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Re: [XTalk] Original gospel?

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... [snip] ... Let me pick up on this end of the exchange to flesh out my thoughts a little more. 1. By all accounts, Peter was a talker (loquacious?
    Message 1 of 7 , May 1 12:01 AM
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      At 05:05 PM 4/30/2009, Jack Kilmon wrote:

      >----- Original Message -----
      >From: "Bob Schacht" <r_schacht@...>
      >To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      >Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:05 PM
      >Subject: Re: [XTalk] Original gospel?
      > > At 07:53 AM 4/30/2009, Jack Kilmon wrote:
      > >


      > >>What basis did you find for "Peter's Speech" from early oral tradition,
      > >>Bob?
      > >
      > > Only the thought that in the years before Paul's letters and Mark's Gospel,
      > > the story of Jesus probably was kept alive through brief narratives such as
      > > this, embellished from time to time by the speaker with other oral
      > > traditions or creative insights.
      >I don't doubt that at all. I think there were both oral and written
      >narratives in the 40's.
      >Jack Kilmon

      Let me pick up on this end of the exchange to flesh out my thoughts a
      little more.

      1. By all accounts, Peter was a talker (loquacious? garrulous?) Just one
      example: the famous scene in Matt. 26 outside in the courtyard, while Jesus
      was getting beat up inside:

      73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter,
      "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you."

      Now, this doesn't say what Peter was saying, because it is some time
      ("after a while") after his denial in vs. 72. But despite the desperate
      circumstances, Peter must have been jabbering away, like usual.

      All four gospels quote Peter at least once, and of course Luke gives him
      speeches in Acts. And then we have the two letters attributed to Peter, as
      well, although his authorship of those letters is disputed. (Paul almost
      quotes Peter in Galatians, but it is Paul who does all the talking.) I
      haven't actually tallied the score, but I would bet that words attributed
      to Peter in the Gospels and Acts outnumber words attributed to all of the
      other disciples combined.

      2. Besides the accounts in the Gospels, Acts, and the two letters, there
      are many extra-Biblical accounts of Peter and sayings attributed to him,
      such as (per the wikipedia: Noncanonical sayings of Peter):
      * Two sayings are attributed to Peter in the
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas>Gospel of Thomas. In the
      first, Peter compares Jesus to a "just messenger." In the second, Peter
      asks Jesus to "make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve
      life," although the verse containing the latter is regarded as a dubious,
      later addition by most scholars.
      * In the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_of_Peter>Apocalypse
      of Peter, Peter holds a dialogue with Jesus about the
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_fig_tree>parable of the fig
      tree and the fate of <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinners>sinners.
      * In the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary>Gospel of Mary,
      whose text is largely fragmented, Peter appears to be jealous of "Mary"
      (probably <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene>Mary Magdalene). He
      says to the other disciples, "Did He really speak privately with a woman
      and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He
      prefer her to us?" In reply to this,
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Matthew>Levi says "Peter, you have
      always been hot tempered."
      * Other noncanonical texts that attribute sayings to Peter include the
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Book_of_James>Secret Book of James and
      the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Peter>Acts of Peter.
      * The fragmentary <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Peter>Gospel
      of Peter, attributed to Peter, contains an account of the death of Jesus
      differing significantly from the canonical gospels. It contains little
      information about Peter himself, except that after the discovery of the
      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empty_tomb>empty tomb, "I, Simon Peter, and
      Andrew my brother, took our fishing nets and went to the sea."
      3. Peter wasn't necessarily the brightest bulb in the showroom, or the best
      diplomat, or the most devout disciple (argue with me if you like.) But as
      the most loquacious talker among the disciples, it is perhaps inevitable
      that he would become spokesperson for the group, regardless of what Jesus
      might have said to him about being a rock. And as spokesperson, the other
      disciples would begin to project onto Peter the demands of leadership,
      correcting him behind the scenes, reminding him about details, and so on.
      What all this does is hone and refine what Peter *says* when he talks.

      4. Peter was a talker-- but not much of a writer. In fact, it got to the
      point where, according to church tradition, John Mark had to start
      compiling the stuff that Peter was saying, resulting eventually in the
      Gospel of Mark. According to the Wikipedia,

      >Traditionally, the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mark>Gospel of
      >Mark was said to have been written by a person named John Mark, and that
      >this person was an assistant to Peter, hence its content was traditionally
      >seen as the closest to Peter's viewpoint. According to
      >History, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias>Papias recorded this belief
      >from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Presbyter>John the Presbyter:
      >Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately
      >whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he
      >related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor
      >accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who
      >accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but
      >with no intention of giving a normal or chronological narrative of the
      >Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things
      >as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit
      >anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictional into the
      >statements.­Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.14–16
      Other writings attributed to Peter might have been written later, perhaps
      even in reaction to GMark, if they were written by him at all, or perhaps
      with a different amanuensis.

      OK, here's what I'd like to see:
      * A symposium devoted to "the historical Peter."
      * A volume like _The Five Gospels_ devoted to the literary record of
      Peter's sayings, and an evaluation of the historicity of each one, and
      their inter-relationships.
      My hypothesis is that Peter was the primary witness to the Gospel from the
      time of the crucifixion until the first letters of Paul, and that hidden
      within the literary record of Peter's sayings is an ancient tradition of
      the gospel that has not been adequately recognized for what it is. The
      short speeches of Peter, such as in Acts 3, may have more antiquity than
      has been recognized or appreciated.

      Bob Schacht
      University of Hawaii

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    • Bob Schacht
      ... Thank you for providing this link. It seems that Dodd s interest here is in ... Dodd does not actually refer specifically to Acts 3, but he does refer to
      Message 2 of 7 , May 1 12:34 AM
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        At 12:45 AM 4/30/2009, Ken Olson wrote:

        >Such an approach was proposed in C.H. Dodd, “The Framework of the Gospel
        >Narrative,” Expository Times 43 (Oct. 1931 ­ Sept. 1932):396-400,
        >available online at:

        Thank you for providing this link. It seems that Dodd's interest here is in
        "summary outlines of the life of Jesus" noticed by Martin Dibelius:

        >The evidence, he observes, does not suggest that any one outline was
        >universal, but it does suggest that some kind of outline formed a regular
        >part of the kerygma everywhere.

        Dodd does not actually refer specifically to Acts 3, but he does refer to
        the speech of Peter in Acts 10:37-41, which is actually embedded in a
        longer speech of Peter (vv. 34-43), which he refers to as one of "The
        fullest examples of such primitive kerygma."

        >37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the
        >baptism that John announced:
        > 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with
        > power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by
        > the devil, for God was with him.
        > 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem.
        > They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;
        > 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,
        > 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses,
        > and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

        Dodd concludes with this characterization:

        >I submit, therefore, that we are led to conceive the materials which Mark
        >took over from tradition
        >as being of three kinds[:]
        >(i) Isolated independent pericopæ, handed down without any connexion;
        >(ii) Larger complexes, which again may be of various kinds: genuinely
        >continuous narratives;
        >pericopæ strung upon an itinerary; pericopæ connected by unity of theme.
        >(iii) An outline of the whole ministry, designed,
        >perhaps, as an introduction to the Passion-story, but serving also as a
        >background of reference for
        >separate stories; fragments of this survive in the framework of the Gospel.

        Acts 3:13-15 is much more succinct, and it is indeed a summary of the
        Passion-story itself:

        >13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of
        >our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and
        >rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.
        > 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a
        > murderer given to you,
        > 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To
        > this we are witnesses.

        >It was criticized in D. E. Nineham, "The Order of Events in St. Mark's
        >Gospel--an examination of Dr. Dodd's Hypothesis" in Studies in the
        >Gospels, ed. Nineham (1955).

        I do not have access to Nineham's critique, and would be grateful if you or
        someone else would summarize it.

        Bob Schacht
        University of Hawaii

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