"The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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"The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

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Tim Widowfield has started a series of contributions to a classic over at vridar: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt.

I bear glad tidings of good news. Karl Ludwig Schmidt’s magnum opus has finally been translated into English. The publication date is 2021, but I became aware of it earlier this month. The translator, Byron R. McCane was also responsible for the highly readable The Place of the Gospels in the General History of Literature, which is a good sign.

Schmidt became somewhat of a star in the world of biblical scholarship after the publication of Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu. In it, he laid out the evidence for the nature of the framework in Mark’s gospel — namely that it was based on separate pieces of oral tradition, hung upon a mostly secondary structure. In previous decades, the theory of Markan priority among the synoptics had gained many adherents and eventually became the overwhelming consensus position. Continue reading


Giuseppe also pointed this out in a recent post.
Giuseppe wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 9:22 am Tim's post about a book having been recently translated in English has intrigued me, since the principal thesis of Schmidt remembers so much, in my view, the same approach of Stromholm about what "Mark" (author) did.
...
And so Schmidt:
The stories of Jesus all lie, for the most part, on the same level. Only here and there will we be able, on the basis of the internal characteristics of a story, to determine somewhat precisely its time and place. On the whole, however, there is no life of Jesus in the sense of an unfolding life story, nor is there any chronological outline for the story of Jesus. There are only individual stories and pericopes that have been set into a framework.

(The Framework of the Story of Jesus)

If I may say so, there is a strict opposition between me and Schmidt ;) Schmidt's historical approach and my literary approach are bitterly opposed to each other. :twisted:

That's exactly why the book fascinates me. I want to understand Schmidt's point of view better and make a few posts about it here. There's no harm in knowing more about a great book.
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 12:48 pmSchmidt's historical approach
Is not it too much reductive calling the Schimdt's approach as tout court "historical"? Afterall, the implication of the Schmidt's thesis is that "Mark" didn't know the origin of any single pericope he edited. The origin of the logion X or the episode Y could be historical or mythological with absolutely equal probability. I am fascinated by the undated Jesus of Mark 1-13.

Is not there the risk of a false opposition? My point is that the material edited by "Mark" is too much riotous (in comparison to Mark's mitigated paulinism) to deny that Schmidt is basically right.

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 12:48 pma great book.
true, true. Simple and persuasive. I am quasi tempted to translate it personally in Italian.
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Giuseppe wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 8:29 pm Is not there the risk of a false opposition?
No, I'm not wrong about that.

Few basics about Schmidt's "Framework"

1. The context of Schmidt’s „Framework“
In Schmidt's day there was a long-standing scholarly dispute about the historical classification of Jesus' life, and in particular about the question of how long his public ministry lasted. The majority opinion assumed that Jesus‘ ministry lasted about a year and derived this view from the synoptic gospels. Since the Gospel of Mark was considered the oldest gospel, it was also given high value as a historical source.

Schmidt wrote
StartFramework.jpg
StartFramework.jpg (187.69 KiB) Viewed 497 times

2. Schmidt’s question in „Framework“
Do the topographical and chronological informations in the Gospel of Mark allow a historical outline of the life of Jesus?

3. Schmidt’s answer
No !

4. Schmidt’s reasons
In a literary-critical examination of the Gospel of Mark and in following some predecessors, Schmidt developed a theory according to which the pericopes of the Gospel of Mark (in particular in GMark 1-13) originally consisted of little stories about Jesus und sayings that had been passed down orally around which Mark often, but not always placed a rudimentary chronological and topographical framework in his textualisation and arranged these pericopes thematically but not chronologically. Both the frame of the pericopes and their arrangement in GMark 1-13 are therefore not original.
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 4:40 am
Giuseppe wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 8:29 pm Is not there the risk of a false opposition?
No, I'm not wrong about that.
My words were a comment about your previous claim:
Schmidt's historical approach and my literary approach are bitterly opposed to each other.
Is your "literary approach" based on the idea that a genial writer invented Mark 1-16 basically ex nihilo ? (obviously, by midrash from OT scriptures ad nauseam et ad infinitum) .

If the answer is yes (as I think it is, even if you are wisely a Jesus Agnostic), then I have interpreted your words:
Schmidt's historical approach and my literary approach are bitterly opposed to each other.
...as meaning that for you the Schmidt's idea that Mark collected/framed the logia et acta inherited from oral tradition implies that said logia et acta dated to a historical Jesus. And that the Schmidt's idea confutes the claim that "Mark" was a genial writer.

Even if I know that Schmidt was a Christian believer and a historicist, my point is that, even if he is right about the framework idea, this means only:
  • that it is entirely futile to inquiry about what is the genre of a "gospel", since a gospel is merely a collection + framework imposed on the collection;
  • that the collection implies the existence yes of an oral tradition, but an oral tradition witnesses only the existence of a Jesus legend, especially when Pilate is never mentioned in this oral tradition (Mark 14-16 being the only portion of the gospel that is not part of the oral tradition). The oral tradition is not evidence of a historical Jesus, pace Schmidt (even if I don't see in the book Schmidt doing a such argument "oral tradition ---> historicity", even if I fear he did in other books).
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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There is even no way to know whether the oral legend was about one Jesus as opposed to auxiliary deity YHWH Sabaoth.
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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schillingklaus wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 9:39 am There is even no way to know whether the oral legend was about one Jesus as opposed to auxiliary deity YHWH Sabaoth.
Oral tradition is nothing but an invention to prolong the stalemate, as it can neither be proven nor debunked
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

Giuseppe wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 6:26 am My words were a comment about your previous claim:
That's how I saw it.
Giuseppe wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 6:26 am Is your "literary approach" based on the idea that a genial writer invented Mark 1-16 basically ex nihilo ? (obviously, by midrash from OT scriptures ad nauseam et ad infinitum) .

If the answer is yes (as I think it is, even if you are wisely a Jesus Agnostic), then I have interpreted your words:
Schmidt's historical approach and my literary approach are bitterly opposed to each other.
...as meaning that for you the Schmidt's idea that Mark collected/framed the logia et acta inherited from oral tradition implies that said logia et acta dated to a historical Jesus. And that the Schmidt's idea confutes the claim that "Mark" was a genial writer.
No, that's not my point here.
Giuseppe wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 6:26 am Even if I know that Schmidt was a Christian believer and a historicist, my point is that, even if he is right about the framework idea, this means only:
  • that it is entirely futile to inquiry about what is the genre of a "gospel", since a gospel is merely a collection + framework imposed on the collection;
  • that the collection implies the existence yes of an oral tradition, but an oral tradition witnesses only the existence of a Jesus legend, especially when Pilate is never mentioned in this oral tradition (Mark 14-16 being the only portion of the gospel that is not part of the oral tradition). The oral tradition is not evidence of a historical Jesus, pace Schmidt (even if I don't see in the book Schmidt doing a such argument "oral tradition ---> historicity", even if I fear he did in other books).
mlinssen wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 10:54 am Oral tradition is nothing but an invention to prolong the stalemate, as it can neither be proven nor debunked
I agree with Martijn. The problem with Schmidt's theory is that on the one hand it is only a mere assertion if not a conjecture, but on the other hand it has an unusual explanatory power.

In Schmidt's view, a historical Jesus is an undeniable and dogmatic fact, and his theory seems to explain why the Gospels look the way they do given a historical Jesus. As a result, Schmidt's theory also suppresses any reasonable interpretation of the gospels (and supressed it in German scholarship for decades) because it is dogmatically claimed that the gospels are just a bunch of many little stories that ordinary people have told each other a thousand times. Giuseppe, you can also forget all your own subtle interpretations if that's true.
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote: Fri May 20, 2022 3:20 am a bunch of many little stories that ordinary people have told each other a thousand times.
Paul-Louis Couchoud, surely not the last of the MYTHICISTS, would agree entirely with the quote insofar he wrote:

Once the Cross of Jesus had been erected on earth, once the name of Pontius Pilate had been discovered, the details of Jesus’s life soon developed. Each church brought its scrap of good news; here all recalled a prophecy, there a parable, formerly inspired by the Spirit of Jesus, and now ascribed to Jesus himself. The work of Jesus remained what it had ever been—to call the sinners, cure souls, save the lost, preach the doctrine of the cross and of love. To clear the way for this new step it was necessary to show that the earlier apostles had ill understood their revelation, that they had been unintelligent, carnal, and cowardly, that Jesus had reprimanded them and had given them his approval of Paul’s teaching. It was not difficult to assemble details of Jesus’s terrestrial life before he met his death on the cross out of the prophecies of the earthly life which was to follow his advent in glory.To bring a light unto the peoples, to comfort broken hearts. . . . The original theme is inverted. Paul changed it by interposing the crucifixion before the investiture. It now seemed natural to place the life on earth before the crucifixion.

(Creation of Christ, p. 135)

So I insist that KL Schmidt's amazing book is a problem only for scholars who think that the first evangelist wrote ex novo the first story. In short, only for scholars who think that the first evangelist was a monstruous genius.

In addition, only the Passion story is, from far, an invented story ex nihilo per Schmidt, and also this fits mythicism.

ADDENDA
The only difference, obviously, is that for Schmidt the "ordinary people" were rational people, for me they were the Christians known by us via Paul's epistles, surely not the best example of rational people (read: hallucinators).
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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Oral tradition and the use of "Καὶ" ("And")

Right from the beginning Schmidt claimed an oral tradition of little Jesus stories as a fact and explained it with regard to one of Mark's most recognizable stylistic features: the frequent paratactic use of the word "And".

Ron Decker wrote
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Mark’s idiolect is his paratactic style, stringing sentences together with καί rather than more specific conjunctions ...

Mark’s usage can be quantified in various ways. Metzger, e.g., observes that 80 of 88 sections in Mark begin with καί. Another way of illustrating Mark’s parataxis is noting that about 64% of the sentences in Mark begin with καί (376 of 583). A more limited snapshot can be seen in taking Mark 1 as a sample and comparing it with the sections in Matthew and Luke which are roughly equivalent. Of the 38 sentences in Mark 1 (UBS4), 33 begin with καί. By contrast, Matt 3-4 contain 34 sentences, but only 9 begin with καί. Luke 4 has 31 sentences, of which 23 are καί initial.

This does not mean that Mark is characterized by pervasive asyndeton (on which see below), only that he does not write hypotactically - he does not make very extensive use of the various particles available to him.

For Mark, all is καί - the unmarked connective ...


And here comes Schmidt (google-translated from German)

The first story (GMark 1:4-8 John the Baptist) used by Mark in his gospel began with "Καὶ ἐγένετο" - "And it came to pass". It may seem strange to claim that the first pericope just began with "καὶ".

Comment: Schmidt did not mean that the original reading of Mark 1:4 was "And it came to pass". He agreed that Mark just wrote "It came to pass" ("ἐγένετο"). However, his claim was that the oral story that is the supposed source behind Mark 1:4-8 began with "And it came to pass".

This introduction (GMark 1:1-3) represents a literary work such as could not have been contained in the mouth-to-mouth accounts of the history of Jesus. It comes from the evangelist, that is, the man who united the individual stories into a whole.

Note that Schmidt considered oral tradition dogmatically.

The stories from the history of Jesus went from mouth to mouth in the early days. When the Christians were together, they told one another the words and deeds of the Lord, one replacing the other, one supplementing the other. And even if the Jewish Bible was the holy book in the worship gatherings, everything that was known to be said about Jesus must have played an important role from the outset.

Nonetheless, Schmidt was aware of his dogmatical claim but he chose to blindly follow his assumption.

We don‘t know anything definite about these things. But we cannot imagine vividly enough such talking and telling about the story of Jesus within a circle of storytellers, within the cult community. Anyone who makes the necessary attempt to visualize the first period of the Gospel tradition cannot do it without the hypothesis, which he knows cannot be developed into infallible proof, but which helps us to understand things and at least as a whole historically correct.

Hermann Detering would say that the Bible scholar Schmidt became here an oriental storyteller who embellishes his fairy tales with many invented details. :sources:

In an informal exchange, one Jesus story was lined up after the other. When one had finished reporting, the other continued with "and it happened that ...".

In this way complexes of several stories were created, which were separated from each other by a mere "καὶ". “καὶ” or the Aramaic correlate became a caesura, a caesura of the most primitive kind. It is possible that such complexes were written down for use in worship, in order to read several stories one after the other. But then again only a story, a pericope, was presented. The "καὶ" remained, just as we read the Sunday gospel in our churches today and start with an "And". Despite all this, the individual stories continued to pass from mouth to mouth, and even then the "καὶ" remained. Finally the Evangelist came, who collected the individual stories and tried to bring them into context. Even then, the "καὶ" remained in many instances.

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Re: "The Framework of the Story of Jesus" by Karl Ludwig Schmidt

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Giuseppe wrote: Fri May 20, 2022 4:09 am Paul-Louis Couchoud, surely not the last of the MYTHICISTS, would agree entirely with the quote insofar he wrote:

Once the Cross of Jesus had been erected on earth, once the name of Pontius Pilate had been discovered, the details of Jesus’s life soon developed. Each church brought its scrap of good news; here all recalled a prophecy, there a parable, formerly inspired by the Spirit of Jesus, and now ascribed to Jesus himself. The work of Jesus remained what it had ever been—to call the sinners, cure souls, save the lost, preach the doctrine of the cross and of love. To clear the way for this new step it was necessary to show that the earlier apostles had ill understood their revelation, that they had been unintelligent, carnal, and cowardly, that Jesus had reprimanded them and had given them his approval of Paul’s teaching. It was not difficult to assemble details of Jesus’s terrestrial life before he met his death on the cross out of the prophecies of the earthly life which was to follow his advent in glory.To bring a light unto the peoples, to comfort broken hearts. . . . The original theme is inverted. Paul changed it by interposing the crucifixion before the investiture. It now seemed natural to place the life on earth before the crucifixion.

(Creation of Christ, p. 135)
That is the most hilarious of all dumb theories that I ever heard.
Churches - presumably from all over the Mediterranean world - knew perfectly well the necessary details of the life of Jesus yet those that the alleged Jesus allegedly sent off, the apostles, didn't?

Who is this clown, the reincarnation of Matthew Henry perhaps?
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