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Re: [Synoptic-L] Jesus' Baptism

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  • Emmanuel Fritsch
    My point of view : ** Baptism was a rite of first christians ** It was common to another religious group from which it was inspired (the group of John s
    Message 1 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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      My point of view :
      ** Baptism was a rite of first christians
      ** It was common to another religious group from which it was inspired (the
      group of John's disciple)
      ** Jesus was at the beginning a follower of John, and had been baptised
      ** The previous fact was known either by christians and John's
      followers, and John's
      followers were using it in a theological way, arguing that John was
      greater than Jesus
      ** Chrristians produced the account of Jesus baptism in order to answer
      them
      ** The whyness is in the christian character given to John (the voice,
      the prophet, etc.)
      ** The whyness is not perfect because the situation was not perfect for
      christians
      in their debating with John's followers. Resurection was for them
      a better
      arguments.

      As a corollary, I think, in opposition to Stuart Waugh, that baptism is a
      quite early stage (which look coherent with its large presence in gospels).

      a+
      manu


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    • John C. Poirier
      I have not developed this to any real degree, but I think it s not impossible that some early Christians read the accounts of Jesus baptism with Paul s
      Message 2 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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        I have not developed this to any real degree, but I think it's not
        impossible that some early Christians read the accounts of Jesus'
        baptism with Paul's understanding of baptism in mind, that is, that it
        symbolizes the death and resurrection, and that by submitting to baptism
        Jesus was testifying to his fate. Such a reading certainly makes sense
        of the Baptist's unwillingness to baptize Jesus, as it begins the theme
        of the disciples' inability to comprehend Jesus' death.

        I am not saying that this is necessarily the main way in which the
        baptism was everywhere intended to be read, and the Pauline reading
        certainly has little to do with the actual historical baptism, but I
        don't think that the lack of any direct commentary on the part of the
        evangelists to this effect is as strong a consideration as some might
        make it to be. After all, there can be little doubt that "I have a
        baptism to be baptized with" in Luke 12:50 refers to the Passion, so we
        know that at least one of the evangelists took baptism to be a symbol of
        death. The probability that an early reader would have taken up the
        Pauline lens probably depends more on how widespread the Pauline formula
        was than on clear pointers by the evangelists.

        It furthermore seems that the Transfiguration connects the baptism with
        the Passion by echoing the former and forecasting the latter.

        Do others see problems with this (whether in terms of possibility or
        probability)?


        John C. Poirier
        Middletown, Ohio




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      • Ken Olson
        Very briefly: I think Mark is concerned about apostasty during a period of persecution and portrays Jesus (in contrast to Peter) as a model for Christian
        Message 3 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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          Very briefly:

          I think Mark is concerned about apostasty during a period of persecution and
          portrays Jesus (in contrast to Peter) as a model for Christian behavior in
          troubled times. Mark narrates Jesus' entire "Christian" existence from the
          time he receives the indwelling Holy Spirit to the time he is executed for
          refusing to deny that Jesus is the Christ.

          Best Wishes,

          Ken

          kaolson@...


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        • Ken Olson
          Very briefly: I think Mark is concerned about apostasty during a period of persecution and portrays Jesus (in contrast to Peter) as a model for Christian
          Message 4 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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            Very briefly:

            I think Mark is concerned about apostasty during a period of persecution and
            portrays Jesus (in contrast to Peter) as a model for Christian behavior in
            troubled times. Mark narrates Jesus' entire "Christian" existence from the
            time he receives the indwelling Holy Spirit to the time he is executed for
            refusing to deny that Jesus is the Christ.

            Best Wishes,

            Ken

            kaolson@...


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          • Stuart Waugh
            Emmanuel, I did not say that I thought the baptism concept was late. To the contrary I believe it is amongst the earliest, perhaps even pre-Christian,
            Message 5 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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              Emmanuel,
               
              I did not say that I thought the baptism concept was late. To the contrary I believe it is amongst the earliest, perhaps even pre-Christian, concepts. I concur with Poirier's point about Luke 12:50, as example for Luke's concept of the Baptism.
               
              Rather I simply think - and this is what I stated - the concept that it was John who baptized Jesus was later, though not so late. The details and explanation of John's relationship to and "why-ness" of his baptizing Jesus, as spelled out in Matthew and John, that I think is a somewhat later development. It specifically answers theological questions that arose from the formula we see introduced (as) in Mark.
               
              Hum. Say a little and you almost have to say more than you want.
               
              - Stuart

              Emmanuel Fritsch <emmanuel.fritsch@...> wrote:

              My point of view :
              ** Baptism was a rite of first christians
              ** It was common to another religious group from which it was inspired (the
              group of John's disciple)
              ** Jesus was at the beginning a follower of John, and had been baptised
              ** The previous fact was known either by christians and John's
              followers, and John's
              followers were using it in a theological way, arguing that John was
              greater than Jesus
              ** Chrristians produced the account of Jesus baptism in order to answer
              them
              ** The whyness is in the christian character given to John (the voice,
              the prophet, etc.)
              ** The whyness is not perfect because the situation was not perfect for
              christians
              in their debating with John's followers. Resurection was for them
              a better
              arguments.

              As a corollary, I think, in opposition to Stuart Waugh, that baptism is a
              quite early stage (which look coherent with its large presence in gospels).

              a+
              manu


              Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
              List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...


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            • SRose63911@aol.com
              A little input from a silent partner ... what if Jesus was not baptised at all but this information was added/invented to give authenticity to a new faith?
              Message 6 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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                A little input from a "silent partner" ... what if Jesus was not baptised at all but this information was added/invented to give authenticity to a new faith?  The event of Jesus' baptism is the starting point of his ministry and without it , it could it be seen that he had no "credentials" ~~
                 
                 Could this be worth considering?
                 
                Sue Rose
                (CJCR Cambridge)
              • Jim West
                ... I think, first, that the notion that the writers of the Gospel thought of themselves as the purveyors of a new religion is mistaken. They saw themselves
                Message 7 of 21 , Jun 2, 2004
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                  At 01:56 PM 6/2/04 -0400, you wrote:
                  >A little input from a "silent partner" ... what if Jesus was not baptised at
                  >all but this information was added/invented to give authenticity to a new
                  >faith? The event of Jesus' baptism is the starting point of his ministry and
                  >without it , it could it be seen that he had no "credentials" ~~
                  >Could this be worth considering?

                  I think, first, that the notion that the writers of the Gospel thought of
                  themselves as the purveyors of a new religion is mistaken. They saw
                  themselves as Jews (save Luke) who were calling on their kindred to believe
                  that Jesus was the promised Messiah. So there would have been no need for
                  them to justify something that they didn't even think about being a new faith.

                  Second, baptism as the beginning point of "credentialed" ministry would have
                  seemed a strange and foreign notion to them. Baptism, in its johannine
                  context (the baptizer that is) was a visible representation of personal
                  repentence, not a first step in salvation (as conceived by many today).
                  John baptized folk because folk were in need of repentence because they had
                  not lived up to what it meant to be "Israel". Jesus was baptized,
                  evidently, for the same reason. Not to begin a new ministry.

                  To be sure, later on his followers saw this as the beginning of his earthly
                  ministry- but as to whether or not Jesus saw it that way is highly debatable.

                  Best

                  Jim

                  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                  Dr Jim West
                  Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
                  http://web.infoave.net/~jwest Biblical Studies Resources
                  http://biblical-studies.blogpspot.com Biblical Theology Weblog


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                • Emmanuel Fritsch
                  ... Another positive element would be the presence of constituted theology in Paul, particularly theological or liturgical hymns. Are there anyone ? I would
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                    John C. Poirier a écrit:

                    > I have not developed this to any real degree, but I think it's not
                    > impossible that some early Christians read the accounts of Jesus'
                    > baptism with Paul's understanding of baptism in mind, that is, that it
                    > symbolizes the death and resurrection, [...]
                    >
                    > I am not saying that this is necessarily the main way in which the
                    > baptism was everywhere intended to be read, and the Pauline reading
                    > certainly has little to do with the actual historical baptism, but I
                    > don't think that the lack of any direct commentary on the part of the
                    > evangelists to this effect is as strong a consideration as some might
                    > make it to be. After all, there can be little doubt that "I have a
                    > baptism to be baptized with" in Luke 12:50 refers to the Passion, so
                    > we know that at least one of the evangelists took baptism to be a
                    > symbol of death.

                    Another positive element would be the presence of constituted theology
                    in Paul,
                    particularly theological or liturgical hymns. Are there anyone ? I would
                    have a
                    look particularly on Col.

                    a+
                    manu


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                  • Emmanuel Fritsch
                    ... Sorry : when I say the baptism , I was thinking baptism narratives . ... If it is just a concept, it is a strange one. If Christians would have inveted
                    Message 9 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                      Stuart Waugh a écrit:

                      > Emmanuel,
                      >
                      > I did not say that I thought the baptism concept was late.

                      Sorry : when I say "the baptism", I was thinking "baptism narratives".

                      > To the contrary I believe it is amongst the earliest, perhaps even
                      > pre-Christian, concepts. I concur with Poirier's point about Luke
                      > 12:50, as example for Luke's concept of the Baptism.
                      >
                      > Rather I simply think - and this is what I stated - the concept that
                      > it was John who baptized Jesus was later, though not so late.

                      If it is just a concept, it is a strange one.

                      If Christians would have inveted lately a relation between Jesus and
                      John, they would have created Jesus as the master, and John as the
                      disciple. "Who is the greater, the master or the disciple" may have
                      been, before to be used in a christian sense, an argument of John
                      disciples against first christians.

                      And evidence of a debate between christians and John disciples are
                      early. So the construction of baptism narrative as "Jesus is baptised by
                      John, but Jesus is greater", looks quite early.

                      All that to conclude : I do not see any good reason to state Jesus
                      baptism to be late. All reason to assert it as genuine.

                      a+
                      manu




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                    • Fathchuck@aol.com
                      In a message dated 6/1/2004 6:44:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Are you claiming, then, that Luke is the earliest Gospel? Chuck Schwartz St. Joan of Arc
                      Message 10 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                        In a message dated 6/1/2004 6:44:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time, stuartwaugh@... writes:

                        In short Matthew's account of the baptism story shows an orthodox theological development upon Mark's account, which itself is a development upon Luke's


                        Are you claiming, then, that Luke is the earliest Gospel?


                        Chuck Schwartz
                        St. Joan of Arc
                        Marlton, NJ USA
                      • Stuart Waugh
                        Emmanuel, Again you seem to mistake what I say slightly then draw false conclusions from this. Lets get this straight. My argument is: 1) Baptism predates
                        Message 11 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                          Emmanuel,

                           

                          Again you seem to mistake what I say slightly then draw false conclusions from this.

                           

                          Lets get this straight. My argument is:

                           

                          1) Baptism predates Christianity (it's in Paul afterall)

                          2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account

                                - It is symbolic of death and rebirth/resurrection (Luke 12:50)

                                - It is part of an Adoptionist formula, quoting Psalm 2:7

                                - John does not baptize Jesus in Luke (I can expand on v. 3:19-20, but it is long)

                                - John character is developed, in the spirit, in parallel to Jesus; so too the baptism

                                - John's prophetic RHMA is inferior to Jesus' PNEUMA (hence no embarrassment)

                          3) Mark's version, based on source lacking Luke 3:19-20

                                - Concretely states that John baptizes Jesus (1:9)

                                - Lacks the Adoptionist formula, quoting hybrid Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1

                          4) Matthew's version, based on common source with Mark,

                                - Is aware of Adoptionist readings

                                - Is aware of Paul, specifically Romans 10:4, 3:21-25

                                      (See Hippolytus �The Discourse on the Holy Theophany�, part 5)

                                - Shows polemic use of Isaiah 42:1b in v. 3:15

                                      (See Irenaeus Against All Heresies, III.9.3)

                                - Shows use of 2nd Century orthodox creed

                                      (E.g., 1 Timothy 3:16, Ignatius �Epistle to the Smyrnaeans� Chapter 1)

                                - John admits his inferiority because the RHMA vs. PNEUMA model is gone

                          5) John's version further develops orthodox creed

                                - John declares he is not the Christ

                                - John bears witness to the descending Spirit

                                - pre-existent Christ (LOGOS) is through the baptism is developed 1:1ff

                           

                          Each step shows theological development towards orthodoxy.

                           

                          False Conclusions:

                           

                          1) The Baptism of Jesus was a concept developed late

                             - How you came up with this from the above is beyond me. The story is very early. Not as early as the concept of Adoption by being raised from the dead as in Paul, but early as in pre-evangelist.

                           

                          Correct Conclusions:

                          1) The Baptism of Jesus is separate from the Baptism of John

                          2) The Jesus movement progressively integrates John�s baptism into Jesus�

                          3) Matthew's version shows intrusion of 2nd century orthodoxy

                          4) Thus Matthew 3:14-15 are probably later additions to the account

                          5) Matthew/Mark account is contra-Luke and anti-Adoptionist

                          6) Orthodox corruption changed Luke 3:22 to conform to Matthew/Mark

                           

                          Also

                           

                          The embarrassment argument rings hollow. The development shows a move toward binding John to the baptism of Jesus, it is not shyness from it. What is a worry is the Adoptionist (and consequently Separationist) exegesis of the story. This is an internal debate. It became critical also to show that the sign was public, not merely a symbolic event as orthodox creed developed; thus John the Baptist bears witness to the dove in John's account.

                           

                          I would go into much greater detail, except I have to work.

                           

                          - Stuart

                           

                          P.S. - Emmanuel, the Master and Servant issue is well covered in the anti-Gnostic writings. Gnostic teachers, and arguably even Paul, seem to claim equality with Christ. Your application is undocumented by comparison.

                           

                          Chuck Schwartz:  "Are you claiming, then, that Luke is the earliest Gospel?"

                           

                          No, I am not saying this. Every of the Synoptic Gospels has places where more primitive traditions survived the composition and redaction process. Luke preserves many of them. All the Gospels (and also the Pauline Epistles) show here and there the intrusion of later materials. In the main this is a different issue than the main Synoptic Problem.

                           

                           


                          Emmanuel Fritsch <emmanuel.fritsch@...> wrote:


                          Stuart Waugh a �crit:

                          > Emmanuel,
                          >
                          > I did not say that I thought the baptism concept was late.

                          Sorry : when I say "the baptism", I was thinking "baptism narratives".

                          > To the contrary I believe it is amongst the earliest, perhaps even
                          > pre-Christian, concepts. I concur with Poirier's point about Luke
                          > 12:50, as example for Luke's concept of the Baptism.
                          >
                          > Rather I simply think - and this is what I stated - the concept that
                          > it was John who baptized Jesus was later, though not so late.

                          If it is just a concept, it is a strange one.

                          If Christians would have inveted lately a relation between Jesus and
                          John, they would have created Jesus as the master, and John as the
                          disciple. "Who is the greater, the master or the disciple" may have
                          been, before to be used in a christian sense, an argument of John
                          disciples against first christians.

                          And evidence of a debate between christians and John disciples are
                          early. So the construction of baptism narrative as "Jesus is baptised by
                          John, but Jesus is greater", looks quite early.

                          All that to conclude : I do not see any good reason to state Jesus
                          baptism to be late. All reason to assert it as genuine.

                          a+
                          manu




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                        • Stephen C. Carlson
                          ... This is probably the sticking point. If you can persuade on this one, it s all down hill from there. Stephen Carlson -- Stephen C. Carlson,
                          Message 12 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                            Stuart Waugh wrote:
                            >Lets get this straight. My argument is:
                            ...
                            >2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account

                            This is probably the sticking point. If you can persuade
                            on this one, it's all down hill from there.

                            Stephen Carlson

                            --
                            Stephen C. Carlson,
                            mailto:scarlson@...
                            "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

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                          • Stuart Waugh
                            Stephen, LOL Yup, that is the issue. But I think people have trouble dealing with theological arguments because they insist the Synoptics were done in a single
                            Message 13 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                              Stephen,
                               
                              LOL
                               
                              Yup, that is the issue. But I think people have trouble dealing with theological arguments because they insist the Synoptics were done in a single sitting redactions. I am inclined to agree with Parker on this issue, and see a prolonged process. Any given Gospel can have more primitive accounts of this or that story with this view. Besides model arguments are very weak.
                               
                              But perhaps somebody (Emmanuel?) would like to demonstrate the development toward the Adoptionism in Luke and why he needs to remove John from the scene. Some good Patristic evidence to show how this happened, would be nice as well. Afterall, my argument is based on theology, not upon model.
                               
                              Stuart
                               

                              "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...> wrote:
                              Stuart Waugh wrote:
                              >Lets get this straight. My argument is:
                              ...
                              >2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account

                              This is probably the sticking point. If you can persuade
                              on this one, it's all down hill from there.

                              Stephen Carlson

                              --
                              Stephen C. Carlson,
                              mailto:scarlson@...
                              "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35


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                            • Stuart Waugh
                              Stephen, Actually Luke s account being most primitive is only part of the argument. The issue of Matthew s account being intruded upon by 2nd century Orthodox
                              Message 14 of 21 , Jun 3, 2004
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                                Stephen,
                                 
                                Actually Luke's account being most primitive is only part of the argument. The issue of Matthew's account being intruded upon by 2nd century Orthodox creedal material still holds regardless. Matthew's account is clearly aware of Adoptionist readings and sets a  formula to give an alternative, if clumsy, understanding of the story.
                                 
                                So even if Luke's account is not prior to Mark, or it is from a separate primitive tradition, the Adoptionist reading was known, and every point in 1, 3, 4, 5 still holds. The sticking point of Luke's account being earlier is a not a robust counter argument.
                                 
                                - Stuart

                                Stuart Waugh <stuartwaugh@...> wrote:
                                Stephen,
                                 
                                LOL
                                 
                                Yup, that is the issue. But I think people have trouble dealing with theological arguments because they insist the Synoptics were done in a single sitting redactions. I am inclined to agree with Parker on this issue, and see a prolonged process. Any given Gospel can have more primitive accounts of this or that story with this view. Besides model arguments are very weak.
                                 
                                But perhaps somebody (Emmanuel?) would like to demonstrate the development toward the Adoptionism in Luke and why he needs to remove John from the scene. Some good Patristic evidence to show how this happened, would be nice as well. Afterall, my argument is based on theology, not upon model.
                                 
                                Stuart
                                 

                                "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...> wrote:
                                Stuart Waugh wrote:
                                >Lets get this straight. My argument is:
                                ...
                                >2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account

                                This is probably the sticking point. If you can persuade
                                on this one, it's all down hill from there.

                                Stephen Carlson

                                --
                                Stephen C. Carlson,
                                mailto:scarlson@...
                                "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35


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                              • Randall Buth
                                There is some language data to add to the discussion. ... but it is long) . . . ... 42:1
                                Message 15 of 21 , Jun 4, 2004
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                                  There is some language data to add to the discussion.
                                  >2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account
                                  > - It is symbolic of death and rebirth/resurrection (Luke 12:50)
                                  > - It is part of an Adoptionist formula, quoting Psalm 2:7
                                  > - John does not baptize Jesus in Luke (I can expand on v. 3:19-20,
                                  but it is long)
                                  . . .
                                  >3) Mark's version, based on source lacking Luke 3:19-20
                                  > - Concretely states that John baptizes Jesus (1:9)
                                  > - Lacks the Adoptionist formula, quoting hybrid Psalm 2:7, Isaiah
                                  42:1<

                                  Luke 3:21-22 is a Lucan rewrite. (this could be of a non-canonical source,
                                  so it
                                  is not necessarily diagnostic of Lucan-Marcan relationship). In any case,
                                  this
                                  is a example of the Lucan KAI EGENETO + aparemfaton rhma (infinitive) as
                                  the
                                  MAIN event. This is not a Hebraism but a Lucanism and to be clearly
                                  distinguished from the Hebraic KAI EGENETO (+/- time margin) + paremfaton
                                  rhma (finite verb). This latter (+ finite verb) only occurs in the gospel,
                                  while the
                                  former (infinitive as main event) occurs in both the gospel and frequently
                                  in
                                  Acts.
                                  No surprise there, of course. We get to see Luke's style in Acts and it is
                                  mixed with sources in the gospel.

                                  The language point, in sum, is that Luke 3:21-22 shows Luke's hand as an
                                  editor, which blunts (but certainly does not contradict) the case for
                                  originality of the perspective. (E.g. the other kind of KAI EGENETO could
                                  have gone a long way for clinching the argument for originallity.)
                                  The effect of the whole string of infinitives would be to demote the scene
                                  somewhat from the typically aorist indicative story line.

                                  ERRWSQE
                                  Randall Buth
                                  Randall Buth, PhD
                                  Director, Biblical Language Center
                                  www.biblicalulpan.org
                                  and
                                  Director, Biblical Studies in Israel
                                  Hebrew University, Rothberg International School
                                  ybitan@...

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                                • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                                  I have followed this discussion with some interest. Here is my problem: I am suspicious of theological development problems. Why could not various approaches
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Jun 4, 2004
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                                    I have followed this discussion with some interest.
                                     
                                    Here is my problem:  I am suspicious of theological development problems.  Why could not various approaches to Christology (here expressed as a view of Jesus' baptism) have existed at various times and/or places?  Why must we think that these things always develop in a linear fashion?
                                     
                                    I don't have a problem with Luke perhaps drawing on some older traditions.  I am relatively convinced that there was still a substantial amount of oral material floating around that Luke could have used (thought I think Luke was written the latest of the gospels).  But I also think it equally possible, or even more possible, that each evangelist uses substantial authorial creativity in recasting the "stuff" of the gospel around his/her view of the Christ event.   And these authorial views need not be on a linear path of "development" (whatever that might mean). 
                                     
                                    After all, Paul is very early, and yet he has a remarkably "high" Christology -- even a pre-existent view (per Phil., or if you grant it as Pauline, Col.).  Yet the synoptic gospels, which are all later,  pull back a bit from that.  So we don't necessarily see development toward orthodoxy, but perhaps various stocatic bursts of interpretations of the Jesus story.
                                     
                                    Why could Luke not have been influenced by a more adoptionist theology at a later point?
                                     
                                    So, I don't necessarily agree with Stephen that if you can show the earliness of Luke's baptism scene it is a downhill from there.
                                     
                                    mark
                                     
                                     
                                    Mark A. Matson
                                    Academic Dean
                                    Milligan College
                                    http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                                    -----Original Message-----
                                    From: owner-synoptic-l@... [mailto:owner-synoptic-l@...] On Behalf Of Stuart Waugh
                                    Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2004 3:56 PM
                                    To: Stephen C. Carlson; Emmanuel Fritsch
                                    Cc: synoptic-l@...
                                    Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Jesus' Baptism

                                    Stephen,
                                     
                                    LOL
                                     
                                    Yup, that is the issue. But I think people have trouble dealing with theological arguments because they insist the Synoptics were done in a single sitting redactions. I am inclined to agree with Parker on this issue, and see a prolonged process. Any given Gospel can have more primitive accounts of this or that story with this view. Besides model arguments are very weak.
                                     
                                    But perhaps somebody (Emmanuel?) would like to demonstrate the development toward the Adoptionism in Luke and why he needs to remove John from the scene. Some good Patristic evidence to show how this happened, would be nice as well. Afterall, my argument is based on theology, not upon model.
                                     
                                    Stuart
                                     

                                    "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...> wrote:
                                    Stuart Waugh wrote:
                                    >Lets get this straight. My argument is:
                                    ...
                                    >2) Luke's baptism narrative of Jesus is earliest account

                                    This is probably the sticking point. If you can persuade
                                    on this one, it's all down hill from there.

                                    Stephen Carlson

                                    --
                                    Stephen C. Carlson,
                                    mailto:scarlson@...
                                    "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35


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                                  • R. Steven Notley
                                    With apologies for not having time to get involved too much in this discussion. I am working under some deadlines, so I can t get too engage. However, I did
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Jun 4, 2004
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                                      With apologies for not having time to get involved too much in this
                                      discussion. I am working under some deadlines, so I can't get too
                                      engage. However, I did want to contribute a couple of tidbits to
                                      comments I have read.

                                      I have used Stuart's post as a point of response, since the discussion
                                      has sometimes ranged far and wide.

                                      > Lets get this straight. My argument is:
                                      > 1) Baptism predates Christianity (it's in Paul afterall)

                                      I assume that everyone on the Synoptic-L is already aware that this
                                      statement goes without saying. Jewish ritual immersion is attested in
                                      pre-Christian literary sources (e.g. Sir 34:30) and archaeologically
                                      before John or Jesus. Indeed, I find little in the manner and message
                                      of John's baptism that is Christian at all. Josephus (Ant. 18:116ff)
                                      in his description of John certainly does not connect his baptism in
                                      any regard to Jesus or Christianity.

                                      John's call to repentance echoes that of another first century sage
                                      from Galilee Yose Ha-Galili "Repentance brings redemption." John
                                      called people to repentance in the hope that God would respond and
                                      send the Redeemer. The language of this hope is also not unique.
                                      "Remission of sins" is not intended to signal the individual's
                                      "sinfulness" or obtaining forgiveness through the act of immersion.
                                      Instead, the vocabulary of "remission" is related to what Wachholder
                                      called "chronomessianism" or the belief that God would act redemptively
                                      according to a predetermined chronological framework. I think John
                                      like some of his contemporaries believed that redemption would happen
                                      in a Jubilee year (thus the language of remission--by the first century
                                      the terminology for "debts" could also be used for "sins"--i.e. Matt
                                      6:12). The Qumran community and others found significance in the fact
                                      that the Jubilee begins on the Day of Atonement--with the
                                      forgiveness/remission of sins. In other words, those who proposed a
                                      redemption that would coincide with the Jubilee year, suggested that
                                      God would forgive the sins of the nation and consequently bring
                                      redemption to his people.

                                      In this light, there is very little in John's call to repentance and
                                      ritual immersion that is of necessity "Christian."

                                      However, John's hesitation in Matthew's account, reflects later
                                      Christian concern at the portrayal of Jesus submitting to John.
                                      John's movement did not disappear with the arrival of Jesus and one can
                                      detect a certain competitiveness between the two movements in the NT.
                                      I personally would interpret John's hesitation to baptize Jesus and his
                                      confession of inferiority in Matthew's Gospel to be a product of the
                                      same kind of creativity that we see in the demotion of John in later
                                      strata of Christian tradition.

                                      Only in the Synoptic Gospels does Jesus testify to the elevated status
                                      of John. Matt 11:11: "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women
                                      there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist." While in the
                                      Synoptics Jesus says, "If you can accept it, [John] is Elijah," in
                                      John 1:21, when John is asked "Are you Elijah?" he says "No." I think
                                      the attempt to reduce John's status in later Christian presentations
                                      can not be more clear. Matthew's unique presentation of John's
                                      hesitation and confession "I need to be baptized by you" is part of
                                      this trend and an indication of the tradition's relative lateness.

                                      >    - It is symbolic of death and rebirth/resurrection (Luke 12:50)
                                      In the context of Luke 12:49-53 baptism does not speak symbolically to
                                      rebirth/resurrection. It is true that Mark 10:38 has presented the
                                      dominical saying in light of the Pauline notion that baptism symbolizes
                                      death and resurrection. Thus, Mark's addition "to drink the cup I
                                      drink". But Mark's innovation is not present in Luke or Matthew.
                                      Instead, baptism in Luke 12:49 occurs within the context of pending
                                      judgment. This use of baptism echoes language already heard on the
                                      lips of John (Luke 3:16 parr.) and parallels similar imagery in the DSS
                                      (e.g. 1QS 4:21-23). [On the grammatical voice of "baptizein" in Luke
                                      12:49, see below.'
                                      >
                                      >       - It is part of an Adoptionist formula, quoting Psalm 2:7
                                      Once again this statement is anachronistic. While Psalm 2:7 was used
                                      in later Adoptionist circles, one has to demonstrate that such is the
                                      intended meaning for its use by the Evangelists in the baptismal
                                      narrative. Personally, I am not sure Psalm 2:7 represents the earliest
                                      tradition of the content for the heavenly voice. I think Jeremias was
                                      correct in seeing Isaiah 42:1 as more fitting. Nevertheless, it is
                                      worth noting that Psalm 2:7 is used in (non-Christian) Jewish sources
                                      as part of scriptural testimonia concerning the coming King Messiah.
                                      In Hebrew it is linguistically connected to Psalm 110 and interpreted
                                      accordingly. Its use in connection with the Jewish hope for a
                                      redeemer has absolutely nothing to do with adoptionist tendencies in
                                      later Christianity.

                                      As an aside, one could more convincingly suggest that Mark (and perhaps
                                      an earlier recension of Luke that lacked the first two chapters) was
                                      structured without any details of Jesus' life before the baptism under
                                      the influence of adoptionist tendencies in some circles of the early
                                      church (i.e. nothing in the life of Jesus before his baptism is
                                      important). I am not sure one can prove this position with certainty
                                      either. I only give it as an example of how can read the data in light
                                      of later developments. As is noted on this list quite regularly, there
                                      is a world of difference between "possibility" and "probability."

                                      >       - John does not baptize Jesus in Luke (I can expand on v.
                                      > 3:19-20, but it is long)
                                      Luke's omission of John's direct physical involvement is not derived
                                      from a theological/ecclesiastical agenda, but instead is simply a more
                                      fitting description of what physically occurs in the Jewish act of
                                      ritual immersion. It is self-immersion. One is forbidden to be
                                      touched while in the water. It may be a coincidence but the oldest
                                      pictorial representation of this event from 2nd century catacombs in
                                      Rome portray John on the bank of the Jordan extending a hand to Jesus
                                      and assisting him to come up out of the water. It is likely that this
                                      would have been John's location.

                                      Please note something that is routinely overlook. When Matthew
                                      actually describes Jesus' baptism, his presentation likewise omits
                                      John's direct involvement, "And when Jesus was baptized..." (Matt
                                      3:16). He thus agrees with Luke here against Mark, in spite of the
                                      fact that he has followed Mark's presentation in Matthew 3:13=Mark 1:9
                                      in his introduction to the event.

                                      The reasons for the confusion on the mode of immersion may lie in the
                                      ambiguity of the semitic idiom. For example the Hebrew TaBaL (to
                                      immerse) can be read both transitive and intransitive in meaning (i.e.
                                      I immerse something or I immerse [myself]). Please note the same
                                      problem with the translation of Paul's actions in Acts 21. In both
                                      verses (21 and 24) the English translations rightly have rendered it as
                                      self-purification ("purify yourself" and "he purified himself") even
                                      though the verb is passive. By the way, the meaning here is also
                                      ritual immersion which was required before ascending to the Temple. In
                                      the Dead Sea Scrolls we read the verbs "to purify" and "to sanctify"
                                      with the meaning of "to immerse."
                                      >
                                      >

                                      Sadly, I am out of time. I need to get back to other things. Thanks
                                      for the discussion.

                                      shalom
                                      Steven Notley
                                      Nyack College NYC
                                    • Maluflen@aol.com
                                      In a message dated 6/3/2004 4:38:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, stuartwaugh@yahoo.com writes:
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Jun 4, 2004
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                                        In a message dated 6/3/2004 4:38:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, stuartwaugh@... writes:

                                        << Actually Luke's account being most primitive is only part of the argument. The issue of Matthew's account being intruded upon by 2nd century Orthodox creedal material still holds regardless. Matthew's account is clearly aware of Adoptionist readings and sets a formula to give an alternative, if
                                        clumsy, understanding of the story.>>

                                        Could you please explain what you are saying here. It will continue to sound like utter nonsense to me (at least) until you do. Given which, it is a pity that you assert it with such confidence. Thanks.

                                        Leonard Maluf
                                        Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
                                        Weston, MA

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