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[XTalk] Re: Why not GJohn?

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... Bizarre historiography if you ask me. The burden of proof is ALWAYS on the person making the argument. It is evident that 4G portrays Jesus as saying some
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 31, 1999
      Steve Davies wrote:

      > I'm afraid the burden of proof might well be upon the denial
      > that any such sayings derived from HJ himself. We have one source that insists
      > that he spoke practically nothing but such sayings and other sources that
      > provide some slight confirmation thereof.

      Bizarre historiography if you ask me. The burden of proof is ALWAYS on
      the person making the argument. It is evident that 4G portrays Jesus as
      saying some things. It is equally evident that the other gospels portray
      Jesus as speaking quite differently. The historical question is whether
      ANY of these sayings can be demonstrated (1) to antedate those texts &
      (2) to have been formed by the mind & lips of the Yeshu bar Yosef of
      Nazareth who was crucified by Pontius Pilate. Since *he* was not himself
      the author of any of these texts & died decades before they were
      written, it is a hard enough task to show that *some* of the sayings
      that reflect one mindset were probably formulated by this person & no
      other. It is infinitely more difficult to prove that sayings that
      reflect a totally different mindset came from the mouth of the same
      historical person unless we have witnesses that testify that he spoke in
      one way on some occasions & in another way on others.

      But we do not have that. With the sole exception of 1 verse from Q --
      which reads like a third person comment by a Christian scribe -- there
      are *no* sayings of a Johannine type in any of the synoptics, which as
      you well know are *not* simply 3 versions of Mark when it comes to
      sayings material. Thus, we have three separate authors using oral &
      written sources (some the same, some different) whose texts were
      probably composed in 3 different areas over the last 3 decades of the
      1st c. who (for whatever reason) did not draw on any of the material
      used almost exclusively by a 4th, that according to tradition at least
      was written later. And we have a 5th text - a compendium of sayings
      collected by goodness knows how many scribes over how many decades -
      that has elements of both types.

      The Johannine thunderbolt shows that 1 saying of a type later
      popularized by 4G was in the non-Markan source used by the two later
      synoptics. What this proves is that some scribe decades before 4G saw
      nothing amiss with ascribing to J himself the type of exclusive
      Father/Son creedal affirmations commonly used by Paul & other early Xn
      writers. But it neither proves that this saying actually came from the
      mouth of HJ nor does it confirm 4G's claim that this was J's
      characteristic way of speaking. Nor do any statements by Paul or any
      other 1st c. writer confirm this. For their statements roughly parallel
      to that of the Johannine Jesus are not credited to him.

      You claim they credited these sayings to "the Spirit." But it remains to
      be demonstrated that the voice & vocabulary of that spirit came from the
      mouth of the precrucified HJ rather than from later charismatic prophets
      intent on glorifying the risen one. So what you have is a brilliant
      hunch, my friend, that you & others may choose to believe but which I
      don't know how you can prove.





      Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
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