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Re: [Synoptic-L] hewn from real rock

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 1/21/2000 6:59:32 AM Eastern Standard Time, brian@TwoNH.demon.co.uk writes: [citing Francis Watson, who wrote..]
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 21, 2000
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      In a message dated 1/21/2000 6:59:32 AM Eastern Standard Time,
      brian@... writes:

      [citing Francis Watson, who wrote..]
      <<
      >Allegorical interpretation is intended for a learned, scholarly elite
      >that finds itself dissatisfied with the banal obviousness of the
      >literal sense that suffices for ordinary readers.>>

      Note that the possibility is not even entertained here that there might be
      such as thing as original allegorical writing (which would then require
      allegorical interpretation, and would be appreciated mostly by a learned
      scholarly elite, such as was the original audience of Matt.)

      > Yet, like many other
      >scholarly constructs, it is vulnerable to the criticism that it is
      >fundamentally **arbitrary**; that, for all its concern with textual
      >anomalies, it actually succeeds in making a more-or-less readable and
      >comprehensible text unreadable and incomprehensible.
      > >>

      This comment strikes me as extremely highhanded and reflective of a
      prejudice, in the worst sense of that term, against the possibility of
      allegorical writing or an audience that could appreciate such writing. We all
      know that there have been exaggerated, even arbitrary, and therefore by no
      means defensible, allegorical interpretations of numerous biblical texts. But
      not all detection of allegory, nor, therefore, all allegorical interpretation
      is therefore arbitrary or harmful. There is clearly allegory, e.g., in many
      of the parables in Matthew (et al.), and some of these parables are
      interpreted as allegories within the text itself. If the "hewn rock" is
      original with Matthew, I would at least be open to the possibility that there
      is an allegorical intention here. But this would have to be demonstrated to
      convince. (And I'm sure that Brian and I would be on the same page here). I
      am less open to considering this option if Mark is the original author of the
      phrase, this, because of my understanding of the kind of writing Mark is
      doing and the kind of audience he is addressing.

      Leonard Maluf
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Brian Wilson wrote - ... citing Francis Watson, Toward a Literal Reading of the Gospels in ed. Richard Bauckham, The Gospels for All Christians (Cambridge,
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 22, 2000
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        Brian Wilson wrote -
        >
        citing Francis Watson, 'Toward a Literal Reading of the Gospels' in ed.
        Richard Bauckham, "The Gospels for All Christians" (Cambridge, 1998)
        195-217, as follows -
        >
        >Allegorical interpretation is intended for a learned, scholarly elite
        >that finds itself dissatisfied with the banal obviousness of the
        >literal sense that suffices for ordinary readers...
        >
        Leonard Maluf replied -
        >
        >Note that the possibility is not even entertained here that there might
        >be such as thing as original allegorical writing (which would then
        >require allegorical interpretation, and would be appreciated mostly by
        >a learned scholarly elite, such as was the original audience of Matt.)
        >
        Yes. The whole thesis of the book "The Gospels for All Christians" is
        that it is a **fallacy** that Matthew was written for a learned
        scholarly elite "original audience". The Gospel of Matthew, (as also
        Mark and Luke), was written for all Christians. Each synoptic gospel
        would have been copied and re-copied, and circulated rapidly, probably
        within months of being written, to Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome, Cyrene,
        and so on. (See page 63. "At the right time of the year, a journey from
        Rome to Alexandria took ten days.") Each synoptist would have realized
        this was going to happen, and would have intended his book to be for all
        Christians, that is, to be understandable by all Christians. The fact
        that a synoptic gospel was written from within a local community does
        not mean that the writer intended his book to be read only locally.

        Francis Watson criticizes the old approach of W. Marxsen - which was an
        "attempt to read a Gospel in the light of its supposed original communal
        context" (page 210). Watson continues -
        >
        >"Marxsen's book serves to exemplify and to focus the problem that
        >almost inevitably recurs whenever a Gospel is interpreted in the light
        >of its hypothetical original communal setting: in such an
        >interpretation, an **allegorical** reading strategy is employed that
        >systematically downplays the **literal** sense of the text."
        >
        This leads on to the paragraph of Watson on page 213 also cited by Brian
        Wilson -
        >
        >Yet, like many other scholarly constructs, it is vulnerable to the
        >criticism that it is fundamentally **arbitrary**; that, for all its
        >concern with textual anomalies, it actually succeeds in making a more-
        >or-less readable and comprehensible text unreadable and
        >incomprehensible.
        >
        On which Leonard Maluf commented -
        >
        >This comment strikes me as extremely highhanded and reflective of a
        >prejudice, in the worst sense of that term, against the possibility of
        >allegorical writing or an audience that could appreciate such writing.
        >
        Watson explains carefully why he comes to this conclusion. It is not
        arbitrarily imposed, and is all of a piece with the book as a whole. I
        think it is rather unfair to say he is "extremely highhanded and
        reflective of a prejudice, in the worst sense of the term, against ..."
        I would suggest that, if viewed in its context, what Watson writes will
        be seen to be well-reasoned good sense.

        On the question of the exegesis of the rock-hewn tomb (Mt 27.60, Mk
        15.46, Lk 23.53), I would say that in the case of each synoptic gospel
        what all Christians would have understood is that there was a rock-hewn
        tomb into which the dead body of Jesus was actually placed. Even the
        "sceptical" Rudolf Bultmann described the basic story here as "an
        historical account which creates no impression of being a legend" ("The
        History of the Synoptic Tradition" page 274.) The importance of this for
        Christians then, as now, is that it points to the reality of the death
        of Jesus. We might note in this connection that there is a brief summary
        of the Burial story in I Corinthians 15.3ff confirming that the reality
        of the death of Jesus was considered important in Christian teaching.

        Best wishes,
        BRIAN WILSON

        EM brian@... HP www.twonh.demon.co.uk TEL+44(0)1480385043
        Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE18 8EB,UK
        > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
        > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
        _
      • K. Hanhart
        ... Dear Brian, Thank you for the warning against allegorizing - the warning should be heeded. But the interpreter must make use of all the instruments of
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 22, 2000
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          Brian E. Wilson wrote:
          >
          > Karel Hanhart wrote (concerning Mk 15.46b) --
          > >
          > >It seems to me beyond doubt that Mark did refer to LXX Isa 22,16.
          > >
          > Even if we assume that Mark wrote first, that canonical Mark
          > was written shortly after 70, and that the writer of the Gospel of Mark
          > (Au-Mark) consciously incorporated in his account of Jesus some wording
          > from LXX Isa 22.16, why should this imply that Au-Mark was not merely
          > describing "a tomb which had been hewn out of rock" without in any way
          > intending a metaphor or allegory concerning the relationship between
          > Temple and Jesus? Language from the Bible can be, and has been, re-
          > cycled for countless different purposes by all and sundry.
          >
          > The suggestion that in Mk 15.46b Au-Mark deliberately created a
          > metaphor, an allegorical reference to the Temple, is surely not beyond
          > doubt. Others on this List doubt it, and so do I.
          >
          > I wonder whether others have read Francis Watson 'Towards a Literal
          > Reading of the Gospels' - the final chapter of (ed.) Richard Bauckham,
          > "The Gospels for All Christians", (Cambridge, 1998), pages 195-217? It
          > seems to me that, particularly in the second section headed "Against
          > Allegorizing", Watson hits the nail on the head (sorry!) and, I would
          > suggest, points the way that some exegesis of the gospels is going to
          > take in this 21st century. On page 213 he writes -
          > >
          > >Allegorical interpretation is intended for a learned, scholarly elite
          > >that finds itself dissatisfied with the banal obviousness of the
          > >literal sense that suffices for ordinary readers. Yet, like many other
          > >scholarly constructs, it is vulnerable to the criticism that it is
          > >fundamentally **arbitrary**; that, for all its concern with textual
          > >anomalies, it actually succeeds in making a more-or-less readable and
          > >comprehensible text unreadable and incomprehensible.
          > >
          > Rock-hewn tombs were common around Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. Mark
          > says Jesus was buried in one. Fair enough.
          >
          > Best wishes,
          > BRIAN WILSON
          >
          > E-MAIL : brian@... HOMEPAGE
          > SNAILMAIL ; Rev B. E. Wilson,
          > 10 York Close, Godmanchester, www.twonh.demon.co.uk
          > Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE18 8EB, UK

          Dear Brian,
          Thank you for the warning against allegorizing - the warning should be
          heeded. But the interpreter must make use of all the instruments of
          exegesis and carefully weigh the different reults so as to come near the
          original meaning of the text and that - alas - is never near enough. On
          the other hand, I trust you also agree that a fundamentalistic, blindly
          leiteral interpretation of all the Gospeltexts. Biblical authors made
          use of metaphors to express their faith. Jewish [Judean] authors and
          readers used derasha as a means of communication.
          Furthermore, as I made clear in a former message, from now on I will
          continue discussing my thesis in the Kata Markon List.
          your Karel Hanhart
        • Brian E. Wilson
          Karel Hanhart wrote -- ... Yes. I totally agree with the above. I am committed to the use of critical method. Indeed, I would say that there is no other
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 22, 2000
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            Karel Hanhart wrote --
            >
            >On the other hand, I trust you also agree that a fundamentalistic,
            >blindly literal interpretation of all the Gospel texts (is untenable).
            >
            Yes. I totally agree with the above. I am committed to the use of
            critical method. Indeed, I would say that there is no other method.

            The question is whether any synoptic gospel can be understood largely
            only by using allegorical interpretation which would have been used by
            the hypothetical community for which the gospel is supposed to have been
            written. I think Francis Watson's answer (in (ed.) R. Bauckham, "The
            Gospels for All Christians" Cambridge 1998) is "No". I rather gathered
            that your answer might be "Yes", but maybe I was mistaken. If so, I am
            sorry.

            For my own part, I think Watson is largely correct. I would point out
            that I do not need the Bauckham-Watson approach to support my Greek
            Notes Hypothesis. In my view, each synoptist was a creative author in
            his own right, as far as the differences between the synoptic gospels
            are concerned, but was an uncreative reproducer of tradition as far as
            the similarities between the synoptic gospels go. This is consistent
            with any synoptist, and indeed any number of synoptists, attempting to
            "allegorize" thoroughly, or to "historify" thoroughly, or occupying any
            intermediate position between these.

            Best wishes,
            BRIAN WILSON

            E-mail: brian@... Home page: www.twonh.demon.co.uk
            Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE18 8EB,UK
            > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
            > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
            _
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            In a message dated 1/22/2000 5:19:38 AM Eastern Standard Time, brian@TwoNH.demon.co.uk writes:
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 22, 2000
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              In a message dated 1/22/2000 5:19:38 AM Eastern Standard Time,
              brian@... writes:

              << Brian Wilson wrote -
              >
              citing Francis Watson, 'Toward a Literal Reading of the Gospels' in ed.
              Richard Bauckham, "The Gospels for All Christians" (Cambridge, 1998)
              195-217, as follows -
              >
              >Allegorical interpretation is intended for a learned, scholarly elite
              >that finds itself dissatisfied with the banal obviousness of the
              >literal sense that suffices for ordinary readers...
              >
              Leonard Maluf replied -
              >
              >Note that the possibility is not even entertained here that there might
              >be such as thing as original allegorical writing (which would then
              >require allegorical interpretation, and would be appreciated mostly by
              >a learned scholarly elite, such as was the original audience of Matt.)
              >

              The word "here" was important in the above. I was not commenting on the work
              of Watson as a whole, but only on what was said in the cited text. Thanks,
              Brian, for expanding on the context that illuminates Watson's overall project.

              [Brian]

              <<Yes. The whole thesis of the book "The Gospels for All Christians" is
              that it is a **fallacy** that Matthew was written for a learned
              scholarly elite "original audience". The Gospel of Matthew, (as also
              Mark and Luke), was written for all Christians.>>

              The last statement strikes me as a pious affirmation conforming the original
              gospel audience with a present-day situation: today, the Gospel of Matthew is
              read generally to "all Christians" [this too is a gut-reaction to the
              individual statement here cited, not taking into account the larger context
              of Watson's essay]. I realize that there is more to the thesis of Watson than
              this (see below), but I would just like to warn against an easy, simplistic
              understanding of his thesis that could result from accepting the above
              statement.

              <<Each synoptic gospel
              would have been copied and re-copied, and circulated rapidly, probably
              within months of being written, to Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome, Cyrene,
              and so on. (See page 63. "At the right time of the year, a journey from
              Rome to Alexandria took ten days.") Each synoptist would have realized
              this was going to happen, and would have intended his book to be for all
              Christians, that is, to be understandable by all Christians. The fact
              that a synoptic gospel was written from within a local community does
              not mean that the writer intended his book to be read only locally.>>

              There is a confusion between two distinct issues here: that of geographical
              audience (and in this sense, I agree with Watson that the original gospel
              audience should not be defined too narrowly in geographical terms: the
              Gospels were written for "all" in this sense), and that of social level of a
              primary audience (and in this sense, I think Watson, like most modern
              scholars has failed to see that Matthew's Gospel is written primarily for an
              elite social and intellectual audience of scribal leadership within the
              Christian community). In the same way, your present posting has validity on
              this as well as on that side of the Atlantic (and is in this sense
              "universal", written for "all"), but on the other hand, it would be fully
              understood by, and was written specifically for, a relative elite (of
              scripture scholars) whether on one or the other side of the ocean. There were
              the same kinds of relative elite audiences in the first century as there are
              today, and if Matt was not addressed primarily to such, then what documents
              of early Christianity were? On the other hand, Mark can well be understood as
              targeted intentionally, and in contrast to Matt, to a more "democratized"
              audience, whether local or universal. This distinction between the two in
              terms of respective audience, by the way, is based on internal evidence that
              is rather explicit and striking in both gospels, but has not generally been
              noted by modern Synoptic scholarship.

              <<Francis Watson criticizes the old approach of W. Marxsen - which was an
              "attempt to read a Gospel in the light of its supposed original communal
              context" (page 210). Watson continues -
              >
              >"Marxsen's book serves to exemplify and to focus the problem that
              >almost inevitably recurs whenever a Gospel is interpreted in the light
              >of its hypothetical original communal setting: in such an
              >interpretation, an **allegorical** reading strategy is employed that
              >systematically downplays the **literal** sense of the text."
              >
              This leads on to the paragraph of Watson on page 213 also cited by Brian
              Wilson -
              >
              >Yet, like many other scholarly constructs, it is vulnerable to the
              >criticism that it is fundamentally **arbitrary**; that, for all its
              >concern with textual anomalies, it actually succeeds in making a more-
              >or-less readable and comprehensible text unreadable and
              >incomprehensible.
              >
              On which Leonard Maluf commented -
              >
              >This comment strikes me as extremely highhanded and reflective of a
              >prejudice, in the worst sense of that term, against the possibility of
              >allegorical writing or an audience that could appreciate such writing.
              >
              Again I was commenting on the statement out of context. I would obviously
              modify my comment in the light of a better appreciation of the context.

              [Brian]

              <<Watson explains carefully why he comes to this conclusion. It is not
              arbitrarily imposed, and is all of a piece with the book as a whole. I
              think it is rather unfair to say he is "extremely highhanded and
              reflective of a prejudice, in the worst sense of the term, against ..."
              I would suggest that, if viewed in its context, what Watson writes will
              be seen to be well-reasoned good sense.>>

              I would agree, in the sense noted above: geographical limitation of the
              gospel audience has been exaggerated in much of the literature.

              << On the question of the exegesis of the rock-hewn tomb (Mt 27.60, Mk
              15.46, Lk 23.53), I would say that in the case of each synoptic gospel
              what all Christians would have understood is that there was a rock-hewn
              tomb into which the dead body of Jesus was actually placed. Even the
              "sceptical" Rudolf Bultmann described the basic story here as "an
              historical account which creates no impression of being a legend" ("The
              History of the Synoptic Tradition" page 274.)

              This may mean no more than that Bultmann had failed to observe the connection
              of the Matt's text to Is 22.

              << The importance of this for
              Christians then, as now, is that it points to the reality of the death
              of Jesus.>>

              This point could have been made adequately without a reference to a "tomb
              hewn out of rock", so the question of a possible midrash here remains open.

              << We might note in this connection that there is a brief summary
              of the Burial story in I Corinthians 15.3ff confirming that the reality
              of the death of Jesus was considered important in Christian teaching.
              >>

              But the "brief summary" does not include a reference to a "tomb hewn out of
              rock".

              Leonard Maluf
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