Friday, September 9, 2011

ched myers and twisting peter's statement

At the structural center of Marks story is Jesus famous double question to his disciples, upon which all Christian theology turns:

"Who do the people say that I am?...
Who do you say I am?" (8:27, 29a)

Here Mark boldly transforms teh foundational declaration of Hebrew faith--"God said to Moses, 'I am who I am!" (Exod. 3:14)--into a query. Significantly, Peter sees in this remarkable solicitation a happy occasion for confessional orthodoxy: "You are the Christ!" (8:29b). Yet Jesus responds to Peter as if he were merely another demon attempting to "name" him--he silences him (8:30; cf. 1:25, 3:12, 9:25).

This precipitates what I have called the "confessional crisis" in Mark (8:31-33). Jesus repudiates Messianic triumphalism by invoking the political vocation of the Human One; Peter attempts in turn to repudiate such a "negating" theology. Jesus then utterly problematizes the matter by aligning the Petrine confession (which was, let us not forget, the creed of the churches to which Mark wrote, aand which still read him today) with Satan! The struggle conclude with Jesus' invitation to his disciples to a practice of the cross (8:34ff). Mark thus displaces Peter's confession with Jesus' quandary about losing life in order to save it.
Ched Myers, in his entry """I Will Ask You A Question": Interrogatory Theology", in the book "Theology Without Foundation", edited by Hauerwas, Murphy, and Nation, pp. 100-101

It seems like a theme is starting to pop up here, dealing with some rather bizarre scriptural twistings. I don't know if I can say that the above is among the most bizarre, as the so-called apostles and prophets are among those who regularly go to some strange places, but it may be among the most distasteful.

First, the passage in question.

Mark 8
27And Jesus went forth, and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea
Philippi: and on the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Who do
men say that I am? 28And they told him, saying, John the Baptist; and
others, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets. 29And he asked them, But
who say ye that I am? Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the
Christ. 30And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31And
he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and
be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes, and be
killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he spake the saying openly.
And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33But he turning about, and
seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter, and saith, Get thee behind me, Satan;
for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men. 34And he
called unto him the multitude with his disciples, and said unto them, If any
man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
follow me. 35For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and
whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.
36For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his
life? 37For what should a man give in exchange for his life? 38For
whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and
sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he
cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

First, Myers tries to say the Jesus silenced Peter as He silences the demons in other passages. But is that so? Emphases mine.

Mark 1
40And there cometh to him a leper, beseeching him, and kneeling down to
him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41And
being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched
him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean. 42And straightway the
leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. 43And he strictly
charged him, and straightway sent him out, 44and saith unto him, See thou
say nothing to any man
: but go show thyself to the priest, and offer for
thy cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto
them. 45But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to spread
abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into a
city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every

Mark 8
31And again he went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through
Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of
Decapolis. 32And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an
impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to lay his hand upon him.
33And he took him aside from the multitude privately, and put his fingers
into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue; 34and looking up to
heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
35And his ears were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and
he spake plain. 36And he charged them that they should tell no man: but
the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.
37And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all
things well; he maketh even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Mark 9
1And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There are some here of
them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the
kingdom of God come with power. 2And after six days Jesus taketh with
him Peter, and James, and John, and bringeth them up into a high mountain
apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them; 3and his
garments became glistering, exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can
whiten them. 4And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses: and they
were talking with Jesus. 5And Peter answereth and saith to Jesus, Rabbi, it
is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee,
and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 6For he knew not what to answer;
for they became sore afraid. 7And there came a cloud overshadowing them:
and there came a voice out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son: hear ye
him. 8And suddenly looking round about, they saw no one any more, save
Jesus only with themselves. 9And as they were coming down from the
mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they
had seen
, save when the Son of man should have risen again from the dead.
10And they kept the saying, questioning among themselves what the rising
again from the dead should mean.

From these passages, we can see that Jesus did not tell only demons to be silent about who He is or things He had done or shown to them. Jesus telling the disciples to not say anything about Him being the Christ at that time does not mean He was equating Peter's statement with something said by demons; iu fact, I think Myers is falling into blasphemy when he says that.

Also, the incident is mentioned in other Gospels. In Matthew, for example, it does like this:

Matthew 16
13Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his
disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is? 14And they
said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one
of the prophets. 15He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? 16And
Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my
Father who is in heaven. 18And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not
prevail against it. 19I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of
heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20Then
charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the
Christ.21From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, that he must go
unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up. 22And Peter took
him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall
never be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind
me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the
things of God, but the things of men.

Interesting that this pasage contains all the elements Myers appeals to, but has other things that perhaps Myers wouldn't like; for example, rather than Jesus repudiating Peter's statement that He is the Christ, Jesus says that he is blessed for making it, that the Father is the one who has shown that to him.

A far cry from Myers' attempts to make Peter's statement the problem, isn't it?

Myers' statement that Jesus tried to align Peter's statement with Satan is simply blasphemy. Peter's statement that Jesus is the Christ was revealed to him by God, yet Myers' says it is aligned with Satan. Would it not be logical, then, that it is Myers who is speaking the words of Satan here, since they contradict Jesus' own statement that Peter's insight was given to him by God?

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