Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John
- At 6:26 AM -0700 5/5/00, panderso@... wrote:
>These views (held by many scholars) are fallacious, and probably wrong:I have had almost nothing to say in my lurking days on this list, although
>These mistakes result from nearly two centuries of reading John through
>Synoptic eyes rather than vice versa, or even a more egalitarian
>perspective. John and Mark are two "bi-optic" traditions, each with their
>own sets of historical strengths and weaknesses. Mark is not inherently
>In all modesty,
I read it regularly (do I have the guts to say, "religiously"?) But I must
say a long and loud "HEAR HEAR!" to these sentiments, although I have not
been in general agreement with most of what I've read Paul saying.
I've personally become increasingly skeptical about the prospect of getting
"history" in anything like the modern sense of history from any one of the
gospels. I read Synoptic-L regularly also, but it all seems like
game-playing to me more and more.
My own sense, the older I get--and I realize this is purely subjective--,
is that none of the four gospels is really historical in a modern sense and
that all of the four gospels are historical in a more important sense. I
think each of them is a literary construction, an interpretation of Jesus
rather than a "report." But then I think the same is true of Plato and
Xenophon and even poor Aristophanes when it comes to the historical
Socrates. I don't think we can ever get behind Plato to the real Socrates,
but I don't worry much about it because I think Plato gives us a "real"
Socrates such as many or most of those who knew Socrates in the flesh never
knew as we are privileged to know him. And we ARE privileged! And I think
we ARE just as much privileged to have not one but FOUR "re-presentations"
of Jesus in the canonical gospels--but I also think it may be a delusion to
suppose that we're going to recover much the Jesus story "wie es eigentlich
geschehen ist" from any one of the gospels.
End of outburst. Return to lurking status.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 2:26 PM
Subject: Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John
> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> >Perhaps the "wrong order" is the Fourth Gospel in the Elder's mind and
> >the Second Gospel, since the "right order" would be the one where 3
> This is what most scholars think, of course, and I believe they are wrong.
Most scholars do not think that "wrong order" refers to the Fourth Gospel in
this statement of Papias. It's about the Second Gospel. It's Mark who has
the wrong order according to Papias.
- Thank you, David, for bringing up an important set of issues. Thank you
also for reading beyond the discussions on this listserve; the broader
views of Moloney, myself, and others cannot be represented fully within
this medium alone.
Yes, of course, the entire presentation of Jesus' ministry is crafted
rhetorically, and I believe one can infer at least six sets of issues
being addressed over the 60-year history of the Johannine movement:
a) Jesus is the Messiah, not John the Baptist;
b) corrective/supportive/augmentive dialogues with synoptic traditions
(oral and/or written, esp. pre-Marcan and Marcan);
c) dialogues with local Jewish leadership regarding the authority of Jesus
and his mission;
d) tensions with the local Roman presence, culminating with hardship under
increased expectations of Emperor laud under Domitian;
e) docetizing tendencies among Gentile Christians; and
f) corrective responses to rising institutionalism in the late
first-century church, probably experienced from the likes of Diotrephes
and his kin.
The miracles of Jesus are especially crafted to show Jesus in the
typologies of Moses and Elijah (associations which JB hands over to Jesus
clearly in John), and the Cana miracle would have fitted into that
rhetorical set of interests. Proponnents of a signs source also make this
clear (Fortna, Bultmann, Becker, etc.) although when I tested the
stylistic, contextual, and theological evidence for the existence of
non-Johannine material -- even on its own terms -- it came up terribly
short (see chapters 3-7 of my book) of indicative, let alone convincing.
Thus, I believe one must consider the tradition "Johannine" and largely
unitive rather than disunitive in its origins.
So yes, convincing hearers/readers that Jesus was sent from God (Deut. 18)
was a central motivation in the presentation of Jesus' signs and the
finalization of the first edition of John (20:30f.), but what I and a few
others have been challenging is the facile assumption that because
something is used rhetorically it had no root in historical event. That's
not to say everything in John is historical; much of it betrays the
crafting of the evangelist's work over and against what we think the
historical Jesus probably said and did. What I think needs to be
challenged seriously is the non-critical assumption that the Johannine
tradition has no historical origin or merit, as evidenced, for instance,
in the latest "findings" of the Jesus Seminar. A pink-riddled Thomas over
a black-marbled John? Help! Over-reaching, and wrong-headed.
Take the numeration of the first two signs at Cana, for instance. Do
these markers reflect a numerative function of an earlier source (I think
not, as no source existed), or do they represent the evangelist's interest
in setting the record straight over and against Mark? Is the evangelist
here clarifying that the first miracle of Jesus was not in the home of
Simon Peter's Mother-in-law (for whatever reason), but that earlier signs
had been performed in Galilee (and Jerusalem, as the Temple cleansing
appears to be regarded as a "sign") over and against the Marcan rendering.
Eusebius mentions an early tradition suggesting the interest of John in
bringing out the earlier part of Jesus' ministry, which could be
conjectural, or it may also be reflective of an apparent interest to
support, correct, and augment (a better term than Windisch's, I believe)
Thanks for your good questions and comments!
Paul N. Anderson
Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
George Fox University
Newberg, OR 97132