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5903RE: [John_Lit] getting on with the business of John

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  • Mardaga, Hellen
    Jan 19, 2011
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      Dear Mark, Jack, etc….

      I am surprised to read the following statement:
      Peter would say to a group of people in Lydda,
      > Pontus,
      > Cappadocia, etc... איכא דאן נהוא פגרא תמן נתכנשׁון נשׁרא׃" Yeshua
      > amar......'aika den d'hawa pagra, thamman yitkanuon nishrea'" Now I am
      > confident this indeed goes to the lips of the HISTORICAL Jesus because you
      > will notice it is a 2-4 beat rhyme. Vintage Jesus-speak. Then Peter, I
      > am sure, paused while Mark translated the Aramaic to Greek, " ὅπου γὰρ ἐὰν
      > ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί "
      > and the crowd nodded to each other as they heard "wherever their is a
      > carcass, there also will gather the vultures."

      The 2-4 beat rhyme you are referring to (and I think you have the book “The Poetry of Our Lord” in mind) is a common stylistic feature. I do not see how you can simply “deduct” from this phenomenon that “the historical Jesus” said such a thing. I think you are overlooking some important aspects of rhetoric:

      - a feature may be common in a book – several books (e.g. parallelism is found both in John and in the Synoptics) but is that necessary a proof that because a word of Jesus is structured as a parallelism he literally “spoke” that way?
      - We do not even clearly know which language Jesus spoke. He could have spoken some Greek, maybe Aramaic, read Hebrew….but that is it. We can only “assume” what he might have said
      - What about the whole notion of orality? Oral tradition? Parallelism, rhyme, repetition, amplification are not only used in written texts but they also serve a listening audience. It could be that Mark composed the words of Jesus (since he is translating them [!] as you suggest) as a 2-4 beath rhyme (!) exactly to serve the listening audience and to help them remember the content of the gospel easier by mnemotechnic features.

      Dr. Hellen Mardaga
      Assistant Professor of New Testament
      The Catholic University of America
      Caldwel Hall 419
      620 Michigan Av.
      20064 Washington DC
      202-319-6885
      ________________________________
      From: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com [mailto:johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Matson, Mark (Academic)
      Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:02 PM
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [John_Lit] getting on with the business of John



      Jack Kilman wrote:

      > There are many layer to 4G. In my opinion and open to discussion, once
      > they are peeled away, 4G was the first (that's right....first, prior to
      > Mark) and most historical gospel of them all.

      Jack, I agree with you on the priority of John. At least I suspect John is very early, as early as Mark, and independent. I think "priority" is a difficult term if there is independence, and I have a hard time seeing John as dependent on Mark, or Mark dependent on John. Paul Anderson may have something with his interfluentiality, though I still have a hard time seeing clear evidence of that.

      What I question, though, is the "layers" and the "peeling away." How can we really tell? I used to be a fan of Fortna's, but have become less certain. The more I read John (and E. Schweizer's analysis of John was influential on this), the more I see a unified text. And, as my own response to Joseph Calandrino indicated, I think narrative analysis tends to find the story as very cohesive. So I guess my question is how do you determine the layers? How confident can you be? Perhaps a sample would be helpful.

      Peter would say to a group of people in Lydda,
      > Pontus,
      > Cappadocia, etc... איכא דאן נהוא פגרא תמן נתכנשׁון נשׁרא׃" Yeshua
      > amar......'aika den d'hawa pagra, thamman yitkanuon nishrea'" Now I am
      > confident this indeed goes to the lips of the HISTORICAL Jesus because you
      > will notice it is a 2-4 beat rhyme. Vintage Jesus-speak. Then Peter, I
      > am sure, paused while Mark translated the Aramaic to Greek, " ὅπου γὰρ ἐὰν
      > ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί "
      > and the crowd nodded to each other as they heard "wherever their is a
      > carcass, there also will gather the vultures." Now to Yeshua the
      > "carcass"
      > (pagra) was the temple treasury and the "vultures" (nishrea) were the
      > Romans.

      And we would agree that much of the gospel of John is clearly very semitic. And I would bow to your expertise about particular phrases that are clear indications of an Aramaic origin. But does this mean a source, or has John either directly written in Greek having a Semitic background? Or Perhaps is he reporting eyewitness account (cf. Bauckham, but also simply the emphasis on "testimony" in the 4G)? How do we know?

      And I am very comfortable asserting the historicity of certain aspects (as I did recently arguing for John's version of Passion dating). But again, I tend to see the whole gospel as unified, and thus don't move easily to argue for sources or historicity simply on pieces.

      > Well now, if the multiple extensions, redactions, glosses, interpolations
      > and chapter shuffling is undone and the remainder back translated to
      > Aramaic (something I am doing) you will have your discourse that moves
      > matters of history.
      >

      So, the story we have is not partaking in "historiography?" (rightly understood as the interpretation of an individual). Granted, John is now what we would call a history... it is exhortation in narrative form to make a point (That you might believe....). But I'm still not comfortable with the need to "extract" the history... and am nervous about the series of decisions that are made to get at "historical bits". The methodology seems iffy to me.

      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean
      Milligan College
      423-461-8720
      http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm




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