The abstracts for some of the Seminar Papers and all of the Short Papers for BNTC 2009 are up on the website. The Jesus seminar abstracts will be up soon but here is an exclusive...
The Lukan Presentation of Herod Antipas and His Involvement in the Death of Jesus
Douglas J. Dalrymple
This paper will address the tensions in the Lukan narrative on the conduct of Herod Antipas. First there is the tension between the Pharisees’ report of Herod Antipas’ hostility towards Jesus and Pilate's assertion at the trial scene that Herod Antipas had found Jesus innocent of the charges that had been brought against him. Secondly there is the tension between Pilate's thrice repeated declaration of the innocence of Jesus in the trial scenes with the subsequent assertion by Luke that the Jerusalem community believed that both Pilate and Herod Antipas had acted together against Jesus. Luke is the only canonical gospel that suggests that there was antipathy between Herod Antipas and Jesus. Mark, Matthew, Luke and Josephus attest to the involvement of Herod Antipas in the death of John the Baptist. Luke merely states that Herod Antipas has beheaded John whereas Mark, Matthew and Josephus provide different explanations as to the causal factors for the Baptist's execution. Using the criteria adopted by scholars for the study of the historical Jesus, this paper will explore possible reasons why Herod Antipas may have acted against Jesus and attempt to reconcile the tensions in the Lukan narrative from the perspective of rhetorical criticism.
The Politicisation of the Historical Jesus
The political location of historical Jesus scholarship is nothing new, the most obvious example being the Nazi Jesuses. That dominant cultural and political trends influence scholarship despite contradictory personal politics is also nothing new, the most obvious example being mid-twentieth century anti-Jewish scholarship from scholars opposed to fascism and the Nazi party. This paper will look at the ways in which the historical Jesus has been politicised in present day critical scholarship with particular reference to trends in Anglo-American political and popular culture and with the assistance of the political and cultural analysis of Gramsci, Chomsky, Herman, Said and others. This paper will further develop issues relating to the contextualisation of Jesus as a ‘Mediterranean’ (often located in the contemporary ‘Arab world’) alongside the lip service paid to Jesus ‘Jewishness’. In addition to the intense popular interest in the contemporary Middle East, these scholarly trends will also be located in the context of certain popular post-Sept 11 debates over atheism, secularism, and conservative religious beliefs, and how these debates have been reflected in some of the most prominently conservative and prominently radical secular scholarship in decades. Issues of intentionality will be covered with examples of how a given scholar’s personal political views (of whatever persuasion) typically end up buying into the dominant positions in Anglo-American elite political debates in their scholarly output, even, to some extent, the consciously radical anti-imperial Jesuses of some contemporary scholarship.
The Death and Vindication of a Beloved Son: Mark 12.1-12
The purpose of this paper is to present a reconstruction and interpretation of Mark’s Aramaic source of this passage. I argue that it is an abbreviated but accurate account of Jesus’ parable and its significance at the time. The parable was inspired by Isaiah 5.1-7. God is the owner of his vineyard, Israel. The tenants are the chief priests, scribes and elders, together with authorities such as Herod Antipas. The servants whom God sent are the prophets, whom Israel’s leaders rejected, maltreating some and killing others. The ‘beloved son’ is Jesus, the term being taken from his call vision (Mark 1.10-11). He is sent ‘last’ because Jesus was God’s final messenger to Israel, and he expected the ‘tenants’ to kill him (Mark 12.7-8), which would be his atoning death for the redemption of Israel. Jesus threatened God’s judgement on the chief priests, scribes and elders, when God’s vineyard Israel would be given to ‘others’, Jesus and the Twelve, who would sit on thrones judging the ingathered twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus supported this picture by quoting Ps. 118.22-23, one of the Hallel psalms set for Passover. He is the stone rejected by the ‘builders’, as Simeon the Rock said in a speech to ‘the builders’ a few weeks later (Acts 4.10-11), following Jesus’ interpretation that he would become ‘a head of a corner’ when God raised him from the dead. This is when Jesus also expected that God would finally establish his kingdom.
Mark 12.12 correctly portrays the reaction of the chief priests, scribes and elders (cf. Mark 11.27). They were seeking to destroy Jesus, but for practical reasons they waited until Judah of Kerioth handed Jesus over in a place safely away from the Passover crowds.