The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:53 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 5:59 pm
There are three quotations here. Two of them are introduced by "the Lord says," and the third plays off of the second one with "and again," thus implying "the Lord says." Without knowing in advance the source for each quotation, would you be able to determine which one came from an ancient Jewish prophet speaking in the name of the Lord God, which one came from a more recent Jewish man in Palestine who at some point came to be known as Lord, and which one is so hard to trace that Bart Ehrman notated it as "source unknown" in his edition of the Apostolic Fathers?
I think the author and readers of 1 Clement were able to distinguish between who "the Lord" is in the saying about serving two masters and who "the Lord" is in Is. 52:5.
How would the readers of 2 Clement be able to distinguish if they did not know in advance what the source of each quotation was? I think you may be missing the point of the exercise here. There is a very real chance that we have three different sources on our hands: the Hebrew scriptures (Isaiah 52.5), the Christian scriptures (Matthew 6.24 = Luke 16.13), and some prophecy given by a latter day Christian or even Jewish prophet. I am suggesting that, unless one already knows in advance what the source for such a "word of the Lord" is, one cannot tell, because the Lord could be the Jewish God (that is, the Father), the Christian Savior (that is, the Son), or some prophet speaking in the name of either of the two.
And given that the unknown saying immediately follows and is similar to the latter, I think it could have been thought (though wrongly, apparently) to have come from the same source.
Yes, wrongly. It is easy to get such things wrong when the accepted language for expressing the thought is confusing at its very core.
At the end of the day though, in my view both "Lords" were thought (in James and 1 Clement, at least) to be the same Lord (like the son of man and the Ancient of Days, at least by interpretation). But since James (at least in my view) and Clement (and their readers) had access to sayings of or writings about Jesus, I think they could tell which "version" of "the Lord" was which that way. In other words, if a saying was from (or understood to have been from) the OT or other pre-Christian writings, then "the Lord" was God, and if a saying was from a Christian source (that wasn't clearly citing or referring to the OT God) then "the Lord" was Jesus, even though both entities were thought to be "the Lord."
And my counter to this is that you have accounted for only two of the three main possibilities: OT Lord God and NT Lord Jesus. Possibility three is a prophet speaking in the name of either of them, introducing the saying with "the Lord says," or some such. What happens then?

1 Corinthians 7.10-11: 10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

Mark 10.11-12: 11 And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

This third possibility becomes real in certain key instances of "words of the Lord," as this one about divorce. It is fairly standard to think that Jesus prohibited divorce during his ministry and now Paul is quoting or paraphrasing him. I would suggest (and remember that all of this is a suggestion; I deliberately characterized it as such right from the beginning) that we do not actually know that the opposite is not the case: that a prophet speaking in the name of the Lord did not prohibit divorce, and then later "the Lord commands" became "the Lord Jesus commands." Even if we can scan the entire body of Hebrew scriptures and figure out that this particular "word of the Lord" is not there (in fact, quite the opposite), we still cannot easily determine whether it is a prophecy placed on Jesus' lips after the fact or a genuine saying by Jesus himself. It is a veil, so to speak, and the veil is in place because we know (A) that latter day prophets speak in the name of the Lord and (B) that sayings were placed on Jesus' lips a lot in early Christianity. I hold A to be true because we have many sources telling us as much, and I hold B to be true because it seems well nigh impossible to me that every single quoted word of every single gospel text — orthodox or heretical, Jewish or Christian, Gnostic or otherwise — goes back to Jesus. If you dispute either A or B, that will have to be a discussion for another time.

But, if both A and B are true, then logically we cannot automatically tell the difference between a "word of the Lord" and a "word of the Lord." (See what I did there?)

Now, you may have arguments in this particular case for why Jesus had to have spoken about divorce, and therefore that Paul is quoting Jesus and not some kind of vice versa situation. And that would be fine; again, that discussion would have to be for another time; it is just an example of the kind of assumption that I do not make, nothing more. And arguing for a possibility in this particular case is exactly the end result of the point I am making: we ought to make that argument each and every time instead of just assuming one possibility or the other to be true by default.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:53 pm

And my counter to this is that you have accounted for only two of the three main possibilities: OT Lord God and NT Lord Jesus. Possibility three is a prophet speaking in the name of either of them, introducing the saying with "the Lord says," or some such. What happens then?

I guess I see the third possibility as being remote, at least in the examples you've given so far. Since the unknown source in 1 Clement immediately follows (and resembles) the saying from Is. 52:5, I would sooner think that Clement "misremembered" something from the OT than that he had access to an unknown "words of the Lord" source. And yes, I think Paul's position on divorce pertains to what Jesus says in Mark rather than to an unknown source.

You know me, I'm a simple guy, and I don't want to introduce any material that isn't necessary, though perhaps I'm not fully appreciating the "necessity" of the third possibility and I'm open to hearing more.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 2:28 pm

How would the readers of 2 Clement be able to distinguish if they did not know in advance what the source of each quotation was? I think you may be missing the point of the exercise here.

I think Clement's readers likely knew the OT (or at least had access to people who knew the OT) and at least one written gospel (or had access to people who knew at least one) and thus could recognize when Clement was citing something from the OT or the NT. I suppose I could allow for the possibility that they weren't familiar with those writings, but that too seems like a remote possibility to me.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:54 pm

John2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:53 pm
And my counter to this is that you have accounted for only two of the three main possibilities: OT Lord God and NT Lord Jesus. Possibility three is a prophet speaking in the name of either of them, introducing the saying with "the Lord says," or some such. What happens then?

I guess I see the third possibility as being remote, at least in the examples you've given so far. Since the unknown source in 1 Clement immediately follows (and resembles) the saying from Is. 52:5, I would sooner think that Clement "misremembered" something from the OT than that he had access to an unknown "words of the Lord" source. And yes, I think Paul's position on divorce pertains to what Jesus says in Mark rather than to an unknown source.

You know me, I'm a simple guy, and I don't want to introduce any material that isn't necessary, though perhaps I'm not fully appreciating the "necessity" of the third possibility and I'm open to hearing more.
I think you are once again focusing more on the specific example than on the general idea. Let me take a slightly different tack. Are there sayings in the gospels — any of the (ancient) gospels — which you suspect Jesus did not utter? Think of as many as you can. What do you think the true sources for those sayings might be if not Jesus himself? Who originally spoke them and/or wrote them down, and why?
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:20 pm

Are there sayings in the gospels — any of the (ancient) gospels — which you suspect Jesus did not utter?
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:02 pm

I think you are once again focusing more on the specific example than on the general idea. Let me take a slightly different tack. Are there sayings in the gospels — any of the (ancient) gospels — which you suspect Jesus did not utter? Think of as many as you can. What do you think the true sources for those sayings might be if not Jesus himself? Who originally spoke them and/or wrote them down, and why?

I think some of Jesus' sayings in the synoptics and more so in other gospels were probably made up by each respective gospel writer. Are you suggesting that all ancient gospel writers had access to non-Christian "words of the Lord" (whether oral or written) and ascribed them to Jesus?
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:29 pm

John2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:02 pm
I think some of Jesus' sayings in the synoptics and more so in other gospels were probably made up by each respective gospel writer. Are you suggesting that all ancient gospel writers had access to non-Christian "words of the Lord" (whether oral or written) and ascribed them to Jesus?
All? No, of course not. But some? Yes, possibly. That is my suggestion.
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by John2 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:10 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:29 pm
John2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:02 pm
I think some of Jesus' sayings in the synoptics and more so in other gospels were probably made up by each respective gospel writer. Are you suggesting that all ancient gospel writers had access to non-Christian "words of the Lord" (whether oral or written) and ascribed them to Jesus?
All? No, of course not. But some? Yes, possibly. That is my suggestion.

Who do you suppose did not have access to non-Christian "words of the Lord"? Or maybe I should ask, who are you supposing did?
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Re: The epistle of James and the sayings of the Lord.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:18 pm

John2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 6:10 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:29 pm
John2 wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:02 pm
I think some of Jesus' sayings in the synoptics and more so in other gospels were probably made up by each respective gospel writer. Are you suggesting that all ancient gospel writers had access to non-Christian "words of the Lord" (whether oral or written) and ascribed them to Jesus?
All? No, of course not. But some? Yes, possibly. That is my suggestion.
Who do you suppose did not have access to non-Christian "words of the Lord"? Or maybe I should ask, who are you supposing did?
I do not necessarily know the answer to either question. I am simply not presuming that "all" gospel writers had access to independent "words of the Lord." Mine was not a positive statement ("definitely not all!"); it was a negative one ("I would in no way commit to it being all").
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