2436[gthomas] GOT and its historical context
- Mar 15, 2000On Sun, 12 Mar 2000, Michael Grondin wrote:
> I agree with Crossan that "the Gentiles were included very early", andMike,
> I'm convinced that the evidence supports that view.
And I think Crossan is grievously wrong. But he's not alone, of course.
He's wrong along with great many in his profession. And all this is
directly relevant to determining the historical context of GOT.
The distorting factors that make him wrong are two. One is the delusion of
Pauline authenticity of a lot of stuff that it would have never entered
into Paul's head to author. Highly evolved gnostic passages whose real
time frame is ca 150 are dated ca 50? And all this is merely assumed and
never demonstrated. A serious bungle indeed.
And second distorting factor is the standard Two Source Theory, which is a
false solution to the Synoptic problem. Because of this simplistic and
false solution, manifestly late Gentile-oriented passages in Mk that were
added probably ca 150 are credited with being ca 70. This is quite a
substantial delusion and distorting factor indeed.
The result? We have the Gentiles taking over the Jesus movement before 70,
which is impossibly early. We have the Historical Paul that is made of
cardboard. And we have a homeless GOT that has "no place to lay its head".
"Early daters" would like to date GOT before 70, i.e. before Mk. But then
how come so much of it sounds so un-apocalyptic, and therefore so un-OT?
We know that in Israel the years before the war with the Romans seemed to
be infused with messianism.
Is it possible that Jesus was un-apocalyptic, and then his followers
became apocalyptic? This is how Crossan would like to see things. But I
think it's a lot more natural to see the source of un-apocalypticism in
the years much after 70, as the Messianic expectations were being
inevitably disappointed. The movement would have been looking for a new
focus then, and gnosticism would have seemed like a good one.
So what are the early daters really saying? They would like HJ to be
un-apocalyptic laid-back social worker, I suppose, maybe even mostly
secular-minded? But here early daters are divided on whether he was an
un-apocalyptic laid-back philosopher, or if he was an un-apocalyptic
laid-back medicine man. But were he to have been primarily a medicine man,
i.e. Baptist exorcist type, then he could have hardly been laid-back? Oh,
So, all right, Jesus was un-apocalyptic, but then for some reason his
followers all went astray and became apocalyptic? All except one, that is,
by the name of Didymus Judas Thomas, who managed to preserve the "original
teachings" in some "little pocket" of society, until that too vanished
(except for what little managed to trickle into the sands of Nag Hammadi
for us to discover, to be sure).
If we suppose that all his followers went astray and became OT-oriented
and apocalyptic all of a sudden, then this must have happened before 70,
right? But I thought that according to Crossan we have the Gentiles taking
over the Jesus movement before 70 in a big hurry? Sure seems like there
are some problems with this scenario somehow? One may indeed wonder how
could back-to-the-Torah movement be happening at the same time as the
But these are only some of the wonders of modern NT scholarship with
Crossan at its head. For example, what about the solid historical
tradition that it was Paul who was instrumental in opening the movement to
Gentiles? Looks like we lost Paul out of our picture now, and someone else
has been opening the movement to the Gentiles, because at the time of
Paul's death he was maybe Number 100 in the movement's hierarchy, and
could not have had much weight. As reflected in the canon, wasn't the main
struggle for orthodoxy between the followers of Peter and those of Paul?
If so, this must have been happening well past 70. Oh, well..
Also we do know on good authority that Thomasine tradition was anything
but marginal and hiding in a little pocket.. Clearly it was the mainstream
textual tradition in Syria. And yet it seems to have nothing to do with
the writings of Paul, although Syria was his main base. Another puzzler
for modern enlightened NT scholarship..
And besides all this, what happened to the well attested early ties of
Jesus with John the Baptist? I guess early daters are trying to lose this
one too in a big hurry?
It seems to me that in order even to begin to have some kind of a coherent
case, Crossan and the early daters will need to deal with the real history
of Jesus movement, as opposed to the cardboard and make-believe "standard
For my own part, I think GOT represents a selection and an elaboration of
Jesus movement sayings materials with a clear editorial bias towards
un-apocalyptic, and towards the realized eschatology. In my view, GOT had
a similar history to that of the synoptic gospels, i.e. it was a
work-in-progress for perhaps 100 years from 50 to 150. Parts of it even
look to me like critical commentary on the canonical gospels. HJ was
probably not even close to saying a lot of these things.
Also there's substantial and increasing evidence that Jesus was a disciple
of JB, and took over the movement after John was killed.
Yuri Kuchinsky | Toronto | http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm
The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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