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Re: [Synoptic-L] Christmas

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  • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
    ... Yes, I think it does make sense (or seems to). For example: Although this discussion of Pauline theology is somewhat far afield from a consideration of the
    Message 1 of 38 , Dec 11, 1999
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      At 09:41 AM 12/11/99 +0000, Brian E. Wilson wrote:
      >Brian Wilson wrote -
      > >
      >"I was wondering about -
      > >
      > >2 Corinthians 8.9 - "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
      > >that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor."
      > >
      >Does this make sense if Paul did not know something like the "Christmas
      >story" of Matthew/Luke?"

      Yes, I think it does make sense (or seems to). For example:

      Although this discussion of Pauline theology is somewhat far afield from a
      consideration of the synoptic gospels, after reading Wilson's question I
      asked myself, almost at once, whether 2 Corinthians 8.9 might reflect
      something similar to what we find in Philippians 2.4ff.

      I understand that on Brian Wilson's "Greek Notes" hypothesis, and contrary
      to the views of several others, the "Christmas stories" are at the earliest
      stratum of the gospel tradition, indeed are pre-Pauline. But I don't think
      that the rhetorical question above offers evidence for or constitutes
      argument for either the Greek Notes hypothesis or for the view that the
      birth stories are as early as Wilson suggests.

      In short, I think that there are a number of ways that his rhetorical
      question can be answered and that 2 Corinthians 8.9 can be understood even
      if Paul did not know the birth stories of the Gospels. I have suggested one
      such reading, perhaps not the only or the definitive one.

      It seems to me that in these passages we have overtones of what is often
      called a theology of incarnation. Brian asks, rhetorically, "Does it make
      sense....?" It seems to me that it does make sense to think that a theology
      of incarnation eventually leads to the development of stories such as those
      found in Matthew and Luke. It does not seem to me obvious that stories such
      as those in Matthew and Luke are required to make sense of Paul's
      incarnationist theology. So, "Does it make sense....?" I think so. I think
      that it is at least credible that a theology of incarnation is an earlier
      stage of the tradition than the birth narratives of the gospels.

      I would need to be persuaded that Wilson has here given us evidence for the
      Greek Notes hypothesis but I'm listening. I must admit (and I often tell my
      students this) that rhetorical question is usually not an effective
      substitute for evidence and reasoned argument. Do we really need shepherds,
      wise men, angels, frankincense and myrrh to make sense of 2 Corinthians?


      Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
      Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
      Director, African-American Studies Program
      Colby College
      4643 Mayflower Hill
      Waterville, ME 04901-8846
      Email: t_longst@...
      Office phone: 207 872-3150
      FAX: 207 872-3802
    • Steven Craig Miller
      To: Mark Preece,
      Message 38 of 38 , Dec 16, 1999
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        To: Mark Preece,

        << The author seems to be going to some lengths to establish that this all
        happens in a very compressed period of time -- in fact, on a single day. In
        light of this, is it really plausible to think "DE" ("then he led them
        out...") means anything other than "very soon thereafter"? Certainly not
        "many days later". >>

        The issue as I see it is whether one is going to accuse Luke here of
        inconsistency (and I have no problem with doing that) or impression. My
        suggestion is not that DE means "many days later," only that it means
        "but/and/then" and that Luke could have used it merely to imply that this
        event recorded in Lk 24:50 also took place. It seems to me that to be fair
        the charge of inconsistency demands a higher threshold than the accusation
        of impression (or ambiguity). Then, after you accuse Luke of inconsistency,
        you seem to want to suggest that Luke didn't care for historical details.
        Frankly, an ambiguous example as this simply can't prove such a conclusion.
        Your example would carry more weight if Luke had written, "and on this day"
        (or some such). But he didn't, all Luke wrote was "and" (DE).
        Unfortunately, the Greek particle DE doesn't tell us when.

        Also, I find it kind of ironic that one can suggest that Luke might not be
        concerned with historical details in light of such passages as Lk 1:1-4;
        2:1-2; and 3:23-38. Now here is a guy (and I assume that the author of
        Luke's gospel was male) who attempts to record Jesus' genealogy from his
        papa and grand-papa, all the way back, generation by generation, to Adam
        and ultimately to God! He obviously cares for such details, or he wouldn't
        have put them into his gospel.

        -Steven Craig Miller
        Alton, Illinois (USA)
        Disclaimer: "I'm just a simple house-husband (with no post-grad degree),
        what do I know?"
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