Monday, April 26, 2010

Primary Reality & Everyday Reality.

In this short series I am going to look at Ancient Philosophy in a quick and brief summary that is facilitated by a certain book. This is book is by Mark Strom and is called 'Reframing Paul: Conversations in Grace & Community.'

A couple of preliminaries.

First, who us Mark Strom? Well he was the principle of Laidlaw college (formerly Bible College of New Zealand). He did his PhD in Sydney, and this book is a result of his studies there. He has also written two other books, one called the 'The Symphony of Scripture' and another one called 'Arts of the Wise Leader'. So, a well learned man who has cared enough to impart his wisdom to the next generation. Random students like me.

Another thing is that some of the conclusions that Strom reaches at the end of this book could cause some controversy. I hope it does. That way people will say something and then I don't feel like I am carrying on an extended conversation with my self in print. So, I may blog out some of his conclusions and the arguments he uses to reach those conclusions. But for now I am focused on just the first section of his book.

Also, this little series will be of value to those at Campus Church since we are finishing off our series on 1 Corinthians. This mini look at some of the ideas floating around that some of the Corinthians would have been flirting with or had been recently converted from will help you to see what Paul was writing against in his letter. 

Here is an Index for this:

Primary Reality & Everyday Reality.
1) From Homer to Plato
2) From Aristotle to Seneca
3) The Inadequacy of Ideals
4) Rank, Status and Convention

Let Anecdotes be Anathema.

The other day it was brought to my attention by someone that I don't write anecdotal stuff much. Although actually it was phrased quite differently and was not really an observation but simply a comment about something somewhat related. Still, it made me think about the fact that I do not write anecdotes here much. At all. Ever.

There are good reasons for this.
I don't enjoy it.
I don't have exciting stories that can be described in vivid detail, rather small episodes of life that happen in short bursts. If I were to write about them then there would be millions of one sentence blog posts, which is stupid and frustrating.
Anecdotes always have some exciting moral or some such thing that give them more memorability and also make the person who writes them look perceptive.

The last reason is one I can say more about. Because its the one that really stops me from doing them.

I never draw exciting morals or other things similar from my personal experiences. I would actually really hate to write an anecdote without one of those. It annoys me when I read them and they end with something like "isn't that funny?". It just makes it pointless. (Although in person those stories are actually hilarious. Maybe I just have my serious glasses on when I read stuff).

So, anyway, I thought about this for a while. I came to a conclusion. The conclusion is that the reason I don't ever draw such morals or whatever from my personal experiences is that I never think all the information is in. I would be hesitant to make any statements of value from an experience when another one could contradict it, or add more information. So, I never bother writing it down because there is no point.

huh, I guess that was kinda anecdotal.

Isn't that funny?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chapter Five: The Twelve

In Chapter Five Bauckham turns his attention to the twelve disciples of Jesus. Why should we care about the Disciples? Bauckham gives us two reasons. One is related to his contention about Oral history (see chapter two) and the other is also related to his general argument that the gospels are indeed eyewitness testimony.

His first contention is that the twelve were responsible for the general shape in which the oral history of the gospels was passed on from them and the other eyewitnesses too. They therefore get bestowed with the title of "An Authoritative Collegium" in Jerusalem during the formative years of the early church up till the writing of the gospels and the destruction of Jerusalem. Once again Bauckham engages the form critics who have proposed that the twelve are actually a later invention. This idea however has been discredited according to Bauckham, especially by the recent development (recent in historiography terms is usually floating in the 2 to 3 decades realm) of the attempts to place Jesus in a fairly Jewish context. In this Context it makes the most sense to have a following twelve disciples since that would be a part of how Jesus would communicate his idea that the Old Testament was coming to fulfillment in him. So the twelve would have been seen as the authoritative body of believers in charge of the traditions after Jesus' ascension.

Bauckham sees confirmation of this in the lists of the disciples that are contained with the gospels. In particular he looks to the book of Matthew and informs us of two different lists, one is of Jesus' descendants and the other is of the twelve. Here he quotes another scholar:

Unlike a genealogy in which the names outline a pre-history , a list of students indicates a post-history. In our gospel the genealogy in 1:2-17 shows Jesus' pre-history to lie in Israel, in Abraham's descendants, while the list of disciples in chapter 10 shows his post-history to be in the church which has Peter as its head.   -W.D. Davies & Dale C. Allison, A Critical and exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol.  2 p.150 

The point here is to show that the gospels themselves present the twelve as the authoritative group in the early church environment in which Matthew's Gospel was written.

However now Bauckham encounters a problem. What of the other gospels lists of the twelve? How do they remember them (especially Mark, since his is the earliest) and are they conflicting in their recollection of who the twelve were? Obviously these questions could put a large hole in Bauckhams overall thesis were he to not answer them satisfactorily.

Peter is always first and Judas Iscariot is always last, so the first part (regarding the ordering) seems to be fine. However, there is one interesting difference in the names. Mark and Matthew have a certain Thaddaeus and Luke and Acts have Judas son of James (note, not 'Iscariot'). How does he sort this out? Well thanks to the last two chapters in which he analyzed multiple different ways in which peoples names were remembered and recorded. Here he says that Thaddaeus is Judas' Greek name, in order to help distinguish him from the more well known Judas Iscariot. He then goes through all the other methods and talks about each of the disciples various names.

Finally he has a discussion of Levi and Matthew and whether or not they are the same disciple, he argues that they are not and has a small and interesting discussion of the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

C.S. Lewis provides a laugh, as always.

Here is C.S. Lewis on the historical critiques of some of the more liberal theologians of the last century (a la, Bultmann) You can find it in his essay"Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism".

 All theology of the liberal type involves at some point - and often involves throughout - the claim that the real behavior and purpose and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars. Now long before I became interested in theology I had met this kind of theory elsewhere. The tradition of Jowett still dominated the study of ancient philosophy when I was reading Greats. One was brought up to believer that the real meaning of Plato had been misunderstood by Aristotle and wildly travestied by the neo-Platonists, only to be recovered by the moderns. When recovered, it turned out (most fortunately) that Plato had really all along been an English Hegelian, rather like T.H. Green.

I will write more one day. When I am less busy analyzing Calvinism after Calvin.