Friday, December 12, 2014

Hermeneutic quests

There is too much to say about; Jesus' betrayal by all his disciples, his arrest by the high priest, his trial before the Roman governor, his crucifiction, and Mary Magdalen's discovery of the empty tomb. The bewildering alternate routes are like a maze of interstates and I hit a rush hour traffic jam in my meditation.

Here are possible hermeneutic quests:

Follow the Money: the prophetic meanings of thirty pieces of silver?

The Eucharist as Pagan Mystery Rite in Jewish Drag?
The Bitter Tears of Petrus and the patriarchal power structure of the Church?
The Death of the Historical Jesus and the Rise of the Cosmic Christ?

Mary Magdalene, Founder of Christianity?

First, the thirty shekels:

Thirty shekels is the value of a slave's life as given in Exodus 21: 32 NRSV  "If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."

Matthew 26: Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 27: When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent[b] blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah,[c] “And they took[d] the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set,[e] on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10 and they gave[f] them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Although Matthew says these are the words of Jeremiah, it is a free quotation from Zechariah. More surprising than Matthew's error, maybe, is that the mistake was not corrected, except in footnotes of some translations. I haven't figured out what, if any, relevance the passage from Zechariah has to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Matthew is the only gospel to say that Judas Iscariot was paid that amount. I don't think he is saying that money was the motive for the betrayal. I think "thirty pieces of silver" is meant to remind us of a bigger meaning to the events he is reporting. There seems to be a confusion in translation with "the potter" and  "the treasury." 

Zechariah 11:12-13King James Version (KJV)

12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

Zechariah 11:12-13New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 I then said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it into the treasury”—this lordly price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the Lord.

I'll write about the other questions in the next few days.


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