FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 02-20-2001, 08:55 AM   #41
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

I must say, in all the excitement over the Gospel of Mark of late, I was expecting at least some comments or questions from the sceptical community here regarding my theories on dating the Synoptics.

May I take the silence to mean that others here find the argument persuasive?

If not, I hope you will raise your objections so that I may deal with them.

Now, on to the Gospel of John, and I will admit up front that my study of this Gospel has been less thorough than it has of the Synoptics. I hope others might be able to offer some thoughts on both its authorship and dating. For my part, I will confine this post to the arguments for both a late (i.e. c. 90AD) date, and an early one (c. 62-70).

For the record, I believe that John, the son of Zebedee was the beloved disciple, and the author of this Gospel.

A Late Date for John

Until fairly recently, it has been pretty much universally accepted in scholarly circles that GJohn dates to the period of 90-95. I will cover off the reasons for a growing minority to question this assumption, but first wish to look at the reasons for this more or less uniform agreement amongst scholars of all theological stripes.

From Dr. Daniel B. Wallace <A HREF="http://www.bible.org/docs/soapbox/jnotl.htm" TARGET=_blank>The Gospel of John:
Introduction, Argument, Outline</A>:

(1) Patristic writers normally date this gospel after the synoptics.

(2) The reference to the Jews as the enemy of Jesus suggests a late date—i.e., a time when the Jews had become the confirmed enemies of the church.

(3) Assuming that John used the synoptic gospels, and assuming that Luke and Matthew were written in the 80s, John must be dated no earlier than the 90s.

(4) The lack of reference to Jerusalem’s destruction points to a date either before 66 or quite a bit after 70.

(5) The theology of John is highly advanced, especially its Christology. It is assumed that this cannot be true of a work written in the 60s.

(6) The affinities with 1 John, in which nascent gnosticism seems to be fought against, argues for a late first century date.

(7) John’s ecclesiology (water baptism in John 3, the Lord’s Supper in John 6) point to a late date.

(8) The reference in 9:22 to the formerly blind man getting booted out of the synagogue is a cryptic allusion to Jewish excommunication of Christians, which did not happen until the 80s.


Wallace finds (5) to be the most persuasive, in that John's Christology is much more highly developed than is that of the Synoptics. Personally, I am less convinced. Ironically, J.A.T. Robinson uses this exact same argument for an early dating of John!

The problem I have with using Christological or theological developement for the dating of the Gospels (or any of the epistles for that matter) is that we really can't know with certainty when the various communities and apostles advanced their theological ideas.

For example, I would argue that Paul's letters show extremely high Christology, yet if we accept the dating of the Synoptics to being near contemporanious with Paul's writings, then how can we reject the idea that John could also have been writing during this same period of time (i.e. mid 60's)?

I also find that the argument from John's hatred of the Jews cuts both ways, since we already know that John's brother James was killed by King Herod (Acts 12:2), and Acts already shows considerable conflict between the Apostles and Sanhedrin and Pharasees.

To my mind, most of the assumptions behind a late dating of John rests largely on the already tenuous belief that the Synoptics were late (75-85), so John must be late.

An Early Date for John

So what are the reasons for dating John to the 60's?

Again from D.B. Wallace:

(1) Patristic citations on dating of NT books are notoriously faulty. They are far more reliable on issues of who than of when or why. Further, in our view, John still would be the last gospel penned, even though it would not have been written until c. 65.

(2) The reference to the Jews as the enemies of the church could easily be a pre-70 statement, especially if the audience lived outside of Palestine. Further, John almost always uses “the Jews” in reference to the Jewish leaders, not the populace in general.

(3) The assumption that John used the synoptic gospels is not at all proven. In fact, both P. Gardner-Smith and C. H. Dodd have argued (and cogently, I think) that John was completely independent of the synoptic gospels. In our view, the idea that the fourth evangelist used any of the synoptic gospels runs into insurmountable difficulties, for it not only has surface contradictions (e.g., the time of the cleansing of the temple, the nature of the Lord’s Supper, etc.), but there is also much material which would have been beneficial to put in this gospel had the author had ready access to it.

(4) The lack of reference to Jerusalem’s destruction is much more in favor of an early date than a late one, especially since this is the one gospel which focuses on Jesus’ Judean ministry.

(5) Although John’s theology is highly advanced, it is so only when one measures it against the historical benchmark of the synoptic gospels. But once it is seen that John’s gospel has a more decidedly theological thrust to it (giving an inner and reflective picture of Christ, rather than an external and action-packed picture of Christ), there is no reason why such a gospel could not be produced in the 60s. When one compares the theology of John with the theology of, say, Romans (written in the late 50s), or Philippians (c. 62 CE), its Christological development is very much in keeping with Paul. To be sure, certain points do seem advanced (e.g., the use of “Savior” to refer to Jesus, or the explicit affirmation of Christ’s deity in 1:1), but no more so than what is found in the Pastorals or Hebrews.

(6) The topographical accuracy of pre-70 Palestine argues that at least some of the material embedded in the gospel comes from before the Jewish War. (My note: This argument also weighs heavily in suggesting that the author was an eye witness to many of the events described in the Gospel of John)

(7) The conceptual and verbal parallels with Qumran argue strongly for an overtly Jewish document which fits well within the first century milieu.

(8) The date of P55 at c. 100-150, coupled with the date of Papyrus Egerton 2 at about the same time—a document which employed both John and the synoptics—is almost inconceivable if John is to be dated in the 90s.

(9) John’s literary independence from and apparent lack of awareness of the synoptic gospels argue quite strongly for an early date. Indeed, this independence/ignorance argues that all the gospels were written within a relatively short period of time, with Matthew and Luke having the good fortune of seeing and using Mark in their composition.

(10) Finally, there is a strong piece of internal evidence for an early date. In John 5:2 the author says that “there is in Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool (the one called Bethesda in Hebrew) which has five porticoes.” Without discussing all the interpretations possible for this verse suffice it to say that (a) the verb “is” (ejstin) cannot be a historical present, and (b) the pool was destroyed in 70 CE. By far the most plausible conclusion is that this gospel was written before 70 CE.


Conclusion


As with the dating of the Synoptic Gospels, we see powerful arguments for a rethinking of the dating of the fourth Gospel. I find the arguments offered for the earlier dating more persuasive than I do for the later dating offered by most scholars to date. At the end of the day, I think the scientific arguments made from the papyrological evidence are going to displace the arguments made from more theological and speculative grounds.

Thus, I believe it is much more reasonable to date the Gospel of John to c. 66AD than to the commonly held date of 90.

Once again I invite comments, questions, or other evidence to help us in dating this work.

Thank you, and peace,

Nomad

The Prof's Soapbox
 
Old 02-20-2001, 03:42 PM   #42
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">For the record, I believe that John, the son of Zebedee was the beloved disciple, and the author of this Gospel.</font>
I have heard theories attributing the authorship of John to both Lazarus and John Mark. The Lazarus theory is particularly compelling in that, if I recall correctly, Lazarus is the only named person in the gospel who Jesus is explicitly mentioned as having loved. This would also account for the emphasis placed on the raising of Lazarus which I don't recall being even mentioned in the other gospels. Whether the raising was metaphorical or literal, it could be argued that Lazarus felt such gratitude as to write this gospel. Just wondering if you were familiar with these theories and if so if you would be willing to comment on them.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(10) Finally, there is a strong piece of internal evidence for an early date. In John 5:2 the author says that “there is in Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool (the one called Bethesda in Hebrew) which has five porticoes.” Without discussing all the interpretations possible for this verse suffice it to say that (a) the verb “is” (ejstin) cannot be a historical present, and (b) the pool was destroyed in 70 CE. By far the most plausible conclusion is that this gospel was written before 70 CE.</font>
Could we also not assume that the author wrote after 70 CE but was not aware that the pool had been destroyed, having not been in Jerusalem since before it was destroyed?

Thank You.

[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited February 20, 2001).]
 
Old 02-21-2001, 10:17 PM   #43
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:

I have heard theories attributing the authorship of John to both Lazarus and John Mark. The Lazarus theory is particularly compelling in that, if I recall correctly, Lazarus is the only named person in the gospel who Jesus is explicitly mentioned as having loved. This would also account for the emphasis placed on the raising of Lazarus which I don't recall being even mentioned in the other gospels. Whether the raising was metaphorical or literal, it could be argued that Lazarus felt such gratitude as to write this gospel. Just wondering if you were familiar with these theories and if so if you would be willing to comment on them.</font>
Hello again not a theist

First off, John Mark is traditionally assoicated with the Gospel of Mark, not John. The two Johns most commonly offered for the Gospel bearing this name are John, the son of Zebedee, and John, also known as the Elder.

I remember once reading a web site where the thesis was put forward that Lazarus was the "beloved disciple", and also the author of the Gospel of John. The biggest problem with this theory is that we have absolutely no external evidence to support this theory (unlike attestation given to John, son of Zebedee and The Elder).

Really, the only evidence we do have, would require us to believe that the expression "beloved disciple", and "the one whom Jesus loved" used to describe Lazarus in particular mean the same person. While this is possible, it presents us with one additional problem, and that is the complete lack of references to the disciple John (who figures very prominently in the Synoptics, being listed with Peter and James numerous times at key events in Jesus' life).

One final problem that presents itself in proposing Lazarus as the author of this Gospel is that outside of his very dramatic resurrection by Jesus in John 11, we have no specific references to him being present at numerous intimate moments when Jesus appears to be alone with the Twelve, or even just Peter, and the sons of Zebedee. This absense in John is extremely problamatic, and inexplicable in the Synoptics if Lazarus was, in fact, as close of a disciple to Jesus as he would have needed to be in order to write John's Gospel.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (10) Finally, there is a strong piece of internal evidence for an early date. In John 5:2 the author says that “there is in Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool (the one called Bethesda in Hebrew) which has five porticoes.” Without discussing all the interpretations possible for this verse suffice it to say that (a) the verb “is” (ejstin) cannot be a historical present, and (b) the pool was destroyed in 70 CE. By far the most plausible conclusion is that this gospel was written before 70 CE.

not a theist: Could we also not assume that the author wrote after 70 CE but was not aware that the pool had been destroyed, having not been in Jerusalem since before it was destroyed?</font>
The destruction of the pool (and the rest of Jerusalem and much of the surrounding territory, including the pool, would have been pretty well known, at least to anyone that knew of the pool in the first place (as the author of John clearly was).

Alone the mention of the pool of Bethesda is not compelling evidence for Johannine authorship, nor for an early date, but combined with the other evidence we do have, the case for an early (mid-60's) dating of this Gospel does appear more reasonable than the traditional later (90's) dates.

Thank you again, and peace.

Nomad
 
Old 02-22-2001, 11:13 AM   #44
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
The destruction of the pool (and the rest of Jerusalem and much of the surrounding territory, including the pool, would have been pretty well known, at least to anyone that knew of the pool in the first place (as the author of John clearly was).
</font>
Let me offer a real life counterexample from my own experience. I live in a large city about 30 miles from where I was grew up. The town of my former residence, which I visit frequently, is undergoing rapid expansion and many of the buildings, etc. no longer exist. Through ignorance of which are still standing, I still refer to some in the present. Even those that I should (and do) know are gone, I still sometime refer to in the present tense from force of habit. I think I am not exceptional in this. I can easily imagine the author of John doing this as he became older (which he would have been IF the gospel were written at a later date).

Also, assuming that he knew about the destruction of Jerusalem (which if it were written at a later date I think he would have); would he really have thought the Romans bothered to destroy one particular pool. Even now, it surprises me that they did. If I were told that a city were destroyed, I wouldn't think that any particular pool of fountain had been destroyed, I would tend to think of people and buildings being destroyed rather. Simply knowing of the destruction of Jerusalem does not necessarily mean knowing each particular.

I'm not a Biblical scholar and really can't object to many of your theories along more technical lines. I'm just trying to express some common-sense style objections to particulars in places where I think the argument looks weak to a 'layman' such as myself. I hope you don't mind. I do appreciate what you're doing in this thread.

Thank You.




[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited February 23, 2001).]
 
Old 02-23-2001, 03:20 PM   #45
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
1) Patristic citations on dating of NT books are notoriously faulty. They are far more reliable on issues of who than of when or why. Further, in our view, John still would be the last gospel penned, even though it would not have been written until c. 65.

(3) The assumption that John used the synoptic gospels is not at all proven. In fact, both P. Gardner-Smith and C. H. Dodd have argued (and cogently, I think) that John was completely independent of the synoptic gospels. In our view, the idea that the fourth evangelist used any of the synoptic gospels runs into insurmountable difficulties, for it not only has surface contradictions (e.g., the time of the cleansing of the temple, the nature of the Lord’s Supper, etc.), but there is also much material which would have been beneficial to put in this gospel had the author had ready access to it.</font>
But if it was the last gospel written (see 1 above), why would the author NOT have access to the synoptics. 1 and 3 seem to be at cross-points with eachother. 1 shows why he could have had access to the synoptics (last gospel) while 3 tries to establish an early date by showing that he didn't use them. If, however, we say that EVEN THOUGH John was the last gospel (see 1), he didn't have access to the synoptics (3), why set an early date because of this? We acknowledge that his is last (even with an early date). Why not assume a late date and still assume he didn't have access to the synoptics. Or is the argument that if John was MUCH later he would certainly have had access to the synoptics?
Maybe he thought they were unreliable and didn't trust them even though he did have access to them (remember, John seems to get right certain geographical and temporal events that the synoptics get wrong).
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(4) The lack of reference to Jerusalem’s destruction is much more in favor of an early date than a late one, especially since this is the one gospel which focuses on Jesus’ Judean ministry.</font>
Why? Granted it was a important event, but may not have been one that he wanted to emphasize.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(6) The topographical accuracy of pre-70 Palestine argues that at least some of the material embedded in the gospel comes from before the Jewish War. (My note: This argument also weighs heavily in suggesting that the author was an eye witness to many of the events described in the Gospel of John)</font>
This only suggests an eyewitness or someone who had lived in Jerusalem pre-destruction, not an early date for the writing. He may have lived in Jerusalem when he was young and written when he was old (c. 90CE)
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(7) The conceptual and verbal parallels with Qumran argue strongly for an overtly Jewish document which fits well within the first century milieu.</font>
Fine. Written by a Jew who grew up with people who used Qumran terminology and developed his habits from said people. It only shows possible association with Qumran/first century Jews. He could have carried these habits over into later life and written his gospel later in life (i.e. 90+ CE).
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(8) The date of P55 at c. 100-150, coupled with the date of Papyrus Egerton 2 at about the same time—a document which employed both John and the synoptics—is almost inconceivable if John is to be dated in the 90s.</font>
Outside dates for a late John: John-90. P55-150(Papyrus Egerton 2-'about the same time'.) You then have 60 years for PE2 to get both John and the Synoptics to 'employ'.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(9) John’s literary independence from and apparent lack of awareness of the synoptic gospels argue quite strongly for an early date. Indeed, this independence/ignorance argues that all the gospels were written within a relatively short period of time, with Matthew and Luke having the good fortune of seeing and using Mark in their composition.</font>
Again, he may have just counted them unreliable.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(10) Finally, ...</font>
See my previous post.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Once again I invite comments, questions, or other evidence to help us in dating this work.</font>
I'll try to keep the questions going since no one else seems so inclined and I really want this discussion to continue.
Thank You.




[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited February 23, 2001).]
 
Old 02-26-2001, 09:06 PM   #46
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Okay, I just got back, and it is late. Hopefully I get through a couple of these points.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:
Nomad: Originally posted by Nomad:
The destruction of the pool (and the rest of Jerusalem and much of the surrounding territory, including the pool, would have been pretty well known, at least to anyone that knew of the pool in the first place (as the author of John clearly was).

not a theist: Let me offer a real life counterexample from my own experience. I live in a large city about 30 miles from where I was grew up. The town of my former residence, which I visit frequently, is undergoing rapid expansion and many of the buildings, etc. no longer exist. Through ignorance of which are still standing, I still refer to some in the present. Even those that I should (and do) know are gone, I still sometime refer to in the present tense from force of habit. I think I am not exceptional in this. I can easily imagine the author of John doing this as he became older (which he would have been IF the gospel were written at a later date).</font>
Good point not a theist (can I call you nat?).

I think this particular argument is more powerful regarding authorship as opposed to actually dating the GJohn. To be honest, the more I study this question the more problematic the whole question of dating appears to be. You might want to take a look at Bede's "Three Authors of John" theory (found at Authorship of the Gospel of John thread) that is quite popular with many scholars (most prominently among them being Raymond Brown). Using this theory, however, almost any date can be established to the Gospel, with the final version (and the only one we have any actual copies) coming out about 90-100AD.

It is certainly not outside the realm of possibilities that John should be dated this late, but I am wondering how tortured our reasoning must remain if we are to accept it without questioning. The simplist solution in my mind remains that John's Gospel came out early as opposed to late.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Also, assuming that he knew about the destruction of Jerusalem (which if it were written at a later date I think he would have); would he really have thought the Romans bothered to destroy one particular pool. Even now, it surprises me that they did. If I were told that a city were destroyed, I wouldn't think that any particular pool of fountain had been destroyed, I would tend to think of people and buildings being destroyed rather. Simply knowing of the destruction of Jerusalem does not necessarily mean knowing each particular.</font>
The destruction of Jerusalem followed Roman patterns in putting down large scale rebellions, with the added impetous that Vespasian wanted a spectacular victory to help solidify his claims to be the new emperor. Destroying any special sacred Jewish sites (like the pool) would have been an important goal for the Romans.

I appreciate your continued interest in this thread not a theist, and admit that especially concerning the question of dating John's Gospel, I am less confident in attributing any date with any definitiveness.

At this point I will say, however, that I am far from convinced by the arguments for a late (90-100) date.

Nomad
 
Old 02-26-2001, 10:00 PM   #47
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:

Nomad: 1) ...Further, in our view, John still would be the last gospel penned, even though it would not have been written until c. 65.

(3) The assumption that John used the synoptic gospels is not at all proven. In fact, both P. Gardner-Smith and C. H. Dodd have argued (and cogently, I think) that John was completely independent of the synoptic gospels. In our view, the idea that the fourth evangelist used any of the synoptic gospels runs into insurmountable difficulties...

not a theist: But if it was the last gospel written (see 1 above), why would the author NOT have access to the synoptics. 1 and 3 seem to be at cross-points with eachother. 1 shows why he could have had access to the synoptics (last gospel) while 3 tries to establish an early date by showing that he didn't use them. If, however, we say that EVEN THOUGH John was the last gospel (see 1), he didn't have access to the synoptics (3), why set an early date because of this?</font>
I have to break your questions up into sections here so that I might address them.

First off, the idea that the author of John had access to the Synoptics really does run into a lot of problems. Without question John had different reasons for writing his Gospel than did the other three authors, but that doesn't mean that he would not have wanted to use some of this material.

For example, the resurrection of Jairus' daughter found in Mark would have been perfect for John's theological motives. Knowing about this story and NOT using it would have been inexplicable, and Mark is almost certainly the first of all the Gospels (see my explanations for this on page one of this thread). A similar question is left begging when Jesus does not identify himself as Lord of the Sabbath in John 7 (as opposed to a clear statement found in Matt 12, Mark 2 and Luke 6). The absence of the "olivet Discourse" and the changes in the Passion Narrative presents further problems.

The real difficulty arises when we place two ideas together, that John came last, and that he did not use the Synoptics (including or especially, Mark). If Mark was written in the 50's instead of the 60's (and Matt and Luke to the 80's), and John the 90's, then reconciling these two ideas becomes very nearly impossible. But the difficulty of how John could remain the last Gospel, and remain unaware of the Synoptics is most easily explained if John was authored around the same time as Matthew and Luke (in this case the 60's), but unaware of Mark.

J.A.T. Robinson tried to get around this problem by arguing that John came first, but this theory has not gained much credence since Robinson's death. Most other scholars have remained content to simply say that the traditional dates work best, and that is that. But I think this attitude will have to change, and either more people are going to have to accept Robinson's thesis, or agree that a mid-60's dating of John makes the most sense.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> We acknowledge that his is last (even with an early date). Why not assume a late date and still assume he didn't have access to the synoptics. Or is the argument that if John was MUCH later he would certainly have had access to the synoptics?</font>
I think it is reasonable to accept that if the Synoptics were in circulation up to 30-40 years before John, then the idea that he remained completely unaware of them becomes almost indefensible.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Maybe he thought they were unreliable and didn't trust them even though he did have access to them (remember, John seems to get right certain geographical and temporal events that the synoptics get wrong).</font>
As I said above, John could have borrowed from the Synoptics, and changed the details (as has been postulated unconvincingly in my opinion regarding Luke's Lazarus being used by John). He would have almost certainly wanted to use Mark's reference of Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath had he known about it. Postulating that John simply didn't like the Synoptics, or found them unreliable is both unlikely and extremely speculative.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (4) The lack of reference to Jerusalem’s destruction is much more in favor of an early date than a late one, especially since this is the one gospel which focuses on Jesus’ Judean ministry.

not a theist: Why? Granted it was a important event, but may not have been one that he wanted to emphasize.</font>
The destruction of Jerusalem, and especially the Temple was THE seminal event for Judaism and Christianity in the last quarter of the 1st Century. Not mentioning it at all (even through the "Olivet Discourse") is only understandable given a pre-destruction date, or a date so long after the event that John did not think it worth mentioning (IOW, more than 20 years after the fact). Of the two options, as Wallace notes, the former possibility seems more reasonable.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (6) The topographical accuracy of pre-70 Palestine argues that at least some of the material embedded in the gospel comes from before the Jewish War. (My note: This argument also weighs heavily in suggesting that the author was an eye witness to many of the events described in the Gospel of John)

not a theist: This only suggests an eyewitness or someone who had lived in Jerusalem pre-destruction, not an early date for the writing. He may have lived in Jerusalem when he was young and written when he was old (c. 90CE)</font>
I agree. That is why I do not consider this argument to be the strongest for an early date (although actual eyewitness testimony does tend to put an upper limit on its overall credibility. Much beyond 90AD would make the witness EXTREMELY old, even by modern standards).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (7) The conceptual and verbal parallels with Qumran argue strongly for an overtly Jewish document which fits well within the first century milieu.

not a theist: Fine. Written by a Jew who grew up with people who used Qumran terminology and developed his habits from said people. It only shows possible association with Qumran/first century Jews. He could have carried these habits over into later life and written his gospel later in life (i.e. 90+ CE).</font>
Agreed again. This theory gains even greater credibility if you subscribe to Brown's arguments for three authors of this Gospel (see Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, [New York 1996], pgs. 362-376). According to this thesis:

(1) At its beginning there were memories of what Jesus did and said, but not the same memories preserved by the Synoptics (specifically in Mark); perhaps the difference stemmed from the fact that unlike the pre-Synoptic tradition, John's memories were not of standardized apostolic origin...
(2)Then these memories were influenced by the life-experience of the Johannine community that preserved them and of the Johannine preachers who expounded them.
(3) Finally an evangelist, who plausibly was one of the preachers with his own dramatic and creative abilities, shaped the tradition from the second stage into a written Gospel.
Both the Synoptics and John, then, would constitute independent witnesses to Jesus..."
(R.E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, pg. 363-4).


While I personally have some problems with this theory (I lean more towards the idea that the Synoptics and John simply selected different stories and sayings from earlier traditions), I think the implications remain the same. John and the Synoptics arose independent of one another.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (8) The date of P55 at c. 100-150, coupled with the date of Papyrus Egerton 2 at about the same time—a document which employed both John and the synoptics—is almost inconceivable if John is to be dated in the 90s.

not a theist: Outside dates for a late John: John-90. P55-150(Papyrus Egerton 2-'about the same time'.) You then have 60 years for PE2 to get both John and the Synoptics to 'employ'.</font>
I agree, but note that I am not a papyrologist. The argument appears to focus on how long a papyrus remained in circulation before it was copied, and this particular argument appears to be extremely speculative at least to this layman's eyes. After all, how many copies were in circulation, and how quickly? If John was copied sufficiently, a late dating is certainly not out of the question.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: (9) John’s literary independence from and apparent lack of awareness of the synoptic gospels argue quite strongly for an early date. Indeed, this independence/ignorance argues that all the gospels were written within a relatively short period of time, with Matthew and Luke having the good fortune of seeing and using Mark in their composition.

not a theist: Again, he may have just counted them unreliable.</font>
I hope you better understand why I do not think this is the most reasonable conclusion.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'll try to keep the questions going since no one else seems so inclined and I really want this discussion to continue.
Thank You.</font>
Thank you not a theist. I have also found both the discussion and the research I have had to do in order to examine the dates of the Gospels to be extremely interesting. If you have further questions about any of the four Gospels and their dates, please let me know.

Once we have covered them off sufficiently, then I will move to some of the epistles.

Peace,

Nomad

The Prof's Soapbox

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 26, 2001).]
 
Old 02-27-2001, 04:19 PM   #48
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

It seems that your strongest arguments for an early John rely on a fairly early date for the synoptics coupled with the destruction of Jerusalem. I'm not sure I agree with dating them that early, but have no specific criticisms that are articulable yet. So whenever you're ready, go on to the epistles. I'm dying to see when you date 2 Peter and the Pastorals.

Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed responses to my questions.

P.S. You can call me nat. Now that you mention it, I sort of like it.
 
Old 02-27-2001, 06:52 PM   #49
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Alright, it looks like we are through the Gospels for now (although we will likely return to them again), I would like to turn my attention to the epistles.

And while I would like to get to the Pauline Pastorals and Petrine letters, the first epistles I would like to address are the Johannine letters 1-3 John. The reason for this is that I believe that dating these three letters can also help us establish a firmer date for the Gospel of John as well.

Interestingly, it is one of the most conservative (both theologically and regarding dating of the books of the NT) that offers one of the better arguments, in my opinion, for an early date for GJohn.

"In style and vocabulary there are so many similarities between 1 John and John that no one can doubt that they are at least from the same tradition. Indeed, 1 John makes most sense if understood as written in a period following appearance of the Gospel, when the struggle with the synagogue and "the Jews" was no longer a major issue."
(Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday [New York, 1996], pg. 383).


While I find Brown's reasoning to be sound, how it affects the actual dates for the epistles and the Gospel is far more problematic.

"Most scholars think the Johannine Epistles were written after the Gospel. More precisely, I would place 1 and 2 John in the decade after the body of the Gospel was written by the evangelist (ca. 90) but before the redaction of the Gospel... (ca. 100). What particularly differentiates 1 and 2 John from the Gospel as the change of focus. "The Jews" who are the chief adversaries in the Gospel are absent; and all attention is on deceivers who have seceded from the community."
(Ibid. pg. 389-390).


What Brown does not explain in his commentary of either the Gospel itself, or the Johannine epistles, is how a gap of only 10 years could establish such a clear break, especially since we have no record of any large reconciliation between the Jewish leaders and Christians towards the end of the 1st Century. More reasonably, I believe, the destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem and the resulting Diaspora of both Jews and Christians alike, and the increasing Hellenization of the Christian communities from 70-100 would explain this shift in focus.

Thus, I believe if we place the Gospel of John, and his letters at mid-60's and ca. 90-100 respectively, this problem is resolved. The Jews are removed as the principle opponent in the eyes of the Johannine community, and a more realistic timeframe for a schism to develop within that community is allowed.

In conclusion, I don't really see this dating gap between the Gospel and epistles as precluding the same author from writing both, after all, 25-35 years is well within the realm of possibility, especially if we accept Brown's idea of a final redactor putting together the Gospel of John (as opposed to the Beloved Disciple doing this himself).

Peace,

Nomad
 
Old 02-28-2001, 03:40 PM   #50
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In conclusion, I don't really see this dating gap between the Gospel and epistles as precluding the same author from writing both, after all, 25-35 years is well within the realm of possibility, especially if we accept Brown's idea of a final redactor putting together the Gospel of John (as opposed to the Beloved Disciple doing this himself).</font>
Are you saying that the redactor or the Beloved Disciple composed the epistles? If you are claiming it was the redactor (as I think you are), that seems reasonable given the similarity.
Bede (from this board, not the venerable one) seems to think that the Elder (who under his theory would be the second author) wrote 2 and 3 but implies that the BD wrote 1 (though he seems non-commital on it). Do you also subscribe to this theory?
 
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:11 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.