Re: [XTalk] John the Baptist & Jesus
- Steve Black wrote on August 23, 2001
> B. Mack denies (in _Myth of Innocence_) that Jesus was baptized byMy response:
> John. This appears to me to reveal a real weakness in his method. Its
> been a while since I've read this book, and I do not own a copy, but
> if my memory serves me correctly, Mack suggests that Mark has Jesus
> baptized in order to connect Jesus to the religious environment of
> the day. (Now - I may not be 100% on here, due to faulty memory...)
> Mack wants, it seems, to create as non-religious a Jesus as possible,
> and thus for him the baptism is a problem. This is extremely
> A few questions...
> 1. Does this above assessment basically capture Mack's thought?
> 2. Any comments on my assessment of Mack on this point?
> 3. Does any one other than Mack doubt that baptism of Jesus by John?
> (I know of no other...)
The relevant passage to which you allude, Steve, is as follows (_Myth of
"The framework stories of the gospels are the most highly mythologized type
of material. They include the narratives of Jesus' birth, baptism,
transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection, and post-resurrection
appearances. The transfiguration story is purely mythological, as are the
birth narratives, the story of the empty tomb, and the appearances of the
resur- rected Jesus to the disciples. Critical scholars would not say that
these derive from reminiscences. The baptism story is also mythic, but in
this case may derive from lore about Jesus and John the Baptist. Lore about
John and Jesus is present in the sayings tradition, in a pronouncement
story, and other legends both in Q and in Mark. John the Baptist was a
public figure whose social role was similar to that of Jesus and whose
followers were regarded by some followers of Jesus as competitors. Except
for the baptism story, however, there is no indication that Jesus and John
crossed paths. As the story stands it serves to link Jesus up with a mythic
view of Israel's history and point up the contrast between Jesus and John:
Jesus will not baptize with water as John does, but with the spirit. So the
lore is mostly legend to confirm Jesus' importance as a figure of epic
proportions. It belongs to the later layers of Q, composed not much before
the time of Mark, and thus represents a stage of reflection where interest
in the founder of the Jesus movements gave rise to biographical depiction."
I also draw your attention to a quote from Mack's _The Lost Gospel: the Book
of Q and Christian Origins_, 155, where Mack explicitly, though
parenthetically, states that Mark created the story of Jesus' baptism.
Here is the passage:
"According to the authors of Q2, John the Baptist never met Jesus (it was
Mark who invented the story about Jesus being baptized by John). Thus John
does not know about Jesus until his disciples tell him about the healing.
When they tell him, John wants to know whether Jesus is the one he had
announced as the one to come. He sends his disciples to inquire about
this, and Jesus answers the question by telling them to report what they had
seen and heard: "The blind recover their sight, the lame walk, lepers are
cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are given
good news" (QS 16). This is an oblique reference to the miracles of healing
predicted by Isaiah for the time of Israel's restoration. The healing
story, John's query, and Jesus' allusions to a prophecy of constructive
restoration made it possible to start thinking of Jesus in terms of the
I think Burton Mack may well be right. I am leaning strongly to the
position that Mark created the baptism story by drawing upon the John
Baptist material in 2Q (specifically 2Q 3:16b and 2Q 7:27 (I consider 2Q
7:27 to be an original and integral part of 2Q 7:18-35 and not, contra Leif
Vaage and others, a late insertion). Mark, in my judgment, created the
divine epiphany following the baptism (1:10-11). At this point I do not
think, contrary to the suggestion of _CEQ_, 18-20, that the divine epiphany
was ever a part of Q. I have been working on the development of this
thesis for some time. I hope to present a essay in the near future in which
I will make a case for what Mack only parenthetically declares in _The Lost
Gospel_. But I cannot do that until I finish other essays I am now trying
- At 04:26 PM 9/2/01 -0500, William Arnal wrote:
>Nah, for the reasons I've suggested above. I also think I've failed to makeIt seemed to me that your burden of proof argument was that you
>myself clear as to what I was getting at on the "burden of proof" argument,
>so maybe we should drop this. I agree that historical standards should be
>"more probable than not," but I was trying to get at how certain KINDS of
>arguments aren't on par with their counter-arguments.
are under no obligation to prove that Q lacked the baptism. Fine,
but I wasn't asking you to prove that. Rather, when a credible
case has been made for its inclusion, as it has because it did
convince the IQP, I was asking for you to point out how the case
is too weak to sustain the conclusion instead of just telling me
that you personally weren't persuaded. Since you did attempt to
point out the case's weaknesses, I would like to thank you for
>But on this issue, I'd like to hear what Ted Weeden has to say, when heMe too, and I hope that he has a good way to deal with the IQP's
>writes up HIS arguments on this matter.
inclusion of the baptism as "probably in Q."
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35