        > God. And my bet is yes -- it is highly likely that Jesus thought of himself as
        > one anointed by God for a special purpose -- his actions seem to demonstrate
        > this. If, however, one wants to call this "messianic
        > consciousness", so be it.

        And yet, I agree with you. As you know, I'd put together a theory
        about Jesus focusing on him as a spirit-possessed healer or, if one
        prefers, a healer who had received the spirit of God (same thing).
        Thus he was a particular kind of healer, one who embodied the Spirit
        of God and thereby healed. And also a prophet... which ties in
        with Isaiah 61.

        This made NO sense out of the term "messiah" to me but I was
        prepared to argue that if he was thought Messiah then it had to have
        some meaning relating to "received the spirit." After that, to my
        delight, I came upon the verses you refer to and discovered that
        Luke, at least, seems certainly to have thought "anointed by the
        Spirit" was the kind of anointing Jesus the Christ was anointed
        with. I'm always greatly reassured to find that somebody or other
        in the NT thinks along my own lines (and am deeply disturbed by HJ
        theories that are foreign to all NT thinkers, e.g. cynic Jesus). I also
        found that 1 John 3:24-4:3, 5:6 and 2:24-27 seem to go together in a way
        that indicates that "receive spirit" and "be anointed" are the same
        thing and so the spirit and anointing are not conjoined only in
        the mind of Luke.

        So I'd say, and this seems to be what you're saying, that IF Jesus
        was thought to be anointed during his lifetime he was thought to be
        anointed with the spirit in tune with Isaiah 61.

        It's not too hard to fathom how a person thought to be God's anointed
        in this sense could, later on, have been confused with God's anointed
        in the usual divine-king sense especially since KofG was a main
        rhetorical favorite of his.

        Steve

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      • Mark Goodacre
        On 3 Jun 99 at 15:45, Stevan Davies wrote:Gee. I was not aware that healing activity was connected with messiah. I thought a messiah was a ruler
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 4, 1999
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          On 3 Jun 99 at 15:45, Stevan Davies wrote:

          > Gee. I was not aware that "healing activity" was connected with
          > "messiah." I thought a messiah was a ruler who would free Judea from
          > foreign control and set up a perfect law abiding state. Messiah =
          > physician is a new one to me.

          This is why one has to read the Scriptures that the early Christians say
          defined their view of what Jesus' messiahship was about. And one of the ones
          that they say is key is Isa. 61. After all, what is the scriptural evidence
          for a messiah as "a ruler who would free Judea from foreign control and set up
          a perfect law abiding state"? Luke for one made the Messiah = Physician link,
          e.g. in the pericope we have mentioned, 4.16-30, beginning with "the Spirit of
          the Lord has anointed me" and going on later with, among other things
          "Physician, heal thyself".

          Consider also what Jesus' opponents are depicted as saying in Mark, especially
          bearing in mind Sanders's criterion of "views common to friend and foe". There
          is a juxtaposition here between healing / saving activity and being Christ.

          "He saved (healed) others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of
          Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe" (Mark
          15.31f).

          > Gosh. Doubtless, as in every society ever, there were medical
          > professionals of various sorts going around healing folks. Perhaps
          > all were thought to be anointed by God to do so, although this seems rather
          > dubious. There were magician healers, and professional exorcists, and
          > presumably herbal healers and who knows what all else.
          >
          > So I don't think "he heals therefore he was anointed by God" follows.
          > Nor does, for that matter, "he was anointed by God and therefore he
          > heals" necessarily follow.

          Agreed, but let's say that Jesus' healing ability is actually somewhat more
          successful than that of many of his contemporaries and that in addition he is
          thought to to be (a) saying things about the poor, destitute etc. and (b)
          healing / preaching as a spirit-possessed man, then one would have to be dense
          not to say "Hmm, I wonder about Isaiah 61 and the like".

          > And yet, I agree with you. As you know, I'd put together a theory
          > about Jesus focusing on him as a spirit-possessed healer or, if one
          > prefers, a healer who had received the spirit of God (same thing).
          > Thus he was a particular kind of healer, one who embodied the Spirit
          > of God and thereby healed. And also a prophet... which ties in
          > with Isaiah 61.
          >
          > This made NO sense out of the term "messiah" to me but I was
          > prepared to argue that if he was thought Messiah then it had to have
          > some meaning relating to "received the spirit." After that, to my
          > delight, I came upon the verses you refer to and discovered that
          > Luke, at least, seems certainly to have thought "anointed by the
          > Spirit" was the kind of anointing Jesus the Christ was anointed
          > with. I'm always greatly reassured to find that somebody or other
          > in the NT thinks along my own lines (and am deeply disturbed by HJ
          > theories that are foreign to all NT thinkers, e.g. cynic Jesus). I also found
          > that 1 John 3:24-4:3, 5:6 and 2:24-27 seem to go together in a way that
          > indicates that "receive spirit" and "be anointed" are the same thing and so
          > the spirit and anointing are not conjoined only in the mind of Luke.

          The good news (sic) is that it seems also to have occurred to Matthew and
          perhaps even his source(s). Look again at Matt. 11.2-6:

          "Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Anointed One (cf. Isa.
          61.1), he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to
          come (cf. Isa. 35.4, "He will come and save us"), or shall we look for
          another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:
          the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the
          deaf hear (Isa. 35.5-6, 42.18) and the dead are raised up, and the poor have
          good news preached to them (Isa. 61.1). And blessed is he who takes no offense
          at me."

          At the very least we have here a clear allusion to Isa. 61.1 ("the poor are
          evangelised") in a passage in which Matthew mentions both "Christ" and "coming
          one". In Isaiah 35.4, the one who comes will heal (save), and some of his
          healing activity is specified in Isa. 35.5-6. These verses are clearly in view
          here in relation to the healing activity of Jesus, in answer to a question
          about anointing / coming.

          > So I'd say, and this seems to be what you're saying, that IF Jesus
          > was thought to be anointed during his lifetime he was thought to be
          > anointed with the spirit in tune with Isaiah 61.

          I think that this is quite possible, even likely. Put it this way: IF Jesus
          was thought to be a successful healer (agreed by nearly all now) and IF he was
          also known to have preached a gospel to poor, destitute, lowly (agreed by
          nearly all, and a special favourite with scholars like Crossan), then what was
          to stop people even during his ministry making the link with texts like Isaiah
          61?

          But is this Anointed -- healing connection only made in Matthew and Luke? Well,
          surely one has to ask what it is about what Jesus has done in Mark 1-8 that is
          supposed to have made Simon Peter think that Jesus was "the Anointed"? 90 per
          cent of the time Jesus has been healing people (and the rest of the time he
          seems to have been evangelising the destitute). Mark's Gospel does not make
          sense unless there is some connection between healing and being anointed by
          God. And the fact that Mark in 9-16 seems to be working so hard to correct /
          supplement / criticise this picture by insisting on suffering + anointing
          suggests to me that the Mark 1-8 picture of a healing messiah was a common one
          among early Christians.
          >
          > It's not too hard to fathom how a person thought to be God's anointed
          > in this sense could, later on, have been confused with God's anointed
          > in the usual divine-king sense especially since KofG was a main
          > rhetorical favorite of his.

          Indeed, especially if that Anointed one was also known to keep talking about
          God's kingdom. A kingdom needs a king and, for Mark at least, this was King
          Jesus, crowned in the Passion.

          Mark
          --------------------------------------
          Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
          Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
          University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
          Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

          http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
          New Testament Web Resources
          Mark Without Q
          Aseneth Home Page

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        • Antonio Jerez
          Mark Goodacre wrote:On 3 Jun 99 at 15:45, Stevan Davies wrote: Gee. I was not aware that healing activity was connected with messiah. I
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 5, 1999
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            Mark Goodacre wrote:

            > On 3 Jun 99 at 15:45, Stevan Davies wrote:
            >
            > > Gee. I was not aware that "healing activity" was connected with
            > > "messiah." I thought a messiah was a ruler who would free Judea from
            > > foreign control and set up a perfect law abiding state. Messiah =
            > > physician is a new one to me.

            > This is why one has to read the Scriptures that the early Christians say
            > defined their view of what Jesus' messiahship was about. And one of the ones
            > that they say is key is Isa. 61. After all, what is the scriptural evidence
            > for a messiah as "a ruler who would free Judea from foreign control and set up
            > a perfect law abiding state"? Luke for one made the Messiah = Physician link,
            > e.g. in the pericope we have mentioned, 4.16-30, beginning with "the Spirit of
            > the Lord has anointed me" and going on later with, among other things
            > "Physician, heal thyself".

            Maybe I can fill in with a little information that does seem to indicate
            that there was an idea in certain Jewish circles that the Messiah or an
            eschatological prophet was
            to be connected with healing activities. I took a look in John J. Collins
            book "The scepter and the Star" and found some really interesting things.
            Of special interest is a fragment from one of the Qumran scrolls, 4Q521
            fragment 2ii. This is part of the text:
            "...heaven and earth will obey his Messiah. And all that is in them will
            not turn away from the commandments of the holy ones. You who seek
            the Lord, strengthen yourselves in his service. Is it not in this that you
            will find the Lord, all who hope in their hearts. For the Lord will seek
            out the pious and call the righteous by name and his spirit will hover
            over the poor and he will renew the faithful by his might. For he will
            glorify the pious on the throne of an eternal kingdom, releasing
            captives, giving sight to the blind and raising up those who are bowed
            down...(12) for he will heal the wounded, give life to the dead and preach
            good news to the poor..."

            According to Collins verse 12 probably refers to an anointed eschatological
            prophet in the Elijah mould who will proclaim the good news and do miracles
            in the name of the Lord. Collins also supports his case on texts like 11Q
            Melchizedek and 4Q521 iii (page 117-121).

            The closest parallel in other "Jewish" literature to 4Q521 can actually
            be found in the NT. A verse attributed to Q in Matt 11:2-5/Luke 7:22
            reads: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their
            sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead
            are raised and the poor have good news brought to them".

            Both Q 7:22 and 4Q521ii(verse 12) are clearly based on Isaiah 61.
            But whereas Isaiah 61:1 does not talk about the raising of the dead
            both the NT text and the Qumran fragment mention it. This is intriguing.
            As Collins writes:
            "This can hardly be coincidental. It is quite possible that the author
            of the Sayings Sources knew 4Q521; at least he drew on the common
            tradition".

            Best wishes

            Antonio Jerez






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          • BobSchacht@aol.com
            In a message dated 6/5/99 2:04:28 PM US Mountain Standard Time, antonio.jerez@privat.utfors.se writes:Mark Goodacre wrote: [Davies quote omitted]
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 5, 1999
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              In a message dated 6/5/99 2:04:28 PM US Mountain Standard Time,
              antonio.jerez@... writes:

              > Mark Goodacre wrote:
              [Davies quote omitted]

              > > This is why one has to read the Scriptures that the early Christians say
              > > defined their view of what Jesus' messiahship was about. And one of the
              > ones
              > > that they say is key is Isa. 61. After all, what is the scriptural
              > evidence
              > > for a messiah as "a ruler who would free Judea from foreign control and
              > set up
              > > a perfect law abiding state"? Luke for one made the Messiah = Physician
              > link,
              > > e.g. in the pericope we have mentioned, 4.16-30, beginning with "the
              > Spirit of
              > > the Lord has anointed me" and going on later with, among other things
              > > "Physician, heal thyself".
              >

              Antonio:
              > Maybe I can fill in with a little information that does seem to indicate
              > that there was an idea in certain Jewish circles that the Messiah or an
              > eschatological prophet was
              > to be connected with healing activities. I took a look in John J. Collins
              > book "The scepter and the Star" and found some really interesting things.
              > Of special interest is a fragment from one of the Qumran scrolls, 4Q521
              > fragment 2ii. This is part of the text:
              > "...heaven and earth will obey his Messiah. And all that is in them will
              > not turn away from the commandments of the holy ones. You who seek
              > the Lord, strengthen yourselves in his service. Is it not in this that you
              > will find the Lord, all who hope in their hearts. For the Lord will seek
              > out the pious and call the righteous by name and his spirit will hover
              > over the poor and he will renew the faithful by his might. For he will
              > glorify the pious on the throne of an eternal kingdom, releasing
              > captives, giving sight to the blind and raising up those who are bowed
              > down...(12) for he will heal the wounded, give life to the dead and preach
              > good news to the poor..."

              This text provides an interesting example of creative borrowing and merging
              several strands of Isaiah, as it paraphrases not only Isaiah 61 but also
              Isaiah 49 (calling the righteous by name).

              There are also other bridging characteristics in this text mediating between
              Tanakh and N.T.: Whereas the Tanakh usually emphasized collective salvation,
              redemption, etc., this text like NT texts gathers a few strands of the older
              scriptures, mostly intended to apply to kings, prophets or future messiahs
              and personalizes them-- so that redemption, salvation, calling (by name),
              etc. are taken more to apply to individuals rather than collectives. These
              messianic passages are taken in the first century first with the messiah in
              mind, but also increasingly to apply to a growing concept of individual
              salvation/redemption.

              This is indeed an interesting text. Thanks for pointing it out.

              Bob
              nau.edu

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            • Mahlon H. Smith
              Antonio Jerez summarized John Collins: Both Q 7:22 and 4Q521ii(verse 12) are clearly based on Isaiah 61. But whereas Isaiah 61:1 does not talk about
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 7, 1999
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                Antonio Jerez summarized John Collins:

                >
                > Both Q 7:22 and 4Q521ii(verse 12) are clearly based on Isaiah 61.
                > But whereas Isaiah 61:1 does not talk about the raising of the dead
                > both the NT text and the Qumran fragment mention it. This is intriguing.
                > As Collins writes:
                > "This can hardly be coincidental. It is quite possible that the author
                > of the Sayings Sources knew 4Q521; at least he drew on the common
                > tradition".
                >

                Thanks for the summary Antonio. This parallel deserves to be noted. And
                your cautious assessment is commendable. But certain things need to be
                clarified before jumping to conclusions about expectations even in
                limited Jewish circles that the "Messiah" or "eschatological prophet"
                would be "connected with healing activities" in general.

                1. 4Q521 is only a fragment (that I don't have ready-to-hand). How much
                of the rather long translation that you cited is actually based on
                extant characters in the ms. & how much is conjectural reconstruction?
                After all every scholarly reconstruction of a damaged text can be upheld
                [witness O'Callaghan's identification of 7Q fragments as NT texts]. I've
                worked with 11Q Melch & know that its POSSIBLE allusions to Isa 61 are
                highly conjectural (including the one that I myself proposed). Cf. IHO
                #246 URL:

                http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/eschaton.html#Melchizedek

                2. Q 7:22 does not identify the agent of the deeds cited as either a
                Messiah or a prophet. Rather when JB asks if J is "hO ERCOMENOS," he is
                given a list of things that JB's disciples have "heard & seen" without
                explicit claim that J is the one who did these things. In other words,
                these are presented as characterizations of the era rather than as
                evidence that J himself qualifies to be Messiah or eschatological
                prophet. What is important is that these things were happening, not the
                identity of the agent. So it is premature to conclude that Q 7:22 is a
                list based on any "common [Jewish] tradition" about messianic
                credentials. Thus, the catalog of events in Q 7:22 can hardly be taken
                as evidence that J's personal agenda was consciously "messianic."

                3. The lists in 4Q521 & Q 7:22 have overlapping elements but are not
                identical. The DSS fails to mention the healing of the lame or the cure
                of lepers. Q 7:22 does not mention the enthronement of the pious, the
                healing of "the wounded" or the release of captives (the last of which
                is cited in Isa 61 & Luke 4:18). So it is improbable, as Collins claims,
                that "the author of the Sayings Sources knew 4Q521; at least he drew on
                the common tradition." The "common" elements in these texts are (a) the
                blind seeing & (b)the restoration of the dead--which are signs of the
                ideal era in many Jewish texts. Neither is presented in a way that would
                allow one to infer that 4Q521 & q 7:22 share a common textual source
                other than the allusion to the "proclaming good news to the poor"--which
                is ultimately traceable to Isa 61.

                I would conclude from this that the significance of 4Q521 is more
                indirect. Since those Jews that knew & valued this text would be
                inclined to interpret healing, etc. as messianic signs, it MAY help
                explain the reference to J as "son of David" in a healing pericope like
                blind Bartimaeus set at Jericho, less than 8 miles from the cave where
                this DSS was found. But that too is only conjecture.

                Shalom!

                Mahlon






                --

                *********************

                Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
                Associate Professor
                Department of Religion
                Rutgers University
                New Brunswick NJ

                Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
                http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/

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              • Mahlon H. Smith
                I left an important qualifier out of my reply to Antonio s post. Correction in caps:After all NOT every scholarly reconstruction of a damaged text can be
                Message 7 of 7 , Jun 7, 1999
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                  I left an important qualifier out of my reply to Antonio's post.
                  Correction in caps:


                  > After all NOT every scholarly reconstruction of a damaged text can be upheld

                  Blame it on scholarly fatique, Mark.

                  Shalom!

                  Mahlon


                  --

                  *********************

                  Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
                  Associate Professor
                  Department of Religion
                  Rutgers University
                  New Brunswick NJ

                  Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
                  http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/

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