[Synoptic-L] Re: [XTalk] Re: Apologetics
- "Rikki E. Watts" wrote in firstname.lastname@example.org:
> >> >But more to the point:
> >> >why invent these particular mighty deeds and attribute them to Jesus? No
> >> >one else in the first century did anything remotely comparable, certainly
> >> > not in the Jewish Hellenistic tradition.
Your question is indeed to the point. The miracle stories have no parallels. They
are odd, they are astounding! Commanding the winds to be silent and touching a
leper sothat ugly soars disappear in the twinkling of an eye! But they tell a
gripping story that still fascinate children in the Sundayschool. This holds true
especially for the open tomb story. In the words of Goethe, miracles are the pet
child of faith.
The dilemma which the miracle stories pose, is clear. Either all of them reflect to
a degree an actual historical event or they should be taken in a metaphorical
sense. In the miracle stories the effects of Jesus' teaching and example were
metaphorically pictured as healings from heaven. Take Mark's Gospel, for instance.
A distinction between healing miracles (as echoing historical happenings) and
nature miracles (interpreted as metaphors) is not warranted, in my opinion. Mark
himself didnot make any such distinction between trhese stories, neither should
we. Jesus was not an exorcist and he was not a faith healer. However, the miracle
stories were excellent teaching tools for children and for the uneducated in the
context of the apostolic mission in Mark's days. And children occupied first place
in the ecclesia.
Controled midrash is the key to unlocking the meaning of these stories. By
controled, I mean, the interpretation should follow certain rules in midrash.
Moreover, they should fit the context of the passage in question closely and fit
the meassage of Mark's Gospel as a whole. Take, for instance, the healing of the
man with the withered hand (3,1-6). In midrash one searches for a passage in
Scripture where this strange disease also occurs. In this case LXX 3 Ki 13,4 (1 Ki
13,4) is the only example, a hapax. This story reflects the pain of a divided
nation: Judah versus the northern kingdom, Israel. The king of Israel commanded ,
"seize him" (namely, the prophet from Judah who had condemned him). But the hand
that he stretched out against the prophet, withered "so that he could not draw it
back to himself". The cursing of Jeroboam and the fatal end of the prophet from
Judah illustrate the evil of religious prejudice and animosity between the two
nations. It seems to me that in the setting of Jesus' teaching the healing of the
man with the withered hand, fits well with his attitude vis a vis the Samaritans,
who in the first century respresented the Northern kingdom of old. Metaphorically,
the miraculous healing is a powerful illustration of the attitude of the Master,
reflected in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The same method is to be followed in the excorcism of Legio, raging in the tombs
and in the raising of the daughter of Jairus [Hb Yaïr], as I explained in an
Therefore, tell the miracle stories to the children in Sundayschool as
precisely as Mark and the other Gospel authors do, but interpret them to young
teenagers as illustrations of Jesus' teachings and of the mission of his apostles.
I certainly am interested in your reactions and those of other 'listers'.
Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...