Friday, March 26, 2021

The Beloved Disciple, A Fisherman

I've addressed this subject in the past, but Lydia McGrew has a fuller and better treatment of it in her new book on the fourth gospel:

Then there is the story of the disciples rowing across the Sea of Galilee…According to John 6.19, it was "about twenty-five or thirty stadia," which is simultaneously more precise than the Synoptics and also not hyper-precise. It is, in fact, just what one would expect from someone who was there, was capable of estimating distance under the unpropitious circumstances of a storm at night, and had a mind that tenaciously retained such details.

The mention of the Sea of Galilee relates to another matter: The Beloved Disciple does not seem to be a landlubber. Not only does he know multiple names for the Sea of Galilee (6.1), he has a good idea of how far the disciples had rowed when they were about halfway across it. Even more striking, when Peter decides in 21.3 to go fishing, the Beloved Disciple is one of six who immediately decide to go with him. While a normally stay-at-home Jerusalem disciple [like the one proposed by Richard Bauckham] probably would have traveled to Galilee to meet Jesus after the resurrection (cf. Matt. 28.10), it does not follow that he would jump at the chance to stay up all night fishing in Peter's boat [John 21:3-4]. Why would he? A "Beloved Disciple" from Jerusalem who was neither the son of Zebedee nor a traveler would presumably not be a fisherman and would have no particular reason to go on such an expedition. The disciples are not planning to see Jesus on this particular occasion nor expecting a miraculous catch of fish. They're just going fishing. It seems a reasonable inference from all of this that the Beloved Disciple was familiar with and comfortable on the Sea of Galilee, and even perhaps that he was familiar with fishing, which again does not fit well with the hypothesis that he was a non-itinerant Jerusalem resident. (The Eye Of The Beholder [Tampa, Florida: DeWard Publishing, 2021], 146-47)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Where To Begin In Discussions Of Gospel Authorship

I've become increasingly convinced that Luke 1:1-3 is a good place to start in discussions about gospel authorship. Luke refers to his use of prior sources in the opening of his gospel, and the written nature of his own work makes it unlikely that he's referring only to oral sources. (To read more on the subject, go here.) There's widespread agreement that Luke used at least one of the other canonical gospels as one of his sources. And once two or more gospels of such prominence were in use, there would be a need to distinguish among them in libraries, when using them during church services, and so on. We have a lot of evidence that the gospels were distinguished in such contexts by means of authorship attributions from the second century onward. And continuity is more likely than discontinuity. It makes more sense that the gospels were distinguished by means of author names in the first century than that they weren't. That scenario better explains the widespread acceptance of the practice later and the absence of any comparable or better alternative. If somebody is going to argue that the gospels circulated anonymously early on, he should be asked how he thinks the pre-Lukan documents Luke refers to in the opening of his gospel were distinguished from one another (the pre-Lukan context) and how Luke's gospel was distinguished from those other sources (the context from the time of Luke onward).

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Unusual Agreements In Terminology In Easter Passages

Peter Williams has noted that there are some Easter passages in the Synoptics and John that have some unusual language in common. Jesus addresses his disciples as "my brothers" in Matthew 28:10 and John 20:17. The gospel of John doesn't repeat what the Synoptics reported about Jesus' comments on letting the cup pass in the Garden of Gethsemane, but John does have Jesus referring to drinking the cup in 18:11 (Can We Trust The Gospels? [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2018], approximate Kindle location 1782).