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Re: [XTalk] Dating John

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  • Emmanuel Fritsch
    Hello Peter, I think the most important before computing is to explain how you want to compute. What is your modus operandi ? a+ manu
    Message 1 of 9 , May 2, 2002
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      Hello Peter,

      I think the most important before computing is to explain
      how you want to compute. What is your modus operandi ?

    • Peter Kirby
      ... From: Emmanuel Fritsch To: Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 10:01 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating John
      Message 2 of 9 , May 2, 2002
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Emmanuel Fritsch" <emmanuel.fritsch@...>
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 10:01 AM
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating John

        > Hello Peter,
        > I think the most important before computing is to explain
        > how you want to compute. What is your modus operandi ?

        The computation is executed by the program that I described in my post "The
        Dater Program." Here is that post:


        The source code in C++ is provided here:


        And here is the algorithm in a sentence: Assuming even background probabilities
        for every year between the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem for a
        document, and supplied with the six points of data on each author and with the
        three points of data on each piece of other evidence, make use of the definition
        of conditional probability and Bayes's Theorem in order to determine the
        probability that the document was written in any given year given each
        individual author or piece of evidence, and then compute the probabilities of
        the document being written in each year given all the information by applying
        the independent version of Bayes's Rule to the probabilities calculated for each
        individual data point.

        I am afraid that some knowledge of probability theory as well as C++ will be
        necessary in order to follow all the details. If you have any specific
        questions or concerns, I would be happy to address them.

        Peter Kirby
      • Peter Kirby
        ... From: Jack Kilmon To: Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 7:06 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating John ...
        Message 3 of 9 , May 6, 2002
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...>
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 7:06 PM
          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Dating John

          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: "Peter Kirby" <kirby@...>
          > To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          > Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 7:59 PM
          > Subject: [XTalk] Dating John
          > > Kysar states that most scholars today see the historical setting of the
          > > Gospel of John in the expulsion of the community from the synagogue (ibid.,
          > > p. 918). The word aposynagogos is found three times in the gospel (9:22,
          > > 12:42, 16:2). The high claims made for Jesus and the response to them
          > > (5:18), the polemic against "the Jews" (9:18, 10:31, 18:12, 19:12), and the
          > > assertion of a superiority of Christian revelation to the Hebrew (1:18,
          > > 6:49-50, 8:58) show that "the Johannine community stood in opposition to the
          > > synagogue from which it had been expelled." (p. 918)
          > >
          > > Kysar states concerning the dating of the Gospel of John: "Those who relate
          > > the expulsion to a formal effort on the part of Judaism to purge itself of
          > > Christian believers link the composition of the gospel with a date soon
          > > after the Council of Jamnia, which is supposed to have promulgated such an
          > > action. Hence, these scholars would date John after 90. Those inclined to
          > > see the expulsion more in terms of an informal action on the part of a local
          > > synagogue are free to propose an earlier date." (p. 919)
          > Brach 28b: "Said R. Gamaliel to the Sages: Can anyone among you frame a
          benediction relating to the minim? (was censored to Sadducees but has now been
          restored from an older version). JBrach 4, 8a; Tbrach 3,25 ..Samuel the Lesser
          arose and composed it. The date of the Birkhat ha-Minim MUST be between 80
          (when Gamaliel became Nasi and the date of Shmuel ha-qatan's death (90 CE).
          Dating between 80 and 90 are Lagrange, Parkes, Jocz, Davies, Winters, Carroll,
          hence I would place the Birkhat haMinim about 85 CE and believe it stimulated
          not only the composition of 4G, fleshed around an earlier primitive Semitic
          document, but also GMatthew as well.

          I have come across a viewpoint that could call into question our argument for a
          dating of John. I will quote the relevant portions of this article:

          Kimelman, Reuven. "Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an
          Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity." In Jewish and Christian
          Self-Definition. Ed. E. P. Sanders. Volume Two. Aspects of Judaism in the
          Greco-Roman Period. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981. Pp. 226-44.

          The Genizah version of the birkat ha-minim reads as

          1. For the apostates let there be no hope.
          2. And let the arrogant government be speedily
          uprooted in our days.
          3. Lt the nosrim and the minim be destroyed in a
          4. And let them be blotted out of the Book of Life
          and not be inscribed together with the righteous.
          5. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who humblest the

          Reuven Kimelman writes (p. 244):

          The following are the salient results of our
          investigation of the birkat ha-minim:

          1. Birkat ha-minim was not directed against Gentile
          Christians, but against Jewish sectarians.

          2. The Genizah version which reads ha-nosrim
          ve-ha-minim was directed primarily against Jewish

          3. There is no unambiguous evidence that Jews cursed
          Christians during the statutory prayers.

          4. There is abundant evidence that Christians were
          welcomed in the synagogue.

          5. Thus birkat ha-minim does not reflect a watershed
          in the history of the relationship between Jews and
          Christians in the first centuries of our era.

          6. Apparently, there never was a single edict which
          caused the so-called irreparable separation between
          Judaism and Christianity. The separation was rather
          the result of a long process dependent upon local
          situations and ultimately upon the political power of
          the church.

          Kimelman writes (pp. 239-240):

          What about the patristic evidence? Not only is
          evidence lacking from rabbinic sources that Gentile
          Christians were excluded from the synagogue, there is
          abundant evidence from patristic sources that
          Christians were frequenting the synagogues quite
          often. Indeed, there is far-flung evidence that it
          was the church leadership that strove to keep
          Christians away from the synagogue and not the Jews
          who were excluding them. Such protest from the church
          Fathers demonstrates the receptivity of the synagogue
          to Christians. This situation is highly unlikely if
          the synagogue liturgy contained a daily curse against

          It is of no small significance to note that Jewish
          receptivity to Christians is precisely where rabbinic
          Judaism had made its strongest impact, namely, Asia
          Minor, Palestine and Syria. So, for example, the
          _Martyrium Pionii_, which was been dated from the end
          of the third to the middle of the fourth century,
          records Pionius (d. 250 - Smyrna) as saying: 'I hear
          that the Jews call some of you to the synagogues.'
          Indeed, the Jews seem to have mounted a missionary
          campaign among the Christians of Smyrna. [The Acts of
          the Christian Martyrs 13.1; 14.1 (ed. H. Musurillo),

          Origen, as mentioned above, is also aware that he had
          congregants who attended synagogue on the Sabbath.
          Indeed, Origen also alludes to Jewish missionaries who
          induced Christians to practice Jewish rites.

          In the late fourth century, Jerome stressed that
          Christians imitated the rites of the synagogue,
          probably as a result of familiarity with synagogue
          practice. Jerome also pointed out, to his chagrin,
          that Christians were often the beneficiaries of Jewish
          generosity. This reached such a level, that he urged
          htat such charity be refused lest it attract them to
          Judaism. [Epistle 52 to Nepotion]

          Finally, the evidence from John Chrysostom is
          overwhelming. In the _Homilies Against the Jews_, he
          harangues against the Judaizing activities of
          Christians, in general, and their frequenting of
          synagogues, in particular. The latter was so serious
          that he felt impelled to denounce it over fifteen
          times. [Chrysostom, Homilies against the Jews 1.3.3-4;
          1.4.6; 1.5.2; 1.5.7; 1.6.2; 1.8.1; 2.3.5; 4.7.3-4;
          4.7.7; 5.12.12; 6.6.6; 6.7.3-4; 6.7.7; 7.6.10;
          8.8.7-9.] His vituperative attacks probably indicate
          that the Christian legislation against Christian
          attendance at Jewish religious meetings was
          ineffective. [Apostolic Constitutions 2.61.1; 8.47.65;
          Council of Laodicea, Canon 29.] Chrysostom, himself,
          reported that Christians who frequent synagogues urged
          their household, friends and neighbours not to report
          them to the priests. [Chyrsostom, Homily 8.8.8.]
          Clearly, the synagogue was a very real attraction for

          Significantly, in an effort to dissuade Christians
          from rushing off to the synagogue begging the Jews to
          help them, Chrysostom asserts that the Jews laugh and
          scoff at them. Then most revealingly he concedes:
          'Even if they do not do it openly . . . they are doing
          this deep down in their hearts.' Not only can
          Chrysostom not adduce evidence for Jews cursing
          Christians, he cannot even adduce evidence for Jews
          scoffing at them. The Jews must have been quite
          receptive to Christians seeking their assistance and
          the succour of the synagogue.

          If one of the most virulent antisemites of the church
          cannot produce evidence for official Jewish
          denigration of Christians, then its existence is
          seriously called into question. Not only is evidence
          lacking from Christian sources that birkat ha-minim
          was directed against Gentile Christians, but there is
          also evidence, direct and indirect, that it was not.
          Indeed, the preponderance of the evidence points to a
          fourth-century Jewish Christian sect, called by
          Epiphanius and Jerome the Nazoraeans, as the group to
          which the term nosrim refers. Once it is clear that
          nosrim does not refer to Christians but to Nazoaeans,
          it is not at all surprising to discover that the
          Hebrew was originally nasrim and thus more assonant
          with Nazoraeans.

          Kimelman writes (p. 233): "A significant number of
          scholars have contended that nosrim has been added.
          The major argument has been the difficulty of
          rendering smoothly both terms together. Those who
          contend that nosrim is original have hard to render
          the phrase 'Jewish Christians and other heretics'.
          The fact that 'other' has to be supplied highlights
          the difficulty of rendering an apparently redundant
          text such as 'Jewish Christians and heretics'."

          Kimelman writes (p. 238):

          "It is of particular note that the first Christian
          source [Epiphanius] clearly to mention cursing thrice
          daily in the synagogues makes no mention of
          Christians. The same source is also the first
          patristic mention of the Jewish Christian sect of the
          Nazoraeans. Jerome, who next mentions the Nazoraeans,
          associates them with the Minaeans and infers that both
          are cursed by the Jews. This, along with the fact
          that the term nosrim first appears in rabbinic
          literature in the mouth of R. Johanan of the third
          century, warrants the conclusion that the Genizah
          formula which reads ha-nosrim ve-ha-minim (= the
          nosrim and [?, see below] the minim) was composed
          between the time of R. Johanan (d. c. 279) and the
          writing of the Panarion (377). The data also warrant
          the conclusion that nosrim does not denote Christians,
          but rather Nazoraeans, a Jewish Christian sect whose
          existence is vouched for by at least two
          fourth-century sources."

          Kimelman writes (pp. 234-235):

          "The issue with regard to the gospel of John has two
          aspects which are not necessarily related. First, is
          there awareness of birkat ha-minim? Second, is there
          any evidence that it then contained a reference to
          nosrim? John mentions three times that Jews who
          'confess Christ' were excluded from the synagogue
          (aposunagwgoV, 9.22; 12.42; 16.2). There is no
          evidence that this situation was prevalent anywhere
          else. The context of the mention of 'Pharisees'
          (12.42) indicates that this is a derogatory reference
          to local leadership. Indeed the absence of any
          mention of such exclusion by early Christian authors
          argues against its being a pervasive practice. It is
          hard to believe that a major rabbinic practice which
          is supposed to have originated in Yavneh about the
          turn of the first century is attested to in only one
          Christian document. If it were aimed against
          Christians it would have been widespread. Thus it is
          of no surprise that the term for exclusion from the
          synagogue, aposunagwgoV, appears nowhere else in early
          Christian literature and has no precise parallel in
          rabbinic terminology. It is even possible that the
          whole charge was concocted to persuade Christians to
          stay away from the synagogue by making them believe
          that they would be received with hostility. Thus the
          Jews are generally represented in a negative fashion.
          Alternatively, the gospel wanted to convince Jews who
          had 'confessed Christ' that there was no turning back,
          since such confession marks one as rejected by the
          synagogue. It is more likely that the final edition
          of the gospel is addressing Gentiles who are far
          remeoved from Judaism. This accounts for the gospel's
          having to explain so much of Judaism, even the
          well-known festivals."

          Justin makes nine reference to Jews who cursed Christ
          (93, 95, 108, 123, 133, 16, 47, 96, 137). Only one of
          these makes a connection to prayers (137): "Scoff not
          at the King of Israel, as the rulers of your
          synagogues teach you to do after your prayers."

          Kimelman writes (pp. 235-236): "The connection between
          the comment of Justin just cited and the birkat
          ha-minim is, to say the least, problematic. First,
          there is no mention of Christians. Second, although
          elsewhere Justin employs xataraomai (=curse) and
          xatanaqhmatizw (=anathematize) or forms thereof, here
          he uses only 'episxwyhte pote (=scoff), a term which
          would not be appropriate to the birkat ha-minim.
          Third, whatever did take place occurred after prayers
          (meta thn proseuxhn), while birkat ha-minim is in the
          middle of the statutory prayers (the twelfth of the
          'Eighteen Benedictions')! Justin clearly proves
          inadequate as evidence for positing the existence of a
          statutory Jewish prayer which cursed Christians."

          Kimelman writes (p. 236): "The next patristic witness
          is Origen. He offers less evidence than Justin. One
          comment merely says that the Jews curse Christ
          everywhere up to the present time. Two other
          pertinent comments appear in his homilies on Jeremiah.
          The first comment (10.8.2) accuses Jews of cursing
          and blaspheming Jesus and plotting against those who
          believe in him. The second source (19.12.31) says,
          'Enter the synagogue of the Jews and see Jesus
          flagellated by those with the language of blasphemy.'
          One must be careful of Origen's hyperbole. For
          instance, in another of the same Homilies
          (12.13.20-23) he says that Jews are still responsible
          for the murder of Jesus since they understand the Law
          and the Prophets according to its plain sense! Thus
          for Origen the mere practice of Judaism is an affront
          to the coming of Christ and could be conceived as
          blasphemous. Whatever the case may be, Origen makes
          no mention of Christians being cursed nor of any
          connection to the prayers."

          The editor interjects into the article (p. 233): "One
          of the results of the McMaster Symposium which lies
          behind this volume was a highlighting of the lack of
          evidence for any formative impact of Christianity on
          any major element of tannaitic Judaism, including the
          development of rabbinic law, the formation of the
          Mishnah, the structuring of the liturgy, the closing
          of the canon, and the major propositions of rabbinic
          theology. This itself is sufficient to question the
          thesis that birkat ha-minim was primarily directed
          against Christianity. We must be careful of
          anachronistically overestimating the impact of
          Christianity on Judaism in the first two centuries."

          If half of what Kimelman says in his article is true, then it seems that we
          ought to reconsider the use of the birkat ha-minim as evidence for the dating of
          John. Whatever incident went on between John's community and the synagogue, if
          any, could have occured at practically any time in the first or second century.

          > >
          > > Until and unless we find some evidence that another emperor demanded to be
          > > mentioned as "Our Lord and our God," this point does seem to be cogent, if
          > > not as strong as some of the other internal evidence. I would assign a 60%
          > > chance to the idea that the author of John had Domitian in mind and that the
          > > Gospel of John was written between 81 and 96 CE.
          > Since this fits well between the ascension of Gamaliel II and within 6 years
          of the last possible date for the expulsion, I agree but would place it at 80%.

          I should have pointed out that each individual piece of evidence must be
          considered in isolation from the others. Our judgments should reflect the
          probability that the evidence holds given an even distribution of background
          probabilities between the terminus a quo and terminus ad quem. It is the job of
          the algorithm to find out which dates best fit all of the evidence.

          > > But there is still an item of manuscript evidence to be discussed. The
          > > infamous p52 contains verses found in John. Until a cogent argument is made
          > > for the reconstruction of a proto-John that contained the verses as they are
          > > found in p52, it is safe to think that p52 is a fragment of John more or
          > > less as we have it. (It would be ad hoc to postulate a proto-John for the
          > > sole reason of evading the evidence of p52.) The typical dating of the
          > > manuscript is to the first half of the second century for paleographical
          > > reasons. I will incline towards the latter half of that period and assign
          > > p52 a date of 130. Allowing five years for circulation, this evidence
          > > points to a date between 30 and 125. I will assign a 90% chance to this
          > > evidence.
          > The palaeography of P52 during the time of Hadrian (117-138 CE), and possibly
          even earlier, is remarkable given the distance between Egypt and its provenance
          of composition. One can only conceive of a close communication and exchange
          between Syrian and Alexandrian Christians and P52 as a fragment of a 2nd
          generation copy of the original.

          I am interested in the evidence that the Gospel of John did not originate in
          Egypt. I am aware of the patristic tradition placing John in Ephesus. Is there
          more to the case against an Egyptian provenance for GJohn, at least in John's
          earlier recensions?

          > For my nickel, 85 CE (mid way between Gamaliel II's ascension) to 95 CE (5
          years after the last possible date for Birkhat haMinim) with 90 CE as MY choice
          of the year 4G was composed.

          I will reveal the algorithm's output once there has elapsed enough time for the
          discussion of the evidence presented and possibly the presentation of evidence
          that I haven't considered.

          Thanks for your feedback. I am interested in what you think about Kimelman's

          Peter Kirby
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