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Re: [XTalk] Jesus the Mathematician

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Mike and Jan... if I may, just a couple of thoughts about one piece of this discussion... (see below) ... Two thoughts for consideration here... a.) Mark is
    Message 1 of 39 , Apr 2, 2002
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      Mike and Jan... if I may, just a couple of thoughts about one piece of this
      discussion... (see below)
      >From: "mwgrondin" <mwgrondin@...>
      >To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [XTalk] Jesus the Mathematician
      >Date: 2, Apr 2002, 8:55 AM

      >--- Jan Sammer wrote:
      >> I did not discuss 8:11-13 (8B in your terminology), because the
      >> relationship of this passage with the subsequent verses was not
      >> obvious to me. Since you raise the issue, it strikes me as odd
      >> that the Pharisees would have asked for a sign from heaven
      >> immediately following the public performance of the amazing
      >> miracle of the second multiplication of the loaves. And Jesus,
      >> instead of referring to the miracle he had just performed, states
      >> that no sign would be given to this generation.
      >I agree that it's all very odd, particularly since Mark doesn't
      >mention Herodians in 8B, but does in 8C. Matt fixes this up by
      >referring to Sadducees in both places. The suspicion obtains that
      >Mark had two pieces of sayings material that weren't conjoined in
      >his sources - one the demand for a sign, the other a warning about
      >the "leaven" of other politico-religious groups - and that he put
      >them together in this rather clumsy and unconvincing fashion. But
      >the larger question is how to account for J's "no signs" dictum
      >(which Matt modifies by adding "except for the sign of Jonah").
      >One thought that has occurred to me is that the stipulation that
      >the sign should be _from Heaven_ may be important. The evangelists
      >could hardly have been unaware that they were presenting Jesus as
      >having given signs of his supernatural power, but whether that
      >power was from Heaven or from Satan may have been in question. A
      >second thought was that the anomaly may be an indication of two
      >types of sources in conflict - a sayings-type source and a signs-
      >type source - which the evangelists were struggling to combine
      >without losing elements from either.

      Two thoughts for consideration here... a.) Mark is working with a
      portraiture of Jesus keen on connecting Jesus as wisdom teacher (in my view
      the historical reality) and Jesus as prophetic figure (the midrashic/
      theological reflection creativity). Therein regarding **the obvious**
      outpouring of sign/ wonder acts after JTB's death up to the Great Confession
      and then Jesus' terse saying "none", I take it that this is part of the
      wonderful use of irony by a wisdom teacher... and so Mark creates this kind
      of connection to show this forth. b.) on a second level... and related not
      to the story itself as some "past event", but to the audience/congregation
      participation wherein the hearers know the whole story as they participate
      in any part in the present, then this authorial device works to highlight
      the dramatic effect of participating in the story. On this level
      exaggeration via colliding what "we know" and what "others" don't, can't or
      won't is part of the fun of participation in story telling.

      Just a couple of other thoughts to mull over FWIW.

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
    • Jan Sammer
      From: ... ideas of ... Homer ... the ... Of course the imagery of a ruler as shepherd is one that could occur independently in any
      Message 39 of 39 , Apr 10, 2002
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        From: <LeeEdgarTyler@...>

        TonyBuglass@... writes:

        >> Jan - why is it so unlikely? Both ancient Greece and ancient Israel were
        > >agricultural societies; both had sheep; both had shepherds who care for
        > >their sheep. Is it impossible that both independently developed similar
        ideas of
        > pastoral care by the appropriate divinity from such an obvious everyday
        > >picture?
        > >The problem with sophistication - sometimes it obscures the simple and
        > >obvious! Or does that mean I'm being unsophisticated and thick, like the
        > >disciples Mark portrays...? <G>
        >> Cheers,
        >> Rev Tony Buglass
        > >Pickering Methodist Circuit

        >I meant to post this earlier, but it got lost in the midterm shuffle:
        >frequently calls Agamemnon the "shepherd" (poimĂȘn) of the Greeks, and
        >Sophocles uses the term "shepherd of the people" for several different
        >leaders. Pindar and Aeschylus use it to denote a master. And of course
        >term Jerome employs to translate poimĂȘn is "pastor."

        >So there's no doubt that the Greeks had, independently of the Hebrews,
        >developed this metaphorical use of the term "shepherd." I have found no
        >cases in which it is applied to a deity, however; although one of Pindar's
        >odes has a preternatural connotation to it in its use of "shepherds of the
        >Loves" for the sprites attending Aphrodite.


        >Ed Tyler

        Of course the imagery of a ruler as shepherd is one that could occur
        independently in any pastoral society. That is the imagery used by Homer and
        other poets; it is also imagery alluded to in Plato's dialogue, The
        Statesman; but there the imagery is developed in a peculiar way that goes
        way beyond a simple allegory of the ruler as the shepherd of his people.
        Plato indeed argues that the statesman should be the shepherd of his people,
        but to justify this proposition he refers back to a myth, narrated by the
        Eleatic Stranger, in which the rulers of the present age are but imperfect
        stand-ins for the true shepherd who had the human flock in his charge in a
        former age. In the present age the divine shepherd's role is emulated,
        albeit imperfectly, by human rulers. In a future age the divine shepherd
        will return to resume control over the human flock. It is this apocalyptic
        myth that I had in mind when I referred to the uncanny correspondence
        between the myth of the Statesman and Hebrew traditions and expectations.

        In the Hebrew tradition as it developed particularly in post-Exilic times,
        there was an age in which man, created out of the earth, lived in a garden,
        needing no clothes, feeding on the fruit that its trees produced by
        themselves. Only after being expelled from the garden did man start having
        to till the soil and produce his own sustenance. He also became mortal,
        began to marry and beget children.

        There was also an age to come, (according to the Markan Jesus) in which a
        men and women will not marry but will live like angels. They will be
        nurtured directly by their divine shepherd. This expectation goes back to
        Isaiah and Ezekiel ("I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed

        In the Statesman the Stranger from Elea describes the once and future age of
        divine control as follows: "Over every herd of living creatures throughout
        all their tribes was set a heavenly daemon to be its shepherd. Each of them
        was all in all ot his flock--providing for the needs of all his charges....
        a god was their shepherd and had charge of them and fed them.. When God was
        shepherd there were no political constitutions and no taking of wives and
        begetting of children. For all men rose up anew into life our of the
        earth...they had fruits without stint from trees and bushes; these needed no
        cultivation but sprang up of themselves out of the ground without man's
        toil. For the most part they disported themsleves in the open needing
        neither clothing nor couch, for the seasons were blended evenly so as to
        work them no hurt, and the grass which sprang out of the earth in abundance
        made a soft bed for them."

        In between the former and future age of divine control is the present age in
        which the divinity has left the world to its own devices. But there will
        come a day when the divine shepherd will once more take charge of his flock.

        The feedings of the multitudes are premonitions of this future age. Mark
        indicates this in 6:34: "... he saw this large crowd and his heart was
        filled with pity for them, because they looked like sheep without a
        shepherd." Jesus then proceeds to feed them, proving himself to be their
        shepherd, the sustainer of humanity in the age to come. It is this that the
        disciples are taken to task for failing to understand, though Peter's
        testimony on the road to Caesarea Philippi shows that he has figured it out.
        The ability of Jesus to feed the multitudes is the key to his true identity
        as the divine shepherd of the age to come.

        This idea is almost identical with the idea of the Statesman. It is the
        image of the shepherd as the divine sustainer of humanity in the age to come
        that is so distinctive of the Hebrew tradition and of the Statesman, and
        which raises questions as to whether such concepts could have arisen
        independently of one another. I am currently looking at the possibility that
        both concepts go back to Zoroastrian ideas.



        Jan Sammer
        Prague, Czech Republic
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