2014-02-23

Constructing Jesus and the Gospels: Apocalyptic Prophecy

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by Neil Godfrey

destruction_jerusalemPassages that for modern fundamentalist readers refer doctrinally to Jesus’ death and some imaginary “end time” in some indefinite future:

Luke 12:49-53

49 I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled?
50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished
51 Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three
53 They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law.

Luke 21:23

23 Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people.

Luke 23:28-30

28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29 For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck
30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.

Luke 21:6

6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Luke 21:20

20 But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand.

Luke 21:24-27

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
25 And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows
26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 17:33-37

33 Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34 I say unto you, In that night there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 There shall be two women grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
36 There shall be two men in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left
37 And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together.

.

The Literary Form of the Gospels

quote_begin A proper understanding of literary form gives us a historical meaning. quote_end

Much depends on our analysis of the literary form of the gospels. If we conclude on the basis of Gospel passages like those above that the gospels are novella-like apocalypses or apocalyptic prophecies, a variant of writings like Daniel, then by definition they are written with reference to historical events known to their original audience.

When the above passages are read with the knowledge of those events, the war with Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem, then they refer both to the death of Jesus and the catastrophic fate of Jerusalem.

Thus a proper understanding of literary form gives us a historical meaning. (Clarke W. Owens Son of Yahweh: The Gospels as Novels)

Yet it is very widely agreed that the gospels do refer to an event still future to us, today, as well as to a historical crucifixion under Pilate. Recall, however, that Clarke Owens is attempting to help readers see the Gospels outside the context of the canon of the Bible and to understand them as discrete writings in their historical and literary contexts. What does Clarke Owens believe has gone wrong in order for what he believes is such a pervasive misinterpretation of the Gospels.

1-d1e888a1bfTo begin, we need to define what we mean by apocalyptic literature. Owens uses the definition of Antonia Tripolitis:

Jewish apocalyptic literature flourished and enjoyed an enormous popularity both within Palestine and the Diaspora between 200 B.C.E. and 90 C.E. . . . The apocalypticists continued the tradition of the prophets by adopting the major themes of the prophetic teachings, in particular the prediction element, and incorporated them into a novel world-historical, cosmic form. Many apocalyptic works were written during times of hardship and oppression. These conditions were depicted by the writers in a cosmic setting, perceived not only as a local or national situation but one of universal significance, and accompanied by supernatural signs. (Antonia Tripolitis, Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age, pp. 69-70, Italics original — points Owens will address.)

Tripolitis goes on to point out that “apocalyptic literature does not lend itself to a systematic description. It is not a homogeneous corpus and varies in form, emphasis, and in the presentation of the message.” The most important characteristic of the apocalyptic is its prophetic element. So Owens points out that given the many allusions and parallels to the books of prophecy we can be sure the Gospels continued in “the tradition of the prophets”. Recall the Gospel of Mark’s famous opening with a hybrid quotation from Isaiah, Malachi and Exodus; the virgin birth narratives in Matthew and Luke apparently deriving from what was understood to be a prophecy in Isaiah; the image of the Suffering Servant, and so forth.

But the most important precursor for the prophetic element of the Gospels, Owens argues, is the Book of Daniel. Owens focuses on Matthew but for an extended picture I link here to early posts of mine (Mark 13 and Passion and Resurrection chapters) in which we can see the importance of Daniel to the author of Mark’s Gospel, too.

Owens begins with Matthew 24:15

When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand) then let them that be in Judea flee unto the mountains.

More events are foretold and then we come to another passage from Daniel in Matthew 24:30

and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and with great glory.

This recalls Daniel 7:13

I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

quote_begin What is even more important to realize is that both books — Daniel and Matthew — operate the same way
quote_end

Owens stresses the important point: it is to note is that both books, Daniel and the Gospel, operate the same way.

  • Both create a scene in the past where the narrative is set (Daniel in sixth century BCE Babylon; Jesus in early first century CE Palestine);
  • both announce a time of a predicted event that is not named but is known to the books’ readers (Antiochus Epiphanes erecting the statue in the Temple in 168 BCE; Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE);
  • both books are written soon after the prophesied event actually happened in the recent past (within a generation at least); the original readers of both books had historical memory of the events prophesied.

That is, both books are structured around three chronological points of reference:

A — the story setting in the past / “historical time implanted with a fictional event, namely the prophecy”;

B — the historical event that was prophesied in the above story, announced in vague universalistic and cosmic terms yet understood by the readers;

C — the readers/hearers recognize the

event has having recently taken place within their own time.

That’s how apocalyptic literature works.

  • a story set in the past (the days of Herod and Pilate);
  • a story-time prediction of a real event is made in cosmic and vague (hence universalistic) terms (abomination of desolation etc);
  • thus giving meaning to the audience who has experienced/witnessed this recent (coded) event.

The historical event is never made explicit. It is always alluded to in ambiguous, cosmic and universalistic language. It is an event known to everyone but in this literature is expressed ambiguously to stress its “cosmic significance”, as well as “for aesthetic, political, or theological reasons”.

A direct, news-like matter-of-fact depiction of the event would not convey that necessary “cosmic significance” that is captured by the mysterious coded language.

It is essential to realize (and the error occurs precisely in not realizing) that the knowledge of [the prophesied event] from the vantage point of [the original readers] is inescapable. This is how apocalyptic literature works. It is how Daniel worked, and it is how the gospels were meant to work.

Daniel prophesied of Antiochus Epiphanes setting up the pagan statue in the Temple in 168 BCE. Nowhere, however, does he make this event specific. It is presented as an event of “universal significance” in a “cosmic setting”. It is presented as an “end-time” event. Owens lists three reasons for this manner of writing:

  1. It creates “universal significance”;
  2. It is safer for the author who is criticizing someone in power;
  3. Despite the ambiguous language the hidden, topical meaning is clear to the readership audience.

The bolded third reason is “not sufficiently clear” to readers today, warns Owens. It is the reason for so much misreading of the gospels.

Could it refer to Caligula? A time in the future?

A good number of scholars and many more lay readers question whether the prophecy really refers to the destruction of the Temple. Why? Because, they reason, Jesus told his followers to “head for the hills” in Judea when they saw the abomination. Yet Josephus makes it clear that the surrounding hills were occupied by the Romans!

Owens argues that such an expression is in the same order as the command by Jesus for those on the roofs of houses should not go back down to collect their goods, and for those in the fields not to run back and get their cloak.

These are not directions about where to stand on one’s property, but figures meaning that the jig is up and the end of the world is at hand.

But the end of the world has a very real meaning to Jews living [as the first readership of Daniel/the Gospels]: it has a meaning that is utterly inescapable and mentally oppressive. This is the historical fact that scholars have failed to imagine properly, even though the evidence for it amply exists; with respect to the gospel’s eschatological predictions, the evidence is in Josephus.

With respect to the form-functional parallel between (at least) the synoptic gospels and the Book of Daniel, it is in the imagery of the earlier and later books and in the explicit reference to the earlier book in the later books. Thus,

  • not only the Son of Man
  • and the abomination,
  • but “not by human hands” (Dan. 2:34, 8:25, Mk. 14:58-59);
  • “sleepers” awaking (Dan. 12:2, Matt. 27:52);
  • shining white or dazzling appearances [as also in Exodus] (Dan. 12:10, Mk. 9.2-3, Matt. 17:2, 28:3-4, Lk. 9:29, 24:4, Jn. 20:12),
  • the entire Man of Sorrows trope, etc.

It’s the same kind of book in the same kind of historical situation. (Clarke W. Owens, my bolding and formatting)

Once the nature of apocalyptic literature is understood and the apocalyptic character of the gospels is appreciated, then that other scholarly suggestion that Jesus’ prophesy was inspired by the attempt of Caligula to set up an image in the Jerusalem temple in the 40s has to be eliminated.

If the synoptic gospels were completed between 70 and 100 CE then it is certain that they were written in response to the events of 70 CE.

(There is some room to ask if the gospels were rather written in the wake of the second Jewish war in the 130s but that’s another question for another time.)

We’ll conclude with Clarke Owens’ conclusion:

To sum up, writers and scholars have already recognized:

(1) a degree of allusion to the events of 70 C.E. in the apocalyptic imagery of the gospels;

(2) evidence of midrashic composition of the gospels which eliminates literalist readings;

(3) the contemporaneity of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and the composition of the first (Mark’s) gospel;

(4) historical confirmation of the tendency toward messianism as a response to Roman oppression, again, primarily through Josephus (See II:258-63);

(5) recognition that the gospels are within the tradition of apocalyptic, prophetic literature as typified by Isaiah and Daniel.

To this sum, I have added merely:

(6) textually external, historical confirmation of messianism as a pattern of response to threatened cultural extinction, as seen in the Lakota; and

(7) consideration of the relationship of the apocalyptic genre pattern to the most likely perceptions of world events in the minds of the gospels’ contemporary readers.

I have only addressed the main theme of Owens’ book. The rest of his book explores how the argument is worked out in each of the gospels and Acts. It is available at amazon.

ClarkeOwens

 

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28 Comments

  • 2014-02-23 15:32:43 UTC - 15:32 | Permalink

    Owens’ analysis is sound, except for one thing: the assumption that the gospels’ audience were Jews. Christians were quite happy that the Temple was destroyed in 70; Jews were not. The gospels celebrate Jesus’s “prediction” of the destruction. They used this invented prophecy to justify their theft of the Septuagint. The gospels are written by and for Gentiles.

    Also, Owens’ title is mildly annoying: Jesus is never referred to as “the Son of YHWH” or even “the Son of the Lord.” It is always “the Son of Theos.” This is not a small distinction to make considering the theological hair-splitting the evangelists practiced. And of course, the Gnostics did not consider him “the Son of YHWH.”

  • 2014-02-24 04:02:03 UTC - 04:02 | Permalink

    I think we may need to distinguish two different phases of Christianity here. Before 70 CE we know numbers of gentiles were attracted to Judaism. Presumably many of them saw the physical rituals and the Temple through allegorical eyes as Philo himself did. Paul himself appears to have insisted that the law was “holy, just and good” and that the Jews were benefited much from being its custodians.

    It is after the fall of the Temple that I think we see the strident conflicts between rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. That’s when we see the gloating over the punishment that has come “upon the Jews to the uttermost”. it was after the fall of the Temple and then after the gradual formations of new identities that we find the anti-Judaism taking over.

    It is very likely, I think, that Christians of various shades established their new identity more strongly through inclusion of Gentiles.

    The Gospel of Mark can well be read as a weaving together of Jews and gentiles as equal partners into a new corporate identity. (Thinking here particularly of Kelber’s analysis in The Story of Mark.)

    Then Matthew comes along with his “let his blood be on us and our children”. Finally John’s “blind Jews”.

    I’m inclined to forgive Clarke Owens for his title. Yes, it may put off biblical scholars — look how some of them reacted to Earl Doherty’s idiomatic and loose introduction about “someone once writing a story about a man who was god”! But those reactions will be excuses to ignore the strength of the book — it’s literary critical perspective. That’s what’s missing in biblical studies and Owens has added I think a valuable contribution. But we know the strength of conservatism in the ranks.

  • 2014-02-24 15:56:44 UTC - 15:56 | Permalink

    Is this going to be the last post on this book, or do you have more planned?

    • 2014-02-24 23:15:40 UTC - 23:15 | Permalink

      This series was part of a circuitous route I was led on via footnotes in the book from the Acts Seminar. I began posting on that book, then was led to others (Matthews, Penner, Woodman, Hall . . .) and then to Owens — in other words I have been wanting to get a firmer understanding of ancient literature, especially historiography, so I can better evaluate some of what I am reading in the Acts Seminar book.

      Meanwhile I have kind of “commissioned” a translation of a few pages by Schoeps that apparently argues that Luke replaced the story of the martyrdom of James the Just with one about Steven in Acts. When that is finished I might be in a position to get back to the original point of all this.

      Or maybe I’ll stay sidetracked for a while here — I’d prefer to ask Owens’ permission before giving out too much of his book. Sounds like there might be some interest.

  • pakeha
    2014-02-25 08:04:42 UTC - 08:04 | Permalink

    Thanks for a great post!
    I’ve Clarke Owen’s book on my wishlist and when I purchase it later this year, your summaries and commentaries will enrich my experience considerably.

    I was especially struck by the clear explanation of apocalyptic literature and the tracing of the parallels between Daniel and the Gospels.

  • Andrew Lucas
    2014-03-03 06:09:12 UTC - 06:09 | Permalink

    I hope you do more on this book. I’ve enjoyed your posts to date, and ordered the book.

    • 2014-03-03 06:29:54 UTC - 06:29 | Permalink

      I hope to do more posts. But I plan to supplement Clarke’s points with information from other sources as well. And I’m waiting for at least one of those to arrive in the post.

      Meanwhile, I’ve come to a temporary halt with posts here since attempting to get my head around several other hypotheses related to posts of the last few months, books and articles pro and con.

  • Clarke Owens
    2014-03-05 22:50:20 UTC - 22:50 | Permalink

    On the title: if the commenter had read my book, he might realize that the title is ironic. As to the gospels being written by and for gentiles, I would note that this is a Christian view, and I would assume this reader would disagree with my reading of Matthew as a book which deals with the question of who is a legitimate Jew. I would assume that he finds no significance in, for example, the references to the Book of Daniel in Chapter 24 of Matthew; and I would assume that he believes the readers of this gospel would have an interest in Jewish prophecy, without having any connection to Judaism. Also, I would assume that this reader would disagree with the scholarly consensus that the first gospel was written between 65-70 C.E., and that this would have been about two decades before Christianity separated from Judaism; and thus, he would disagree with the conclusion that Mark’s gospel was written when Christianity remained a Jewish sect.

  • 2014-03-06 21:53:18 UTC - 21:53 | Permalink

    “The Gospel of Mark can well be read as a weaving together of Jews and gentiles as equal partners into a new corporate identity. (Thinking here particularly of Kelber’s analysis in The Story of Mark.)”

    It would also in my opinion set up Yeshuah-Mashiah (Iesous Christos = Jesus Christ) as the Anticaesar, which would explain a lot; Particularly Francesco Carotta seeing Julius Caesar in Jesus.

  • 2014-03-07 13:42:39 UTC - 13:42 | Permalink

    Anyone who thinks Mark was written *before* the destruction of the Temple is living in Maurice Casey-land. That is pure apologetics and wishful thinking, as is the notion that we can precisely date when Christianity “broke away” from Judaism.

    • Clarke Owens
      2014-03-09 14:07:05 UTC - 14:07 | Permalink

      Blood, I don’t disagree with either of your last two points. My book is an essay by a literary critic. I’m concerned to demonstrate a necessary connection between literary criticism and history. Whether one agrees with my historical conclusions or my literary interpretations, the point is that one must necessarily draw that connection to make one’s argument. It doesn’t matter whether the original audience for the gospels was composed of Jews or Gentiles so long as they were aware of allusions in the story to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and to the crucifixion of Jews. My reliance on NT scholarship is couched in hypothetical language, “If X is true, then…” I selected 70 CE as the date for the composition of Mark, using Vermes, after consultation of other authorities. I selected 88 CE as the date of separation of the Church from Judaism, (if I remember, the source was Burton Mack), but I use the phrase “we are told,” because the reasons were not given; apparently has to do with the diaspora, perhaps even the content of the gospels. I believe each gospel had a different audience, based on estimated dates of composition and the content of each. E.g., John is obviously written by and for gentiles: composed last, lacking the myth of Davidic descent seen in Matthew and Luke, tonally and thematically hostile to Jews, etc. Luke they say was gentile. Audience? Probably gentile. Why? Luke was supposedly Paul’s follower; Paul was minister to the gentiles (and also Jewish). Separation of the church? Possibly much earlier than 88 CE; go back to Paul’s meeting with Peter/Cephas to argue against the dietary laws. And so on. Ultimately, I just want people to see the connection between interpretation and history.

      • maryhelena
        2014-03-09 17:13:39 UTC - 17:13 | Permalink

        Clarke Owens: Whether one agrees with my historical conclusions or my literary interpretations, the point is that one must necessarily draw that connection to make one’s argument…….. Ultimately, I just want people to see the connection between interpretation and history.

        History? May I suggest that all Hasmonean/Jewish history is placed on the table. I don’t think confining ones interpretation of the gospel story to 70 c.e. is sufficient. While this date is relevant it is not the only historical date that had significance for the gospel writers. Yes, history is paramount in attempting to interpret the gospel story – a point that seems to be missed by some ahistoricists/mythicists. While the writers of the gospel story have used mythological elements, allegory, theology and midrash – they also used Hasmonean/Jewish history as a component of their story. A story that is, itself, a prophetic interpretation of Jewish history; a ‘salvation’ interpretation of Jewish history. If it’s searching for the roots of early Christian origins that we are about – then we have to get real and deal with the actual historical component of the gospel story.

        Below is a link ( I hope it works re FRDB…) in which I set down Hasmonean/Jewish history prior to 70 c.e. From this chart it is evident that history much earlier than 70 c.e. was of interest to the writers of the gospel story.

        http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=313038

  • Tanya Gregg
    2014-03-11 12:54:52 UTC - 12:54 | Permalink

    I find myself asking, but, who is Jesus? Where does he fit into the myriad theories about the true intent of the gospel writer? He keeps popping up as the central figure, even when he seeks a measure of privacy- just as any person would. (which gently assures me that there is something all too human happening here!)
    (To me)this account of the events that were taking place at that time, including references, predictions and warnings of remarkable things to come, all revolve around some very strange, weird guy. Even the one telling us about him doesn’t seem to grasp fully what/who he has encountered. He makes no sense, speaking in riddles, while, simultaneously, his message is more important than everything else, or is it? Who is this guy? I picture Mark asking himself. Who am I? What has happened to me since we met?
    That’s sort of where I see this.

    • Tanya Gregg
      2014-03-11 13:09:42 UTC - 13:09 | Permalink

      I sense that he doesn’t want to make matters more complicated. It is already more fantastic and beyond everything he is familiar with as a poor, ordinary guy trying to survive with precious few resources. He can barely keep his sanity when he considers the magnificent story he hopes to convey accurately to anyone interested.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-03-11 14:35:23 UTC - 14:35 | Permalink

      The Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is not your personal Jesus Christians “love”. He is a personification, a literary figure, a symbol, a metaphor of the new people of God.

      He is a symbol of the new people of God (Mark’s audience/readers) as they identify themselves with the true Israel, or the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, or the real (now spiritual) Temple of God.

      • Tanya Gregg
        2014-03-11 18:35:16 UTC - 18:35 | Permalink

        But he wore scandals, you know?

        Neil, as he painted these images of Christ, did he realize he was describing a symbol and not a person? I don’t mean to sound sarcastic or anything like that. I don’t mean to be offensive. That’s not what’s in my heart, at all. I just don’t understand.

        I’m not sure how to ask these questions without coming across like I did before.

        • Kilo Papa
          2014-03-11 20:33:14 UTC - 20:33 | Permalink

          Tanya, there are many great books that discuss the question of the historicity of the Jesus of the Gospels.

          I sense that you need to be brought up to speed on the reasons to be skeptical of the Gospels as historical documents.

          Although I’ve read several books in that area, I’m not exactly sure which ones to recommend to you for your particular needs.

          Perhaps Neil or some of the other commenters on his blog could offer some suggestions.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-03-12 00:32:03 UTC - 00:32 | Permalink

          Yes, he did realize he was creating a literary character and not describing anyone real. Nothing unusual about this. I am sure the same was true for whoever wrote about Jonah or Job or Noah or Adam and Eve.

          Kilo Papa mentioned the possibility of extra reading. Spong wrote an explanation of how such a fictional Jesus was created in “Liberating the Gospels”, also in “Jesus for the Non-Religious” and “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism”. I have blogged on some of these books here — check the drop down box under “Archives and Index of Topics”.

          The person and stories of Jesus are based partly on those of Moses and Elijah and Elisa. Ancient writers generally, not only the ones we read in the Bible, often sought to create stories and characters that imitated and surpassed those made famous in older literature. So a Roman poet Virgil created a character and story about a man called Aeneas who was based on heroes in Homer’s epics. This Aeneas had many similar adventures to those yet proved himself to be greater and therefore the worthy founder of the Roman race.

          Jesus was a similar literary creation inspired by Old Testament figures, mostly, and his deeds were greater than theirs. He led a spiritual Israel out of a spiritual darkness and conquered spiritual powers just as they did similar things at a lesser and physical level. His miracles were greater than theirs. And so forth.

          • Clarke Owens
            2014-03-12 18:49:39 UTC - 18:49 | Permalink

            The best assessment of an author’s purpose, as well as of his or her precise degree of ignorance, is made after reading his or her book. My purposes are not D.M. Murdock’s, not Messrs. Freke and Gandy’s, not Bart Ehrman’s, and not Neil Godfrey’s. (Neil knows this, because he reads my work carefully and astutely.)

            When I read the story of Jesus, I come to an episode where the hero is crucified, dies, and is either found missing from his tomb, or is discovered alive, walking about, reassuring his followers. The Church says this story is true. The New Testament scholars say the part of about the crucifixion is true, and the resurrection is a metaphor.

            Literary critics recognize a story about the gods as a myth. They know that a culture defines such stories as myths when they belong to other cultures, but when the stories are their own, they define them as sacred truths. The literary critic should make no ethnocentric exceptions.

            New Testament scholars say the part of about the crucifixion is true because they’ve studied the matter for a long time, and you would be foolish to disagree with them (Ehrman). They say (Meier, et al) that literary criticism has nothing to say about it, because literary criticism does not intersect with fact claims. I know the latter statement to be untrue.

            The historicist literary critic ignores all this flak and examines historical documents from the First Century, or near in time to it. There aren’t many. There is Philo, Josephus, Suetonius, Pliny, Tacitus, etc. In Josephus, we suddenly find an interesting image: a story about crucifixions of Jews en masse. The crucifixions take place about the time the first story about Jesus is written. Later versions use similar imagery. One reader questions the reliability of Josephus, but the destruction of Jerusalem is well-documented and not in dispute. You can go on Ebay and see photographs of contemporary Roman coins with a damsel under a palm tree and the inscription “Judaea Capta.”

            I am informed by someone who has not read my book that my book is inadequate because it does not delve into the Hasmonean dynasty. I am not told how the Hasmonean dynasty relates specifically to the image of death and resurrection. I have been accustomed to associating the concept of dynasty with birth, not death. In any event, I’m not opposed to learning about it, but have not encountered the connection in any of my reading thus far (a measure of my ignorance, no doubt). I will read the book, if I am given its title, but could not access the web site.

            In the meantime, I have a historical work (Josephus) which closely parallels the imagery in the story. I find that by examining these parallels, I come to historical conclusions not merely about the crucifixion of my main character, but about his resurrection. This is something the NT scholars don’t offer. This is another way of thinking. Over and out.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2014-03-12 20:51:38 UTC - 20:51 | Permalink

              Clarke — do you know the work of Karel Hanhart, “The Empty Tomb”. I have begun reading it now and would like in the future to do posts aligning his insights with yours. He, too, sees Mark’s narrative — including especially the story of the empty tomb — as a direct response to the calamity of 70 CE.

              • maryhelena
                2014-03-13 10:47:22 UTC - 10:47 | Permalink

                The chart looks to be fixed now……

            • maryhelena
              2014-03-12 22:49:21 UTC - 22:49 | Permalink

              The point of my post was to suggest that 70 CE is not the only date in Jewish history that can have had significance for the gospel writers. Jewish history prior to 70 CE may well have had greater significance than 70 CE for the gospel writers.

              My apologies for the link I provided not working. It seems posts and threads on the recently removed FRBD Biblical Criticism and History forum are no longer accessible.

              As to 70 CE – the quotations below suggest that Jewish history prior to that date can be viewed as being of far greater significance. And if this is so historically – then how much more significant these years prior to 70 CE would be for the gospel writers in their pseudo-historical JC story. A story that is set prior to 70 CE.

              ————————————

              http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9trWVaX8n_4C&pg=PA1&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

              Was 70 CE a Watershed in Jewish History?

              From the Introduction by Daniel R Schwartz.

              “The overarching issue addressed by the papers in this volume, whether 70 CE should be considered a watershed in Jewish history, has been the object of discussion for more than a century and a half, but the results are still far from unambiguous……..

              But if one of the two roots of Graetz’s original error was to under-estimate the significance of politics for Jews in our period, other defenders of the assumption that 70 c.e. was a watershed have erred by overstating that same element. I refer to those many who write as if 70 meant the demise of a Jewish state – which is simply not true. The end of the Jewish state had come already in 63 BCE, when Pompey conquered Hasmonean Judea; or at least in 6 CE, when Rome put an end to even the Herodian vassal state and incorporated Judea directly into the empire. …….many decades before 70 there had been no Jewish state. In this light, we can understand why the central modern account of Jewish history of our period that is written from a political point of view in fact defines the period without any particular regard for 70……

              But if the criterion historians normally use for defining periods – who is ruling the people or country in question? – does not point to 70 as a watershed, what, if anything, does? It is not easy to say.”

              ————-

              And, for what it’s worth – I do have the Kindle edition of your book.

              • maryhelena
                2014-03-13 09:40:44 UTC - 09:40 | Permalink

                Since the link to FRDB did not work…..I have put up the relevant chart on BCHF. The chart, unfortunately, does not come out as ‘neat’ as it did on FRDB…….However, it seems that one does not have to sign up in order to read the linked post.

                http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7893#p7893

              • maryhelena
                2014-03-13 10:00:05 UTC - 10:00 | Permalink

                Apologies – I was too quick with thinking the chart came out correct on BCHF – the chart is messed up, i.e. remarks not in correct columns…..The conversion software for the Excel chart did not work well…

          • Kilo Papa
            2014-03-12 21:02:07 UTC - 21:02 | Permalink

            Oh yes, John Shelby Spong is a great place to start.

            And Randal Helm’s ‘Gospel Fictions’ is supposed to be a good read on that subject, which I haven’t yet read.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2014-03-12 21:08:31 UTC - 21:08 | Permalink

              Maybe we should have another column for those who argue everything in the Gospels is fiction though Jesus himself was historical. 🙂

              • Kilo Papa
                2014-03-12 22:45:56 UTC - 22:45 | Permalink

                And we know that Jesus was historical because he “wore sandals”, rode a donkey, walked in a garden, and gave a neat speech on a hilltop.

                And also, because the Virgin Mary would never lie.
                😉

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-03-12 20:49:39 UTC - 20:49 | Permalink

          Tanya — I have posted two illustrations of how it appears that Mark created his own Jesus stories out of other OT stories. I could produce easily very many of these to cover the bulk of the Gospel narratives.

          http://vridar.info/xorigins/sources/mark/5000.htm
          http://vridar.info/xorigins/sources/mark/jairus.htm

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