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[John_Lit] Re: Jesus and the Baptist

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 7/2/1999 3:03:52 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Moloneyfj@aol.com writes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 1999
      In a message dated 7/2/1999 3:03:52 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
      Moloneyfj@... writes:

      << Maybe I am too late (and David indicated that he had to get on with other
      matters recently), but two issues appear important to me. In the first
      place, the discussion has long been largely determined by Baldensperger and
      then Bultmann's acceptance of his position (with the added issue of
      Proto-Mandeans and a Baptist sect). This accepts that the Johannine
      presentation of the Baptist must be negative. But is it? Hardly. He is
      second only to Jesus himself as "sent by God" ... "a lamp burning" etc.
      etc.,
      who always gets it right when he witnesses to Jesus.>>

      Dear Frank,

      Delighted to see you're here. I am new to this list, and in a way don't
      really belong, because my field is more Synoptic Gospel studies. We have met
      and talked on a number of occasions, and I lived for years at the Anselmianum
      in Rome where the book you mention was published in 1993. What you say above
      regarding the image of John the Baptist in the Fourth Gospel strikes me as
      fully true for the Synoptic presentation as well, beginning with Matthew (the
      first to be written, in my opinion) who presents the Baptist, his activity
      and his basic proclamation as strikingly parallel to that of Jesus. The other
      Synoptic writers (Luke and Mark, in that order) slightly tone down this
      parallel, but definitely maintain a positive view of John B. This means that
      the positive presentation of the Baptist is deeply embedded in the Gospel
      tradition out of which the Gospel of John was written. John is essentially
      faithful to that tradition.

      << Yet, there is a difficulty! Might I suggest that the early Church did not
      have a difficulty with John the Baptist, but rather with the baptism of John
      the Baptist! This is certainly the way things look in Acts 18-19. >>

      This idea too is implicit in the earliest Gospel where the baptism of John is
      compared with that of Jesus to the benefit of the latter. Note, however, that
      in Matthew, the "baptism" of Jesus is not the Christian sacrament (as I
      believe it will become later in some passages of Acts, in Mark, and finally
      in John) but rather a metaphor for the more powerful (and threatening) act of
      judgment in fire to be performed by Jesus, Messiah of Israel. In the
      expression "he will baptize you with holy spirit and fire (Matt 3:11)", the
      important interpretative element is the "fire" of judgment whose efficacy and
      function is spelled out in the following verse (3:12). Thus, the emphasis in
      Matthew even in this passage is still really on the identity of Jesus as
      Messiah and Lord (cf. Matt 3:3 and its version of Is 40:3), in light of
      messianic-era prophecies such as Is 4:4; 9:17-18; 10:15-19; 11:1-5; 30:27
      LXX, rather than on a comparison of John's with an eventual Christian
      baptism. In a synchronic reading of Matthew, this passage then should be
      compared with Matt 4:19. There too, the activity engaged in at the beginning
      of the story by the four first disciples called is raised, in the context of
      a memorable "saying", to the level of the metaphorical: "come after me, and I
      will make you 'fishers' of men" (analogous to: "he will 'baptize' you with
      holy spirit and fire", a memorable saying based on the activity in which John
      himself was engaged).

      Leonard Maluf

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