Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 01:10:54 -0400
To: Crosstalk-L
Subject: sign of Jonah

   There's a relatively simple way to make sense of the SoJ, and I don't
   see why we need complicated explanations where simple ones are
   SoJ is basically the sign of resurrection. And it's connected with the
   3 days in the tomb. Right away, this makes me think that this was not
   such an early element of the faith.
   Mk omits mentioning the SoJ. The SoJ parable is spelled out completely
   in Mt. Lk omits any mention of chronology, and so is also being a
   little vague.
   It is clear as clear can be that the parable circulated widely at a
   relatively early stage of the Christian catechesis (but perhaps not
   the earliest). The parable was apparently very important for early
   Christians. Thanks to Steve for pointing at the abundant
   archaeological evidence to this effect. The way each evangelist
   presented SoJ parable seems to reflect different stages of editing.
   Mk's version may be actually the latest in its present form.
   Mt preserves the parable in its more or less complete form and
   includes the 3 days in the tomb/belly. This seems like the original
   version. This version seems to have been created right after the shift
   began from the earliest form of catechesis, the
   Ebionite/quartodeciman, that did not include the tomb stories. At that
   time, the Sunday Easter observance was not yet the rule, of course. As
   I mentioned before, all the early Christians were quartodecimans, and
   celebrated Easter on the day of Passover. (Goulder completely agrees
   with this in his TWO MISSIONS.) So it seems like the original form of
   the 3 days in the tomb story was closely associated with SoJ. It is
   probable that this development of the link between Jesus and Jonah
   took place already in the Gentile-oriented congregations of Syria.
   Now, the next stage of development was the embrace of the first Sunday
   after the Passover as the fixed Day of Resurrection. (Of course
   "fixed" only in relative terms since the Passover is still a movable
   feast.) When this took place, the SoJ must have become something of an
   So what really happened with Jesus? It seems safest to suppose that,
   in actual life, he was crucified just before the Passover. In any
   case, his day of death/resurrection was believed to have been the 14th
   of Nissan, according to the Adoptionists/Ebionites. Perhaps an early
   tradition connected this day in that particular year with Thursday?
   But it may have also been connected with Friday. Difficult to say.
   Anyhow, the adoption of Sunday as the day of resurrection would have
   thrown both these traditions, if indeed they existed, off somewhat,
   especially if the day of crucifixion was associated with Friday. It is
   also possible that the adoption of Thursday as the day of crucifixion
   in some congregations may have been dictated by Sunday already having
   been pronounced as the day of resurrection.
   The adoption of Sunday as the official day of resurrection clearly
   came into conflict with SoJ story that was accepted already by that
   stage. So Mk and Lk, or rather their editors, tried to get over this
   problem by smoothing over the inconsistencies, and omitting
   chronological details.
   Of course this brief summary needs to be expanded further to clarify
   these matters that are far from simple.

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