Friday, November 13, 2015

An Interview With Antonio Piñero About The Historical Jesus (Part 8)

The present series is an interview with Antonio Piñero conducted by Kike R. Tremiño. It was originally published on the "La crónica social" by the magazine Servimedia on October 9, 2008.

Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, Part 5 here, Part 6 here, and Part 7 here.

KRT: From what you have said thus far, I can deduce a few things. The first is that Jesus did not have to appoint Peter as his successor, since the community of Jerusalem was fell under the control of James; and second, that the author of the Gospel of John is both Pauline and Gnostic, and he has nothing to do with the apostle of the same name. Am I right on that?

AP: Yes, both of your deductions are accurate. The passage dealing with the founding of the church, which appears only in the Gospel of Matthew, was probably added by its author. And it is believed that James would have never attempted to overthrow Peter, forcing him to go to Antioch. If you ask me, the number twelve for the number of disciples Jesus had is symbolic, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus was a pious Jew, and would have never wanted to found a new church, which involved a new religion.

In Jesus' days and centuries prior, the nation of Israel only had two and a half tribes–Joseph, Benjamin, and Judah–because the rest had perished in the conquest of Samaria at the hands of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser (721 B.C.). But the pious Jews of Jesus' day thought that these tribes had escaped from Babylon and were held up in Asia. They believed that they would return, mounted on the wings of eagles, to the promised land when God establishes his kingdom on earth. And this is the way Jesus thought. He established a group of twelve disciples that represented the tribes that would be restored. (Even in the twentieth century, Israel reached out for Ethiopian Jews, the Falashas, and some rabbis preached that the planes that brought them was a fulfillment of the prophecy. The planes were eagles through which God brought them to the land of Israel to fight for liberation against Arabs).

So the church today does not correspond at all with the background of Matthew 16. The present church as it exists today is more the result of a group who saw their need to settle down in the world, once they saw that the expected end of the world, as taught by Jesus and Paul, never came.

Since the second century, the Pauline churches have exerted a powerful control over communities through the establishment of a hierarchy. Intellectual control was achieved through the creation of the concept of a "deposit" of sound doctrine and filtering everything through Scripture, and creating a specific list of Christian books that formed the New Testament. Exegesis of them was also reserved for the hierarchy. Neither Jesus nor his apostles established any of that. They just thought that God would establish his kingdom in the land of Israel and the apostles would be the representatives of the twelve tribes. For Paul, in the background, the very Jewish way that the Jesus of history viewed everything, was not very useful. Paul, in fact, barely even quotes him, doing so only five times. And Paul's theology was based solely on his interpretation (and resurrection) of the death of the Nazarene.

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