Paul and Politics: Ward Blanton interview

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January 25, 2016 by James Crossley

From Biblical Studies Online:

The latest Biblical Studies Online podcast (BSO06) is now available on iTunes for download here or, for non-iTunes users, here. It is an interview with Ward Blanton, Reader in Biblical Cultures and European Thought, University of Kent. Blanton talks about Paul, politics, philosophy, Jewishness, revolutionary thinking, Pauline studies, and his book, A Materialism for the Masses: St Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life (Columbia University Press, 2014).

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11 thoughts on “Paul and Politics: Ward Blanton interview

  1. felizhappy737 says:

    Hello Dr Crossley
    I was wondering do most NT scholars agree that the early Jesus’s fallowers like Cephas (((Peter)))
    Mary Magdalane and Paul had visions of Jesus after his cruxifiction …which they interpreted them (visions) to be his resurrection…

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    • Depends on what you want to emphasise. On one level, scholars from different perspectives would suggest that early followers had visions and they were interpreted as the bodily resurrected Jesus. If discussed in terms which do not debate whether there was a supernatural reality behind the visions and stories then that might command some agreement, irrespective of the perspective of the scholar. Beyond that, agreements might not be so easy to find. Some might say that e.g. Paul did not necessarily present the same thing as the Gospel accounts. Others might debate the historicity of certain other stories. Some might debate what caused the visions themselves, some supernatural cause or (e.g.) some psychological cause.

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      • felizhappy737 says:

        No ..forget about the gospels forget about mary magdalene and forget about the( empty tomb )it is not even mentioned in paul’s letters(the one that he wrote like cor gal rom etc…)

        I just wanted to know if both christians and non-christians scholars agree that some Jesus’s fallowers like cephas and paul had visions which they interpreted it as the resurrection of Jesus… i wanna draw my own conclusions but i wanna know if most NT scholars (including you in it) agree that some Jesus fallowers had visions that led them to believe that Jesus rose from the death…
        I have asked this questions to many NT scholars but they are christians they all say that most NT scholars agree that some jesus’s fallowers had visions.. now im asking athiest NT scholars

        (I know about hallucination i’ve had hallucination and i know how real they look)

        Im sorry for my bad grammar Dr Crossley english is my second language… plz if it doesnt bother you..could give me a simple asnwer

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      • Well…

        It has been argued that the discussion of Jesus being raised in 1 Cor 15 is a bodily resurrection assumed to have left behind an empty tomb/space. It’s debated of course but a respectable position which I’ve sometimes found convincing.

        I’m not sure if the answer is simple. Yes followers of Jesus had visions and yes they were interpreted as the resurrected Jesus. In those terms, there won’t be too much argument and it is about as far as I would go these days. If you mean, did the visions directly *cause* belief in the bodily resurrection then things get more controversial, particularly if categories like “hallucination” and “grief vision” (ie grief caused followers to have visions). My view is that we know people have visions, we know (almost as much as anything we can know) that the earliest followers had visions, and we know that these were interpreted in the language and assumptions of the time and place which, I would add, meant interpreted as the bodily resurrected Jesus. As a historian, I think that could be (and in my experience often is) accepted by evangelicals and atheists and whatever else. I think discussions about supernatural causes and the like are beyond what a historian can claim. Or certainly beyond what I can claim.

        Interestingly, I’ve never self-identified as an atheist no matter what labels people have used of me (it is a category that holds no interest for me other than for the purposes of analysis).

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      • felizhappy737 says:

        thx you Dr Crossley
        Since both christians and non-christians agree that SOME jesus’s fallowers had visions that led them to think that jesus was resurrected..

        Now i can draw my own conclucionss i will start researching about the hallucination theory…. just wondering it seems to me that you advocate for that theory am i right?
        Do you advocate for that hypothesis/theory (hallucination theory)

        I watched part of the debate between you and WLC i couldnt watch the whole debate.. i’ll see if i can watch it tonight..

        I’d love if you could recommend me a book from a NT scholar who support the hallucination theory

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      • I’m not sure how I’d classify my position from 10 years ago but now I’d not use “hallucination” and I prefer “vision” because it is a category we could (potentially) all agree on and accept happened without worrying about supernatural causation in history. I think my own position is best represented by a Christian Premier Radio debate I had with Gary Habermas last year on the resurrection last year.

        As for books or articles relating to the hallucination theory, I can’t remember the details but those by Gerd Lüdemann and Michael Goulder will be the ones to check. Dale Allision’s Resurrecting Jesus doesn’t take this line but he should have references to scholars who do.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. jramkissoon2016 says:

    @Mr Crossley …….. Seeing that you accept Jesus’ followers has visions of Jesus after his death and since you’re not a Christian, do you accept the hallucination theory ? because based on one of your comment it seems not.
    What do you believe caused Jesus’ followers to have visions of him??

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    • The evidence we have is that Jesus followers had visions. It’s pretty strong evidence too. We can also say that people report visionary experiences across times and places and that the cultural context helps us understand the ideas involved in a vision. Unfortunately, we don’t have much detail in the way of what the content of these visits were. But generally that’s not bad going considering we are dealing with ancient sources. Still, we don’t have much data to say what “caused” such visions. We don’t have much in the way of biographical and psychological data to make a proper evaluation. so I don’t know what directly “caused” the vision. If your interests are debunking Christianity or a more “scientific” evaluation of visions, or indeed Christian apologetics, the data is not really enough to give a full explanation. My interests are more explaining the emergence of beliefs and visions reports are quite helpful in that respect.

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      • feliiix7374 says:

        Thx Dr Crossley.

        sorry for asking alot of question but is that im a little curious about this topic.. but i have one more question

        If paul and the of other fallowers of Jesus *wouldnt* have these visions that led them to believe that Jesus was resurrected

        Christianity might not exist or ( it would be very different) and it woudnt have influenced the western world as it has done.. right?

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      • Who knows what might have happened in the long run but these visions must have been crucial in the development of Christology and for such developments to happen so quickly after Jesus’ death

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