RE: [John_Lit] Matt.11:27 and John
- Thanks, Tony, a great question!
The fact that a connection with Luke 10:22 exists (see Matt. 11:25-27 and Lk. 10:21-22) implies that this may have been a common source for Luke and Matthew, which could have originated from Q if there was something like Q.
However, because the saying is distinctively Johannine (see Jn. 3:35; 7:29; 10:14f.; 13:3; and 17:2, 25), it is more likely to infer a Johannine origin which the Q tradition has drawn from, given the Johannine tradition's pervasive autonomy. This is what I've spelled out in further detail in my essay on interfluentiality in the Hofrichter collection (Olms 2002), and it is the most plausible of the alternatives.
a) No connection; simply a coincidence, and this is indeed possible. Then again, the themes and language are quite close, though not identical.
b) A common source is used by John and Q; fine, but none exists. The Johannine tradition does exist, and this is a central motif within it.
c) Johannine dependence on Q; not impossible, and there are other connections besides this one (see article, note 30, p. 49), but other more characteristic Q motifs are missing in John.
d) It could go back to Jesus rather than developing traditions; not an impossible conjecture, but if so, the historical integrity of John is bolstered significantly (providing a needed corrective to recent scholarship?), but then other problems emerge, such as why such a motif is not present in the Synoptics--woops; I guess it is.
Anyway, these options do not seem as plausible as Q's dependence on the Johannine tradition, probably in its oral stages, and that's why I infer the connections I do.
From: Tony Costa [mailto:tmcos@...]
Sent: Mon 3/14/2005 11:40 AM
Subject: [John_Lit] Matt.11:27 and John
What are some of the views regarding the typical
Johanine language used in Matt.11:27 (NIV),
"“All things have been committed to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one
knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the
Son chooses to reveal him. "
This Matthean passage has been called a "thunderbolt
from the Johanine sky". Did Matthew know of the 4G, or
did he and John have access to a common source? Thank
Tony Costa, ThD (cand)
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Tony Costa" <tmcos@...>
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2005 2:40 PM
Subject: [John_Lit] Matt.11:27 and John
> What are some of the views regarding the typical
> Johanine language used in Matt.11:27 (NIV),
> ""All things have been committed to me by my Father.
> No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one
> knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the
> Son chooses to reveal him. "
> This Matthean passage has been called a "thunderbolt
> from the Johanine sky". Did Matthew know of the 4G, or
> did he and John have access to a common source? Thank
Dear Tony Costa:
I'm currently inclined to think that Mt 11:27 is partially based on Jn
In Chapter 11 of his gospel, Matthew composes two Thomas "sandwiches", the
first consisting of Mt 11:7-11 and the second consisting of Mt. 11:27-30,
with each following this pattern:
1. A passage, based on a Thomas passage, in which Jesus begins to speak
about a person
2. A passage, invented by Matthew, in which the extraordinary stature of the
person is stressed
3. A passage, based on a passage from a non-Thomas source utilized by
Matthew, in which the extradordinary stature of the person is amplified
4. A passage, based on a Thomas passage, where Jesus speaks about the
In the case of Mt 11:7-11, the person Jesus discusses is John the Baptist.
In the case of Mt 11:27-30, the person Jesus discusses is himself.
PASSAGE 1--JESUS BEGINS TO SPEAK ABOUT A PERSON, WITH SOURCE BEING A PASSAGE
1. Mt 11:7-8--the person is John the Baptist, "And as these ones were
leaving, Jesus began to say to the crowds
concerning John, 'What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed
shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft
clothes? Behold! the ones wearing soft clothes are in the houses of kings.'"
In terms of the hypothesis, this is based on Thomas 78a, "Why have you come
out into the desert? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man
clothed in fine garments like your kings and your great men?
2. Mt 11:27a--the person is himself, "All things were given to me by my
In terms of the hypothesis, this is based on Thomas 61c, "I was given some
of the things of my Father."
PASSAGE 2--JESUS STRESSES THE EXTRAORDINARY STATURE OF THE PERSON, WITH
MATTHEW CREATING THE PASSAGE
1. Mt 11:9, "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell
you--and one greater than a prophet."
2. Mt. 11:27b, "And no one knows the Son except the Father."
PASSAGE 3--JESUS AMPLIFIES ON THE EXTRARODINARY STATURE OF THE PERSON, WITH
MATTHEW BASING IT ON A NON-THOMAS PASSAGE
1. Mt 11:10. "This is about whom it has been written, 'Behold I send my
messenger before your face, who will prepare your way in front of you (Idou
egw apostellw ton aggelon mou pro proswpou sou hos kataskeuasei ten hodon
sou emprosthen sou.).'"
In terms of the hypothesis, this is based on Mark 1:2, "Just as it has been
written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold! I send my messenger before your
face, who will prepare your way (Idou apostellw ton aggelon mou pro proswpon
sou hos kataskeuasei ten hodon sou.)'"
2. Mt 11:27c, "Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and those to
whom if the Son wishes to reveal."
In terms of the hypothesis, this appears to be based on Jn 1:18b, "The one,
being in the bosom of the Father, that one explained him."
PASSAGE 4--JESUS SPEAKS ONCE MORE ON THIS PERSON, WITH MATTHEW USING THOMAS
AS A SOURCE
1. Mt. 11:11, "Truly, I say to you, there has not arisen among [those] born
of women greater that John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of the
Heavens is greater than him."
In terms of the hypothesis, this is based on Thomas 46, "Among those born of
women, from Adam until John the Baptist, there is no one so superior to John
the Baptist that his eyes should not be lowered (before him). Yet I have
said, whichever one of you comes to be a child will be acquainted with the
Kingdom and will become superior to John."
2. Mt. 11:28-30, "Come to me all the ones becoming weary and being
burdened and I will give rest to you. Take up my yoke upon you and learn
from me, for I am humble and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your
souls. For my yoke is easy and the load of it is light."
In terms of the hypothesis, this is based on Th 90, "Jesus said, 'Come unto
me, for My yoke is easy and My lordship is mild, and you will find repose
In terms of a hypothesis regarding how Matthew constructed Mt. 11:7-11 and
Mt. 11:27-30, it appears that part of Mt. 11:27 is based on Jn 1:18b.
If so, this does not necessitate that Matthew knew of John's gospel. Jn.
1:18b is the very close of the Prologue, and many scholars have argued that
the Prologue is based on a hymn-like composition that originally circulated
independent of John's gospel. In this case, then, Matthew might have had
a copy of a hymn-like composition upon which John 1:1-18 is based rather
than a copy of John's gospel.
Tony, note that
(1) All of the first hypothesised Thomas "sandwich" (i.e., Mt. 11:7-11) is
currently deemed to come from Q, for it has a parallel in Lk 7:24-28
(2) All but the final Thomas parallel in the second Thomas "sandwich" (i.e.,
Mt. 11:27-30) is currently deemed to come from Q, for it has a parallel in
However, in terms of the proposed hypothesis, the need for Q disappears.
All the above can be explained under the scenario that Luke had a copy of
Matthew and used all of Matthew's first Thomas "sandwich" in one part of his
own gospel and used all but the final Thomas element of Matthew's second
Thomas "sandwich" in a different part of his own gospel.
Even further, this explains why so many passages from the postulated Q have
Thomas parallels. In this case, this is because Matthew used Thomas as a
major source in writing his gospel.
In any event, Tony, I hope this helps you in your quest to determine whether
or not Mt 11:27 has roots in Johannine thought.
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