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

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  • 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 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2001
      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

      >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.


      > > > 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).


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