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2427[gthomas] Re: Jewishness of GOT

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    Mar 11, 2000
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      On Fri, 10 Mar 2000, Michael Grondin wrote:

      > Yuri-
      >
      > Our discussion (like too many others) has no doubt suffered from a
      > failure to clearly define the central terms involved. What does it
      > mean, for example, to say that a text is "Jewish-Christian" or
      > "Gentile-Christian"? But there are other problems as well. One is that
      > you are trying to draw a conclusion based on general historical
      > circumstances,

      Yes, Mike, this is what I'm doing.

      > rather than on the internal evidence of the text itself. As I
      > understand it, your argument amounts to saying that (1) Christianity
      > was "almost entirely" Jewish-oriented prior to at least 100, and (2)
      > GOT was written before 100, therefore (3) GOT is almost certainly
      > "Jewish" (whatever that means).

      While I think GOT was written before 100, I also think it was probably
      re-edited after 100.

      > I agree with (2) and disagree with (1), but more than that, I'd point
      > out that this is a probabilistic argument - which means that both its
      > premises and its conclusion are only probable. However strong you make
      > the probability of the premises, GOT might still be one of the
      > exceptions to the probabilistic conclusion

      But you will have to agree that with the study of early Christianity if
      only we could always be so lucky as to be able to establish a
      "probabilistic conclusion". Keep in mind that we are trying to solve a big
      jigsaw puzzle with most pieces missing. If, under these circumstances, we
      can still establish something as probable, I think we've done pretty well.

      > - written, say, in some little out-of-the-way pocket of Gentile
      > Xianity in Syria.

      But I think I've already refuted this. Comparing GOT text with other
      Syrian texts from the same time shows that this was a mainstream textual
      tradition in Syria, not some little pocket.

      > In any case, whether GOT is or is not an exception to the argument can
      > be so easily determined by internal textual evidence (or so it seems),
      > that one wonders why you even bother to approach the question from
      > this indirect angle?

      As I said before, when we are trying to solve a big jigsaw puzzle with
      most pieces missing, every bit of evidence is important.

      > I've deliberately avoided responding to every point of this
      > discussion, because some of them would soon lead very far away from
      > the central question. I'll have to leave it up to the reader to judge
      > the relative persuasiveness of most of the point-counterpoints. But I
      > would like to put a couple of your statements - which relate to
      > premise (1) above - side-by-side and see how you would resolve their
      > apparent inconsistency:
      >
      > (A) "Paul's influence came to be dominant very gradually in the years
      > 70-150."
      >
      > (B) "NT is mostly a Pauline document (in its final redaction)."

      Where's the inconsistency?

      > The combination of the above statements implies, of course, that all
      > of the books of the NT received their final redaction much closer to
      > 150 than 100 (before which they were supposedly

      Supposedly? Supposedly for who?

      > written). I assume you're taking advantage of the fact that no
      > manuscripts or clear references have been found predating 150, but I
      > think you should at least admit in all honesty that your view is not
      > widely shared,

      Of course not. It's a minority view in our time.

      > and doesn't have much positive evidence going for it.

      Plenty of evidence. Quite a few scholars in fact think that Lk and Jn may
      date from ca 110. Not such a small minority.

      > This doesn't mean that you're wrong, of course, but it does mean that
      > your arguments have to be stronger than otherwise might be called for.
      > In fact, a strong positive case has to be made - not just an assertion
      > and associated fending-off of objections. That's the burden that those
      > of us who find ourselves occasionally in the minority have to be
      > willing to bear, if we're interested in making our point, and not just
      > tilting at windmills.

      Arguments for late dating? You can find them in Loisy.

      > I could be wrong, but I believe that most scholars would say that
      > whatever "Gentile" aspects are to be found in the NT were already
      > basically there prior to 100.

      But this is merely an appeal to authority.

      > That surely implies that Pauline/Gentile influence must have been
      > great prior to 100, and such an implication is consistent with what
      > seems to be a commonsensical view that Jewish influence would have
      > necessarily declined rapidly after the first Jewish war.

      Sure it would have declined. But how rapidly?

      > Indeed, it would have been at this time (66-75) that it would have
      > been most politic for Xn writers to stress the differences between
      > their movement and Judaism proper,

      Why?

      Also your assumption seems to be that there was a substantial difference
      between "their movement" and "Judaism proper" already before 66-75, which
      makes your argument somewhat circular.

      > and to invent stories of favorable attitudes and actions by individual
      > Romans during the time of Jesus.

      Why? You mean they suddenly started to love the Romans after Israel and
      Jerusalem were devastated?

      > The only alternative that I can see is to maintain that the "Pauline"
      > stuff wasn't added until around 60-80 years later (and non-Pauline
      > stuff removed?),

      Not at all. As I said before, my position is that Paul's influence came to
      be dominant very gradually in the years 70-150.

      > but I can't imagine where one would find the evidence necessary to
      > present any kind of a strong case for THAT position (quoting Loisy
      > doesn't count <g>). One could make a WEAK case, of course, but why
      > bother?

      Many arguments can be made for my position, as opposed to the one you seem
      to be attributing to me.

      > In any case, much of this is beside the point. If you have some
      > criteria by which one could judge whether a text is "Jewish-Christian"
      > or "Gentile-Christian", I think the best course of action would be to
      > lay them out, so we can discuss their validity, and then apply them to
      > the text itself.

      Well, I'm talking about the important watershed, i.e. When was Jesus
      movement opened wide to Gentiles, and Torah-adherence was abandoned? Paul
      seems to be associated with this strongly as "most scholars think". Also,
      When did antisemitic passages get added to our canonical texts? This, to
      me, is the difference between "Jewish-Christian" and "Gentile-Christian"
      in a nutshell.

      > The indirect probability approach you've adopted is just doubly
      > unconvincing to me: first, because one of its premises is highly
      > debatable,

      Which one? A or B?

      > and second, because even if the argument is sound, it doesn't prove
      > what you want it to prove, namely that the GOT is "Jewish" (whatever
      > that means).

      But as I say, this sort of an argument, if established on the grounds of
      genereal probability, would be difficult to ignore.

      Best,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky | Toronto | http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

      Biblical history list http://www.egroups.com/group/loisy - unmoderated

      The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
      equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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