What to Do With an Errant Jesus?

2456715

Comments

  • Okay, that’s a good point. But it’s still a huge leap from that to “the retaining wall stabilizing the Temple Mount is itself part of the temple”.
  • The entire complex, all its courtyards and all its walls, was considered to be part of the Temple with only one exception: The Fortress Antonia built onto the northwest corner of it.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    I dunno, I have reservations about Jesus predicting the future (reservations which are more about wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff than inerrancy as such), but I'd interpret 'not one stone shall stand upon another' in a similar way to an angry person saying 'I'll break every bone in his body', i.e. not precisely literal ...
  • Read my novel. Oops. I'm not supposed to say that.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    James, you are talking with some of the nicest people on the Ship, and Martin. I imagine they are a little tetchy because they all know their Bibles and biblical scholarship quite well, and you are announcing a new way of looking at the Bible popular in the nineteenth century.

    I'm serious about my faith and about living a Christian life, whatever that is, but my faith simply does not rely upon the Bible but upon my own spiritual experiences. The Bible is an important touchstone for me, as is Christian community and worship. The Bible is perhaps more important now that the Christian Churches have failed my generation and others through the conduct of their ministers and adherents. For that reason, and I suppose because of LC's straightforward rebuttal, the topic is not one that interests me much. I have believed for a long time that when you search for the historical Jesus you inevitably find a mirror. That's a mangled quote from some bloke. Schweitzer?

    Welcome to the Ship. I hope you enjoy being here as much as I do.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    Deleted
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Can you see the Wailing Wall from Olivet?
  • Of course not.
  • Simon, I AM enjoying being here.
    Although there may be some affinities between the scholarship of the six scholars I most admire (see the INFO page of my website) and those of the nineteenth century, a major difference is the fact that since Johannes Weiss and Schweitzer blew the whistle, it has been far more difficult to look down the well of history, see our own reflections at the bottom, and label them "Jesus." And that's because we have had to face (or should have had to face) the realization that there is simply too much evidence that the historical Jesus himself was into imminent apocalyptic eschatological thinking -- and that such thinking was not just added on by the later church, as most of the old line liberal scholars wanted to think.

    Yes, Schweitzer did say something to the effect that if you want to find out about as person, look at his or her historical Jesus research. You won't learn much about Jesus, but you'll learn a lot about the person. Schweitzer was referring to the old line liberal scholars of the 19th century on whom he blew the whistle.
  • The entire complex, all its courtyards and all its walls, was considered to be part of the Temple with only one exception: The Fortress Antonia built onto the northwest corner of it.
    Words can have more than one meaning, especially in everyday usage. “Church,” for example, can mean the church proper or it can mean the church and its attendant buildings and possibly land. If I say “I’m going down to the church,” I typically mean the latter, not the former. And, of course, “church” can have a variety of other meanings. Context clues generally signal which of those meanings is intended.

    So when Jesus speaks of the temple being torn down, it's reasonable, I think, to assess what those to whom he was speaking took him to mean. Did he mean the entire temple complex? (Would people think in terms of courtyards and grounds being "torn down"?)

    And when (in Mark 13) he says that no stone will be left on stone, it's reasonable, I think, to ask whether he meant that literally, whether he was speaking in hyperbole or whether he was talking about something else altogether. To assume he meant it literally—and to draw from that that he was therefore wrong because numerous stones are still standing in the Western Wall—seems to me, as some others have noted, to be its own form of literalism. It is not, to my mind, a good basis for considering what the historical Jesus knew and didn't know.


    Read my novel.
    You know, the ideas you're presenting really aren't that new to most of us here. They've been discussed numerous times over the years. That's not to say that there's no value in discussing them again.

    But it might be worth bearing in mind that disagreement with specific things you've said doesn't mean we just don't understand and need to read your novel to "get it," nor does it mean that we're total rejecting everything you might say.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    I do get the impression that James Boswell II thinks these ideas are as new to everybody else as they are to him.
  • James, your quibbling over what constitutes the Temple or not, and how that relates to your interpretation of "Not one stone..." indicates that you are precisely the literalist you claim not to want to engage with. And yeah, saying "read my novel" in answer to a point someone makes is not only bad form but indicative of less-than-honest motives in your appearance on this forum.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Of course not.

    Exactly.
  • The ideas aren't new to me either, but I do think that the church seems to have gone into an intellectual coma, hoping that igonring everything other than rule-bound "niceness" will die off, because everyone else who is searching for anything else goes away.

    This is also the problem with its obsession with only listening to itself. We have seen the equal and opposite, and equally distorting, effects of only listening to external voices, but the first wave of that, the neo-platonist craze of the enlightenment, is a large part of what got us into this theological/philosophical black hole in the first place.

    @James Boswell II, is there anything in what I've just said that is something you came to the Ship to discuss?
  • To Nick Tamen
    Fine. Thank you. (I was partly joking about the novel, but some things I which find difficult to explain in other ways I managed to explain better there.)

    Anyway, I will insist that when in Mark we read that one of Jesus' disciples, "as he came out of the Temple...said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down" -- that sounds pretty literal to me.

    One thing that angers some Bible literalists and inerrantists most about me is the fact that I (like the protagonist in my novel) confront them with the fact that they themselves often refuse to admit the literal meaning of the texts, but I do not. For example, I am convinced that Jesus did tell people of his time and generation that not all of them would die before the Kingdom of God would come with power to all the earth and the Son of Man would be seen coming with the clouds of heaven (Mark 1:14,15; 9:1; 13:30; 14:62).

    I take all that literally. That is to say, I see it literally, understand it literally. But there is no way I (or we) can believe it literally because it did not happen.

    (The preterists, however, are at least honest about what Jesus said and they even profess to believe it literally and that has forced them to conclude that Mark chapter 13 was fulfilled in ca. 70 CE! I cannot agree.)
  • I'll direct that last comment to you too, Sir Palomides. I DO specifically engage with the literalists.
  • You are in the same club as the disciples who heard, "Everyone must sell his cloak and buy a sword" and said, "Look, we have two swords right here."

    Your time would have been better spent learning the basics of poetry and figures of speech than cobbling together whatever Da Vinci Code clone you're peddling here.
  • So Jesus didn't say what he meant and didn't mean what he said?

    And I suppose Paul didn't either when he told the people in the churches he founded that Jesus would return before some of them had died?

    And the Baptizer didn't either when he told people that fiery wrath was about to fall?

    Figures of speech? Poetry? Nonsense.

    On the book jacket of The Dead Sea Gospel:

    The Da Vinci Code
    is fiction
    based on fiction.

    The Dead Sea Gospel
    is fiction
    based on fact.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I just think your approach is quite literalist in itself.

    By way of example, Luke’s Gospel speaks of the census he describes as affecting ‘all the world’. Almost everybody allows that he did not mean that to be an absolute literal truth. Some consider that he meant the whole Roman Empire, but they are not thereby arguing that he was unaware that there were people living outside the empire. Others argue that the usage of ‘all the world’ may have functioned colloquially in Greek like the French phrase ‘tout le monde’ with a meaning comparable to the loose usage of ‘everyone’ in English.

    Your argument about Jesus’ prediction about the Temple being untrue seems to me to be comparable with saying Luke was wrong about the census because no aboriginal Australians went to be registered.

    This website describes the Temple as having been
    razed to the ground… All of the neighboring countryside is denuded of whatever trees remained from the siege to create the giant bonfire to burn the buildings of the Temple to the ground. The intense heat from the fire causes the moisture in the limestone to expand and it explodes like popcorn, producing a chain reaction of destruction. In a day’s time, the magnificent Temple is nothing but rubble.

    If you were to argue with them that the statement was untrue because the Western Wall was still left intact, I think they’d be justified in accusing you of literalistic nitpicking.
  • If I say "my jaw dropped to the floor" when I saw the crudeness of your interpretation, or that "my sides split with laughter" when I took a cursory perusal of your website, am I lying if my jaw did not actually stretch to the ground, and a rift did not open up along the side of my body?
  • LOL Try to put yourself back together.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    edited June 2019
    Host hat on
    Read my novel. Oops. I'm not supposed to say that.
    Quite apart from any question of advertising, it’s not really conducive to good discussion here.
    And yeah, saying "read my novel" in answer to a point someone makes is not only bad form but indicative of less-than-honest motives in your appearance on this forum

    This is within a whisker of being a personal attack. Please operate with the presumption of good faith.

    Host hat off
    BroJames
    Purgatory Host
  • Anyway, I will insist that when in Mark we read that one of Jesus' disciples, "as he came out of the Temple...said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down" -- that sounds pretty literal to me.
    As @SirPalomides and @BroJames suggest, it sounds like a figure of speech to me. That you "insist" that should be taken leads me to the same conclusion that they have reached—that you are being as much a literalist as those literalists whom you criticize.

    Besides, if you're going to assert that Jesus was speaking literally, then be consistent about it. As you quote him, Jesus says: "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." (The Greek for building is oikodomas.] If I'm reading this literally, I take it to mean that all the buildings to which he is directing their attention will be destroyed, with no stone left standing. I would not include a retaining wall in the literal meaning of "building."

    The general point you're trying to make about what Jesus did not and didn't know, and what he did and didn't accurately foretell, is worth probing. I just think Mark 13 and the existence of the Western Wall is a fairly useless example to use.



  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Quite.
  • Far more than a small portion of the huge, long Western Wall (wailing wall) was still there. You can walk along it today in a tunnel, marveling at the size of the stones. Moreover, the huge stones in the lower courses of ALL the walls -- north, south, east and west -- were still there, as was much of the platform.

    The Romans would have been foolish to waste energy toppling those huge lower stones.

    A Roman Temple was later built on the platform, and after that a church. And much later the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine.

  • Note: They were leaving the Temple. That would mean they were down below where the hugest stones in the Temple walls would be most visible. No wonder a disciple called Jesus' attention to how huge those stones were.

  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    Well, this is very interesting, about the stones and their size and all, but a trifle obscure.

    IOW, does any of it actually matter today? I'm not trying to be snarky, but surely Christians have more important things to do, and to think about?
  • Bishop, I don't think I'm being snarky, just asking people to be honest about inerrancy and literalism and fundamentalism and absolutism -- things that blind so many people today.

    Fundamentalism in all or any of the religions and ideologies of the world is one of our greatest enemies.

    A presidential candidate once said that one of the great problems in our world today is that "absolutism has become sort of the flavor of the day."

    I think the historical Jesus and the historical Paul and the historical John the Baptizer would WANT us to renounce the kind of absolute certainty entraps and blinds us. I will have more to say about that later.
  • ...the kind of absolutist certainty that entraps and blinds us...

    With regard to the previous:

    It is the CUMULATIVE force of ALL that Jesus said that is important.
    He tells everyone that the Kingdom of God is "near" or "at hand."

    He tells people that "not all who are standing here will experience death before the Kingdom of God comes with power" (Luke's version. Matthew's version "before the Son of Man comes in his kingdom.")

    In Mark 13 his sayings that "the stars will be falling from heaven" and "then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory," is soon followed by "Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place" (13:30).

    He tells the Council who are about to hand him over to the Romans for crucifixion that "you (pl.) will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven."

    Also important is the early Q (Matthew=Luke) saying wherein Jesus announces that
    "this generation will be held responsible for all the blood that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah... Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. (Luke 11:50).

    Matthew's version:
    And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah... I tell you, all this will come on this generation (Matthew 23:35).

    Why would Jesus have said all that unless he was convinced that his generation would be the last generation?
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Thanks for warning us.
  • How do you know that what he is reported to have said is actually what he said?

    That, of course, could be asked of much of the rest of the Bible, too.
    :wink:
  • His generation is long past.
    They did all died away.
  • Sorry, but we might have cross-posted. Was that an answer to my question about authenticity?

    (BTW, I'm not a literalist - more of a devout agnostic. IOW, an Anglican!)
  • Bishop, why would believers in Jesus have reported that he said things that soon proved problematic unless he actually said them?

    The criterion of embarrassment.

    But if you really are interested in that question, go to the scholars I listed under INFO.
    They are a thousand times smarter and more capable than I am.
  • Doubtless they are, but I'm not really into homework. It was your answer I was after, so thanks for that.

    ISTM, as I get older, that our 'faith' is based on perhaps not-always-accurate hearsay, and, therefore, that what we read may not actually be what Jesus said verbatim, but how it was interpreted by those who first heard it.

    And it is they who may have got it not-quite-right, not Our Lord.

    Does that make sense?
  • Bishop, I don't think I'm being snarky, just asking people to be honest about inerrancy and literalism and fundamentalism and absolutism -- things that blind so many people today.
    But you don't seem willing to be honest about your own literalism.

    FWIW, I am not an inerrantist, a literalist or a fundamentalist. I'm not sure in this context what you mean by "absolutism," but I'm going to guess that whatever meaning you're giving the word, I'm not an absolutist either.

  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited June 2019
    Incidentally, I wasn't accusing James Boswell II of being snarky - rather, I was trying to say that I myself wasn't being snarky...

    FWIW, I think he's right about inerrancy, fundamentalism etc. etc. being responsible for 'blinding' people today. That much is obvious from (for example) the hate-filled 'churches' in parts of America (and elsewhere, I'm sure).
  • FWIW, I think he's right about inerrancy, fundamentalism etc. etc. being responsible for 'blinding' people today. That much is obvious from (for example) the hate-filled 'churches' in parts of America (and elsewhere, I'm sure).
    Agreed.
  • Thanks for the clarification, Bishop. I will say, however, that I think really good honest scholarship tries to avoid subjectivity and does give a pretty good indication that Jesus did say a number of the things attributed to him, especially in the synoptic gospels, and especially in the earlier strata of information about him (Paul's letters, the Matthew-Luke parallels, the Gospel of Mark) and anything else that accords well with that.
  • Nick, tell me specifically in what way(s) I am not being honest about my own literalism.
    I really want to hear that.
  • Nick, tell me specifically in what way(s) I am not being honest about my own literalism.
    I really want to hear that.
    It has been pointed out to you a number of times in this thread, and by two other posters as well by me—your insistence that the words of Jesus must be taken literally when he said things like "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
  • Jewish hyperbole - a few thoughts:
    https://tentmaker.org/Biblematters/hyperbole.htm
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    <snip> I think really good honest scholarship tries to avoid subjectivity and does give a pretty good indication that Jesus did say a number of the things attributed to him, especially in the synoptic gospels, and especially in the earlier strata of information about him (Paul's letters, the Matthew-Luke parallels, the Gospel of Mark) and anything else that accords well with that.
    From my POV the question at hand is not whether Jesus said these things. It is more about how we understand them.

    ISTM that we have a tendency to assume that we understand what Jesus meant by his words, and when what we understand him to have meant doesn’t/didn’t come about we say he was wrong. The other logical possibility is rarely examined, in my view, which is that we have not rightly understood him.

    So specifically when a modern website describe the Temple being rased to the ground we don’t say they do it know what they are talking about because a large portion of the Western Wall has survived, we recognise a piece of flexible English usage. Why, I wonder, are we not willing to allow the possibility that the retaining wall for the Temple mound was not considered to be part of the buildings of the Temple and/or that ‘not one stone upon another’ was a standard figure of speech for total destruction of a building used in the same general way that ‘rased to the ground’ is in English? Why do we choose to read his words in such a literalistic way?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Note: They were leaving the Temple. That would mean they were down below where the hugest stones in the Temple walls would be most visible. No wonder a disciple called Jesus' attention to how huge those stones were.

    So they were. Where? What hugest stones?
  • Re: 11:21
    "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

    What is dishonest in saying that Jesus said and meant exactly that?

    I find it very strange that literalists will be literalists until it become clear that something that was literally said did not happen.

    I find it strange that I get criticized for being too literalist by those who apparently want to be literalists, but not when it raises questions they do not like.

    Jesus: "There are some standing here who will not taste (experience) death before they see the Kingdom God come in power."

    He said that to his twelve and others. But they did all die.

    And Paul in the 7th and 15th chapters of 1 Corinthians LITERALLY said that Jesus would return before all of those to whom he was writing had died.

    Also in the 4th chapter of 1 Thessalonians and the 11th chapter of Romans.

    No one questions the authentic authorship of those letters by Paul. Be honest, he really was expecting Jesus to return so soon that even he advised the Corinthians meanwhile to stop marrying(!)-- chapter 7.

    Be honest about that.

  • Why is it dishonest to say that maybe Jesus wasn’t speaking literally, or that maybe we’ve misunderstood what he meant. I think @BroJames makes a very good case for how to understand what Jesus meant.
    I find it strange that I get criticized for being too literalist by those who apparently want to be literalists, but not when it raises questions they do not like.
    You are mistaken in thinking that’s what’s happening here. This kind of mistake is what happens when you immediately start posting in a style that suggests you’re here to open our eyes and enlighten us. Perhaps if you’d taken a little time to get to know the people you claim to want to have a dialogue with, instead of opening with an invitation to read your website and your novel if we’d “like to know more,” you wouldn’t have made such a faulty assumption.

    And if you’re actually reading what people have written, you’ll have noticed that no one has really disagreed with you about what Paul said. What you’ve been getting pushback on is whether Mark 13 really supports what you’re trying to say, and whether your insistence that it does indicates a certain literalism on your part.
  • Well. If there wasn't a Jesus, we'd have had to invent him. Which might be an interesting conversation to have with saint Paul and a few other people.

    I had an off hand conversation in Geneva, at the Reformation Museum - which I recommend - where a nice Dutchman told me he wanted to pontificate and then said that the devil uses the scriptures to his purposes. Which was a lovely layered refutation of the formulaic on both sides of these sorts of question for much longer than either of us anticipated. We discussed myth, meaning, scripture, truth, and Jung (appropriate given that it's Switzerland), and I was thus quite late meeting my wife, who accused me of having the conversations over beer, but I was drunk with the spirit instead. We cannot claim truth except as revealed, and some of it is and isn't revealed in scripture. Or what we discuss of it. Some things we 'know' are beyond the words, and beyond the explainable.
  • Not just Mark 13, but all the other Markan scriptures and the Q sayings of Matthew and Luke.

    I am expressing an opinion that I had a hard time working toward as a youth and as a young college student and later. Numerous really excellent scholars (I list six of them on INFO page) agree that Jesus was expecting an imminent coming of the Kingdom of God in his generation. But enough of this. Time to go on to other interesting things. :smile:
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Note: They were leaving the Temple. That would mean they were down below where the hugest stones in the Temple walls would be most visible. No wonder a disciple called Jesus' attention to how huge those stones were.

    It might mean that, or it might mean that they were still in the Court of the Gentiles looking back at the Temple proper. I wouldn’t have thought that somewhere off the Temple Mount would be a good place for admiring the Temple buildings.
Sign In or Register to comment.