[gthomas] Re: Where's the beef?
- Mike wrote:
> But let me introduce a piece of evidence which or may not be helpful toActually, if you read my letter with great care, you'll see
> your case. We have a letter from Pliny describing the Christian service in
> his area of the world at the time. The service consisted of three parts, in
> 1. Hymns of praise
> 2. Pledges of ethical behavior
> 3. Communal meal
> What you seem to have here are three "parts" of Jesus, or three aspects of
> the movement, or three Jesuses (and how many times am I gonna get to use
> *that* word?), however you want to put it. But did these parts coalesce, or
> were they all there from the beginning? As I understand it, your grounds
> for starting with separate parts (as opposed to separate aspects of a
> single movement) is that if text A talks just about the A-aspect of Jesus,
> then that's all that the author of A *knew* about. Why not say that that's
> all that the author of A *cared* about?
that I think that the "separate parts" business did happen, with
Paul focusing in on the die/rise bit, John into the Revealer bit,
and Hebrews into the Heavenly Temple Sacrifice bit. Otherwise,
as I said, I have a great many more Jesuses than I know what
to do with. You, though, still haven't helped me get from the
proverbs-parables talker about a kind of Maoist social order
who was born a carpenter in Galilee to those others. You still
leave me with a pre-Paul group of the followers of that Talker
who thought HJ died to get rid of Torah and that HJ created
the Universe so that Paul could just pick those bits out and
ignore all the stuff that put the group together in the first place.
This puzzles me.
> ... given that there was an earlier movement, what was theSteve:
> nature of it? ISTM that it's more likely to have been a John-the-Baptist
> movement than an Odes-of-Solomon "movement" (that latter seeming to me
> oxymoronish). So what evidence favors the latter over the former?
> ... Presumably JB is connected to the CT tradition.Because I imagine that an active attempt to spread the ideas of group out
> The Odes are indeed a "movement" in the sense of a group actively
> engaged in asceticism and ritual and hymnody. Why oxymoronish?
beyond its own borders requires some hard-headed organization and planning,
and the Odes strikes me as being quite antithetical to that. What I see
there is an individualistic revelation, and while you can have those within
an organization's corpus, they can't very easily serve as formative or
representative texts of a "movement". By way of comparison, I'd call
Gnosticism (whose corpus is filled with just such individualistic
revelations) a school of thought, rather than a movement. The definition of
'movement' evidently requires an organized outreaching to non-members -
i.e., missionary or conversion activities - but that seems quite foreign to
the Odist's frame of mind. Hence the felt oddity about describing a group
of Odists as a "movement".
What about "a group actively engaged in" whatever intra-group behaviors? If
that's all they do, it doesn't sound like much of a "movement" to me.
(p.s.: 'oxymoronish' is a word of my own (unconscious) creation, but like
many such made-up "words", it has a certain grammatical logic to it. Anyone
who insists that it be corrected to 'oxymoronic' is moronish.)
- At 05:52 PM 7/26/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:
>Now in a very general sense the Odes of Solomon testify to such aI having some difficulty understanding your characterization
>Christianity. It's got a savior coming into the world taking on human
>form getting (seemingly) persecuted to
>death. This is the Christ the Son of God --- human beings may put Christ
>on as a garment and become Sons of God and ascend through the
>I can hear Stephen Carlson saying "And that's just why the Odes are
>His objection presupposes the standard model "From one thing
>an entirely unrelated second thing arose for no known reason"
>while the model I'm working on presupposes "From two entirely
>unrelated things there came to be one thing combining the two."
of my objection. My objection is not that the Odes is "an
entirely unrelated second thing." That appears to be your
position, which, if I were actually to agree with it, I would
not make the objection.
No, my objection is that when a work such as the Odes uses imagery
in a distinctly Christian combination (some elements of which
appear in a later developed Mariology), there is no reasonable
basis to assume that the Odes are not influenced by Christianity,
in any of its varieties.
In fact, I would go on to say anyone who thinks that the Odes
are entirely unrelated to Christianity is being influenced by an
orthodoxy bias in thinking that the only Christianity at the time
was orthodox Christianity. Although such an assumption would make
Irenaeus proud, surely the "standard model" among modern scholars
does not adopt this position.
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
- At 05:52 PM 7/26/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:
>> The recent constructs I have in mind are (1) that there was a pre-existingWell, then, I'll deal with the second quickly -- I don't and didn't actually
>> pantocrator movement onto which Yeshuines grafted the historical figure of
>> Jesus, and (2) that "Jesus" is a fictional character deriving from the
>> (supposedly) historical Jesus of Ananus.
>I'll worry about the first only.
say this: I think (with Davies) that there was a real human being named
"Jesus" behind the sayings tradition (or something), but that, as long as
we're considering conflation theories, I see no reason NOT to speculate that
Mark's portrait of Jesus has taken over elements from the story of Jesus b.
>That doesn't work for me. So actually rather than "no Jesus"Part of the problem with THIS particular method is that Bill Arnal is
>I've got two of them. One of them, HJ if you like, is whatever Bill Arnal
>says he was, based on the CT material.
clueless about who the historical Jesus might have been. I feel pretty
comfortable describing the CT, but not comfortable at ALL trying to infer
from Jesus from it. And part of the problem HERE is that there's a whole
bunch of stuff that gets linked to the CT -- miracles, controversies, etc.
-- that, on the one hand, are clearly NOT all that linked to or derived from
pre-Pauline tradition, but on the other hand, and contra Mack, do not seem
derivable from the CT either. I'm somewhat more inclined to find the
historical Jesus (who DOES, nonetheless, serve as the figure that teh CT
gets attached to) in this wacko stuff.
>Last I heard he was a counterculturalwisdomcynic. Whatever.No, the characterization that *I* REALLY liked was "Maoist." Let's go with
that. But again, I'm talking about the CT, and not Jesus himself.
>Josephus? As Bill? mentioned earlier, all you need do is ask yourselfDamn right.
>where Josephus got his information. Of course he got it from Christians
>(they being the only humans on earth who cared one hoot AND who
>would give a positive report about him).
>Josephus is no more independent evidence for HJ than Mark is.
>Remember that the standard model asserts that the Q JesusRight. And this is a silly closed-ness of vision. We somehow feel the need
>(Meier, more or less) or the Q1 Jesus (Crossan, more or less)
>instigated a movement that HISTORICALLY CAUSED there to
>be a Paul etc. movement which they admit has almost nothing
>to do with the originating factor.
to work with a singular and linear model of the development of Christianity
-- how can I put this? It's as though the only way to explain Xian
development "b" is in terms of earlier Xian development "a." But this is
never how things work in the real world. The best example I can think of
(but probably not a great example for this list) is Louis Althusser. The
guy's a Marxist. So, you can read his stuff and try to interpret it in terms
of developments within Marxism -- but can you get from Marx and Engels to
Louis Althusser just by thinking about it? I doubt it very much. OR, you can
say, here's a dude who, yes, was a Marxist, but who was profoundly
influenced especially by Spinoza and by Jacques Lacan. And his weird Marxism
is ONLY an intelligible development in light of those influences. Or again
-- a less clear but maybe more familiar example -- anti-semitism in NT
studies has diminished considerably in the last three decades. Is this
because NT scholars, wholly isolated from the world around them, suddenly
decided that anti-semitic presuppositions were historically distorting? Or
is it because a new generation of scholars, educated after WW2, came to the
fore? You can guess what *I* think.
The point here is not necessarily that Xianity NEEDS to be
understood as a conflation of Odes stuff + CT stuff; I'll reserve judgement
on that for a while, I think. BUT there's nothing unreasonable about such a
claim, and the main objections to it seem to stem primarily from an
unrealistic notion of the growth and development of "movements" as somehow
shut off from "external" factors, and as developing wholly in terms of their
own internal logic.
William Arnal wea1@...
Religion/Classics check out my web page, at:
New York University http://pages.nyu.edu/~wea1/
> From: "Stephen C. Carlson"I was thinking just last night that there once was a standard model
> No, my objection is that when a work such as the Odes uses imagery
> in a distinctly Christian combination (some elements of which
> appear in a later developed Mariology), there is no reasonable
> basis to assume that the Odes are not influenced by Christianity,
> in any of its varieties.
> In fact, I would go on to say anyone who thinks that the Odes
> are entirely unrelated to Christianity is being influenced by an
> orthodoxy bias in thinking that the only Christianity at the time
> was orthodox Christianity. Although such an assumption would make
> Irenaeus proud, surely the "standard model" among modern scholars
> does not adopt this position.
more or less going back to Irenaeus that took it as established
that Gnosticism arose from Christianity and that all Gnostic
texts were produced by nonorthodox Christians. There still may
be some who hold to this position (I dimly remember Jim Davila
arguing for it (or at least against the possibility of any Jewish
Gnosticism)). But the prevailing view today is nothing more or
less than a coalescence model. There was a Gnostic religion
and a Christian religion and the two gradually coalesced into
the movement that produced the Christian Gnostic texts. So it
certainly can be that a standard one-origin-then-diversity
model can be replaced by a dual-origin-then-coalescence model.
The question is whether texts that have
elements that are also elements found in Christian texts
(all of those by definition were written by people who are historically
connected with the movement that began with Jesus of
Nazareth ca. 28 AD) are NECESSARILY texts that
are Christian texts. I think your position is that they are.
My position is that there appears to be good reason
to think that there existed a religious movement
prior to the one that began with Jesus of Nazareth
ca. 28 AD, one that had elements that were later
absorbed into Christianity. I haven't got a good label for
it yet ("Odes religion" of course begs the question re: Odes),
but I'll call it (with Paul) the Church of God movement.
So bear with me... IF there was a Church of God movement
and that movement produced texts, how would we be
able to tell if such texts were or were not from the movement
that began with Jesus of Nazareth?
Wouldn't it be possible to suppose that such texts would
be identifiable by virtue of the fact that they contained
absolutely zero reference to Jesus of Nazareth or to any
historical events associated with Jesus of Nazareth?
I guess the answer is "no" because we might well be
dealing with a non-orthodox Christian texts arising from
a Christian group that had managed completely to delete
Jesus of Nazareth from its purview. And yet surely one cannot
rule out by hypothesis the possibility that such texts
originated within a group that existed prior to, or at least in
absolute ignorance of, Jesus of Nazareth.
The standard model posits
A) Semi-Pauline Christianity existed from Jerusalem
through Judea to Damascus (and Antioch?) prior to
ca. AD 35: the Churches of God.
B) Paul invented Pauline Christianity and incorrectly claimed
not to have done so. [Reasons to doubt this have been given
I'm not sure of the status of any question in Pauline studies,
but suspect that A) above is not an unusual position.
If we assume A) two possibilities exist.
1) The Churches of God arose from the activity of, or
reflections upon the activity of, Jesus of Nazareth.
This is the standard theory.
2) The Churches of God are unrelated to Jesus of Nazareth
but indeed did hold opinions that came into Christianity
through the instance of Paul and others.
This is the coalescence theory.
What I find disturbing in what you have written is that
as far as I can tell there can be no allowable textual
evidence to support the coalescence theory because
from the standard theory all Christian language arose
after 28 AD. Thus the Odes necessarily are (albeit
extremely nonorthodox) expressions of Christianity and
not Church of God religion. This is not, though, an appraisal
of the texts themselves but is an application of an historical
model to the texts. If we agree that this is the only possible
model, then your argument holds. But if there is another
possible model, then your argument does not speak against
it by virtue of insisting on the truth of the alternative model.
If I were to say that NOTHING in the Odes material is
attested in any other known Christian writing before 125 AD
except for vocabulary and motifs that are utilized quite
differently than they are in Christian writing (with the exception
of standard Jewish views regarding God, often taken from
the Psalms)... then the question would have to be raised:
"Did the Odes vocabulary and motifs, having arisen independently
of the Christian movement become modified
within the Christian movement (showing up, e.g. in John, Paul)
or are the Odes a very nonorthodox form of the Christian movement?"
I'm not sure, at present, that I can prove that the former is
the case and not the latter (although it strikes me as potentially
provable within the parameters of scholarship). But I do insist
that the question cannot be answered simply by the appeal
to the standard model.
- At 04:53 PM 7/27/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:
>The question is whether texts that haveThe word "NECESSARILY" does not accurately describe my position.
>elements that are also elements found in Christian texts
>(all of those by definition were written by people who are historically
>connected with the movement that began with Jesus of
>Nazareth ca. 28 AD) are NECESSARILY texts that
>are Christian texts. I think your position is that they are.
My position is that when you have a text that refers to the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit, when you have a that also refers to the
perpetual virginity of a virgin mother, when you have a text also
that mentions a Messiah (Christ), and when you have a text that
also refers a crucifixion and salvation, the burden of proof
shifts to the person claiming that it was not influenced by
Therefore, I think that you need to prove, not assume, that the
Odes of Solomon are not influenced by Christianity. Radiocarbon
dating before 28 of existing MSS is one acceptable proof.
>My position is that there appears to be good reasonI suspect that we do know of a religious movement prior to
>to think that there existed a religious movement
>prior to the one that began with Jesus of Nazareth
>ca. 28 AD, one that had elements that were later
>absorbed into Christianity. I haven't got a good label for
>it yet ("Odes religion" of course begs the question re: Odes),
>but I'll call it (with Paul) the Church of God movement.
>So bear with me... IF there was a Church of God movement
>and that movement produced texts, how would we be
>able to tell if such texts were or were not from the movement
>that began with Jesus of Nazareth?
the one that began with Jesus of Nazareth with elements later
absorbed into Christianity -- and that movement would be
the John the Baptist movement. Acts 19:1-7 virtually admits
as much. I don't know much about the texts of this movement,
but it is possible that the Mandaeans' own scriptures might
contain early enough portions.
>Wouldn't it be possible to suppose that such texts wouldYou mean a text like 3 John?
>be identifiable by virtue of the fact that they contained
>absolutely zero reference to Jesus of Nazareth or to any
>historical events associated with Jesus of Nazareth?
>I guess the answer is "no" because we might well beI think is better to deal with the probable rather than the
>dealing with a non-orthodox Christian texts arising from
>a Christian group that had managed completely to delete
>Jesus of Nazareth from its purview. And yet surely one cannot
>rule out by hypothesis the possibility that such texts
>originated within a group that existed prior to, or at least in
>absolute ignorance of, Jesus of Nazareth.
merely possible. Lots of things are possible; it does not
mean they actually happened. On balance, the evidence on
the Odes weighs in favor of Christian influence. That is
the probable position.
>What I find disturbing in what you have written is thatYou shouldn't be disturbed, because what you have written
>as far as I can tell there can be no allowable textual
>evidence to support the coalescence theory because
>from the standard theory all Christian language arose
>after 28 AD. Thus the Odes necessarily are (albeit
>extremely nonorthodox) expressions of Christianity and
>not Church of God religion. This is not, though, an appraisal
>of the texts themselves but is an application of an historical
>model to the texts. If we agree that this is the only possible
>model, then your argument holds. But if there is another
>possible model, then your argument does not speak against
>it by virtue of insisting on the truth of the alternative model.
is not my position. My position has been that the Odes,
based on their content, are presumptively (but not
necessarily, as you characterize it) influenced by
Christianity. You are prefectly free to actually produce
evidence rebutting that presumption. As for your
coalescence theory (as a theory, it is not inherently
implausible), there may well be evidence in favor of it,
but I wouldn't go looking in the Odes for it.
>I'm not sure, at present, that I can prove that the former isI don't think I have done so, see above.
>the case and not the latter (although it strikes me as potentially
>provable within the parameters of scholarship). But I do insist
>that the question cannot be answered simply by the appeal
>to the standard model.
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
- Steve has provoke me with his ideas about the Odes undermining the Standard
Model, so I will take the other side for the sake of giving him an
alternative. Among othe things he wrote --
<<The Odes, then, to conclude, are an example of one of two things. They
either exemplify very late first century Xianity where the Historical Jesus
in any sense whatsoever (speaker, healer, crucified) has vanished to the
ZERO point, or they exemplify early first century "pre-Paul-non-HJ-Xianity"
where the Historical Jesus hasn't yet been invented by coalescing the CT
sayings tradition with the Crucified Son tradition. >>
I like Steve's 2nd possibility. Now here is how it could fit the Standard
Jesus, in real life, taught the KoG in parables, spoke wisdom, debated, gave
halakhic views. He drew crowds. He also instituted a New Covenant consisting
of rituals for a few privileged granted access to his straight-and-narrow.
One of these was some kind of bonding / spiritual marriage. He taught a few
selected apostles to impart this also as his means disseminating the KoG.
After Jesus' death these Jesus-trained initiates experienced dreams and
sporadic visions about him, which are common bereavement events. Also, in
weekly meetings (prescribed by the New Cov) the friends believed that
Christ's pneuma spoke through their mouths. The Holy Spirit inspired hymns
and love ballads to him, etc.
(The very 1st prototype model for this behavior, which Xians naturally
followed, was the psalms and prophets. Very important to realize this. These
Xians, like David the psalmist, and like Isaiah, were alternating
speaking-parts between praise-givers and deity in the 1st person.)
So far, no "CT" has developed. People who'd actually heard Jesus speak in
real life didn't need one or care much about one. They entered ecstatic
possession-trances in which they imitated his voice, his aphoristic style
and his pet themes --. cf Acts 2.17, 1Co 14. 1Pe 4.11 -- in speaking.
Sometimes they mixed-in their recollections of his actual sayings.
Others, overhearing this, started writing-down the better-sounding
post-resurrection. sayings. Eventual result -- GoT, Dialogues of the
Savior and maybe other such pre-NHL source material.
Some of the early results of this early stage sound, to our ears, merely
quasi-Christian, because people were imitating HB psalmists and prophetic
models, and not synoptic vocabulary. Hence, Pauline Risen Lord, Pantokratur,
high Christology of Hebrews. (Occasionally the early Xians were even
channeling Bible heroes other than Jesus.) The all-important thing is that
they believed their pneuma experiences were sufficient. Jesus was vivid in
their imaginations. Some or many thought He would return soon anyway.
People felt no need for chronology of his life, authoritative utterances, or
even doctrinaire Christology. They really, really believed he was present
and acquired in Holy Spirit baptism.
Odes of Solomon came from this state of mind, was very early, and
psalms-imitative. Again, remember how the synoptics identify Jesus as the
voice behind David's psalms and of psalm-like Isaiah
Again, relatively little interest at this 30s stage went into collecting /
circulating actual Jesus sayings. (This is where I disagree most with modern
assumptions, which regard CT as all the rage.) Those persons who cared about
Jesus thought that his spiritual voice was inside them at the prayer
Moreover, *only* inner-circle apostles KNEW all of Jesus' teachings
accurately anyway. Think about about this please. Vast majority of
converts and followers recollected mere bits and pieces of HJ --
recollections which went no-where, really. The authenticity of their
remembrances was hard to "validate," if that even mattered. These
remembered Jesus- sayings were quite indistinguishable from the inspired
pneuma-imitations uttered at prayer meetings. See the problem? No CT was
possible, nor needed. People didn't create an oral tradition of CT sayings,
nor a Q-something either, as a prelude to gospels. Jesus' words and
quasi-words were in their hearts, and the agape feast "with him" was what
Next: The only scripture necessary to early Xians meetings, and the *only*
interest shown for scripture by anyone in these years, was towards the HB --
exegesis of which yielded signs and allusions to the messiah. (This exegesis
dates back to Jesus still alive. And it was the basis for all early
apostolic preaching, cf Acts and I Co 15.13) Prophecy fulfillement was the
tactical theme for persuading Jews/Gentiles alike.
Apart from this, you had only locally inspired psalms, hymns, maybe
apocalyptic utterance stenography
The movement's early appeal and reason for popularity was the combination
it's being a fad and novelty,
it's being a mystery religion,
its superiority to archaic and deservedly maligned paganism,
the psychological uplift it gave and--
its having all these provocative Hebrew scripture to back it up.
Throughout the 40s and early 50s the small apostolic group who *could*
recite and authenticate "CT" sayings fully -- especially Peter, James and
the Zebedees -- wrote little or nothing. Wisdomcynic Jesus was known *only*
to these very few people who had accompanied Jesus and the inner circle!!!
Think about it. How could anyone but a few day-by-day imtimates assimilate
all that sagacity? For most everyone else, Jesus was an invisible
mysteryinitiation theme park, period. The plethora of cosmic images merely
reflect good apostolic marketing.
Matthew had been recording-secretary. (It's inconceivable to me that no one
following Jesus would have written down his sayings during his life or soon
after, since they all agreed and acted as if he was establishing a new
covenant.). At some point Matthias wrote but he did not circulate a
sayings-list. Believers already 'have the mind of Christ' and enjoy him in
their lives. Perhaps on a limited basis, some evangelists, pastors and
apostles used Matthean logia as an inspirational source. cf I Peter and
Beginning with the late 40s / early 50s, as the movement grew, problems
arose that required more formally written explication. Paul discovered this
need when he saw that "Judaizers" were attempting to undo his conversions in
Asia Minor. Peter found the same farther north. Hellenistic docetic
Christians were speculating their brains out. Paul wrote corrective tracts
to various churches and he outlined christologies which were in synch with
James, Peter and the 1 remaining Zebedee. James' letter followed Paul's
supportively (containing non-attributed Jesus sayings he'd personally heard
his brother say).
Around the late 50s / early 60s, the Church shifted attention to Rome, after
Paul and Peter had been successfully christianizing Asia Minor for a
decade+. Everyone now focused on Paul's trial there, which would be a big
deal to all. While gathered in Rome, the surviving authorities -- Peter,
Paul, Luke, Matthew -- realized they needed a definitive work that would
preserve the sayings. It would also position the defendant Paul and the
Church as innocent, good folk, submissive citizens, and distinguish
Christianity from Judaism. The skillfully designed results were Mt. Mk,
later. Lk, and I Peter (following Paul's direction).
In sum there was no haphazard dependence whatsoever on a shaky
oral-tradition or on a pastiche called Q. Peter, Mark, Matthew and
eventually Luke took pains with their organized product. (cf. Papias) When
I say "took pains" I mean, for accuracy in *sayings* and to a lesser degree,
in episodes they wrote. Dramatizing of events achieved a valid theological
impact and extended the old sacred history by mixing-in HB prophecies.
Certain gospel content had to be re-cast appropriately (toned down) for
audiences by Peter (cf. Papias). Remember, this mystery religion consisted
of both "the many" and "the few," of those "outside" and those "within."
This NT allegorizing properly followed the Old Testament model.
Above all, the apostles had to explain to the world that they were
supplanting Judaism, and they wanted respect for themselves and their
A few sayings not spoken by Jesus in rea; life were nonetheless "spoken" by
him in spirit to these apostles' minds. Very little inauthentic Jesus stuff
is in Mark. Especially if you believe Jesus is alive inside you.
Within a few decades the Jesus tracts displaced the earlier
Pantokratur-spiritism etc found in the Odes.
Christians in the 80s 90s, being under lethal scrutiny, shifted their
interest away from endtimes ecstasy visions and more to stoic ethical
conduct, didache and contemplation of impending martyrdom.
Pre-60s literary works that remained in Judea wound-up in Mesopotamia and
eventually Alexandria. NHL retains more of the flavor of mystical
pre-synoptic Jesus worship.
I think the foregoing accounts pretty plausibly for the Odes within the
early church, and explains the connections between disparate christologies,
and where the wisdomcynic sayings fit.
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