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[Synoptic-L] Matthean & Johannine Account of Jesus' Baptism

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  • DARYL K. BOWENS
    Question: How can one explain the Matthean account of John the Baptizer s reluctance in baptizing Jesus (Mat 3:14, 15) and the Johannine account of John the
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 6, 2000
      Question:

      How can one explain the Matthean account of John the Baptizer's
      reluctance in baptizing Jesus (Mat 3:14, 15) and the Johannine account
      of John the Baptizer testifying that had it not been for the Spirit
      descending like a dove upon Jesus, John would not have known the full
      identity of Jesus (Joh 2:30-34)?

      In other words: Isolating Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism is quite
      understandable, considering that John the Baptizer does not want to
      baptize Jesus since Jesus is the Savior. However, the Johannine account
      seems to complicate this scene when recording John the Baptizer saying
      that he did not fully know the identity of Jesus until the Spirit
      descended. If John did not fully identify Jesus, then why be reluctant
      to baptize him (according to Matthew)?

      What are some things to consider about these two accounts that should be
      kept in mind? How can this apparent contradiction be explained?

      I hope my question is clear. Your comments are greatly appreciated.
      Thank you.
      Daryl.
    • Kyle Dillon
      Perhaps the discrepancy lies in the fact that Matthew s account portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, the Messiah that fulfills the Law and the Prophets; whereas
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 6, 2000
        Perhaps the discrepancy lies in the fact that Matthew's account portrays
        Jesus as the Son of Man, the Messiah that fulfills the Law and the Prophets;
        whereas John's account portrays Jesus in a much more mystical and spiritual
        way, as the eternal Son of God.

        Perhaps John the Baptist, not yet comprehending the dual nature of Christ,
        was reluctant to baptize his teacher (not yet known as the Messiah?), and
        only at the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove did he realize
        the necessity of Christ's baptism. That's my take on it, at least.

        But I think even more interesting than the discrepancy is the harmony of the
        Gospel traditions. The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent
        traditions yet both claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both
        have John baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsquently descend on
        Jesus as a dove.

        Kyle Dillon

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "DARYL K. BOWENS" <job14_14@...>
        To: <Synoptic-L@...>
        Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2000 11:19 AM
        Subject: [Synoptic-L] Matthean & Johannine Account of Jesus' Baptism


        > Question:
        >
        > How can one explain the Matthean account of John the Baptizer's
        > reluctance in baptizing Jesus (Mat 3:14, 15) and the Johannine account
        > of John the Baptizer testifying that had it not been for the Spirit
        > descending like a dove upon Jesus, John would not have known the full
        > identity of Jesus (Joh 2:30-34)?
        >
        > In other words: Isolating Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism is quite
        > understandable, considering that John the Baptizer does not want to
        > baptize Jesus since Jesus is the Savior. However, the Johannine account
        > seems to complicate this scene when recording John the Baptizer saying
        > that he did not fully know the identity of Jesus until the Spirit
        > descended. If John did not fully identify Jesus, then why be reluctant
        > to baptize him (according to Matthew)?
        >
        > What are some things to consider about these two accounts that should be
        > kept in mind? How can this apparent contradiction be explained?
        >
        > I hope my question is clear. Your comments are greatly appreciated.
        > Thank you.
        > Daryl.
        >
        >
        >
      • Tim Reynolds
        ... Quite right. There s an event back there, and it involves a dove. tim
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 6, 2000
          Kyle Dillon wrote:

          > But I think even more interesting than the discrepancy is the harmony of the
          > Gospel traditions. The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent
          > traditions yet both claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both
          > have John baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsquently descend on
          > Jesus as a dove.
          >

          Quite right. There's an event back there, and it involves a dove.

          tim
        • Maluflen@aol.com
          In a message dated 9/6/2000 5:55:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time, molad@earthlink.net writes:
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 6, 2000
            In a message dated 9/6/2000 5:55:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
            molad@... writes:

            <<
            Kyle Dillon wrote:

            > But I think even more interesting than the discrepancy is the harmony of
            the
            > Gospel traditions. The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent
            > traditions yet both claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both
            > have John baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsquently descend on
            > Jesus as a dove.
            >

            Quite right. There's an event back there, and it involves a dove.>>

            I guess it's partly because I DON'T think the dove is "historical" that I
            find it difficult to believe that Matthew's and John's accounts are
            independent of each other. Has anyone here read Fritzleo Lentzen-Deis on the
            scene as "Deutevision" (if my memory serves me)? It should probably be
            remembered, too, that the scene of the baptism in Matthew takes place before
            the calling of the first disciples of Jesus and may therefore well be a
            continuation of the kind of (midrashic?) writing Matthew has been doing in
            his first two chapters. I think it is difficult to classify this as
            "history". I obviously do not think much of the argument, repeated ad nauseam
            in the literature, that no-one would have "invented" the story that seems to
            have caused "so much embarrassment" to the likes of Matthew. The view derives
            from a reading of the evidence based on Markan priority and participates in
            the evident fragility of this source view.

            Leonard Maluf
          • Tim Reynolds
            Let me rephrase. A story was being told back then involving the wellknown John, Jesus, a dove and a bat kol in a context of baptism. Matthew seems to have
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 6, 2000
              Let me rephrase. A story was being told back then involving the wellknown John,
              Jesus, a dove and a bat kol in a context of baptism. Matthew seems to have
              added (or Mark and Luke removed, if you must) a bit of dialogue.

              tim
            • Brian E. Wilson
              Kyle Dillon wrote -- ... My copy of the Gospel of John lacks any description of John baptizing Jesus. If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have
              Message 6 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                Kyle Dillon wrote --
                >
                >The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent traditions yet both
                >claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both have John
                >baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsequently descend on
                >Jesus as a dove.
                >

                My copy of the Gospel of John lacks any description of John baptizing
                Jesus.

                If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have occurred to
                anyone reading the Gospel of John that Jesus was baptized?

                Best wishes,
                BRIAN WILSON

                E-mail; brian@... HOMEPAGE www.twonh.demon.co.uk

                Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE29 2EB,UK
                > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
                > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
                _
              • Maluflen@aol.com
                In a message dated 9/7/2000 5:57:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time, brian@TwoNH.demon.co.uk writes:
                Message 7 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                  In a message dated 9/7/2000 5:57:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                  brian@... writes:

                  << Kyle Dillon wrote --
                  >
                  >The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent traditions yet both
                  >claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both have John
                  >baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsequently descend on
                  >Jesus as a dove.
                  >

                  My copy of the Gospel of John lacks any description of John baptizing
                  Jesus.

                  If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have occurred to
                  anyone reading the Gospel of John that Jesus was baptized?>>


                  My copy of John is, of course, much like yours, and thanks for pointing this
                  out. As for your final question, I would admit that the answer has to be
                  "no", technically, but I would insist on pointing out that the condition that
                  opens your question is "unreal". John was not in fact either written nor was
                  it ever read without a knowledge of the Synoptics, and for this reason the
                  baptism of Jesus is read into the account. It is the category of "witness" to
                  the identity of Jesus (and to the identity of himself), not found formally in
                  the Synoptics, that governs John's entire encounter with Jesus in Jn. Notice
                  too that in 1:29 Jesus is seen "coming to" (pros) John, as only in Matt 3:13
                  in the Synoptics. The words of JB at this point in Jn's narrative have the
                  same effect as does the immediately following action of Jesus in Matt. The
                  lamb of God takes away the sin of the world (by identifying with sinful
                  humanity in his death). It is this same identification with sinful humanity,
                  and symbolically with their death, that is evoked in Matthew's account by
                  Jesus' being baptized alongside sinners. Which action (or passion) of course
                  fulfills "all justice", the entirety of the divine plan for his Messiah. John
                  the Baptist's protestation against Jesus' baptism in Matthew anticipates
                  similar misunderstandings of Jesus' Messiahship, notably that of Peter in
                  Matt 16. This is a major theological emphasis and point in Matthew's gospel.
                  It is not an afterthought addition to an older story, a remedy for an
                  embarrassing datum of history that could not be omitted altogether.

                  Leonard Maluf
                • Yuri Kuchinsky
                  ... Both Jn and Lk omit the baptism of Jesus by JB (in Lk, JB is already in prison when Jesus is baptised). This seems to indicate that the final editors of
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                    ----------
                    > From: Brian E. Wilson <brian@...>
                    > To: Synoptic-L@...
                    > Subject: [Synoptic-L] Matthean & Johannine Account of Jesus' Baptism
                    > Date: Thursday, September 07, 2000 5:52 AM
                    >
                    > Kyle Dillon wrote --
                    > >
                    > >The Synoptics and John, clearly from independent traditions yet both
                    > >claiming to have derived from eyewitness accounts, both have John
                    > >baptizing Jesus and have the Holy Spirit subsequently descend on
                    > >Jesus as a dove.
                    > >
                    >
                    > My copy of the Gospel of John lacks any description of John baptizing
                    > Jesus.
                    >
                    > If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have occurred to
                    > anyone reading the Gospel of John that Jesus was baptized?

                    Both Jn and Lk omit the baptism of Jesus by JB (in Lk, JB is already in
                    prison when Jesus is baptised). This seems to indicate that the final
                    editors of both Jn and Lk were rather uncomfortable with this idea.

                    It stands to reason that the baptism of Jesus by JB was present in the
                    source documents (or document) of both Jn and Lk, because, in both Jn and
                    Lk, the omission appears as rather awkward.

                    It is not clear that the analysis of the three Synoptic versions of this
                    general scene can establish clearly which version is the most primitive,
                    since the directionality of dependence here is not at all clear. It is
                    possible that all four NT versions of this scene are based on some original
                    proto-gospel source document.

                    Regards,

                    Yuri.

                    Yuri Kuchinsky | Toronto | http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

                    Biblical history list http://www.egroups.com/group/loisy

                    The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
                    equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
                  • Tim Reynolds
                    ... No. tim
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                      "Brian E. Wilson" wrote:

                      > If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have occurred to
                      > anyone reading the Gospel of John that Jesus was baptized?

                      No.

                      tim
                    • Tim Reynolds
                      ... I don t find a flashback at 2.21 awkward. He finishes up the John sequence and begins the Jesus sequence. ... Why a document? tim
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                        Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

                        > Both Jn and Lk omit the baptism of Jesus by JB (in Lk, JB is already in
                        > prison when Jesus is baptised).

                        I don't find a flashback at 2.21 awkward. He finishes up the John sequence
                        and begins the Jesus sequence.

                        > It is
                        > possible that all four NT versions of this scene are based on some original
                        > proto-gospel source document.
                        >

                        Why a document?

                        tim
                      • Tim Reynolds
                        ... If the event elsewhere alleged indeed occured it would seem to have been between 1.27 and 1.29.
                        Message 11 of 12 , Sep 7, 2000
                          Tim Reynolds wrote:

                          > "Brian E. Wilson" wrote:
                          >
                          > > If we did not have the synoptic gospels, would it have occurred to
                          > > anyone reading the Gospel of John that Jesus was baptized?
                          >
                          > No.
                          >
                          > tim

                          If the event elsewhere alleged indeed occured it would seem to have been
                          between 1.27 and 1.29.
                        • Dennis Sullivan
                          ... From: DARYL K. BOWENS To: Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2000 2:19 PM Subject: [Synoptic-L] Matthean &
                          Message 12 of 12 , Sep 8, 2000
                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: DARYL K. BOWENS <job14_14@...>
                            To: <Synoptic-L@...>
                            Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2000 2:19 PM
                            Subject: [Synoptic-L] Matthean & Johannine Account of Jesus' Baptism


                            > What are some things to consider about these two accounts that should be
                            > kept in mind? How can this apparent contradiction be explained?
                            >

                            One idea to consider, although I don't know what bearing it would have:
                            GLuke indicates that Miryam, mother of Jesus, and Elisheva, mother of the
                            Baptizer, were related.

                            Regards,

                            Dennis Sullivan
                            Dayton, Ohio
                            www.jerusalemperspective.com
                            www.jerusalemschool.org
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