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Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John

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  • Carl W. Conrad
    ... I have had almost nothing to say in my lurking days on this list, although I read it regularly (do I have the guts to say, religiously ?) But I must say a
    Message 1 of 4 , May 5, 2000
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      At 6:26 AM -0700 5/5/00, panderso@... wrote:
      >These views (held by many scholars) are fallacious, and probably wrong:
      >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 have had almost nothing to say in my lurking days on this list, although
      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
    • Ken Durkin
      ... From: To: Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 2:26 PM Subject: Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John ... not
      Message 2 of 4 , May 5, 2000
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <panderso@...>
        To: <johannine_literature@egroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 2:26 PM
        Subject: Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John

        > johannine_literature@egroups.com 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
        > >gospels
        > >agree.
        > 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.

        Ken Durkin
      • panderso@georgefox.edu
        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
        Message 3 of 4 , May 10, 2000
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          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
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