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Re: [XTalk] Re: Honorable debate in agonistic cultures

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  • Loren Rosson
    [Loren] ... [Bob] ... [Loren] On the contrary, how else could he have won fame in the eyes of people and left a movement to continue where he left off? [Loren]
    Message 1 of 109 , Jun 1, 2001
      > >After all, he left the primitive church
      > >behind him.

      > I doubt very much he could have done that
      > if his debate style was as you
      > have characterized it.

      On the contrary, how else could he have won fame in
      the eyes of people and left a movement to continue
      where he left off?

      > I'm simply distinguishing between the
      > particulars of
      > history and the generals of social science.
      > Painting a
      > broad brush, we might say that historians address
      > the uniqueness of Jesus, while social
      > scientists look for the commonalities
      > shared in all ancient Mediterranean
      > societies. Both questions are equally
      > legitimate.

      > So it sounds to me like your approach to the
      > historical Jesus is to project
      > the normative tendencies of his time, place and
      > culture onto him, and
      > reject anything that doesn't fit that picture. This
      > is actually very close
      > to the modus operandi of the Jesus Seminar.

      No, the Jesus Seminar does the opposite. They -- and
      please regard "they" as a lazy convenience here,
      meaning the collective "they" as represented by the
      "Five Gospels" and "Acts of Jesus" -- certainly have
      no use for seeing Jesus as fitting into the normative
      tendencies of his time, far less with the agonistic
      style of debate. For them, anything cutting AGAINST
      the norm is what comes out "red".

      > You did offer a set
      > of 10 pericopes that you
      > carefully chose to make your point,
      > but even in those, as Hudson Barton
      > pointed out, don't support your
      > point very well,

      I think they support them quite well.

      > and was in fact more
      > counter-cultural than you are willing to admit.

      Bob, if you have understood me to be saying that Jesus
      was not radical or countercultural you haven't been
      paying attention. Those 10 case studies show Jesus to
      be very subversive: he attacks purity; he forbids
      divorce; he thinks taxation is immoral but doesn't
      even condone sedition in the process (doubly
      revolutionary, on this point); he believes that
      forgiveness can be effected outside appropriate temple
      channels. Hello!! That's not a John Doe we're looking
      at. All I'm saying is that he confronted his foes like
      anyone else in his place would have had to, in order
      to be taken seriously. (Is this really so hard to

      If you really believe that I've looked down into that
      Schweitzerian well to see myself in Jesus, I can only
      scratch my head. The agonistic style of debate is as
      foreign to my own upbringing as it is to many people
      in the West.

      That's all for now -- I have to leave town for the
      day, but I will get back with some more comments,
      particularly with respect to the "love your enemies"
      saying. It might be worth opening a thread on that one


      Loren Rosson III
      Nashua NH

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    • Loren Rosson
      [James] Do you think these folks were armed? [Loren] No. With the possible exception of the Samaritan Prophet, the popular prophets didn t lead armed revolts.
      Message 109 of 109 , Jun 18, 2001
        Do you think these folks were armed?

        No. With the possible exception of the Samaritan
        Prophet, the popular prophets didn't lead armed
        revolts. "Violence" was left as the prerogative of God
        alone, when He soon acted. Jesus followed suit here,
        never condoning human violence, elsewhere promising
        divine retribution (as in Mt. 11:20-24/Lk. 10:13-16).

        So, would you say that it is possible that the masses
        went out just to see IF a miracle would be performed,
        rather than to participate? Would they necessarily
        had any clue as to the chance of being
        slaughtered as they were?

        I think the masses went out because they believed,
        fervently, that God would act; that the Kingdom was
        imminent. I see no reason to question the enthusiastic
        level of their participation in the march around
        Jerusalem's walls.

        How many do you suppose there actually were?

        A lot -- these are called "popular" prophets for good

        Josephus is surely exaggerating with the numbers
        though, isn't he?

        Probably. I imagine hundreds, rather than thousands,
        of followers for the Egyptian prophet.

        What do you think was their reason for being
        there? Just to innocently see if the Egyptian's
        claim would come to pass or to
        actually fight their way into Jerusalem?

        I believe they circled Jerusalem with the expectation
        that (at the prophet's command) the walls of the city
        would come tumbling down, as Joshua's legendary shout
        had done to the walls of Jericho in ages past. This
        would have been the first apoacalyptic prelude to the
        Kingdom of God. I don't know how "innocent" this is,
        but I sense your sarcasm. However preposterous and
        naive such expectations may seem to us, they were no
        more so than, say, those of the followers of Theudas,
        who was supposed to have parted the waters of the
        Jordan before getting decapitated by Cuspius Fadus.

        Well, I'm wondering how we know any of these people
        were really doing anything more than going out to
        possibly observe a miracle...I'm reacting to the
        following article written by an historian who seems to
        paint first century peoples with too broad of a brush
        of gullibility, in an attempt to give us the
        background against which we should view claims about
        Jesus' miracles:


        If you have the time, I'd appreciate any
        feedback/guidance on the overall quality of/points
        raised in that article.

        I would say the author of this article is daft,
        deluded, and devoid of sense. His disdain for the
        people of antiquity is galling. He writes:

        "The age of Jesus was not an age of critical
        reflection and remarkable religious acumen. It was an
        era filled with con artists, gullible believers,
        martyrs without a cause, and reputed miracles of every
        variety. In light of this picture, the tales of the
        gospels do not seem remarkable at all. Even if they
        were false in every detail, there is no evidence that
        they would have been disbelieved or rejected as absurd
        by a people largely lacking in education or critical
        thinking skills. They had no newspapers, telephones,
        photographs, or public documents to consult to check a
        story...The shouts of the credulous rabble overpowered
        their voice and seized the world from them, boldly
        leading them all into the darkness of a thousand years
        of chaos."

        First of all, we cannot dismiss the movements of
        Theudas, the Egyptian Prophet, John the Baptist, or
        Jesus of Nazareth with the above sort of indictment.
        Much in these prophetic movements can be commended,
        just as much can be criticized. But we fail miserably
        in the historical task when we judge the past by
        so-called "enlightened" standards. Secondly, far from
        lacking "religious acumen", the age of Jesus -- that
        is, 2nd-Temple Judaism -- was marked by vibrancy,
        diversity, and (often enough) fierce intelligence.
        Obviously the author and I have very different views
        of the people of antiquity.

        So I can appreciate you reacting against this fellow.
        But that the Egyptian prophet and his followers were
        incited to riot (mad as they were under the Romans and
        Judean elite), and that they fervently believed Yahweh
        would soon act dramatically in history (in accordance
        with ways He had in the past), does not necessarily
        make the leader a "con artist" nor his followers
        "gullible". Does it?

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH

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