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Two burial stories

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  • Joseph Codsi
    I wish to respond to the following message: From: Tobias Hägerland [mailto:tobias.hagerland@religion.gu.se] Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 11:12 AM To:
    Message 1 of 27 , Sep 1, 2004
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      I wish to respond to the following message:

      From: Tobias Hägerland [mailto:tobias.hagerland@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 11:12 AM
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Two burial stories

      ===============

      Thank you, Tobias, for your challenging rebuttal of my two-burial
      theory. You give me the opportunity to fine tune my views, in order to
      eliminate certain things that can be misleading.

      In this post, I’ll discuss the first part of my theory. The
      reconstruction of what happened on the first day of the week depends on
      the way we resolve the question of the burial. So I suggest we
      concentrate today on this point.

      I agree with you that, as far as GJohn and the synoptics are concerned,
      Jesus was buried at the hands of Joseph of Arimathea. This tradition is
      firmly attested.

      GJohn is the only one that has a trace of an earlier tradition
      concerning the fact that the bodies were removed on account of the
      Sabbath (John 19:31-33).

      You make a good point when you suggest that GJohn has retained that
      earlier tradition because it allowed him to introduce the story of the
      soldier’s piercing the side of Jesus and the fulfillment of the
      scriptures (John 19:34-37), not because he was aware of an older
      tradition concerning the burial of Jesus.

      I agree with you that, as far as the author of GJohn is concerned, he
      had no way of knowing or even suspecting the possibility of a burial
      which would have taken place at the hand of the soldiers and in common
      with the two others who had been crucified with Jesus.

      All I am saying is that the mere fact of using a tradition which
      mentions the Jews’ request to have the bodies removed opens a new
      possibility concerning the burial of Jesus. The author of GJohn was not
      aware of this possibility, his principal interest being, as you suggest,
      the double event [ (1)Jesus’ bones were not broken and (2)the piercing
      of his side ] and the double accomplishment of the scriptures.

      My theory concerning the burial of Jesus at the hand of the soldiers
      would have been just as unacceptable to the author of GJohn as it is
      unacceptable to our 2000-year-old tradition.

      The strength of my theory is that it rests on the survival of a
      tradition, the implications of which were not suspected.

      I’ll stop here today. The clarifications I have introduced should help
      us avoid false assumptions. What remains to be decided is this:

      Did the author of GJohn find an existing tradition which told about the
      Jews’ request to have the bodies removed, or did he invent the entire
      story for theological purposes, namely in order to introduce what he
      says on the fulfillment of the scriptures?

      I’m in favor of the first possibility. What about you, Tobias?
      Once again I thank you for forcing me to clarify my views. I’m looking
      forward to constructive exchanges.

      So long,
      Joseph

      ================
      Joseph Codsi
      P.O. Box 116-2088
      Beirut, Lebanon
      Telephone (961) 1 423 145
      joseph5@...



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    • Joseph Codsi
      I wish to make a few comments related to Tony Costa’s post of Wednesday, September 01, 2004 9:04 PM Thank you, Tony, for quoting Raymond Brown. He says that
      Message 2 of 27 , Sep 2, 2004
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        I wish to make a few comments related to Tony Costa’s post of Wednesday,
        September 01, 2004 9:04 PM

        Thank you, Tony, for quoting Raymond Brown.

        He says that some scholars spoke of two burials, one by the Jews and one
        by Joseph of Arimathea. It seems to me that those who speak of a burial
        by the Jews misread the fourth gospel. GJohn does not say that the Jews
        requested the body of Jesus in order to bury it. It simply says that
        they asked Pilate to have the bodies removed on account of the Sabbath.
        Nothing is said about who removed the bodies and who buried them. But
        since the Roman soldiers came under the command of the Centurion and
        broke the legs of the two others in order to hasten their death, I find
        it logical to assume that they did remove the bodies and bury them later
        on.

        According to the scenario I am following here, the women who had been
        observing the crucifixion scene were there when the soldiers came and
        broke the legs of the two others. But they (the women) had to leave soon
        after, because the sun was about to set and the Sabbath about to begin.
        They remained without news of what happened in their absence. So the
        first thing they do on the first day of the following week is go back to
        the crucifixion site. The women acted, in this case, as news reporters
        in relation to the men. What they reported had nothing to do with a
        resurrection. They reported that “They have taken the Lord […] and we do
        not know where they have put him” (John 20:2).

        This news report can be read in two different ways according to the
        burial story one follows. If we follow the second story (burial by
        Joseph of Arimathea), then the removal of the body can only be “from the
        tomb” and the “they” (the authors of the removal) would refer to unknown
        people. But if we follow the first story (burial by the soldiers), then
        the removal of the body can only be “from the cross”, and the “they”
        would refer to the Roman authorities acting through the soldiers.

        * * *

        I will stop here to allow the readers the time needed to get used to my
        new ideas and to digest them slowly. At the same time I will take this
        opportunity to address the new generation of gospel scholars.

        It is, to be sure, important to know what your predecessors have said
        before you. But please don’t let this erudition sterilize your mind and
        make you incapable of thinking on your own. In the world of scholarly
        research every disciple must become a master capable of distancing his
        or her teachers. Your work is not to repeat what was said before you.
        You must produce new knowledge. In order to do so, you must be capable
        of criticizing your predecessors and of throwing a new look at a few
        important texts of the gospels. Good scholars are those who would not be
        afraid of letting the texts guide them and take them where they would
        not normally go (cf. what Jesus tells Peter in John 21:18). In this
        respect, we must avoid two excesses: the first one is to put in the
        texts what is not in them, and the second one is to remain blind to what
        is in the texts. Don’t be afraid of taking chances. “Qui ne risque rien
        ne gagne rien” (In order to have a chance to win in any gambling game,
        one must bet.)

        Some might find it inappropriate to quote Karl Marx in a gospel
        discussion. But I will go ahead and quote a saying of his, because I
        find it perceptive. I found the quote in a book written in French. So
        here is the French version with an English translation.

        « La tradition de toutes les générations mortes pèse d’un poids très
        lourd sur le cerveau des vivants. » (18 Brummaire)

        « The tradition of all the dead generations weighs very heavily on the
        brain of the living. »

        In relation to the burial of Jesus, two thousand years of Christian
        tradition have not seen in GJohn the trace of an older burial story.
        Should we give priority to tradition or to the text itself?

        Peace,
        Joseph

        ================
        Joseph Codsi
        P.O. Box 116-2088
        Beirut, Lebanon
        Telephone (961) 1 423 145
        joseph5@...



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      • Tobias Hägerland
        ... the ... entire ... Joseph, I really wish I had a definite answer to your question. Please excuse me for referring once again to Raymond E. Brown, who dealt
        Message 3 of 27 , Sep 2, 2004
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          Joseph Codsi wrote:

          > Did the author of GJohn find an existing tradition which told about
          the
          > Jews' request to have the bodies removed, or did he invent the
          entire
          > story for theological purposes, namely in order to introduce what he
          > says on the fulfillment of the scriptures?
          >
          > I'm in favor of the first possibility. What about you, Tobias?

          Joseph,
          I really wish I had a definite answer to your question. Please
          excuse me for referring once again to Raymond E. Brown, who dealt
          with the passion stories in an unsurpassed manner in his _The Death
          of the Messiah_. In connection with the passage we are discussing,
          Brown points out that there is nothing within it that really
          militates against its historicity. It is perfectly credible that 'the
          Jews' would have wished the corpses to be removed before the great
          Sabbath. It is also possible that a soldier could have verified
          Jesus' death by piercing his side. On the other hand, Brown points
          out, there is no trace of the 'latus immolatum' in any pre-Johannine
          account of Jesus' death. Luke 24.39-40 has Jesus show his hands and
          feet to his disciples, whereas John 20.20,25,27 mentions Jesus' hands
          and side.

          I would say that it is historically _possible_ that the eyewitness
          implied by Jn 19.35 actually remembered and handed on tradition
          concerning the events in 19.31-34. We may then assume that the
          eyewitnesses behind the synoptic passion traditions may also have
          witnessed these events, but did not attribute enough theological
          value to the events to include them in their tradition. I cannot see
          how we could be certain that this is not the case. However, in
          scholarly discussion, I think one should refrain from building
          theories on passages like this, the historicity of which remains very
          uncertain.

          /Tobias Hägerland
          Göteborg University
        • Tony Costa
          Joseph Codsi wrote But they (the women) had to leave soon after [the death of Jesus], because the sun was about to set and the Sabbath about to begin.They
          Message 4 of 27 , Sep 2, 2004
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            Joseph Codsi wrote "But they (the women) had to leave
            soon after [the death of Jesus], because the sun was
            about to set and the Sabbath about to begin.They
            remained without news of what happened in their
            absence."

            Dear Joseph, I am little surprised at this statement.
            Where does the text say that the women "had to leave
            soon after"? You are assuming that the women left the
            scene before sundown, but such a notion is absent in
            the text itself. John 19:38-42 supplies the
            information of the burial of Jesus by Joseph of
            Arimathea. The burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea
            is considered one of the most historic accounts in
            the Gospels by the majority of NT critics (with the
            odd exception of John Dominic Crossan). It is possible
            that the women were witnesses of the burial of Jesus
            according to GJohn as there is attestation in the
            Synoptics on this point (Matt.27:59-61; Mk 15:46-47
            (part of pre-Markan passion story); Luke 23:55-56)Best
            regards,

            Tony Costa
          • Joseph Codsi
            Thank you, Bill Bulin, Jack Kilmon, Tobias Hägerland and Tony Costa for your contributions. I believe in team work. It can be a very good way of stimulating
            Message 5 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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              Thank you, Bill Bulin, Jack Kilmon, Tobias Hägerland and Tony Costa for
              your contributions. I believe in team work. It can be a very good way of
              stimulating our thought and helping resolve certain questions.

              Thanks to the new technology, we have become able to communicate all
              over the globe and work together on difficult and delicate questions. It
              took a great deal of ingenuity and perseverance to reach the advanced
              stages of technology. In comparison, the problems we are faced with
              today in gospel research are likely to be relatively simple. But
              problems are always difficult before they are solved. They become simple
              thereafter.

              Let us go back to our problem. We have not resolved it yet, so it is
              still a difficult one. But our collective work has started producing
              some fruit. I find this encouraging.

              EXCHANGING INFORMATION

              The first thing we have started doing spontaneously is exchange some
              information. Thus I learned from Tobias that Raymond E. Brown has
              discussed our question in his book _The Death of the Messiah_, and that
              he would not reject the historicity of what is reported in John 19:31-34
              (“It is perfectly credible that 'the Jews' would have wished the corpses
              to be removed before the great Sabbath. It is also possible that a
              soldier could have verified Jesus' death by piercing his side.”)

              I have no access to Brown’s book. So I would be grateful to Tobias if he
              could scan the relevant passages, OCR them and Email them to me off
              list. I will make a similar request to Jack Kilmon concerning Dom
              Crossan’s discussion of the question. I don’t have access to his books
              either. A copy of one or two relevant passages will be appreciated.

              DISCUSSING THE INFORMATION

              I will now engage Tobias on an important point. First, there is no
              reason to apologize for quoting Raymond E. Brown. On the contrary, I
              thank him for it. However, I cannot help but notice that Tobias deviates
              from Brown’s views, when he states “However, in scholarly discussion, I
              think one should refrain from building theories on passages like this,
              the historicity of which remains very uncertain.”

              This statement can be construed to be questioning the historicity of the
              dual event (Jesus’ bones were not broken and his side was pierced) in
              which GJohn sees an accomplishment of the scriptures. So I see here an
              indirect answer to my original question: “Is the entire episode (John
              19:31-37) an invention of the evangelist?”

              It is no simple thing to overcome our unconscious prejudices. When we
              have been taught from our childhood that Jesus was buried at the hand of
              Joseph of Arimathea, we tend to take this as a sure truth. As a
              consequence, we dismiss as uncertain any evidence to the contrary, even
              when the said evidence comes from the gospel itself.

              Someone like Crossan has freed himself from the dogmas of his youth. He
              has no problem challenging the traditional view on this matter. Brown
              seems to be, as far as I can tell from the second-hand information I
              have about him, somewhere in between Crossan and Tobias. If he was to
              admit the historicity of the Jews’ request to have the bodies removed,
              he finds himself at odds with the incontrovertible truth that Jesus was
              buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Simply put, he does not know how to
              reconcile the two stories. As a consequence, his judgment on the matter
              remains suspended.

              I think Bill Bulin faces a similar difficulty and joins Tobias in his
              uncertainty. The theological nature of the scriptures’ fulfillment can
              be extended, in his view, to the entire episode. But if we consider the
              Jews’ request to have the bodies removed as a theological not an
              historical event, we run into a severe problem, simply because then the
              entire distinction between “theological” and “historical” becomes
              meaningless. Anything can be theological and anything can be historical
              as well. This is why I think it is important to maintain the difference
              between “theological” and historical”, and to show in the case at hand
              that the Jews’ request is indeed historical. What is theological is the
              johannine view of the scriptures accomplishment.

              The distinction between “theological” and historical” is philosophical
              in nature. It is based on a specific understanding of the way the
              religious mind works as it interjects its theological views on
              historical events. Theology is an interpretation of history, and most
              particularly of the historical events that are proper to the Christian
              faith. So, whether we like it or not, the gospel scholar is always
              affected by his or her unconscious philosophical prejudices.

              These questions seem difficult. But here again what is difficult becomes
              easy once we understand it. I will not engage in abstract philosophical
              questions. It is enough to acknowledge that the recognition of the
              historicity of the Jews’ request poses a serious problem in as much as
              it is incompatible with the story of Joseph Arimathea. I recognize the
              difficulty. But at this stage, it is premature to discuss it. I will
              discuss it in due time, that is to say after the historicity of the
              first story has been established.

              HOW TO PROCEED?

              We do not know what to think of a piece of evidence that is proper to
              GJohn. According to Jack Kilmon, this is not a unique occurrence in the
              fourth gospel. There are similar cases, which indicate that the author
              of the fourth gospel had access to information, unknown to Mark, and
              most probably going back to very early sources. (“I have long promoted
              the concept of an earlier Aramaic "proto-John" that was the framework,
              in Greek translation, around which the author of Canonical John weaved
              his larger tapestry. I am bold enough to contend that "proto-John"
              pre-dated GMark.”)

              Let us ask Jack to identify for us a few other examples, which can
              foster his theory. We need a few examples in order to asses the
              reliability of the so-called “proto-John”. A work of this nature is
              likely to require some time. So let’s give Jack the time he needs,
              should he be prepared to help us in this way with our collective
              investigation.

              WE SHALL OVERCOME, PROVIDED WE HASTEN SLOWLY.

              Joseph

              ================
              Joseph Codsi
              P.O. Box 116-2088
              Beirut, Lebanon
              Telephone (961) 1 423 145
              joseph5@...



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            • Tony Costa
              Joseph Codsi wrote It is no simple thing to overcome our unconscious prejudices. When we have been taught from our childhood that Jesus was buried at the hand
              Message 6 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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                Joseph Codsi wrote "It is no simple thing to overcome
                our unconscious prejudices. When we have been taught
                from our childhood that Jesus was buried at the hand
                of Joseph of Arimathea, we tend to take this as a sure
                truth. As a consequence, we dismiss as uncertain any
                evidence to the contrary, even when the said evidence
                comes from the gospel itself.Someone like Crossan has
                freed himself from the dogmas of his youth."

                I see an example of the genetic fallacy operating
                here. The fact that the burial story was taught by
                one's parents is not proof that it is untrue! Again in
                the claim that Crossan "has freed himself from the
                dogmas of his youth." is again an example of the
                genetic fallacy. It is not the question of source that
                is at stake here, but indeed where the evidence points
                to. The burial of Jesus by Joseph far from being a
                "dogma" is accepted by an overwhelming consensus of NT
                scholarship, even by radical critics like Rudolf
                Bultmann and John.A.T.Robinson. Raymond Brown also
                argues there are no signs of embellishment in the
                burial story of Jesus and the person of Joseph of
                Arimathea could not have been a Christian conjecture.
                Joseph of Arimathea, as well as Nicodemus were also
                members of the Jewish Sanhedrin, thus both would have
                been part of the Jewish leadership, usually referred
                to in the GJohn as "the Jews". The onus is on the
                advocates of new theories to justify their position
                when it comes to the burial story of Jesus.



                Tony Costa
              • Tobias Hägerland
                Joseph, I do not have much time at the moment, so I will try to make a short response. As regards your request for secondary literature, I am afraid I cannot
                Message 7 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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                  Joseph,

                  I do not have much time at the moment, so I will try to make a short
                  response.

                  As regards your request for secondary literature, I am afraid I
                  cannot comply with it for copyright reasons. The books we have
                  mentioned here (by Brown, Crossan and others) should be available to
                  you in their entirety if you wish to pursue serious studies on the
                  Gospels and the historical Jesus.

                  Then, to clarify what I wrote:
                  ("It is perfectly credible that 'the Jews' would have wished the
                  corpses
                  > to be removed before the great Sabbath. It is also possible that a
                  > soldier could have verified Jesus' death by piercing his side.")
                  These are not the exact words of R.E. Brown, they are my summary of
                  what he wrote. His point is that there is nothing intrinsically
                  unrealistic about the passage. It could have happened: and I agree
                  with that view. But the author of GJOhn could of course produce a
                  fictitious, while fully realistic, episode. Then Brown points out the
                  problem that no one before GJohn mentioned these supposedly
                  historical incidents. He does not say anything more than that.


                  However, I cannot help but notice that Tobias deviates
                  > from Brown's views, when he states "However, in scholarly
                  discussion, I
                  > think one should refrain from building theories on passages like
                  this,
                  > the historicity of which remains very uncertain."

                  I do not think that I deviate from Brown's views in this matter. The
                  outcome of his discussion is that the historicity is indeed
                  uncertain, and he does not build any theory of historical
                  reconstruction on the passage. As was noted in an earlier post in
                  this thread, he regarded the theory that you propose as phantasy.

                  > This statement can be construed to be questioning the historicity
                  of the
                  > dual event (Jesus' bones were not broken and his side was pierced)
                  in
                  > which GJohn sees an accomplishment of the scriptures. So I see here
                  an
                  > indirect answer to my original question: "Is the entire episode
                  (John
                  > 19:31-37) an invention of the evangelist?"

                  My direct answer would be: Perhaps so, perhaps not.


                  > It is no simple thing to overcome our unconscious prejudices. When
                  we
                  > have been taught from our childhood that Jesus was buried at the
                  hand of
                  > Joseph of Arimathea, we tend to take this as a sure truth. As a
                  > consequence, we dismiss as uncertain any evidence to the contrary,
                  even
                  > when the said evidence comes from the gospel itself.
                  >
                  > Someone like Crossan has freed himself from the dogmas of his
                  youth. He
                  > has no problem challenging the traditional view on this matter.

                  This has nothing to do with conscious or unconscious prejudices. Some
                  of us have been taught from our childhood that the soldier pierced
                  the side of (the historical?) Jesus but have no problem questioning
                  the historicity of that passage.

                  I sense that your desire to separate 'historical' from 'theological'
                  is a little too simplistic. If you go back and read scholarly works
                  on the historical Jesus from the 19th century, you will encounter
                  similar optimism. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with (the
                  introduction to) D.F. Strauss's massive _Das Leben Jesu_ which showed
                  how history and theology ('myth') are closely interwoven in the
                  Gospels and cannot always be easily separated.

                  /Tobias
                • Joseph Codsi
                  Bill Bulin wrote on Thursday 9/2/2004 5:03 PM
                  Message 8 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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                    Bill Bulin wrote on Thursday 9/2/2004 5:03 PM

                    <The leg-breaking and side-piercing may be theological or historical or
                    both but if it is merely later theological invention then your proposed
                    second burial account by Joseph would be the more primitive. The problem
                    with supposing mere theological invention based on Jewish texts alone is
                    that it is hard to know where the process should stop. Was the petition
                    for the removal of the bodies merely theological invention too? Was text
                    linked to actual event or imaginary event linked to text?>

                    Let me make sure I understand you correctly.

                    You seem to separate the story concerning the Jews' request to have the
                    bodies removed from the subsequent story of the leg-breaking and
                    side-piercing. I assume that you consider the Jews' request as
                    historical, but that you have doubts about the historicity of what is
                    related to the fulfillment of the scriptures. Am I correct, so far?

                    If you admit the historicity of the Jews' request, then you must admit
                    as well the action taken by the soldiers in order to hasten the death of
                    the condemned by breaking their legs. Some doubt is possible about the
                    side-piercing and especially about the flowing of blood and water. But
                    this last question is not of the essence as far as I am concerned. What
                    matters is that the request was made to have the bodies removed and that
                    the request was acted upon. The implied consequence of this is that the
                    bodies would have been removed by the soldiers out of the public sight.
                    It is this action that is incompatible with the second burial story, in
                    which Joseph of Arimathea becomes the central actor.

                    Because I have no way of judging the question of the historicity in
                    relation to the side-piercing and the flowing of blood and water, I give
                    the text the benefit of the doubt and consider them as part of the
                    "proto John" (cf. Jack Kilmon's post).

                    What I find erratic is the claim that the "proto John" does not exist
                    and that the author of GJohn invented the entire story, from A to Z, in
                    order to show that two passages of the scripture were fulfilled. In all
                    such cases, the logic of the faith requires that the historical events
                    (or what is believed to have been an historical event) be the starting
                    point of the logical argument, the fulfillment of the scriptures being
                    its logical ending. If the starting point and the conclusion are both
                    theological, then the logic of the argument would defeat itself. No
                    theologian in his right mind would do such a thing knowingly and
                    willingly. Only a theologian with a deranged mind would write a novel
                    consisting of a series of events, which are shown to have fulfilled a
                    series of obscure scriptures.

                    It is true that a large number of events were invented after the death
                    of Jesus in order to prove that he was, in his earthly life, the Son of
                    God of the Easter revelation. But the Jews' request to have the bodies
                    removed from public sight does not fall into this category.

                    * * *

                    I move now to the following question:

                    <May I ask what type of burial /disposal the three corpses you
                    envisage would have been given by the Roman soldiers? The reason I ask
                    is that I assume that they would merely have been thrown in the rubbish
                    heap serving the whole city in which case your first 'burial' term would
                    be overstating matters somewhat. There is surely no reason to believe
                    that such corpses would either have been placed in a tomb or that sweat
                    and soil would have been broken to facilitate a more careful disposal.>

                    I prefer to stay as close as possible to the text. The Jewish leadership
                    who had requested the removal of the bodies wanted to move them out of
                    sight. They would have objected if the soldiers had thrown them in a
                    rubbish heap located near the eastern gate of the city. So I suppose
                    that the soldiers had a choice between taking them far from the city or
                    burying them in a common grave somewhere out of the city. Because Mary
                    Magdalene was unable to locate the place where the body of Jesus had
                    been put (cf. her question to the gardener), I suppose that the place
                    had remained unknown. This scenario is radically incompatible with the
                    story of the empty tomb. And this is what makes it so difficult to
                    accept.

                    If you do not find my explanations satisfactory, don't hesitate to
                    reformulate your questions.

                    Peace,
                    Joseph

                    ================
                    Joseph Codsi
                    P.O. Box 116-2088
                    Beirut, Lebanon
                    Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                    joseph5@...



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                  • Joseph Codsi
                    Tony Costa wrote: Joseph Codsi wrote But they (the women) had to leave soon after [the death of Jesus], because the sun was about to set and the Sabbath about
                    Message 9 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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                      Tony Costa wrote:

                      Joseph Codsi wrote "But they (the women) had to leave
                      soon after [the death of Jesus], because the sun was
                      about to set and the Sabbath about to begin. They
                      remained without news of what happened in their
                      absence."

                      Dear Joseph, I am little surprised at this statement.
                      Where does the text say that the women "had to leave
                      soon after"? You are assuming that the women left the
                      scene before sundown, but such a notion is absent in
                      the text itself.

                      Dear Tony,

                      You are right. The text does not say anything about the women leaving
                      the sight of the crucifixion before the soldiers removed the bodies from
                      the crosses. What I am saying here is a logical reconstruction of what
                      is likely to have happened after the soldiers had broken the legs of the
                      two men who were crucified with Jesus and after one of them had pierced
                      Jesus' side with a spear.

                      The notion that the women went back home, because the Sabbath was about
                      to begin is found in Luke 23:24 and 26.

                      According to my reconstruction of the events, it must have been in the
                      night that the soldiers disposed of the bodies, once they were all dead.
                      The soldiers were not Jewish and did not have to observe the Sabbath.
                      Besides the full moon was shining.

                      It is true that the story of Joseph of Arimathea is very well attested.
                      So I recognize here that there is a serious problem with my theory of
                      the two burials. But as I said in my earlier post, let's not put the
                      cart before the horse. Let's first settle the question of the
                      historicity of the older account. In a second step we'll worry about
                      resolving the contradiction.

                      Peace,
                      Joseph

                      ================
                      Joseph Codsi
                      P.O. Box 116-2088
                      Beirut, Lebanon
                      Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                      joseph5@...



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                    • Joseph Codsi
                      James McGrath wrote:
                      Message 10 of 27 , Sep 3, 2004
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                        James McGrath wrote:

                        <My own difficulty with the hypothesis Joseph Codsi has proposed is that
                        I consider the Markan form of the account of Jesus' burial quite
                        plausible as the starting point for subsequent development in the Gospel
                        traditions.>

                        This is correct, but only in relation to what pertains to the second
                        burial story.

                        Mark's account seems to be the most "primitive" one. Joseph of Arimathea
                        is identified as "a respected member of the council, who was also
                        himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God." (Mark 15:43)

                        Matthew makes of Joseph a rich man who was also a disciple of Jesus
                        (27:57). There is here a slight attempt to make the story look more
                        credible. As member of the council, Joseph would have sent Jesus to his
                        death. He would have been unfit to worry about the burial of Jesus.

                        Luke introduces Joseph in this fashion: "Now there was a good and
                        righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not
                        agreed to their plan and action." (23:50-51)

                        John says of Joseph that he was a disciple of Jesus, a secret one
                        however because of his fear of the Jews. (19:38)

                        In all accounts, Joseph of Arimathea looks like a "Deus ex machina", who
                        appears out of nowhere in order to solve a problem. The original story
                        made him a member of the council so as to explain the fact that he was
                        able to obtain the necessary permission to bury Jesus. He was neither a
                        disciple nor a member of the family. On the contrary, he was a member of
                        the council! Clearly he had no business taking the initiative of
                        petitioning for the body of Jesus.

                        Matthew, Luke and John had no other tradition to follow. They tried to
                        camouflage the oddity of the story as best they could.

                        In comparison, the first burial story is much more credible.

                        Am I going too fast to the conclusion I have in mind?

                        Peace,
                        Joseph

                        ================
                        Joseph Codsi
                        P.O. Box 116-2088
                        Beirut, Lebanon
                        Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                        joseph5@...



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Joseph Codsi
                        Dear Tobias, Thank you for taking the time to clarify certain points. I do not think that photocopying, scanning or quoting a page from a library book violates
                        Message 11 of 27 , Sep 4, 2004
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                          Dear Tobias,

                          Thank you for taking the time to clarify certain points.

                          I do not think that photocopying, scanning or quoting a page from a
                          library book violates the copyright laws. But this point, as important
                          as it may be for a discussion group like ours, is off topic. I will not
                          discuss it here.

                          Besides, I no longer need a copy of Brown's text. You have made it clear
                          that he thinks exactly like you, namely that he would consider my theory
                          as "phantasy". But since my theory is based on John 19:31-34, I would
                          have expected you to dismiss this johannine passage as being without any
                          historical merit as well. The fact that you cannot bring yourself to
                          take such a drastic step deserves an explanation.

                          Please understand that I am not interested in criticizing you. I respect
                          your reluctance to be critical of this johannine passage. My purpose is
                          to initiate a deeper reflection on the problem with which we are faced.

                          You mentioned that "Some of us have been taught from our childhood that
                          the soldier pierced the side of (the historical?) Jesus but have no
                          problem questioning the historicity of that passage." Does this mean as
                          well that you would not have any problem questioning the historicity of
                          the resurrection?

                          Here lies precisely the problem of modern exegesis. It is easy to have a
                          free discussion of trivial questions that are of no vital importance in
                          relation to our religious convictions or cultural views. Do you know
                          many theological school professors who would readily admit that the
                          resurrection is nothing but a myth, in the sense that it did not affect
                          in any way the dead body of Jesus?

                          The fulfillment of the scripture: "They will look on the one whom they
                          have pierced" seems to have had an importance in the eyes of the author
                          of GJohn. The same question does not have much importance today. So we
                          have no difficulty with a theory claiming it to be a non historical
                          event. But, when I step in, and see in John 19:31-34 an historical
                          incident which implies that Jesus was not buried by Joseph of Arimathea
                          and that nobody among his disciples ever knew his final resting place, I
                          am viewed as a dangerous terrorist. I cannot find fault with a reaction
                          of this nature, because it is perfectly natural. Our self-defense
                          mechanism forces us to protect ourselves from any dangerous intrusion
                          that can affect our physical life or our spiritual wholeness. The
                          self-defense mechanism is pre-rational. It controls us. We do not
                          control it. It takes a radical revolution to reverse our convictions and
                          open us to a new perception of the truth.

                          The classical example of such a revolution is the case of Galileo. He
                          claimed, contrarily to the universal belief, that it is not the sun that
                          turns around the earth, but the earth around the sun. As long as he
                          contradicted a deeply-rooted cultural truth, he was viewed as a
                          dangerous terrorist. But with the passing of time our cultural views
                          changed and we have rehabilitated Galileo.

                          A similar revolution took place in relation to creation versus
                          evolution. Today we have no problem considering the creation stories of
                          the book of Genesis as creation Myths similar to what we find in other
                          ancient cultures. Along the same line, the day will come when my theory
                          concerning the burial of Jesus will become acceptable. But a change of
                          this nature requires an important change in our theological views and in
                          our understanding of the Christian event.

                          As far as I can judge from my third-world planet, and on the basis of my
                          very limited knowledge of what is being published today in the field of
                          gospel scholarship, it seems to me that we are in a very shaky
                          transitional situation. I have not read D.F. Strauss's massive _Das
                          Leben Jesu_. I can only speak of it on the basis of what I have been
                          told, namely that it shows "how history and theology ('myth') are
                          closely interwoven in the Gospels and cannot always be easily
                          separated". I recognize here a classical situation in which the mythical
                          dimension of the Christian discourse is recognized, but without being
                          taken seriously. We are willing to admit that historical facts are
                          interwoven with non-historical facts in the gospels. But since we do not
                          know how to tell which is which, we act as if everything was historical.
                          We go back to our old traditional views. As a result, we consider as
                          historical what is traditionally accepted and we dismiss as "phantasy"
                          what is theologically unacceptable.

                          It was mentioned in our exchanges that the story of Joseph of Arimathea
                          is very well attested and that, with the exception of Crossan, all
                          scholars consider it as highly historical. This is true. But this does
                          not prove that this widely spread view is correct. Everybody believed
                          that the sun turns around the earth until Galileo came and proved them
                          all wrong. The same thing can happen in relation to the story of Joseph
                          of Arimathea. But a revolution of this nature cannot take place just
                          because a Joseph Codsi decided to change the course of history on the
                          basis of a personal phantasy. My theory must be based on hard facts. The
                          hard fact is John 19:31-34. I have not invented the story that is
                          reported there. As far as I can tell from Tobias' report, Brown finds
                          the story quite believable, but raises doubts about its historicity,
                          because of "the problem that no one before GJohn mentioned these
                          supposedly historical incidents."

                          This form of speech implies that GJohn is the last gospel in date.
                          Because its predecessors ignore the incident of the Jews' request to
                          have the bodies removed out of sight, Brown justifies his dismissal of
                          the incident. On the basis of such a logic, we should dismiss as
                          unacceptable very large sections of GJohn which are unique to it. I do
                          not think that I would be speculating if I said that Brown's refusal to
                          admit the historicity of what is reported in John 19:31-34 is because he
                          is afraid of the logical consequences of this admission, namely that the
                          body of Jesus would have been taken off by the Roman soldiers, which is
                          incompatible with the firmly established tradition of the burial at the
                          hand of Joseph of Arimathea.

                          I think all of us are faced with the same difficulty. Brown and Tobias
                          are not alone. I also recognize that I have the obligation of dealing
                          with the difficulty in a satisfactory manner. But I feel, at the same
                          time, that, if we want to be honest with the evidence, we must take John
                          19:31-34 seriously and give it the benefit of the doubt, that is to say,
                          consider it as historical unless proven, later on, to be a fallacy.

                          GJohn has very late and very early material. Jack Kilmon speaks of a
                          proto-John that pre-dated GMark. He goes on to say: "I see John 19:34 as
                          a seam from the protogospel after which verse 35 is a "cap" and verses
                          36 and 37 were interpolations by the Greek author and 19:38 (the
                          beginning of the empty tomb story) a separate tradition. This would
                          tend to support the possibility that two traditions may be colliding at
                          this point."

                          So far, Jack is the only one to have been open to the possibility that
                          two traditions may be colliding at this point. This is why I was hoping
                          he would take the time to identify other items that go back to
                          proto-John. I would not be surprised if some of those items collided
                          with later traditions that have replaced older ones in the Christian
                          discourse. The fact that the Christian memory of many historical facts
                          has been altered and replaced with invented stories must be and can be
                          documented. I suspect that the collective memory of the early church was
                          altered, in its formative days, so as to eliminate many things that had
                          become unacceptable to the Christian mind. In other words, history was
                          changed in order to make it compatible with the new twists of the
                          theological discourse.

                          An example of this phenomenon is what happened to the story of Jesus'
                          burial. His body was disposed of by the Roman soldiers, and his
                          disciples never new where it was put. Later on the faith in the
                          resurrection was challenged and the need to confirm it became important.
                          Whence the need to have a tomb that was found empty. The story of Joseph
                          of Arimathea was then invented.

                          If we can identify other stories that have been altered in a similar
                          fashion and for theological reasons, the case for my theory will be
                          strengthened.

                          So long,
                          Joseph

                          ================
                          Joseph Codsi
                          P.O. Box 116-2088
                          Beirut, Lebanon
                          Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                          joseph5@...



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Tobias Hägerland
                          Dear Joseph, ... clear ... theory ... would ... without any ... The direct explanation for the fact that I am reluctant to declare that the incidents in Jn
                          Message 12 of 27 , Sep 6, 2004
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                            Dear Joseph,

                            In your latest post, you wrote:

                            > Besides, I no longer need a copy of Brown's text. You have made it
                            clear
                            > that he thinks exactly like you, namely that he would consider my
                            theory
                            > as "phantasy". But since my theory is based on John 19:31-34, I
                            would
                            > have expected you to dismiss this johannine passage as being
                            without any
                            > historical merit as well. The fact that you cannot bring yourself to
                            > take such a drastic step deserves an explanation.

                            The direct explanation for the fact that I am reluctant to declare
                            that the incidents in Jn 19.31-34 cannot have happened is that it is
                            very difficult to prove a historical negative. That is, in some cases
                            we may rather confidently say that an account is certainly
                            historical - insofar as we believe that certainty can be had at all
                            in historiography. I think that Jesus' baptism by John was mentioned
                            earlier in this thread as precisely such an incident which most
                            (though not all, in fact) historical-Jesus scholars take to be
                            historical with a very high degree of certainty. An even better
                            example could be Jesus' crucifixion. If the crucifixion did not
                            happen, then we do not have and cannot have any knowledge of the
                            historical Jesus. By contrast, it is difficult to come up with a
                            Gospel saying or episode for which scholars would unanimously declare
                            that a historical kernel was lacking. It is methodologically simpler
                            to know that something did happen than to know with certainty that
                            something did not happen.

                            The discussion of criteria in historical Jesus research has nearly
                            developed into a discipline of its own. Interestingly, discussion in
                            this area has produced not only a number of 'criteria of
                            authenticity' but also a few 'criteria of inauthenticity', by which a
                            saying or episode can be judged as lacking historical merit. I follow
                            Tom Holmén (_Jesus and Jewish Covenant Thinking_, Brill 2002) in
                            accepting two criteria by which to establish lack of historicity. The
                            first criterion argues that any Gospel saying or episode that does
                            not conform to what we know about the circumstances in 1st century
                            Palestine - that is, a saying or episode clearly anachronistic - is
                            not historical. The second criterion is the criterion of incoherence:
                            that which contradicts other sayings or actions of Jesus, the
                            historicity of which have already been established, is not historical.

                            The passage we are discussing does not meet any of these two
                            criteria. Hence I will not judge it to be void of historical
                            reminiscences. On the other hand, its historicity cannot be affirmed
                            by the positive criteria of historicity, so it remains an uncertain
                            case in my opinion.

                            > You mentioned that "Some of us have been taught from our childhood
                            that
                            > the soldier pierced the side of (the historical?) Jesus but have no
                            > problem questioning the historicity of that passage." Does this
                            mean as
                            > well that you would not have any problem questioning the
                            historicity of
                            > the resurrection?

                            If by 'questioning' you mean scrutinizing the sources, weighing the
                            pros and cons, then my answer is yes. If by the same expression you
                            mean denying its historicity on the basis of a certain worldview,
                            then my answer is no.

                            The question of the resurrection is, of course, not quite comparable
                            to the piercing of Jesus' side or even his burial. These two are
                            allegedly spatial-temporal events and thus may be part of 'history'
                            as we understand it. By contrast, the resurrection is someting
                            metaphysical. Its 'historicity' could hardly be affirmed by the
                            criteria in historical Jesus research. What is open to scholarly
                            discussion are the events that led to resurrection belief: mainly,
                            the discovery of the empty tomb (and in this connection of course the
                            burial of Jesus, which is why I find the question you have raised as
                            legitimate and interesting in principle), and the experiences of
                            those who professed to have 'seen' the risen Jesus. I have, in fact,
                            touched upon the latter question in one of my earlier posts where I
                            questioned the notion that the historical Mary Magdalene was among
                            those who had these experiences. If that weakens the argument for the
                            resurrection as a 'historical event', I am still perfectly content
                            both as a scholar and as a Catholic Christian.

                            > Here lies precisely the problem of modern exegesis. It is easy to
                            have a
                            > free discussion of trivial questions that are of no vital
                            importance in
                            > relation to our religious convictions or cultural views. Do you know
                            > many theological school professors who would readily admit that the
                            > resurrection is nothing but a myth, in the sense that it did not
                            affect
                            > in any way the dead body of Jesus?

                            In fact, that happens every now or then. There is the famous example
                            of Professor Gerd Lüdemann who arrived at the conclusion that
                            neither
                            Jesus' miracles nor his resurrection ever happened, 'for the laws of
                            nature cannot be broken' (see his _Jesus after 2000 Years_). He
                            subsequently renounced the Christian faith. I think that was very
                            honourable.

                            But, when I step in, and see in John 19:31-34 an historical
                            > incident which implies that Jesus was not buried by Joseph of
                            Arimathea
                            > and that nobody among his disciples ever knew his final resting
                            place, I
                            > am viewed as a dangerous terrorist.

                            Of course not. But I think you can make a better case for the theory
                            of Jesus' disposal by the Romans if you start not in John, but in
                            Paul and Mark. Begin by showing that the reference to Jesus' burial
                            in 1 Cor. 15 was not part of the paradosis but something that Paul
                            himself added to it. If that is true, then we don't have any
                            reference to Jesus' burial before the 50's. Then go on to scrutinize
                            the Markan account, point out the inconsistencies and absurdities in
                            it. Once it can be dismissed as ficititious, we may be willing to
                            assume that Jesus' corpse met the same destiny as many other executed
                            criminals in 1st century Palestine. I think this is the way taken by
                            Crossan, and his theory cannot be dismissed as 'phantasy' even by
                            those who do not believe in it.

                            Best regards,
                            Tobias Hägerland
                          • Joseph Codsi
                            I wish to respond here to Bill Bullin s last post (Sept. 5, 04). Hi Bill, Thank you so much for your last post. It confirms my view that two brains are better
                            Message 13 of 27 , Sep 6, 2004
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                              I wish to respond here to Bill Bullin's last post (Sept. 5, 04).

                              Hi Bill,

                              Thank you so much for your last post. It confirms my view that two
                              brains are better than one, provided, of course, they work together
                              instead of fighting one another.

                              It always takes an effort to go out of our shell and open up to a new
                              proposition. It is not a simple matter to communicate our views to those
                              who do not share them, and not a simple matter to understand the views
                              of those who think differently. But I think it is possible to overcome
                              the difficulties, especially when we are not prevented from being honest
                              with ourselves. I recognize, however, that this is not always possible.
                              It is no simple matter to recognize the force of an argument, when the
                              said argument contradicts our truth. The case of Galileo illustrates
                              this point.

                              What you said about Paul, GLuke and Acts is very interesting. This
                              represents an intelligent contribution to the question we are
                              discussing.

                              I do not have the time to answer some of your questions or to discuss
                              certain points. I will do that tomorrow.

                              Peace,
                              Joseph

                              ================
                              Joseph Codsi
                              P.O. Box 116-2088
                              Beirut, Lebanon
                              Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                              joseph5@...



                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Joseph Codsi
                              I wish to answer here Tobias Hägerland’s post of Sept. 6, 2004. Dear Tobias, Thank you for the additional explanations you have introduced in your last
                              Message 14 of 27 , Sep 7, 2004
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                                I wish to answer here Tobias Hägerland’s post of Sept. 6, 2004.

                                Dear Tobias,

                                Thank you for the additional explanations you have introduced in your
                                last post.

                                Two points have retained my attention. The first one has to do with the
                                historical critical methodology. The second point has to do with the
                                precious nature of faith.

                                FIRST POINT: METHODOLOGY

                                You write:

                                <The discussion of criteria in historical Jesus research has nearly
                                developed into a discipline of its own. Interestingly, discussion in
                                this area has produced not only a number of 'criteria of
                                authenticity' but also a few 'criteria of inauthenticity', by which a
                                saying or episode can be judged as lacking historical merit. I follow
                                Tom Holmén (_Jesus and Jewish Covenant Thinking_, Brill 2002) in
                                accepting two criteria by which to establish lack of historicity. The
                                first criterion argues that any Gospel saying or episode that does
                                not conform to what we know about the circumstances in 1st century
                                Palestine - that is, a saying or episode clearly anachronistic - is
                                not historical. The second criterion is the criterion of incoherence:
                                that which contradicts other sayings or actions of Jesus, the
                                historicity of which have already been established, is not historical.>

                                The problem I see with the methodology you advocate here is that it does
                                not allow you to decide whether the events described in John 19:31-34
                                are historical or not.

                                If I were to judge the tree from its fruit, I would have to say that the
                                various methods that have been advocated so far leave a lot to be
                                desired. None of the important questions related to the historicity
                                problem has been adequately resolved. On the contrary, I see a lot of
                                skepticism around me. Many seem to have given up on the historicity
                                question.

                                This is why I am in favor of a more intelligent approach to the problem.
                                The tools we use in our research must be custom-made and constantly
                                improved, so as to be really useful. The methods we follow are our
                                tools. It makes no sense, in my view, to remain faithful to methods that
                                have produced sour fruit. In this regard, my aim is to invite you and
                                the resourceful members of this list to a common research for a better
                                method.

                                SECOND POINT: FAITH

                                I think that faith is a very precious thing. This is why I would not
                                allow my critical study of the gospel to make me contemptuous of those
                                who have remained faithful to the faith of their childhood. I do not
                                think, for example, that my mother was “simple-minded” just because she
                                was a devout Catholic. It is true that I have evolved in the way I deal
                                with the faith of my childhood. It is also true that I would encourage
                                people to become more mature in the way they understand their religion.
                                There is in the maturity process a negative dimension, which is critical
                                of certain things. But the negativity is not the final step. It has to
                                be followed by another step, which allows us to see and judge the
                                spiritual dimension in a less naïve way.

                                In the seventeenth century, the Europeans saw in Galileo’s view a threat
                                to their faith. We no longer make a similar connection today. In the
                                same way, if our faith is based on having an empty tomb, we will be
                                reluctant to admit that the stories of Joseph of Arimathea and of the
                                empty tomb are not historical. An admission of this nature requires a
                                revision of our understanding of our faith. But I do not think that such
                                a revision would be more catastrophic than the revision of the ancient
                                views relatively to the new knowledge Galileo has introduced.

                                Peace,
                                Joseph


                                ================
                                Joseph Codsi
                                P.O. Box 116-2088
                                Beirut, Lebanon
                                Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                joseph5@...



                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Joseph Codsi
                                To Bill Bullin Hello Bill, Let me go through a few points. 1 -
                                Message 15 of 27 , Sep 7, 2004
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                                  To Bill Bullin

                                  Hello Bill,

                                  Let me go through a few points.

                                  1 - < The creedal formula, 1 Cor. 15:4, our earliest witness, is clear
                                  that Jesus was buried rather than 'dumped'.>

                                  Yes. But we also profess that “he rose from the dead on the third day,
                                  in conformity with the scriptures.” Can we quote the scriptures that say
                                  so?

                                  I am not an expert in Roman history. But I have heard a lot of things
                                  concerning the way the Romans treated executed criminals. It seems to me
                                  that there is no consensus on this point.

                                  The case of Jesus and the two others who had been crucified with him was
                                  special, because they were executed on the eve of an important Sabbath.
                                  Had they been executed on an ordinary day, it is possible that they
                                  would have been left hanging on the cross for many days.

                                  We know that exceptions were sometimes made. The family was then allowed
                                  to take the body and bury it. But in the case of Jesus, and apparently
                                  in the case of the two others as well, the families did not claim the
                                  bodies. As a matter of fact, nobody claimed the bodies, not even the
                                  “Jews”. The text is perfectly clear on this point. The Jewish leadership
                                  had asked Pilate for a favor, and Pilate obliged them. This means that
                                  the bodies remained from A to Z in the hands of the Roman soldiers.
                                  Pilate had given them the order to break the legs of the condemned (in
                                  order to hasten their death) and put their bodies out of sight.

                                  We must understand that, as far as the Jewish leadership was concerned,
                                  their request implied that the corpses be removed from public sight.
                                  Burial, it seems to me, is a good way of accomplishing that. In this
                                  exceptional case, the Romans did not play by their rules, but by the
                                  requirements of Jewish sensitivity.

                                  2 - Could you clarify what lies behind your strong term 'incompatible'
                                  (below) for me?

                                  "The implied consequence of this is that the bodies would have been
                                  removed by the soldiers out of the public sight. It is this action that
                                  is incompatible with the second burial story, in which Joseph of
                                  Arimathea becomes the central actor."

                                  If the soldiers are the ones who have disposed of the bodies, then
                                  nothing would have been left for a Joseph of Arimathea to do.

                                  3 – The temptation of combining the two stories

                                  <However it also seems historically quite possible that Jesus did have
                                  secret supporters in the Council who may only have 'come out' (both to
                                  the Jews and believers, after Paul spoke in Antioch but before Mark
                                  wrote), yet did all they could to secure a decent burial for Jesus out
                                  of both respect for the Torah and a secret admiration for the crucified
                                  'Kingdom rabbi'.>

                                  Some have suggested that Jesus was first buried or dumped by the Roman
                                  soldiers, but that Joseph of Arimathea came along, took his body and put
                                  it in a tomb. You seem to be giving here a variant of this story.
                                  According to this new scenario, the Jews requested the bodies and buried
                                  them. Joseph of Arimathea would have taken care of Jesus’ burial. But, I
                                  am afraid, John 19:31-34 does not allow for such a scenario.

                                  4 - <So in summary, and leaving aside the question of whether or not
                                  dead men ever rise, my question is: what *must* make the Johannine
                                  account 'two distinct burial accounts' and not merely one primitive
                                  detailed account, in your view? If your first post you seemed to be
                                  advocating the possibility of two accounts which has hardend into a
                                  'must'.>

                                  I will not discuss here the faith in Jesus' resurrection or in the final
                                  resurrection on the last day. I will simply say that the act of faith
                                  creates its object. As a consequence, what we believe in always exists,
                                  "ne serait-ce que dans notre fort intérieur" and as far as our internal
                                  world is concerned. I leave you here with a quote from Tobias Hägerland:


                                  "The resurrection is something metaphysical. Its 'historicity' could
                                  hardly be affirmed by the criteria in historical Jesus research."

                                  TWO ACCOUNTS not ONE

                                  There are in GJhon two accounts that are clearly distinct. The first one
                                  is 19:31-37 and the second one is 19:38-42. Any attempt at fusing them
                                  together does violence to the texts. As far as the author of GJohn is
                                  concerned, the first story had nothing to do with the burial. It was
                                  centered on the relation between what happened to Jesus after his death
                                  and the accomplishment of the scriptures. So in GJohn, there is only one
                                  burial story, which is the same as in the other gospels. It is only
                                  inadvertently that GJohn reproduces a tradition that implied a burial by
                                  the Roman soldiers. I think it is important to understand this point.
                                  What I see today in John 19:31-34 is not at all what the evangelist saw
                                  in it. It is, therefore, inadvertently that he speaks of the first
                                  burial tradition. And this is what makes his report so interesting.

                                  I repeat, the evangelist could not have reproduced side by side two
                                  burial stories that contradicted one another. We must, therefore, assume
                                  that he did not see in the first tradition the beginning of a burial
                                  story.

                                  5 - A VERY VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION

                                  I cannot end this post without mentioning your very valuable
                                  contribution to the reconstruction of what I call the original burial
                                  version. Your analysis of Paul's speech in Acts 13 is very interesting.
                                  Here is what you say:

                                  <Acts 13 gives an account of Paul's message to the Synagogue in Antioch.
                                  Vs. 29 states: "When they had carried out everything that was written
                                  about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb". The
                                  'they' refers to the residents in Jerusalem and their leaders (27). In
                                  contrast the speech goes on contrasting this action with that of God:
                                  "But God raised him from the dead..." In other words it appears that the
                                  speech represents a tradition affirming that Jews took Jesus down from
                                  the cross and buried him. He was not disposed of by the Romans and the
                                  corpses were not left hanging for the birds to pick as they would have
                                  been without a specific request.>

                                  I think this is a fair reading of the text. What I find important here
                                  is that this account is far less specific than the story of Joseph of
                                  Arimathea. This shows that other traditions existed.

                                  This question deserves to be studied as carefully as possible. The
                                  question is no longer a simple one.

                                  Peace,
                                  Joseph
                                  ================
                                  Joseph Codsi
                                  P.O. Box 116-2088
                                  Beirut, Lebanon
                                  Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                  joseph5@...
                                • Tobias Hägerland
                                  Joseph, In response to your post, ... does ... 34 ... that the ... of ... problem. ... that ... and ... better ... I, too, would be very happy indeed for any
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Sep 7, 2004
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                                    Joseph,

                                    In response to your post,



                                    > FIRST POINT: METHODOLOGY

                                    > The problem I see with the methodology you advocate here is that it
                                    does
                                    > not allow you to decide whether the events described in John 19:31-
                                    34
                                    > are historical or not.
                                    >
                                    > If I were to judge the tree from its fruit, I would have to say
                                    that the
                                    > various methods that have been advocated so far leave a lot to be
                                    > desired. None of the important questions related to the historicity
                                    > problem has been adequately resolved. On the contrary, I see a lot
                                    of
                                    > skepticism around me. Many seem to have given up on the historicity
                                    > question.
                                    >
                                    > This is why I am in favor of a more intelligent approach to the
                                    problem.
                                    > The tools we use in our research must be custom-made and constantly
                                    > improved, so as to be really useful. The methods we follow are our
                                    > tools. It makes no sense, in my view, to remain faithful to methods
                                    that
                                    > have produced sour fruit. In this regard, my aim is to invite you
                                    and
                                    > the resourceful members of this list to a common research for a
                                    better
                                    > method.

                                    I, too, would be very happy indeed for any improvements on the
                                    methodology in historical-Jesus research. I do believe, however, that
                                    such improvement is most likely to be expected from reflection that
                                    builds on the methods already in use, as these are the result of much
                                    scholarly work and have led to considerable progress within the
                                    discipline. I cannot agree that the existing methods have produced
                                    sour fruit. On the contrary. But just as you write, many questions
                                    remain unsolved. Now, being something of a pessimist by nature, I am
                                    not very hopeful that we will ever be able to tell whether the
                                    passage we are now discussing preserves historical information or
                                    not. I think we will have to cope with ignorance. But if you do have
                                    any concrete suggestions how to go beyond this, I will be just glad
                                    to read and ponder them.

                                    > SECOND POINT: FAITH
                                    >
                                    > I think that faith is a very precious thing. This is why I would not
                                    > allow my critical study of the gospel to make me contemptuous of
                                    those
                                    > who have remained faithful to the faith of their childhood. I do not
                                    > think, for example, that my mother was "simple-minded" just
                                    because
                                    she
                                    > was a devout Catholic. It is true that I have evolved in the way I
                                    deal
                                    > with the faith of my childhood. It is also true that I would
                                    encourage
                                    > people to become more mature in the way they understand their
                                    religion.
                                    > There is in the maturity process a negative dimension, which is
                                    critical
                                    > of certain things. But the negativity is not the final step. It has
                                    to
                                    > be followed by another step, which allows us to see and judge the
                                    > spiritual dimension in a less naïve way.
                                    >
                                    > In the seventeenth century, the Europeans saw in Galileo's view
                                    a
                                    threat
                                    > to their faith. We no longer make a similar connection today. In the
                                    > same way, if our faith is based on having an empty tomb, we will be
                                    > reluctant to admit that the stories of Joseph of Arimathea and of
                                    the
                                    > empty tomb are not historical. An admission of this nature requires
                                    a
                                    > revision of our understanding of our faith. But I do not think that
                                    such
                                    > a revision would be more catastrophic than the revision of the
                                    ancient
                                    > views relatively to the new knowledge Galileo has introduced.

                                    All right, but I cannot see what your recurring references to
                                    Galileo, childhood faith etc. have to do with my arguments in this
                                    thread. Psychologizing is not a very fruitful way of discussing
                                    scholarly matters, I think. (Besides, the religion I now profess and
                                    practice is not the one I was brought up with. But this I really find
                                    irrelevant to our discussion here.)

                                    So let me make an attempt to return to the scholarly argument we are
                                    having here. As I have already stated, I think it is uncertain
                                    whether Jn 19.31-37 preserves historical information (partially or in
                                    its entirety). But for the sake of the argument, let us suppose for a
                                    moment that at least 19.31 provides a historically accurate
                                    account of what happened. If that is so, in what way does 19.31
                                    conflict with 19.38-42?

                                    Jn 19.31 says: 'Now the Jews, since it was Sabbath Eve, in order that
                                    the bodies should not remain on the cross during the Sabbath - for
                                    the day of that Sabbath was great - asked Pilate that their legs
                                    should be broken and taken away.' (my transl.)

                                    The breaking of legs is depicted in 19.32, but the taking away of the
                                    corpses is not narrated. Instead, Jesus' corpse is 'taken away' by
                                    Joseph in 19.38 and subsequently prepared for burial and entombed.
                                    There is not the slightest hint that the Roman soldiers took away the
                                    corpse. The narrative flow of 19.31-42 appears to be without
                                    contradiction, so why posit two different sources?

                                    One might object that the 'natural' continuation of 19.31-37, if we
                                    did not have 19.38-42, would be the disposal of Jesus' corpse by the
                                    soldiers - just as we may interpret the silence on the other corpses
                                    to mean that they were taken away by the soldiers and thrown like
                                    waste. Certainly that would be the expected course of events! But
                                    that is implied already in Mark's story, where Joseph also has to go
                                    and ask Pilate for Jesus' corpse (Mk 15.43). This means that Mark,
                                    like John, realized that the soldier would have disposed of the
                                    corpse had not this member of the council intervened. So what
                                    information does John convey to us that is not already there in Mark?
                                    None, I think, unless we can somehow establish with a certainty going
                                    beyond pure guess that John builds on a tradition that did not know
                                    of the Joseph episode.

                                    So, once again, it all comes down to a question of method. How do we
                                    distinguish different traditions behind a given passage? Is it
                                    legitimate to posit, say, three or four sources or traditions in Jn
                                    19.31-37 simply because one could imagine such a scenario? May we
                                    reconstruct a pre-Gospel tradition that had the soldiers breaking
                                    Jesus' legs also (which could in fact explain why he died so
                                    rapidly), but which was then obscured by the Johannine notion that
                                    the bones of Jesus the Paschal Lamb must not be broken? Or is it
                                    legitimate, by contrast, to demand from the one who proposes any of
                                    these theories that he or she points to the inconsistencies in the
                                    actual text, in order to come up with some evidence for his/her claim?

                                    I would welcome further discussion on these questions of method.

                                    /Tobias Hägerland
                                  • Joseph Codsi
                                    Bill Bullin wrote on September 7
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Sep 8, 2004
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                                      Bill Bullin wrote on September 7

                                      <[.] Although I am inclined to follow the view that John 19:31 is
                                      primitive, it does not necessarily follow that the Romans buried Jesus.
                                      This
                                      is where I introduce Acts.>

                                      Hi Bill,

                                      I can accept your version. But then I will ask you to please tell me how
                                      the "Jews" are likely to have buried the three corpses. Would they have
                                      used a common grave for the three of them, or would they have buried
                                      them in separate graves? Would they have dug graves in the earth or used
                                      tombs that were hewn out of the rock? Wouldn't you eliminate this last
                                      scenario as unlikely, since it would have been an honor to be buried in
                                      such a tomb? Assuming that they used separate graves and that Jesus'
                                      grave was identified as his, is it likely that the women would have gone
                                      back to the grave on the third day with the intention of digging Jesus'
                                      body out of the dirt in order to perform the proper burial rituals?

                                      I can see the women going to the grave in order to mourn Jesus, not in
                                      order to perform a new burial ritual involving the embalmment of the
                                      body. In this case, the account of GJohn would be the only one to fit in
                                      the scenario you suggest.

                                      Mark's account does not seem believable if Jesus had been buried in an
                                      ordinary grave dug in the soil. It requires that the burial at the hand
                                      of Joseph of Arimathea be temporary, and allowed for the proper rituals
                                      to be performed after the Sabbath. In this case, only a tomb hewn out of
                                      the rock would fit the requirement (cf. Mark 15:46). Thus Jesus would
                                      have been placed in a morgue-like place, waiting for the proper rituals
                                      to be performed as soon as possible.

                                      Do you think the Markan scenario can be maintained if we were to replace
                                      the burial by Joseph of Arimathea with a burial by the "Jews"?

                                      2 - I will move now to another question. I wrote, speaking of the author
                                      of GJohn:

                                      >I repeat, the evangelist could not have reproduced side by side two
                                      >burial stories that contradicted one another.

                                      You answered: "Agreed. But apparently Luke did!"

                                      Let's discuss the case of Luke. I have read GLuke and the Acts many
                                      times without ever noticing the contradiction that exists between the
                                      two burial accounts (Luke 23:50-56 and Acts 13:29). You are the one who
                                      discovered it. This shows that a contradiction is not perceived when we
                                      are not looking for it. So I think it is possible that Luke did not see
                                      the contradiction you are speaking of. Had he seen it, he would have
                                      altered his sources in order to remove the contradiction, as he has done
                                      in many other cases. It is relatively easy to document this point by
                                      comparing GLuke to GMark.

                                      So long,
                                      Joseph

                                      ================
                                      Joseph Codsi
                                      P.O. Box 116-2088
                                      Beirut, Lebanon
                                      Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                      joseph5@...
                                    • Richard H. Anderson
                                      ... There is a detailed discussion in Jewish ossuaries: reburial and rebirth. Secondary burials in their ancient Near Eastern setting. [By] Eric M. Meyers
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Sep 8, 2004
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                                        >But then I will ask you to please tell me how
                                        >the "Jews" are likely to have buried the three corpses. Would they have
                                        >used a common grave for the three of them, or would they have buried
                                        >them in separate graves? Would they have dug graves in the earth or used
                                        >tombs that were hewn out of the rock?

                                        There is a detailed discussion in
                                        Jewish ossuaries: reburial and rebirth. Secondary burials in their ancient
                                        Near Eastern setting. [By] Eric M. Meyers (Rome, Biblical institute press,
                                        1971).

                                        The bodies were placed in tombs hewn out of rock and one year later the
                                        bones were placed either in an ossuary if the family was wealthy or on a
                                        shelf with other bones. However we do not know if the these practices
                                        extended to all burials. We do know there is a relationship between family
                                        wealth and burial practices.

                                        Richard H. Anderson
                                      • Joseph Codsi
                                        To Richard H. Anderson Thank you, Richard, for the information you have given me on Jewish burial practices. You made the following remark:
                                        Message 19 of 27 , Sep 9, 2004
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                                          To Richard H. Anderson

                                          Thank you, Richard, for the information you have given me on Jewish
                                          burial practices.

                                          You made the following remark:

                                          < We do know there is a relationship between family wealth and burial
                                          practices >

                                          Is it not logical to assume that the use of "tombs hewn out of rock" was
                                          associated with wealth? Was there a welfare system according to which
                                          poor people had temporary access to publicly-owned tombs, where they
                                          would put their dead for one year or so and then remove the bones and
                                          place them somewhere else?

                                          Are not the documents you have spoken of related to the burial ways of
                                          the rich?

                                          Are we sure that ordinary people did not just bury their dead in the
                                          ground without ever recovering the bones after one year?

                                          You have, it seems, anticipated my question and answered it when you
                                          said: "we do not know if these practices extended to all burials."

                                          Let's consider now the case of Jesus and of his death companions. If we
                                          assume that they were buried according to Jewish rituals, is it likely
                                          that they would have been put in "tombs hewn out of rock", with the idea
                                          that their families would claim their bones after a year or so?

                                          All this boils down to the following question: "How did the
                                          first-century Jews treat the corpses of criminals?"

                                          I would welcome anything that could help with the answer to this
                                          question.

                                          Peace,
                                          Joseph

                                          ================
                                          Joseph Codsi
                                          P.O. Box 116-2088
                                          Beirut, Lebanon
                                          Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                          joseph5@...


                                          -----Original Message-----
                                          From: Richard H. Anderson [mailto:randerson58@...]
                                          Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2004 2:50 PM
                                          To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
                                          Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Two burial stories

                                          >But then I will ask you to please tell me how
                                          >the "Jews" are likely to have buried the three corpses. Would they have
                                          >used a common grave for the three of them, or would they have buried
                                          >them in separate graves? Would they have dug graves in the earth or
                                          used
                                          >tombs that were hewn out of the rock?

                                          There is a detailed discussion in
                                          Jewish ossuaries: reburial and rebirth. Secondary burials in their
                                          ancient
                                          Near Eastern setting. [By] Eric M. Meyers (Rome, Biblical institute
                                          press,
                                          1971).

                                          The bodies were placed in tombs hewn out of rock and one year later the
                                          bones were placed either in an ossuary if the family was wealthy or on a
                                          shelf with other bones. However we do not know if the these practices
                                          extended to all burials. We do know there is a relationship between
                                          family
                                          wealth and burial practices.

                                          Richard H. Anderson







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                                        • Joseph Codsi
                                          To Bill Bullin Hi Bill, Can one get addicted to gospel research as to drugs or alcohol? I know it is always exciting to discover a new thing or to be on a
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Sep 10, 2004
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                                            To Bill Bullin

                                            Hi Bill,

                                            Can one get addicted to gospel research as to drugs or alcohol? I know
                                            it is always exciting to discover a new thing or to be on a promising
                                            track.

                                            I feel the time has come to move on to the next step and discuss the
                                            quest of Mary of Magdala as GJohn narrates it. But first let me sum up
                                            what we have accomplished so far. I reproduce here something that was
                                            not addressed to you in a specific way.

                                            * * *

                                            That Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea is known to our four
                                            canonical gospels, and is considered by most commentators as a sure
                                            historical fact. This tradition is the only one that is known to Mark,
                                            and consequently to Matthew and Luke. In the fourth gospel, however, we
                                            find traces of an older tradition, which seems to have been replaced by
                                            the newer one. Because the newer tradition ended up enjoying universal
                                            recognition, it has become the official one, so to speak, and the older
                                            tradition would have been completely forgotten, had it not been for
                                            GJohn’s interest in two incidental events associated with it: the fact
                                            that Jesus’ legs were not broken and his side was pierced. The author of
                                            GJohn did not realize that the special story to which he had access was
                                            in fact part of an older account of the removal of the three crucified
                                            corpses out of public sight.

                                            The older tradition speaks of an official Jewish delegation to Pilate,
                                            who asked him to have the legs of the crucified men broken so as to
                                            hasten their death and allow for a removal of their bodies out of public
                                            sight. The reason for this special request was the fact that the Sabbath
                                            which was about to begin at sunset was a particularly solemn occasion.
                                            It is implied in the story that Pilate acceded to the request, since we
                                            see the soldiers come and break the legs of the two others who had been
                                            crucified with Jesus. But because they found Jesus already dead, they
                                            did not bread his legs. Instead one of the soldiers pierced his side
                                            with a spear.

                                            At this point the narration stops and the evangelist digresses into a
                                            theological consideration related to the accomplishment of the
                                            scriptures. We do not know what happened next, namely who removed the
                                            corpses from the crosses and what was done with them. All we can do is
                                            say what seems logical to us or what fits best the scenario as it is
                                            reported in GJohn.

                                            Strictly speaking, the Jewish leadership did not request the bodies so
                                            as to bury them according to their ways. They were interested in having
                                            the corpses removed out of sight, because this would have been
                                            particularly shocking to Jewish sensitivity on a solemn feast day. It
                                            is, therefore, logical to assume that the Roman soldiers were the ones
                                            who have executed the request. They proceeded to the breaking of the
                                            legs. Then they waited for the two others to die, at which point they
                                            removed the three bodies and disposed of them so that they were out of
                                            public sight. The best way to do that is to bury them in a common ditch
                                            and at an unknown place in order to prevent any family gatherings at
                                            their grave. Most likely the soldiers had to wait long enough to make
                                            sure the two other men were dead. The sun had already set and all the
                                            onlookers had left on account of the Sabbath. So there were no witnesses
                                            to the soldiers’ action. The women, namely, could not have seen them
                                            remove the bodies from the crosses, let alone observe where they had
                                            buried them.

                                            It is clear that a scenario of this nature would have soon become
                                            unacceptable to the early church. The newer tradition was then adopted
                                            as the official one.

                                            This is how I have reconstructed the older tradition. But then Bill
                                            Bullin discovered another tradition in Acts 13:29, in which Paul speaks
                                            of a burial by the Jews. So now we have two older traditions and things
                                            have become more complicated.

                                            The third tradition is somewhere in between the two traditions that are
                                            found in GJohn. To the extent it speaks of Jesus’ burial without any
                                            mention of the two others who had been crucified with him, it is closer
                                            to the final and official version (burial by Joseph of Arimathea). On
                                            the other hand, because Joseph of Arimathea is, in the original version
                                            of the official tradition (found in Mark) a member of the Jewish
                                            leadership, Paul’s account in Acts can be an earlier form of the
                                            official tradition, in which Joseph of Arimathea is not yet singled out
                                            as the main actor.

                                            I would reconstruct the evolution of the tradition as follows:

                                            FIRST STEP
                                            Jesus was buried by the roman soldiers together with the two others who
                                            had been crucified with him in a common grave, the location of which
                                            remained unknown.

                                            SECOND STEP
                                            Jesus’ case is considered alone. The two others are now out of the
                                            picture. He was buried by the Jewish leadership. The kerygma does not
                                            mention the two others. It is centered on the Easter revelation and on
                                            the person of Jesus, who died, was buried and raised from among the dead
                                            on the third day.

                                            THIRD STEP
                                            Joseph of Arimathea, acting on his own but in a dual capacity of council
                                            member and someone expecting the kingdom of God (which was the central
                                            topic of Jesus’ discourse) takes care of placing the body of Jesus in a
                                            tomb hewn out of the rock and closing its entrance. The women were
                                            there, observing what was going on. The Markan tradition was adopted by
                                            all the other evangelists, but was manipulated by each one in a
                                            particular way. This tradition was particularly well-designed for the
                                            subsequent discovery of the empty tomb by the female disciple(s).

                                            Tobias Hägerland believes the story of Joseph Arimathea to be authentic.
                                            He considers what I said about the older tradition as shaky. He wants
                                            more convincing arguments. He reminds me of Thomas, who would not
                                            believe Jesus had appeared to the other disciples until he had seen him
                                            with his own eyes. I respect Tobias position and I will try to give him
                                            the hard facts he wants.

                                            Jack Kilmon recognizes in GJohn the existence of two colliding
                                            traditions, but is careful to suggest any explanation.

                                            Bill Bullin is not afraid of taking chances. His discovery of an earlier
                                            form of the official tradition, namely in the kerygmatic pronouncements
                                            of Paul, made of him an active researcher. He is in favor of a proper
                                            burial by the Jews rather than by the Roman soldiers. I respect his
                                            views. But I invite him to continue the quest by moving onto another
                                            text. Sometimes it helps to widen the picture in order to acquire a
                                            better feel for the texts at hand.

                                            I will end this summary with a special thank you to all those who have
                                            participated in the discussion. If you do not agree with the biased way
                                            in which I have summed up the discussion, please feel free to interject
                                            your remarks. I will start a new thread. I will call it “Mary’s quest”.
                                            I am alluding to Mary of Magdala looking for the missing body of Jesus.

                                            * * *

                                            BACK TO YOU, BILL.

                                            You spoke of the Johannine theme of secret discipleship. Had GJohn been
                                            the only one to mention Joseph of Arimathea, I would have been tempted
                                            to say that we are dealing here with a fictive disciple and perhaps a
                                            fictive person altogether. I don’t know what to say about the Nicodemus
                                            of chapter 3. But his presence at the burial scene is more a pious
                                            fiction than an historical fact. It seems to me that the presence of
                                            Nicodemus at the burial scene is very odd.

                                            I think that, in what pertains to the story of Joseph of Arimathea,
                                            GJohn follows GMark, but transforms it. He did not like the idea that
                                            Joseph was a prominent member of the council. He must have felt that
                                            this was not true. So he makes him a secret disciple and a friend of
                                            Nicodemus, who was a member of the council. This made Joseph a member of
                                            the council by proxy. GJohn disagrees with GMark on another important
                                            point. For him the burial of Jesus was not temporary but final. Jesus
                                            was embalmed before being put in the tomb and there was no need for the
                                            women to go back, retrieve the body and embalm it before burying it
                                            again. This correction is important. If the women go back to the tomb
                                            after the Sabbath, it must have been to mourn Jesus, not to anoint his
                                            body. In other words, GJohn corrects a big mistake found in GMark. The
                                            women could not have wanted to anoint the body of Jesus. GJohn is not
                                            afraid of contradicting GMark. He even goes overboard to the point of
                                            suppressing a collective action by the women. For him, Mary of Magdala
                                            acted alone on the first day of the week.

                                            So long,
                                            Joseph

                                            ================
                                            Joseph Codsi
                                            P.O. Box 116-2088
                                            Beirut, Lebanon
                                            Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                            joseph5@...



                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Joseph Codsi
                                            Leonard Maluf wrote on September 10, 2004:
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Sep 11, 2004
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                                              Leonard Maluf wrote on September 10, 2004:

                                              <In case you are curious about where Mark got that tradition, he got it
                                              from the Gospel of Matthew, which pre-existed his own, and where the
                                              tradition clearly belongs from a literary point of view. The Joseph who
                                              buried Jesus at the end balances the Joseph who foster-fathered him
                                              through hard times at the beginning.>

                                              I do not agree with you that Mark got his information from the Gospel of
                                              Matthew. But you are entitled to your opinion.

                                              I find it important, however, when one is engaging in a scholarly
                                              discussion as is the case with our exchanges, to distinguish between
                                              facts and poetry.

                                              The parallelism you see between the two Josephs is quite interesting. I
                                              might use it next time I give a spiritual talk to a group of pious
                                              ladies engaged in a novena to Saint Francis. But I would be very
                                              reluctant to elevate this pious thought to the rank of revealed truth.

                                              Please think about this.

                                              Peace,
                                              Joseph

                                              ================
                                              Joseph Codsi
                                              P.O. Box 116-2088
                                              Beirut, Lebanon
                                              Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                              joseph5@...



                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • Joseph Codsi
                                              Ramsey Michaels wrote: Aren t the pious ladies engaged in a novena to Saint Francis entitled to revealed truth ? At least there actually are two Josephs
                                              Message 22 of 27 , Sep 12, 2004
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                                                Ramsey Michaels wrote:

                                                Aren't the "pious ladies engaged in a novena to Saint Francis" entitled
                                                to
                                                "revealed truth"?

                                                At least there actually are "two Josephs" in Matthew, which is more than
                                                we
                                                can say for "two burials" in John. So which is "fact" and which is
                                                "poetry"?

                                                + + +

                                                Ramsey,

                                                Gospel scholarship does not asses the gospel as "revealed truth". This
                                                is a question of faith not a question of scholarship.

                                                What is OK in the context of a novena is not OK in the context of a
                                                scholarly discussion.

                                                Peace,
                                                Joseph

                                                ================
                                                Joseph Codsi
                                                P.O. Box 116-2088
                                                Beirut, Lebanon
                                                Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                                joseph5@...



                                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                              • Joseph Codsi
                                                Ramsey Michaels wrote on September 12: Joseph,   To me as a Protestant, revealed truth is in the text of the Gospels, not in my subjective faith about it.
                                                Message 23 of 27 , Sep 13, 2004
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                                                  Ramsey Michaels wrote on September 12:

                                                  Joseph,
                                                   
                                                  To me as a Protestant, "revealed truth" is in the text of the Gospels,
                                                  not
                                                  in my subjective "faith" about it. If that is the case, Gospel
                                                  scholarship
                                                  obviously has a bearing on it, even if it does not by itself define it.
                                                  I
                                                  suspect many Catholics feel that way as well, and isn't that why Gospel
                                                  scholarship is so controversial?
                                                   
                                                  Even on your own terms, your previous comment made it sound as if the
                                                  faith
                                                  of the Novena ladies did not quite rise to the level of the "revealed
                                                  truth"
                                                  which we professionals discover in our scholarly discussions.  It
                                                  sounded a
                                                  little patronizing, which I'm sure was not your intent. Can't we benefit
                                                  from their faith and they from the fruits of our scholarship?

                                                  + + +

                                                  Dear Ramsey,

                                                  In my first answer to your question I avoided being personal. But my
                                                  impersonal answer did not satisfy you. I welcome the new way in which
                                                  you have asked your question. I see in it an invitation to be more
                                                  personal.

                                                  Let me begin with the following statement:

                                                  "It sounded a little patronizing, which I'm sure was not your intent."

                                                  I think you are right. There is here an implied criticism of the "novena
                                                  ladies", not because they are ladies, but because they are at a
                                                  spiritual level I have left behind me. A simple analogy will help
                                                  explain this point.

                                                  We all go through stages in life: from infancy to childhood,
                                                  adolescence, young adulthood, more mature adulthood and so on to old
                                                  age. What an adult knows, a child ignores. What is moral for an adult
                                                  can be seen as immoral for a teenager. It is not because we become more
                                                  mature that we despise all the children, who by definition are less
                                                  mature. I would not go preaching to children: "Repent. Grow mature
                                                  overnight!"

                                                  We are conditioned by our biological development, which is mostly beyond
                                                  our control. It is not moral to be old and immoral to be young. What
                                                  would be abnormal is for someone to reach an advanced age and remain
                                                  relatively underdeveloped. But this would not engage the moral
                                                  responsibility of the individual.

                                                  Our spiritual development follows a similar evolution. Instead of
                                                  depending on our biological growth, it is depending on our sociological
                                                  conditioning. The spiritual world in which we live has the tendency to
                                                  overwhelm us and impose on us its own traditional definitions of
                                                  spiritual maturity. As a result, we stop evolving and growing in certain
                                                  specific areas. The "novena ladies" of my example are in this situation.
                                                  Their intention is perfect and their fervor genuine. They find in a
                                                  novena, in lighting a candle or in the recitation of the rosary the
                                                  nourishment they need. I could have spoken instead of a saintly local
                                                  monk who has been recently canonized by Rome. His faith and piety would
                                                  be very similar to the faith and piety of my "novena ladies". (In this
                                                  part of the world, there are religious devotions that are for ladies.
                                                  Novenas fall in this category. I do not set the socio-religious rules.)

                                                  Would I be contemptuous of a saintly man or pious ladies? Certainly not,
                                                  simply because I was once like them, with the exception of sainthood, I
                                                  assume. Besides, my own mother was one of them. Many of the people who
                                                  are dear to me are like that. It is much harder for them to understand
                                                  my views than for me to understand theirs. So I feel it is up to me to
                                                  adjust to them and to blend with the crowd when a baby is baptized, a
                                                  young couple is married, or an old person is buried. Paul said he was a
                                                  Jew with the Jews and a gentile with the gentiles. I do the same thing,
                                                  when I adjust to different forms of spirituality.

                                                  Even in a discussion group like ours, there is room for different
                                                  spiritualities. Leonard Maluf is entitled to his as you are entitled to
                                                  yours. But to the extent you wish to share in our discussions, you
                                                  cannot afford to remain under-developed in certain areas. I know I am
                                                  dealing here with a very delicate question. I do not want to sound
                                                  condescending or patronizing. My intention is to invite you to take a
                                                  step in the direction of greater human and spiritual maturity. I know
                                                  from the way you speak that you are "an Israelite in whom there is no
                                                  fallacy", so I trust the day will come when you will understand what I
                                                  am trying to explain to you today.

                                                  When you say that for you "revealed truth" is in the text of the
                                                  Gospels, you are seeing only one side of the coin. The other side sees
                                                  in the gospels a human discourse. It is very difficult to reconcile
                                                  those two statements. So let's deal first with what is easier, the
                                                  duality of the word. I am speaking here of the word as scripture and of
                                                  the Word as the Logos made man. In both cases, the word is 100% divine
                                                  and 100% human. This is what the Christian logic requires.

                                                  As gospel scholars, we study the gospels not as divine word, but as
                                                  human discourse. We leave it to theologians to study the gospels as
                                                  divine word. I know that this specialization is far from being
                                                  satisfactory to the religious mind, who insists on the inseparability of
                                                  the duality: divine-human. But unless we "separate what God has united",
                                                  no scholarship would be possible.

                                                  This has an immediate consequence on what we do. We deal with the
                                                  gospels as if we were not Christian believers. In other words, there is
                                                  room in our midst for unbelievers, whose contribution can be just as
                                                  valuable as anyone else's. We do not offer spiritual guidance to people
                                                  who wish to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and
                                                  progress in the way they live it. We are not pastors. The evangelists,
                                                  however, were interested in conveying to their readers their
                                                  understanding of the Christian event. So there is in the gospels a
                                                  discourse that can be spiritual nourishment as well as confirmation of
                                                  the faith. But let us be realistic. It makes no sense to ask or expect
                                                  from gospel scholarship what it cannot give.

                                                  I will move now to a more critical approach.

                                                  It is pious to believe that the scripture and the gospels in particular
                                                  are a divine discourse, in which God's words are consigned. The problem
                                                  with this view is that we end up attributing to God all the
                                                  contradictions that are found in the gospels. This is a formidable
                                                  difficulty.

                                                  The need for the believers to understand their faith (fides quearens
                                                  intellctum) implies that there are difficult problems, which need to be
                                                  resolved. It is because there are serious problems that gospel
                                                  scholarship is needed.

                                                  So we have no choice but to raise questions. The great weakness of
                                                  modern scholarship has been its inability to produce new knowledge
                                                  related to the way the Christian faith was born. We have been circling
                                                  around the puzzle. But so far we have not discovered the key to its
                                                  solution.

                                                  CONCLUSION

                                                  As a believer, you are entitled to your faith. Your desire to seek in
                                                  the gospel a confirmation for your faith is legitimate. But do not
                                                  expect modern scholarship to help you in this regard. Scholarship
                                                  implies a more mature approach to the Christian faith. Because this
                                                  approach is in and of itself critical, it falls in the via negativa. In
                                                  relation to the via negativa, the faith of the Lenanese saint or of the
                                                  "novena ladies" or for that matter of the Muslim fundamentalist is too
                                                  immediate, too naïve, too simplistic. The need to go beyond it is
                                                  therefore felt by some of us. This creates serious tensions between us.
                                                  Our exchanges show what I am talking about.

                                                  Please understand that this is quite normal. Life is far from being a
                                                  routine in which everything remains the same. Every stage we go through
                                                  has its challenges. No spiritual initiation is ever final. The quest
                                                  takes different forms, because it is conducted on different levels. In a
                                                  world where everything is put into question, the faith of our childhood
                                                  can easily become inadequate. A new assessment becomes then necessary.

                                                  Clearly you feel the need to investigate certain questions. This means
                                                  that you are in movement. Every movement is continuity and
                                                  discontinuity. We tend to assign to continuity a positive sign and to
                                                  discontinuity a negative sign. This is ok. But we go wrong when we
                                                  associate the positive sign with morality and the negative sign with
                                                  immorality. The ancient made a similar mistake when they gave to right
                                                  and left moral connotations. A left-handed child is no longer considered
                                                  as possessed by the devil.

                                                  Without negativity there is no maturity. Sometimes I think my elders
                                                  were happy, because they could live their entire life without ever
                                                  having to rethink the faith of their childhood. Today life has become
                                                  more complicated.

                                                  So far there is a big gap between us. You think the gospel is the word
                                                  of God and I think it is a human discourse. I cannot bridge that gap for
                                                  you. You must do it yourself. But how can you do it if all you can see
                                                  is one side of the coin? The challenge for you is to start recognizing
                                                  the other side, even though this might seem to you as a negative, wrong
                                                  and morally reprehensible step.

                                                  One last remark:

                                                  You speak of <the level of the "revealed truth" which we professionals
                                                  discover in our scholarly discussions>.

                                                  Do you mean to say that the more we disagree on important questions, the
                                                  closer we get to the "revealed truth"?

                                                  Luke could confirm with his gospel the teachings Theophilus had
                                                  received. Modern scholarship, on the other hand, does the exact
                                                  opposite. It questions every word of the gospel.

                                                  Peace,
                                                  Joseph

                                                  ================
                                                  Joseph Codsi
                                                  P.O. Box 116-2088
                                                  Beirut, Lebanon
                                                  Telephone (961) 1 423 145
                                                  joseph5@...
                                                • John Lupia
                                                  ... I know I saw a copy in Beirut in a bookshop; I think it was Librarie Antoine in Hamra, downstairs (ask one of the staff), if it was upstairs it was in
                                                  Message 24 of 27 , Sep 16, 2004
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                                                    --- Joseph Codsi <joseph5@...> wrote:


                                                    > I have no access to Brown�s book. >





                                                    I know I saw a copy in Beirut in a bookshop; I think
                                                    it was Librarie Antoine in Hamra, downstairs (ask one
                                                    of the staff), if it was upstairs it was in French or
                                                    Arabic; or perhaps, it was in one of the three Malik
                                                    Bookstores. Ask at AUB or LAU they are likely to have
                                                    it in the library.

                                                    John N. Lupia
                                                    PO Box 113-5906
                                                    Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon
                                                    11032080

                                                    =====
                                                    John N. Lupia, III
                                                    Toms River New Jersey 08757 USA
                                                    Phone: (732) 505-5325
                                                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/
                                                    God Bless America



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                                                  • RevMikeB
                                                    Message 25 of 27 , Jan 30, 2005
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                                                      <<<It is true that a large number of events were invented after the
                                                      death of Jesus in order to prove that he was, in his earthly life,
                                                      the Son of God of the Easter revelation. But the Jews' request to
                                                      have the bodies removed from public sight does not fall into this
                                                      category.>>>

                                                      Would it not be too much of a coincidence to think that John ch 2
                                                      with the water changing into wine could come from a signs source and
                                                      the piercing of the side with water and blood flowing out could be
                                                      from a completely different source (Passion Narrative?)? It is too
                                                      big of a coincidence to me to think that one or the other is not the
                                                      work of the Evangelist in some way. The same could be said
                                                      concerning the Evangelist's view in ch 9 of the Sabbath and its
                                                      connection with Ch 19:31-34, especially how Jesus' comments in the
                                                      former passage become fulfilled in the latter. (I explained this in
                                                      an earlier post.)

                                                      In fact, I think the Evangelist had a heavy hand in the
                                                      miracles/signs of ch 2, 9, and in 19:31-34. So I disagree with your
                                                      statement above concerning the historicity of the Jews' request of
                                                      the bodies.

                                                      Now if you said that the report of the broken legs of the two
                                                      criminals is accurate, I would agree with you. And as I said
                                                      earlier, 36-37 is likely the addition of the Redactor.

                                                      Concerning the historicity of John's portrayal of Jesus, I would
                                                      phrase it differently than "a large number of events were invented
                                                      after the death of Jesus in order to prove that he was, in his
                                                      earthly life, the Son of God of the Easter revelation." I would
                                                      rather say that the Evangelist believed the Resurrected Lord was in
                                                      him through the Advocate (14:16), and freely spoke on the Lord's
                                                      behalf. J Louis Martyn was right to suggest that there is a two
                                                      level drama in the Gospel, and that each actor "is actually a pair
                                                      of actors playing two parts simultaneously." The Evangelist, as did
                                                      Jesus, addressed real life problems. He witnessed that the
                                                      Resurrected Lord was still there for the Johannine community of
                                                      faith. I would be hesitant to say "a large number of events were
                                                      invented" without clarifying that the Johannine community was living
                                                      and experiences many of these events that are recorded. I think this
                                                      is a point that deserves attention, so the word "invent" doesn't do
                                                      justice in explaining his true intentions, in my humble opinion.

                                                      A large portion of the Fourth Gospel does resembles a court of law
                                                      and is apologetic concerning the identity of Jesus, the Son of Man.
                                                      That I will grant. And it does appear the Gospel went through a
                                                      couple of decades or more of adaptations to address changing life
                                                      circumstances of the community.

                                                      Peace,
                                                      RevMikeB
                                                      A Young Pastor of a Small Church
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