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Re: [XTalk] John the Baptist & Jesus

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  • Ted Weeden
    Steve Black wrote on August 23, 2001 ... My response: The relevant passage to which you allude, Steve, is as follows (_Myth of Innocence_, 54): The framework
    Message 1 of 46 , Aug 23, 2001
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      Steve Black wrote on August 23, 2001

      > B. Mack denies (in _Myth of Innocence_) that Jesus was baptized by
      > 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
      > circular!!
      > 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...)

      My response:

      The relevant passage to which you allude, Steve, is as follows (_Myth of
      Innocence_, 54):

      "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
      prophetic tradition."

      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
      to complete.

      Ted Weeden
    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... It seemed to me that your burden of proof argument was that you are under no obligation to prove that Q lacked the baptism. Fine, but I wasn t asking you
      Message 46 of 46 , Sep 2, 2001
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        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 make
        >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.

        It seemed to me that your burden of proof argument was that you
        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 he
        >writes up HIS arguments on this matter.

        Me too, and I hope that he has a good way to deal with the IQP's
        inclusion of the baptism as "probably in Q."

        Stephen Carlson
        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
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