Historical Jesus

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Wed May 05, 2010 8:02 pm

Dr. Sheehan made a statement near the end of the series that Jesus was one of the least religious of holy men because he did not tell anyone how to practice/the form of the religion but stuck to how to live and treat other people. Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by ZenYen on Wed May 05, 2010 9:48 pm

I guess I see such focus as being the very essence of a useful religion.
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by Sakhaiva on Tue May 11, 2010 9:01 pm

Gilly, off the cuff I would beg to differ with Sheehan's statement. Though the Gospels did not do a good job recording Yeshua's orthodox Judaism, he certainly was. Being Jewish, Yeshua kept to practices such as reciting the Shema* which makes him religious.

That being said, it is nice to note the differences between his own religious practices, and his actions towards others. And now for my footnote....


*The Shema is something a creed; a statement of faith. For example, we refer to the following text:

“One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.’ “(Mark 12: 28-31)

(In the above text, Yeshua is prooftexting Deut 6: 4-9)

To dig at this further, we need to learn about the School of Hillel. I've had to take a break from the lectures as I've been pretty busy lately... does Sheehan touch on Hillel at all?)
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Tue May 11, 2010 9:30 pm

I think that Mark 12: 28-31 is considered a later addition and therefore Jesus probably did not say it. It isn't found in Thomas. Look at this for example:

53. His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision useful or not?"

He said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect."

That is a very radical opinion for a Jew, don't you think?

I don't remember bringing up Hillel.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Tue May 11, 2010 9:48 pm

Here's the part from Thomas. I think the theme is loving each other.

25 Jesus said, "Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye."

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by Sakhaiva on Tue May 11, 2010 10:47 pm

re: Mark 12: 28-31 - I'll ferret out my codex studies tonight... off the cuff I do not agree that this passage was a late add. It was a common teaching of the time (remains so.)

I like that verse from Thomas (25) ... it means the same thing though; love your neighbor as your self. Actually, it is greater.... love your neighbor as the core of you! Pretty intense. Thomas always was one of my favorite books. You know, I have heard it said that if we could gather up all of the gospels that were circulated, we would have a book several inches thick at least. It's interesting how specifics change, but the essence can remain the same.

The teachings of Hillel are pretty important; we cannot begin to understand the historical Jesus without first understanding 1st century Judaism. Those were interesting times. I think one of the reasons I'm enjoying this lecture is it gives me the opportunity to look at the man Yeshua - as best as we can - without being trapped in religion.
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Tue May 11, 2010 11:06 pm

Yes, it was a common teaching (the love friends part) and one reason why, I think that adding Yahweh, moving it so close to a repetition of Deuteronomy, is an addition. The theme of Jesus is to be good to other people because the kingdom is here.

I think that Shehan does talk a great deal about 1st century Judaism, especially the differences between what was happening in the different areas in Israel, what the different follower of Jesus took from him and how and why they influenced it. I think that what was going on in Galilee did even more to shape Jesus. He lived in a society where the gentiles and Jews were mixing, the different cultures influencing and impacting each other. Things were changing, and it makes sense that Jesus would be a rebel, encouraging even more mixing, breaking down the differences between people, men and women, and cultures. He doesn't say, treat Jews well, he says treat your friends well. Studying Galilee was a real eye-opener to me.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Tue May 11, 2010 11:15 pm

To clarify the difference I see, a "neighbor" to a Jew who did not mix with the gentiles or the Samaritans, etc., was going to be another Jew. I think what Jesus brought to the table was to love your friends whoever they might be.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Tue May 11, 2010 11:54 pm

Taking gospels as gospel, Jesus was a man the religious men of his day hated and feared.

I daresay if he were incarnated in the here and now, the religious men of today would feel the same.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Wed May 12, 2010 12:01 am

I think following the orthodox practices and being accepted into the religious community are two totally different things. Correlating, but different. I'm sure Jesus went to temple, etc., and followed those orthodox tenets.. but I don't think that means he was ever accepted by the "religious" of his day.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Wed May 12, 2010 7:22 am

He probably was hated and feared because anyone who agitates for social change is going to be both loved and hated; loved by the people who embrace change and hated by those who are afraid of it. (Look at the social change happening today with gays and society.) Then you add the Romans into the mix who crushed anything they thought was causing or would cause problems, without actually waiting to see if it would become a problem. The Jewish leaders could not afford a troublemaker, especially not at Passover when the Romans had sent in their troops to Jerusalem ready to quell any hint of disorder.

Sheehan thinks that it was a terrible miscalculation by Jesus to go to Jerusalem at that particular time and that he must have caused some religious trouble in the temple. He thinks that at any other time it would have gotten him squirreled away for a short time then released, maybe just hustled out of town and told don't come back. Unfortunately, the Romans next door caught wind of it and eliminated the potential problem their way, quick and final. It does seem to fit.

I would say that Jesus saw himself and his friends as reformers within their Jewish religion and culture.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Wed May 12, 2010 4:47 pm

I'm inclined to agree, though of course believe it's all speculation from this point in the future.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Wed May 12, 2010 6:02 pm

It sure is and nothing but! At least this version makes sense to me.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu May 13, 2010 3:37 pm

Ok... it's been a few days. Gilly, Mark 12: 28-31 is extremely reliable. It is in Matthew and Luke, plus it was quoted by first century Christian Church fathers (quoted from sources that predate even the most ancient codicies we have) So Mark 12: 28-31 certainly was not a late add.

What we, at times, experience when comparing one manuscript with another is the interjection of meaning... ie, the writer(s) trying to make a point. Consider your verse from Thomas re "the pupil of the eye"... it is an *exaggeration* of earlier writings intended to make a point.... and one reason, I believe, why that particular manuscript was not canonized. Thomas, though lovely, has fatal flaws.

Sheehan's lecture is enjoyable for me... but it's good to keep in mind that it is a lightweight study and more opinion-oriented than I'd care for. ( That's the problem I run into with Biblical related studies... many people seem to have an axe to grind. IOW, if people approach the table with the desire to prove that their particular set of beliefs is correct, then we cannot have a good discussion. One has to come to the table to discover what's there, regardless of whether or not it jives with one's chosen world view.)

A scholar I enjoy greatly because he is so neutral is Dr Bruce Metzger from Princeton. If a person was very curious about the topic of manuscripts -- errors and all -- then a book I would recommend (and own/have read) is "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration" Every sentence written is backed up by extremely reliable sources (which are listed at the bottom of each page.) He also proves sources which counter his findings, which I like a great deal; not many people are willing to do that. I wish he were still around; amazing mind.

Here is the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Text-New-Testament-Transmission-Restoration/dp/019516122X/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Google books offers a large portion of another Bruce Metzger book that might be a fun read... something to whet the appetite:

bit.ly dtXUf2


In the end, Biblical studies are difficult because of the massive amount of datum available. There are over 5300 known Greek Manuscripts and over 9300 known manuscripts from other areas (Syriac, Ethiopic etc) Of the massive amount of known manuscripts, found so far apart from each other, the variations are so minor that the foundations of Christian doctrine is not affected! This is huge!

That being said, if a person is looking for one uniform work to be the end of all ends, then s/he is out of luck because there isn't one. None of the original manuscripts of any book of the Bible are extant; to value these writings is to value the art of cross referencing.... which might be a problem to some, but not to me.

Then again, I have always liked Luther's understanding of the Bible: "Scripture is the cradle in which the Christ child lies"
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu May 13, 2010 3:39 pm

gillyflower wrote:Sheehan thinks that it was a terrible miscalculation by Jesus to go to Jerusalem at that particular time and that he must have caused some religious trouble in the temple. He thinks that at any other time it would have gotten him squirreled away for a short time then released, maybe just hustled out of town and told don't come back. Unfortunately, the Romans next door caught wind of it and eliminated the potential problem their way, quick and final. It does seem to fit.

LOL - I agree, but then again Jesus was, at times, a trouble-making smart ass. Go figure.

I would say that Jesus saw himself and his friends as reformers within their Jewish religion and culture.

I agree with this. Reform never goes over smoothly; as we have daily proof!
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Thu May 13, 2010 6:27 pm

Sakhaiva wrote:Ok... it's been a few days. Gilly, Mark 12: 28-31 is extremely reliable. It is in Matthew and Luke, plus it was quoted by first century Christian Church fathers (quoted from sources that predate even the most ancient codicies we have) So Mark 12: 28-31 certainly was not a late add.

What we, at times, experience when comparing one manuscript with another is the interjection of meaning... ie, the writer(s) trying to make a point. Consider your verse from Thomas re "the pupil of the eye"... it is an *exaggeration* of earlier writings intended to make a point.... and one reason, I believe, why that particular manuscript was not canonized. Thomas, though lovely, has fatal flaws.

Sheehan's lecture is enjoyable for me... but it's good to keep in mind that it is a lightweight study and more opinion-oriented than I'd care for. ( That's the problem I run into with Biblical related studies... many people seem to have an axe to grind. IOW, if people approach the table with the desire to prove that their particular set of beliefs is correct, then we cannot have a good discussion. One has to come to the table to discover what's there, regardless of whether or not it jives with one's chosen world view.)

A scholar I enjoy greatly because he is so neutral is Dr Bruce Metzger from Princeton. If a person was very curious about the topic of manuscripts -- errors and all -- then a book I would recommend (and own/have read) is "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration" Every sentence written is backed up by extremely reliable sources (which are listed at the bottom of each page.) He also proves sources which counter his findings, which I like a great deal; not many people are willing to do that. I wish he were still around; amazing mind.

Here is the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Text-New-Testament-Transmission-Restoration/dp/019516122X/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Google books offers a large portion of another Bruce Metzger book that might be a fun read... something to whet the appetite:

bit.ly dtXUf2


In the end, Biblical studies are difficult because of the massive amount of datum available. There are over 5300 known Greek Manuscripts and over 9300 known manuscripts from other areas (Syriac, Ethiopic etc) Of the massive amount of known manuscripts, found so far apart from each other, the variations are so minor that the foundations of Christian doctrine is not affected! This is huge!

That being said, if a person is looking for one uniform work to be the end of all ends, then s/he is out of luck because there isn't one. None of the original manuscripts of any book of the Bible are extant; to value these writings is to value the art of cross referencing.... which might be a problem to some, but not to me.

Then again, I have always liked Luther's understanding of the Bible: "Scripture is the cradle in which the Christ child lies"

Thank you for your recommendations.

I disagree with you about Mark, Sak. I think part of it is originally what Jesus (might) have said and part is an addition. Mark is not extremely reliable, in my opinion, when you compare it to Thomas and Q. He and the people after him had agendas and they made sure it was promoted, adding things as needed to create their, rather than Jesus's, religion. We'll have to disagree about Thomas too. I don't think that it is flawed. It is just another account of what a follower (and later followers of Thomas) took away with him from Jesus. Since I am an outsider to the religion they all are the same to me, I am just more interested in seeing the earliest versions.

I don't mind the bias in Sheehan's presentation and even appreciate it. I am not Christian and have no agenda, nor any intention of studying Christianity deeply. I am simply trying to make sense of what might have gone on if Jesus was a real person, why there is so little information about him (as well as John the Baptist) from anyone else besides his few followers and what was going on at the time he might have lived. I discount 99% of what is claimed came out of his mouth (aside from the parables) and think, instead of what Luther stated, that "the men who wrote the NT created a god that has little connection to the man or the man's intentions."

I do think that Jesus was a social reformer and like that part of his legend and myths. I quite admire that about him and think he was correct that his religion had become too concerned with the wrong things.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by gillyflower on Thu May 13, 2010 6:45 pm

What I am trying to say here is that I think the NT gospels say a lot more about the men who wrote them in my opinion than about Jesus, even though he is the subject of the writings.

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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu May 13, 2010 8:30 pm

I agree with your last post Gilly; that the gospels have more to say about the writers than Yeshua.

You reminded me of another book that was very interesting... I think it was called "the Churches the Apostles Left Behind" It takes a look at seven different New Testament churches after the death of the Apostles who started them. Very interesting to see how notions developed and grew into *truths*

I am actually very pleased that you are interested in Biblical knowledge for the sake of knowledge Smile And I do believe that you have more knowledge about Biblical things than many who profess to be *Christian*

(Am still making my way through the last few sections of the series btw.... )
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Re: Historical Jesus

Post by NotThatGuyAgain on Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:33 pm

My favorite essay on 'the search for the historical Jesus' which later showed up on Peter Jennings TV piece by the same name is that essay by
Michael HaShev. It might still be online somewhere.

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Re: Historical Jesus

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