Verskille in die stories oor Jesus

Hierdie artikel is deel 6 van ‘n 11-deel gesprek – sien die volgende:


Verskille in die stories oor Jesus

Hierdie is ’n belangrike punt omdat kritici aanvoer dat die verskille in die (geskrewe) stories oor Jesus en wat hy gesê het, ‘n aanduiding is dat dit grootliks ‘n opgemaakte storie is. Maar so ‘n siening is ‘n blatante ontkenning van die aard of selfs bestaan van ‘n mondelingse tradisie waarbinne die stories oor Jesus hul neerslag gevind het. En buitendien dui variasie in ‘n vertelling tog nie summier daarop dat iets nie werklik gebeur het nie (daarvan kan enige hof getuig). Inteendeel, dis eerder wanneer al die getuies oor ‘n spesifieke saak presies dieselfde storie vertel dat ‘n mens (soos die regter of jurie in ‘n hof) snuf in die neus kry.

Die skrywers van Reinventing Jesus bevestig hierdie kenmerk van variasie in die mondelingse tradisie soos volg:

“Many scholars point out that ancient historians were not concerned with quoting the very words of a person but were very much concerned with getting the gist of what he had to say. This is almost surely the case with the Gos­pel writers as well. For now, we simply need to point out that the Gospels don’t always record the words of Jesus (or others) in exactly the same way – even for sayings that must surely have been uttered on only one occasion (e.g., Jesus’ cry from the cross or the heavenly voice at Jesus’ baptism).”

Ook die Nuwe Testamentikus, Darrell Bock, redeneer dat “each evangelist retells the living and powerful words of Jesus in a fresh way for his readers, while faithfully and accurately presenting the ‘gist’ of what Jesus said. I call this approach one that recognizes the Jesus tradition as ‘live’ in its dynamic and quality.” (In die hoofstuk, The Words of Jesus in the Gospels: Live, Jive, or Memorex? in die boek, Jesus Under Fire, 1996)

In Lord or Legend? merk Boyd en Eddy op hoe die aanklag van teenstrydighede in die Nuwe Testament dikwels meer sê oor die voorveronderstellings van die kritici as dat dit werklik ‘n onoorkomelike struikelblok is vir iemand met ‘n ingeligte perspektief oor die samestelling daarvan van mondelingse na geskrewe vorm. Hulle wys op die volgende:

“…[O]ne attempts to resolve contradictions within and between documents only if he or she believes it’s at least possible the works in question are generally trustwor­thy. If, instead, one has already concluded that a set of documents are not generally trustworthy, then the appearance of contradictions simply confirms what one assumes he or she already knew: namely, that the documents in question are not reliable. Indeed, in the case of the Gos­pels, many critics assume that attempts to reconcile apparent conflicts are always theologically motivated (namely, trying to defend a conception of biblical inspiration) and thus cannot be judged as representing good, historical-critical scholarship.

The prejudicial nature of this skeptical stance is shown in the fact that, from a strictly historiographical perspective, the level of apparent conflicts between the Gospels is relatively normal. Rarely in history do we find multiple witnesses to an event that do not contain apparent contradictions. As Gilbert Garraghan explains in his Guide to Historical Method, “Almost any critical history that discusses the evidence for important statements will furnish examples of discrepant or contradictory accounts and the attempts which are made to reconcile them.”

…[I]t is clear that by the standards of a modern, literary paradigm, the Gospels indeed contain contradictions. What we have been arguing, however, is that evaluating them by these modern standards is anachronistic. Judged by the conventions and constraints of their own orally dominant cultural context and read sympathetically with an imaginative appreciation for the wider oral tradition they were written to express and feed back into, the Gospels are shown to exhibit the sort of broad internal consistency that suggests that the authors intended to faithfully record the essential aspects of Jesus’s life and that they were successful at doing so.”

Dit is belangrik om te verstaan wat die implikasies is van die mondelingse tradisie vir ‘n betroubare weergawe daarvan in geskrewe vorm. Die volgende dele uit Reinventing Jesus verduidelik waarom die betroubaarheid van die stories oor Jesus nie regtig te betwyfel is nie:

“…[T]he interval between Jesus and the written Gospels was not dormant. The apostles and other eyewitnesses were proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ wherever they went. This, of course, would have happened both in public settings and in private meetings. People hungry to know about the Lord would in­quire of the apostles. The stories about Jesus and the sayings of Jesus would have been repeated hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times by dozens of eyewitnesses before the first Gospel was ever penned.

The period of oral proclamation involves some implications for the accuracy of the written Gospels. If the earliest proclamation about Jesus was altered in later years, then surely first-generation Christians would know about the changes and would object to them. It would not even take outsiders to object to the “new and improved Christianity,” since those who were already believers would have se­rious problems with the differences in the content of their belief. Not only this, but the rapid spread of the gospel message meant that there were no longer controls on the content. That is, once the gospel spread beyond Jerusalem, the apostles were no longer in a position to alter it without notice. And the gospel indeed spread from day one of the church’s existence – the Day of Pentecost – since Peter proclaimed the message to Jews who had travelled from as far away as Rome (Acts 2:9-11). So, if there was some sort of conspiracy – or a faith that “overpowered their memories,” as the Jesus Seminar argues – then it had to have been formulated before the Day of Pentecost.

The problem with this hypothesis is twofold. First, it is hardly conceivable that the apostles could have forgotten so much about the “real” Jesus in a matter of fifty days after his crucifixion and allowed their faith in him to overpower their memories of him. Second, they were not the only witnesses to Jesus Christ. Hundreds of other follow­ers of Jesus knew him well, had seen his miracles, and had heard his messages. What Jesus taught and what Jesus did were not things done in secret. This hypothesis is so full of holes that no scholar holds to it.

As we mentioned … their recollections were not individual memories but collective ones – confirmed by other eyewitnesses and burned into their minds by the constant retelling of the story. Thus, both the repetition of the stories about Jesus and the verification of such by other eyewitnesses served as checks and balances on the apostles’ accuracy. Memory in community is a deathblow to the view that the disciples simply forgot the real Jesus.”

1 Korintiërs 15:3-7 is seker een van die beste voorbeelde van hoe mondelingse tradisie bewaar gebly het deurdat dit van een groep Christene na ‘n ander oorgedra is. In ‘n kort tyd na Jesus gekruisig het daar ‘n mondelingse tradisie ontstaan oor die kruisiging en opstanding van Jesus – en dit skynbaar deur ooggetuies van die gebeure. Hier is wat Paulus in 55 n.C. skryf in sy eerste brief aan die Korintiërs:

“Die belangrikste wat ek aan julle oorgelewer het en wat ek van julle ontvang het, is dit: Christus het vir ons sonde gesterf, volgens die Skrifte, Hy is begrawe en op die derde dag opgewek, volgens die Skrifte. Hy het aan Sefas verskyn, daarna aan die twaalf, en daarna aan meer as vyf honderd broers tegelyk, van wie sommige al dood is maar die meeste nou nog lewe. Daarna het Hy aan Jakobus verskyn en toe aan al die dissipels.”

Dit is veral die woorde, “wat ek aan julle oorgelewer het en wat ek van julle ontvang het” wat ‘n baie sterk aanduiding is van so ‘n mondelingse tradisie.

Timothy Paul Jones in sy boek, Misquoting Truth: a guide to the fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus kom tot die volgende gevolgtrekking oor of die stories van Jesus grootliks opgemaak is:

“So, is Ehrman correct when he implies that the earliest Christian changed the stories of Jesus with ‘reckless abandon’? And did two decades really pass before any clear tradition about Jesus’ resurrection emerged, as Ehrman implies?

As far as I can tell, the historical evidence suggests the precise opposite: Within months of Jesus’ death, a consistent oral account of Jesus’ resurrection emerged among his followers. What’s more, this tradition did not change from person to person, like a game of telephone gone terribly wrong. To the contrary, the tradition remained relatively unchanged throughout the first two decades of Christian faith.

Certainly, there were times when the focus of certain stories about Jesus changed from one context to another; the different New Testament authors, for example, refined and remolded certain traditions to emphasize their relevance for certain audiences. Yet the crucial facts of these stories remained remarkably consistent as they spread year after year across hundreds of cultures and social contexts.”

(Sien ook: Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church)

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