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

Re: [XTalk] Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 18 , Feb 3, 2002
      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 2 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
        >
        >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 3 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
          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 4 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
            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 5 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
              --- 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 6 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                >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 7 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                  >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 8 of 18 , Feb 4, 2002
                    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 9 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
                      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 10 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
                        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 11 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
                          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.