Re: [XTalk] Re: Honorable debate in agonistic cultures
> In general in this[Loren]
> debate, you haven't been very
> keen on seeing any differences between
> the authorial point of view of the
> evangelist, and the voice of Jesus.
A fair enough remark. However,
> In other words, it seems to mean[Loren]
> nothing to you that the date of
> composition of the gospels is several
> generations after the time at which the
> debates are supposed to have taken place.
It means everything to me, and I acknowledge with
everyone else that the gospel writers put their own
editorial spin on the tradition, with corresponding
agendas. But I tend to see the bulk of sayings/deeds
themselves as largely historical, even if they've been
recast to suit the evangelists' purposes.
> It is easy to see bitterness and rage[Loren]
> if that is what you want to see.
> However, I am leery of projecting into the
> text the things that we want to
> see there.
Who WANTS to see bitterness and rage? But one has a
difficult time not seeing Jesus as driven by the same
kind of fire, zeal, and anger that drove the classical
prophets of the OT, as well as the wilderness and
oracular prophets of the first century. We have to
scrap a good deal of the tradition to argue otherwise.
> I am more persuaded by[Loren]
> E.P. Sanders' judgment that Jesus' agenda was
> theological more than
> political or economic. Not that Jesus didn't care
> about the latter, but
> that he was *more* interested in restoring the
> relationship between Jews
> and their God than in fomenting revolution, which
> seems to be the logical
> implication of all your 'bitterness and rage.'
Now our disagreement is complete. Sanders is surely
correct that Jesus was interested in restoring the
proper relationship between the Jews and Yahweh, but
his ongoing liability is that he keeps politics and
econmics almost completely at bay. You just can't do
that when discussing Jesus. (Fredriksen is equally
guilty on this point.) Scholars like Kaylor, Horsley,
Herzog, and Wright, by contrast (and in different
ways), present Jesus as a prophet equally concerned
with theology/spirituality and politics/economics. The
two have to go hand-in-hand.
Loren Rosson III
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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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