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Re: The Johannine Solution

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  • Kym Smith
    Bruce, I would like to have completed my response to your former post but I had better keep up with your current rather than have you running too far ahead.
    Message 1 of 5 , May 27, 2007
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      I would like to have completed my response to your former post but I had better keep up with your current rather than have you running too far ahead. Perhaps we will return to the other.

      <<<BRUCE: . the apostles whom Paul stigmatizes as "false apostles" are still called by him "apostles," he just disagrees with what they preach. They would doubtless have said the same or worse of him. And as for the perspective from which we in our time might reject some apostles (teachers of the Way) as false, why should we side with Paul against Apollos? . Gal 2:11f attests conflict between people Kym is willing to call apostles. I should think that clinches it. And what of the Peter/Paul conflict implied in 1 Cor 1:12?>>>

      No, they may have been self-proclaimed apostles, but they were NOT apostles that the Church should have recognized. If you are going to allow that the PSEUDAPOSTOLOI (2 Cor 11:13) were only different from the twelve in degrees, will you also allow that the only difference between the PSEUDOCHRISTOI of Mk 13:22 and Christ is one of degrees?

      And there is no siding between Paul and Apollos, it was not with Apollos or Cephas/Peter that Paul had difficulties but with the Corinthians who wrongly preferred one over the other (1 Cor 3:4-9,22).

      <<<BRUCE: Why can't we believe that Apollos would have taken the Pauline reindoctrination and been grateful for it?>>>

      Obviosly he did, he was encouraged and given a letter of recommendation by the Pauline camp (Acts 18:27) and he became a co-worker with Paul (1 Cor 4:6; 16:12).

      <<< And I do not accept Kym's treatment of "contentions in the early churches" as though they were of no account. At stake here are things like the Doctrine of the Resurrection. Basic and consequential. The large point is that Christian doctrine, even about fundamental things like whether Christ died for your sins, was diverse, and stridently so, in the earliest times for which we have anything like evidence. Sometimes named apostles, or named other figures, are associated with one or the other side of these differences; sometimes not. Either way, the basic fact is the fact of ideological disagreement.>>>

      No difference was of no account, but contentions between true and false apostles is one thing, 'ideological disagreements' between true apostles would have destroyed the Church.

      <<<BRUCE: Kym quotes Pauline materials, and post-Pauline ones at that, in support of Pauline doctrine. It may be conceded that these materials support Pauline doctrine. The question is, was there any other doctrine? Consider John the Baptist. He preached a Gospel of Repentance, and be baptized the repentant as a symbol of the washing away of their sins. John was not the Christ, and he had no doctrine of Atonement, or of other mechanism of forgiveness, to rely on, either at the time or prospectively.>>>

      Oh? "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

      <<<In John's world, which is also the world in which Jesus began, what gets the sinner forgiven is the sinner's repentance. This is very OT, but not for that less likely as a doctrine of John. It is then relevant that Jesus follows in the line of John, and is himself baptized by John, and is himself said at that point in Mk to preach a gospel of repentance. The Markan story implies (if you think about it, and Matthew evidently thought about it) that Jesus had sins to forgive; Matthew's account of it answers this difficulty by making the baptism pro forma merely; in Lk and Jn it is pushed further and further offstage, and Jn, John the Baptist himself articulates the Doctrine of Atonement, with Jesus right there in front of him, and thus still a long way from the Cross. This last, at least to me, is unreal in the extreme. What the Gospels together show is first a naive acknowledgement of the Baptism as a fact, then an increasing discomfort with it as a rite with implications for the purity of Jesus, and finally with a replacement of the theology of forgiveness implied by John's baptism with a new theology of atonement. This progression through the Gospels, always in the order Mk > Mt > Lk > Jn (though Mt/Lk can be very close together on some issues) is what I have called a Trajectory. The Baptism of Jesus is to me one of the clearest Trajectories, and it clearly shows the evolution of theories of Jesus in the period to which the Gospels collectively are witnesses.>>>

      This development, if you are right about the sequence and timing of the gospels, takes Jesus from a sinner to a Saviour. So what kind of Jesus do you believe in? The former can do nothing for anyone else's sin, the latter would appear to be a fabrication to improve on earlier, inadequate ideas. Neither, then, could do us any good!

      <<<BRUCE: .But I ask, with von Soden and others: What exactly was Jesus preaching in the meantime, in synagogues up and down Galilee; what doctrine struck the Capernahumites as both new and authoritative? He must have been SAYING something in advance of establishing himself as a dead, and thus a risen, person. What does Kym think that was? With what teachings did he temporize in those years, with what doctrinal place-holders did he hold the thousands spellbound for days? It's a real question, and I would appreciate an answer from anyone who has one to give. >>>

      In one sense, it did not matter what he was preaching. The people held him, as they did John the Baptist, to be a prophet. Add to that the miracles he performed and it is no wonder the people flocked to him. What we are told, whatever the actual content of his teaching was, that Jesus:

      '.went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people' (Mt 4:23).

      What he did teach was primarily for his disciples and veiled from others (e.g. Matt 13:10-17). Even what he opened up for the disciples was often not understood (e.g. Mt 16:2123; Mk 6:52; 9:9-10, 32; Lk 9:45). Jn, of course, holds much of his 'plain' teaching which, for its directness, put him in conflict with those who were threatened by it and him. Besides healing the sick, we know that he did encourage the people in forgiveness (Mt 9:2) and righteous living (Mt 5-7). Those who were just on for the ride were, no doubt, tantalized by his parables or amused and often self-seeking with the signs he performed (Mt 8:16; Mk 6:53-56; Jn 6:26). The main issue continues to be that Jesus could not teach plainly about the Atonement, for example, until he had actually made atonement. A major part of what he spoke about after his resurrection - which formed the basis of the apostles' doctrine - must have included this matter (e.g. Lk 24:26,32,44-45; Acts 1:3) .

      <<<KYM: My view, as you know, is that there is an insignificant time-gap between the gospels.
      BRUCE: I know it; few better. And I reject it. The Gospels show, not signs of simultaneity, but signs of linear growth, the kind of growth that takes years rather than weeks to happen. In an earlier age, faith was troubled by the evidence in the rocks, and in the fossils that they contained, that geological and biological processes of fantastic duration had taken place long before the present age. Yet Scripture (as interpreted in orthodox circles) held that the Earth had been created only 6,000 years ago, and the evidence of geology must thus be some sort of misleading anomaly. Was it Kingsley, who said at that time that he could not believe that "God has written on the rocks one enormous and superfluous lie?" Well, I stand with Kingsley. I cannot believe that men have contrived to write, in the folded and fissured and fossilized record of the Gospels, an intentional simulacrum of something that did not actually take place, namely, a slow development of Jesus theory and indeed of congregational practice, over many decades.>>>

      Firstly, I hope that your mention of some peoples understanding of the 'youth' of the earth is not to imply that that is my view. It is not - though I think God would be capable of doing so if he so pleased. The issue at stake, however, the time-lapse between the Gospels, is not affected in anyway by one's view of creation. The layering of the rock strata has nothing to do with the layering of the Gospels. Even so, if we are capable of imposing a preconceived understanding on the rock strata which can be clearly observed, we are even more capable of imposing a theory of stratification on the various, ambiguous and at times enigmatic literary forms of the gospel. Our motives in such things are often less than pure!

      Well Bruce, that's it! I concede defeat. Not defeat in what may be true about the gospels but defeat as far as being able to keep up with you on the list. I hoped to be able to chip away at some essential points but your output has overwhelmed me. I've been thinking today as I have tried to find the time to give to your posts and it seems to me I have other priorities which will neglected if I try to keep up the level correspondence your posts demand. Sad, because I asked for some interaction, got it, and now I'm bailing out. Succinctness - both in length of posts and subject (i.e. the Synoptic Problem) may have allowed a longer and more fruitful discussion. The time I am giving to reading and responding, however, is too much given my primary, pastoral responsibilities in a parish and a hospital. I suspect some interesting issues have been uncovered on both sides - perhaps some unexpected ones.


      Kym Smith

      St Luke's Anglican Church


      South Australia


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