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Historicizing prophecy and propaganda in the passion narratives

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  • Loren Rosson
    ... Indeed. One (of many) problems with Crossan s take on the passion narratives lies in the slippery claim that John is dependent on the synoptics for the
    Message 1 of 62 , Aug 2, 2001
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      Bob Schacht wrote:

      >This is one of the main problems with Crossan's
      >"Prophecy historicized" argument: there's no
      >predicting how or when it is used; it is "evident"
      >only with hindsight. Furthermore, although
      >"Prophecy historicized" sounds like a general
      >principle, it is not: Crossan created it only for
      >the PN, and is not inclined to generalize it at
      >all. That is what he told me/us
      >during his HJMethodology seminar with XTalk...These
      >things make his argument look a bit like a
      >deus ex machina.

      Indeed. One (of many) problems with Crossan's take on
      the passion narratives lies in the slippery claim that
      John is dependent on the synoptics for the passion and
      resurrection stories, but still independent of the
      synoptics for the "good" stuff -- sayings and healings
      (see "Who Killed Jesus?", p. 22). RED FLAG.

      I think much of Crossan's rhetoric throughout "Who
      Killed Jesus?" makes plain where he's coming from. But
      embarrasment over anti-Semitic applications of the
      passion narratives shouldn't lead to their wholesale
      de-historicizing. The much-touted claim that elites
      like Caiaphas and Pilate wouldn't have deigned to
      engage a peasant "nobody" ignores the fact that, by
      the end of his career, Jesus was no longer a "nobody".
      He had acquired a massive amount of fame and honor --
      through exorcisms & healings, parables, and victories
      in the ongoing game of challenge-and-riposte. Public
      perception was everything in his world, and we would
      be surprised, by the end of it all, NOT to find
      elders, priests, and prefects "lowering themselves" to
      engage this rabble-rouser.

      Also, more work needs to be done on the so-called
      Sanhedrin trial. I think both Brown and Crossan leave
      much to be desired on this point. Obviously, from a
      legal point of view, the trial is historically
      incredible. But whoever said that Jesus would have
      received a fair legal proceding to begin with? Some
      members of the Context Group have suggested that, far
      from being a legal trial, the Sanhedrin proceding was
      a show trial of political theater -- part of the
      larger "status degradation ritual" (trial, abuse,
      mockery, execution), anthropologically speaking. Bill
      Herzog, for instance, writes:

      "In a show trial, the guilt of the person being
      'tried' has already been determined. There is no
      effort to weigh evidence, nor is there a defense of
      the offender...The procedure does not conform to laws
      but follows the expedient will of the power elites.
      Some ad hoc body of accusers stands in place of a
      jury...A show trial is not a legal process but a
      political process whose purpose is the public
      degradation and humiliation of an enemy of the state
      before his foreordained conclusion... Jesus' show
      trial and execution serve as a status degradation
      ritual. The show trial is one means of shaming and
      dehumanizing the deviant so that he becomes an example
      of what is condemned...The prophet must be transformed
      into a false prophet, and the reputational leader of a
      prophetic movement must be transformed into a false
      messiah...The figure popular with the masses must be
      degraded before the crowd and transformed into a
      mockery of what they hoped he would be." ("Jesus,
      Justice, and the Reign of God", pp. 240-243).

      So we may agree with Crossan in dispensing with
      notions of Jesus' Sanhedrin trial as a legal
      proceding. But we needn't erase the event from history

      Loren Rosson III
      Nashua NH

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    • Jim Bacon
      ... From: FMMCCOY To: Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2001 9:31 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Tomb of Christ? ... preliminary
      Message 62 of 62 , Aug 16, 2001
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: FMMCCOY <FMMCCOY@...>
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2001 9:31 PM
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Tomb of Christ?

        > ----- Original Message -----
        > From: "Jim Bacon" <jabacon@...>
        > To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        > Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 4:34 AM
        > Subject: Re: [XTalk] Tomb of Christ?
        > > A far more interesting question than the ones raised in the PBS Web site
        > is
        > > whether ANY tomb of Christ ever existed -- was Jesus, in fact, ever
        > placed
        > > in a tomb at all?
        > On a more fundamental level, there is the question of whether Joseph
        > of Arimathea is an invention of Mark. In The Historical Jesus (p. 193),
        > John Dominic Crossan states, "Mark, once again, made the crucial
        > step. He created and sent to Pilate, in 15:43, one 'Joseph of Arimathea,
        > respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the
        > Kingdom of God.' That is a perfect in-between figure, at once within the
        > Jewish leadership elite as 'respected' and still connected to Jesus as
        > 'looking.'"
        > I suggest that, rather, Joseph of Arimathea is a real historical figure
        > known to us as Joseph Cabi: who is described by Josephus in Antiquities
        > (Book XV, Chapt. IX, Sect. 3 - Sect. 4). He reigned as High Priest in the
        > early 60s--perhaps 60-62 CE. Further, he was the son of Simeon bar
        > Boethus--who twice served as High Priest--first from c. 23- c.5 BCE and
        > for a brief period c. 41 CE (e.g., see Antiquities Book XV, Chapt. IX,
        > 3 and Book XIX, Chapt. VI, Sect. 3).
        > Joseph of Arimathea was politically powerful: one of the members of the
        > Jerusalem Sanheidrin who had enough political "clout" to demand and get an
        > almost immediate audience with Pilate.
        > Joseph of Arimathea was also politically powerful. He was a Boethusian,
        > i.e., a member of the high priestly family founded by Boethus of
        > Of the 22 high priests over Herod's temple from its founding to the onset
        > the Jewish revolt in 66 CE, 7 (roughly a third!) had been Boethusians
        > sons of Boethus named Eleazar, Joazar, and Simeon, two grand-sons of
        > named Cantheras and Joseph Cabi, and two sons-in-law of Boethus named
        > Matthias bar Theophilus and Jesus bar Gamaliel). His sister, Miramne, had
        > been one of the wives of Herod the Great, so he had connections with
        > of his day. Indeed, one of his nephews was Herod Philip: the ruler of a
        > region to the north of Galilee. As a Boethusian, he almost certainly had
        > seat on the Jerusalem Sanheidrin and had enough political "clout" to
        > and get an almost immediate audience with Pilate.
        > According to Matthew 27:57, Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Jesus.
        > According to John 19:38, he was a secret disciple of Jesus.
        > According to Josephus (Antiquites, Book. XX, Chapt. IX, Sect. 1), when
        > Joseph Cabi lost the high priesthood, one the first acts of his successor
        > was to execute James, the brother of Jesus. The inference: Joseph Cabi
        > been protecting James and, hence, had likely been a (secret?) Christian.
        > Supporting this inference is a key piece of evidence: the tomb in which,
        > according to tradition, James was buried. Robert Eisenman, in James the
        > Brother of Jesus (p. 455), declares, "The names listed in the dedicatory
        > inscription (of this tomb) appear to be from the family known as the
        > Boethusians."
        > This means that, most likely, James was buried in a tomb owned by the
        > Boethusians. This, in turn, means that he was most likely buried after
        > execution by a Boethusian. The most likely candidate: Joseph Cabi, the
        > Boethusian who had recently lost the high priesthood. And if he is the
        > likely candidate for being the one who buried Jesus' brother, then is he
        > the most likely candidate for being the Joseph of Arimathea who buried
        > Jesus?
        > Joseph of Arimathea, as his name implies, was from the town of Arimathea.
        > According to the non-canonical Gospel of Nicodemus, the high priest named
        > Simeon buried two of his sons, named Charinus and Lenthius, at Arimathea
        > they were resurrected from the dead at the same time as Jesus. This
        > suggests that Simeon, who was Joseph Cabi's father, raised his family at
        > Arimathea. If so, then Joseph Cabi would have been known as Joseph of
        > Arimathea!
        > Indeed, how could this legend (which has two brothers of Joseph Cabi being
        > resurrected from the dead at the same time as Jesus) have arisen unless,
        > people knew, Joseph Cabi had been Joseph of Arimathea--the man who gave
        > Jesus a decent burial?
        > According to Mark, Joseph of Arimathea awaited the Kingdom of God.
        > Similarly, because he was a Boethusian, it is likely that Joseph Cabi
        > awaited a world to come in which the righteous would dwell.
        > Unlike most members of the high priestly aristocracy, the Boethusians were
        > not Sadducees. Instead, they constituted a separate sect. So, the Talmud
        > ('Erubin, 68b) states, "And so it was also taught: if a man lives (in the
        > same alley) with a gentile, a Sadducee or a Boethusian these impose
        > restrictions on him. Here, the Boethusians are differentiated from the
        > Sadducees and they are characterized as, like the Gentiles and the
        > Sadducees, not following all the ritual purification rites of the
        > According to The Minor Tractates of the Talmud ('Aboth D'Rabbi Nathan,
        > 20a-20b), the three way split between the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and
        > Boethusians occurred because they disagreed over how to intepret this
        > saying, "Be not like servants who serve the master for sake of recieving a
        > reward, but be like servants who serve the master without receiving a
        > reward; and let the fear of heaven be upon you, in order that your reward
        > may be double in the world to come."
        > According to this tradition, the Pharisees accepted this saying, but the
        > Sadducees and the Boethusians rejected it on the basis that it is proper
        > a laborer who has toiled all day to receive his reward in the evening.
        > Since, according to this tradition, the Sadducees and Boethusians (1)
        > that it is proper for a laborer who has toiled all day to receive his
        > in the evening yet (2) split with each other over how to intepret this
        > passage, it must be the case (if this tradition be correct) that (3) they
        > had disagreed over the nature of the "reward" for pious toil--with one
        > saying that it is life in the world to come and the other side saying that
        > it is of a quite defferent nature.
        > In this regard, we know, the Sadducees denied that people have immortality
        > and argued that the rewards for piety come during one's lifetime and
        > of things like wealth and respect.
        > Therefore, if this tradition be correct, the Boethusians must have taken
        > contrary position and, so, argued that the reward for pious toil is life
        > the world to come. Hence, if this tradition is correct, then Joseph Cabi,
        > as he was a Boethusian, presumably awaited a world to come in which the
        > righteous would dwell.
        > CONCLUSION
        > From what we know about Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph Cabi, it appears
        > they are one and the same person. This casts doubt upon the hypothesis
        > Mark invented Joseph of Arimathea. This also casts doubt upon the
        > hypothesis that Jesus was not given a decent burial.
        > Frank McCoy
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