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Old 08-20-2001, 12:42 PM   #41
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Originally posted by E_muse:
<STRONG>

The original poster doesn't seem to be arguing from the same basic assumption as yourself.</STRONG>

You seem to have missed the discussion between Polycarp and myself, which veered from the original poster's point. We were talking about anti/Docetism and Mark.

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Old 08-20-2001, 01:20 PM   #42
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Michael:

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I agree that the corpse isn't there. Guess what! That doesn't tell us where it is.
In agreement there!

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Unless, of course, you mean the shell that housed the Divine Christ. Or the human adopted as the Son of God. Those interpretations are also compatible with this statement. So are about 90 other interpetations. You can't read your anti-Docetic theological assumptions back into the passage. It just isn't there.
But I am asking what conclusion would seem likely after a straighforward reading of the text? In other words, did Docetists reach their conclusions about the nature of Christ's incarnation from a straightforward reading of the text or did they read their conclusions into it?

Would reading Mark's text make me a Docetist?

That we are capable of reading our presuppostiions into a passage does not mean that there is no correct way to understand that passage - after all, the writer had an intention behind writing what he did.

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Or shell. Or adopted son of god.
But is this inferred in the text?

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In your anti-Docetic theology, certainly. In my Docetic theology, the corpse is gone and Jesus spirit has risen.
But the passage doesn't say that Jesus' spirit is risen, it simply says he is risen and the man in the tomb points to a vacant space where he once lay. Anything else is reading into the text - arguing from silence.

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Unless you can specify where Mark is saying the corpse is....but we both no there is no positive statement in Mark about the disposition of Jesus' body. All we know is that it is gone. Anything beyond that is theology (fantasy dressed up in philosophical jargon).
Well, in verse 7, Mark writes:

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"But go and tell his disciples - and Peter - that He is going before you into galilee; there you will see him, as He said to you."
This is included in the original Markan narrative.

Any claim to uncertainty as to the whereabouts of the 'corpse' rests on the assumption that the Christ going ahead to galilee is in someway seperate from the corpse that was lying in the tomb.

But nowhere in the text does Mark draw this distinction, unless you can show me one Michael. Please provide textual evidence for the reasons why I should disassociate the risen Christ from his missing corpse.

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Note that I am not saying Mark supports a Docetic theology, or an anti-Docetic one. I am saying that the ending of Mark is sufficiently ambiguous that it can be used as evidence for either side. After all, Docetists revered it, and they could hardly have done that, if it had been obviously anti-Docetic.
I would agree that Mark doesn't support a Docetic interpretation, and that to uphold such a belief one would have to read in to the text.

However, I would suggest that a straightfoward reading of the text does not give anyone the grounds to differentitate between the crucified Jesus, the Jesus who was laid in the tomb, the Jesus who is missing, and the Jesus going ahead into galilee, from the words used by the young man in the tomb.

As you're probably already aware, the term Docetism comes from the Greek word dokein, meaning 'to seem'. It is the view that the body of Christ was not real but only seemed to be and therefore his sufferings were only apparent, or else the redeemer who could not suffer was separate from the man in whom he appeared.

Therefore Docetists amongst the Gnostics would have denied the reality of Christ's human body even prior to his resurrection. Christ's body was phantasmal.

St. Jerome writes:

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"While the apostles were still surviving, while Christ's blood was still fresh in Judea, the Lord's body was asserted to be but a phantasm."
This would mean that, in this view, the post resurrection appearances of Christ would have been seen as no different from his entire existence prior to his suffering and therefore the addition of them in the Markan narrative would have done little to quell the notion. In fact, one post resurrection appearance in Mark has Jesus appearing in 'another form'.

If we are looking at the other group of Docetists who believed that the redeemer inhabited the human Jesus, then this group probably fits the theory you are putting forward.

However, the close association in the text between the risen Christ and his missing body suggests that the writer wasn't encouraging Docetism. If the redeemer had merely possessed the suffering Jesus, then it would have been totally unecessary to mention the body disappearing.

Lastly, Docetism would seem to pose little threat to the sacrifice made by Christ, so why did the early church move against it?

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: E_muse ]
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Old 08-20-2001, 02:47 PM   #43
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E-Muse writes:

"At no point does Mark distinguish the resurrected Jesus from his deceased body and I think a straightfoward reading of the text would lead anyone to conclude that the physically absent Jesus was the same who was now raised."

I agree regarding a straightforward reading of the text, but a straightforward reading of the text may not be the right one. Can we get into the mind of the author? Not with certainty. But it makes a difference whether Mark was simply writing down what was given to him in oral tradition or whether he was writing from a Midrashic perspective or from a Talmudic one. I am theorizing that he is writing from a Talmudic persective. Why? Because he points out that Biblical prophecy was fulfilled.

I admit, I don't know enough about the issues to answer the questions I've raised, but I think someone who does could look at these questions and might conclude that Mark had to phrase the empty tomb story the way he did to fit the requirements of Talmudic method.

Now if the larger theory that I've suggested solves a lot of problems in other areas, we can make a reasonable assumption about what Mark was saying in the empty tomb story and why he put it the way he did.

"There seems little point in 'reading between the lines' and arguing from silence if the conclusions conflict with what is written in the lines themselves!"

Again, I agree that this would be true if we had no other problems to solve. But if we try to deal with other problems, and find that a straightforward reading conflicts with an otherwise successful interpretation, then Mark has left the door ajar, and it would be reasonable then to say that Mark needs to be understood in a different way.

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: boneyard bill ]
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Old 08-20-2001, 03:00 PM   #44
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Again, I agree that this would be true if we had no other problems to solve. But if we try to deal with other problems, and find that a straightforward reading conflicts with an otherwise successful interpretation, then Mark has left the door ajar, and it would be reasonable then to say that Mark needs to be understood in a different way.
It would be interesting to hear what these other problems are. Apologies if these should be obvious for here I am showing my ignorance and lack of scholarship too
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Old 08-20-2001, 03:13 PM   #45
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It would be interesting to hear what these other problems are. Apologies if these should be obvious for here I am showing my ignorance and lack of scholarship too


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In a previous thread that I started, "What about Doherty's thesis?" I listed four problems. I don't know how serious these problems are because I got them from casual reading. I was just trying to start a discussion. However, that thread became dominated by people who have very fixed and long-standing positions on Doherty. So I started a new thread with my own thesis.

So the problems I have in mind are those problems that I think work against Doherty's thesis of independent invention, and they're mentioned at the beginning of that thread. However, I think they exemplify the problems. I don't think they exhaust them. I thought Christians and atheists alike would pile on with new problems for each other. But it didn't work that way.
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Old 08-20-2001, 04:02 PM   #46
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E_muse,

A straightforward reading of the text is very clear. It says:

1. Jesus is risen.
2. The body is not there.
3. He can be seen in Galilee.

Would you please point out to me the passage that says clearly that Jesus' body has been raised? I don't see one there.

Given your anti-Docetic theology, you can't read it straightforwardly. You keep telling me your interpretations; I agree, the text supports many interpretations. However, they remain, like yours, an INTERPRETATION.

If you can find an unequivocal expression of the raising of Jesus' body in Mark, then we can agree on a "straightforward" reading.

However, a straightforward reading of the text that I have says that Jesus' body is gone. It tells us nothing about where it is. He can be seen in Galilee, but it tells us nothing about what form he is taking there.

Michael
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Old 08-20-2001, 05:53 PM   #47
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Let me get this straight.

E_Muse says Mark implies a physical resurrection.

James Still says we can't know for sure what Mark meant without knowing his audience.

Turtonm says we can know of an audience, the gnostics, and we can know what it would have meant to them. And we can't be sure that wasn't Mark's audience.

All these points are true as far as I can see, but do they add up to a case for independent invention by Mark? I don't think so.

Do they refute such a case? I don't think that either. But I can't help wondering why Mark put the empty tomb in Jerusalem and the resurrection in Galilee if he wasn't working from an oral tradition.
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Old 08-20-2001, 06:00 PM   #48
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A straightforward reading of the text is very clear. It says:

1. Jesus is risen.
2. The body is not there.
3. He can be seen in Galilee.
Apologies for appearing pedantic, but this is a little over simplified. I think we read the following:

1. You seek Jesus of Nazareth.
2. He was crucified.
3. He is risen.
4. He is not here.
5. Look at where they laid him.
6. He is going before you into Galilee.
7. You will see him there.

To clarify - if my points appear anti-Docetic, this is not for theological reasons and would appreciate it if you would refrain from that accusation. I'm simply stating that my reading and scrutiny of this passage would not lead me to Docetic conclusions regarding the nature of the resurrection - they would have to exist in me before hand (if I accepted the claims made in Mark).

I'm attempting to rationalise the passage by putting myself in the shoes of those involved.

I approach a tomb in which I have seen the body of my friend laid. I am expecting to find a body. I am holding burial spices and am mentally prepared to anoint a corpse. I'm concerned that the stone in front of the tomb is large and am puzzling as to how I shall move it.

Whilst some distance from the tomb I look up to see that the stone has been moved. Confused as to what has happened I hurry towards the tomb to get a closer look.

Entering the tomb I see a man in a white robe sitting to one side.

Seeing my state he tells me not to be alarmed and that he knows I am seeking Jesus from Nazareth. He informs me that he is in fact risen and that he is no longer there. He asks me to look at where the body of my friend had been laid in order to confirm his first statement. The young man then instructs me to go to the other immediate friends and aquaintences of Jesus to inform them that Jesus is making his way to Galilee and that we will see him there.

Making my way back to the other friends of Jesus, I run over what I have just seen and heard.

Jesus is risen and his body is no longer in the tomb. He's going ahead to Galilee where we are to meet him.

Michael - I am reading this piece of text as I would any other story. My comments are not anti-Docetic because Docetism is a theological standpoint and the young man I have just encountered has not made any theological comments about what has happened to my friend. He has simply told me that my friend, whom I saw dead and placed in a tomb, has in fact been raised, pointed out to me that the body is no longer in the tomb and that Jesus is making his way to Galilee where we can meet up with him. At this stage I place no theological significance on what has taken place, all I want to do is find my friend who, as far as I am concerned, is missing.

I've gone to tend a body. I've been shown that the body has gone and that the person is risen and has gone to Galilee where he will meet me.

What, on a purely rational basis, would I understand to be the claims of the young man with regard to my friend's body?

I'm not even saying I would believe the claims - I'm asking what I would understand to be the claims of the young man.

Michael, you have claimed that this text will support around ninety different interpretations. The implication is that all of these interpretations must be theologically based (you accuse me of a theological stance in the conclusions I reach about the text) and equally valid and therefore none can be taken as a true interpretation of what took place.

Please could you demonstrate the rationalization behind the claim that all interpretations of this text are all equally valid.

Please indicate why, in the account given, the writer must be making a theological point at this stage and where that theological point is made.

Other than concluding that the events must be a lie, if I am told that a friend I saw buried is no longer in his tomb, but risen and on his way to Galilee, what conclusion am I to reach, on a purely rational basis, as to what has happened to the body?

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: E_muse ]
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Old 08-20-2001, 07:30 PM   #49
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Originally posted by E_muse:
To clarify - if my points appear anti-Docetic, this is not for theological reasons and would appreciate it if you would refrain from that accusation. I'm simply stating that my reading and scrutiny of this passage would not lead me to Docetic conclusions regarding the nature of the resurrection - they would have to exist in me before hand (if I accepted the claims made in Mark).

The text is absolutely silent on just what has been raised. Absolutely, so silent, that Matthew and Luke both added touches to make sure the reader knew, and in John we see the overkill of sticking fingers into the body. Since the text of Mark is totally silent on whether Jesus' body has been raised, your conclusions can only come from some a priori idea that you have.

I'm attempting to rationalise the passage by putting myself in the shoes of those involved.

But this is the wrong way to go about it. The event may or may not have occurred. The author knows perfectly well that his account is going to have implications for the theology of differing groups, and he is obviously no idiot, for he has managed to compose a narrative in a language that he has only indifferently mastered.

What we are looking at is not what is in the minds of the (probably fictional) people who showed up on Easter morning to annoint a body that must have been pretty far gone into decay, but what is in the text in front of us. And the text in front of us is open to interpretation.

But, to draw out your method further, the thing about Mark is that nobody has any idea what Jesus' means when he says he is coming back, and he isn't really believed. The women were shocked and scared to find that he had been raised. If it really happened, do you think they had some ready-made idea, some commonsense approach to resurrection, some concept of what it meant to come back? No way! Not only did they not know he was comin' back, they also did not know what it meant to come back. Standing in front of the tomb, they would have been utterly clueless. Scared witless. Which, Mark says, they were.

Now you claim that these women, who had no idea Jesus was coming back, had a very specific idea of HOW he would come back. The fact that they planned to anoint a body indicates that they did not expect it to be gone, much less raised.

Michael, you have claimed that this text will support around ninety different interpretations. The implication is that all of these interpretations must be theologically based (you accuse me of a theological stance in the conclusions I reach about the text) and equally valid and therefore none can be taken as a true interpretation of what took place.

That's right. The issue is, we don't know what took place. The tomb is empty. Jesus is raised. Everything else is now someone's interpretation. Both the anti-Docetic and Docetist position on Mark are equally valid, at least when we look at the Tomb story. Is there any statement in Mark that rules out a solely spiritual resurrection for Jesus?

Please could you demonstrate the rationalization behind the claim that all interpretations of this text are all equally valid.

Whoops! How did we get from a strictly finite number like ninety (which is exaggeration for rhetorical effect in any case) to "all interpretations." The text will certainly support a limited number of interpretations. We know this because it did in the past, and does today.

For example (according to Ehrman), Docetics intepreted the "My god, my god, Why have you forsaken me?" as an announcement that the Spirit-Christ had left its mortal shell, and was on its way to be resurrected. In light of that interpretation, the ending with the Tomb empty simply confirms that Jesus body, now useless, is gone, and his spirit awaits them in Galilee. After all, why does a spirit need a body? There is nothing that rules out that interpretation. Where is the text in Mark that rules it out?

Please indicate why, in the account given, the writer must be making a theological point at this stage and where that theological point is made.

You have misunderstood. The writer is telling a story. The women find the tomb empty, and are told to go to Galilee to see Jesus. I have no idea what theological point Mark is making, and have never claimed that he had any particular one. Quite the opposite, I hold, because of the skimpiness of the story, that it is not possible to understand what Mark meant at this point, and that is the whole problem.

Other than concluding that the events must be a lie, if I am told that a friend I saw buried is no longer in his tomb, but risen and on his way to Galilee, what conclusion am I to reach, on a purely rational basis, as to what has happened to the body?

What could you conclude? Nothing! Jesus' body is gone. Can we conclude from the fact that it is missing that it must have raised along with its owner? Nope. The fact of the empty tomb is open to differing interpretations by people using differing a priori assumptions.

All you know, is that the body is gone and your friend has been raised. I'd certainly hurry to Galilee to see what condition he is in! And I'd be wondering what the hell happened too. And, to play your game with the women -- if it were you in front of the tomb, could you say for certain that the body had been raised? No.

It's a pity Mark didn't settle this issue by telling us clearly like the other gospelers, but he didn't. It is not clear from Mark whether Jesus is actually wearing his body. That's a fact, E_muse, open to several interpretations.

Michael

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 08-21-2001, 04:16 AM   #50
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But this is the wrong way to go about it. The event may or may not have occurred.
Indeed, but then if we act on the assumption that the even didn't occur there's seems little point in discussing the nature of Christ's body.

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The author knows perfectly well that his account is going to have implications for the theology of differing groups, and he is obviously no idiot, for he has managed to compose a narrative in a language that he has only indifferently mastered.
Does he? Is he actually making a theological point? You say later that you're not sure that he's making a theological point.

Quote:
What we are looking at is not what is in the minds of the (probably fictional) people who showed up on Easter morning to annoint a body that must have been pretty far gone into decay, but what is in the text in front of us. And the text in front of us is open to interpretation.
But at least some of what was on the minds of those people is outlined in the text.

Quote:
But, to draw out your method further, the thing about Mark is that nobody has any idea what Jesus' means when he says he is coming back, and he isn't really believed. The women were shocked and scared to find that he had been raised. If it really happened, do you think they had some ready-made idea, some commonsense approach to resurrection, some concept of what it meant to come back? No way!
No they wouldn't, and that is my whole point! So they wouldn't have read Docetic ideas into the young man's assertion, so neither can we.

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Not only did they not know he was comin' back, they also did not know what it meant to come back. Standing in front of the tomb, they would have been utterly clueless. Scared witless. Which, Mark says, they were.
No arguement there!

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Now you claim that these women, who had no idea Jesus was coming back, had a very specific idea of HOW he would come back. The fact that they planned to anoint a body indicates that they did not expect it to be gone, much less raised.
Yes, they did expect the body to still be there and of course they didn't expect him to be coming back, let alone know how he would do it!

But what could they have understood of the event by the comments made by the young man, which is all they had?

Let's look at that again
Paraphrasing slightly:

Quote:
You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth. He's risen! He's not here, look at where they laid him. He's gone ahead of you to Nazareth and will meet you there.
In this young man's use of language (even if it is merely a projection of the writer's own opinion), where does he differentitate between the 'him' who was the corpse laid in the tomb and the 'He' who's gone ahead to Galilee? You're the one who seems to be insisting that I see a Docetic interpretation as an equally valid interpretation of the text Michael. Why?

Can you start answering some questions please Michael?

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That's right. The issue is, we don't know what took place. The tomb is empty. Jesus is raised. Everything else is now someone's interpretation. Both the anti-Docetic and Docetist position on Mark are equally valid, at least when we look at the Tomb story. Is there any statement in Mark that rules out a solely spiritual resurrection for Jesus?
No, but neither does it say that the resurrection was purely spiritual. It is silent on the matter.

A rule of Biblical interpretation adopted by scholars (but not by the Docetics at the time) is that one cannot argue from silence. You can't use something the text doesn't say to make a theological point.

I'm pointing at what the text actually says - 'he' is risen, 'he' is not here (absent body), look at where they laid 'him' (corpse). 'He' has gone to Galilee.

I could make the assertion that the women approached the tomb standing on their heads and carrying the spices with their feet. The text certainly allows for this interpretation but it would be a pretty stupid thing to say as it is making a point from silence. We can infer certain things from a basis of common sense.

The text does assert that:

Jesus was crucified.
Jesus was raised from the dead.
Jesus' body went missing.
Jesus was making his way to Galilee.

You've accepted as fact that the tomb was empty although the text doesn't explicitly state that it was. This means that within your rules of interpretation 'he is not here', includes Christ's entire being, including his body.

Why would you then change that rule when the young man says 'He is making his way to Galilee' to not include Christ's physical body which has previously been declared as missing?

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Whoops! How did we get from a strictly finite number like ninety (which is exaggeration for rhetorical effect in any case) to "all interpretations." The text will certainly support a limited number of interpretations. We know this because it did in the past, and does today.
But that doesn't mean that I must accept these interpretations as all equally valid.

I reject the Docetic idea on the grounds that it involves reading something into the text which isn't there.

Quote:
For example (according to Ehrman), Docetics intepreted the "My god, my god, Why have you forsaken me?" as an announcement that the Spirit-Christ had left its mortal shell, and was on its way to be resurrected. In light of that interpretation, the ending with the Tomb empty simply confirms that Jesus body, now useless, is gone, and his spirit awaits them in Galilee. After all, why does a spirit need a body? There is nothing that rules out that interpretation. Where is the text in Mark that rules it out?
The question is, did the Docetics gain this understanding from the text itself? Is this what the text itself says happened?

Quote:
You have misunderstood. The writer is telling a story. The women find the tomb empty, and are told to go to Galilee to see Jesus. I have no idea what theological point Mark is making, and have never claimed that he had any particular one. Quite the opposite, I hold, because of the skimpiness of the story, that it is not possible to understand what Mark meant at this point, and that is the whole problem.
Are you saying, "You are looking for Jesus. He was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Look at the place where they laid him. He's gone to Galilee." is hard to understand Michael ?

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What could you conclude? Nothing! Jesus' body is gone. Can we conclude from the fact that it is missing that it must have raised along with its owner? Nope. The fact of the empty tomb is open to differing interpretations by people using differing a priori assumptions.
Like the starting assumption, 'We can't understand what Mark is saying here'?

Why should I then accept your interpretation that this is impossible to understand?

If you're saying you can't know what the true interpretation is, how can you tell me that my interpretation is the wrong one?

Quote:
All you know, is that the body is gone and your friend has been raised. I'd certainly hurry to Galilee to see what condition he is in! And I'd be wondering what the hell happened too. And, to play your game with the women -- if it were you in front of the tomb, could you say for certain that the body had been raised? No.
From observation alone I couldn't know what had happened to the body. But what would I understand about the situation on the basis of the comments made by the young man, especially if I have no knowledge of resurrection?

Quote:
It's a pity Mark didn't settle this issue by telling us clearly like the other gospelers, but he didn't. It is not clear from Mark whether Jesus is actually wearing his body. That's a fact, E_muse, open to several interpretations.
Perhaps Mark thought that his story was already clear enough and needed no further embellishment.

[ August 21, 2001: Message edited by: E_muse ]

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