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John from a Socio-Historical Perspective

Now that I have explained what the socio-historical method is in general terms (in my previous post) I can go on to show how it can be applied to a particular Gospel, in this case, the Gospel of John.  Again, none of this is new and fresh scholarship that I myself came up with; two of the real pioneers of this method were two of the greats of New Testament interpretation in the latter part of the twentieth century, both of whom, remarkably, taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York (taught, in fact, some of my good friends!), the Protestant scholar J. Louis Martyn, and the Roman Catholic scholar, Raymond Brown.   Their views ended up being a more or less consensus position for many years, and continues to be prominent among teachers of the NT still today.

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The Gospel of John from a Socio-Historical Perspective

The place to begin is by examining the different thematic emphases evident in different stories, which ultimately may derive from different sources, and to consider the kinds of social worlds that they appear to presuppose.  I might start by reminding you of one of the distinctive features of this Gospel, namely, the exalted view of Jesus that is emphasized in so many of its narratives.  But you may have noticed in your own reading of the Gospel that not every story shares this exalted perspective.  In fact, a number of John’s stories portray Jesus not as an elevated divine being come from heaven, but as a very human character.  To use the jargon employed by historians of Christian doctrine, portions of this narrative evidence a “high” christology, in which Jesus is portrayed as fully divine, and others evidence a “low” christology, in which he is portrayed as human, and nothing more.

In the modern world, many Christians subscribe to both a high and a low christology, in which Jesus is thought to be both fully divine and fully human.  Did both of these perspectives develop simultaneously, so that the earliest Christians already thought of Jesus as God and man?  In point of fact, as we saw in the Synoptic Gospels, even though Jesus is portrayed somewhat as a Hellenistic divine man — like Apollonius of Tyana, for example — there was no sense there that he had existed in eternity past, that he was the creator of the universe, or that he was equal to the one true God.  Scholars have long recognized that the notion of Jesus’ divinity may have developed over a period of time, that as Christians began to reflect more and more on who Jesus was, they began to ascribe greater and greater honors to him.  Indeed, in the Fourth Gospel we are able to trace the development of christology within one particular community, from its early reflections of Jesus as a human chosen by God to fulfill the task of salvation to its later conclusions that Jesus was himself divine, a full equal with God.  This development appears to have been intimately related to the social experiences of the community that told the stories.  The socio-historical method provides us with the tools that we need to draw these conclusions.  How exactly does it work?

Divergent Christologies in the Johannine Community

An interesting example of an account that embodies a low christology comes in the story of the first disciples in 1:35-42.  We are probably justified in supposing that the story was in circulation prior to the writing of the Fourth Gospel, and that the author of this Gospel heard it (or read it) and incorporated it into his narrative after the Prologue, which he derived from a different source.  In what social context would the story have been told originally?

You will notice that Jesus is called three different things in this account:  John the Baptist calls him “the lamb of God” (v. 36), the disciples who follow him call him “rabbi” (v. 38), and one of them, Andrew, calls him the “messiah” (v. 41).  Each of these terms makes sense as an identification of Jesus within a Jewish context.  As we have seen, the “lamb of God” refers to the Passover lamb that was sacrificed in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt; for John, Jesus is the lamb because his death brings about the salvation celebrated in the Passover meal (see Chapter 3, above).  The term “rabbi” was a common designation for a Jewish teacher.  And the term “messiah” referred to the future deliverer of the people of Israel.

None of these terms suggests that the author of this story understood Jesus to be divine in any way: neither passover lambs nor rabbis were divine, and the messiah was to be a human chosen by God, not God himself.  Moreover, these are terms that would make sense to a Jewish, rather than to a Gentile, audience.  What might this tell us about the social context within which a story like this was told?  Here is an account of two Jews who come to Jesus and discover that he is the one they have been waiting for, the messiah.  It appears to be the kind of story that would have originally been told by Jews to other Jews, to show them that Jesus is to be recognized as the Jewish messiah (and a rabbi, and the lamb of God).

One other feature of this story should be observed.  On three occasions the author interprets the terms that he uses: rabbi, which means “teacher” (v. 38), messiah, which means “Christ” (v. 41), and Cephas, which means “Peter” (v. 42).  These interpretations are necessary because the three terms are not Greek, the language of the Fourth Gospel, but Aramaic.  But why would some of the key terms of the story be in Aramaic, and why would the author have to translate them?  Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the story was originally told in Aramaic; when it was eventually translated into Greek, several of its important terms left in the original language, as sometimes happens with a punchline, for example, when an anecdote is told to a bilingual audience.  The author of the Fourth Gospel, who incorporated the story into his account, realized that his readers (or at least some of them) did not know Aramaic, and so he translated the terms for them.

If this reconstruction of events is correct, then the story would be very old by the time it came to the author of the Fourth Gospel.  It would have originally been told among Aramaic-speaking Christians converted from Judaism — that is, presumably those living in Palestine — perhaps not too distant in time from Jesus himself.  This is a story then about how Jesus fulfills the expectations of Jews, and it is designed to show how Jews might come to believe in him as the messiah.  There is nothingin this story, however, to suggest that he is divine.

There are other stories, however, in which Jesus is portrayed as divine, in which this is the single most important thing to know about him.  His divinity, for example, is one of the leading points of the Prologue.  In addition, the Prologue, along with many other stories in the Gospel, gives no indication of being originally composed in Aramaic.  This might suggest that it is not as old as the story of the call of the first disciples.  Moreover, the Prologue, and other stories like it, do not have the kind of friendly disposition to Jews that we find here in this account of the call of the disciples (see, e.g., 1:11).

How does one explain these thematic differences among the stories of John?  Social historians would argue that the history of the community affected the ways that it told its stories about Jesus and that critical events in this history led to changes in the community’s understanding of Jesus and his relationship to the people to whom he came.  Scholars who have developed this idea have traced the community’s history through three stages.

AND THAT’S where I’ll pick up in my next post.

 


How Jesus Became God!!
The Socio-Historical Method

47

Comments

  1. Avatar
    Wilusa  March 22, 2014

    Haven’t you said elsewhere that *some* Jews *did* expect the Messiah to be divine? Not equal to God, but, perhaps, the “Son of Man” – something along the lines of an archangel?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 23, 2014

      Yes — it’s complicated. I”ve actually changed my views on the topic since doing this new book.

  2. Avatar
    willow  March 23, 2014

    All of this is so utterly fascinating, Bart! Surely I, too, will need to purchase your textbook, though not before burying myself in the following:

    Delivery Estimate Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by 8:00pm
    How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
    Ehrman, Bart D.
    Sold by Amazon.com LLC

    YAY!!!

  3. Avatar
    Arlyn  March 23, 2014

    In the language of John Denver, Far Out! Glad you stayed the course with the current series of post. Thanks.

  4. Avatar
    asjsdpjk  March 23, 2014

    Doesn’t Paul talk about jewish based beliefs to gentiles … i mean promoting beliefs in jesus based on concepts from a jewish belief system. If so, then gentiles would be exposed to the jewish concepts such as the passover lamb early on. So jewish concepts in the gospel maybe doesn’t have to imply transmission in among jewish communitues

    Just a thought

  5. Stroupe
    Stroupe  March 24, 2014

    I’d like you to continue this thread too and discuss the three historical stages you mention.

  6. Avatar
    Mohy  March 24, 2014

    i understand that the language of the NT was Greek but i wanted to know does this mean that the Gospels were written in Greek or that they were written in Aramaic and then translated to Greek? and the originals were lost.
    and if so how can we trust that no body have mistranslated them or changed them intentionally? how can we claim that Jesus did that and did not do that based these Gospels if they dont even written in Jesus mother tongue?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 24, 2014

      They were originally written in Greek. They are not translations from a Semitic original.

  7. Avatar
    LoganM76  March 25, 2014

    This in depth look at John as been fascinating. Particularly since, I have to admit, it’s never been my favorite gospel, but I’m starting to get a new appreciation for it thanks to these posts. I’m certainly looking forward to a closer look at the different Christologies.

    Since you’re sketching us an outline of the Johannine community, is there anything scholars know beyond their theological views? Any consensus on where they may have been located, for example? Sorry if someone already asked this, I didn’t go through all the comments on these recent posts.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 25, 2014

      I”m afraid we don’t know where they were or much of anything else about them, except some indications they had been kicked out of the local synagogue and that they could trace their lineage back to Palestine.

  8. Avatar
    prestonp  September 2, 2014

    “The place to begin is by examining the different thematic emphases evident in different stories, which ultimately may derive from different sources, and to consider the kinds of social worlds that they appear to presuppose.”

    First, I think what one group or one individual decides are the specific different thematic emphases, is subjective and warrants additional careful analysis. Some scholars may arrive at different assumptions (probably already have). These stories may derive from different sources other than those “different sources” already suggested or maybe they didn’t originate from more than one source.

    • Avatar
      prestonp  September 5, 2014

      thematic emphases

      To me, each gospel has a clear theme. In fact, it is unmistakable.
      Man is sinful. God is holy. Jesus, god’s son, bled and died to redeem us. The rest is up to us. Believe it or not.

      Not trying to preach. In looking for the major theme or the most important message in the gospels boils down to that simple emphasis, imo, and to many bible scholars.

      • Bart Ehrman
        Bart Ehrman  September 6, 2014

        My view is that each Gospel is different; they don’t each have the same theme. (Luke, for example, decidedly does not have a doctrine of the atonement)

        • Avatar
          prestonp  September 10, 2014

          I listed several verses from Luke that present the atoning work and mission of Christ, but that post didn’t survive. Reading Luke with an open heart and mind, his sacrificial death to redeem mankind is unmistakable. One has to work hard to miss this summum bonum of Luke’s account, imo.

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  September 10, 2014

            I don’t recall that post. But I don’t know of any verses of Luke that indicate that Christ’s death was a sacrificial atonement for sin. Quite the contrary, Luke has removed that view from the passages of Mark that he copied which had them. You will notice, as well, that in none of the speeches of Acts is there reference to the atoning significance of Jesus’ death.

            The reason so me of your comments don’t show up is that I try to make it so one person doesn’t post five or six comments a day, as I get some negative feedback when that happens. I prefer a couple of really pointed comments to a handful of them, especially on the same post.

        • Avatar
          prestonp  September 13, 2014

          My view is that each Gospel is different; they don’t each have the same theme. (Luke, for example, decidedly does not have a doctrine of the atonement)

          Maybe so. Taken together, which makes sense when trying to familiarize yourself with him as much as possible, they paint a complete picture about him and who he was. Don’t you think so, too?

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  September 14, 2014

            No, I don’t think it works that way.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 15, 2014

            I don’t think it causes any “harm” to let each gospel be unique and to let each one compliment and enhance the others. Isn’t that the traditional approach? Does this violate any principle?

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  September 15, 2014

            No, I think that’s fine. But I also think it’s only part of the story. Luke didn’t write his Gospel to complement and enhance Mark. He wrote it because he thought he had a version that stood on its own and deserved to be heard. So did the other authors.

        • Avatar
          prestonp  September 16, 2014

          “No, I think that’s fine. But I also think it’s only part of the story. Luke didn’t write his Gospel to complement and enhance Mark. He wrote it because he thought he had a version that stood on its own and deserved to be heard. So did the other authors.” Dr. Bart.
          “view is that each Gospel is different; they don’t each have the same theme. (Luke, for example, decidedly does not have a doctrine of the atonement)” Dr. Bart.

          Luke used many sources (Luke 1 v 1) including eyewitness testimony. He does indeed seem to be hoping to supplement the accounts of others.

          But, let us say he did want his own stand alone version and he omitted the atonement. What is the significance you find?

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  September 16, 2014

            Yes, I think he did want his stand alone version and I think he did omit the atonement. This shows that the earliest Christians were extremely diverse and not unified on the most fundamental issues, that early Christianity was not one thing but lots of things, and that there is not one “biblical” view of virtually anything.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 17, 2014

            “Yes, I think he did want his stand alone version and I think he did omit the atonement. This shows that the earliest Christians were extremely diverse and not unified on the most fundamental issues, that early Christianity was not one thing but lots of things, and that there is not one “biblical” view of virtually anything” Dr. B.

            Yet, the message that his life and death was the way to heaven is clear, imo, and that is what is essential?

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 18, 2014

            “This shows that the earliest Christians were extremely diverse and not unified on the most fundamental issues.” Dr. B

            That isn’t accurate. What ii does prove is they wrote all about this one who totally and completely captivated them. Reading more into the account is as damaging as being unable to see and hear god in jesus. The gift of salvation, jesus, is presented in Luke with such abundant clarity, it is impossible not to see him, unless one tries hard not to recognize him.

            How did the one crucified next to him receive the benefits of atonement, if atonement isn’t found in Luke?

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  September 18, 2014

            “Atonement” is a specific understanding of how the death of Jesus “works” to being about salvation. It’s not the only one.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 19, 2014

            Bart Ehrman September 18, 2014
            “Atonement” is a specific understanding of how the death of Jesus “works” to being about salvation. It’s not the only one.”

            “This shows that the earliest Christians were extremely diverse and not unified on the most fundamental issues, that early Christianity was not one thing but lots of things, and that there is not one “biblical” view of virtually anything.”

            It is hard to imagine how anyone could fail to see their unanimity regarding his life, death and resurrection as the son of god, capable of forgiving and cleansing from sin.

            The “additions” of certain passages like the woman caught in adultery and his sweating blood may more accurately be regarded as the “filling in” from other, more thorough manuscripts to which the copyists had access. The oldest manuscripts we have may not be the best.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 22, 2014

            “Yes, I think he did want his stand alone version and I think he did omit the atonement. This shows that the earliest Christians were extremely diverse and not unified on the most fundamental issues, that early Christianity was not one thing but lots of things, and that there is not one “biblical” view of virtually anything.”
            Dr. Bart

            I would bet everything-EVERYTHING-that if he had been asked if he believed in the atoning work of Christ, he would exclaim, “you ain’t kiddin I do. OF COURSE!”

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 22, 2014

            Luke used eyewitness testimony. Luke 1:1 indicates that his record of events was not based on an “oral tradition.”
            Therefore, to summarize as a scholarly researched conclusion that the gospels are a compilation of oral traditions is incorrect and it opens the door to unjustified speculation. This tenet of “criticism” sounds reasonable, but it fails, right off the bat. It is a deeply flawed foundation.
            Also, to insist that not one of Christ’s followers wrote about those things which Christ did and said soon after he experienced them is unreasonable on its face. Why would his disciples wait 60 years to begin to draw up such an account? This position likewise opens a Pandora’s box that leads to astounding errors and wild theories packaged like facts. It too seems reasonable and intelligent, but it just isn’t. Much of the n.t. that proves criticism is off-base is simply ignored in the name of scholarship. Meanwhile, the heart and the essence of this man’s life and purpose lay obscured behind shadowy curtains of history.

            Again, if anyone can quote just one among the “many” people who could speak like Christ spoke, share that with me, please. In fact, it isn’t possible. Of all that has been written or spoken and recorded, not a single human being ever spoke like that guy and that is truly amazing, even miraculous.

          • Bart
            Bart  September 22, 2014

            Quite the contrary, Luke 1:1 precisely does indicate that Luke is basing his account on what he has “heard.” That by definition is oral tradition.

            And again, if you haven’t read a lot of religious literature, or even apocryphal Gospels, then of course Jesus sounds like no one else.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 23, 2014

            Bart September 22, 2014

            Quite the contrary, Luke 1:1 precisely does indicate that Luke is basing his account on what he has “heard.” That by definition is oral tradition. And again, if you haven’t read a lot of religious literature, or even apocryphal Gospels, then of course Jesus sounds like no one else.

            I just asked for some quotes, some specifics.

            Wesley’s Notes
            “Luke 1:1-2 This short, weighty, artless, candid dedication, belongs to the Acts, as well as the Gospel of St. Luke. Many have undertaken…For these were eye witnesses themselves and ministers of the word. (Where else is the word, “word” used as a depiction of jesus besides 1 Jn 1-12 “In the beginning was the word…”?

            For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;”

            What is the opposite of whispering a phrase to the one sitting next to you and he whispers it to another and around the room we go? .

            oral tradition, also called orality, the first and still most widespread mode of human communication. Far more than “just talking,” oral tradition refers to a dynamic and highly diverse oral-aural medium for evolving, storing, and transmitting knowledge, art, and ideas. It is typically contrasted with literacy, with which it can and does interact in myriad ways, and also with literature, which it dwarfs in size, diversity, and social function.
            Encyclopedia Britannica on “Oral Tradition”

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 29, 2014

            “Quite the contrary, Luke 1:1 precisely does indicate that Luke is basing his account on what he has “heard.” That by definition is oral tradition.” Dr. Bart

            Let’s drop the definition of “oral tradition” as a focus of our discussion long enough to say that Luke received from many real life, living, actual flesh and blood eye-witnesses, what he then wrote down.

          • Bart
            Bart  September 29, 2014

            No, he doesn’t say that he himself has talked to any eyewitnesses. He says that the traditions were passed on by “eyewitnesses and ministers of the world.”

          • Avatar
            prestonp  September 30, 2014

            1:1-4. Luke will not write of things about which Christians may safely differ from one another, and hesitate within themselves; but the things which are, and ought to be surely believed. The doctrine of Christ is what the wisest and best of men have ventured their souls upon with confidence and satisfaction. And the great events whereon our hopes depend, have been recorded by those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, and who were perfected in their understanding of them through Divine inspiration. MATT HENRY

            Luke was, according to Dr. Lardner, a Jew by birth, and an early convert to Christianity; but Michaelis thinks he was a Gentile, and brings Colossians 4:10, Colossians 4:11, Colossians 4:14, in proof, where Paul distinguished Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus, who was called Justus, from Epaphras, Lucas, and Demas, who were of the circumcision, i.e. Jews. Some think he was one of our Lord’s seventy disciples. It is worthy of remark that he is the only evangelist who mentions the commission given by Christ to the seventy, Luke 10:1-20. It is likely he is the Lucius mentioned Romans 16:21, and if so he was related to the Apostle Paul, and that it is the same Lucius of Cyrene who is mentioned Acts 13:1, and in general with others, Acts 11:20. Some of the ancients, and some of the most learned and judicious among the moderns, think he was one of the two whom our Lord met on the way to Emmaus on the day of his resurrection, as related Luke 24:13-35; one of these was called Cleopas, Luke 24:18, the other is not mentioned, the evangelist, himself, being the person and the relator.

            It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
            Having had perfect understanding – Παρηκολουθηκοτι ανωθεν, Having accurately traced up – entered into the very spirit of the work, and examined every thing to the bottom; in consequence of which investigation, I am completely convinced of the truth of the whole. Though God gives his Holy Spirit to all them who ask him, yet this gift was never designed to set aside the use of those faculties with which he has already endued the soul, and which are as truly his gifts as the Holy Spirit itself is. The nature of inspiration, in the case of St. Luke, we at once discover: he set himself, by impartial inquiry and diligent investigation, to find the whole truth, and to relate nothing but the truth; and the Spirit of God presided over and directed his inquiries, so that he discovered the whole truth, and was preserved from every particle of error. Adam Clarke

            Pulpit Commentary

            Verse 2. – Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Word. The general accuracy of the recitals contained in those early Gospels is here conceded, as the source of these primitive writings was the tradition delivered by the eye-witnesses of the acts of Jesus; among these eye-witnesses the apostles would, of course, hold the foremost place. The whole statement may be roughly paraphrased thus: “The narrative of the memorable events which have been accomplished in our midst many have undertaken to compose. These different narratives are in strict conformity with the apostles’ tradition, which men who were themselves eye-witnesses of the great events, and subsequently ministers of the Word, handed down to us. Now, I have traced up all these traditions anew to their very sources, and propose rewriting them in consecutive order, that you, my lord Theophilus, may be fully convinced of the positive certainty of those great truths in which you have been instructed.” Eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Word; witnesses of the events of the public ministry of Jesus, from the baptism to the Ascension. These men, in great numbers, after Pentecost, became ministers and preachers of the Word.

            Other Translations of Luke 1:2

            Euen as they deliuered them vnto vs, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, & ministers of the word:
            – King James Version (1611) – View 1611 Bible Scan

            just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
            – New American Standard Version (1995)

            even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning wer eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
            – American Standard Version (1901)

            As they were handed down to us by those who saw them from the first and were preachers of the word,
            – Basic English Bible

            as those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses of and attendants on the Word have delivered them to us,
            – Darby Bible

            Even as they delivered them to us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word;
            – Webster’s Bible

            on the authority of those who were from the beginning eye-witnesses and were devoted to the service of the divine Message,
            – Weymouth Bible

            even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us,
            – World English Bible

            as thei that seyn atte the bigynnyng, and weren ministris of the word,
            – Wycliffe Bible

            as they did deliver to us, who from the beginning became eye-witnesses, and officers of the Word, —
            – Youngs Literal Bible

    • Avatar
      prestonp  September 6, 2014

      A formal, thorough, scientific analysis of textual, historical and other forms of criticism is essential. So far, there is no scientific data to prove it is a bona-fide, accurate method of which I’m aware.

  9. Avatar
    prestonp  September 24, 2014

    “Quite the contrary, Luke 1:1 precisely does indicate that Luke is basing his account on what he has “heard.” That by definition is oral tradition.
    And again, if you haven’t read a lot of religious literature, or even apocryphal Gospels, then of course Jesus sounds like no one else.” Dr. Bart

    No one can quote even a single sample to prove this claim and I don’t find anything, either. The foundation of criticism just cracked. Based on this issue and the fact that eyewitnesses, many eyewitnesses, were responsible for giving Luke their first hand accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the question which must be answered is, “How is it possible that no one else saw these major flaws?”

    Dr. you may remember that you mention there is a game which works when 1 person whispers to another person a specific bit of info. That person then whispers the same info to the next person, and so on. By the time the last person in line receives the info, it is nothing like that with which they started. You use this “game” to illustrate in part how the oral traditions eventually became the error filled gospels. That flies in the face of what Luke describes in Chapter 1-vs 1+2.

    1 Corinthians 15 vs 1-8 is a timepiece that yields parameters for the birth of the n.t. “3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

    Many, to whom he appeared before his ascension, were still alive as Paul wrote canonical letters. I’m sure you are aware of this.

  10. Avatar
    prestonp  September 24, 2014

    Dr. Bart, Catherine Hezser wrote that Jesus could not read or write. The only jews who could were Josephus and Justin. Odd, isn’t it? Somebody wrote the n.t. in the first century and it seems like jews were responsible for it.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 24, 2014

      I think you’re misreading her. What she actually says is that 3% of the population of Roman Palestine was literate, and that the only authors we have from Palestine in the period are the two you mention. The latter is absolutely true. And she’s not referring to Jews but to the inhabitants of Palestine (most Jews, and all the authors of the NT, lived outside Palestine.)

  11. Avatar
    prestonp  September 25, 2014

    Apparently, many scholars believe someone from that region wrote the n.t. in the first century A.D. But, obviously, no one could have. Why? They reason that everyone was illiterate, except 3% of the entire population who made up “the elite”. Many thousands of people followed jesus, but none was from the “elite” crowd. How do we know this? We know this because no one wrote the n.t. (even though we have it.) You see, the problem is, not one of them was an “elite”. An elite follower could have written the n.t. but we know that didn’t happen. How do we know this? We know this because there is no n.t., except the one that was written.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2014

      No, the point is that critical scholars tend NOT to think that Palestinians wrote any of the books of the New Testament. (are you listening? 🙂 ) And I certainly don’t think for a second that many thousands of people followed Jesus. Think about the logistics!

      • Avatar
        prestonp  September 26, 2014

        How many were fed miraculously? He didn’t speak to multitudes? The crowds pressed in upon him. How many shouted Hosanna? Hundreds of thousands lived in the region. How could they keep thousands away? That is still only a small percentage.

        Let’s see. Joe of Arimathea and Nic didn’t know how to write because they didn’t exist and jesus didn’t sweat drops of blood and john doesn’t contain any of the words Christ spoke, and none of his followers could read or write and Luke doesn’t mention he died for our sins and his followers didn’t think he was Christ until he rose from the dead, which he never did, but they hallucinated he did and others believed them. He was thrown into a mass grave and Mary never saw him. Somebody just made up the life of godman and put john’s name on it for recognition; no one knows who it was but we know it was all made up. And this hallucination appeared to Pete and saul and tom and later to Dr. Bart, transforming their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 26, 2014

          Yes, if you think the Gospels are literally true, this would need to be your conclusion.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  October 16, 2014

            Yes, if you think the Gospels are literally true, this would need to be your conclusion. Dr. Bart

            ? I still can’t figure out why you believe this, Dr.

      • Avatar
        prestonp  September 27, 2014

        the followers of Jesus, as we learn from the New Testament itself, were uneducated lower-class Aramaic-speaking Jews from Palestine. These books [the canonical Gospels] were not written by people like that. (p90) HJBG
        THERE IS NOT ONE SPECK OF evidence anywhere to support this claim.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 28, 2014

          I’d suggest you read the scholarship before asserting that it has no evidence to back it up.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  October 5, 2014

            “None of these terms suggests that the author of this story understood Jesus to be divine in any way: neither passover lambs nor rabbis were divine, and the messiah was to be a human chosen by God, not God himself.” Dr. Bart

            Nothing demonstrates that they limited his identity to those names that they use here. Additionally, he was the lamb, he was a teacher and the messiah, and more, much, much more. John makes it abundantly clear he believed jesus was divine throughout the gospel of john. It couldn’t be clearer, imo.

          • Avatar
            prestonp  October 11, 2014

            Despite many discouragements, Akiba persevered in his studies and at the age of 40 entered the rabbinical academy of Johanan ben Zakkai, a Pharisaic teacher, at Yabneh (Jamnia). In the academy Akiba, himself a commoner, invariably championed the plebeian viewpoint rather than the patrician.
            This is one example of an ancient illiterate peasant who learned to read later in life. This, by itself, is solid proof that the argument of those who insist none of Christ’s disciples could read or write cannot stand. Therefore, to form a complex, sophisticated and elaborate “interpretation” of the New Testament upon this foundation has no merit. None.

  12. Avatar
    prestonp  October 16, 2014

    “As Martyn also puts it in his book on History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel, the incarnation of the Word is not an event ‘which transpired only in the past’: the drama of this event unfolds on two levels simultaneously, the level of the unique past and the contemporary level. More than that, Martyn insists that the occurrence of this event on both levels ‘is, to a large extent, the good news itself.’ Thus in his work on both Paul and John, Martyn foregrounds the church’s continuing gospel proclamation as part of the very fabric of the salvation-event, part of Christ’s own identity as the risen one.”

    Ben Myers

    • Bart
      Bart  October 16, 2014

      Martyn’s book is terrific, a deserved classic well worth reading, even if the historical reconstruction is now no longer accepted.

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