21 June 2009

open question for NT scholars #4 . . .

Posted by at 12:47 AM Read our previous post

I've been enjoying reading Hans Conzelmann's book on primitive Christianity. About fifty pages into it, a passing comment of his set my mind on a tangent: Just a few years (per Acts) after the death of Jesus the movement proclaiming his name had spread from the Galilee to Judea to Samaria and up the coast to Antioch and into Syria (Damascus).

I find myself a bit stumped by the expansion of primitive Christianity into Samaritan territory in particular. Here, there existed a bitter rivalry between the Judean and the Samaritan varieties of Abrahamic covenantal faith. So bitter a rivalry, in fact, that it was immortalized in the parable of the Good Samaritan for posterity. (i.e. ... it made it to the pop charts of the day, so to speak) What made that story so poignant was the fact that Judeans and Samaritans would just as soon let each other die in the street rather than acknowledge each other. It was mutual.

I am wondering what kind of missionary activity would convince a sworn hated rival to forsake not just his opponents' variety of Abramism (Mosaism, Judaism ... whatever), but his own, in favor of this "new and improved" variety.

I find dissonance here. Might this be evidence (latent, faint) that the missionaries weren't selling messianism there after all? Would a messianism of a Jerusalem or a Pauline variety have been taken seriously in Samaria?

Just some questions to ponder as I keep walking this weird journey. The more I keep walking on, the more the trail opens up.



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