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

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  • Ted Weeden
    Dave Hindley wrote Saturday, December 01, 2001 6:30 PM ... Yes, Dave. That is what I meant. Bailey rejectes the Bultamnian informal uncontrolled oral
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 1, 2001
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      Dave Hindley wrote Saturday, December 01, 2001 6:30 PM

      > Ted Weeden [weedent@...] said:
      >
      > >>He rejects both the Bultmannian "informal controlled oral tradition"
      > methodology <<
      >
      > Did you mean "He rejects ... the Bultmannian 'informal UNcontrolled
      > oral tradition' methodology"?

      Yes, Dave. That is what I meant. Bailey rejectes the Bultamnian informal
      uncontrolled oral tradition methodology. Thank you for catching the error.
      I am sorry that I did not catch it. I hope others will note the needed
      correction as you have.

      With appreciation,

      Ted
    • Mahlon H. Smith
      ... Bailey ... imagery ... at ... If I may interject here, this analogy of the filter is useful for illustrating what I find primarily defective in Bailey s
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 2, 2001
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        Ted Weeden wrote to Bob Schacht:

        > Thus, it appears,if I may pursue this thread a bit, that
        > Bailey, having been won over to Dodd's interpretation of the how the oral
        > tradition was passed on with some assurance that its authenticity was not
        > corrupted at any of the discrete moments of transmission, finds,
        > nevertheless, that the cogency of Dodd's position lacks something. It
        > lacks a clearly defined, articulated methodology to validate it. So
        Bailey
        > sees, as I understand him, that it is his task, picking up upon the
        imagery
        > of his analogy, to identify the nature of the filter and explain how it
        > works to assure that villagers at the foot of the mountain are getting the
        > same tasting spring water," as can be tasted from its originating source
        at
        > the top of the mountain.
        >

        If I may interject here, this analogy of the filter is useful for
        illustrating what I find primarily defective in Bailey's theory. Though not
        myself an anthropologist or folk-lorist, I have no problem with Bailey's
        suggestion of primarily oral communities acting informally as a *haflat
        samar* to insure the relative stability of tradition. For I see something of
        that sort behind the 2nd c. proto-Orthodox insistence on the chain of
        transmission of "apostolic" tradition within the major churches of the
        eastern Mediterranean struggling with the open-ended novel revelations of
        gnostic speculation. At the early end of this trajectory there is little
        evidence of established "formal" control mechanisms in Xn writings -- i.e.,
        appeals to the authority of specific scriptures or to the doctrinal
        authority of designated community leaders whose job is to censure what is
        taught. Rather, these formal controls seem to have been put in place
        precisely because the informal appeal to "apostolic tradition" was
        undermined by the claims of gnostic teachers/authors to themselves preserve
        apostolic tradition. Once the formal filters of canonical scripture, creed &
        episcopal magisterial authority were firmly in place in the major urban
        churches (roughly ca. 140-160 CE) they could effectively be used to filter
        out the fluid traditions emanating from extraneous sources (even traditions,
        such as the gospels of Thomas & Peter, that included water from the same
        sources as the canonical gospels). But the older informal filter of
        "apostolic tradition" continued to be operative in Xn communities outside
        the sphere of influence of the Great Hellenistic Church (now identified as
        "heretics" -- i.e. sectarians -- by the latter) which continued to preserve
        traditions & works that the major urban churches rejected. Witness the
        demonstrable reverence of such marginalized Xn communities for traditions
        ascribed to John or Mary or Thomas or Philip.

        Thus, one by-product of my research on the evolution of the various elements
        of the formal doctrinal filter of Greek Orthodoxy is the conviction that
        early to mid-2nd Xns across a wide spectrum of Mediterranean churches
        recognized the filter of informal oral communal control as too porous to
        guarantee the purity of the "traditional" fluid it transmitted. If 2nd Xn
        leaders from Ignatius through Hippolytus were skeptical of the ability of an
        informal, non-hierarchical, oral community to keep apostolic tradition
        uncontaminated from foreign elements, Bailey's claim that an informal filter
        applied by Xn communities in the first generation of explosive missionary
        expansion & relatively unregulated charismatic preaching could have
        preserved the details of primitive Jesus tradition relatively unchanged is
        rather historically incredible. Orthodox writers from Ireneaus on insisted
        that the *formal* filters of episcopal authority & apostolic scripture were
        authorized by the 12 themselves & thus guaranteed the purity of Orthodox
        sources. If there is reason for historical skepticism regarding that
        dogmatic claim, is there any reason to trust Bailey's theory that an
        informal filter operative in the story-telling & preaching of Xn communities
        during the first generation was able to keep the oral Jesus tradition free
        from contamination by the ideas of other minds.

        Bailey's analogy of the underground transmission of water from a mountaintop
        source helps to point out the weakness of his whole filter theory in
        interpreting the oral formation of the primitive Jesus tradition. In the
        case of most mountain springs -- e.g., the sources of the Jordan on Mt.
        Hermann above Caearea Philippi, one is able to test the water that emerges
        at the base of the mountain against the water at the source. While water
        drawn close to the source may still "taste" the same, close chemical
        analysis will show that it has in fact picked up other trace elements from
        its underground passage through rock & soil & other underground aquafers.
        If one cannot locate the exact primal source itself, one can assess the
        additives by comparing samples drawn from separate outlets down the
        mountain. Similarly scholarly analysis of the Orthodox synoptic tradition
        reveals the presence of foreign elements that have *not* been filtered out
        by the process of its subterranean oral transmission even after the
        introduction of a formal written filter. That is the reason for the whole
        synoptic problem. Since there is no way for anyone to go directly to the
        source in the case of the oral Jesus tradition, the only way to test how the
        water "tasted" close to the source himself (i.e., HJ) is to introduce the
        most advanced modern microfine filters designed to *eliminate* elements that
        can be demonstrated to have been present in the soil thru which it passed
        between its origin (HJ) & its first testable outlets (written gospels).
        Simply to assume that any oral filters in place during the first stages of
        formation of the Jesus tradition were sensitive enough to accomplish this
        task is scientifically naive, especially when we have ample recorded samples
        that indicate that even the introduction of writing did not prevent the
        introduction & mutation of sayings & stories of Jesus in the tradition that
        the greater Hellenistic church eventually canonized as "apostolic".

        Shalom!

        Mahlon

        Mahlon H. Smith
        Department of Religion
        Rutgers University
        New Brunswick NJ 08901

        http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html

        Synoptic Gospels Primer
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

        Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
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