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RE: [XTalk] Miracles and modern historians

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  • Sukie Curtis
    Dear Daniel, Your comments have helped me to realize how imprecise my own vocabulary is in this discussion. Being clear about how I understand the term
    Message 1 of 30 , Feb 1, 2001
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      Dear Daniel,

      Your comments have helped me to realize how imprecise my own vocabulary is
      in this discussion. Being clear about how I understand the term "miracle"
      might be an important place for me to start. "Miracle" in my understanding
      is a highly interpretive, rather than a factual term, as I think you agree
      below; to call something a miracle is more akin to a faith statement, an
      interpretation of an event/happening, rather than simply a description of
      that event's visible phenomena. Crossan's definition in BOC works pretty
      well for me: "A miracle is a marvel that someone interprets as a
      transcendental action or manifestation." (303)

      >
      > <I personally found his discussion of "The Meaning of Healing" in _The
      > Birth of Christianity_ quite helpful>
      >
      > So did I. I did not feel that it explained well enough the genesis of
      > healing stories, unlike, I might add, the exorcism stories which could
      > fairly be explained the way Crossan does. I see no evidence that social
      > acts can explain the genesis of miracle stories.
      >
      > I do find that the social acts that Crossan presumes to lie behind the
      > healing stories to be significant part of Jesus' activity, I just don't
      > accept the presumed connection with healing stories.

      I'm not getting something here--or perhaps I just don't see the difficulty.
      If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're apt to
      think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension, and if
      social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity, why
      wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
      stories? (I like the terms "healing stories" and "exorcism stories" better
      than "miracle stories" because they help me to stay clear about the kind of
      event/phenomenon being described.) Especially if the one writing down the
      stories was doing so from some distance in time, and knew most especially
      that Jesus was known as a healer and an exorcist (without knowing precisely
      HOW Jesus effected those healings and exorcisms). The preservation of the
      eating-and-healing conjunction in several independent Jesus sayings
      traditions (Mk, Q, Thomas just barely) would also seem to support that link
      as well. Are you suggesting that the healings depicted in the healing
      stories are of another order or type of healing that that which Jesus might
      have accomplished by "social acts"?
      >
      > <I do, however, see that a modern historian's job would not quite be
      > satisfied by simply assuming that "first century Palestinians believed in
      > miracles" (which, by the way, I've heard Crossan assert without
      > equivocation) and that that explains the narratives. I see his efforts as
      > trying to understand or to describe, in terms that work for him and for
      > modern social science/medicine/etc., what kind of healing was going on
      > behind the stories of what we call "miraculous healings" in the gospels.>
      >
      > My statement that you quote above is not to be considered sufficient. The
      > reason I point it out is because it goes to authorial intent. Because of
      > that authorial intent I can not accept Cossan's explanation of the origin
      > of the healing stories.

      Can you give an example of what kind of explanation you would accept, taking
      into account authorial intent?
      >
      > <Our western minds and imaginations and vocabularies are pretty inadequate
      > to the task, it seems to me. We tend to imagine some sort of supernatural
      > "zapping" of the person in question as the only possible explanation (and
      > then, for some, that's no explanation at all), rather than considering all
      > the various forces and factors that "conspire" whenever someone is healed,
      > even now with western-style medicine. >
      >
      > My own perspective is that history can not pronounce on the existence of
      > the supernatural one way or the other. That does not mean that whenever
      > something claims to be a miracle this has to be accepted as such. If proof
      > exists then it should be evaluated. On the other hand Crossan presumes
      > that since there exists no miracles then a "reasonable" explanation must
      > exist.

      I think that this is where more clarity is called for. Crossan doesn't
      presume that there are no miracles; rather that "miracles happen all over
      the world's religions." And that, "To claim a miracle is to make an
      interpretation of faith, not just a statement of fact. The fact open to
      public discourse is the marvel, something that is assessed as neither
      trickery nor normalcy. One may, of course, disagree on that historical
      level. BUt then there is the theological level, which accetps or rejects
      that marvel as a miracle. I cannot see how miracle status can ever be
      proved or disproved. . . . To say, therefore, that the healing or exorcisms
      of Jesus are miracles does not mean for me that only Jesus could do such
      things but that in such events I see God at work in Jesus." (304)

      He may in some sense be trying to provide a "reasonable" explanation of the
      healings Jesus effected, but I might also say that his explanations help me
      to see the "miraculous" and the considerable power (which I would attribute
      to God--a faith statement!) in the earthy and the mundane of human, social
      acts. That is much more helpful to me than simply saying "they were
      miraculous/supernatural healings," end of story.

      The fact that I can not propose an alternative theory does not mean
      > that we should presume that a miracle took place, on the contrary a modern
      > historian can not pronounce such a thing. As I have stated he or she can
      > not pronounce one way or the other. The modern historian should, however,
      > be able to state when sufficient evidence does not exist.
      >
      > <I don't recall the gospels (especially the synoptics) even use the word
      > "miracle" in connection with Jesus' healings ("signs" yes, and often it's
      > the same word in Gk: semeion).>
      >
      > The word used by the synoptics is "dunamis". Only John uses
      > "semeion" exclusively.

      Thanks for reminding me of "dunamis," and yet my comment still holds for me.
      "Dunamis" does not ONLY mean miracle, but much more frequently means simply
      "power," does it not? And in connection with the acts/deeds of Jesus, such
      as healings and exorcisms, "deeds of power" or "mighty acts." Those latter
      translations may be very similar to what many mean by "miracle," but they
      are, for me, less open-to-confusion, less baggage-laden terms than
      "miracle." I assume authorial intent in such cases as meaning in these
      deeds people (including the evangelist) saw God's power at work in Jesus.
      (There were, of course, other healers around at the same time, presumably
      doing similar things. And surely some called *their* deeds "deeds of
      power." Were these competing stories?)

      >
      > <My point being that it's OUR interpretation that the gospel healing
      > stories narrate "miracles" as opposed to the kinds of healings indigenous
      > healers have always been able to do, with human touch (and sometimes
      > saliva, I suppose) and other "forces," which well might include the
      > crossing of boundaries of isolation in order to bring restorative
      > community and companionship.>
      >
      > When I say "miracle" I do not distinguish between Jesus and "indigenous
      > healers". If you can show me that social acts create miracle stories about
      > "indigenous healers" I would be very well disposed towards accepting
      > Crossan's proposition.

      But surely "indigenous healers" also use what might be called "social acts"
      (perhaps that's the next term needing better definition, but I'm running out
      of time!) in their array of healing techniques. Yes? I wouldn't expect
      different kinds of stories about their healings because they used different
      combinations of "approach" or "technique." It's that fact that *someone was
      healed in a surprising, powerful, given-back-their-life kind of way* that is
      most important, and the seeing the healer as a channel or agent of
      power-to-heal, not the means used in the healing. Or would you expect
      something more to show up in the narratives? (I'm open to ideas.)


      Thanks for the conversation,

      Sukie Curtis
      Cumberland Foreside, Maine
      >
    • Daniel Grolin
      Dear Sukie, I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is excellent. Now I want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
      Message 2 of 30 , Feb 1, 2001
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        Dear Sukie,

        I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is excellent. Now I
        want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
        I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out that
        the source does have this perspective.

        <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're apt
        to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
        and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
        why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
        stories?>

        I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
        a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
        miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
        does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
        Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
        empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
        tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
        Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
        blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
        telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
        Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and powerful
        act.

        <Especially if the one writing down the stories was doing so from some
        distance in time, and knew most especially that Jesus was known as a
        healer and an exorcist (without knowing precisely HOW Jesus effected those
        healings and exorcisms).>

        Except that what I see the evangelist doing is to allegorise the
        stories. The point of the stories in their oral stage must (like
        parables) be one pointed. The point is "Jesus can help you out of your
        current distress".

        <The preservation of the eating-and-healing conjunction in several
        independent Jesus sayings traditions (Mk, Q, Thomas just barely) would
        also seem to support that link as well. Are you suggesting that the
        healings depicted in the healing stories are of another order or type of
        healing that that which Jesus might have accomplished by "social acts"?>

        Yes.

        <I think that this is where more clarity is called for. Crossan doesn't
        presume that there are no miracles; rather that "miracles happen all over
        the world's religions.">

        Yes, he states this. However, I do not see this reflected in his actual
        work. In the beginning of BOC he states something to the effect that he
        does not believe that Augutus was born of a virgin and therefore he can
        not believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus. What's that all about? Also the
        confidence with which he presents a rational solution are symptomatic of
        an ontology that does not allow for the supernatural. So rather than
        approaching the sources and letting them speak with their own voice they
        are made to fit a preconceived theological ontology. I have no problems
        with faith statements (such as Crossan's disbelief in the VB), but we
        should be cautious that we distinguish what is what.

        <He may in some sense be trying to provide a "reasonable" explanation of
        the healings Jesus effected, but I might also say that his explanations
        help me to see the "miraculous" and the considerable power (which I would
        attribute to God--a faith statement!) in the earthy and the mundane of
        human, social acts. That is much more helpful to me than simply saying
        "they were miraculous/supernatural healings," end of story.>

        I completely understand. In terms of faith value miracles stories don't
        provide anything of substance to most modern people of the west (including
        myself). If I were theologian I would take Crossan's interpretation over
        my historical conclusions any day of the week and twice on Fridays.

        <"Dunamis" does not ONLY mean miracle, but much more frequently means
        simply "power," does it not?>

        I don't know that it is used "much more" as meaning power (I actually
        think less, but I haven't checked), however, "power" is certainly within
        its semantic field.

        <And in connection with the acts/deeds of Jesus, such as healings and
        exorcisms, "deeds of power" or "mighty acts." Those latter translations
        may be very similar to what many mean by "miracle," but they are, for me,
        less open-to-confusion, less baggage-laden terms than "miracle." I assume
        authorial intent in such cases as meaning in these deeds people (including
        the evangelist) saw God's power at work in Jesus.>

        Agreed.

        <(There were, of course, other healers around at the same time, presumably
        doing similar things. And surely some called *their* deeds "deeds of
        power." Were these competing stories?)>

        Difficult to say whether one could speak of competing stories. Depends on
        what overall priority the miracle had in the community in question.

        <But surely "indigenous healers" also use what might be called "social
        acts" (perhaps that's the next term needing better definition, but I'm
        running out of time!) in their array of healing techniques. Yes?>

        I don't know. My impression is that most indigenous healers are what
        Durkheim would call a magician, that is to say they have a provider-client
        relationship. The "fictive kinship" that is implicit in Jesus'
        proclamation of the kingdom and to which social activity is integral,
        suggests that the two forms of activity are distinct.

        <I wouldn't expect different kinds of stories about their healings because
        they used different combinations of "approach" or "technique." It's that
        fact that *someone was healed in a surprising, powerful,
        given-back-their-life kind of way* that is most important, and the seeing
        the healer as a channel or agent of power-to-heal, not the means used in
        the healing. Or would you expect something more to show up in the
        narratives? (I'm open to ideas.)>

        Yes I would. I don't think aretological narrative is the best genre to
        convey Jesus' social activity.

        Regards,

        Daniel
      • Bob Schacht
        ... I would recommend in this regard Stevan Davies Jesus the Healer. He discusses the difference between different types of indigenous healers with respect
        Message 3 of 30 , Feb 1, 2001
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          At 12:45 AM 2/2/01 +0100, Daniel Grolin wrote:
          >Dear Sukie,
          >...
          >[Sukie]<But surely "indigenous healers" also use what might be called
          >"social acts" (perhaps that's the next term needing better definition, but
          >I'm running out of time!) in their array of healing techniques. Yes?>
          >
          >I don't know. My impression is that most indigenous healers are what
          >Durkheim would call a magician, that is to say they have a provider-client
          >relationship. The "fictive kinship" that is implicit in Jesus'
          >proclamation of the kingdom and to which social activity is integral,
          >suggests that the two forms of activity are distinct....

          I would recommend in this regard Stevan Davies' Jesus the Healer. He
          discusses the difference between different types of "indigenous healers"
          with respect to Jesus. On p. 100, for example, he discusses 5 types of
          "healers" (e.g., shaman, medium, etc.), and considers Jesus most like a
          "medium" in the typology under consideration in his source.

          Bob



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Sukie Curtis
          Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel. ... Now I ... Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably have
          Message 4 of 30 , Feb 2, 2001
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            Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel.


            >(Daniel) I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is excellent.
            Now I
            > want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
            > I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out that
            > the source does have this perspective.

            Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably
            have two or three legitimate areas of exploration: 1) determining the
            perspective of the source, 2) using social science/cross-cultural
            anthropology, etc. to best reconstruct what the healing processes might have
            included in that kind of setting (i.e., knowing Jesus hadn't been to med
            school), and 3)reconstructing the path of the narrative's creation, as
            Gordon has done with his imagining the use of Hebrew scriptures, Elijah,
            Elisha, etc. in the shape and contours of the stories of Jesus' healings. I
            imagine something like that process Gordon describes to be at work in at
            least some of the stories and perhaps generally so in all of them. I don't
            imagine oral stories (if by that you mean oral reports of this or that
            healing springing from an actual event) being behind the stories we have.
            But reflecting patterns of "typical healings" I'm more willing to imagine
            than Gordon.


            >
            > <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're apt
            > to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
            > and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
            > why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
            > stories?>
            >
            > I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
            > a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
            > miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
            > does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
            > Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
            > empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
            > tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
            > Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
            > blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
            > telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
            > Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and powerful
            > act.

            The healing of the leper in Mk. 1 seems to me a good example of a "social
            act," that is, touching a not-to-be-touched leper, that effects healing.
            It's even more clearly a socio/religio/political act, as there's the
            suggestion of a sign against the priests (that this healing happened apart
            from them). I don't think Jesus' social acts were as simple as teaching
            mercy/taking care of the blind, as you put it; but ignoring or deliberately
            crossing social/religious boundaries to touch, include, draw into his
            community those on the outside. Or even simply to gather folks, who might
            not normally eat together, to share food at someone's table. And those
            kinds of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at
            least the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.

            > Except that what I see the evangelist doing is to allegorise the
            > stories. The point of the stories in their oral stage must (like
            > parables) be one pointed. The point is "Jesus can help you out of your
            > current distress".

            That I don't agree with, neither that a parable must always be one-pointed,
            not that the healing stories had to be. If they had one point, I'd say it
            was: "Jesus is a doer of "deeds of power", and as Gordon suggests, if the
            narrative echoes of Elijah help to make the point, so much the better.
            [much snipped]

            >
            > <"Dunamis" does not ONLY mean miracle, but much more frequently means
            > simply "power," does it not?>
            >
            > I don't know that it is used "much more" as meaning power (I actually
            > think less, but I haven't checked), however, "power" is certainly within
            > its semantic field.

            Well, the concordance I have at home (Young's, keyed to the KJV) lists
            dunamis used 77 times in the NT (about 25 in the synoptics and Acts) as
            "power" and only 7 or 8 as "miracle" and another 7 or 8 as "mighty work>"

            [snipped]
            >
            > Yes I would. I don't think aretological narrative is the best genre to
            > convey Jesus' social activity.
            >
            What's "aretological narrative"???

            Sukie Curtis
            Cumberland Foreside, Maine
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Besides defining what we mean by miracle I think we also need to remember that we moderns stand in a different relation to the idea of miracle than the
            Message 5 of 30 , Feb 2, 2001
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              At 09:44 AM 2/1/01 -0500, Sukie Curtis wrote:
              >Dear Daniel,
              >
              >Your comments have helped me to realize how imprecise my own vocabulary is
              >in this discussion. Being clear about how I understand the term "miracle"
              >might be an important place for me to start. "Miracle" in my
              >understanding is a highly interpretive, rather than a factual term, as I
              >think you agree below;...
              > >
              > > <I personally found his discussion of "The Meaning of Healing" in _The
              > > Birth of Christianity_ quite helpful>
              > >
              > > So did I. ...I see no evidence that social
              > > acts can explain the genesis of miracle stories.
              > >
              > > I do find that the social acts that Crossan presumes to lie behind the
              > > healing stories to be significant part of Jesus' activity, I just don't
              > > accept the presumed connection with healing stories.
              >
              >I'm not getting something here--or perhaps I just don't see the
              >difficulty. If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so
              >than we're apt to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a
              >social dimension, and if social acts were probably a significant part of
              >Jesus' activity, why wouldn't there be a connection between those social
              >acts and healing stories? ... Are you suggesting that the healings
              >depicted in the healing stories are of another order or type of healing
              >that that which Jesus might have accomplished by "social acts"?

              Besides defining what we mean by "miracle" I think we also need to remember
              that we moderns stand in a different relation to the idea of miracle than
              the ancients did. We tend to think of miracles as something out of the
              ordinary. We are blind to miracles, so we don't acknowledge experience of
              them, because they "can't happen." But the ancients stood in a somewhat
              different relation to the idea of miracles, and seemed much more familiar
              and comfortable with them. Thus, we tend to have a different attitude
              towards miracles.

              We miss a lot when we think of the healing "miracles" strictly in medical
              terms. It is part of our modern attitude towards fragmenting everything,
              trying to take it apart, analysis (in a literal sense) run amok. Perhaps
              something of the same attitude existed among some people, some of the time,
              in the first century, too, in the demands for a sign (Mat 12:38, Mat 16:1,
              Mar 8:11, Luke 11:16,29, Luke 23:8, John 6:30)-- what I get from those
              passages is that the people were demanding some kind of trick, *stripped of
              any social context.* But I don't think that is what Jesus wanted to do,
              because he kept refusing to perform signs-on-demand that way, *unless there
              was a social context*. The language we usually hear is that their "faith"
              made them well. We moderns tend to think of "faith" as some kind of mental
              exercise, devoid of social context. I don't think that is what is meant
              here. Take Matt 8:
              8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under
              my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
              9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say
              to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my
              slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."
              10 When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed
              him, "Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
              Verse 9 is all about social acts. Or take Matt.9:
              2 And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed.
              When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son;
              your sins are forgiven."
              Jesus sees some people engaged in a social act, and he calls it faith. And
              Mark 2:

              NRS Mark 2:1 When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported
              that he was at home.
              2 So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not
              even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.
              3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four
              of them.
              4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they
              removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down
              the mat on which the paralytic lay.
              5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins
              are forgiven."

              These passages make no sense divorced from their social context. I think
              that to Jesus, healing was all tied up in *relationships*-- between the ill
              person and Jesus, between the ill person and God, or between the ill person
              and his friends or family.

              Unfortunately, too many of our modern medical schools have the same
              attitude about separating healing from its social context. Doctors learn
              mountains of data about bacteria and medications and organs, and almost
              nothing about personal relationships. We go to a doctor's office and spend
              half an hour waiting in the reception room. Then we get ushered into a
              small room where the temperature is about 60 degrees and told to take our
              shirt off. Then we wait, shivering, for another 15 minutes before the
              doctor pops in for five minutes, asks a few questions, pokes our body
              (usually without even asking permission), writes out a prescription and
              leaves-- perhaps without ever even making eye contact. We are treated like
              a piece of meat rather than as a person. So we think that is what healing
              means-- and then we talk about the miracles of modern medicine! I think
              these encounters do *nothing* to help us understand healing in the Gospels.

              >...
              > > My statement that you quote above is not to be considered sufficient. The
              > > reason I point it out is because it goes to authorial intent. Because of
              > > that authorial intent I can not accept Cossan's explanation of the origin
              > > of the healing stories.
              >
              >Can you give an example of what kind of explanation you would accept,
              >taking into account authorial intent?

              I'd like to know, too.

              >...[Crossan] may in some sense be trying to provide a "reasonable"
              >explanation of the healings Jesus effected, but I might also say that his
              >explanations help me to see the "miraculous" and the considerable power
              >(which I would attribute to God--a faith statement!) in the earthy and the
              >mundane of human, social acts. That is much more helpful to me than
              >simply saying "they were miraculous/supernatural healings," end of story.

              I agree.

              >... I assume authorial intent in such cases as meaning in these
              >deeds people (including the evangelist) saw God's power at work in Jesus.
              >(There were, of course, other healers around at the same time, presumably
              >doing similar things. And surely some called *their* deeds "deeds of
              >power." Were these competing stories?)

              Again, I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles as some
              kind of magic. The relationships are crucial. Remember that when Jesus went
              to his home town, he could not do deeds of power (Matt. 13:54-58)-- because
              his relationship with those people was not as a healer. If healing were
              merely magic-- the power to zap something-- no social context would be
              needed, and none could stop him.

              > > <My point being that it's OUR interpretation that the gospel healing
              > > stories narrate "miracles" as opposed to the kinds of healings indigenous
              > > healers have always been able to do, with human touch (and sometimes
              > > saliva, I suppose) and other "forces," which well might include the
              > > crossing of boundaries of isolation in order to bring restorative
              > > community and companionship.>
              > >
              > > When I say "miracle" I do not distinguish between Jesus and "indigenous
              > > healers". If you can show me that social acts create miracle stories about
              > > "indigenous healers" I would be very well disposed towards accepting
              > > Crossan's proposition.

              I'd suggest you read Stevan Davies' Jesus the Healer, which has quite a lot
              in it about indigenous healers. He does not distinguish between Jesus and
              indigenous healers either, but it seems to me that he says quite a bit
              about the role of social acts in healing.

              Does the silent response to my occasional suggestions about Davies' Jesus
              the Healer mean that we have lost almost everyone who has read it? In the
              first months of the original CrossTalk, we had a prolonged and rather
              vigorous discussion of that book that went on for months. I don't mean to
              suggest that I agree with everything he says. But I do have a tendency to
              think that those who have not read it are not really very well equipped to
              discuss the healing miracles.

              >But surely "indigenous healers" also use what might be called "social
              >acts" (perhaps that's the next term needing better definition, but I'm
              >running out of time!) in their array of healing techniques. Yes? ...

              Yes.

              Thanks for both of your attempts to sort this out! I hope that you might
              find something valuable in the points above.

              Bob
              Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
              Northern Arizona University
              Flagstaff, AZ


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Daniel Grolin
              Dear Bob, Gordon and Sukie, First I would like to comment on Gordon s post. I agree that the Elijah-Elisha model is important. Seeing its role in the genesis
              Message 6 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
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                Dear Bob, Gordon and Sukie,

                First I would like to comment on Gordon's post. I agree that the
                Elijah-Elisha model is important. Seeing its role in the genesis of the
                miracle stories overcomes one of the major problems with Crossan's
                model. First of all, as Gordon points out, this helps to account for some
                of the nature miracles. I am not entirely satisfied that its precise role
                has been established. I suspect that the model played a role in the
                stories prior to them reaching the evangelists. In fact I think that Jesus
                on purpose played on this model. In this respect I still assume that the
                miracle stories are popular entities rather than scribal constructs. As
                such I don't know that I find the Midrash perspective very useful.

                Thank you Gordon for your contribution I think there is both common ground
                and some differences. BTW what is FWIW.

                <I don't think Jesus' social acts were as simple as teaching mercy/taking
                care of the blind, as you put it; but ignoring or deliberately crossing
                social/religious boundaries to touch, include, draw into his community
                those on the outside. Or even simply to gather folks, who might not
                normally eat together, to share food at someone's table. And those kinds
                of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at least
                the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.>

                Why? How? I think we are getting to bunked down into the cultural context
                so that we are ignoring the more universal aspects. Why do people tell
                miracle stories in general? There are tons of popular lore in newly
                emerged religious communities that are in nature no different than the
                what we find in the gospels.

                <That I don't agree with, neither that a parable must always be
                one-pointed, not that the healing stories had to be.>

                There are multiplicity and singleness in both. But let us not stray to
                much from the central theme. :-)

                <If they had one point, I'd say it was: "Jesus is a doer of "deeds of
                power", and as Gordon suggests, if the narrative echoes of Elijah help to
                make the point, so much the better.>

                Actually I would say that faced with these two options I would rather
                think that the central point was that "Jesus is a figure like
                Elijah-Elisha.

                <What's "aretological narrative"???>

                "arete" means "powerful acts". Werner Kelber uses the expression in The
                Oral and the Written Gospel.

                Bob makes an excellent point the problems of modern readings of miracles
                in ancient stories (and perhaps in the present). Also a very apt
                observation about current attitudes in the medical community.

                <
                >Can you give an example of what kind of explanation you would >accept,
                taking into account authorial intent?

                I'd like to know, too.>

                Well, I think that this Elijah-Elisha business is a good place to start.

                <Does the silent response to my occasional suggestions about Davies' Jesus
                the Healer mean that we have lost almost everyone who has read it? In the
                first months of the original CrossTalk, we had a prolonged and rather
                vigorous discussion of that book that went on for months. I don't mean to
                suggest that I agree with everything he says. But I do have a tendency to
                think that those who have not read it are not really very well equipped to
                discuss the healing miracles.>

                Perhaps. I read a rather extensive summary on Davies' home-page (if I
                recall correctly) some time ago. I found it interesting, though I too did
                not agree with all his propositions. Perhaps I should reread it or even
                get hold of the real thing.

                Regards,

                Daniel
              • David C. Hindley
                Bob, You said I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles as some kind of magic.
                Message 7 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
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                  Bob,

                  You said >>I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles
                  as some kind of magic.<< Yet earlier in your post you quoted Matt
                  8:8-9

                  >>8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come
                  under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
                  9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I
                  say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes,
                  and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."<<

                  This is a classic picture of 1st century beliefs on the subject of
                  angelology/demonology. Angels (and demons) are organized in strict
                  military hierarchies. Individual angels/demons may have unique
                  "personalities" or tasks assigned to them, but they all obey commands
                  from superiors. In magic, authenticity is usually verified by a
                  password or seal although an authoritative command may suffice.

                  The point I am going after is this: Interpreting Mat 8:8 as a "social
                  act" seems to be a 20th century rationalization (interpretation, if
                  you wish) rather than a 1st century understanding of the context of
                  that pericope. I think that the story itself (not necessarily how it
                  was employed by the author of GMatthew, although he may be working
                  with an existing tradition) implies that Jesus had authority over the
                  angel/demon (in reality, there was not much difference between them)
                  that caused the illness of the Centurion's servant. His "faith" was
                  effectively trust that Jesus had such authority, just as an army
                  officer has over his men or a slaveowner has over his slave(s).

                  You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
                  encountered the web page synopsis at
                  http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
                  not convinced by his reasoning. He is critical of >>the prevailing
                  view [i.e., which he calls the "Jesus the Teacher" model] that one
                  should approach the question of the historical Jesus by analyzing what
                  we can know of what he said so as to discover his message and
                  ideology<<, and concludes with the statement >>I do not think it has
                  succeeded very well.<<

                  Yet in the same paragraph he says >>The very multiplicity of ...
                  [interpretive] constructions and their generally equivalent competence
                  in making use of the same body of evidence indicates to me that the
                  view that Jesus should be understood principally to have been a
                  teacher is a flawed paradigm.<< Does this not imply that there is
                  something about Jesus' sayings that may not reflect Jesus' actual
                  teachings? I do not think he is implying that we can never know a
                  person's opinion/position on matters on the basis of statements
                  attributed to him. That depends on whether the statements are
                  authentic as well as accurate.

                  Unfortunately, rather than investigate the question of the
                  authenticity (and hence accuracy) of the statements (in other words,
                  where are they on a scale in which Jesus' actual words are at one
                  extreme and words attributed to Jesus in order to publicize the
                  theological tendency of the gospel writer at the other), Davies
                  changes the focus to look at Jesus as "an embodiment of the spirit of
                  God" who realizes eschatological expectations by means of social acts.
                  The problem of the authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus
                  sayings/actions, and how this effects our ability to reconstruct his
                  own agenda, is still there.

                  If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
                  defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
                  paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
                  gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
                  about Jesus' personal agenda.

                  Regards,

                  Dave Hindley
                  Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... David, This is a good point with regard to this particular pericope. It is all the better because it fits in with Matthew s editorial tendencies (see,
                  Message 8 of 30 , Feb 3, 2001
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                    At 11:34 AM 2/3/01 -0500, David C. Hindley wrote:
                    >Bob,
                    >
                    >You said >>I think it is a mistake to conceive of the healing miracles
                    >as some kind of magic.<< Yet earlier in your post you quoted Matt
                    >8:8-9
                    >
                    > >>8 The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come
                    >under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
                    >9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I
                    >say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes,
                    >and to my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."<<
                    >
                    >This is a classic picture of 1st century beliefs on the subject of
                    >angelology/demonology. Angels (and demons) are organized in strict
                    >military hierarchies. Individual angels/demons may have unique
                    >"personalities" or tasks assigned to them, but they all obey commands
                    >from superiors.

                    David,
                    This is a good point with regard to this particular pericope. It is all the
                    better because it fits in with Matthew's editorial tendencies (see, e.g.,
                    Mt. 12:24-27). Therefore in this case, the incident is colored by Matthew's
                    magical editorial interpretation. It was not a good example for my case.

                    >...You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
                    >encountered the web page synopsis at
                    ><http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm,>http://www.miser
                    >i.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
                    >not convinced by his reasoning. He is critical of >>the prevailing
                    >view [i.e., which he calls the "Jesus the Teacher" model] that one
                    >should approach the question of the historical Jesus by analyzing what
                    >we can know of what he said so as to discover his message and
                    >ideology<<, and concludes with the statement >>I do not think it has
                    >succeeded very well.<<
                    >
                    >Yet in the same paragraph he says >>The very multiplicity of ...
                    >[interpretive] constructions and their generally equivalent competence
                    >in making use of the same body of evidence indicates to me that the
                    >view that Jesus should be understood principally to have been a
                    >teacher is a flawed paradigm.<< Does this not imply that there is
                    >something about Jesus' sayings that may not reflect Jesus' actual
                    >teachings?

                    That is one solution. The alternative is Davies' solution, that Jesus was
                    not *primarily* a teacher.
                    I have some quibbles with Stevan myself about this, but I think your
                    "question" has problems of its own.

                    >I do not think he is implying that we can never know a
                    >person's opinion/position on matters on the basis of statements
                    >attributed to him. That depends on whether the statements are
                    >authentic as well as accurate.

                    I agree.

                    >Unfortunately, rather than investigate the question of the
                    >authenticity (and hence accuracy) of the statements ..., Davies
                    >changes the focus to look at Jesus as "an embodiment of the spirit of
                    >God" who realizes eschatological expectations by means of social acts.
                    >The problem of the authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus
                    >sayings/actions, and how this effects our ability to reconstruct his
                    >own agenda, is still there.

                    It is a different problem from the sayings/teachings, however, because the
                    healing incidents seldom involve any significant speech. In the Acts of
                    Jesus, the Jesus Seminar comes to a number of conclusions in this regard:
                    1. Jesus drove out what were thought to be demons (p.61, 171)
                    2. Jesus cured some sick people (p.171)

                    This thread suggests a little research project that would address your
                    concerns: Using The Acts of Jesus and a tabulation of the healing miracles,
                    which types of healing miracles does the JSem consider most reliable?

                    >If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
                    >defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
                    >paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
                    >gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
                    >about Jesus' personal agenda.

                    I don't think so. The "teachings" and the "healings" form two different
                    types of literary evidence.
                    Besides, my point was not necessarily that Davies interpretation of the
                    healing miracles is correct, but that if one wants to consider the role of
                    Jesus as healer seriously, then one needs to become familiar with the kind
                    of evidence that he compiles, rather than merely conducting thought
                    experiments based on our own preconceptions of healing.

                    Bob


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Gil Page
                    ... My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies book is that there is considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you would read the
                    Message 9 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
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                      on 2/3/01 11:34 AM, David C. Hindley at dhindley@... wrote:


                      > You mention Stevan Davies _Jesus the Healer_. Like Daniel, I have only
                      > encountered the web page synopsis at
                      > http://www.miseri.edu/users/davies/thomas/summaryone.htm, but I too am
                      > not convinced by his reasoning. . . .

                      > If this is the real issue, then Davies' solution suffers from the same
                      > defect as those who adhere to the "Jesus as Teacher" paradigm. Both
                      > paradigms will tell us more about the agendas of the authors of the
                      > gospels (through the manner they chose to depict him) that they will
                      > about Jesus' personal agenda.

                      My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies' book is that there is
                      considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you
                      would read the book before taking the author to task for not meeting your
                      expectations of what you think his argument should be.
                      --
                      Regards,

                      Gil Page
                      kestrel@...
                    • David C. Hindley
                      ... considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope that you would read the book before taking the author to task for not meeting your
                      Message 10 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
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                        Gil Page said:

                        >>My own recollection of reading Mr. Davies' book is that there is
                        considerably more there than another failed paradigm. I would hope
                        that you would read the book before taking the author to task for not
                        meeting your expectations of what you think his argument should be.<<

                        Please do not think that it was my intention to "take to task" Prof.
                        Davies. His case may be as well developed as the "Jesus as Teacher"
                        model, maybe even more so. However, my feeling is that the "Jesus as
                        Healer" model will (or has?) result in the same inconsistent results
                        as the Jesus as Teacher model, as it appears to me to not really be a
                        model at all but a conclusion to which the stories can be more or less
                        successfully reconciled. I went by the author's own synopsis of the
                        theme of his book and not just a review, so I sincerely hope it fairly
                        represented his own argument.

                        That opinion of mine does not mean I will not read it at some point in
                        time. It may prove to be very illuminating in spite of what I think of
                        the central premise, in that I may well gain valuable insight as to
                        what gospel writers thought Jesus did (or wanted to believe he did, or
                        wanted readers to think he did).

                        Regards,

                        Dave Hindley
                        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                      • Sukie Curtis
                        Bob, Gordon, Daniel, and others, My silence has been due to busy-ness, not disinterest, and even now I have only a sliver of time. But I ve enjoyed catching
                        Message 11 of 30 , Feb 4, 2001
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                          Bob, Gordon, Daniel, and others,

                          My silence has been due to busy-ness, not disinterest, and even now I have
                          only a sliver of time. But I've enjoyed catching up on parts of this
                          thread.

                          Daniel wrote:
                          > BTW what is FWIW.
                          >

                          "For what it's worth!"

                          Daniel, citing me:

                          > And those kinds
                          > of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at least
                          > the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.>
                          >
                          > Why? How? I think we are getting to bunked down into the cultural context
                          > so that we are ignoring the more universal aspects. Why do people tell
                          > miracle stories in general? There are tons of popular lore in newly
                          > emerged religious communities that are in nature no different than the
                          > what we find in the gospels.

                          I don't know why people tell miracle stories "in general." And I think
                          staying close to the biblical tradition of miracle stories makes more sense
                          here than wandering into general miracle world. I'm sure there are plenty
                          of stories in "newly emerged" traditions, but for stories/literature
                          emerging from an existing religious tradition, even if from a newly-emerging
                          sub-set, appeals to traditional models/types make very good sense, don't
                          they?

                          >
                          > Actually I would say that faced with these two options I would rather
                          > think that the central point was that "Jesus is a figure like
                          > Elijah-Elisha."

                          I'm happy with that.

                          Thanks again.

                          Sukie Curtis
                          Cumberland Foreside, Maine
                        • Daniel Grolin
                          Dear Sukie, Thank you for emerging shortly to reply:
                          Message 12 of 30 , Feb 5, 2001
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                            Dear Sukie,

                            Thank you for emerging shortly to reply:

                            <I don't know why people tell miracle stories "in general." And I think
                            staying close to the biblical tradition of miracle stories makes more
                            sense here than wandering into general miracle world.>

                            The problem is that we are so distant from the setting and the people that
                            told (or, as Gordon would have it, constructed) these stories that we are
                            very hard pressed for the details necessary to develop an explanatory
                            model. Looking at contemporary cases presents the best way of developing
                            solid models.

                            < I'm sure there are plenty of stories in "newly emerged" traditions, but
                            for stories/literature emerging from an existing religious tradition, even
                            if from a newly-emerging sub-set, appeals to traditional models/types make
                            very good sense, don't they?>

                            Yes, it does. Now we need more specifics.

                            Regards,

                            Daniel
                          • Karel Hanhart
                            ... Dear Sukie and Gordon, In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings and exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its
                            Message 13 of 30 , Feb 13, 2001
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                              Sukie Curtis wrote:

                              > Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel.

                              Dear Sukie and Gordon,

                              In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings and
                              exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its importance for the interpretation.
                              Perhaps Paul van Buren's remark that with the Gospel we are reading "someone
                              else's mail" should be emphasized even more strongly. These miracle stories are
                              told and read by people grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures that ruled their
                              lives.
                              I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                              healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                              never warn the reader, for instance, that the healing of a leper should be
                              taken literally and the rebuke of the storm wind and the commanding the sea,
                              "Peace. Be still" be taken metaphorically. Every stupendous and contra-natural
                              event is described as if it were self evident: a matter of course. Doesn't that
                              indicate that all 'miracles' should be taken metaphorically while still grounded
                              in history? The Gospels were written primarily for first century Jews (I name
                              them Christians Judeans - ioudaioi; I believe that in exegesis one should
                              choose an idiom matching the contemporary situation as much as possible). They
                              were also written for baptized Gentiles or so-called Godfearers to meet their
                              needs and thus reflect their historical circumstances. So may I offer some
                              belated remarks?

                              > >(Daniel) I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is excellent.
                              > Now I
                              > > want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
                              > > I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out that
                              > > the source does have this perspective.
                              >
                              > Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably
                              > have two or three legitimate areas of exploration: 1) determining the
                              > perspective of the source, 2) using social science/cross-cultural
                              > anthropology, etc. to best reconstruct what the healing processes might have
                              > included in that kind of setting (i.e., knowing Jesus hadn't been to med
                              > school),

                              I am in support of 1), but I wonder about "the med. school" in 2). For using the
                              latter phrase
                              one appears to assume that such stories deal with actual physical changes
                              witnessed by the bystanders as amazing, contra-natural healings considered to be
                              supernatural. Should the
                              historical grounding really be based on a literal, stupendous healing that
                              defied the laws of nature?
                              Would the author in that case have described them in such a brief, matter of
                              fact way on a par with walking on water?
                              I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                              healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                              never warn the reader that healing a leper
                              (did the sores disappear forthwith?) should be taken literally and rebuking the
                              storm wind and commanding the sea, "Peace. Be still" metaphorically. Every
                              stupendous and contra-natural event occurs in the Gospel as being self-evident:
                              a matter of course. This is true for a "very large stone" that was rolled away
                              from a monumental tomb without human hands as for a lame man whom Jesus got back
                              on his feet again.
                              Most of us are more or less strangers to non-christian Jewish studies but
                              many of us would readily agree, I think, that these riddlesome miracle stories
                              could best be explained through midrash. For the Gospel writers indeed "went to
                              the Hebrew Scriptures". I would also subscribe to Crossan's definition: "a
                              miracle is a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or
                              manifestation". It is a social act (in its widest sense) attributed to divine
                              power. That holds true for the so called impossible deed of Jesus' crossing the
                              ":sea" (note that Mark doesn't use the Gr limne = lake) One should ask,
                              therefore, to what Scripture this midrash refers. Gordon suggests Gen. 1, but
                              why not the 'crossing of the sea of reeds? What is the historical context of the
                              story?
                              I would suggest that first of all we approach these riddlesome stories
                              through 'controlled mudrash'. The exegesis should pass the controls of source-
                              and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other hermeneutic
                              disciplines. For instance, the exegesis of crossing the sea into Gentile
                              territory should reflect, I think, the post-70 circumstances of the adressees.
                              The crossing of the sea story is embedded in the structure of Mark's entire
                              Gospel beginning with preparing the way of Adonay and ending with going ahead
                              into the Galil (ha-goyim). It is a Passover haggadah.
                              Because of the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent, complete Roman domination
                              of their homeland, the story would assure the reader in the ecclesia, I think,
                              that Jesus Messiah is able to be with them in the Spirit even though he too had
                              to succumb to a brutal death by the Romans. Thus the Way of Adonay will continue
                              although secular reality gave the appearance of having created an impassable
                              barrier for such a belief. Thus faith in the resurrection is expressed by means
                              of a vivid narrative. It is grounded in history for it reflects the historical
                              situation of the author and his addressees Walking on a stormy sea into Gentile
                              territory and there healing a demon possessed soldier named Legion has become
                              the model for the ecclesia that has just read the Exodus story.
                              By using the Gr thalassa the author thus retrojects the post-30
                              experiences of the early Christians into the lifetime of Jesus and his
                              disciples. The story has thus a double layer - one referring to Jesus' own
                              teachings and acts around Lake Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] and the teachings and
                              acts of his followers in the diaspora around the Mediterranean Sea. They also
                              were called to exorcise evil spirits. Would not the storm be a metaphor for the
                              turbulent historical circumstances, that these first readers went through. One
                              could paint the scene with two huge fires in the background.. In the winter of
                              64-65 a great fire devastated large sections of the city of Rome. The crazy
                              caesar Nero found the sect of the Christians guilty, as a kind of scapegoat.
                              They were bitterly persecuted. If indeed John Mark had been in Rome at the time
                              that event. it must have colored his message. The second fire was the burning
                              down of the temple in Jerusalem, centre of learning, culture, and religion. And
                              this would have been foremost in his mind. Was perhaps the great appeal, which
                              the Gospel apparently had among Judeans and non-Judeans as well, due to the
                              longing of many for a humane society and was this longing perhaps grounded in
                              their faith in divine justice and mercy?.
                              The crossing of the "sea" story would on the one hand reflect the divine
                              salvation (a narrow escape from death) of the Exodus story, the addresses had
                              read paired with the sure promise of the divine presence in their own future.
                              This interpretation would match the story of "Legio", a Graecised Latin word
                              for a Roman legion, (which incidentally had their camp in the Decapolis ) and
                              the story of the daughter of Jaïrus on this side of "the sea". Read as midrash,
                              the name Jaïrus in the latter subsequent story refers the reader to Yaïr of
                              ancient days, one of the lesser known judges. The "villages of Yaïr" (f.i. 1 Ki
                              4,13) were situated in the region West of Lake Kinneret, as the map of ancient
                              geography tells us. The towns were actually called the "villages of Yaïr" and
                              that name would be familiar to any Judean from the area, just as in our days
                              local people take pride in one of their heroes of the past. The towns were the
                              Judean counterparts of the Hellenic Dekapolis.

                              > and 3) reconstructing the path of the narrative's creation, as
                              > Gordon has done with his imagining the use of Hebrew scriptures, Elijah,
                              > Elisha, etc. in the shape and contours of the stories of Jesus' healings. I
                              > imagine something like that process Gordon describes to be at work in at
                              > least some of the stories and perhaps generally so in all of them. I don't
                              > imagine oral stories (if by that you mean oral reports of this or that
                              > healing springing from an actual event) being behind the stories we have.
                              > But reflecting patterns of "typical healings" I'm more willing to imagine
                              > than Gordon.

                              Were not - what you call - "typical healings" in reality haggadot illustrating
                              prophecies such as in
                              Isa 42,18; 43,8; 61,1?

                              > > <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're apt
                              > > to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
                              > > and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
                              > > why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
                              > > stories?>
                              > >
                              > > I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
                              > > a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
                              > > miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
                              > > does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
                              > > Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
                              > > empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
                              > > tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
                              > > Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
                              > > blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
                              > > telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
                              > > Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and powerful
                              > > act.

                              The Judean background of these stories (haggadot) could be illustrated with the
                              story of
                              Bartimaeus. I found the key to the story in the name itself. "Timaios" is not a
                              Hebrew, but a Greek name; and Mark's readers, by now used to his ironic style,
                              must have registered a signal by the author because this Greek name is prefaced
                              by the Aramaic "bar-". Moreover, every intelligent Roman citizen would be
                              familiar with Timaios, the title of one of Platos's major works. It is well
                              known that Jews like to play with names. So also in the Gospel as in Saul-Paul -
                              Cephas-Peter etc Thus the starting point for exegesis (its historical
                              grounding) might well be that to Mark certain Judeans, seeking their salvation
                              in vain in Greek philosophy, should learn to go the way of the cross. Bartimaeus
                              is said to have "followed Jesus on the way" {to the cross}.
                              Incidentally, I was struck by the fact that a colleague, the late Bas van
                              Iersel, had independently come to the same conclusion about the odd name of
                              Bartimaeus. A hypothesis is strengthened by a coincidence of that kind.
                              Now the daughter of Jaïrus/Yaïr and bar-Timaeus are the only named persons
                              'healed' by Jesus. That personal touch made me think for a long time that some
                              kind of physical healing must have been at the historical bottom of the story.
                              Midrash taught me otherwise. These very names, that make the story so vivid and
                              concrete, turn out to be metaphors for a different historical situation which
                              Mark sought to describe in which the Gospel proved to become a 'redeeming'
                              factor, a dunamis that altered their lives.
                              One last remark. Jesus was not, I think, an exorcist in the dictionary sense of
                              the word.
                              Mark clearly distinguishes between unclean spirits and demons. He is
                              distinguishing, I think,
                              between a 'not kosher' way of life causing an unhealthy spirit, not in accord
                              with the Torah. and
                              a phenomenon in Greek culture that in some sense might be equivalent to the
                              biblical
                              unclean spirit , namely daimon. One notices his continual battle with words
                              trying to find
                              a Greek equivalent for expressions in the Hebrew Bible. But the most significant
                              aspect
                              of the exorcist stories is the fact that Mark defines them as "a teaching":
                              "They were all amazed...
                              "What is this? A new teaching!" (1,28). He is making clear that he isn't trying
                              to portray Jesus as an
                              exorcist but is choosing that vocabulary to illustrate the effect of Jesus'
                              teaching.

                              yours cordially,

                              Karel Hanhart K.Hanhart@...

                              >

                              >
                              >
                              > The healing of the leper in Mk. 1 seems to me a good example of a "social
                              > act," that is, touching a not-to-be-touched leper, that effects healing.
                              > It's even more clearly a socio/religio/political act, as there's the
                              > suggestion of a sign against the priests (that this healing happened apart
                              > from them). I don't think Jesus' social acts were as simple as teaching
                              > mercy/taking care of the blind, as you put it; but ignoring or deliberately
                              > crossing social/religious boundaries to touch, include, draw into his
                              > community those on the outside. Or even simply to gather folks, who might
                              > not normally eat together, to share food at someone's table. And those
                              > kinds of acts were profoundly healing acts, precipitating stories or at
                              > least the claim that Jesus did deeds of power not unlike Elijah or Elisha.
                              >
                              > > Except that what I see the evangelist doing is to allegorise the
                              > > stories. The point of the stories in their oral stage must (like
                              > > parables) be one pointed. The point is "Jesus can help you out of your
                              > > current distress".
                              >
                              > That I don't agree with, neither that a parable must always be one-pointed,
                              > not that the healing stories had to be. If they had one point, I'd say it
                              > was: "Jesus is a doer of "deeds of power", and as Gordon suggests, if the
                              > narrative echoes of Elijah help to make the point, so much the better.
                              > [much snipped]
                              >
                              > >
                              > > <"Dunamis" does not ONLY mean miracle, but much more frequently means
                              > > simply "power," does it not?>
                              > >
                              > > I don't know that it is used "much more" as meaning power (I actually
                              > > think less, but I haven't checked), however, "power" is certainly within
                              > > its semantic field.
                              >
                              > Well, the concordance I have at home (Young's, keyed to the KJV) lists
                              > dunamis used 77 times in the NT (about 25 in the synoptics and Acts) as
                              > "power" and only 7 or 8 as "miracle" and another 7 or 8 as "mighty work>"
                              >
                              > [snipped]
                              > >
                              > > Yes I would. I don't think aretological narrative is the best genre to
                              > > convey Jesus' social activity.
                              > >
                              > What's "aretological narrative"???
                              >
                              > Sukie Curtis
                              > Cumberland Foreside, Maine
                              >
                              >
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                            • tomkirbel@aol.com.au
                              I found Karel Hanhart s treatment of the walking on water, the healing of Jairus daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                              Message 14 of 30 , Feb 14, 2001
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                                I found Karel Hanhart's treatment of the walking on water, the healing of
                                Jairus' daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                                examination, however, I think they illustrate exactly the problems I have
                                with "midrash" interpretations in general, and lack of methodological
                                transparency in particular. I hope a brief discussion of why I think this is
                                so can help illustrate my point. Very briefly, my problem with the treatment
                                of the Jairus and Bartimaus stories is that the refferences are too obscure
                                for the treatment to be convincing. On the assumption that "Mark" intended
                                to be understood in "creating" these stories, refferences ought to be easily
                                understandible for his intended audience. The Jairus/villages of Jair
                                refference is unlikely to have been understood outside of Galilee even if
                                Karel's otherwise unsubtantiated speculation that that designation of the
                                villages surrounding Gallilee was used in the 1st century is correct.
                                Likewise, the refference to Plato's dialogue from Bartimaus is too obscure.
                                If "Mark" was inventing a name, why choose the name of that dialogue? Why
                                not some other dialogue, or better yet, some philosopher? Had the blindness
                                of Barsocrates been healed, the exegesis would have been far clearer, both in
                                "Mark"s time and in ours.

                                This does not mean Karel's exigesis is wrong, only that as it stands it is ad
                                hoc and unsubstantiated. The exigesis will remain ad hoc unless Karel can
                                show us evidence of 1st century geographical refferences to the villages of
                                Jair, or patristic commentaries drawing the allegorical interpretation
                                regarding the following of greek philosophy that Karel finds in the Bartimaus
                                story (indirect evidence that "Mark"s intended interpretation was understood
                                in his time), or other related evidence. Until that time, the naive
                                interpretation of these two passages would remain the simplest of the two,
                                and therefore the preffered interpretation on general methodological grounds.

                                Turning to the walking on water, Karel's interpretation is (I think) better
                                subsantiated than Gordon's. At least it has some slight extended parallels
                                in that both Jesus' and Moses' crossing the of the sea are preceded by meals,
                                and both are succeded by an authoritative giving of/ interpretation of the
                                law. But this is the extent of the parallels (that I can determine in
                                english translation). If "Mark" was making a midrash on that theme we would
                                expect the theme to be more thoroughly interwoven into the related passages.
                                Stronger parrallels between passover and the feeding of the five thousand
                                would be drawn (perhaps by a meal of loaves and roast lamb?). The law theme
                                would have been more dominant in uncleaness dispute. Further lexical
                                parralells would also be in evidence (and may be in the original languages
                                for all I know). We would also have expected "Matthew", surely amongst
                                "Marks" intended audience, to have picked up the theme and more appropriatly
                                located the pericope given his known organisational principles.

                                The point of all this is that in this story the midrashic interpretation is
                                again ad hoc. It is not predicted by general theoretical considerations, and
                                generates no new predictions about editorial or lexical features of the text.
                                All that it "explains" are the slight parrallels that suggested the
                                hypothesis in the first place. So again, the naive interpretation, because
                                simpler, is better supported by the textual evidence.

                                In contrast, the story of Jesus calming the sea seems on textual evidence to
                                be a "midrash". The close parrallels between "Mark"s account of this
                                incident and the equivalent story in Jonah are remarkable. The naive
                                interpretation (that the events happened as described, and that "Mark"
                                recorded them without refference to the Jonah story) is in consequence a
                                non-starter because it fails to explain the close parrallels in the accounts.
                                Three other theories might be considered: that the events happened
                                approximatly as recorded and "Mark" relied on Jonah to help structure his
                                story; that the events happened approximately as described, but that Jesus
                                told the disciples (not the waves) to calm down, with the sea calming shortly
                                after by conincidence, and the event was retold as recorded because of
                                exaggeration and the use of Jonah to flesh out details; or no such event
                                happened, but "Mark" (or source) invented the story based on Jonah to tell a
                                theological point.

                                Of these three theories I think the last is better supported by textual
                                evidence. This is primarily (again) on the basis of simplicity because it
                                posits one source (Jonah) whilst the other two posit two sources (an event
                                and Jonah). If we accept the third theory, however, we should incline
                                against the view that "Mark" invented the story. Expected parrallels in
                                bracketing stories do not exist. This suggests that "Mark" found the
                                pericope as an intact story from an earlier period (AD 50-60?). This, in
                                turn, given that Jesus fills the roles of both Jonah and of God in this
                                pericope has interesting implications on the development on christology.

                                None of the three theories is contradicted by, or unreasonable in the face
                                of, the textual evidence in this pericope, so any might be preffered for
                                reasons beyond that textual evidence. We ought, however, to distinguish
                                between the immediate evidence and the more general considerations that
                                persuade us so that those who disagree with us on those more general
                                considerations can still find our research in the particular case usefull.

                                Regards,

                                Tom Curtis



                                In a message dated 2/14/01 11:13:32 E. Australia Standard Time,
                                K.Hanhart@... writes:

                                << Sukie Curtis wrote:

                                > Welcome, Gordon! This is response is to both Gordon and Daniel.

                                Dear Sukie and Gordon,

                                In the span of a week some 13 exegetes contributed to the topic of healings
                                and
                                exorcisms in the Gospel. It demonstrates its importance for the
                                interpretation.
                                Perhaps Paul van Buren's remark that with the Gospel we are reading "someone
                                else's mail" should be emphasized even more strongly. These miracle stories
                                are
                                told and read by people grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures that ruled their
                                lives.
                                I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders
                                and
                                healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                                never warn the reader, for instance, that the healing of a leper should be
                                taken literally and the rebuke of the storm wind and the commanding the sea,
                                "Peace. Be still" be taken metaphorically. Every stupendous and
                                contra-natural
                                event is described as if it were self evident: a matter of course. Doesn't
                                that
                                indicate that all 'miracles' should be taken metaphorically while still
                                grounded
                                in history? The Gospels were written primarily for first century Jews (I
                                name
                                them Christians Judeans - ioudaioi; I believe that in exegesis one should
                                choose an idiom matching the contemporary situation as much as possible).
                                They
                                were also written for baptized Gentiles or so-called Godfearers to meet their
                                needs and thus reflect their historical circumstances. So may I offer some
                                belated remarks?

                                > >(Daniel) I think the definition that Crossan uses for miracle is
                                excellent.
                                > Now I
                                > > want to emphasis that when I use the term miracle in historical discourse
                                > > I am not the one who perceives the transcendental, but I do point out
                                that
                                > > the source does have this perspective.
                                >
                                > Yes, I see that. But I also see that a modern historian might reasonably
                                > have two or three legitimate areas of exploration: 1) determining the
                                > perspective of the source, 2) using social science/cross-cultural
                                > anthropology, etc. to best reconstruct what the healing processes might
                                have
                                > included in that kind of setting (i.e., knowing Jesus hadn't been to med
                                > school),

                                I am in support of 1), but I wonder about "the med. school" in 2). For using
                                the
                                latter phrase
                                one appears to assume that such stories deal with actual physical changes
                                witnessed by the bystanders as amazing, contra-natural healings considered
                                to be
                                supernatural. Should the
                                historical grounding really be based on a literal, stupendous healing that
                                defied the laws of nature?
                                Would the author in that case have described them in such a brief, matter of
                                fact way on a par with walking on water?
                                I quite agree with Gordon that by distinguishing between nature wonders and
                                healing wonders one circumvents the problem of authorial intent. The authors
                                never warn the reader that healing a leper
                                (did the sores disappear forthwith?) should be taken literally and rebuking
                                the
                                storm wind and commanding the sea, "Peace. Be still" metaphorically. Every
                                stupendous and contra-natural event occurs in the Gospel as being
                                self-evident:
                                a matter of course. This is true for a "very large stone" that was rolled
                                away
                                from a monumental tomb without human hands as for a lame man whom Jesus got
                                back
                                on his feet again.
                                Most of us are more or less strangers to non-christian Jewish studies but
                                many of us would readily agree, I think, that these riddlesome miracle
                                stories
                                could best be explained through midrash. For the Gospel writers indeed "went
                                to
                                the Hebrew Scriptures". I would also subscribe to Crossan's definition: "a
                                miracle is a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or
                                manifestation". It is a social act (in its widest sense) attributed to divine
                                power. That holds true for the so called impossible deed of Jesus' crossing
                                the
                                ":sea" (note that Mark doesn't use the Gr limne = lake) One should ask,
                                therefore, to what Scripture this midrash refers. Gordon suggests Gen. 1, but
                                why not the 'crossing of the sea of reeds? What is the historical context of
                                the
                                story?
                                I would suggest that first of all we approach these riddlesome stories
                                through 'controlled mudrash'. The exegesis should pass the controls of
                                source-
                                and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other
                                hermeneutic
                                disciplines. For instance, the exegesis of crossing the sea into Gentile
                                territory should reflect, I think, the post-70 circumstances of the
                                adressees.
                                The crossing of the sea story is embedded in the structure of Mark's entire
                                Gospel beginning with preparing the way of Adonay and ending with going
                                ahead
                                into the Galil (ha-goyim). It is a Passover haggadah.
                                Because of the fall of Jerusalem and the subsequent, complete Roman
                                domination
                                of their homeland, the story would assure the reader in the ecclesia, I
                                think,
                                that Jesus Messiah is able to be with them in the Spirit even though he too
                                had
                                to succumb to a brutal death by the Romans. Thus the Way of Adonay will
                                continue
                                although secular reality gave the appearance of having created an impassable
                                barrier for such a belief. Thus faith in the resurrection is expressed by
                                means
                                of a vivid narrative. It is grounded in history for it reflects the
                                historical
                                situation of the author and his addressees Walking on a stormy sea into
                                Gentile
                                territory and there healing a demon possessed soldier named Legion has become
                                the model for the ecclesia that has just read the Exodus story.
                                By using the Gr thalassa the author thus retrojects the post-30
                                experiences of the early Christians into the lifetime of Jesus and his
                                disciples. The story has thus a double layer - one referring to Jesus' own
                                teachings and acts around Lake Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] and the teachings
                                and
                                acts of his followers in the diaspora around the Mediterranean Sea. They also
                                were called to exorcise evil spirits. Would not the storm be a metaphor for
                                the
                                turbulent historical circumstances, that these first readers went through.
                                One
                                could paint the scene with two huge fires in the background.. In the winter
                                of
                                64-65 a great fire devastated large sections of the city of Rome. The crazy
                                caesar Nero found the sect of the Christians guilty, as a kind of scapegoat.
                                They were bitterly persecuted. If indeed John Mark had been in Rome at the
                                time
                                that event. it must have colored his message. The second fire was the burning
                                down of the temple in Jerusalem, centre of learning, culture, and religion.
                                And
                                this would have been foremost in his mind. Was perhaps the great appeal,
                                which
                                the Gospel apparently had among Judeans and non-Judeans as well, due to the
                                longing of many for a humane society and was this longing perhaps grounded in
                                their faith in divine justice and mercy?.
                                The crossing of the "sea" story would on the one hand reflect the divine
                                salvation (a narrow escape from death) of the Exodus story, the addresses had
                                read paired with the sure promise of the divine presence in their own
                                future.
                                This interpretation would match the story of "Legio", a Graecised Latin
                                word
                                for a Roman legion, (which incidentally had their camp in the Decapolis ) and
                                the story of the daughter of Jaïrus on this side of "the sea". Read as
                                midrash,
                                the name Jaïrus in the latter subsequent story refers the reader to Yaïr of
                                ancient days, one of the lesser known judges. The "villages of Yaïr" (f.i. 1
                                Ki
                                4,13) were situated in the region West of Lake Kinneret, as the map of
                                ancient
                                geography tells us. The towns were actually called the "villages of Yaïr" and
                                that name would be familiar to any Judean from the area, just as in our days
                                local people take pride in one of their heroes of the past. The towns were
                                the
                                Judean counterparts of the Hellenic Dekapolis.

                                > and 3) reconstructing the path of the narrative's creation, as
                                > Gordon has done with his imagining the use of Hebrew scriptures, Elijah,
                                > Elisha, etc. in the shape and contours of the stories of Jesus' healings.
                                I
                                > imagine something like that process Gordon describes to be at work in at
                                > least some of the stories and perhaps generally so in all of them. I don't
                                > imagine oral stories (if by that you mean oral reports of this or that
                                > healing springing from an actual event) being behind the stories we have.
                                > But reflecting patterns of "typical healings" I'm more willing to imagine
                                > than Gordon.

                                Were not - what you call - "typical healings" in reality haggadot
                                illustrating
                                prophecies such as in
                                Isa 42,18; 43,8; 61,1?

                                > > <If social acts can be in some way (and most likely more so than we're
                                apt
                                > > to think) healing, esp. of illness and sickness with a social dimension,
                                > > and if social acts were probably a significant part of Jesus' activity,
                                > > why wouldn't there be a connection between those social acts and healing
                                > > stories?>
                                > >
                                > > I guess what I am missing is a well-monitored example in which we see how
                                > > a specific social act (or specific set of social acts) is recounted as a
                                > > miracle story. What I am looking for is something analogous to what Esler
                                > > does with speaking in tongues in "The First Christians in their Social
                                > > Worlds" combined with some oral transmission theory that again has some
                                > > empirical studies behind it. What makes a person who sees social action
                                > > tell miracle stories? If someone is afflicted with, say, blindness, and
                                > > Jesus' teaching of mercy requires the Christian community to take care of
                                > > blind (thus socially alleviating the illness) does the community start
                                > > telling stories in which the blind becomes seeing? Mark's story about
                                > > Bartimaeus is an example of a synthesis of both social aspect and
                                powerful
                                > > act.

                                The Judean background of these stories (haggadot) could be illustrated with
                                the
                                story of
                                Bartimaeus. I found the key to the story in the name itself. "Timaios" is
                                not a
                                Hebrew, but a Greek name; and Mark's readers, by now used to his ironic
                                style,
                                must have registered a signal by the author because this Greek name is
                                prefaced
                                by the Aramaic "bar-". Moreover, every intelligent Roman citizen would be
                                familiar with Timaios, the title of one of Platos's major works. It is well
                                known that Jews like to play with names. So also in the Gospel as in
                                Saul-Paul -
                                Cephas-Peter etc Thus the starting point for exegesis (its historical
                                grounding) might well be that to Mark certain Judeans, seeking their
                                salvation
                                in vain in Greek philosophy, should learn to go the way of the cross.
                                Bartimaeus
                                is said to have "followed Jesus on the way" {to the cross}.
                                Incide
                              • Karel Hanhart
                                Dear Tom, Thank you for your reply. Let me preface your comments by stating that I recently joined X-talk but contributed to the L-Synoptic list. I referred
                                Message 15 of 30 , Feb 15, 2001
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                                  Dear Tom,

                                  Thank you for your reply. Let me preface your comments by stating that I recently
                                  joined
                                  X-talk but contributed to the L-Synoptic list. I referred there to my study of
                                  Mark, The Open Tomb - a New Approach. Mark's Passover Haggadah (± 72 CE),
                                  Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN
                                  USA. Re: my methodology I would refer you to that publication.

                                  tomkirbel@... wrote:

                                  > I found Karel Hanhart's treatment of the walking on water, the healing of
                                  > Jairus' daughter and the healing of Bartimaus very interesting. On closer
                                  > examination, however, I think they illustrate exactly the problems I have
                                  > with "midrash" interpretations in general, and lack of methodological
                                  > transparency in particular.

                                  You are quite right. One must first study the phenomenon of midrash
                                  in order to try to apply this kind of approach to Scripture. I also would
                                  like to repeat that we should pursue "controlled midrash". The exegesis should
                                  pass the controls of
                                  source- and redaction criticism and of rhetorical analysis and of the other
                                  hermeneutic methods to revover the original meaning in as far as that is possible.

                                  > Very briefly, my problem with the treatment
                                  > of the Jairus and Bartimaus stories is that the refferences are too obscure
                                  > for the treatment to be convincing.

                                  Why obscure? The religious, cultural and political situation of these small
                                  Judean
                                  towns and villages in the region with the biblical name "villages of Yaïr" was
                                  precarious surrounded as they were by the Ten Cities in which Hellenic culture
                                  where 'foreign' religions were practiced and enemy forces were encamped.

                                  > On the assumption that "Mark" intended to be understood in "creating" these

                                  > stories, refferences ought to be easily
                                  > understandible for his intended audience.

                                  It is my assumption that Mark did not write for the general public but for
                                  the celebration of Pesach by the early Christians. The stories were read
                                  for the worshipers, children and adults, the uneducated and the literate.
                                  Like all the stories in Scriptures they were told in a vivid manner that children
                                  could easily understand. But the local presbyter would be the person to
                                  interpret the metaphors in the stories. Names like Jaïrus and Bartimaeus
                                  signaled the educated reader to search for the deeper meaning of the
                                  story.

                                  The Jairus/villages of Jair

                                  > refference is unlikely to have been understood outside of Galilee even if
                                  > Karel's otherwise unsubtantiated speculation that that designation of the
                                  > villages surrounding Gallilee was used in the 1st century is correct.

                                  One rule I followed is that in midrash one searches first of all for a reference
                                  to the
                                  Hebrew Scripture that would apply to the text. In this case the "villages of Yaïr"

                                  would fit the requirement of the name (Gr Iaïros) would match the Hebrew Yaïr
                                  the two regions would match and a Roman legion was indeed located in the
                                  Decapolis.

                                  > Likewise, the refference to Plato's dialogue from Bartimaus is too obscure.
                                  > If "Mark" was inventing a name, why choose the name of that dialogue?

                                  The "Timaios" was a well known, much debated and authoritative work by Plato.
                                  Both the author of Mark and at least some of his bi-lingual readers were educated
                                  in the Greek language and in rhetoric. Plato's works were read and studied in
                                  the grammar schools.

                                  > Turning to the walking on water, Karel's interpretation is (I think) better
                                  > subsantiated than Gordon's. At least it has some slight extended parallels
                                  > in that both Jesus' and Moses' crossing the of the sea are preceded by meals,
                                  > and both are succeded by an authoritative giving of/ interpretation of the
                                  > law.

                                  In your reply you do allow for midrashic references to Scripture; to the
                                  Exodus story and to Jonah. I wonder if you still want differentiate between
                                  healings with at its core should be taken literally and so-called nature
                                  miracles which alone may .be interpreted as metaphors?.

                                  > But this is the extent of the parallels (that I can determine in
                                  > english translation). If "Mark" was making a midrash on that theme we would
                                  > expect the theme to be more thoroughly interwoven into the related passages.
                                  > Stronger parrallels between passover and the feeding of the five thousand
                                  > would be drawn (perhaps by a meal of loaves and roast lamb?). The law theme
                                  > would have been more dominant in uncleaness dispute. Further lexical
                                  > parralells would also be in evidence (and may be in the original languages
                                  > for all I know). We would also have expected "Matthew", surely amongst
                                  > "Marks" intended audience, to have picked up the theme and more appropriatly
                                  > located the pericope given his known organisational principles.
                                  >
                                  > The point of all this is that in this story the midrashic interpretation is
                                  > again ad hoc. It is not predicted by general theoretical considerations, and
                                  > generates no new predictions about editorial or lexical features of the text.
                                  > All that it "explains" are the slight parrallels that suggested the
                                  > hypothesis in the first place. So again, the naive interpretation, because
                                  > simpler, is better supported by the textual evidence.

                                  The stories appear naive because they were intended also and first of
                                  all for the children in the congregation. As such they can still
                                  validly be taught to children. Our problem is the interpretation and application
                                  by adults.

                                  I hope this has clarified my exegesis somewhat.

                                  your
                                  Karel K.Hanhart@...
                                • tomkirbel@aol.com.au
                                  Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will not
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Feb 15, 2001
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                                    Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed
                                    comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will
                                    not be able to do in the near future). I commented on your interpretation
                                    not to specificly criticise it, but to use it as an example of how I think
                                    research ought to be done on methodological grounds. I did this as part of
                                    my debate with Antonio Jerez. Though I reffered to your interpretations as
                                    ad hoc, obviously I do not know without reading your book whether that is a
                                    fair description.

                                    For the record, I also do not think there are goood grounds in method for
                                    treating healing and nature miracles distinctly. Given the possibility of
                                    "psycho-somatic cures" there may be good ground in fact, but we should find
                                    evidence of that in our sources without introducing it as a methodological
                                    assumption. Of course, and this is the nub of my debate with Antonio, I
                                    don't think we should exclude the possibility of miracles happening as a
                                    methodological assumption. We should instead find the evidence in our
                                    sources that they did not (or, if that is the case, that they did).

                                    I am debating Antonio on this point because I think that using methodological
                                    naturalism: 1) can result in a failure to properly test theories against
                                    evidence; 2) alienates from the debate people who have a legitimate interest
                                    in that debate; and 3) for those (such as myself) for whom theism is still a
                                    live option, it precludes the evidence generated from being used as a test of
                                    theism.

                                    With regard to your theory, a test I would very like to see is the extent to
                                    which your midrashes survive (as allegorical interpretations) in commentaries
                                    by the early church fathers. Your theory, if I understand you, posits a
                                    tradition amongst presbyters which allows them to supply the "adult"
                                    interpretation. Such a tradition would, all else being equal, survive and be
                                    transmuted into allegorical interpretation, and the survival of such a
                                    tradition can be tested for. If you have already examined this possibility,
                                    I would be very interested to know the results.

                                    Thankyou again,

                                    Tom Curtis
                                  • Karel Hanhart
                                    ... As an ecumenically oriented pastor/theologian I am also approaching the Gospel from a faith perspective I believe the haggadot (stories) in the Hebrew
                                    Message 17 of 30 , Feb 20, 2001
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                                      tomkirbel@... wrote:

                                      > Karel, thankyou also for your reply. Obviously I am unable to make detailed
                                      > comment on your theory until I have read your book (which unfortunatly I will
                                      > not be able to do in the near future). I commented on your interpretation
                                      > not to specificly criticise it, but to use it as an example of how I think
                                      > research ought to be done on methodological grounds. I did this as part of
                                      > my debate with Antonio Jerez. Though I reffered to your interpretations as
                                      > ad hoc, obviously I do not know without reading your book whether that is a
                                      > fair description.
                                      >
                                      > For the record, I also do not think there are goood grounds in method for
                                      > treating healing and nature miracles distinctly. Given the possibility of
                                      > "psycho-somatic cures" there may be good ground in fact, but we should find
                                      > evidence of that in our sources without introducing it as a methodological
                                      > assumption. Of course, and this is the nub of my debate with Antonio, I
                                      > don't think we should exclude the possibility of miracles happening as a
                                      > methodological assumption. We should instead find the evidence in our
                                      > sources that they did not (or, if that is the case, that they did).
                                      >
                                      > I am debating Antonio on this point because I think that using methodological
                                      > naturalism: 1) can result in a failure to properly test theories against
                                      > evidence; 2) alienates from the debate people who have a legitimate interest
                                      > in that debate; and 3) for those (such as myself) for whom theism is still a
                                      > live option, it precludes the evidence generated from being used as a test of
                                      > theism.

                                      As an ecumenically oriented pastor/theologian I am also approaching the Gospel
                                      from a faith perspective I believe the haggadot (stories) in the Hebrew Bible
                                      and in the Gospels
                                      are meant to point to the working of the Spirit through a surprising and
                                      arresting 'miraculous' narrative which the author didnot intend to be taken
                                      literally. He rather would want his readers to awaken their faith in the working
                                      of the Spirit (in the case of the Gospels through Jesus).in certain situations
                                      (e.g. the relation of Judeans and Samaritans).
                                      Risking a modern modern example: I would regard a sudden peaceful solution to the
                                      conflict in the
                                      Middle East to be a miracle; but I would not regard a story about a sudden and
                                      mysterious rebuilding of the Temple on Mt Zion or the sudden appearance of
                                      Mohammed on that site to be a miracle story.
                                      .

                                      > With regard to your theory, a test I would very like to see is the extent to
                                      > which your midrashes survive (as allegorical interpretations) in commentaries
                                      > by the early church fathers.

                                      An allegory is something quite different from a midrash even though a midrash can
                                      be an allegory.
                                      The 'changing from water into wine' f.i. is in my view both a midrash and an
                                      allegory.

                                      The problem with the evidence from the Fathers is the fact that they were not
                                      Jews. By then the
                                      fall of Jerusalem was approached in an anti-judaic manner, as punishment by God.
                                      To John Mark
                                      and his Judean readers. The Roman conquest and the destruction of the temple was
                                      a disaster that had come over them as over all Judeans that cried out for a
                                      theodice. The open tomb ending was Mark's answer. To the Fathers the destruction
                                      of the temple did not touch them existentially. To them it was 'simply' a divine
                                      confirmation of their christology and ecclesiology, which was denied in the
                                      synagogue. The anti-judaism of the Church Fathers has come to the fore in many
                                      publications and need not be repeated here. In my book I demonstrated
                                      confirmation of my midrashic exegesis of the open tomb in the Epistle of
                                      Barnabas..
                                      yours cordially,


                                      Karel
                                    • Bob Schacht
                                      ... Now, to be sure, Anderson and Stark are referring to the hoi polloi, not the Fathers. Nevertheless, it seems to me like you have turned significant border
                                      Message 18 of 30 , Feb 20, 2001
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                                        At 04:26 PM 2/20/01 +0100, Karel Hanhart wrote:

                                        >...The problem with the evidence from the Fathers is the fact that they
                                        >were not Jews. By then the fall of Jerusalem was approached in an
                                        >anti-judaic manner, as punishment by God. To John Mark and his Judean
                                        >readers. The Roman conquest and the destruction of the temple was a
                                        >disaster that had come over them as over all Judeans that cried out for a
                                        >theodice. The open tomb ending was Mark's answer. To the Fathers the
                                        >destruction of the temple did not touch them existentially. To them it was
                                        >'simply' a divine
                                        >confirmation of their christology and ecclesiology, which was denied in
                                        >the synagogue. The anti-judaism of the Church Fathers has come to the fore
                                        >in many publications and need not be repeated here. ...

                                        Well, I'm not so sure. Richard Anderson wrote on another list:

                                        >In my paper Rodney Stark and the Ending of Acts, available on my web page,
                                        >I stated:
                                        >Rodney Stark, using his solid background in the sociology of religion, has
                                        >shown that the mission to the Jews probably succeeded.(3) Furthermore, the
                                        >principle of cultural continuity and the principle that 'Social movement
                                        >grow much faster when they spread through social network'(4) does provide a
                                        >partial explanation for the explosive growth of Christianity. The network
                                        >growth rate exhibited by Christianity has been confirmed by the Mormon
                                        >example.(5) Stark has shown that 'Christianity offered twice as much
                                        >cultural continuity to the Hellenized Jews as to Gentiles.'(6) Stark stated,
                                        >and his conclusion is well documented, 'that not only was it the Jews of the
                                        >diaspora who provided the initial basis for the church growth during the
                                        >first and early second centuries, but that Jews continued as a significant
                                        >source of Christian converts until at least as late as the fourth century
                                        >and that Jewish Christianity was still significant in the fifth century.'(7)
                                        >fn3: Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, (Princeton 1996), 49-71.
                                        >fn4: Stark, 55.
                                        >fn5: Stark, 18, 56.
                                        >fn6: Stark, 59.
                                        >fn6: Stark, 49.
                                        >Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God said that there were significant intercultural
                                        >border crossings between Christianity and Judaism up until the 5th century
                                        >essentially agreeing with Rodney Stark without mentioning him and using
                                        >different data.
                                        >However, I think you would need to read Danielou, The Theology of Jewish
                                        >Christianity, and other works on Jewish Christianity to obtain answers to
                                        >some of your specific questions....
                                        >
                                        >Richard H. Anderson
                                        >Wallingford PA
                                        >http://www.geocities.com/gospelofluke

                                        Now, to be sure, Anderson and Stark are referring to the hoi polloi, not
                                        the Fathers. Nevertheless, it seems to me like you have turned "significant
                                        border crossings" into a chasm, and have thereby have perhaps exaggerated
                                        the differences.

                                        Bob
                                        Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                                        Northern Arizona University
                                        Flagstaff, AZ


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