[HJMatMeth] Re: prophecy historicized
- My term "prophecy historicized," John, was used originally for a very
specific purpose. Granted the historicity of the crucifixion, where did all
those detailed hour by hour, word by word, blow by blow, data come from? I
asked whether it came from history remembered and answered that it came from
prophecy historicized. My negative reasons for that conclusion were (1) that
nobody outside the Gospels ever mentioned any of them, (2) that everyone
seemed very dependent on Mark and went their dramatically separate ways when
they ran out of Mark at 16:8. It seemed difficult to explain how Matthew and
Luke (for most scholars) and John (for some scholars) were so dependent on
Mark¹s narrative if everyone knew such a "history remembered" passion since
the 30s. The positive reason was that the overall structure, the individual
units, and the particular texts of the passion narrative were all resonant
in the background with Old Testament models, narrative and texts. My
conclusion was, in that case, prophecy historicized was the best solution,
not for the brutal fact of crucifixion but for all its attendant details. I
would make, by the way, a similar argument for Matthew¹s birth story. I am
sure Jesus was actually born, but the details that Matthew gives are based
on the popular Mosaic birth-stories current in the first century. Each case,
however, where prophecy historicized is claimed, must be established on its
own merits. I know, of course, no way in which one could disprove a position
holding that God is controlling everything so that the details of such
prophecies were being historically actualized in the life of Jesus. It is,
however, one thing to suggest that Matthew invented Herod¹s slaughter of the
innocents to parallel Pharaoh¹s. It is another to suggest that God did so in
>From: "John T. Bristow" <johntem@...>
>Subject: [HJMatMeth] prophecy historicized
>Date: Fri, Feb 11, 2000, 11:28 AM
> Dear Dr. Crossan,
> My inquiry relates to one of your special contributions to historical Jesus
> study, an amplification of a principle which you refer to as ³prophecy
> As a hypothesis, it makes sense--that stories about Jesus should be shaped
> to conform to (or ³fulfill²) scriptures that were regarded (or could be
> regarded) as messianic in nature.
> However, given the number of hypotheses that have fallen into
> disappointing disfavor during past Jesus research, I am hesitant to embrace
> an appealing argument unless it can be supported by historical evidence.
> In the matter of ³prophecy historicized,² the only historical example that
> comes to my mind is that of Josephus, and it would seem to oppose reliance
> on this hypothesis.
> Josephus¹ enjoyment of patronage from Vespasian is affirmed by the very
> existence of Josephus¹ writings. The report that this patronage arose from
> Josephus¹ prediction that Vespasian would become emperor has the quality of
> legend, except that it is told so convincingly (Wars, III, 399-408; Life,
> 414-423) and it explains the extensive favors bestowed upon Josephus (land,
> books, liberation of some friends, Roman citizenship, lodging in the former
> palace, and a pension), favors that made his writings possible. As far as
> I am aware, the veracity of this account is not seriously disputed.
> However, the story is remarkably similar to that of Josephus¹ name-source,
> Joseph bar Jacob, in his rise from prisoner to favored one with the
> Egyptian king (Gen. 40-41).
> For me, the similarity between the stories of Joseph and Josephus urges us
> to be cautious in assuming that like similarities between reported
> incidences in the Gospels and passages in the Hebrew Bible are best
> regarded as ³prophecies historicized.²
> Is this caution warrented? Are there historical data that lend support to
> the ³prophecy historicized² hypothesis?
> Dr. John Temple Bristow, pastor, Murray Hills Christian Church (Disciples
> of Christ) in Beaverton, OR, author of What Paul Really Said about Women
> (Harper, 88) and What the Bible Really Says about Love, Marriage, and
> Family (Chalice, 93), adjunct professor in masters degree program,
> Northwest Christian College, Eugene, OR.
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