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Re: [XTalk] Cross Gospels, crucifixions, resurrections

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  • 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 1 of 18 , Feb 5, 2002
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      Stephen Carlson wrote:

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

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

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

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

      Bill
      ___________________________
      William Arnal
      Department of Religion
      University of Manitoba

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



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

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

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

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

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

        Stephen Carlson

        --
        Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
        Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
        "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
      • Jan Sammer
        From: Antonio Jerez ... appears ... I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus followers faced
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 6, 2002
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          From: "Antonio Jerez" <antonio.jerez@...>
          >
          > I would also like to add the "evidence" from Matthew 28:11-15. This
          appears
          > to be
          > a reminicence (although shrouded in Matthean form) of the Jewish
          > counterclaims to
          > the empty tomb. Why counterclaim in this way if it could easily be shown
          > that the
          > false Messiah had been rotting on a cross? If Crossan is right I think we
          > should have
          > expected ridicule of the Christians and their "rotting" Messiah in later
          > jewish litterature.
          > We find ridicule of another kind but not this.
          >
          I agree with Antonio that in the intensely polemical atmosphere Jesus'
          followers faced in the early days of their movement, their opponents would
          have seized upon any information they may have had that Jesus had not
          undergone a physical bodily resurrection -- *had any such information been
          available*. As it is, the ridicule the Christians were subjected to seems
          entirely to be dependent on the gospel accounts themselves, with little, if
          any independent information from any other source. The virgin birth story is
          ridiculed by making Jesus an illegitimate child. The empty tomb story is
          ridiculed by accusations that the Christians stole the body. The Christians
          countered (via Matthew) that this was impossible, since the tomb had been
          placed under armed guard and (via GPeter) sealed with seven seals. But such
          criticism does not evidence any independent knowledge of the facts, just the
          contrary. To Antonio's question, "Why counterclaim in this way if it could
          easily be shown that the false Messiah had been rotting on a cross?" the
          most valid answer seems to be that it could not be so shown, not because the
          critics knew that the body had in fact been buried, but because the critics
          did not have access to *any* information of what had actually happened. In
          this situation they took the Christian claims and tried to find flaws or
          weak spots in the narrative.

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

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

          Jan Sammer
          sammer@...
          Prague, Czech Republic
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