The gospel of John an independent witness?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Ken Olson
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by Ken Olson » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 pm

lsayre wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:49 am
Why do the same scholars who date the Gospel of John as late based primarily upon its high Christology, also date Paul as early? When compared to the almost lacking Christology of the synoptics, Paul's Christology appears to be on a plane far more level with that of John.
That would seem to be a contradiction. Which scholars are you thinking of? Could you quote some scholars saying their dating of the Fourth Gospel is based primarily on its high Christology? I'm curious about where is this found, whether it's in scholarly commentaries on John or introductions to the New Testament or somewhere else.

lsayre
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by lsayre » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:02 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 pm
That would seem to be a contradiction. Which scholars are you thinking of? Could you quote some scholars saying their dating of the Fourth Gospel is based primarily on its high Christology? I'm curious about where is this found, whether it's in scholarly commentaries on John or introductions to the New Testament or somewhere else.
See page 30:
https://www.scribd.com/document/162598393/Christology

Ken Olson
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by Ken Olson » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:47 pm

lsayre cited:
John
The gospel of John was the last canonical Gospel to be written, probably around AD90-95. Traditionally it was ascribed to John the son of Zebedee, but most scholars see reasons to doubt this [14]. In contrast to the Christology of the synoptic gospels the Fourth Gospel portrays Jesus as being fully conscious of having pre-existed as the divine Son of God from all eternity. For example, ‘I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.’ John 6:38; ‘He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world’ John 8:23. Curiously there is no birth narrative to be found in John. Was he unaware of Jesus’ miraculous birth or did it just not suit his purpose to recount this event?

It has long been observed by attentive readers that when we move from the Jesus of the synoptic gospels to the Jesus of the gospel of John we are immediately aware of profound
30
[14] see A Brief Introduction to the New Testament by Bart D. Ehman.
Your source is a tract written by Paul Bilal Williams as a resource on New Testament scholarship for Muslims in dialogue with Christians or for non-Muslims interested in a Muslim perspective on Jesus. The page you cite says John was probably written AD 90-95 (do Muslims use Anno Domini dating?). It also says that most scholars see reason to doubt the authorship of the gospel by John the son of Zebedee, citing Bart Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament (no page number given). And it also says: "the Fourth Gospel portrays Jesus as being fully conscious of having pre-existed as the divine Son of God from all eternity."

I think I see the problem. Your source is not a New Testament scholar who dates John based on its high Christology but a Muslim tract that gives a date for John and also says that John portrays Jesus as the pre-existent divine Son of God from all eternity, but does not explicitly connect the two claims. Perhaps you might read an introduction to the New Testament or commentary on John to see what basis scholars give for their dating of the gospel.

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DCHindley
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by DCHindley » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:06 am

lsayre wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:02 pm
Ken Olson wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 pm
That would seem to be a contradiction. Which scholars are you thinking of? Could you quote some scholars saying their dating of the Fourth Gospel is based primarily on its high Christology? I'm curious about where is this found, whether it's in scholarly commentaries on John or introductions to the New Testament or somewhere else.
See page 30:
https://www.scribd.com/document/162598393/Christology
Contra Ken, I read it as a tract by a person who has become somewhat familiar with NT criticism, perhaps a Muslim himself, who has an interest in aids for "darwah carriers," which seem to be a kind of Muslim version of Christian evangelical witnessing.

The tracts' disclaimer says:
Someone might say, ‘I like the idea of quoting scholars who agree with your Christology,
however how would you respond to someone who says that you are doing selective
citation? For instance, the scholars you cite would surely agree that Jesus was crucified
for instance, which contradicts Islam. Some may argue that you are cherry picking.’

That is a very good point. In response I want to say that my focus is on Christology: who
Jesus was – God, a man or somehow both? Not the circumstances of his birth or death. It
is crucial for the Christian case that Jesus was actually God incarnated as a human being.
But this very claim has been thoroughly undermined by scholars because an exhaustive
enquiry into the earliest Jesus tradition suggests there is no evidence that Jesus thought
of himself as God. I will nevertheless address the question of the crucifixion of Jesus in the
light of historical criticism below.
As everyone knows, tracts used by many fundamentalist Christians offer incredibly simplified theological positions stated as if historical facts, and routinely cherry pick passages to justify them. So it is not just an issue in Muslim witnessing. The Shia tracts I have been exposed to (had a Muslim friend in college who hailed from Iran, and still have them) are very similar. The Muslim professor patron to whom the book is dedicated is a Sufi, a Muslim tradition which is a bit more introspective and less prone to use simplistic tracts. I am not sure if the word darwah is universally used among Muslim witnesses (it sounds as if it is Persian, from darwish = dervish, as in - ahah! - Sufi mysticism). I don't know any Sufis personally, but they are more in touch with art and music than most Muslims of Shia and especially Sunni, placing those of academic persuasion into close contact with their educational peers.

So this tract was apparently written to help Muslims, presumably college students or even teachers of art, music, philosophy, who "witness" to other academically minded people of the western Christian traditions, bridge the culture gap. I caught some typos and odd spellings, which may be how many Muslims pronounce the names (e.g., Geza Vermez instead of Vermes). My guess is that the writer was either a grad student or an undergrad who had taken some recent courses on biblical scholarship.

The tract centers on the NT accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus, which contradicts the Muslim understanding that Jesus was a prophet of God who was whisked up to heaven and never died on a cross, historically. The contradiction has to somehow be explained, and Muslims, it seems, see the NT account as a corruption of a real story in which Jesus was a human prophet.

This tracts gives the Muslim witness an opportunity to find common ground with those raised in Christian dominated societies, when trying to show how this corruption could have happened. This is not too far from what western scholars/amateurs talk about when they summarize their research into the relationship between Marcion's NT and the "canonical" Christian NT. "If it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander" as people sometimes say.

IMHO, the author of the tract tries to fairly summarize the work of Christian/Western scholars involved with Christian and Judaic scholarship, but space and format and his own religious POV probably forced him to make a number of generalizations. It's not like we have not done so in our own lives and writings, public or private, scholar like you or interested amateurs like me.

Modern western scholarship is all over the place regarding the dating of the gospel of John, and it often depends a lot on the author's own preferences and biases. Many Christians with sincere faith want every gospel to be written as early as possible (1st century, pre-war) to avoid any suggestion that Christian theology was not firmly established as we see it almost as soon as Jesus died. Evolution of the message is a speculative NO NO! But among those who are open to evolution of the Chyristian message and theology, the opinion that the Christology of John is more highly developed than that found in the gospels, and thus represents beliefs of a later time than the synoptics, is a ball still in play and hardly beyond doubt.

The intended audience of the synoptic gospels may have been quite different from that of the gospel of John, and the two portraits of Jesus may have co-existed. If the synoptic gospels seem to simply assume Jesus' divinity and role as a divine savior, as if everybody should already *know* that, this actually suggests they are later documents than John which focuses in Jesus' role as a divine savior, to explain exactly who he was in the author's tradition. Gotta know the theology before you can assume it, and assume that the readers of the gospel of John alreadfy had a good idea of what Christians believed, but were still on the fence over the significance of the crucifixion of their founder.

Just my 2 obols.

DCH

Ken Olson
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by Ken Olson » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:24 am

DCHindley wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:06 am
lsayre wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:02 pm
Ken Olson wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 pm
That would seem to be a contradiction. Which scholars are you thinking of? Could you quote some scholars saying their dating of the Fourth Gospel is based primarily on its high Christology? I'm curious about where is this found, whether it's in scholarly commentaries on John or introductions to the New Testament or somewhere else.
See page 30:
https://www.scribd.com/document/162598393/Christology
Contra Ken, I read it as a tract by a person who has become somewhat familiar with NT criticism, perhaps a Muslim himself, who has an interest in aids for "darwah carriers," which seem to be a kind of Muslim version of Christian evangelical witnessing.
David,

I'm sorry to be obtuse, but could you clarify what it is you're disagreeing with me on? I would broadly agree with your impression of the tract as quoted here. What's the point at issue?

Best,

Ken

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DCHindley
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by DCHindley » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:40 am

Ken Olson wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:24 am
DCHindley wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:06 am
lsayre wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:02 pm
Ken Olson wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 pm
That would seem to be a contradiction. Which scholars are you thinking of? Could you quote some scholars saying their dating of the Fourth Gospel is based primarily on its high Christology? I'm curious about where is this found, whether it's in scholarly commentaries on John or introductions to the New Testament or somewhere else.
See page 30:
https://www.scribd.com/document/162598393/Christology
Contra Ken, I read it as a tract by a person who has become somewhat familiar with NT criticism, perhaps a Muslim himself, who has an interest in aids for "darwah carriers," which seem to be a kind of Muslim version of Christian evangelical witnessing.
David,

I'm sorry to be obtuse, but could you clarify what it is you're disagreeing with me on? I would broadly agree with your impression of the tract as quoted here. What's the point at issue?

Best,

Ken
Just seemed you were overly critical of the fact that this was a tract, not a product of peer reviewed scholarship. A lot of Christian self reflection from the renaissance on took place in tracts. Some of them, especially by the agnostics, were very good, but not perfect.

If you disagree with the author's dating of GJohn as a factual generalization that is fine, but to diss the source as nothing better than a Christian apologist's jabberwocky is a little much. Pointing out that the tract is apologetic, though, does not invalidate everything said within it. But now we are in postmodern territory ... we really do interpret historical relics (including gospels and even the Quran) in light of the interpreter's own POV, whether we are Christian, Muslim or Agnostic/Atheistic.

DCH

Ken Olson
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by Ken Olson » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:59 am

DCHindley:
Just seemed you were overly critical of the fact that this was a tract, not a product of peer reviewed scholarship.
I'm sorry if I gave that impression, but I think you've mistaken the context of my objection. I was asking Isayre which (presumably New Testament) scholars date John late primarily based on its high Christology. A Muslim tract that summarizes New Testament scholarship for Muslim readers and gives a late date for John and observes that it has a high Christology, but does not actually claim the Christology is the basis for determining the date, doesn't really answer the question I was asking This is because (1) the author is not a New Testament scholar, (2) he does not say he bases his date for John on its high Christology, and (3) he does not claim NT scholars date the gospel of John on its high Christology. I wasn't disputing anything the author actually did say.

The claim that New Testament scholars date John late primarily on the basis of it high Christology should, ideally, be supported with quotations of New Testament scholars who say they date John late on the basis of it high Christology (or words to that effect), rather than a work that says NT scholars do that, let alone one that doesn't say they do that. It certainly wouldn't hurt if it was in a peer-reviewed article (or maybe an academic book).

Best,

Ken

andrewcriddle
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:39 am

Charles Wilson wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:46 am
andrewcriddle wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:51 am
I tend to agree that the warming himself references in Mark and John are prima-facie evidence of dependence.
Andrew --

Would you consider that the dependence of Mark and John is based on the "Chamber of the Hearth" (sitting) and the "Chamber of the Flames" (Priestly Types must stand) argument? It is not that Mark and John have been made to harmonize, it is the fact that there are two descriptions here of the same place.

Y/N/M?

CW
I don't think that the interrogation of Jesus is represented as taking place in the temple, if that is what you are suggesting. But I may be misunderstanding you.

Andrew Criddle

Charles Wilson
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by Charles Wilson » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:14 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:39 am
I don't think that the interrogation of Jesus is represented as taking place in the temple, if that is what you are suggesting. But I may be misunderstanding you.
1. Thank you for replying.

2. I am not implying that "The Interrogation of Jesus" takes place in the Temple. I am looking at possible Constructions of the Peter Denial Story that finds a "Peter" at the Gate to the Chamber of the Flames. I am looking at a Source Fragment that was woven into the Interrogation Motif

3. As above, Peter sits while he warms himself as found in the Synoptics. He is standing in John. This is reflective of a Real Place. Outside of the door that leads to the Chamber of the Flames, known as the Chamber of the Hearth, people may sit, sleep and do other things as they need. Inside the door, at the Chamber of the Flames, the people must stand. It is sacred.

4. The scene plays out with Peter getting into the Chamber of the Flames. In Luke, "Jesus" Looks at Peter when Peter denies him:

Luke 22: 54 - 61 (RSV):

[54] Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. Peter followed at a distance;
[55] and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
[56] Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, "This man also was with him."
[57] But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him."
[58] And a little later some one else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not."
[59] And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, "Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean."
[60] But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.
[61] And the Lord turned and looked at Peter

I suppose one could assert that the High Priest had a heater in the front yard but there are other clues that may lead one (i.e., me) to conclude that the Priestly orientation of the Original has been intentionally hidden:

John 18:

[15] Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, he entered the court of the high priest along with Jesus,
[16] while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maid who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
[17] The maid who kept the door said to Peter, "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" He said, "I am not."
[18] Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Mark and John do have a dependence but the dependence is from the Compositions coming from a common Source. It would be contradictory to have Peter maneuvering between the two Chambers and have "Jesus" looking at Peter from the "High Priest's House" when he is denied. The contradiction is resolved if the Scene is written from a Peter Story that has been transformed into a story of a savior/god who goes to his human sacrificial death while his most trusted disciples betray him.

"Jesus" was NOT interrogated in the Temple. There are, however, too many details in the new story to cover without leaving contradictions. The Original had Peter moving between the Chamber of Flames and the Chamber of the Hearth. It has been spliced together with the "Jesus Interrogation" and the result has contradictions. Again, from the fact that the "Jesus" stories were written from Source, it does not follow that the Source Stories were about "Jesus".

If this is still opaque, tell me where you're questions are and I'll try again.

Best,

CW

andrewcriddle
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Re: The gospel of John an independent witness?

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:19 pm

Charles Wilson wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:14 pm
andrewcriddle wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:39 am
I don't think that the interrogation of Jesus is represented as taking place in the temple, if that is what you are suggesting. But I may be misunderstanding you.
1. Thank you for replying.

2. I am not implying that "The Interrogation of Jesus" takes place in the Temple. I am looking at possible Constructions of the Peter Denial Story that finds a "Peter" at the Gate to the Chamber of the Flames. I am looking at a Source Fragment that was woven into the Interrogation Motif

3. As above, Peter sits while he warms himself as found in the Synoptics. He is standing in John. This is reflective of a Real Place. Outside of the door that leads to the Chamber of the Flames, known as the Chamber of the Hearth, people may sit, sleep and do other things as they need. Inside the door, at the Chamber of the Flames, the people must stand. It is sacred.

4. The scene plays out with Peter getting into the Chamber of the Flames. In Luke, "Jesus" Looks at Peter when Peter denies him:

Luke 22: 54 - 61 (RSV):

[54] Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. Peter followed at a distance;
[55] and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
[56] Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, "This man also was with him."
[57] But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him."
[58] And a little later some one else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not."
[59] And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, "Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean."
[60] But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.
[61] And the Lord turned and looked at Peter

I suppose one could assert that the High Priest had a heater in the front yard but there are other clues that may lead one (i.e., me) to conclude that the Priestly orientation of the Original has been intentionally hidden:

John 18:

[15] Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, he entered the court of the high priest along with Jesus,
[16] while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maid who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
[17] The maid who kept the door said to Peter, "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" He said, "I am not."
[18] Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves; Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Mark and John do have a dependence but the dependence is from the Compositions coming from a common Source. It would be contradictory to have Peter maneuvering between the two Chambers and have "Jesus" looking at Peter from the "High Priest's House" when he is denied. The contradiction is resolved if the Scene is written from a Peter Story that has been transformed into a story of a savior/god who goes to his human sacrificial death while his most trusted disciples betray him.

"Jesus" was NOT interrogated in the Temple. There are, however, too many details in the new story to cover without leaving contradictions. The Original had Peter moving between the Chamber of Flames and the Chamber of the Hearth. It has been spliced together with the "Jesus Interrogation" and the result has contradictions. Again, from the fact that the "Jesus" stories were written from Source, it does not follow that the Source Stories were about "Jesus".

If this is still opaque, tell me where you're questions are and I'll try again.

Best,

CW
I'm afraid I don't think that a Peter story already existed independently of the story of Jesus.

Andrew Criddle

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