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Re: [XTalk] Q & Thomas: Teaser Tracts?

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: Peter Kirby To: Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2002 4:19 AM Subject: [XTalk] Q & Thomas: Teaser
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 3, 2002
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Peter Kirby" <kirby@...>
      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2002 4:19 AM
      Subject: [XTalk] Q & Thomas: Teaser Tracts?


      > Hello,
      >
      > I have just finished reading Philip Jenkins's _Hidden Gospels_. Most of
      the
      > book is dedicated to delineating the mythic fascination with the quest for
      > uncovering previously unknown gospels and exterminated heresies. This is
      > interesting in its own right, even though it constitutes a sort of
      > meta-scholarship rather than a discussion of the evidence proper
      concerning
      > early Christian history. However, there is one extract in which Jenkins
      > proposes a theory that would have consequences for our understanding of
      the
      > sources concerning Jesus and the early church, the stated subject of this
      > list. So I thought it would be appropriate to reproduce this passage for
      > the comments of the knowledgeable participants in this discussion group.
      >
      > It has often been noted that the reconstructed Q and the Gospel of Thomas
      do
      > not have anything to say about the atoning nature of the death of Jesus
      and
      > his subsequent resurrection. Rather, the focus is on the sayings of Jesus
      > in these works. Assuming the existence of Q and an early date for Thomas,
      > which is certainly an issue itself, this has led some to theorize that the
      > earliest Jesus movement did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus but
      > rather remembered him as a wisdom sage and that the idea of a saving death
      > and resurrection developed as the church attracted Hellenistic
      constituents.
      > This is the basic theory presented by Burton Mack and others.

      I want to take time to read your post before commenting further but there is
      one small detail about "sayings" anthologies like putative Q and Thomas
      regarding the "atoning death" and "resurrection" material. Wisdom sayings
      are not normally expressed after death. There is a possibility that the
      "Jesus saids..." that were written down, perhaps by Matthew if Papias is to
      be believed, may have been written down when Jesus was STILL ALIVE and was
      the stemma for later translated versions reconstructed in "Q" and in the
      GoT. In short, Q and Thomas have no resurrection stuff simply because Jesus
      had not yet died.


      Jack
    • William Arnal
      ... And much more, all snipped. I unfortunately ordered this book some time ago, before I realized a) that it s by a guy who clearly does NOT have an academic
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 3, 2002
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        Peter Kirby wrote:

        >I have just finished reading Philip Jenkins's _Hidden Gospels_. Most

        And much more, all snipped.

        I unfortunately ordered this book some time ago, before I realized a) that
        it's by a guy who clearly does NOT have an academic background in NT
        scholarship (and appears not to be very familiar with the field, its
        assumptions, the orioginal languages of the texts, and so on); and b) it's
        basically just theological axe-grinding. The book appears to me to be almost
        completely worthless, since the author simply invokes a lot of rhetorical
        flourishes to "prove" how silly we NT experts really are, and how the
        ancient Christian tradition was really everything the church taught it was.
        Yee ha. Oxford should be embarassed to have published this screed.

        Anyway, the argument in question, i.e., that Q and Thomas include or assume
        cross and resurrection theology, but fail to articulate it explicitly, is
        HARDLY a new idea, as Jenkins would know were he conversant with NT
        scholarship. A similar claim was made at the beginning of the last century
        by Martin Dibelius, who famously described Q, at least, as a "parenetic
        supplement to the kerygma." At the very least, Dibelius was working with a
        realistioc understanding of ancient Christianity, as opposed to Jenkins'
        bizarre and modern picture of Christians handing out religious pamphlets to
        non-believers. But at least some of the gist of the argument was the same:
        just because Q does not explicitly refer to the resurrection, hardly means
        that it doesn't believe it happened, or regard it as important. Since
        Dibelius viewed the "kerygma" of Jesus' death and resurrection as absolutely
        BASIC to all forms of ancient Xianity, he concluded that Q was a parenetic
        document, exhorting certain types of practical behavior among Christians who
        were already familiar, as a matter of course, with cross and resurrection.

        As Jenkins would also know had he bothered to read the scholarship he
        criticizes, this view was pretty much blown out of the water by Heinz Eduard
        Todt in the mid-1950s. Of relevenace to BOTH Dibelius' and Jenkins'
        arguments is Todt's observation that Q DOES contain a coherent and integral
        christological presentation in its own right, i.e., the depiction of Jesus
        as returning Son of Man. That is to say, the "argument from silence" here,
        that Q did not have a cross-and-resurrection ideology, is more than just an
        argument from silence, since in fact Q has its own distrinctive theology IN
        LIEU of the cross-and-resurrection complex. The same point could easily be
        made about Thomas (although not vis-a-vis the son of man concept, of
        course).

        It's also worth pointing out that Jenkins does not in any way invoke
        positive evidence in support of his apologetic special pleading. He does not
        give us any reason to suppose, even IF his general characterization of
        "secret" Xian teaching is correct, that this characterization in any way
        applies to Q or Thomas. Rather, he simply shows some (strained) evidence
        that such a thing is *possible*, and then, presumably because HE cannot even
        imagine a non-kerygmatic form of Xianity, assumes that the possibility must
        now be certain. It's interesting to note the way he uses, throughout the
        selection reporoduced on this list, "could" and "might" and so on all the
        way through, until he gets to the end, where suddenly this all "did" in fact
        happen.

        A final point here among many that could be made -- Thomas presents itself
        AS secret teaching. Has Jenkins even READ Thomas? How can he claim that a
        document presenting itself as "the secret sayings of Jesus" was specifically
        designed to include only NON-secret material?!

        As I'm sure is apparent, this book annoys me, not least because I actually
        wasted some money on it. The whole thing strikes me as an embarrassing waste
        of time.

        Bill
        ___________________________
        William Arnal
        Department of Religion
        University of Manitoba

        "I wish that I was born a thousand years ago.
        I wish that I'd sailed the darkened seas
        on a great big clipper ship,
        going from this land here to that,
        in a sailor suit and cap."
        -- Lou Reed


        _________________________________________________________________
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      • Emmanuel Fritsch
        ... in L evangile de Marc - Sa prehistoire , M.E. Boismard leads a proto-Mark reconstruction without any death or resurrection. Institution of Eucharity is
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 4, 2002
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          Peter Kirby wrote :
          > [...]
          > It has often been noted that the reconstructed Q and the Gospel of Thomas do
          > not have anything to say about the atoning nature of the death of Jesus and
          > his subsequent resurrection. Rather, the focus is on the sayings of Jesus
          > in these works. Assuming the existence of Q and an early date for Thomas,
          > which is certainly an issue itself, this has led some to theorize that the
          > earliest Jesus movement did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus but
          > rather remembered him as a wisdom sage and that the idea of a saving death
          > and resurrection developed as the church attracted Hellenistic constituents.
          > This is the basic theory presented by Burton Mack and others.
          >
          > Against this conclusion, Jenkins proposes a different theory to explain the
          > silence of Q & Thomas on the death or resurrection of Jesus. I would like
          > to know what the list members think of his proposal, and so I will quote it,
          > although I hope I have not gone too far beyond fair use.

          in "L'evangile de Marc - Sa prehistoire", M.E. Boismard
          leads a proto-Mark reconstruction without any death or
          resurrection. Institution of Eucharity is absent to.

          For such a strange lack, He proposes an explanation parallel
          to Jenkin's view : the story of Cena, crucifixion and resurection
          was said every week in the liturgy of the community. It was not
          usefull to write it. First gospel writers were more interested
          in saving the less repeated traditions about Jesus.

          a+
          manu
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