James McGrath has a post up responding to recent posts in response to his review of Thomas L. Brodie‘s recent memoir recounting his years of academia and announcing he is a mythicist. I encourage you to read it.
In the same way, Brodie insightfully detects some places where a passage in the New Testament probably was directly inspired by or retelling an earlier story from the Jewish Scriptures. Where it goes wrong is where this is insisted upon as being the case everywhere, even in the very many places where the connections are slim and/or tangential.
via The Work of Thomas Brodie.
I firmly believe in the literary connection established between the New and the Old (even between books in the New, and not just the Gospels). However, such a connection does not preclude the existence of Jesus. Why? Because if you examine the types of rewritten Scripture, and how it was used — how it is used today when we do it — Scripture served as a contextualizing tool. It was their language.
This is where, I think, social memory (hence Le Donne and Keith in the title to this post) studies should come in. It can help to draw out contextualizing forces. I mean, look how Hillel was contextualized as a new Moses after his death. They used Scripture.
I’m busy today, and I’m not going to write too much here; however, my hypothesis is this. What you name a child is important to that child and the more so in times of social crisis. I listened to an African-American preacher talk about the rise of names for children in their community after the death of MLK. Many were named Martin. Why? Because they wanted their child to be the next MLK. Think of the Robert E. Lees and Abrahams after the War Between the States. It wasn’t just a way to honor their heroes, after all.
The book to your left is about about the role Jerusalem has played in Western imagination. Anyway, the author hints at (maybe in the book on in an audio of a speech I heard) the role the name Abraham played in shaping Lincoln.
Controversial moment: There is a connection between how Tamerlan Tsarnaev was named and what he did.
It is not unlikely, nor improbable to have a person named “Yeshua” during this time. Nor is it improbable given what we know about how names affect you that Yeshua may have grown up with a certain zeal to “save his people from their sins” (i.e., the sins that led to the new exile). Further, it is not improbable to have Yeshua place himself as an Elijah/Elisha — the Prophet to bring about the Messianic Age. There is nothing in Brodie’s literary work to reach back to the Historical Jesus (as far as I can tell) because literary works are demonstrably different than reality because literary works contextualize.
What we do know — and I would like to see this employed in tracing out trajectories of early Christianities — is that the community who took up Yeshua after his probable death (and improbable resurrection) was steeped in the Jewish holy writings. There is no reason not to use them to promote their sect. That is what we do, even today, is to appeal to Scripture to validate ourselves. In doing so, the more intertwined with Scripture the continued validation of the Historical Jesus became, the less apparent the Historical Jesus became…er… what?
Anyway, I said I was busy so I have to run. There you go. Read the various posts McGrath links too.