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RE: [Allison-Seminar] John the Baptist: an Apocalyptic Eschatologist?

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  • Dale Allison
    Dear Ted First, if Ted Weeden = Theodore J. Weeden, author of Mark--Traditions in Conflict, let me thank you for that book. When I was an undergraduate in the
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 26 8:21 AM
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      Dear Ted

      First, if Ted Weeden = Theodore J. Weeden, author of Mark--Traditions in Conflict, let me thank you for that book. When I was an undergraduate in the 70s at Wichita State University, I focused my 2nd and 3rd years on redaction criticism of Mark, and one of my main focal points was the disciples. I spent a lot of time with that fascinating book, trying to figure out what I agreed with and what I disagreed with and why. In some ways I cut my critical teeth coming to terms with that book. I learned a great deal from wrestling with it. Thanks--unless you're not that Ted Weeden, in which case, ignore this paragraph.

      Second, your question is about one of my pillars for an apocalyptic Jesus. You have my argument down right. You refer to Bill Arnal's work, which goes against the consensus. I was at a conference two weeks ago with Bill, and he let me know, in a kind way, that he thinks I'm wrong about this. So I'm aware of his arguments. Your own presentation of the case is too long to summarize here. It amounts, however, to (i) isolating Q 3:7-9, 16-17, that is, making it the only evidence for an apocalyptic Jesus and (ii) arguing for a redactional origin without good basis in the tradition. I can't respond in the detail that your question comes to me. But I think I can outline the argument that I would wish to make were I to respond in detail to you or to Bill. Let's see--
      1. My own impression is that Q is largely a collection of traditional sayings. This is my impression after all these years, although in all honesty I don't know how I can demonstrate this. I think most Q scholars would agree with me, for what little that's worth. Anyway, Q's contributors are, in my judgment, responsible for the arrangement and selection of materials and for expressions and lines here and there, but I have not seen convincing cases for the whole-sale creation of units. So Bill's case at the beginning seems to me to be weak. Of course he can show that Q or Q2 cared about judgment and that it even highlights it--puts it at the beginning and end, etc.--but Q or Q2 can certainly do this with traditional materials. Certainly the Baptist's sayings about judgment cohere with the rest of Q, but that's not saying anything, because surely all of Q cohered for the people who put it together, right?
      2. Beyond this general consideration, Q 3:7-9 and 16-17 are full of words and expressions and other things that don't sound to me like Q redaction because they don't show up anywhere else in Q: Snakes' litter, wrath to come, fruits worthy of repentance, ironic use of Isa 51:1-2, children to Abraham, ax at the root of trees, baptism with fire, pitchfork in hand, wheat and chaff as imagery of judgment. I haven't gone through and checked my Greek concordance of Q, but unless I've lost my memory, all this stuff is unique to Q 3.
      3. People have noticed numerous parallels between John the Baptist and the DSS. They do not in my opinion suffice to show that John was an Essene or a member of the community. But there are some good parallels, and the DSS are full of apocalyptic stuff. Isn't this potentially suggestive?
      4. You can also draw parallels between John and the so-called false prophets in Jopsehus, all of whom seem to be tied up with eschatological expectations of some sort.
      5. I think it's misleading to say that, in Mark, John doesn't preach an apocalyptic message. First, Mark doesn't quote much from him all at. Second, in what Mark does quote, John is looking for one yet to come. Doesn't this have to be some sort of eschatological figure? Third, Mark introduces John with a quotation from Isaiah, which in the DSS clearly has eschatological content. Fourth, Mark's eschatological take on John is confirmed by 9:9-13, where the Baptist fulfils the expectation re Elijah. Fifth, Mark gives John Elijah's clothes, which makes one think that Elijah has returned, an eschatological expectation. So I see eschatology from first to last in Mark 1. I don't see Mark resisting an apocalyptic Baptist.
      6. That eschatology isn't in John's martyrdom doesn't mean anything. There isn't much eschatology in Mark's passion of Jesus either. Further, what would be the real occasion for it in the story? I agree this sounds like a non-Christian tale. Probably is. In any case, the argument from silence is very weak. I can find stories about Abraham in Genesis that don't feature the covenant.
      7. Josephus is just not relevant here because of his clear bias. He has an interest in toning down John's apocalyptic side.
      8. John and Mark and Q (giving us probably two or maybe three independent sources) all agree that John was looking for a redemptive figure. This may be Christian apologetic, but it can't be confined to Q. One can rather make the argument that this is a well attested item in John's tradition, and it naturally fits an apocalyptic framework. Again, if John was looking for someone, surely that must have been an eschatological figure?
      9. Even John's Gospel presupposes an eschatological interpretation of the Baptist. Why else the discussion of whether John is Elijah or the Messiah?
      10. Mark's failure to mention fire, his preference for Holy Spirit alone, seems a phantom argument to me. All one has to say is that his tradition deleted fire because it wanted to think of the baptism of Christians. Why be surprised that Mark doesn't have something found only in Q? Lots of stuff in Q would fit nicely in his gospel, but he doesn't have it. But you can't argue, can you, that if Mark doesn't have something it's not historical?
      11. The criterion of multiple attestation as you use it doesn't seem weighty to me. We just have too few sources. Really next to nothing. Since we don't expect apocalyptic in John's Gospel or in a folk-tale like martyrdom, it's just John, Mark, and Q; and as I observed, all three have John proclaiming a coming one.
      12. I wonder why Q would even bother to use John the Baptist as an eschatological figure if he weren't such in the tradition. Why use him at all? Why not just put the eschatological sayings on Jesus' lips? What is gained for Q by calling upon John?
      13. The criterion of embarrassment. Well, I can't use this as a proof to be passed. Seems to me very little in any tradition can really pass this test. It's nice to use when applicable, but you can't throw things out on this basis. Otherwise we wipe out most of the past. Same thing with the criterion of discontinuity. In Jesus of Nazareth I explained why I find these and our other criteria almost unworkable. My skepticism has only grown. John Meier still works with them, but I'm increasingly uncomfortable.
      14. Your comments about the criterion of coherence are I think addressed by my observations on Josehus and Mark 6.
      15. Even if I am wrong about everything above, I'd insist adamantly that we could never conclude John was not an apocalypticist. All we could conclude is that we don't know much about him.
      16. In retrospect, I suppose I selected the continuity between John and Jesus and the early church as my strongest pillar because I didn't have to develop the sort of argument I have here. That is, since just about everybody has had a certain picture of the Baptist, I was appealing to something we hold in common. But if the view you have forwarded begins to take hold, then I'd have to pick something else. Not that I'd abandon the argument, because I think it still holds. But it would cease to appeal to a common opinion and so lose its rhetorical force. If you can't start where everyone else is, better go found out where they are.
      17. Finally, I've been using apocalyptic all the way through this because you are, Ted. But maybe we're working with a different definition of it? Anyway, I'd be happy to substitute "eschatology" or "eschatological" in all of the above sentences. But then we've got to define that word.

      Sorry this is all so rushed and compressed. I'm sure I haven't done justice at all to most of your points or to Bill's. But I hope you can at least see the direction my response would go if I had more than just this morning, which I don't!

      Thanks,
      Best,
      Dale
    • Theodore J. Weeden, Sr.
      Dear Dale, In your reply to my post, John the Baptist: an Apocalyptic Eschatologist? , you stated, if Ted Weeden = Theodore J. Weeden, author of
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 27 6:13 PM
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        Dear Dale,

        In your reply to my post, "John the Baptist: an Apocalyptic
        Eschatologist?", you stated, "if Ted Weeden = Theodore J. Weeden,
        author of Mark--Traditions in Conflict, let me thank you for that
        book." Dale, EGW EIMI, I am he, the one and the same. Thank you
        for your kind words about your engagement with my _Mark_ years
        ago..

        I appreciate the points you have made in response to my suggestion
        that John the Baptist may not, in fact, have been an apocalyptic
        eschatologist. If I may, I would like to respond briefly to almost
        all of your points. I say "briefly" because my attempt to propose a
        different paradigm, suggested another way, in my judgment, our
        information about John can be interpreted, would lead into an essay
        that is beyond the bounds of the protocols of this seminar, and would
        likely lead, if you were interested in pursuing the dialogue, to
        lengthy exchanges back and forth, which also would tend to monopolize
        the thrust of this seminar. Perhaps, in another setting if there
        was mutual interest, we could engage in depth. With that said, let
        me respond all too superficially to most of your important points.

        1. I quite agreed with you that Q is "largely a collection of
        traditional sayings . . . . Q's contributors are . . . responsible
        for the arrangement and selection of materials and for expressions
        and lines here and there," and "the Baptist's sayings about judgment
        cohere with the rest of Q." And further I agree "that's not saying
        anything." In my judgment, if Q scribes were going to create
        speeches for John, particularly for 2Q and 3Q, you would expect
        those speeches to be apocalyptic in tone. It would be surprising if
        they were not. In my view, that is precisely what the Q scribes did
        do in order to use JB as an authority for their own apocalyptic
        agenda, and they began 2Q with him establishing that agenda.

        2. I agree that the "Q 3:7-9 and 16-17 are full of words and
        expressions and other things that don't sound . . . like Q redaction
        because they don't show up anywhere else in Q" (by redaction I am
        assuming you would include also literary creativity). But the same
        could be said for Q 4: 1-12 and its stylistic orientation. Besides Q
        4:1-12, only one other place in Q do we find the scribal formula
        GEGRAPTAI (Q 7:27). But it occurs three times in Q 4:1-12. The
        terms or phrases such as DIABOLOS, hIERON, hUIOS TOU QEOU, ARTOS,
        to name a few, occur in Q 4:1-12, but they are not to be found
        elsewhere in Q. Are we to assume then that the temptation narrative
        originated with the historical Jesus, because these terms are not
        found elsewhere in Q, and, therefore, could not be the redactional
        composition of Q scribes?. I do not know of any one who would argue
        that the temptation account in Q was Jesus' actual experience, an
        experience which he shared with his disciples, who passed it on via
        the oral tradition until it finally was reported to the Q scribes.
        I submit that the Q scribes created that account for reasons of their
        own apologetic agenda. If they can create that story about Jesus,
        why could they not have created JB's apocalyptic sermon? It would
        be quite consistent with their modus operandi and theological purpose
        to do so.

        3. "People have noticed numerous parallels between John the Baptist
        and the DSS. They do not in my opinion suffice to show that John was
        an Essene or a member of the community. But there are some good
        parallels, and the DSS are full of apocalyptic stuff." TJW: I need
        to see how you get from the Essenes of the DSS to John the Baptist.
        President Bush claims that there is a link between Saddam Hussein and
        Al Qaeda, but he has so far not been able to make the case. The
        parallels between JB and the Dead Sea Community are only there if the
        case can be made that JB was an apocalyptic eschatologist first. And
        the fact that a majority of scholars accept that paradigm does not
        mean that the evidence indisputably confirms that he was. I am of
        the persuasion that, if one begins with the paradigm that JB was an
        apocalyptic eschatologist, one tends to see the evidence from that
        perspective, and thus one ends up convinced that JB was an
        apocalyptic eschatologist.

        4. Regarding the parallels between JB and the so-called false
        prophets which Josephus cites, I think that Josephus understands
        Theudas to have been an apocalypticist. Josephus tells us that
        Theudas persuaded "the masses to take up their possessions and to
        follow him to the Jordan River . . . and that at his command the
        river would be parted and would provide them an easy passage" (_Ant._
        XX. 97-98). That sounds like an apocalyptic eschatologist to me
        trying to facilitate God's new exodus. The Egyptian, whom Josephus
        says (_Ant._ XX. 169ff.) tried to convince the people that, if they
        went to the Mount of Olives, he would destroy the walls of Jerusalem,
        sounds like one who had an apocalyptic orientation. But I do not
        find anything in Josephus' description of JB that would suggest that
        Josephus viewed Theudas, the Egyptian and JB as all birds of the same
        feather. Herod, according to Josephus, executed the Baptizer because
        he feared that John's popularity would lead to sedition. But there
        is not even a hint in Josephus' description of JB that would suggest
        that his sermons were apocalyptic, though Josephus, supposedly
        showing great reserve as far as anything apocalyptic is concern,
        nevertheless, does portray someone like Theudas in the ideational
        framework of what I would call apocalyptic. Moreover, Josephus does
        not make any reference to where John was performing his baptisms. If
        Josephus had placed JB at the Jordan River, with which he associates
        the apparently apocalyptic eschatologist Theudas, one could infer
        from that placement that Josephus viewed JB as one who was working
        out of a new exodus orientation.

        In fact, and rather, Josephus presents John as something like
        moralistic prophet who is interested in the purity of soul and body.
        I have a strong impression that what the Baptizer was about in his
        baptisms was offering an alternative to the priestly purity
        regulations, which insisted that when the body became unclean, for
        whatever reason, one remained in the state of "unholiness," and thus
        separated from God, until one became purified again according to the
        holiness code. John, I am suggesting, was offering a one-time rite
        of purification/cleansing of the body, with the precondition "that
        the soul was already cleansed by right behavior" (Josephus, _Ant._
        XVIII. 116-118). JB was then freeing the people of the burden of
        having to go through purification of the body over and over again, a
        la the holiness code, when their bodies became impure. JB was
        offering a once-for-all, one-time cleansing to satisfy all future
        exigencies and circumstances for bodily purity.

        5. You are right. Mark does portray John as an important figure in
        his eschatological scenario. However, my point is that when Mark
        introduces John in 1:4ff., the apocalyptic coloration of John's
        persona is certainly muted compared to Q 3:7-9, 16-17. If there was
        a tradition, historically accurate or not, that John proclaimed an
        apocalyptic message, such as is found in Q, and Mark knew that John
        proclaimed such a message, just as he knew about the story of John's
        death, Mark missed a splendid opportunity to portray John in his
        Gospel proclaiming such an apocalyptic message in his introduction of
        his Gospel, much the same as the Q scribes did with their Q
        introduction. Mark does not even have JB voice the eschatological
        prophecy of Isa. 40:3. Had he done that, he would clearly have
        aligned John with apocalyptic eschatology. But for some reason he
        chose not to.

        6 and 7. I agree that the lack of any touches of apocalypticism in
        Mark's narration of the story of JB's death does not indicate that JB
        was not an eschatological apocalypticist, for to claim so is
        resorting to an argument from silence. But I think it is also
        resorting to an argument from silence to state that Josephus did not
        mention John's apocalyptic orientation because Josephus avoided
        mentioning anything apocalyptic, and thus intentionally worked
        at "toning down John's apocalyptic side. We do not know that he air-
        brushed out any traces of an apocalyptic JB in his presentation of
        him. Josephus apparently did not have any problems with what I
        would call the apocalyptic predilections of Theudas and the Egyptian,
        as I noted above.

        8 and 9. "John and Mark and Q (giving us probably two or maybe three
        independent sources) all agree that John was looking for a redemptive
        figure." TJW: I hold that John was clearly dependent upon Mark. I
        can provide strong evidence for that if your wish, impressive
        evidence that I have just come upon. I plan to publish it as soon as
        I can. Thus, we are left with only Mark and Q as the only
        independent Christian sources for our understanding of JB. You
        ask "why else [in John's Gospel] the discussion of whether John is
        Elijah or the Messiah?" I submit that, in Jn. 1:19ff., John's intent
        at the outset of his Gospel is to disassociate JB from the identities
        ascribed to Jesus in Mk. 8:27-29: namely, John has JB confess
        strongly that he is not the Messiah or the prophet or Elijah. Thus,
        in Jn 1:19-21, John adopted and adapted Mk. 8:27-29, with its
        identity motif leading to a messianic confession (non-messianic
        confession in John), made an adjustment to the list of identities in
        the Markan passage by removing JB from the Markan order, in order to
        accommodate his need to make John the principal speaker, and not
        Jesus, as in Mk. 8:27-29, and then inverted the first and last
        persona in the Markan order of the identities proffered (i.e., from
        Mark's JB--Elijah--prophet--Messiah to John's Messiah--prophet--
        Elijah).

        10. "Mark's failure to mention fire, his preference for Holy Spirit
        alone, seems a phantom argument to me. All one has to say is that his
        tradition deleted fire because it wanted to think of the baptism of
        Christians." TJW: Which and whose tradition, and its origin? Is
        this not an argument from silence? "Why be surprised that Mark
        doesn't have something found only in Q? Lots of stuff in Q would fit
        nicely in his gospel, but he doesn't have it." TJW: True, but see
        #5. "But you can't argue, can you, that if Mark doesn't have
        something it's not historical?" TJW: No.

        11. ". . . it's just John, Mark, and Q; and as I observed, all three
        have John proclaiming a coming one." TJW: A "coming one" does not
        have to suggest an apocalyptic scenario. A coming one could be a
        reference to a messianic liberator. If John was dependent on Mark,
        as I argue, then we have only two independent Christian sources, Mark
        and Q, for information about JB. Both of them have their own
        respective apocalyptic agenda. The fact that JB is included in their
        respective agenda, does not mean necessarily that they have
        represented the historical JB accurately. Mark dramatizes Jesus'
        prayer in Gethsemane, are we to trust that the words of that prayer
        provided by Mark are accurate or that the prayer ever took place,
        when the three closest disciples are asleep when Jesus prayed? Who
        then heard the prayer to record it for posterity? In my view, no
        one. Mark made it up, just as he made up Jesus' two hearings/trials
        (a position that I think can be strongly supported, given the result
        of a recent discovery I have made of what clearly appears, in my
        judgment, to have been Mark's post-70 CE source for his trial
        narratives). Furthermore, Luke adopted and adapted Mk. 1:9 for his
        presentation of the baptism of Jesus. In Luke's version (3:18-21) of
        the Markan story, Luke places JB in jail and then has Jesus come
        forth for baptism. If we cannot trust Luke and Mark (two extant
        texts) with representing either "history" accurately or their sources
        accurately, why should we trust Q (a hypothetical document) to have
        presented the historical JB accurately as a proclaimer of apocalyptic
        eschatology?

        12. "I wonder why Q would even bother to use John the Baptist as an
        eschatological figure if he weren't such in the tradition. Why use
        him at all? Why not just put the eschatological sayings on Jesus'
        lips? What is gained for Q by calling upon John?" TJW: If Josephus
        is correct, John was a very popular and well-known figure. Why, Q
        scribes even have Jesus say (7:28) that there is no one born of woman
        greater than John (which would *include* their own Jesus, who like
        John was born of woman). The Q scribes obviously held John in high
        esteem, as did others. It strikes me that it was not a bad idea for
        you to have JB on your side as a revered authority and to have
        him "make the nomination speech" for your hero as the "coming one"
        and set his agenda, particularly if your mission is going badly in
        Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, where your missionary efforts have
        been rejected (10:13-15), and people will not accept your hero as
        their hero. I think, given the desperate straits of the Q people's
        missionary enterprise, it was a very resourceful and imaginative
        tactic to recruit the popular and martyred JB as a the "big gun" to
        rally "the faithful" and convince them that their cause will be
        justified and vindicated in the "apocalyptic" end of things..

        13. "The criterion of embarrassment . . . [i]t's nice to use when
        applicable, but you can't throw things out on this basis. Otherwise
        we wipe out most of the past. Same thing with the criterion of
        discontinuity. In Jesus of Nazareth I explained why I find these and
        our other criteria almost unworkable." TJW: I agree that these
        criteria are problematic. They are tools which must be used
        judiciously and with a healthy dose critical caution. If nothing
        else they may keep us honest about our own paradigms which inform our
        judgments from the beginning anyway. I am suggesting that the
        results derived when these criteria are applied to test the paradigm
        that JB was an apocalyptic eschatologist bring the validity of that
        paradigm into question. Are the criteria in application
        misrepresenting the historical JB or is the paradigm which has been
        constructed a priori misrepresenting the historical JB? The issue
        of the validity of the "apocalyptic" paradigm vs. the validity of the
        results of the application of methodological criteria vis-a-vis that
        paradigm cannot be addressed here, unfortunately.

        15. "Even if I am wrong about everything above, I'd insist adamantly
        that we could never conclude John was not an apocalypticist. All we
        could conclude is that we don't know much about him." TJW: That may
        well be our problem we do not know much about JB. So we cannot say,
        with whatever relative certainty we can have about such matters of
        the past, whether JB was or was not an apocalyptic eschatologist.
        And if we cannot then be certain of that, how can we know whether or
        not JB's protege, Jesus, if he was in fact his protege, was taught
        apocalyptic eschatology at the feet of his mentor, and thus, he
        himself, i.e., Jesus, was assuredly, at least according to your
        pillar #1, an apocalyptic eschatologist.

        17. "Finally, I've been using apocalyptic all the way through this
        because you are, Ted. But maybe we're working with a different
        definition of it?" TJW: No, I think we are pretty much in agreement
        in this discussion on what is meant by "apocalyptic.

        Thank you for engaging me on this very important issue. It is far
        more complex and requires far more in-depth argument, with
        appropriate supporting evidence, than can be presented in this
        particular forum. And given the protocols of this seminar, as I
        understand them, should you wish to respond to what I have presented
        above, I will not be able to respond in turn, because I will have
        used up my two opportunities to engage you on the same thread. I
        think that is only fair to all participants, and I want to express my
        appreciation to Jeffrey Gibson, who arranged for this seminar
        exchange, for inviting, and perhaps persuading you, to offer this
        seminar. Thank you for your time and the spirit in which you have
        responded to us all as we have presented our queries to you.

        Best regards,

        Ted Weeden
      • Dale Allison
        Dear Ted: Well, thanks for engaging my arguments so fully. I take your response seriously because while you and Bill are yet voices crying in the wilderness, I
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 28 6:53 AM
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          Dear Ted:

          Well, thanks for engaging my arguments so fully. I take your response seriously because while you and Bill are yet voices crying in the wilderness, I don't take much comfort in the scholary consensus, whatever the issue. Appeal to the majority opinion is the lazy way out, and we constantly need to reexamine everything. In any case, given the diversity and plurality of the discipline, I'm ready to deconstruct the notion of consensus and try to do work without it. In any event, let's see what I think about your point-by-point response.

          1. I quite agreed with you that Q is "largely a collection of
          traditional sayings . . . . Q's contributors are . . . responsible
          for the arrangement and selection of materials and for expressions
          and lines here and there," and "the Baptist's sayings about judgment
          cohere with the rest of Q." And further I agree "that's not saying
          anything." In my judgment, if Q scribes were going to create
          speeches for John, particularly for 2Q and 3Q, you would expect
          those speeches to be apocalyptic in tone. It would be surprising if
          they were not. In my view, that is precisely what the Q scribes did
          do in order to use JB as an authority for their own apocalyptic
          agenda, and they began 2Q with him establishing that agenda.
          You're saying here that Q scribes could have created John's apocalyptic preaching out of thin air. I'm saying that they could have handed down tradition. And I'm also saying that, at the beginning, given the nature of the rest of Q, my view is the more plausible--again, at least initially--simply because the Q scribes were above all tradents, not creators. But this takes us to your next point--
          2. I agree that the "Q 3:7-9 and 16-17 are full of words and
          expressions and other things that don't sound . . . like Q redaction
          because they don't show up anywhere else in Q" (by redaction I am
          assuming you would include also literary creativity). But the same
          could be said for Q 4: 1-12 and its stylistic orientation. Besides Q
          4:1-12, only one other place in Q do we find the scribal formula
          GEGRAPTAI (Q 7:27). But it occurs three times in Q 4:1-12. The
          terms or phrases such as DIABOLOS, hIERON, hUIOS TOU QEOU, ARTOS,
          to name a few, occur in Q 4:1-12, but they are not to be found
          elsewhere in Q. Are we to assume then that the temptation narrative
          originated with the historical Jesus, because these terms are not
          found elsewhere in Q, and, therefore, could not be the redactional
          composition of Q scribes?. I do not know of any one who would argue
          that the temptation account in Q was Jesus' actual experience, an
          experience which he shared with his disciples, who passed it on via
          the oral tradition until it finally was reported to the Q scribes.
          I submit that the Q scribes created that account for reasons of their
          own apologetic agenda. If they can create that story about Jesus,
          why could they not have created JB's apocalyptic sermon? It would
          be quite consistent with their modus operandi and theological purpose
          to do so.
          How do I respond to this? I agree that Q 4.1-12 isn't history. But I don't see how you can jump from that to creation by Q scribes. I don't know who created this story. Perhaps it evolved. Perhaps it has a complex tradition history. It is related to Mark's briefer account in some way. Even if it was added, as Kloppenborg thinks, at stage 3 of Q, that doesn't tell us Q3 just made it up. Surely there's a lot going on between Jesus and Q, right? So the redactional issue is an open one for me. When I worked on this text for a volume called Authenticating the Deeds of Jesus, I didn't end up authenticating this one--but I also didn't decide it must come from a Q scribe. I don't know where it comes from. So for me the Q origin of 4.1-12 doesn't establish the Q origin of John's apocalyptic preaching because I don't know the origin of 4.1-12. But there's another important issue is this: If someone made this up, that is, made up Q 4, I don't think they got Jesus wrong. That is, I think Q 4 is largely in character. It assumes Jesus was a miracle worker. It has that right. It assumes that he interpreted his own ministry as a battle with demonic forces. It has that right too. It also assumes that Jesus perceived himself to be victorious over those forces. Right there also. It assumes that Jesus knew something about the Bible. I think he did and would refer as justification to The Intertextual Jesus: Scripture in Q. You see where I'm going with this? You can make something up about someone and keep the person in character. So I'd claim that, even if you could prove to me that John's apocalyptic preaching in Q comes from Q scribes, we'd still have the address the issue of whether it is in character or not. I'll return to this below.
          3. "People have noticed numerous parallels between John the Baptist
          and the DSS. They do not in my opinion suffice to show that John was
          an Essene or a member of the community. But there are some good
          parallels, and the DSS are full of apocalyptic stuff." TJW: I need
          to see how you get from the Essenes of the DSS to John the Baptist.
          President Bush claims that there is a link between Saddam Hussein and
          Al Qaeda, but he has so far not been able to make the case. The
          parallels between JB and the Dead Sea Community are only there if the
          case can be made that JB was an apocalyptic eschatologist first. And
          the fact that a majority of scholars accept that paradigm does not
          mean that the evidence indisputably confirms that he was. I am of
          the persuasion that, if one begins with the paradigm that JB was an
          apocalyptic eschatologist, one tends to see the evidence from that
          perspective, and thus one ends up convinced that JB was an
          apocalyptic eschatologist.
          Well, Ted, I have my doubts here. Qumran and traditions about John (whether historical or not) have in common water rituals, location, association with Isa 40, rejection of salvation by descent from Abraham, and asceticism, just to speak off the top of my head. This might well be enough to make people wonder if there's not some significant connection, right? Aren't there connections even without bringing in the apocalyptic Baptist presupposition?
          4. Regarding the parallels between JB and the so-called false
          prophets which Josephus cites, I think that Josephus understands
          Theudas to have been an apocalypticist. Josephus tells us that
          Theudas persuaded "the masses to take up their possessions and to
          follow him to the Jordan River . . . and that at his command the
          river would be parted and would provide them an easy passage" (_Ant._
          XX. 97-98). That sounds like an apocalyptic eschatologist to me
          trying to facilitate God's new exodus. The Egyptian, whom Josephus
          says (_Ant._ XX. 169ff.) tried to convince the people that, if they
          went to the Mount of Olives, he would destroy the walls of Jerusalem,
          sounds like one who had an apocalyptic orientation. But I do not
          find anything in Josephus' description of JB that would suggest that
          Josephus viewed Theudas, the Egyptian and JB as all birds of the same
          feather. Herod, according to Josephus, executed the Baptizer because
          he feared that John's popularity would lead to sedition. But there
          is not even a hint in Josephus' description of JB that would suggest
          that his sermons were apocalyptic, though Josephus, supposedly
          showing great reserve as far as anything apocalyptic is concern,
          nevertheless, does portray someone like Theudas in the ideational
          framework of what I would call apocalyptic. Moreover, Josephus does
          not make any reference to where John was performing his baptisms. If
          Josephus had placed JB at the Jordan River, with which he associates
          the apparently apocalyptic eschatologist Theudas, one could infer
          from that placement that Josephus viewed JB as one who was working
          out of a new exodus orientation.....
          My response here is that Josephus, for reasons having to do with audience, wants to present John in a positive light, the others in a bad light; and given what he thinks of apocalyptic, he naturally lets it stay attached to the people he dislikes and detaches from the one he does. I have to admit that Josephus doesn't offer support for my reconstruction; my reconstruction rather has to explain why Josephus offers something else. But not embarrasment here. Josephus is, we have been learning of late, as tendentious as any of the synoptic authors, and we have two different pictures of the Baptist; so somebody's being tendentious. I say it's Josephus, you say it's the synoptic tradition. It's a draw on this one.
          5. You are right. Mark does portray John as an important figure in
          his eschatological scenario. However, my point is that when Mark
          introduces John in 1:4ff., the apocalyptic coloration of John's
          persona is certainly muted compared to Q 3:7-9, 16-17. If there was
          a tradition, historically accurate or not, that John proclaimed an
          apocalyptic message, such as is found in Q, and Mark knew that John
          proclaimed such a message, just as he knew about the story of John's
          death, Mark missed a splendid opportunity to portray John in his
          Gospel proclaiming such an apocalyptic message in his introduction of
          his Gospel, much the same as the Q scribes did with their Q
          introduction. Mark does not even have JB voice the eschatological
          prophecy of Isa. 40:3. Had he done that, he would clearly have
          aligned John with apocalyptic eschatology. But for some reason he
          chose not to.
          Seems to me, Ted, that we have a different sense of what Mark should have done. I think you're asking way too much of the sources. Mark picks one sentence--just one sentence--to put in the Baptist's mouth. Its point, and its only point, is to testify to Jesus. Mark has no interest in an independent portrait of what John said, apocalyptic of not, or was all about. Mark links him with Isa 40, with Elijah expectation, and has him prophesy Jesus. That's it. I simpy see no reason to think that if Mark knew lines that would qualify as apocalyptic preaching, we should have any of them.
          6 and 7. I agree that the lack of any touches of apocalypticism in
          Mark's narration of the story of JB's death does not indicate that JB
          was not an eschatological apocalypticist, for to claim so is
          resorting to an argument from silence. But I think it is also
          resorting to an argument from silence to state that Josephus did not
          mention John's apocalyptic orientation because Josephus avoided
          mentioning anything apocalyptic, and thus intentionally worked
          at "toning down John's apocalyptic side. We do not know that he air-
          brushed out any traces of an apocalyptic JB in his presentation of
          him. Josephus apparently did not have any problems with what I
          would call the apocalyptic predilections of Theudas and the Egyptian,
          as I noted above.
          Here I refer back to point 4. We canot prove that Jopsehus airbrushed away the apocalyptic. That begs the question (you're right there). It's just that if, on grounds other than Josephus, we think John was apocalyptic, Josephus doesn't present strong evidence against this.
          8 and 9. "John and Mark and Q (giving us probably two or maybe three
          independent sources) all agree that John was looking for a redemptive
          figure." TJW: I hold that John was clearly dependent upon Mark. I
          can provide strong evidence for that if your wish, impressive
          evidence that I have just come upon. I plan to publish it as soon as
          I can. Thus, we are left with only Mark and Q as the only
          independent Christian sources for our understanding of JB. You
          ask "why else [in John's Gospel] the discussion of whether John is
          Elijah or the Messiah?" I submit that, in Jn. 1:19ff., John's intent
          at the outset of his Gospel is to disassociate JB from the identities
          ascribed to Jesus in Mk. 8:27-29: namely, John has JB confess
          strongly that he is not the Messiah or the prophet or Elijah. Thus,
          in Jn 1:19-21, John adopted and adapted Mk. 8:27-29, with its
          identity motif leading to a messianic confession (non-messianic
          confession in John), made an adjustment to the list of identities in
          the Markan passage by removing JB from the Markan order, in order to
          accommodate his need to make John the principal speaker, and not
          Jesus, as in Mk. 8:27-29, and then inverted the first and last
          persona in the Markan order of the identities proffered (i.e., from
          Mark's JB--Elijah--prophet--Messiah to John's Messiah--prophet--
          Elijah).
          I won't dispute your evidence that John knew Mark. And you may be right about John 1 drawing upon Mark 8. Seems possible to me. All I can say is that, up until now, I've tended to think that John 1 knows some non-synoptic tradition about the Baptist. I was long ago impressed by Lou Martyn's article on Elijah in the Davies Festschrift, which sees some complex tradition-history here. Maybe you're saying that John 1 can't be an independent witness to traditions about the Baptist; everything is from Mark. Since I don't know your work on John 1, I don't have a response. But I am strongly inclined to think that John 3:22-30 shows non-synoptic tradition that sounds rather early.
          10. "Mark's failure to mention fire, his preference for Holy Spirit
          alone, seems a phantom argument to me. All one has to say is that his
          tradition deleted fire because it wanted to think of the baptism of
          Christians." TJW: Which and whose tradition, and its origin? Is
          this not an argument from silence? "Why be surprised that Mark
          doesn't have something found only in Q? Lots of stuff in Q would fit
          nicely in his gospel, but he doesn't have it." TJW: True, but see
          #5. "But you can't argue, can you, that if Mark doesn't have
          something it's not historical?" TJW: No.
          Do we have a misunderstanding here? Let's say Jesus said something close to Q 3:16. And let's say that Q is close to the original. But then, between the Baptist and Mark (40 years!), someone revised the saying to make it plainly refer to Christian baptism, which is why Mark has the saying in the form he does. This scenario in fact seems highly likely to me. Certainly this is not an argument from silence. Q and Mark disagree here, and we have to explain that. So Mark is just passing on a tradition here, and his redactional treatment of the saying--whatever little that may be--says nothing about John and apocalyptic.
          11. ". . . it's just John, Mark, and Q; and as I observed, all three
          have John proclaiming a coming one." TJW: A "coming one" does not
          have to suggest an apocalyptic scenario. A coming one could be a
          reference to a messianic liberator. If John was dependent on Mark,
          as I argue, then we have only two independent Christian sources, Mark
          and Q, for information about JB. Both of them have their own
          respective apocalyptic agenda. The fact that JB is included in their
          respective agenda, does not mean necessarily that they have
          represented the historical JB accurately. Mark dramatizes Jesus'
          prayer in Gethsemane, are we to trust that the words of that prayer
          provided by Mark are accurate or that the prayer ever took place,
          when the three closest disciples are asleep when Jesus prayed? Who
          then heard the prayer to record it for posterity? In my view, no
          one. Mark made it up, just as he made up Jesus' two hearings/trials
          (a position that I think can be strongly supported, given the result
          of a recent discovery I have made of what clearly appears, in my
          judgment, to have been Mark's post-70 CE source for his trial
          narratives). Furthermore, Luke adopted and adapted Mk. 1:9 for his
          presentation of the baptism of Jesus. In Luke's version (3:18-21) of
          the Markan story, Luke places JB in jail and then has Jesus come
          forth for baptism. If we cannot trust Luke and Mark (two extant
          texts) with representing either "history" accurately or their sources
          accurately, why should we trust Q (a hypothetical document) to have
          presented the historical JB accurately as a proclaimer of apocalyptic
          eschatology?
          The proposition that John was looking for a messianic liberator seems to me to concede a lot, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be suggestive to observe that Jesus was baptized and endorsed somebody who was looking for a messianic deliverer and that many of his post-Easter followers, such as Paul, had a strongly eschatological or apocalyptic orientation? Seems to me this circumstance fits more easily my view than that of, say, the Jesus Seminar.
          As for not trusting Luke and Mark--well, that's why we're having a debate, no? I don't just trust them either, which is why I forward arguments. Now in the present case, seems to me that it comes down to this. You're urging that John the Baptist wasn't apocalyptic but that first Q, without any basis in its tradition, made him into an apocalyptic preacher, and that Mark -- independently I presume -- then associated him with an eschatological text (Isa 40) and Elijah expectation (the clothes and chap. 9) and had him announce a messianic liberator. I'm just saying that Mark and Q agree in surrounding John with eschatological expectations because they were following tradition, and that the tradition is correct.
          12. "I wonder why Q would even bother to use John the Baptist as an
          eschatological figure if he weren't such in the tradition. Why use
          him at all? Why not just put the eschatological sayings on Jesus'
          lips? What is gained for Q by calling upon John?" TJW: If Josephus
          is correct, John was a very popular and well-known figure. Why, Q
          scribes even have Jesus say (7:28) that there is no one born of woman
          greater than John (which would *include* their own Jesus, who like
          John was born of woman). The Q scribes obviously held John in high
          esteem, as did others. It strikes me that it was not a bad idea for
          you to have JB on your side as a revered authority and to have
          him "make the nomination speech" for your hero as the "coming one"
          and set his agenda, particularly if your mission is going badly in
          Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, where your missionary efforts have
          been rejected (10:13-15), and people will not accept your hero as
          their hero. I think, given the desperate straits of the Q people's
          missionary enterprise, it was a very resourceful and imaginative
          tactic to recruit the popular and martyred JB as a the "big gun" to
          rally "the faithful" and convince them that their cause will be
          justified and vindicated in the "apocalyptic" end of things..
          Well, maybe so. But then you've got the problem of being out of character, don't you? If Q is appealing to John because it's got an audience with such a high view of John, then in fact it already knows things about John. How could it be otherwise? But does Q then paint a picture of the Baptist that no one would recognize? That wouldn't work rhetorically, would it? Again I'm back with my earlier point about Q's JB being in character.
          13. "The criterion of embarrassment . . . [i]t's nice to use when
          applicable, but you can't throw things out on this basis. Otherwise
          we wipe out most of the past. Same thing with the criterion of
          discontinuity. In Jesus of Nazareth I explained why I find these and
          our other criteria almost unworkable." TJW: I agree that these
          criteria are problematic. They are tools which must be used
          judiciously and with a healthy dose critical caution. If nothing
          else they may keep us honest about our own paradigms which inform our
          judgments from the beginning anyway. I am suggesting that the
          results derived when these criteria are applied to test the paradigm
          that JB was an apocalyptic eschatologist bring the validity of that
          paradigm into question. Are the criteria in application
          misrepresenting the historical JB or is the paradigm which has been
          constructed a priori misrepresenting the historical JB? The issue
          of the validity of the "apocalyptic" paradigm vs. the validity of the
          results of the application of methodological criteria vis-a-vis that
          paradigm cannot be addressed here, unfortunately.
          If the criteria are so problematic, as you seem to agree, why insist on using them? If we're going to use criteria, let's use Theissen's criterion of plausibility. In any case, I'm not sure why you want to continue to use the criteria if they're not sound. Like you've I've written that their function is to help keep us honest. But I don't think they're very effective at even that.
          15. "Even if I am wrong about everything above, I'd insist adamantly
          that we could never conclude John was not an apocalypticist. All we
          could conclude is that we don't know much about him." TJW: That may
          well be our problem we do not know much about JB. So we cannot say,
          with whatever relative certainty we can have about such matters of
          the past, whether JB was or was not an apocalyptic eschatologist.
          And if we cannot then be certain of that, how can we know whether or
          not JB's protege, Jesus, if he was in fact his protege, was taught
          apocalyptic eschatology at the feet of his mentor, and thus, he
          himself, i.e., Jesus, was assuredly, at least according to your
          pillar #1, an apocalyptic eschatologist.
          Ah, I began with: Even if I am wrong. But you see, despite your incisive criticisms, I'm mule-headed and don't think I'm wrong.
          17. "Finally, I've been using apocalyptic all the way through this
          because you are, Ted. But maybe we're working with a different
          definition of it?" TJW: No, I think we are pretty much in agreement
          in this discussion on what is meant by "apocalyptic.
          No problem--unless you want to distinguish between apocalyptic messianic liberators and nonapocalyptic messianic liberators, in which case we'd probably end up with another debate. But I think that's enough for this morning. Again thanks.
          Best,
          Dale

          Thank you for engaging me on this very important issue. It is far
          more complex and requires far more in-depth argument, with
          appropriate supporting evidence, than can be presented in this
          particular forum. And given the protocols of this seminar, as I
          understand them, should you wish to respond to what I have presented
          above, I will not be able to respond in turn, because I will have
          used up my two opportunities to engage you on the same thread. I
          think that is only fair to all participants, and I want to express my
          appreciation to Jeffrey Gibson, who arranged for this seminar
          exchange, for inviting, and perhaps persuading you, to offer this
          seminar. Thank you for your time and the spirit in which you have
          responded to us all as we have presented our queries to you.

          Best regards,

          Ted Weeden



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