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RE: [GTh] The Gospel of James

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  • Rick Hubbard
    With respect to Bruce’s desire to graphically illustrate the extent to which first century writings “rely on the authority of Jewish scriptures or
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 1, 2012
      With respect to Bruce’s desire to graphically illustrate the extent to
      which first century writings “rely on the authority of Jewish scriptures or
      practices”, I don’t know whether that would feasible or not, however I can
      tell you what shape of the graph should probably be:

      Imagine a pipe with a funnel at each end, with the pointy end of each funnel
      pointing out from the pipe. What goes in at one end is some primal “Jesus”
      element. What comes out at the other end is Christianity. All you would need
      to do is identify the data points for all the material whirling inside the
      pipe. Does that really sound like something that would be feasible?

      Rick Hubbard

      From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Bob Schacht
      Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2012 3:06 PM
      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [GTh] The Gospel of James

       
      At 10:20 AM 11/1/2012, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

      Mike,
       
      The subject is still young.

      I just can't let this pass. You are either ignorant of half a century of 1st
      century & Patristic scholarship, or have cavalierly tossed it aside.
      Or perhaps you mean the subject of your "Alpha Christianity" is still young,
      which by inference tosses all previous scholarship aside because they
      haven't used your terminology or your particular framing of the debate. A
      little less grandiosity, please.

      Particular works of interest include Joseph B. Tyson's _The New Testament
      and Early Christianity_ (1990), James D.G. Dunn's _Unity and Diversity in
      the New Testament_ (1977), and Bauckham's _Jude and the Relatives of Jesus
      in the Early Church (1990), among many relevant works.


       But it might be interesting to graph all 1c Christian or paraChristian
      documents on a scale, depending on the extent to which they rely on the
      authority of Jewish scriptures or practices.

      You only betray your own ignorance with this statement. Just for starters,
      on this scale you would have to differentiate between Sadducees (who
      venerated only "the Books of Moses") from the Pharisees (who venerated, in
      addition, the Prophets and the Wisdom literature), and where would one place
      the Essene community, and the Zealots (to use only the Josephan sects)?


      No one linear arrangement will solve all problems with these texts,

      This statement I can agree with!


       but it would still be interesting to have that dimension. Thus, though Paul
      was against food purity, he was a great quoter of the Jewish scripture, at
      least when it suited him. He was antinomistic but proscriptural, if I may
      make up those words. Whereas the supposed deuteroPauline text Hebrews goes
      extremely far back toward Temple sacrifices as the core metaphor for Jesus.
       
      Given James (and after him, Matthew) as reverting toward full nomism, we
      might have something like this:
       
      James
      Matthew . . . . . . . . . Jesus, Alpha . . . . . . . . . . Paul . . . . . .
      . . . Marcion
      . . . . . Hebrews

      Sorry, but your graphic seems to have been garbled in cyberspace. Is this
      meant to portray a polar continuum from James and Matthew to Hebrews, with
      Jesus, Alpha, Paul, and Marcion lined up in between?


      My question would then be, Where on this scale does gThos1-12 fit?

      After declaiming, correctly, that "No one linear arrangement will solve all
      problems with these texts," you go on to return to your own favorite linear
      arrangement that seems to you the key to solve many of the problems of these
      texts. And why do you continue to ignore the Gospel of the Ebionites and
      other early non-Biblical Christian (your "paraChristian"? Psuedepigrapha?)
      texts such as are easily accessible in Barnstone's "The Other Bible" and
      elsewhere?

      I would prefer a more multi-dimensional approach, employing at least two
      such factors,
      • The divinity (or not) of Jesus [Christology]
      • What is required for salvation? (Soteriology]
      My mentor on these subjects is the patristic scholar Thomas Kopecek who, in
      an unpublished manuscript, wrote,
      We need to stress that during the first three centuries of the Jesus
      movement the Christologies taught by its various groups were remarkably
      different.
      From this perspective, your polar scale proposal makes little sense.

      If my rant is off-target, please clarify.

      Bob Schacht
      Northern Arizona University
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: GThos In Response To: Rick On: Graphic Representations From: Bruce Rick: Imagine a pipe with a funnel at each end, with the pointy end of each funnel
      Message 2 of 14 , Nov 1, 2012
        To: GThos
        In Response To: Rick
        On: Graphic Representations
        From: Bruce

        Rick: Imagine a pipe with a funnel at each end, with the pointy end of each
        funnel pointing out from the pipe. What goes in at one end is some primal
        "Jesus"
        element. What comes out at the other end is Christianity

        Bruce: This is a vertical, or timeline picture. I was working on the
        horizontal dimension, but the vertical surely has its interest also. Still,
        I am not sure how pointy the ends of the vertical model should be. The later
        end in particular: were there not more kinds of Christianity at the end of
        the funnel, say in the year 100, than there were at the beginning? If not,
        how do we explain Epiphanius?

        And how pointy is even the beginning end? Into the swirl of developing
        Christianities, it seems to me, there were several feeder streams. One, and
        from that we give it the name Christianity, was the life and teaching of
        Jesus. That is more or less definitional. But the influence of Judaism
        certainly did not stop with Jesus's take on Judaism, but continued to be
        productive (though seemingly in different ways and different degrees with
        different groups). Marcion and others resisted this input, but that is not
        evidence that there was no input; perhaps rather the contrary.

        Without much effort, we can also think of the Greek mystery religions, the
        influence of secular teaching in Greek (this is the Progymnasmata angle, to
        which much attention has recently been devoted), and the presence of what
        people call Gnosticism. Since there exists a Jewish Gnosticism, it is
        probably not adequate to call Gnosticism as a whole a splitoff from
        Christianity; it seems better to identify it as one more input. It had its
        influence on Christian groups, but it also seems to have had its own ongoing
        history, sometimes colored by Platonism and sometimes not.

        So I would tend to prefer a different physical model.

        And how "primal" is even Jesus? Was Jesus unprecedented, a bolt out of
        nowhere? Or was he in a tradition too? He was of course Jewish; that point
        seems to have been gained. But if we consider where the Markan Jesus (the
        earliest one we have) locates himself within Judaism, it is in a particular
        corner of Judaism, the one partly defined by the Psalms and the Minor
        Prophets. And standing ahead of him in that tradition is surely John the
        Baptist, the persistence of whose movement Mark surely documents, and
        perhaps also the Mandaean tradition, highly developed though that later
        became. (One reversion in Christianity is back toward full Torah, as in
        James the Brother and Matthew, but another is back toward the practices of
        the parent Baptist movement, as witness the rite of baptism itself, which
        gJn still remembers was not the practice of Jesus, but only of his
        disciples.

        This is all elementary, I suppose, but I think it suffices to make the
        pointy funnel model questionable.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: gThos In Response To: Bob Schacht On: Whatever From: Bruce [In a note to Mike Grondin, taking up his comment about the degrees of Jewishness in various
        Message 3 of 14 , Nov 1, 2012

          To: gThos

          In Response To: Bob Schacht

          On: Whatever

          From: Bruce

           

          [In a note to Mike Grondin, taking up his comment about the degrees of Jewishness in various Christianities, I had remarked]:

           

          Bruce: The subject is still young.

           

          [and there came this response from Bob Schacht]:


          Bob: I just can't let this pass. You are either ignorant of half a century of 1st century & Patristic scholarship, or have cavalierly tossed it aside. Or perhaps you mean the subject of your "Alpha Christianity" is still young, which by inference tosses all previous scholarship aside because they haven't used your terminology or your particular framing of the debate. A little less grandiosity, please.

           

          Bruce: I didn’t think my remark was especially grandiose. It referred to the question of degrees of Jewishness, but that in turn came out of how to locate gThos, or its earliest segment, in terms of the Alpha Christianity model, so Bob’s second reading is sufficiently correct for present purposes.  Let me then take it up.

           

          What is it with the “Alpha Christianity” idea? Is it new, or as I have formulated it, does it disacknowledge previous discoveries or claims of the same sort? I can respond, and I guess I should, though it will require some detail, and in so doing I ask the patience of those who, on other lists or at SBL sessions, have heard some or all of it before.

           

          In a word, I would suggest that what I call Alpha Christianity is not just a new label for an old thing. It is in effect a new thing; a new recognition of an old but previously unrecognized fact about Christian history. The germ of the difference lies in my earlier comment to Bill Arnal: that between the “Jewish” and “Christian” alternatives which he mentions, there is a third alternative, one not customarily recognized (as his dichotomy in effect illustrates) in discussions of the ideological affinity of a given text. The discussion at several of the SBL Didache sessions, which centers, and inconclusively centers, on that same, to my mind too simple, Jewish or Christian dichotomy, is further witness; those present will easily recall others.

           

          The theory to which the term “Alpha Christianity” gives a name points, as important, to the fact that several known texts, both canonical and not, though contextually Christian, fail to mention the Resurrection in places where we would expect it. This is the unrecognized Christianity. Those texts would include:

           

          (1) The Epistle of James, which to Luther’s great disgust does not preach the Resurrection.

           

          (2) The Didache and the incorporated Two Ways text, concerning which scholars within the current calendar year debate whether it is Jewish or Christian, without considering whether there is a third option. Even in the liturgical sections of the Didache, even in the Eucharist prayers, these texts do not mention the Resurrection. One can search many a Didache commentary without seeing that lack noted, or commented upon; the excellent little commentary of Wlll Varner does not note it, and (as I have ascertained by checking with him) the author in fact denies that the Didache people lacked the Resurrection concept, and is proceeding to write further studies taking that line.

           

          (3) The hymn embedded in Philippians 2, which Fitzmyer acknowledges does not mention the Resurrection, though he goes on to assert that this does not prove that the church in Philippi lacked that concept.

           

          That makes three from the 1st century. From later times, and showing continued vitality, the pseudoClementine literature, in which Peter preaches endlessly, but somehow without ever mentioning the Resurrection of Jesus. Especially at that date, this is surely an amazing omission.

           

          This is quite an array. But as one NT scholar remarked, after hearing one of my recent SBL presentations, This stuff has been in plain sight for a long time, but you are the first person to put it together. He knows more about current scholarship than I do, and I take it, as a working hypothesis, that he was correct.

           

          Beyond that, there are more Alpha texts, not lying in plain sight, but having to be dug out of existing and more complicated texts, just as Lohmeyer dug the hymn out of Philippians. As far as I know, in these instances or their most complete form, it is myself who has done the digging. Those texts (and my claim to priority in those results) are as follows:

           

          (4) 1 John. It can be shown (or at any rate, in another SBL paper, I sought to show) that the forever perplexing 1 John can be resolved into a statement by an Alpha church, which has been interlineated with a Beta (or Resurrection Christianity) response, the whole then counting as a Beta document, albeit one whose continual internal contradictions have resisted mere segmentation, as O’Neill and others have shown by their efforts – in my opinion and that of some others, unsuccessful efforts - to solve it that way.

           

          (5) Mark. This is a stratified text, with early layers later than the later layers. Only the later layers of Mark are in contact with Paul and with the Resurrection doctrine. Mark has been stratified before, specifically by von Soden and Wendling at the beginning of the 20c, but their versions received no scholarly acceptance, and indeed they were too largely impressionistic. For one thing, they did not rely on the evidence of interpolation, which in my view is the key to the matter. At mid-century, Taylor showed the stratified character of the Markan Apocalypse, but he put it at the back of his book, and his book overall did not openly disturb the integral consensus about Mark. At the beginning of the present century, Adela Yarbro Collins, again at the back of the book (see p819), produced a stratification of the Markan Passion Narrative, in which the original version of that text entirely lacks the Resurrection narrative; it ends – repeat, it ends – with Mk 15:38, the Rending of the Veil. Again, Adela does not put this into her main treatment of Mark, and one eminent NT person (in fact, the very Richard Bauckham to whom Bob later refers) cited her commentary to me, in a private conversation, as proof that modern scholars uphold the integrity – the unstratifiedness – of Mark. Adela herself (with whom I was in contact both before and after the appearance of her commentary; my copy of the commentary is signed by her), definitely declines to apply to the rest of Mark the method which, to my mind, she so successfully applied to the Passion Narrative. That leaves the field open to someone else. As far as I know, I am at present the someone else. And since Bob seems to have raised the issue of priority, when was did my activity begin? Or more to the point, as scholarly priority is usually judged, when was it first made available to the scholarly community? My first proposal for a stratification of Mark was made, before an SBL audience, a year before the appearance of Adela’s commentary. The title of that presentation was Structural Evolution in Mark, the venue was SBL/NE, and the date was 21 Apr 2006. Adela’s commentary came out in 2007. Adela, as noted, does not see the whole of Mark as stratified. But if someone wanted to make that claim on her behalf, which of us in fact would have priority?

           

          (6) Luke. As some present will be aware, I observed years ago (first on the Synoptic list, and later in a formal presentation at national SBL) that the relocation of passages in Luke proves that Luke was composed in more than one phase, which I call Luke A and Luke B. Later development of that work has reached a three-stage model: Luke A (followed by Matthew), Luke B (incorporation some of Matthew’s best ideas, and also extending the Lukan corpus to the first part of Acts), and Luke C (extending Acts to its present size, in which Paul’s failure to convince the Jews of Rome is made to be the defining point, and indeed the separation point, for the Christian future).

           

          The interest of this, besides its merely philological charm (it incorporates the findings of several earlier scholars, including Torrey, but as part of a structure with a different tendency and meaning, avoiding for example Torrey’s translation scenario, which with many others I consider untenable), is that it shows Luke A as another unsuspected Alpha document. And why? Because not only does Luke in his Gospel refuse to copy the two places in which Mark, in some of the last additions to his Gospel, acknowledges the Atonement doctrine, the strong form of the Resurrection doctrine, but also, in his extended treatment of Paul, depicts Paul (get this) as never preaching the Atonement. The Paul who wrote Corinthians and Romans would surely be astonished, perhaps even indignant, at this picture of himself, which is reason to think it was not perpetrated during Paul’s lifetime. Further, on close examination, Luke’s debt to traditions like the one preserved in the Epistle of James, most obviously James’s extreme championing of the poor against the rich (also passionate and extreme in Luke A, though somewhat modified and tempered in Luke B, probably as a response to Matthew, who was appealing all too successfully to the well-to-do among the Gospel readership).

           

          One perhaps useful detail of this three-stage view of Luke is that it not only explains some anomalies in that text (such as the Nazareth scene coming earlier than the events to which it refers), but also incorporates the part of Goulder’s New Paradigm that was directionally convincing, and completes it with a directionally more accurate account of the other parts, thus disposing, in a different but I think more convincing way, of the specter of Q.

           

          My SBL paper on Luke got a positive reception at SBL (where the question of Goulder did come up in the question period), and the leader of that section, Paul Elbert, found it methodologically convincing; Paul presided over last year’s meeting of the annual Alpha Christianity meeting at SBL. I do not claim him as a supporter; that would be presumptuous. But neither he nor anyone in the original SBL audience (November 2007, the title, which in view of a mistaken enthusiasm of Streeter and Taylor was perhaps ill-chosen, was Prolegomena to Proto-Luke) has suggested that this result, such as it may be, was significantly anticipated by any earlier scholarship.

           

          That makes three new additions to the roster of non-Resurrection texts, for a total of 6 in the 1st century (plus one, the Clementine Recognitions, from later on). That is, my original researches, not wholly without precedent or parallel, but reaching results essentially new, have doubled the documentation for a 1st century Alpha or non-Resurrection form of Christianity. The additions come from the Markan beginning, the Lukan middle, and the Johannine end, of our documentation for 1st century Christianity. The case for Alpha, even if someone *had* posited it on the basis of previously available texts, which on present showing they had not, has been significantly strengthened as a result.

           

           

          Anyone is free to disagree with these findings, and they have, in large numbers. But since it has come up, I think that, whether they are right or wrong, I am responsible for them.

           

          Bob thinks I have overlooked Dunn et al. Not true. In the recent summa of Dunn (and the parallel but differently disappointing summa of Meier, also still in progress), though both are beautifully printed and extensively argued, I don’t in the end find much that takes us beyond the previous understanding of the Gospel evidence for Jesus. For one thing, both accept the Lukan history of Christianity, as “beginning from Jerusalem.” I have argued that this is just Luke’s idea; Christianity actually began and prospered in, and was first propagated from, Galilee. (See again my SBL paper of a few years ago, The Secret History of the Twelve).

           

          The very idea that there could be an Alpha Christianity (that is, a Christianity without the Resurrection doctrine and its further development, the Atonement doctrine) strikes many in our time as simply absurd. I have repeatedly gotten that reaction from individuals, on E-lists and at face sessions at SBL. Those individuals regard the Resurrection as virtually definitive for Christianity. And so it is – but for Pauline Christianity. It is one of those accidents of history that modern Christianity is Pauline Christianity; it certainly could have gone in another direction, and for quite a while, it was indeed trying to go in several other directions. Paul himself is witness to continued and sometimes moral conflict with people who did not accept the Resurrection. If Christ was not raised, he says at one point, then our faith is vain. That view came to dominate what we can only call orthodox Christianity. The point, however, for me, is that to be orthodox is not necessarily to be original.

           

          As Walter Bauer noted in his important study Orthodoxy and Heresy, what are later regarded as heresies may not be perverse departures from an original doctrine; they may be instead earlier stages of the doctrine, condemned by the later stages as now inconsistent with preferred belief. It was promptly noted, by Strecker and others, that Bauer dealt with 2nd century cases, but declined to push his dangerous idea into the hot 1st century. Nor has anybody since, in any systematic way, as far as I know.

           

          Except perhaps myself. I herewith claim that those on whom Paul pronounces a curse at the end of  1 Cor (anathema, unquote; 1 Cor 16:22), and against whom he dispute theology in Romans, are the same people as he sought to persecute in his younger days. They are the original Christians, the pre-Resurrection Christians, who before the appearance of the Resurrection doctrine, which is an idea which arose at some point after the death of Jesus, had evidently spread not only to Paul’s neighborhood in Antioch, but to Alexandria (one convert being Apollos), Greece (Philippi, Corinth) and Rome. This earliest belief was thus not some momentary flicker, it was a bolt of lightning, and in that earliest form, it traveled far and fast, and in some places survived in recognizable form for centuries. Paul and his particular theology are not the first wave of Christian missionarizing, but the second, and everywhere the second wave went, it found in being, and contested the ground with, the converts of the first wave.

           

          Or so the results of the Alpha investigation tend to suggest. As to the ultimate success of that investigation, in terms of wider scholarly convincement in the present century, the jury is of course still out.

           

          If I and my colleagues have overlooked precise precedents not mentioned above, for any of the above, I will be glad to be informed of them. And if anyone in present company is interested in pursuing these possibilities themselves, in company with others, into the unfolding 21st century, I repeat my invitation to attend the open Alpha planning session at the coming SBL meeting. To mention no other points, the place of Thomas, in whole or part, in that picture of early Christian history could use a lot of work. For details of the meeting, see my previous note, or the SBL Program Book, p363.

           

          Bruce

           

          E Bruce Brooks

          Warring States Project

          University of Massachusetts at Amherst

           

        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: GThos In Response To: Rick On: Jesus and Torah From: Bruce Rick, noting a recent publication (Wilson 2008), had characterized it thus: Rick: Central to
          Message 4 of 14 , Nov 1, 2012
            To: GThos
            In Response To: Rick
            On: Jesus and Torah
            From: Bruce

            Rick, noting a recent publication (Wilson 2008), had characterized it thus:

            Rick: Central to Wilson's argument is that Jesus, his followers and his
            family were all Torah Observant Jews

            Bruce: That has been said several times before, perhaps first by Matthew.
            But it contradicts evidence from Mark, not suppressed in Matthew, that
            Jesus's own account of his idea of the Commandments (Mk 10:19, slightly
            expanded in Mt 19:18, with the elimination of Jesus's new rule about fraud
            and the addition of the Love your Neighbor rule) did not go beyond what is
            called the Second Table of the Decalogue, plus the repeated incidents in
            Mark, largely preserved in Matthew, that show Jesus intentionally violating
            the Sabbath law, a provision of the First Table.

            I think the contradiction dooms the theory, even if (as some today still do)
            we regard Matthew as the first and thus the most authoritative of the
            Gospels. What Matthew has done is to add some sentences like the "jot and
            tittle" statement, which contradict the burden of what Matthew has inherited
            from Mark. But the inheritance, whether or not construed as such, renders
            the Matthean position internally contradicted, and thus questionable.
            Matthew is soft on the disciples, but even more significantly, he is soft on
            the Pharisees.

            Matthew is now first in the canon because it had become dominant already in
            the 1c, as the study by Massaux shows in simply stupefying detail. As
            Marcion found when his attempt to detach Christianity from Judaism failed,
            and he himself was branded a heretic, the basing of Jesus theory on Jewish
            scriptural predictions, a device which Matthew most fully developed, and
            thus the dependence of Christianity on Judaism, which it proceeded, at least
            textually, to expropriate for its purposes, had simply gone too far to be
            reconsidered.

            Rick (further): One of the most noticeable features of the Thomas Gospel,
            from the 10,000 foot view, is the absence of the resurrection cycle that is
            prominent in the canonical gospels. That has always puzzled me. Perhaps
            Wilson provides a clue to this puzzle and perhaps the Alpha Xty proposed by
            Bruce is really the "same side to two different coins". Should Thomas
            (regardless of when it was written) be regarded as just another a witness to
            the development stream of a pre-Pauline post -Jesus Judaism?

            Bruce: As noted, I don't find the Wilson view (as Rick reports it) tenable.
            I think it violates the historical order of the Gospels, and thus the rule
            that early evidence is normally best evidence. But the absence of the
            Resurrection from gThos is nevertheless striking. How it is to be explained
            can perhaps best be discussed by those who know gThos really well, in its
            Nag Hammadi and other context. My impression at this moment is that Gnosis,
            or mystical knowledge of one sort or another, is in gThos something like a
            substitute for the saving power of Jesus' death in Pauline Christianity, and
            of course the scenario of ascent through the hostile powers to the final
            stage has the same function in gThos that the Last Judgement has in the
            Gospels. One would not expect two methods of salvation to appear side by
            side in the same text, and it is not surprising that they don't. The
            question, for me, is where the other scenario came from.

            As to chronology, I earlier suggested that what to me seems to be the core
            of gThos, namely its #1-12, ending in mystical veneration of James the B,
            may have preceded the Second Tier Gospels, being indebted to Mark (and to a
            bunch of other presumptively early stuff, conceivably including the Gospel
            of the Hebrews, on which see again DeConick's notes), but to none of the
            Second Tier Gospels. This puts what I have called the Gospel of James
            (another term might be Proto-Thomas) in the same position relative to Mark
            as Paul, whose notion of Jesus sayings seem to have derived in significant
            part from Mark (see again Koester). But the balance of the gThos text, the
            explicitly Thomas portion, seems to be post-Lukan and post-Matthean, as many
            have argued, most recently (in book form) Mark Goodacre. I find those
            arguments convincing, and have done so since some of them were first aired
            on the old Synoptic list.

            I thus don't think it works to analyze Thomas as a unity. Even toward the
            end, there are too many clear cadence points, some of which were pointed out
            a bit ago by Mike Grondin on this list. I treat these as overridden endings.
            And there is the reference to James the B, in gThos 12, which seems to me
            irresolvably weird if we posit a text which from the beginning identified
            Thomas as its patron figure.

            As for the 10,000 foot view of Thomas, which indeed shows no Resurrection
            traces, I suggested in an earlier note that a similarly comprehensive view
            of Mark, one which acknowledges and takes account of the stratification of
            Mark, and concentrates only on the early strata, equally shows no
            Resurrection traces. The fragment of Mark reconstructed by Adela Yarbro
            Collins (see again p819 of her commentary) again shows no Resurrection
            traces; hers might be called a 10,000 foot view of perhaps 5% of the
            waterfront.

            The whole waterfront, as I have been reporting since 2006 or so, is no less
            interesting, and entirely consistent. No Resurrection. Something else
            instead.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          • Rick Hubbard
            Hi Bruce- Actually I guess what didn t come through in my remarks about the pipe (and the graph idea in general) was just how far into my cheek my lounge was
            Message 5 of 14 , Nov 2, 2012

              Hi Bruce-

               

              Actually I guess what didn’t come through in my remarks about the pipe (and the graph idea in general) was just how far into my cheek my lounge was stuck. So, yes the “pointy funnel model” is indeed “questionable”.

               

              Having said that, however, I continue to be plagued by the question of where Thomas “fits” in this pot of soup. Perhaps better still, I am plagued by the question of what tools are most appropriate for answering the preceding question. Obviously the only artifacts we have to work with are an assortment of texts, of which GThomas is one among many. It is tempting to say (but I won’t) that exclusively textcentric approaches to answering the question of fit is too often like shearing pigs: lots of noise but very little wool.

               

              Rick

               

              From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of E Bruce Brooks
              Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2012 5:49 PM
              To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [GTh] The Gospel of James

               

               

              To: GThos
              In Response To: Rick
              On: Graphic Representations
              From: Bruce

              Rick: Imagine a pipe with a funnel at each end, with the pointy end of each
              funnel pointing out from the pipe. What goes in at one end is some primal
              "Jesus"
              element. What comes out at the other end is Christianity

              Bruce: This is a vertical, or timeline picture. I was working on the
              horizontal dimension, but the vertical surely has its interest also. Still,
              I am not sure how pointy the ends of the vertical model should be. The later
              end in particular: were there not more kinds of Christianity at the end of
              the funnel, say in the year 100, than there were at the beginning? If not,
              how do we explain Epiphanius?

              And how pointy is even the beginning end? Into the swirl of developing
              Christianities, it seems to me, there were several feeder streams. One, and
              from that we give it the name Christianity, was the life and teaching of
              Jesus. That is more or less definitional. But the influence of Judaism
              certainly did not stop with Jesus's take on Judaism, but continued to be
              productive (though seemingly in different ways and different degrees with
              different groups). Marcion and others resisted this input, but that is not
              evidence that there was no input; perhaps rather the contrary.

              Without much effort, we can also think of the Greek mystery religions, the
              influence of secular teaching in Greek (this is the Progymnasmata angle, to
              which much attention has recently been devoted), and the presence of what
              people call Gnosticism. Since there exists a Jewish Gnosticism, it is
              probably not adequate to call Gnosticism as a whole a splitoff from
              Christianity; it seems better to identify it as one more input. It had its
              influence on Christian groups, but it also seems to have had its own ongoing
              history, sometimes colored by Platonism and sometimes not.

              So I would tend to prefer a different physical model.

              And how "primal" is even Jesus? Was Jesus unprecedented, a bolt out of
              nowhere? Or was he in a tradition too? He was of course Jewish; that point
              seems to have been gained. But if we consider where the Markan Jesus (the
              earliest one we have) locates himself within Judaism, it is in a particular
              corner of Judaism, the one partly defined by the Psalms and the Minor
              Prophets. And standing ahead of him in that tradition is surely John the
              Baptist, the persistence of whose movement Mark surely documents, and
              perhaps also the Mandaean tradition, highly developed though that later
              became. (One reversion in Christianity is back toward full Torah, as in
              James the Brother and Matthew, but another is back toward the practices of
              the parent Baptist movement, as witness the rite of baptism itself, which
              gJn still remembers was not the practice of Jesus, but only of his
              disciples.

              This is all elementary, I suppose, but I think it suffices to make the
              pointy funnel model questionable.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst

            • E Bruce Brooks
              Rick, Nice joke, but I don t think the situation is quite that bad. When two texts inhabit the same time, they can reflect the character of that time, and in
              Message 6 of 14 , Nov 2, 2012

                Rick,

                 

                Nice joke, but I don’t think the situation is quite that bad.

                 

                When two texts inhabit the same time, they can reflect the character of that time, and in addition one can reflect the other. The latter is what we call directionality. If one of the two texts was composed in spurts, giving both a later and an earlier part, then a contemporary text can be both before and after it. This can give what we call bidirectionality. Matthew and Luke show bidirectionality. I have suggested that gThos 1-12 and Luke also show bidirectionality. If so, that argues a close, or even intimate, relationship between the two. Which is surely a gain for our understanding of how they fit with each other, and with their common environment.

                 

                Not that this or anything else solves all the problems, but it’s perhaps a step in the right direction.

                 

                Another point: the Didache is one of the major Alpha texts (to use my name for the group of non-Resurrection Christian texts). It grew on its own, and then at some point, it was interpolated with a set of Matthean echoes. That’s one item.

                 

                The socalled gThos (not a Gospel in the normally accepted sense of the word), if my suggestion proves out, may originally have had a small Jamesian core. But then at some point it extended itself using much material from Mt and Lk. That’s another item.

                 

                The pattern is not exactly parallel, but the use of Mt/Lk following an initial independent phase is sufficiently parallel to be interesting. Then primitive gThos and the original Didache occupy the same position vis-a-vis Matthew. Hmmm. Then we ask . . .

                 

                Or else we don’t. But I think the possibility of asking useful questions has not been exhausted by such of the secondary literature as I am aware of.

                 

                Bruce

                 

                E Bruce Brooks

                Warring States Project

                University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                 

              • David
                From my perspective, I think that the view that Christianity changed in various significant ways in the first 2 centuries is right on the money, as is the view
                Message 7 of 14 , Nov 2, 2012
                  From my perspective, I think that the view that Christianity changed in various significant ways in the first 2 centuries is right on the money, as is the view that a number of the biblical (and non-biblical) Christian documents that we see today have been subject to change, and that some may have initially been significantly different in their original form (e.g. Chapters 1-2 not being originally in Lk).

                  Given that (I assume) relatively non-controversial position, isn't it time to re-consider whether the 2nd century heretics were just the 'losers' in a struggle for dominance between the various Christian factions, and that we should really consider all these people and groups to be different 'flavors' of Christians? By the way, I think that the term 'Alpha Christian' should not be used in this context (sorry Bruce), because this term has been used since the 70's to denote a particular type of Christian teaching.

                  David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

                  --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > At 10:20 AM 11/1/2012, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > >Mike,
                  > >
                  > >The subject is still young.
                  >
                  > I just can't let this pass. You are either ignorant of half a century
                  > of 1st century & Patristic scholarship, or have cavalierly tossed it aside.
                  > Or perhaps you mean the subject of your "Alpha Christianity" is still
                  > young, which by inference tosses all previous scholarship aside
                  > because they haven't used your terminology or your particular framing
                  > of the debate. A little less grandiosity, please.
                  >
                  > Particular works of interest include Joseph B. Tyson's _The New
                  > Testament and Early Christianity_ (1990), James D.G. Dunn's _Unity
                  > and Diversity in the New Testament_ (1977), and Bauckham's _Jude and
                  > the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (1990), among many relevant works.
                  >
                  > > But it might be interesting to graph all 1c Christian or
                  > > paraChristian documents on a scale, depending on the extent to
                  > > which they rely on the authority of Jewish scriptures or practices.
                  >
                  > You only betray your own ignorance with this statement. Just for
                  > starters, on this scale you would have to differentiate between
                  > Sadducees (who venerated only "the Books of Moses") from the
                  > Pharisees (who venerated, in addition, the Prophets and the Wisdom
                  > literature), and where would one place the Essene community, and the
                  > Zealots (to use only the Josephan sects)?
                  >
                  > >No one linear arrangement will solve all problems with these texts,
                  >
                  > This statement I can agree with!
                  >
                  > > but it would still be interesting to have that dimension. Thus,
                  > > though Paul was against food purity, he was a great quoter of the
                  > > Jewish scripture, at least when it suited him. He was antinomistic
                  > > but proscriptural, if I may make up those words. Whereas the
                  > > supposed deuteroPauline text Hebrews goes extremely far back toward
                  > > Temple sacrifices as the core metaphor for Jesus.
                  > >
                  > >Given James (and after him, Matthew) as reverting toward full
                  > >nomism, we might have something like this:
                  > >
                  > >James
                  > >Matthew . . . . . . . . . Jesus, Alpha . . . . . . . . . . Paul . .
                  > >. . . . . . . Marcion
                  > >. . . . . Hebrews
                  >
                  > Sorry, but your graphic seems to have been garbled in cyberspace. Is
                  > this meant to portray a polar continuum from James and Matthew to
                  > Hebrews, with Jesus, Alpha, Paul, and Marcion lined up in between?
                  >
                  > >My question would then be, Where on this scale does gThos1-12 fit?
                  >
                  > After declaiming, correctly, that "No one linear arrangement will
                  > solve all problems with these texts," you go on to return to your own
                  > favorite linear arrangement that seems to you the key to solve many
                  > of the problems of these texts. And why do you continue to ignore the
                  > Gospel of the Ebionites and other early non-Biblical Christian (your
                  > "paraChristian"? Psuedepigrapha?) texts such as are easily accessible
                  > in Barnstone's "The Other Bible" and elsewhere?
                  >
                  > I would prefer a more multi-dimensional approach, employing at least
                  > two such factors,
                  > * The divinity (or not) of Jesus [Christology]
                  > * What is required for salvation? (Soteriology]
                  > My mentor on these subjects is the patristic scholar Thomas Kopecek
                  > who, in an unpublished manuscript, wrote,
                  > We need to stress that during the first three centuries of the Jesus
                  > movement the Christologies taught by its various groups were
                  > remarkably different.
                  > From this perspective, your polar scale proposal makes little sense.
                  >
                  > If my rant is off-target, please clarify.
                  >
                  > Bob Schacht
                  > Northern Arizona University
                  >
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Absolutely! IIRC, is this not the point of Pagels Gnostic Gospels? And Bart Ehrman s Lost Christianities? And other similar books? Indeed, we now even
                  Message 8 of 14 , Nov 2, 2012
                    At 11:15 AM 11/2/2012, David wrote:
                    From my perspective, I think that the view that Christianity changed in various significant ways in the first 2 centuries is right on the money, as is the view that a number of the biblical (and non-biblical) Christian documents that we see today have been subject to change, and that some may have initially been significantly different in their original form (e.g. Chapters 1-2 not being originally in Lk).

                    Given that (I assume) relatively non-controversial position, isn't it time to re-consider whether the 2nd century heretics were just the 'losers' in a struggle for dominance between the various Christian factions, and that we should really consider all these people and groups to be different 'flavors' of Christians?

                    Absolutely! IIRC, is this not the point of Pagels' Gnostic Gospels? And Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities? And other similar books? Indeed, we now even have The Gnostic Bible: Revised and Expanded Edition by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer (Jun 30, 2009).
                    In fact, the whole scholarly apparatus of denying privileged status to the books of the NT leads us in this direction.

                     By the way, I think that the term 'Alpha Christian' should not be used in this context (sorry Bruce), because this term has been used since the 70's to denote a particular type of Christian teaching.

                    Agreed.


                    David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

                    --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > At 10:20 AM 11/1/2012, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > >Mike,
                    > >
                    > >The subject is still young.
                    >
                    > I just can't let this pass. You are either ignorant of half a century
                    > of 1st century & Patristic scholarship, or have cavalierly tossed it aside.
                    > Or perhaps you mean the subject of your "Alpha Christianity" is still
                    > young, which by inference tosses all previous scholarship aside
                    > because they haven't used your terminology or your particular framing
                    > of the debate. A little less grandiosity, please.
                    >
                    > Particular works of interest include Joseph B. Tyson's _The New
                    > Testament and Early Christianity_ (1990), James D.G. Dunn's _Unity
                    > and Diversity in the New Testament_ (1977), and Bauckham's _Jude and
                    > the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (1990), among many relevant works.
                    >
                    > >  But it might be interesting to graph all 1c Christian or
                    > > paraChristian documents on a scale, depending on the extent to
                    > > which they rely on the authority of Jewish scriptures or practices.
                    >
                    > You only betray your own ignorance with this statement. Just for
                    > starters, on this scale you would have to differentiate between
                    > Sadducees (who venerated only "the Books of Moses") from the
                    > Pharisees (who venerated, in addition, the Prophets and the Wisdom
                    > literature), and where would one place the Essene community, and the
                    > Zealots (to use only the Josephan sects)?
                    >
                    > >No one linear arrangement will solve all problems with these texts,
                    >
                    > This statement I can agree with!
                    >
                    > >  but it would still be interesting to have that dimension. Thus,
                    > > though Paul was against food purity, he was a great quoter of the
                    > > Jewish scripture, at least when it suited him. He was antinomistic
                    > > but proscriptural, if I may make up those words. Whereas the
                    > > supposed deuteroPauline text Hebrews goes extremely far back toward
                    > > Temple sacrifices as the core metaphor for Jesus.
                    > >
                    > >Given James (and after him, Matthew) as reverting toward full
                    > >nomism, we might have something like this:
                    > >
                    > >James
                    > >Matthew . . . . . . . . . Jesus, Alpha . . . . . . . . . . Paul . .
                    > >. . . . . . . Marcion
                    > >. . . . . Hebrews
                    >
                    > Sorry, but your graphic seems to have been garbled in cyberspace. Is
                    > this meant to portray a polar continuum from James and Matthew to
                    > Hebrews, with Jesus, Alpha, Paul, and Marcion lined up in between?
                    >
                    > >My question would then be, Where on this scale does gThos1-12 fit?
                    >
                    > After declaiming, correctly, that "No one linear arrangement will
                    > solve all problems with these texts," you go on to return to your own
                    > favorite linear arrangement that seems to you the key to solve many
                    > of the problems of these texts. And why do you continue to ignore the
                    > Gospel of the Ebionites and other early non-Biblical Christian (your
                    > "paraChristian"? Psuedepigrapha?) texts such as are easily accessible
                    > in Barnstone's "The Other Bible" and elsewhere?
                    >
                    > I would prefer a more multi-dimensional approach, employing at least
                    > two such factors,
                    >     * The divinity (or not) of Jesus [Christology]
                    >     * What is required for salvation? (Soteriology]
                    > My mentor on these subjects is the patristic scholar Thomas Kopecek
                    > who, in an unpublished manuscript, wrote,
                    > We need to stress that during the first three centuries of the Jesus
                    > movement the Christologies taught by its various groups were
                    > remarkably different.
                    >  From this perspective, your polar scale proposal makes little sense.
                    >
                    > If my rant is off-target, please clarify.
                    >
                    > Bob Schacht
                    > Northern Arizona University
                    >




                    ------------------------------------

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                  • Rick Hubbard
                    Where to begin? From the vantage point of some folks from the mid-first century perspective it could be said that the “heretics” were the ones who were
                    Message 9 of 14 , Nov 2, 2012
                      Where to begin?

                      From the vantage point of some folks from the mid-first century perspective
                      it could be said that the “heretics” were the ones who were abandoning or
                      usurping Torah (Paul, et al). Ultimately it was THESE heretics (again Paul,
                      et al) that became dominant and eventually became known as “Christians”.

                      So, yes these “heretics” did change in significant ways and yes there was
                      undoubtedly competition for hegemony among groups. It became survival of the
                      fittest. Those with the broadest appeal thrived better and longer than the
                      more “esoteric” varieties, but eventually the Emperor Constantine decreed
                      enough to be enough and one remnant among the competitors became what is
                      considered “orthodoxy” (how’s that for 300 years of approximately accurate
                      history in a single sentence?)

                      But the question remains, where did the Thomas gospel folks fit in this mix?
                      I’d wager they were about a 3 or 4 on the 1st century heresy scale (Post
                      Nicaean Christianity being a 10 and pre-70 Judaism being a 1)

                      Rick Hubbard




                      From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
                      David
                      Sent: Friday, November 02, 2012 2:15 PM
                      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [GTh] Re: The Gospel of James

                       
                      From my perspective, I think that the view that Christianity changed in
                      various significant ways in the first 2 centuries is right on the money, as
                      is the view that a number of the biblical (and non-biblical) Christian
                      documents that we see today have been subject to change, and that some may
                      have initially been significantly different in their original form (e.g.
                      Chapters 1-2 not being originally in Lk).

                      Given that (I assume) relatively non-controversial position, isn't it time
                      to re-consider whether the 2nd century heretics were just the 'losers' in a
                      struggle for dominance between the various Christian factions, and that we
                      should really consider all these people and groups to be different 'flavors'
                      of Christians? By the way, I think that the term 'Alpha Christian' should
                      not be used in this context (sorry Bruce), because this term has been used
                      since the 70's to denote a particular type of Christian teaching.

                      David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

                      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > At 10:20 AM 11/1/2012, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > >Mike,
                      > >
                      > >The subject is still young.
                      >
                      > I just can't let this pass. You are either ignorant of half a century
                      > of 1st century & Patristic scholarship, or have cavalierly tossed it
                      aside.
                      > Or perhaps you mean the subject of your "Alpha Christianity" is still
                      > young, which by inference tosses all previous scholarship aside
                      > because they haven't used your terminology or your particular framing
                      > of the debate. A little less grandiosity, please.
                      >
                      > Particular works of interest include Joseph B. Tyson's _The New
                      > Testament and Early Christianity_ (1990), James D.G. Dunn's _Unity
                      > and Diversity in the New Testament_ (1977), and Bauckham's _Jude and
                      > the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (1990), among many relevant
                      works.
                      >
                      > > But it might be interesting to graph all 1c Christian or
                      > > paraChristian documents on a scale, depending on the extent to
                      > > which they rely on the authority of Jewish scriptures or practices.
                      >
                      > You only betray your own ignorance with this statement. Just for
                      > starters, on this scale you would have to differentiate between
                      > Sadducees (who venerated only "the Books of Moses") from the
                      > Pharisees (who venerated, in addition, the Prophets and the Wisdom
                      > literature), and where would one place the Essene community, and the
                      > Zealots (to use only the Josephan sects)?
                      >
                      > >No one linear arrangement will solve all problems with these texts,
                      >
                      > This statement I can agree with!
                      >
                      > > but it would still be interesting to have that dimension. Thus,
                      > > though Paul was against food purity, he was a great quoter of the
                      > > Jewish scripture, at least when it suited him. He was antinomistic
                      > > but proscriptural, if I may make up those words. Whereas the
                      > > supposed deuteroPauline text Hebrews goes extremely far back toward
                      > > Temple sacrifices as the core metaphor for Jesus.
                      > >
                      > >Given James (and after him, Matthew) as reverting toward full
                      > >nomism, we might have something like this:
                      > >
                      > >James
                      > >Matthew . . . . . . . . . Jesus, Alpha . . . . . . . . . . Paul . .
                      > >. . . . . . . Marcion
                      > >. . . . . Hebrews
                      >
                      > Sorry, but your graphic seems to have been garbled in cyberspace. Is
                      > this meant to portray a polar continuum from James and Matthew to
                      > Hebrews, with Jesus, Alpha, Paul, and Marcion lined up in between?
                      >
                      > >My question would then be, Where on this scale does gThos1-12 fit?
                      >
                      > After declaiming, correctly, that "No one linear arrangement will
                      > solve all problems with these texts," you go on to return to your own
                      > favorite linear arrangement that seems to you the key to solve many
                      > of the problems of these texts. And why do you continue to ignore the
                      > Gospel of the Ebionites and other early non-Biblical Christian (your
                      > "paraChristian"? Psuedepigrapha?) texts such as are easily accessible
                      > in Barnstone's "The Other Bible" and elsewhere?
                      >
                      > I would prefer a more multi-dimensional approach, employing at least
                      > two such factors,
                      > * The divinity (or not) of Jesus [Christology]
                      > * What is required for salvation? (Soteriology]
                      > My mentor on these subjects is the patristic scholar Thomas Kopecek
                      > who, in an unpublished manuscript, wrote,
                      > We need to stress that during the first three centuries of the Jesus
                      > movement the Christologies taught by its various groups were
                      > remarkably different.
                      > From this perspective, your polar scale proposal makes little sense.
                      >
                      > If my rant is off-target, please clarify.
                      >
                      > Bob Schacht
                      > Northern Arizona University
                      >
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