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[gthomas] Passion of Jesus and GOT (was: Jew/Xn Liturgical Pass Narr)

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    Friends, The following incisive analysis was posted by Tom to Xtalk list, and I thought that this may be quite relevant to GOT as well. GOT scholars often
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 31, 2000
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      Friends,

      The following incisive analysis was posted by Tom to Xtalk list, and I
      thought that this may be quite relevant to GOT as well.

      GOT scholars often remark about how GOT does not focus on Jesus' suffering
      and death at all, which is true. But what is the explanation of this
      phenomenon? Can we really be justified in interpreting this seeming
      neglect of the Passion of Jesus in GOT as a sign that Jesus and his
      followers were non-apocalyptic Gentile philosophers? As this argument
      goes, since evidence exists that GOT preserves some very early historical
      traditions, and since this tradition is not interested in the Passion,
      from this it follows that Passion was not important for the earliest
      followers of Jesus. So this seems to distance Jesus from traditional
      Judaism, right?

      Well, Tom's evidence below seems to refute such reasoning quite
      convincingly. He draws some relevant parallels to the Didache, which is a
      very early Jewish-Christian source steeped in traditional Judaism. Also
      the pseudo-Clementines are considered to the same effect.

      In light of all this, the answer to our puzzle seems to be that the
      earliest Christians simply did not see the Passion and death of Jesus as
      something that had to be mourned, primarily. Rather it was seen as the
      moment of vindication, when God adopted Jesus as Son. These
      Jewish-Christians saw no conflict at all between the traditional
      Torah-observant Judaism, and seeing Jesus as the true prophet and
      wisdom-teacher who "alone is able to enlighten the souls of men".

      In other words, just because GOT is not interested in the Passion and
      suffering of Jesus, this does not make it in any way un-Jewish, or
      un-traditional-Jewish. And so there does not seem to be any serious
      objection to postulating earliest Jewish-Christianity as the background
      for the genesis of GOT.

      Indeed, there appears to be no serious conflict between Judaism and GOT,
      as these parallels between GOT and the Didache seem to indicate. Here then
      perhaps lies the explanation for why James has such a special role in GOT.

      The only thing that I would like to add to what Tom said is to underline
      the quartodeciman nature of both the early Jewish-Christianity, and of the
      earliest Christianity in general (Jn is believed to be a quartodeciman
      gospel). For quartodecimans, as is seen in Melito's Passover sermon, Jesus
      was primarily the Passover Lamb who offered himself as a sacrifice for his
      people. But the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb for the Jews was not the
      occasion to mourn, but the occasion to rejoice. So then the suffering and
      death of Jesus were not seen by quartodecimans as an occasion for sadness.

      Best wishes,

      Yuri.

      On Fri, 28 Jan 2000, Thomas A. Kopecek wrote:

      > But the little that I might label Jewish Christian does not focus on
      > Jesus' suffering and death at all.
      >
      > For instance, I'd probably be willing to call our first extant peek
      > outside of the NT at a Christian liturgy--in Didache 9-10 and
      > 14--"Jewish Christian" in tone. Christian sacrifice in the Didache
      > (14) and elsewhere in the Apostolic Fathers is the "pure sacrifice" of
      > Malachi 1:14b, seemingly a sacrifice of giving thanks. The Didache
      > doesn't ever mention Jesus' death, though it makes much of wine and
      > bread in an eschatological context (but see below on wine).
      >
      > The best way into Ebionite Christianity may be, of course, the sources
      > of the fourth century Pseudo-Clementina, a set of documents which are,
      > unfortunately, a historical-critical "black hole." With that said, let
      > me tip-toe in where angels have better sense (roughly following the
      > classic source critical work of H-J Schoeps and Georg Strecker)
      >
      > These "Ebionite" sources portray a form of, perhaps, 2nd cent
      > Christianity that, like the Didache, makes nothing whatsoever (that I
      > can see) of Jesus' death. Until Jesus comes again on the clouds of
      > heaven, his religious meaning appears to be as the "true prophet" who
      > brought "enlightenment" and "certainty." This can be illustrated by
      > three quotations in Pseudo-Clement, Recognitions 1:19:
      >
      > (1) ". . . (the true prophet) alone is able to enlighten the souls of
      > men, so that with our own eyes we may be able to see the way of
      > eternal salvation"; (2) ". . . the whole business of religion needed a
      > true prophet that he might tell us things that are, as they are, and
      > how we must believe concerning all things"; (3) "therefore, before all
      > things it is necessary to seek after the true prophet, because without
      > him it is impossible that any certainty can come to men."
      >
      > While this "Ebionite" Christianity affirmed (a) that Jesus was enabled
      > by God to know all things, past, present, and future (Pseudo-Clement,
      > Homilies 2:6, Recognitions 1:16 and 1:21), and (b) that "the following
      > is peculiar to the prophet, namely, to declare the truth, even as it
      > is peculiar to the sun to bring the day" (Pseudo-Clement, Homilies
      > 2:6), the most central content of the true prophet's saving teaching
      > was expressed as follows:
      >
      > "This is his doctrine and true proclamation, that there is one God,
      > whose work the world is, who, being altogether righteous, shall
      > certainly at some time render to every one according to his deeds."
      > (Pseudo-Clement, Homilies 2:6 and Recognitions 1:25)
      >
      > (It sounds a bit like Ben Franklin describing his Deism in contrast to
      > the Calvinism in which he had been raised--and had renounced.)
      >
      > And the "Ebionites" didn't even use wine in their Eucharists, which
      > they appear to have celebrated just once a year, at Passover time
      > (Epiphanius, Panarion 30:16:1); they used water and bread (Ibid., and
      > compare Irenaeus, Adv Haer 5:1:3: I vaguely recall some apocryphal NT
      > lit that talks about bread and water eucharists--Marcion too). No
      > symbolism of Jesus' death there. And for atonement for sin, it was
      > baptism, not the Eucharist, which did it.


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

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

      The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
      equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
    • Thomas A. Kopecek
      ... Hm. I guess I don t know what you mean by traditional Judaism. As far as I can tell, ALL forms of Judaism changed significantly after the fall of
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 2, 2000
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        Yuri Kuchinsky <yuku@...> wrote:

        > GOT scholars often remark about how GOT does not focus on Jesus' suffering
        > and death at all, which is true. But what is the explanation of this
        > phenomenon? Can we really be justified in interpreting this seeming
        > neglect of the Passion of Jesus in GOT as a sign that Jesus and his
        > followers were non-apocalyptic Gentile philosophers? As this argument
        > goes, since evidence exists that GOT preserves some very early historical
        > traditions, and since this tradition is not interested in the Passion,
        > from this it follows that Passion was not important for the earliest
        > followers of Jesus. So this seems to distance Jesus from traditional
        > Judaism, right?
        >
        > Well, Tom's evidence below seems to refute such reasoning quite
        > convincingly. He draws some relevant parallels to the Didache, which is a
        > very early Jewish-Christian source steeped in traditional Judaism. Also
        > the pseudo-Clementines are considered to the same effect.

        Hm. I guess I don't know what you mean by "traditional" Judaism. As far as I
        can tell, ALL forms of Judaism changed significantly after the fall of
        Jerusalem in 70 and even more so in 135. I'm willing to follow Audet,
        Danielou, and others in calling the Didache Jewish-Christian, but I don't
        quite know how it fits into what you mean by traditional Judaism. If
        traditional Judaism means obedience to Torah, is that explicitly promoted by
        the Didache? And the Pseudo-Clementines in passages that some of us think
        are Ebionite speak of "false" pericopes in the Jewish Bible, inspired by
        negative "female" prophecy: that doesn't sound traditional in the sense that
        the Mishnah is traditional.

        >
        > In light of all this, the answer to our puzzle seems to be that the
        > earliest Christians simply did not see the Passion and death of Jesus as
        > something that had to be mourned, primarily. Rather it was seen as the
        > moment of vindication, when God adopted Jesus as Son.

        Hold on a minute. I think a case can be made for Jesus becoming
        Messiah--maybe even Son of God--at his second coming, and certainly at his
        resurrection, but where's the evidence for this occurring during his passion
        and death?

        These
        > Jewish-Christians saw no conflict at all between the traditional
        > Torah-observant Judaism, and seeing Jesus as the true prophet and
        > wisdom-teacher who "alone is able to enlighten the souls of men".

        Again, the Ebionites thought much in the Jewish Bible simply was not
        revealed by God. That includes their Jesus being unwilling to eat the
        passover lamb (Epiphanius, Panarion 30:22), since he was a vegetarian: the
        Ebionites read Genesis 9:4 radically, claiming that meat-eating itself was
        not in accordance with God's will. That doesn't sound very traditional. And
        their John the Dipper didn't eat bugs but "cakes dipped in wild honey"
        (Epiphanius, Panarion 30:13).

        So where does this leave us?

        Tom


        --
        Thomas A. Kopecek, Ph.D.
        Professor of Religion and History
        Central College
        Pella, IA 50219
        email: kopecekt@...
      • Thomas A. Kopecek
        ... Hm. I guess I don t know what you mean by traditional Judaism. As far as I can tell, ALL forms of Judaism changed significantly after the fall of
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 2, 2000
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          Re: Passion of Jesus and GOT (was: Jew/Xn Liturgical Pass Narr) Yuri Kuchinsky <yuku@...> wrote:

          > GOT scholars often remark about how GOT does not focus on Jesus' suffering
          > and death at all, which is true. But what is the explanation of this
          > phenomenon? Can we really be justified in interpreting this seeming
          > neglect of the Passion of Jesus in GOT as a sign that Jesus and his
          > followers were non-apocalyptic Gentile philosophers? As this argument
          > goes, since evidence exists that GOT preserves some very early historical
          > traditions, and since this tradition is not interested in the Passion,
          > from this it follows that Passion was not important for the earliest
          > followers of Jesus. So this seems to distance Jesus from traditional
          > Judaism, right?
          >
          > Well, Tom's evidence below seems to refute such reasoning quite
          > convincingly. He draws some relevant parallels to the Didache, which is a
          > very early Jewish-Christian source steeped in traditional Judaism. Also
          > the pseudo-Clementines are considered to the same effect.

          Hm. I guess I don't know what you mean by "traditional" Judaism. As far as I
          can tell, ALL forms of Judaism changed significantly after the fall of
          Jerusalem in 70 and even more so in 135. I'm willing to follow Audet,
          Danielou, and others in calling the Didache Jewish-Christian, but I don't
          quite know how it fits into what you mean by traditional Judaism. If
          traditional Judaism means obedience to Torah, is that explicitly promoted by
          the Didache? And the Pseudo-Clementines in passages that some of us think
          are Ebionite speak of "false" pericopes in the Jewish Bible, inspired by
          negative "female" prophecy: that doesn't sound traditional in the sense that
          the Mishnah is traditional.

          >
          > In light of all this, the answer to our puzzle seems to be that the
          > earliest Christians simply did not see the Passion and death of Jesus as
          > something that had to be mourned, primarily. Rather it was seen as the
          > moment of vindication, when God adopted Jesus as Son.

          Hold on a minute. I think a case can be made for Jesus becoming
          Messiah--maybe even Son of God--at his second coming, and certainly at his
          resurrection, but where's the evidence for this occurring during his passion
          and death?

          These
          > Jewish-Christians saw no conflict at all between the traditional
          > Torah-observant Judaism, and seeing Jesus as the true prophet and
          > wisdom-teacher who "alone is able to enlighten the souls of men".

          Again, the Ebionites thought much in the Jewish Bible simply was not
          revealed by God. That includes their Jesus being unwilling to eat the
          passover lamb (Epiphanius, Panarion 30:22), since he was a vegetarian: the
          Ebionites read Genesis 9:4 radically, claiming that meat-eating itself was
          not in accordance with God's will. That doesn't sound very traditional. And
          their John the Dipper didn't eat bugs but "cakes dipped in wild honey"
          (Epiphanius, Panarion 30:13).

          So where does this leave us?

          Tom


          --
          Thomas A. Kopecek, Ph.D.
          Professor of Religion and History
          Central College
          Pella, IA 50219
          email: kopecekt@...
        • Jeffrey B. Gibson
          I sent this to the List a few days ago (as well as to Tom K. and Yuri, but so far as I can tell it never made it through (nor did I ever receive any off list
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 2, 2000
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            I sent this to the List a few days ago (as well as to Tom K. and Yuri,
            but so far as I can tell it never made it through (nor did I ever
            receive any off list response from Yuri, though Tom seems to have used
            part of it as the basis for one of his posts). Apologies if it is, then,
            a double posting:

            *****

            In reference to a post to XTalk by Tom Kopecek, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

            > In light of all this, the answer to our puzzle seems to be that the
            > earliest Christians simply did not see the Passion and death of Jesus as
            > something that had to be mourned, primarily. Rather it was seen as the
            > moment of vindication, when God adopted Jesus as Son.

            I wonder if you haven't read into Tom's post what you already wanted to
            see since, as I
            read Tom's post and the exchanges that have led up to it, the issue is
            only whether
            there is any evidence regarding Jesus death being viewed as a sacrifice
            for sin? In any
            case, two questions:

            Can you give me a name of any scholar who says that the death of Jesus
            **was** viewed
            by early Christians primarily as something to be mourned?

            And what evidence do you have that in the early Church adoption and
            vindication were
            viewed as synonymous or simultaneous, as you seem to claim? Surely in
            the light of the
            texts around which the Synoptic passion narratives are framed, and/or to
            which they
            alludes -- i.e., Wisdom 2; Ps. 22 -- adoption to Sonship is viewed by
            significant
            elements within the early church as the presupposition, NOT the
            consequence, of
            vindication.

            Yours,

            Jeffrey
            --
            Jeffrey B. Gibson
            7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
            Chicago, Illinois 60626
            e-mail jgibson000@...
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