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Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

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  • William Arnal
    Hi everyone: I ve been following this Cross Gospel discussion from the sidelines, and have found myself agreeing in particular with Ted comments about Mark s
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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      Hi everyone:

      I've been following this Cross Gospel discussion from the sidelines, and
      have found myself agreeing in particular with Ted comments about Mark's lack
      of historical interest in and knowledge of the crucifixion.

      Antonio's recent comment on the resurrection (i.e., that Christianity as we
      know it is only explicable in terms of an empty tomb or some other index
      that would suggest a resurrection to Jesus' followers), though, struck me as
      worthy of comment. This strikes me as of a piece with the approach of most
      people on this list, and most scholars of the historical Jesus, namely,
      assuming that there must be some logical linkage between the historical
      person Jesus and the movement that arose in his name. Or to put it
      differently, early Christianity is a direct extrapolation from SOMETHING,
      some je ne sais quoi, about Jesus; and early Christian reflection on Jesus
      as having died and been raised by God reflects SOMETHING about events prior
      to these conceptualizations themselves. These quite intuitive assumptions
      strike me as problematic, especially as they apply to the resurrection, for
      a number of reasons:

      1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
      NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
      Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
      visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of this
      account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
      accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb. This
      latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
      developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

      2) Q and Thomas (I know, Antonio -- we share completely different
      perspectives on these texts; but I'm gonna talk about them anyway), on the
      other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE the
      inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
      sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a motivation
      to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
      supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
      apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
      event. This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
      belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
      vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
      authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

      3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
      We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
      just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
      of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
      belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
      connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
      resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
      consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
      himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
      in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body missing!
      Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
      and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
      rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?

      I'm not really talking about this specific example just to get in Antonio's
      face (I prefer to agree with him, whenever possible). I raise it because it
      strikes me as a good illustration of the fundamental problem with most of
      the discourse, not only on this list, but about HJ in general, i.e., the
      assumption that we are dealing here with a more or less logical unfolding of
      conclusions from events, i.e., that the ancient Christians are sort-of
      passively letting things happen to them and then formulating (theological,
      etc.) conclusions from that. This observation may be applied to anything
      under discussion here. Were there hundreds of witnesses to Jesus'
      crucifixion? Well, maybe, but who cares? Presumably when G Mark started
      appearing on the best seller racks, these witnesses weren't running up to
      Caesarea Philippi (or wherever Mark wrote) to complain that he got the facts
      wrong. I would suggest that our obsession with continuity, facticity, and
      logical connections is just that -- OUR obsession.

      By the way, what I regard as the absolute BEST statement on the HJ in recent
      years has just come out, namely, Burton Mack's piece, "The Historical Jesus
      Hoopla," in his recent _The Christian Myth_ (Continuum, 2001). NT scholars
      should be FORCED to read this essay, at gunpoint if necessary.

      Bill
      ___________________________
      William Arnal
      Department of Religion
      University of Manitoba

      "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
      -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg


      _________________________________________________________________
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    • David C. Hindley
      ... most people on this list, and most scholars of the historical Jesus, namely, assuming that there must be some logical linkage between the historical person
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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        Bill Arnal commented:

        >> ... This strikes me as of a piece with the approach of
        most people on this list, and most scholars of the
        historical Jesus, namely, assuming that there must be some
        logical linkage between the historical person Jesus and the
        movement that arose in his name. Or to put it differently,
        early Christianity is a direct extrapolation from SOMETHING,
        some je ne sais quoi, about Jesus; and early Christian
        reflection on Jesus as having died and been raised by God
        reflects SOMETHING about events prior to these
        conceptualizations themselves. These quite intuitive
        assumptions strike me as problematic, especially as they
        apply to the resurrection ... <<

        >> ... This suggests to me at least the possibility that the
        resurrection belief emerged as a rationalization, a
        retrospective claim to divine vindication, AFTER a deceased
        Jesus had already acquired some measure of authority or
        significance among his post-mortem followers ... <<

        >> ... Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
        connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the
        semi-divine resurrected entity that keeps healing people,
        cropping up at 7-11's, and
        consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary
        with Jesus himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No
        one (I hope!) explains this in terms of Julius' friends
        going to his tomb and finding his body missing! Instead,
        those people who bother with the question at all suggest
        social
        and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these
        claims. Quite rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?<<

        Are you saying, then, that you conceive of Jesus as some
        sort of nucleus around which doctrine condensed, sort of
        like the rough grain of sand that an oyster turns into a
        pearl? Perhaps the death of some agitator, Jesus, becomes
        the death of a martyr for some practically unrelated cause
        that later rallied around his name?

        If so, can you recommend some good studies of Christian
        portrayals of their own history as socially/politically
        motivated propaganda (if this is, indeed, what you suggest
        it could be)? I am not trying to be flip. Actually, I think
        that approach is an angle of inquiry that deserves more
        attention than it seems to get. It is certainly useful to me
        and my own humble research, such as that may be.

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • William Arnal
        ... Well, I n saying it s an under-explored possibility. I d also suggest that the more historically interesting/appropriate question (and this is so even IF
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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          David Hindley writes:

          >Are you saying, then, that you conceive of Jesus as some
          >sort of nucleus around which doctrine condensed, sort of
          >like the rough grain of sand that an oyster turns into a
          >pearl? Perhaps the death of some agitator, Jesus, becomes
          >the death of a martyr for some practically unrelated cause
          >that later rallied around his name?

          Well, I'n saying it's an under-explored possibility. I'd also suggest that
          the more historically interesting/appropriate question (and this is so even
          IF there's a logical linkage between the identity of the HJ and the later
          doctrine of the Christians) is the proximate, i.e., socio-political, causes
          (and immediate effects) of ancient Christian doctrines, and not the
          character of the events they appear to refer to.

          >If so, can you recommend some good studies of Christian
          >portrayals of their own history as socially/politically
          >motivated propaganda (if this is, indeed, what you suggest
          >it could be)?

          I don't understand this question. Why would Christians portrary their own
          history as not history but propaganda? And why would it be important that
          such sources (i.e., works on the propagandistic character of ancient
          Christian history) be Christian? I think I'm misunderstanding your question
          here.

          Bill
          ___________________________
          William Arnal
          Department of Religion
          University of Manitoba

          "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
          -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



          _________________________________________________________________
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        • Gordon Raynal
          ... Bill, Good to hear your input on this subject. Thank you most especially for the above Elvis/ Julius point;)! I think people do need to take Crossan s
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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            >3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
            >We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
            >just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
            >of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
            >belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
            >connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
            >resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
            >consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
            >himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
            >in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body missing!
            >Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
            >and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
            >rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?

            Bill,

            Good to hear your input on this subject. Thank you most especially for the
            above Elvis/ Julius point;)! I think people do need to take Crossan's point
            about the difference between "fear and running away" in the crisis and "loss
            of faith" seriously. To conclude that the work of the movement begun in the
            hamlets and countryside of Galilee simply fell apart when Jesus and/or other
            missionary duos left town is a strange thought, indeed. Second, that
            whatever contingent who might have been in Jerusalem lost their faith makes
            little sense to me. Did Ralph Abernathy and Jessie Jackson give up on the
            Civil Rights movement in the aftermath of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s tragic
            murder? Of course not! As a matter of fact the death of one who embodies a
            cause often spurs a new and more powerful commitment to a cause that makes a
            difference. So, thank you for your points and the nice touch of humor!

            Gordon Raynal
            Inman, SC
          • Antonio Jerez
            ... this ... This ... I agree with you that Paul doesn t explicitely mention an empty tomb , but his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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              Bill Arnal wrote:

              > 1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
              > NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
              > Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
              > visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of
              this
              > account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
              > accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb.
              This
              > latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
              > developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

              I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty tomb", but
              his
              recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to support
              speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross. I also think that Paul's
              phariseic
              beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting corpse,
              eaten by dogs
              and then followed by visions of Jesus could be seen as proof of the
              resurrection of the
              End Times. As far as I can glean from Paul's letters he believed in the
              quite common
              belief at that time of a bodily resurrection, meaning that at the End Time
              God would
              transform a earthly body into a "spiritual" body = an eternal nonfleshly
              body. I have
              difficulty seeing how he could have became so exalted if Jesus body had been
              widely
              known to have been eaten by dogs and then only followed by simple visionary
              experiences.
              This would hardly be taken as proof of the resurrection of the End Time. t
              would have been
              a simple ghost story, and the ancients were quite accuainted with ghosts
              without claiming that
              the End Time had arrived when seeing one.

              > 2) Q and Thomas (I know, Antonio -- we share completely different
              > perspectives on these texts; but I'm gonna talk about them anyway), on the
              > other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE
              the
              > inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
              > sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a
              motivation
              > to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
              > supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
              > apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
              > event. This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
              > belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
              > vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
              > authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.
              >
              > 3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
              > We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
              > just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
              > of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
              > belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
              > connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
              > resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
              > consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
              > himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
              > in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body
              missing!
              > Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
              > and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
              > rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?
              >
              > I'm not really talking about this specific example just to get in
              Antonio's
              > face (I prefer to agree with him, whenever possible). I raise it because
              it
              > strikes me as a good illustration of the fundamental problem with most of
              > the discourse, not only on this list, but about HJ in general, i.e., the
              > assumption that we are dealing here with a more or less logical unfolding
              of
              > conclusions from events, i.e., that the ancient Christians are sort-of
              > passively letting things happen to them and then formulating (theological,
              > etc.) conclusions from that. This observation may be applied to anything
              > under discussion here. Were there hundreds of witnesses to Jesus'
              > crucifixion? Well, maybe, but who cares? Presumably when G Mark started
              > appearing on the best seller racks, these witnesses weren't running up to
              > Caesarea Philippi (or wherever Mark wrote) to complain that he got the
              facts
              > wrong. I would suggest that our obsession with continuity, facticity, and
              > logical connections is just that -- OUR obsession.
              >
              > By the way, what I regard as the absolute BEST statement on the HJ in
              recent
              > years has just come out, namely, Burton Mack's piece, "The Historical
              Jesus
              > Hoopla," in his recent _The Christian Myth_ (Continuum, 2001). NT scholars
              > should be FORCED to read this essay, at gunpoint if necessary.
              >
              > Bill
              > ___________________________
              > William Arnal
              > Department of Religion
              > University of Manitoba
              >
              > "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
              > -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg
              >
              >
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            • David C. Hindley
              ... portray their own history as not history but propaganda? And why would it be important that such sources (i.e., works on the propagandistic character of
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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                Bill Arnal responded:

                >>I don't understand this question. Why would Christians
                portray their own history as not history but propaganda? And
                why would it be important that such sources (i.e., works on
                the propagandistic character of ancient Christian history)
                be Christian? I think I'm misunderstanding your question
                here.<<

                Now I am using the term "propaganda" in its neutral sense:
                either as the spreading of ideas, information or rumor for
                the purpose of helping (or injuring) an institution; or of
                ideas, facts or allegations spread deliberately to further
                one's cause (or to damage an opposing cause). We should not
                assume that "propaganda" is always a slick, covert way to
                hoodwink or otherwise fool people. It can just as readily be
                understood as attempts, for instance, to "set the story
                straight." It can serve as an effective means to answer
                charges hurled by opponents.

                According to the linguists, history is as much
                interpretation as presentation of facts. If the Christian
                gospels are making use of Jesus as a symbolic vehicle to
                present their own (current) understanding of the world, I am
                perfectly willing to accept that they sincerely believed
                that the actual history of Jesus and his followers *must*
                have conformed to their own viewpoint. In short, the
                historical events are reinterpreted and the story reshaped.
                There can be a logical progression of historical
                development, or a syncretistic adaptation of ideas or
                symbols. But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man
                to serve as a symbol, unless there was some sort of
                connection to him.

                I agree with you that the interesting questions relate to
                "the proximate, i.e., socio-political, causes (and immediate
                effects) of ancient Christian doctrines, and not the
                character of the events they appear to refer to."
                Personally, I think that the Christian gospels are apologies
                cast in the form of biographies, designed to answer charges
                by opponents that the gospel authors considered too well
                established to deny. That implies that there had been some
                development in the movement, in that valid criticisms of its
                early stages had to be "explained" (away) by those who held
                later developments of the tradition. "Our founder was not
                what you say he was (a bastard, a rebel, a magician) but he
                was actually something perfectly acceptable/tolerable (a
                divine man, a cynic-like philosopher, a healer)."

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              • Antonio Jerez
                ... this ... This ... I agree with you that Paul doesn t explicitely mention an empty tomb , but his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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                  Bill Arnal wrote:

                  > 1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
                  > NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
                  > Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
                  > visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of
                  this
                  > account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
                  > accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb.
                  This
                  > latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
                  > developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

                  I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty tomb", but
                  his recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to
                  support
                  speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross. I also think that Paul's
                  phariseic beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting
                  corpse,
                  eaten by dogs and then followed by visions of Jesus could be seen as proof
                  of the
                  resurrection of the End Times. As far as I can glean from Paul's letters he
                  believed in the
                  quite common belief at that time of a bodily resurrection, meaning that at
                  the End Time
                  God would transform an earthly body into a "spiritual" body = an eternal
                  nonfleshly
                  body. I have difficulty seeing how he could have became so exalted if Jesus
                  body had been
                  widely known to have been eaten by dogs and then only followed by simple
                  visionary
                  experiences. This would hardly be taken as proof of the resurrection of the
                  End Time. t
                  would have been a simple ghost story, and the ancients were quite accuainted
                  with ghosts
                  without claiming that the End Time had arrived when seeing one.

                  I would also like to add the "evidence" from Matthew 28:11-15. This appears
                  to be
                  a reminicence (although shrouded in Matthean form) of the Jewish
                  counterclaims to
                  the empty tomb. Why counterclaim in this way if it could easily be shown
                  that the
                  false Messiah had been rotting on a cross? If Crossan is right I think we
                  should have
                  expected ridicule of the Christians and their "rotting" Messiah in later
                  jewish litterature.
                  We find ridicule of another kind but not this.


                  > 2) Q and Thomas (I know, Antonio -- we share completely different
                  > perspectives on these texts; but I'm gonna talk about them anyway), on the
                  > other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE
                  the
                  > inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
                  > sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a
                  motivation
                  > to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
                  > supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
                  > apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
                  > event. This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
                  > belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
                  > vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
                  > authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

                  You are quite right that arguments based on a hypothetical Q and Thomas
                  won´t cut much ground with me. I not think there existed any Christian
                  grouping
                  at the beginning who didn't believe or found it necessary to believe in the
                  resurrection
                  of their leader. The later gnostics and christians influenced by Platonism
                  could discard
                  this, but not Paul and other jewish-christians.

                  > 3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
                  > We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
                  > just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
                  > of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
                  > belief? No, of course not. Indeed, it seems to me that there is NO logical
                  > connection at all between "the historical Elvis" and the semi-divine
                  > resurrected entity that keeps healing people, cropping up at 7-11's, and
                  > consorting with space aliens. An example more contemporary with Jesus
                  > himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
                  > in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body
                  >missing!

                  I don't understand the logic of the Elvis example. As far as I know nobody
                  has claimed that Elvis body has dissappeared from his tomb in Memphis. And
                  if
                  evidence is needed we are fortunately in a postion to check out the claims.
                  I think
                  the Jewish authorities in the first century would have been in a similar
                  position to
                  check out claims that Jesus had disappeared from a tomb while in reality
                  rotting on
                  a cross. We don't find any counterclaims like that in Jewish litterature,
                  and in this
                  instance I think the silence is telling.
                  The Ceasar example is also unfortunate. As far as I know the romans knew
                  pretty
                  well that his body was cremated in the traditional fashion. In this case
                  there wasn't much
                  of a body to look for. And since the romans did not believe in bodily
                  resurrection like the
                  Jews there wasn't any need for an intact body to have an apotheosis.

                  I must admit that it feels a bit akward for a historian with a secular
                  outlook to defend
                  the empty tomb tradition, but I always try to go where the evidence leads
                  me. I do recall
                  that once in a time a professed atheist like Stevan Davies (what has
                  happened to him?)
                  also defended the empty tomb tradition on the old Crosstalk against Mahlon
                  and a few
                  others. It is a strange world.

                  Best wishes

                  Antonio Jerez
                  Goteborg, Sweden
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Bill, Welcome back from lurker status! :-) I started this response before the Super Bowl, but was unable to finish it until afterwards. ... Guilty as
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
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                    At 10:01 AM 2/3/2002 -0600, you wrote:

                    >Hi everyone:
                    >
                    >I've been following this Cross Gospel discussion from the sidelines,

                    Bill,
                    Welcome back from lurker status! :-)
                    I started this response before the Super Bowl, but was unable to finish it
                    until afterwards.

                    > and have found myself agreeing in particular with Ted comments about
                    > Mark's lack
                    >of historical interest in and knowledge of the crucifixion.
                    >
                    >Antonio's recent comment on the resurrection (i.e., that Christianity as we
                    >know it is only explicable in terms of an empty tomb or some other index
                    >that would suggest a resurrection to Jesus' followers), though, struck me as
                    >worthy of comment. This strikes me as of a piece with the approach of most
                    >people on this list, and most scholars of the historical Jesus, namely,
                    >assuming that there must be some logical linkage between the historical
                    >person Jesus and the movement that arose in his name. Or to put it
                    >differently, early Christianity is a direct extrapolation from SOMETHING,
                    >some je ne sais quoi, about Jesus; and early Christian reflection on Jesus
                    >as having died and been raised by God reflects SOMETHING about events prior
                    >to these conceptualizations themselves.

                    Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
                    conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
                    (which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-around
                    with Willi Braun on this issue in the early days of CrossTalk. And as David
                    Hindley observed today,
                    >But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man to serve as a symbol,
                    >unless there was some sort of
                    >connection to him.

                    In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had been
                    thoroughly discredited and humiliated?
                    If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems to me
                    that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the genius of
                    some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the new
                    religion. Perhaps you have Paul in mind? So that Christians are really
                    nothing more than Paulians with the wrong name? Or, since you're coming
                    from a Religious Studies paradigm, perhaps your real question is, what is
                    it about the human temperament that Paul (or whomever your candidate is for
                    the "real" founder of Christianity) was able to tap into so effectively as
                    to be able to create the longest-running scam in human history? But perhaps
                    I misunderstand you.

                    >These quite intuitive assumptions strike me as problematic, especially as
                    >they apply to the resurrection, for a number of reasons:
                    >
                    >1) Paul, writing very shortly after the supposed events in question does
                    >NOT, in trying to justify his belief in Jesus' resurrection to the
                    >Corinthians, cite an empty tomb. He refers instead to what seem to be
                    >visionary-type experiences. However suspicious I think we should be of this
                    >account, it nonetheless suggests that belief in the resurrection pre-dated
                    >accounts of the supposed evidence for this event, i.e., the empty tomb. This
                    >latter is not the historical bedrock from which the subsequent fantasies
                    >developed -- in this case, the fantasies generated the story, as "proof."

                    Well, we do have RSV 1 Thessalonians 4:14:
                    >For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through
                    >Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

                    and RSV Romans 6:4
                    >We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ
                    >was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in
                    >newness of life.

                    and RSV Colossians 2:12:
                    > and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised
                    > with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

                    and RSV 1 Corinthians 15:4:
                    >that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with
                    >the scriptures,

                    which is about as close to the Gospel accounts as one might expect to find
                    in Paul.

                    Since for Paul, the important point was the resurrection, an empty tomb was
                    secondary, or perhaps implicit-- an unnecessary detail.
                    Besides, you are arguing from silence (no explicit reference to a tomb),
                    which is a somewhat risky line of reasoning.


                    >2) Q and Thomas ... on the
                    >other hand, show, I think, that belief in the resurrection may POST-DATE the
                    >inception of the Christian movement. That is to say, the absence of any
                    >sense of the resurrection from these texts shows that there was a motivation
                    >to preserve the memory of Jesus and even to ascribe high status and
                    >supernatural significance to him ("son of man," "the Living One") quite
                    >apart from any belief in a unique and historically fix-able resurrection
                    >event.

                    But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
                    focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find narrative
                    about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times before.

                    >This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
                    >belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
                    >vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
                    >authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

                    And how might that have happened? How could a discredited and humiliated
                    Jesus acquire some measure of authority or significance after being
                    crucified, and having his corpse shredded by scavengers? What am I missing
                    here?


                    >3) Most importantly, this is not a procedure that we apply to anyone else!
                    >We all know that Elvis has been raised from the dead, and is appearing to
                    >just about as many people as Jesus did. Do we try to explain this in terms
                    >of an empty tomb, or some other event that "must have" elicited such a
                    >belief? No, of course not.

                    Well, I don't see any Church of the Resurrected Elvis, either. Besides,
                    most of what you're referring to is not that Elvis died and rose again, but
                    sightings based on the idea that Elvis never really died in the first place
                    (despite the Coroner's report).

                    >.... An example more contemporary with Jesus
                    >himself -- the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. No one (I hope!) explains this
                    >in terms of Julius' friends going to his tomb and finding his body missing!
                    >Instead, those people who bother with the question at all suggest social
                    >and/or political and/or propagandistic motives for these claims. Quite
                    >rightly. Why not do so with Jesus?

                    The claims may have been made, but I don't notice that they were received
                    with much credibility. What is it with the claims about Jesus that made
                    them so much more credible than the claims about Caesar?

                    >I'm not really talking about this specific example just to get in Antonio's
                    >face (I prefer to agree with him, whenever possible).

                    Oh common, Bill; I can't imagine you backing away from a good debate. In
                    fact, I rather thought that you relished the idea! ;-)

                    >I raise it because it
                    >strikes me as a good illustration of the fundamental problem with most of
                    >the discourse, not only on this list, but about HJ in general, i.e., the
                    >assumption that we are dealing here with a more or less logical unfolding of
                    >conclusions from events, i.e., that the ancient Christians are sort-of
                    >passively letting things happen to them and then formulating (theological,
                    >etc.) conclusions from that.

                    One need not depend on that word "passively." They could have been rather
                    actively involved-- if they really had something to work with. But if they
                    didn't really have anything to work with, my feeble imagination cannot
                    grasp why their efforts succeeded so spectacularly.

                    > This observation may be applied to anything
                    >under discussion here. Were there hundreds of witnesses to Jesus'
                    >crucifixion? Well, maybe, but who cares? Presumably when G Mark started
                    >appearing on the best seller racks, these witnesses weren't running up to
                    >Caesarea Philippi (or wherever Mark wrote) to complain that he got the facts
                    >wrong. I would suggest that our obsession with continuity, facticity, and
                    >logical connections is just that -- OUR obsession.

                    Do we have here a counter-obsession with minimizing the importance of Jesus
                    by belittling every single possible element of significance in his life? I
                    thought that the purpose of History, or Religious Studies, was to find
                    rational connections and explanations based on historical evidence. Are you
                    suggesting that we ought to be more comfortable with discontinuity,
                    fantasy, and illogical connections as the basis of our understanding early
                    Christianity? If so, I can understand that, from your perspective, you
                    would welcome a portrait of early Christians as irrational innovators
                    unconcerned with facts, but must we follow suit?


                    >By the way, what I regard as the absolute BEST statement on the HJ in recent
                    >years has just come out, namely, Burton Mack's piece, "The Historical Jesus
                    >Hoopla," in his recent _The Christian Myth_ (Continuum, 2001). NT scholars
                    >should be FORCED to read this essay, at gunpoint if necessary.

                    Dang. I've been avoiding Mack for YEARS. Do I really have to? :-)

                    Bob



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Gordon Raynal
                    ... Bob, Just a short reply about this.... and hopefully not to overly repeat myself... but why frame the language like this? (as in scam and thoroughly
                    Message 9 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                      >
                      >Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
                      >conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
                      >(which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-around
                      >with Willi Braun on this issue in the early days of CrossTalk. And as David
                      >Hindley observed today,
                      >>But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man to serve as a symbol,
                      >>unless there was some sort of
                      >>connection to him.
                      >
                      >In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had been
                      >thoroughly discredited and humiliated?

                      Bob,

                      Just a short reply about this.... and hopefully not to overly repeat
                      myself... but why frame the language like this? (as in "scam" and
                      "thoroughly discredited and humiliated")? To go in reverse order... was
                      Jesus discredited among those who heard him and agreed? ...those who shared
                      in the reconciliation work? ...those who, in whatever sense, "were healed?"
                      ...those who took up the challenge and became missionaries and/ or those
                      homebodies who made for "new communion" or those literate folk who began to
                      pour over the Hebrew Scriptures? Again... I take it that among folks of an
                      ancient and STRONG faith system (i.e. the Hebraic faith)... with a LONG
                      tradition of relatively minor folks making LASTING impressions (think Amos,
                      for example)... that someone like Jesus among those who were positively
                      challenged or affected would precisely hold on to a movement that was
                      bringing serious moral refreshment, if you will. Thus his death, far from
                      being simply a negative would bode for Scriptural reflection and
                      strengthening the movement. And isn't that exactly what we've got? I note
                      when I read I Cor. 15... that Paul talks about Cross and Resurrection in
                      terms of "according to Scripture." And so to the other point... why the
                      language of "scam" around the development of the kerygma. The produce of it
                      is clearly rooted in careful, thoughtful and imaginative reflection on the
                      Hebrew Scriptures. I think that Crossan's point is exactly right... and I'd
                      say it this way... the whole motive for doing this wasn't either cross or
                      resurrection, but something historically shared and experience in a movement
                      that made a REAL difference in Galilee and then outward. There... in a life
                      and in lives... in a movement and the human effort to expand and expound...
                      is the source of moving in the directions various communities did. And what
                      the text finds show is that there were SEVERAL sorts of paths taken to
                      expand and expound.

                      To conclude... just consider... in the 1960's who would have thought that
                      Malcolm X would show up as a celebrated figure in American Civil Rights
                      history? MLK, Jr. was under the FBI eye of Hoover. What of Malcolm with his
                      fiery rhetoric? But 3 decades later Malcolm made it on a U.S. Postage stamp!
                      Lots can happen in three decades. And back to HJ... 3 decades is a LOT of
                      time to read TANAK and think about producing an effect kerygma.

                      Gordon Raynal
                      Inman, SC
                    • William Arnal
                      ... Good point. But just to clarify, this is really not what I was arguing about. I don t know whether Jesus was buried (I assume in a pauper s grave) or eaten
                      Message 10 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                        Antonio Jerez wrote:

                        >I agree with you that Paul doesn't explicitely mention an "empty >tomb",
                        >but
                        >his
                        >recieved kerygma states that Jesus was BURIED. This does not seem to
                        > >support
                        >speculations about his corpse rotting on a cross.

                        Good point. But just to clarify, this is really not what I was arguing
                        about. I don't know whether Jesus was buried (I assume in a pauper's grave)
                        or eaten by dogs, or left to rot, or whatever. What I'm saying is, specific
                        knowledge of an empty tomb does not seem to be at the core of the earliest
                        references to the resurrection (cf. further Mahlon's comments). I further
                        note that Paul's assertion here that Jesus was buried is theologically
                        important to him, since he strongly associates burial with baptism. Thus it
                        does not mean, or at least NEED not mean, that Paul has specific knowledge
                        of a burial -- just that he takes it for granted.

                        >also think that Paul's
                        >phariseic
                        >beliefs about resurrection did not include the idea that a rotting >orpse,
                        >eaten by dogs

                        Possibly not, but again, all I'm suggesting is lack of specific knowledge.
                        Well, and also that, in consequence, the empty tomb story is a late
                        fabrication, and thus CANNOT be the source of the doctrine of the
                        resurrection. I'm inclined to look elsewhere.

                        I'd also note that in many instances it's hard to account IN ANY FASHION for
                        Paul's beliefs as we know them in line with his Pharisaic background. That
                        Pharisaic background, indeed, seems to be what made Paul so initially
                        hostile to Christians. And once Paul has his change of mind, just about the
                        entirety of his Pharisaic background goes out the window. So *I* would be
                        inclined to say that we should look for ideas in earliest Christianity that
                        would have absolutely FAILED to convince a Pharisee of anything, rather than
                        views that would have been likely to do so.

                        Once again, and for the record, I'm NOT arguing that Jesus' corpse was
                        consumed by dogs. What I'm suggesting is that we have no secure knowledge
                        about the disposition of Jesus' body, and cannot trace belief in his
                        resurrection to an empty tomb. That's all.

                        For what it's worth, the question of dogs and such can probably only be
                        resolved in terms of likelihoods -- i.e., how likely it is that a
                        crucifixion victim in Judea would be left on the cross to rot, and/or what
                        would normally be done with such a body. And here I think (though I won't
                        claim any expertise on the issue) the evidence seems to cut both ways. On
                        the one hand, I seem to recall literary sources (Josephus?? someone else?)
                        claiming that Jews had dispensation to remove such bodies; and on the other
                        hand, the archaeological evidence for crucifixion victims is SO scarce that
                        burial seems unlikely.

                        Bill
                        ___________________________
                        William Arnal
                        Department of Religion
                        University of Manitoba

                        "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                        -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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                      • William Arnal
                        ... Gordon Raynal s already answered this, really. I am not suggesting a scam, and I think that s an unhelpful way of putting things. It is, in fact, a
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                          Bob Schacht wrote:

                          >Guilty as charged. The problem I have, with my feeble imagination, is
                          >conceiving of a world-wide movement lasting 2000 years based on a scam
                          >(which seems to be what you're suggesting). I remember having a go-

                          Gordon Raynal's already answered this, really. I am not suggesting a "scam,"
                          and I think that's an unhelpful way of putting things. It is, in fact, a
                          denigration of human creativity to say or imply that fantasy and imagination
                          cannot generate important movements, while raw "facts" can and must do so.
                          The view I'm taking is that the ancient Christians were not much concerned
                          with raw facticity, and that they creatively embellished the portrait of the
                          person they regarded as their "founder" in order to highlight the specific
                          significance he had for them. This is hardly a new claim.

                          >In other words, why pick as the basis for your scam someone who had >been
                          >thoroughly discredited and humiliated?

                          This only follows (and with objections, again, to "scam" noted in passing)
                          if Jesus' original significance to his followers was of a sort that
                          martyrdom WOULD in fact discredit and humiliate. There is no real reason to
                          assume this, though. Were the early Christian martyrs discredited and
                          humiliated by their deaths? Were the Maccabean martyrs? Was Martin Luther
                          King?

                          >If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems >to
                          >me
                          >that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the >genius of
                          >some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the >new
                          >religion.

                          No! Again, I don't think this sort of reasoning would apply to many other
                          historical phenomena, so why apply it here? "Christianity" is the function
                          of centuries of incremental development. Some figures in this development
                          are prominent, some less so, but the end result is the "accomplishment" of
                          no single person. Who INVENTED Judaism? I'd suggest, no one. So also with
                          Christianity.

                          >[various texts cited and snipped]
                          >which is about as close to the Gospel accounts as one might expect to >find
                          >in Paul.

                          And it's not very close at all, is it? Which is just the point. Paul invokes
                          as "proof" of the resurrection the witnesses of individuals who supposedly
                          saw the risen Jesus, and not the concrete evidence of an empty tomb. This is
                          not an argument from silence, by the way, it's an argument ABOUT silence --
                          i.e., Paul does not confirm the empty tomb accounts, and taken on its own,
                          the Pauline message understands the "proof" of the resurrection in more or
                          less visionary terms. In my response to Antonio, by the way, I suggested
                          that the claim Paul makes in 1 Cor that Jesus was buried does not reflect
                          specific knowledge.

                          >Since for Paul, the important point was the resurrection, an empty >tomb
                          >was
                          >secondary, or perhaps implicit-- an unnecessary detail.
                          >Besides, you are arguing from silence (no explicit reference to a >tomb),
                          >which is a somewhat risky line of reasoning.

                          Of course it's even more risky to use the argument against the argument from
                          silence to argue that silence about something actually indicates it was
                          there!

                          >But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
                          >focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find >narrative
                          >about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times >before.

                          I would have thought so (i.e, that this was old ground), but evidently a
                          reminder is in order. I know of almost no one (no one springs to mind) who
                          regards the absence of a resurrection NARRATIVE in Q or Thomas to be in any
                          way significant. To focus on this issue is a classic case of erecting a
                          straw man and knocking it down. The problem with Q and Thomas is that they
                          both have integral theologies of Jesus' significance ("christologies," if
                          the term is conceived loosely) that do not appeal to or logically require a
                          focus on the crucifixion or resurrection. To argue that they somehow assumed
                          these things anyway is special pleading, and a far worse argument from
                          silence (i.e., that absence of reference to phenomenon "x" indicates that
                          phenomenon "x" IS present!) than any I've ever made. Sayings gospels are
                          indeed capable of communicating theology, even if they aren't inetersted in
                          providing narrative.

                          >The claims may have been made, but I don't notice that they were >received
                          >with much credibility. What is it with the claims about Jesus that made
                          >them so much more credible than the claims about Caesar?

                          This is a most remarkable assertion! Why on earth would anyone claim that
                          Julius' apotheosis was less widely credited than that of Jesus???? If
                          anything, the opposite is manifestly true.

                          >didn't really have anything to work with, my feeble imagination cannot
                          >grasp why their efforts succeeded so spectacularly.

                          The subsequent success strikes me as a function of other factors from a
                          later date. Coming up with an explanation of those factors is precisely what
                          needs to be done, it seems to me.

                          >Do we have here a counter-obsession with minimizing the importance of
                          > >Jesus
                          >by belittling every single possible element of significance in his >life? I

                          Not at all. I am suggesting that since this obsession with facticity is a
                          modern one (or at least, its form is modern), we can't assume that the
                          earliest Christians felt the same way, or would have needed to conceptualize
                          Jesus' importance strictly in terms of historical events. Paul certainly
                          doesn't feel the need to do so. Does HE "minimize the importance of Jesus"
                          or "belittle" his life?

                          >thought that the purpose of History, or Religious Studies, was to find
                          >rational connections and explanations based on historical evidence.

                          Yes, in a way, but the rational connections need not be in the minds of the
                          participants. The connnections that are rational and plausible explanations
                          to US may be sociological, or some such thing, and would have meant little
                          to the people whose behavior they endeavour to explain. Or to put it
                          differently, to come up with a rational explanation for an event is not the
                          same thing as assuming (without evidence) that the actors in that event were
                          operating in terms of a rationality identical to our own. One can explain,
                          or try to explain facism, for instance, without needing to posit that facism
                          is a rational ideology.

                          >would welcome a portrait of early Christians as irrational innovators
                          >unconcerned with facts, but must we follow suit?

                          I think they are RATIONAL innovators, and that their concern for facts, such
                          as it is, is not identical to our own. What it seems to me you're doing,
                          Bob, is calling every rationality different from your own, "irrational."

                          Bill
                          ___________________________
                          William Arnal
                          Department of Religion
                          University of Manitoba

                          "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                          -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg


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                        • beefnboots
                          ... Well, I d say that that is one thing you could wonder, but I wonder what import the crucified or hung man had in the cultures of the ancient Near East and,
                          Message 12 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@c...> wrote:

                            > According to the linguists, history is as much
                            > interpretation as presentation of facts. If the Christian
                            > gospels are making use of Jesus as a symbolic vehicle to
                            > present their own (current) understanding of the world, I am
                            > perfectly willing to accept that they sincerely believed
                            > that the actual history of Jesus and his followers *must*
                            > have conformed to their own viewpoint. In short, the
                            > historical events are reinterpreted and the story reshaped.
                            > There can be a logical progression of historical
                            > development, or a syncretistic adaptation of ideas or
                            > symbols. But I do have to wonder, why pick a crucified man
                            > to serve as a symbol, unless there was some sort of
                            > connection to him.

                            Well, I'd say that that is one thing you could wonder, but I wonder
                            what import the crucified or hung man had in the cultures of the
                            ancient Near East and, particularly, of the extent and nature of
                            martyrology amongst the Jews. I would guess that those who shaped
                            and reshaped the doctrine which has come to be Christianity did so
                            with the symbolism they had at hand and utilized that to re-form a
                            symbolic message to their own ends. Incrementally. Repeatedly.


                            >
                            > I agree with you that the interesting questions relate to
                            > "the proximate, i.e., socio-political, causes (and immediate
                            > effects) of ancient Christian doctrines, and not the
                            > character of the events they appear to refer to."
                            > Personally, I think that the Christian gospels are apologies
                            > cast in the form of biographies, designed to answer charges
                            > by opponents that the gospel authors considered too well
                            > established to deny. That implies that there had been some
                            > development in the movement, in that valid criticisms of its
                            > early stages had to be "explained" (away) by those who held
                            > later developments of the tradition. "Our founder was not
                            > what you say he was (a bastard, a rebel, a magician) but he
                            > was actually something perfectly acceptable/tolerable (a
                            > divine man, a cynic-like philosopher, a healer)."
                            >
                            > Respectfully,
                            >
                            > Dave Hindley
                            > Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                            Possible...

                            Kelly Wellington
                            Portland, Oregon
                          • Steve Black
                            ... I write... It seems to me that where we posit the genius of early xnty will be the determining factor in our historical reconstructions. It seems to me
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                              >Bob Schacht wrote:
                              >
                              >>If Christianity was NOT based on something about Jesus, then it seems >to
                              >>me
                              >>that we've really done is to transfer the genius of Jesus to the >genius of
                              >>some subsequent myth-maker who then becomes the "real" prophet for the >new
                              >>religion.



                              >Bill Replied
                              >No! Again, I don't think this sort of reasoning would apply to many other
                              >historical phenomena, so why apply it here? "Christianity" is the function
                              >of centuries of incremental development. Some figures in this development
                              >are prominent, some less so, but the end result is the "accomplishment" of
                              >no single person. Who INVENTED Judaism? I'd suggest, no one. So also with
                              >Christianity.

                              I write...
                              It seems to me that where we posit the "genius" of early xnty will be
                              the determining factor in our historical reconstructions. It seems to
                              me that the early church is *a* place for this genius to be seen.
                              This I say because it is the texts of the early church that we
                              actually have (in contrast to the reconstructed authentic words of
                              Jesus - which we only "have" via modern scholarship), and the results
                              of those texts was xnty itself. The problem is in tracing behind
                              these texts to see how much genius just might be laid at the door of
                              the HJ. Because this move will always more conjectural, it ought
                              always to be stated more tentatively.

                              It seems to me to be a weakness of some reconstructions is the
                              assumption that all truly "profound" sayings are automatically traced
                              back to the HJ. The assumption is that no one in the early church was
                              capable of "relevant" thought. The same might be said about the
                              criteria of dissimilarity. This assumes that Jesus was the only
                              person that was able to think "outside the box", as it were. Given
                              (what I believe to be) the presence of "genius" within the early
                              church itself, this assumption seems unfounded.
                              --

                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Gordon Raynal
                              ... Steve, Thanks for making this point in this discussion. When I read the extant materials I m struck by the genius (of various sorts)... the creativity...
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
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                                >It seems to me to be a weakness of some reconstructions is the
                                >assumption that all truly "profound" sayings are automatically traced
                                >back to the HJ. The assumption is that no one in the early church was
                                >capable of "relevant" thought. The same might be said about the
                                >criteria of dissimilarity. This assumes that Jesus was the only
                                >person that was able to think "outside the box", as it were. Given
                                >(what I believe to be) the presence of "genius" within the early
                                >church itself, this assumption seems unfounded.

                                Steve,

                                Thanks for making this point in this discussion. When I read the extant
                                materials I'm struck by the genius (of various sorts)... the creativity...
                                the links made to TANAK, ancient mythic formulas, socio-political-economic
                                realities, etc.... of "a host of voices." Just by way of analogy... the
                                Southern Christian Leadership Conference was made up of a number of smart
                                and talented leaders beside MLK, Jr., not to mention a lot of saavy folks in
                                all sorts of places around. I agree with you... many scholars seem so to
                                focus on HJ so as to miss that these folks across several generations had a
                                lot of genius among them. Historically those who pose whatever "high
                                shooting star" kind of approach, whether it be "some event" or whether it be
                                HJ himself, or Paul miss the genius and miss the cooperative human endeavor
                                from one generation to another.

                                Gordon Raynal
                                Inman, SC
                              • Stephen C. Carlson
                                ... Assuming that we re still discussing the empty tomb, rather than theology in general, I m a little confused as to how documents that are little more than a
                                Message 15 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  At 11:47 AM 2/4/02 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                                  >Bob Schacht wrote:
                                  >>But doesn't this raise the genre question? Q and especially Thomas both
                                  >>focus on Sayings of Jesus, so that we would not expect to find >narrative
                                  >>about resurrection there. This is old ground, covered many times >before.
                                  >
                                  >I would have thought so (i.e, that this was old ground), but evidently a
                                  >reminder is in order. I know of almost no one (no one springs to mind) who
                                  >regards the absence of a resurrection NARRATIVE in Q or Thomas to be in any
                                  >way significant. To focus on this issue is a classic case of erecting a
                                  >straw man and knocking it down. The problem with Q and Thomas is that they
                                  >both have integral theologies of Jesus' significance ("christologies," if
                                  >the term is conceived loosely) that do not appeal to or logically require a
                                  >focus on the crucifixion or resurrection. To argue that they somehow assumed
                                  >these things anyway is special pleading, and a far worse argument from
                                  >silence (i.e., that absence of reference to phenomenon "x" indicates that
                                  >phenomenon "x" IS present!) than any I've ever made. Sayings gospels are
                                  >indeed capable of communicating theology, even if they aren't inetersted in
                                  >providing narrative.

                                  Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                                  than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                                  documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                                  sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                                  empty tomb.

                                  Something like: "Jesus said, 'On the third day, my tomb
                                  will be empty.'"??? Not even the author of Mark, who
                                  knows of (or created) the empty tomb put that detail
                                  on the lips of Jesus, esp. in the passion predictions
                                  of 8:31, 9:39-32 and 10:33-34.

                                  Q's and Thomas's silence on the empty tomb is just not
                                  worth the papyrus it is written on.

                                  Stephen Carlson
                                  --
                                  Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                                  Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                                  "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                                • William Arnal
                                  ... Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                                    Stephen Carlson wrote:

                                    >Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                                    >than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                                    >documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                                    >sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                                    >empty tomb.

                                    Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place
                                    of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                                    thought. I cited Q and Thomas as evidence that such a view did not develop
                                    right away (or at least, was not shared by everyone), and Bob replied that
                                    the genre of these works forbade the conclusion that they had no significant
                                    theological interest in the resurrection. I was simply saying, no, they
                                    don't forbid such a conclusion, even though of course they DO forbid drawing
                                    any inferences from the fact that they lack resurrection (and not empty
                                    tomb; not what we were talking about here!) NARRATIVES.

                                    >Q's and Thomas's silence on the empty tomb is just not
                                    >worth the papyrus it is written on.

                                    Maybe, maybe not. But it was their silence (or supposed silence) on the
                                    resurrection that Bob and I were talking about.

                                    Bill
                                    ___________________________
                                    William Arnal
                                    Department of Religion
                                    University of Manitoba

                                    "Well, I can see I'm not in Paris"
                                    -- Ernest Hemingway, on landing in Winnipeg



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                                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                                    ... Looking back at the discussion, it appears that I and possibly Bob missed your segue from the empty tomb to theologizing about the resurrection. I would
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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                                      At 03:42 PM 2/5/02 -0600, William Arnal wrote:
                                      >Stephen Carlson wrote:
                                      >>Assuming that we're still discussing the empty tomb, rather
                                      >>than theology in general, I'm a little confused as to how
                                      >>documents that are little more than a collection of Jesus's
                                      >>sayings are supposed to communicate the alleged fact of the
                                      >>empty tomb.
                                      >
                                      >Actually, the context for what I said was a general discussion of the place
                                      >of the doctrine of the resurrection in the development of ancient Christian
                                      >thought. I cited Q and Thomas as evidence that such a view did not develop
                                      >right away (or at least, was not shared by everyone), and Bob replied that
                                      >the genre of these works forbade the conclusion that they had no significant
                                      >theological interest in the resurrection. I was simply saying, no, they
                                      >don't forbid such a conclusion, even though of course they DO forbid drawing
                                      >any inferences from the fact that they lack resurrection (and not empty
                                      >tomb; not what we were talking about here!) NARRATIVES.

                                      Looking back at the discussion, it appears that I and possibly
                                      Bob missed your segue from the empty tomb to theologizing
                                      about the resurrection. I would agree with you to the extent
                                      that Q and Thomas demonstrate that the authors of these texts
                                      thought about Jesus in very different terms than Paul. It is
                                      not clear, however, whether their theologizing about Jesus is
                                      complementary of, ignorant of, or in opposition to Pauline
                                      christology. Those possibilities need to be explored in more
                                      detail, but I would agree that the following statement of
                                      yours is not inherently implausible:

                                      >This suggests to me at least the possibility that the resurrection
                                      >belief emerged as a rationalization, a retrospective claim to divine
                                      >vindication, AFTER a deceased Jesus had already acquired some measure of
                                      >authority or significance among his post-mortem followers.

                                      There are other problems, however. Q is not extant, and the
                                      extent of its content is much less known than that of Mark or
                                      Thomas. The approach taken for Q's contents is quite
                                      conservative (i.e. no passion narrative for Q even though
                                      Luke appears to have access to another source), but this
                                      conservatism comes at a cost -- it makes the argument from
                                      Q's silence much more difficult to pull off, because the
                                      fact of Q's silence is less supported.

                                      Fortunately, Thomas is extant, so its lack of theologizing
                                      in terms of the resurrection is more significant. However,
                                      Thomas is difficult to date. If I recall correctly, you
                                      favor a mid-first century date, I lean to an early second
                                      century date, and Nick Perrin, whom I met over breakfast at
                                      SBL, is working on a book showing that Thomas is dependent
                                      on the Diatessaron (i.e. late second century). Therefore,
                                      Thomas may not tell us very much about early Christianity.

                                      Stephen Carlson

                                      --
                                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                                      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                                      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                                    • Jan Sammer
                                      From: Antonio Jerez ... appears ... I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus followers faced
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
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                                        From: "Antonio Jerez" <antonio.jerez@...>
                                        >
                                        > I would also like to add the "evidence" from Matthew 28:11-15. This
                                        appears
                                        > to be
                                        > a reminicence (although shrouded in Matthean form) of the Jewish
                                        > counterclaims to
                                        > the empty tomb. Why counterclaim in this way if it could easily be shown
                                        > that the
                                        > false Messiah had been rotting on a cross? If Crossan is right I think we
                                        > should have
                                        > expected ridicule of the Christians and their "rotting" Messiah in later
                                        > jewish litterature.
                                        > We find ridicule of another kind but not this.
                                        >
                                        I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus'
                                        followers faced in the early days of their movement, their opponents would
                                        have seized upon any information they may have had that Jesus had not
                                        undergone a physical bodily resurrection -- *had any such information been
                                        available*. As it is, the ridicule the Christians were subjected to seems
                                        entirely to be dependent on the gospel accounts themselves, with little, if
                                        any independent information from any other source. The virgin birth story is
                                        ridiculed by making Jesus an illegitimate child. The empty tomb story is
                                        ridiculed by accusations that the Christians stole the body. The Christians
                                        countered (via Matthew) that this was impossible, since the tomb had been
                                        placed under armed guard and (via GPeter) sealed with seven seals. But such
                                        criticism does not evidence any independent knowledge of the facts, just the
                                        contrary. To Antonio's question, "Why counterclaim in this way if it could
                                        easily be shown that the false Messiah had been rotting on a cross?" the
                                        most valid answer seems to be that it could not be so shown, not because the
                                        critics knew that the body had in fact been buried, but because the critics
                                        did not have access to *any* information of what had actually happened. In
                                        this situation they took the Christian claims and tried to find flaws or
                                        weak spots in the narrative.

                                        The empty tomb story is a logical development from the Jewish / Christian
                                        belief in bodily resurrection. In Christian dogma, the bodily resurrection
                                        of Jesus hearkened the new age in which the resurrection of the dead is the
                                        norm. As the writings of Paul make clear the resurrection of Jesus is the
                                        main Christian hope, since all believers could expect to follow the example
                                        of the one who had defeated death itself. The belief in bodily resurrection
                                        is also the chief motive for the extreme piety traditionally displayed by
                                        Jews with respect to the physical remains of their ancestors. That is also
                                        why the statement ascribed to Jesus by the Matthew/Luke, "Let the dead bury
                                        their own dead" would have been so shocking, particularly in response to
                                        someone wishing to bury his own father. The only way it could have been
                                        acceptable was if the age of bodily resurrection was so imminent that the
                                        act of burial as such was no longer appropriate.

                                        Jesus was supposed to have resurrected with a new, more glorious body, but
                                        still a body transformed out of the old human body. The empty tomb is thus
                                        implied by Christian belief from the first. However, as I have explained,
                                        the centrality of the empty tomb as proof of the resurrection was an
                                        incidental effect of the way that Mark chose to use his source. In Mark's
                                        source the empty tomb was not the key evidence of resurrection it became for
                                        Mark (even though for Mark the real proof are the Galilean appearances, to
                                        which he merely alludes); the proof in Mark's source was the young man
                                        standing by the tomb who talked to the women and who was in fact the
                                        resurrected Jesus, whom they did not yet recognize as such. For dramatic
                                        reasons the recognition of the true nature of the young man by the women
                                        went through a series of steps, in which the women gradually came to the
                                        realization that the vigorous young man standing in front of them was in
                                        fact the resurrected Jesus with a glorious new body, in place of the
                                        tortured body which they had seen laid in the tomb. For theological reasons
                                        of his own, Mark chose not to reproduce the entire recognition scene, thus
                                        leaving the identity of the young man unresolved. With his story of the
                                        empty tomb Mark had opened up a gaping hole in the fabric of the Christian
                                        narrative, which critics were quick to exploit and which other gospel
                                        writers, who followed Mark, never succeeded in closing in a wholly
                                        satisfactory way.

                                        Jan Sammer
                                        sammer@...
                                        Prague, Czech Republic
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