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View Full Version : Parables of Reversaln (and some other stuff)



AMCrenshaw
09-12-2009, 10:52 PM
Of course my favorite is The Parable of the Talents (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A14-30&version=NIV). Crossan developed this idea that parables of reversal are more concerned with the end of history than any other kind of parable. What makes parables of reversal more difficult to analyze -- including, Crossan asserts, determining how much tradition has affected the meaning -- is that the tone and message are fundamentally ironic.

Like much of Jesus' supposedly original / essential sayings, there tends to be a focus on the prodigal child, the one who leaves and then returns to the garden, palace, or hands of God. What I find interesting about this parable is how the Master, often interpreted to be God, is depicted in a realy frightening way.

At least, so the wicked servant claims (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:24-27&version=NIV), and the master agrees. I have argued about this before, and so what I'm about to say isn't the matter of discussion. But I have, for quite a while now, read into this parable that the Master isn't God at all, but Caesar. Which marks two reversals: first, that of the third (and wicked) servant's decision to bury the money; second, that of the ambiguous "master".

1) What other types of parables are there? Provide examples.
2) Why do parables work so well at communicating meaning, assuming they do?

3) What distinguishes parable from allegory?
4) Maybe we can discuss another parable of reversal, from any number of perspectives.

This should go without saying, but I will say it anyhow: We're not talking about the validity of beliefs here. OK?



AMC

Higgins
09-13-2009, 12:04 AM
Of course my favorite is The Parable of the Talents (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A14-30&version=NIV). Crossan developed this idea that parables of reversal are more concerned with the end of history than any other kind of parable. What makes parables of reversal more difficult to analyze -- including, Crossan asserts, determining how much tradition has affected the meaning -- is that the tone and message are fundamentally ironic.

Like much of Jesus' supposedly original / essential sayings, there tends to be a focus on the prodigal child, the one who leaves and then returns to the garden, palace, or hands of God. What I find interesting about this parable is how the Master, often interpreted to be God, is depicted in a realy frightening way.

At least, so the wicked servant claims (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:24-27&version=NIV), and the master agrees. I have argued about this before, and so what I'm about to say isn't the matter of discussion. But I have, for quite a while now, read into this parable that the Master isn't God at all, but Caesar. Which marks two reversals: first, that of the third (and wicked) servant's decision to bury the money; second, that of the ambiguous "master".

1) What other types of parables are there? Provide examples.
2) Why do parables work so well at communicating meaning, assuming they do?

3) What distinguishes parable from allegory?
4) Maybe we can discuss another parable of reversal, from any number of perspectives.

This should go without saying, but I will say it anyhow: We're not talking about the validity of beliefs here. OK?



AMC

This parable baffles me. I will point out that it differs from allegory precisely because of this baffling re-orientation of meaning. Allegories fix meaning while allowing imagery a bit of multiplication...but the meaning remains fixed: Patience is always Patience and Fortitude is always Fortitude.

Here are some possible interpretations:

1) the Master is God as the God of ritual purity...he gives his divine purity to some subset of people. Two of them go out into the world and multiply this goodness (so far so allegorically good) and he rewards them. One hides this...Ie keeps the goodness/purity of God pure and separate. Rather shockingly, God finds this a bit silly.
2) the Master is more of a Calvinist God and the talents are signs of election
3) the Master is more of a God of Angelic Hosts and the servants are Angels or Angelic people (Priests of the Temple or Extreme Pharisees like Jesus H. Christ or John the Baptist or Paul). The Extremists take their angelic power out into the world. The priests keep it in the Temple and are found foolish by God.

But, I think some signs are missing from this parable. Either we don't have the cues for the right interpretive frame or part of the story or its elucidation are missing from outr text.

Higgins
09-13-2009, 12:17 AM
What I find interesting about this parable is how the Master, often interpreted to be God, is depicted in a realy frightening way.


AMC

There is also the problem of blasting the fig tree...not a parable exactly, but subject to more allegory for that reason. (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_fig_tree).

For some reason people assume the blasted tree is "the state of the Jewish Church"...hmm the Jewish Church. Not the Second Temple? Nope. You guessed it: "the Jewish Church." Which oddly enough God blasts for not having figs.

Even more oddly there is a Bountiful Tree Parable in the Qumran texts (:http://www.gnosis.org/library/partre.htm)

The Parable of the Bountiful Tree


4Q302a
F.1 Col.2


Please consider this, you who are wise: If a man has a fine tree, which grows high, all the way to heaven (...) (...) of the soil, and it produces succulent fruit every year with the autumn rains and the spring rains, (...) and in thirst, will he not (...) and guard it (...) to multiply the boughs (?) of (...) from its shoot, to increase (...) and its mass of branches (...)

F.2 Col.1


(...) your God (...) your hearts (...) (...) with a willing spirit. (...) Shall God establish (...) from your hand? When you rebel, (...) your intentions, will He not confront you, reprove you and reply to your complaint? (...) As for God, His dwelling is in heaven, and his kingdom embraces the lands; in the seas (...) in them, and (...)

Higgins
09-13-2009, 12:23 AM
There is also the problem of blasting the fig tree...not a parable exactly, but subject to more allegory for that reason. (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_fig_tree).

For some reason people assume the blasted tree is "the state of the Jewish Church"...hmm the Jewish Church. Not the Second Temple? Nope. You guessed it: "the Jewish Church." Which oddly enough God blasts for not having figs.

Even more oddly there is a Bountiful Tree Parable in the Qumran texts (:http://www.gnosis.org/library/partre.htm)

The Parable of the Bountiful Tree


4Q302a

F.1 Col.2




Please consider this, you who are wise: If a man has a fine tree, which grows high, all the way to heaven (...) (...) of the soil, and it produces succulent fruit every year with the autumn rains and the spring rains, (...) and in thirst, will he not (...) and guard it (...) to multiply the boughs (?) of (...) from its shoot, to increase (...) and its mass of branches (...)




F.2 Col.1




(...) your God (...) your hearts (...) (...) with a willing spirit. (...) Shall God establish (...) from your hand? When you rebel, (...) your intentions, will He not confront you, reprove you and reply to your complaint? (...) As for God, His dwelling is in heaven, and his kingdom embraces the lands; in the seas (...) in them, and (...)



If JHChrist is playing on this parable (and why wouldn't he?)...He blasts the tree that is following merely earthly seasons. The Tree that just is a tree and the servent who is merely pure are not getting the cosmic message. While the function of the tree in the "bountiful tree" is the reverse: it shows that the man who tends the fruitful tree is like God attending to the ins and outs of History, rather like the function of Fortuna or the Turnings of the Mayan calendrical cosmos. This seems a bit Calvinist to me, but that's probably all my fault.

AMCrenshaw
09-13-2009, 12:49 AM
Fig Tree: Mark 11:12-14 (New International Version)


Jesus Clears the Temple

12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

Bolded-- not sure this is in any original texts, but seems to be a heading that frames the parable (can we call it that?) around what you alluded to earlier, "the Jewish church"


are not getting the cosmic message.

which would be?



While the function of the tree in the "bountiful tree" is the reverse: it shows that the man who tends the fruitful tree is like God attending to the ins and outs of History


Curious where you get history out of this, actually.


AMC

semilargeintestine
09-13-2009, 06:02 AM
What the heck is a Jewish church?

Higgins
09-14-2009, 04:43 PM
What the heck is a Jewish church?

Exactly.

Higgins
09-14-2009, 04:50 PM
Fig Tree: Mark 11:12-14 (New International Version)


Curious where you get history out of this, actually.


AMC

It's from the other things in cave 4. Cave 4 has historical allegories such as the Animal Apocalypse from 1 Enoch, which suggests that for some reason or other Cave 4 represents a stage where such historical speculation was being taken out of circulation or a filing system wherein that cave was the place for historical speculation. The question that a lot of expicitly allegorical Qumran texts address is: how can a relatively small, pure and righteous bunch win in a battle for control of the world versus some set of larger groups of people? The usual answer being some variation on "God will help" (via angels or other cosmic firepower).

Higgins
09-14-2009, 05:07 PM
which would be?




The cosmic message is:

1) Jesus originally (like any other extreme Pharisee):
"Anyone -- absolutely anyone -- can be as holy/pure as an angel. ie each person is potentially so close to Divine levels of holiness as to be virtually the personal child of God."
2) Jesus as read by the Gospels 50-100 years later: "The Temple is going to be destroyed. Better take this highly modified extreme pharisee cult focused on Jesus but including J the Baptist instead. And see, we're right: the Temple was destroyed."

So some of the parables probably were pretty different when Jesus first said them, but some (like the blasted fig tree) would not make sense for the original Jesus but would make sense for the Gospel setting after the destruction of the Temple.

semilargeintestine
09-15-2009, 01:44 AM
It's from the other things in cave 4. Cave 4 has historical allegories such as the Animal Apocalypse from 1 Enoch, which suggests that for some reason or other Cave 4 represents a stage where such historical speculation was being taken out of circulation or a filing system wherein that cave was the place for historical speculation. The question that a lot of expicitly allegorical Qumran texts address is: how can a relatively small, pure and righteous bunch win in a battle for control of the world versus some set of larger groups of people? The usual answer being some variation on "God will help" (via angels or other cosmic firepower).

The Essenes viewed themselves as the righteous bunch among the Jews. Their practices are most likely the route of early Xtian practices. They practiced communal living, baptism, etc. They even required new people to give up their money before moving in. They hate copies of the Tanakh, but they also authored their own apocryphal books, such as Enoch. The authorship is starkly different from the Tanakh, and apparently is close to the style of their other documents. They also re-wrote Deuteronomy to fit their own beliefs.

Until the Torah scroll found from King Solomon's reign, the Leviticus and Isaiah scrolls found with the Dead Sea Scrolls were thought to be the oldest, dating from 2nd and 1st century BCE. The Solomon scroll is from around 600 BCE, and it is identical to the Torah's we have today in content and in script. Interesting, as that is only around 672 years after Moses finished writing the Torah and died. I have no real point to this except that I think it's cool that we can track our Scripture back over 2,600 years.

Also, I doubt Jebus was a Pharisee. I'm almost positive he rejected the Talmud as nothing but Rabbinical nonsense, c''v. I think he was a Saduccee. Something that frustrates me about him is that people praise his teachings as radically different than what Jews at the time were teaching; however, that is almost entirely false. Most of his "love and brotherhood" teachings had already been a part of Jewish law for a thousand years.

AMCrenshaw
09-15-2009, 02:18 AM
Thanks for the side-notes...



Also, I doubt Jebus was a Pharisee

If indeed there is a singular historical Jesus, he was probably a Pharisee. At least it's one thing historians seem to side with in my experience

And if the gospels are to be trusted in any way, his teaching in the synagogues indicates this (because if he wasn't a Pharisee, he wouldn't have been allowed to teach there). But there are other indications, especially when we're able to compare interpolations with the sayings of Q (the supposed basis for the gospels), trying to analyze what a Pharisee at that time might believe. Then, there's the bit about Jesus's vision changing from apocalyptic to immanent. I don't know. A bit confusing.



I'm almost positive he rejected the Talmud as nothing but Rabbinical nonsense, c''v.

Really?


Something that frustrates me about him is that people praise his teachings as radically different than what Jews at the time were teaching; however, that is almost entirely false. Most of his "love and brotherhood" teachings had already been a part of Jewish law for a thousand years.

I'm not sure I know who praise his teachings in such a way. What I studied was that his teachings fulfilled existing scripture and that "love your neighbor" is pulled right from Leviticus. It is radical for the time period, though, in that it required one eat with lepers, cripples, blind folk, (the marginalized people), which is also alluded to in certain parables of advent -- like the one in which a man calls for a party and everyone of higher status has an excuse not to come, so the man says, bring in anyone who will come, which happens to be the marginalized people. But to me this is just a radical extension of Jewish thought and ethics anyway.


... But can we stay on track?


AMC

semilargeintestine
09-15-2009, 07:17 AM
Nice job with the bolding.

Just to respond, and then I'll let the thread get back on track:

I did a little research, and it seems that J disliked both the Pharisees and the Saduccees. He seems to be little more than an apikores, as he flagrantly transgressed both Oral and Written Law. I'm not convinced that there was a singular historical J, but there were early Xtians who kept the Torah and viewed him as the Jewish (human) Messiah, so that lends a little more credibility to his existence; however, it paints a pretty different picture as to what he most likely actually said/did than the NT would have someone believe.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Higgins
09-15-2009, 07:37 PM
The Essenes viewed themselves as the righteous bunch among the Jews. Their practices are most likely the route of early Xtian practices.


After reading Norman Golb, I think it is reasonable to view the Qumran caves as a genizah run by the Temple. The Copper Scroll pretty much clinches that.

http://humanities.uchicago.edu/depts/nelc/facultypages/golb/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_Scroll

So the Qumran texts are probably a selection of texts that were tainted for one reason or another (worn, written on papyrus, theologically questionable etc.) that the Temple authorities put away. The copper scroll is a list of Temple Treasures hidden at the time of the revolt in 68-70 AD.

Higgins
09-15-2009, 07:46 PM
Also, I doubt Jebus was a Pharisee. I'm almost positive he rejected the Talmud as nothing but Rabbinical nonsense, c''v.

It seems that Jesus (or at least the earliest initiator of the Jesus traditions) probably was a Pharisee of a rather extreme sort. In the time of the Temple there was strictly speaking no Rabbinical Judaism yet and in fact Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity originated at about the same time from the Pharisees and were solidified as institutions by the problems of living after the fall of the Temple. Neither the proto-christian extreme Pharisees nor the proto-Rabbinic less extreme Pharisees seem to have joined in the final cataclysms of the Revolt of 68-70 and both the proto-Christian Pharisees and the more standard Pharisees were crucified by the Oligarchic Authorities of Jerusalem from time to time...at least the ordinary Pharisees were according to Josephus and the extreme varieties according to the Jesus traditions.

semilargeintestine
09-15-2009, 07:55 PM
I don't think I would use the copper scroll as proof for anything. It's written in a style different from everything else found in the Dead Sea scrolls, and its contents have been shown to be pretty much worthless and inaccurate. As your link says, it makes no mention of the Ark, the Menorah, or any of the other important Temple items. It also fails to mention that the contents of the Temple were still in it when the Romans entered.

It's possible that it was written by Jews from Jerusalem though. If that is the case, it is still by a sectarian group of Jews. The Pharisees would NOT have rewritten Deuteronomy. Also, the tefillin they found there is not written in accordance with Oral Law, which the Pharisees protected and held as binding. In addition, there are copies of scrolls there that had been replicated with the name of G-d written in a paleo-Hebrew script rather than the standard, kosher script of the rest of the Tanakh. At that point in time, the script required for a Torah scroll to be Kosher was already in place for 400 years. The evidence just doesn't support a Pharisaic origin.

I also doubt it comes from the Temple authorities, who were mostly Saduccees. The other texts are extremely critical of them, and I'm not sure why they would write scolding comments about themselves. Like I said before, the copper scroll is mostly thought to describe a treasure that either never existed or is something other than the Temple items. If it IS about the treasure, it is written by the religious zealots famous for the incident at Masada, where they all killed themselves rather than allow the Romans to capture them alive. These people were way off the derech, as Jewish law forbids committing Suicide. Whoever these people were, they weren't the mainstream Jews that led to the Orthodox Judaism of today.

semilargeintestine
09-15-2009, 07:57 PM
It seems that Jesus (or at least the earliest initiator of the Jesus traditions) probably was a Pharisee of a rather extreme sort. In the time of the Temple there was strictly speaking no Rabbinical Judaism yet and in fact Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity originated at about the same time from the Pharisees and were solidified as institutions by the problems of living after the fall of the Temple. Neither the proto-christian extreme Pharisees nor the proto-Rabbinic less extreme Pharisees seem to have joined in the final cataclysms of the Revolt of 68-70 and both the proto-Christian Pharisees and the more standard Pharisees were crucified by the Oligarchic Authorities of Jerusalem from time to time...at least the ordinary Pharisees were according to Josephus and the extreme varieties according to the Jesus traditions.

You're ignoring the fact that J regularly transgressed both the Talmud and the Written Torah. The Pharisees were the precursor for rabbinical Judaism. It makes little sense to claim him to be a Pharisee and then describe his exploits in both condemning them and transgressing everything they hold sacred.

He may have started out as a Pharisee, but he went way off the derech, and I would call him barely a Jew.

AMCrenshaw
09-15-2009, 08:21 PM
You're ignoring the fact that J regularly transgressed both the Talmud and the Written Torah.

This is an interesting thought I think we can tie into the original topic. I have heard before these were transgressed, but in the sense they were extended. Is this true, from your point of view? I have read quite a number of texts that assert Jesus wasn't against the beliefs of the Pharisees so much as their practice during a given time (of course the picture of them in the Bible makes them out to be legalistic) "be ware of those wearing robes for all to see". Rather to me it seems like the spiritual purity Jesus was calling for ("you cannot serve two masters" he said, referring in a literal sense to money) was Pharisaical.


Also, in my opinion, Jesus' switch from a apocalyptic vision to an immanent one came with the end of John the Baptist (also an Essene?).


AMC

Higgins
09-15-2009, 08:35 PM
I don't think I would use the copper scroll as proof for anything.

The simplest answer to all of this otherwise confusing stuff is that the Temple authorities removed heterodox texts from circulation. They couldn't destroy them and they put them away carefully in the genizah at Qumran.
The copper scroll shows the Temple authorities at work before the destruction of the Temple. Obviously they couldn't type up the list of treasures and hide them once Jerusalem was besieged.

So Qumran gives a snapshot of what texts the Temple took out of circulation, ie the texts don't represent any sect. And the Copper scroll shows that Qumran was a place the Temple considered to be a secure storage area. The Copper Scroll was probably accurate when it was written and Golb points out that some items where found where the scroll said they were in the past. And of course there was another copy of the scroll so it possessors could have used that copy to get the treasures.

Higgins
09-15-2009, 08:51 PM
He may have started out as a Pharisee, but he went way off the derech, and I would call him barely a Jew.

I'm sure you are right in that Jesus (Jesus 1A, say) represented an extreme kind of Pharisee. In modern terms this makes him barely a Jew, but that's not surprising since the world of 2100 years ago is barely recognizable in many ways. It would be just as correct to point out that Jesus 1A was not even remotely Christian in the modern sense or even in the Gospel sense of 50-100 years later.

Returning to the story of the blasted fig tree, it is very telling that at that point the narrative notes that Jesus is merely overheard blasting the tree. What does just overhearing something mean when you are recounting a tradition that is only known from the sayings of the Master? It means it is not an authentic saying within the tradition, just something "overheard" retrospectively...since in the 1A Jesus tradition, the Temple is still there and in the Gospel version of Jesus (Jesus 3C say) the Temple is gone and Jesus can be overheard blasting trees so that the later meaning can be imposed on the earlier tradition.

Higgins
09-15-2009, 09:08 PM
Also, in my opinion, Jesus' switch from a apocalyptic vision to an immanent one came with the end of John the Baptist (also an Essene?).



I think probably not. Paul doesn't mention John at all in his letters (around 50 AD). He turns up in Acts (about 40 years later) with some connection with Paul, but not in the letters at all.

John the Baptist has all the appearances of a chronological peg. The Jesus 1A traditions were probably floating as far as chronology was concerned, ie, Jesus 1A existed back sometime on or before 1 AD and probably the death of 1A was about the time of the Chronologically retrospective birth of 2B.

So after the fall of the Temple, the Chronology of 1A/2B becomes a problem. The Gospel writers know he existed back there some time and that he was somewhat like John the Baptist in many ways, though I doubt "Essene" really comes close to how extreme 1A was. John was chronologically well-defined so why not make him yet another prefiguration of Jesus and fix the floating chronology at the same time? So in the Gospel version you get John the Baptist to fix the time which is otherwise up in the air.

Was 1A apocalyptic "originally"?...I think not. It looks like the core of his teaching was fantastically simple and powerful: anyone can achieve virtually divine levels of ritual purity. It's a very nice metaphysical twist because ritual purity is not apocalyptic or immanent and it has an inherent social side that is just as puzzling as it is liberating. Of course its not exactly a Christian or Jewish idea -- for one thing neither Christianity nor Judaism has a Temple any more so we don't really know what extreme ritual purity is supposed to be like or what it is supposed to do. The Temple is of course the other place where extreme ritual purity was possible when 1A was teaching.

semilargeintestine
09-15-2009, 09:32 PM
This is an interesting thought I think we can tie into the original topic. I have heard before these were transgressed, but in the sense they were extended. Is this true, from your point of view? I have read quite a number of texts that assert Jesus wasn't against the beliefs of the Pharisees so much as their practice during a given time (of course the picture of them in the Bible makes them out to be legalistic) "be ware of those wearing robes for all to see". Rather to me it seems like the spiritual purity Jesus was calling for ("you cannot serve two masters" he said, referring in a literal sense to money) was Pharisaical.


Also, in my opinion, Jesus' switch from a apocalyptic vision to an immanent one came with the end of John the Baptist (also an Essene?).


AMC

I think it's possible that he was decrying the corruption of many (though certainly not all), both Sadducee and Pharisee. However, that in no way makes it okay to transgress commandments and does not justify his constant making a mockery of the Torah.

As far as extending it, that is not allowed:



א. אֵת כָּל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם אֹתוֹ תִשְׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת לֹא תֹסֵף עָלָיו וְלֹא תִגְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ:


1. Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.


ב. כִּי יָקוּם בְּקִרְבְּךָ נָבִיא אוֹ חֹלֵם חֲלוֹם וְנָתַן אֵלֶיךָ אוֹת אוֹ מוֹפֵת:


2. If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,


ג. וּבָא הָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר נֵלְכָה אַחֲרֵי אֱ־לֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא יְדַעְתָּם וְנָעָבְדֵם:


3. and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them,"


ד. לֹא תִשְׁמַע אֶל דִּבְרֵי הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא אוֹ אֶל חוֹלֵם הַחֲלוֹם הַהוּא כִּי מְנַסֶּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֶתְכֶם לָדַעַת הֲיִשְׁכֶם אֹהֲבִים אֶת יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם:


4. you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.







The simplest answer to all of this otherwise confusing stuff is that the Temple authorities removed heterodox texts from circulation. They couldn't destroy them and they put them away carefully in the genizah at Qumran.
The copper scroll shows the Temple authorities at work before the destruction of the Temple. Obviously they couldn't type up the list of treasures and hide them once Jerusalem was besieged.

So Qumran gives a snapshot of what texts the Temple took out of circulation, ie the texts don't represent any sect. And the Copper scroll shows that Qumran was a place the Temple considered to be a secure storage area. The Copper Scroll was probably accurate when it was written and Golb points out that some items where found where the scroll said they were in the past. And of course there was another copy of the scroll so it possessors could have used that copy to get the treasures.

That's highly unlikely, and Gob's theory is not widely accepted.


I'm sure you are right in that Jesus (Jesus 1A, say) represented an extreme kind of Pharisee. In modern terms this makes him barely a Jew, but that's not surprising since the world of 2100 years ago is barely recognizable in many ways. It would be just as correct to point out that Jesus 1A was not even remotely Christian in the modern sense or even in the Gospel sense of 50-100 years later.

This is correct to an extent. Pharisaic Judaism was the precursor to Rabbinical Judaism, and the practices and faith are the same. He would have been considered a heretic just as much then as he would be today by Orthodox Judaism.


I think probably not. Paul doesn't mention John at all in his letters (around 50 AD). He turns up in Acts (about 40 years later) with some connection with Paul, but not in the letters at all.

John the Baptist has all the appearances of a chronological peg. The Jesus 1A traditions were probably floating as far as chronology was concerned, ie, Jesus 1A existed back sometime on or before 1 AD and probably the death of 1A was about the time of the Chronologically retrospective birth of 2B.

So after the fall of the Temple, the Chronology of 1A/2B becomes a problem. The Gospel writers know he existed back there some time and that he was somewhat like John the Baptist in many ways, though I doubt "Essene" really comes close to how extreme 1A was. John was chronologically well-defined so why not make him yet another prefiguration of Jesus and fix the floating chronology at the same time? So in the Gospel version you get John the Baptist to fix the time which is otherwise up in the air.

That is a logical argument, and could be accurate.



Was 1A apocalyptic "originally"?...I think not. It looks like the core of his teaching was fantastically simple and powerful: anyone can achieve virtually divine levels of ritual purity. It's a very nice metaphysical twist because ritual purity is not apocalyptic or immanent and it has an inherent social side that is just as puzzling as it is liberating. Of course its not exactly a Christian or Jewish idea -- for one thing neither Christianity nor Judaism has a Temple any more so we don't really know what extreme ritual purity is supposed to be like or what it is supposed to do. The Temple is of course the other place where extreme ritual purity was possible when 1A was teaching.

Actually, we do--at least in Judaism anyway. Ritual purity is one's fitness to perform certain acts. There are certain things one can and cannot do while ritually impure, and there are different methods of becoming ritually pure depending on what caused the defilement. The Torah makes it exceedingly clear, and it is a basic part of everyday Jewish life. I was ritually impure a few times today, and I did what I needed to do to purify myself so that I could do certain things (pray, say blessings, eat).

Most of J's teachings were not original at all. Only his push for a break from Torah observance was really original (and heretical as far as Judaism is concerned).

Higgins
09-15-2009, 09:45 PM
I

Actually, we do--at least in Judaism anyway. Ritual purity is one's fitness to perform certain acts. There are certain things one can and cannot do while ritually impure, and there are different methods of becoming ritually pure depending on what caused the defilement. The Torah makes it exceedingly clear, and it is a basic part of everyday Jewish life. I was ritually impure a few times today, and I did what I needed to do to purify myself so that I could do certain things (pray, say blessings, eat).

Most of J's teachings were not original at all. Only his push for a break from Torah observance was really original (and heretical as far as Judaism is concerned).

I doubt that Jesus 1A would have been pushing for any break with Torah observance since he was a Pharisee (just a pretty extreme one). Paul was also against breaking with Torah I think, though on this point I'm with unpopular people (as with Golb's view of what the Qumran texts are). When Jesus and company (eg Paul) are represented violating Torah (as in Acts), then we know a later reinterpretation is being introduced.

So yes, there's nothing particularly original about Jesus 1A, he just went to rather more extreme expectations about what somebody outside the Temple could do in terms of ritual purity.

AMCrenshaw
09-16-2009, 01:17 AM
So yes, there's nothing particularly original about Jesus 1A, he just went to rather more extreme expectations about what somebody outside the Temple could do in terms of ritual purity.

This is I suppose what I meant by immanent, though, by "within," that anyone at any time could cultivate/achieve ritual purity-- isn't that the kingdom Jesus "1A" spoke about (even in the Gospels, there are sections we might consider close to an "original" account)? If not, what's the kingdom discussed even in Q and apocryphal texts? I think that might help clarify some of your points for me.


AMC

Ruv Draba
09-16-2009, 01:37 AM
I just wanted to say that I'm finding this very interesting. Wish I could contribute something, but I don't know anything relevant. And parables to me are a hit-and-miss management consulting technique -- when they hit, people learn something new and remember it. When they miss people learn the wrong thing and it entrenches like some mutant meme. I'm with Bertrand Russell (hthttp://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/_p2/why_not_christian.html) on the fig-tree -- yelling at a tree out of season has Canutelike signs of unwisdom and unvirtue. Other than as an historical curio I see no good reason to ponder it.

AMCrenshaw
09-16-2009, 02:25 AM
And, hopefully I'm not beating a dead horse here. Higgins you think this (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2014:43-52&version=NIV) passage has anything to do with locating that particular Jesus in time? Isn't that attire that of some purity ritual?



43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48"Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." 50Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.


AMC

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 06:19 AM
I doubt that Jesus 1A would have been pushing for any break with Torah observance since he was a Pharisee (just a pretty extreme one). Paul was also against breaking with Torah I think, though on this point I'm with unpopular people (as with Golb's view of what the Qumran texts are). When Jesus and company (eg Paul) are represented violating Torah (as in Acts), then we know a later reinterpretation is being introduced.

I highly doubt that they REAL J was pushing for a break in Torah observance. If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that any push for that by the J of the NT was added in later. I agree with that totally.

I think Paul started out that way. But he himself admits to seeking converts and lying to get them to accept Xtianity. That is a very non-Torah thing to do. I'm not exactly sure what else he may or may not have done, but that is the thing I remember sticking out. His spread of Xtianity was based on lies and dishonesty. I always found that strange.



So yes, there's nothing particularly original about Jesus 1A, he just went to rather more extreme expectations about what somebody outside the Temple could do in terms of ritual purity.

Such as? I'm not being intentionally obtuse, I just don't know to what "extremes" he went.

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 06:22 AM
And, hopefully I'm not beating a dead horse here. Higgins you think this (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2014:43-52&version=NIV) passage has anything to do with locating that particular Jesus in time? Isn't that attire that of some purity ritual?




AMC

What attire? The linen garment? I'm not sure what you're talking about. Purification doesn't involve a special attire. It involves water, and a lot of it depending on the purpose for cleansing oneself.

AMCrenshaw
09-16-2009, 08:16 AM
What attire? The linen garment? I'm not sure what you're talking about. Purification doesn't involve a special attire. It involves water, and a lot of it depending on the purpose for cleansing oneself.

I was thinking the being naked part.



AMC

Higgins
09-16-2009, 04:57 PM
This is I suppose what I meant by immanent, though, by "within," that anyone at any time could cultivate/achieve ritual purity-- isn't that the kingdom Jesus "1A" spoke about (even in the Gospels, there are sections we might consider close to an "original" account)? If not, what's the kingdom discussed even in Q and apocryphal texts? I think that might help clarify some of your points for me.


AMC

What is the Kingdom? I have no idea. It does reflect some apocalyptic concerns, but I would guess that if Master 1A were a very consistant fellow, for him "the Kingdom" has a variable and parabolic (ie appropriate to shift meanings in parables) meaning. I'm sure you are right and that something about some Kingdom or other is part of the language of Q and Qumran and probably something 1A talked about, though perhaps in more playful or paradoxical or parabolic terms than the NT has it. After all, by the time the NT is assembled the very idea of a "Kingdom" would seem naive and nostalgic and post-apocalyptic, while, for 1A, Kingdoms were things that came and went while the Temple remained constant if not inviolate. Remember that in 1A's world the Romans (well Pompey the Great) had just come through and redone all the Kingoms of the World and fixed things up in Jerusalem in favor of the Pharisees. IT's true that Pompey had walked into the Holy of Holies and been mystified, but one supposes this would not have surprised a Pharisee.
So Pompey had come by and reordered all the Kingdoms and wandered through the inner sanctum of the Temple
while backing the Pharisees.
So for 1A the terms Kingdom, Temple and Roman would have had a far more positive, more Pharisiacal resonance than they would for the redactors of the NT.

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 05:39 PM
I was thinking the being naked part.



AMC

Ah. I'm not sure why he would be running though. The only time you have to be naked is if you are immersing in a mikveh, in which case you are not running anywhere--you're dipping in a pool.


What is the Kingdom? I have no idea. It does reflect some apocalyptic concerns, but I would guess that if Master 1A were a very consistant fellow, for him "the Kingdom" has a variable and parabolic (ie appropriate to shift meanings in parables) meaning. I'm sure you are right and that something about some Kingdom or other is part of the language of Q and Qumran and probably something 1A talked about, though perhaps in more playful or paradoxical or parabolic terms than the NT has it. After all, by the time the NT is assembled the very idea of a "Kingdom" would seem naive and nostalgic and post-apocalyptic, while, for 1A, Kingdoms were things that came and went while the Temple remained constant if not inviolate. Remember that in 1A's world the Romans (well Pompey the Great) had just come through and redone all the Kingoms of the World and fixed things up in Jerusalem in favor of the Pharisees. IT's true that Pompey had walked into the Holy of Holies and been mystified, but one supposes this would not have surprised a Pharisee.
So Pompey had come by and reordered all the Kingdoms and wandered through the inner sanctum of the Temple
while backing the Pharisees.
So for 1A the terms Kingdom, Temple and Roman would have had a far more positive, more Pharisiacal resonance than they would for the redactors of the NT.

I hardly think a Roman presence in Jerusalem was pleasing to the Pharisees. They allowed a modicum of self-rule, but their presence was tolerated because it had to be.

Higgins
09-16-2009, 06:05 PM
I hardly think a Roman presence in Jerusalem was pleasing to the Pharisees. They allowed a modicum of self-rule, but their presence was tolerated because it had to be.

Well, Pompey and the Romans left and things looked good for the Pharisees for a bit. Apparently they were so happy they cooked up some Pseudoepigraphic Psalms:

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/psalmssolomon.html

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 06:16 PM
Ah, I missed the part about Pompey. Sorry. I thought you were referring to Pontius Pilate and the time before the destruction by Titus.

AMCrenshaw
09-16-2009, 08:26 PM
Ah. I'm not sure why he would be running though.

I think because Jesus was being arrested...

Higgins
09-16-2009, 09:28 PM
I think because Jesus was being arrested...

About the arrest scene (Matthew, IIRC) with the ear incident and the naked escapee. What strikes me as odd is not the incidental details but the central declaration that the scriptures must be fulfilled, which sounds like an authorial intrusion (from god or the redactor) reminding everybody what the scene is about.
This is one of those heavy-handed redactor moments where any of the logic of the 1A traditions has completey disappeared and instead we see the allegorical workings of the redactory engines.
The appearance of the Pharisees as involved in the judicial proceedings against Jesus is especially indicative of how far the redactors are from the world of 1A. By the time of the earliest redactions (say 10-20 years after the destruction of the Temple) only the Pharisees remain as major competitors in terms of interpreting the 1A material so they are discredited (despite having a better claim to understand what 1A was saying) by having them involved in discrediting and murdering a 2ABC Jesus-figure. Ie, the redactors seek to impose their interpretation of 1A by inventing a 2ABC figure and claiming that not only is it a faithful redaction of 1A but that the Pharisees killed 1A. Obviously if they killed 1A they didn't understand him (which should make you go hmmm...since there's no logic to that unless the threat from the Pharisees is precisely that they did understand 1A)...Presumably the irony of all this was not quite lost on the redactors and they rather guiltily throw in some more allegory: naked figures (prefiguring resurrection? Out of the linens/graveclothes and into new life?), betrayals, dogs and cats living together, real old testiment stuff (to quote Ghost-Busters One)...like "the scriptures must be fulfilled" (oh boy, run out of allegory? Hey better throw in some fulfillment of the scriptures)...

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 09:40 PM
I think because Jesus was being arrested...

I meant as a purity ritual. The only thing I can think of is he was about to go into the mikveh when it happened. That seems unlikely though given the context of the situation.


About the arrest scene (Matthew, IIRC) with the ear incident and the naked escapee. What strikes me as odd is not the incidental details but the central declaration that the scriptures must be fulfilled, which sounds like an authorial intrusion (from god or the redactor) reminding everybody what the scene is about.
This is one of those heavy-handed redactor moments where any of the logic of the 1A traditions has completey disappeared and instead we see the allegorical workings of the redactory engines.
The appearance of the Pharisees as involved in the judicial proceedings against Jesus is especially indicative of how far the redactors are from the world of 1A. By the time of the earliest redactions (say 10-20 years after the destruction of the Temple) only the Pharisees remain as major competitors in terms of interpreting the 1A material so they are discredited (despite having a better claim to understand what 1A was saying) by having them involved in discrediting and murdering a 2ABC Jesus-figure. Ie, the redactors seek to impose their interpretation of 1A by inventing a 2ABC figure and claiming that not only is it a faithful redaction of 1A but that the Pharisees killed 1A. Obviously if they killed 1A they didn't understand him (which should make you go hmmm...since there's no logic to that unless the threat from the Pharisees is precisely that they did understand 1A)...Presumably the irony of all this was not quite lost on the redactors and they rather guiltily throw in some more allegory: naked figures (prefiguring resurrection? Out of the linens/graveclothes and into new life?), betrayals, dogs and cats living together, real old testiment stuff (to quote Ghost-Busters One)...like "the scriptures must be fulfilled" (oh boy, run out of allegory? Hey better throw in some fulfillment of the scriptures)...

Interesting. The NT is pretty anti-Semitic overall, focusing a lot on the Pharisees. I'd say it probably is very historically inaccurate, if in fact a singular J existed. Also, I highly doubt that this J was as famous as the NT makes him out to be. There were tons of people running around claiming to be Moshiach at that time. I doubt the entire population of Jerusalem knew who he was.

Higgins
09-16-2009, 10:17 PM
Interesting. The NT is pretty anti-Semitic overall, focusing a lot on the Pharisees. I'd say it probably is very historically inaccurate, if in fact a singular J existed. Also, I highly doubt that this J was as famous as the NT makes him out to be. There were tons of people running around claiming to be Moshiach at that time. I doubt the entire population of Jerusalem knew who he was.

Probably nobody knew who Jesus 2ABC was since he was an historical fiction concocted in the Q-Quellen-Source of the Synoptic Gospels. And of course there were plenty of dueling messiahs around. Interestingly, the two sects with a fairly definite view of a messiah (the proto-Christian Pharisees and the Proto-rabbinic-Pharisees) were the ones who stayed clear of the messianic cataclysm in the revolt of 68-70. As for the anti-semitism of the NT, it is there because of a series of reinterpretations:

1) Jesus 1A: some reinterpretation of Pharisiacal ideas...a rather slightly and often ironical re-reading that can still be detected since it tends to be rather comic...
2) Jesus 1B: a possible Pharisiacal messiah figure...related to the House of David motifs and the Star imagery
2.5) Jesus 1C, the Jesus of the authentic Pauline letters
3) Jesus 2ABC: a very composit figure built in Q detectable in the misunderstand ing of the relation of 1A to the Pharisees. It is possible that the Synoptic Gospels did not quite understand Q/2ABC in relation to the Temple and the Pharisees since the Temple was gone and the "Pharisees" are code for some contemporary alternatives to interpreting the 1AB traditions
4) Jesus 2ABC.2 The Synoptic Jesus, aimed at totally appropriating 1A without understanding 1A, or 1B or Q/2ABC so this reinterpretation has to work hard to discredit the Pharisees and Judeans in general
5) Jesus 2ABC.3: the odder moments of Luke-Acts...to discredit some more Judean aspect of the reinterpretation of 1a-2ABC.2
6) Jesus 3A: as in John: Here the reinterpretation is quite extreme and its aim is to appropriate all texts from the Septuagint on so the Judeans in general have to be vilified to an extent that makes the nuttiness of 2ABC.3 look quite generous and urbane.

semilargeintestine
09-16-2009, 10:31 PM
Probably nobody knew who Jesus 2ABC was since he was an historical fiction concocted in the Q-Quellen-Source of the Synoptic Gospels. And of course there were plenty of dueling messiahs around. Interestingly, the two sects with a fairly definite view of a messiah (the proto-Christian Pharisees and the Proto-rabbinic-Pharisees) were the ones who stayed clear of the messianic cataclysm in the revolt of 68-70.


LOL at the bold. True though to an extend. Following the destruction of the Temple, there was a revolt led by Shimon Bar-Kosiba (better known as Bar-Kochba) from 132-135 CE. R' Akiva, who was a HUGE Talmid Chocham, pronounced Bar-Kokhba as the Moshiach, and many a Jew believed it--until he died in Bethar.



As for the anti-semitism of the NT, it is there because of a series of reinterpretations:

1) Jesus 1A: some reinterpretation of Pharisiacal ideas...a rather slightly and often ironical re-reading that can still be detected since it tends to be rather comic...
2) Jesus 1B: a possible Pharisiacal messiah figure...related to the House of David motifs and the Star imagery

Which is hilarious considering he is considered to have been born from a virgin. Tribal lineage is determined through the father, so if he didn't have a human father, there is no way he could be descended from David Hamelech.



2.5) Jesus 1C, the Jesus of the authentic Pauline letters
3) Jesus 2ABC: a very composit figure built in Q detectable in the misunderstand ing of the relation of 1A to the Pharisees. It is possible that the Synoptic Gospels did not quite understand Q/2ABC in relation to the Temple and the Pharisees since the Temple was gone and the "Pharisees" are code for some contemporary alternatives to interpreting the 1AB traditions
4) Jesus 2ABC.2 The Synoptic Jesus, aimed at totally appropriating 1A without understanding 1A, or 1B or Q/2ABC so this reinterpretation has to work hard to discredit the Pharisees and Judeans in general
5) Jesus 2ABC.3: the odder moments of Luke-Acts...to discredit some more Judean aspect of the reinterpretation of 1a-2ABC.2
6) Jesus 3A: as in John: Here the reinterpretation is quite extreme and its aim is to appropriate all texts from the Septuagint on so the Judeans in general have to be vilified to an extent that makes the nuttiness of 2ABC.3 look quite generous and urbane.

Yeah. It's quite disturbing when laid out logically like that.