Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Thunder In John's Writings As An Indicator Of Authorship

Mark 3:17 tells us that Jesus referred to the sons of Zebedee as Sons of Thunder. To my knowledge, thunder is referred to several times in the New Testament, and the only references outside Mark 3:17 are found in the writings attributed to John the son of Zebedee (John 12:29, Revelation 4:5, 6:1, 8:5, 10:3-4, 11:19, 14:2, 16:18, 19:6). And many of those references could easily have been avoided. John is describing multiple details about something, and the thunder aspect could easily have been left out. He's describing what something sounded like, and he could easily have compared it to something other than thunder. Or he could have just not included the passage to begin with. Even where a reference to thunder seems too difficult to avoid once a particular passage is being included, we still have to ask how easily the passage could have not been included. There's the issue, for example, of why God chose to reveal himself in the context of thunder so much in the book of Revelation. That seems more coherent if the recipient of the revelation was the son of Zebedee. For reasons like these, I don't think the prominence of thunder in John's writings can be dismissed merely by an appeal to necessity, as if anybody writing in such a context would have needed to refer to thunder. If these documents were authored by the son of Zebedee rather than some other John or were intended to be perceived as authored by the son of Zebedee without his having written them, then that helps explain the prominence of thunder in the documents. It's a further line of evidence against views like Richard Bauckham's, in which some other John was the author or purported author.

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