Psalms 22 and the synoptic Gospels

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Sancho, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. Sancho

    Sancho New Member

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    So where are you going with this thread?

    The evidence, as I see it, is conclusive that the bible, including the gospels, has been repeatedly edited and redacted.
    This is an obstacle to acquiring faith and hope from these scriptures, but not an insurmountable one. Just because a text has been tampered with doesn't mean it should be entirely discredited.
    The questions should be asked, however, why these changes have been made? and what conception of the those scriptures has resulted from those changes?

    Though I see the importance of researching scholarly analysis of texts to discover which words stylistically clash with the context of other words, it is also important to approach scripture with one's own living sense of spirituality, faith, to discover which words are in harmony with what one discovers in one's own spiritual life.

    As for Jesus singing a psalm to himself on the cross, it could be as simple as how any slave would have sang himself a spiritual while being whipped.

    I don't see much point in looking for the fulfillment of prophecies. Prophecy and psalms are concerned with the here and now, the always moving present.

    What I do see in both psalm 22 and in Jesus' life is that some people, perhaps all people, have a calling to fulfill. Often, it seems, the most meaningful callings involve the most suffering. I do believe that Jesus was called to live a divine life, and to teach the world about divinity and how humanity should live.

    The alternate translation above does give a different slant to the singing of this psalm. Either way, though, the recital of this psalm on the cross need not mean that Jesus was exasperated with his fate, it could simply be that the psalm came to his mind and seemed appropriate to his situation at the moment as he bled from the nine inch nails in his wrists.
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Where the evidence points to, where else would a scholar go? If I were to set a course to a predetermined conclusion it wouldn't be scholarship; it would be propaganda, no?

    So I frequently hear, but to be honest I have seen little "evidence" presented pertaining to the Gospels especially...merely repeated allusion to this evidence. Perhaps an obstacle on my part is that I am not a learned linguistic scholar, but I like to think I am "with it" enough to hum along while the choir sings rather than blindly accept on faith such lofty claims. Perhaps you may be so kind as to present some of these evidences?

    One can find hope in literary places far afield from sacred texts, the "Chicken Soup" series of books come to mind. Faith on the other hand seems to me to demand a necessity of sacredness, or at least something quite comparable and substitutional. A person may have a kind of faith that evolution works as is commonly described, trusting that those who tell them so know whereof they speak. The same may be said for those who have faith that gravity will continue to work as a balance against centrifugal and centripedal forces, strong and weak nuclear forces and electricity; even though we still have no working model of what precisely gravity *is.*

    So I can agree to a point about "a text has been tampered with doesn't mean it should be entirely discredited," at least in principle if not in practice. You are most correct, it should be asked; "why were these texts tampered with, and does it affect the meaning?"

    Earlier you suggested that both Gandhi and Martin Luthur King Jr. were respectable and respected religious leaders, both of whom admired the words of Jesus, yet whom had also written inspired and moving works. I agree. Nevertheless it remains, neither Gandhi nor King, Jr. have religious denominations named for them, nor are their teachings the basis of any new branch of faith. There is no "Gandhianity" nor "Kingism." Neither one is put forward as a Messiah, let alone in Biblical terms "*the* Messiah."

    Jesus, on the other hand, was and is.

    The importance of this is not to be underestimated. The whole foundational principle of Christianity rests upon it...which is to say, without Jesus as *the* Messiah, Christianity as a whole crumbles to dust and ash.

    "Stylistically clash?" Doesn't that in itself leave a rather wide berth for interpretation? Hearsay is hardly evidence, opinion is not evidence at all. Let's see, I like this part, but I don't like that part, and this part is too controversial, and this one just doesn't make any sense after we remove these others...

    Don't get me wrong here, I do understand there are some competing and conflicting manuscripts, and the tendency (I want to believe) is to side with the earlier script presuming age can be somewhat reliably determined.

    In the end analysis though, since Jesus didn't write anything that remains, all we have is hearsay to begin with.

    "(T)o discover which words are in harmony with what one discovers in one's own spiritual life" while simultaneously dissecting it *scientifically* seems to me to establish a dichotomy between truth and reality, in which case *evidence* is irrelevent and serves only to support the need for the scientific faction to exert authority over the religious faction. I suppose the question needs to be asked and the issue made plain: what is the relationship between truth and reality, and what role does evidence play? If truth and reality are to be distinct and separate issues, then it hardly seems fitting to use the reality nature of evidence against a fleeting phantom of philosophical truth. Therefore evidence can only realistically be applied if Jesus is indeed real; really lived and really died. What the evidence tells us about this is that we don't even *know* that much, there are no trustworthy secular or otherwise dissociated sources to confirm that Jesus even lived. Doubt is cast upon even the trifilling reference to Jesus in Josephus...while his mentioning of John the Baptist and Salome are not disputed by those same scholars.

    The whole "greatest story ever told" *might* be a complete and total fabrication, according to the evidence (or great dearth thereof). And yet the reality of Christianity has been built upon that possible fiction over the course of 1700 plus years, which suggests circumstantially that there may be more to the pudding than simply what is in the list of ingredients.

    Then why *that* particular Psalm? Why not one more uplifting, more spiritually hopeful? Why not the 23rd Psalm...yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for thy rod and thy staff comfort me?

    Yet a closer reading of the 22nd Psalm displays so much that transpired that there is no way an earthly human could preset or predict or orchestrate. Not even with a group of conspiratorial partners.

    Fair enough, you are certainly welcome to interpret as you wish. Evidently prophecy has little remit to your outlook. Of course I cannot help but think of all the times in the Gospels Jesus is noted as referencing the Old Testament. From an early age (10 or so) "arguing" with the rabbis in the Temple to his ministry teachings referencing directly to passages in the Jewish Bible, so it is evident by what is written that Jesus was quite well versed...all the more compelling his choice of Psalm to *sing* as he was dying.

    I never have believed Jesus was exasperated with his fate, and I am not so inclined even now. The *suffering* component still is lost on me, but sacrificial lamb in context makes far more sense to me. All the more intriguing to me if there is any sense of reality as truth at all contained in the Passion story collectively told in the Gospels.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    And the evidence is, that despite any changes evidenced, the theology of the Bible remains the same. Whilst whether and what has been changed will always be an open question somewhat dependent upon the skepticism of the inquirer, there is no evidence whatsoever to say that the implicit meaning and message of the Bible has been changed.

    It should also be understood however, that such questions can not be answered satisfactorily. It is evident that even the most informed critic relies on his own assumptions in his or her reading of even those texts written by their contemporaries, and are more often wrong than right. It is nigh-on impossible to determine what was in the mind of an anonymous scribe writing over 2,000 years ago.

    As long as you're not then bending the meaning of the text to fit your own preconceptions. You'll get nothing out of it that way, other than what you've already got, and overlaid upon it. You're wasting your time. Just look at the number of people who insist the whole thing's been fabricated.

    Better to harmonise your life to it, rather than the other way round.

    That doesn't explain the Psalm though, does it? It doesn't explain prophecy.

    If Jesus is not the subject of the Psalm, then who is?

    Thomas
     
  4. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Thomas and Sancho, have you seen the book "Who Wrote the Bible ?" by Richard Elliott Friedman ? It is a very interesting discussion of the best current beliefs on this topic.
     
  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Curiousity killed the cat...satisfaction brought him back.

    I've heard quite a bit over the years about how much of the "Jesus story" was comparable to various Pagan mythologies. I've even stumbled inadvertantly on small samples of this on my own. I found some intriguing tidbits today:

    Jesus' and Horus' life events, etc.

    referencing: Tom Harpur, "The Pagan Christ; Recovering the Lost Light," Thomas Allen, (2004)

    This link charts the similarities between the Jesus story and the Horus (Egyptian) story.

    Links between Jesus Christ and other heros & saviors

    This link provides a list of related papers comparing the Jesus story with various Pagan stories:

    The following link suggests an earlier Jewish belief regarding the resurrection:

    Five non-miraculous explanations for Jesus' resurrection

    In fairness, this raises the issue of some mysterious stone tablet I haven't heard of before, and I am wondering if there are other scholars of antiquity who are familiar with it and have drawn similar conclusions...or if this is a hoax or red herring.

    This link is to a menu overview of this site's resources on this topic:

    The resurrection of Jesus Christ: Fact or fable?

    ***

    Having gone over quite a bit of this material specifically looking for clues on the resurrection, I am left wanting. Seems to me a lot, a whole lot, of bait and switch. The only point presented as similar in Pagan mythos (after a lot of reading through the hints and allegations) is found on the table of similarities between Horus and Jesus, and even that is forcing the issue.

    My point being, as I have stated before elsewhere, that yes there are similarities between the "mythos" of Jesus and Pagan mythos in existence in the Palestine / Mediterranean region in the first 3 centuries AD. But what is noticeably absent is the resurrection as such, and the triumphal message proclaimed that dawned the Christian era.

    No doubt a great deal can be ascertained by historical reference. Looking at the history of the region and the cultural inclinations that prevailed: Roman, Greek (several varieties), even some Egyptian, Persian and Babylonian influences, not to mention the Judaic cultural dominance of Palestine, presents quite a collision of competing philosophical outlooks, some complimentary and some conflicting.

    There is even some hint at an East Indian connection:

    emphasis mine, -jt3

    Links between two god-men saviors: Jesus and Krishna

    ...although no connection with the resurrection as related in the Jesus story, even though this reference claims that Krishna is said to return every so often to defeat evil and return to whatever heavenly abode he abides in.

    All in all, this collection of references is intriguing, but the scholar in me retains a healthy scepticism. And while I did see repeated allusion to similarities, and indeed many similarities were highlighted, the resurrection connection was forced at best. So far it seems to this student that the resurrection as related in the Jesus story and the significance attached by the Christian tradition has no direct correlation in the Pagan pantheon.
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I'm not so certain that we can make such a blanket statement.

    Observing your own caveat: "As long as you're not then bending the meaning of the text to fit your own preconceptions," and considering the Arian controversy alone (there is more, we've already had this discussion earlier) we *can* say there were competing interpretations of scripture prior to Nicea. Basically then, the "status quo" of the New Testament has been dynamism from the start. It was only with the codification at Nicea that anything like a uniform "theology" could be determined.

    What Jesus' pure, unadulterated original intent was with all of his teachings still remains largely a mystery, a mystery that as you mentioned "will always be an open question somewhat dependent upon the skepticism of the inquirer" and "that even the most informed critic relies on his own assumptions in his or her reading of even those texts written by their contemporaries, and are more often wrong than right." The only serious claim left to the Catholic orthodoxy is that of tradition, and as a logical argument appeal to tradition is a fallacy. Removing tradition from the mix means that the Catholic interpretation is but one *more* manner of interpretation in a mix with others.

    Seems to me the closest to the original point reference of Jesus and his roundtable of merry men is seriously overweighted in Jewish orientation, and that source point Judaism is not only *deliberately* divorced at Nicea, it is now so far gone as to have vanished in all but the most fringe elements of Christianity.

    Agreed, however, what is that to mean? Orthodoxy? Tradition? Opinion? Evidence? Truth? Reality?
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes we can. The point is, how are those preconceptions formed? Arius' theology traces back into Origen and then Plato. To accept an Arian theology is to determine the meaning of scripture not according to what it says, but according to what another doctrine, Platonism in this case, will allow it to say.

    Likewise there were disputes with those who wanted to modify the meaning of Christian practice to conform to the letter of the Mosaic Law.

    Today there are those who want it Christianity to conform to Buddhism, or Islam, or the New Age, or whatever.

    If I understand you to mean that Scripture has its own impetus, and requires nothing extraneous, then yes. This dynamism is its orthodoxy. Every philosophical system has its own dynamism.

    Yes, that's why it's a matter of faith, not just logic.

    I beg your pardon? I don't think so. Science is a tradition. So is art, poetry and music ... Philosophy is a tradition. 'Reason', 'logic', 'rhetoric', 'insight', 'judgement' are all traditional terms ...

    I don't think you can say that. had it been divorced, then the Old Testament would not be canonical. The God of the Creed of Nicea is unmistakably Jewish.

    Thomas
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    LOL, I'm not sure how my name changed to holysmoke, but I've been called worse... :D

    Ah, Origen:

    emphasis mine, -jt3

    Origen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So this was the first "Christian" guy to philosophically reckon the teachings in the Bible as allegory (instead of literal)? And the church declared his teachings anathema? Yet Emperor Constantine, great champion of the Christian faith that he is, was baptised by a priest of the Arian persuasion who had to have been instructed in the teachings of Origen? The same Origen whose teachings were declared anathema two hundred or so years later?

    The little Peter / Paul debacle served as a point of reference, no doubt. By the time of Nicea though, it was quite evident that the Emperor's antisemitism would hold sway. A look at the decrees coming out of Nicea makes that pretty plain...no more Passover, and no more ritual washing (goodness, we can't have people running around with clean hands, can we?). The powers that be had to find a way to turn an itinerant radical Jewish <*shudder*> rabbi into a Roman "hero-god." All sizzle, no steak.

    Well sure there are limits, but what you are alluding to here is quite different from what I am saying. Jesus was a Jew...with *all* that entails. Viewing source point Christianity through a Jewish lens only makes logical and historical and cultural sense. Everything else is pretension, other than the amalgamation with Paganism, which evidently was done with political motivation...purposely disguised to hide that very fact.

    I agree, and that is another method of reasoning we have to thank Judaism for.

    Nah. The G-d of Nicea is Jewish in name only. All sizzle, no steak. Look again at the proceedings from that Council...everything that even hinted of Judaism was stripped away, deliberately.

    Just a little link to the previous discussion and the Council of Nicea, for those interested:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/rome-in-transition-8875-8.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  9. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    While reviewing the previous material on the other thread, I was reminded of the find of a stone tablet with this reference:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/world/middleeast/06stone.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin
     
  10. Sancho

    Sancho New Member

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    Thanks for the rebukes. I have misrepresented myself.

    Here are some selections from "The Great Code" by Northrop Frye that might be of interest.

     
  11. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Hi folks, I have been distracted with a poster on another thread who was good at confusing me. But now that I look at this thread, I see it is more interesting than all that noise anyway.

    Sancho, you have a unique skill of describing Biblical actions in a very succinct and clear manner. So your discussions have led me to take a look at Psalm 22.

    As usual I start by reviewing some commentary from my JPS.

    Many visual images again.
    This idea seems like it could still apply today.

    Also, there may be a connection between fulfillment of the calling with exile and oppression. Need to think more about that connection. Although the thought of salvation is a powerful one as well.
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Hi, Avi!

    Thanks for that. I was really hoping to get a Jewish POV on Psalms 22.

    With so much of this puzzle, every answer seems to raise several new questions...
     
  13. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Thanks Juan,

    When I went to an interfaith meeting the Methodist Pastor told us his dream is for people of different faiths to pray together. He is a very visionary and I think idealistic religious leader.

    I think if we can start studying togther, that is a great start !:)

    I am reading more Psalm 22.
     
  14. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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