Monday, December 28, 2009

Special Guest: Jeremy Hultin

I am pleased to announce that Jeremy F. Hultin of Yale Divinity will be discussing his recent book, The Ethics of Obscene Speech in Early Christianity and its Environment, in a video that will be uploaded as a link to this blog. Dr. Hultin is now welcoming questions for this video. If you have read his book, or even my review of it (the book is temporarily out of stock at amazon), please feel free to ask questions or raise concerns in the comments section of this post. Questions should focus on the use of, and perception of, obscene language in the ancient Mediterranean, whether in a pagan or Judeo-Christian context. I will keep this post towards the top of the blog for the next couple of weeks until sending the questions to Jeremy for his video. This should be fun.


Anonymous Jacob said...

Dear Dr. Hultin:

I haven't read your book, but based on Loren's review it isn't altogether clear what you make of the historical Jesus. I've been under the impression (and heavily due to Loren's influence here) that Jesus was at home with foul language - or at least abusive, if not obscene - but you seem to attach considerable weight to Matthew 5:22. The result is a Jesus who strictly prohibits calling people "fools" under threat of perdition, yet wasn't terribly concerned about the defiling power of speech per se (according to your analysis of oaths in Matthew 5:33-37 and the Markan/Matthean tradition about "what defiles"), and even enjoyed calling people the most vile things imaginable, like "snake bastards" (archaic: "brood of vipers").

I guess I'm asking how you might reconcile all of this. Is some of this material less historical than the rest, or did Jesus make the rules and break them? I'm wondering if texts like Matthew 5:22 and Colossians 3:8 might be later Christian reactions to the historical Jesus.

I plan on reading your book and look forward to the video!

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

Here's one for you, Jeremy. A blogger named Sze Zeng opines that "brood of vipers" ("snake bastards") sounded as offensive to the ancients as "mother fuckers" does to us:

Imagine Jesus said this: (Referring to the Pharisees) "Mother-fuckers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"

I'm aware, of course, that γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν was offensive in the extreme, but what do you think of Zeng's analogy?

Anonymous Daniel Raiche said...

Now this to me is fascinating because of the way the Jesus Seminar wrote The Five Gospels, so that harsh language could be revealed for what it is. Such as "Damn you!" instead of "Woe to you!" all throughout Mt 23. So I'm surprised Funk didn't jump at the opportunity to use a translation like "snake bastards". He used "spawn of Satan" and removed the reference to snakes in Mt 3:7/Lk 3:7, Mt 12:34 (though retained "snakes" alongside "spawn of Satan" in Mt 23:33). That's pretty lame.

Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

I'm just curious if you've any thoughts as to what "raka" in Matt 5:22 actually means.


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