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RE: [Synoptic-L] The Davidic Entry into Jerusalem

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  • Greg Crawford
    Dennis, What I believe about miracles raises a separate question from the historical one. Historically, there is a significant amount of material suggesting
    Message 1 of 50 , Nov 5, 2011

      What I believe about miracles raises a separate question from the historical
      one. Historically, there is a significant amount of material suggesting that
      Jesus' actions included those which were seen *by his contemporaries* as either
      miracles or acts of deception. As I am on the road, I cannot quote
      "chapter-and-verse" of the source which said "Jesus was a magician who led
      Israel astray"; but it is obvious that some saw Jesus' actions as something
      other than miracles. Nevertheless, this response to Jesus' actions adds further
      evidence for the existence of an historical Jesus and his involvement in actions
      many at the time considered miracles. This is a result of analysis of the mainly
      synoptic material into sources which satisfy the "multiple sources" criterion.

      The question of what I believe about miracles is a separate one. For most people
      on this list it is probably irrelevant and boring; about as important as knowing
      my favourite color. However, the question does highlight one aspect of the
      issue. The authors of our source material saw events through 1st century eyes
      and I see them through 21st century eyes. I think it highly unlikely that we can
      gain sufficient information from their observations to perform an analysis which
      would satisfy our own interpretation of reality. Let me give a modern example.
      In the course of researching a person born in the late 19th century I came
      across behaviour which *might* have been a sign of mental illness, seen through
      my 21st century eyes. I was fortunate to meet an elderly person who had known
      the person who was the target of my research. With my basic knowledge of
      psychopathology I was attempting to see if there was any behaviour that could be
      categorised into one of the categories of 21st century psychopathology. I met a
      brick wall. My elderly source person could only say that he was "strange". There
      was no getting past her analysis. The problem is not only the one of ancient
      observations through ancient eyes; it is also the ultimately time-conditioned
      nature of 21st century eyes. Most Biblical scholars, I suspect, live in the
      out-dated world of Newtonian physics. They are blissfully unaware of the
      implications of Einstein's theories of relativity on the one hand, and modern
      quantum physics on the other. Rather than plunge into a very off-topic
      discussion of such things, I only want to suggest that our "21st century eyes"
      are very much time-conditioned as well. Furthermore, there is an additional step
      in making decisions about "miracles". Such a label includes a theological
      assessment of an inexplicable event, attributing it to God. Even Jesus'
      contemporaries differed on this judgement, and it is a judgement that is
      inaccessible to historical research.

      What do I believe? I think you are really asking an historical question here,
      rather than a question about my beliefs. I think that the historical Jesus did
      something quite separate from his preaching and teaching which was enormously
      influential in either gaining followers or creating enemies. When I wear my
      historians hat I have to say that this is as far as I can get.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Dennis Goffin
      Sent: Sunday, 6 November 2011 6:46 AM
      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] The Davidic Entry into Jerusalem

      Greg, Do you believe the miracles are fictional ? If not , why not ? And
      since you raise the question of logic, on what grounds do you believe so ?

      Dennis Goffin

      Chorleywood UK

      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      From: g.c@...
      Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2011 02:02:37 +1100
      Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] The Davidic Entry into Jerusalem

      Dennis, since Jack has asked for the thinking of "anyone", and since you

      argued with a logic which I think is faulty, I want to reply.

      First, I am not sure who you are referring to in speaking of the 3 writers who

      copied Mark. Are you saying that John copied Mark?

      Second, you say:

      "To dismiss miracles as unhistorical fiction but then wish to treat the

      remainder as to be worthy of serious consideration as historical reportage, is

      in my view somewhat schizophrenic as a scholarly mode of enquiry."

      Here I think your logic becomes faulty. You have collapsed two separate notions

      into one. The first is whether a modern person can believe in miracles. The

      second is whether Jesus' contemporaries believed he performed miracles. If one

      takes the majority viewpoint on sources about Jesus and see these as being Mark,

      Q, M (Matthew's unique contributions), L (Luke's unique contributions) and John,

      it would appear that multiple sources and multiple forms attest to the fact that

      Jesus' contemporaries *believed* he performed miracles. This is a separate issue

      from the question of whether you or I believe in miracles. Once that distinction

      is made, I think that the existence of multiple sources and forms reporting

      Jesus' miracles actually strengthen the case for the historicity of Jesus. (For

      a further blow-by-blow examination of miracle traditions in the sources, see the

      appropriate volume of J. P. Meier's *A Marginal Jew*.)

      Third, you appear to be saying that when, in the Gospels, actions attributed to

      Jesus allude to past events, these so-called actions are fictional creations of

      the Gospel authors. I don't think this argument will hold much water. When one

      looks at 1st century Judaism it seems to me that the centre of ritual life in

      the Passover meal was a re-enacting of the past. Just because the Passover meal

      re-enacted the past does not mean that the ongoing celebrations of Passover

      meals were a fictional creation by some authors. Indeed, so much of Judaism

      consisted of re-enacting the past, whether it be a construing of the return

      from the Exile as a new Exodus, or the death of Jesus as an exodus. (Luke 9:31).

      In a society where so much was concerned with re-enacting the past, is it really

      too much to believe that the historical Jesus engaged in a little street

      theatre. Surely such things were a part of his own religious culture. That's not

      to say that the Gospel authors did not tweak their accounts to state the

      obvious. In Matthew 27:52-53, for example, we surely have the insertion of stage

      props to label the death/resurrection of Jesus as an eschatological event.


      -----Original Message-----

      From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of

      Dennis Goffin

      Sent: Saturday, 5 November 2011 10:50 PM

      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com

      Subject: [Synoptic-L] The Davidic Entry into Jerusalem

      Bruce, Why is the presumption here that we are dealing with an actual

      event and not an imagined event based on the OT passage ? The fact that the

      other 3 writers copy Mk means just that and no more. All we know is that we are

      reading a story. Given the number of actions of Jesus recounted in the Gospels

      which too easily recall similar tropes in the OT, should we not be more wary in

      our interpretations ?Dennis

      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com

      CC: gpg@yahoogroups.com

      From: brooks@...

      Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2011 12:02:34 -0400

      Subject: RE: [Synoptic-L] Mark's biggest sayings block (Mt 19:28)

      To: Synoptic (GPG)

      In Response To: Ron

      On: Markan Priority Etc

      From: Bruce

      The background argument here is about the viability of a Q-like hypothesis,

      this being perhaps the leading modern way in which the unsettling Gospel of

      Mark is replaced by something more to the liking of the current posterity.

      RON: . . . Nonsense. The fact that Matthew was written after Mark, does not

      necessarily show that all the material in Mark had an earlier origin than

      all the material in Matthew.

      BRUCE: But the earliness of Markan material, especially where Mt/Lk have

      parallels, is the logical first presumption, and in no place where such

      parallels exist can it convincingly be shown that Mark is later. This covers

      a large proportion of both Mt and Lk. It is, as I suppose, the chief ground

      on which the priority of Mark rests in the first place. To put it mildly,

      this situation does not create an expectation of earliness for the M, L, and

      (if I may give it a new name) ML material in Mt/Lk.

      RON: For instance, if one or both made use of an even earlier written source


      BRUCE: Which there is no a priori reason to assume.

      RON: . . . and if Mark was more inclined than Matthew to modify X, e.g. to

      better suit a Gentile audience,

      BRUCE: But there is no reason to make that assumption either, and the

      material in Mk which most strikingly suggests a Gentile audience (meaning,

      one unfamiliar with Jewish ways) is Mk 7:3-4, in parenthetical form, and

      thus not necessarily characteristic of the early layers of Mark. So what

      *does* characterize the early layers of Mark? I think Ropes (describing not

      any layers at all, but, as he supposes, the whole text of Mark) has got it

      right: Mark is an apologia for the death of Jesus. It seeks to explain that

      death to the followers of Jesus. That is, its first and primary and defining

      audience was the members of the Jesus movement shortly after the death of

      Jesus. There is an awful lot of stuff in Mark that has no other discernible

      purpose save to recount the failure of Jesus at Jerusalem, which has no

      other very obvious textual purpose save to serve as the data for the

      quaesita which Ropes sees in the text: to give that failure an

      interpretation tolerable to Jesus's followers.

      It is an excellent exercise to see what the later Gospels do with some of

      that material. Did Jesus himself stage the Davidic entry into Jerusalem, as

      Mark inescapably shows him as doing? Take a look at Matthew and the others,

      and see how well that survives in their telling. (John is especially


      RON: . . . then some of the X material will appear in a more primitive form

      in Matthew, i.e. Matthew will reflect the earlier version of that material.

      For 'X', read the logia, and this is the essence of my case.

      BRUCE: And of everybody else's, more or less. But for reasons already

      interpolated, I find the case gratuitous. It is also circular: If Matthew

      were disposed to treat the supposed X material differently than he treats

      his Markan material, then his treatment would show that the X material was

      different from Mark, and thus possibly earlier than Mark. But we do not know

      X otherwise than via Matthew (and/or Luke); the rest is supposition.

      RON: If the components of the Synoptic Problem had been as black-and-white

      as you make out here, NT scholars would surely have solved the problem long


      BRUCE: And I think that in fact they did. The trouble is that the solution

      went against current preferences in theology, which is exactly what Mark by

      itself does. I mentioned in an earlier note that though Markan Priority is

      widely conceded, it is almost never implemented in practice. Take any recent

      book (if you can afford one) on the Historical Jesus. What Gospels do they

      cite? By and large, they cite all the Synoptics together, without any

      consistent sense that some Synoptic evidence might be of more weight than

      other Synoptic evidence, and with Matthew very prominent among the

      citations. So yes, the problem (insofar as it consists of Synoptic sequence)

      has been solved, at least in a rough crude way, but that solution is dead,

      inert, and nonfunctional in contemporary scholarly discourse. It does not

      guide contemporary scholarly discourse. The Synoptic Problem does not so

      much need to be solved again (though I and a few others have been trying to

      urge some refinements) as the old solution needs to find ears willing to

      hear it. So far, the record is not very impressive. But perhaps another

      decade will tell a different story.

      RON (to my comment that anybody can write in a parallelistic style): Again

      this is incorrect. Only a very small percentage of the first-century

      population knew how to write.

      BRUCE: Red herring, and even the herring is wrong. What counts is the

      capacity of the literate, whatever their absolute numbers, to write in

      parallelistic style. No one acquainted in any serious degree with the Jewish

      Scriptures was unfamiliar with parallelistic style, as characterizing

      Scriptural pronouncement. That is the point of relevance for the writers of

      the Gospels, or of any other texts of which the Gospel writers made use. And

      as for the nonliterate majority, what about the old guy over there in the

      corner, who had never learned his letters, but had spent a lifetime

      absorbing and indeed memorizing large chunks of Scripture. What if he went

      forth on alternate days as a street preacher, making up tales or sayings of

      Jesus? Doing so in parallel fashion would have been, to him, approximately

      as easy as breathing.

      RON: Besides this there are other indications of the early origin of the

      aphorisms. (1) Jesus the Jew was known as a teacher. If he didn't teach

      parables which just happen to fit the needs of Gentile churches, or parables

      whose style is suspiciously Lukan, he must have taught aphorisms such as the

      mission instructions, the authenticity of part of which was confirmed by

      Paul in 1 Cor 9:14, c.f. 1 Cor 1:21-23a & 1 Thess 5:2,6 which also reflect

      early synoptic aphorisms.

      BRUCE: The Twelve myth (on the exiguousness of which in Mark, see again

      Eduard Meyer, with or without my subsequent improvements) was widespread. It

      was widespread at a certain time. But what time? Paul alludes to it as

      common property in the mid 50's. Not that Paul is always strictly accurate

      in his claims of what everyone believes, but suppose that to be correct.

      Then when did that symbolic organizational myth, the myth of the Twelve,

      arise? On present evidence, at any time between 30 and, say, 53. Lots of

      room in there. Do we have witnesses to the early tradition of Jesus's

      followers? Yes we do, in the Rabbinic literature. Then (accepting Klausner's

      report) how many of those followers does Rabbinic tradition report? Twelve?

      Nope: Five; same number as in Mark. Are the Rabbinic Five the same as the

      Markan Five? Again, nope. They are a later substitution set, the population

      of the Jesus leadership after the death of James Zebedee and the flight of

      Paul (see again my SBL paper of 2010). John Zebedee is there, but not James.

      Interesting fact, or so I should have thought. It would seem to date the

      Rabbinic inventory of the Five to shortly after the year c44.

      Let me pause a moment over this. Scholarship has accustomed itself to the

      idea that Paul is the earliest witness to Christianity, and thus to Jesus.

      But all we know of Paul's beliefs is that (a) they were violently opposed to

      those of some other Christians, not least but not exclusively at Corinth,

      Paul's own treatment of those differences being as violent as could be

      desired, and (b) we know absolutely nothing of the content of Paul's beliefs

      earlier than his own epistles, meaning, earlier than the decade of the

      Fifties. Repeat: Nothing. A seven-year span, from c50 to c55 or so, and that

      toward the end of Paul's life, is all we know firsthand about Paul. What he

      believed in the Forties we do not know, and as to what beliefs he

      encountered as a foe of the Christians in the Thirties, we do not know them

      either, though we do know that he sought to persecute unto death those who

      held them.

      Some witness.

      RON (proceeding with evidence for earliness in Mt/Lk material): (2) The

      leaders of the original apostles thrived for 30 years in Jerusalem from ca.

      30 CE to ca. 60 CE.

      BRUCE: No. The myth of Jerusalem is propounded by Matthew, and echoed by a

      somewhat chastened Luke, in (among other things) the claim that Jesus's

      appearances to his disciples, the key proof of the Resurrection, occurred in

      Jerusalem. But Mark makes it obvious that the Appearance of Jesus took place

      in Galilee. Lohmeyer and a few others have had the colossal nerve to take

      this fact seriously. I think their nerve is well bestowed, and that we have

      here a Jerusalemization trajectory running through all four Gospels (John

      even Jerusalemizes the teaching career of Jesus, with some ludicrous results

      in terms of narrative inconcinnity). See again my Trajectories paper,


      in which four of the most obvious ones are briefly spelled out. Keith Yoder

      has called attention to data which in effect defines a fifth Trajectory; see


      This is very careful work, and I think firmly establishes its thesis. Given

      the implication of the Trajectories, not only is Mark early, but early in a

      developmental sense; that is, early in ways which cannot with historical

      plausibility be reversed. For instance, it is not within the realm of the

      probable that the Jesus movement began in Jerusalem and later spread to

      provincial Galilee, to take up its HQ at the seaside village of Capernaum,

      there to make up trifling tales about Peter's mother-in-law. The likelihood

      is all the other way. But if so, the idea that the direction of Christian

      matters was from the beginning located in Jerusalem will have to be

      rejected. It wasn't.

      RON: Surely they produced something in writing during this period to back up

      their cause.

      BRUCE: There is a lot of traditional material about what the Twelve taught,

      in their role as teachers. Of course the texts we have are late, and they

      are also fantastical, and worse, they are uncanonical (except for the We

      material in Acts, which has somewhat of the same character, including

      miracles wrought by Paul). But it is surely interesting that the thrust of

      that teaching is overwhelmingly non-Resurrection. That is, it is at more or

      less the doctrinal level of (a) the early layers of Mark, (b) the Epistle of

      James, (c) the hymn embedded in Philippians 2, and (d) in further liturgical

      terms, the Didache and the earlier Two Ways tract of which the Didache

      incorporates the earliest form (the one in Barnabas is much later, and has

      been rearranged by someone who did not understand its original logic). That

      is, the Apostolic literature, in its overall tenor, is very much in the

      doctrinal line of these extant and early documents, some canonical and some

      not. But very little of this literature has anything to do with the

      Resurrection; it preaches a quite different Christianity. So what the

      Apostles produced, or conformed to, insofar as the Apostolic literature is

      worth anything as evidence, is likely to be an early form of Christianity,

      the thing whose basic teachings were propounded before the death of Jesus.

      (And let me note parenthetically that the Resurrection interpretation about

      Jesus's death can hardly have arisen before his death, for all that Mark,

      when Mark finally comes to embrace Resurrection theology, tries to provide

      predictions thereof - predictions at which Mark honestly enough shows

      Jesus's lifetime followers as rejecting).

      We know that Paul in the Fifties held a strong version of the Resurrection

      theory, namely the Atonement theory, that Jesus not only survived his death,

      but that his death is the key event in salvation history. Luke reports Paul

      at great length in Acts. Does the Lukan Paul hold the Atonement theory?

      Nope. Why not? Perhaps it has something to do with the authorial purposes of

      Luke. I forbear to cite yet another paper of my own, but surely this fact

      bears thinking about.

      RON (with a third reason for the earliness of the Mt/Lk material): (3)

      Certain of the aphorisms contain evidence of mistranslation from Aramaic,

      and word play which only works in Aramaic. This takes their origin back to

      the time of the original apostles.

      BRUCE: The Aramaic sea is one of storms, with people who know Aramaic

      disagreeing about what is a mistranslation and what is acceptable if

      inelegant Greek. At which a non-Aramaic-possessing bystander like myself can

      only stare in puzzlement. But I think it is fair to say that not all who

      seem to be capable of judging the matter agree with Torrey, or with each

      other, about the extent of Aramaic mistranslation. Let us however suppose

      that there are incontrovertible cases. Do those necessarily take us back to

      "the time of the original apostles?" No, they don't. Aramaic continued in

      use for centuries after Jesus; an origin in Aramaic does not, of itself,

      prove an early date. What are the dates of the Aramaic Targums?

      RON: (4) A few of the aphorisms reveal a Jewish environment in which

      Gentiles were seen as alien. This places their origin firmly before the

      massive expansion of the Jesus movement inspired by Paul, and well before

      the period when the gospels were penned.

      BRUCE: Again, no, though this too is a very widely held idea.

      There are a very few places in the NT generally in which "the Jews" are

      perceived as alien (gJohn has a couple, the interpolation in the otherwise

      Pauline 1 Thess is a famous example). This is good evidence for a church

      which has separated itself from Judaism, and cast off its Jewish roots, as

      Marcion wanted all Christians to do. Note that they are either clearly

      post-70 (the 1 Thess interpolation, 1 Thess 2:13-16, see Walker, whose

      easiest interpretation is a reference to Titus in 70) or very late 1c


      As for the Gentiles seen as alien (the other side of the coin), the Gentile

      mission (the validity of accepting Gentile converts, and eventually, the

      whole "Jewish Christian" controversy) is variously regarded in Mark, and

      also as between Matthew and Luke (both of whom symbolize Gentiles as

      Samaritans). That Mark in his early layers, and Matthew at certain moments

      (eg, Go not to any town of the Samaritans) show the Jesus message as

      directed exclusively at Jews, proves, I should have thought, that these

      Gospels in fact reflect, or in the case of Matthew, at least remember, the

      time when this was indeed the case: the time before the open acceptance of a

      Gentile Mission. A time before the universalization of Christianity. If so,

      then it is not correct to say that this perception of Gentiles as alien

      existed "well before the Gospels were penned." Instead, it is correct to say

      that it existed *at the time* the earliest segments of the two earliest

      Gospels were penned.

      RON (to my dating of the Taylor Apocalypse segments and Mk 10:39): Such

      early dating of Mark seems fashionable in some circles. I don't agree with

      it, but this would take us into a whole new debate.

      BRUCE: No, it is very much the substance of the present debate (see above).

      The problem with several published early datings of Mark (eg Wenham) is that

      they assume that Mark is integral, which it is not, and make other

      assumptions and inferences with which I, for one, am not prepared to go

      along. I would not call that position "fashionable" (a plonking word, in any

      case); I would call it marginal, meaning merely, not widely held by the

      professionals. My position is that the early date of Mark comes up for

      serious consideration when it is realized that Mark, as an accretional text,

      does not have a single date of composition, but a span during which its

      formative process took place.

      RON: Talk about swings and roundabouts. You start with a rigidly

      black-and-white synoptic gospel dependence view, and you end with a Markan

      analysis whose complexity is reminiscent of Kloppenborg's layering of Q. In

      neither case does the nature of the data justify such complex layering. But

      let's count our blessings: at least you are analyzing a document that

      actually existed.

      BRUCE: This misrepresents my view, which perhaps is best strategy for those

      whose own views conflict. It should be obvious, but let me nevertheless

      note, that Kloppenborg's layering of Q does not impugn (nor would it

      support) my stratification of Mark; for that matter, it does not necessarily

      impugn the Q layering of Allison or the Thomas layering of DeConick and

      others. No result for any one text necessarily constrains solutions for any

      other text, whether reached by the same or different persons. Except in fun,

      and I am not prepared to reduce the present issue to the level of fun. I

      think it is important, and needs serious thought.


      The evidence for multiple stages in a text, at least the evidence to which I

      try to confine myself, is manifest, open, and apparent. It is not

      suppositious; it is there for everybody. It consists in things like the

      intrusiveness of Mk 14:28 (which interrupts a sequence, and is ignored, in

      the following verse, by the person to whom it is supposedly addressed,

      namely Peter in 14:29. who speaks to the issue of 14:27, not to the

      blockbuster promise of 14:28). Or the intrusiveness of Mk 16:7 (ditto,

      mutatis mutandis). At last report, Ron actually accepted these two passages

      as intrusive; that is, as not originally part of Mark. Given that starting

      point, and agreeing to accept as equally intrusive other passages in Mark

      with comparable credentials, we rather quickly reach a stratified model for

      Mark. Which is what I have done.

      But suppose we stop with just Mk 14:28 and 16:7. That is the position

      occupied by Frederick C Grant in the Fifties, and by Ron today. To what

      position does this acceptance lead us? It leads us to the conclusion that

      what these two obviously related interpolations provide was not originally

      present in Mark, and that it is their purpose to supply it. What then do

      they provide? They provide a prediction of an Appearance of Jesus to his

      disciples, not in Jerusalem, but in Galilee. Without those passages, could

      we say that Mark envisions an appearance to the disciples in Galilee? Yes,

      but rather indirectly, and with the important qualification that the said

      Appearance would have been a surprise to the disciples, not an expected and

      indeed a promised event.

      Two question follow, and then the midweek is over.

      1. Given the reality of an appearance of Jesus to his disciples in Galilee,

      is there any other text besides Mark (that is, Mark without these two

      interpolations) which agrees in making that event a surprise to the

      disciples? Yes, the Gospel of Peter, where the disciples go fishing, rather

      than setting out to see Jesus. Of course the Gospel breaks off at an

      unfortunate place, but that much can be firmly said. Still firmer is the

      version of that tale which was added to the otherwise finished Gospel of

      John, as Jn 21 (the original Gospel ended at Jn 20). Here the story is

      complete, not interrupted, and again, the disciples are surprised to see

      Jesus, to all intents and purposes alive again, and cooking fish for lunch.

      Then several attested and recoverable traditions portray the appearance of

      Jesus in Galilee as unexpected, and those traditions (given the interpolated

      nature of the predictions in Mark) are earlier than the others.

      2. Why were the interpolations added? Those with an essay of their own may

      contribute it, either to this list or to Princeton, where it counts toward

      AP Reading. But in the meantime I would say, they were added to avoid the

      impression that anything important in the life of Jesus was a surprise to

      Jesus; to give him divine foreknowledge of every part of it. And is there

      any other sign of such a preference or tendency? Yes, see again the

      Trajectory Arguments. I should think that this one tiny detail is part of

      the long process of the divinization of Jesus, one aspect of which is the

      increasing omniscience of Jesus in the later texts. Is that development

      intelligible in general historical, or history-of-religion terms? Nothing

      more so; it is how movement founders, whether religious or otherwise, are

      very commonly seen by their later followers, and the later the followers,

      the more complete the divinization (or its secular equivalent,


      So the first position in Mark, that Jesus did not predict his own Appearance

      in Galilee, is on general as well as philological principles likely to be

      earlier than the one to which the two interpolated passages lead us. If so,

      then Mark contains within it two stages in its own evolution, and those

      stages can be recognized by anyone (not necessarily Frederick C Grant,

      though that probably helps) who can see the signs of inconcinnity in the

      passages in question.

      I think it is thus manifest, even from this tiny example - the common

      ground, as far as I know, between Ron and myself - that Mark contains more

      than one stratum of material, and that the earlier stratum is different from

      the later stratum in doctrinally consequential ways. The question is whether

      that fact is general rather than isolated, and whether, isolated or not, it

      leads anywhere. My answer to both is Yes.


      E Bruce Brooks

      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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    • Ronald Price
      ... Jeff, Indeed, Paul himself apparently claimed to have performed signs and wonders, though it should be noted in regard to the latter reference above, which
      Message 50 of 50 , Nov 10, 2011
        Jeff Peterson wrote:

        > ..... while Paul doesn't mention signs
        > and wonders performed by Jesus, he does regard signs and wonders as marking
        > apostles of the risen Christ (Rom 15:18–19; 2 Cor 12:12).


        Indeed, Paul himself apparently claimed to have performed signs and wonders,
        though it should be noted in regard to the latter reference above, which is
        Paul's strongest statement on the subject, that the context is his desperate
        desire to present himself as a true apostle. Also he was somewhat agitated
        (2 Cor 12:11).

        But unfortunately none of the four claims to deeds of power (your two plus 1
        Thess 1:5 and 1 Cor 2:4) are accompanied by details. Consequently we can't
        be sure what Paul meant, and there is at least the possibility that he was
        referring to the drama of mass conversions which this persuasive missionary
        no doubt initiated.

        > It wouldn't be a great leap to suppose that Paul had heard reports from
        > Cephas, James, et al. of signs and wonders performed by Christ .....

        But this is nothing more than a supposition, and its perceived likelihood
        depends on whether or not we consider (on other grounds) that Jesus was a
        miracle worker.

        So I still maintain that our only independent witness to Jesus as a miracle
        worker is the gospel of Mark.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

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