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[HJMatMeth] Re: More 'normal' issues:

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    As you probably realize, David, my use of form criticism in BofC and probably elsewhere earlier is almost negligible. Its program of linking form to function
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 15, 2000
      Re: [HJMatMeth] More 'normal' issues: As you probably realize, David, my use of form criticism in BofC and probably elsewhere earlier is almost negligible. Its program of linking form to function was theoretically unsound and practically impossible. I do not want to argue that here and there certain formal conclusions were not helpful, but I know of very few functional ones that work. On the other hand, I consider source criticism, for example, that Matthew and Luke used Mark and that we have Mark to understand such usages, to be constitutive for historical criticism of the gospels. Without that relatively secure basis, I would find myself walking on very thin ice forever. In other words, no conclusions about "patterns of persuasion" in the ancient world can negate what we know (meaning, of course, by scholarly reconstruction) about source criticism from, for example, Josephus' use of the biblical materials as rewritten in his Antiquities or the gospels' rewriting of one another. I do not derive any of that from theories or any "presumption of 'development' that dominates our field." I have never presumed that "one starts with the 'simple' and works to the more 'complex.'" That sometimes happens, and when it does, I note it. So does the opposite and when it does, I note it. And, if I use the word development, it is always development-as-change rather than development-as-improvement. I do think although Mahlon quite legitimately disagrees with me on this point, that John uses Mark, changes Mark, develops Mark, but I would never suggest, whether he shortens or lengthens it, that he improves it.
      It is necessary whenever you cite something that I do that it be done within its own context. The late Ray Brown, for example, had argued that the Gospel of Peter was more "anti-Jewish" than any of the canonical gospels. And that was only to be expected in a late or second century text. I countered by saying on that very principle, because of its attitude to the Jewish people as distinct from the Jewish authorities, it was early rather than late. That argument was not based on any general principle that I would accept (more or less caustic equals more or less early) but was simply a rebuttal of Ray within his own suggested principle.
      Your final question about "what happens if John is shown to be earlier than Mark or as least as early and independent of it," requires a distinction. What is crucial for me, is not so much whether it is early or late, but whether it is independent or not. That is the first and more important question.  If John is independent of Mark, for example, in his passion narrative, then everything changes. I have made that point, for my taste ad nausea, and that is what I mean by one's decisions about materials being foundational. That is also why I wrote so many books in preparation for the big ones on the historical Jesus and his first companions. I had to decide for myself (with the sort of infinite painstaking of a book like In Fragments) what I thought about the nature and development (change not improvement) of the gospel tradition.

      From: David Amador <thevoidboy@...>
      To: hjmaterialsmethodolgy@egroups.com
      Subject: [HJMatMeth] More 'normal' issues:
      Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2000, 12:06 AM

      As an aside, but very much a part of what is shaping up to be the dominant conversational topic:

      I'm pretty sure it has been amply demonstrated by Vernon Robbins and Burton Mack, in their marvelous book "Patterns of Persuasion", that form criticism in particular is simply wrong in its model of communication, notably ancient communication and rhetorical instruction.

      Question:  what kind of an impact would this have upon reliance upon source and redaction criticism?  If we have found that our communicative models and presumptions simply run contrary to the evidence from ancient progymnasmata and handbooks, does this have radical ramifications upon these other methods as well?

      Secondly: I am fascinated by the presumption of 'development' that dominates our field.  Namely, that one starts with the 'simple' and works to the more 'complex'.  I see it at work time and again, but also in your own work: with respect to the Passion Narratives, you suggest something like a trajectory from GPeter, Mark, Matthew, John, based upon both a source-critical foundation (John is later, for example) and upon a developmental schema that suggests one starts with less inflammatory (GPet) and grows to more inflammatory rhetoric (John).  Why?  What evidence can you cite to verify such a trajectory, esp. among such divergent communities as these four sources represent?  For example, social movements rhetoric criticism does not necessarily demonstrate such a trajectory among groups with diverging populations.  Indeed, it has documented the early presence of rather caustic rhetoric, and a possibility of many responses (from reconciliation to separation), not to mention a very short period of time in which this can happen (not the decades your model would have to assume).

      From another angle: What happens if John is shown to be earlier than Mark, or at least as early and independent of it?

      Can't we find something as potentially useful as your conclusions are without having to depend so much upon very dubious, but widely held assumptions re: early xian mythmaking and its chronology and development?  Better: I wonder what wonderful, chaotic, new worlds of social experimentation we can uncover if we let go of some of our very poor, 19th century literary models?


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