More on 'authenticity' and Rafael is soft
Ok, so Rafael dared to respond! There's not much disagreement I have with what he's said so I'll restrct myself to where Rafael is wrong, aside from the cruel and demeaning comments on Michael Bird's blog which has pierced my heart and left me a broken man (well not quite as much as the gun).
But the question, I think, is whether we can positively (or even probably, or even usefully, for that matter) distinguish between newly interpreted and newly created traditions. (The interesting discussion in the Jesus seminar [not Seminar] at the BNTC re: the Son of Man/son of man between Maurice Casey and Andy Angel is an example of the difficulty we have in this regard.)
Just questions here: can a line be drawn here? If Jesus used a standard Aramaic idiom and it meant just man and was sort of tranlated in a similar way into Greek and had no reference to Daniel is that as useful for understanding the historical Jesus as a saying which (say) the early church found when reading Dan 7 and linked it to the second coming. Let's just assume that's right for the sake of these question: would both be of equal usefulness in reconstructing the life of Jesus? Or would one be of greater use?
There is no philosophical discussion about whether or not Jesus could have proclaimed a present kingdom, an imminent one, a future one, or any combination of the three. But this is precisely the first step in addressing the authenticity/historicity of the resurrection: Could the historical Jesus have experienced bodily resurrection? I think the difference is obvious; I apologise if it isn't.
Yes they are different but the authenticity question remains exactly the same, even if there has been a slight modification by Rafael here to experience: Did the bodily resurrection happen or not? Did Jesus preach a present, future, or future/present kingdom? I wouldn't argue that the resurrection is a question of could it happen but rather did it happen or not. The whole of the gospel tradition is a level playing field as far as I'm concerned. It just so happens that the resurrection didn't happen but that's another story...
(NB: James asks, 'Why is that so different from the analysis of any other miraculous event?' First, Jesus' teaching about the kingdom or a future coming Son of Man isn't miraculous. Second, I've yet to hear anyone seriously suggest that death was a psychosomatic condition that Jesus could 'heal' or 'be healed of' [unlike healing the blind or the lame], though some of the old resuscitation theories tend toward this.)
Actually, for what it is worth there are cross cultural parallels to people coming back from 'death' a bit like the girl who was only 'sleeping' in Mark 5.39 but that I know is not quite the point. More to the point, I think Rafael is again working with the question of could it happen... I say: did it?
Oh yeah . . . one last point. It seems to me that questions such as, 'Would the same degree of openness towards authenticity be extened to non-Christian traditions?', aren't very helpful. On the one hand, Evangelical scholars are said to be credulous because they suppose the gospels (or at least the synoptics) are reliable sources for the historical Jesus, but on the other they are criticised for not being credulous enough (for refusing to accept all the sources as reliable). I understand James' point (and, as he is fond of pointing out, our disagreement here is rather minor) and agree that why some of us prefer the canonical or synoptic gospels as historical sources should be a subject for analysis. But a preference for certain sources can be the result of critical reflection (granted that, nevertheless, it frequently isn't).
That's not quite what I was getting at. I'll put it this way: would an early miraculous story about Alexander the Great, some pagan magician or a great rabbinic authority be treated with the same degree of critical respect? Let's say they are very early, perhaps even by eyewitnesses, would they not be put down to a general world view where people saw no problem with making such stories up?
To broaden things out beyong the debate between me and Rafael, there has been a lot of debate on the blogs about authenticity and I think one good way to put things to the test is to steal a tactic from Jim West here (there are certain parallels with theHebrew Bible/OT debate on the blogs) and ask the open questions: did Jesus really on water or not? Did he multiply the loaves or not? Did he turn water into wine or not?
NOTE: in case of misunderstanding 'soft' was a schoolyard taunt for not being tough or hard. Not that I'm implying he's academically soft mind (if there is such a thing!!). Oh, it's just a silly joke, ok?