My @EIR_AAR paper: Jesus as Primary Actor

Syracuse University - Hall of Languages

Syracuse University – Hall of Languages (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a draft modified slightly as it was presented 4 May 2014 at the AAR-EIR meeting at Syracuse University. I have removed only a few of the literary artefacts of previous versions. After the presentation, several discussion questions were raised. There are as follows (as best I can from memory):

  1. I was asked to address more on the idea of divine abandonment.
  2. The chair pointed out the work still to do on one particular aspect — the civil war between God and Israel.
  3. Questions were asked about this suggestion fits into early Christian martyrologies.
  4. Other questions pointing to application were raised, such as
    1. How does this fit into historic theology
    2. What would such a suggestion change today
    3. How can we use this to understand current religious/political martyrdom

Note, I have used Matthew Fox’s translation of Pharsalia, unless otherwise noted. The numbers, since it is a kindle version, are a bit off. I will update these lines once I return to this subject.

Thank to Adam for the invite and the warm reception.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,051 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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8 thoughts on My @EIR_AAR paper: Jesus as Primary Actor

  1. First, obviously, I am a rank amateur, so any comments I have need to be taken with a grain of salt.
    1. Found the paper interesting.
    2. Death/suicide by cross! Addressing this in the academic world, OK. Is this a comfortable subject for you to discuss with UMC members? If the answer is yes, good! Not that some agree or disagree, but that they don’t come unglued.
    3. “why have you forsaken me” at crucifixion and “you are my beloved son” at baptism in Mark were used by Gnostics to support doceticism. Since the paper concentrates on Mark, Irenaeus might review your paper by saying,”Ebionites use only the Gospel of Matthew, those who “separate Jesus from the Christ” (i.e. most Gnostics) use only Mark, the Marcionites use only Luke, and the Valentinian Gnostics use only John.”
    So, was the author of Mark a gnostic, since committing suicide seems to indicate the life in the physical world is all bad, so might as well shuffle off this mortal coil to be in the spirit world? Paul seemed to feel that way too.
    4. Hope the crayfish were good.

    • I’m not sure suicide would be physical life is bad. This is certainly not the case for Stoics or other cases of devotio. Rather, it has to be a sacrifice – so that physical life is paramount, but above that is the peace of the cosmic order/society/empire. It wasn’t about being in the spiritual world, but about what good can come from spilling one’s own blood.

      I’d like to discuss this more, but I think the audience has to be right.

      As far as point 3, remember – those verses are in the other Synoptics as well. And John seems to complete the quotation of Psalm 22.

  2. I like it. The previous instance of self-sacrificing action of this kind would seem to me to be the Maccabean martyrs, who are acknowledged as “atoning” (as is Jesus); I hadn’t known of Lucan’s take on the situation. Suicide per se was maybe not yet very Jewish, though a little later was Masada, but there’s a clear precedent for suicide by refusing to bow to the invading civil authority. It seems to me that the situation of Israel’s relationship to God at the time is well developed in Jack Miles’ “God, a Biography”.

    • Looks like I need to read Miles. His book on Christ proposed a God-in-Christ divine suicide. This is…different than what I envision.

  3. Complete amateur here and apologies if the answer is obvious and I’m just not getting it, but Google is not always a good friend when it comes to looking up Bible stuff. You say in your introduction that many episodes in Mark mirror events in the Jewish revolt. Where could I find a more detailed explanation of this idea?

    Thank you so much!

      • See, I knew there would be an obvious answer that I was missing! Thank you! On a somewhat related note, your left-hand navigation buttons for “New Here?” and “Publications” are not clickable (I’m using Chrome). All other links do work, though (at least that I’ve tested). When I hover my mouse over them, it turns into a typing symbol and the clicking, it does nothing.

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