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ickthoos



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #74

Richard,

I was reading through this thread and I’m curious about the disparity you're suggesting in Acts 1.4-11. It seems that the disparity happening in the text is largely in terms of chronology and not cosmology. But perhaps I'm missing your intended meaning of the term earthbound? Are you perhaps suggesting that the disciples were still looking for a political overthrow of Roman rule brought about by a militant messianic figure rather then a "heavenly" kingdom that had nothing to do with politics and the overthrow of Rome and such? Or am I missing the disparity your trying to point towards all together?

-Craig


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rgoode
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #75

Hi Craig,

That’s a very good question and it has got me thinking whether I am guilty of a little eisegesis here or, at least, overstating my case! However, if I was to defend my position (although I find it more fun exploring other people’s arguments than defending my own), I would have to say that, for me, the key words in this section are “to Israel” (Acts 1:5).

Luke-Acts comes at a very interesting time and it is quite possible that the author was spurred on by a number of theological and social factors into writing this work in order to meet what he felt were the inadequacies of the existing Gospels (Lk1:1). Of these factors, I think 2 are fairly germane here.

1) Under the direct or indirect influence of the Pauline movement, Luke was exploring ways in which to articulate the Gospel in universal terms. Salvation is for the gentile as well as the Jew – Luke is generally seen as the most pro-gentile of the evangelists. Time and again this theme emerges in Luke with gentile figures and references to the nations. In fact he culminates his Gospel stating that the name of Jesus will be proclaimed to all nations. We are then faced, at the beginning of Acts, with the disciples' question about the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The dissonance between the two is quite striking and sort of works as a late antiquity “doh” moment. The expectations of the disciples are once again corrected in Acts 1:8. Whether one can categorically argue that this shows an earthly/political expectation, I am not sure; but I think that it does demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission and represents Luke’s attempt to use the Olivet narrative to present his spin on the Jewish/gentile tension being experienced by the Church.

You are absolutely right in suggesting that the question appears to be about chronology and not cosmology (sorry my clumsy term – we should really be using eschatology here). However, I think to read it simply in the light of getting the timing wrong misses what Luke is doing here - which brings us on to the second factor.

2) It is important not to underestimate the problems caused to the church by the delayed parousia (second coming). Luke seems to be eminently aware of the delay; Conzelmann has made a significant contribution to this area and we do not have time to explore more deeply in this thread. Suffice it to say, my reading of Luke is that alongside Universalism of Salvation, he was also trying to address those among his congregation who were giving up hope of Christ ever returning or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, were beginning to take his imminent return to extremes. I suspect that by phrasing the question of the nature of Jesus’/church’s mission (problem 1) specifically within in terms of chronology was a very deliberate strategy by Luke to, once again, deal with the issue of parousia (problem 2).

So to sum up, although I think that the messianic expectations contemporary to Jesus were predominantly (militaristic/political), I think you are quite right in questioning whether this can be seen in Acts 1:6 – or we, at least, need more evidence than this to avoid eisegesis. However, I still need to be a little more convinced that the essence of the question is about chronology rather than the nature of Jesus’ mission and the disciples' false expectations.

Hope this helps in some way – it all seems rather dense looking back on it.

Richard


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ickthoos



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #89

Thanks for your reply Richard,

You've help clarify your position well and brought up some interesting points.

I wonder though if it’s correct to say that Luke felt there were inadequacies in the existing gospels? I’m reading “Jesus and the Heritage of Israel” David Moessner ed., and the first article by L.C.A. Alexander “Formal Elements and Genre: Which Greco-Roman Prologues Most Closely Parallel the Lukan Prologues” seems to provide some interesting arguing points for your suggestion. Alexander argues that the prologue of Luke most closely resembles that which one would find in technical writings such as those belonging to mathematics, engineering, and medicine, etc. In those writings one of most common conventions is to refer to one’s predecessor (pg 19). Some of course would have used this polemically, but Luke’s tone doesn’t necessarily imply criticism and closely resembles other writers of the time.

That seems to be a moot point though, my main reason for thinking the disparity is in terms of chronology rather than eschatology come from a couple of factors. The first would be the text of v7 which seems to affirm their hopes, but not their chronology. Verse 8 contains the contrastive but (gk alla), but I suspect the contrast happening here isn’t in terms of expectations, but rather in terms of what the disciples can and can’t have, otherwise in the context of their expectations v7 seems rather out of place.

My second reason for my challenge comes more at the literary level in terms with what Luke is doing with the term "Israel". I suspect that this point would be harder to fully work out here on the forum, but briefly I want to suggest that the term "Israel" has undergone a redefinition in Luke, or is in the process of being redefined. Jesus identifying with John's baptism movement, beginning himself to baptize people out in the wilderness, and then heading out into the desert for a testing of 40 days, seems to me to strongly call to mind the exodus narratives which would suggest that Jesus is symbolically taking on himself and acting out the history of Israel. The choosing of 12 disciples also seems to resonate as a symbolic action which invites readers to understand that Jesus is reforming Israel around himself, 12, of course being representative of the tribes of Israel. I think it’s safe to suggest that in redefining Israel around himself, Jesus was doing something that could be loosely compared to the community at Qumran who envisioned themselves as the true Israel over and against the rest of Israel, a true remnant if you will. A few more pieces of Luke’s narrative seem to point in the same direction, but especially Jesus’ subversion of the regular Jewish markers i.e. torah, land, family, etc. Luke 8.1 – 21 seems to me to read in precisely that sort of direction. Luke’s narrative invites readers to hear Jesus’ subversion of family ties in v21 in terms of the previous parable of the sower so that when Jesus says “those who hear god’s words”, Luke intends the reader to understand this specifically as the words that Jesus has been proclaiming. (v10) The net effect of all this is to say that the disciples would have understood themselves and the followers of Jesus as the true Israel. This seems to point toward Paul’s insistence that faith in Jesus alone is the demarcating badge of the people of God, which would allow for inclusion of the gentiles as part of God’s people, i.e. Israel, which as you’ve rightly pointed out, is a major focus of Luke’s narrative. I wonder though if Luke’s interest in the gentiles being included in God’s people isn’t as much a working out of the redefinition of Israel around Jesus, over and sometime against the regular Jewish boundary markers, as it is from Pauline influence? For that matter is Paul’s insistence on the Gentiles being included by faith a working out of Jesus’ redefinition of Israel?

It’s also interesting to see the way that Luke has bracketed his narrative with Zechariah’s Song (esp. lk 1.67-75) and the Emmaus Road story. (esp lk 24.21) It seems that within Luke’s narrative the hope is alive and well, Jesus is no way denies that hope, though I think he does redefine how that hope will be achieved, which is where I would suggest the disparity is happening throughout the gospels. Given the problems of the delay of the parousia, Acts 1.6-8 seem to point to a continued delayed hope, though the resurrection of Jesus and gift of the holy spirit would be interesting markers for that hope.

A third reason for thinking that the disparity is happening largely in terms of chronology and not eschatology is due to continued early Christian eschatological hope which seems to be concerned with God’s people taking their rightful place as rulers/stewards of God’s creation. 1 corth 4.8, Revelation 2.26, and 20.4 point in this direction. 1 Cor 6.2 provides an interesting point for discussion for this forum topic. I don’t think it’s too farfetched to think that Daniel 7 may be in mind in Paul’s discussion of Judging/ruling. Paul paints Christ as the new adam later just before 15.27. 15.27 drawing on Pss 8 seems to be comfortably home in something like Daniel 7 where the one like a son of man rises above the animals and exercises dominion much like Adam was supposed to do (Gen 1.28 ). (Hooker, Wright, and Wenham all explore this theme). I think it highly likely that the son of man in 7.12 can be thought as representative of Israel as a whole via v18 which would fit nicely with Paul’s insistence that the saints are to judge/rule the world in 1 Cor 6.2. I also wonder if counter imperial passages such as Phil 2.6-11, Col 1.15-20, etc don’t point in this same direction?

-Craig


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #90

With regard to the apocalyptic eschatological expectations of the Jews at the time of Jesus, I don't think that there was ever a clear resolution one way or the other in people's minds as to whether they were looking for a terrestrial Messiah or a cosmic Saviour with a new heaven and a new earth.
In "Hebrew Religion its origin and development" Oesterley and Robinson say on page 199 "The popular eschatology was political and national, while the prophetic was primarily ethical and religious." Even in the two centuries before the birth of Jesus is the tension between the two outlooks remains. Since most of the prophets came from the hill country of Galilee and most of the intertestamental literature originated there, it is not surprising that the dominant theme in the Gospels is of a cosmic saviour and a new heaven and a new earth.
Dennis


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rgoode
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #92

Thanks Dennis,
You make an extremely important point. One of the problems we face as academics is a tendency to polarise and create discrete and distinct categories, when in reality there would be a certain amount of blurring around the edges. The link between Galilee area and the prophets is a good point. However, and I no doubt am falling back into my polarising tendencies, it did tend to express itself in political and nationlistic insurgency (i.e. zealotism).

Many thanks Craig for your post.
Yes, I see now from where you are coming. I must confess that I hadn’t read this verse in that way before. I am sure you’re right in suggesting that Luke is trying to re-define ‘Israel’ and I think your comparison with the Qumran community is spot on; as Chris Tuckett notes, “for Luke the Christian church is the true Israel.” The question is therefore, are we (the reader/hearer) expected to understand if the disciples are using Israel in the old way (my reading) or in Luke’s new way (I suspect your reading)? In other words, is there a sense of Markan-style irony working here or have the disciples fully embraced the new revelation and are using it as a synonym for the Kingdom? I have a feeling that Pentecost and the place of the Spirit in Luke’s theology are key here.

This re-definition, Universalism (Israel/Nations), delayed parousia etc., is one of the reasons why I still hold that Luke wasn’t happy with existing gospels. I am being slightly circumspect here as Loveday Alexander was the visiting examiners for my Viva and I have immense respect for her work Smile ! Standing on its own, there might just be a case for saying that it is purely convention and no criticism was implied, however, Luke’s handling of the material would seem to argue otherwise.

As you say, this is to a certain extent moot to the topic. Nevertheless, it does indicate some of the problems we are facing with this question. Luke is using (and at times adapting) existing material. I am pretty sure that, as you note, echoes of the Exodus story and allusions to Jesus as a Mosaic figure did not go unnoticed by Luke’s readers/hearers. However, all that you have said about Luke could (and has – for example, Dale Allison’s The New Moses) be said about the other Gospels – particularly Matthew. The problem is putting our fingers on how exactly Luke is working the text.

I think you are also spot on in identifying Luke 8:21 (I would also include here Luke’s redaction of Mk 6:1-6 in Lk 4:16-30) as key to our understanding of Luke’s presentation of Israel. Here we have perhaps one of the sources of our problem and has certainly kept me going round and round in circles. Luke does appear, as you say, to re-define Israel. However, he also retains Israel in a more negative sense as a counterpoint to the true/new Israel. The trick is knowing when to distinguish between the two.

You are of course right in suggesting that Luke’s attitude to the Gentiles could be as much to do with this new definition of Israel as it was to Paul’s influence. But I think it is really a question of degree and in the absence of other evidence, the more primitive Pauline movement would appear to be a likely contender in its promulgation – although, no doubt there were other influences in this direction. I do wonder, however, if we can attribute, as you appear to do, this re-definition to Jesus? In order to do so, we would need to see evidence of it in the earlier sources (esp. Mark). They are, of course, there In Paul’s writing, but they do seem to have had rather a rough ride among the other apostles in the Jerusalem church.

I think I’d better stop here before this becomes a book. I hope I have answered your questions (the main ones at least).

Richard


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #128

I have just finished reading " The Jesus Party" by Dr Hugh Schonfield. His book is essentially an expose of the influence of the Fourth Philosophy, detailed at length by Josephus, during the first century AD. He is exceptionally good at creating a picture of the fevered atmosphere of the time and makes to my mind a very valid point of the effect of the sabbath years in releasing a lot of the inhabitants of Judea and Galilee from agricultural work and enabling them to take part in religio-political activities. The only error I can find in his work is that he makes the mistake of applying Egyptian census procedure to Israel where it is not warranted. In short his conclusion is "it is no longer tenable that Christianity in its inception - whatever happened later - was distinct from contemporary attitudes within Judaism". He parts company from Brandon in making the case that the followers of Jesus were essentially pacifist and were not part of the Zealot armed struggle.
Dennis


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #129

Yes, the general view is to see Christianity very much embedded within Judaism of the time. James Dunn in particular has done much to demonstrate the pluriform and diversity of Judaism at this time which could accommodate movement such as that of early Christianity without (too) much tension.
I haven't read Schonfield's book and am intrigued by your reference to the sabbath years. Does Schonfield give primary evidence for this practice actually happening? I'm regrettably ignorant on this and up until now have been led to believe that this was an ideal rather than actual practice.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #130

You may well be right, Richard, to be sceptical about the implementation of sabbatical years. Schonfield does not provide any references to back up his assertions and the only reference I can find is in 1 Maccabees 6:49. This story is confirmed by Josephus in chapter 9 section 5 of "The Antiquities of the Jews". I should be interested to know whether any other confirmations of the implementation of this custom have been found.
Dennis


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #131

Yes, I agree with you Dennis, I too would be very interested to know more about whether the sabbath was actually practiced.

If I've understood your post correctly, it seems that Schonfield was referring to the Jubilee year rather than the sabbath year - am I right? I am also very intrigued to hear about how he applies this to the emerging Christian Movement - I'm failing to see a significant connection between the two.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #132

The reference in both Schonfield and Josephus, Richard, is to the sabbatical (seventh) year and to the fact that during that year there was no agricultural work carried out. As no crops were harvested, they had to rely on grain stored from previous years and that was the point of the story in Josephus. Schonfield's point is that the people had time on their hands to engage in religio- political activities. This meant there was therefore in those years a great deal more unrest than at other times. This unrest, as I'm sure you are aware, was a major feature of the first century AD.
Dennis


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #133

Since my last post, Richard, I have been looking further into the sabbatical year question and there is considerable further evidence in Josephus as to its continuance from 163 BC onwards. In Book XIV,Chapter X Josephus cites a decree issued by Julius Caesar authorising the Jews to be freed from tribute during the sabbatical year. In the Kregel Edition of the complete works of Josephus, Dissertation V gives six instances of sabbatical years listed by Josephus from 163 BC to 41AD, in sections 49 to 54. I think it is safe to conclude therefore that although the Israelites may have been remiss in not keeping sabbatical years prior to the Exile, after the Return, they were considerably more observant.
Dennis


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #135

Many thanks for your researches Dennis. Sorry I've been slow in replying, but it has been one of those times when everything happens at once!
It's very interesting - Caesar's decree sounds like a particularly strong case for accepting the actual practice of sabbatical year observance.


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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: SON of MAN Reply with quote #155

Richard,
Many moons ago, we were discussing this particular subject and it has recently been brought to my attention that Geza Vermes covers it extensively and I think convincingly,in his book "Jesus the Jew".
Regards,
Dennis
P.S. Have you ever read " The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church" by S G F Brandon? For me, the book is totally seminal.


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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #156

It's lovely to hear from you again Dennis!

Yes, you are absolutely correct that Geza Vermes’ Jesus the Jew does take a very interesting look at the ‘title’ ‘Son of Man’. I place title in inverted commas, as, for those who are not aware of Vermes’ argument; rather than being a title, the phrase ‘Son of Man’ is merely an Aramaic circumlocution for the first person singular. In other words, Jesus could just as easily have used ‘me’ or ‘I’ in those places where he was referring to himself as the son of man. Incidentally, Rudolf Otto and others had advanced a similar reading years earlier.

It has to be said that this reading has received a fair amount of criticism, not least because the sources cited by Vermes were later than the time of Jesus. Furthermore, the Aramaic should read ‘son of a man’ rather than ‘son of man’. Arguments for and against continue to rumble on.

I must admit that, although I take seriously the possibility that the phrase could be used in this way, I am not totally swayed by alays reading it as such. Leaving aside whether the SoM sayings are genuine, the authorial use of them suggests something much stronger than simply an Aramaic idiom.

You may be interested in seeing if you can get your hands on a copy of Delbert Royce Burkett’s The Son of Man Debate: A History and Evaluation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1999). If you Google it, you can get a sneaky preview of one of the chapters! Wink



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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #157

Burkett's book, Richard, was in the online library Questia to which I subscribe and I was able therefore to read his conclusions: they are pretty much the same as those of Frances Young in her contribution to "The Myth of God Incarnate" on page 15. Since three of the contributors are Birmingham based, I would imagine that this book is in your library there.
Regards,
Dennis


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