Sunday, 21 May 2006
A few weeks ago I reviewed James Tabor's book The Jesus Dynasty. Yesterday I received a courteous email from the author expressing thanks for the effort and describing it as interesting and well done. Say what you like, the man has class! In that review which you can find here there's mention of another book, Jeffrey Butz's The Brother of Jesus.
Butz is a Lutheran minister with a couple of Masters degrees. His discussion of James, Jesus' brother, is well worth reading.
James is long overdue for serious attention in the study of Christian origins. Would Jesus' brother recognize the Messianics, Seventh-day Adventists or United Church of God members as some kind of spiritual descendants? Maybe not. Apart from a couple of surface features like Sabbath observance and dietary restrictions, these groups in their theology actually look a lot more like the churches of the Gentile mission. Despite all the talk about returning to "apostolic" Christianity that Rod Meredith and others spout, modern Sabbatarian Christians are inheritors of 2nd century Catholic theology, scriptures and traditions. James' type of Christianity would look very out of place today, even on a Saturday morning in Charlotte or Cincinnati.
It sometimes seems that the least attractive option, the stolid orthodoxy of the "Church fathers", won out due to sheer bloody-mindedness and pig-headedness rather than any particular virtues. The victors have re-written history, thrown book burning parties and adopted the perverse hangups of Augustine (the blessings of Original Sin!)
Which is why Butz is fascinating. Here is a mainline pastor asking uncomfortable and critical questions. May the Force be with him.
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I had searched a number of times for your old site and had no idea what happened to it or you, not keeping up so much with WCG things anymore these days. Anyway, thanks for this kind reply to my message to you. I could pick some bones with aspects of your review, and maybe I will go back sometime and compose a response, but overall you were fair and balanced I thought, and more important CIVIL. I have already had some pretty hateful treatment from others I thought were my friends in this regard over things I say, or am supposed to have said, which I don't say, in my new book, The Jesus Dynasty...And the press has been pretty unmerciful with its usual inaccuracies, though there have also been some thoughful pieces. I am archiving the main reviews at jesusdynasty.com. Here is a little blurb I wrote a few weeks ago when all the storm begin the brew:
On The Jesus Dynasty, by James Tabor
Now that the dust has settled a tiny bit from the publication of my book The Jesus Dynasty (Simon & Schuster) the first week of April, with heavily edited sensational treatments on ABC-TV (Good Morning America, 20/20, and Nightline), a really decent cover story in USNews&WorldReport, a climb to #22 on the NYTimes best-seller list, dozens of newspaper articles, and a mailbox full of many hundreds of messages of every persuasion, I thought I might say something more directly about the book myself, as the author. Frankly, I have no reason to complain about the "press" and I am grateful for the massive attention the book has gotten in just over a week.
Despite the title, The Jesus Dynasty, and the fact that Baigent had a book out the same week, and Brown was released in paperback all over the universe, my work is a serious academic study of Jesus along the lines of what we scholars (à la Albert Schweitzer) call the “Quest for the historical Jesus. The book is wholly an historical investigation, not a theological or dogmatic one, and it rests upon my 35 years as a historian of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Its presuppositions and methods are those common in the field among historical investigators. I deliberately chose to write it for a broad non-specialist audience, not for my colleagues in the field, so I present my evidence of Jesus, from birth to death, in what I hope will prove to be an engaging unfolding narrative style. The focus of the book is singular: What do we know about Jesus and how do we know it? Although I consider all the surviving evidence of which I am aware, including a strong emphasis on the material side of the story revealed by archaeology, much of my results come right out of the New Testament texts themselves—though read in an historical-critical fashion based on the methods in our field.
I turned 60 this year, and like many of my colleagues before me (Vermes, Crossan, Chilton, Ehrman, Friedrikson, Wright, et al.) I felt it was my time to “step up to the plate” and present my “Jesus book” before the world. I put into this book all that I have learned about Jesus in my long teaching and research career at Notre Dame, William&Mary, and UNC Charlotte). I wanted the book to be in every sense, for me at least, a “summing up.”
I interpret Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic messianic inaugurator of the Kingdom of God set in the context of the wider movement sparked by his kinsman John the Baptizer, with all the radical social, political, and religious implications thereof. After the death of John and Jesus I trace the movement through James, the brother of Jesus, and subsequently into the second century led by Simon, another bother (or perhaps cousin)—hence the “Jesus Dynasty” idea. I set the entire story in the context of the broader messianic movement in Palestine before the catastrophe of 70 A.D. I am not convinced there is any strong evidence that Jesus was married with children. My emphasis in this regard is upon Jesus’ own immediate family—the seven children of Mary his very Jewish mother. I understand Paul as diverging sharply from these founders, John, Jesus, and James, and presenting for the world a dualistic otherworldly vision of Christ and salvation that ultimately becomes “Christianity.”
The book has many surprises, some of which have been sensationalized by the press, as one would expect—particularly what I discovered about the Pantera tradition, the notion of “two Messiahs,” the surprising identity of the “beloved disciple,” and my speculations about the empty tomb. But there is much more than these elements, important as they are, and all that I say is given a wider context and laid out in a sensible academic way. I do speculate and imagine in the book, but like any historian I seek to do that responsibly, in the “direction of the evidence,” and nothing of that nature do I present dogmatically. I have expected some readers of a more evangelical Christian perspective to react negatively to the book, or I should say, to “reports” of the book, as in truth most who read it go away with a positive evaluation, even while not accepting all its conclusions.
There is lots more information about the book at www.jesusdynasty.com, including an interview I did and quotations from the book, but better still—there is always the book itself! I have had more than one occasion of late to say to interested parties: Read the book! I also have archived a wealth of interesting materials related to my work on Christian Origins at my University Web site (www.jamesdtabor.org). There is a perceptive review of my work, contrasting it with Baigent’s latest on Salon.com/books/review/2006/04/07/baigent/).
I am so pleased you have plugged Jeffrey Butz's book. It is absolutely one of the BEST things out there. We worked totally independently yet came up with many of the same conclusions. There is another professor at York University in Toronto, Barrie Wilson, who has a book coming out with St. Martin's Press called How Jesus Became Christian, that will absolutely blow things out of the water in terms of the Jesus Movement and Paul. It is strange, but for so many years people in the WCG struggled with Paul, assuming a monolithic N.T. as the "Word of God." I remember so well hearing from Dorothy and others with a sharp mind for these things, that "Galatians" was the big unsolved issue in the church. It was never really explained. It was like HWA had the right instincts, with keeping the Torah and the Kingdom of God on earth not in heaven, in other words a more Jewish/Jamesian take on things, but then there was Paul with his cosmic mysticism and heavenly Christ...occupying most of the N.T. Even though it is written in a rather popular way, I still think the two appendices in Schonfield's Those Incredible Christians: The Christology of Paul and the Christology of John, are absolutely on target. It is fashionable to emphasize now the "Jewishness" of Paul, and I am fully favorable to that. He did not get his ideas from some pagan, hellenistic, culture, at least not directly. It was the variety of Judaisms of that time that offer Paul his basic insights for his "Christ mysticism." Schweitzer's book, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, in my opinon, though terribly outdated, remains the most important work on Paul in 100 years...
Hi Gavin, Thought I'd post this article on Why Mark has no good ending and John has two. Jim Tabor says Mark was not yet well enough developed for the sightings stories to have come to fruition but I offer this as an alternative explanation. The restoration of Peter, which was in the orginal ending of Mark, was added to John to relieve the tension in John who always likened Peter to Judas and not worthy of forgiveness for denying while Judas betrayed. John's community of believers perhaps felt the rightful heirs. Mark was appended to John to end the controversey about Jesus reinstating Peter.
One of the most interesting realities found in the Gospels is that the Gospel of Mark has no good ending to the story of Jesus crucifixion, while the Gospel of John has TWO.
The true ending of Mark is found at Mark 16:8 which says...
1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."
Scholars agree that the rest of Mark was added later to correct this obvious problem of no real good ending that reflects the events in the Gospel of Mark. There is no real account of the resurrection, women telling anyone and certainly no story that has the disciples meeting Jesus for the very first time after the resurrection in Galilee. It also seems a story concerning Peter is missing, but it is interesting that the Angel makes a point of telling the women to tell the disicples AND PETER to be there. Since Peter was a disicple, it is obvious that Mark has a need for Peter specifically to be there. Why and why does the Gospel of Mark have no story ending this way with Peter specifically needing to be in Galilee to meet Jesus? There is none.
Mark 14:27 notes...
27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. 29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."
So here we have, in Mark, Jesus telling them that they will all be scattered but he will meet them for the FIRST time in Galilee after he is risen. Peter is told that, inspite of his bravado, he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crows twice.
What's going on here. A story that promises the disciples that after he rises, Jesus will meet them in Galilee, not in Jerusalem, for the first time, and yet, does not include such an ending having the women come to the tomb, not find Jesus body, panic and flee telling NO ONE. Not much inspiration of resurrection here! Mark plainly has a missing ending. Where is it?
First of all the idea that Jesus would meet the disciples for the first time after his resurrection is not unique to Mark. Matthew also has this tradition but also has an ending that includes it.
Matthew 28 says...
8 "And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me."
So as in Mark, there is not sighting in Jerusalem, but the women here at least afraid, did tell the disicples that Jesus said they were to go to Galilee to meet him the first time, minus Judas. Remember Mark said to be sure to bring Peter.
Matthew goes on to say...
16 "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted."
So, in fact, Matthew has a story of all these things happening as Mark said too, but Mark did not tell how it ended as Matthew did. Mark had no positive ending to his Gospel.
Luke edits the story a bit because he wants his story to take place immediately in Jerusalem after the resurrection and not in Galilee as Mark and Matthe said.
Luke 24 says...
5 "And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee."
So here we see how Luke cleverly said in effect, not that Jesus said he'd meet them in Galilee after he was risen, but that the disicples should remember that Jesus told them in Galilee that they would see him risen in Jerusalem. Luke had stories in Jerusalem the others did not have that needed to be told evidently and going right to Galilee would not help him do that.
Now the interesting part. Mark has no ending to his Gospel, but the Gospel of John has TWO.
The first ending of John is in chapter 20.
24 "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
The "Amen" singnifies the first end as does the wrap up topic that more could be said but would take too many books.
But then we start again in John 21 with...
"After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee."
Here we have a story, a second ending of John that starts "after these things." After what things? Certainly not the things of John 20 as they don't fit. The "again" in verse 1, I believe to have been added to make this look like a second or third appearing when in fact it is the real first meeting but not in John as John doesn't need it. I believe that the 21st chapter of John is the original missing ending of Mark. "After these things" is really the women leaving the tomb perplexed and fearful, telling no one about Jesus rising. John 21 shows a disheartened group of men who simply went back to fishing not having seen Jesus at all! How soon they forgot the events and sightings of Jesus in John 20! The reason is that this ending is the second nonesensical ending of John that is really the missing ending of Mark!
John has no fishing motiff until this last chapter, where Mark is nothing but a fishing motiff. John had an ending already and doesn't need this second one. Mark needs this chapter to make sense of his whole Gospel non-ending!
Remember how the Angel made a point of telling the women to tell the disciples AND PETER to show up in Galilee? Well of all things, this second end of John has a story about Peter being restored by Jesus to the fold. Three times he denied Jesus and now three times, PETER, is sent to feed the sheep, meaning the Church and followers of Jesus. This also fits very well as an ending of Mark story as Mark made of point of being sure Peter was in Galilee where John doesn't need it.
John 21 says...
15 "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." In other words, Peter is forgiven and restored. It was important for Peter to be here in Galilee as Mark said, but never reported.
Let's just see how it fits.
16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."
Now add John 21 and contine...
1 "After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee....15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
John, the editor makes this an event that happens "again" or "the third time," but these are added to make it solve the problems it's being appended to John causes as it shows the disicples disheartened, dejected, depressed and just going back to fishing as if Jesus didn't rise and they forgot the sightings of John 20.
In all probability, the 21st Chapter of the Gospel of John is the missing ending of Mark! Now Mark, as Gospel with no good ending, has one that fits and John that needs only one ending and not two is restored to normal. Why this was added will be addressed soon.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dennis_Diehl
There's an interesting review of JESUS DYNASTY by Ken Westby in the March 31 issue of The Journal. I don't usually agree with Ken's views, but he certainly did a good job this time.
Thanks to James for his additional comments, and to Den, my favorite ex-WCG minister, for the material on Mark's Gospel.
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