Crossan’s theory

Discussion in 'History and Mythology' started by Longfellow, Sep 1, 2022.

  1. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    I’m interested in what people think of Crossan’s theory. I like the idea of the gospels being parables about Jesus, but I’m thinking that maybe those stories originally came from a spiritual teacher during the prefecture of Pontius Pilate, telling those stories about himself, along with the other stories and sayings of Jesus in the gospels.
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    I was not familiar with his work. Is the wikipedia page a good introduction, in your opinion?
     
  3. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    Only if you'd like to have some background information about him. It won't tell you much about his view of the gospels as parables. I'll try to find a good overview, but meanwhile you could search for reviews of his book "The Power of Parable," or just read it yourself. Maybe he has posted a summary of it himself somewhere.

    (later) The best overview I could find of "The Power of Parable" is on the "Dialogue Journal" website. There's another one on the "Insights" website of the Uniting Church in Australia.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2022
  4. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Am not familiar with this. Is he a mythicist, believing Jesus did not really exist? The vast majority of serious scholars believe three facts about Jesus: that he did exist, was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate. All the rest is up for discussion, but not the above three facts, as accepted almost universally by serious historians?
     
  5. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    No.
     
  6. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    He is not a mythicist:

    "In The Power of Parables: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus, Crossan proposes a new interpretation of the biblical text: according to his thesis, the Gospels should be seen not as an actual biography, but as "megaparables", in the sense that the life of Jesus was shaped by his teachings, therefore creating some "megaparables", neither completely historical nor completely fictitious. At the end of the book, Crossan states "I conclude that Jesus really existed, that we can know the significant sequence of his life...but that he comes to us trailing clouds of fiction, parables by him and about him, particular incidents as miniparables and whole gospels as megaparables." His contemporary and fellow faith-focused academic Ben Witherington III called Crossan's thesis "a category mistake".

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dominic_Crossan

    @Longfellow
    There are so many books and theories about Jesus.
    Why does this one float your boat?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2022
  7. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    Crosson wrote pages and pages about Roman patronage in his HJ books, which is sad because Jesus was a peasant handworker who lived in Galilee which didn't have many Romans in it apart from retirees and holidaymakers. Anyway, the patronage system was hardly relevant in connection with working Jews.

    And he was focused upon Jesus as a smarter peasant with a few hangers-on and these folks went from community to community offering (Crosson's) 'magic for meal'.

    How do University professors get so totally snarled up in daftness?
     
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  8. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    It's a way of marketing stories in the form of books, talks, interviews, panels and debates.
     
  9. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    For sure! Absolutely!
    Some seem to be very genuine, but many adjust their findings to suit with their chosen audiences.
    I read that that Prof Ehrmann has changed over to 'Agnostic Atheist'? If so then I wonder whether he hopes to trawl up a larger audience with that double title?
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Crossan sees Jesus as an exploited 'peasant with an attitude' – he strips the supernatural from the text as embellishment, and is left with a man who was nevertheless extraordinary for how he lived, not how he died. "I cannot imagine a more miraculous life than nonviolent resistance to violence," Crossan says. "I cannot imagine a bigger miracle than a man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square."
    And there's the point – is this not Crossan interpreting the texts by projecting his own exemplary ideal onto his sources?

    His are certainly challenging theories, but not without their own challenges.

    The most startling is the step from parable – Jesus taught in parables – to meta-parable – that the Gospels are themselves, entirely parables. Because the gospels deploy parables is one thing, to say they need to be read in their entirety as parables is something else altogether, and is, from what I can gather, the crucial point Crossan himself doesn’t convincingly make.

    A general critique is that Crossan draws unnecessary conclusions from what he sees as evidence. That Mark and John record the day of Jesus’s death differently does not thereby mean that both are wrong, nor that both therefore embellish a basic truth (Crossan believes Christ was crucified) in order to achieve their meta-parable point is not proven are convincingly argued. And surely the declaration that the body of Christ was tossed into a common grave and eaten by dogs is pure hyperbole – a flight of fancy.

    Crossan makes the point that Jesus preached a radical non-violence and an equally radical egalitarianism – laudable ideas; both I would like to see explored with a bit more academic rigour. Without that, I fear that Crossan, having stripped Jesus from Scripture projects his own Jesus, the product of his own background and socioeconomic ideals and desires, a Jesus framed within a contemporary liberal zeitgeist?

    This is why those who seek the historical Jesus – Borg, Crossan, Funk, Spong and latterly Ehrman, etc., offer exemplary and entirely laudable figures, but one very thin in substance, resting too much on assumption and and, when compared each to the other, radically different persons.

    I do believe Christ challenged the status quo so profoundly. I think the early church settled into traditional, cultural norms. The role of women and their later removal from the scene being one – Mary's apprehension of Jesus at the tomb has staggering significance, both for its importance and because that importance has been thoroughly ignored.
     
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  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No, he believes He existed. He just thinks everything Scripture says is a parable, to some degree mythologising Jesus.

    Crossan offers a "startling account of what we can know about the life of Jesus." (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography). He's written over twenty-five books on the historical Jesus and early Christianity, addressed at the popular audience. (Try publishing twenty-five texts that conform to academic standards of presentation and see how far you get).

    A long-time co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, Crossan offers an outline of the historical Jesus that he believes lies beneath the canonical Gospels.

    His presentation of materials is entirely plausible given his presuppositions, however those crucial presuppositions are assumed rather than founded on logical argument. As is the case with populist writings, the author's presuppositions are a given.

    The most widespread issue entails his treatment of source materials. His construct of the historical Jesus, using non-canonical sources, is not tried by the same criterion applied to the canonical accounts. To treat the Canon with extreme skepticism while blithely accepting non-canonical materials as historically reliable rather points to his bias.

    The great issue for Crossan – and the Jesus Seminar – is the necessary exclusion of the large part of scripture and tradition (in the latter case on the flimsiest of grounds) to enable a picture of the historical Jesus that matches certain a priori suppositions.

    Crossan narrative would carry more weight were all sources treated with the same academic skepticism. This weakness provides an easy basis to critique his position, which in some ways is a shame because he does nevertheless propose valuable and thoughtful ideas for consideration.
     
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  12. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    What's new ... sigh

    Thank you
     
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  13. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. Now I’m interested in what you think of my theory, that the original gospel authors took their ideas for what Jesus says and does, and what happens to him and around him, in their stories, from collections of sayings and stories from Jesus that were circulating at the times when they were writing. Each author chose different sayings and stories from those collections, and revised and arranged them to make their stories say what they wanted them to say. The collections were actual sayings of Jesus, fairly well preserved, maybe not in details but in the lessons they taught. The stories about what Jesus did and what happened to him and around him, like calming the storm and changing water into wine, were not physical descriptions of what happened. They were parables told by Jesus to teach lessons, just like the kingdom parables. Some time before or after the gospels were written, it became popular to think of those as physical descriptions of actual happenings, rather than parables told by Jesus.

    I’m interested in what you think about that theory.

    (later) Considering for example the stories of calming the storm, walking on water, loaves and fishes, and water into wine, I'm not considering those as physical descriptions of actual happenings, and I'm not considering them as being made up by Christians after Jesus died. I'm considering them as parables told by Jesus and part of his teachings, just like the kingdom parables. In my theory, everything in all the gospels contains some part of the teachings of Jesus, and needs to be considered that way, to understand his teachings as well as possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  14. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    No....... Crosson's research supports an historical figure. I remember his basic picture with the words 'Magic for Meal'! Crosson wrote about a brighter, cleverer Galilean Jewish peasant who had a few followers, maybe 4 or 5 I seem to remember, who went in to communities ahead of Jesus to sell his abilities, incite interest etc, and then Jesus would enter, with some healing, some interesting speeches, some 'magic' fpr the people, and they would remain as long as the welcome might last before moving onwards to the next location.

    And Crosson bored me to tears with his determined stuff about Roman patronage in occupied territories. A huge % of the population was poor, low class and beneath Roman patronage...... it worked to live on a day by day basis, I think.

    But Crosson did support a real Jesus.
     
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  15. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK. Roughly on the same page. Not ruling out Mark reporting Peter, and John being an eye-witness.

    OK.

    OK.

    Here we part. I think they did.

    Perhaps the best answer is to present my own theory.

    I see the miracles as 'actualised parables', or perhaps even 'realised metaphors' – so while some interpret the miracles as spiritual teachings, I see them as the spiritual actualised or realised in the physical. So I see things like calming the storm and changing water into wine, as actually happening. They were physical parables, if you like. They were not just displays of power, but lessons in themselves, signs, rather than simply miracles.

    This hinges from the idea of the rending of the veil of the temple, and the implication of that.
     
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  16. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    The significance of my theory for me is that most or all of what is in the gospels is part of the teachings of Jesus, one way or another. No matter if those things happened physically or not, they are intended by God to teach us lessons, about His kingdom, about the role of Jesus in His kingdom, and about how to live in it, here and now.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Absolutely.

    Indeed, and if they did happen physically, what does that tell us?
     
  18. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't tell me anything, but I'm interested in what it tells you.

    (later) Trying to find some significance in some part of a fable happening physically, I thought for example of finding out that there really was a girl who met some talking bears. That would surprise me and maybe a lot of other people, and maybe inspire some new kinds of research with animals, but I'm not sure how to apply that to the gospel stories. That reminds me of an Oz book when people found out that Toto could talk, like other animals could when they went to Oz, but he chose not to.

    I'm not thinking that those things could not have happened. I'm thinking that even if they did happen, what we have in the gospel stories is not memories of people who saw them happening. It's what Jesus taught His followers to say about them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2022
  19. badger

    badger Well-Known Member

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    G-Mark could well have been based upon the memoirs of Cephas, and published because of his (and others') anger over the daft stories and strange policies of the young church. He faced up to Paul over some of that, you know.

    Have you actually read the gospels through in any kind of investigative way? Yeshua BarYosef was a real person who had a real movement in the Galilee and who in the last days came to Jerusalem and was in the Great Temple on three consecutive days.

    Now why would you be thinking that those things could not have happened? Memoirs are hardly oral tradition through many ears/mouths.
     
  20. Longfellow

    Longfellow Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you missed the word “not” in my words that you quoted? I’m not thinking that those things could not have happened.
     

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