Sunday, April 10, 2011

Allison: Death and Memory (S)

I've been moving at a snail's pace through chapter 5 on the Passion of Jesus in his book, Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History.  I might actually finish the chapter by Good Friday ;-)

1. pp. 387-92
2. pp 392-95
3. pp. 395-99
4. pp. 399-403
5. pp. 403-5
6. pp. 406-21

Today, pp. 421-27
The first couple pages mainly finish up Allison's thought on Paul's testimony to the historical Jesus.  I think he captures a bit of the truth when he says that "most of what he [Paul] believed about Jesus cannot be evidenced in a small collection of occasional, ad hoc correspondence" (421).  He ends with three further comments:

1. That the apostle spent time in Jerusalem not long after the crucifixion and had access to information about Jesus' final days there.

2. Some scholars have argued for a pre-Markan passion already in the 30s and 40s.  Here for the first time, Allison hints that such a narrative could have been oral.  Thank you, finally.

3. Paul says nothing that contradicts Mark's account.

Death and Memory

In this section, Allison returns to and extends some of the key ideas of his first chapter.  For example, "memories and imaginations, shortly after death, often converge upon a life's end, upon 'the events leading up to the loss'" (423).  Allison plausibly says that "doubtless some of the traditions behind the passion narratives had their genesis very early on, which surely ups the odds of their containing some true-to-life memory" (424).

Some of the details that Allison considers very likely historical, simply because they do not seem like things someone would invent, include the conscription of Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross, the place called Golgotha, the presence of female followers at the cross, and burial by Joseph of Arimathea.   Things that might be considered embarrassing have somewhat of a claim too, although Allison feels them less powerful and argument: Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial, Jesus' wavering in Gethsemane, and Jesus' cry from the cross.

Six more pages in the chapter!

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