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Re: [XTalk] Re: Healing Stories

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Dear Gordon, Thanks for this reference. Would you mind summarizing for us some of his salient points regarding this thread? ... I have no argument with
    Message 1 of 20 , Feb 4, 2001
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      At 08:13 AM 2/4/01 -0500, Gordon Raynal wrote:
      >Bob,
      >...
      >1. I am aware of the J.S. consensus on this. One of the Fellows, Hal
      >Taussig, has a nice little counter response in his book on Jesus'
      >prayers (sorry the book is at the office, so I forget the exact title).
      >I describe "the mission" a little differently than Hal does and don't
      >agree with some of his speculations, but that book presents a compact
      >portrait of wisdom teacher Jesus "in action."

      Dear Gordon,
      Thanks for this reference. Would you mind summarizing for us some of his
      salient points regarding this thread?

      >2. The purpose of this note, of course, was to broadly sketch out an
      >alternative way to look at this material. As you note, a case by case
      >study, would fill this in. But herein let me again say that I think
      >that the distinction that the JS and such as Dom in particular used to
      >differentiate between nature wonders and healing wonders is an odd
      >distinction I just don't accept. That the reconciliation movement had
      >"healing effects" (both in terms of the houses, communities,
      >relationships and in terms of individual lives), yes. But in the
      >narratives of both nature wonders and healing wonders Jesus is not
      >presented differently. In both cases he is accessing Divine Power as
      >the Divine Son. Here both John and Acts actually help us out. In John
      >all these works are "Signs." In Acts the disciples access this power
      >only after the Spirit is given.

      I have no argument with this.

      > I think searching out the healing wonders for "the science of it" so to
      > speak is equivalent to searching
      >out Jesus walking on water asking after possible methodology:)!

      I'm not sure about the point you're making here, or who you are responding
      to. Perhaps I am being obtuse?

      >Again... these stories represent DRAMATIC metaphoric representation of
      >what Jesus had empowered... a community of reconciliation (again
      >borrowing from Paul) and Jesus, hailed as THE CHRIST, makes the
      >evidences of that come alive.

      Shouting your opinions does not help to convince me. I am not arguing that
      the gospel writers never employed recourse to dramatic metaphoric
      representations. My objection is to your implication that *every single
      report of healing* can be explained that way.

      >3. We can go through some stories if you like. But just a in
      >overview... "the raising" stories are examples of direct midrash of what
      >Elijah did.

      I am aware that there has been some discussion in the literature about an
      overly loose use of the term "midrash". I repeat my question (from a
      previous post), what exactly do you mean by midrash, and how can you tell
      when midrash is being employed, and when it is not being employed? Can you
      provide specific instances where you can substantiate your claim of midrash
      on Elijah in the healing stories?

      > I would suggest that "the blindness stories" serve the
      >function of showing fulfillment of the Isaianic prophecy (per the LXX)
      >about "the blind receive their sight."

      Again, I ask for specific examples. I am aware that Matthew (e.g. 8:16-17)
      offers a summary of Jesus' *exorcisms* as a fulfillment of Isaiah, so I am
      willing in this case to regard vs. 16 as an interpretive summary and
      commentary rather than an historical event-- not only because of vs. 17,
      but also because vs. 16 is lacking in any specific detail. However, I do
      not think that this means, ipso facto, that all exorcisms are to be
      regarded as wonder stories without any historical basis. I think we need to
      distinguish interpretive editorial commentary (as in this example) from
      reports of putatively historical events (as in other cases).

      >As for the exorcism stories...

      See above.

      >these are power contests that allude to the official establishment and
      >especially in the case of the Gerasene demoniac to "the Legions" (aka
      >Roman presence).

      I concede this possibility in the specific case of the story of the
      Gerasene demoniac, but do not concede its generalization to all exorcism
      stories.

      > In like fashion the leprosy stories are parabolic in
      >reference to purity issues. My point is that there is DIRECT MIDRASH as
      >in the case of "the raising stories," there is "fulfillment of Prophetic
      >Scripture" as in the case of "the blind receive their sight,"

      See above.

      >and there are general fulfillment stories working out of such affirmation
      >as Psalm
      >103:3 that "bring the contest" (per such as Psalm 2, 76) between the
      >Lord's anointed and the political and religious powers into focus (and
      >we KNOW who wins!).

      See above.

      > In sum... these ARE WONDER STORIES...

      I grant that *some* of them are. You can shout all you want, but I disagree
      that *all* of the healing stories are, therefore, to be regarded as only
      wonder stories without any historical basis.

      >and their intent is fully theological in affirmation of who Jesus was/ is...
      >and their impact is to show the alternative WAY of the "ministry of
      >reconciliation" now broadly alive because Jesus is indeed "the one in
      >whom God is well pleased."

      I think we should distinguish between story and commentary on the meaning
      of the story. I think you are confusing the two. I agree with you about the
      intent of the commentaries.

      >Lastly... this isn't historical remembrance turned to made more special
      >by turning it to myth. This is the direct art of midrash for the
      >purposes of theological and ethical affirmation, celebration and reflection.

      I am not convinced by ex cathedra proclamations.

      >So, that is a bit more. If you'd like to go over some stories in detail,
      >perhaps we can do that off-line.

      Why off line? I think that this discussion is directly relevant to the
      purpose of this list.

      >Perhaps this clarifies the stance a bit.
      >
      >Gordon Raynal
      >Inman, SC

      Thank you. I hope that this, plus my response to Nichael today, clarifies
      my stance.

      Bob
      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University
      Flagstaff, AZ
    • Nichael Cramer
      ... As I suggested in my earlier note, there are many cases in which the smoke has been recorded; and in none of those other cases is anyone suggesting an
      Message 2 of 20 , Feb 4, 2001
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        Bob Schacht wrote:
        >Nichael,
        >Thanks for your attempt to smooth over the differences, but I understand
        >Gordon to be making a far more radical claim: that *none* of the healing
        >stories has any historical basis in the life of Jesus (or, to put it
        >colloquially, Never mind all that smoke; there's no fire).

        As I suggested in my earlier note, there are many cases
        in which the "smoke" has been recorded; and in none of
        those other cases is anyone suggesting an underlying "fire".

        In short, I'm afraid I remain unconvinced of the "radical"
        nature of the claim you attribute to Gordon.

        The crux of my concern is the special status granted the
        Gospels in these discussions; the degree to which normal,
        reasonable scientific skepticism is to be suspended.

        I would propose a thought experiment: Suppose we were to
        take precisely these arguments for the historicity of these
        events, unchanged except for one small detail; namely that
        we simply replace the name "Jesus" with the name, say,
        "Claudius". To what extent would we be expected to
        accept these stories as "historical"?

        Nichael
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Nichael, This is not the issue at all; indeed, the Jesus seminar would take offense at your suggestion that they had granted any special status to the
        Message 3 of 20 , Feb 4, 2001
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          At 09:38 PM 2/4/01 -0500, Nichael Cramer wrote:
          >Bob Schacht wrote:
          > >Nichael,
          > >Thanks for your attempt to smooth over the differences, but I understand
          > >Gordon to be making a far more radical claim: that *none* of the healing
          > >stories has any historical basis in the life of Jesus (or, to put it
          > >colloquially, Never mind all that smoke; there's no fire).
          >
          >As I suggested in my earlier note, there are many cases
          >in which the "smoke" has been recorded; and in none of
          >those other cases is anyone suggesting an underlying "fire".
          >
          >In short, I'm afraid I remain unconvinced of the "radical"
          >nature of the claim you attribute to Gordon.
          >
          >The crux of my concern is the special status granted the
          >Gospels in these discussions; the degree to which normal,
          >reasonable scientific skepticism is to be suspended....

          Nichael,
          This is not the issue at all; indeed, the Jesus seminar would take offense
          at your suggestion that they had granted any special status to the Gospels
          at all. For the sake of discussion, neither do I. Indeed, it is one of
          their most basic articles of critical scholarship that the Gospels are
          *not* to be accorded any special status. The language used by the Jesus
          Seminar in discussing the historicity of the passages I enumerated for you
          in my previous post is carefully crafted so as *not* to suspend normal,
          reasonable scientific skepticism. In fact, they sometimes make comments on
          the text to interpret the healing claims in the passage in skeptical
          scientific terms, e.g., by suggesting that the illness was "psychosomatic,"
          etc. I can only conclude from your comments that you are not very familiar
          with the work of the Jesus Seminar. I would urge you to become familiar, at
          your first opportunity, with both The Five Gospels and The Acts of Jesus,
          and you will see what I mean. Even though I sometimes (often?) disagree
          with some of their conclusions, I still consider these two volumes to be an
          invaluable summary of recent critical scholarship on the historical Jesus,
          and a convenient starting place for analysis.

          So, in summary, it requires no special pleading to arrive at the conclusion
          that half a dozen or so of the healing incidents reported in the Gospels
          are historical.

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


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        • Gordon Raynal
          Bob, I am in a rush again this a.m., but thank you for the chat and just a few remarks: 1. I am not undone if Jesus was an exorcist/ healer, I simply remain
          Message 4 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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            Bob,

            I am in a rush again this a.m., but thank you for the chat and just a
            few remarks:

            1. I am not undone if Jesus was an exorcist/ healer, I simply remain
            unconvinced that the data base you cite from the Jesus Seminar consensus
            gives historical evidence for that.
            2. Pardon my knowledge or lack thereof of email protocols, but CAPS are
            not meant as shouting but for emphasis sake. I'm only a year and a half
            old emailer... and all the conventions are not clear to me.
            3. Hal Taussig, a Jesus Seminar Fellow, writes of just a brief overview
            of his disagreement with the JS consensus, Crossan and Borg in "Jesus
            Before God." This very brief sketch will not provide the detail you are
            seeking in accounting a review of the relevant text, but his
            introduction in this thought provoking work does sketch out his overall
            portrait of Jesus and addresses the issue of healing. Just one note
            from pg. 31 that is only a summary statement: "I do not think that Jesus
            was one of those healers. The anthropological studies about these
            healers show that they are not teachers." His proposal and mine, too,
            is that this is a modest proposal.
            4. Last evening I reviewed one rendition of the first layer of Q (in
            Burton Mack's volume on Q) and the beginning of Mark up through where
            the 12 are formed in Chapter 3. If you at all accept something like Q1
            as Mack proposes, there are no healing stories in this layer of
            tradition. There is "the mission statement," but I find actually
            helpful the general way Mack translates the interaction with those who
            are ill. It is a "tending to" language. (I will understand if you
            think that both of these points are not acceptable to you, but I regard
            them as both important. Taussig will say that there were healers and
            exorcists among the earliest followers, but that we simply do not have
            evidence that Jesus was an exorcist/ healer.) In the later layers of Q
            we do get healing stories. The one that comes first is the one that
            comes after the opening sermon where Jesus is confronted by a Roman
            centurion on behalf of a favorite servant. There is dialogue and then
            Jesus upon hearing "the faith testimony" WITH A WORD (emphasis) says to
            go because he has been healed. This story is a fine example of the
            Kingdom Power that Jesus commands.

            As we move into Mark... we see the same. Notably in the first exorcism
            "the key character" (so to speak) is the demon who knows Jesus' real
            identity. The context in the synagogue is over authority... and Jesus
            has authority as do not the Scribes. The exorcism dramatizes this. The
            stories that follow line up in similar fashion. The Peter's house/
            mother-in-law story is about "localizing the mission" and Petrine
            position. The healing is with just saying "get up." And on as these
            first stories go... it is noted that persons and demons "are to hush
            up!" This all fits beautifully with one of Canonical Mark's theological
            motifs... the dawning of the KOG and the necessity of keeping "the
            Messianic Secret" until all is revealed. Beautiful theology and I like
            it! But history, I must conclude, "no."

            I must run now, but we can also get into the art of midrash more fully.
            For now I again just ask you to think about the way I spoke of it...
            Direct working out of specific stories, Prophetic Fulfillment that
            dramatizes how Jesus fulfilled the prophets of old, and General/ or
            Broad Theological Fulfillment where theological and/ or ethical themes
            from the Hebrew Scriptures are dramatized with Wonder Stories. I
            understand all of this in terms of what can be called the Midrashic
            Imagination. Such functions by reflecting on received tradition...
            connecting it to HJ... and dramatizing that in narrative form.

            Well must run...

            Gordon
          • Sukie Curtis
            ... I like your thought experiment! Even for someone like me, who s a skeptic and a rationalist to my only slightly less skeptical/rational husband, it
            Message 5 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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              Nichael Cramer wrote:

              > I would propose a thought experiment: Suppose we were to
              > take precisely these arguments for the historicity of these
              > events, unchanged except for one small detail; namely that
              > we simply replace the name "Jesus" with the name, say,
              > "Claudius". To what extent would we be expected to
              > accept these stories as "historical"?

              I like your thought experiment! Even for someone like me, who's a "skeptic
              and a rationalist" to my only slightly less skeptical/rational husband, it
              FEELS different to change the name; it registers differently, particularly
              with someone not usually thought of as a "religious figure" or "holy
              person."

              I have gone back and reread the chapter of Crossan's _The Historical JEsus_
              on "Magician and Prophet" and have been reminded of the chasm that separates
              me and my mindset/culture, etc. from cultures where magician-healers are an
              everyday assumption (although I suppose I'm reminded of some vestiges of
              that mindset in our own day when people make half-jokes about my hoped-for
              influence, as a "religious official," on the weather or the outcome of
              events). I find it fascinating, yet know I'm continually hindered by not
              being able to shed my skin, so to speak, in order to enter more fully that
              other world.

              Sukie Curtis
              Cumberland Foreside, Maine



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            • Liz Fried
              Dear All, I think it is reasonable to suppose that the Evangelists and the early church *assumed* that Jesus healed and cast-off demons. He would have had to
              Message 6 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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                Dear All,
                I think it is reasonable to suppose that the Evangelists and the
                early church *assumed* that Jesus healed and cast-off demons.
                He would have had to do all those thing to demonstrate any sort of
                link with God. (It is the same today with Sai Baba, a Hindu guru.)
                However, how can we in the 21st century believe he really did these things
                except by magic tricks or hypnosis -- in the same way that Sai Baba does?
                Reading Mark, it's as if the whole world had Turette's disease.
                Turette's disease is not cured by hypnosis except only temporarily.

                To site as evidence the existence of multiple independent attestations only
                indicates
                how ingrained the belief was, and how important it was to his followers.
                It does not indicate anything about a real human being.

                Liz
              • Nichael Cramer
                ... I understand this, but it still seems difficult not to see a special status being granted. Allow me to ... In light of this let me rephrase my question:
                Message 7 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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                  Bob Schacht wrote:
                  >This is not the issue at all; indeed, the Jesus seminar would take offense
                  >at your suggestion that they had granted any special status to the Gospels
                  >at all. For the sake of discussion, neither do I. Indeed, it is one of
                  >their most basic articles of critical scholarship that the Gospels are
                  >*not* to be accorded any special status.

                  I understand this, but it still seems difficult not
                  to see a "special status" being granted. Allow me to
                  refer to your earlier posting:

                  > It is completely unacceptable methodology,
                  >IMHO, to *assume* a priori that every incident presented as scripture
                  >fulfillment is ipso facto *merely* a literary invention copying from the
                  >scriptural model. Your opening sentences seem to suggest such a blanket
                  >conclusion.

                  In light of this let me rephrase my question:

                  For what other ancient text would we consider it acceptable
                  historical methodology to begin by assuming that a report of
                  a supernatural event were anything except a "literary invention"?

                  > ... I would urge you to become familiar, at
                  >your first opportunity, with both The Five Gospels and The Acts of Jesus,
                  >and you will see what I mean.

                  Actually I am quite familar with both these texts.

                  Nichael


                  Mr Anarchic Eel
                  nichael@...
                  http://www.sover.net/~nichael/
                • Antonio Jerez
                  ... Though I have often had arguments in the past with Bob Schacht about the historical veracity of many parts of the NT, I feel sympathy for his positition on
                  Message 8 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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                    Nichael Cramer wrote:

                    > In light of this let me rephrase my question:
                    >
                    > For what other ancient text would we consider it acceptable
                    > historical methodology to begin by assuming that a report of
                    > a supernatural event were anything except a "literary invention"?

                    Though I have often had arguments in the past with Bob Schacht about the
                    historical veracity of many parts of the NT, I feel sympathy for his positition
                    on this particular matter. I agree that Gordon Raynal's claim that ALL healing
                    and miracle stories are pure metaphorical midrash without any grounding in
                    any historical happening is simplistic in the extreme. Gordon is on the right track
                    when it comes to the nature miracles - like Jesus walking on water and stilling the
                    storm - but out on a limb when talking about the exorcism stories.
                    Nichael Cramer asks a rather strange question. I am not a Christian, do not believe
                    in the supernatural and study the the gospels as a secular historian. A historian does
                    not rule out beforehand a report from an ancient text that that contains supernatural
                    elements as a total literary invention. Nichael is also being extremely simplistic. The fact
                    that a healing story like Mark 1:21-28 mentions a man being possessed by demons does
                    not automatically mean that the historical Jesus could not have had a real encounter with
                    a man which he and his firstcentury BELIEVED was demonpossessed Just because we
                    moderns don't give a certain event the same interpretation that the ancients did does not
                    mean that the event doesn't have anything historical over it at all.
                    That said I must admit that the miracle stories in the gospels are often treated with a
                    seriousness that is often laughable by the kind of pseudohistorians that are all too common
                    in the exegetical guild. Why even bother to try to argue for anything historical behind a story
                    like Jesus walking on water or the raising of Lazarus? Still we find scholar after scholar in
                    commentary after commentary going to ridiculous lengths to argue that there may be something
                    behind the event after all. The last time I had this unpleasant experience was when reading Craig
                    Keener's recent commentary on Matthew. Here he digs up dozens of litterary parallels from ancient
                    litterature about people walking miraculously on water and the man still doesn't want to admit that
                    we are dealing with pure metaphorical "midrash". That said, though I was often angered by the
                    dumbness of many of Keeners arguments, I must recommend his commentary because it is a goldmine
                    for anybody interested in finding out about the literary parallels in pagan and jewish litterature to the
                    gospel stories.

                    Best wishes

                    Antonio Jerez
                    Göteborg, Sweden
                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                    ... I m afraid you two might be talking past each other. Bob is talking about prophecy historicized ; Nichael is talking about supernatural events. These
                    Message 9 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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                      At 11:05 AM 2/5/01 -0500, Nichael Cramer wrote:
                      >Bob Schacht wrote:
                      >> It is completely unacceptable methodology,
                      >>IMHO, to *assume* a priori that every incident presented as scripture
                      >>fulfillment is ipso facto *merely* a literary invention copying from the
                      >>scriptural model. Your opening sentences seem to suggest such a blanket
                      >>conclusion.
                      >
                      >In light of this let me rephrase my question:
                      >
                      >For what other ancient text would we consider it acceptable
                      >historical methodology to begin by assuming that a report of
                      >a supernatural event were anything except a "literary invention"?

                      I'm afraid you two might be talking past each other. Bob is
                      talking about "prophecy historicized"; Nichael is talking
                      about supernatural events. These two categories are not
                      co-terminous and, in fact, include many different episodes.
                      For example, Jesus's riding on a donkey into Jerusalem is
                      not a supernatural event, but a good candidate for prophecy
                      historicized.

                      Stephen Carlson
                      --
                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... You are still confusing the specifics of the event with the interpretation of the event, something that the Jesus Seminar is careful to avoid. To take the
                      Message 10 of 20 , Feb 5, 2001
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                        At 11:05 AM 2/5/01 -0500, Nichael Cramer wrote:
                        >...In light of this let me rephrase my question:
                        >
                        >For what other ancient text would we consider it acceptable
                        >historical methodology to begin by assuming that a report of
                        >a supernatural event were anything except a "literary invention"?

                        You are still confusing the specifics of the event with the interpretation
                        of the event, something that the Jesus Seminar is careful to avoid. To take
                        the example I gave of Mark 5:25, I quoted the JSem as follows:
                        "There was a woman who suffered from vaginal hemorrhaging. She touched
                        Jesus' cloak and the bleeding stopped instantly."

                        Note well that the Jesus Seminar is not claiming that Jesus performed a
                        miracle. In fact, they are not claiming that Jesus did anything at all. In
                        fact, there is nothing supernatural about this account, in the bare bones
                        JSem phrasing of the historical core of the event. The supernatural part
                        comes in the *interpretation* of the bare facts. You, apparently, cannot
                        help but *read into* the account something supernatural.

                        So in general the claim for historicity of these passages is merely this:
                        something happened, and it was interpreted as a miracle (or a healing, or a
                        sign, or whatever other word of interpretation). There is nothing
                        supernatural about this claim for historicity. Both (what was observed,
                        what people said) are historically accessible data that are the routine
                        stuff of ancient history. Whether the interpretation imposed on the
                        observations was correct or not is quite another matter.

                        > > ... I would urge you to become familiar, at
                        > >your first opportunity, with both The Five Gospels and The Acts of Jesus,
                        > >and you will see what I mean.
                        >
                        >Actually I am quite familar with both these texts.

                        You may possess both these texts, but you do not seem to have read them
                        very closely. The JSem is very careful about its choice of words in the
                        historical claims it makes. I urge you to take another look.

                        Best regards,
                        Bob




                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Gordon Raynal
                        Antonio, The important word in this post is could. Of course the healing wonder stories could suggest that Jesus was a healer. And as I noted yesterday
                        Message 11 of 20 , Feb 6, 2001
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                          Antonio,

                          The important word in this post is "could." Of course the healing
                          wonder stories "could" suggest that Jesus was a healer. And as I noted
                          yesterday I'm not an unhappy person if this is true. But the stories of
                          healings and exorcisms do not come to us as "touched up" (to use
                          photographic technique language) stories. They come as wonder stories
                          whose purpose is theological. In the case of this pericope the demon(s)
                          know who Jesus really is... the crowds get that he teaches with an
                          authority unlike those of religious establishment... the demon knows
                          that truth and from whence the authority comes! Now behind this "could"
                          be an exorcism that the story telling tradition changed to proclaim
                          theology, but exactly how by historical methodology can you make that
                          judgment? Again, as a Christian, I have no problem with this story as a
                          beautiful example of theological proclamation... the ancient form of
                          dramatizing the parabler Jesus become the PARABLE OF GOD. This, like
                          all these stories, is rich fodder for theological reflection. It fits
                          into Mark's theological framework and it forms an important part of the
                          whole witness. But this story does not get me any closer than "could,"
                          and if you will read Taussig's little introduction he will suggest why
                          that "could," to use Jesus Seminar lingo, deserves "a Gray bead," in my book.

                          Beyond this, I find fascinating the move to define the illnesses cited
                          in post Freudian "psycho-somatic terms," then proceed to delve into how
                          Jesus was an effective healer of these sorts of illnesses. This is
                          surely a fascinating modern preoccupation! Having spent over a decade
                          working in a psychiatric unit at a teaching medical university and
                          having worked with patients who have "conversion disorders," and yes,
                          having seen blindness, lameness overcome and such as rashes relieved...
                          those who truly fit the diagnostic standards for a conversion disorder
                          are very complex cases. The actual recovery is not instantaneous
                          (symptom relief sometimes is, yes, but not serious recovery) and I never
                          saw an actual case be relieved without psychotropic medications and then
                          serious and long term follow-up. To be sure... I imagine that being in
                          the presence of wise, justice and peace loving Jesus was "healing" in
                          the broad sense of that. The long term effects of being involved in a
                          reconciliation movement surely had positive psychological effects. And
                          Paul lets us know that healers became associated with this movement.
                          But all of this is a quite different historical claim than we are dealt
                          with the kind of "could have" argument presented here. Suggesting a
                          supposition is one thing, making a historical claim requires evidence.
                          What we get from the ancient world, obviously, are not medical records.
                          What we get... and they are of a kind... (these are consistent stories
                          in that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Son of the Father who has
                          inaugurated the eschatological age of the Kingdom). With that comes
                          nature and healing (and actually, of course, healing is "natural"/ has
                          to do with nature!) wonders that signify this happening. Before this in
                          Israel's scriptures WE ARE TOLD that this is part of what God does and
                          therefore the Evangelists as they did for birth, baptism, temptation,
                          teachings, passion, death, resurrection and glorification... went to the
                          Scriptures to elucidate this proclamation. And to say the least this
                          has remained an amazing form of religious communication. The consistent
                          testimony across the texts... just to borrow Paul's affirmation in II
                          Cor. 5... is that in Jesus a community of reconciliation was founded.
                          Now I like to employ "healing metaphors" for the effect of this! And
                          when I look at Jesus' parables what I find is a story of a Samaritan who
                          tends and makes for the possibility of recovery. So if we want to talk
                          about the real healing that Jesus helped effect, that is where I suggest
                          we start!

                          Gordon Raynal
                          Inman, SC



                          Antonio Jerez wrote:
                          >
                          > Nichael Cramer wrote:
                          >
                          > > In light of this let me rephrase my question:
                          > >
                          > > For what other ancient text would we consider it acceptable
                          > > historical methodology to begin by assuming that a report of
                          > > a supernatural event were anything except a "literary invention"?
                          >
                          > Though I have often had arguments in the past with Bob Schacht about the
                          > historical veracity of many parts of the NT, I feel sympathy for his positition
                          > on this particular matter. I agree that Gordon Raynal's claim that ALL healing
                          > and miracle stories are pure metaphorical midrash without any grounding in
                          > any historical happening is simplistic in the extreme. Gordon is on the right track
                          > when it comes to the nature miracles - like Jesus walking on water and stilling the
                          > storm - but out on a limb when talking about the exorcism stories.
                          > Nichael Cramer asks a rather strange question. I am not a Christian, do not believe
                          > in the supernatural and study the the gospels as a secular historian. A historian does
                          > not rule out beforehand a report from an ancient text that that contains supernatural
                          > elements as a total literary invention. Nichael is also being extremely simplistic. The fact
                          > that a healing story like Mark 1:21-28 mentions a man being possessed by demons does
                          > not automatically mean that the historical Jesus could not have had a real encounter with
                          > a man which he and his firstcentury BELIEVED was demonpossessed Just because we
                          > moderns don't give a certain event the same interpretation that the ancients did does not
                          > mean that the event doesn't have anything historical over it at all.
                          > That said I must admit that the miracle stories in the gospels are often treated with a
                          > seriousness that is often laughable by the kind of pseudohistorians that are all too common
                          > in the exegetical guild. Why even bother to try to argue for anything historical behind a story
                          > like Jesus walking on water or the raising of Lazarus? Still we find scholar after scholar in
                          > commentary after commentary going to ridiculous lengths to argue that there may be something
                          > behind the event after all. The last time I had this unpleasant experience was when reading Craig
                          > Keener's recent commentary on Matthew. Here he digs up dozens of litterary parallels from ancient
                          > litterature about people walking miraculously on water and the man still doesn't want to admit that
                          > we are dealing with pure metaphorical "midrash". That said, though I was often angered by the
                          > dumbness of many of Keeners arguments, I must recommend his commentary because it is a goldmine
                          > for anybody interested in finding out about the literary parallels in pagan and jewish litterature to the
                          > gospel stories.
                          >
                          > Best wishes
                          >
                          > Antonio Jerez
                          > Göteborg, Sweden
                          >
                          >
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                        • Jack Kilmon
                          ... From: Gordon Raynal To: Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2001 7:11 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Healing
                          Message 12 of 20 , Feb 6, 2001
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                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "Gordon Raynal" <scudi@...>
                            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2001 7:11 AM
                            Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Healing Stories


                            > Beyond this, I find fascinating the move to define the illnesses cited
                            > in post Freudian "psycho-somatic terms," then proceed to delve into how
                            > Jesus was an effective healer of these sorts of illnesses.

                            In a society where illness was believed to be the result of sin, I can see
                            how
                            "psycho-somatic/guilt" maladies would proliferate in a society so entranched
                            in religious fervor, perhaps even outnumber illnesses of pathological
                            origin.
                            Forgive the sin, cure the disease.


                            Jack
                            --
                            ______________________________________________

                            taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

                            Jack Kilmon
                            Austin, Texas
                            jkilmon@...

                            http://www.historian.net

                            sharing a meal for free.
                            http://www.thehungersite.com/
                          • Antonio Jerez
                            ... Gordon, I would not agree with you that some of the healing and excorcism stories do not come up to us as touched up . In a case like Mark 2:1-12 we very
                            Message 13 of 20 , Feb 6, 2001
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                              Gordon Raynal wrote:

                              > Antonio,

                              > The important word in this post is "could." Of course the healing
                              > wonder stories "could" suggest that Jesus was a healer. And as I noted
                              > yesterday I'm not an unhappy person if this is true. But the stories of
                              > healings and exorcisms do not come to us as "touched up" (to use
                              > photographic technique language) stories. They come as wonder stories
                              > whose purpose is theological. In the case of this pericope the demon(s)
                              > know who Jesus really is... the crowds get that he teaches with an
                              > authority unlike those of religious establishment... the demon knows
                              > that truth and from whence the authority comes! Now behind this "could"
                              > be an exorcism that the story telling tradition changed to proclaim
                              > theology, but exactly how by historical methodology can you make that
                              > judgment?

                              Gordon,
                              I would not agree with you that some of the healing and excorcism stories
                              do not come up to us as "touched up". In a case like Mark 2:1-12 we very
                              probably have a historical reminicence from Jesus "touched up" theologically.
                              I think we can say that the historical core (basically without any retouching) is
                              found from verse 2:1-4. But I do agree with you that it is often almost impossible
                              to disentangle history from fiction in many of the NT stories. Unfortunately there
                              is no good metodology.

                              > What we get from the ancient world, obviously, are not medical records.
                              > What we get... and they are of a kind... (these are consistent stories
                              > in that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Son of the Father who has
                              > inaugurated the eschatological age of the Kingdom). With that comes
                              > nature and healing (and actually, of course, healing is "natural"/ has
                              > to do with nature!) wonders that signify this happening. Before this in
                              > Israel's scriptures WE ARE TOLD that this is part of what God does and
                              > therefore the Evangelists as they did for birth, baptism, temptation,
                              > teachings, passion, death, resurrection and glorification... went to the
                              >Scriptures to elucidate this proclamation.

                              But you forget that there is little indication that firstcentury Jews expected
                              the Messiah to be an exorcist and a healer. I think you are putting the cart
                              before the horse. As I read the evidence Jesus made himelf quite a reputation
                              as a healer and an exorcist during his lifetime. After his death his followers
                              searched the scriptures to find passages that could show that the Messiah
                              was unexpectedly both to be a miracle worker and a dying and resurrected one.
                              We also have indications in the gospels (and Josephus?)that both foe and friend acknowledged
                              that Jesus was an exorcist. A pericope like Matthew 12:22-37 shows how the
                              early Christians tried to counter the accusations that Jesus healing powers came
                              from Satan.

                              Best wishes

                              Antonio Jerez
                              Göteborg, Sweden
                            • RSBrenchley@aol.com
                              ... I wish you d do it online, this is really interesting! Regards, Robert Brenchley RSBrenchley@aol.com
                              Message 14 of 20 , Feb 6, 2001
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                                Gordon Raynal writes:

                                > So, that is a bit more. If you'd like to go over some stories in
                                > detail, perhaps we can do that off-line.

                                I wish you'd do it online, this is really interesting!

                                Regards,

                                Robert Brenchley

                                RSBrenchley@...
                              • Ken Olson
                                ... early Christians tried to counter the accusations that Jesus healing powers came from Satan.
                                Message 15 of 20 , Feb 7, 2001
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                                  At 1:53 PM on 2/6/01 Antonio Jerez wrote:

                                  >>A pericope like Matthew 12:22-37 shows how the
                                  early Christians tried to counter the accusations that Jesus healing
                                  powers came
                                  from Satan.<<

                                  Is that necessarily the social context of the composition of this
                                  pericope? Frequently in Mark, Jesus is a sort of role model (as
                                  opposed to Peter and the other disciples) for proper Christian
                                  behavior in times of trouble and persecution. The pericope in Mk.
                                  3.22-30 (= Mt. 12.22-37, Lk. 11.17-23, 12.10) may be an example of
                                  such. Christians who claimed to have an indwelling holy spirit, which
                                  made them "dead to sin" and granted them "gifts of the spirit"
                                  including prophecy, glossolalia, healing, and "discerning of spirits"
                                  (1 Cor. 12) may frequently have faced accusations of demonic
                                  possesion. The possibility that this situation has been retrojected
                                  into the lifetime of Jesus at least deserves consideration. This
                                  story may be due to Christians' need to counter accusations made
                                  against themselves rather than to historical memory of such
                                  accusations made against Jesus.

                                  Ken

                                  Kenneth A. Olson
                                  Graduate Teaching Assistant
                                  Department of History
                                  2115 Francis Scott Key Hall
                                  University of Maryland
                                  College Park, MD 20742
                                  kaolson@...

                                  I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything - T.H.
                                  Huxley
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