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RE: [XTalk] Miracles and modern historians

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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
                      >
                      >
                      > The XTalk Home Page is http://www.xtalk.org
                      >
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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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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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