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Re: [John_Lit] Re: Jesus as the Word

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  • Peter Hofrichter
    Dear Tom, I agree with you that the FG was still developping during the composition of Mk and Mt an Lk. But Lk seems to have read it already in very mature
    Message 1 of 73 , Mar 19, 2002
      Dear Tom,
      I agree with you that the FG was still developping during the
      composition of Mk and Mt an Lk. But Lk seems to have read it already
      in very mature shape. Only the beloved disciple, the fare-well
      speeches ch 15-17 and some tiny additions, especially in the
      prologue, may have been added afterwards.

      You are, of course, in the best company with your opinion that the FG
      has borrowed from the others and of course not the other way round.
      It is very hard to change at least hypothetically ones way to look at
      things. It is like the in case of Copernicus. But, why do you think
      that Luke did not write midrashim, why do you think that Luke would
      have respected the importance of persons within and for the FG if he
      borrowed them as motives for his own purpose. Especially the stories
      of the poor Lazarus and the rich man and also the story of Mary and
      Martha, although it is very short, are midrashim (?) in order to
      undermine the Lazarus and anointment story of the FG. Luke
      relativated an generalized by this use of johannine elements the
      stories he not accept. His most impressive midrash, athough of
      another kind, is the birth story. It is composed as a midrash-like
      paraphrase along the prologue of the FG. It would go to far to expand
      here the whole method, but let me only remind you of some motives (I
      beg your pardon for not being familiar with the English Bible
      translation): ... He came into the world) ... and the world did not
      know him: It wos in the time of the Emperor Augustus, there was
      issued a commandment to registrate of the whole world (oikoumene). -
      He came to his property and his own people did not recieve him: In
      the hostel there was no room for them. - And we have seen his glory:
      And the glory of the Lord was shinig around them. - The onlybegotten
      God/son, whos is on the side of his father, he has explained it
      (ekeinos exegesato): Jesus at the age of 12 years was sitting among
      the scribes and expained them the Bible and said to his parents: Did
      you not kknow that I mnust be in what belongs to my father?

      Thank you for your reply, all belessings to you!

      >Dear Peter,
      > There are, indeed, indications of conflict both within the Johannine
      >community and between the Johannine community leaders and other
      >Christian leaders from more orthodox communities. Raymond
      >Brown's Community of the Beloved Disciple sets forth his theory
      >regarding this conflict and identifies some of those who may well
      >have been involved in it.
      > The opinion of Mark Matson which you support is interesting to
      >me for two reasons. (1) Until recently the majority of scholars have
      >agreed with the theory that the Fourth Gospel was the last of the
      >canonical gospels to be written. I find myself in agreement with those
      >who suggest that the Fourth Gospel may well have been "under
      >construction" during the period of time when the others were
      >written, and therefore suspect that some or all of the synoptic
      >gospel writers could have been aware of the process that was
      >under way in the Johannine community. (I suspect that a material
      >connection could even be shown between the Fourth Gospel and
      >some of the writings of Paul, supporting this theory.) However,
      >I can see no evidence that the completed material in the FG has
      >been incorporated into Luke's gospel. If anything (as in my example
      >of the name of Lazarus), the flow of material is in the other direction.
      >In addition to the Lazarus material, the role of Mary and Martha
      >suggests a similar flow. Very little is said about them in Luke. In
      >John they occupy center stage in chapters 11 and 12, as the
      >gospel reaches its denouement. It doesn't seem likely that Luke
      >would borrow significant characters like Mary, Martha and
      >Lazarus from the Fourth Gospel and turn them into minor characters
      >in his own gospel. It seems much more probable that the writers
      >of the Fourth Gospel chose to make a midrash-like commentary
      >on some of the characters and stories from Luke's gospel, thus
      >expanding, for the sake of theological reflection and teaching, the
      >meaning of those stories.
      >(2) As Brown has shown, there is evidence that the motive for
      >producing the Fourth Gospel may well have been that the community
      >was breaking up, largely due to the death of its principle leader,
      >the Beloved Disciple. Indeed, those who see the FG as a proto-
      >gnostic text can point to the historically verified resistance within
      >the early church to the gnostic approach to the faith. My research
      >points to the extensive use, by the writer(s) of the FG of Mosaic
      >oracles, using the midrash method to expound upon their meaning
      >in the Christian context. This method of writing (and teaching) is
      >consistent with the production of a gospel that could well have
      >given rise to gnosticism. I see no evidence of such an influence
      >in the Gospel According to Luke. It seems to me that if material
      >was being borrowed from the FG in the composition of Luke's
      >gospel (arguably long before the FG was published and before
      >the gnostic controversy grew), then there would be some evidence
      >of such material. I don't see it. Do you?
      >Yours in Christ's service,
      >Tom Butler
      >On Mon, 18 Mar 2002 10:56:08 +0100 Peter Hofrichter
      ><Peter.Hofrichter@...> writes:
      >> Dear Tom,
      >> I share not only the opinion of Mark Matson. One reason of different
      > >
      >> convictions concernig the Gospel traditions is that different
      >> scholars have different attitudes towards the mentälity and
      >> credibility of autors. Most of them think they were as interested as
      >> they themselves in preserving all informations and that already the
      >> Evangelists respected their collegues as holy men and that
      >> everything
      >> was in love and harmony. But this is an unrealistic romanticisme.
      >> They had different opinions and they fought against one another may
      >> be more than churchmen and theologians do today. That makes them not
      >> less holy but more human. All the Synoptists thought that the
      >> "Gospel
      >> of John" was not trustworthy and they were in many respects right.
      >> Especially in the second generation scepticisme will have grown.
      >> Mark
      >> used the general concept as a pattern for his own attempt but he
      >> changed the contence. Luke took from "John" certain additional
      >> motives but used them in a more credible way. That is the figure of
      >> Lazarus but also the rich catching of fish, which he put from the
      >> appearance of the risen Christ into his very life.
      >> Peter Hofrichter/Salzburg
      >> >Mark,
      >> > Apparently I started a reply to you last December and saved
      >> >the draft but never finished it. I'm wondering if you are still
      >> >considering the relationship between the Gospels of Luke and
      >> >John. I've chosen to finish the reply I started. Let me know if
      >> >it prompts any response from you.
      >> >
      >> >On Mon, 24 Dec 2001 "Matson, Mark (Academic)"
      >> <MAMatson@...>
      >> >wrote:
      >> >>
      >> >> As you know, Lazarus only occurs in Luke and John. But in John
      >> it is
      >> >> a story of an actual raising from the dead, while in Luke
      >> Lazarus is
      >> >> contained in a parable (the only parable with a named
      >> character!)
      >> >> about a poor man who dies and goes to heaven and is asked by
      >> the
      >> >> rich man to be sent back (raised?) to testify to the rich man's
      >> >> household.
      >> >>
      >> >> The question is which is more likely -- that Luke would utilize
      >> >> John's story and make it a parable,or for John to use Luke's
      >> story
      >> >> and make it an actual account.
      >> >>
      >> >> A further difficulty, though, is that the figure Lazarus is a
      >> crucial
      >> >> component of John's story line. Lazarus' raising is a turning
      >> point
      >> >> in the Jewish opposition of Jesus, and Lazarus is always
      >> connected
      >> >> with Mary and Martha, who are key figures in the story.
      >> >
      >> >Mark,
      >> > Up to this point in your analysis I agree entirely with you.
      >> >
      >> >> So for me it is difficult to see how John could have expanded
      >> this
      >> >> parable into a narrative that has "tentacles" that extend into
      >> many
      >> >> other narratives (cf. the anointing in Lazarus' house 12:1, or
      >> plot
      >> >> against Lazarus 12:9). I have tried to imagine how John would
      > > have
      >> >> done this -- taken this parable and expanded it and made it such
      >> an
      >> >> essential part of the narrative. It is not impossible, of
      >> course,
      >> >> but in my own conception of John's storytelling technique it
      >> would
      >> >> be hard to imagine.
      >> >
      >> >Doesn't the fact that the Lazarus story is so much more developed
      >> >in John than it is in Luke suggest that it is the Johannine
      >> writer(s) who
      >> >has (have) elaborated it? Why would the author(s) of Luke make
      >> >such a limited reference to such a significant character, if
      >> he/she/they
      >> >was (were) using the Gospel of John as a source?
      >> >
      >> >It seems to me that the beginning point in such a comparative
      >> study
      >> >would need to be an exegesis of Luke 16: 19-31. The key to such
      >> >an exegesis, ISTM, is an analysis of the symbolic language used
      >> in
      >> >verses 19-21, especially the description of the "rich man" who
      >> "feasted
      >> >sumptuously every day." This appears to me to be a sign
      >> indicating
      >> >the High Priest, especially when we are told that Lazarus lies at
      >> the
      >> >rich man's gate (the temple gate?) and "longs to satisfy his hunger
      >> with
      >> >what fell from the rich man's table." This appears to be a sign
      >> >identifying
      >> >Lazarus as a disenfranchised temple priest, a Levite cut off from
      >> his
      >> >source of sustenance, his portion of the offerings brought by the
      > > >faithful
      >> >to the temple. It addresses a problem that is confirmed in the
      >> Qumran
      >> >Scrolls, identifying the High Priest as an evil man.
      >> >> This becomes one of the key "signs" of who Jesus is.... is it
      >> likely
      >> >> he would have made this up from a parable that he read in Luke?
      >> >
      >> >Yes, as a matter of fact, I think it is likely. My theory is that
      >> the
      >> >Fourth Gospel is actually a midrash-like commentary on the Jesus
      >> >tradition. The fact that the story of the raising of Lazarus is
      >> such
      >> >an extensive expansion upon a character from one of the parables
      >> >of Jesus in Luke is consistent with that theory. In Luke the
      >> issue
      >> >of resurrection is raised, but rejected. In John, of course, it is
      >> the
      >> >reason for the story. It seems a significant alternative to the
      >> >conclusion drawn in the story reported by Luke.
      >> >>
      >> >> I think it more likely that Luke has John's account, and is
      >> perhaps
      >> >> a bit suspicious of the account since it does not occur in Mark
      >> or
      >> >> Matthew. Remember that John is very different than Mark and
      >> >> Matthew, but perhaps was quite popular in some of the churches
      >> so
      >> >> counted as a "source" for the historian who collected and
      >> evaluated
      >> >> various witnesses to Jesus. But likely he had knowledge of a
      >> parable
      >> >> of a rich man and a poor man, not at all unlikely a real Jesus
      >> >> parable that was passed down in oral tradition. He attaches
      >> the
      >> >> name "Lazarus" from the Johannine account to the parable, since
      >> >> Lazarus in John is raised, and the raising is meant to serve as
      >> a
      >> >> warning to the "jews". But beyond this, Luke is nervous of the
      >> >> Lazarus story and avoids it.
      >> >
      >> > It seems to me that seeking an origin for the name of Lazarus is
      >> a
      >> >fruitful direction for study, but I cannot agree with you that
      >> Luke's
      >> >source is the Fourth Gospel. Rather, I would question to whom
      >> >is the parable directed? Consider the fact that the name Lazarus
      >> >is an abbreviation for Eliezar, the third son of Aaron. In the OT
      >> >whenever Eliezar's name is mentioned, so is his title: the priest.
      >> >Could Jesus not expect the Pharisees to whom he is telling this
      >> >parable to recognize that he is speaking on familiar terms about
      >> >Lazarus, the priest? Could he be criticizing the High Priest for
      >> >having expelled some of the Levites from the temple and thus from
      >> >their source of sustenance?
      >> >
      >> > Now carry that hidden meaning over to the Fourth Gospel.
      >> >Suppose that Lazarus is not a historical person, but a literary
      >> >figure created by a member of the Johannine community to
      >> >offer a scathing criticism of the High Priest, while affirming the
      >> >love of Jesus for the priests. Try translating the words "house"
      > > >and "cave" in John 11: 1-44 as "temple." Then translate the
      >> >name Lazarus as "the priesthood" and "The Jews" as "Temple
      >> >Priests." The story that is thus told indicates that Jesus
      >> >responds to an urgent message from Mary and Martha
      >> >because the priesthood is ill (actually "stumbling" works better
      >> >in the context.) Martha and Mary each leave the temple as
      >> >they become aware that Jesus is near, and each suggest that
      >> >if Jesus had remained (stayed, had continued to abide) in the
      >> >temple, the priesthood would not have died. Jesus reassures
      >> >them that he is the resurrection and the life. They lead him
      >> >back to the temple, even though some of the temple priests
      >> >have already followed Mary to him. There Jesus destroys
      >> >the temple by commanding that the stone be removed. (This
      >> >is the stone mentioned in Genesis 28: 1-10 - the stone that
      >> >Jacob erected and anointed as a sign pointing to the house
      >> >of God where he vowed to worship, because of what he had
      >> >seen in his dream.) Removing the stone makes it impossible to
      >> >find the place that Jacob dreamed existed where God's house
      >> >was. Next Jesus calls the priesthood out of the temple and
      >> >orders that the grave cloths (vestments) that have been binding
      >> >"Lazarus" be removed. Later we see "Lazarus" sitting at the
      >> >table from which Jesus arises (the Lord's supper).
      > > > If you are interested in a detailed exegesis following this
      >> >line of thought, I have published it in my book, Let Her Keep
      >> >It. Its available from Amazon.com or directly from me.
      >> >
      >> >Yours in Christ's service,
      >> >Tom Butler
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >> > -----Original Message-----
      >> >> > From: Thomas W Butler [mailto:butlerfam5@...]
      >> >> > Sent: Monday, December 24, 2001 10:53 AM
      >> >> > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      >> >> > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Re: Jesus as the Word
      >> >> >
      >> >> >
      >> >> > Dear Mark,
      >> >> > I look forward to reading your dissertation, though I'm
      >> >> > not sure how long it might take to get a copy of it.
      >> >> > From your consideration of the dialogue between the Gospel
      >> of
      >> >> > John and the Gospel of Luke, could you comment on the use of
      >> the
      >> >> > name Lazarus in the two?
      >> >> >
      >> >> > Yours in Christ's service,
      >> >> > Tom Butler
      >> >
      >> >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >> >
      >> >
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    • Kenneth Litwak
      Thomas W Butler wrote: If this story were made up out of whole cloth, it would be ... Disciplined or not, either John recounted the raising of Lazarus as an
      Message 73 of 73 , Apr 27, 2002
        Thomas W Butler wrote:> If this story were made up out of whole cloth, it
        would be

        > When I say that a passage of scripture in the 4G is a midrash
        > commentary, I am NOT suggesting that it was "made up out of
        > whole cloth." As I indicated in a previous post, the midrash
        > process is very disciplined.

        Disciplined or not, either John recounted the raising of Lazarus as an event,
        or John was inspired by Luke 16, performed some sort of literary magic on it
        (quite unparalleled that I can see from testable examples), then John
        invented the story out of whole cloth. When someone writes a fairy tale,
        they follow an established form. The discipline of doing so does not make
        Cinderella an historical account.

        > It requires a deep knowledge and
        > understanding of the language used in the source material (in
        > this case the language of the parable in Luke) as well as the
        > issues being presented to generate faith in Jesus. This is no
        > small challenge.
        > Even within tradition, you are overlooking the genre of midrash.

        No, I am not overlooking the genre of midrash. Let's try this one more time
        and then I'm done with this discussion. "Midrash" as used in ancient
        literature referred to a rabbinic method of interpretation. This method was
        delineated and used in rabbinic literature, from after 200 A.D. Its roots
        might have come from an earlier period, but we have no documentation of
        that. Some of its principles may have been used at an earlier stage, but we
        have no explicit record or demonstration or assertion of that from texts of
        the period.

        What we have instead is a technical term, which applies to a form of
        interpretation which seems to take some liberties with the text, and
        therefore, has been appropriated by scholars to refer to any number of
        phenomena, as though simply giving it that label a) tells us something
        meaningful (which it doesn't -- any more than saying "this is an articular
        infinitive") and b) arguing based on a that you can then say "this text means
        something totally different than what it appears or has a totally different
        origin than you expect because it owes its existence to a technique only
        documented 200 years later". The way midrash is being used by some
        participants in this discussion reminds me of the article title, "Q is
        whatever you make it" (or similar wording). It is methodologically improper,
        IMO, to take a term from 200 A.D., which has a very specific meaning, and,
        ignoring that definition, apply it to works of an earlier period, while
        failing to define it. If one won't define pizza enough to make it distinct
        from something else, then there's no reason to not call a Big Mac a pizza.
        If you define pizza strictly enough, however, that you can actually say,
        "This qualifies as a pizza but this does not," then "pizza" is a useful
        term. I've referred to a work which critiques the application of the term
        midrash to phenomena which came into being before the rabbis defined midrash
        or its approach. If you wish to grab that label and slap it on whatever you
        wish, I cannot stop you. I, however, prefer a non-Humpty Dumpty approach to
        language. Words have specific referents. They don't mean anything you'd like
        them to mean.

        I ask again then: if John used some technique to turn, say, the parable
        of Luke 16 into a very different story for very different purposes, none of
        which can be an historical account, what genre does the FG belong to? You
        only get three choices. It's not methodologically valid to say "First
        century people in the Med knew three genres. I'm going to think outside the
        box, and invent another and impose it upon a First century document."
        There was NO genre of midrash in John's day. He could not apply it because
        it did not exist. Pesher as an approach existed but not midrash because
        midrash should refer only to the procedure which its practitioners referred
        to by that name, not any old phenomenon from earlier days. Why is it such a
        problem to give up an anachronistic label?

        Ken Litwak

        > Simply because the process was not codified until around the
        > second century does not mean that the method was not used
        > in the first century or even earlier. To suggest that it was a
        > rabbinical method, so it should not be considered as a method
        > used in Christian circles ignores the fact that the first Christians
        > were all children of Israel. The Gospel of John provides ample
        > evidence that great Jewish teachers like Nicodemus were
        > disciples of Jesus. Of course pedagogical techniques used in
        > rabbinical schools would have been used in early Christian
        > schools! Why wouldn't they be used?

        I never denied this. I denied that anyone in John's day used a technique
        which, so far as we can tell from known documents, did not exist as a
        technique in John's day. It's like telling me that alchemists measured gram
        atoms, when they didn't even know for sure that atoms existed. Or, it's like
        calling Apuleius sci-fi, even though that genre didn't exist.

        > > John is absolutely clearly not a romance (and those who claim
        > > that any Gospel is a Greek romance have obviously not read
        > > closely enough a Greek romance).
        > > Therefore, its genre must be one in which we ought to take the
        > > narrative as intending to talk about actual events, regardless of
        > > how they are presented or reported.
        > Here I suspect that you and I have different starting places. I am
        > absolutely convinced that the writer(s) of the Fourth Gospel were
        > presenting THE TRUTH. In the first century mind set, that does
        > not mean that they were attempting to write a history of Jesus.
        > Modern scholars have been frustrated time and again when they
        > have attempted to use the tools of historical criticism developed
        > to study the Synoptics - on the Fourth Gospel. The results are
        > very confusing and often frustrating to the scholars who try it.

        That only means the tools are inappropriate, in part because they depend on a
        flawed notion of historical research, viz., a van Rankean-Positivist
        approach. First century audiences knew three genres: historia, Bioi and
        romance. You don't get to choose another because you don't like those
        choices. Well, I can't stop you from doing so but I can't responsibly
        consider the result as having validity. What you are suggesting is that same
        thing as an example of ideological criticism, reaping from the text what is
        not there according a worldview that the author could not possibly have had.

        > A history in the first century was an account written by servants
        > of a king or conqueror of events that detail the great victories of
        > that king.

        In some cases this is true, but it does not fit the case of Josephus, the
        author of LAB, other Hellenistic Jewish historiographers, nor even, so far as
        I can see, the advice of either Lucian or Dionysius of Halicarnassus. This
        goes back to my point above. Hellenistic historiogrpahy's definitions should
        be gained from pieces of the period, not imposed from without.

        > The TRUTH about Jesus does not fit such an objective
        > exactly. In fact, such truth cannot be conveyed using such a form.
        > There is a need to reflect in greater depth about the meaning of
        > the resurrection than a mere history could achieve.

        This seems contradictory to me. If it is not an historical account of a
        resurrection, then surely it does not recount a real resurrection and there
        is nothing "true" about resurrection reflected by it to talk about. You are
        certainly permitted to call John's Gospel fiction, and say that John used
        fiction to present "truth". That's a theoretical possibility. IN that case,
        however, we are free to completely ignore any questions regarding what
        happened because John was not thing to ell us what happened. He's using the
        license granted by "midrash" to crate any old thing that will suit his
        purposes for "truth" telling. That sure makes the prologue easier to deal
        with. We don't have to interpret it. We just have to decide what all that
        midrash is trying to tell us truth-wise. If midrash is what I want to make
        it, then the entire Gospel can be a midrash. Since you won't define this
        term precisely, anything fits it.

        > I suspect that when you see the word "midrash commentary"
        > you are assuming that someone has made up a story and tried
        > to pass off that story as history. That is not what I am saying
        > at all. Using my theory I can say that Lazarus is not a historical
        > person without suggesting that the story of the raising of Lazarus
        > is fiction. For those two sentences to be true, we as scholars
        > must be able to look for truth in a category other than history.

        No. What I assume is that the term midrash is being completely misapplied
        to refer to some other phenomena which no rabbi would have understood as
        valid hermeneutically as an example of midrash. Choose a different term.
        Call it a fable. Call it a parable. Call it whatever you want to call it,
        but don't overload one term with a specific referent for something unrelated.
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