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Re: [XTalk] Divine men

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Thanks for these references, Rikk Bob At 09:23 PM 6/4/00 -0700, Rikki E. Watts wrote: A number of works have addressed this issue: but if I recall
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 4, 2000
      At 09:23 PM 6/4/00 -0700, Rikki E. Watts wrote:
      A number of works have addressed this issue:
      but if I recall correctly ..

      a. Sharon Dowd's Prayer, Power and the Problem of Suffering SBLDS 105
      (Atlanta: Scholars, 1988) has a good introductory section covering these
      issues including a section (somewhat critical I'm afraid on Ted's earlier
      version of his theory and an overview of the rise and demise of the divine
      man theory.
      b. Barry Blackburn's Theios Aner and the Markan Miracle Traditions. A
      Critique of the Theios Aner Concept as an Interpretative Background of the
      Miracle Traditions Used by Mark WUNT 2, 40 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul
      Siebeck), 1991) has a good section pp.13-96 in which he argues that although there are similarities between Jesus and various Hellenistic figures there
      is really no such thing as a theios aner "type" of (the data is far too
      diverse) nor was it used as a technical term during the time of the Gospels' composition (nor is son of God a demonstrable equivalent).  This however is not to exclude the possibility that, because of these figures, some of Mark's readers might have found it easier to see Jesus as divine.  Blackburn concludes however that the idea that Mark's interest in miracles is due to a theios aner Christology (as per Ted's earlier thesis) is rather misleading.

      both these works have further bibliography (e.g. Tiede, Gallagher, and
      Holladay).

      Rikk

      Thanks for these references, Rikk

      Bob
    • David C. Hindley
      ... Mark is up to rests upon a characterization of Mark s opponents as possessing a divine man christology. And if I am not mistaken, Ted himself has noted
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 5, 2000
        On Sun, 04 Jun 2000, "Jeffrey B. Gibson" <jgibson000@...> said:

        >>Many posters have noted that part of Ted Weeden's thesis on what
        Mark is up to rests upon a characterization of Mark's opponents as
        possessing a "divine man" christology. And if I am not mistaken, Ted
        himself has noted that he grounds this thesis in the work of D. Georgi
        who postulated the existence of similar opponents in Corinth. But if
        memory serves, much work was done in the late seventies/early eighties
        (of our century) that showed that Georgi was wrong because the idea of
        the existence in the ancient world of representatives of a type called
        or known as a THEOIS ANER was a modern scholarly construct. But I
        can't recall right now (and I'm flying out the door, so I don't have
        time to look up the relevant sources) who it was who put forth this
        argument. Anyone else recall?<<

        FWIW, John P. Meier cast his vote against the viability of the concept
        that Jesus may have been considered a "divine man" by some parties, in
        _A Marginal Jew_, vol 2, 1994, pp. 595-601. In the footnotes (pp.
        614-616), particularly notes 82-85, he provided a bibliography.

        In fact, Ted's book _Mark--Traditions in Conflict_ (1971) was called
        the "most famous example from the 1970's" of a book that made wide use
        of the term!

        The 20th century books and articles cited were:

        Gail Patterson Corrington, _The "Divine Man"_, 1986
        Ludwig Bieler, _QEIOS ANHR_, 1967
        David Lenz Tiede, _The Charismatic Figure_, 1972
        Carl H. Holladay, "Theos Aner" in _Hellenistic Judaism_, 1977
        Moses Hadas and Morton Smith, _Heroes and Gods_, SBLDS 40, 1965
        Helmut Koester, "One Jesus" in HTR 61, 1968
        Hans Dieter Betz, Jesus as Divine Man" in _Jesus and the Historian_,
        1968
        James M. Robinson and H. Koester, _Trajectories through Early
        Christianity_, 1971

        Of these, Tiede reportedly strongly objected to the idea that there
        was a fixed concept of a "divine man" in the Hellenistic world.

        Meier says that Josephus so designated Moses (Ant. 3.7.7. Sect
        179-180), but related it to his prescription of the arrangement of the
        tabernacle in the wilderness so as to give it cosmic significance.
        There is no connection to Deut. 18:15 that I can see (unless there is
        more to this argument than has come out in the posts so far). Meier
        says that Philo, for his part, does not call Moses a divine man nor
        does he attribute miracle working to those he does.

        Has anyone compared conceptions of Jesus as a miracle worker to the
        "Sophists" whom Josephus blamed for the war with Rome? I thought I'd
        find something in Morton Smith's _Jesus the Magician_ (1978), but it
        eludes me (there ought to be a law about having a subject index <g>)!

        Regards,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA

        PS: Jeffrey, that darn eGroups interface ate my original version of
        this message yesterday evening! Are they having serious problems with
        that new (and buggy) interface?
      • Ted Weeden
        Rikki Watts wrote in respect to my (Ted Weeden) theory on the divine man ... although ... Gospels ... is ... Blackburn ... a ... misleading. ... My
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 5, 2000
          Rikki Watts wrote in respect to my (Ted Weeden) theory on the "divine man"
          in response to request for literature:

          > A number of works have addressed this issue:
          > but if I recall correctly ..
          >
          > a. Sharon Dowd's Prayer, Power and the Problem of Suffering SBLDS 105
          > (Atlanta: Scholars, 1988) has a good introductory section covering these
          > issues including a section (somewhat critical I'm afraid on Ted's earlier
          > version of his theory and an overview of the rise and demise of the divine
          > man theory.
          > b. Barry Blackburn's Theios Aner and the Markan Miracle Traditions. A
          > Critique of the Theios Aner Concept as an Interpretative Background of the
          > Miracle Traditions Used by Mark WUNT 2, 40 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul
          > Siebeck), 1991) has a good section pp.13-96 in which he argues that
          although
          > there are similarities between Jesus and various Hellenistic figures there
          > is really no such thing as a theios aner "type" of (the data is far too
          > diverse) nor was it used as a technical term during the time of the
          Gospels'
          > composition (nor is son of God a demonstrable equivalent). This however
          is
          > not to exclude the possibility that, because of these figures, some of
          > Mark's readers might have found it easier to see Jesus as divine.
          Blackburn
          > concludes however that the idea that Mark's interest in miracles is due to
          a
          > theios aner Christology (as per Ted's earlier thesis) is rather
          misleading.
          >
          > both these works have further bibliography (e.g. Tiede, Gallagher, and
          > Holladay).
          My response:

          Thank you, Rikk, for bringing the literature to the attention of all (and
          to you, too, David as your post just came through). You are right, Rikk.
          The "divine man" construct has been discredited by some. In my posts I am
          still using the nomenclature I used originally in my _Mark-Traditions in
          Conflict_ (1971) to characterize a Greco-Roman ideological orientation
          toward persons who were viewed as distinctively different from other humans.
          I am not sure of a better way to describe the orientation. But I do not
          consider it a construct, in the sense that it is something constructed by
          scholarship. Thus, I felt the need to get this post out to you and other
          Xtalkers, even though I am trying to complete responses to other posts, for
          it is critical that the members of the list understand the first-century
          support for my position.

          After the hardback publication of _Mark_ , I backed off from the use of the
          religio-cultural term "theios aner" because of the challenge to the
          "divine-man" construct mounted by Holladay and others. In my preface to the
          paperback edition, I chose a euphemism, "triumphalist" orientation to
          replace "theios aner." But I have never been happy with that change. So I
          have returned to "theois aner" or "divine man" because it terminologically
          comes as close to what I mean as I can come up with at this moment. In any
          respect, I do not see the term "divine man" as a construct but an
          ideological nomenclature, as unsatisfactory as it may be, for the
          Greco-Roman hero ideological orientation which dominated Hellenistic
          culture. This hero ideological orientation has not been fully appreciated
          in many quarters of NT scholarship. But such an orientation in many ways
          defined Greco-Roman culture of the time and needs to be appreciated for
          having done so. It needs to be appreciated, in particularly, for having
          profoundly affected the orientation of certain early followers in the Jesus
          movement and, specifically, the writers of the canonical gospels and some of
          their sources.

          Gregory Riley, _One Jesus, Many Christs_, has made a fine case for the
          pervasiveness of this hero ideology in Greco-Roman culture and its influence
          on the Jesus movement. I present Riley's case here now. I do so by quoting
          directly and in snippets, scissored and pasted, to give a flowing account of
          the cultural phenomenon that I see confronting the author of Mark. I quote
          directly, citing page references in parentheses, rather than paraphrasing
          because it just takes less time and it also puts the matter in Riley's own
          words. I think that I have been faithful to Riley's presentation, even
          though I have arranged the snippets differently from the way they appear in
          his book. So, now, here is Riley on the Greco-Roman cultural-ideological
          orientation to the hero.

          "We have all but lost the most important and spiritually effective category
          of ancient religious experience. We no longer recognize the essential
          aspect of the story of Jesus that caught the imaginations of those who first
          heard about him....(16)."

          "...Christianity in time won more adherents in the Roman Empire than all the
          traditional state gods and competing cults. It did so for a reason
          overlooked by all but a few scholars and lost to the modern world-the story
          of Jesus, even with its Jewish and Eastern content, fulfilled the most
          important cultural ideals in antiquity, those of the hero, from Achilles on
          down." "[In the Greco-Roman world the] life of the hero in its many
          incarnations was told and retold at gatherings, in plays, in literature, and
          in schools. It served as both entertainment and edification for more than a
          thousand years before and after Christ. Reverence for heroes and later for
          saints, who functioned as protectors and avengers in towns and countryside,
          was the most common form of religious observance in the ancient world" (18).
          "Every home had its *lares*, the heroes of the household, the founding
          ancestors. Every town had its protecting hero, every district and tribe,
          every crossroads, points of land, grove and mountain pass"(59).

          "Their brave exploits and tragic fates gave the term "hero" its most
          important meaning: one who was an example for behavior, admired for courage
          and distinguished deeds"(18). "The stories of the Greek heroes were of ...a
          type, in which destiny or the envy of one god or another often brought the
          downfall of an otherwise blameless victim" (29). "Common to all stories of
          heroes is the test of character....They [heroes] perform remarkable deeds
          and suffer horrible fates" (51). "It is among the heroes that one finds
          virgin births, heavenly portents, so many healings, miracles, battling of
          unjust authorities, divine enemies, innocent suffering or suffering only in
          appearance, resurrection and ascension"(119).

          "[The] choice to die for principle and with honor became one of the most
          famous heroic events to be imitated in the entire tradition. . ... the role
          of the suffering but righteous individual, of the hero, was to be lived by
          everyone regardless of social class" (29). "Many historical individuals,
          when faced with a choice between what would clearly lead to their own deaths
          and some safe but ignominious alternative, made a similar choice: death with
          honor over life and disgrace. Certainly one of the most important of these
          figures was Socrates, one of the most influential philosophical and heroic
          figures in history" (47).

          "In the late fourth and third centuries B. C. [sic] there arose a type of
          literature known as 'aretalogy,' an account (LOGOS) or the wonderful earthly
          deeds (ARETAI) of a god or hero" (80). "Their stories set the models of
          conduct for all levels of society. Emperors and slaves, philosophers and
          common folk molded their lives according to these stories that from birth
          had shaped their mental and spiritual universe"(18). "People of all walks
          of life knew these tales. Most visible to us is how consistently authors
          evaluated and described the lives of characters in literature according to
          them.... The pattern of the life of the hero was almost the only story
          available and the only story with wide acceptance for serious literature in
          the Greco-Roman tradition. Nearly every biography and historical account
          sought to compare the qualities of its subjects against the standards of the
          heroic code" (19).

          "Education in the Greco-Roman world was based in the classics of Greek
          heroic literature and their offspring in Latin. If one was educated at all,
          no matter what the level of competence, one was educated on Homer and the
          heroes" "[For example Xenophon in his _Symposium_ 3.6 states]: 'My father
          was anxious to see me develop into a good man, and as means to this end he
          compelled me to memorize all of Homer.' Lucian in the second century A. D.
          [sic] tells us that schoolmasters gave a student 'books that openly or by
          allegory teach him who was a great hero, who was a lover of justice and
          purity' (Lucian, _ Amores_, 45). Schools enforced the worldview, the
          morals and ethical ideals admired and imitated by ancients essentially by
          requiring every student to learn from the same narrow selection of revered
          heroic texts" (67).

          'Thus the cult of heroes was the single most common and important religious
          aspect of the world of early Christians" (59) "...the story of the children
          of the gods [heroes, who were considered sons of the gods] were paradigms
          for the early Church in its understanding of Jesus" (19)." "For all the
          differences of culture and tradition between Palestine and the Greco-Roman
          world, this was the pattern of the life of Jesus' (18).

          "There is no question that those who wrote the Gospels of the New Testament
          received the same education as other learned men of their culture. If one
          could read or write at all in Greek or Latin, one had learned to do so by
          reading and memorizing and copying the heroic literature. Thus both the
          writers of the Gospels and their readers knew what proper literature was
          supposed to be, what its ideals were, what its main characters were supposed
          to teach, and how its story line was to run-they expected a work like the
          story of Jesus to be the story of a hero"(69). [In this respect, scholars]
          "have long suspected that there existed [areatological accounts] of the
          miracles of Jesus, written [by early Christians] before the composition of
          the canonical Gospels and used by the authors of Mark and John" (80).
          (Riley has in mind here the pre-Markan miracle catenae, I mentioned in my
          post to Ron Price, and the Signs Source which served as a source for John.).

          What Riley characterizes as the Greco-Roman culture's ideological
          hero-orientation, is what I have in mind when I speak of the "divine-man"
          orientation. It is the Greco-Roman hero who serves as the model for Markan
          opponent's christological orientation, and against which Mark battles in a
          kind of Isaianic suffering-servant hero-orientation when he identifies Jesus
          by a suffering servant christology. I think it is an inescapable reality
          that what Riley has identified is the Greco-Roman *Zeitgeist* which
          infiltrated every corner of the Roman empire including Palestine, with
          perhaps the exception of Judea and Jerusalem. Certainly, as Richard
          Horsley has convincingly shown(_Archaeology, History and Society in
          Galilee_, 43-60), the principle cities of Galilee, Sepphoris and Tiberias,
          were infused with this Greco-Roman culture. As Horsley puts it,
          "...Sepphoris and Tiberias grew into some of the most populous and
          cosmopolitan cities of antiquity, and Galilee became as urbanized as
          anywhere in the Roman empire" (44). The theater at Sepphoris, four miles
          from Jesus' home of Nazareth, Horsley declares, "by itself announced 'Rome!
          '" The theater was undoubtedly a place where the Greco-Roman heroic dramas
          where performed.

          The Hellenistic urbanization of Galilee does not mean that Greco-Roman
          culture also seeped into Nazareth or any of the small villages that ringed
          the Galilean cities. Life in the villages was at least semi-autonomous.
          Ancient village customs and traditions were conserved and maintained, and
          unrelenting hostile simmered and sometimes exploded against the cities, its
          aristocracy and retainers, which exploited and oppressed village peasantry.
          But Greco-Roman culture was clearly in "the air" in Galilee. What is
          important to recognize for both Jesus' own ministry and, particularly, for
          the Jesus movements which followed and made their base in Galilee, is that
          our understanding of the culture and religious climate of Galilee most move
          beyond the old paradigms with which NT scholars have been working. Galilee
          was a much more heterogenous culture than we have thought. And as, Horsley
          declares (8f.), the old essentialist way of seeing things in rather rigid
          categories, such as "Jewish," "Hellenistic," "Jewish vs. pagan (or
          'Christian'), etc., must give way to more fluid conceptualization that takes
          into account the diversity of religious and cultural expression in
          Palestine, especially Galilee, in the late second temple period.

          Riley is quite on target when he says: "There is no question that those who
          wrote the Gospels of the New Testament received the same education as other
          learned men of their culture. If one could read or write at all in Greek or
          Latin, one had learned to do so by reading and memorizing and copying the
          heroic literature. Thus both the writers of the Gospels and their readers
          knew what proper literature was supposed to be, what its ideals were, what
          its main characters were supposed to teach, and how its story line was to
          run-they expected a work like the story of Jesus to be the story of a hero."

          The central importance of Hellenistic education in helping us to understand
          that the way a student thought and learned to write provides an important
          hermeneutical key to interpreting Mark has received little recognition. I
          addressed the importance of this hermeneutical issue thirty years ago in my
          _Mark_. I sought to show there, following H. I Marrou, who wrote the
          highly respected and widely quoted _A History of Education in Antiquity_,
          that Mark could only have been trained to write by being steeped in the
          study of the Greco-Roman heroes in the classroom. His classroom experience
          would have caused him to be preoccupied with paying attention to characters
          in the literature and how an author develops character to influence the view
          of the reader. I theorized that Mark mimicked the literary practice of
          ancient authors with respect to shaping characters in order to convince his
          reader of the correctness of his own christological and discipleship
          position. I have since recognized that it was not for a readership but a
          hearership that Mark, primarily, intended his gospel..

          I think Mark not only knew the Greco-Roman literature with its focus on the
          hero but also mimicked hero literature in the development of his drama. I
          have been attracted to Vernon Robbins thesis, as I indicated, Mark presents
          the story of Jesus through a genre that bears striking similarities to the
          "teacher-disciple-gatherer" genre of Xenophenon's Memorabilia. Just today I
          received yet another Hellenistic "hero" literature angle for the
          interpretation of Mark. Dennis MacDonald has just published a book, _The
          Homer Epics and the Gospel of Mark_, Yale Univ. Press. Having just
          received it, I, obviously, have not been able to read it as yet, though I
          was aware that it was to be published. Dennis had already alerted me to his
          book and his basic thesis. Because Dennis' approach is important to the
          present discussion, I share that thesis now by quoting excerpts from the
          fly-leaf.

          "The author of the earliest gospel was not writing history, nor was he
          merely recording tradition, MacDonald argues. Close reading and careful
          analysis show that Mark borrowed extensively from the _Odyssey_ and the
          _Iliad_ and that he wanted his readers [sic] to recognize the Homeric
          antecedents in Mark's story of Jesus. Mark was composing a prose
          anti-epic, MacDonald says, presenting Jesus as a suffering hero modeled
          after but superior to traditional Greek heroes. Much like Odysseus, Mark's
          Jesus sails the seas with uncomprehending companions, encounters
          preternatural opponents, and suffers many things before confronting rivals
          who have made his house a den of thieves. In his death and burial, Jesus
          emulates Hector, although unlike Hector Jesus leaves his tomb empty....
          And, entire episodes, including the stilling of the sea, walking on water,
          feeding the multitudes, the Triumphal Entry, and Gethsamene." In leafing
          through his book, I note that Dennis has shown Homeric parallels to Markan
          pericopes to support his thesis.

          Now whether MacDonald has made his case, I shall have to see. But the
          important thing for my present point is that here is one more indication of
          a scholar who sees Mark steeped in the Greco-Roman culture and writing out
          of that context because he, as an author, has been educated to write in that
          context. The divine-man orientation, or whatever nomenclature one wishes
          to use to describe this Greco-Roman preoccupation with the ideology of the
          hero, cannot be dismissed so easily as an invalid understanding of the
          profile of Jesus in the first half of the gospel of Mark, and its Isainic
          suffering-servant reverse in the second half. Moreover, being open to
          seeing the influence of Greco-Roman hero tradition allows us to recognize
          Hellenistic literary allusions we have missed before. When Vernon Robbins
          drew attention to the parallels between Xenophon's portrayal of Socrates and
          his followers in _Memorabilia_ and Mark's portrayal of Jesus and his
          disciples in the gospel, it suddenly dawned on me what literary allusion
          Mark was making in framing Jesus' prayer in Gethsamene, with specific
          reference to "the cup." The cup in the prayer has nothing directly to do
          with the cup at the last supper, which is a cup containing "my blood of the
          covenant" (14:24). The cup in the garden prayer is an entirely different
          cup. "The cup" in Jesus prayer is the cup of death. It is the same cup
          from which Jesus asks James and John whether they able to drink (10:38).
          It is the cup of death! And the cup is an allusion to and was suggested to
          Mark, as a metaphor to place on Jesus' lips, by the well-known cup of death
          which Socrates was forced to drink.

          In drawing attention to the Greco-Roman allusions which Mark may have
          utilized, I am not suggesting that Mark is a Gentile because he writes out
          of this Greco-Roman context. I still look upon him as a Galilean Jewish
          Christian. I think he represents a Jewish understanding of a
          suffering-servant Jesus, perhaps characteristic of the more conservative
          orientation of Galilean Jewish village perspective as opposed to a more
          urban Hellenistic orientation toward the Greco-Roman hero.

          In this respect, as I have indicated in previous posts, particularly
          "Guidelines for Locating the Markan Community," I place Mark in a village in
          the region of Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi in that time was a very
          mixed culture. John Wilson, who has been a part of the archeaological dig
          and the reconstruction of life in Banias (first century, Caesarea Philippi)
          notes in a post to me that the Jewish population in Caesarea Philippi around
          the time of Mark was itself quite diverse in its religious perspective.
          There were Babylonian Jews, Itureans who had been converted to Judaism,
          likely an enclave of Judeans who fled Jerusalem for whatever reason, or just
          migrated there. Wilson contends that there was also a "a strong
          Hellenistic-Apocalyptic kind of Judaism in the Banias/Dan area dating from
          at least the 2nd or 3rd Cent. BCE." He goes on to state: "My colleague,
          Vassilios Tzaferis, and other Israeli-based scholars, tend to think that the
          old northern cult associated with Dan entirely died during Persian times and
          that a new cultus developed not based upon it later. I lean toward the
          belief that the sacred associations did continue, somewhat transformed of
          course, but that by the first century these sites had followed a trajectory
          from Ba'al to various Hellenistic syncretistic deities and the old Israelite
          tradition was maintained only in very veiled forms among those Hellenistic
          Apocalyptic Jewish groups...mentioned...." One interesting find in the
          archaeological dig was. The archaeologists found an inscription which, as
          Wilson puts it "has a soldier with a Jewish name, leaving a votive
          offering at the Pan sanctuary [the patron god of Panias/Banias] dedicating
          it to the "god of his fathers."

          So Caesarea Philippi fits well as a place where Mark would have experienced
          the intersection and the blending of his Galilean Jewis/Israelite
          background, multi-facted Judaism and the predominant culture of his day, the
          Greco-Roman culture of the empire. I am trying to complete my case for
          Caesarea Philippi vs. Judea (Mahlon Smith's preference) and get it to
          Mahlon, hopefully, soon.

          Before ending this post, I would like to return to the issue of Gecro-Roman
          education in how it sheds light upon some aspects of the NT and the Gospel
          of Mark, in particular. A recent book by Teresa Martin (_Literate
          Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds_) has some important things
          for us to ponder. Among other aspects, Martin points out that Hellenistic
          education was a very controlling process with the teacher in total control
          of how a student learned. "The child is...a site where processes take place
          and knowledge is transferred from teacher to pupil, and the pupil's identity
          as a child or adolescent is minimized" (246). One of the primary goals of
          Hellenistic education was to produce in the student habit-forming analytical
          skills imposed by the teacher, "until the teacher can be assured that the
          pupil has thoroughly absorbed his principles of analysis" (253). The intent
          was to produce intellectual conformity to the teacher, and thus this
          imposing of the teacher's habits on the students "produced intellectually
          conservative students who would go on reproducing those habits of mind for
          the rest of their lives" (254). To achieve this, for the student to be
          educable, he/she must have along with the facility for memory, speech and
          reason, the facility for imitation.

          Imitation was absolutely essential at every stage of a student's learning.
          From the beginning of his/her education a student is taught that he/she
          must imitate his/her teacher. Martin notes that imitation, oddly, is not an
          active faculty but a reactive faculty, until late in the education process.
          Moreover, she states: "Unlike the subjects of many modern studies, ancient
          pupils do not imitate what they do not grasp and learn by doing it:
          absorption comes first, imitation afterwards and grasping some indefinite
          time later" (p. 252). From the beginning the teacher "controls what is or
          is not imitated by the pupil.... Gradually, by repetition, a habit of mind
          or body is established in the pupil until he/she is able to behave or think
          independently in the manner of his/her teacher...."

          What this suggest to me is that in the Hellenistic world literary
          propositions that might be elicited, let alone accepted, were controlled by
          the teacher in a way totally foreign to our post- modern world. The
          student was just not free to entertain any proposition, no matter how
          interesting to his mind, if it did not conform to the propositions
          acceptable to his teacher. This "proposition control" adds new meaning to
          the frequent admonition of the early Christian teachers (Paul and other
          authors) to their students (their congregations) to imitate them in their
          beliefs and faith (Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; I Thess. 1:6; II Thess. 3:7;
          Heb. 6:12; Jn 3:11) or in some cases God or Christ.

          For me, it has profound implications for the interpretation of the Gospel of
          Mark. Throughout the gospel, as I see it, Jesus seeks to get his students
          (the disciples) to imitate him. Jesus uses repetition over and over again
          in Mark (as would a Hellenistic teacher) to get his students to learn their
          lessons (Markan view of christology and discipleship). Note the three
          almost identical passion predictions (8:31; 9:31; 10:33f.) and the corollary
          proclamations on discipleship that follow each of the predictions (8:34-38;
          9:33-37; 10:35-45). Notice how Jesus also tutors his students in 8:14-21 on
          the proper understanding of the two feedings. The reader/hearer would then
          likely see that the disciples failed because they did not imitate Jesus,
          much less grasp his teaching. Note also that Peter, as I have noted in a
          past post, denies Jesus three times, the corresponding, reactive and
          repetitive response to the passion predictions and Jesus' teaching of
          discipleship--therein underscoring, ironically through repetition, Peter's
          refusal to imitate Jesus. Thus, these insights from Martin, I contend,
          further support Mark's effort to debunk the disciples in their narrative
          role as surrogates for anti-Markan christology and discipleship.

          Moreover, further support for this being the way the first readers/hearers
          would have read/heard Mark's derogatory casting of the disciples may be
          found in the reference of the first-century rhetoritician Quintilian (see
          his INSTITUTIO ORATORIA I.I.I-2) to a common belief in his day that many
          people are naturally unteachable because they lack the ability to understand
          and thus "waste the time and effort expended on them by the slowness of
          their intellects." Quintilian argues, however, that such a phenomenon is
          rare (See Morgan, 244ff.). Whether Quintilian is right or wrong about the
          number of unteachable, it does strike me that Mark's portrayal of the
          disciples as dense and incapable of understanding Jesus (versus the
          outsiders like the Syrophoenician women) might well have struck the
          reader/hearer as drawing attention to their uneducability, which places
          them, according to Quintilian in the category of sub-human (Martin, 247f.).
          So Mark's coup de grace against the disciples and, particularly, Peter!

          Ted
        • Rikki E. Watts
          Ted, Thanks for your response. Rikk
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 6, 2000
            Ted,

            Thanks for your response.

            Rikk
          • Bob Schacht
            Ted, Once again, thanks for a very interesting essay. Just a few questions: ... and I shall snip your snippets in order to concentrate your summary on my ...
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 6, 2000
              Ted,
              Once again, thanks for a very interesting essay.
              Just a few questions:

              At 11:04 PM 6/5/00 -0500, Ted Weeden wrote:


              Thank you, Rikk,  for bringing the literature to the attention of all (and
              to you, too, David as your post just came through). You are right, Rikk.
              The "divine man" construct has been discredited by some. ... I
              have returned to "theois aner" or "divine man" because it terminologically
              comes as close to what I mean as I can come up with at this moment. ...
               
              This hero ideological orientation has not been fully appreciated
              in many quarters of NT scholarship.  But such an orientation in many ways
              defined Greco-Roman culture of the time and needs to be appreciated for
              having done so.  It needs to be appreciated, in particularly,  for having
              profoundly  affected the orientation of certain early followers in the Jesus movement and, specifically, the writers of the canonical gospels and some of their sources.

              Gregory Riley, _One Jesus, Many Christs_, has made a fine case for the
              pervasiveness of this hero ideology in Greco-Roman culture and its influence
              on the Jesus movement.  I present Riley's case here now.  I do so by quoting directly and in snippets, scissored and pasted, to give a flowing account of the cultural phenomenon that I see confronting the author of Mark.  ...

              and I shall snip your snippets in order to concentrate your summary on my point of inquiry:


              "We have all but lost the most important and spiritually effective category of ancient religious experience.....(16)."

              "...Christianity in time won more adherents in the Roman Empire than all the traditional state gods and competing cults.  It did so for a reason
              overlooked by all but a few scholars and lost to the modern world-the story of Jesus, even with its Jewish and Eastern content, fulfilled the most important cultural ideals in antiquity, those of the hero, from Achilles on down." ...

              What Riley characterizes as the Greco-Roman culture's ideological
              hero-orientation, is what I have in mind when I speak of the "divine-man"
              orientation. 

              OK, let me break it off here. Several questions:
              Is Riley's hero-orientation more or less the same point Joseph Campbell is making in Hero with a Thousand Faces?
              If not, what is the difference?
              Or do you consider Campbell a hopeless popularizer?
              Campbell emphasizes the Hero as Myth, and promotes an elevated understanding of myth. Is this also true of Riley?

              It seems to me that Riley covers too much ground in his compilation of hero literature, so that the term begins to lose meaning. Specifically, it causes problems for me in your use of theos aner. For example, included in the catalog was Socrates. Certainly, his last months can be painted in heroic strokes, but does that make him a theos aner?

              Is your basic point that Greek cultural influences prompted the Gospel writers to seek to clothe Jesus in the mythos of the Greek Hero? Or is it only certain kinds of Greek heroes that are appropriate?

              The advantage, I think, in this line of reasoning is that the heros of Greek myth were divinities. Roman emperors helped to blur the line between man and god by claiming divinity for themselves. And the abundant quotes from Riley seem to underscore that local heroes were accorded a similar status. I had not previously heard that the Greek hero mythos straddled quite so thoroughly the boundary between human and divine, in a way that we no longer do. This helps place the claims for Jesus' divinity in a better  cultural context.

              That is all I have time for now. But many thanks for taking your time to write this essay.

              Bob
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