b-greek-digest V1 #634
b-greek-digest Monday, 27 March 1995 Volume 01 : Number 634
In this issue:
Re: "This generation ...": Mk 13:34 par.; Mk 9:1 par.
a final nore from me on midrash
From: Kent Sutorius <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 00:44:57 +0500
Subject: Re: "This generation ...": Mk 13:34 par.; Mk 9:1 par.
I beg to differ with your statement:
Jesus was in the temple at Jerusalem "teaching" the doctors because
>he was learned from Alexandria, the center of learning of the Mediterranian
>world. This is how He "knew so much."
Jesus would have received nothing of value from Alexandria. He
"knew so much" because of Isaiah 50:4-7. Jesus himself said he did nothing
and spoke nothing apart from what the Father expressed to him (Jn.5:19,20;
Jesus was under a divine obligation to the will of God to the very
smallest details. This is reflected in the Greek word "dei" (Lk. 2:49; Jn.
4:4 for example). If he even had opportunity to receive instruction in
Alexandria it would have been more in the form of James 3:15.
As far as Jesus going to India - I've never seen the proof. Why?
Because it doesn't exist, because it didn't happen.
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 01:03:50 -0500
Subject: a final nore from me on midrash
TO: email@example.com (Kenneth Litwak)
I just wanted to add one last note on midrash, if I could. I particularly
wanted to say how it effected my exegesis, theology and sermons.
In accepting Mark as a midrash on the Old Testament, instead of trying to
determine what the historical Jesus did or said, I have found myself
concentrating on the power of the story of the gospel in itself.
And as I did I found it very liberating. Instead of using "Bible facts"
about Jesus to make my arguments, I stopped trying to "prove" Christianity
and trust in the story to have its own power to persuade people to believe.
I could allow the story to be told, and not feel like I had to defend it.
In preaching, I do my own midrash on the midrash, that is, I usually
re-tell Biblical stories, weaving elements of the audience's culture within
the story. I also add present day stories that echo the message of the NT
There are limitations, I have found. Stories are indicative, and not
propositional, and lend themselves better to parable, mythos, miracle
stories, etc. Its more difficult to use this approach with Paul's letters
and torah. When preaching from Paul's letters, I can sometimes create stories
based on the text. For example, with a little imagination, it isn't hard to
tell a story about a disruptive worship service at Corinth, since Paul gives
us quite a few details with which one could create a scenario, and
communicate Paul's message effectively with it.
In retelling the story, I feel I am participating in the oral tradition
of kerygma. And I have found people, in general, respond well to story.
As far as midrash effecting my exegesis, we have covered some of that
ground, so I won't rehash old stuff. Basically, I have learned to accept the
early church witness as it is, a first century, Jewish way and method of
communicating truth, different from our modern methods and standards. Being
aware that I had been bringing (and still do bring) 20th century expectations
and standards to the text helped me take a step back and (possibly) be more
objective about what the texts were saying.
For example, because of seing the gospels as midrash, I could fully
embrace the virgin birth, with its incredibly powerful symbolism and message
within this 1st century witness, and not worry about its value historically.
Where the fundamentalists insist that one must believe in the literal virgin
birth, and the early liberal tradition dismissed it completely because of its
dubious historicity, I reject these both these positions. What is important
from an exegesis standpoint is perceiving what the 1st century witness was
saying about who Jesus was for them, and then hermeneutically applying this
by asking how this informs us as to how we perceive who Jesus is. In that
the virgin birth is one of several ways the NT talks about how Jesus is God's
Son, we can ask ourselves how we understand Jesus as God's Son and how
Mt/Lk's understanding informs us, along with other NT understandings (such as
"adoption" by Paul and in early Acts) and even other understandings from
different times and places (including our own culture).
As for theology, the whole process of understanding midrash effects my
Christology. My proclamation has changed from "Jesus is God", a statement
which can be argued, to "I see God in Jesus", which is my experience and the
experience of the NT writers-- and this cannot be argued, but rather
explored. It seems to me a more effective way of doing theology and
evangelism, rather than getting tangled up in endless debates and arguments
that end up showing less of the love of God and more of my pride and
I realize that this undermines much of fundamentalism's methodology of
"proving" doctrine by prooftexting. And that evangelicals may feel
uncomfortable with the lack of utilizing historical data about the historical
Jesus to "ground" the faith. And I agree with evangelicals that the gospels
are based on the historical Jesus. But I no longer feel the need to resort
to "proving" Christianity and the gospel message. It proves itself by its
own power. And trying to prove it actually is counter-active to its
purpose... to believe, to trust God. While historicity may add to the gospel
message's credibility, it doesn't help us trust in God. For many people
today, it is a bigger leap of faith to believe all of the contents of the
gospels are historical than to simply trust the message of the gospel that
God is loving and forgives.
I don't expect you to respond to this, another long discertation that was
intended as a simple wrapping up of the topic of midrash. I know the value
of your time. I just thought it was important to finish my thoughts on the
value of interpreting the gospels as midrash by noted its impact on my
exegesis, preaching and theology.
End of b-greek-digest V1 #634
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