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8894Re: Inter-Christian Polemic in GJn?

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  • Paul Lanier
    Aug 1, 2009
      --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "ravensschmavens" <christopherwskinner@...> wrote:
      > I think many who have read Riley, Pagels, and others without significant consideration of the Fourth Gospel have come away convinced.

      Hi Chris,

      That may be true, but not in my case. My view on it came with reading Jn20 after joining this group. It just seemed obvious to me that the author devises Jn20 to bolster his authority over against that of Peter and Thomas. Certainly competitive authority is a common motif in most NT writings, and I see no reason to reject that exegetical approach here. Unless one is willing to argue that the account is historical, rather than simply polemical. I think that would be untenable in John, considering its lengthy speeches and very late composition.

      Pagels' case in Beyond Belief is outlined, rather than detailed, but I do agree with her conclusions on competition for doctrine between John's and Thomas's communities. I have not read Riley or anyone else on this. I long for the day when scholars publish all their works online for the purpose of open discussion (hint!).

      > I find some elements of the community-conflict hypothesis compelling but in the end I am not persuaded because of the consistent presentation of Johannine characters in a manner similar to the treatment Thomas receives.

      I do not see why this is a problem. I argue that Jn20-21 reflects historical competition between Petrine, Johannine, and Thomasine communities. I do not argue that no other competition existed. I would add that the author's criticism of Thomas centers on death/resurrection, and that this fits well with what we understand of original Thomas.

      > I think we tread on dangerous ground indeed when we approach the text of the Fourth Gospel with a view to mining the text for insights that will help us say something about a conflict that is (1) purely speculative, and (2) external to the Johannine narrative.

      I would argue that evidence-based inferences are far from speculation. A good example on this occurs in bridge. One mark of the expert is the ability to draw inferences and proceed accordingly. I hope we are not saying here that an informed inference is mere speculation!

      I would also note that any correct historical approach ought to be integrative. Thus an approach which seeks to understand the relationship of two communities will consider evidence of shared characteristics as well as those which are not shared.

      That being said, I respect your views and I look forward to seeing more detail from you!

      Regards, Paul
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