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Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Sentence: Three Points

The Jews of Palestine, who had fondly expected a temporal deliverer, gave so cold a reception to the miracles of the divine prophet, that it was found unnecessary to publish, or at least to preserve, any Hebrew gospel. Edward Gibbon, Ch. 15, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (circa 1776).
(Emphasis added)(Footnote omitted).

Palestine: I have heard from extreme supporters of Israel that there is no such place as Palestine, like it is some sort of a made up term. It struck me to see something that was written before the United States was a country use the term. I wonder on what the no-such-thing-as-Palestine movement bases its claim.

so cold a reception : For such a careful historian, it is shocking that Gibbon so completely subcumbs to the narrative of his culture. Cold reception? Every follower of Jesus in the Bible is a Jew. Paul may have not been considered a Palestinian, but he was ceratinly a Jew. It is kind of obnoxious to read that the people who are responsible for the entire Christian movement be brushed aside.

Hebrew gospel: Gibbon adds a note that some say Matthew was written in Hebrew, but the evidence suggests otherwise, hence the hedging with "or at least preserve." Now we know that none of the Gospels were written contemporaneously with the life of Jesus and none in Hebrew. The Q source was also written in Greek.

Is it significant that the Gospels were not written until after Paul's letter and they were written in the common language--Greek--rather than the language of the Jewish people?

Matthew and Luke were both written after the fall of Jerusalem, but I think both Mark and the Q were written before. Does that matter?

4 comments:

Matt Dick said...

It definitely matters if you're attempting to understand what the gospels mean, and if they contain histories, traditions, fictions, legends, etc.

Context is everything.

JimII said...

My personal heresy is that the Second Coming of the Gospels is Jesus' return from the Grave. And that it is a necessary evolution of the notion of a more dramatic, end of the world as we know it Second Coming, because by the time the guys writing the Gospel were writing, time had disproven Paul's understanding.

Christian said...

I think that Paul thought that the kingdom of God was about to be established, and that Jesus' resurrection was the first sign of this coming kingdom. Authors who came later, particularly John, re-interpreted the the gospel to imply that Jesus would return again sometime in the future.

JimII said...

Chris,

That would be worth a careful examination. My impression is that Paul was expected a dramatic transformation--so much so that if you were single you should just stay that way 'cuz its easier, for instance.

I think the Kingdom of Heaven described in the Gospels is not necessarily an end of the world Kingdom. In fact, it is like a mustard seed, or a man who finds a pearl, etc.

So, I see the evolution as moving from the more literal teaching of Paul to the more metaphorical teaching of the Gospel writers.

I need to reread the Gospels and look very closely for Kingdom language.