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

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... I think your conclusions are anachronistic, and do not necessarily reflect the conclusions of First Century people. I see that my error was in referring to
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 16, 2009
      At 07:57 AM 11/13/2009, stevandavies wrote:
      >--- In <mailto:gthomas%40yahoogroups.com>gthomas@yahoogroups.com,
      >Bob Schacht <Bobschacht@...> wrote:
      >>I know I'm pushing against the Modern Consensus in this regard,
      >>but I kinda like my suggestion that the early core data on Jesus
      >>focused on what happened to him, and what he did (the Passion
      >>Narrative, Paul's emphasis on the centrality of the resurrection,
      >>and the Signs Gospel)
      >But Bob, the Passion Narrative seems to presuppose a resurrection that
      >never happened and a Barabbas story that never happened and various bits
      >made up on the basis of OT "prophecies" (gambling for clothing,
      >for instance). Paul's emphasis on what happened to Jesus after he
      >died isn't exactly prime historical Jesus data and the Signs Gospel
      >is completely fiction. So where does this lead you?

      I think your conclusions are anachronistic, and do not necessarily
      reflect the conclusions of First Century people. I see that my error
      was in referring to "early core data" when I should have written
      "early core story." I then should have followed up that it "focused
      on what [allegedly] happened to him, and what he [allegedly] did (the
      Passion Narrative, Paul's emphasis on the centrality of the
      resurrection, and the Signs Gospel)."

      What it also leads me to is to suspect that whatever stuff Paul was
      preaching for the first few years after his conversion (his sojourn
      in Arabia) didn't go down so well, so we don't even know what it was.
      In contrast, however, his emphasis on the centrality of the
      resurrection has since survived for about 2000 years, so apparently
      some folks found it worthy of preservation.

      > > rather than what he said. I'm going to have to dig out my copy of The
      > > Acts of Jesus from my pile of boxes of books from my move back to
      > > Flagstaff, I guess.
      > > I was never too enthralled by the idea that the earliest data about
      > > Jesus was a collection of his bon mots. That sounds like just the
      > > kind of approach a bunch of college professors would dream up.
      >Yes, it does.... and the bon mots don't make much sense. Some
      >are so meaningful that they can apply to all sorts of things, but you
      >don't know Jesus' application and so you don't know anything
      >(proverbs), and some are meaningless as they stand even if they may have
      >meant something to HJ (parables).
      >Then we understand that people had no hesitation in just making stuff up
      >(later levels of Q, Thomas, John from start to finish, much synoptic
      >filler material). And this means to me that it is absolutely not the
      >brilliance and meaningfulness of HJ's bon mots that made people list
      >them and narrativeize them. Rather, Jesus was understood to be God or
      >something of the sort and then his mots become important. But why was
      >Jesus understood to be God? It cannot have been the resurrection, for
      >reasons I gave recently.

      But the reasons you gave recently are more convincing to you than to
      those who became Christians.
      Your question, "why was Jesus understood to be God?" is an important
      one, however, and distinguishes Christians from Jews, Moslems,
      secular humanists, and others..And for most Christians, the answer
      seems to lie in what he [allegedly] did, although for some, what he
      [allegedly] said was more decisive.

      > > As for the development of Christian narrative, I have another idea:
      > > Rather than developing as a way to contextualize the sayings of
      > > Jesus, I suspect that it started as a basic liturgical formula, the
      > > *anamnesis.* To quote *An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church,*
      > > "This memorial prayer of remembrance recalls for the worshipping
      > > community past events in their tradition of faith that are formative
      > > for their identity and self-understanding." [cf. Acts 4:33]
      > > This sounds just exactly right, and seems like the nucleus around
      > > which greater narratives would be organized.
      > >
      >Sure, as long as you have a nice solid Worshipping Community. But
      >where did that come from? Or, as I mentioned in the Skinner interview,
      >the key question may be what was up with the Churches of God in Judea
      >that Paul was persecuting? To me that is THE key question and I
      >don't have any answer except they were breaking the law in significant ways.

      Yes, indeed. The answer may lie in the earliest anti-Christian
      writings, whether Jewish or Roman, as well as in the early arguments
      against the "heretics." Would that Tom Kopecek was participating in
      this discussion-- some of that is his specialty.

      >...I'm working right now on Japanese Buddhist questions, that
      >stem from an interest in a) Mongolian Buddhist questions and b) getting
      >a free trip to Oahu out of it. Last night I ran across two sentences in
      >an article by an expert on Japanese Buddhism. He wrote, "The
      >Buddhist priest's main function in the funeral is to effect the
      >successful spiritual transformation of the deceased through symbolic
      >ordination, merit transference, sutra chanting, and, in Zen sects, a
      >short talk (indo) designed to help the dead attain enlightenment.
      >Through proper performance of these rituals the priest ensures not only
      >a rebirth in paradise for the deceased, but also safety for the family
      >who would be threatened if the spirit remained attached to this
      >world." (Rowe: Stickers for Nails in JJRS 27/3-4 pg. 358). Note
      >here that in two sentences Rowe shifts from an understanding of the
      >afterlife of ordinary folks after a normal funeral as attaining
      >enlightenment to their rebirth in paradise while also assuming an
      >understanding that without the funeral they would just turn into ghosts
      >and haunt people. What happens after death seems pretty incoherent but
      >people don't appear to be bothered by it. What was the early Xian idea
      >of the afterlife?

      Well, you recall the split between the Pharisees and Sadducees on this issue.
      I imagine that the Christians were bothered by the same questions.
      And no doubt you recall the parable of the Rich Man who died. There
      are a number of allusions in the Gospels and elsewhere in the NT
      about the afterlife.

      >I learned in Sunday School that the apostles went out announcing that
      >Jesus had Risen and that this joyful news caused lots of gentiles to
      >join up with the church and give birth to what eventually became the
      >PCUSA. But wouldn't the reaction have either been, "ho hum, my uncle
      >Edgar came back last year and it cost a fortune to get rid of him," or
      >"Omigod, Zombies! Hide!" The "He is risen, hallelulia" reaction
      >presupposes a solid Worshipping Community who joined up for other
      >reasons. What were those reasons?

      In such a search, it does not help to exclude "reasons" a priori on
      the basis of anachronistic considerations, and ideological assumptions.

      Bob Schacht
      Northern Arizona University

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