Saturday, September 16, 2006

Anonymous Gospels?

"the knowledge of a widely recognized collection of the four Gospels which is used in worship is certainly substantially older than Irenaeus...Evidently Clement [of Alexandria] took it for granted that the collection of four Gospels was based on recognized church tradition and was unchallenged, since he does not have to defend it anywhere...Nevertheless the fact remains that it is utterly improbable that in this dark period, at a particular place or through a person or through the decision of a group or institution unknown to us, the four superscriptions of the Gospels, which had hitherto been circulating anonymously, suddenly came into being and, without leaving behind traces of earlier divergent titles, became established throughout the church. Let those who deny the great age and therefore basically the originality of the Gospel superscriptions in order to preserve their 'good' critical conscience, give a better explanation of the completely unanimous and relatively early attestation of these titles, their origin and the names of authors associated with them. Such an explanation has yet to be given, and it never will be. New Testament scholars persistently overlook basic facts and questions on the basis of old habits....Another comment on the name Matthew: apart from the first Gospel, to which he gives his name, Matthew plays no role in primitive Christianity. He appears only in the lists of apostles. He is only mentioned rather more frequently at a substantially later date in apocryphal writings on the basis of the unique success of the Gospel named after him. That makes it utterly improbable that the name of the apostle was attached to the Gospel only at a secondary stage, in the first decades of the second century, somewhere in the Roman empire, and that this essentially later nomenclature then established itself everywhere without opposition. How could people have arrived at this name for an anonymous Gospel in the second century, and how then would it have gained general recognition?...a recognized authority and not an anonymous Gentile Christian, i.e. a Mr. Nobody in the church, stood behind it [the gospel of Mark]...nothing has led research into the Gospels so astray as the romantic superstition involving anonymous theologically creative community collectives, which are supposed to have drafted whole writings." (Martin Hengel, The Four Gospels And The One Gospel Of Jesus Christ [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 2000], pp. 14, 16, 55, 71, 80-81)

"Marcion, on the other hand, you must know, ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert the very body. And here I might now make a stand, and contend that a work ought not to be recognised, which holds not its head erect, which exhibits no consistency, which gives no promise of credibility from the fulness of its title and the just profession of its author." (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4:2)

See also here and here.

8 comments:

  1. These little criticisms are always so very amusing. They show me nothing more than the uncritical thinking of the atheist community when it comes to the authorship and dating of the gospels. It would pay them to pick up a standard NT Intro like Guthrie's and have a read. All of these "arguments" are addressed.

    These are the same people who cry out for "evidence," of the Resurrection, miracles, et. al., but where, pray tell, is the evidence that the Gospels were anonymous or pseudonymous. There's not any. Zero, Zip, Nada. So, on the one hand they demand extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary then swallow higher critcal theories about mundane items like the authorship of the gospels hook, line, and sinker without a scintilla of evidence and ignore all the ordinary evidence for traditional authorship. Mark that well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Suffering Servant9/17/2006 2:23 PM

    How could the gospels be "anonymous"? They are named after their authors for goodness sakes!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Gospel of John's authorship was disputed. Epiphanius argues against those that claim it is written by Cerinthus.

    This idea that we must assume the traditional authorship names because all manuscripts have it is simply not persuasive in my view. The first example of a text with the name would be something like 400 years after the fact. I am not of the opinion that changes can't occur without hard manuscript evidence in 400 years.

    I've heard that most scholars do not think the "According to Matthew" heading or the "According to Mark" heading was actually in the earliest manuscripts because this is not typical of similar manuscripts of the time. Also, just thinking off the top of my head, it seems odd that they would have a uniform heading across the board "Kata Matthias" etc. What does make sense of this heading is how later in church history churches would come into posession of multiple different gospels, so as they would read them in church they would have to distinguish one from the other.

    It's also difficult to believe that an eyewitness like Mt would copy a non-eyewitness Mk. That's just not what eyewitnesses do. That's a separate topic than what you're dealing with here, but anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jon Curry said:

    "The Gospel of John's authorship was disputed. Epiphanius argues against those that claim it is written by Cerinthus."

    I've addressed the authorship of John's gospel at length in a previous discussion we've had. You didn't even attempt to interact with most of the data, you repeatedly made false claims, and you left the discussion. What you're doing now is attempting to raise doubts by ignoring probabilities and appealing to highly unlikely possibilities.

    As I explained to you earlier, the people who disputed the authorship of John's gospel were a small minority who objected to the gospel on doctrinal grounds, and they postdated earlier widespread testimony in favor of Johannine authorship. Because of the large degree of similarity between the fourth gospel and the Johannine epistles, it's highly likely that all four documents had the same author. Given that disciples of John lived until as late as the second half of the second century, it's unlikely that the early Christians would have mistakenly attributed all of those documents to John without having been corrected. Polycarp alone is known to have been in close contact with churches in Rome, Philippi, and elsewhere, and other disciples of John surely would have lived long into the second century as well. Papias refers to his discussions with earlier church leaders about issues of authorship, which reflects the fact that authorship was an issue of concern to these contemporaries and disciples of the apostles. Polycarp was involved in the controversy with Marcion, which was largely about issues of authorship and the canon. Apostolicity was the primary canonical criterion of the early Christians, so issues of authorship were of significant concern.

    You write:

    "This idea that we must assume the traditional authorship names because all manuscripts have it is simply not persuasive in my view. The first example of a text with the name would be something like 400 years after the fact."

    Anybody who read my original post, the articles I linked to, or Martin Hengel's book, for example, would know that I didn't just mention "because all manuscripts have it" to justify my conclusion. But even on that one issue, you're mistaken. Hengel writes:

    "These titles are widely attested in a variety of ways: by some of the earliest papyri, by reports in the second- and third-century church fathers, and by the earliest translations. They too were already completely uniform in the second century....Works without titles easily got double or multiple titles when names were given to them in different libraries....if they had first circulated anonymously and had been given their titles only at a secondary stage and independently of one another in the different communities, because a title was needed for announcing the reading in worship, this must necessarily have resulted in a diversity of titles, as can be illustrated by many examples from antiquity." (The Four Gospels And The One Gospel Of Jesus Christ [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 2000], pp. 48, 54)

    Hengel points out that works distributed anonymously, such as some later apocryphal gospels, would end up getting attributed to multiple sources. Ancient authors, such as Aristotle and Galen, sometimes commented about multiple titles under which their works were circulating (ibid., n. 198 on p. 239). For example, people might give an author's work to a library without any title attached, and so the various libraries would give various titles to those works. Thus, a single work of Plato, for example, would have different titles in different places. Already in the early to mid second century, men like Quadratus and Justin Martyr are distributing copies of the gospels and referring to the regular reading of them in church services. The gospels would have to have been distinguished from each other, probably with an author's name attached. Tertullian, in his criticism of Marcion, assumes that the gospels would include an author's name.

    You write:

    "I've heard that most scholars do not think the 'According to Matthew' heading or the 'According to Mark' heading was actually in the earliest manuscripts because this is not typical of similar manuscripts of the time."

    What "similar manuscripts"? Nobody denies that some documents circulated without an author's name attached. But not all documents had to be distinguished from similar documents that were being read in a church service or in some comparable context. And not all people were as concerned with authorship issues as the early Christians were. The fact that some documents in antiquity didn't have an author's name doesn't explain the manuscript evidence and the early testimony of external sources that we have for the gospels.

    You write:

    "Also, just thinking off the top of my head, it seems odd that they would have a uniform heading across the board 'Kata Matthias' etc."

    A lot of your arguments are ones you present "off the top of your head". Even when you attempt some research, it's often limited to something like Wikipedia or Google. You make a lot of false and misleading claims, then eventually leave the discussion and claim to not have time to participate further, but then you start posting in other threads where you repeat the same process.

    I don't know just what it is that you find "odd" in your comment above. I haven't examined all of the relevant gospel titles, but there wouldn't have to be unanimity of form in the title for there to be widespread concern for identifying the author.

    You write:

    "What does make sense of this heading is how later in church history churches would come into posession of multiple different gospels, so as they would read them in church they would have to distinguish one from the other."

    Even if we accepted your scenario, since sources in the early to mid second century had possession of more than one gospel, names would have been attached at a time when many disciples of the apostles were still alive. The large majority of scholars believe that the gospels are first century documents, and they believe that the authors of Matthew and Luke were familiar with the gospel of Mark, so people were using more than one gospel as early as the first century, even under the scenarios proposed by liberal scholarship.

    But, as I said before, the inclusion of an author's name in the document itself isn't the only relevant evidence. We also have internal evidence (the emphasis on Peter in Mark's gospel, the "we" passages in Acts, John 21:24, etc.), and author names surely would have been discussed orally, even if those names weren't physically attached to the documents. It's highly unlikely that a single gospel, even more unlikely all four of them, would circulate both without a written name attached and without an oral account of who wrote it. It's even more unlikely still that other early sources, apart from the circulation of the gospel documents themselves, would fail to comment on issues of authorship, so that Christians of the second century would be left to speculate about authorship without much data to go by. If they were engaging in such speculation, how did they arrive at such widespread agreement, including among heretical groups? As I said at the beginning of this post, what you're doing is attempting to raise doubts by rejecting the probable in favor of highly unlikely possibilities.

    You write:

    "It's also difficult to believe that an eyewitness like Mt would copy a non-eyewitness Mk. That's just not what eyewitnesses do."

    So, do you accept the account of Mark's authorship of the gospel of Mark under the influence of Peter? You didn't accept it in our discussions last year. Do you accept Luke's authorship of Luke? Since John doesn't "copy" Mark, do you accept his status as an eyewitness?

    Assuming Markan priority, what do you mean when you say that Matthew "copied" Mark? Matthew often adds details, changes wording, changes the order of accounts, etc., though there is a lot of overlap. That sort of use of another author's work was common practice, especially if the earlier work was one that was highly regarded. Mark's gospel was essentially the gospel of Peter, so it would have been held in high regard. If Peter gave his information to Mark prior to Matthew's composition of his gospel, then Peter's testimony would have been given at a time when memories of Jesus' earthly ministry were stronger. And Peter was part of the inner circle of the disciples, with James and John. He was present at events that Matthew didn't witness. See also J.P. Holding's comments at:

    http://www.tektonics.org/ntdocdef/mattdef.html#dep

    Notice how Jon Curry ignores much of the evidence against his position. Notice how he'll appeal to something like the later objections to John's authorship of the fourth gospel by a small minority of people who objected to the gospel on doctrinal grounds. Yet, he'll dismiss the earlier, more diverse, and far more numerous testimony in support of Johannine authorship among people who were in contact with the disciples of John. And even when something like Matthew's authorship of the first gospel or Mark's authorship of the second gospel under Peter's influence is unchallenged by the early sources, he'll still reject it. Does it seem that Jon is considering these issues honestly and reasonably?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jason, look at the title of this thread you've started. It's about whether or not the gospels were themselves anonymous as originally written. It's not about whether the apostle John wrote John. Stick to the subject. At least initially.

    How is it possible for someone to attribute the Gospel of John to Cerinthus when the gospel is not anonymous? Why do all of the gospels have a uniform style for the heading? Doesn't the view that these are added later in church as the churches gained access to multiple gospels make better sense of this? I think it does, which is why I don't think there is any good reason to think that these gospels were anything but anonymous.

    Now, as far as whether or not John wrote John, I think the important arguments are getting lost across the different threads, so let's try to summarize the relevant facts.

    The first mention of the book as written by John is from Irenaeus in 180, nearly a century after the text is written. Irenaeus knew Polycarp and Polycarp may have known John. Irenaeus also knew Papias, but as I showed in our previous discussion Papias appears to be denying that he knew John. But how reliable is Irenaeus?

    Irenaeus tells us of other traditions he learned from the disciples and disciples of the apostles. He learned that Jesus lived until the age of 50.

    "[F]rom the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement."

    This is a tradition that he learns not only from those that know John, but from those that know other apostles as well. Clearly Irenaeus is not to be trusted when he tells us that he knows traditions as coming from the disciples.

    He further demonstrates the type of tests he applies to determine apostolicity. Why are there only 4 gospels and no more?

    "There are four principle winds, four pillars that hold up the sky, and four corners of the universe; therefore, it is only right that there be four gospels."

    So we learn of the authorship of John about a century later from a guy that clearly is unreliable when he conveys supposed apostolic tradition and demonstrates poor critical thinking skills. This is not a lot to go on.

    Papias, who you regard as a disciple of John despite his denial of the point as recorded by Eusebius, never mentions a gospel of John, though he does mention that some "elder" has claimed that Mark recorded the sayings of Jesus via Peter, though "not in order" because Peter would speak of what the Lord said in a non-systematic way. Why should we think this is the same book as what we call Mark? Mark starts with the beginning of Christ's ministry and culminates in his death and resurrection. How is this "not in order"? Not only that, but Papias is clearly referring to books he doesn't have access to, because he's merely recording what this "elder" has told him. How widely distributed are these books by this time when he still doesn't have them. He also says that Matthew is written in Aramaic. But scholars today pretty much universally regard Matthew as derivative of the Greek Mark, so it couldn't have been written in Aramaic. So he's not talking about the same Matthew we are.

    So here we are in the year 180 and Irenaeus attributes a gospel to John. You say John's disciples would have corrected them. How old are John's disciples at this point? The average age of death for a person that survived birth in 1st century Palestine is 45. Supposedly these people are suffering martyr's deaths. Dying as a martyr is no way to improve your life expectancy. But let's figure the ages of these supposed disciples of John that would have jumped to correct any mistatements from someone like Irenaeus. Assume John lived to his 90's. Any disciple of his wouldn't become his disciple while he's on his death bed. Suppose someone joins late, while John is already 75 or so. He won't be a child when he joins. Assume he's a mere 16 years old. This would make the youngest disciple 121 years old when Irenaeus makes this claim.

    You think it is inconceivable that Irenaeus wouldn't see a lot of opposition because these old enfeebled disciples of the disciples are running around stamping out false attributions such as those made by Irenaeus? Call me crazy, but I don't see these people being all that active. In fact, they'd be twice dead already. Even disciples of disciples of the apostles are dead by now.

    Not only that, but John seems to be improving on the stories he's heard from Mt, Mk, or Lk. Jesus becomes more and more impressive. I mentioned before how John improved on the story of Jesus' baptism. I could add several more examples. For instance in the synoptics Simon carries Jesus' cross, but for John, who wants to portray Jesus as strong and powerful throughout, he emphasizes that Jesus carried his OWN cross. In the synoptics the guards simply sieze Jesus, but for John at Jesus mere word the guards fall back, and so he must willingly hand himself over. For Mark Jesus seems to be in great anguish. Gethsemane first, then the belief that he's been forsaken by God. For John Jesus is strong and powerful. There is no anguish in Gethsemane. Rather than saying "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" as if things are out of his control he simply says "It is finished." These improvements to the story count against the belief that John could be an eyewitness.

    I apologize for not responding to your comments point by point. I would like to, but you often respond to me with as much as twice the amount of material as what I post and that's just getting out of hand. Couple of quick points. You think somehow that citing Wikipedia is something I should be ashamed of. I think Wikipedia is more credible than tektonics by a long shot. But I don't feel the need to disparage your sources. I'm content to let the reader decide for themselves if they think Wikipedia is worse than tektonics. Likewise I don't feel it necessary to point out that I've "answered you" in previous discussions. I think your responses miss the point and misrepresent my positions, so I don't think you've answered me. But I don't feel the need to point it out. I'm comfortable letting any reader decide that issue for themselves. I make my arguments and leave the strutting for you, Bob Sungenis and his cohorts, Art Sippo and his followers, or whoever the case may be. So the fact that I let your comments go is not an admission that I think you're right, and you should not be surprised if in the future I talk about how Mt 16:28 is a false prophecy as is Mt 24. I don't think you've responded to my arguments adequately. But I won't be surprised if you talk about them as if they're not false prophecies, because I know you're not persuaded by my arguments. It's all good.

    Also I don't expect to get the last word, because in my opinion you will always respond with lots of verbiage, even if that verbiage misses the point and misrepresents my positions. There is no end to it for you, but it must end for me, because I just do not have the free time that you do. Phone calls can quickly correct misunderstandings. But personally I believe you do not want to understand. You have no other option but to misrepresent what my arguments are and a proper understanding of what I'm saying makes that difficult. So you should not imply that I leave conversations because I have no answer for your clever arguments. You should assume that I am done spending time on the issue. If you think I'm unable to respond to you, feel free to give me a call and we can continue our conversation in a more efficient way.

    That raises one other point. This is a conversation for me, not a formal debate. So I might just express ideas off the top of my head. For you, it's different. This is like a formal debate. All citations must include the date published and the publishing house. The smallest point can't be conceded. That's not my style, and it's not the style of most people here. I'm not going to turn from my lectern and face the audience and start talking to them about Jason's many egregios errors as you do. I'm talking with you, not lurkers.

    Formal debates are different from lunch room discussions. For me this is a lunchroom discussion. If it was a formal debate I would express myself differently. For you this is a formal debate. You can feel free to treat it that way, but you have no reason to demand that everyone treat it as you do.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interestingly, it looks like James White is repeating some of the claims I'm making here about the unreliable nature of Irenaeus' claims to apostolic traditions.

    He concludes with this:

    Thus is Irenaeus' argument, for which he claims direct information from those who knew the apostles themselves. This provides us with the earliest reference we can find to a claim of oral tradition, and yet, it is a tradition no one believes today.

    http://www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=138

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jon Curry wrote:

    "Jason, look at the title of this thread you've started. It's about whether or not the gospels were themselves anonymous as originally written. It's not about whether the apostle John wrote John. Stick to the subject. At least initially."

    I'm a better judge of the subject of my own threads than you are. This thread is primarily about whether the gospels were anonymous, and I included links at the end of the original post that address pseudonymity as well. The first two sentences of my quote of Hengel refer to a "recognized collection of the four Gospels" and "recognized church tradition". The same quote goes on to discuss issues such as why Matthew would have been chosen as an author name and the concept of community authorship. My quote of Hengel wasn't limited to "whether or not the gospels were themselves anonymous as originally written", and the rest of what I quoted wasn't limited to that subject either. The first two sentences of your first response to me were:

    "The Gospel of John's authorship was disputed. Epiphanius argues against those that claim it is written by Cerinthus."

    For you to tell me that I shouldn't be discussing the authorship of John's gospel is unreasonable. You yourself mentioned the subject.

    You write:

    "How is it possible for someone to attribute the Gospel of John to Cerinthus when the gospel is not anonymous?"

    The same way that some people today assign Ephesians to somebody other than Paul or 2 Peter to somebody other than Peter, even though both authors' names appear in the documents. People assigned Revelation to Cerinthus (Eusebius, Church History, 3:28:1-5), even though the book itself repeatedly claims to have been written by John (Revelation 1:1, 1:4, 1:9, 22:8). Attributing John's books to Cerinthus was a common argument among the people who opposed John's writings on doctrinal grounds. They made the argument for Cerinthus' authorship on the grounds that Cerinthus wrote under John's name. Not only does Revelation mention John by name, but the gospel of John also refers to the author as an eyewitness of Jesus' earthly ministry (John 21:24) and a companion of Peter (John 13:23-24, 20:2, etc.). Both Revelation and the gospel of John profess to be written by somebody with characteristics Cerinthus didn't have. The attribution of these books to Cerinthus was under the assumption that Cerinthus wrote as John. Your appeal to the Cerinthus argument is fallacious, then.

    You write:

    "Why do all of the gospels have a uniform style for the heading? Doesn't the view that these are added later in church as the churches gained access to multiple gospels make better sense of this?"

    Not if the terminology in question was widespread in early Christian circles, which it would have to be under either of our scenarios. If people other than the authors could commonly use the same sort of title, so could the authors. Hengel discusses this issue further in his book.

    You write:

    "I think it does, which is why I don't think there is any good reason to think that these gospels were anything but anonymous."

    There's more than one way for an author's name to be associated with a book. Your argument against the gospel titles, based on their similarity, wouldn't be able to sustain the argument for anonymity by itself. You'd still have to address the other means of early author identification. Even if the earliest gospels didn't have titles, they could still have had author names associated with them by other means.

    You write:

    "The first mention of the book as written by John is from Irenaeus in 180, nearly a century after the text is written. Irenaeus knew Polycarp and Polycarp may have known John. Irenaeus also knew Papias, but as I showed in our previous discussion Papias appears to be denying that he knew John."

    You're ignoring what I documented earlier in response to your claims about Polycarp and Papias. You're repeating arguments I answered in previous threads, and you left those earlier discussions without addressing the evidence I cited.

    As I told you before, Irenaeus refers to other people who agreed with him that Polycarp was a disciple of the apostles (Against Heresies, 3:3:4; Fragments, 2). He gives a variety of details in support of his conclusion that Polycarp was a disciple of the apostles. You've given us no reason to doubt any of those details, much less all of them. Tertullian not only confirms that Polycarp was a disciple of John, but even attributes that belief to the registers of the church of Smyrna itself (The Prescription Against Heretics, 32). Eusebius, who had access to many documents no longer extant and was willing to dispute Irenaeus' account of Papias, refers to Polycarp's status as a disciple of the apostles as if it's accepted by him and accepted in general (Church History, 3:36:1, 3:36:10).

    Aside from Polycarp, many other eyewitnesses and contemporaries of the apostles had to have been alive in the second century. This is known not only from accounts of particular individuals, like Papias and Polycarp, but also from general knowledge we have about human lifespans. It's beyond reasonable dispute that disciples of the apostles would have been alive to influence the early Christians' judgments about authorship issues well into the second century. You have no good reason to reject the apostolic status of Papias or Polycarp. Even if you did, the fact would remain that the influence of disciples of the apostles in the second century had to have been significant.

    You write:

    "Irenaeus tells us of other traditions he learned from the disciples and disciples of the apostles. He learned that Jesus lived until the age of 50."

    What you're suggesting is that if Irenaeus was wrong about one subject, then his error on that subject casts doubt on what he said about other subjects. The same could be said of any historical source. But the general fallibility of a source isn't sufficient grounds for dismissing his reliability on particulars. In the case of the age of Jesus, we have other early evidence, from a wide variety of sources, contradicting Irenaeus. In the case of Polycarp's status as a disciple of the apostles, on the other hand, we have no such contrary evidence. Irenaeus gives multiple lines of evidence for his conclusion that are all plausible and in some cases are confirmed by other sources. You can't use a demonstrable error in one portion of a source's writings to dismiss something credible and confirmed by other sources elsewhere in his writings.

    Besides, as I said before, the presence of disciples of the apostles in the second century church is beyond reasonable dispute, even if we were to (unreasonably) conclude that Polycarp wasn't among them. Since the belief that John authored the fourth gospel was a general belief of the second century, not just a belief of Irenaeus, it isn't enough to challenge what Irenaeus said about Polycarp.

    You write:

    "He further demonstrates the type of tests he applies to determine apostolicity. Why are there only 4 gospels and no more?"

    Either you're being dishonest or you haven't given this issue much thought. Have you read much of Irenaeus? The passage you're citing (Against Heresies, 3:11:8) is about the appropriateness of having four gospels. It doesn't therefore follow that this passage is giving us Irenaeus' standards for determining apostolicity.

    As I've documented in previous responses to you, Irenaeus gives us examples of the sort of data he was relying on in reaching conclusions about apostolicity. He consulted other churches, he read documents from earlier generations (such as the writings of Papias), and he had personally met some of these men from earlier generations. For you to single out this one passage you're mentioning, while ignoring the others that give us more information, is absurd. Why don't you interact with the other passages I've cited from Irenaeus?

    You write:

    "So we learn of the authorship of John about a century later from a guy that clearly is unreliable when he conveys supposed apostolic tradition and demonstrates poor critical thinking skills. This is not a lot to go on."

    Again, if we accept your reasoning, then we should use any error we find in Josephus, Tacitus, Galen, or any other ancient source to dismiss everything else that source said as well. That's an unreasonable standard that no historian I'm aware of accepts. Irenaeus discusses apostolic tradition in many places. His error on the age of Jesus is far outnumbered by cases where he was correct in what he reported.

    The "poor critical thinking skills" are yours more than they are Irenaeus'. You quoted a passage in which Irenaeus is discussing the appropriateness of having four gospels, then you assumed that that passage must reflect Irenaeus' standards for determining apostolicity. Not only does Irenaeus say no such thing, but I had already given you citations of passages in which Irenaeus mentions credible historical evidence he had for his standards of apostolicity. Nothing from the passage you cited leads to your unreasonable conclusion, and I've given you other passages in Irenaeus that contradict your conclusion.

    Furthermore, Irenaeus wasn't the first to claim apostolic authorship for the fourth gospel. As I mentioned in another thread, Irenaeus cites earlier sources attributing the gospel to John (Against Heresies, 1:8:5). Justin Martyr refers to "the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them" (Dialogue With Trypho, 103). Notice the plural: "apostles" and "those who followed them". The use of the plural matches our four gospels: apostles (Matthew, John) and those who followed them (Mark, Luke). Justin doesn't cite the number four anywhere, but his comments are consistent with the collection of four gospels that sources living just after Justin's time refer to. In another place, Justin refers to the apostles composing gospels (First Apology, 66), so he can't just be referring to the apostles as the subject matter of the gospels. Justin isn't as explicit as a source like Irenaeus, but what he reports is consistent with what Irenaeus and other sources tell us. It would be unreasonable to suggest that these gospels that Justin refers to were different from our gospels, but then were replaced by the gospels of Irenaeus before Irenaeus wrote shortly after Justin's time. It's highly unlikely that such a change would occur so quickly and without leaving traces in the historical record. Who would have had the influence and resources to do it? Contemporaries of Irenaeus, such as Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, refer to the same gospels as Irenaeus. The gospel attributions, even with John in particular, didn't begin with Irenaeus, and Irenaeus wasn't the only source of his generation to comment on the subject. Your attempts to dismiss Irenaeus' testimony are erroneous and unconvincing, and we have much more than Irenaeus to go by.

    You write:

    "Papias, who you regard as a disciple of John despite his denial of the point as recorded by Eusebius"

    As I explained to you in an earlier thread, Papias makes no such denial. I went into the details of the text, and you didn't respond. If you want to act as if you have the better argument, then you ought to go back to what I wrote to you earlier and interact with what I said. Here's what I wrote, which you didn't interact with:

    "Papias refers to the second John as an elder ('presbyter' in your translation), the same phrase he just applied to the apostles. The names he lists first are the names of the disciples of Jesus, the first generation of Christians. As I explained to you in my last post, it makes more sense to see the other people he names as more people from the same category. If his concern was with what the apostolic generation said, then why would he go on to name men from a later generation? It's more likely that John and Aristion are men of the apostolic generation, with John being the apostle, the son of Zebedee. That's why Papias adds the 'elder' qualifier to John, but not to Aristion. The reason why he mentions John and Aristion in a second category is explained by the tenses he applies to each category. He first refers to what men of the apostolic generation 'said' (in the past). He then refers to what they 'say' (in the present). My reading makes more sense of the text of Papias and is consistent with the testimony of Irenaeus....The reason why Papias would consult disciples of John is because John was alive before Papias and didn't live with Papias. In other words, there was only a partial overlap between the two men's lives. The reason why Papias would ask other people what somebody was saying, even though the person whose sayings he was asking about was still alive, is because Papias most likely lived in a different part of the world than the person whose sayings he was interested in. And if most of the apostles were dead at the time, then Papias would be dependent on other people for his information about those other apostles, even if he had met John. He refers to John as both 'elder', a term he had previously applied to the apostles, and a 'disciple of the Lord'. Yet, he refers to what John 'says' (present tense). The most natural way to interpret his words is that the John in question was an apostle who was still alive. My reading of Papias makes more sense of the text and more sense of Irenaeus' testimony. But my argument doesn't depend on my reading of Papias. My argument could be maintained even if we accepted some other reading. Let's assume for the moment, for the sake of argument, that the second reference to John in this passage from Papias isn't referring to the apostle John. All that would prove is that there was a second John. It wouldn't prove that Papias had never met the first John. There isn't anything in this passage that refutes what Irenaeus reported." (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/07/who-wrote-gospel-of-john.html)

    Furthermore, there are other sources after Eusebius, sources who had access to Papias' writings, who confirm what Irenaeus reported: The Anti-Marcionite Prologue To John, Apollinarius of Laodicea, Jerome, Philip of Side, Maximus the Confessor, Anastasius of Sinai, George the Sinner, Balthasar Cordier, Agapius of Hierapolis, and Vardan Vardapet (see http://www.textexcavation.com/papias.html). Why should we reject what sources before and after Eusebius reported and single out Eusebius as trustworthy, especially when Eusebius is known to have been speculating on the basis of a reading of Papias that's highly questionable? Elsewhere, Eusebius seems to have taken the position that Papias was a disciple of the apostle John. He apparently wasn't consistent on the issue (see http://www.textexcavation.com/papias.html).

    Eusebius' speculation that there was a second John who was highly influential in the early church is dubious. The earliest sources we have repeatedly refer to the apostle John without any apparent awareness that he might be confused with a prominent presbyter named John. The concept that there was a second John doesn't seem to have arisen until later on, at a time when some people were looking for arguments to use against one or more of the Johannine documents.

    And I'll point out, again, that even if we were to accept your arguments about Papias and Polycarp (though we shouldn't), the fact would remain that many disciples of the apostles would have lived into the second century. The early church was interested in the testimony of such men, and we know that both eyewitnesses and contemporaries of the apostles were involved in the process of identifying the authorship of the New Testament books, including the gospels.

    You write:

    "[Papias] never mentions a gospel of John"

    How do you know that? Other sources who had access to Papias' writings tell us that Papias did refer to John's gospel. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue To John (corroborated in part by Balthasar Cordier) claims that Papias wrote about John's gospel, as does Agapius of Hierapolis (http://www.textexcavation.com/papias.html).

    It should also be noted that the passage of Papias that we've been discussing from Eusebius (Church History, 3:39:3-4) shows some signs of familiarity with the Johannine writings. In most lists of the apostles, Peter's name appears first. But in Papias' list, Andrew comes before Peter, followed by Philip. That order (Andrew, Peter, Philip) is identical to the order in which Jesus calls the disciples in John's gospel (John 1:40-41, 1:43). John's gospel goes on to mention Nathanael, but Papias doesn't mention Nathanael in his list. The same passage in Papias uses the phrase "truth itself" (3 John 12), which is somewhat unusual. And Andrew of Caesarea comments (http://www.textexcavation.com/papias.html) that Papias gives testimony to the book of Revelation in his writings, which makes sense in light of Papias' premillennialism. These characteristics of Papias' writings aren't conclusive in themselves, but they do add weight to the testimony of the many sources who refer to Papias as a disciple of John. He does seem to have been familiar with and to have been significantly influenced by the Johannine documents. Even Eusebius acknowledges that Papias gave testimony to 1 John and was a premillennialist, a doctrinal position that was closely associated with the book of Revelation early on.

    As I just mentioned above, Eusebius himself tells us that Papias gave testimony to 1 John (Church History, 3:39:15), a book that most likely had the same author as the gospel of John. Thus, even just going by what Eusebius reported in his church history, the implication is that the gospel of John was written by the apostle John (who also wrote 1 John). Eusebius doesn't tell us that Papias discusses the gospel of John, but we don't know that Eusebius was exhaustive in discussing what Papias addressed. We know that when Eusebius discusses what New Testament books other sources cited, he sometimes doesn't mention all of the books (see F.F. Bruce, The Canon Of Scripture [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988], pp. 173-174). Eusebius discusses the books of the New Testament cited by Irenaeus (Church History, 5:8:1-8), and he doesn't mention Irenaeus' use of Acts and Paul's letters. However, we possess some of Irenaeus' writings, and we know that he frequently cites both. Why should we assume that Eusebius was exhaustive when discussing Papias' use of New Testament books?

    What we have is a situation in which:

    - Papias' own language suggests that the apostle John was one of his contemporaries.

    - The language and doctrine of Papias suggest familiarity with the Johannine documents.

    - The large majority of external sources with access to Papias' writings refer to Papias as a disciple of John. Even Eusebius refers to Papias as John's disciple at one point, and other sources who agreed with Eusebius in seeing two John's in the passage of Papias we've been discussing disagree with Eusebius on the issue of whether Papias was a disciple of the apostle. The fact that some sources would agree with Eusebius' reading of that passage, yet affirm that Papias was a disciple of the apostle, illustrates my point about the inconclusiveness of your reading of that passage. Papias could still be a disciple of John if we accepted your reading of the passage in question.

    - Eusebius and other sources refer to Papias' familiarity with multiple Johannine documents, including the gospel of John. The fact that Eusebius doesn't mention Papias' use of documents like John's gospel and Revelation is insignificant, since Eusebius is known to have not been exhaustive when discussing such issues, he was nearing the end of his third book of his history (he may have been trying to bring the book to a close), and other sources refer to Papias' use of other documents.

    This sort of evidence weighs much more than Eusebius' speculative, unlikely, and inconclusive reading of one passage in Papias.

    You write:

    "he does mention that some 'elder' has claimed that Mark recorded the sayings of Jesus via Peter, though 'not in order' because Peter would speak of what the Lord said in a non-systematic way. Why should we think this is the same book as what we call Mark? Mark starts with the beginning of Christ's ministry and culminates in his death and resurrection. How is this 'not in order'?"

    Do you apply the same reasoning to other documents? If you see a historical source mention a writing of Plato, Tacitus, or Galen, for example, do you conclude that it's probable that some writing other than the one we possess today is being discussed? Or do you conclude that it's probable that the same book is in view? If you're like most people, you conclude that the same book is being discussed, since it's unlikely that a similar book would be universally lost, then be replaced with a new book that's similar without anybody in the historical record mentioning such a process. If an ancient source refers to the Annals of Tacitus, for example, we don't conclude that the Annals he's referring to probably is a different work than the Annals we have.

    Similarly, the more natural way to read Papias' comments about a book of Mark discussing the teachings and miracles of Jesus is that our gospel of Mark is in view. Victorinus seems to apply Papias' comments to our gospel of Mark (http://www.textexcavation.com/papias.html), and so does Eusebius (Church History, 2:15, 3:39:14). They had access to Papias' writings, so they would be able to better judge the issue than you would.

    Your question about the ordering of Mark's gospel doesn't make sense. The fact that the beginning of Mark's gospel is chronologically earlier than the ending doesn't prove that everything in the gospel is in chronological order. Writers often arrange their accounts in something other than chronological order. They often write in some sort of topical order that isn't always chronological. Nothing in Papias' comments is different from our gospel of Mark, and people who had access to Papias' writings interpreted him as referring to our gospel of Mark. To assume that some other document similar to our gospel of Mark existed, without any early source explicitly referring to such a second document, is a less natural way to read the evidence.

    Even if we accepted your reading (which we shouldn't), how does it help your overall case against Christianity much to acknowledge that the Christians of Papias' day had an account of Jesus' life written by Mark under Peter's influence? Even if you deny that we today have that document, you would still have to address the fact that the Christians of Papias' day had it. And we know that the Christians of his day held beliefs like the deity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc. If the documents of Papias' day were teaching the same foundational doctrines that Christians hold today, it doesn't seem that any radical transformation took place.

    As I've said before, Christians of the early to mid second century possessed gospels and refer to non-Christians having access to those gospels (Aristides, Apology, 2; Eusebius, Church History, 3:37:1-2; Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, 10; etc.). If those weren't the gospels we have today, then how did those documents become universally lost, then get replaced by our gospels, followed by our gospels being mistaken across the Christian world for works of the apostolic era?

    You write:

    "Not only that, but Papias is clearly referring to books he doesn't have access to, because he's merely recording what this 'elder' has told him."

    He's recording what the elder told him about the origin of Mark's gospel. It doesn't therefore follow that Papias didn't have access to the document. Your reading not only isn't suggested by the text, but it also results in the unreasonable implication that church leaders had documents about the life of Jesus that they weren't allowing other people to have, even a bishop like Papias. That's an unlikely scenario, and nothing in Papias' comments suggests it.

    You write:

    "He also says that Matthew is written in Aramaic. But scholars today pretty much universally regard Matthew as derivative of the Greek Mark, so it couldn't have been written in Aramaic. So he's not talking about the same Matthew we are."

    I didn't cite Papias' comments about Matthew. It's a widely disputed passage, with much depending on how particular phrases are interpreted. I cited Papias on the subject of Mark's gospel, and he can be cited on John's gospel. Nothing you've said overturns my use of his testimony on those two gospels.

    You write:

    "So here we are in the year 180 and Irenaeus attributes a gospel to John. You say John's disciples would have corrected them. How old are John's disciples at this point?"

    No, that's not what I said. What I said was that the disciples of John would have influenced the second century Christians in general. Contrary to what you've argued, Irenaeus isn't the first source to refer to the fourth gospel as written by the apostle John. Papias probably did so earlier, as did Ptolemy. Justin Martyr, who wrote earlier than Irenaeus, refers to the gospels as written by apostles (plural) and disciples of the apostles (plural), which aligns with our four gospels. Justin's disciple Tatian wrote his harmony of the gospels with John at the center of the harmonization. It's probable that Justin Martyr accepted the Johannine authorship of the fourth gospel. When we get to the time of Irenaeus, we have not only Irenaeus' references to the Johannine authorship of the gospel, but also the contemporaries of Irenaeus saying the same (Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.). These men repeatedly refer to the widespread acceptance of the four gospels. We also have early manuscripts with John's name included (Craig Keener, The Gospel Of John: A Commentary, Vol. 1 [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003], pp. 92-93). These people and documents cover a wide range of locations and backgrounds (Justin in Italy, Irenaeus in France, Clement in Egypt, etc.), and some of these people (Papias, Ptolemy, and Justin Martyr) were grown men when disciples of John were still alive and highly influential in the church. Papias most likely was himself a disciple of John, and Irenaeus had met another disciple of the apostle (Polycarp). The gospel itself identifies its author as an eyewitness of Jesus who was close to Peter, which matches what we know of John the apostle in other documents. And there's good reason to think that John's name was part of the original gospel. This sort of evidence if far weightier than the insignificant objections you've raised.

    You write:

    "But let's figure the ages of these supposed disciples of John that would have jumped to correct any mistatements from someone like Irenaeus."

    I didn't argue that disciples of John were alive when Irenaeus wrote. But Irenaeus wasn't creating his authorship tradition at the time of his writing. The tradition was already so widespread that both Irenaeus and his contemporaries refer to it as accepted across the Christian world. That sort of widespread acceptance doesn't occur within a few days or a few years under the authority of somebody like Irenaeus. Nobody alive in Irenaeus' day had the authority or other means to get such widespread acceptance across the Christian world (and among heretical groups) for his claims about the authorship of the gospels. If Christians for nearly a century had believed that the fourth gospel was anonymous or had believed that somebody other than John wrote it, how would it suddenly gain such widespread acceptance as a work of John? But all of this assumes your claim that nobody refers to Johannine authorship prior to Irenaeus. As I've demonstrated, that's a false assumption.

    You write:

    "Not only that, but John seems to be improving on the stories he's heard from Mt, Mk, or Lk. Jesus becomes more and more impressive."

    I've already addressed that argument many times, and I think I did so at least once in a previous discussion with you. Mark's gospel contains more miracles than John's gospel. Some of the signs that occur during the crucifixion in the Synoptic gospels (darkness, etc.) aren't mentioned in John. Of all the gospels, John's mentions the least number of women at the tomb. 1 Corinthians 15 discusses more resurrection appearances and larger ones than John's gospel. Etc. See David Wood's extensive refutation of the sort of argument you're using:

    http://www.answeringinfidels.com/content/view/39/51

    You write:

    "For John Jesus is strong and powerful. There is no anguish in Gethsemane. Rather than saying 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me' as if things are out of his control he simply says 'It is finished.' These improvements to the story count against the belief that John could be an eyewitness."

    To begin with, the fact that John is more developed than the other gospels in some contexts doesn't prove that any of the gospels are unhistorical. As my examples mentioned above illustrate, John's gospel is also less developed than earlier sources in some contexts. But if John wrote last and was deliberately supplementing earlier sources, we would expect him to have more developed material in some places.

    Your examples quoted above are misleading. Different gospel authors put emphasis on different themes, as we'd expect, much as different biographers of Abraham Lincoln emphasize different aspects of his life (http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/lincoln01.html). But the themes you refer to above are found in both gospels, even if one theme is emphasized more in one gospel than in the other. John's Jesus refers to how His soul is troubled (John 12:27), and His suffering as a human is depicted in the crucifixion (John 19:28). Certainly all of the references in John's gospel to Jesus' being handed over to evil men, people mocking Jesus, etc. aren't meant to be read as if Jesus wasn't suffering. Similarly, the same Jesus in Mark's gospel who suffers so much also knows ahead of time that He'll triumph over that suffering (Mark 9:31, 14:62), and He's recognized as the Son of God in His death (Mark 15:39).

    You write:

    "I apologize for not responding to your comments point by point. I would like to, but you often respond to me with as much as twice the amount of material as what I post and that's just getting out of hand."

    I tend to offer much more documentation and evidence in general than you do. And it takes much less space for you to ask questions or attempt to cast doubt in some other manner than it takes for me to explain and defend one historical perspective consistently. It's easy for you to make a misleading claim about how Papias supposedly denied that he was a disciple of John or how Polycarp might not have been a disciple of John, for example. It takes much more space for me to correct your errors and address such issues more fully.

    You write:

    "You think somehow that citing Wikipedia is something I should be ashamed of. I think Wikipedia is more credible than tektonics by a long shot."

    That's your opinion, and you haven't given us any reason to share it. Different Wikipedia articles are of different quality. And I don't rely on J.P. Holding the way you've been relying on Wikipedia. I've read sources like Papias and Irenaeus myself (at length, not just small portions), and I've read a lot of the comments of scholars discussing them, so I don't make the sort of mistakes in discussing these sources that you do. I cite sources like J.P. Holding for the benefit of online readers after I've read thousands of pages of early Christian literature and modern scholarship. You, on the other hand, seem to often go to Wikipedia as your first source of information on a subject, then you post false or misleading claims after doing little or nothing more than reading Wikipedia. I don't doubt that you've read some Christian books, but consulting a Norman Geisler book on inerrancy or reading a William Craig book on the resurrection isn't necessarily going to prepare you to discuss Papias in much depth. You won't be much better off if you add an article from Wikipedia to the list.

    You write:

    "I'm comfortable letting any reader decide that issue for themselves. I make my arguments and leave the strutting for you, Bob Sungenis and his cohorts, Art Sippo and his followers, or whoever the case may be."

    You say that as you, once again, do some more "strutting" yourself.

    You write:

    "So the fact that I let your comments go is not an admission that I think you're right, and you should not be surprised if in the future I talk about how Mt 16:28 is a false prophecy as is Mt 24. I don't think you've responded to my arguments adequately. But I won't be surprised if you talk about them as if they're not false prophecies, because I know you're not persuaded by my arguments. It's all good."

    The difference is that I've interacted with your arguments, whereas you've ignored many of mine, including ones that fundamentally undermine your case.

    You write:

    "There is no end to it for you, but it must end for me, because I just do not have the free time that you do."

    You've said that before, but you keep posting. And I'll point out, once again, that you're the one who starts most of our discussions. You started the discussion on Greg Krehbiel's board, and you're the one who responded to me before I said anything about you in most of our discussions at this blog. In this thread, you began posting without anybody having mentioned you. You keep commenting on how you don't have time for these discussions, but then you initiate other discussions. You did the same at Dave Armstrong's blog. He didn't mention you, but you began posting in one of his threads. You also initiated your discussions with James White, twice. If you're so short on time, then stop initiating so many discussions with me and with other people, and stop making so many false claims that warrant a lengthy refutation.

    You write:

    "I'm not going to turn from my lectern and face the audience and start talking to them about Jason's many egregios errors as you do."

    Yet, you had just written:

    "But personally I believe you do not want to understand. You have no other option but to misrepresent what my arguments are and a proper understanding of what I'm saying makes that difficult."

    You write:

    "Formal debates are different from lunch room discussions. For me this is a lunchroom discussion. If it was a formal debate I would express myself differently. For you this is a formal debate. You can feel free to treat it that way, but you have no reason to demand that everyone treat it as you do."

    I'm part of the staff of this ministry. I'm in a better position than you are to discuss what ought to occur here. But even when I'm writing in other contexts, I take these things seriously. I'm accountable to God. These are issues that have significant implications. People are influenced by what they read in forums like this one.

    Your most significant problem isn't that you're treating these exchanges as "lunch room discussions". It's that you're coming to the discussions with so much ignorance, false information, and unwarranted antagonism toward Christianity.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Also, just thinking off the top of my head, it seems odd that they would have a uniform heading across the board 'Kata Matthias' etc. What does make sense of this heading is how later in church history churches would come into posession of multiple different gospels, so as they would read them in church they would have to distinguish one from the other..."Why do all of the gospels have a uniform style for the heading? Doesn't the view that these are added later in church as the churches gained access to multiple gospels make better sense of this?"

    The word "kata" is simply a Greek preposition. It takes either a genitive referent or an accusative referent. If genitive it means "down from, handed down" If it means "according to, by" if the referent is accusative. So, the titles are not merely claiming to be "handed down" which is what you would expect from a document document that has had a title attached by others and especially if collated by a community, they are "according to" a particular person. This is a much, much stronger appellation. They are making a *direct claim* to the authorship of these persons not merely claiming to a tradition that was handed down from them or a title ascribed for pragmatic reasons. In short, the language itself doesn't match this theory.

    There is *no record* of an different author for these documents. It's rather ironic, don't you think, that you argue against the Resurrection on the basis of allegedly unclear evidence or a lack of evidence, yet you can produce not a single line of hard textual evidence for an alternate appellations of authorship.

    In addition, you seem quite committed to higher critical ideas about this issue. Even higher critics admit that the pseudonimity for an entire community is unparalleled. You are positing that a single church or community convinced everybody else that Matthew wrote the gospel and that this was an authentic appellation, during a period where this sort of thing was heavily scutinized.

    Internally, he gospel names Matthew among the Apostles. The others call this one "Levi." This is important, because "Levi" is a tribal name. The Levites themselves had been organized since the time of the kings in the OT era into groups that assisted the priests themselves, the teachers of the law (lawyers), and the collectors of the tithe/temple tax. This letter's form and style is exactly what you would expect from a person trained as a Levite. The Greek of very high quality, which would be expected from one trained to collect taxes and who knew the Law. The gospel shows a great deal of familiarity with Levitical custom. It alludes not only to the OT, but it arranges certain events according to the history of Israel, where Jesus recaptiulates particular events. This is particularly true in the parallels with the flight to and from Egypt, the baptism of Christ, and the Temptation narrative. Jesus here recapitulates these episodes in the life of Israel in the Penteteuch and time of Joshua. This is a a Levitical style of writing the narrative. Matthew is written with a similar concern as the writer of Chronicles, so much so that one could view Matthew as the continuation of Chronicles, making a nearly seamless transition. The unique naming of Matthew is highly significant, because it identifies the Levite who wrote it. The claim to authorship is not merely in the title, it is in the text of Matthew itself.

    "It's also difficult to believe that an eyewitness like Mt would copy a non-eyewitness Mk. That's just not what eyewitnesses do.

    The conclusion that the gospel is therefore anonymous is not only a claim without evidence, it is a nonsequitur given the existing evidence. What's more, Matthean priority solves some of the problems that Markan priority has created, and the Griesbach Hypothesis is currently undergoing a revival. An increasing number of critical scholars are now asserting Matthean priority as a result. So, this is only a problem for you if Mark wrote first. But what if one denies Mark wrote first?

    There are a number of problems with Markan priority. It's common to say that if Mark was not available his gospel could be reconstructed using Lk and Mt. The problem here is that, if that is true, there would be no means of telling what material is unique to Mt. and Lk. Also, there are a number of points where Matt. and Lk. agree against Mark with respect to a small part of the common material. These are explained in numerous ways including scribal amendations, a proto-Markan source, or appeal to Q, for which there is no evidence. We also encounter problems with the great omission, the middle part of Mark that Luke omits. All of these require hypothetical sources for which we have no evidence @ all. Ah, but that would mean Mark copied from Matthew and did not record Peter right? Wrong. The persecution in Jerusalem only extended to Hellenistic Jews, the core Apostles remained. They were set apart for teaching and prayer. They had ample time to organize their material into oral and written form, and composing an Aramiac or Hebrew original and then translating into Greek for the Hellenistic Jewish Christians makes sense of such a situation. We should expect Peter and Matthew to thus tell much the same version. But what of John? John was the youngest and wrote the latest. He simply fills in the information, for his own audience with different themes in mind, because there is no need to repeat the others.

    Farmer (1964) proposed, along with Butler in 1951 that if you accept Matthew's priority, you can do away with Q. The only reason this has not been given attention for about a century is the fact that the Q hypothesis has prevailed. However, if you remove Q and simply go with what we have, this thesis can actually work. Because of Farmer's work, the Griesback Hypothesis is now gaining strength. So, in answer to your objection, I can confidently state that the answer isn't "Matthew didn't write Matthew," the answer would be "Matthew wrote first."

    "Irenaeus tells us of other traditions he learned from the disciples and disciples of the apostles. He learned that Jesus lived until the age of 50.

    Irenaeus has a clear motive for doing this. He claims this in order to refute the Gnostics who denied Christ was really human. He invokes this as a way to negate that claim and fit his theory of the atonement in which Christ recapitulated every phase of human life. This is *no parallel* to giving the names of the authors of the gospels. They aren't the same kind of statements. We know why he said what he said about Jesus age. There is no corresponding reason for him to miscite the testimony about the authorship of the gospels.

    "The Gospel of John's authorship was disputed. Epiphanius argues against those that claim it is written by Cerinthus."

    Yes, and who were those who claimed it was written by Cerinthus? Were they Orthodox or not? Answer: No, they were the Alogoi, and they rejected the Gospel because they were non-Trinitarians and did not like it's Logos doctrine. If you knew anything about Ante-Nicene history, you'd also know that Cerinthus was considered by tradition to be John's nemesis in Ephesus. So, they appeal to Cerinthus in order to discredit John's Gospel by attributing it to his greatest enemy, because they rejected its Logos doctrine.


    "He also says that Matthew is written in Aramaic. But scholars today pretty much universally regard Matthew as derivative of the Greek Mark, so it couldn't have been written in Aramaic. So he's not talking about the same Matthew we are.


    No this *isn't* what he says. He says that Matthew wrote first in the Hebrew dialect. The word is "dialektos." He is saying one of two things. First, he may mean that Matt. was composed in Hebrew or Aramaic first first, which fits if it was composed in Jerusalem and then translated for the Hellenistic Jews. This would work for an early date and an authenitic author. Picture it: The surviving eleven and Matthias, the new one, set apart to teach. The persecutions against the Hellenistic Jews break out. They turn to the one person among them who had written down material in Hebrew or Aramaic that they had been using to teach the Jerusalem Church. The material reflects the Apostle Peter's sermons and includes the testimony of the others. Matthew arranges it in a form that fits his Levitical training. He then translates it or others do for them, from Hebrew or Aramaic into Greek. This is carried into the house churches established during and after this persecution. The Greek version is the one we have today.

    Alternatively, he could mean that he composed in a Jewish writing style. The entire gospel has a "dialect." That also fits the way the world "dialektos" can be understood. Either of these is plausible.

    Is this conjecture? Yes, but it is conjecture based on the available evidence. Since resolving the synoptic problem involves much more conjecture than this on the liberal side of the aisle, you can hardly object.

    ReplyDelete