In a message dated 9/6/2001 2:53:34 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
<< If inventiveness is fabrication from the start it would not be
possible for us to distinguish from actual historical events
anyway. We are left, it seems to me, with gospels whose writers
were men of the highest integrity and whose accounts – even if
recorded with a particular theological thrust – are trustworthy
accounts of actual people and events .. ..>>
I can't take time to comment on your entire response to my previous note, nor
to argue in detail against your source theory, with which I obviously
disagree. It is my view that a clear line of development can be traced from
Matthew, through Luke, to John in terms of the way stories are told in their
respective gospels. I agree with the common opinion that John probably knew
the Gospel of Mark as well, but out of line with the common opinion I also
think that John probably shared the general lack of interest in Mark that is
evident in all known ecclesiatical authors of the second and third Christian
centuries, who were much more interested in the Gospels (Matthew and Luke)
which were written for literate elites, rather than in Mark, which was a
dramatic popularization of an originally literary Gospel genre (the film
version of the novel, to put it in roughly analogous contemporary terms).
Rather than trying to refute your view of what John was doing when writing
his gospel, let me just try again to express my own. In my view, John is
writing his Gospel at a time when the story of Jesus' life is already well
known. John does not write, e.g., about the baptism of Jesus in order to
inform an audience about an historical event of which they have no knowledge.
Rather, the well-known story has become a vehicle, and was understood from
the beginning to have been a vehicle for John to express an ideological
message: a developed theological understanding (among other things, a "high"
Christology) which expressed and reinforced the faith of his community. It
would be theoretically possible to conceive of a late John whose purpose
would have been to supplement and correct, where necessary, at the level of
historical detail, existing stories about the life of Jesus -- on the basis.
e.g., of his own eye-witness remembrance of these incidents in the life of
Jesus. There are scholars, I guess, who still view John's Gospel in this way.
I simply think that the evidence points to the alternative view expressed
above as by far the more likely scenario.
This is all I have time to say at the moment, and I don't know if it moves
the discussion forward in any way.