Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 14

The Fourth Gospel plays an important role in determining the probability of the claim that Jesus died on the cross.

Two of the key injuries allegedly inflicted upon Jesus are documented only in the Fourth Gospel:

1. Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the cross.

2. Jesus was stabbed in the chest with a spear while on the cross.
None of the Gospels state that Jesus was nailed to the cross when they describe the crucifixion. They just say that Jesus was crucified. Crucifixion does not necessarily involve nailing the victim to a cross. It only requires that the victim be attached somehow to a tree or a stake or a cross.

Only the Fourth Gospel specifically mentions nails in relation to the crucifixion, and the reference occurs not in the crucifixion scenes but in the resurrection scenes where Jesus allegedly appears to his disciples in Jerusalem after the crucifixion.

So, if the Fourth Gospel is historically unreliable in relation to the details of the crucifixion and the details of the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus, then the case for the death of Jesus on the cross is significantly weaker than most Christian believers and Christian apologists think it is.

According to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the Fourth Gospel is very unreliable, and there are very few details in this Gospel that are historically true or even probable. The scholars of the Jesus seminar color John 19:26-37 black, meaning: “This information is improbable. It does not fit verifiable evidence; it is largely or entirely fictive.” (The Acts of Jesus, p.37).

The concluding comment on this passage is clear:

Aside from the notice that some of the women were present at the crucifixion in v.25, the Johannine version of Jesus’ death, like other gospel versions, is the product of imagination laced with scriptural allusions. Black is the correct color. (The Acts of Jesus, p. 439).

So, according to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the spear-wound incident in the Fourth Gospel is probably fictional rather than historical.

A similar negative verdict is given on the Doubting Thomas story in the Fourth Gospel, which contains the only specific reference to nails in any of the Gospels. John 20:19-29 is colored black by the Jesus Seminar scholars:

Although claims have been made for the Thomas story as an independent tradition, the Fellows were inclined to regard it as a late and fictional tale. (The Acts of Jesus, p.488).

Thus, in the judgment of the Jesus Seminar the passages of the Fourth Gospel that provide important details about the crucifixion that, if true, would make the death of Jesus on the cross probable, are themselves probably fictional. If we follow the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar, then the details and stories of the Fourth Gospel are generally dubious, and the specific passages in the Fourth Gospel that support the above two key claims in support of view that Jesus died on the cross should be rejected as unhistorical.

However, Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics tend to have a negative view of the Jesus Seminar scholars as being overly skeptical about the historical reliability of the Gospels.

Many Evangelical and Catholic believers think that the Fourth Gospel was written by John the apostle, who they think was an eyewitness to the crucifixion and to the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus to his disciples. So, from their point of view, the above mentioned passages from the Fourth Gospel provide us with eyewitness testimony supporting the two key claims about the wounds inflicted upon Jesus.

Many Evangelical NT scholars, unlike most Evangelical Christian believers and most Christian apologists, do not hold the traditional view that John the apostle is the author of the Fourth Gospel.
Evangelical NT scholar Rodney Whitacre tries to break the bad news to naive Evangelical Christians by putting a positive spin on his more skeptical view of the authorship of the Fourth Gospel:

We will dive in at the deep end with some of the most difficult questions. The answers to these questions will not affect our respect for this material [the Fourth Gospel] as inspired scripture, but they will give us an appreciation for the wondrous complexity of its production, very much analogous to God’s working in the realm of nature.
(John, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, p.13-14)

George Beasley-Murray, another Evangelical NT scholar, also gives his readers a bit of a heads up at the beginning of his introduction to the Fourth gospel:

There was a time when the subject indicated by the above title ['The Origin of the Fourth Gospel'] would have been considered superfluous; for the tradition was unquestioned that the Gospel was composed by the apostle John on the basis of his own memories, with no other assistance than the prompting of his friends and colleagues to set down in writing his recollections of Jesus. The question of authorship, however, is not so simple; the answer has to take into account evidence relating to other sources of information about Jesus and considerations that arise from the book itself.(John, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 36, 2nd edition, p.xxxv)

In the IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, the Evangelical NT scholar M.M. Thompson, opens the section on the authorship of the Fourth gospel with objections to the traditional view of the authorship of this gospel:

The Gospel itself comes to us anonymously, as do all the Gospels and, in fact, much ancient literature. The title ‘According to John’…is derived from the tradition that the Gospel was written by the apostle John, the son of Zebedee. This tradition has been challenged for the following reasons: (1) The evidence of the earliest sources and church fathers…is deemed ambiguous, inadequate, wrong, legendary or polemical. (2) Those statements within the Gospel which might allude to its authorship…are also ambiguous and perhaps even point away from authorship by one of the Twelve. (3) The content of the Gospel suggests that it was not written by an eyewitness or by one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.
(‘John, Gospel of’, IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, p.369)

After reviewing the relevant evidence, Thompson suggests a fairly skeptical conclusion on the authorship of the Fourth gospel:

A common understanding of the Beloved Disciple is that he is a person who heard and followed Jesus, although he was not one of the Twelve. That there clearly were such persons is obvious from the rest of the NT (Acts 1:21-26). He exercised a role of leadership in one group of early Christian congregations, probably gathering a circle of disciples around him. One (or more) of his disciples wrote the Gospel, but who this author is remains unknown to us. He preserved, shaped and interpreted the witness of his master, the Beloved Disciple, who had in turn interpreted the teaching of the Master himself. (IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, p.370).

Rodney Whitacre rightly shows respect for the views of the great Catholic NT scholar Raymond Brown concerning the authorship and composition/revision history of the Fourth Gospel (see John, IVP NT Commentary, p. 14-27).

Brown initially argued that John the apostle was the ultimate source behind the Fourth Gospel, but that the Gospel went through five stages of development and revision, thus allowing for a good deal of additions and alterations of the original oral traditions/sources. Whitacre notes that Brown later concluded that ‘the Beloved Disciple’ the original source behind this gospel, was not John the apostle. In Brown’s view, the Beloved Disciple was an eyewitness, but was not John the apostle, and was not the author of the Fourth Gospel. The evangelist or author, in Brown’s view, was a prominent preacher in the Johannine community, who used traditions from the Beloved Disciple to formulate his own sermons which he also wrote down, and this document went through editing and revisions, including a final revision that was done by someone other than the evangelist.

Whitacre settles on a more conservative view than Brown, but still does not fully support the naive traditional view:

I will refer to John as the author not in the sense that he necessarily wrote it all as it stands, but in recognition that it is his witness that is presented here and that he at least caused it to be written (21:24). (John, p. 21)

Beasley-Murray, on the other hand, opts for a more thoroughly skeptical view of the authorship of the Fourth gospel:

The Beloved Disciple is not a member of the Twelve, nor a well-known person in the early Church.

The Beloved Disciple is not the author of the Gospel-neither of chaps. 1-20 nor of chap. 21.

He [the Beloved Disciple] is the prime source of the traditions about Jesus in the Johannine circle.

As with the Beloved Disciple, so with the Evangelist [the author of the Gospel]: we do not know his name.(John, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 36, p. lxxiii-lxxiv)

There are, of course, Evangelical NT scholars who still support the traditional view that the apostle John wrote the Fourth Gospel, but skepticism about the traditional view is not limited to the liberal scholars of the Jesus Seminar. Many prominent Evangelical NT scholars also question and sometimes outright reject the traditional view of the author and composition of the Fourth gospel.

INDEX of Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus posts:

About Bradley Bowen
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Note:

    The Doubting Thomas story in Chapter 20 of the Fourth gospel only implies that the hands (or arms) of Jesus were nailed to the cross. There is no mention of nail wounds in Jesus' feet.

    The idea that Jesus' feet were nailed to the cross is supported only by a passage from the Gospel of Luke:

    " 'Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.' " (Luke 24:36-39)

    But neither Jesus, nor the disciples, nor the narrator mention anything about wounds in Jesus' hands and feet. And since Luke was probably composed a decade or so before the Fourth gospel, this passage should not be read as alluding to the Doubting Thomas story in the Fourth gospel, where wounds in Jesus' hands are mentioned.

    Hands and feet are visible and easy to touch areas of the body, assuming the typical clothing of that time and place (e.g. Jesus wore sandals and a robe). And the point of touching Jesus' hands and feet is not to identify him (they think they are seeing a ghost presumably because they think that they are seeing Jesus, who had recently died) but to verify that he still had a physical body.

    So, this passage in Luke is rather weak evidence for the claim that Jesus' feet were nailed to the cross.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    As to the Gospels not mentioning Jesus being nailed to the cross, the Gospel writers could have just assumed that first century people would know what a crucifixion involves and so didn’t go into great detail about it. Historical and archeological evidence shows that nailing people to crosses was practiced by Roman executors. Josephs describes Roman soldiers nailing Jewish captives in chapter 11 of Jewish War. He writes, “So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.”

    As to the archeological evidence the Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine in “Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion” describes an archeological discovery of a nail driven through the Calcaneus of a Jewish man during the Roman period. They write:

    The one case we do have was a young Jewish man buried during the Roman Period, in a tomb near Giv'at ha-Mivtar in Israel.9 The inscription on the ossuary suggests his name was probably Yehohanan ben Hagkol. The skeletal remains were only available for study for a few weeks before being given a Jewish burial, although a model of this calcaneus and nail have been exhibited in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The excavated remains were fragmentary and incomplete, but were unmistakably a case of crucifixion. The initial osteoarchaeological interpretation of the remains10 was of poor quality, and somewhat misleading. A much more expert analysis of these remains was published in 1985 by Zias and Sekeles.11 They described how an 11.5cm iron nail had been hammered through the body of the right calcaneus from lateral to medial, and was still in situ (Figure 1). The tip of the nail was bent, suggesting that during its insertion it had perhaps met a hard knot of wood or pre-existing nail left from an earlier crucifixion. The remains of a flat piece of olive wood were found to be located between the lateral aspect of the calcaneus and the head of the nail. Its use may have been to prevent the crucifixion victim freeing his foot by forcing it laterally over the head of the nail. It seems that, at least in this case, the heels were nailed to the sides of the cross.

    So, historical and archeological evidence backs up the tradition that Jesus was nailed to the cross. The Gospel writers omission of this could have simply been because they assumed the people in their church would have known that crucifixions involved nailing people to crosses.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    As to John being the author of the Gospel According to John the ESV Study Bible’s introduction to John says:

    The title says that the Gospel was written by John, and other evidence identifies this John as the son of Zebedee. The internal evidence indicates that the author was (1) an apostle (1:14; cf. 2:11; 19:35), (2) one of the 12 disciples (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”; 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20; cf. 21:24–25), and, still more specifically, (3) John the son of Zebedee (note the association of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with Peter in 13:23–24; 18:15–16; 20:2–9; 21:2–23; cf. Luke 22:8; Acts 1:13; 3:1–4:37; 8:14–25; Gal. 2:9). The external evidence from the church fathers supports this identification (e.g., Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.2).

    Irenaeus, the early church father, wrote in chapter 1 of book 3 of Against Heresies:

    John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.

    These [Matthew, Mark, Juke and John] have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.

    This is also bolstered by Paul’s mention of John in regards to his trip back to Jerusalem in Galatians. Galatians is a unanimously agreed upon authentic Pauline epistle. Paul writes in Galatians 2:1-2 and 6-10 Paul:

    Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain… And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

    This means that 14 years (around A.D. 44-47) after Paul’s first visit (which was about six years after Jesus’ crucifixion) to Jerusalem he comes back to meet with Peter, John and James the brother of Jesus to make sure that his Gospel message is correct. The three church pillars and witnesses to Jesus life, death and resurrection confirm that Paul’s message is correct.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    I think we could view the doubting Thomas section in John as a piece of evidence of the authenticity of the Gospel of John because it is an instance of embarrassment. This account has one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, doubting for some time that Jesus was really raised from the dead and needing concrete evidence to believe in the resurrection. It seems unlikely that the early church would want to make up a story about one of Jesus’ disciples exhibiting doubt. This is another instance of an unflattering account of the disciples.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    You write: According to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the Fourth Gospel is very unreliable, and there are very few details in this Gospel that are historically true or even probable.

    What you fail to mention is why the Jesus Seminar scholars, and many liberal scholars in general, consider sections of the Gospels to be not true or historical. The reason is that they are bound by the presuppositions of naturalism and therefore view all physically impossible sections as unhistorical and not true. This is, of course, question begging against the Gospel texts and miracles in general. Just because an event is physically impossible doesn’t mean that is logically impossible or that it necessarily didn’t happen.

    If God exists then he can momentarily suspend the natural order that he established whenever he sees fit. If God exists, then not only is his intervention in the death of Jesus the best and least ad hoc explanation for the post mortem appearances of Jesus, but he is also the ontological explanation of how we came to exist in a finally tuned universe that came into existence via a singularity 14 billion years ago.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    There isn’t really a significant historical piece of evidence to support John’s claim that Jesus was stabbed in the side with a spear. However, there is historical support for crucifixions being hurried by crucifracture of the legs. In “Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar” in the Israel Exploration Journal, Dr. Nicu Haas describes how the archeological discovery of the body of a young Jewish man named Yehochanan, who was crucified around the time of Jesus, shows that the Romans used crucifracture to hasten crucifixions. He writes:

    In most cases, the soldiers would break the legs of crucifixion victims in order to hasten their death via asphyxiation. Yehochanan's legs were deliberately fractured, apparently when he was still alive, but near death.

    The use of crucifracture could be used for many reasons; one reason is that the Roman soldiers in charge of the crucifixion may simply want to leave the crucifixion site so they hasten the death. Another reason is that, as the Gospel accounts say, the Romans want to accommodate the Jewish observance of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 which says, “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
    There is historical evidence that backs up the Gospel claims that the Romans would sometimes let bodies be buried before sundown. In chapter 5 of book 4 of Jewish War Josephus writes about this:

    Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.

    This means that we have archeological evidence that crucifracture was practiced and historical evidence that shows that the Romans sometimes allowed crucifixion victims to be buried before sunset. If as the Gospel accounts say, that the Romans were granting the Jewish request to bury the bodies of Jesus and the criminals with him before sundown then it is likely that they would use crucifracture to speed up the deaths. As the Gospel accounts say the legs of the criminals beside Jesus were broken, but Jesus weren’t broken because the guards believed that he was already dead. This makes sense because crucifracture is used to kill a crucifixion victim rapidly, and you wouldn’t use crucifracture on someone who is already dead. It also makes sense that the Roman guard would instead stab Jesus in the side to make sure that he really is dead because a quick stab to the heart would most likely ensure that the victim is indeed dead. So, the stabbing of Jesus that is described in the Gospel of John logically follows from what we know about crucifixions.

    As to why the Gospel of John is the only Gospel writer to include the stabbing, perhaps the writer of John had a piece of information the other writers didn’t. The other Gospel writers cut from the death of Jesus to the body being transferred to Joseph of Arimathea for burial. However, John describes this event in between the death and burial perhaps because he had information the other didn’t–this could have even been first hand evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    So, historical and archeological evidence backs up the tradition that Jesus was nailed to the cross. The Gospel writers omission of this could have simply been because they assumed the people in their church would have known that crucifixions involved nailing people to crosses.
    ============
    Response:

    We have only one example of a crucified person's skeleton from Palestine around the time of Jesus.

    That skeleton shows that nails were used to attach the feet of that victim to a stake or cross.

    This evidence only shows that nails were sometimes used to attach the feet of a victim of crucifixion, not that this was always the case, and not even that this was the most common method of attachment.

    This evidence does not show that nails were used to attach the hands or arms of such victims, and it certainly does not show us how Jesus was attached to the cross.

    The readers of the Gospels would have inferred that Jesus was nailed to the cross only if nailing was the most common method of attachment, but the evidence you mention does not show that the most common method was nailing. So, you beg the question by assuming that the original readers of the Gospels would have inferred the use of nails in the crucifixion of Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Yehochanan’s crucified skeleton certainly doesn’t prove that everyone who was crucified was nailed to the cross, but it does show that it did happen. Yehochanan’s hands didn’t appear to be nailed, but even if a similar procedure was used on Jesus it would definitely have a bearing on JAW because having 4.5 inch nail driven through your heel bone would make walking very difficult, if not impossible for quite a while.

    I think a better indication as to how common nailing people to crosses were at that time is Josephus’ account of Jewish captives being nailed to crosses. In chapter 11 of book 5 of Jewish War Josephus writes that over 500 Jews were nailed to crosses in one day. He writes:

    [S]o they [the Jewish captives] were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures, before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies.

    Again this doesn’t prove that all crucifixion victims were nailed to the cross, but over 500 people nailed to the cross in one day is a lot of people. This gives us a good representative sample of Roman crucifixions. It would have been nice to know how the 2000 people that were crucified during the revolt in Judea that Josephus talks about in Antiquities, but like the Gospel writers, he just says that they were crucified.

    Speaking of the Gospel writers, if you don’t agree with my assessment of why they didn’t give a detailed description of the procedure of scourging and crucifixion what is your opinion?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    "In chapter 11 of book 5 of Jewish War Josephus writes that over 500 Jews were nailed to crosses in one day."

    Yes, but as Josephus says, this was a wartime action meant to weaken their resistance. Atrocities often serve such purposes during war. So it's not necessarily representative of non-wartime executions. Nor does it say that they nailed the hands (or feet, for that matter) to the cross, merely that they were nailed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    This means that 14 years (around A.D. 44-47) after Paul’s first visit (which was about six years after Jesus’ crucifixion) to Jerusalem he comes back to meet with Peter, John and James the brother of Jesus to make sure that his Gospel message is correct. The three church pillars and witnesses to Jesus life, death and resurrection confirm that Paul’s message is correct.
    ===============
    Response:

    Both Peter and James had visions according to Acts, so the appearances of Jesus after the crucifixion might well have been visions.

    The earliest gospel, Mark, has only some women who were followers of Jesus at the crucifixion and burial of Jesus (Mark 15:40-47). The implication is that the disciples went into hiding when Jesus was tried by the Romans and crucified.

    If Peter, James, and John went into hiding to avoid being crucified along with Jesus, then they were NOT eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus.

    The Fourth gospel does place ONE male disciple, called 'the beloved disciple' at the crucifixion, but most NT scholars do not believe that 'the beloved disciple' was John the son of Zebedee, nor one of the Twelve.

    The resurrection appearance stories in Luke and the Fourth gospel imply that the first appearances of Jesus to the disciples after crucifixion, happened on Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, but the gospels of Mark and Matthew imply that the first appearances of Jesus after crucifixion took place in Galilee at least a week after the crucifixion (Mark 16:5-8, Matthew 28:5-10 and 16-17), and many NT scholars favor the latter scenario over the former.

    If the first post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus took place in Galilee about a week after the crucifixion, then we don't really know who among the disciples saw the post-crucifixion Jesus (because the appearance accounts in Luke and 4th gospel would thus be fictional), although Peter (who was known to experience visions) is a prime candidate.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01786844757672182664 K-Dog

    How many premises are there in your argument, jeesh? Are you aware that even if there are only 5 premises in your argument, and we grant them an .8 likelihood, that your conclusion is only .33 likely to be true! I am guessing that your argument is even longer though which makes it all the more improbable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: The earliest gospel, Mark, has only some women who were followers of Jesus at the crucifixion and burial of Jesus (Mark 15:40-47). The implication is that the disciples went into hiding when Jesus was tried by the Romans and crucified.

    Mark 15:40-41 says:

    There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

    Matthew 27:55-56 says:

    There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

    Luke 23:48-49 says:

    And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

    John 19:25-27 says:

    but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

    It is not really clear what the passages in Mark and Matthew mean by saying that there were also women looking on. Does this mean that the women are in addition to the Roman soldiers or that the women are in addition to the soldiers and some of the male disciples? Luke says that it is the soldiers, the women and male disciples. The writer of John says that he was there with Mary the mother of Jesus.

    What is clearer is that the female followers of Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea, of course, were the only followers of Jesus to witness Jesus’ burial. Women were also the first witnesses to the empty tomb. This brings us to another instance of embarrassment which helps to validate the authenticity of the Gospel accounts. If these accounts were fictitious why would the Gospel writers be portraying Jesus’ apostles as faithless cowards? Wouldn’t it be more likely that the apostles would be portrayed at brave heroes who waited for Jesus to arise or maybe even rescue him like action heroes? Instead, this is another unflattering depiction of the disciples.

    Another embarrassing aspect to this story is that women followers of Jesus observed his burial and they were the first to see that Jesus’ tomb was empty. Women’s testimony was not even accepted in legal proceedings in Jewish society. If the Gospel accounts were made up then it doesn’t make sense to have women be the witnesses of Jesus’ burial and be first people to see the empty tomb. It would have made much more sense to have men be the first to see the empty tomb if the Gospels were faked.

    Bradley Bowen said: If Peter, James, and John went into hiding to avoid being crucified along with Jesus, then they were NOT eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus.

    In 1 Peter 5:1 Peter confirms that he witnessed Jesus’ punishment when he says, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed…” We don’t know exactly what sufferings Peter witnessed, but obviously some sort of suffering. However, it does appear that Peter or the other male disciples did not witness Jesus’ burial. The Gospels do say that Peter was one of the first male disciples to view Jesus’ empty tomb.

    John 19:27 indicates that the writer of John was not a fist hand witness to the spearing, but he could of learned about this from the women followers or maybe from the other male disciples that are mentioned in Luke.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: The resurrection appearance stories in Luke and the Fourth gospel imply that the first appearances of Jesus to the disciples after crucifixion, happened on Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, but the gospels of Mark and Matthew imply that the first appearances of Jesus after crucifixion took place in Galilee at least a week after the crucifixion (Mark 16:5-8, Matthew 28:5-10 and 16-17), and many NT scholars favor the latter scenario over the former.

    How do you figure that the first appearance in Luke is a week after the crucifixion? Luke 24:1-3 says, “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” According to the Hebrew calendar Yom Rishon is the first day of the week which is Sunday which starts at the preceding sunset. All four gospels say that the resurrection occurred on Sunday. Luke 24:13-35 goes on to say:

    That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

    Jesus appeared that same Sunday to the disciples. This also seems to be a real appearance by a physical Jesus who was seen by many people and capable of breaking bread.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11075074084646770559 Keith Rozumalski

    Bradley Bowen said: If the first post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus took place in Galilee about a week after the crucifixion, then we don't really know who among the disciples saw the post-crucifixion Jesus.

    The first appearances didn’t occur a week after Jesus death. Besides, Paul gives us a list of the witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul writes:

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith…

    I apologize for not responding more quickly to your comments.

    Because you have made so many comments, I might not get around to responding to all of them, but I hope to respond to many of them over the next week or so.

    Thank you for your patience.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    I think we could view the doubting Thomas section in John as a piece of evidence of the authenticity of the Gospel of John because it is an instance of embarrassment.
    ============
    Response:

    Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written (about 70 CE), and the Fourth gospel was probably composed between 90 and 100 CE, two or three decades after Mark.

    You might be able to make an argument from embarrassment about the gospel of Mark's fairly negative portrayal of the Twelve.

    But by the time the Fourth gospel was written, such negative portrayals of the Twelve would have been a widespread and widely accepted part of the thinking of early Christians, thus no longer an embarrassing idea.

    The Fourth gospel's presentation of 'doubting Thomas' was merely repeating a point of view that had been accepted by many Christians for many years.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    You write: According to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the Fourth Gospel is very unreliable, and there are very few details in this Gospel that are historically true or even probable.

    What you fail to mention is why the Jesus Seminar scholars, and many liberal scholars in general, consider sections of the Gospels to be not true or historical. The reason is that they are bound by the presuppositions of naturalism and therefore view all physically impossible sections as unhistorical and not true.
    =============

    Response:

    I'm not sure that the scholars of the Jesus Seminar are committed to naturalism, but many of the leading Jesus Seminar scholars do reject supernatural miracles, so your basic premise has merit.

    However, skepticism about supernatural miracles does NOT explain why the scholars of the Jesus Seminar view the Fourth gospel as being significantly less historically reliable than the other three gospels. In case you had not noticed, there are miracle reports in all four gospels.

    There are various reasons given by the Jesus Seminar scholars for their skepticism about the Fourth gospel, but a key reason is that the portrayal of Jesus is very similar between Mark, Matthew, and Luke, and very disimilar between those gospels and the Fourth gospel:

    "Cumulatively, these differences have persuaded scholars that a foundational choice must be made: The historical Jesus was either more like the Jesus of the synoptics or more like the Jesus of John. The differences are so great that the synoptic and Johnannine portraits of Jesus cannot be harmonized into a single whole. For mainline scholars, the choice is the synoptics."

    (Marcus Borg, Jesus at 2000, p.132)

    It is not just the scholars of the Jesus Seminar who think this way. This is how most Jesus scholars, both liberals and conservatives, view the Fourth gospel.

    Furthermore, rejection of supernatural miracles only excludes a few nature miracles (walking on water, turning water into wine, physical resurrection). Most of the 'miracles' Jesus performs are exorcisms and faith healings. Jesus Seminar scholars believe that Jesus was an exorcist and a faith healer; they just don't believe that such 'miracles' involve a supernatural violation of laws of nature. So, the rejection of supernatural violations of laws of nature does not imply that most of the stories in the gospels are false, only that a few here and there are false, and the scholars of the Jesus Seminar are intelligent enough to understand and recognize this to be so.

    Yes, they reject the 'virgin birth' and bodily resurrections from the dead, but there are many 'miracle' stories in the gospels that can be accepted as more or less historical, even by scholars who don't believe in demons, demon possession, or supernatural healing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…
    As to John being the author of the Gospel According to John the ESV Study Bible’s introduction to John says:

    The title says that the Gospel was written by John, and other evidence identifies this John as the son of Zebedee. The internal evidence indicates that the author was (1) an apostle (1:14; cf. 2:11; 19:35), (2) one of the 12 disciples (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”; 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20; cf. 21:24–25), and, still more specifically, (3) John the son of Zebedee (note the association of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with Peter in 13:23–24; 18:15–16; 20:2–9; 21:2–23; cf. Luke 22:8; Acts 1:13; 3:1–4:37; 8:14–25; Gal. 2:9). The external evidence from the church fathers supports this identification (e.g., Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.2).

    =============
    Response:

    NT scholars are aware of all these points, yet outside of some Evangelical NT scholars (such as the one you quote), few are persuaded by this evidence, and most are skeptical of the traditional view that the apostle John is the author of the Fourth Gospel.

    Furthermore, as I have already indicated, a number of Evangelical NT scholars express skepticism about John being the author of the Fourth gospel.

    If the evidence for the traditional view was compelling, I would expect more than just conservative Evangelical scholars to be persuaded by the evidence, and I would not expect Evangelical NT scholars to be so divided on this question.

    It is possible, but unlikely that 'the beloved disciple' is the apostle John (probability: .3). It is possible, but unlikely that 'the beloved disciple' is the author of the Fourth gospel (probability: .3). It is possible, but unlikely that very little of the current version of the Fourth gospel was added or altered by editors or redactors without the consent of the author (probability: .3).

    So, the probability that the Fourth gospel is, with few exceptions, the writing of the apostle John is roughly .3 x .3 x .3 = .027 or about three chances in a hundred. That is not a solid basis for factual claims derived from the Fourth gospel. This is not the sort of solid, highly reliable kind of data that is required to establish a miracle claim.

    Even if we significantly bump up my probability estimates to .5 for each of the three above dubious assumptions, the probability remains low: .5 x .5 x .5 = .125 or about one chance in ten that the Fourth gospel as it currently exists is, with few exceptions, the writing of John the apostle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    I think we could view the doubting Thomas section in John as a piece of evidence of the authenticity of the Gospel of John because it is an instance of embarrassment.
    =========
    Response:

    I have raised an objection to this point above.

    There are also positive reasons for doubting the historicity of the doubting Thomas story:

    (1) Mark and Matthew indidcate that the first post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus took place in Galilee, which implies that the Jerusalem appearances in Luke and the Fourth gospel are fictional.

    It would take a number of days for the disciples to walk back to Galilee from Jerusalem, so Mark and Matthew imply that the first appearances of Jesus took place in Galilee about a week (or more) after the crucifixion.

    Any appearances of Jesus to the Twelve in Jerusalem, on this scenario, would not have taken place until more than a week after the crucifixion, not on Easter Sunday, and probably not as soon as one week after Easter Sunday.

    (2) Although Luke has an Easter appearance of Jesus to the Twelve in Jerusalem, there is no mention of Thomas being absent on that occaision, and there is no mention of Thomas expressing doubts about the resurrection, and no mention of Jesus showing a wound in his side to anyone. Luke's account does not fit well with the Fourth gospel.

    (3)No other gospel confirms the existence of 'the beloved disciple' nor the presence of such a disciple at the cross, nor the presence of Jesus' mother at the cross, nor the conversation between Jesus and his mother, nor the conversation between Jesus and 'the beloved disciple', nor the request to have Jesus' legs broken, nor the spear wound to Jesus' side, nor the blood and water flowing from his side, nor the showing of the wound to the disciples in a post-crucifixion appearance.

    In short, none of the details of the spear-wound story in the Fourth gospel are suppported in any of the other gospels. And the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus to eleven of the Twelve in Jerusalem on Easter is inconsistent with the accounts of the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus in Matthew and Mark. Mark being a much earlier account, many scholars conclude that the first appearances took place in Galilee, not Jerusalem, implying that the Easter appearance stories in Luke and the Fourth gospel are fictional or at least factually incorrect (chronological error).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    There isn’t really a significant historical piece of evidence to support John’s claim that Jesus was stabbed in the side with a spear. However, there is historical support for crucifixions being hurried by crucifracture of the legs. In “Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv'at ha-Mivtar” in the Israel Exploration Journal, Dr. Nicu Haas describes how the archeological discovery of the body of a young Jewish man named Yehochanan, who was crucified around the time of Jesus, shows that the Romans used crucifracture to hasten crucifixions. He writes:

    In most cases, the soldiers would break the legs of crucifixion victims in order to hasten their death via asphyxiation. Yehochanan's legs were deliberately fractured, apparently when he was still alive, but near death.
    ==============
    Response:

    Dr. Haas's analysis was found by other experts to have several errors/problems, one of which was that the evidence was unclear that crucifracture had been used on Yehochanan:
    ================
    Haas’s osteological analysis (Haas 1970:38–59), however, was done rather rapidly due to the demands of the religious community for reburial of the bones (Zias and Sekeles 1985:22). He suggested that the osteological evidence pointed to the fact that the victim’s heels had been nailed together sideways on the cross (Hass 1970:57).

    A later reexamination of the right calcaneum (heel bone) revealed that the two heels had not been nailed together, but nailed separately to either side of the upright post of the cross, so that he straddled it (Zias and Sekeles 1985:22–24). Also later challenged was Haas’s assertion that a nail had pierced the distal ends of the radius and ulna of the forearm. The scratches in the wrist area were determined to be non-traumatic and, therefore, not evidence of crucifixion (Zias and Sekeles 1985:24). Haas had also claimed that there was evidence that the legs of the victim had been broken (Haas 1970:57), but this was apparently based on what is described as “inconclusive evidence” (Zias and Sekeles 1985:24–25).
    ===========

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    If God exists then he can momentarily suspend the natural order that he established whenever he sees fit. If God exists, then not only is his intervention in the death of Jesus the best and least ad hoc explanation for the post mortem appearances of Jesus, but he is also the ontological explanation of how we came to exist in a finally tuned universe that came into existence via a singularity 14 billion years ago.
    ==========
    Response:

    I agree that if God exists, then he can suspend natural laws. That follows from what I take to be a standard concept of God in Western religions. Something is 'God' only if it is an omnipotent person, and something is an omnipotent person only if it is a person who can suspend natural laws at will. So, something is 'God' only if it can suspend natural laws at will.

    However, something is 'God' only if it is (also) a perfectly good person, and only if it is an omniscient person.

    An omniscient and perfectly good person would NOT raise Jesus from the dead, because doing so would put a divine seal of approval on the life and teachings of of a false prophet who taught a false religion.

    Jesus taught people to worship a false god: Jehovah. Jehovah, based on descriptions from the OT, is a morally bad person, and therefore even if Jehovah does exist, Jehovah is NOT God.

    Since Jesus taught people to worship and obey Jehovah, that means that Jesus was a false prophet who taught a false religion, a religion which glorifies and praises the morally bad behavior of Jehovah.

    Thus, a perfectly good and omniscient person would know that Jesus was a false prophet who advocated a false religion, and would never put a divine seal of approval on the life and teachings of such a person, no matter how kind and sincere and well intentioned that person might have been.

    It is highly improbable that God, if God exists, would have raised Jesus from the dead. Doing so would have been a very deceptive and misleading action to take, an action that would be contrary to God's perfect goodness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    K-Dog said…
    How many premises are there in your argument, jeesh? Are you aware that even if there are only 5 premises in your argument, and we grant them an .8 likelihood, that your conclusion is only .33 likely to be true! I am guessing that your argument is even longer though which makes it all the more improbable.

    ================
    Response:

    You raise an important issue here.

    One common move in philosophy is to take a skeptical assumption or a skeptical bit of reasoning and turn that reasoning back on the skeptic. That is what you appear to be doing above.

    Your assumption is that my skeptical point of view needs to be logically consistent, and that means that I should apply my skeptical assumptions and forms of reasoning not just to biblical/theological beliefs, but also to my own beliefs, and even to my own skepticism.

    I agree that we all need to strive to be logically consistent, and to be fairminded, and thus we should not insist on strict standards for one's opponent's point of view, while applying looser and easier-to-meet standards for one's own point of view.

    So, I do owe you (and Keith and other readers) an explanation of how and why my own skeptical viewpoint escapes from being hoisted by its own pitard.

    Excellent point.

    By the way, the use of multiplication rule of probability in skeptical arguments was something I learned from an Evangelical Christian NT scholar: Robert Stein (if I remember correctly).

    I will look up the passage where Stein uses this sort of skeptical argument against the Q hypothesis.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Spelling correction…

    "hoisted by its own petard."

    Cecil provides an exposition of the word:

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/260/whats-a-petard-as-in-hoist-by-his-own

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    James Dunn is a leading conservative Jesus scholar. Here are some of his recent comments on the Fourth gospel:

    "…few scholars would regard John as a source for information regarding Jesus' life and ministry in any degree comparable to the Synoptics." (Christianity in the Making, Volume 1: Jesus Remembered, p.165-166)

    "…John's Gospel cannot be regarded as a source for the life and teaching of Jesus of the same order as the Synoptics." (p.166)

    "But one can recognize both that the tradition has been heavily worked upon [in the Fourth gospel] and that it is well rooted within earlier Jesus tradition….In what follows, therefore, we shall certainly want to call upon John's Gospel as a source, but mostly as a secondary source to supplement or corroborate the testimony of the Synoptic tradition." (p.167)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    N.T. Wright is another leading conservative Jesus scholar. Here are some of his comments on the authorship of the Fourth Gospel:

    "John (I shall refer to him by that name without prejudice as to which of the possible 'Johns', if any, he actually was;likewise, without reaching any conclusion either on the identity of the beloved disciple or on his relation to the actual author of the book [the Fourth Gospel]) gives every appearance of bringing the book to a close at the end of chapter 20." (The Resurrection of the Son of God, p.662)

    Wright apparently does not believe that we can easily or confidently determine the identity of the beloved disciple or the author of the Fourth gospel.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Graham Stanton is another conservative Jesus scholar. Here are some of his comments about the authorship of the Fourth gospel:

    "Today it is generally agreed that neither Matthew nor John was written by an apostle. And Mark and Luke may not have been associates of the apostles." (The Gospels and Jesus, p.135)

    "In the second half of the gospel we meet the 'beloved disciple'…. Although numerous attempts have been made to equate the beloved disciple with John the son of Zebedee, on the basis of chapters 1-20 this is only a possible inference. In 21:7 (a later appendix) the beloved disciple is identified as one of the group of disciples mentioned in 21:2: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples who are not named. Once again the beloved disciple may be linked with John the son of Zebedee, but this is not a necessary conclusion. It is in fact unlikely. If the beloved disciple belonged to the circle of the disciples of Jesus from the beginning, why does the first reference to the beloved disciple come only at 13:23?" (p.124)

    Not only is it unlikely that the 'beloved disciple' is John the apostle, but it is unclear whether the 'beloved disciple' is the author of the gospel:

    "At first sight this verse [21:24] suggests that the beloved disciple wrote the gospel. But dopes 'these things' refere to the whole gospel, to the whole of chapter 21, or just to the immediately preceding incident? And even if 21:24 does refer to the whole gospel, it may well be no more than an attempt from the time when the appendix was added to identify the beloved disciple as the author of the gospel. So we are left with a number of problems." (p.124)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Richard Burridge is a conservative Jesus scholar. Burridge expresses a degree of skepticism about the identification of the 'beloved disciple' as John the apostle, as well as the closeness of the text of the Fourth gospel to the original words of the beloved disciple:

    "The identity of this mysterious 'Beloved Disciple' is greatly debated. The final verses of the gospel appear to be confirmation by church leaders that he has been the authority, if not the author, behind the story (21:24-25). This clue has traditionally identified him with John, son of Zebedee…. If the gospel went through several versions over a long period of time, the apostle John may have been the original story-teller, whose preaching brought this church into being, but from the text, we simply cannot know."
    (Four Gospels, One Jesus? p.157-158)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Conservative Jesus scholar Bruce Chilton is inclined towards Raymond Brown's view of the composition of the Fourth Gospel, and believes that although it is sometimes appropriate to use this gospel as an historical source about Jesus, one must do so with caution:

    "John's Gospel, for example, is routinely dismissed as a source, on the grounds of its obviously homiletic purpose, comparatively late date, and greater distance from the culture of Galilee and Judea. … But the complex development of that Gospel over time has been amply demonstrated by Raymond Brown in his commentary. Its earliest sources, he argues convincingly, are comparable to the Synoptic tradition in value, although independent…. Given the way in which much early Christian and Judaic literature developed within communities in phases, rather than by the work of single authors who took responsibility for everything they wrote, it is unrealistic to simply write such texts off completely as fiction. It is clear that when materials in John and other sources can be shown to be early on literary grounds, and to accord with and complement what we may deduce from the Synoptic Gospels, it should be used with caution." (Rabbi Jesus, p. 301)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Rozumalski said…

    You write: According to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar, the Fourth Gospel is very unreliable, and there are very few details in this Gospel that are historically true or even probable.

    What you fail to mention is why the Jesus Seminar scholars, and many liberal scholars in general, consider sections of the Gospels to be not true or historical. The reason is that they are bound by the presuppositions of naturalism and therefore view all physically impossible sections as unhistorical and not true.
    =============
    Response:

    The examples of Evangelical NT scholars in my post, and the examples of conservative Jesus scholars in my recent comments, show that skepticism about the traditional view of the authorship of the Fourth gospel as well as about the reliability of the Fourth gospel is not limited to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar nor to "liberal scholars in general".

    Evangelical and conservative scholars may be more inclined to use the Fourth gospel as a source of historical info about Jesus than liberal scholars, but many Evangelical and conservative scholars use it with caution, and as a secondary source to corroborate what is already implied by the Synoptic gospels.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Until fairly recently, Jesus scholars largely ignored the Fourth gospel, and did not consider it to be a worthwhile source of historical information about Jesus.

    One 20th Century scholar who has been a leading proponent of the view that the Fourth gospel should be treated as a legitimate historical source is D. Moody Smith.

    Smith argues that the Fourth gospel makes use of early sources concerning Jesus, and that this gospel was not merely a creative revision of the Synoptic gospels, as many scholars believed it to be.

    What does D. Moody Smith have to say about the authorship and composition of the Fourth Gospel?

    "The several references to Jews being put out of the synagogue (9:22; 12:42; 16:2) and the prominence of the Pharisees help us define more accurately the setting of the period from which John’s Gospel originates […] …the fear of expulsion from the synagogue, the claims of Jesus for himself, and the sharp distinction of Jesus and his followers from the Jews bespeak of a time and situation for John different from Jesus’ own ministry and closer to the end of the first century. At least part of John’s purpose was to persuade followers of Jesus to leave the synagogue and join distinctively Christian communities. In all likelihood the Gospel was composed in stages or went through successive editions as the controversy developed.” (“John”, HarperCollins Bible Commentary, revised ed., p.957).

    Smith implies that the words and ideas of Jesus have been altered to fit with new circumstances that occurred five or six decades after Jesus was crucified, and that the Fourth Gospel went through various stages of development or revisions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    What about the ‘beloved disciple’? Does D. Moody Smith conclude that the beloved disciple was John the apostle?

    “…the Beloved Disciple is never in the Gospel identified as John, despite the later church tradition, although in 21:24 he is said to be responsible for it. The silence about all the incidents in which, according to the Synoptics, John was present (e.g., the raising of Jairus’s daughter and the transfiguration) is only with difficulty explained by the modesty of a man who could refer to himself as the Beloved Disciple. The identity of the author of the Fourth Gospel remains a mystery, perhaps deliberately concealed…” (“John”, HarperCollins Bible Commentary, revised ed., p.957)

    According to Smith, we don’t know who the ‘beloved disciple’ is, or who the author of the Fourth gospel is, and there is good reason to doubt the traditional view that the ‘beloved disciple’ was John the apostle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    What does D. Moody Smith have to say about the historical reliability of the Fourth gospel?

    Although Smith argues for the independence of this gospel from the Synoptics, and for the rehabilitation of the Fourth gospel as a legitimate historical source of information about Jesus, he does not view this gospel as being historically reliable in general:

    “In his book of the same title, Maurice Casey asks, is John’s Gospel true? and answers that is not. Given Casey’s standard of what is truth (cf. John 18:38), his answer is in many important aspects correct, or so I would agree. The picture of Jesus as the Christ that emerges from John is significantly farther removed from the historical Jesus than that portrayal of any or all of the Synoptic Gospels. It is true, as Casey maintains, that John is influenced both by the synagogue conflict, which so largely shaped the Gospel in its formative stages, and by its post-resurrection, Christian perspective…. John’s Jesus is different from the synoptic Jesus, and both differ from the historical figure of Jesus. Yet John’s Jesus is a more distinctly Christian figure who stands over against ‘the Jews.’
    Casey’s argument that the Gospel of John is untrue entails his maintaining that in all cases where it differs from or contradicts the Synoptics John is historically wrong. Doubtless he believes that is the case, but his arguments suffer from his palpable programmatic intention. If, in respect to major and central aspects of John’s portrayal of Jesus, Casey’s position is, by historical-critical standards, largely correct, this does not mean that the Fourth Gospel may not contain historically accurate data, particularly when its differences do not express its clear theological or narrative interests.” (John Among the Gospels, 2nd ed., p.234-235)

    Smith concludes that Casey’s view that the Fourth gospel is historically unreliable is CORRECT for the most part, but that Casey has over-generalized and failed to notice that in SOME specific examples where there is a disagreement between the Fourth gospel and the Synoptic gospels, a plausible case can be made that the Fourth gospel is more likely to be correct than the Synoptic gospel(s). Thus, it appears to be possible to mine kernels of historical truth about Jesus from the Fourth gospel, if one does so with caution.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Evangelical NT scholar I. Howard Marshall thinks that it is improbable that John the apostle wrote the Fourth gospel:

    “Alleged historical and geographical errors in the Gospel have been urged against it authorship by an eye-witness of the ministry of Jesus, but these cannot carry the burden of proof assigned to them. More weight attaches to the fact that the Gospel shows some evidence of use of earlier sources and that its thought, with its subtle blend of Jewish and Hellenistic ideas, seems to require a more learned and profound author than a Galilean fisherman. The Revelation is also ascribed to John the apostle, and it is difficult to believe that one mind produced both works, so different in language and character. These facts lead most scholars to conclude that John could not have been the author of this Gospel. However, the weight of the evidence for some connection between John and the Gospel is so strong that many scholars feel unable to deny that John had something to do with the Gospel. The tradition suggests that John dictated the Gospel, and this may well conceal the fact that John’s memoirs of Jesus were an important source for the Gospel, and that his influence lay behind the various Johannine works in the New Testament. On the whole, therefore, it is improbable (although not impossible) that John himself wrote the Gospel, but very probable that his influence lay behind it.” (I Believe in the Historical Jesus, revised edition, p.150-151)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Another comment by the conservative Jesus scholar Richard Burridge about the authorship of the gospels:

    “Yet human beings are naturally curious animals, and this lack of hard information has never stopped interpreters, both ancient and modern, from speculating who wrote these books [the Gospels], where, when and to whom. On the one hand, this led to the various traditions in the early church about the apostolic authorship of the gospels and their possible churches, while most biblical commentaries over the last century or two include opening sections discussing authorship, date, provenance, readers, occasion and so forth. …Yet despite two thousand years of tradition, research and speculation, it is important to stress at the outset that in fact we know practically nothing of who the original authors and audiences of these texts actually were.”
    (The Written Gospel, edited by Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner, p.100)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    According to the moderate-to-conservative NT scholar C.K. Barrett, it is a ‘moral certainty’ that the Fourth gospel was NOT written by John the son of Zebedee:

    “It must be allowed to be not impossible that John the apostle wrote the gospel; this is why I use the term ‘moral certainty’. The apostle may have lived to a very great age; he may have seen fit to draw on other sources in addition to his own memory; he may have learnt to write Greek correctly; he may have learnt not only the language but the thought-forms of his new environment ( in Ephesus, Antioch, or Alexandria); he may have pondered the words of Jesus so long that they took shape in a new idiom; he may have become such an obscure figure that for some time orthodox Christians took little or no notice of his work. These are all possible, but the balance of probability is against their having all actually happened.” ( The Gospel According to ST. John, 2nd ed., footnote on p.132)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Here is C.K. Barrett’s hypothesis about how the Fourth gospel was composed:

    “John the Apostle migrated from Palestine and lived in Ephesus, where, true to character as a Son of Thunder, he composed apocalyptic works. These, together with his advancing years, the death of other apostles, and predictions such as Mark 9.1, not unnaturally gave rise to the common belief that he would survive until the parousia [the second coming of Christ]. A man of commanding influence, he gathered about him a number of pupils. In course of time he died; his death fanned the apocalyptic hopes of some, scandalized others, and induced a few to ponder deeply over the meaning of Christian eschatology. One pupil of the apostle incorporated his written works into the canonical Apocalypse…c. A.D. 96. Another pupil was responsible for the epistle (probably 1 John came from one writer, 2 and 3 John from another). Yet another, a bolder thinker, one more widely read in both Judaism and Hellenism, produced John 1-20. … Probably he was not popular; probably he died with his gospel still unpublished. It was too original and daring a work for official backing. … Only gradually did the main body of the church come to perceive that…his work was the strongest possible reply to the Gnostic challenge. …The gospel was now edited together with ch. 21; the narratives of the final chapter were probably based on traditional material; perhaps material which the evangelist had left behind but had not worked into the main body of his work. The evangelist, perhaps after Paul, the greatest theologian in all the history of the church, was now forgotten. His name was unknown. But he had put in his gospel references to the beloved disciple –the highly honoured apostle who years before had died in Ephesus. These were now partly understood, and partly misunderstood. It was perceived that they referred to John the son of Zebedee, but wrongly thought that they meant that this apostle was the author of the gospel. 21.24 was now composed on the model of 19.35, and the book was sent out on its long career as the work of John…” (The Gospel According to ST. John, 2nd ed., p.133-134)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    C.K. Barrett summarizes his view of the historical unreliability of the Fourth gospel:

    “It is evident that it was not John’s intention to write a work of scientific history. Such works were extremely scarce in antiquity, and we have seen that John’s interests were theological rather than chronological. Moreover, his treatment of the only source (Mark) we can isolate with any confidence from his gospel is very free; and there is no reason to think that he followed other sources more closely. He did not hesitate to repress, revise, rewrite, or rearrange. On the other hand there is no sufficient evidence for the view that John freely created narrative material for allegorical purposes. His narratives are for the most part simple, and the details generally remain unallegorized. This means that the chronicler can sometimes (though less frequently than is often thought) pick out from John simple and sound historical material; […] It was of supreme importance to him [the author of the Fourth gospel] that there was a Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died in Palestine, even though to give an accurate outline of the outstanding events in the career of this person was no part of his purpose. He sought to draw out, using in part the form and style of narrative…, the true meaning of the life and death of one whom he believed to be the Son of God, a being from beyond history. It is for this interpretation of the focal point of all history, not for accurate historical data, that we must look in John.” (The Gospel According to ST. John, 2nd ed., p.141-142)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

    Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

    Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Patheos website.

    Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E;, and the PAX Network.

    http://benwitherington.com/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Ben Witherington III is one of the top Evangelical NT scholars, and he argues that John the apostle was NOT the author of the Fourth gospel:

    "I have argued that the evidence of this gospel taken as a whole certainly does not point to the Beloved Disciple being a Galilean disciple, much less John of Zebedee, but rather a Judean disciple, most likely Lazarus.

    We have examined a series of important texts in this gospel and considered detailed questions regarding the authorship of various Johannine documents. All this evidence points in one particular direction: the Beloved Disciple was an important follower of Jesus, not to be equated with either John of Patmos or John son of Zebedee." (What Have They Done with Jesus?, p.155)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More from the Evangelical NT scholar Ben Witherington on the authorship of the Fourth gospel:

    "Second, though this will come as a surprise to some, both the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine epistles are formally anonymous–that is, no author is named within their texts. the superscripts to these documents (by which I mean wording such as 'The Gospel According to John,' or 'The Second Letter of John') were added after the fact, probably in the second century, based on ideas that some early Christians had about who may have written these documents. We must bear in mind, however, that these are later guesses, sometimes based on oral tradition, sometimes not. Nothing in the documents themselves indicates that John son of Zebedee is the author. In fact, the Fourth Gospel suggests that it may have been penned by the Beloved Disciple, who is not mentioned until John 11 or perhaps John 13."
    (what Have They Done with Jesus? p.141-142)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More from Ben Witherington on authorship of the Fourth gospel:

    "There are a variety of good reasons to think that this author is not John son of Zebedee, not the least of which is that the Fourth Gospel leaves out all the special Zebedee stories we find in the synoptics involving events that John was a special eyewitness of (for example, the raising of Jairus's daughter, the transfiguration, and the request for special seats in the kingdom). Yet there is a strong stress in the Fourth Gospel on the author being an eyewitness of other events in the life of Jesus. the most reasonable conclusions are the following: (1) John of Patmos wrote Revelation but not the gospel or epsistles of John; (2) the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine epistles were not written by John son of Zebedee either; (3) rather, those documents were penned by the Beloved Disciple, who is someone else–a Judean disciple of Jesus, as we shall see."
    (What Have They Done with Jesus? p.142)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Ben Witherington on the Fourth gospel:

    "It seems unlikely that the Beloved Disciple is the same person as John son of Zebedee. I come to this conclusion because the Fourth Gospel has all sorts of unique traditions about what Jesus did in Jerusalem and its environs; and yet it has none of the special Zebedee Galilee traditions we find in the synoptic gospels, as noted earlier, nor does it have the synoptics' Galilean miracle tales (with the exception of the tandem feeding of the five thousand/walking on water)."

    (What Have They Done with Jesus? p.145)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Witherington gives more reasons for rejecting the traditional view that the Fourth gospel was written by John the apostle:

    "This person [the Beloved Disciple] had direct access to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, so that he could follow Jesus in after his arrest, as John tells us in 18:15. Would a Galilean fisherman have had such access, or is it more probable that a Judean follower of Jesus–one who lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem–would? Surely in terms of historical probabilities the latter is more likely. Consider as well the fact that the synoptics are quite clear that while the Twelve had deserted Jesus and were not present at his crucifixion, the Beloved Disciple is clearly there near the cross. If those accounts are right, then the Beloved Disciple cannot be one of the Twelve….On the basis of cumulative evidence, I conclude that it is likely that the Beloved Disciple was a Judean eyewitness and disciple of the ministry of Jesus, who could testify to what Jesus said and did, particularly when he was in the vicinity of Jerusalem; and the most likely candidate to be this disciple is the one whom John 11:2 says Jesus especially loved–Lazarus."

    (What Have They Done with Jesus? p. 147)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    "Craig Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he received his M.Div. from Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Claremont Graduate University in southern California. He has also been awarded the D.Habil. by the Karoli Gaspard Reformed University in Budapest. A well-known evangelical scholar throughout the world, he is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

    After teaching one year at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Evans taught at Trinity Western University in British Columbia for twenty-one years, where he directed the graduate program in Biblical Studies and founded the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. He was also a Visiting Fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Author and editor of more than sixty books and hundreds of articles and reviews, Professor Evans has given lectures at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Yale and other universities, colleges, seminaries and museums, such as the Field Museum in Chicago, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He also regularly lectures and gives talks at popular conferences and retreats on the Jesus, Archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible.

    Along with countless interviews on radio networks across Canada and the US, Evans has been seen on Dateline NBC, CBC, CTV, Day of Discovery, and many documentaries aired on BBC, The Discovery Channel, History Channel, History Television and others. He also has served as a consultant for the National Geographic Society."

    http://greerheard.com/aboutevans.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Craig Evans is a conservative Jesus scholar, an Evangelical Christian scholar. In his book Fabricating Jesus, there are hints that Evans does not accept the traditional views of the authorship of the Gospels:

    "At first, I must admit, I found aspects of biblical criticism unsettling. But in time I realized that what biblical criticism challenged was not the essence of the Christian message, but the baggage that many think is part of the message. Typically this baggage includes views of autorship and dates of given biblical books (for example, the idea that biblical books must be early and written by apostles even when they make no such claim), as well as assumptions regarding the nature of biblical literature (for example, the belief that the Gospels are history and nothing else)…" (p.13)

    This suggests that Evans either rejects the traditional view that the apostle Matthew wrote the gospel of Matthew and that the apostle John wrote the Fourth gospel or else that he has significant doubts (based on study of biblical criticism) about this traditional view of the authorship of those Gospels.

    I'm looking for clearer statements by Evans on the issue of the authorship of the Gospels (esp. Matthew and the Fourth gospel).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Craig Evans apparently also views the Fourth gospel as a somewhat unreliable source of the words of Jesus, as do most other Jesus scholars.

    In February of 2011, Craig Evans participated in a 'dialogue' with Bart Ehrman about the question 'Can We Trust the Bible on the Historical Jesus?'. Bart Ehrman is a NT Textual scholar who started out a conservative Evangelical believer and ended up an agnostic. Ehrman takes a somewhat skeptical position on the question above.

    Evans was expected to defend a conservative Evangelical view of the historical reliablity of the Gospels and set Ehrman straight, but it appears that Evans was in agreement with much of what Ehrman had to say, to the consternation of some.

    Apparently, Evans basically conceded that, at least in the case of the Fourth gospel, we are not give an accurate account of the words of Jesus.

    Read the disappointment of one conservative student of theology about the dialogue between Craig and Ehrman:

    http://thecenterfortheologicalstudies.blogspot.com/2011/03/gospel-of-john-and-problem-of.html

    Evans talks about Ehrman in his book Fabricating Jesus, and he theorizes that Ehrman has turned away from Christian faith and from belief in the inspiration of the Bible because Ehrman started out with the 'baggage' of a 'fundamentalist' view of biblical inspiration that requires that the Gospels be written by apostles, and that they are completely without error, and that we must be able to harmonize the contents of all four gospels (because none of them contain any historical errors).

    Clearly, Evans no longer carries this baggage, esp. when it comes to the Fourth gospel.

    For Evans what matters is that the Gospels all testify to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that we can get the main ideas/teachings of Jesus from a critical examination of the four gospels.

    Evans, I believe, has a fairly reasonable view of the gospels, compared to, for example, most Evangelical Christian and Catholic apologists. But what Craig does not realize is that the case for the resurrection depends on the historical reliablility of the DETAILS of the gospel accounts, and especially of the details in the Fourth gospel.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Craig Evans and Robert Gundry both recommend an introductory textbook on the historical Jesus by a conservative scholar Michael McClymond; the book is called: Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth. (Eerdmans, 2004)

    What does McClymond have to say about the Fourth gospel?

    "Little has been said regarding the Gospel of John. …Few scholars would put the Gospel of John on a par
    with Matthew, Mark, and Luke as an historical source for the life of Jesus. John's Gospel omits many of
    the key episodes and themes of Jesus' life as presented by the synoptic Gospels: extended teaching on
    the kingdom of God, the parables, Jesus' baptism, the calling of the Twelve, the casting out of demons,
    the transfiguration, and the institution of the Lord's Supper. The Christ of John speaks in a different way
    than the Jesus of the synoptics–not in parables, not in pithy phrases that show the coloring of first-century
    Palestine, and only rarely in talk about 'the kingdom of God.' Instead, the Christ of John engages in
    extended soliloquies that revolve around himself and his unique identity. Only in John do we find the
    remarkable assertions: 'I am the bread of life' (6:35), 'I am the light of the world' (8:12), 'I am the true vine'
    (15:1), and so on. …John goes much further than the other canonical Gospels in bringing Jesus himself and
    his identity into the foreground. …because of the unique character of the Fourth Gospel and the many
    unresolved debates concerning it, the picture of Jesus presented in subsequent chapters will be based
    primarily on the synoptic Gospels." (Familiar Stranger, p.34)

    In other words, McClymond, as with most NT and Jesus scholars, does NOT 'put the Gospel of John on
    a par with Matthew, Mark, and Luke as an historical source for the life of Jesus.' Rather, his book about
    Jesus, which was recommended by both Robert Gundry and Craig Evans, largely ignores the Fourth Gospel,
    and relies primarily upon the synoptic gospels.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    In his book Familiar Stranger, not only does McClymond choose to focus on the synoptic gospels as historical sources and largely ignore the Fourth gospel, but he asserts that doing so is a 'foundational principle' for the historical study of the life of Jesus:

    "A number of foundational principles should be kept in mind regarding the synoptic Gospels and their portrayal of Jesus. First, the earliest Christians probably did not write out a full narrative of Jesus’ life, but preserved individual units of tradition (called pericopes or pericopae—literally ‘cut around’) about his life and deeds. These units were later moved and arranged by editors and authors. This means that we cannot be completely certain regarding the immediate context of Jesus’ sayings and actions. Second, much of the material included in the Gospels has been significantly shaped by the concerns of the early Christians who gathered together the traditions concerning Jesus. Third, the inscriptions of authorship for the Gospels may have been added after the works were written. Fourth, as we have mentioned already, the Gospel of John is quite different from the other three Gospels, and it is primarily in the latter that we must seek information about Jesus. Fifth, the Gospels lack many of the characteristics of biography, and we should especially distinguish them from modern biographies.” (Familiar Stranger, p.35)

    If the Fourth gospel was viewed as being an historically reliable account of the life and ministry of Jesus, then it would be unreasonable to focus in on the synoptic Gospels as historical sources and largely ignore the Fourth gospel, so clearly McClymond is clearly suggesting that the Fourth gospel is historically unreliable, or at least that the reliability and accuracy of the Fourth gospel is doubtful based on the currently available evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    There is an article on the Fourth Gospel in The Oxford Companion to the Bible. That article was written by a moderate-to-conservative NT scholar, Stephen Smalley.

    In the article, Smalley does not challenge the traditional view that the 'beloved disciple' was John the apostle.

    However, Smalley has concluded that there is a history of various stages of development behind the Fourth Gospel that puts some significant distance between John and the final written product that we now call the Gospel of John.

    Here is Smalley's 'suggested description of those stages' of development of the Fourth gospel:

    “First, John the apostle, who was traditionally identified as the ‘beloved disciple,’transmitted orally to his followers an account of the deeds (especially the miracles, or ‘signs’) and sayings of Jesus and of his death and resurrection. As we have already seen, these reminiscences preserved historical information about the ministry of Jesus in both Judea and Galilee.

    Second, the beloved disciple and his circle of followers moved to Ephesus (a city associated, by strong tradition, with John), where the nucleus of the Johannine church was established. While there, John’s disciples committed to writing the traditions preserved in their community for the purposes of worship and instruction. In the first draft of the final gospel what may now be recognized as distinctively Johannine thought emerged, as the ideas handed on by the apostle were dramatically treated and theologically developed by the fourth evangelist and his colleagues.

    Third, after the death of John his church at Ephesus published a final edited version of the gospel. This included a summary introduction (1.1-18), based on a community hymn and now tied securely to the remainder of the chapter, some editing of the discourses, possibly the addition of the prayer of consecration in chap. 17, and an epilogue (chap. 21). The whole gospel thus assembled then carried an authenticating postscript (21.24-25).”

    (Oxford Companion to the Bible, p.375)

    Smalley's view is that disciples of John the apostle wrote down some of the oral traditions in their Christian community, oral traditions that mostly originated from John the apostle. Then in a third stage, some additional sections or chapters were added to the gospel.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Let's review Smalley's view of the stages of development that he believes the Fourth gospel went through.

    1. John the son of Zebedee gathered disciples and over a period of two or three or four decades told stories and preached sermons to them about things Jesus said and did. These stories and sermons evolved into oral traditions; that is, disciples of John would re-tell stories about what Jesus allegedly said and did.

    At this stage we have potential distortions introduced by faulty human memory and by various personal and group biases. John was a devout Jew and follower of Jesus, who set aside his family fishing business (to some extent) to devote himself to following Jesus for a period of some years. So, John was not a neutral and objective observer. Nor was the audience of John's stories and sermons composed of neutral and objective listeners/re-tellers. And stories were re-told by non-eyewitnesses who had their own theological and ideological biases and agendas, their own errors of memory as well as the usual dramatic motivations to alter stories/sayings for the sake of impact and appeal to audiences (e.g. increase the entertainment value or the practical value or the motivational impact of the stories and sayings).

    In phase 2 we have disicples of John gathering and selecting and modifying the oral traditions in the Johannine church community to put those traditions into written form. Bias and distortion and errors can and would enter at this second phase just as it did in the oral phase. Furthermore, if the original written version of the gospel was in Greek, then there was also a translation from Aramaic to Greek in this phase, requiring a degree of interpretation by the translator(s), and providing another opportunity for bias and error to creep into the gospel accounts.

    Finally, in a third phase additional chapters and sections are added to the initial version of the gospel, and probably some additional editing took place to fit the various written and oral traditions into a tidy package. This was another opportunity for bias and error to enter into the Gospel accounts.

    So, although Smalley does not challenge the view that John the apostle was the original source behind the Fourth gospel, his view (shared by C.K Barrett, Raymond Brown, and many leading NT scholars) puts significant distance between the words and actions of the historical Jesus and the final edition of the Fourth gospel which appeared about six decades after the crucifixion.

  • http://www.sportprestige-com.com/images/ louis vuitton prix

    Karajan maîtres nous ont laissé d’innombrables musique solennelle, un favori personnel de son commandement, «Requiem de Mozart», mais la brûlure fidèles plus familier Beethoven 9, alors venez passer une audition. Pour la préparation d’une grande symphonie de la paperasserie pour écouter au plus: un indicateur important de la résolution, la superposition, le positionnement du champ sonore, dynamique, etc inévitable, comme un délicieux repas, la sauce de soja MSG un de moins.

  • Pingback: portefeuille louis vuitton homme

  • Pingback: air max one femme


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X