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

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  • Hudson Barton
    ... Hello Loren: There is a whole paragraph in my post that lays out my premise, and which I now repeat: Many years ago (1970), John R. W. Stott wrote a
    Message 1 of 109 , Jun 2, 2001
      >> I do have a short series of questions for Loren:
      >> The content of
      >> Jesus's debates being largely dogma must necessarily
      >> make Jesus look
      >> like a controversialist. Don't you think that the
      > > controversial
      >> content of the gospel drives your model of
      >> honor-shame at least as
      >> much as your model drives the content? Does the
      >> honor-shame model
      > > drive the content at all? Can the life & death
      >> importance of Jesus's
      >> central message be honestly separated from normative
      >> agonist debate?
      >> If not, then how important can the model really be
      >> for those who seek
      > > to understand who Jesus "really" was.
      >Hudson, I'm honestly not sure I understand these
      >questions. Can you be a little more specific? They
      >sound a bit confessional, but I may be misreading you.
      >If you can clarify a bit, then I will digest and get
      >back to you. Thanks,

      Hello Loren:

      There is a whole paragraph in my post that lays out my premise, and
      which I now repeat:

      Many years ago (1970), John R. W. Stott wrote a delightful book
      called "Christ the Controversialist". Stott made the point that
      "historic Christianity is essentially dogmatic, because it purports
      to be a revealed faith. If it were merely a collection of
      philosophical and ethical ideas (like Hinduism), dogmatism would be
      entirely out of place". That Christians are dogmatist is a given.

      The agonist model by your definition should be applicable to many
      different types of public debate, not exclusively ones over
      dogmatism. If we had a record of Jesus participating in debates over
      everyday issues, and if we were to notice a particular pattern, then
      it might confirm whether or not he was a true agonist. Imagine a
      modern scenario in which a bunch of young males are yammering over
      sports or women or the stock market; this scene is full of well
      understood behavior (which one might even call agonist at times).
      Now take that same bunch of males debating morality. A human
      behaviorist comparing the two scenarios should be able to state
      whether the subject matter controls the tone, or vice versa. I
      believe the second "debate" will have a different tone from the
      first, thus demonstrating that the degree (or even the existence) of
      agonism depends on the subject and content of the debate.

      Your model deconstructs Jesus into an agonist caricature of himself.
      In principle I don't have a problem with deconstruction, but I doubt
      it is correct in this case (or useful for interpretation even if it
      is). It is clear that the content of the Jesus message shapes the
      form in which it is presented. Content is paramount.

      That being said, I still think this honor-shame stuff is interesting
      and I respect the way in which you are presenting it. Please take
      another look at the challenge that I made before and let me know if I
      need to clarify further.

      Hudson Barton
      Haverford, Pa
    • 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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