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2419[gthomas] Re: Jewishness of GOT

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  • Michael Grondin
    Mar 6 9:32 AM
      At 12:01 PM 03/05/00 -0500, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
      >... the big question about GOT
      >appears to be Just how Jewish a document is it? If we accept Crossan's
      >views (that the Gentiles were included very early) as seen below, then GOT
      >may as well be a Gentile/Cynic philosophical document where the OT is left
      >far behind already. But I disagree. I think the Jesus movement was
      >entirely Jewish until well into the 2nd c, and that Judaism entirely
      >comprises the background of GOT.

      In your latest note, you seem to be backing off from this position, and
      that's all to the good. As I understand it now, your argument is based on
      equating Gentile interest with Paul. Furthermore, you see his influence as
      "marginal" until the second Jewish war of 130. I think both of these ideas
      are false, but I also think that even if they're both true, your own
      account of Pauline influence belies your earlier claims (above), which are
      entirely too strong, and which seemingly fly in the face of the internal
      evidence of the GOT itself.

      >I guess the key here is the Historical Paul, because tradition credits him
      >with a big role in opening up the movement to Gentiles.

      "Big role" is quite different from "all Gentiles are Paul's", of course,
      which is what seems to be required for your sweeping judgement about
      "entirely Jewish". Even before Paul, we have Stephen and the Hellenists as
      evidence of the appeal of the Jesus movement to at least non-Hebraic
      (Greek-speaking) Jews. One of the seven (Nicolas), for example, is said to
      be "a proselyte from Antioch". As I see it, the movement in and outside
      Judea spread most rapidly along the proselytic fringe - the place of
      newly-converted Jews, and those who were drawn to the Jewish religion but
      not yet converted (which would have involved circumcision, of course). My
      point is that this natural audience was not created by Paul, but was
      independent of him and existed in places he never visited. He appealed to
      it, but so did others. And it was from this proselytic fringe that the
      Gentiles were drawn, in so great numbers that the requirement for
      circumcision was dropped. When was it dropped? You may argue against it,
      but I find it persuasive that it occurred before the first Jewish war, not
      after the second (which would have required a rewriting of Acts). If so,
      and for all these reasons, ISTM quite clear that the appeal to the Gentiles
      was not confined to regions under Pauline influence. It must have occurred
      also in Rome, Alexandria, and Judea itself. (That latter to a lesser
      extent, of course, since the proselytic fringe would have necessarily been
      much wider in the diaspora.)

      >[Paul's] area of
      >influence was in parts of Syria and in a few other rather marginal places.

      How marginal were Antioch, Edessa, and Syria in general, in terms of
      writings that would come to define Christianity? It's been claimed recently
      that the Gospels of Matthew, Peter, and Thomas, all had Syrian provenance.
      But restricting ourselves just to the GOT, even if your equation of Paul
      with the Gentiles is correct, then GOT came out of the region influenced by
      Paul, hence your arguments about Paul's marginality with respect to the
      entire movement don't apply to the GOT. In fact, far from succeeding in
      showing that "Judaism entirely comprises the background of GOT", you seem
      to have established the contrary.

      Regards,
      Mike

      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068/sayings.htm
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