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10529Re: [GTh] Authorship and Dating GTh

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  • Tom Reynolds
    Mar 8, 2013
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      To: Bruce
      I apologize for not defining my term more accurately. In this case I am using Jewish-Christian as the Jewish-Christian residing in Jerusalem. This Church was extremely conservative and objected to Pauline theology. A proper author-centric, historical reading of Romans will disclose that the purpose of the letter is unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The historical setting is that Jews were expelled from Rome for a time, losing their leadership in the Roman Church. Returning, they apparently asserted their right to regain leadership because they were Jewish. Paul's rebuke of this is located in Romans 2:25-28. Shortly after writing Romans, Paul arrives in Jerusalem. The extreme animosity between Paul and the Jewish Christians starts in Acts 21:17. The Jewishness of the Jerusalem Christians is evidenced in Acts 21:20 and their objection to Paul's view in Romans 1:25-28 is related in Acts 21:21.
      What is the point of all this? Simply that the community that the oral traditions that were the basis for all the Gospels was a very conservative Jewish-oriented group. This group would neither develop nor tolerate a Gnostic-slanted oral tradition.
      I am not certain what you mean by “spirit enthusiasm leading to a proto-Gnostic position” but the early letters of Paul evidence a strong sense of spiritual connection. Notice that in Galatians, possibly written as early as AD49, Paul interrupts his logical rebuke of Gentiles becoming circumcised and appeals to their experience in the Spirit Gal 3:1-5. A very interesting presentation by Luke Timothy Johnson called Experience of the Divine examines the earliest Christian worship and emphasizes their receiving spiritual power from the risen Lord.
      “Do the Synoptics completely represent the “communities” in which they arose?” No.
      It is clear that Luck-Acts is influenced by Pauline thought. Luke clearly says that he checked all the evidence Lk 1:1-4 but only includes the Galilean ministry. Understanding that, in the 1st century, thought tended to emanate from the city to the countryside, the foundation of LK was the Palestinian oral tradition but was modified by another community, the community of Paul.
      Matthew is probably a polemic targeting Jews to become Jewish Christians. It was most probably written after the destruction of the Temple and the loss of the Promised Land. Having lost two of the three pillars of Judaism (Land, Law, Temple), the book of Matthew exhorts Jews to become Christians by demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah in various ways that would be recognized by the Jewish and Jewish-Christian community.
      Most interestingly, there is another community, the Johann community probably located in Ephesus, which was able to influence the basic oral tradition. Looking at GTh 46-50 as a unit I see a mishmash of Pauline and Johann thought, thought that would be rejected by the Jewish-Christians of Jerusalem but embraced by both the Pauline and Johann communities.
      To say GTh 46-50 in modern Christian terms:
      Christians are a new creation, old things have passed away, they are born again. Christianity is not an evolutionary form of Judaism. It’s a new thing.  (46-47)
      Christians have received power from On High. They are more than conquers and cast mountains into the sea. (48)
      Christians are from the light, adopted sons of the Most High God. (50)
      I submit that GTh could not have simply been a product of the basic Jewish-Christian oral tradition and we must find a community that modified that tradition. I have had private discussions with people who audit this forum that find the modifying community in Paul, in John, in a community of Thomas, in the Sethians and, of course, in the 2nd century. Each approach has its attractions and its problems.
      The alternative is that 2,000 years of interpretation is wrong.
      Tom Reynolds
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