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Fwd: Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies

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  • Bob Schacht
    I think Stevan meant this to go at least to GTh, and perhaps also ... Good! Thanks for your reply. I had written:(previous correspondence is in italics) ... It
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11, 2009
      I think Stevan meant this to go at least to GTh, and perhaps also
      XTalk, where I cross-posted my reply. He responded:

      >Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 16:27:14 -0000
      >From: "stevandavies" <stevandavies@...>
      >To: Bob Schacht <Bobschacht@...>
      >Subject: Re: [GTh] Skinner's Interview with Davies
      >Sender: notify@yahoogroups.com
      >Hi folks
      >I haven't done this sort of discussion for years, but here we go again.

      Good! Thanks for your reply.
      I had written:(previous correspondence is in italics)

      >To take just one bite of a large apple, Stevan wrote:
      > >...What we appear to have in Thomas is a collection of stuff of
      > >diverse sorts that lacks a fully coherent ideology that was compiled
      > >by people who themselves probably didn't think they fully understood
      > >it (saying 1). ...
      >Stevan writes elsewhere that the list genre should by all odds be
      >early, and I think he is right. So I would re-write his sentence above as
      >"What we appear to have in Thomas is a collection of stuff of diverse
      >sorts that lacks a fully coherent narrative that was compiled by
      >people who themselves probably didn't think they fully understood it
      >(saying 1). "
      >How does narrative become a synonym for ideology?

      It doesn't. My point was that I think that the word "narrative" in
      your statement makes more sense than "ideology," for reasons that I
      try to elucidate.

      > In my opinion people confronted with the sayings of Jesus early on
      > didn't know what to make of them.

      I agree.

      >Mark came up with the idea that to give them meaning they had to be
      >put into narrative context and so he did that. But what came first?
      >Did Mark have a desire to create an historical narrative so as to
      >denigrate the disciples (said denigration is an historical sort of
      >procedure) and the sayings were then brought in to supplement the
      >narrative, or was the idea of contextualizing the sayings first?
      >They aren't mutually exclusive, I guess.

      Our earliest witness, Paul, doesn't seem to care much what Jesus
      said, but instead emphasizes the central importance of the resurrection.

      Crossan and others may be right that a passion narrative may have
      been very early (he likes GPeter for this purpose), and that would
      provide a narrative context for Paul's emphasis on the resurrection.
      In fact, Paul's letters make more sense if a passion narrative
      already existed than the other way around. But I digress, because in
      the passion narrative, Jesus is more acclaimed for saying very
      little, than saying very much, according to the canonical Gospels.
      And Paul's silence about sayings in the context of the resurrection
      supports this conclusion.

      Actually, what I meant was that the most likely sequence of genre
      types begins with non-thematic sayings lists (GThomas) come before
      thematic groups of sayings lists (Q), followed by the narrative
      (Mark), as those interested in Jesus tried to make sense of his life.

      But now that you have jolted me into remembering the passion
      narrative issue, I think that the most credible sequence would start
      with bare bones information about what Jesus did, or what happened to
      Jesus (the Passion Narrative, Paul's emphasis on the centrality of
      the resurrection, and the Signs Gospel). But what these accounts of
      "deeds" lack is any explanatory context. Why would Pilate crucify
      Jesus? So now my thoughts are meandering in other directions.

      >But I mainly want to emphasize here the importance of narrative on
      >the text, and on the ideological consequences. Lacking a narrative
      >structure (except for the beginning and end), the sayings in GTH are
      >free to roam. Q is a list, but it is a partly narrativized list, so
      >the ideology in it is more important. That is, sayings that do not
      >conform to the (somewhat minimal) narrative are less likely to be included.
      >Or did the narrative-makers start with sayings and then construct a
      >narrative out of them. Imagine somebody determined to write the
      >biography of Lao Tzu (whom sinologists nowadays seem to agree is a
      >wholly fictional character). They (i.e. I) have an idea that Lao Tzu
      >was a librarian who got sick of court life and rode an ox off to the
      >west but at the border was asked to give his wisdom so he produced
      >the Tao Te Ching. So there's your life story of Lao Tzu in one
      >sentence and that's all the author knew, which is probably about as
      >much as Mark knew about Jesus' life story.

      But if that is all Lao Tzu did, why bother? Who cares?
      I am thinking now that the start has to be some remarkable event(s).
      And in our case, that seems to be the crucifixion and resurrection,
      and then the Signs.

      >I want to write a whole book and this is all I have, thinks Mark, so
      >I take the Tao Te Ching and start writing about the circumstances
      >under which Lao Tzu said his sayings. I can indeed pick the ones I
      >like, pick ones that strike me as having some sort of event
      >connected to them, throw out ones I can't use. I can make the
      >sayings mean what I think they mean.

      If what you're doing is writing a novel, that makes some sense. But
      that doesn't seem to be the market Mark has in mind. His purpose
      doesn't seem to be entertainment.

      >But with Mark, we have a full-blown narrative. And that forces Mark
      >to make decisions that list-makers are not bothered with: In order to
      >make his narrative coherent, he needs to make choices among his
      >material, probably discarding material that doesn't fit, and perhaps
      >inventing some material to cover up gaps in his narrative. And the
      >more coherent the narrative, the more it has a Point of View-- i.e.,
      >an ideology. And the more a Gospel has a Point of View, the more
      >likely there will be opposing Points of View.
      >Yes. But the Gospel of Mark is written to be an opposing point of
      >view to that of the disciples and family.

      Why should anyone care about that? IOW, who is Mark's audience, and
      what matters to them?

      >This was all to be in my book on the Gospel of Mark that I was going
      >to write years ago but it turned out that it was already written in
      >"Mark: Traditions in Conflict" by Ted Weeden. So Mark is an opposing
      >view to disciples and then Mt and Lk come along to be opposing views to Mark. S

      Sounds OK to me-- but we digress.

      >It's hard to have opposing views to Thomas because first you have to
      >create some sort of point of view for Thomas and then you have to
      >oppose the one you created. This is what the first generation of
      >Thomas scholars did, though. "Thomas is Gnostic!" "Gnostic is terrible!"

      Exactly. I agree. Although ISTM GThomas got tagged with some heresies
      early on (by Ignatius?) For the heresiologists, IIRC, all you had to
      have was one bone-headed statement, and that could be grounds for
      tossing out the whole thing, coherent or not.

      >GJohn, as usual, poses problems for any scheme of literary
      >development of the Gospels. I reject the argument of the Jesus
      >Seminar to marginalize GJohn because it differs so much from the
      >Synoptic gospels. GJohn seems to me, more than the other gospels, a
      >layered document, with what seems to me an early layer consisting of
      >a narrative based on the "Signs Gospel," and a later layer that
      >interleaves a bunch of sermons elaborating on the Gospel's Point of
      >View. But I digress.
      >I think GJohn is marginalized because however early it or its
      >subsets might be, it nevertheless is fiction and so for historical
      >Jesus questing isn't useful.

      We disagree about that.

      >The main take-away for me from Stevan's first two interviews is the
      >importance of narrative in the literary development of Q and the
      >"Gospels," and in their relative dating.
      >I just cannot imagine what would motive someone to denarrativize the
      >synoptics into Thomas, although this is the dependence view held by
      >a great many.

      I agree.

      >Bob Schacht, Ph.D.
      >Northern Arizona University
      >Darn. If you were still in HI I'd come to visit.

      Well, you had from August 2004 to August 2009 to do that! Ted Weeden
      visited me over there, and we had a jolly time arguing about
      Mark..Perhaps if I'd had the sense to tell you about that in advance...

      BTW, you were right about the Ahi Poke.


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