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Re: [Synoptic-L] 1Th 2:15-16 Scenarios (John Zebedee)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Emmanuel Fritsch On: Death of John Zebedee From: Bruce Thanks to Emmanuel for his references on the tradition of John Z s
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 4, 2008
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Emmanuel Fritsch
      On: Death of John Zebedee
      From: Bruce

      Thanks to Emmanuel for his references on the tradition of John Z's early
      death; I think it stands generally established that there are competing
      traditions about him; one (present already in Mk) for early martyrdom,
      another for a much longer life and a possibly tranquil end. The latter might
      be called the Ephesus line.

      EMMANUEL: Considering connections between Papias and Irenee, it is also
      possible that Papias was depending on a Johannine tradition, which should
      have take a part in the fog around the John question.

      BRUCE: I think this is well observed. The Johannine enthusiasm of Papias
      seems clear just from the surviving quotation of his remark.

      Of the two traditions, which we might call the Early JZ and the Late JZ
      traditions, does either show *internal* signs of lateness? I think possibly.
      In my little essay called "Anticipation of Reader Objection," I mention the
      way in which a text may argue with the expectations of readers, in
      introducing something which jars with their previous knowledge. I suggest
      that such a moment occurs in the Gospel of John, and that it is meant to
      argue with reader impressions that John Z, John the Apostle, had died
      earlier than that Gospel wishes to suggest.

      "Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had
      lain close to his breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who is it that is
      going to betray you? [21] When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, Lord, what
      about this man? [22] Jesus said to him, If it is my will that he remain
      until I come, what is that to you? Follow me! [23] The saying spread abroad
      among the brethren that this disciple was not to die, yet Jesus did not say
      to him that he was not to die, but "If it is my will that he remain until I
      come, what is that to you?" [24] This is the disciple who is bearing witness
      to these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his word
      is true." [Jn 21:20-24]

      It he here conceded, in an appendage to the original GJohn, that Jesus had
      never said that John Z would not die. On the contrary, as the writer well
      knew (GJn is demonstrably aware of GMk), Jesus had strongly implied the
      opposite. The writer legalistically avoids a direct confrontation with this
      remembered fact.

      That is, the later tradition (that of GJn) is directly dealing with the
      awkward fact of the earlier tradition (the one in GMk). From this, it is
      obvious which one is, in fact, the earlier tradition. It is the one that is
      already there to make problems for any later tradition.


      In what order did the Twelve die, and what anyway is the proper canon of the
      Twelve? One can stare at the variant lists of the Twelve, ordered in columns
      in many a work of reference, and come away little wiser than one began. Just
      to complicate it further, here is another column, which may be new to some.
      It is a text, discovered and published by the ever-zealous Tischendorf,
      describing the death of Mary, and the calling of all the Apostles to be
      present. It is John who summons them. Here he comes into Mary's presence:

      "And as she prayed, I, John, came to her, for the Holy Ghost caught me up by
      a cloud from Ephesus and set me in the place where the mother of my Lord

      He refers to the charge (given by Jesus in Jn 19:26-27) to this same
      "disciple whom Jesus loved." So there is no doubt that we are here supposed
      to be hearing the testimony of John the Apostle.

      He summons "the apostles" and they appear in this order:

      1. Peter, from Rome
      2. Paul, from Tiberia [near Rome]
      3. Thomas, from the "inmost Indies"
      4. James, from Jerusalem

      [The following "had fallen asleep," and are raised from their tombs]

      5. Andrew the brother of Peter
      6. Philip
      7. Luke
      8. Simon the Canaanite
      9. Thaddeus

      10. Mark "who was still alive" from Alexandria

      Matthew does not seem to make the text at this point, but a little later,
      when each Apostle describes how he came, we have:

      11. Matthew was in a ship, tossed by waves . . .
      [Then those who "had departed this life" before give their testimony]
      12. Bartholomew was preaching the Word in Thebes

      So there are the Twelve, not even counting John himself. Make of it what you
      like. What I make of it is that the list of the Twelve was subject to
      constant updating and renewal, according to local agenda, and (who knows?)
      perhaps also subject to changing facts.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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