Słucham sobie otwartych wykładów z Nowego Testamentu z Yale (sorry, takie mam hobby). Wykładowcą jest prof. Dale B. Martin. Mówi dosyć szybko, ale wyraźnie.
Wykłady są na YouTube, ja je sobie konwertuję do mp3, by móc słuchać w autobusie. Można pobrać także transkrypcje, za którymi cutuję. W wykładzie wstępnym kilka kwiatków, którymi chciałbym się podzielić (w wolnej chwili może przetłumaczę, na razie w oryginale).
Wykładowca zaczyna od quizu, nt. tego, co jest, a czego nie ma w Biblii. Okazuje się, że nie ma tam pewnych rzeczy, które, jak sie wydaje powinny być, i odwrotnie. Potem:
I could illustrate with a lot more other things. For example, if I said, „What do most people believe about what happens to you after you’re dead?” And you’d get lots of different answers. „You’re dead like Rover, you’re dead all over.” Some people say, „You go to heaven.” Some people–there’s all kinds of different things. If I said, „What do you think most Christian religious people believe about what happens to you after you’re dead?” In other words, „Where is Aunt Martha at the funeral?” „Well she’s up with the arms of Jesus. She’s safe in heaven. Her soul is there.” Most people would say that Christians or religious people believe in the immortality of the soul, and that is part of a good bit of Christian doctrine. That again is not something that’s in the Bible, really, so–and it’s not even the best interpretation of official Christian orthodoxy. According to official Christian orthodoxy, the form of your afterlife existence is the resurrection of the body. That’s what the New Testament talks about, either the resurrection of the flesh or the resurrection of the body. That’s contrary to what most people kind of assume is what people believe.
The point about this–and where do they get the idea of the immortality of the soul? Much more from Plato. So again it raises the issue, if you want to know most about the most influential aspects for Western civilization, would it be better for you to take an entire semester on Plato than it would on the New Testament? I’m saying it might, actually. The ironic fact is, because the New Testament is considered more important by people, there are a whole lot more people who take my New Testament classes than go over to the Classics Department and take a course in Plato. I’m not sure that’s the way it should be, but that’s the way it is. What this does is it brings up this issue of why are you here, what do you hope to get out of this course? And I want you to understand the method that we’ll pursue in the course.
Dalej: m.in. o tym, jak odebrałby NT i w ogóle chrześcijaństwo poganin ze starożytności w porównaniu do dzisiejszego czytelnika pozbawionego jakiegokolwiek zaplecza w postacie wiedzy o chrześcijaństwie.
So let’s do a little practice run through this. Come with me now, open up your New Testament as you’re just going to look at it, and we’re going to go through a rushed little survey, through the New Testament. How would it strike you if you knew nothing about it, if you had never heard of it before, if you open up the covers of this book for the first time?
At the very beginning is the Gospel of Matthew, and it starts like this: „The book of the origin” (or the genesis is the Greek word) „of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had Judah and his brothers. Judah had Perez and Zerah from Tamar.” And you know how this goes, right? This is the begats, the famous begats, that start the Gospel of Matthew. So-and-so begat, so-and-so begat, so-and so, and it goes on like this for sentences and sentences and sentences. And, as a modern person, you’re going, „What is this? What’s going on with this?” And then you get to the birth narratives in Matthew, the stories of the Baby Jesus. If you lived during the time of Matthew himself, all of this stuff would seem fairly familiar to you, the idea that kings would come from far off and see a star, and that meant that the birth of someone great had been born.
This is actually part of propaganda culture of the Ancient World. If you were an ancient person and you picked up the Gospel of Matthew and you heard these stories about these kings from the East, following a star and arriving and finding this baby, that would sound–you know, okay, this is going to be somebody great. This is telling you that this is himself a king or somebody great. So it would sound familiar to you in the ancient world. Then you’d go on and read the rest of the Gospel of Matthew. It’s a story of a man who travels around, giving speeches, sometimes talking to people or teaching. He’s exorcising demons, performs a few miracles, he heals people. And, again, to us in the modern world, if you didn’t already have some exposure to religious narratives like this, that would sound odd. In the ancient world, actually, it would’ve sounded familiar, because there are other stories of other kinds of teachers who’d healed and exorcised demons and performed miracles. That was not an uncommon way to talk about someone who was supposed to be great.
But then you get to the next book in the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark. Well, it’s kind of the same story. It’s shorter, there’s less, fewer teachings in it but it’s–so why do you have the second chapter of this book retell the same story that the first chapter of the book told? The Gospel of Luke, same thing. You get to the Gospel of John–John’s kind of different, it sounds different, there’s a different style. But again it’s the same story of this same guy. Why do you have four different chapters of this book, all telling the same story? That’s odd in itself, from our point of view; or it should look odd to us.
Then you get to The Acts of the Apostles. Now we’re back on more familiar ground. It starts off like the Gospel of Luke, because it’s written by the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Luke, and in fact it starts off with a paragraph that kind of encapsulates the way–how the Gospel of Luke ended. You know, like TV shows, „Last time on ER.” And this is the way The Acts of Apostles begins. „Last time in Luke it ended this way. Now we’re going to take up our heroes at their next point.” Then it starts sounding like a Greco-Roman novel. And I have to tell you something about novels in the ancient world. There were Greek and Latin novels. Greek novels usually were about a man and a woman, young, rich, who see each other and fall madly in love and passionately want one another. And they might get married, or they might not get married, but they don’t get to consummate their love. Instead, one of them gets kidnapped or has to go off to war or captured by pirates, and she’s taken off by pirates and sold into slavery, and she goes all the way around the Mediterranean, and the young man follows her around the Mediterranean in chapter after chapter after chapter. They always almost connect and almost get to have sex, and then no, they’re–she’s bought by somebody else and taken into another slave job, or he’s captured by pirates. So the whole novel is them chasing each other around the Mediterranean, with shipwrecks and battles and miracles and gods intervening, and all kinds of stuff.
And that’s what The Acts of the Apostles kind of looks like. It’s looks like an ancient Greek novel, except it lacks the one thing every good Greek novel had, sex. The Acts of the Apostles doesn’t have sex. You might be disappointed there, but you also have other things that the novels don’t have, such as the Holy Spirit being the main actor for the whole thing. But, notice, that would look kind of familiar to you in the Ancient World. It definitely looks odd to you in the modern world, if you don’t read it as the Bible, and if you just read it as literature. And we also realize that The Acts of the Apostles is mistitled. It’s not the acts of all the apostles, it’s the acts basically of Paul, and Paul’s not considered an apostle by the guy who wrote the Acts of the Apostles. This is another little clue here we’ll from learn this semester. The titles of most of the books in the New Testament were not put there by their authors; they were put there by later Christian scribes. This will be very important.
Then you get to The Letters of Paul. And is it strange that most of the New Testament are actually letters? They’re not like modern letters. They’re quite a bit like ancient letters. They’re usually addressed to groups of people, and they deal with sort of philosophical sounding issues, and they give advice on group problems.
Then you get to The Epistle to the Hebrews, or, in what a better translation would be, The Letter to the Jews. What’s odd about it is that as you read this Epistle to the Hebrews, you realize two things. Number one, it’s not a letter, it’s actually a sermon. In fact, it doesn’t even claim to be a letter; it looks just like a sermon. And, you realize this is not really addressed to Jews, it seems to be addressed to Gentile Christians to convince them that Jesus provides for them a liturgy that is superior to Judaism. It’s actually neither a letter, nor is it addressed to Jews. This leads to an insight, though, by this time, when you’re surveying your New Testament. These letters seem to be meant to be read out loud. So what–we’ll ask this over and over again in this semester–what would it mean to read this letter out loud in a community, not alone in your dorm room, or just by yourself, in the library?
Then you get to 1 Peter. It’s written not to one place, but it’s a circular letter, meant to be circulated around. Then you get to 2 and 3 John, two letters that are written to „the elected lady and her children.” What does that mean?
Then finally you get to the Revelation of John, The Apocalypse. The word „revelation” is just the Latinized, English version of the Greek word apocalypse. And apocalypse just means opening up, revelation. This document is really bizarre. It’s not like anything you’ve confronted so far in the New Testament. It starts off with a narrative about a vision. This guy named John says, „I was on the Island of Patmos. I was in–the Lord’s Day. I started having this vision and this angel appeared to me and this all happened.” Then it has several letters, seven different letters, very short letters, addressed to seven different Christian churches. And then it goes into this wild videogame, MTV-style narrative of a heavenly journey of this guy John. He goes up into the heavens. He sees the throne room of God. He sees weird kinds of beasts and animals that had like–they’re bodies of lambs, but they’ve got horns and they’re bleeding all over the place. It’s a story of catastrophes. It’s a story of a cosmic battle between forces of good and forces of evil. It’s like several installments of Star Wars. And finally it ends up with the establishment of a new world and a new City of God.
Now that’s a long way–that’s the end of the New Testament–that’s a long way from the little Baby Jesus and the Three Kings in Matthew, isn’t it? But the New Testament includes all that kind of diverse literature; 27 different books, written anywhere from the year 50 to the year 150. So a hundred-year period of time that these books were probably written in. They have different points of view, different situations, different theologies, different genres. They use confusing in-house language. I’ll point out that in-house language throughout the semester, and we’ll talk about how it should be interpreted. And these texts almost defy interpretation by a modern person, unless you have guidance from a historian and expert like moi.
Let’s do this little trick again. Instead of looking at the documents from the outside, let’s look at what would an early Christian church look like if you were just to stumble upon them? A little imagination. Let’s pretend that you’re a seamstress. You work in a clothing shop in the City of Corinth, in Greece, in the year 56. A guy next door to you, named Fred, works in a leather factory next door. He has just joined a new club and he’s going to tell you all about it. First, they don’t meet in the daytime; they meet either early before light, at dawn, or after dark, at night. There’s only enough of them to fill a decent sized dining room, but they call themselves the „town meeting.” You’re not sure what they do at these meetings. They don’t appear to worship any god or goddess that you can see. They use the term „god” sometimes, but this god doesn’t have a name, and that’s very bizarre to you. Remember, you’re pretending you’re a Greek person living in the year 56 in Corinth. In fact, these people don’t look like they believe in gods at all, they look like atheists.
They have a very high respect for a criminal Jew, who led some kind of guerilla war and was executed long ago, somewhere in Syria. Fred says, though, that this Jew is still alive somewhere. In fact, Fred says that the Jew „bought” him, though you didn’t know that Fred was even ever a slave. In fact, you’re pretty sure that Steve wasn’t a slave. So what does it mean that this guy bought him? At these town meetings they eat meals–which is not unusual since most clubs in your society eat meals–but they call the meals „the boss’s dinner,” or sometimes „the thank you.” Some people say they eat human flesh at these dinners, but you doubt that because for some reason they seem to be all vegetarians. You kind of doubt whether vegetarians would eat human flesh. Fred says that to initiate new members into their club, they „dip them,” naked, and then they „get healthy.” Once you’re in the club they call you „comrade,” and you have sex with anyone and everyone, because it doesn’t matter anymore whether you’re a man or a woman; in fact, they kind of figure you’re neither or both. That’s this new group.
Now I constructed that little picture out of actual data from the New Testament, and what we have from writings about ancient Christians. This was the way at least a good many number of ancient people saw early Christian groups. Every one of the little details there I gave–I won’t unpack them all for you now because it would just be boring and we need to move along–but every one of those details comes from some interpretation of a particular Greek term that Christians used. For example, I said this meal they have, it’s called „the boss’s dinner.” We call it the Lord’s Supper. But „the Lord” doesn’t mean „God” necessarily, it means your boss. So the Lord’s Supper, put back into normal Greek language, would be something like „the boss’s dinner.” Or, as I said, they call it, „the thank you.” Episcopalians call the Communion, when they take it on Sunday, „the Eucharist,” which is just from the Greek word meaning „thanks.” So all of these different things– the part about it, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man and woman, Christians went around saying things like, „In Christ there is no male and female.” [Galatians 3:28] What, no male and female? And some outsiders did interpret that as meaning that these Christians seem to kind of have sex with each other. They call each other „brother” and „sister” and yet they’re always talking about love all the time. They have meetings at night, in the dark. Yeah, so there were all these rumors about early Christian groups like this.
So a lot of these things–I said they call you „comrade.” Well Christians called each other „brother” and „sister.” But that wouldn’t have been sort of a normal, everyday way to talk about a stranger in the ancient world. It would sound somewhat odd, like in our thinking it would be somewhat odd, or Communist or something, to call somebody „comrade.” So the language that different early Christians used about each other, and for themselves, was sometimes very common Greek language, but sometimes it would’ve also sounded strange and kind of in-house to other people. In other words, the Bible presents us with a very strange world, if we approach it without our normal preconceptions, if we approach it fresh and from the outside. This is an ancient collection of documents. It wasn’t all put together right when they were written.