Re: [Synoptic-L] Christmas
- At 09:41 AM 12/11/99 +0000, Brian E. Wilson wrote:
>Brian Wilson wrote -Yes, I think it does make sense (or seems to). For example:
>"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?"
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
4643 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, ME 04901-8846
Office phone: 207 872-3150
FAX: 207 872-3802
- 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?"