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Re: [John_Lit] Malina et al

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  • Ken Litwak
    ... Ross, first, I did say that I did not want to throw out everything said by Malina, et al. Second, I was not trying to say that these scholars imposed
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 4, 2001
      RHS wrote:

      > Dear Ken Litwak,
      > You wrote: 'While I would not want to say that everything Malina et al
      > has done is wrong by any means, there is a significant methodological
      > question about taking modern results from cultural anthropology and
      > forcing 1st century
      > culture into that grid as though there were no difference.'
      > Here is what Bruce Malina wrote in the preface to the revised edition of
      > 'The New Testament World'.
      > 'The work is premised, then, on the presumption that to understand what
      > people say one must know their social system. And the social system
      > supporting the New Testament is that of the Eastern Mediterranean of the
      > first century AD. The models presented in this book derive for the most
      > part from Mediterranean anthropologists.'
      > At the conclusion of chapter 1 he wrote: "In the remainder of this book,
      > a number of specific models will be presented, mostly of the symbolic
      > sort. After the models are presented, some examples will be given with
      > the hope that you yourself will check out the adequacy of the model on
      > the basis of information provided in the New Testament texts.' p.26.
      > What I have found useful in the work of Malina et all is precisely that
      > they do not do the very thing you accuse them of doing. They do not
      > impose modern western models back onto the first century. The scholar
      > who did that was Gager in his 'Kingdom and Community'.
      > In the Malina/Rohrbaugh 'Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic
      > Gospels' they write about the squabbling over who is to be the greatest
      > in the kingdom. 'The theme of status reversal begins with a contrast
      > between the actual world outside the house of Israel (Gentile rulers and
      > great men) and the way things should be renewed in Israel (Jesus'
      > following). In renewed Israel, the great are those who function as
      > servants at ceremonial meals (deacons), and the first are those who have
      > slave status. These reversals substitute a generalized reciprocity
      > typical of household relations for the balanced reciprocity common to
      > public affairs.' 'The reason for the reversal of statuses required in
      > the Jesus movement is set out in this verse (Mark 10:45). It is based on
      > the behavior of the "Son of Man", who served others (deacon) and 'gave
      > his life as a ransom," to set others free.' p.246
      > I would be interested in quotes from any of these scholars to show that
      > they based their work on contemporary western models rather than first
      > century ones, and did not show how Jesus turned many of the values of
      > his day, including honour and shame, upside down. And I would challenge
      > you to show me anywhere in Neyrey's 'Paul In Other Words' where he
      > inflicts modern cultural systems of thought onto Paul. His book is aimed
      > at fighting against that very trend.
      > Sincerely,
      > Ross Saunders from DownUnder
      >

      Ross, first, I did say that I did not want to throw out everything said by
      Malina, et al. Second, I was not trying to say that these scholars imposed
      Western models upon the first century Greco-Roman world (if I used words that
      conveyed that, I mistyped something -- which I will blame on time-zone
      changes while traveling on business :-) ). What they do, in my view, is find
      modern cultural models, mostly non-Western, and read them back into the first
      century _more_ than they try to determine, from available evidence, what the
      first century values would have been by themselves. It is methodologically
      problematic to me to say that because honor and shame are important in
      contemporary Mediterranean culture that they were also important in the fist
      century. It is in fact possible to determine that such values did exist, but
      I found David de SIlva's book _Honor, Patronage, Kinship, Purity_ much more
      helpful. de SIlva actually adduces evidence from the Greco-Roman world for
      the values he discusses and shows how those values were behind or reversed in
      NT writings. Unless Malina has made a fundamental change in his approach, he
      did not do this in the version of _THe New Testament World_ that I won, and I
      haven't seen anything to lead me to think he has changed his approach, though
      he may have in light of all the criticisms of his approach. I haven't read
      the book by Paul on Neyrey. I did read Neyrey's work on Luke-Acts and
      thought that the same methodological problem existed there.

      Ken Litwak
    • Daniel Streett
      Ken, Malina, it is interesting to note, has criticized de Silva for having a proof-text mentality (my words, not his). In his view, de Silva, in adducing
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 4, 2001
        Ken,

        Malina, it is interesting to note, has criticized de Silva for having a "proof-text" mentality (my
        words, not his). In his view, de Silva, in adducing evidence for his views, has simply amassed a
        hodgepodge of snippets from ancient sources and has no driving sociological theory that is able to
        organize these into a coherent model. It seems then that, indeed, there is a fundamental
        methodological disagreement here.

        Daniel R. Streett
        M.A. Student
        Yale University

        --- Ken Litwak <kdlitwak@...> wrote:
        > I found David de SIlva's book _Honor, Patronage, Kinship, Purity_ much more
        > helpful. de SIlva actually adduces evidence from the Greco-Roman world for
        > the values he discusses and shows how those values were behind or reversed in
        > NT writings. Unless Malina has made a fundamental change in his approach, he
        > did not do this in the version of _THe New Testament World_ that I won, and I
        > haven't seen anything to lead me to think he has changed his approach, though
        > he may have in light of all the criticisms of his approach.
        > Ken Litwak

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