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Re: [XTalk] Bailey's response;reply to Schacht, II

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  • Ted Weeden
    ... [snipped text. Continuing my post-reply Bob, entitled Bailey s response;reply to Schacht, I, I turn to the subsequent points of his post, by beginning
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2001
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      Robert M. Schacht on November 30, 2001 11:17 wrote:

      >> At 09:07 PM 11/29/01, Ted Weeden wrote:
      [snipped text. Continuing my post-reply Bob, entitled "Bailey's
      response;reply to Schacht, I," I turn to the subsequent points of his post,
      by beginning with a passage from my 11/29 post which Bob quotes. I
      apologize for neglecting to "sign" my name at the end of the first
      installment. I do so with this one.] >

      > > Furthermore,
      > >and again from my perspective, Scott's observation that the religion of
      > >illiterate, non-elite culture characteristically tends to be eclectic,
      > >syncretist and additive by nature, and, further, that new elements are
      often
      > >imported and adopted into such folk religion along side of existing
      > >features, 'without replacing earlier patterns and "without
      rationalization
      > >of the accumulated and transformed elements,"' explains very well what
      was
      > >happening in the Pauline communities at Galatia and Corinth, and which
      was
      > >causing Paul such consternation. Those communities were not adhering
      > >strictly to the Pauline oral tradition they had received. Rather, as
      > >situations warranted it, they modified and sometimes significantly
      deviated
      > >from Paul's kerymatic tradition by importing new elements into it. I
      would
      > >submit, also, that, when Paul finds fault with these communities for
      > >abandoning the gospel he gave to them, they were not in actuality
      rejecting
      > >outright the oral traditions they had received from Paul's gospel.
      Rather,
      > >they were altering (METASTREYAI, Gal. 1:7) ---perverting, as Paul might
      have
      > >thought from his advocacy of his own pristine position ---Paul's gospel
      as a
      > >result of the influence of others who came preaching and teaching a
      > >different spin on Christian faith, a spin which to the community made
      sense
      > >given its application to their own faith circumstances."

      > This is a very different thing from eclectic influence from the greater
      > traditions of the elite (i.e. Greco-Roman) world. Rather, it is an
      interior
      > dialogue within the "little tradition" over what the tradition is. In your
      > zeal to refute Bailey, you sometimes resort to exaggeration and sound
      > somewhat overbearing. [This despite my feeling that your critique is
      valid,
      > overall, and that Bailey's case is weak.]

      Again, unless I miss your point, my focus here is on the character of
      religious traditions among the non-elite. I am not at this point drawing
      contrasts or comparing "great" and "little tradition." If I have missed
      your point, please help me to see and understand it. If I come across as
      resorting to exaggeration, I need to look at that. I certainly do not mean
      to be overbearing, and if that is the perception, my apologies to you and
      others who may experience me as being so.

      > >..."The imposition of control on the oral tradition with respect to the
      > >Galatian and Corinthian communities came from outside, from Paul, via
      > >*textuality.* My point is that it was not the oral voices within these
      > >communities that controlled the oral tradition.

      > We don't know to what extent Paul's message had been communicated orally
      > before the letter was written. I consider it unlikely that the letter to
      > the Galatian and Corinthian communities were the very first time Paul had
      > broached the subject. Again, I think you have run beyond your evidence.
      > Besides, the textuality does not mean that Paul's admonitions are
      "outside"
      > in the same sense as Scott was writing about when he described the greater
      > tradition.

      Clearly, the issue Paul addresses in the several correspondences
      constituting II Corinthians he dealt with in person, orally, in the
      community, as well as in writing. In II Cor. 2:1ff., he speaks of a
      "painful visit" in which he unsuccessfully dealt with the challenge made by
      the super apostles (see II Cor.10-11) against him. That led Paul after he
      left Corinth to write his scorching letter to the church (II Cor. 10-13).
      After reading my reply to your last point, I wonder if you would still
      suggest that "you have run beyond your evidence." With respect to "Paul's
      admonitions [being] outside in the same sense as Scott was writing," I
      understand this "outside" and formal authoritative stance to be indicated in
      his very use of textuality to reign in the Corinthians with an authority
      greater than orality in a non-elite community. Again my reply to your
      last point that follows is key for the point I am making.

      > > Rather it was the voice of
      > >Paul communicated via textuality that sought to reign in attempted
      aberrant
      > >and deviant alterations to the received oral tradition. The fact that
      Paul
      > >chose to voice his imposition of control on the oral tradition he had
      > >delivered to Galatians and Corinthians with textuality is not surprising
      at
      > >all when one understands the role and function of writing in antiquity.
      > >Paul's recourse to the use of textuality to impose control on the
      > >alteration, misuse and misinterpretation of his oral kerygma is precisely
      > >what one would have expected from a person in Paul's leadership capacity
      in
      > >the Greco-Roman world of his time. In order to make his will known and
      > >enforced as leader of the churches he founded, Paul followed the common
      > >practice in antiquity, as William Harris [_Ancient Literacy_] has so well
      > >articulated, of using the utility, the efficacy and the authority and
      power
      > >of the written word to accomplish his purpose."
      >
      > This sounds rather anachronistic to me, especially words such as
      > "enforced," as if Paul was sending armed guards to bully his opponents, or
      > as if Paul was the Pope of the Roman church. On the contrary, as the
      > passages you quoted imply, Paul's very authority was in question. You
      > usually do not resort to this kind of anachronism. We know today, only in
      > retrospect, that Paul's authority became recognized by the Christian
      world.

      With respect to the point I was making on enforcement and my reference to
      William Harris, because of the length of my post, I snipped the relevant
      material on Paul's use of textuality as a means of control. In
      order for you and others to understand the point I was making, I am
      including that section on Harris from my post to James Dunn, the section
      which I did not include in my post of 11/29. I begin with the reference to
      Harris in my 11/29 post and continue with the excised text from my
      post to Dunn, thus:

      "In order to make his will known and enforced as leader of the churches he
      founded, Paul followed the common practice in antiquity, as William Harris
      [_Ancient Literacy_] has so well articulated, of using the utility, the
      efficacy and the authority and power of the written word to accomplish his
      purpose. According to Harris (_Ancient Literacy_) writing in the Roman
      Empire served two distinct but interrelated purposes: (1) writing bound the
      empire together and, textuality alone, made possible administrative
      cohesiveness and coherency of the vast reaches of the empire possible; (2)
      writing was an instrument, among others, used to control the enormous
      empire-wide population of rural and urban non-elite people. I want to
      explore the role and function of these two distinct and interrelated purpose
      for writing in the Roman Empire because they shed light and explain why Paul
      chose to use writing as an instrument of his own missionary enterprise. I
      turn my attention first to the importance of writing for holding the empire
      together and making it administratively possible. To do so I present the
      following snippets of quotes drawn from Harris' work. Harris states with
      respect to the role and function of writing for the binding of the empire
      together the following:

      "'Rome ... would have found it entirely impossible to extend power much
      beyond Latinum if it had not been for the written word, and in this case too
      the upper order maintained its power over the rest of the community partly
      by its superior command of written texts" (333). 'The power of the Romans,
      who conquered many lands where writing was well-known, in other cases
      introduced or disseminated written culture. Without this wide diffusion of
      writing, political and administrative control would have been infinitely
      harder, probably impossible; the Roman Empire depended on writing. The
      affairs of magistrates and later of the imperial court, the taxation of
      citizens and provinces, the affairs of innumerable city governments, the
      maintenance of the armed forces-for all these writing was indispensable'
      (206). 'Political control over what happened in the provinces and beyond
      (208) depended heavily on correspondence.... [T]he emperor exercised power
      over his absent subordinates largely through correspondence, and indeed used
      texts on a large scale to deal with his subjects. The degree of his
      personal involvement in this paperwork is debated, but in any case his
      control over distant events, such as it was, depended upon it. Most of the
      information he received about the army, about revenues, and about all other
      government affairs outside Rome itself was transmitted in writing, and so
      too were his instructions' (209).

      "I turn now to the second purpose for textuality in the Roman empire.
      Again I quote snippets from Harris' articulation of this purpose: 'There
      cannot be the least doubt that writing was an indispensable instrument of
      imperial domination.' (335). 'The imperial government imposed itself
      through force and persuasion and by more or less general consent, but a good
      part of the effect was obtained by means of the written word' (211).
      '[W]riting was often an instrument of power ..... It sometimes resulted in
      forms of lying, obfuscation and conservatism unknown to pre-literate
      cultures. By helping to undermine a traditional culture of an essentially
      oral kind, literacy may undeniably lead towards a relatively 'modern' world
      which contains its own forms of exploitation'" (36).

      "Reflecting generally on writing as an instrument of power and domination
      throughout antiquity, Harris draws these wider conclusions, and again I
      offer snippets from his book. Harris quotes initially (38) from
      Levi-Strauss, from his _Tristes Tropiques_, in which Levi-Strauss
      ruminates upon writing as a tool of the oppressor: 'The only
      phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the
      creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers
      of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or
      classes.... [I]t seems to have favoured the exploitation of human
      beings rather than their enlightenment.... My hypothesis, if correct,
      would oblige us to recognize the fact that the primary function of
      written communication is to facilitate slavery.'

      Then Scott quotes from H. J. Graff (ed.), _Literacy and Social
      Development in the West: A Reader_, who takes the position that literacy
      functions as an instrument of 'social and cultural control and hegemony.'
      And then, finally, Harris, after his extensive study, returns in his
      conclusion to agree with Levi-Strauss, namely, 'The primary function of
      written communication is to facilitate slavery'... 'and it is easy to see
      that writing can serve systems of political power and social hegemony in
      many different ways.'"

      "Why did the written word, textuality, have such power to control and
      dominate in the Greco-Roman world? And from whence did it derive its
      authority and power to do so? According to Harris the written word,
      textuality, had the power to control, dominate and exploit people in the
      Roman Empire and similar pre-literate civilizations and societies 'which
      combine a high degree of literacy among the elite and the servants of the
      elite with a high degree illiteracy in the rest of the population' (333).
      And the Greco-Roman world was one such instance in which there was enormous
      disparity between those who could read and write and those who could not.
      Harris estimates that less than 10% of the Roman Empire in the period from
      100 BCE to 250 CE were literate (22), with the highest percentage amounting
      to 15% or less in Rome and Italy (267). Richard Rohrbaugh ("The Social
      Location of the Markan Audience," INT, 1993: 381) posits that 'Probably no
      more than two to four percent of the population in an agrarian society could
      read, or read and write.'

      Harris (39) points out significantly that: '[i]n societies hierarchically
      structured by distinctions in classes and social stratification the
      privileged use of writing by the literate elite intensifies the existing
      class distinctions and social stratification.' Written procedures, Harris
      observes, in a highly stratified society "assist control from above." And
      while such written procedures would presumably empower those underneath to
      assert their rights by virtue of those procedures, according to Harris, it
      was 'only rather rarely at Rome that the latter possibility comes to the
      fore' (206). Consequently, the illiterate masses felt, by and large,
      powerless, even fearful, to contend against the awesome and dominating power
      of the written word. Textuality was inaccessible to them because of their
      illiteracy. Therefore, they experienced it as an oppressive tool of the
      elite against which they had no defense from being controlled and exploited.
      Rohrbaugh observes (381) that '[f]ear of writing and of those who could
      write was widespread among peasants, who often regarded letters as a tool of
      elitist deception.' And Harris notes (325) that '[e]ven among the
      educated it [textuality] often seems to have generated suspicion.'"

      "Of particular significance for this present discussion is that the power
      and authority of textuality was often perceived by the illiterate, non-elite
      as deriving from some religious source. Harris submits from his study of
      this phenomenon that '[t]he written word itself ... exercise[d] some
      religious power: that is to say, it was sometimes felt to have some special
      solemnity about it which allowed people to bring about extraordinary results
      ' (219). This religious authority of the written word was particularly
      understood, Harris posits, '[i]n the case of ancient societies ordered or
      founded upon religious principles.' For with the advent of writing, the
      gods were imagined as expressing their authority by means of the written
      word. Over and over again "divine" ordinances have assumed written form;
      Moses is simply the most famous "intermediary." Zeus acquired
      writing-tablets soon after the Greeks. What this means, Harris concludes,
      'is that men who claimed religious authority employed the reality or the
      image of the written word to enhance their authority.'"

      "This whole discussion on the religious dimension of textuality and its use
      to enhance authority has profound relevance and implication for our
      understanding of how Paul, in my judgment, utilized textuality both for the
      administrative success of his missionary enterprise and as his instrument of
      control on the affairs of the respective churches he founded. In fact,
      Harris specifically underscores the unusual and innovative way in which the
      early Christian leaders, the elite among Christians, used writing to enhance
      their power and authority over the non-elite. As Harris puts it (221f.):
      'It is Christian writings which suggest a coming change in the religious
      importance of the written word. Apparently it was the habit of religious
      and philosophical sects to maintain a measure of contact and coherence with
      the like-minded by exchanging letters.... It can reasonbly assumed that
      widely scattered Jewish communities sometimes corresponded with each other
      on religious matters. In any case, some Christians began early on to
      attach special importance to letters and other pious writings. Something
      of the kind was happening by the 50s and 60s, for otherwise the letters of
      Paul would probably not have survived. The forcefulness of his writing
      may in fact have contributed to the new development.' And then Harris
      observes, 'What was most strikingly new [about Christianity] was the
      organized community and the gradual accumulation of a group of virtually
      unchangeable texts.... [t]hey could easily be transmitted within and between
      Christian communities and served as something of a fixed point. The written
      word thus came to exercise religious power in a somewhat novel way.'

      "I find all the aforementioned observations of Scott and Harris together to
      provide valuable insight and enlightenment with respect to Paul's own modus
      operandi in his administrative management of his missionary enterprise and
      his assertion of authority over his churches through textuality, as well as
      his use of it as an instrument to control any deviation from the character
      or content of his EUAGGELION. Moreover, I find some interesting and
      striking parallels between the role and function of writing in the Roman
      Empire body politic and the role and function of writing in Paul's
      missionary enterprise."

      "First, just as the administrative and political control of the Roman Empire
      would have been almost impossible without writing, Paul's shepherding and
      administration of his widely flung churches would have been virtually
      impossible without his writing to them. Second, just as the emperor
      exercised authority and power over the illiterate, non-elite population of
      the empire through textuality, so Paul exercised authority and power over
      his non-elite congregations through textuality. In some respects, Paul,
      if I may suggest an analogy (without pushing it too far), was like a little
      emperor to his churches. Like the emperors at the time, who claimed to
      exercise power over the people by divine authority, Paul claimed that his
      power over the churches was given him by divine investiture (II Cor. 10:8;
      13:10)."

      "And Paul certainly viewed himself as having power over all the churches.
      He considered himself and the proclamation of his gospel which he received
      directly by revelation from the risen Jesus himself (Gal. 1:11f.; cf. 15:8)
      to be their raison d'etre. Furthermore, he considered himself among the
      elite if not the quintessential elite of the Christian movement. He let
      it be known to his churches that he had an elite pedigree. He staunchly
      held that he was an apostle equal to all other apostles of note. He did so
      in part by attaching his name to the list of the apostles known to having
      had the resurrected Jesus appear to them (see I Cor, 15:3-8). He cites
      from time to time his elitist position in Judaism prior to his conversion
      (see Rms. 11:1; II Cor. 11:22; Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:5f.): a descendent of
      Abraham, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin.
      He saw himself as a Jewish elite of the elite: 'advanced in Judaism beyond
      many of my own age,' extremely zealous ... for the traditions of my fathers,
      a strict and observant Pharisee, righteous and blameless before Torah. As
      a Jewish elitist leader, and because of his unwavering devotion to the
      elitist great tradition of his Judaism, he became a zealous persecutor of
      the fledgling Jesus movement which he viewed with disgust and held in
      contempt because its 'little tradition' about Jesus was a scandalous
      offense to the great tradition of his Judaism."

      "Upon his conversion, Paul joined the Jesus movement, not, according to
      him, because of human persuasion but through direct divine intervention (I
      Cor. 15:8; Gal. 1:11-12, 15-16). As a result he deferred to no human
      authority, much less any other Jesus movement leaders, no matter what their
      stature in the movement, including Peter and James the brother of Jesus (cf.
      Gal.1:17-20; 2:1-14). He was convinced that they could contribute nothing
      to his understanding of faith in Christ (Gal. 2:6f.). He had received all
      the understanding he needed through the direct revelation of God and Christ
      himself (Gal. 1:11f., 15f.). Like an emperor, Paul was convinced that
      there was no human authority greater than he and that he had been divinely
      appointed to his position by God, even before his birth (Gal. 1:15).
      Despite his claims that the body of Christ was an egalitarian order of
      believers, in contrast to the hierarchal, social stratification found in the
      social and political orders of the world (Gal 3:27f.), Paul operated as an
      elitist, hierarchal leader to his congregations, congregations which he
      viewed as being largely composed of the non-elite of the world (cf. I Cor.
      1:26-28). Thus in his hierarchal and patriarchal stance toward his
      congregations, he addressed them as his children and called himself their
      father (I Cor. 4:14ff.; Gal. 4:19; I Thess. 2:11).). They were his
      creation, his workmanship (I Cor. 9:1). And part of that workmanship was
      his shaping them, as their elite leader, according to his view of the Church
      's 'great tradition,' the great tradition of 'the ways of Christ' which he
      promulgated to all seekers and believers '"everywhere in every church' ( I
      Cor. 4:17). It was the individual congregation's departure from that great
      tradition by choosing to follow the path of their own indigenous "little
      tradition" that caused Paul such consternation. They forced him to use a
      'heavy hand' to correct their deviant beliefs and behavior through recourse
      to the power and authority of textually, a medium of power and control used
      by the emperor, and the elite throughout the empire, to keep the non-elite
      in line."

      With respect to Paul's comment that he teaches the 'ways of Christ'
      everywhere. It is noteworthy that he does not say that he teaches the
      teachings of Christ, or the teachings of Jesus, for that matter. Paul's
      appears to studiously avoid referring to the orality of Jesus (or the acts
      of Jesus), except on rare occasions (e.g., I Cor. 7:10), and only makes
      passing allusions to sayings attributed to Jesus, for example his
      hermeneutical use of blessings found in Q 6:20-21 in I Cor. 4:8. Paul
      indicates no interest in the orality of Jesus or its transmission. He is
      entirely focused upon his own orality and when it becomes challenged or
      distorted, he draws upon the big gun of textuality to give his orality the
      additional authority and power of the medium of textuality, a medium that is
      inaccessible to the illiterate in his congregation and before which they
      stand in awe of because of its culturally invested power and authority ."

      "To return to the emperor analogy, Paul was strong on imitation, often
      admonishing his churches to imitate him (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 12:1; Phil.
      3:17), and it appears that in one very important organizational and
      administrative sense, he followed the model of the Roman emperors in
      exercising administrative authority over their scattered empire. Paul
      proceeded to use writing as a tool to maintain authority and power, as an
      emperor did, in order to ensure coherence to his prescribed gospel in
      matters of faith and practice and to ensure cohesiveness in the body politic
      of his scattered churches. He gathered his elite retainers and despatched
      them to his various congregations to bring his messages to them in his
      absence, as well as to observe and report back to him how well they were
      toeing his kerygmatic line (I Cor. 4:17f.; Phil. 2:19; I Thess. 3:1-7).
      But when it came to critical matters about which he needed to deal directly
      with the church, he chose the power and authority of the written word,
      textuality, to exercise authority over the churches and to chastise them and
      bring them back into line when they deviated from the path he had set for
      them."

      "He used those letters, like an emperor would in promulgating decrees, to
      chasen and threaten his largely illiterate non-elite flocks when they lapsed
      and to warn them of his punishment (I Cor. 4:18_17; II Cor. 10:6; 13:2, 10)
      if they did not obey him (Phil. 2:12), correct their errors, mend their ways
      and return to be faithful imitators of himself (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 12:1;
      Phil. 3:17). He used the power and authority of textuality to
      excommunicate a member of one of his congregations for a scandalous moral
      offense, and did so by detailing instructions on when and how such
      excommunication should take place (I Cor. 5:1-5). He used the power and
      authority of textuality to intercede on behalf of a community offender (II
      Cor.2:5-8), and to castigate, condemn and pass judgment on what were to him
      false and deceptive leaders who were undermining his authority over the
      congregation ( II Cor. 10:7-12; 11:5, 12-15). He used the power and
      authority of textuality to admonish leaders in a congregation to resolve
      their differences (4:2) And, of course, he used the power and authority
      of textuality to give advice and counsel to his various congregations on how
      to conduct themselves in all matters of faith and practice, and often at a
      congregation's behest (e.g., I Cor. 7:1ff., 25ff.; 8:1ff.; 12:1; I Thess.
      4:13)."

      "That the textuality of his letters held for his congregations an usual
      power and authority, that even his oral proclamation could not match, is
      suggested by the way, according to Paul, his opponents categorize the
      textuality of his letters over against the orality of his proclamation.
      Paul reports his enemies belittling him by saying, "His letters are weighty
      and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account"
      (II Cor.10:20). They accused him of hiding behind the authority and power
      of his textuality. In response to them Paul tries to bolster the
      authority and power of his action when present with the community by
      equating it with the power and authority they have experienced in his
      textuality:, namely, 'Let such people understand that what I say by letter
      [textuality] when absent, we will do [with orality] when present' (II Cor.
      10:11)."

      "And Paul knew how to use the authority and power inherent in the medium of
      textuality to his own advantage when he needed a textuality which had even
      more power and authority than his own to persuade or correct certain
      illiterate, non-elite Christians. I have reference to the times he cites
      scripture, namely, the LXX. When Paul does quote LXX textuality he
      invariably does so with the heavy hand of textual authority by introducing
      it with the authoritative formula GEGRAPTAI ("it is written"). Paul uses
      it thirty-three times (the formula only occurs sixty-seven times in the
      whole NT), in the seven canonical letters considered authentically Pauline.
      What is striking about the thirty-one times in which Paul draws upon the
      formula is that twenty-five of his uses of the formula occur in two letters,
      Romans and I Corinthians. He uses GEGRAPTAI sixteen times in Romans (1:17;
      2:24; 3:4, 10; 4:17; 8:36; 9:13,33; 10:15; 11:8, 26; 12:19; 14:11; 15:3, 9,
      21), evenly dispersed throughout the letter, and nine times in I Corinthians
      (I Cor. 1:19, 31; 2:9; 3:19; 4:6; 9:9; 10:7; 14:21; 15:45)."

      "Why is use of this authoritative formula for textuality and the use of LXX
      textuality so concentrated in these two letters? My suggestion is that
      with respect to first Corinthians, Paul uses LXX textuality, introduced with
      the authoritative formula, GEGRAPTAI, to combat and counteract the power of
      the SOPHIA orality of his pneumatic opponents in Corinth and the profound
      influence their SOPHIA orality was having upon the Corinthians, as well as
      to undergird his own orality now couched in the authority of the textuality
      of his letter (see, particularly, I Cor. 1:19; 3:19; 4:6). My suggestion
      for why Paul cites in Romans the textuality of the LXX, introduced as it is
      with the authoritative formula GEGRAPTAI, is this. Unlike his other
      letters to churches, Paul's letter to Rome is the only letter he writes to a
      church which he had not himself founded. In writing them, he is
      introducing his own kerygmatic view of the faith. To underscore the
      strength of his arguments for his point of view, arguments which are
      addressed, among others, to the Jewish Christian members of the
      congregation, Paul cannot build his case on the basis of the authority he
      can claim for having founded the church in the first place, an authority he
      could draw upon to be persuasive in his textuality addressed to the other
      churches. So lacking that personal authority, which the other churches
      had to recognize, Paul draws upon the authority of the textuality of the LXX
      to back the kerymatic arguments he is making to the Roman community."

      "This discussion of Paul's use of textuality to enforce his own control over
      the faith and practice of his congregations brings to mind two insightful
      observations William Harris makes. First, with respect to the authority
      and power attributed to textuality, as the way the gods in the ancient world
      'were imagined as expressing their authority by means of the written word,'
      Harris concluded: 'What this means is that men who claimed religious
      authority employed the reality or the image of the written word to enhance
      their authority' (39). That is what I am stating Paul did. As one who
      unmistakably 'claimed religious authorty' Paul 'employed the reality ... of
      the written word to enhance' the authority of his orality."

      "Second, Harris observes that a novel direction in textuality took place as
      a result of the Jesus movement. He expresses it this way, and I quote him
      in part again: 'It is Christian writings which suggest a coming change in
      the religious importance of the written word..... [S]ome Christians began
      early on to attach special importance to letters and other pious writings.
      Something of the kind was happening by the 50s and 60s, for otherwise the
      letters of Paul would probably not have survived. The forcefulness of his
      writing may in fact have contributed to the new development.... The written
      word thus came to exercise religious power in a somewhat novel way' (221)."

      Now, the only extant letters we have from a Christian in the 50s and 60s are
      the letters Paul. It is thus with the Pauline correspondence, I submit,
      that textuality in the Jesus movement took on a sacred 'aura,' as almost a
      quasi 'Torah.' We know that Paul intended his letters to be read when the
      communities gathered together for worship (see, e.g., Wayne Meeks, _The
      First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul_, 143).
      Certainly, in those worship services the scripture in the form of the
      textuality of the LXX must have been read. To have Paul's letters read in
      the same worship context as the LXX, I submit, lent to the textuality of the
      Pauline letters a solemnity, to use Harris' term, that imbued to them the
      power and authority Paul intended his textuality to have as it was orally
      performed in worship services. As Harris notes, it is unlikely that the
      letters of Paul would have survived and been collected by later Paulinists,
      if his textuality was not considered to have religious power. And the
      purpose of this power, as Harris notes, is to effect conservative control on
      the excesses of orality by creating fixed texts that bridle the plastic,
      eclectic and additive character of orality."

      "Now when I state the latter I am not suggesting that there is a radical
      distinction between orality and textuality.. Textuality and orality are
      something like matter and energy. They are not separate entities but
      different phases of the same phenomenon. So it is with orality and
      textuality. They are different expression of the same phenomenon, human
      communication. Textuality is orality expressed through a more stable and
      fixed medium, lacks the plasticity of orally and resists the openness of
      orality to additives. Textuality becomes orality when it is orally
      performed. In this regard Harris contends that '[a]lmost any genre of
      writing might be presented in oral form' (125)."

      "The medium of textuality in the ancient world gave added power and
      authority to orality, even a religious or sacred character when the orality
      expressed through that medium was perceived, particularly, by the
      illiterate, non-elite, as divinely imparted. But textuality also has a
      conservative, controlling effect upon orality when it is couched in that
      medium. As Harris submits, 'It [textuality] might, for instance, be
      thought to have assisted conservatism in religion' (336). That was the
      effect that Paul sought to achieve, in my estimation. He tried to reign in
      the tendency of his various communities to engage in 'free lance' orality to
      reshape their understandings of the faith with the latest inspirations in
      order to solve existential crises of faith. For Paul, such reformulations
      only led to distortions and aberrant representations of the faith he had
      imparted to them."

      Thank you, Bob, for your thoughtful and helpful remarks. I look forward to
      continued dialogue.

      Ted Weeden
    • Robert M. Schacht
      ... For which I thank you. I am on the road, temporarily in Washington D.C., without access to my sources, but I recall the arguments presented previously and
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 1, 2001
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        At 04:14 PM 12/01/01, Ted Weeden wrote:

        >Robert M. Schacht on November 30, 2001 11:17 wrote:
        >
        > >> At 09:07 PM 11/29/01, Ted Weeden wrote:
        >[snipped text. Continuing my post-reply Bob, entitled "Bailey's
        >response;reply to Schacht, I,"

        For which I thank you. I am on the road, temporarily in Washington D.C.,
        without access to my sources, but I recall the arguments presented
        previously and concede most or all of the points you raised in your first
        reply.

        >I turn to the subsequent points of his post,
        >by beginning with a passage from my 11/29 post which Bob quotes. ...] >
        >
        > > > Furthermore,... Scott's observation that the religion of
        > > >illiterate, non-elite culture characteristically tends to be eclectic,
        > > >syncretist and additive by nature, and, further, that new elements are
        > often
        > > >imported and adopted into such folk religion along side of existing
        > > >features, 'without replacing earlier patterns and "without rationalization
        > > >of the accumulated and transformed elements,"' explains very well what was
        > > >happening in the Pauline communities at Galatia and Corinth, and which was
        > > >causing Paul such consternation. Those communities were not adhering
        > > >strictly to the Pauline oral tradition they had received. Rather, as
        > > >situations warranted it, they modified and sometimes significantly
        > deviated
        > > >from Paul's kerymatic tradition by importing new elements into it. I would
        > > >submit, also, that, when Paul finds fault with these communities for
        > > >abandoning the gospel he gave to them, they were not in actuality
        > rejecting
        > > >outright the oral traditions they had received from Paul's gospel. Rather,
        > > >they were altering (METASTREYAI, Gal. 1:7) ---perverting, as Paul
        > might have
        > > >thought from his advocacy of his own pristine position ---Paul's
        > gospel as a
        > > >result of the influence of others who came preaching and teaching a
        > > >different spin on Christian faith, a spin which to the community made
        > sense
        > > >given its application to their own faith circumstances."
        >
        > > This is a very different thing from eclectic influence from the greater
        > > traditions of the elite (i.e. Greco-Roman) world. Rather, it is an interior
        > > dialogue within the "little tradition" over what the tradition is. ...
        >
        >Again, unless I miss your point, my focus here is on the character of
        >religious traditions among the non-elite. I am not at this point drawing
        >contrasts or comparing "great" and "little tradition." ...

        I now understand that you were emphasizing Scott's observation that little
        traditions are "eclectic, syncretist and additive by nature," which I
        misunderstood. However, I do not necessarily think that early Christian
        communities match Scott's generalization in every respect. In fact, I take
        Scott's generalization about little traditions as a hypothesis to be
        tested, rather than a fact to be uncritically applied.


        [snip]


        > > > Rather it was the voice of
        > > >Paul communicated via textuality that sought to reign in attempted
        > aberrant
        > > >and deviant alterations to the received oral tradition. The fact that Paul
        > > >chose to voice his imposition of control on the oral tradition he had
        > > >delivered to Galatians and Corinthians with textuality is not
        > surprising at
        > > >all when one understands the role and function of writing in antiquity.
        > > >Paul's recourse to the use of textuality to impose control on the
        > > >alteration, misuse and misinterpretation of his oral kerygma is precisely
        > > >what one would have expected from a person in Paul's leadership
        > capacity in
        > > >the Greco-Roman world of his time. In order to make his will known and
        > > >enforced as leader of the churches he founded, Paul followed the common
        > > >practice in antiquity, as William Harris [_Ancient Literacy_] has so well
        > > >articulated, of using the utility, the efficacy and the authority and
        > power
        > > >of the written word to accomplish his purpose."
        > >
        > > This sounds rather anachronistic to me, especially words such as
        > > "enforced," as if Paul was sending armed guards to bully his opponents, or
        > > as if Paul was the Pope of the Roman church. On the contrary, as the
        > > passages you quoted imply, Paul's very authority was in question. You
        > > usually do not resort to this kind of anachronism. We know today, only in
        > > retrospect, that Paul's authority became recognized by the Christian world.
        >
        >With respect to the point I was making on enforcement and my reference to
        >William Harris, because of the length of my post, I snipped the relevant
        >material on Paul's use of textuality as a means of control. In
        >order for you and others to understand the point I was making, I am
        >including that section on Harris from my post to James Dunn, the section
        >which I did not include in my post of 11/29. ...

        Thanks for reminding me, at length, about this argument. I have no doubt
        that Paul would try to assert authority in various ways-- in fact, it may
        be due to his lack of success in personal, oral argument that he resorted
        to written tactics, to our benefit. So I have no doubt that on occasion
        Paul might have tried to imitate Roman textual authority in an effort to
        seize the point (having failed to make the point in other ways). This is an
        interesting instance of someone from the little tradition attempting to
        switch to assert claims as if from the greater tradition, perhaps. I do not
        wish to debate Harris's points at length, nor to contest is picture of
        Romanizing authority. My point, rather, is to wonder about the degree to
        which Paul's attempt to wrap himself in the mantle of textualizing
        authority was *accepted* by the new, evolving, orally-based Christian
        communities. Please remember that before Paul, there apparently was no
        textualizing authority. I take it that this means that Paul's first letters
        were not automatically (pace Harris) granted some formal authority. I doubt
        that Paul was the only person to write letters. Again, I think we risk
        anachronism by granting Paul's letters the status of formal authority too
        quickly. There may be differences even between his early letters and his
        later letters. Also, it may be that through the decades after he penned
        them, his letters increased in recognized authority. But when he started
        writing the letters, he was just one of the guys with competing claims to
        authority, wasn't he? So my point is that perhaps Paul went from being one
        of the *haflat samar* (to use Bailey's term), to one who claimed to speak
        with greater authority.

        Of course, Bailey's problem (or one of them) is that there in any case must
        have been more than one haflat samar (in his sense of a local village
        council) almost from the beginning (e.g., one in Jerusalem, one in Galilee,
        but then one soon in Damascus, another in Antioch, and probably many other
        places before Paul started establishing Christian communities in Europe).

        Bob



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