Friday, January 25, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Another passage which is relevant to our discussion here is Daniel 8, which, in highly symbolic language, relates the end of the Medo-Persian kingdom (the “ram with two horns,” cf. Dan 8:20), the emergence of the Greek empire (“he-goat,” cf. Dan 8:21), and the rise Antiochus Epiphanies (cf. Dan 8:23). The sacking of Jerusalem by Antiochus is then described with cosmic language, as the stars of heaven are cast down and trampled (Dan 8:10). Significantly, although this vision clearly relates historical events, the prophet is told, הָבֵ֣ן בֶּן־אָדָ֔ם כִּ֖י לְעֶת־קֵ֥ץ הֶחָזֹֽון (Dan 8:17; RSVCE, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end”).
Having alluded to these prophecies, scholars then go on to interpret Jesus’ cosmic language in the Olivet Discourse as relating to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Such a view works well since the destruction of Jerusalem is clearly in view in the immediate context. This is apparent from certain elements in the larger context of the sermon: (1) all three synoptic writers place this sermon within the context of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Matt 24:1-2//Mark 13:1-2//Luke 21:5-6); (2) Jesus clearly alludes to Daniel’s description of the Antiochus’ defilement of the temple as the “desolating sacrilege” almost a century earlier, using the term to describe an as yet future event (Matt 24:15//Mark 13:14//; cf. Dan 8:13); (3) the language of a flight from Judea seems to indicate a localized disaster (Matt 24:16//Mark 13:14//Luke 21:21).
Yet, despite the strengths of this position, there remain a number of problems.
 For further discussion, see Richard D. Patterson, “Wonders in Heaven and on the Earth: Apocalyptic Imagery in the Old Testament,” in JETS 43/3 (2000): 385-403: “As a major covenantal theme, [the Exodus’] familiar images provided a ready vehicle for the judgment and salvation oracles of the early pre-exilic prophets, especially as the two became intertwined in the prophetic kingdom oracles” (386). In addition to the darkening of the heavenly lights, Patterson mentions other imagery drawn from the Exodus traditions in the prophetic oracles including that of an earthquake (Exod 19:16, 18; cf. Judg 5:4-5; Isa 13:13; 29:6; Joel 3:16 [4:16] and the creatures of the plagues, e.g., locusts (Exod 10:3-20; Amos 4:10-11; 7:1-2; Joel 2:2-12).
 See Pitre who points out that restoration follows the oracles in Isaiah and Ezkeiel. Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile, 335. Indeed, there are also other passages which, though not mentioning the celestial bodies per se, speak of a coming day of judgment in terms of darkness and which likewise go on to describe the restoration of Israelite captives (Isa 8:21-9:7; 60:1-22; Ezek 34:12-16; Joel 3:15-21). Again, the imagery here evokes the Exodus tradition in which Israel was delivered through a series of cataclysmic events.
 For more detailed explanations see John E. Goldingay, Daniel (WBC 30; Dallas: Word Books, 1989), 194-222; John J. Collins, “Temporality and Politics,” in Apocalyptic in History and Tradition (JSPSup; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2002), 29-36; Ben Witherington, Jesus the Seer: The Progress of Prophecy (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999), 220-21.
 Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 359-60; Ben Witherington, Jesus, Paul and the End of the World (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992), 43-44.
 The Danielic background is further confirmed by the fact that the “desolating sacrilege” (τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) is linked with the phrase, “let the reader understand” (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. It should be mentioned that some have seen this phrase as an allusion to a pre-Markan “little apocalypse” source. This is the view put forth famously in Timothée Colani, Jésus-Christ et les croyances messianiques de son Temps (2d ed.; Strasbourg: Treuttel et Wurtz, 1864), 201–3, and taken up more recently by Gerd Thiessen, The Gospels in Context: Social and Political History in the Synoptic Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 128-65. According to this view, Jesus’ reference to the “desolating sacrilege” was originally only describing a desecration of the temple, not its destruction. This view, of course, necessitates a reading which dislodges the sermon from the clear description of the destruction of the temple at the beginning of the sermon (Matt 24:1-2//Mark 13:1-2//Luke 21:5-6). It also must distance the sermon from the event of the cleansing of the temple, where, in all three synoptic gospels Jesus’ alludes to Jeremiah 7:11 (Matt 21:13//Mark 11:17//Luke 19:46; σπήλαιον λῃστῶν), a prophecy describing the coming destruction of the temple. However, as stated above, the phrase is probably best understood not as an indication of Markan editorial work, but as an allusion to Daniel 12:10-11, which closes the section of which Daniel 8 is a part and which also links the appearance of the “desolating sacrilege” (τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως, 12:11) with “those who understand” (οἱ νοήμονες). For a fuller discussion see, Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile, 303-13.
 Of course, space prevents us from discussing a number of other issues involved here, including, but not limited to the question of the literary unity of the sermon and the objections often raised to this sermon’s authenticity. For a fuller discussion see Craig Evans, Mark 8:27-16:20 (WBC 34b; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 290-291; Robert Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Erdmans, 1993), 752-82; Beasely-Murray, Jesus and the Last Days, 407-8; Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile, 294-301, 348-377; Martin Hengel, Studies in the Gospel of Mark (London: SCM, 1985), 16-7; David Wenham, The Rediscovery of Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse (Gospel Perspectives 4; Sheffield: JSOT, 1984); Brower, “’Let the Reader Undestand’: Temple Eschatology in Mark,” in Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium (K. E. Brower and M. W. Elliot, eds.; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 140-2.
Monday, January 07, 2008
So, who wrote those words I posted last week?
W. D. Davies. The quote is taken from his incredibly important--yet extremely neglected--work, The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 381-382.
Huge kudos to Mark and John. Davies even referenced Dodd in this section--here's the full quote: "In short, Judaism provided what Professor C. H. Dodd has taught us to call the 'Substructure of Christian Theology.'" In a footnote he cites Dodd's According to the Scriptures (London, 1952). I left the Dodd reference out to make things interesting. Very impressive guys!
As I continue to research, I grow more and more frustrated with the idea of a distinct "Third Quest" that is unlike previous approaches in being focused more on the Jewishness of Jesus. In fact, many previous scholars--Jeremias, Davies, Daube, Klausner, etc.--did just that!
Moreover, many of the scholars of the "Third Quest" use the exact same "criteria of authenticity" as those from the so-called "New Quest." In virtually every case these scholars build their interpretations on the same unproven (in some cases, outdated!) source-critical and form-critical assumptions about the Gospels. For example, the shockingly bold assertions made about Q (i.e., its portrait of Jesus, its theology, etc.) found in the works of many contemporary writers seem not only unconvincing but actually quite similar to naïve approaches of the past.
I see two major problems here.
1. If we aren't learning from the scholars who have gone before us, we are ignoring some very valuable resources.
2. In fact, in many ways, in neglecting these scholars of the past contemporary authors almost seem to be engaged in a subtle form of plagiarism, inasmuch as they claim as their own the insights of their mentors.
Something to ponder...
Friday, January 04, 2008
Christian canons of scripture ..."
therefore ... ?
but ... ?
(I'm thinking of the old church tradition / scripture debates)
The comment box is full of suggestions, offered mostly by non-Catholics. Let me give you theirs before I give you mine.
j. c. poirier writes:
"The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture, but the kerygma (as the foundation of the Church) is prior to the Church, and it is the kerygma that lends Scripture its authority."
"The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture therefore those who say they believe who say they base their faith on the Bible and not on church tradition are somewhat misinformed, but getting them to see that point is probably more effort than it is worth."
The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture, therefore canonicity appears to depend on the authority of the Church and not the other way around. But, this does not undermine the contemporary authority or meaning of the scriptures because the Church did canonize them and even before that considered them authoritative.
Therefore, the church decided what would be in the canon of scripture, but canonicity doesn't affect the truthfulness or otherwise of the historical event.
The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture......but what does artillery have to do with anything?
Pastor Bob Cornwall said...
"The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture, but the Church is the Body of Christ and therefore it is Jesus to whom Scripture and Church both witness who stands preeminent as judge and interpreter of Scripture.
Nick Norelli said...
The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture......So
Tilling would have us believe, but let us suppose that Tilling is correct, all
we could conclude...therefore... ...is that the Church is older than the
Christian canons of Scripture...but... ...all the people involved in the process
of canonization are worm food yet the canon lives on, and since necromancy is
illegal according to the Jewish canon of Scripture we don't do it because we
recognize some sort of continuity between the Jewish canon and the Christian
canon (because most of the early Christians were Jews anyway), so in the end we
give preeminence to the canon over dead guys, no matter how cool they were...:^P
"The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture...butthat sounds vaguely Romanist, so my common sense is overridden by my strong anti-Catholic prejudices and THEY PRAY TO MARY AND PRIESTS HAVE SEX WITH KIDS OMG!!1!11!"
::aaron g:: said...
therefore we should all be Catholic.(What do I get if I win?)
Owen Weddle said...
The Church is chronologically prior to the Christian canons of scripture therefore the canon speaks more directly about the beliefs of the church, but this does not necessarily invalidate the canon as a viable witness to truth if the Church was a faithful steward of the truth.
Michael Barber said...
The Church is chronologically prior to Christian canons of scripture and therefore Protestants have to come up with a "but" and long, convoluted statements with which to follow it.*
*See above comments.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Who wrote it? Answer in the comment box.
. . . in taking the Old Testament as its sacred Scripture, the Early Church did more than recognize its historical connection and even continuity with Judaism; it provided itself with the concepts, terminology and motifs through which it was both to comprehend itself and interpret its faith to the world. In short, Judaism provided . . . the "Substructure of Christian Theology." New Testament Christianity, even in its Johannine form, is articulated in the language of Judaism.
This is made most clear in an area which has attracted much attention int he scholarship of the last few decades, namely, the use of quotations from the Old Testament in the New. These are not merely strange bits of jigsaw puzzles wrenched from the Old Testament, but indications of the way in which the very structure of Jewish thought determines the Christian. The evidence for this statement is so copious that no attempt to present it can be made here; a few examples of a more general and a more particular kind must suffice.
First, let us look at the broad way in which early Christians though of the Christian era or dispensation. There are two figures or metaphors which are familiar in the New Testament. The first is that of a new creation, along with which there go certain concomitants, such as the concept of Jesus the Messiah as the second Adam.
Another broad category derived from Judaism is that of the New Exodus. . . Other major categories which it employed are patently derived from the same source--the Kingdom of God, for example, in the Synoptics. . . .
We might go even further. . . in insisting that after Nicaea also--simply because of the perpetuation of the New Testament and Old Testament in the life of the Church (not to speak of other currents) as its foundation documents--this substructure continued to exert its influence. Unfortunately, the full extent of this influence has never been recognized, because of the Chrstian ignorance of Judaism. There is little doubt that a deeper understanding of the governing concepts of first-century Judaism would throw a flood of light on early Christianity. . . Phenomena such as the Resurrection, the Ascension and, indeed, the whole range of Christian concern can only be illumined for us by a profounder penetration of [. . .] Judaism.