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multiple attestation

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  • Thatcher, Tom
    Dear James (and others), I hope this letter finds you all well! I don t want to talk about the Lazarus episode per se, but your (James ) earlier comment does
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2003
      Dear James (and others),

      I hope this letter finds you all well! I don't want to talk about the
      Lazarus episode per se, but your (James') earlier comment does raise a key
      issue in doing history with John, which would apply to the Lazarus episode
      or many others. What do we do with the issue of multiple attestation?

      The Lazarus one is perhaps too charged because it directly involves one of
      the "signs." But I wonder what you (James) think about how we could, as
      Johannine scholars, move around the problem of multiple attestation in
      general? For example, there's nothing theoretically implausible about the
      idea that Jesus was in dialogue with some members of the Jewish ruling
      class, as John 3 portrays. And it is, in my view, certainly plausible that
      Jesus borrowed some of his first disciples from John the Baptist, as John 1
      suggests--more plausible, in my view again, than what we see in Mark's
      "call" story. But again, no multiple attestation.

      I've gone on record about this in the past, but in general I think we're
      (Johannine scholars) going to have to come up with something to get us
      around multiple attestation. "Around" here meaning "in the guild of
      biblical scholarship." My own feeling is that several of the key criteria
      for doing history in biblical studies were built up to reflect the Synoptic
      problem, and therefore naturally work John out of the picture. To bring
      John in at all, we would therefore have to come up with some new
      perspectives on method.

      Of course, none of this would resolve anything about the Lazarus episode;
      personally, I'm more interested in sayings material than signs/deeds,

      Do you have any thoughts on this as a broader issue, James?

      Take care.


      Tom Thatcher
      Cincinnati Bible Seminary
      2700 Glenway Ave.
      Cincinnati, Oh 45204
      (513) 244-8172
      tom.thatcher@... <mailto:tom.thatcher@...>
      "the truth will set you free"

      -----Original Message-----
      From: McGrath, James [SMTP:jfmcgrat@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 12:25 PM
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [John_Lit] Foolishness

      I will try not to reply with the same polemical tone - although
      John sounds very polemical at times, it is perhaps not inappropriate
      a John list! All I will say is that there is, to my mind, nothing
      with speculating and creating hypotheses in the absence of
      evidence. Scientists do it, historians do it, lawyers do it. Would
      suggest that lawyers should not attempt to tie the threads of what
      evidence they have together because it is possible that new evidence
      will make their earlier arguments look foolish?

      Hopefully we can drop this. Feel free to have the last word if you


      Dr. James F. McGrath
      Assistant Professor of Religion
      Butler University, Indianapolis

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Paul Schmehl [mailto:pschmehl@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 12:16 PM
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Question & Answer

      Dismissing as unproven an event without independent attestation is
      thing. Building an entire theory based upon that dismissal is
      In the former case you are simply using an accepted historical
      methodology. In the latter you are building your case upon an

      Many "biblical" things have been assumed to be legend only to be
      otherwise by more recent discoveries. The theories built upon those
      previous assumptions then look rather foolish.

      Paul Schmehl

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