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Re: [gthomas] motivations

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  • Andrew Smith
    ... This really wasn t the point of re-posting Steve s letter. I wrote the above paragraph because Joe Lieb picked up on Steve s last sentence in the post and
    Message 1 of 15 , Aug 3, 2000
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      on 8/3/00 8:18 AM, Yuri Kuchinsky at yuku@... wrote:

      >
      > In gthomas@egroups.com, on Aug 1, 2000, Andrew Smith wrote (in reply to
      > joe lieb):
      >
      >> Steve (Davies) is referring to modern scholarship, not to a general
      >> view of Jesus. I understand him to be saying that the tendency in
      >> modern HJ research to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus is due to an
      >> element of political correctness, which is understandable in the
      >> post-Holocaust world, but which isn't really confirmed by the sources.
      >> It's arguable, but I find this model quite useful.
      >
      > The problem with this line of argument, Andrew, is that it leaves the area
      > of objective historical scholarship, and begins to focus on personal
      > presuppositions and motivations. But this is pure speculation.
      >

      This really wasn't the point of re-posting Steve's letter. I wrote the above
      paragraph because Joe Lieb picked up on Steve's last sentence in the post
      and started to run away with it. Additonally, my post may have added to the
      confusion: when I wrote "this model" I wasn't referring to this view of
      modern scholarship, but the model of Christianity being anomian or
      antinomian in the earliest sources.

      > Is there really a big tendency in modern HJ research to emphasize the
      > Jewishness of Jesus? Maybe, maybe not. But was there a tendency in
      > ancient HJ research to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus? There surely
      > was.

      Are Matthew and Luke trying to research the historical Jesus? Luke maybe.

      >
      > Mt 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the
      > Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
      >
      > Lk 16:17 "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the
      > least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law."
      >
      > So then I guess this nasty political correctness business was already
      > quite a problem 1900 years ago?

      This was one of Steve's good points, which you are confirming here:-

      > 3. The presentation of Jesus as a man concerned with the Judean
      > Law in a postitive sense changes in a remarkably straight-line
      > way from the earliest sources, which advocate freedom from the
      > Law (Paul), to intermediate sources that by no means give Jesus
      > anything like a clear positive pro-Torah stance (Mark), to later
      > sources that do in fact present Jesus as a Torah teaching pharisaic
      > Judean (Matthew).
      >

      Anyway, back to the Gospel of Thomas.

      Andrew Smith
    • William Arnal
      ... It s no more (or less) pure speculation than redaction criticism. It s a reasonable area of scholarly inquiry: historiography and its various tendency at
      Message 2 of 15 , Aug 3, 2000
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        At 11:18 AM 8/3/00 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

        >The problem with this line of argument, Andrew, is that it leaves the area
        >of objective historical scholarship, and begins to focus on personal
        >presuppositions and motivations. But this is pure speculation.

        It's no more (or less) "pure speculation" than redaction criticism. It's a
        reasonable area of scholarly inquiry: historiography and its various
        tendency at various times and places. Schweitzer's book, for instance,
        advanced the field of historical Jesus scholarship immensely by focusing on
        precisely this. And several modern scholars (Sean Freyne is an excellent
        example) freely admit that contemporary issues (in Freyne's case, the
        Holocaust) do figure into their scholarship. Also: "personal" here is a
        little misleading. No one is claiming that scholar "x" believes "y" about
        the historical Jesus because of the way his parents potty-trained him, or
        some such thing. The issue is historic intellectual currents and their
        manifestation in biblical studies (as elsewhere). Moreover, while the
        accusation of bias certainly does not in itself disprove any hypothesis
        (actual direct evidence is needed for that), observing bias may tell us
        something useful about why some hypotheses are defended so vigorously, or
        why they are maintained even when the evidence for them is very weak.

        >Is there really a big tendency in modern HJ research to emphasize the
        >Jewishness of Jesus? Maybe, maybe not. But was there a tendency in
        >ancient HJ research to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus? There surely
        >was.

        The ancient tendency to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus could be just as,
        well, tendentious as the modern tendency. And there is in fact an opposite
        ancient tendency, i.e., to repudiate or at least minimize the Jewishness
        (whatever that means) of Jesus.

        >So then I guess this nasty political correctness business was already
        >quite a problem 1900 years ago?

        That's gratuitous. The issue is not "political correctness," it's agenda.
        The agenda which drive some aspects of the presentation of Jesus today are
        certainly not those that drove the evangelists, but that needn't prevent the
        results from being similar.

        Bill
        __________________________________
        William Arnal wea1@...
        Religion/Classics New York University

        Is there an ursine proclivity for sylvan defecation?
      • Yuri Kuchinsky
        ... Andrew, But one can argue that this is how Matthew and Luke really imagined the Historical Jesus to have been. So do you really think the way they came up
        Message 3 of 15 , Aug 4, 2000
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          On Thu, 3 Aug 2000, Andrew Smith wrote:
          > on 8/3/00 8:18 AM, Yuri Kuchinsky at yuku@... wrote:

          ...

          > > Is there really a big tendency in modern HJ research to emphasize the
          > > Jewishness of Jesus? Maybe, maybe not. But was there a tendency in
          > > ancient HJ research to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus? There surely
          > > was.
          >
          > Are Matthew and Luke trying to research the historical Jesus? Luke
          > maybe.

          Andrew,

          But one can argue that this is how Matthew and Luke really imagined the
          Historical Jesus to have been. So do you really think the way they came up
          with their picture of Jesus was so radically different from the ways our
          modern scholars come up with their own pictures of Jesus? Because in both
          cases personal presuppositions may play their roles.

          > > Mt 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the
          > > Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
          > >
          > > Lk 16:17 "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the
          > > least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law."
          > >
          > > So then I guess this nasty political correctness business was already
          > > quite a problem 1900 years ago?
          >
          > This was one of Steve's good points, which you are confirming here:-

          [Steve:]
          > > 3. The presentation of Jesus as a man concerned with the Judean
          > > Law in a postitive sense changes in a remarkably straight-line
          > > way from the earliest sources, which advocate freedom from the
          > > Law (Paul), to intermediate sources that by no means give Jesus
          > > anything like a clear positive pro-Torah stance (Mark), to later
          > > sources that do in fact present Jesus as a Torah teaching pharisaic
          > > Judean (Matthew).

          So please observe the personal presuppositions in the above snippet of
          Steve's. According to him, the "earliest sources" (Paul) advocate "freedom
          from the Law". But how can we be sure that everything in Paul was really
          written by Paul? A presupposition that is certainly questionable, although
          almost never questioned.

          Next, according to him, "intermediate sources" (Mark) "by no means give
          Jesus anything like a clear positive pro-Torah stance". But how can we be
          sure that Mk is really so early in its entirety? A presupposition that is
          rather doubtful.

          I have addressed this whole issue before on this list in more detail.
          Here's that article,

          GOT and its historical context (3/15/2000),
          http://www.egroups.com/message/gthomas/2436

          And here's a relevant exerpt,

          [quote]

          Is it possible that Jesus was un-apocalyptic, and then his followers
          became apocalyptic? This is how Crossan would like to see things. But I
          think it's a lot more natural to see the source of un-apocalypticism in
          the years much after 70, as the Messianic expectations were being
          inevitably disappointed. The movement would have been looking for a new
          focus then, and gnosticism would have seemed like a good one.

          So what are the early daters really saying? They would like HJ to be
          un-apocalyptic laid-back social worker, I suppose, maybe even mostly
          secular-minded? ...

          So, all right, Jesus was un-apocalyptic, but then for some reason his
          followers all went astray and became apocalyptic? All except one, that is,
          by the name of Didymus Judas Thomas, who managed to preserve the "original
          teachings" in some "little pocket" of society, until that too vanished
          (except for what little managed to trickle into the sands of Nag Hammadi
          for us to discover, to be sure).

          If we suppose that all his followers went astray and became OT-oriented
          and apocalyptic all of a sudden, then this must have happened before 70,
          right? But I thought that according to Crossan we have the Gentiles taking
          over the Jesus movement before 70 in a big hurry? Sure seems like there
          are some problems with this scenario somehow? One may indeed wonder how
          could back-to-the-Torah movement be happening at the same time as the
          let's-dump-the-Torah movement..

          [unquote]

          And now I will also add a clarification to what I wrote back in March. The
          purpose of that post was to argue that all NT materials, as well as GOT
          should be dated later rather than earlier. Because I concluded then as
          follows,

          "In my view, GOT had a similar history to that of the synoptic gospels,
          i.e. it was a work-in-progress for perhaps 100 years from 50 to 150."

          So while as compared to most commentators I tend to date _everything_
          later, at the same time, if one wishes to date GOT vis-a-vis the
          Synoptics, then clearly from the redactional standpoint GOT precedes much
          of the Synoptic sayings materials. And also, in my view, chronologically
          GOT precedes a lot of stuff that is now found in Mk.

          Regards,

          Yuri.

          Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

          "Genuine ignorance is ... profitable because it is likely to be
          accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability
          to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the
          conceit of learning, and coats the mind with varnish water-proof to new
          ideas" -- John Dewey
        • Yuri Kuchinsky
          ... Sure, Bill, presuppositions and motivations do enter into scholarly reconstructions in a big way. ... Yes, intellectual currents are also important. But if
          Message 4 of 15 , Aug 4, 2000
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            On Thu, 3 Aug 2000, William Arnal wrote:
            > At 11:18 AM 8/3/00 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
            >
            > >The problem with this line of argument, Andrew, is that it leaves the area
            > >of objective historical scholarship, and begins to focus on personal
            > >presuppositions and motivations. But this is pure speculation.
            >
            > It's no more (or less) "pure speculation" than redaction criticism.
            > It's a reasonable area of scholarly inquiry: historiography and its
            > various tendency at various times and places. Schweitzer's book, for
            > instance, advanced the field of historical Jesus scholarship immensely
            > by focusing on precisely this. And several modern scholars (Sean
            > Freyne is an excellent example) freely admit that contemporary issues
            > (in Freyne's case, the Holocaust) do figure into their scholarship.

            Sure, Bill, presuppositions and motivations do enter into scholarly
            reconstructions in a big way.

            > Also: "personal" here is a little misleading. No one is claiming that
            > scholar "x" believes "y" about the historical Jesus because of the way
            > his parents potty-trained him, or some such thing. The issue is
            > historic intellectual currents and their manifestation in biblical
            > studies (as elsewhere). Moreover, while the accusation of bias
            > certainly does not in itself disprove any hypothesis (actual direct
            > evidence is needed for that), observing bias may tell us something
            > useful about why some hypotheses are defended so vigorously, or why
            > they are maintained even when the evidence for them is very weak.

            Yes, intellectual currents are also important.

            But if one begins to deal with such things, then those raising such issues
            should _also_ expect their own presuppositions and motivations to be fair
            game for some close scrutiny. Isn't this only fair?

            I did follow the recent email conference with Crossan, and I recall that
            he complained quite a lot about those who try to focus on _his_
            presuppositions and motivations. So obviously, this is not the thing that
            he welcomes too much. That's why I expressed the view that since,
            generally, it's a sword that can cut both ways, perhaps such lines of
            reasoning should be avoided, because they can easily degenerate into
            personal exchanges.

            > >Is there really a big tendency in modern HJ research to emphasize the
            > >Jewishness of Jesus? Maybe, maybe not. But was there a tendency in
            > >ancient HJ research to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus? There surely
            > >was.
            >
            > The ancient tendency to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus could be
            > just as, well, tendentious as the modern tendency.

            Sure!

            > And there is in fact an opposite ancient tendency, i.e., to repudiate
            > or at least minimize the Jewishness (whatever that means) of Jesus.

            Of course. The question is which came first? See my previous reply to
            Andrew.

            > >So then I guess this nasty political correctness business was already
            > >quite a problem 1900 years ago?
            >
            > That's gratuitous. The issue is not "political correctness," it's
            > agenda. The agenda which drive some aspects of the presentation of
            > Jesus today are certainly not those that drove the evangelists, but
            > that needn't prevent the results from being similar.

            Yes, and again I agree. Indeed, it's all about the agendas. So suppose we
            now focus on the agendas which drive some aspects of the presentation of
            Jesus today? It was Steve's repost that brought out the bugaboo of
            "political correctness". OK, fine. So then I will ask in turn, who are the
            people who are usually known as "anti-PC" today? It's the right-wing
            yahoos like Rush, Jerry Fallwell, etc. Some of them, to be sure, with a
            discernible air of anti-semitism hanging about them. So which of these two
            camps would I rather find myself in?

            Remember what I already said about those raising such issues? That they
            should also expect their own presuppositions to be fair game?

            Regards,

            Yuri.

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

            Open biblical history list http://www.egroups.com/group/loisy - loisy-l

            To subscribe to loisy-l, send blank email to loisy-subscribe@...

            The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
            equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
          • Andrew Smith
            ... Yes, of course it was radically different! Are you suggesting that Matthew and Luke were critical scholars in the modern fashion? ... Paul s attitude to
            Message 5 of 15 , Aug 4, 2000
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              >
              > Andrew,
              >
              > But one can argue that this is how Matthew and Luke really imagined the
              > Historical Jesus to have been. So do you really think the way they came up
              > with their picture of Jesus was so radically different from the ways our
              > modern scholars come up with their own pictures of Jesus? Because in both
              > cases personal presuppositions may play their roles.
              >

              Yes, of course it was radically different! Are you suggesting that Matthew
              and Luke were critical scholars in the modern fashion?

              > So please observe the personal presuppositions in the above snippet of
              > Steve's. According to him, the "earliest sources" (Paul) advocate "freedom
              > from the Law". But how can we be sure that everything in Paul was really
              > written by Paul? A presupposition that is certainly questionable, although
              > almost never questioned.
              >

              Paul's attitude to the law isn't a personal presupposition of Steve, it's
              the general consensus of modern scholarship. He's simply taking the standard
              datings of the gospels and epistles and showing that they point to quite a
              different model of early Christianity. And nobody thinks that everything in
              the Pauline letters was written by Paul.

              <snipped>
              >One may indeed wonder how
              >could back-to-the-Torah movement be happening at the same time as the
              >let's-dump-the-Torah movement..

              If it began with anomian or antinomian elements this isn't such a problem.
              Some parts of the movement maintain the original attitude, other parts slip
              back into nomian Judaism.

              <rest snipped>

              I'm sorry that I haven't got time to address all of your points, except to
              mention that Thomas does have an apocalyptic *protology* .

              What makes your posts so difficult, Yuri, is that you argue so broadly using
              phrases like "It's my opinion that", "in my view", etc. and so you end up
              not arguing but just asserting. You very rarely ground anything in a
              specificic piece of text or a critical observation, so your theories are
              seldom taken seriously, especially since you are working uphill with most of
              them.

              Best Wishes

              Andrew Smith
            • Jacob Knee
              For those who are interested Eerdmans theological publishers seem to have activated their web site at www.eerdmans.com Best wishes, Jacob Knee (Cam,
              Message 6 of 15 , Aug 5, 2000
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                For those who are interested Eerdmans theological publishers seem to have
                'activated' their web site at www.eerdmans.com

                Best wishes,
                Jacob Knee
                (Cam, Gloucestershire)
              • Yuri Kuchinsky
                ... But who said anything about critical scholars , Andrew? Exactly how many of today s scholars are critical scholars still remains to be determined. In my
                Message 7 of 15 , Aug 6, 2000
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                  On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Andrew Smith wrote:

                  > > Andrew,
                  > >
                  > > But one can argue that this is how Matthew and Luke really imagined the
                  > > Historical Jesus to have been. So do you really think the way they came up
                  > > with their picture of Jesus was so radically different from the ways our
                  > > modern scholars come up with their own pictures of Jesus? Because in both
                  > > cases personal presuppositions may play their roles.
                  >
                  > Yes, of course it was radically different! Are you suggesting that
                  > Matthew and Luke were critical scholars in the modern fashion?

                  But who said anything about "critical scholars", Andrew?

                  Exactly how many of today's scholars are critical scholars still remains
                  to be determined. In my view, there're not enough.

                  > > So please observe the personal presuppositions in the above snippet of
                  > > Steve's. According to him, the "earliest sources" (Paul) advocate "freedom
                  > > from the Law". But how can we be sure that everything in Paul was really
                  > > written by Paul? A presupposition that is certainly questionable, although
                  > > almost never questioned.
                  >
                  > Paul's attitude to the law isn't a personal presupposition of Steve,
                  > it's the general consensus of modern scholarship. He's simply taking
                  > the standard datings of the gospels and epistles

                  And now you don't really seem like a truly critical scholar yourself...

                  > and showing that they point to quite a different model of early
                  > Christianity. And nobody thinks that everything in the Pauline
                  > letters was written by Paul.
                  >
                  > <snipped>
                  > >One may indeed wonder how
                  > >could back-to-the-Torah movement be happening at the same time as the
                  > >let's-dump-the-Torah movement..
                  >
                  > If it began with anomian or antinomian elements

                  But I've examined this assumption already and found it lacking.

                  > this isn't such a problem. Some parts of the movement maintain the
                  > original attitude, other parts slip back into nomian Judaism.

                  So you're suggesting now that the "anomian or antinomian elements" split
                  off early, and that the rest of the movement became nomian before 70? But
                  then you have a problem because according to Crossan et al the rest of the
                  movement became _anomian_ before 70 as is witnessed by Mk. Thus,
                  persistence in dating Mk early creates serious problems for a critical
                  scholar. In actual fact, a lot of Mk seems late.

                  Thus, your objection had already been answered. The incongruity is still
                  there.

                  > I'm sorry that I haven't got time to address all of your points,
                  > except to mention that Thomas does have an apocalyptic *protology* .

                  So this supports my point of view?

                  > What makes your posts so difficult, Yuri, is that you argue so broadly
                  > using phrases like "It's my opinion that", "in my view", etc. and so
                  > you end up not arguing but just asserting. You very rarely ground
                  > anything in a specificic piece of text or a critical observation, so
                  > your theories are seldom taken seriously, especially since you are
                  > working uphill with most of them.

                  But I think my theories are seldom taken seriously because, in order to
                  take them seriously, great many scholars would have to stop taking so much
                  of their own previous work seriously...

                  Yours,

                  Yuri.

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

                  Open biblical history list http://www.egroups.com/group/loisy - loisy-l

                  To subscribe to loisy-l, send blank email to loisy-subscribe@...

                  I doubt, therefore I might be.
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