Re: [XTalk] Re: Honorable debate in agonistic cultures
- Hi Loren... just a few comments as I'm on the run this a.m.
Loren Rosson wrote:
>I don't think this is HJ, but rather the voice of those later
> "Woe to you,
> Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!... It will be more
> tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon
> than for you." (Mt. 11:21-22/Lk. 10:13-14)
disappointed by rejection of what were originally welcoming towns.
> easy to see the bitterness and rage behind parablesYou go on and on about bitterness and rage. How does a parable work?
> like the Rich Man and Lazarus, The Talents, The
> Laborers in the Vineyard, etc.
Such bitterness and rage in this colonial situation/ this situation
where the official political overlords and official priestly
establishment either side with the Imperial power or suck up to them...
where the country side is again and again filled with "bandits/
terrorists/ zealots"... where many of the most pious offer no real
strategies of relief and release (as in... "just say your prayers, keep
the feasts, keep the purity and this, too shall pass"... grin and bear
it strategy)... where others foment angry visions of God coming to wipe
out the enemies... where religious charlatans offering bogus relief...
nother words... Jesus' world and time... well, such bitterness and rage
was abounding to effects of building violence and building social
illness with its most intimate and personal effects. So... how does the
parable work? How does the table fellowship offer a fundamentally
different way? Parables aren't angry! They nip at, lampoon, turn over,
flip the expectations, surprise. They offer multiple entry points... are
useful with folks "coming from all sorts of places." And so they offer
a path towards reorientation. To what? To the core of the TANAK "WAY."
And if you "have ears" and take in the reorientation and new connection
to those also oriented... then smiles and laughter a plenty! (as in
Samaritans, Galileans and even Roman soldiers coming together in a new
social milieu/ matrix/ community!) And this done at table... where
social boundaries are subverted... gets people fed... puts new mixes of
people together... is also a new/ renewed "Passover"/ real freedom
experience and offers a single portal that can address all to the end
that the meal just might not end in indigestion;)! (or worse).
Now... I indeed think Jesus may have been occasionally really angry when
he told some of these. Of course... anger is most appropriate in some
of those situations... and appropriate to show... of course! But the
whole demeanor of parabling is a nod and a wink, a gentle chuckle and a
sly smile. And such as these parables precisely connect to such as
"Consider the lilies...." Thus this is not an emotionally bellicose
Jesus... but one strategizing a reconciliation operation. This indeed
offered a PROFOUND alternative to the cultural norms. So... one more
time I'm going to point you to a very notable, textual comparison...
Ecclesiastes 9:13-18 for an analogous way of conceiving this.
And to end on "a poem." Malcolm X was full of anger til he went to Mecca
and at last saw races from all over mixing in common devotion of
religious piety. He came home PROFOUNDLY changed... and his whole tone
changed after that... so much that those within his own former circles
found his new attitude to be a threat. You know how that turned out.
But this social radical... some 35 years later showed up on a U.S.
postage stamp. I'm sure Malcolm has a very wry grin about that now!
(just a tad ironic, eh!)
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
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
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
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
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