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Re: [John_Lit] historicity matters in John and synoptics

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  • Bill Bullin
    Dear Frides Picking up the thread again in respect of the empty tomb, and in response to ... night falls. ... uneasy, ... Compassion. ... How can post-modern
    Message 1 of 43 , Oct 1, 2004
      Dear Frides

      Picking up the thread again in respect of the empty tomb, and in response to
      you:, I had said:

      > > In my comments above, I was leaping from the history to the dramatic
      > > dimension. It seemed to me that to skip happily from burial to the open
      > > tomb somehow failed to miss the deep Johannine primordial chaotic
      >>silence. In historical terms it was the Sabbath. In dramatic terms the
      night falls.
      >>In both philosophical and emotional terms we are left nauseated from core
      >>to shivering skin. Perhaps the stone could be likened to the magician's
      > > handkerchief or else to the veil in the Temple or to the mystery of our
      > > own birth and death in our ever-expanding cosmos.

      > Frides:
      > Yes, lets honour the silence in between the scenes. A silence quite
      > where the great ly of untimely and dishonorable death seems to have
      > conquered Him, who embodied (and still embodies) Life, Truth and

      > Bill:
      > > History, to the extent that it can help at all, and to the extent that
      > > is science with socially produced philosophical and methodological
      > > constraints rather than an art, and within those constraints can only
      > >refine scenarios and exclude possibilities, describing all the while in
      > >measured terms the possibilities, probabilities and improbabilities, may
      >>be of some limited value.

      How can post-modern humanity ever begin to relate to the Fourth Evangelist's
      christological mindset and to this dramatic silence? Pilate has at last
      pressed the button, no doubt in response to his life-long enculturation as a
      nobleman, on the advice of his security advisors, pressure from local
      leaders and in recognition of an ideologically aroused mob. He has felt the
      rush of
      momentarily intoxicating power; released.

      The noisy, grisly modernist machine has obeyed orders as night follows day.
      Now its sleeps in chaotic, cosmic silence guarding the door against all
      with the ultimate Freudian defence mechanism. And then this cosmic silence
      stops ticking, screaming, stops dead, melted.

      The centre of the chiasm has been reached and a chasm opens that no mind can

      The silence gives way to another silence, the haunting Silence that turns
      away from Adam and
      Eve's pleading eyes; that walks through the graves, and crosses and
      holocausts of history.
      That chilling, Ghostly silence of Wisdom removing her tent pegs and folding
      her guys;
      (because the body is dead in a moment but departure takes a little more time
      in the East).
      Homeless, polluted, raped and murdered in our own streets, at our own front
      When She knocked and called, we simply twisted the key and turned up the TV.

      Now a limestone door affords dignity at last for unfathomable Parental grief
      and suffering
      over a despised, rejected Name / Memra, (Malachi 1:6-7). No one talks
      much; it is far too embarrassing for mere words, however unctuously the
      priests or the historians or the philosophers or the psychologists or the
      physicists creep about the matter; all mere chatter in the face of the Word
      uniquely, fleshed out ~ once for all, before our stigmatic, unbelieving
      one eye blinded by objectivity, the other by relativity.

      After what seems like an anti-eternity, an anti-sabbath of sleeplessness,
      through this all-forbidding Dignity, a woman, approaching and clutching her
      pathetic offering, half-eaten, because she cannot keep, and cannot be kept,
      Seeing, she believes, believing, she sees.

      Now the priest, the historian, the philosopher, the psychologist, and the
      physicist can breath a little more easily. They can start whispering between
      themselves again, primarily whispering about her of course and about her
      'post traumatic stress disorder';
      never about Her, unless it is in the form of what she and others like her
      begin to report in respect of the missing Corpse.

      > Definite of (very) limited value when it comes to superficial values.
      > I think e.g. in the west historical science is too forced on chronological
      > matters. (We are in our culture any way very rigid in time matters).
      > Bill
      > >But we must also face the prospect that, as we approach,
      > >the stone, together with our own psychological and spiritual prejudices
      >>and defence mechanisms, pose such a guard that, even with our best
      > > labours and pleas, we will be permitted no further; the holy of holies
      >>is forever barred to us. And we must weep alone, the tears of the baptism
      >>of John. In apocalyptic terms, "Who is worthy to unlock the seal?"
      > Exactly. We have to clean our own temple (hearts) before moving on.
      > > I should be very surprised if the resurrection accounts could ultimately
      >> be separated much from Jewish mystical views prevailing amongst certain
      groupings in the second Temple period.
      > > "On the basis of this and other examples Borgen states that the Jewish
      > > background reflected in John should be characterised as early stages of
      > > Merkabah mysticism, which influenced Philo too. These Jewish Merkavah
      > > traditions later influenced Gnostic (and Mandean) mythology. M. de Jonge
      > > notes Borgen's debt to Goodenough Scholem; Odeberg, Quispel and Dahl.
      > Fine, to a certain degree however. Because in my interpretation the
      > spiritual experiences of Jesus himself and his disciples, need NOT to have
      > been related to prescribed (spiritual) exercises as contained in the
      > teachings of e.g. merkabah mysticism, although there will naturally be
      some overlap in experiences. There are different roads possible to Gods
      > (the vision of God), even within 'one' (Jewish) culture.

      In Pauline terms of course spiritual exercises, of whatever kind, are mere
      works of the Law.
      What the first believers began to proclaim was that this tree of shame, this
      poisonous tree
      of the knowledge of good and evil, now in full spread, was , though a
      'deeper magic' and a deeper sacrifice
      offered from 'the dawn of time', transforms into the Tree of Life, a tree
      like Mary's ointment, with a memorable fragrance beyond all fragrance, (1
      Enoch 24:4).

      It is most interesting to note that the cross is referred to as 'the tree'
      so frequently in the primitive kerygma, (Acts 13:29).
      Apparently though the cross does not appear in the earliest Christian art
      and symbolism,
      (although a Taw cross appears to mark Messianic texts in the Isaiah scroll
      from Qumran).
      One possible explanation for the absence of the cross in primitive
      is that it took the form of a tree, that is a seven-branched candlestick, a
      symbol widely attested by Goodenough
      in what has been taken to be exclusively Jewish funeral inscriptions from

      > Bill
      > >> Who will remove the guard?

      > Concerning the (removal of ) the guard, (e.g. Mt 28: 11-15.)
      > 1) I take that info in Matthew to be a 'certificate' for the emptiness of
      > the tomb, even admitted by the (Jewish) opponents.
      > 2) Some miraculous event MUST have happened for the guard to have run
      > 3) I am aware of the (scientific) discussion around this passage.
      > this info is not in the other gospels, it may be useful to have some
      > discussion on it
      > as a prelude to the upcoming historicity discussion around the

      The principal guard found in the Johannine document is though, I submit,
      our own mind and heart in confrontation with the stubborn, winsome witness
      of the text,
      (John 2:24-25 [cf. Johannine ironical influence of Luke 7:39-43
      composition?]; 12:41; 20:30-31):

      "I fled Him down the nights and down the days;
      I fled him down the arches of the years;
      I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
      Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
      I hid from Him, and under running laughter."

      Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven.

      "But when so sad thou canst not sadder,
      Cry - and upon thy so sore loss
      Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
      Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross",

      Francis Thompson, In No Strange Land, (cf. John 1:14, & 50-51).

      "On the basis of this and other examples Borgen states that the Jewish
      > > background reflected in John should be characterised as early stages of
      > > Merkabah mysticism, which influenced Philo too. These Jewish Merkavah
      > > traditions later influenced Gnostic (and Mandean) mythology. M. de Jonge
      > > notes Borgen's debt to Goodenough Scholem; Odeberg, Quispel and Dahl.

      I have been trying to obtain a copy of Margaret Barker's *the Great High
      Priest ~ The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy,
      T . & T. Clark International, (2003), and at last it is reprinted and has

      "There had been at one time a version of Psalm 96:10 which read
      'The LORD reigns from the tree.' Justin quotes this line in his debate with
      Trypho (Trypho 71), as an example of words which Jews had removed from the
      Scriptures by the middle of the second century CE, because they were
      significant for Christians.
      The first century CE Letter of Barnabas hints at the idea: 'The Royal Realm
      of Jesus is found on a tree (Barn 8). These additional words in Psalm 96
      were known to several early Christian writers, but are not in any known
      Hebrew (although this verse has not been found at Qumran). There is,
      however, evidence elsewhere for the throne and the tree, one of the murals
      in the central area in the Synagogue at Dura Europus shows a figure
      enthroned in a tree. Lower in the tree is a figure of a lion, and standing
      under the tree a table on which is one of the curiously curved shewbread
      loaves. The figure is beyond doubt the Davidic king with the lion of Judah
      (Gen. 49:9 and Rev. 5:5) and the table prepared for him (Psalm 23:5). The
      tree of life was said to be the place where the LORD rested when he came
      into Paradise (2 Enoch 8:3; Rev. 5:5; Apoc. Moses 22).

      Margaret Barker, (2003), 243.

      > When we come to the resurrection story, I'll hope to show you that a
      > resurrection story about a great indian spiritual teacher (in this
      > may shed new light on a much doubted phenomenon, which thusfar has been
      > thought by most people to be a christian phenomenon ONLY ( = one more
      > example
      > of western exclusivism).
      > I think, it is high time for us theologians/gospel scholars (I can't
      > separate
      > them), to receive that 'culture shock'.

      'The East is a career", Disraeli, cited by Edward Said, *Orientalism*.

      > Peace
      > Frides Laméris
      >(P.S. ...And we have to learn a lot more of these
      > lessons in order to become depth-interpretators of religious texts).

      In my view your comment is most painfully profound, Frides.

      Very best wishes,

      Bill Bullin (Private Student, East Sussex).
      I apologise that this message is over-long and conflates with the mysticism
    • Q Bee
      ... Dear Tom+, I m very pleased to see you here once again. Your book has been most helpful in teaching the layers of the fourth gospel. I ve given your
      Message 43 of 43 , Dec 23, 2004
        On Dec 23, 2004, at 7:47 AM, pastor_t@... wrote:

        > Hello Q Bee, Tobias and Old Friends from the J-Lit List,
        > I am Thomas W. Butler. I have just re-joined this list after
        > almost two years away. I am a United Methodist Pastor, having just
        > made a transition from serving the First United Methodist Church of
        > Tracy, California to being the Senior Pastor at Sparks United
        > Methodist Church in Sparks, Nevada.
        > I am the author of Let Her Keep It. Thank you, Q Bee, for
        > recommending my book.

        Dear Tom+,

        I'm very pleased to see you here once again.

        Your book has been most helpful in teaching the layers of the fourth
        gospel. I've given your address to several people and I hope they have
        bought it from you. It had better stay in print so that I can continue
        to send people your way. It is a very well crafted piece of work.

        Peace and blessings to all. May you find the Christ in each person you
        meet this Christmas season; and may you be the Christ to each of them.

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