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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some Responses to Jesus Project(s)

There have been a couple of responses and I have a bit of spare time and, unusually for time and place, a wireless connection so...

1) Not all historical Jesus scholars operate with the "great man" view as evidenced by John Meier's "Marginal Jew" and Gerd Theissen's somewhat illusive "Galilean".

Actually, I think Meier is an important example of individual and great man history (so long as we don't take the great man too literally). The multi-volume project explicitly based on fact finding is a spectacular example of individualism and the individual as prime mover so to speak. This is very much a great man history (which can include those constructed as outsiders in their time).

(2) You cannot "explain" Christianity simply by reference to its socio-historical context and surrounding cultural currents because sooner or later you still need to do business with the text of the Gospels themselves: we need biography and sociology in our historical reconstruction! I assume that James would agree with me here, why else would you learn Aramaic unless you're prepared to go logion for logion and pericope for pericope.

Yes, certainly. I said challenge and test the dominant view and I think this is the key point. But yes. Also, we could look at broader issues on basically agreed points and try to explain...

(3) I also plea to James to be equally "deconstructive" to the Jesus Project as he is to other bastions of scholarship on the subject matter because he rightly recognizes how theologically and ideologically loaded all historical Jesus scholarship can be.

Yes, I have no problem with that. Indeed, my kind of thing actually. So yes, yes, yes. It may take a bit more time and hindsight before anything meaningful can be said. As a guess this Project looks like (as I think Chilton suggests) more a product of the harder secular/religious issue particularly in the States (and think also of Dawkins et al) more typical of this decade. Of course, as ever, this doesn't mean right or wrong but it is already possible to do a bit of historical and cultural contextualisation and deconstructing (sort of).

Interestingly, the Aramaic issue has been picked up by both Mike (comments on previous post) and Tom Verenna (I'll respond to his pretty detailed points in due course). I didn't really mean to stress this issue too much other than agree with Chilton so I won't add too much, other than refer, for now, to comments on Tom's blog

18 Comments:

Blogger Yirmeyahu said...

If you don't switch your lenses from post-135 C.E. Hellenist to MMT Judaic you're wasting everyone's time.
See www.netzarim.co.il

January 23, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Well yes, switch your lens, but in MMT you find the religion of the mainstream priests who commented on the others from whom the earliest 'christianity' came. The latter were the 'seekers of smooth things' who flouted the law. They were not the rabbis or pharisees either (who were post 70), but prophets who were more amenable to Gentile rule. A great theological split was already occurring in Judaism well before the Jesus cult was created under the Flavians.

How the post 70 Jesus cult was formed from the ashes of the first century prophetic movement of the Spirit is anybody's guess. But in my view it was Vesapsian who destroyed the sanctuary of the prophets (left standing by Nero) to get its gold and fund his rise to power. And it was more than likely after that destruction that the few remaining defending prophets were paraded as captives in Vespasian's triumph.

More certain is the Flavian adaptation of earlier original prophetic documents of the NT to launch the Jesus cult. And of course at the same time there was a parallel Flavian extensive propagandist revision of the original writings of Josephus undertaken for his patron Nero.

January 23, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Original Antiquities being written as a schoolboy exercise while Josephus was being raised in the court of his other patron, Claudius, and that with Nero of the same age.

January 23, 2009

 
Blogger Eliyahu said...

I would say you are playing loose with your dates and terms and as for your views if they aren't backed up by a logic that any mathematical logic based computer can verify then they are best modified until they do. How were the Perushim after 70 CE? "Prophets were more amenable to Gentile rule," says who? Do you first have a source for either of those statements and would the source's material be extant? An accurate J-esus project would reveal that there is no connection or formation of Xty from a 1st century Ribi, except if by connection you mean the stealing of the Mashiachs identity. Quite like if one were to take and use your social security number long enough and frequently enough and no one contested it for 2000 years so the false image is imagined to be the real thing. Simply put Ribi Yehoshua ben Yoseph ben Dawid HaMashiach is not the image of falseness which is J-esus.

January 23, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

I'm sorry Eliyahu, but your gibberish is totally incomprehensible - I think you had better lay off the meths. In fact it's yet more noise on the ether probably from a certain individual who is all noise and no substance.

Of course prophets and priests were legislated for very early in the OT. But it seems that Jews and Christians alike can't stomach the idea that prophets were around at the time of The Prophet. It suits the Jews to dispense with prophets and imagine that life was dominated by the dictates of the rabbis and Pharisees. And it suits the Christians to dispense with prophets, because there just might have been a first century group of folk who believed they were filled with the Spirit and obeyed the Spirit with no knowledge or belief in Jesus. That obedience had priority over the party line of the priests or what any priest might have said. For them, the Spirit was Lord - turned by the Flavian editors to mean they would call no man Lord, i.e. they would not accept Roman rule, which for prophets was a lie, but for the messianic priests of MMT was true - a typical Flavian reversal.

January 23, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

Do you know whether Chilton has published any of the 'reconstructions' he talks about (other than that small article on Mark)?

January 24, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

"sooner or later you still need to do business with the text of the Gospels themselves"

And sooner or later you still need to do business with the text of the DSS and the writings attributed to Josephus, but the DSS must have priority since they have not been tampered with.

The history we have in the NT and in the writings attributed to Josephus are versions with agendas superimposed on original texts. Why was the so-called seige of Masada put last in War? Was it because Masada was in fact taken at the start of the war, and became the main Roman military base outside Caesarea for the pursuit of the war? http://asorblog.org/?p=71

You cannot consider the gospels in isolation from the writings attributed to Josephus or the DSS. If you do, you blind yourself to reality.

January 24, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

And all the Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, whatever in the world, will not bring you any closer to it, Jeffers.

January 24, 2009

 
Blogger Eliyahu said...

Never done meth. Where's your sources? Prophets (neviim) had to be living and teaching according to Devarim 13 no matter what time they lived in. The matter MMT is addressing is the proper oral interpretation of Torah, which is the mishpatim and chukim of the Tanach. I suppose you have read Elisha Qimron's work on MMT but you have a better source. Let's have it. The foundation of life, what is called the Tree of Life, is the Torah. If you are building on another foundation with these posts your wasting everyone's time. If your prophets deviated from it, from the Aseret HaDibrot, the kosher laws, the Shabbat, and the rest, then they cut the legs out from under themselves according to Devarim 13.

January 24, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

How do you know what the oral law regarding prophets was at the time MMT was written? You do not, do you, because it wasn't written - no-one here is fooled by your stupidity, Jeffers. A fixed 'oral law', by definition, is a figment of your imagination. Fundamentally, prophets had to be doing what they did in the time of Moses - praying at the altar of incense, invoking the Spirit, and obeying it, which is what the prophet of the NT was all about. But he went a step further and he called priests (you know the 'fishermen', stupid) to leave their sacrifices, not their nets, you idiot - they had been casting sacrifices on the altar for animal sacrifices, not nets upon the water, duh! And he did this because he rejected the idea that animal sacrifices could cleanse, as evidenced by what he saw as the impure ways and hypocrisy of the priests. And many priests did join the prophets. The criticism of animal sacrifices was well established in the prophetic literature. So the prophetic religion by its very nature of obedience of the Spirit did change, and Judas was the catalyst for a fundamental change, as implied in the writings attributed to Josephus who himself joined the prophets under 'Banus',i.e. James the son of Judas.

January 24, 2009

 
Blogger Eliyahu said...

What a crock. The written Torah (that means instruction for the Hebraically challenged) is the foundation. MMT is one of the three mainstream explanations of the written Torah which before it was written was a portion of the Qumran sects oral law. The Temple priests had their Book of Decrees. The Perushim had not yet written down their oral law. You are lacking credible scholarship. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but no one is entitled to their own facts, history, or logic.

January 25, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

The Qumran sect the writers of the Scrolls? Gerroff! You mean mainstream priests as does Golb, and Hirschfeld.

A latter day prophet Barak Obama would have fitted in quite well with the first century prophets. They were about change. Old men, Jeffers, were going to dream dreams and young men see visions, all the stuff of prophets inspired by the Spirit, and hardly following any kosher laws that you have absolutely no evidence for.

Pentecostals are to Plymouth Brethren what prophets were to priests. Prophets were 'free' (they were the so-called Essenes) but priests were 'tight' - bound by their laws. And of course there are 'tight' folk in just about every branch of Christianity.

Bring on Leon.

January 25, 2009

 
Blogger Leon said...

Well, here I am. I think, Dr. Crossley, you have a problem in believing that there can be evolutionary progress, that there can be gradual improvement in this field. That is not going to happen because it has not happened so far. Except for some improvement in the way Christian scholars talk about modern Judaism, NT scholarship on the Gospels and the 1st century remains as prejudiced as it was in the 19th century. There has not been an iota of progress. So why would it magically happen now?

Scholars today still talk of Temple, rituals, purity concerns (sometimes they add circumcision, territory, and a few other things) as the identifying markers of 1st century Judaism. They pick the most superficial things in order to make Jesus appear more profound. There are more accurate ways to talk about 1st century Judaism. I have mentioned them here, there, and everywhere so I won't bother to repeat them. But I have already learned that no one is interested. A truthful depiction of 1st century Judaism is seen as a threat to scholarly theology about Jesus.

The goal of modern NT scholarship remains what it has always been: To violently tear Jesus from his Jewish culture and make him appear unique and better. It is circular reasoning. It is easy to make Jesus into an isolated figure if you erase his fellow Jews from history first.

Just compare this field to anthropology. For anthropologists, there is a raging debate about the presence and effects of racism in their field. That is because anthropology is a genuine science and to become that, you have to face and get rid of prejudice in your field. In NT scholarship, there is no such debate. Discussion of prejudice is firmly censored. The whole purpose of William Arnal's book "The Symbolic Jesus" is to make sure that prejudice rules and will never be overthrown. Arnal's book is outrageously biased and presents a picture that disparages 1st century Judaism. Yet everyone is silent about it.

NT scholarship will never improve until scholars begin to honestly discuss their own prejudices. This they will never do. The point, of course, is that the fear of a too Jewish Jesus must remain in place to control the research. Scholars look to other fields only to adopt some superficial language so they can continue to hide their prejudice. What is needed is a conference on scholars, not on the NT. But that will never happen.

Leon Zitzer

January 28, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Good writing Leon. But the Jew might not have been Jesus.

January 28, 2009

 
Blogger steph said...

Maybe Leon doesn't keep up with scholarship if William Arnal is anything to go by...

January 29, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

The paradigm of the Flavian historian was: the first shall be last and the last shall be first - reversal. So Masada was the first fortress to be taken, not the last. And Jesus was the historical Judas.

January 29, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

And Paul's final journey by ship from Judea to Rome was James' journey from Rome to Jerusalem around 60 CE - two reversals here. Eisenman knows all about Flavian reversals.

January 30, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

James, on the subject of 'propagandic reversal', you might be interested in this article - sounds just up your street:

http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/view/7236/1/347/

January 31, 2009

 

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