Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thought of the Day

Better not to be a minimalist or a maximalist because the variety of literature in the biblical canon(s) tends to resists being explained in terms of only one or the other.


At 8/19/2008 11:03 PM, OpenID carlsweatman said...

Very well put.

At 8/19/2008 11:47 PM, Blogger WES ELLIS said...

Indeed! Scripture seems to want us to feel tension from different directions. The Bible doesn't settle either way.

At 8/20/2008 4:17 AM, Anonymous Drew said...

So if it's neither and both, can we call this the Tilling Mega-Hermeneutic of Historical Criticism? You know as well as I that every scholar needs a neo-logism to seal the deal for tenure. This could be your shot at it :-)

At 8/21/2008 1:32 PM, Anonymous steph said...

"resists" is annoying me. It's so bold:-)

At 8/22/2008 12:20 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all for your comments.

"So if it's neither and both, can we call this the Tilling Mega-Hermeneutic of Historical Criticism?"

Though I wish to remain humble, yes, I think we should call it that - has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

At 8/22/2008 12:25 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...

This post has been removed by the author.

At 8/22/2008 12:44 AM, Blogger Edward T. Babinski said...


There's tension everywhere, in the Bible and in life in general. Is the Bible true? Can you show it to be true, historically and metaphysically? Did "many" people in Paul's church (per 1 Cor) really get sick and some die because they celebrated the Lord's supper in a way that made God send them illness and death? Is that what Paul believed, and is it true? And is that what people on this blog believe?

Secondly, I read in I Cor. a list of people to whom a resurrected Jesus supposedly "appeared." Yet in no case, not even in Paul's (not in any of his first person letters), do we get a single first hand telling of his meeting a resurrected Jesus, not a single first hand description.

Paul gives no such description in 1Cor. nor in Galatians, but only said in a most vague way that Jesus appeared to him. Forget about the retelling of Jesus's appearance to Paul in Acts that was written later, that's not a first hand description but a later retelling.

Forget about the earliest Gospel, Mark, that conservatives believe to have been based on stories Peter told Mark, because that Gospel contains no first hand description of a meeting with the resurrected Jesus, just a promise of meeting the raised Jesus in Galilee ("He has gone before you to Galilee, for there ye shall see him.")

As for the other Gospels, again, no first hand descriptions, all later narratives, and Matthew and Luke reproduce over 90% of Mark, so they follow the Markan outline, and differ most where we expect, in places where Mark contains no information, in their stories about Jesus's infancy and what happened after his resurrection.

While the fourth Gospel, are it's stories all historic? It's author isn't even named.

So, there is not a single first hand description of post-resurrection meetings with Jesus, not anywhere in the New Testament. I guess God knew how gullible human beings were and knew He didn't need to include any first hand descriptions (or maybe they were all originally quite fuzzy descriptions, and later legends fleshed them out).

Lastly, has anyone noticed that the word count of all the alleged words and sayings spoken by the resurrected Jesus increased over time from 1 Cor. to Mark to Matthew to Luke to John?

There's no post-resurrection words of Jesus to be found in our earliest Markan manuscripts. There's just a few sentences in Matthew of words that the post-resurrected Jesus allegedly said. Then in Luke and John we get a lot more words of the post-resurrected Jesus. In fact in Luke-Acts and John we begin to read allusions to entire lectures that the raised Jesus allegedly delivered. Entire lectures delivered by a man raised from the dead, all of them lost lectures, that neither God nor man thought to record and/or preserve for posterity. The lecture of the raised Jesus in which he goes through all the Scriptures while walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus; or the lectures delivered during WEEKS that the raised Jesus allegedly spent on earth before he allegedly ascended bodily into the sky per Luke-Acts. And in the fourth and last Gospel mention is made of "so many books that could be written about what Jesus said the did that 'I suppose' (as the author put it) the world could not contain them all." I guess the legends just kept coming by the time when the fourth Gospel was being written.

Is the N.T. really going to convince anyone who is genuinely curious and studies the Bible rationally and lacks the reverential ecclesiastical pose of the Catholic Magisterium, or the Anglican pose of an N.T. Wright?

And do you believe that people who express the same rational doubts I have expressed will be damned for all time? How many or few of Chris's blog readers reading this believe that about rational questioners?

Personally, I remain interested in religion and have great appreciation for the latest two works of Karen Armstrong, A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH, and, THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION (about religion from earliest times to the Axial age). Karen tells a moving and highly informative story about the power of myth much as Joseph Campbell once did, but her story seems more convincing and complete, and she intertweaves history, psychology, sociology and archeology into the story of religion's rise from ancient human beings to the Axial period. Fascinating. Truly fascinating. Her wide ranging exposition and discussion of connections with so many things makes the Bible and "Chrsitian theology" appear parochial in comparison. the audio editions of both books are wonderful.

And if I might suggest a third as well, SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTERLIFE by agnostic Mary Roach. Wonderful audio edition. Extremely interesting info about the history of the search for scientific evidence of the afterlife.

At 8/23/2008 3:53 AM, Blogger X-Cathedra said...


Coming from an agnostic and philosophical background, I myself have wrestled with and continue to wrestle with the issues you raise and others like them. They are by no means trivial for me nor, I'd say, for anyone serious about this stuff.

Pax Christi,


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