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[HJMatMeth] Re: Allison's Challenge

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    As you may know, Johan, I am beginning a debate with Dale Allison which will be published eventually in a book by Polebridge Press. What I say here, or
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 12, 2000
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      As you may know, Johan, I am beginning a debate with Dale Allison which will
      be published eventually in a book by Polebridge Press. What I say here, or
      anywhere else in this seminar about his work, he has already seen and read.
      On your first question about the dates for my strata: they are, quite
      frankly, arbitrary. I had originally thought of 60, 90, 120, and 150 as
      simple generational dates, everty 30 years or so. I think it was Bob Funk
      that said my 90 should be 80, so at least (presuming the two-source theory)
      Mark was on a separate stratum than Matthew and Luke. I agreed because,
      quite frankly, the dates are purely arbitrary, but the succession of strata
      are not. What is important to me is which stratum comes before which other
      one and you can date them any way you want. In fact, if those dates are a
      distraction, forget them. What is at stake for me is this: what was the
      earliest stratum and what were the successive strata to it. With regard to
      your second question, I have no problem with extending my focus on complexes
      to ideas, themes, and even names. I had noticed in setting up the emphasis
      on complexes, for example, that it often failed to underline names (like
      Peter or Mary ) which were surely very early and very important. But I do
      not think that themes or ideas are as clearly definable as complexes, so I
      preferred, in general, to emphasize the former. My major response to Dale,
      for example, will be to ask this question: If the theme of apocalypticism is
      a continuity from John the Baptist, through Jesus into Paul, Q, and Mark,
      what distinctions must be made within it? Themes, in other words, are
      slightly more slippery than complexes and demand even more fine tuning for
      useful purposes.

      ----------
      >From: "J M Strijdom" <strijjm@...>
      >To: <hjmaterialsmethodolgy@...>
      >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Allison's Challenge
      >Date: Fri, Feb 11, 2000, 10:19 AM
      >

      > Dale Allison, in his "Jesus of Nazareth" (1998), offers an extensive
      > criticism of Crossan's
      > methodology. I would like to know Crossan's response to the following two
      > points noted by
      > Allison:
      >
      > (1) Why does Crossan draw the dividing lines between his strata at 60, 80,
      > 120 and 150 CE?
      > In Allison's words (1998:14): "Why are the lines drawn where they are? Why
      > not a line at 50 or
      > 70 CE or one at 100 CE? Crossan may have good reasons for his choices, but
      > he does not, as far
      > as I can see, let us know what they are."
      >
      > (2) Crossan's method let him focus on complexes rather than ideas/themes
      > with multiple
      > independent attestation. Allison (1998:23) argues that the recurrent
      appearance of
      > themes/ideas/motifs in independent sources should be taken much, much more
      > seriously than
      > Crossan's work does. In one case, he concedes, Crossan does break out of
      > the limitations of his
      > own methodology: to argue for a fundamental difference between the Baptist
      > and Jesus, Crossan
      > uses two complexes with single attestation (144 Wisdom Justified [1/1] and
      > 106 Fasting and
      > Wedding [1/2]) which nevertheless evince independent attestation of the
      > same theme. But this procedure, Allison holds, should be given much more
      > attention. What is Crossan's response to Allison's proposal?
      >
      > Johan Strijdom
      > Department of Classics
      > University of South Africa
      > PO Box 392
      > Pretoria 0003
      > South Africa
      >
      > strijjm@...
      > or: strijjm@...
      >
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    • John Dominic Crossan
      Sorry, Johan, if my comment about themes being more slippery than complexes, seemed in any way dismissive. I think, actually, there is a huge area of research
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 15, 2000
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        Sorry, Johan, if my comment about themes being more slippery than complexes,
        seemed in any way dismissive. I think, actually, there is a huge area of
        research possible if we can raise that issue and discuss it self-critically.
        I found complexes easier to establish because most people seemed to agree
        where the same unit came up in different sources, even if they disagreed
        completely on the genetic relationship between those sources. Themes will be
        much more difficult. Let me just, off the top of my head, imagine one taken
        from Jeff Peterson's question above. Imagine a theme called "the Davidic
        theme." I am trying to be deliberately vague and not say Davidic decent or
        Davidic relationship. Maybe we might agree that the theme had to bring Jesus
        into some kind of contact with David. Maybe even that the word "David" had
        to be there (would Bethlehem alone be adequate, etc.?) You could argue,
        accepting Jeff's mention of Paul's testimonia and the Bethlehem-birth common
        and therefore earlier than Matthew and Luke, that here we have an extremely
        early "theme" which is every bit as early and good as any of my complexes. I
        am all in favor of that, have just never thought of doing it, but recognize
        possible doctoral theses when I see them.
        All of that is very much in general, but is emphatically work to be done.
        You go on to mention two very important such themes. One is purity and the
        other is apocalypticism. I admit immediately to having a strong problem with
        Paula's book because I find myself caricatured badly in it. To say that I
        "misconstrue (im)purity by letting it correspond to social class and by
        viewing it as 'one of the ways elite culture imposed itself on peasant
        society'" is not very helpful. First, I have never thought or written that
        you could equate purity/impurity with aristocracy/peasantry. Is it in there
        somewhere and I have just forgotten it? Second, this is more ambiguous and
        is a point where I disagree with Marcus. I think that the aristocracy would
        have used purity, like they used every other element of the Great Tradition,
        in order to keep the peasantry in their ideological, symbolical, and
        material place. in the same way the peasantry would have used their Little
        Tradition to fight back (that's from James Scott). But I see absolutely no
        reason to particularly privilege aristocratic use of purity, as distinct
        from Law, History, Tradition, Bible or anything else you want to mention.
        What is desperately needed and would be very helpful, is if we could lay out
        in scholarship all the options of purity in the 1st century Jewish homeland.
        For example: Should we distinguish justice and purity, would justice be all
        those things that "eschalotogical Gentiles" (Paula's phrase from a much
        earlier article, with which I am in complete agreement) would still have to
        observe and would purity be all those things which they could ignore? Should
        we use purity as the overarching concept and simply divide it into (what
        terms dare I use without being accused of something awful?) moral and ritual
        elements? Let me put this bluntly. I have always found what Paula says about
        me to be rhetorically polemical rather than collegially accurate. And that
        only serves to obscure the work to be done in this area.
        This is getting so long, Johan, that I will abbreviate the next section
        because I think it will have to come up again. In reading Dale Allison's
        book, as distinct from Paula's, I found it to be much more accurate in
        laying out my own position and opposing it completely. In conversation,
        eventually to be published with Dale, I have already begun to try and think
        out what distinctions we need to make within apocalypticism rather than
        simply arguing apocalypticism vs non-apocalypticism with each side avoiding
        definitions and distinctions. Just as an example, to conclude by bringing
        Paula and Dale together, this question. If you accept, as I do, Paula's
        distinction of apocalyptic consummation for the Gentile nation involving
        either a "negative" extermination OR a "positive" conversion to the God of
        Israel, but not to Israel's ethnic purity rules, and, if you use that as
        Paula does, and I agree, to understand why Gentiles are immediately accepted
        into full fellowship in Jewish Christian communities, you will have to add
        to her distinction between "negative" and "positive" apocalypticism another
        one between active and passive apocalypticism. By passive I mean praying,
        hoping, waiting, living perfectly in expectation of apocalyptic con
        summation. By active I mean exactly what somebody like Paul was doing, going
        out there, travelling far and wide, and hustling for Gentile converts.
        Surely somebody must have said to him, we should stay here at prayer in
        Jerusalem and wait for God to do it (maybe the "false brethren"?) That
        simply begins a process in which I am fairly deeply involved, in dialogue
        with Dale, to set up a series of distinctions within the general "theme" of
        apocalypticism necessary, as I see it, to explain what those early Christian
        Jewish communities were actually doing. Let me stop it here for now, but
        this is also very much to be continued.

        ----------
        >From: "Johan Strijdom" <strijjm@...>
        >To: hjmaterialsmethodolgy@...
        >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Allison's Challenge
        >Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2000, 12:12 AM
        >

        > Dear Dominic,
        >
        > To David Amador you wrote: 'the merits of any method/ology is comparative.'
        > And in response to my question, you said: 'I have no problem with extending
        > my focus on complexes to ideas.' But you qualified your willingness by
        > noting that themes 'are slightly more slippery than complexes and demand
        > even more fine tuning for useful purposes.'
        >
        > My question now focuses on that 'fine tuning' of themes, but it is not
        > restricted to the micro-level of Christian texts. It rather deals with the
        > 'reciprocal' interaction between your micro-, meso-, and macro-levels.
        >
        > It is clear to me that any comparison of words, texts or contexts should
        > attend to both similarities and differences (as Jonathan Z Smith makes quite
        > clear in his 'Drudgery Divine' 1990). My problem, however, is more
        > specific: How does one decide on the CATEGORIES or POINTS OF COMPARISON,
        > when one compares texts and contexts, themes and ideas? I will try to
        > elucidate my problem by means of two examples:
        >
        > (1) Purity Concerns: Paula Fredriksen, in her 'Jesus of Nazareth' (1999),
        > thinks that you (and Marcus Borg) misconstrue (im)purity by letting it
        > correspond to social class and by viewing it as 'one of the ways elite
        > culture imposed itself on peasant society' (p 284; cf also p 201). Instead,
        > she holds, 'impurity and purity were states that one moved in and out of,
        > [which] could [therefore] hardly serve to stratify society along class
        > lines. ... The lowliest peasant who had just completed the ritual of the red
        > heifer was pure, the most aristocratic chief priest, having just buried a
        > parent, was not' (p 201).
        >
        > How will you go about (ie, what method will you follow) to 'fine tune' a
        > theme like 'purity'? Which CATEGORIES will you use, and, more specifically,
        > how will you go about to decide on these ones rather than those ones? Would
        > you consider the modern explanatory category of boundary markers (we versus
        > they), the socially relevant categories of class, gender and ethnicity, the
        > postmodern concerns for body and spirit ('sarcophilic' versus
        > 'sarcophobic'), the reformers' distinction between ritual purity and moral
        > purity (which Fredriksen maintains are 'modern' distinctions and can
        > therefore not be projected anachronistically onto ancient phenomena)? Or
        > should one rather try to find some categories that are inductively inferred
        > by a
        > comparative reading of the ancient evidence (the emic approach, which
        > Fredriksen will endorse as an exercise in 'concrete thinking')? Or would you
        > argue that both ways should be followed 'interactively' (ie, the relevance
        > of modern theories and categories should be tested in the light of ancient
        > data, and our reading of the ancient materials should 'simultaneously' and
        > 'equally', or 'hierarchically', be scrutinized for issues that are raised by
        > modern theories?)
        >
        > (2) Apocalyptic Mentalities and Movements: When you compare apocalyptic
        > mentalities/movements in Second Temple Judaisms, you do it in 'The
        > Historical Jesus' in terms of upper- and lower class on one axis, and of
        > violence and non-violence on the other axis. Why do you choose those
        > categories as the primary ones, rather than some other ones? Allison, for
        > example, underlines the importance of the restoration of Israel, and
        > Fredriksen the importance of the conversion of the Gentiles in the thinking
        > of many of these apocalyptic groups. Although you say that you start with
        > context, and only then move to text (Birth of Christianity, p 147), it seems
        > to me that your eventual conclusions on the micro-level already influence
        > what you include in your description on the meso-level: you do not think the
        > restoration of Israel or the conversion of the Gentiles are important for an
        > understanding of the Baptist or Jesus, and therefore they do not deserve a
        > prominent place in your 'sharpest possible reconstruction of the 20s in
        > Lower Galilee'(Birth of Christianity, p 148).
        > To restate my question then: What exactly dictates your choice of POINTS OF
        > COMPARISON? Why do you choose some categories, and ignore others?
        >
        > Best regards,
        > Johan Strijdom
        > Department of Classics
        > University of South Africa
        > PO Box 392
        > Pretoria 0003
        > South Africa
        > strijjm@... OR
        > strijjm@...
        >
        >
        >
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