Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

RE: [XTalk] Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      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



      _________________________________________________________________
      MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:
      http://photos.msn.com/support/worldwide.aspx
    • 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 2 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        >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 3 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          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
          >
          >
          > _________________________________________________________________
          > Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device: http://mobile.msn.com
          >
          >
          >
          > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
          >
          > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to:
          crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > List managers may be contacted directly at:
          crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
          >
        • 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 4 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              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 6 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                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 7 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  >
                  >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 8 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    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



                    _________________________________________________________________
                    Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device: http://mobile.msn.com
                  • 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 9 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      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


                      _________________________________________________________________
                      Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger: http://messenger.msn.com
                    • 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 10 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        --- 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 11 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          >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 12 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            >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 13 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 14 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
                              • 0 Attachment
                                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



                                _________________________________________________________________
                                Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger: http://messenger.msn.com
                              • 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 15 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  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 16 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    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
                                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.