Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Jesus: hick



I once wrote, in response to a conservative reader at my blog, that because of the kinds of folks with whom Jesus associated, he most likely did not blanch when he heard the 1st century equivalent of the "f"-bomb. I was told, in response, that he probably got all school-marmish on their asses.

Jesus was a provincial, a laborer, an associate of socially outcast, or at best compromised, individuals with whom he shared the very simple yet revolutionary idea, that God loved them just because. That such an idea changes not just this or that, but pretty much everything is still far more daunting than even we realize, yet in sum, I think, that's the Gospel.

One final note. I would highly recommend Tex Sample's book Hard-Living People and Mainstream Christians, which considers the middle-class bias against ministry to the working class and even more marginal populations. It is, I think, highly relevant.
I imagine he spoke Aramaic with a drawl.
Oh, please.

His groupies were Gloucester fisherman. (From the North!).

You wouldn't have understood them.

OK, a clipped Maine brouge(sp?) -- rural, rustic, earthy, is my point.
But what are other possible things can we draw from his hickness?

Rough around the edges, check. Redneck even -- in the sense of there wadn't nobody gonna tell him where to head in at.
Gloucester fishers of people, true. Yet, I cannot imagine a more gruff, earthy (or perhaps sea-y?) people. Also, they like he were Nazarenes, so they probably had similar accents and all.
The good news for ER is that 95% of the population of any society at the time were hicks.

The bad news is that this effectively erases the "persona" of hickness from being pertinent to the demographic structure of antiquity.
OK. 1. How is Gloucester pronounced? 2. What would be its socio-cultural mirror, or approximation, in the South? I'm thinkin' some shrimping town in La. or Miss.?
Re, "The bad news is that this effectively erases the "persona" of hickness from being pertinent to the demographic structure of antiquity."

Ah, but doesn't it have some relevance for how to read the Scriptures? Paul took the movement out of the country and took it to town.

Yeah, gulf shrimping is about right.
Paul certainly wasn't a hick; very well trained.

The NT scriptures are largely products of semi-cosmopolitan, well traveled elites.

The first bishops were the learned.
Right. Paul was erudite, and no redneck -- although prone to conniptions of some kind, apparently. Which is why I'm just thinking about how those city folks interpreted, and of necessity, altered, the stories and examples and parables that came out of the hills, so to speak. Just thinking, is all.

I just spent quite a bit of time figuring out how one get from Ephesus the 800-some miles to Rome in about 195 C.E., and was surprised that it wasn't as difficult as I'd imagined. And I was surprised that Ephesus, rather than being a backwater, was a major metropolitan city, fourth in size behind Rome. And these stories from a hick Jew are in the process of changing the world. It boggles.
BTW, Beuchner(sp?) is the one who startled me with "hick Jew" and it has stayed with me.

He also is the one who wrote that the best way to "get" what it meant when "King of the Jews" was put on that sign over the cross was to imagine that it said "Head Jew" -- when the soldiers actually saw him as some hick from the sticks. I never thought to think of that sign as sarcasm.
RE "doesn't it have some relevance for how to read the Scriptures?"

Now you may be putting your finger on an inherent fracture within scripture that has perpetually frustrated interpretation.

The subject presented, and the context in which the subject is seen acting, is rather unlike the context and life-world of the presenters.

Sharply wrestled with in the late eighteenth century and early twentieth, and still represented by a search for the historical "hick" within the kerygmatic message developed for a more urban, cosmpolitan mindset determined to mount a public and intellectual defense, maybe the fault line is original the texts themselves.

There is a rupture between the terrain of the Son of Man and the terrain of those making, forming, and reading the NT scriptures.

How do we cross back and forth as we read and let the crossing be the beginning of a hermeneutical framework that guides our own.

That would be biblical Christianity from a seminary snobs perspective.
Ephesus, home to many-breasted Artemis.

Huge port city, long since silted up... way up.
Leave it to me! :-)

What the heck is that, though? It's not textual criticism, and it's not redaction criticism. ...

Tradition criticism?

(Oh, and I WIRED to be a seminary snob! LOL)

Off not to the house, and to read some more of
... sorry. Some more the baby exegesis how-to book in my list to the left. :-)

But seriously, this goes right to the heart of my personal interest in history: intellectual history, as I prefer to call it, the history of ideas. Slippery critters!
Oh, my effing God, you're reading Rubel Shelly!!!!!!????

For heaven's sake, why?


For me, there is a big difference between OT interpretation and NT interpretation.

What we have in our OT are sacred scriptures handled by generations of the community over a few hundred years.

Textual criticism, redaction, form, etc. etc. all isolate certain questions in approaching such a phenomenon.

The NT documents were written in a relatively short period of time and without communal massaging. There are, of course, extensions of and commentaries on Paul by Pauline school epistles that seem clearly to be later than Paul.

But especially when it comes to the Gospels, again, for me, a literary critical approach is most fruitful.

Literary criticism can seem like a baggy collection of vague methodological understanding; I think this is because it is the way we most naturally read a text anyway - "naturally" meaning largely unconscious to methodology.

But there are helpful guides to assist in getting to an understanding over time.

Stephen Moore's Literary Criticism and the Gospels was very helpful to me.

Hans Frei's The Identity of Jesus Christ is an classic approach to reading based on a literary critical approach.
Rubel Shelly is trying to widen the tent, and coming from where he's coming from, I think he's a kind of prophet for his own peeps, many of whom consider him a heretic, which is often the first hint of a prophetic utterance.
OK, to get at the linguistic membranes between the utterances of the earliest rustic hearers and and rememberers of what the Man was about, and the hearing and remembering of the first urban and hearers, whose interpretations colored what went into the Gospels, would take a kind of of hypothetical socio-cultural genre analysis with a form-critical interpretative framework, with some consideration of pre-writing unconscious redaction.
Really? You sure he's not decorating the gate that fronts the community?

I'll take your word for it; I haven't heard his name in an awfully long time.
Or, it's tradition criticism.

Hey, I'm just learnin' about this stuff.
"Ephesus, home to many-breasted Artemis."

Actually no one knows what those are for sure. But in that the close ups of the statue show no nipples they are more likely depictions of the scrotums of the bulls sacrifice in her honor.
Diana (Artemis) was more closely connected to the dominant astrological sign of that age, Taurus, than she was the way earlier 'earth mother'. Any rate by the time of Paul and Jesus, that statue was well buried under the ruins of the first, and second, temple, the first having been destroyed on the night of the birth of Alexander the Great. Artemis is seems was tending to Alexander's birth and was not in Ephesus that evening to protect her own temple from the disaster.

And Jesus by the way entered in to history at the beginning of a new astrological age, that of Pisces.

It is interesting, and well documented, that each of us who visualize Jesus see him as ourselves. It is as if he is meant to be seen that way, as if he is a mirror to anyone who looks upon him. How else can you explain the thousands upon thousands of different depictions of his character, his physical features, his color and how he thought, and what he knew and did.

One of the more enlightening exercises is to look to the place on earth today, Africa, where Jesus is catching on bib time and see how they see him.
Ephesus, home to many mountain-oystered Artemis.
Maybe Artemis, too, is a mirror. I see breasts.

DrLBJ sees castration.
Well, if they're calf fries, I see supper. ... BTW, I had to create a persona for one of my classes: He's a new freedman traveling from Ephesus to Rome with his former master-turned-patron, circa, 180 C.E. Before the semester's over, he'll be converred to Christ and be part of a house church. Right now, since his patron is a big fan of Artemis, he is, too, and they both just paid their respects at the Temple of Diana in Rome.

I swear, makin' him up and gettin' him to move around and do stuff is more fun'n a barrel of monkeys. I have never been able to write fiction. This exercise is showing me that I can. How freaking cool. That alone has made this seminary thing worth the effort.
Re, Africa:

I think it's exciting, and necessary, as the West seems to be getting bored with Christianity. Stop and imagine what the church -- small-c catholic, well, as well, as big-c -- might look like in 100 years. Very different. Whether for good or for ill is anybody's guess. The fundamentalist aspects of it are kind of scary, actually.
Let Africa lead in faith.

Let the US lead in rights.

Let Italy lead in food.

Let France lead in light.

(and put Mexican in somewhere.)
As long as Germany doesn't lead in poetry, or England in cuisine, I'm for it.

Let Japan lead in civility.
Let Mexico lead in hotness of babes! :-)
"DrLBJ sees castration"

I see sanctified symbols of countless bull blood sacrifices (Taurobolium) to the Goddess Cybil-Diana-Artemus which might make an interesting counter-point in ER's writings. After all there are those that think Paul was adopting and enhancing the Mithraic bull sacrifices etc. into his own cult. And of course that would bring into play the rivalry of which taurobolium was the original and best that of Cybil or that of Mithra.

As for the mirror effect I prefer women with two breast. At what age were you weaned Brother Feodor?

The Egyptians also sanctified the Bull scrotums of the Bulls they sacrificed. Indeed once in Ethiopia I saw a necklace of human scrotums worn by the Coptic Priest who had personally collected them in battle during WW II. I have often wondered if there was a historical religious connection between the two.

I'm not at all sure how this would all relate to the bull-bag that ER has hanging on the dash of his pickup truck, but I know in my heart there is a connection.

As for calf fries, I would think, at this stage of developement, they would a mite tough to chew. Bull fries doesn't sound too appetizing.
Weaned? Don't know. In a gnostic sense, not yet. I was rather trying to pinch the sophistry of the "mirror" analogy since, as moderns, we are fairly sure that subjectivity is present in any construction of meaning, mutually influenced by social identity.

The "mirror" is more a truism than a point.

And, if I had time, I would further punk you on the constant efforts to place peripheral speculation at the center of matters, and to do so without help from the tens of thousands of words from the writer himself.

"There are those that think Paul" established Calvinism and Republicanism.
I'll have y'all know that my bull bag has not hung in any truck of mine since 1993.
There are those that think Paul drove a Ford.

Sophistry--truism? Oh my! Punk me?
What ever pleasures you sir.

"And, if I had time, I would further punk you on the constant efforts to place peripheral speculation at the center of matters...."

That's a remnant of my academic training. In Geography more information about an entity or phenomena may be found at its edges, at the periphery, the border, etc. than at its center or core. It is at the place something intersects with other things that its characteristics are most in play.

I think that carries over into religion as well. Indeed, religion is in most parts geographic in nature. At its heart it may be steeped in its theology but it is only where that theology interacts with the ooze of other theologies that its element become most plain.

"There are those that think Paul drove a Ford."

You really should pay attention to some of these possibilities. They may be true.
St. Paul drove a Chevy, if he drove anything.
Paul wadn't the jet set
He was the ol' Chev-ro-let set ...
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