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Re: [XTalk] Miracles again

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  • Eric Eve
    (My apologies if this appears twice; my first attempt to send it doesn t seem to have worked) ... involved ... Gordon, Thank you for raising a number of
    Message 1 of 12 , Mar 7, 2002
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      (My apologies if this appears twice; my first attempt to send it doesn't
      seem to have worked)

      Gordon Raynal wrote:

      > I really wonder about the meaning of this use of "reputation." When? By
      > whom? And I'm interested in hearing various ones talk about what's
      involved
      > in the move (if any) from historical reporting to theological affirmation
      > and story plotting.

      Gordon,

      Thank you for raising a number of interesting questions. I don't claim to
      have definitive answers to most of them; indeed, you are touching on issues
      which I shall want to examine in much more depth before I could pretend to
      offer a clearly argued position. However, since you're inviting responses I
      can give you my initial thoughts on a number of points you raise:

      > What basis is used, for example, for affirming
      >"healing" wonders as historically descriptive or rooted and "nature"
      wonders
      > as being creative theological writing (if this is being affirmed)?

      I would argue first of all that the two types of miracle stories play rather
      different roles in Mark's narrative. In fact I did argue this quite recently
      on this list; see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/9261.
      Secondly, I note that Theissen and Merz address this issue in the chapter on
      miracles in their textbook, _The Historical Jesus_, and argue that the
      'nature miracles' show an overlay of Easter Faith that is lacking in the
      healing stories; Theissen also argues in other contexts that the healing
      stories show little signs of 'Christianization'; this isn't an appeal to the
      authority of Gerd Theissen, simply a note that there's a line of argument
      here that may be worth pursuing (I'd need to think about it a lot more
      myself before deciding on its validity). Thirdly, there is evidence
      (admittedly not as much as sometimes seems to be suggested) that other
      Jewish exorcists were at work, and it would be quite strange if there were
      *no* folk-healers in Galilee. Thus there while there are strong a priori
      grounds for doubting or denying that Jesus ever walked across the Sea of
      Galilee, there are no such grounds for doubting or denying that he could
      have been a healer, at least, no grounds for being any more sceptical about
      this claim than about most other things the Gospels tell us about Jesus.

      > How do folks account for the exorcisms being so central to the Synoptic
      telling and
      > absent from the Signs/ Johannine telling?

      Good question; I don't claim to know the answer but I suspect it may be
      because John is pursuing a stronger Moses/Exodus theme into which exorcisms
      would not fit too well. Austin Farrer, Georg Ziener and Douglas Clark
      independently came up with the theory that John's signs were based on the
      series of blessings and plagues described in the Wisdom of Solomon, a theory
      that has some merit though it may not fit perfectly, but this too could
      explain the absence of exorcisms from John, since they can't be derived from
      the Wisdom of Solomon (in the way that Farrer, Ziener and Clark suggests
      that the Johannine signs could be derived).

      > And how do folks account for the
      > story parallels between the wonders associated with the Elijah/ Elisha
      > stories and those attributed to HJ?

      Although I agree that the Elijah/Elisha miracle stories are the closest OT
      parallel to the Gospel accounts of Jesus' miracles, the degree of
      resemblance isn't always that close; with the possible exception of the
      feeding stories, off the top of my head I can't think of any of Jesus'
      reported miracles that is simply a straightforward copy of an Elijah or
      Elisha story. On the other hand, by the time Mark and the other Evangelists
      got hold of these stories, at the very least they would have grown in the
      telling. It would not be surprising if Mark or his tradition introduced some
      OT echoes into these stories, and Elijah and Elisha would be the obvious
      biblical prototypes.

      > Finally, is the idea of "reputation"
      > centrally based in the repitition of stories in the 4 Canonical Gospels?
      > What other sources are used for this ascription?

      Not only the stories but some of the sayings (e.g. Mt 12.27-28 // Lk
      11.19-20; Lk 13.32; Mt 11.21-23; Mt 11.4-5 // Lk 7.21-22). Appeal is also
      often made to Josephus's reference to Jesus as a doer of PARADOXWN ERGWN in
      the Testimonium Flavianum, but I am aware of the argument that this is a
      Eusebian interpolation (and even if it wasn't, Josephus might only be
      reporting the general picture of Jesus that was circulating by the time
      Josephus got to hear about him, which might be no earlier than the Gospel of
      Mark). To be sure, the presence of healing stories (and sayings) in the
      canonical Gospels is not in itself proof that Jesus was a healer, but the
      absence of healing stories in earlier sources contributes little the other
      way, since there seems to be no surviving earlier text of a type in which
      one would expect to find reports of Jesus' healing. My point is then that
      since the Gospels' claim that Jesus was a healer is entirely plausible (if
      Jesus wasn't going round Galilee healing people then the chances are that
      someone else of the same name was), and that if he were a healer of some
      repute it would explain why people took an interest in him in the first
      place.

      > I'm also interested in what folks
      > make of the commission given by Jesus to the 12 in Mark and to 72 others
      in
      > Luke... were there indeed a team of 12 to 84 healers running all around
      > Galilee in Jesus' ministry? Were they as effective as Jesus is reported to
      > be? At any given site is it proposed that Jesus took first shot or did any
      > of these 12 or 72 start right up?

      I suspect that at least some of these reports are retrojections of the
      Church's post-Easter ministry into the life of Jesus. That said, there would
      be nothing intrinsically absurd about Jesus as healer recruiting a team of
      healers (probably nearer 12 than 72!) to perform a healing mission (or,
      perhaps, something rather less organized than the word 'mission' might
      suggest). Given the nature of the healings Jesus probably performed (if he
      performed any), such sub-healers may have learned from his example and then
      have gone on to practise by themselves. Of course, I don't *know* that
      anything of the sort happened, or even that it probably happened; I'm just
      saying I don't see it as particularly problematic.

      > And one, more... do folks think that Jesus
      > only started healing within the frame of the gospel story telling... or
      did
      > he, say, start healing others when he was 15, 18 or 22?

      The frame of the Gospel story telling is presumably the
      redactional/compositional creation of the Evangelists; while I think it
      possible that they may convey the sort of things Jesus said and did (along,
      of course, with a large dose of their own theology) I wouldn't put any
      reliance on their chronology (beyond the fact that the crucifixion must come
      at the end!), so to ask whether 'Jesus only started healing within the frame
      of the gospel story telling' almost seems like a mis-framed question. I
      really don't think the evidence allows us to say when Jesus started healing,
      any more than it allows us to say at what age Eleazar (Ant. 8.45-49) cast
      out his first demon. There may be other grounds for doubting Josephus's
      account, but this surely isn't one of them, so why should it be in the case
      of Jesus? The two most likely possibilities seem to be to be (a) that Jesus
      started work as a healer rather young (say in his late teens), but
      originally only on a sporadic and local level, and gradually found himself
      propelled up the 'healing hierarchy' to become a 'folk-saint' (here I'm
      relying on the sociological model propounded by Octavio Romano) or (b) that
      at some point in his life (at what age we obviously can't say) he had some
      kind of visionary or ecstatic experience that propelled him more suddenly
      into a healing career (this would be closer to Stevan Davies's model).

      Finally, let me be quite clear that I'm not claiming to *know* that Jesus
      was a healer/exorcist, or to be able to demonstrate (right now) that he was
      by any form of strict historical reasoning. What I am suggesting is (a) that
      is unreasonable to be more sceptical about the historicity of this aspect of
      the Gospel narratives than about many other aspects of them; (b) that at the
      moment it seems to me quite probable that Jesus was an exorcist/healer and
      that (c) this is a hypothesis which may be fruitful to pursue. I suspect the
      alternative is not to derive a more accurate picture of the HJ by stripping
      the Gospels of all references to healing and exorcism (and, as goes without
      saying, the 'nature miracles'), but to admit frankly that the Gospels
      contain insufficient reliable information for us to be able to say anything
      significant about the historical Jesus. The attempts to get at the HJ solely
      through Q and GThom (for example), even if valid on other grounds, seem to
      me to result in a figure too insubstantial to count (a little like groping
      for the 'historical Arthur' - one ends up, perhaps, with a vague notion of a
      warlord who managed to co-ordinate Celtic resistance to the Saxon 'conquest'
      of southern Britain, but this is too insubstantial to count as really
      knowing anything about this figure). Of course, such total scepticism may
      turn out to be the best we can manage, but I'd like to exhaust the other
      possibility before admitting it!

      Best wishes,

      Eric
    • William Arnal
      ... This post contained a great of interesting and important commentary, and in responding to this little snippet, I don t at all mean to imply that the rest
      Message 2 of 12 , Mar 7, 2002
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        Eric Eve wrote, inter alia:

        >significant about the historical Jesus. The attempts to get at the HJ
        > >solely
        >through Q and GThom (for example), even if valid on other grounds, >seem to
        >me to result in a figure too insubstantial to count

        This post contained a great of interesting and important commentary, and in
        responding to this little snippet, I don't at all mean to imply that the
        rest was unimportant -- I just happened to agree with (nearly?) all of it.
        But I wanted to add, as one obsessed with Q and Thomas, that I (also)
        completely agree with the above statement, and would go even further. Yes,
        EVEN IF valid on other grounds, such attempts do not give us a very
        substantial Jesus -- they beg the question why any historical person to whom
        they allegedly attest would have the various thrological baggage attached to
        him that appear even in these texts, not to speak of Paul, the canonical
        gospels, etc. Of course, as I believe Jonathan Smith says somewhere, all you
        need for a religious hero (or does he say "myth"?) is a name and a place,
        and so maybe there is no need at all to suppose continuity between the HJ
        and any subsequent representations. Still and all, I'd LIKE to be able to
        show some logical linkage between allegedly early characterizations such as
        appear in Q or Thomas, and more developed conceptualizations.

        The problem, I think, is that many of us who want Q and Thomas to be taken
        seriously as sources for the complexion of ancient Christianity tend to get
        caught up in polemical mode, and as a result, exaggerate their
        (foundational) significance -- we over-correct or over-compensate. I don't
        doubt for a moment that Q represents a very ancient, "primitive," and
        essentially free-standing conception of Jesus that reflects the views of
        some discrete "community." So also for Thomas. But there is no reason to
        think that simply because such perspectives are ancient (or even older than
        anything else we have access to), that they are the originary matrix for
        later developments. The fact is, it strikes me as very awkward to INFER or
        DEVELOP the miracle-working Jesus of Q2 or Mark from the teacher of Q1 or
        Thomas. But these ideas are present, they came from somewhere, and in
        documents like Q2 (or perhaps even Mark for that matter), miracles are
        suddenly invoked as evidence for teaching proficiency. Where do they come
        from? I would want to say, "from the tradition, of course," and since such
        tradition can't, I think (Burton Mack to the contrary on this one), are
        unlikely to have been extrapolated out of "Jesus the teacher," one must
        suppose that they were "always" there, being passed on ALONGSIDE such
        depictions as "Jesus the teacher."

        By the way, I note, on the miracles issue, that Q does indeed attest to a
        miracle-working Jesus, while, oddly, Thomas does not.

        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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      • Eric Eve
        ... I am likewise selecting a snippet from a post that contains much I agree with (in particular, like Bill, I think it would be more intellectually satisfying
        Message 3 of 12 , Mar 8, 2002
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          Bill Arnal wrote:

          > By the way, I note, on the miracles issue, that Q does indeed attest to a
          > miracle-working Jesus, while, oddly, Thomas does not.

          I am likewise selecting a snippet from a post that contains much I agree
          with (in particular, like Bill, I think it would be more intellectually
          satisfying to find an HJ that could account for the importance that
          subsequently became attached to him, and I also find it hard to derive Jesus
          the wonder-worker from Jesus the teacher).

          But just to reflect on Bill's observation quoted above, I wonder if it is
          that odd that Thomas doesn't reflect a miracle- working Jesus, or whether
          it's simply an indication of the situation Thomas intended to address. I
          have in mind the fact that
          Josephus has a good deal to say about the miracles associated with Moses in
          the _Antiquities_ and nothing at all to say about them in _Against Apion_,
          even though in the latter work he talks about Moses quite a bit in his
          attempt to rebut slanders against the Jews. If _Against Apion_ had survived
          but not the _Antiquities_ we should have been left with the impression that
          Josephus regarded the miracles of the exodus period as being of no interest
          whatsoever. But if the same author addressing different situations can
          attest both a miraculous and a non-miraculous Moses (to put it very
          crudely), perhaps it's not so surprising that one can find a parallel
          phenomenon in regard to the presentation of Jesus in texts by different
          authors.

          Best wishes,

          Eric
        • William Arnal
          ... Actually, I agree with this as well -- the oddly was a toss-off on my part. Yes, one cannot conclude that the author of Thomas doesn t KNOW of miracle
          Message 4 of 12 , Mar 8, 2002
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            Eric Eve wrote:

            >But just to reflect on Bill's observation quoted above, I wonder if it >is
            >that odd that Thomas doesn't reflect a miracle- working Jesus, or >whether
            >it's simply an indication of the situation Thomas intended to address.

            Actually, I agree with this as well -- the "oddly" was a toss-off on my
            part. Yes, one cannot conclude that the author of Thomas doesn't KNOW of
            miracle traditions, just that he's chosen not to use them here. Of course,
            we can't conclude he DID know of the miracles either.

            Bill
            ___________________________
            William Arnal
            Department of Religion
            University of Manitoba

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



            _________________________________________________________________
            Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp.
          • Gordon Raynal
            Eric and Bill, Thanks for your replies and input on this issue. What I want to do in reply is just cut out a few snippets of your excellent post and provide
            Message 5 of 12 , Mar 8, 2002
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              Eric and Bill,

              Thanks for your replies and input on this issue. What I want to do in reply
              is just cut out a few snippets of your excellent post and provide an
              alternate hypothesis about how to understand the development of the
              understanding of Jesus as a wonder worker. I'll save your post for a more
              detailed response to individual parts, but for the sake of putting forth
              what I consider to be a plausible hypothesis I'll just take off from a few
              of your points.

              Now, let me begin by restating several things:
              1. I do have confidence that the Sayings Traditions give us "an in on" HJ
              and friends in the late 20's of the first century. See Brandon Scott's
              newest book on the parables, "Re-Imagine the World" (see especially pg. 4)
              for his affirmations about connecting the collection of parables to HJ. In
              addition I think both the multiple, independent attestation, the shared
              focus about "the core" across many text traditions and what Mark says about
              HJ in the summary after the parable collection in Mark 4 goes to support
              this conclusion... along with Josephus' attribution that Jesus was a "sophos
              aner."
              2. I am very uncertain about the events of HJ's life as the stories we have
              are "thick" with theological affirmation, connections to TANAK stories, are
              distinctly told within the plotting/narrative framework of the authors...
              and because we have TWO major narrative picturings which are very different.
              3. Having said the above, Eric, you and others may be entirely right that
              Jesus was indeed a folk healer. I'm not against the idea and as I've said,
              would be **pleased** to know it, if I could find a clear database on which
              to make that conclusion. Alas, unlike Crossan, Borg, the J.Sem as well as
              "the most" in "other camps," I just don't see it. Possible, yes? Most
              likely explanation for the produce of these stories? Well, I have to say
              "no." So... let me lay out what seems the more plausible path to the
              production of these stories... and I will disagree with both you and Bill
              about seeing a connection between Jesus as parablist and the move to cast
              Jesus in terms a broad swath of "roles." Looking at TANAK, I find that
              there is "a logic" to divergent trajectories which lead quite sensibly to
              seeing Jesus as Son of Man, Christ, Son of God, High Priest after the order
              of Melchizedek, etc. etc. etc. So... here goes:

              >Thank you for raising a number of interesting questions. I don't claim to
              >have definitive answers to most of them; indeed, you are touching on issues
              >which I shall want to examine in much more depth before I could pretend to
              >offer a clearly argued position. However, since you're inviting responses I
              >can give you my initial thoughts on a number of points you raise:

              First, thanks for this kindly opening and for your honest reservations
              throughout about what we know! I entirely share those reservations and want
              to be **quite clear** that all I'm proposing is a hypothesis about how to
              connect the developments in these traditions. Despite what some have said
              about my views, they **are not** driven by "skepticism," but rather by
              reservations about **the historical** resources we have. Were this a
              theological list I would be for a very lively **affirmative** conversation
              about the theo-ethical meaning and import of these stories across the 2
              millennia of the Christian heritage and their powerful relevance today. By
              way of analogy... I'm not at all skeptical about what Genesis 1 tells us
              theologically and ethically, but of course have no confidence that that
              story is much help in questions of cosmology:)! But this is a historical
              list and I'm very much for moving **very cautiously** when jumping from what
              are clearly imaginative theological proclamation stories to "history
              underneath."
              >
              >> What basis is used, for example, for affirming
              >>"healing" wonders as historically descriptive or rooted and "nature"
              >wonders
              >> as being creative theological writing (if this is being affirmed)?

              Now... with the above noted... let me begin to sketch out an alternate
              hypothesis. Here I disagree with you and such as Thiessen, et. al. When I
              look at the extant materials I see two distinct "wonder" trajectories:
              A. I'd argue that the 5 wonder stories shared between the Synoptic/
              Signs-Johannine writings form an earlier and independent collection
              (namely... a paralytic walking, raising a child, feeding 5K, walking on
              water and the blind seeing).
              --looking to the Elijah/Elisha cyle... both of the prototype prophets do
              both healing and nature
              wonders
              --two of Jesus' wonders have direct parallel in these collections.
              Elijah multiples food and
              raises a child in I Kings 17 and Elisha likewise raises the
              Shumanite's child and multiplies
              food for 100 in II Kings 4.
              --further, I'd say a source behind the creation of Jesus walking on
              water is related to the
              stories of both Elijah and Elisha parting the Jordan river with
              Elijah's cloak from II
              Kings 2. They like Moses and Joshua could "part waters," whereas
              Jesus just cruised
              right over them!
              --lastly, I think the other two healing stories of "lame man walking"
              and "blind seeing" are
              paradigmatic of "parablizing" HJ's wisdom actions (a walking/
              following ministry) and words
              (such as "leave the dead" and "no one who takes the plow" regarding
              the walking and such
              as "the blind leading the blind" regarding the wisdom theme of
              blindness and sight.

              Thus, I think the Elijah/ Elisha cycle makes absolutely no distinction
              between types of wonders... that those stories provide both model and some
              key contents for producing stories of Jesus fulfilling
              "the prophetic office" (as he will also be shown to fulfill "the royal
              office" and "the priestly office"), and that the creative addition of the
              other two wonders is in line with the actual content of Jesus' "wisdom
              ministry." Just again to use the expression: "the parabler" became THE
              PARABLE... and the creation of this line of story telling is precisely
              consonant with fulfilling one VERY IMPORTANT model from the TANAK... namely
              "the prophetic office." And I do note, that "guess who" is going to be
              right there at "the transfiguration!" (Elijah, of course!)

              The Signs/ Johannine story development **stuck** with this core and the
              other two "Signs" also relation to the Elijah/ Elisha cycle... notably
              Elisha makes for desalinated and abundant waters in II Kings 2 and 3/ (Jesus
              makes for abundant wine out of waters) and a dead guy is thrown in Elisha's
              open grave and upon touching his bones comes back to life (and Lazarus, of
              course, comes out of his tomb by THE WORD's WORD). Therefore I don't see
              the healing and nature wonders as being different or the nature one's "more
              Christologized"... but rather both owing to creativity found in the
              prophetic tradition. Again... I am **not** surprised that Jesus, among
              other roles is **quickly cast** as "a prophetic figure" and that these
              resources are dug into for imaginative story telling in a fulfillment
              motif... that just goes in parallel with the other "fulfillment roles" that
              Jesus is cast in terms of.

              >> How do folks account for the exorcisms being so central to the Synoptic
              >telling and
              >> absent from the Signs/ Johannine telling?
              >
              >Good question; I don't claim to know the answer but I suspect it may be
              >because John is pursuing a stronger Moses/Exodus theme into which exorcisms
              >would not fit too well.


              In addition to the above... their lack here... in the Thomas and Signs/
              Johannine is a clue that what is happening is not "forgetting" or "denying"
              or "re-interpreting" a historical reality, but indeed a different sort of
              theological story telling trajectory... and sticking with it as I indicated
              above. In this trajectory Jesus is DECIDELY NOT "a faith healer" in the
              Signs/ Johannine stories. He's the Son of God **who has NO PROBLEM:)!!!!**
              making happen what he deems necessary to show forth his presence!

              >> And how do folks account for the
              >> story parallels between the wonders associated with the Elijah/ Elisha
              >> stories and those attributed to HJ?
              >
              >Although I agree that the Elijah/Elisha miracle stories are the closest OT
              >parallel to the Gospel accounts of Jesus' miracles, the degree of
              >resemblance isn't always that close; with the possible exception of the
              >feeding stories, off the top of my head I can't think of any of Jesus'
              >reported miracles that is simply a straightforward copy of an Elijah or
              >Elisha story.

              Look carefully again. Note... Elijah's story starts with a call to the
              wilderness to be fed by wild beasts... a return "to house up" with the
              Zarephath widow and make for plenty of food and raising her son (and Jesus?
              to the wilderness and sustained by wild beasts/ multiples food and raises
              dead folks). The end of the Elijah story has that river parting... pouring
              forth "a double spirit" and being "taken up." (Again, Jesus can walk over
              water, he does pour forth his spirit and is taken up as the stories
              develop). As for Elisha... he also cures leprosy besides multiplying food,
              desalinating water, making for abundant water without rain, pufies stew,
              makes an axhead float. Jesus will cure leprosy, as well and is himself a
              big "multiplier."

              >> Finally, is the idea of "reputation"
              >> centrally based in the repitition of stories in the 4 Canonical Gospels?
              >> What other sources are used for this ascription?
              >
              >Not only the stories but some of the sayings (e.g. Mt 12.27-28 // Lk
              >11.19-20; Lk 13.32; Mt 11.21-23; Mt 11.4-5 // Lk 7.21-22).

              You will not be surprised that I think that these saying go with the
              development of a second trajectory of healing stories. So... let me get to
              this line of healing wonders which are a part of the developments in the
              layers of Q and from Mark to Matthew and Luke. Where and why this
              development?
              Well, the Common Sayings between Q/ Thomas and the opening of the Didache
              show no signs of any of this exorcism/ healing conversation or action
              description. Obviously, Paul has nothing on this. The development of G.
              Thomas has none of this. And again the Signs/ Johannine trajectory is
              devoid of this kind of story telling. What happens from Q1 to Q2... and in
              the development of Mark's plotting a story for Jesus? First, let us again
              return to the TANAK and two different resources:
              1st Psalm 103:2-5 wherein God's Power/ Rule is affirmed in terms of
              forgiveness, healing,
              restoring and reinvigorating life.
              2nd Isaiah 65:17 and following wherein the eschatological creation is
              shown to end all early death
              and suffering.
              I would suggest that this sort of affirmation is behind the development of
              understanding Jesus as an apocalyptic Messiah who "makes it happen"/
              demonstrates this coming alive in his presence and thus gifts his chief
              lieutenants with the very same "Spirit." As Q moves from layer one to
              two... there is the increasing resistence to the movement and the addition
              of judgmental and apocalyptic themes. Herein Jesus is shown to speak of and
              make for exoricism, judgement and, positively, for the fulfillment of
              forgiveness/ healing/ restoration of life. I would suggest that Jesus'
              great chat with Satan in the opening, the creation of the JTB speech and
              role as Elijah figure passing on to Elisha figure and the inclusion of these
              sayings and the healing/ exorcism avowal is rooted in this sort of developed
              TANAK reflection. When we turn to Mark we see the full blown development of
              this in addition to the inclusion of the "5 Signs" source. In narrative
              fashion... Jesus, like the one who's name he bears, Joshua, recapitulates
              Ancient Israel's journey (just as Elijah had done)... "through the waters"
              (baptism)... 40 (days/ not years) in the wilderness... facing the
              temptations and like Joshua of old... faithful... into the land... and
              rather than slaying Canaanites, Jesus exorcizes countless demons... and
              BTW... had dandy theological conversations with them/ and in the case of
              other healings nicely relates the message of Psalm 103 about the connection
              of forgiveness and health. So I would suggest that the Q and Mark
              developments are rooted in this kind of theological reflection and that the
              Synoptic line used both developments as is befitting the plotting and
              resources that are drawn upon. Quite to the point in that Matthew 11:4-5...
              there is direct connection to Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 29:18-19 and 35:5-6.
              Paul, a clearly apocalyptic sort of thinker, will utilize "the new heaven
              and earth" reference in his summing of the meaning of Jesus in II
              Corinthians 5:17 and, of course, Revelation 21 will develop this line of
              thought to it's full extent.

              Now let me conclude by saying I simply do not see anything odd about
              attributing any of this to Jesus, but indeed, rather to be expected
              considering the Hebraic heritage. Second, I do find it frankly odd to
              distinguish one particular line of Jesus' reported healing as being distinct
              from both other stories of healing/ raising and from the nature wonders.
              Again, I will cry no tears and indeed be entirely happy to find some
              evidence for Jesus as being a healer and then all of this taking off from
              that historical reality. But I cannot find that *historical evidence* and
              can account for this development in the way presented here. What I find
              when I read these stories is a consistency within the two types of story
              telling. And I frankly just don't see "events" that are totally rewritten
              "to make them better;)!"... rather a very consistent pattern of deep
              Scriptural reflection, and, once more, a move to seeing the parabler HJ as
              the VERY PARABLE of God's rule. Against... actual skeptics of the
              derogatory kind... I don't see this development as being aroused by any
              deception or by just wild eyed story telling. Rather, what we have are very
              carefully crafted THEOLOGICAL AFFIRMATION STORIES (Caps for emphasis) that
              reflect deep and creative development on an ANCIENT AND LONG TERM practice
              of doing just this! Want to talk about the truth of God's Rule? Wow...
              tell a story about a guy who get's swallowed by a fish and then who's so
              effective that even the Ninevite Cattle are saved! Want to talk about
              freedom... tell a story of a majic rod... the parting of the entire Red Sea.
              Want to talk about a naysayer used counter to his assignment... have an Ass
              chat with Balaam! Want to tell of the power of prophets... they can part
              rivers... float ax heads... raise the dead, heal lepers, multiply food and
              oil and desalinate water! Again, caps for emphasis: I DO NOT AT ALL FIND
              THIS VERY SAME HIGHLY IMAGINATIVE AND POWERFUL STORY TELLING ODD AT ALL when
              it comes to applying it to a fellow who simply told the parables... if no
              more than that. I'm entirely serious about this. Aesop has been remembered
              because of his stories. Homer, an illiterate, is remembered for his famous
              poems that make vivid "the story of a people." Socrates, likewise, made an
              impact upon his teachings. When I look at the parables of HJ and the
              associated set of aphorisms that are preserved in the earliest tradition I
              can see the basis for the genesis of thoroughly scouring the Scriptures,
              particularly relating his to characters, "actions," words and themes. And
              just for one last Hebraic connection here... when I read Ecclesiastes
              9:13-18... think about this great storied tradition which includes a VERY
              RICH wisdom heritage... an incredibly talented wisdom teacher coming out of
              this heritage? Not odd at all. One who would be "praised all the way to
              heaven:)!" in light of that very rich story tradition? Quite
              understandable.

              So... back to the beginning... I'm simply **very cautious** when it comes to
              historical ascription of any of these "actions" and "deeds" in TANAK and the
              Jesus writings. We ***just do no have the sorts of materials*** that make
              historical confidence very high for any of these actions/ deeds. What we do
              have is this extremely rich and powerful story telling tradition whose aim
              is CLEAR... theo-ethical proclamation/ affirmation. So, I will forward the
              above as the **more probable** scenario behind what we have.

              So... very last word... I'm in no way undone by your or others counter
              proposals. I figure til we get more data countless hypotheses will be out
              there as this is the case when data is sparse and passions are as high as
              they get with such material. Wouldn't be very fun if we all simply
              agreed:)! So... thanks Eric for your good post and I hope you'll enjoy this
              one!

              Gordon Raynal
              Inman, SC

              (p.s. Please pardon any typos... this new email I have on my server does
              not connect to spell check on which I vitally depend! So... just chuckle
              your way through spelling and syntatical snafus;)!)
            • Eric Eve
              ... reply ... [much snipped] ... want ... Dear Gordon, Thank you too for your most courteous opening and detailed response. And, of course, it is always good
              Message 6 of 12 , Mar 11, 2002
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                Gordon Raynal wrote:

                > Thanks for your replies and input on this issue. What I want to do in
                reply
                > is just cut out a few snippets of your excellent post and provide an
                > alternate hypothesis about how to understand the development of the
                > understanding of Jesus as a wonder worker. I'll save your post for a more
                > detailed response to individual parts, but for the sake of putting forth
                > what I consider to be a plausible hypothesis I'll just take off from a few
                > of your points.

                [much snipped]

                > First, thanks for this kindly opening and for your honest reservations
                > throughout about what we know! I entirely share those reservations and
                want
                > to be **quite clear** that all I'm proposing is a hypothesis about how to
                > connect the developments in these traditions.

                Dear Gordon,

                Thank you too for your most courteous opening and detailed response. And, of
                course, it is always good to see alternative hypotheses propounded. I been
                away a few days, which is why I haven't replied earlier, and I shan't
                attempt to answer all the points you made; but here's a few comments and
                queries that come to mind relatively quickly.

                > A. I'd argue that the 5 wonder stories shared between the Synoptic/
                > Signs-Johannine writings form an earlier and independent collection
                > (namely... a paralytic walking, raising a child, feeding 5K, walking on
                > water and the blind seeing).

                This suggests that one of the differences between us is that I like
                parallels to be somewhat closer before I feel happy to admit them as genuine
                parallels. I'll happily grant you that the feeding story and the walking on
                the sea are Johannine and Synoptic (or Markan) variants of the same thing,
                but I'm not quite so sure about the other three. The raising of Jairus's
                daughter, for example, seems to be only a very distant parallel to the story
                of the royal official's son at Capernaum (which is much closer to the
                double-tradition pericope about the centurion's servant). The man at the
                pool of Bethesda in John 5 may or may not have been a paralytic (John never
                tells us), and his story is very unlike that of the paralytic Jesus heals in
                Mark 2.1-12, apart from a common phrase that may be a sign that John knew
                Mark. Frankly I'm a bit sceptical about the existence of this five-signs
                collection.


                > --looking to the Elijah/Elisha cyle... both of the prototype prophets do
                > both healing and nature wonders
                > --two of Jesus' wonders have direct parallel in these collections.
                > Elijah multiples food and
                > raises a child in I Kings 17 and Elisha likewise raises the
                > Shumanite's child and multiplies food for 100 in II Kings 4.
                > --further, I'd say a source behind the creation of Jesus walking on
                > water is related to the
                > stories of both Elijah and Elisha parting the Jordan river with
                > Elijah's cloak from II Kings 2. They like Moses and Joshua could "part
                waters," whereas
                > Jesus just cruised right over them!

                The feeding of the 5,000 clearly is quite closely related to the feeding
                story in 2 Kings 4, as I more or less acknowledged
                in my previous post. If this is what a Jesus story looks like when borrowing
                from the Elijah-Elisha cycle, then none of the other alleged parallels fits
                nearly so well. Both Jesus and Elisha make a small number of loaves feed a
                large number of men ( although the numbers are made more impressive in the
                case of Jesus), there are leftovers in both cases, and both Jesus' disciples
                and Elisha's servant protest the inadequacy of the proposed bread supply; in
                this case the similarity between the stories in unmistakable. But neither of
                them is so similar to Elijah and the jars of meal and oil that don't run out
                for the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17.14) except for the fact that they all
                involve a surprising supply of food. To be sure, Elijah, Elisha and Jesus
                are all credited with raising dead children, but the story of Jairus's
                daughter is far from a straight copy or adaptation of the stories about
                Elijah or Elisha. And I'm extremely unpersuaded that the story of Jesus
                walking across the sea has much to do with Elijah and Elisha parting the
                Jordan at 2 Kings 2 (even the Gospel baptism story would provide a closer
                parallel to that; at least the baptism story involves the Jordan and a
                donation of spirit). To be sure, Mark 6.45-52 relies on all sorts of echoes
                of the Tanak to make its point, but the point (IMHO) is not that Jesus is
                able to emulate Elijah or Elisha (or even Moses), but that he is able to
                emulate YHWH (e.g. Job 9.8; Hab. 3.15; Isaiah 51.9-10; Ps. 77.19), including
                'passing by' his disciples as YHWH passed by Moses (Exod. 33. 19, 22) and
                Elijah (1 Kings 19.11).

                > The Signs/ Johannine story development **stuck** with this core and the
                > other two "Signs" also relation to the Elijah/ Elisha cycle... notably
                > Elisha makes for desalinated and abundant waters in II Kings 2 and 3/
                (Jesus
                > makes for abundant wine out of waters) and a dead guy is thrown in
                Elisha's
                > open grave and upon touching his bones comes back to life (and Lazarus, of
                > course, comes out of his tomb by THE WORD's WORD). Therefore I don't see
                > the healing and nature wonders as being different or the nature one's
                "more
                > Christologized"... but rather both owing to creativity found in the
                > prophetic tradition. Again... I am **not** surprised that Jesus, among
                > other roles is **quickly cast** as "a prophetic figure" and that these
                > resources are dug into for imaginative story telling in a fulfilment
                > motif... that just goes in parallel with the other "fulfilment roles" that
                > Jesus is cast in terms of.

                Elisha's provision of desalinated and abundant water in 2 Kings 2 and 3
                seems a long way removed from Jesus' turning water into wine in John 2 (a
                closer parallel would surely be the first plague in Egypt where water is
                turned into blood, at least Exod. 7.19, like John 2.5, talks about what
                happens to water in stone vessels, although the Exodus miracle of course
                makes water undrinkable instead of more drinkable, like Jesus in John; but
                then John may intend a polemical contrast between Jesus and Moses!). In
                John's Gospel Lazarus was hardly raised to life by being thrown into Jesus'
                grave, so again the parallel doesn't look terribly close, at least, not so
                close to convince me that the raising of Lazarus owes any more to that
                Elisha story than it might to any other story of the raising of the dead. On
                the other hand, as I have just suggested above, the story of Jesus walking
                on the sea does seem to be more Christologized (at least in the sense of
                expressing a higher Christology) than many of the healing stories. I agree
                that this less so of the feeding stories (which in essence do make Jesus
                repeat an Elisha miracle, though more impressively), and it's noteworthy
                that both Mark and John seem to ignore the Elisha parallel and create new
                ones instead (Mark with the ideal shepherd-king of Ezekiel 34 through Mk
                6.34 ['they were like sheep without a shepherd']). But perhaps this
                observation doesn't really distinguish between our two hypotheses, since
                we're both suggesting a development in the use of miracle stories that
                pre-date Mark.

                But, more to the point, why was it that Jesus was so 'quickly cast as a
                prophetic figure'? What was it about him that made him so suitable to be
                cast in all these 'fulfilment roles'?

                I wrote:
                >> Although I agree that the Elijah/Elisha miracle stories are the closest
                OT
                >> parallel to the Gospel accounts of Jesus' miracles, the degree of
                >> resemblance isn't always that close; with the possible exception of the
                >> feeding stories, off the top of my head I can't think of any of Jesus'
                >> reported miracles that is simply a straightforward copy of an Elijah or
                >> Elisha story.

                And Gordon replied:
                > Look carefully again. Note... Elijah's story starts with a call to the
                > wilderness to be fed by wild beasts... a return "to house up" with the
                > Zarephath widow and make for plenty of food and raising her son (and
                Jesus?
                > to the wilderness and sustained by wild beasts/ multiples food and raises
                > dead folks). The end of the Elijah story has that river parting... pouring
                > forth "a double spirit" and being "taken up." (Again, Jesus can walk over
                > water, he does pour forth his spirit and is taken up as the stories
                > develop). As for Elisha... he also cures leprosy besides multiplying food,
                > desalinating water, making for abundant water without rain, pufies stew,
                > makes an axhead float. Jesus will cure leprosy, as well and is himself a
                > big "multiplier."

                This is partly what I meant by agreeing that the Elijah/Elisha miracles
                stories are the closest OT parallel to the Gospels accounts of Jesus'
                miracles. But, as I've now explained in more detail, apart from the feeding
                stories, none of Jesus' reported miracles is a straightforward copy of an
                Elijah or Elisha story in the sense that I meant 'straightforward copy'. You
                must have taken me to mean something else, for most of the Elijah and Elisha
                examples you offer here (the feeding in 2 Kings 4 excepted) are only very
                loosely similar to anything attributed to Jesus. For example, although
                Elisha and Jesus are both said to have cured a leper, the actual details of
                what takes place between Jesus and the leper in Mark 1.40-45 are very
                different from the details of what takes place between Elisa and Naaman in 2
                Kings 5. You might perhaps say 'because Elisha healed a leper someone made
                up a story of Jesus healing a leper', but you can't say that the healing
                story attributed to Jesus is simply copied from that attributed to Elisha.

                > So... let me get to
                > this line of healing wonders which are a part of the developments in the
                > layers of Q and from Mark to Matthew and Luke. Where and why this
                > development?
                > Well, the Common Sayings between Q/ Thomas and the opening of the Didache
                > show no signs of any of this exorcism/ healing conversation or action
                > description. Obviously, Paul has nothing on this. The development of G.
                > Thomas has none of this. And again the Signs/ Johannine trajectory is
                > devoid of this kind of story telling. What happens from Q1 to Q2... and in
                > the development of Mark's plotting a story for Jesus? First, let us again
                > return to the TANAK and two different resources:
                > 1st Psalm 103:2-5 wherein God's Power/ Rule is affirmed in terms of
                > forgiveness, healing,
                > restoring and reinvigorating life.
                > 2nd Isaiah 65:17 and following wherein the eschatological creation is
                > shown to end all early death
                > and suffering.
                > I would suggest that this sort of affirmation is behind the development of
                > understanding Jesus as an apocalyptic Messiah who "makes it happen"/
                > demonstrates this coming alive in his presence and thus gifts his chief
                > lieutenants with the very same "Spirit." As Q moves from layer one to
                > two... there is the increasing resistence to the movement and the addition
                > of judgmental and apocalyptic themes. Herein Jesus is shown to speak of
                and
                > make for exoricism, judgement and, positively, for the fulfilment of
                > forgiveness/ healing/ restoration of life. I would suggest that Jesus'
                > great chat with Satan in the opening, the creation of the JTB speech and
                > role as Elijah figure passing on to Elisha figure and the inclusion of
                these
                > sayings and the healing/ exorcism avowal is rooted in this sort of
                developed
                > TANAK reflection. When we turn to Mark we see the full blown development
                of
                > this in addition to the inclusion of the "5 Signs" source. In narrative
                > fashion... Jesus, like the one who's name he bears, Joshua, recapitulates
                > Ancient Israel's journey (just as Elijah had done)... "through the waters"
                > (baptism)... 40 (days/ not years) in the wilderness... facing the
                > temptations and like Joshua of old... faithful... into the land... and
                > rather than slaying Canaanites, Jesus exorcizes countless demons... and
                > BTW... had dandy theological conversations with them/ and in the case of
                > other healings nicely relates the message of Psalm 103 about the
                connection
                > of forgiveness and health. So I would suggest that the Q and Mark
                > developments are rooted in this kind of theological reflection and that
                the
                > Synoptic line used both developments as is befitting the plotting and
                > resources that are drawn upon.

                I confess that I'm sure I fully understand you here. Whatever else might be
                said about the move from Q1 to Q2 (accepting this model of stratification
                for the sake of argument), how does exorcism come to be included as an
                apocalyptic or judgmental theme? I have found no evidence in Second Temple
                texts that exorcisms were regarded as 'apocalyptic'. You seem to be
                connecting exorcism with judgment in the case of Q2. Does this mean that the
                Q2 redactor was demonizing his opponents, so that the judgment (i.e.
                exorcism) of demons in some way prefigured the coming judgment? Again, I can
                think of no parallel to this idea. As for Jesus' great chat with Satan at
                the beginning, I have to confess that it all looks rather Matthean to me
                (because so much of it is taken up elsewhere in Matthew's Gospel), but that
                would mean accepting that Luke knew Matthew, which is a whole different
                topic! Then you seem to be trying to account for the exorcism stories in
                Mark (do you mean they appear there quite independently of the developments
                in Q2?) on the basis of a Joshua typology in which the demons are cast in
                the role of the Canaanites. I'm afraid I'm not sure where the connexion of
                forgiveness and health fits into this, since Mark makes this connexion only
                in the case of the paralytic (Mk 2.1-12), and so hardly seems to be
                emphasizing this theme from Psalm 103 (or any of the other places it could
                derive from). Again, although perhaps it's only an aside, I'm not sure where
                the 'dandy little theological conversations' with the demons fit in either.
                I assume they would have been envisaged as conversations with the possessed
                persons whose words and actions were being controlled by the possessing
                spirit; that Mark might take the opportunity to adapt these interchanges to
                his theology is not particularly surprising and, in itself, tells us very
                little about the origin of these stories. But although I cannot produce a
                watertight argument to the effect that these stories *cannot* have come
                about through the sort of trajectory you describe, I am afraid that I'm left
                with the feeling that your explanation is rather more convoluted (and thus,
                to me, less plausible) than the (to me) rather simpler hypothesis that
                exorcism stories were told about Jesus because Jesus was an exorcist!

                > Now let me conclude by saying I simply do not see anything odd about
                > attributing any of this to Jesus, but indeed, rather to be expected
                > considering the Hebraic heritage. Second, I do find it frankly odd to
                > distinguish one particular line of Jesus' reported healing as being
                distinct
                > from both other stories of healing/ raising and from the nature wonders.

                By 'one particular line' are you referring to Jesus' exorcisms? I wonder how
                distinct these would have appeared from 'other stories of healing/raising'
                at an earlier point in the tradition, given that various types of illness
                (and not only full-blown possession) could well have been attributed to
                demonic attacks. But if your point is more to do with subsequent
                tradition-history, then we are simply back to the absence of exorcism
                stories from John, are we not?

                > Again, caps for emphasis: I DO NOT AT ALL FIND
                > THIS VERY SAME HIGHLY IMAGINATIVE AND POWERFUL STORY TELLING ODD AT ALL
                when
                > it comes to applying it to a fellow who simply told the parables... if no
                > more than that. I'm entirely serious about this. Aesop has been remembered
                > because of his stories. Homer, an illiterate, is remembered for his famous
                > poems that make vivid "the story of a people." Socrates, likewise, made an
                > impact upon his teachings. When I look at the parables of HJ and the
                > associated set of aphorisms that are preserved in the earliest tradition I
                > can see the basis for the genesis of thoroughly scouring the Scriptures,
                > particularly relating his to characters, "actions," words and themes. And
                > just for one last Hebraic connection here... when I read Ecclesiastes
                > 9:13-18... think about this great storied tradition which includes a VERY
                > RICH wisdom heritage... an incredibly talented wisdom teacher coming out
                of
                > this heritage? Not odd at all. One who would be "praised all the way to
                > heaven:)!" in light of that very rich story tradition? Quite
                > understandable.

                Again, I'm note sure I'm entirely getting your point here. No one invented
                miracle stories about Aesop, Socrates or Homer, did they? Or, for that
                matter, about Hillel, Shammai, or Gamaliel. I suppose you might point to
                Solomon as a counter-example by the time of Jesus (someone renowned for
                wisdom who was now being credited with the knowledge of how to cast out
                demons), but that's a development that took a *very* long time to come
                about. So none of your examples immediately suggests to me that an
                incredibly talented wisdom teacher need have been remembered for anything
                other than his incredibly talented wisdom. But perhaps I'm missing something
                here.

                > So... very last word... I'm in no way undone by your or others counter
                > proposals. I figure til we get more data countless hypotheses will be out
                > there as this is the case when data is sparse and passions are as high as
                > they get with such material. Wouldn't be very fun if we all simply
                > agreed:)! So... thanks Eric for your good post and I hope you'll enjoy
                this one!

                Yes indeed, and likewise many thanks for taking the trouble to type such a
                long reply. As you say, countless hypotheses will no doubt continue to be
                out there, and it wouldn't be half so fun if we all agreed!

                Best wishes,

                Eric
              • Gordon Raynal
                ... Hi Eric, My ISP has been down since Monday a.m. Just want to acknowledge your post and say thanks back. I m saving it... will more carefully read it
                Message 7 of 12 , Mar 13, 2002
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                  >Dear Gordon,
                  >
                  >Thank you too for your most courteous opening and detailed response. And, of
                  >course, it is always good to see alternative hypotheses propounded. I been
                  >away a few days, which is why I haven't replied earlier, and I shan't
                  >attempt to answer all the points you made; but here's a few comments and
                  >queries that come to mind relatively quickly.

                  Hi Eric,

                  My ISP has been down since Monday a.m. Just want to acknowledge your post
                  and say "thanks back." I'm saving it... will more carefully read it
                  tomorrow and try to send some reponses.

                  Gordon Raynal
                  Inman, SC
                • Gordon Raynal
                  Hi Eric, ... Thanks, back. Likewise... I ll just comment on some of your points before the Crosstalk site goes to sleep for the weekend! Frankly I m a bit
                  Message 8 of 12 , Mar 15, 2002
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                    Hi Eric,

                    >Dear Gordon,
                    >
                    >Thank you too for your most courteous opening and detailed response. And, of
                    >course, it is always good to see alternative hypotheses propounded. I been
                    >away a few days, which is why I haven't replied earlier, and I shan't
                    >attempt to answer all the points you made; but here's a few comments and
                    >queries that come to mind relatively quickly.

                    Thanks, back. Likewise... I'll just comment on some of your points before
                    the Crosstalk site goes to sleep for the weekend!

                    Frankly I'm a bit sceptical about the existence of this five-signs
                    >collection.

                    I can accept your skepticism:)!, but I think the parallelism holds. From my
                    perspective, as you noted, I think there is both direct midrash (such as
                    from Elisha's feeding 100 to Jesus' feeding 5000) and free creativity of
                    themes (thus from Elijah and Elisha's raising children... to the creation of
                    the various child raising stories... and then a more freeform use of types
                    of works... like from Elisha's effecting water abundance and Jesus effecting
                    wine abundance). If one will simply drop "the historical nub" wonderings
                    and look at the core nature of Jesus' speech and the general parameters of
                    "the movement" that is displayed in that speech, then one can see the kind
                    of "story creation logic," so to speak, that was developed. Again... one
                    pattern can be described as directly "parabolic" (that which we see among
                    this proposed core "Signs" source) which takes off directly and indirectly
                    from stories in the tradition... thus, in the extant Johanine order... 1.
                    raising, 2. walking, 3. superabundant feeding, 4. Jesus walking over the
                    Deep at night and 5. seeing. The other pattern aroused out of prophetic and
                    apocalyptic resources which point towards "fulfillment" and "the future"...
                    as is developed in the later layers of Q and developed more fully in Mark
                    and the Synoptics, who wed both patterns of "wonder telling." About this
                    latter move/ story type development, see below...

                    >But, more to the point, why was it that Jesus was so 'quickly cast as a
                    >prophetic figure'? What was it about him that made him so suitable to be
                    >cast in all these 'fulfilment roles'?

                    If you're interested I can write a longer post here or offline to put forth
                    a position on the development of the various trajectories we have... but to
                    the point here: The Parables and aphorisms of Jesus and friends are clearly
                    wisdom communication forms. If one looks across the extant resources one
                    sees differing interpretive moves attached to those words (in editting the
                    words directly and in setting them in different theo-ethical proclamation
                    frames). And one sees the development of accessing more and more and more
                    of the Scriptural heritage to elucidate, reflect upon and develop what came
                    out of Jesus and friends in the late 20's. Two points... both Wisdom
                    resources and Prophetic resources in the Hebrew Scriptures are concerned
                    about Shalom and Justice... thus going to both resources to reflect, expand
                    and expound upon the core simply follows. Group identification issues are
                    HIGHLY important in the beginning of any developments and claiming "a
                    distinctive take" on a broadly shared heritage is key. I think this has to
                    do with the "quickly." And then, secondly, Jesus died in terms of the
                    cause... and those prophetic resources have got lots of stuff about that!
                    In some ways I have no problem thinking that some sympathetic rabbi up in
                    Galilee upon hearing the news just started quoting one of the Servant Songs,
                    for instance... as in "Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our
                    diseases... wounded for our transgressions..." from Is. 53, of course.
                    Before any development of detailed narrative I think this is a rather
                    natural sort of response... indeed very appropriate. And once you have that
                    sort of "nub" then over time it's off to the races for full narritivization.
                    So... hypothetically... say there was Jairus in Capernaum who was
                    sympathetic to HJ. Upon hearing the news of Jesus' death he responds with
                    such as this. That's say, 30, 31 C.E. Between then and the collecting in
                    written form of some of these pieces... say, in the 50's and 60's... well
                    that's 20 to 30 years. So... I tend to think that such as these little
                    collections of Sign's (parabolic elaboration) and Prophetic Identification
                    Association came together for didactic and preaching purposes and they in
                    turn made for the fodder to finally bring together holistic organized
                    narratives. 20 to 30 years is a long time to study Scripture, preach, sit
                    around at celebration meals and share stories, etc. etc. I'm not surprised
                    at all that in the end we get Jesus posed as King/ Messiah, Prophet, Priest,
                    "I AM," etc. etc. But for the above 2 points I do think that this prophetic
                    fulfillment business started pretty quickly. And then one last aside...
                    after the Romans came, the Temple was destroyed, etc. Jesus' sage saying
                    SURELY:)! looked pretty prophetic in hindsight:)! And besides a real sage
                    who "couldn't see it coming" would be seen as a pretty dim bulb;)! Mark
                    both notes the teaching roots at the close of Chapter 4... "only in
                    parables" and frames the whole in terms of prophetic and apocalyptic
                    resources. Makes sense to me;)!
                    But although I cannot produce a
                    >watertight argument to the effect that these stories *cannot* have come
                    >about through the sort of trajectory you describe, I am afraid that I'm left
                    >with the feeling that your explanation is rather more convoluted (and thus,
                    >to me, less plausible) than the (to me) rather simpler hypothesis that
                    >exorcism stories were told about Jesus because Jesus was an exorcist!

                    Perhaps, as I've said. But I don't think this is "convoluted" at all.
                    First... to reify the circumstances of 1st century Palestine as demonic and
                    elaborate "the characterization of movement" in the person of Jesus as
                    providing relief and release is not an odd way to go about the business of
                    proclaiming the gist of the message. Even if Jesus were an exoricist then
                    what we end up with are not really stories of an ancient "faith healer/ folk
                    healer," but rather two different sorts of story types that are consistent
                    with past sorts of writing. Yes, the particular casting of Jesus as "an
                    exorcist" does not have precise parallel. But hey, what's the problem with
                    this? This writing tradition shows tons of innovations:)! But then looking
                    across the materials we see several sorts of core "identifications" made. I
                    think this development in the prophetic and apocalyptic rooted materials
                    naturally fits as a fine piece of creativity for the purposes of
                    communicating the "euangelion" in a certain sort of way (the Synoptic way),
                    but then it doesn't fit at all for the Johannine way, for what the Thomas
                    tradition was up to... not for the Ep. Jamesian tradition, and actually not
                    for Paul either. So, as I see it, we have one trajectory in favor of this
                    sort of story tradition, but others where it just doesn't fit. My
                    suggestion back to your suggestion is that this position you're presenting
                    simply favors one storied tradition over others.

                    >
                    >Again, I'm note sure I'm entirely getting your point here. No one invented
                    >miracle stories about Aesop, Socrates or Homer, did they? Or, for that
                    >matter, about Hillel, Shammai, or Gamaliel. I suppose you might point to
                    >Solomon as a counter-example by the time of Jesus (someone renowned for
                    >wisdom who was now being credited with the knowledge of how to cast out
                    >demons), but that's a development that took a *very* long time to come
                    >about. So none of your examples immediately suggests to me that an
                    >incredibly talented wisdom teacher need have been remembered for anything
                    >other than his incredibly talented wisdom. But perhaps I'm missing something
                    >here.

                    I agree that it needn't have been the case, but I'm not surprise by the move
                    simply reading the collection of parables and core aphorisms and then
                    looking at the treasure trove that the Hebrew Scriptures provide. I take it
                    quite seriously from reading all of this that Jesus and friends provided a
                    HUGE relief and that this continued and multiplied. The step from there to
                    the identification and elaboration process of poring over Scripture is not
                    odd as a way to go about getting together proclamation and reflection
                    materials in such a lively bunch. Think about it like this... across the
                    differing kinds of resources there is a clear holding on to "the core/ gist"
                    of Jesus and friends in their day. Just looking at the differing types of
                    development this brought together a diverse bunch of folks "in a ministry of
                    reconciliation" (just to borrow Paul's way of stating the core nature).
                    That those folks developed elaborations out of their "favored resources"
                    should come as no surprise. That this all tended to get a bit unruly and
                    led to conflicts is no surprise. (as in, do we circumcize or not, buy food
                    any where or not?) And then that we should have efforts to gather the best
                    of the best, but still from differing traditions just sort of makes sense to
                    me. So, it could have been a lot more streamlined and reserved;)!, but all
                    this tells me that there was something elementally powerful and enlivening
                    going on back there. The parables alone can account for this, in my view.
                    And then considering these folks had this POWERFUL storied tradition in
                    their past and available to them, then they were off to the proverbial races
                    creating some distinctly new literary creations.

                    Well, thanks again for the pleasant natured disputes. I agree that these,
                    in shared good spirits, are a lot of fun.

                    Gordon Raynal
                    Inman, SC
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