Crossan’s theory

badger

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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.
But you used two 'not' words in one sentence, a form of double negative, Longfellow.
Instead of writing the straightforward 'I'm thinking that those things could have happened' you've turned the same communication inside out.....
Are/were you a politician, by any chance?
 

Thomas

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

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.
It doesn't, they're two distinct genres of writing, there's no common ground.

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 quite possible that Mark speaks for Peter, and what he saw. And that John was an eye-witness. Matthew and Luke work from oral traditions that could have been from living memory.

+++

Often, in discussion, there's talk of the spiritual world, and the physical world. Two separate and distinct worlds, hierarchically one above the other – as above, so below – there is talk of 'spiritual realisation', and it seems a given that 'spiritual realisation' is only in the psycho-spiritual domain, it's never actualised in the physical. What then, was the point of the world?

My simple premise is – supposing it can? Why not?

For me, the physical world is not simply a stepping stone to somewhere better. It is not disposable, a place to be abandoned once we've made the grade, as it were. It has its place in the scheme of things, it has its potential and possibility, and if one allows the idea of a hypostatic union between the spiritual and the physical, then I fail to see why that union cannot be effectively realised in the physical domain.

It ties in with my idea that the Fall severed our relation to the spiritual. This is not absolute, but it is a terrible wound. Prior to that, the two, the spiritual and the physical, existed harmoniously as one – the physical was the instrument of spiritual presence in the material world, the means by which it is present and by which it acts. With the Fall, separation and duality – spirit and matter – and the gnostic vision of the one trapped within the other.

Read that way, and the message of Christ is the healing of that rift, and the uniting of the two once again. That's the way I read the miracles. That's the point of them, as far as I can see.

The post-resurrection appearances of Christ are brief, but they are telling.
 

Longfellow

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I'm back again with another approach to my fictional backstory for the gospels. I'm picturing a metaphorical person whose sayings and stories were used in writing the gospel stories. I'm calling him "Frank," because he's not the same person as Jesus in the gospels, and he's not the same as any "historical Jesus." He's purely imaginary and metaphorical, part of my fictional backstory for the gospels, pictured as teaching in Galilee some time before the gospels were written. The rest of my backstory for the gospels is the same. I'm picturing the gospels as stories that were written by different authors choosing different sayings and stories from the teachings of my imaginary metaphorical Frank, and revising and rearranging them to make their stories say what they wanted them to say. In my fictional backstory for the gospels, the miracle stories were originally metaphorical stories that my imaginary and metaphorical Frank made up about himself to illustrate parts of his teachings, just like the gospel parables. In my story, my imaginary and metaphorical Frank was promoting a metaphorical kingdom, with himself as its king, as the best kind of life for everyone. People entered that kingdom when they recognized and accepted him as their lord, and started learning to live the way he said to live.

Picturing all the miracle stories as parables and not physical descriptions of actual happenings, and those and all the sayings and stories of Jesus in the gospels as mostly sayings and stories told by one person, not the same in all details but teaching the same lessons,
- What is there in the gospels that contradicts my story about what that person was promoting?
- What other stories could be made up about what he was promoting?
 

Thomas

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- What is there in the gospels that contradicts my story about what that person was promoting?
Does this not rest on the same thesis as Crossan – that it's all metaphor? In which case, I'd look at the critiques of Crossan's thesis for your answer.

The Jesus at the heart of the Gospels is in many ways a timeless character. The Message is Universal. The Revelations are, despite what many like to claim, unique and particular.

Apart from the fact that the texts place Him in a certain place, at a certain time, His appearance, His brief public ministry and His departure, whilst being framed in a contemporary narratives, simultaneously escapes them.

In short, nothing about Him historically, can be nailed down as certain, other than He – who or whatever He may be – existed. (But then again, the same can be said for a vast number of historical personages. If we had to dismiss Jesus as perhaps not existing at all, then a swathe of very famous historical persons would also disappear because their existence rests on less data than what we know and have about Jesus).

Here's the thing: This is from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:

'The philosopher Socrates (469–399 BCE) is an enigmatic individual who, despite having written nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived.'

'All our information about him is second-hand and most of it vigorously disputed, but his trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy is nevertheless the founding myth of the academic discipline of philosophy, and his influence has been felt far beyond philosophy itself, and in every age.'

'So thorny is the difficulty of distinguishing the historical Socrates from the Socrateses of the authors of the texts in which he appears and, moreover, from the Socrateses of scores of later interpreters, that the whole contested issue is generally referred to as the Socratic problem.'

(-- And here's the bit I really like –– )

'Each age, each intellectual turn, produces a Socrates of its own. "The 'real' Socrates (read: historical Jesus) we have not: what we have is a set of interpretations each of which represents a 'theoretically possible' Socrates".'

That quote is from a scholar of the Greek philosophical schools, Cornelia de Vogel (The Present State of the Socratic Problem).

Attempts to offer a 'historical Jesus' are not really an objective interpretation of the texts, they're a subjective version that will always render a Jesus that reflects our contemporary issues, rather than the issues He faced in His day.

Why is there so little reliable historical detail about Jesus?

Maybe that's the point?
 

RJM

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The only certainty, as with other theories about Jesus, is that this won't be the last one ...
 

Longfellow

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Does this not rest on the same thesis as Crossan – that it's all metaphor?

Crossan's thesis is that the miracle stories were made up later, by other people, as parables about Jesus. My story is that the miracle stories were made up by the same person whose sayings and stories were the source for the sayings and stories of Jesus in the gospels. They are not parables about Jesus, made up by other people. They are parables of Jesus, made up by Jesus.

As I understand it, you agree with calling the miracle stories parables, but you think that they are also physical descriptions of actual happenings. I'm not thinking that's impossible, but I have reasons from the gospels themselves to think that it isn't true, at least for the loaves and fishes.
 

Thomas

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Crossan's thesis is that the miracle stories were made up later, by other people, as parables about Jesus.
OK. But as I say, he fails to make the point stick.

My story is that the miracle stories were made up by the same person whose sayings and stories were the source for the sayings and stories of Jesus in the gospels. They are not parables about Jesus, made up by other people. They are parables of Jesus, made up by Jesus.
OK. I think that fails the same way, but OK, it's your thesis.

As I understand it, you agree with calling the miracle stories parables, but you think that they are also physical descriptions of actual happenings.
Yes, they are physical signs; metaphors actualised. So – what He did, miracle; what He did says – there's the lesson, explained in parable.
 
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