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Did Jesus Baptise people?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.

Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Michael BG » Mon Jun 06, 2016 7:15 pm

At the moment I am reading Maurice Casey Jesus of Nazareth. He states John’s gospel has Jesus baptising people but
this is so unlikely, that one of his authors corrected it, announcing that Jesus did not baptise, but his disciples did (Jn 4.2 seeking to correct Jn 3.22; 4.1). We should not believe this. The synoptic gospels have no trace of Jesus or his disciples baptizing, and they had no reason to omit it, … The whole passage (Jn 3.22-4.3) is a quite overblown attempt ... inspired ... At the same time, it contains the correct view that some of Jesus’ ministry took place ‘when John had not yet been thrown into prison’ (Jn 3.24), …


John 3.22-4.3 RSV

[22]After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.
[23] John also was baptizing at Ae'non near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized.
[24] For John had not yet been put in prison.
[25]Now a discussion arose between John's disciples and a Jew over purifying.
[26] And they came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him."
[27] John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.
[28] You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.
[29] He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full.
[30] He must increase, but I must decrease."
[31] He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all.

[32] He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony;
[33] he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
[34] For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit;
[35] the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.
[36] He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
[John 4:1]
Now when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
[2] (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),
[3] he left Judea and departed again to Galilee.


I expect most people can agree that Jn 4:2 is a later addition, but is it not possible to see Jn 3:22-23 as historical and Jn 3:24 as a later addition?

It seems that Casey is just picking the bits he likes rather than treating the whole section in the same way.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby neilgodfrey » Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:37 pm

Michael BG wrote:
It seems that Casey is just picking the bits he likes rather than treating the whole section in the same way.


Casey's reasoning is entirely arbitrary. Surely "only in biblical studies" would one ever find such ad hoc nonsense proposed and accepted by many as serious scholarship.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Adam » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:53 pm

This passage is not all of one piece, but it's of too many pieces to analyze this way. Howard M. Teeple has five categories all exhibited here: Synoptic Source, Gnostic source, Editor, Redactor, and later gloss (4:2). Several strata have Jesus baptizing.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby outhouse » Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:37 pm

I think ALL of the authors were on a slippery slope here.

They were not trying to make it look like Jesus took over Johns movement. And I think Jesus would have obviously learned from Johns death, and that's why we see traveling teacher traditions. maybe you see anointed traditions from these small Aramaic villages with no river?


I have never looked into if he did or did not baptize, but I do know motive of these authors were often done in reactionary textual traditions. Meaning combatting against heretical viewed traditions. Like different Christology as an example.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby neilgodfrey » Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:57 am

Thomas Brodie has a different take on these passages in his commentary on John. He suggests that Jesus was indeed baptizing as per 3:22 but not with water. The following verses describing John's baptizing activity place a special emphasis on his need for water to perform the task (3:23). Keep in mind, advises Brodie, 1:33 where John explained that while he was baptizing with water Jesus would be baptizing with the Spirit.

Then in 4:2 Jesus is no longer baptizing. Editorial additions attempting to make corrections to a text tend to make a better fist of harmonizing their contradictory statements. If the editor wanted to say Jesus himself was never baptizing then why not do so at 3:22 with a smoother explanation and not an apparently blunt and gauche contradiction some verses later? (Brodie cites other scholars for this particular observation.)

Rather, Jesus is wearing out and having to hand over the job to his disciples -- and this segues into the ensuing passages of an exhausted Jesus asking for water at a well.

The explanation works reasonably well if we treat John's anecdotes as largely symbolic and all foreshadowing his death etc. Compare the Cana miracle of wine etc prefiguring his death and the new order that was to take over once he was gone from the scene. Similarly we have with Jesus' exhaustion another intimation of Jesus' death and departure and his work being taken over by his disciples.

Thus spaketh Thomas Brodie.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby neilgodfrey » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:36 am

Two other details: Brodie points out the way Jesus is portrayed as having a "relationship" with his disciples whereas with John there is no comparable picture -- those who come to him for baptism are an nondescript "they".

And when Jesus comes to the well, wearied, to ask for water, it is the sixth hour -- another proleptic reference to his death (19:14).
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Michael BG » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:26 am

Adam wrote:This passage is not all of one piece, but it's of too many pieces to analyze this way. Howard M. Teeple has five categories all exhibited here: Synoptic Source, Gnostic source, Editor, Redactor, and later gloss (4:2). Several strata have Jesus baptizing.

Which words in Jn 3:22-4:3 go back to one of the synoptics?

neilgodfrey wrote:Thomas Brodie has a different take on these passages in his commentary on John. He suggests that Jesus was indeed baptizing as per 3:22 but not with water. The following verses describing John's baptizing activity place a special emphasis on his need for water to perform the task (3:23). Keep in mind, advises Brodie, 1:33 where John explained that while he was baptizing with water Jesus would be baptizing with the Spirit.

Then in 4:2 Jesus is no longer baptizing. Editorial additions attempting to make corrections to a text tend to make a better fist of harmonizing their contradictory statements. If the editor wanted to say Jesus himself was never baptizing then why not do so at 3:22 with a smoother explanation and not an apparently blunt and gauche contradiction some verses later? (Brodie cites other scholars for this particular observation.)

Rather, Jesus is wearing out and having to hand over the job to his disciples -- and this segues into the ensuing passages of an exhausted Jesus asking for water at a well.

The explanation works reasonably well if we treat John's anecdotes as largely symbolic and all foreshadowing his death etc. Compare the Cana miracle of wine etc prefiguring his death and the new order that was to take over once he was gone from the scene. Similarly we have with Jesus' exhaustion another intimation of Jesus' death and departure and his work being taken over by his disciples.

Thus spaketh Thomas Brodie.

Jesus baptising with the Holy Spirit is just what Mark says.
Jn 4:2 can been seen as a correction of 4:1 and it is possible that the later editor just missed a correction for 3:22, which in English could have been accomplished by just adding “they” before “baptised”.
Is it possible that we are misunderstanding verse 2 and it should be read as “although Jesus himself did not baptize the general public, except he only baptised his disciples”?

To see an exhausted Jesus in verse 6 because of his baptising is contrary to what the verse actually says –

so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Secret Alias » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:37 am

Clement of Alexandria apparently said that Jesus baptized Peter.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Ben C. Smith » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:56 am

Clement of Alexandria, as cited by John Moschus in Spiritual Meadow 5.176 (volume 3 of Otto Stählin, 196.21, fragment 6 of the Hypotyposeis):

Ναὶ ἀληθῶς ἐβαπτίσθησαν, καθὼς Κλήμης ὁ Στρωματεὺς ἐν τῷ πέμπτῳ τόμῳ τῶν Ὑποτυπώσεων μήμνηται. φησὶ γάρ, τὸ ἀποστολικὸν ῥητὸν ἐξηγούμενος τὸ λέγον «εὐχαριστῶ, ὅτι οὐδένα ὑμῶν ἐβάπτισα»· ὁ Χριστὸς λέγεται Πέτρον μόνον βεβαπτικέναι, Πέτρος δὲ Ἀνδρέαν, Ἀνδρέας Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ τοὺς λοιπούς.

Yes, they were truly baptized, just as Clement the Stromatist in the fifth volume of the Hypotyposeis mentions. For he says, explaining the apostolic statement that says: "I give thanks that I have baptized none of you," that Christ is said to have baptized Peter only, but Peter [in turn] Andrew, Andrew [in turn] James and John, and they the rest.
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Re: Did Jesus Baptise people?

Postby Secret Alias » Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:05 am

... and the homophobes say that there are no grounds for accepting Clement had a secret gospel.

The odd thing about this situation (the existing understanding that Jesus didn't baptize anyone) is that it defies common sense. Christianity is called Christianity because its members are of Christ. Baptism is THE Christian sacrament (to borrow Catholic terminology). Yet somehow there is this disconnect where baptism either has no origin or is connected with John the Baptist. How is any of this possible? Baptism (or whatever you suppose was THE Christian mystery rite) had to originate with Jesus. IMO of course this is the greatest proof that we inherited a subverted tradition. And once you read Clement's testimony (or the testimony about Clement's original report) it becomes clear searching his writings is the only hope for rescuing the ur-tradition, the tradition before the corruptions of Irenaeus.
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