Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Formation (2)

Boyarin's conception of the parting of the ways is much more difficult to graph. It is a much more realistic conception even if it isn't as helpful heuristically. The first image used to describe formative Christianity and formative Judaism would be a spectrum with you guessed it Judaism on one end and Christianity on the other. It is important to note that if one where to graph this period no points would be marked on either of the polls. The next graph that would be helpful would be a sort of timeline that would have sects or communities that would be represented graphically as concrete entities producing waves. Theses waves would expand as if in an echo chamber mixing and changing with the waves of other groups and eventually returning to the sect or community commingling with other voices and taken up again by the sect or community. You can see why it may not be the best explanation for heuristic purposes, but what Boyarin is getting at is the parting of the ways was much more localized phenomenon and commingling throughout the spectrum can only be talked about in relation to localities and even then the evidence is at best sketchy. It is best to view the spread of ideas in categories of orthodoxy and heterodoxy categories that betray dialogue.

As someone 'attempting' to do NT studies this makes me much more conscious of not importing assumptions about a parting of the ways into the texts I study. This is especially important for a text like Romans where so much is riding on Jewish and Gentile relations, that an assumption regarding the parting of the ways may change the texts meaning considerably.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Life imitating Art

Read story here:
The Life of Pi

Formation (part 1)

The usual (non-scholarly Christian) conception of formative Christianity is that you have this monolithic ancient Judaism until after the second temple was built, then in the 'intertestamental period' the once 'faithful,' or nearly faithful, people of god digress into a lumpy mass of legalism, lifting the Torah up in such a manner as to replace the god of the Torah. Out of this mess the Jesus movement started, and Christianity was born, and is seen as getting back to 'true' religion, with the focus back upon god.

The more complex conception of formative Christianity recognizes that even the texts that make up the Hebrew Scriptures are not monolithic and thus contain various groups competing and perhaps with differing ideologies. The Second Temple Period only differs in fact that we have an actual collection of diverse texts, and perhaps evidence of more 'sects' which seem to be competing to be recognized as the true people of god. The Jesus movement arises from this context and is best described as a 'sect' within Judaism seeking to reform the separate groups into accepting their ideology. As the Jesus movement gained in acceptance, at some point in its history (this is the debated aspect) there was a 'parting of the ways' between Judaism(s) and between Christianity. Much of the scholarly debate focuses upon when this split or fissure happened.

In this model Ancient Judaism birthed Christianity (along with what would come to be known as Rabbinical Judaism). And graphically we can view this either as a family tree of sorts or as a vend diagram. While this conception is much more plausible then the popular one I described at first it does have its problems...

Sunday, August 06, 2006


HT: Dan from PoserorProphet

"It is also crucial to bear in mind the interconnection between the Decalogue... and its modern obverse, the celebrated 'human Rights'. As the experience of our post-political liberal-permissive society amply demonstrates, human Rights are ultimately, at their core, simply Rights to violate the Ten Commandments. 'The right to privacy' -- the right to adultery, in secret, where no one sees me or has the right to probe my life. 'The right to pursue happiness and to possess private property' -- the right to steal (to exploit others). 'Freedom of the press and of the expression of opinion' -- the right to lie. 'The right of free citizens to possess weapons' -- the right to kill. And, ultimately, 'freedom of religious belief' -- the right to worship false gods."

The Fragile Absolute -- or, why is the christian legacy worth fighting for?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

One Book Meme

One book meme

Ben started a new meme with a post a while back, since I have been gone for a week I just noticed it, and I thought I would pick it up:

1. One book that changed your life:
Tom Wrights, New Testemant and the People of God (1996)
I read this in my first year of post graduate studies, and it completely changed my outlook on New Testament studies, it opened my mind.

2. One book that you've read more than once:
John Irving, A Prayer For Owen Meany (1997)
I read this book whenever I am struggeling with faith and belief, Owen always makes me want to believe again.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:
Karl Barth, Dogmatics (2004)
I am not sure if this is fair, but who knows when I will be rescued!

4. One book that made you laugh:
Bill Bryson, Notes from a small Island (1997)
Bryson describes a beach holiday to perfection!

5. One book that made you cry:
John Irving, A Prayer For Owen Meany (1997)

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Tom Wright,
Pauline Theology (2xxx)

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins,
Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (1995)

8. One book you're currently reading:
Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos(1986)

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Confession (1996)

10. Now tag five people: This is the part that never seems to work with memes - Take a shot Blue