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Sunday, September 07, 2008

BNTC 2008

I thought this was one of the better ones. It was good to see various people as ever and particularly to catch up with Durham people I haven't seen in years. Had some fun times and it is always good to see Mike Bird and see how he's getting on. The journey back was a nightmare at first thanks to the flooding and it seems most others experienced problems. My advice: follow Sean Winter. The Jesus seminar (and not to be confused with the American Jesus Seminar of Crossan, Funk, et al fame) went particularly well I thought, as did the main papers. I found nothing disagreeable with what I heard, though had to miss Dale Martin's (for a very good reason) which everyone I spoke to said was good. It would seem there are one or two pictures around on blogs but I'll talk about the Jesus seminar...

Justin Meggitt's paper was really quite excellent, esp. on the findings from medicine and medical anthropology, including some particularly memorable tales of placebo healings. The secondary literature seemed extremely up to date and something quite distinctive I think, including some important qualifications on psycho-somatic healings in relation to the Jesus tradition. I believe this will be an article in a forthcoming edited volume on such matters which Justin said was reviewed (or something like that) by an expert in medicine. When that comes out, the article will be worth reading for the insights into the medical literature alone.

Halvor Moxnes then gave an excellent paper on ethnicity, identity and Galilee. There was one basic but very important point to come from this, namely that religious identity is too often foregrounded when all sorts of aspects of identity can be used (gender, class etc). For some, I think, or at least hope, that this opened their eyes to something beyond the traditional concerns of scholarship in the UK. It was clear that several people were grateful for this. I responded but didn't disagree with anything substantive. I tried to push a few things forward, such as the political context of Galilee scholarship and the rhetoric of emphasising 'Jewishness' where opponents allegedly don't have a Jewish enough Jesus. As Mike Bird mentioned on his blog, the discussion got to the very 'in' debate over the labels 'Jew', 'Judean', etc. Mike raises some doubts or qualifications which are of interest. I have no real opinion as such on whether one is better than the other in ancient terms but I don't care too much because the ways in which people were describing things was pretty much the way I use 'Jew'. I have some doubts on the foundational linguistic work of this debate, particularly the political context, and I'll be discussing this in weeks to come.

Then there was Bird...Strangely, I wasn't in any major disagreement with Mike over his paper on Jesus and Messiah and things like that. There were some concerns raised about an over trusting attitude towards the historicity of the tradition but that is probably another debate. The only major problem with substance was Mike's definition of 'messianic'. Other than the odd conservative, and certainly not all of them, Mike didn't even manage to persuade the furniture that his general definition of 'messianic' was sufficiently nuanced. Yes, people agreed that Jesus thought his ministry was very special etc but the 'Messianic' label really needs some qualifying. Other than that, as I said, I didn't really disagree with much of what he said and if he had used different labels and more nuancing, many people would no doubt share the same view.

Surprised? Well, let's fix that. Mike has now gone and done his old trick of ingnoring what I said, replacing it is what he says I said (which I didn't), before heroically inventing my apparent downfall by, er, mindreading. Mike said, 'James Crossley argued against the triumphal entry in Mark as being messianic which I think only convinced him and the furniture.' I actually said that Mike hadn't proven it was necessarily 'messianic' but worked with a definition and fitted everything he wanted into it, including the truimphal entry. Me and my co-chair got into our usual heated debate which we do every year and it is always good fun - I'm not sure Mike realises this tradition. Anyway, the substance of the debate involving the three of us to which Mike refers was actually over the phrase 'son of David' which I said was not used of Jesus in Mk 11. It still is not used. The crowds talk about the coming kingdom of our father David which is not the title 'the son of David' for Jesus. Matthew of course makes significant changes and Mike mentioned something vague about Matthew drawing out the obvious significance or something. I was, and am, perfectly happy with the idea that, according to Mark, people thought Jesus was something very special (whether we define this as 'messianic' is another question). Of course, in terms of the historical Jesus that depends on whether the passage goes back to Jesus or not. Because Mike didn't agree and there was a touch of conservative reaction, this doesn't not mean everyone as Mike implies. Others agreed with me (including Casey) and the only response was the predicatable one that Jesus is still the son of David in Mark, ok!? All I'm saying is that Mark does not say that. I mean it is obvious: people were referring to the coming kingdom of their father David. So my point was that you have to start putting things into that Markan text to get Jesus was 'the son of David'. I may not be the most evangelical but at least I'm scriptural! God only knows why Mike keeps coming up with these representations. Eyewitnesses, eh!

13 Comments:

Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

James,
Mate, if the only thing I failed to mention was your use of the word "necessarily", I still take my report to be accurate. I acknowledge the dispute over my definition (or lack thereof) concerning "messianic" but you were denying that Mark's narration of the triumphal entry portrayed Jesus as a Davidic figure since you said words to the effect that the kingdom of our father David could refer to any Israelite. To which the co-chair David rightly asked, why wasn't the hallel sung when every Israelite walked into to Jerusalem or something along those lines. Which sounds like a pretty fairdinkum denial of a messianic/davidic meaning to Mk. 11.1-10 on your behalf.

I think "coming one" set in parallel to "coming kingdom" gives a clearly messianic scope to the passage even if "son of David" is not explicitly used.

Perhaps we should make video and audio tapes of these Jesus seminars and sell them on ebay to fund after conference drinkies.

Good to see ya all the same!

September 07, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

misrepresentation is so annoying and so is reading things that are not there and "coming one" is not a title. "The One Coming" as a title is a projection of a later theological interpretation onto this verbal construction often enforcing the illusion by capitalising the initials so that it becomes a title. This is a huge leap from the first context of words in which John the Baptist refers to one, unidentified, coming after himself. I find it difficult to see any messianic insinuation in it or any later use of this verbal construction.

The doctor is the one who is coming to fix your pain.

September 08, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Is the statement "Mark's narration of the triumphal entry portrayed Jesus as a Davidic figure" theologian's speak for saying, the original text meant something completely different?

There are three words in Mark 11 that give the game away in a completely normal Jewish context. It was nothing to do with a Markan messianic Davidic type of king entering Jerusalem on a colt or a hinney. The three words are 'cut', 'spread' and 'branches' (11.8). The time of year was succoth or the Feast, or the Feast of Tabernacles or booths. The prophets found a tree, not a colt. Booths were made with branches cut from trees. They would have been built everywhere, on the road and in the fields. Palm branches were carried into the temple. At this time, the Spirit of the Lord was expected.

September 08, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Jesus's entry into Jeruslem riding on a colt or a hinney is clearly a fabrication based on the similar record for Solomon the son of David. Thus Markan portrayal (theological fabrication) of Jesus as a Davidic king figure is a good match. But we KNOW from the scrolls (buried for 2000 years, Mike) that the Jewish messiah was to be a priest king, and second to the priest messiah at that. These guys really did believe in a Davidic type of war, with a helping-hand from God of course. Unfortunately, God didn't come as they thought he might.

September 09, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

So just think Mike, if God had come to their rescue as they thought, we might all be Jews.

September 09, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

In a normal Jewish context, the prophet would have been known as the son of his father. So who was the father? And given the father, who was the son?

September 09, 2008

 
Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

Steph,
Since you weren't jolly well at Durham you don't have a flipping clue as to what me, James, or David said, do you!

Also, the participle is used messianically in Hab. 2.3 LXX, which procedes Mark, and this is a common supposition, not purely mine. And Q 7.22-23 is rather like the "works of the messiah" in col. 2 of 4Q521 which makes it pretty darn messianic in my books.

September 09, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Martinez has: "for the heavens and the earth will listen to his anointed one, and all that is in them will not turn away from the precepts of the holy ones." 4Q521 col2:1,2. It seems as though "his anointed one" was anyone who was anointed, i.e. anyone of the holy ones.

So no wonder Vermes could write (p.391 of TCDSSIE):

"the surviving fragments do not appear to include anything patently sectarian. The term 'Messiah', probably in the singular, is used without the addition of Aaron or Israel."

As was his bent, Vermes translated anointed one as a capitalised Messiah. Thus the view of the writers of the big scrolls is not discounted by 4Q521 (regarded almost as nonsectarian by Vermes). The writers of the big scrolls expected a Messiah of Aaron and a Messiah of Israel.

September 09, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

I do actually have a "flipping idea". Someone took notes for me.

September 10, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

..because I was booked for the JS and family circumstances prevented me from attending, Mike.

September 10, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

Mike: I am well aware that it isn't your original idea. My comment wasn't directed to you.

September 10, 2008

 
Anonymous steph said...

and Mikey, you assume a flipping lot when maybe it's actually you who haven't a "flipping clue"

September 10, 2008

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

I wonder if the hallel was sung when 'Manahem', supposedly one of the sons of Judas, walked into Jerusalem 'in the state of a king'. (War 2:17:8) Described as 'a very cunning sophister', I have to wonder if he wasn't in fact the messianic high priest Ananias who had a similar reputation. Strangely, Ananias was written out of the story shortly after 'Menahem's' entry into Jerusalem, closely followed by the demise of Manahem himself, just like a TV soap. (War 2:17:9).

Now men of high priestly power like Ananias just don't get disposed of so easily. So, I suggest that it was Ananias who returned from Masada in the state of a king. It was Ananias 'the cunning sophister' who conned his way into Masada. Manahem was pure fiction - a literary device. Ananias returned in the state of a messiah king to stage a coup in which king Agrippa II was killed in an aqueduct (War 2:17:9), not Ananias. We now have a real New Testament king messiah by the name of Ananias. The real troublemakers for the Romans were the priests. But the editor's put the boot into Judas and his movement.

September 10, 2008

 

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