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Rudolf Bultmann is hardly noticed in Biblical scholarship these days. Modern holders of versions of his ideas (the Jesus Seminar, for example) have taken much of the limelight he once held, and while he was not the full father of modern Skeptical/liberal biblical exegesis, but we can give him credit for being the one who systematized and popularized it for the early 20th century.
That isn't to say he doesn't have his admirers today. A survey of positive literature shows that he has some, and a few get quite enthusiastic when talking about him, to the point that they will highlight even his most irrational moments and say, "You may of course disagree with Bultmann on this point, but isn't he a genius for thinking of this?" Defending the idea in question, though, never seems to be part of the package.
I would probably be called remiss if I didn't note that Bultmann was a brave soul in his own right. He took some big risks by standing up to Nazi attempts to make it so that only Aryans could be ministers--no one can doubt that he was in many ways a sincere man with strong principles that he bravely stood for.
With that said, Bultmann's bravery in no way proves that his ideology was correct, no more than Gandhi's bravery proves Hinduism. One admirer of Bultmann says that while it may be legitimate to criticize Bultmann for his theology and exegesis, and it inappropriate to say that he was not a Christian; if we do, "it is only fair that (the critic) should answer the question whether he himself has risked so much for Christianity as Bultmann has." [Hen.RB, 3]
All right...what's the chain of logic here? "Christian" is defined as someone who risks himself for the sake of principles associated with Christian faith, even if he happens to say that most of what has been held to be orthodox Christianity is mythological?
So where did Bultmann get his ideas, and therefore, what is the true genesis of those who now hold his views? His ideas grew out of a certain radical historical skepticism that was in fashion in the 18th and 19th centuries -- at a time when the same sort of people declared that the entire works of Tacitus and Pliny were wholesale forgeries. (Greco-Roman scholarship has grown beyond this sort of thing; liberal Biblical scholarship hasn't caught on to the joke yet!)
This Skepticism attributed to the Biblical writers "the language of the childhood of the race (of man)" and "ignorance of causes and consequently an attributing of all events to God." [Hen.RB, 7] Or perhaps the critics just read the texts too woodenly: There is no doubt that the Jews considered God to be sovereign, and this of course led to language of attribution, since even if God does nothing, His sovereignty is such that doing nothing is an expression of His power; yet the critics seem to think that the Jews believed that God dropped every raindrop personally.
And yes, sadly, a degree of bigotry was involved: One early writer who had a profound influence on Bultmann's thought "had a radical distrust of orientals as eyewitnesses," [Hen.RB, 9] and other writers implicitly assumed that the recorders of Biblical history were too biased to be trusted -- whereas they assumed themselves to be paragons of objectivity.
I won't say that Bultmann went as far as bigotry, for there is no evidence that I have seen of it; yet he did accept uncritically the thought of those who preceded him, and that was enough to lay the foundation for what became his methods of form criticism.
Philosophically, much of Bultmann's thought can be traced to a way of thinking called existentialism -- a very broad range of thought, one we won't bother explaining to any great extent, other than that it emphasized personal experiences and understandings. It is this way of thinking that ultimately led to the last two of the three Bultmaniann methods we shall discuss below.
- Arbitrarily mixing literary classification with naturalistic assumptions. Bultmann divided Biblical stories into genres -- and had he stopped there, all would have been well; but he went on to assume that each story could be examined within the genre and that we could deduce stages in formation in order to ascertain a story's genuineness. "(T)he literature in which the life of a given community, even the primitive Christian community, has taken shape, springs out of quite definite conditions and wants of life from which grows up a quite definite style and quite specific forms and categories." [Bult,HST, 4]
In other words, this is a "simpler is earlier, more complex is later" fallacy: we have seen it in action time and again in Biblical criticism. As yet I have seen no attempt to logically prove this dichotomy, much less prove it evidentially by comparison to a body of literature with known composition dates.
Beyond that, Bultmann aargued in this way: The Gospels are faith-based documents; what they report therefore cannot be trusted.
Yet how, then, could anyone possibly objectively report a resurrection, in Bultmann's eyes? He has ruled out the possibility of doing so at all, because any such report would be perceived as a faith-report.
Moreover, there is the assumption that the church wrote the Gospels to meet needs: If the church had a complaint about the Pharisees, they made up a story where Jesus slammed the Pharisees on the point at issue.
Why is this the case? Could not the church have selected the story from an authentic witness to address a specific need?
On the other hand, Bultmann was far from the radical leanings of the Jesus Seminar: Where that body will assume that any saying of Jesus that is like a common proverb of the day was foisted upon Jesus' lips, Bultmann acknowledged that it was "by no means impossible" [Bult.HST, 104-5] that Jesus used widespread proverbial sayings for his own purposes. The Seminar has gone far beyond Bultmann in its conclusions.
Below, I have appended a sort of "parody" of how Bultmann's methods would be applied to extra-Biblical literature.
- Anachronistically assuming modern values and terms upon an ancient text.
The classic example of this is Bultmann's attempt to define the soma ("body") described by Paul as "the objective aspect of the self." [Hen.RB, 29] As Gundry has shown, this definition is far away from that of the ancient Greeks; yet Bultmann found it convenient for his purposes to assume this definition--for it made it much easier for him to dismiss the Resurrection of Christ. The Resurrection of "the objective aspect of a self" isn't the sort of thing were we would have to worry about evidence.
Where it suited his purposes, Bultmann freely anachronized: The most famous example is his analysis of the Gospel of John as a document influenced by a Gnostic redeemer myth. It took years of arguing, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, to break Biblical scholarship out of this false dichotomy. Bultmann, interestingly, was aware of his own anachronizing presuppositions, but excused it by saying that everyone did the same thing [Bult.JM, 40].
Another excellent example of how recent scholarship has undermined Bultmann's analyses comes from Herzog's Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God [124ff]. Our passage for display is Mark 2:1-12:
2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Bultmann and subsequent writers could not understand what was going on in this story, and so they divided the above into sections, supposing that 5b-10 were once a single story, while 1-5a and 11-12 were incongrouous, and that some early church author spliced them together after serious editing.
Bultmann figured the miracle story was original and the debate was layered on top of it (on the grounds that Jesus nowhere else pronounces forgiveness of sins, other than Luke 7:47 -- a point refuted by Jeremias, incidentally, who replied that Jesus "spoke of forgiveness in a number of guises").
We need not dispute that there are certain literary transitions that seem strange (notably v. 10). But these are non-theological issues; at the core of the dispute is the claim that forgiveness of sins is in the parameters of the early church and had no place in the earthly ministry of Jesus.
Besides the immensely begged question, the social sciences answer this charge, and Herzog puts the pieces together for us.
To begin, who are the scribes? They are "retainers, probably in some way representing the interests of the temple in Jerusalem...From their point of view, the temple is the only place where sins can be given and purity restored. This is the exclusive right of priests using the sacrificial system. To protect that monopoly is their likely intent in this clash." Jesus they see as an "interloper" putting himself in the place of a priest.
Now understand as well that the role of the scribes in the temple apparatus may be placed in the context of a client-patron relationship in the ancient world. God was the "patron" (though for Israel, "suzerain" or king might be better to say) and His devotees were the clients (or perhaps "vassals" would be better).
People like the scribes viewed themselves as brokers, an intermediary, and they and the priests viewed themselves as the sole brokers for God's patronage. Thus when "Jesus declares God's forgiveness of the paralytic's sins (debts), he steps into the role of a reliable broker of God's forgiveness, and by simply assuming this role, challenges the brokerage house in Jerusalem called the temple."
But there is more. Poverty-stricken peasants, especially one like the paralytic, were caught in a Catch-22. They could not afford the temple tax which the gatekeepers imposed. Hence they could not have access to God's grace and healing; hence they were not able to work to make money to pay the tax...and around went the vicious circle.
And now insert the concept of forgiveness and how it relates to the healing: The priests and scribes would see a man who is "a living embodiment of the judgment of God" suffering either for his own sins or those he inherited from his parents. Thus he "is permanently excluded from the redemptive media that are the temple and Torah, since he is unable to make pilgrimage to it, and even if he could, could not enter its precinct or offer sacrifices."
Think here in terms of the "unclean" caste in Hindu society who are thought to be suffering what they deserve, and so no one will do anything for them. Jesus bypasses the entire system, and this is what makes the scribes upset. Jesus heals the man in two ways: he forgives his sins, thus restoring him to his social status; and he heals his disease, thus restoring his physical status.
Rather than being an incongruity, the forgiveness of sins "conveys what an ancient Mediterranean villager would expect to hear." Not only so, but Jesus has hurled an "honor challenge" to the scribes and the entire temple setup, declaring done what they have conspicuously failed to do.
One more minor example is worth notice, from Mark 11:15-19 [135ff]:
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
Bultmann chopped 15b-17 out and called it original, while 15a and 18-19 were regarded as "editorial additions". In addition he chopped 17 off of 15b-16, arguing that 17 does not serve as a proper climax to the story, for it seems to be addressed to "Jews at large" rather than the retailers. Thus Bultmann saw an "ideal scene" that was unhistorical as related.
Herzog begins with a fascinating note from Derrett, who suggested that Jesus was here following Levitical procedure for "examining and condemning a leprous house" (Lev. 14:34-53). The steps were to 1) remove all vessels that had been contaminated (v. 15); 2) prevent any "unstoppered" vessels from entering the house (the action of v. 16), and 3)removing and destroying furniture (v. 15 again); 4) dismantling the house stone by stone (the prophecy in the Olivet Discourse that one stone will not be left on another).
But now for the coherence of v. 17 in context. The temple of course had a treasury (once raided by Pilate to fund an aqueduct, per Josephus) and tribute was collected to support it. As noted above, this system caused a Catch-22 for the poorest people.
Not knowing of this background information caused theorists like Bultmann to resort to creative explanations for the insertion of v. 17; i.e., it was for the purpose of justifying inclusion of Gentiles in the church. When we account for this context, however, we find our answer.
V. 17 is a compilation of Is. 56:7 and Jer. 7:11. (As noted elsewhere, creative use of such texts was an honorable activity.) Jeremiah lived in the time of Jehoiakim, who "constructed a new palace for himself using conscripted labor" (Jer. 22:13-17) and "did nothing to prevent the oppression and exploitation of the people of Judah."
Jeremiah's message, like Jesus', was to those who oppressed the poor and used the temple as a sort of talisman, assuming that if they were inside the temple or had it around, they would be safe from judgment. Both Jesus and Jeremiah were addressing "internal oppression and violence", in Jesus' day, meaning as well those who oppress and exploit the poor by adding to their funds off of the backs of the poor. And there may be greater irony, for in Jesus' day, the poor often turned to the sort of "social banditry" that Jesus' words allude to.
In essence Jesus is wryly suggesting that the REAL "bandits" are those who take money from the poor. At the same time, Is. 56:7 is in a context of ministry to outcasts, which of course fits the theme of Jesus' ministry and his advocacy of people like the paralytic. Rather than being foreign to the context, v. 17 fits in the situation perfectly.
I will offer one more example, from Herzog's newer book Prophet and Teacher [129f]. Here is the passage of concern:
Mark 7:1-15 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
Bultmann wondered why the question in v. 5 was not being answered until v. 15 and thus claimed that the "artificiality of the composition is clear as day." But Bultmann was simply unaware of the form in which challenge and riposte was performed. In such conditions, an immediate and direct answer to the question was the last thing that would be offered, for to put it in modern terms, it would be like dignifying your opponent by implying that his question deserved an answer.
As Herzog notes, in this setting, the "proper riposte to a hostile challenge is not to answer the question but to attack the one who asked it, and this is exactly what Jesus does. Where the modern reader finds discontinuity, the ancient reader finds continuity."
In short, we have here clear examples of how Bultmann's lack of knowledge of the social world of the NT caused him to reach an erroneous conclusions about the origins of these stories.
- Demythologizing, and remythologizing.
Bultmann was also famous, of course, for his dismissal of the miraculous. His famous notions that we who today use electricity to flick on a light switch cannot believe in miracles is often repeated as a microcosm as his thought. Elsewhere he implies that to believe in the miraculous is ridiculous, for we do not read in our newspapers about how demons affect the political or economic scene. [Bult.JM, 37]
Well, of course we don't: Demons tend not to grant interviews, and if their presence were that obvious, we might want to do something about it; apparently Bultmann thought that belief in demons required that demons be painfully obvious about their activities.
In fact, the implication of the Biblical record is that most such activity is rarely conspicuous. (And beyond that, if we accept a pretrist eschatology, Satan and his cohorts are now bound and out of the picture anyway.)
Of course, we may ask: Since Bultmann found the idea of a physical resurrection unbelievable, how did he maintain that he was still a Christian? Through the process of existential demythologizing and re-personalizing the event, making a new myth out of it.
Having renounced physical resurrection as impossible, the Resurrection now became, for Bultmann, "something here and now...entering into a new dimension of existence, a being set free from the past and from guilt and from care and being made open to one's fellow-man in love." [Hen.RB, 35]
Needless to say, this is a far cry from Paul's insistence that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. Bultmann's Christ is a myth for our age, and his purpose was to make Christian faith "meaningful" to modern, skeptical man: he openly admits that his hermeneutic "takes the modern world-view as a criterion." [Bult.JM, 35]
There were no miracles: In fact, asking for miracles is a sin, as is shown by Christ's comment to the Pharisees. (Though their sin was in asking for a special sign when they had already seen enough to be convinced.)
We can close by looking at some samples of the ways in which Bultmann treated certain Biblical stories. We'll start with Mark 3:1-6:
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
Bultmann writes, "...we have some editorial trimming in the concluding v. 6 which reveal a biographical interest otherwise alien to the conflict and didactic sayings, and which is not relevant to the main point of the story--the principle involved in healing on the Sabbath." [Bult.HST, 15]
Really, now? Why is this "alien" to the conflict and the sayings? Just because it represents a change in subject? Any such change could be labeled an "editorial trimming" by someone with a preconceived idea of floating literary forms. Bultmann never explains why the "biographical interest" is "alien"; he merely says that it is, with no logical explanation.
The implication of the story is that Jesus had at previous times healed on the Sabbath ("he entered again") and what we have here is something of an examining committee composed of Pharisees that came specifically to check out the reports ("they watched him"...why would they do this, unless they had been told that something was going on?).
V. 6 is far from "alien" to this context; it is a natural outcome of Jesus' actions. Mark does indeed place it in a standard sort of form, but this is what we would expect in a pre-literate society. The form says nothing about the genuineness of the story as a whole, or about v. 6, and this is where Bultmann's logic simply breaks down.
Now let's consider what Bultmann had to say about Mark 2:23-28:
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the showbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Bultmann asserts that this passage is "the work of the Church," for "Jesus is questioned about the disciples' behaviour; why not about his own?" Hence, the logic is apparently, the church was justifying their own behavior, and in the process created this story out of whole cloth (again, rather than selecting it from an authentic witness, which is never an option for Bultmann), apparently forgetting that they left the door open to say that Jesus behaved always the way the Pharisees wanted, while his disciples didn't, and that they were therefore rogues from their master.
But what about other more practical options? That Jesus may not have picked grain himself because a) he wasn't hungry or b) one of his loyal disciples offered to do it for him (or maybe, some of them did it for the group) isn't even considered; natural variations in human behavior just aren't considered by Bultmann.
Of course, Bultmann does go on to point to parallel sorts of passages as evidence of churchly invention: Mark 2:18 "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?"
This no more means that Jesus did not fast than it means that John or the Pharisees did not. A teacher was considered responsible for the behavior of his disciples, so that the implication is that the disciples behaved as they did because of what Jesus did (or did not) teach them.
Beyond that, since the church would be "inventing" this statement in the context of a time when the bridegroom was no longer with them (v. 20), and they would fast, why would they now need to excuse their past behavior in not fasting? Bultmann is simply drawing false conclusions without considering the context of such statements as a whole.
In conclusion...one may ask, why on earth would anyone want a Jesus without a Resurrection, or miraculous power, or godhood; one who never claimed to be Messiah, never predicted his passion? An admirer of Bultmann excuses this by saying that "such a portrait of Jesus may be inadequate but it is at least relevant." [Hen.RB, 43]
To which I say: It serves us no good purpose to remake God in our image and likeness. The theology of Rudolf Bultmann was based upon Bultmann's inability to come to terms with the truth and with a Jesus that strongly conflicted with his own worldview. The world does not decide what Jesus should be like, and our own personal issues do not dictate history and what is real.
Bultmann, who was so intent upon dismissing the NT records as offering an imputed myth, did no more than impose his own modern, soon-to-be-irrelevant myths upon the text. How much different is the Jesus Seminar?
Rudolf Bultmann Analyzes Serbo-Croatian Poetry
Proponents of Bultmannian psychoanalysis of the Biblical text are fond of comparing every word in the Synoptic Gospels and hypothesizing all manner of psychological motives for the differences. They also often claim that Mark, Luke and Matthew were ideological enemies that subtly altered words and phrases to attack each others' points of view.
It just so happens that normal variations in oral tradition are more prosaic explanations for such variables. But let's see what would have happened if Bultmann, rather than oral tradition specialist Albert Lord, had gotten to these two Serbocroation ballads first.
A Bultmannian Analysis of the Serbocroatian folk song,"The Captivity of Djulic Ibrahim"
There are two versions of this song, and by comparing them we can determine exactly what the two writers were thinking and how their communities hated each other. The first lines come from the "Type A" community and the second lines come from the "Type B" community:
One morning it had just dawned/One morning it had dawned
What we see here is that the Type A community is full of precision-minded and detail-obsessed people. They saw a need to specify that it had "just" dawned. The persons in this community were obviously filled with rage and hated the B community for their lack of precision. We will see more examples of this as we progress.
In Zadar the cannon are booming/(same)
Two together, thirty at once/(no parallel)
Once again the Type A community's obsession with numbers and details emerges. The A community obviously replaced the line below with this one to emphasize their concern for numbers and spit in the B community's eye. It is clear that B preceded A of course, since lack of precision always precedes precision in social development.
(no parallel)/The earth and the mountains tremble
This is the original line, which the A community removed. The B community obviously held primitive ideas about geography and plate tectonics and a primitive superstition about mountain gods that the more scientific and precise A community disdained.
The governor of Zadar is rejoicing/(same)
He has captured the servant/He has captured the renegade
An important political statement is being made here, as the A community clearly associates the word "renegade" with deviancy and thus uses the more humble and obedient "servant" to stress order in society.
Obviously there was some floating tradition originally associated with a "Radovan" in the B story, which has been lost. The A community, troubled by the lack of precision, changed this into a repeat of the hero's name.
Radojica, the Turkish lackey/(same)
And thrown him into the cold prison/(same)
When Rako came into the prison/When Rako came into the dungeon
A clear case of more sophisticated humanitarianism by the A community, which exchanges the more primitive "dungeon" with "prison" thus removing all hints of torture and ill treatment, replaced with a sense of justice and rehabilitation.
There he found thirty Turks/(same)
And among them Djulic Ibrahim/(same)
And next to him Velagic Selim/And by him Velagic Selim
The "next to" is far more personable than the "by" and indicates the higher degree of humanity in the A community.
And his thirty-two comrades/(same)
Rako gave them greeting/Rako came in, and gave them greeting
The B group here shows it's lack of intelligence, as it adds a redundant "came in" which is obvious from the context.
And the Turks returned it./And all returned it.
A greater level of personablity shown by the A community, which identifies and humanizes persons by respecting their community identity, rather than depersonalizing them with a generic "all". Now we will see the same process in our analysis of "Marko Kraljevic and Musa the Highwayman":
(no parallel)/Oj! Dear God, thanks to you for all things!
The B community has a more primitive religious view that requires them to add such statements to their stories. The A community is far more religiously sophisticated.
Musa the Albanian is drinking wine/Musa the highwayman is drinking wine
Here again the B community shows itself to be more primitive, referring to Musa crudely as a "highwayman" whereas the more sophisticated A community humanizes Musa by referring to him in terms of his national identity.
In Istanbul in the white tavern/(same)
When Musa had had his fill of wine/When Musa had drunk his fill of wine
Predictably the A community, more reserved, removes the word "drunk" which suggests inebriation. The more sophisticated A writer only has Musa drink his "fill" which implies moderation. Behind this lies a concern in the A community for overindulgence in alcohol.
Then, drunk, he began to speak/Then, drunk, he began to say:
The more verbally sophisticated A community replaces "say" with "speak" as parts of its programme to correct the unsophisticated language of the B community, who it hates.
(no parallel)/"Dear God, thanks for all things!"
See line 1 re religious sentiments.
"It is now nine years/"It is now nine years of days
The "nine years of days" obviously represents a primitive timekeeping formula of the B community, corrected again by the A writer.
That I have been serving the sultan in Istanbul/(same)
I have not been paid a horse or arms/I have not been paid money or dinars
The A writer again humanizes Musa by making him desirous of practical sustenance, as opposed to cash. The greed represented in the B version is a vice that is not tolerated in the A community.
Nor a coat, new or used/Nor clothes, new or used
The A writer uses "coat" to remove the implication in the B version that not having clothes, Musa has been running around stark naked. Public nudity was apparently acceptable in the B community.
But by my firm faith/But by my firm faith, And may no mother have borne me, But a horse, some bedoiun mare,
The A community was clearly offended by the implication of bestiality in the B version.
I shall withdraw to the level coastland/O, I shall withdraw to the level coastland
The A community saw no need for the sort of pithy exclamations used by the B community and deleted it.
I shall close the landing places on the sea/(same)
And the roads in the coastland."/(same)
In closing, we have clearly seen that there were two communities at odds with one another along lines of sophistication. The more precise and polite A community stood against the crude and obnoxious B community, and represented an evolutionary step forward for the Serbocroatians. B certainly is more primitive than, and therefore pre-dates, A.
- Bult.HST -- Bultmann, Rudolf. The History of the Synoptic Tradition. New York: Harper and Row, 1963.
- Bult.JM -- Bultmann, Rudolf. Jesus Christ and Mythology. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958.
- Hen.RB -- Henderson, Ian. Rudolf Bultmann. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1965.