[HJMatMeth] Re: question
- ... and playing off the great question from Julio Zabatiero, if we approve of
the real-world use made of this Latin American imaginative Jesus, if it fits
the needs of that situation better than any other, do we care? (Yes, this
means we have to share the political goals of the people who have created
their Jesus to fit their needs -- well, haven't we done that too? Creating a
nonsupernatural Jesus to fit our nonsupernatural worldview?)
Re: [HJMatMeth] questionI would not want, Julio, to get into an abstract argument on whether it is possible to have an ideology-free method to reconstruct the historical Jesus. With no definition of ideology submitted beforehand, that might be quicksand from which we would never recover. I do recognize, however, that the accusation of "Marxist exegesis" is for some people an easy way to dismiss questions of justice. The background from Jewish tradition, which I found most helpful for understanding the historical Jesus, was taken from the core of the Law and the Prophets (see BofC 182-208). It was the Law, for example, which insisted that God owned the land (Leviticus), that God, being just, the land must be distributed and maintained fairly, justly, and equitably among its owners, that land could not be bought and sold like any other commodity because land was the material basis of life, and that debts and foreclosures, the other easier way to obtain land than buying it, were to be carefully controlled and regulated. That tradition does not announce, in shining manifesto, that all Jews are created equal, but it attempts, in the small print of the Covenant, to make a stand against the continual growth of inequality. I find that same concern not just for social justice (too weak a word), but for divine justice on earth, throughout the prophets. They also insist that worship of God is not simply the necessary stroking of a transcendental Ego, but the attempt to live a life of justice here below in union with a God of justice there above (Jeremiah 7, for example). It is clear, I hope, that the justice involved is structural and systemic, rather than just individual or personal. Also that it is primarily a question of distributive rather than retributive justice. Marx may or may not have been working out of that halakhic-prophetic tradition, but calling it Marxist, does not make it go away.
From: "julio" <jzabatiero@...>
Subject: [HJMatMeth] question
Date: Wed, Feb 9, 2000, 6:44 PM
Dear Dr. Crossan,
In Latin America, biblical scholars are used to see the Historical Jesus as the leader of a popular movement of liberation of the peasant and poor people of israelite cities. Some people say that this image of the Historical Jesus is born out of a Marxist stance, so it is not reliable nor scientific. The same charge, however, could be levelled against other attempts to define a sociological portrait of Jesus. So, there would be an ideology-free method to recover and reconstruct the image of the historical Jesus? Or else, would that goal a worth one to be pursued?
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- I could never agree, Davidson, that it is ethically correct simply to equate
story and history (or memoir and fiction). All history may be story, but all
story is not history. When you do historical reconstruction, you are making
certain claims, certainly within the possibilities of human error, but you
still are asserting that something happened. A story does not need to make
any such claims. It can contain profound truths about human nature, but it
does not claim that what it describes actually happened. If oppressed
peasants want to make up any stories they want about Jesus, they have every
right to do so and, indeed, those who oppress them may equally well be
making up stories to justify what they are doing. But to claim historical
reconstruction is to make a different claim. Let me recall the terrible
example I used in BofC. If a young girl accuses her father of sexual abuse,
it is necessary to decide whether that is a story (however sincerely she may
believe it) or a history (it is what actually happened).
>Subject: [HJMatMeth] Re: question
>Date: Sun, Feb 13, 2000, 2:26 PM
> ... and playing off the great question from Julio Zabatiero, if we approve of
> the real-world use made of this Latin American imaginative Jesus, if it fits
> the needs of that situation better than any other, do we care? (Yes, this
> means we have to share the political goals of the people who have created
> their Jesus to fit their needs -- well, haven't we done that too? Creating a
> nonsupernatural Jesus to fit our nonsupernatural worldview?)
> Davidson Loehr
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