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RE: [XTalk] Miracles and modern historians

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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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