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[HJMatMeth] Re: passion narratives

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    I do not think Sukie, that I have very good answers to either of your questions, but I will do the best I can. I think that the arguments for a consecutive and
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2000
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      Re: [HJMatMeth] passion narratives I do not think Sukie, that I have very good answers to either of your questions, but I will do the best I can. I think that the arguments for a consecutive and canonically independent source within the Gospel of Peter are extremely good (let me leave aside, for now, the other two points which I based on that initial claim. I do not retract them, as you know from BofC, but the former is the more important one, not only to begin with, but even in itself). You asked me "Does there seem to be any sign of shifting of scholarly consensus on even that first point?  Is that position still a 'minority within a minority' opinion?" I am not aware of anyone apart from Neirynck who noticed that the late Ray Brown had accepted two thirds of my alleged Cross Gospel and, since those were the latter two thirds, might have trouble avoiding an acceptance of the first third as well, but then, of course, nothing escapes Neirynck's eagle eye. Granted one is never the best judge in one's own case, I still think that is a powerful argument that has yet to be adequately refuted. You "wonder where the reluctance really lies."  There is, I suppose, a reluctance about any extracanonical text and a double reluctance with an alleged source within such a text. There may also be, as you suggest, some nervousness with the serenely mythological character of that text (as if Luke's ascension were not just as mythological). I think, however, that the deepest reluctance may be to face the fact that, even within the strictest 1st century understanding of resurrection, we have two clear alternatives in (a) the Pauline resurrected Jesus as the individual (lonely?) "first fruits of them that sleep" and (b) the corporate resurrection in which Jesus marches out of Sheol at the head of the liberated "them that sleep." If we were to think about that, it would raise some very interesting questions. How literal or metaphorical were the minds of those who first described "the Harrowing of Hell?" If you get a moment, read its  description in the Odes of Solomon 17, 22, or 42. (By the way, if I think about works which I would like to see in the New Testament, I always think, apart from the Didache, about some of those magnificent poems.) In any case, as I read those Odes, for example, I keep wondering about that question of location on the literal/metaphorical spectrum. Did anyone go out and check for empty graves around Jerusalem? Not just, mind you, for the single empty tomb of Jesus, but for the many empty tombs of "them that sleep." If the Pauline resurrection meant the apparition of one person to 500, that other resurrection must have entailed the apparition of 500 to one person (at it were).
      Your second question asks "what has been the response of your scholar-colleagues to that proposal about the role of female ritual lament in the formation of the passion-resurrection story?" I am not aware of very much response on that specific point as yet. As long as we are on the subject, let me explain a little background for it. On the one hand, I had convinced myself that; (a) there was evidence of an exegetical passion without the presence of a narrative passion (the crucial piece of evidence here is Barnabas 7) but I could never find (b) a narrative passion without an exegetical passion whispering in the background. On the other hand, I noticed, for example, that when Matthew was creating (I mean that word) his birth-story of Jesus, he made the exegetical substratum explicitly and heavily obvious. That made it difficult for me to imagine the same individuals/groups who had done the difficult exegetical work simply turning it into narrative and leaving all that exegetical substratum generally invisible. It's there if you know it, it's not if you don't. I had thought originally that some individual outside the exegetical experience might have turned all that prophecy into narrative. But when I first read the work of Marianne Sawicki and Kathleen Corley, what I saw was another process at work that could explain what had become for me a dilemma. Let me emphasize that those two scholars do not necessarily agree and may positively disagree with the way I am using what I learned from them. I think, for example, that Marianne Sawicki would argue that it was the women who both created the exegetical substratum and also the surface narrative as part of the female ritual lament tradition. I think I could easily be persuaded of that position if I had not run, first, into Barnabas 7, and if I did not know that the exegetical passion tradition seems to continue over, under, around, and through the narrative passion tradition. Justin Martyr, for example, seems equally at home with both.





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      From: "Sukie Curtis" <sbcurtis@...>
      To: "Hjmaterialsmethodolgy@Egroups. Com" <hjmaterialsmethodolgy@egroups.com>
      Subject: [HJMatMeth] passion narratives
      Date: Thu, Mar 2, 2000, 10:36 AM


      Dear Dominic,
       
      1. In _The Birth of Christianity_, p. 486, you summarize three points made in previous book about the Gospel of Peter roughly as follows: 1) that within the GPeter there is both a consecutive, canonically-independent narrative (called by you the Cross Gospel) and two chunks of canonically-dependent narrative material, carefully spliced into the former (but with splicings visible), 2) that the canonically-independent narrative is the earlier one and the source for the canonical passion narratives, and 3) that "that basic passion-resurrection story was not history remembered but prophecy historicized."  You also note that these points have been greeted by your colleagues with "almost universal rejection."
       
      I suupose I'm not exactly surprised that your points two and three have not been widely embraced (could it be that change within the scholarly community is almost as slow as change within the church, in which I spend much of my time?!), but as I have always found your arguments concerning the independent-dependent mix within Peter to be very persuasive, I continue to scratch my head at scholarly reluctance on that first point. (I am also impressed by the roughly three-fifths agreement between you and the late Raymond Brown on that first point, especially given how divergently you come down on the third.)  Question:  Does there seem to be any sign of shifting of scholarly consensus on even that first point?  Is that position still a "minority within a minority" opinion?
       
      (From my position outside the "scholarly establishment", I wonder where the reluctance really lies...I wonder, for instance, if the so obviously mythological nature of the Peter narrative, which I can imagine no one claiming historicity for, is part of the issue for some?  Or even simply Peter's extracanonical status?)  Any comments?  
       
      2.  Also in _The Birth of Christianity_, chapter 26, you make your proposal that "female ritual lament wove exegetical fragments into a sequential story" (573), that lament turned exegesis into narrative.  Not too long ago there was a thread of discussion on Crosstalk about the possible origins of the passion narrative within a/the early Christian community's liturgical life as a way of accounting for the neat three-hour intervals named in the canonical narratives.  (Of course GPeter has noon to three for darkness at least.)  Into that thread I interjected a post suggesting that some scholars, namely you and Kathleen Corley, have proposed a basic liturgical context for the origin of the passion narrative, that of female ritual lament for the dead.  The response to that post was--no response!(perhaps understandable under the circumstances, since I was in essence changing the subject, but it made me wonder...)  Question:  what has been the response of your scholar-colleagues to that proposal about the role of female ritual lament in the formation of the passion-resurrection story?
       
      Thank you for the richness of this three-week exchange.
       
      Sukie Curtis
      Cumberland Foreside, Maine  





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