Monday, April 2, 2012

More of What Jesus Taught and Didn't

Earlier I posted the top ten sayings that the Jesus Seminar voted "Red" or definitely said by Jesus. The top 15 (of 75) Pink sayings that are probably authentic:
16. On anxieties, don't fret: Th 36, Lk 12:22–23, Mt 6:25
17. Lost Coin: Lk 15:8–9
18. Foxes have dens: Lk 9:58, Mt 8:20, Th 86
19. No respect at home: Th 31:1, Lk 4:24, Jn 4:44
Mt 13:57, Mk 6:4
20. Friend at midnight: Lk 11:5–8
21. Two masters: Lk 16:13a, Mt 6:24a; Th 47:2
22. Treasure: Mt 13:44, Th 109
23. Lost sheep: Lk 15:4–6, Mt 18:12–13, Th 107
24. What goes in: Mk 7:14–15, Th 14:5, Mt 15:10-11
25. Corrupt judge: Lk 18:2–5
26. Prodigal son: Lk 15:11–32
27. Leave the dead: Mt 8:22, Lk 9:59–60
28. Castration for Heaven: Mt 19:12a
29. By their fruit: Mt 7:16b, Th 45:1a, Lk 6:44b
30. The dinner party, The wedding celebration: Th 64:1–11, Lk 14:16-23, Mt22:2-13

Here is a picture of Jesus teaching. I chose it because of the "hoodie." The painting is totally unrealistic and un-historical. No synagogue would have been as fancy as this. The scroll looks accurate, but the robe is a bit much. He may have worn a prayer shawl. Also, Jesus did not glow.

I asked what is missing in these sayings, from what you might expect having worshiped in a Christian church.  Two things:

1. Jesus says nothing in these sayings or stories about himself and his relationship with God. The authentic and probably authentic words come from the “synoptic” gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke, with Thomas thrown in). They all “see with the same eye.” They represent at least five traditions of Jesus sayings. What throws us off is the Gospel of John, yet another tradition, in which Jesus is highly spiritualized. There he speaks in mystical language very different from the sayings or parables above. In John Jesus speaks about himself a lot, about his divinity, his closeness with the Father, and the Spirit he will send when he is gone. This is not the same Jesus who taught as the earlier gospels report. However, there are echoes of the historical Jesus and perhaps some actual history in John.

2. Jesus says nothing about the coming end of the world, or the Spirit, his resurrection, or his return in the red and pink sayings. He is a man who teaches by words and example. He isn’t much concerned about rules, but about the principles in the Hebrew Law and Prophets. He is mainly concerned about living more freely under the harsh Roman rule.

There are a number of familiar and favorite teachings that aren’t in the top 30 red and pink listings. This is probably because there was no secondary attestation, they were commonly taught in Jesus’s time or before, or they speak of things as if Jesus had already died, had been resurrected, or of things that occurred historically after the time of Jesus.

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