Posted: Jul 24, 2013 12:48 pm
by spin
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:As your post is more a discussion closer than a, umm, response, Neil, I'll just summarize some of the points:


There is no antecedent for baptism. It's already assumed by Paul and Mark's rationalization of it is only post hoc. Vague precursors concerning Israel coming through water and fire may reflect the Marcan attempts to reconcile baptism, but he still attaches baptism to John. That leaves John the most likely candidate for introducing it, who is externally attested in conflictual content in Josephus. John serves no purpose in the theology of christianity and has to be accommodated, not even recognizing Jesus in the synoptics.

This is all opinion. No supporting evidence. And no dealing with the nature of the literary evidence itself. I could simply declare the opposite. So what? Where is your argument?

Neil, I'm not looking for attitude. I can get that elsewhere. The only point that is necessary here is that you have come up empty-handed in your effort to find a serious antecedent for baptism.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:Messianism

There is no source available to talk directly about any failed messianism in the first century, given the inappropriateness of expecting either Jewish or christian sources to do so. We have indirect means, such as the existence of political uprisings that reflect messianic notions of removal of foreign influence. The fact that Jesus is made a messiah, despite his not reflecting the longstanding Jewish literary notion of the messiah, suggests an effort to make him fit a known understanding of the messiah. There is also gospel reference to people who come claiming to be the messiah, suggesting that such messianic claims had been made.

Question begging.

You can call it whatever you like. Looking for clues is certainly not question begging. Your response is simply evasive.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:Paul

Working from Galatians I have attempted to read the text as literally as possible in an effort to understand what it says, rather than what later interpreters have said it says. The result is that Paul argues against prior Jesus believers, indicating that his Jesus knowledge instead comes from revelation (which doesn't require any supernatural event given todays understandings of psychology). He points to people in Jerusalem who show no knowledge of the gospel Jesus and who advocate torah observance, which Paul's Jesus has abrogated. Paul's writings have been heavily reworked, as can be seen with the attacks on his personality and insertion of later established church oriented notions and interests, so his writings cannot be read slavishly as many christian interpreters tend to do.

I thought the idea that a literal reading is by definition a "true" reading was one of the most elementary mistakes that can ever be made. You justify this by means of another elementary error of logic: the false dilemma.

When you want to engage in conversation, consider what you are responding to. The first thing one must do with a text is read it as literally as possible. If you don't do that, then you cannot work with the text. One will tend to overlay the text with what they bring to the text from later interpretations. This makes the text extremely hard to analyse.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:Pauline language

Paul was writing in a literary context that was essentially pre-christian, so his terms and notions are not the settled notions of an established religion. On the christian chronology Paul was writing 20 years or less after the reputed time of Jesus. There is no time assuming Paul was not the initiator of christian rhetoric for dedicated terminology to have developed. When he uses terms they must be seen as based on earlier ones, such as his use of "assembly" (usually translated as the christian "church") or a constructed phrase like "in christ". There is just no christian literary precedents for Paul's language, so it can only come from what non-christian vocabulary that existed prior to his writing. That means we need to read him freshly, without christianizing his writings, if we hope to understand what he is talking about, though this is complicated by later reworkings. I'm fond of the title of an article by J.C. O'Neill, "Paul Wrote Some of All, but Not All of Any".

Paul was writing to PRE-Christians?

What do you intend with this question?

neilgodfrey wrote:Is this some sort of argument that "in Christ" was a descriptor of certain Jewish assemblies made up of people who, distinctively, actually believed in a messiah?

No, it isn't. It's an argument that says it's difficult to make sensible statements about derivation of Pauline language usage, as we have no pre-Pauline christian literature to contextualize Paul's usage. That leaves earlier non-christian, including Jewish, influences for Paul to adapt.

neilgodfrey wrote:You evidently have no wish to zero in on any one specific question for discussion as I originally suggested.

If you want a discussion, you might participate as though you do.