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[HJMatMeth] Re: 'Ethos' and Jesus Studies

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  • Neil Godfrey
    John Dominic Crossan wrote: .....The value of working out a spectrum (and a spectrum of spectra) with such alternatives, is that it helps us put Jesus as
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 25, 2000
      John Dominic Crossan wrote:

      ".....The value of working out a spectrum (and a spectrum of spectra) with such
      alternatives, is that it helps us put Jesus as securely as possible on his contemporary
      map of options....."


      My quandary with this:

      I do not understand how someone or something can be placed "securely" on a "spectrum", or
      "securely" on a "map of options". How is Jesus, or anything, securely defined or defended
      when he's spread all over the map? Are you not saying here that Jesus is anything you want
      to make him? When one spot on the landscape gets shelled by the opposition you simply move
      yourself along with Jesus to some other spot.


      Neil Godfrey
      Toowoomba, Qld
      Australia



      John Dominic Crossan wrote:

      > You state, David, that "it finally occurs to me why Davidson drives the
      > historians in the Jesus Seminar nuts (at least, that's how I read it,
      > Davidson): if he's right and there's no there there, no Jesus there at all,
      > then our whole power-game system falls apart The historian of Jesus cannot
      > comment upon anything that has gone on in Jesus' name, hence is shut out of
      > the on-going *ethical* discussions going on right now." I think there are
      > levels of that paragraph that are not exactly clear to me. But let me
      > comment on what I see.
      > First, whether Jesus ever existed or not is an historical question on which
      > historians can go one way or the other. If you wish to argue he didn't, I am
      > completely aware that nothing anyone could ever say could falsify your
      > statement. The same would probably be true for Julius Caesar if somebody
      > claimed he was simply Augustan propaganda. I think Jesus did exist as an
      > historical figure and if that is a power game, I cannot do much about it.
      > But, for the debate, let's imagine that Jesus did not exist, but that those
      > who created him considered it all a magnificent parable. I do not presume a
      > deliberate lie, that is, invention with intent to deceive, but something
      > like a gigantic parable, since they were willing to die for their creation.
      > That parable would have claimed that IF God became incarnate this is what
      > God would have done and this is what we would have done to that God. The
      > challenge in worldview would be just as radical, although it would be a
      > different form of Christianity that would emerge from it. Instead of the
      > historical Jesus, we would have had the parabolic Jesus. I see no reason,
      > even with such hypothesis, to find myself driven nuts. Faith in an
      > historical Jesus would be different, no doubt, from faith in the parabolic
      > Jesus. But we would still be dealing with challenge from a worldview. We
      > could not speak of the historicity of such a Jesus, but we might still have
      > to respond to the question of its "veracity" (in your use of that word).
      > Jesus would then be exactly the same as the Good Samaritan, a parabolic, but
      > not an historical figure.
      > Second, you state, presuming (I presume) that Jesus does exist, that "the
      > thing I really miss at times is the possibility that Jesus could very well
      > have been or turned nationalist, messianist, apocalyptic - something
      > 'Jewish' (not universalist, but possibly even ethnocentric)." I would not
      > use Jewish in the way that you use it as if both those options were not
      > Jewish. That is, in your terms, the nationalist or the universalist option.
      > I refer back to an earlier post, following Paula Fredriksen's distinction of
      > positive versus negative apocalypticism, and also to the appended
      > distinction which I myself added between active and passive apocalypticism.
      > The value of working out a spectrum (and a spectrum of spectra) with such
      > alternatives, is that it helps us put Jesus as securely as possible on his
      > contemporary map of options. If you miss those options, as you say you do,
      > let me assure you that they are all out there. They were there in the first
      > century, as traditional Judaism struggled with Greek cultural
      > internationalism and Roman military imperialism (I think they must have
      > invented just about every option I can think of in response to those
      > threats). They are also there across the spectrum of scholarly
      > interpretations within this (oops, the last) century.
    • jdcrosn@mindspring.com
      I think we have a misunderstanding here, Neil. You of me and/or I of you. Let me restate my point to see if it is clearer. By spectrum of spectra I meant
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 27, 2000
        I think we have a misunderstanding here, Neil. You of me and/or I of you. Let me restate my point to see if it is clearer. By "spectrum of spectra" I meant this. If we take any general theme or area such as ritual observance, Roman resistance, eschatological hope, or any other one proposed as significant, it is necessary to lay out as fully as possible the spectrum of possibilities, the map of options, the tree-diagram of alternatives within that given theme/area for first-century Judaism. Since there can be many divergent theme/areas, as well as many options within each one, I use the phrase "spectrum of spectra" for the whole. It would represent, in its fullest, all the major options within options of first-century Judaism (we would have to do exactly the same if we were trying to map out contemporary options within Israeli society, or Irish politics, or any other such situations). If, for example, you wanted to know where Jesus stood in relationship to Roman resistance, the!
        first thing would be to get as complete a map of options as possible. It would range, for example, all the way from the right wing with Josephus the Judean (it is the will of God that we obey Rome and disobedience is divinely forbidden) to Judah the Galilean (it is the will of God that we destroy Rome and obedience is divinely forbidden). I do not suggest that Jesus is all over the map, nor do I locate him all over the map, nor do I keep moving him from one place to the other. In debate with Allison, for example, I argued that, if he finds apocalyptic continuity from John the Baptist, through Jesus, and into Paul, Q, and Mark, he will have to make certain distinctions (make a map of options) within that theme/area to explain what actually happened (hence destructive/transformative, negative/positive. passive/active). I think that may answer your question, but I am not totally certain I understand your last statement that, "When one spot on the landscape gets shelled by the o!
        pposition you simply move yourself along with Jesus to some other spot."

        ----Original Message-----
        >From: Neil Godfrey <mercury1@...>
        >To: hjmaterialsmethodolgy@egroups.com
        >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Re: 'Ethos' and Jesus Studies
        >Reply-To: hjmaterialsmethodolgy@egroups.com
        >Date: Friday, February 25, 2000 6:28 PM
        >
        >
        >John Dominic Crossan wrote:
        >
        >".....The value of working out a spectrum (and a spectrum of spectra) with such
        >alternatives, is that it helps us put Jesus as securely as possible on his contemporary
        >map of options....."
        >
        >
        >My quandary with this:
        >
        >I do not understand how someone or something can be placed "securely" on a "spectrum", or
        >"securely" on a "map of options". How is Jesus, or anything, securely defined or defended
        >when he's spread all over the map? Are you not saying here that Jesus is anything you want
        >to make him? When one spot on the landscape gets shelled by the opposition you simply move
        >yourself along with Jesus to some other spot.
        >
        >
        >Neil Godfrey
        >Toowoomba, Qld
        >Australia
        >
        >
        >
        >John Dominic Crossan wrote:
        >
        >> You state, David, that "it finally occurs to me why Davidson drives the
        >> historians in the Jesus Seminar nuts (at least, that's how I read it,
        >> Davidson): if he's right and there's no there there, no Jesus there at all,
        >> then our whole power-game system falls apart The historian of Jesus cannot
        >> comment upon anything that has gone on in Jesus' name, hence is shut out of
        >> the on-going *ethical* discussions going on right now." I think there are
        >> levels of that paragraph that are not exactly clear to me. But let me
        >> comment on what I see.
        >> First, whether Jesus ever existed or not is an historical question on which
        >> historians can go one way or the other. If you wish to argue he didn't, I am
        >> completely aware that nothing anyone could ever say could falsify your
        >> statement. The same would probably be true for Julius Caesar if somebody
        >> claimed he was simply Augustan propaganda. I think Jesus did exist as an
        >> historical figure and if that is a power game, I cannot do much about it.
        >> But, for the debate, let's imagine that Jesus did not exist, but that those
        >> who created him considered it all a magnificent parable. I do not presume a
        >> deliberate lie, that is, invention with intent to deceive, but something
        >> like a gigantic parable, since they were willing to die for their creation.
        >> That parable would have claimed that IF God became incarnate this is what
        >> God would have done and this is what we would have done to that God. The
        >> challenge in worldview would be just as radical, although it would be a
        >> different form of Christianity that would emerge from it. Instead of the
        >> historical Jesus, we would have had the parabolic Jesus. I see no reason,
        >> even with such hypothesis, to find myself driven nuts. Faith in an
        >> historical Jesus would be different, no doubt, from faith in the parabolic
        >> Jesus. But we would still be dealing with challenge from a worldview. We
        >> could not speak of the historicity of such a Jesus, but we might still have
        >> to respond to the question of its "veracity" (in your use of that word).
        >> Jesus would then be exactly the same as the Good Samaritan, a parabolic, but
        >> not an historical figure.
        >> Second, you state, presuming (I presume) that Jesus does exist, that "the
        >> thing I really miss at times is the possibility that Jesus could very well
        >> have been or turned nationalist, messianist, apocalyptic - something
        >> 'Jewish' (not universalist, but possibly even ethnocentric)." I would not
        >> use Jewish in the way that you use it as if both those options were not
        >> Jewish. That is, in your terms, the nationalist or the universalist option.
        >> I refer back to an earlier post, following Paula Fredriksen's distinction of
        >> positive versus negative apocalypticism, and also to the appended
        >> distinction which I myself added between active and passive apocalypticism.
        >> The value of working out a spectrum (and a spectrum of spectra) with such
        >> alternatives, is that it helps us put Jesus as securely as possible on his
        >> contemporary map of options. If you miss those options, as you say you do,
        >> let me assure you that they are all out there. They were there in the first
        >> century, as traditional Judaism struggled with Greek cultural
        >> internationalism and Roman military imperialism (I think they must have
        >> invented just about every option I can think of in response to those
        >> threats). They are also there across the spectrum of scholarly
        >> interpretations within this (oops, the last) century.
        >
        >
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