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[John_Lit] Mighty Works in NT

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  • Brian Tucker
    Greetings Hypothesis: Bethsaida was a place where Jesus was active in ministry characterized by compeling and demonstrative actions. Overall, it was a ministry
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 18, 1999
      Greetings

      Hypothesis: Bethsaida was a place where Jesus was active in ministry
      characterized by compeling and demonstrative actions. Overall, it was a
      ministry that met with resistance and rejection in the face of powerful
      works. Because of its rejection, Bethsaida would stand under the heavy
      hand of judgment.

      Robert Funk seems to assert that J would not have condemned the town(s)
      that did not accept him (p. 320) Although, this view seems skewed in
      that one is assuming that J could not have reflected an apocalyptic view
      of history. Robert Funk, Roy Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar._The Five
      Gospels_. New York Macmillan.1993

      Four clusters of tradition emerge from Bethsaida.

      1. Q-Logion of J Mt. 11:21-31 and Luke 10:13-15 with harsh words of
      judgment pronounced over Bethsaida for its refusal to repent and respond
      to the mighty works, the "deeds of power" (DUNAMEIS) demonstrated in
      that city. There is a parallel in 5 Ezra 1:11.

      2. Singular Markan account (8:22-26) of the healing of the blind man and
      a related tradition in the Gospel of the Nazaraeans 27, with the focus
      on the "mighty works of Jesus."

      3. Bethsaida is associated with the feeding of the multitudes in Mark 6
      and 8, Mt. 14 and 15, Lk. 9, Jn. 6. Epiphany accounts of J on water in
      Mk. 6, Mt. 14, and Jn. 6 narratives in the "powerful works" tradition
      that connect with the post-Easter witness of the early Christian
      communities in Galilee.

      4. The Johannine listing of Bethsaida as the home of Philip, Andrew, and
      Peter. The occurrence in Jn. 1:44 is lodged in an earlier level of
      tradition, which is part of a Semeia source. A pre-Johannine Jewish
      Christian collection of the works of Jesus that focuses on his powerful
      deeds, which are seen as demonstrations of his messianic status. The
      reference in Jn. 12:21, with its emphasis on "seeing Jesus," builds on
      this tradition. Robert Fortna. _The Fourth Gospel and Its Predecessor_
      Fortress (1988).

      Question: I am looking for discussion concerning Semeia source (SQ). Is
      it the most viable explanation for the background of the Johannine
      narrative of J's mighty works? (See Faure 1922, 99-121 or Bultmann
      1941.)

      Josephus in (Ant. 18.2.1), links the descriptive term (DUNAMEIS)with
      Bethsaida. There are problems with this idea, some understand TH ALLH
      DUNAMEIS as a description of "the further expansion of strength"
      referring to building projects. But, it could have an oblique reference
      to the tradition of Bethsaida as a place of "mighty works." I am not
      implying confessional intent on the part of Josephus! It simply reflects
      the tradition of Bethsaida being a place of renown because of its
      notable religious traditions.

      Any thoughts?

      Thank You
      Brian Tucker
    • Thatcher, Tom
      Brian, A very intriguing hypothesis, in my view. You mention:
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 19, 1999
        Brian,

        A very intriguing hypothesis, in my view. You mention:

        <<Question: I am looking for discussion concerning Semeia source (SQ). Is
        it the most viable explanation for the background of the Johannine
        narrative of J's mighty works? (See Faure 1922, 99-121 or Bultmann
        1941.)>>

        While I would not necessarily personally endorse this view, this is indeed
        the view of Fortna and others who adopt the SG theory. In Fortna's
        reconstruction, which is generally accepted by the JSeminar and others, the
        works of Jesus in the early stages of the SG (even the pre-SG Signs Source)
        were aimed at a Jewish audience with a view to using works of power to
        demonstrate his fulfillment of Jewish messianic expectations. Of course,
        this raises the broader issue of whether works of power were part of such an
        expectation. But Fortna and others would consider that Jesus' works would
        convince Jews of his messiahship, of course with a view to a much lower and
        more general Christology than that espoused in the current version of FG.
        From this perspective, the speeches reflect the later beliefs of the
        community, and it is in the speeches that we see the works of Jesus becoming
        something more than general signs of messianism.

        But you have asked whether we believe this is "the most viable explanation"
        for the source of these accounts. Personally, I lean much more toward an
        oral Johannine tradition which was not put into writing until quite late,
        and which was in some ways intertwined with other strains of tradition. I
        also believe that this tradition claimed to have a Palestinian origin. This
        being the case, perhaps the Johannine references to Bethsaida reflect the
        same type of local coloring about that area that you mention. In other
        words, it may be that the Johannine stories are patterned after a general
        local coloring about that region which became an oral motif for Johannine
        composers.

        Respectfully,
        --tom thatcher


        "The Truth Will Set You Free"
        tom thatcher
        cbs&s
        (513) 244-8172
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