- 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?
Cincinnati Bible Seminary
2700 Glenway Ave.
Cincinnati, Oh 45204
"the truth will set you free"
From: McGrath, James [SMTP:jfmcgrat@...]
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 12:25 PM
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
From: Paul Schmehl [mailto:pschmehl@...]
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 12:16 PM
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.
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