This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Tim,it seems to me that much of the confusion stems from the fact that for you and for Babinski the expressions “Markan priority” and “literary dependence” have different meanings. As for “Markan priority”, it can be understood in the following ways:(1) Mark was the first to write a gospel. Matthew and Luke didn’t know this gospel.(2) Matthew and Luke were aware of Mark’s Gospel and knew its content very well, but when writing their own gospels they didn’t make use of Mark’s Gospel.(3) When writing their gospels Matthew and Luke made use of Mark’s Gospel. They copied from it and altered the texts of Mark’s Gospel whenever it served their purposes. You seem to hold (2), Babinski (3). The view that there is no literary dependence between the gospels is compatible with (1) and (2). “Literary dependence” as I see it only applies to (3). You seem to hold a different view what it means to be literary dependent of another author. For you it can mean “being influenced by” as well as “copying from”. Babinski on the other hand when he speaks about the “mainstream explanation” among New Testament scholars concerning this issue obviously only has the latter in mind.I think what really is at issue here is not which gospel was written first, but whether or not Matthew and Luke copied from Mark when they wrote their respective gospels. As I see it the “undesigned coincidences” only make sense if you assume that Matthew and Luke didn’t copy from Mark.
Patrick,I tried to disambiguate this at the outset of my reply to Ed, and my own position is a bit different from any of those you list. I am happy to accept (provisionally, until shown otherwise) that Matthew and Luke were aware of Mark's gospel, had read it, and each at some points found it convenient to follow Mark's narrative. But each also had independent information and each frequently deliberately deviated from Mark -- in content and in order -- on the strength of that information. It is in those deviations of content that we find, from time to time, those undesigned coincidences that provide the basis for the argument I have sketched.
Tim,"It is in those deviations of content that we find, from time to time, those undesigned coincidences that provide the basis for the argument I have sketched."Do you have a comprehensive list of these "undesigned coincidences" somewhere? Wouldn't we have to compare them to all of the apparent "undesigned contradictions" that plenty of scholars point out? If we find 30 contradictions and 5 incidental correlations, it would seem chance could easily account for them. Obviously the reverse scenario would indicate that perhaps it is justified to "explain away" the contradictions instead.As is, having reviewed your post, I just don't even see any compelling instances of things accidentally working out. I don't see what you see. Just to take the first example of the blindfold bit. It's completely explicable in terms of Markan priority to the point I'm really scratching my head trying to figure out how you think there's even a hint of a slight lean in the direction you'd like. Ed doesn't even have to try hard to establish the reverse case on that point, and it's already a good one. Right now, I'm reviewing Paul Tobin's chapter six in "The Christian Delusion" piece by piece on "The Bible and Modern Scholarship." Kind of a lame chapter. Similarly, I'm finding some of the arguments for the documentary hypothesis seem to be based more on perspective than on the actual merits of the supposed contradictions used to justify it. So, you seem to be adding up a bunch of zeros for a case that isn't being made. Are other scholars making these arguments? Is there a better case out there with this theme? Ben
Re the blindfold: There is at least a hint in the direction Tim wants to take because Markan priority might be false. Tim's model can accommodate that while it would create trouble for the skeptic.
@War On ErrorHere is a link to J.J. Blunt's book online:http://biblecourses.com.au/blunt/04/index.html
As far as I can see the argument from undesigned consequences simply shows that there is likely to be an historical core to the gospels. It seems to be evidence against the mythicist position that Mark created a pious fiction, one that the later Evangelists added or changed for theological reasons. The argument does not prove the water-walking Jesus of faith. I believe that there is both an historical core to the gospels and evidence of legendary progression from the very human Jesus of Mark's earliest gospel, to the pre-existant, quasi-divine Jesus of the last gospel.
@Anon:That seems to indicate then that Tim and Ed are arguing on two different wave lengths. Perhaps I'd have to see Tim's initial framing of the evidence in his sermon, but it wasn't clear from reading the two posts back and forth that Markan priority had to be false or not very likely on other grounds in order for these arguments to actually have some traction.@Walter:Cool. Thanks!Ben
Ben,I do not have a complete list, though Blunt's book is a reasonable place to start. Not all of the undesigned coincidences are equally strong -- this should be obvious. It is their cumulative force that is significant.Anon is right: this argument is independent of one's views on priority and the direction of literary dependence among the Gospels. I have explained on the previous thread why the supposition that Matthew, Luke, and John are all either copying Mark (well or poorly) or else inventing material out of the back of their heads is unable to account for the undesigned coincidences. Try it with the one about Philip, or with Pilate's acquittal of Jesus, and this should be plain.The argument is not intended to prove that miracles have occurred, or that the Bible is without error, or that Scripture is divinely inspired. It might be useful to listen to it for yourself in order to see how I framed it. There is no such thing as undesignedness in a contradiction. Various discrepancies among the narratives do not negate the force of the argument, any more than misprints, missing pieces, or even the admixture of a handful of pieces from some other puzzle negate the fact that we are able to link some of the pieces together.
Tim, When you wrote that you "do not have a complete list of undesigned coincidences" were you implying that you know of more than are in Blunt's list and haven't had the chance to write them all down, or that you assume Blunt missed some but neither you nor others have yet had time to uncover them? If you can get your hands on a complete list that would be nice, also if it was arranged in order of how positively significant you thought each one was. And is there a way we could agree on by which we may distinguish clearly between undesigned coincidences, changes in stories over time as they are passed around, deliberate changes, edits in grammar, paraphrases, errors creeping into an early or late text, etc.
Also, Tim, I wasn't offended by your response to my blog piece. In fact the Shakespeare quotation and the C. S. Lewis-like manner of riposte you employed was a refreshing change from what passes for "riposte" on the internet.As you know I'm reading the comments here and elsewhere on the internet and considering how best to reply that we may reach greater understanding. I think understanding takes time, and brain-minds don't stretch easily in every direction once they have a system of thinking about things that works for them. Instead they keep making little changes, conservative ones, working out best how to explain tiny thinks that "don't fit," and how best to fit them back into whatever system the brain is already running. So I don't expect people to "get" each other immediately. But we might be able to reach smaller agreements at least to start with. Flipping the switch over to a whole new system, especially at our ages, would probably require a lot of reading, thinking, and arguing, both with ourselves and others. And it may be that neither of us has a long enough life for that to happen. I mean that seriously, because polls show that the odds of a person converting to Evangelical Christianity once they are past 20 years of age grow exponentially slimmer with age. I mentioned the polls concerning that topic on my blog, the info is from Christian websites. Also, even the atheist and critic of Catholicism, H.G. Wells, was a friend of G. K. Chesterton, both during their lifetimes and after Chesterton died. Wells said something nice about him even then. And Chesterton wrote Wells an interesting letter a decade or so earlier when Wells was quite ill, claiming that Wells would get into heaven by being a friend of man. Being a reader of all the Inklings, as well as MacDonald and Chesterton, I do appreciate their generally moderate tone, even humorous at times, and their hints of universalism or its explicit advocation as in MacDonald. And that has always stayed with me, and made me speak less harshly than I might about others (though SOME people, you know the type *smile*). Secondly, it's also no fun to simply insult and condemn others over and over, and then wind up having no one at all who will play "intellectual tag" with you in the end. *smile*As I told Vic, "Lay on McGrew and damned be him who says hold enough!" *smile*
Not "Shakespeare quotation," but rather, allusion.
"Try it with the one about Philip, or with Pilate's acquittal of Jesus, and this should be plain."So you are saying those examples actually sabotage Markan priority? I'll have to go back and look again, because I don't recall anything really popping for me. Have you had dialogs with other scholars who advocate Markan priority over this line of evidence? If so, where might they be found? And if not, why not?Ben
Ed,I meant that, although I have Blunt, Paley, and other works, I do not believe that anyone has discovered them all or even pulled together in one place all of them that have ever been proposed. The line from MacBeth is delightful, but I want to say up front that my "day job" has now kicked into high gear and I will not have a great deal of time to devote to online interactions. If you put up a further post on the issue, and if I feel that I have something to say, I will respond as time permits. I shan't say "Hold, enough!" but I may have to say "Hold, until the semester ends."Ben,I have discussed undesigned coincidences with people who hold the moderate form of Marcan priority (MMP), and they see no conflict between that view and the view that the authors of the other gospels had independent sources of information even about some of the events found in Mark. Opinions vary considerably on the degree of dependence. Certainly there are people who hold views that would be challenged by the evidence of undesigned coincidences. It would not be difficult to name dozens of them and, merely by naming them, to give the impression that their position is beyond scholarly doubt. But Marcan priority as such is not in conflict with claims of a considerable amount of independence. I gave the sermon just four days before Ed posted his critique, so this is the first public interaction I have had on the subject with someone who holds to immoderate Marcan priority (IMP).
So you're saying that Ed is IMPious?
Bobcat,Very much so -- as I'm sure he'd be the first to admit!
Tim McGrew’s view that Matthew and Luke followed Mark only at some points can find support with the New Testament scholar Rainer Riesner. In his book entitled “Jesus als Lehrer: Eine Untersuchung zum Ursprung der Evangelien-Überlieferung” (3rd ed., Tübingen 1988) Riesner writes on p. 5:“Es könnte ein Nebenertrag dieser Arbeit sein, darauf hinzuweisen, daß den Synoptikern durchaus abwechselnd Priorität zukommt.”Translation:“It could be an additional result of this work to provide evidence that in fact priority can be attributed in turn to each synoptic gospel.”
Vielen dank, Patrick. Vielleicht sollte ich dieses Buch lesen!
Prof. McGrew,I'm curious if you agree with Ben Witherington's statement (written in a blog post on 1/21/11), "I do not think the Gospels were written independently of written sources, and I still subscribe to Markan priority. Re-read Luke 1.1-4. He knows of, and has surely used written sources done before his efforts." For full context, visit: http://www.patheos.com/community/bibleandculture/2011/01/21/a-lecture-on-lectors-not-readers/#comments
Tim, I have never described my definition of Marcan priority except to say that there is evidence of literary relationships and that the Gospels mostly likely were composed in the following chronological order: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John. My use of the word "redaction" means that I assume the authors of each Gospel each shaped and molded their narrative to express their theological goals.When you or I tell a story to others, even a story from our lives that we experienced first hand, we sometimes "redact" it for added effect. Shakespeare's plays underwent edits and changes as well. The New Testament Gospels do not appear to lie outside the realm of such questions. The inclusion of stories by others, from oral sources, or form unknown written sources is again, not something I have denied. Elaborations, accretions, conflations of earlier Gospel stories, to form new stories is something I pointed out was possible in the case of the Johnnine story of Lazarus and his sisters. I could point out the same thing regarding the story of Judas as it proceeds through the Gospels. Or parts of Matthew dealing with the resurrection.
Jarrett,I'm comfortable with that, so long as it isn't taken to mean (as I am sure Ben doesn't intend it to mean) that none of the authors had eyewitness evidence.
Ed,You write:I have never described my definition of Marcan priority except to say that there is evidence of literary relationships and that the Gospels mostly likely were composed in the following chronological order: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John.If your definition of Marcan priority is that minimal, then it will not, by itself, do the work you are trying to do with it. For what you have said here is compatible with the following extension: "... So at some points there is literary dependence of later gospels on earlier ones, but each also contains substantial independent information not derived from earlier gospels, and this comes out in various places, particularly with undesigned coincidences." But obviously, given what you said in your critique, that is not an extension you can endorse. So you will need to fall back heavily on the copying-with-redaction thesis.I think the example of Lazarus is a terrible one for your cause, a clear case of straining desperately to find a redaction where there obviously isn't any real connection between the stories, just a superficial resemblance. The reasoning used to find such "parallels" is disturbingly bad. It doesn't say much for the state of New Testament scholarship that ideas like that are taken seriously.
In the following it is demonstrated, based partly on undesigned coincidences, that Mark and Silas were members of the church in Jerusalem.In his dissertation entitled “Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation” (Tyler 1989) Kenneth L. Gentry argues that “Babylon the great prostitute” mentioned in Revelation, chapters 17 and 18 refers to Jerusalem and not, as has been widely suggested, to Rome. Therefore, “Babylon” mentioned in 1 Peter 5,13 may also refer to this city. This can also be inferred from Galatians 2,7-9, according to which Peter was regarded as “an apostle to the Jews” (NIV), who, at least around AD 50, stayed in Jerusalem. Moreover looking at 1 Peter 2,13-14 one can see that the apostle Peter acknowledged the Roman government authorities. It seems doubtful to me that in the same letter he would refer to the capital Rome as to “Babylon”, thereby regarding the Roman Empire as being ripe for God’s judgement.The view that 1 Peter was written in Jerusalem and therefore “Babylon” refers to this city is also supported by the fact that in this letter Mark and Silas, who were both from Jerusalem (Acts 12,12, 15,22), are mentioned as being with Peter (1 Peter 5,12-13). “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you” (NIV), mentioned in the latter passage, may therefore have been the church in Jerusalem and Mark and Silas members of it.
As for the identification of Jerusalem as “Babylon” the following quote taken from note 26 on page 240 of the book mentioned in my previous post is very informative.“Briefly, the evidence for the identifying of Jerusalem as the Harlot is based on the following (1) Both are called “the great city” (Rev. 14:8; 11:8). (2) The Harlot is tilled with the blood of the saints (cp. Rev. 16:6; 17:6; 18:21, 24; with Matt. 23:34-48; Luke 13:33; Acts 7:51-52). (3) Jerusalem had previously been called by pagan names quite compatible with the designation “Babylon” (cp. Rev. 14:8 and 17:5 with 11:8). (4) Rome could not fornicate against God, for only Jerusalem was God’s wife (Rev. 17:2-5, cp. Isa. 1:20; Jer. 31:31). (5) There is an obvious contrast between the Harlot and the chaste bride (cp. Rev. 17:2-5 with Rev. 21:1ff.) that suggests a contrast with the Jerusalem below and the Jerusalem above (Rev. 21:2; cp. Gal. 4,24ff.; Heb. 12:18ff.). The fact that the Harlot is seated on the seven-headed Beast (obviously representative of Rome) indicates not identity with Rome, but alliance with Rome against Christianity (cp. Matt. 23:37ff.; John 19:16-16; Acts 17:7).”
Tim: "If your definition of Marcan priority is that minimal, then it will not do the work..."Ed (responding to above): I disagree. Marcan priority is something you and I agree upon to varying degrees (whether or not it was the exact version of Mark we possess is another question, but we agree in Marcan priority). Mark was earliest and influenced Matthew and Luke's telling. I invite readers to pick up a book that contains the synoptic Gospels arranged side by side in parallel columns, and color in all of the stoires in Mark that are unique only to Mark and not reproduced in either Matthew or Luke. Very few of Mark's stories were left out of Matthew and Luke. There are other considerations besides that one. And perhaps I'll blog on some of those other considerations. Matthew follows Mark and edits Mark, as well as adds stories. Same with Luke. Some of Matthew's edits can be seen to be edits without too much difficulty. That's the basis for redaction theory. We can discuss some of these matters at greater length when we both have time. CONTINUED BELOW
CONTINUED FROM ABOVETim: "...at some points there is literary dependence of later gospels on earlier ones, but each also contains substantial independent information not derived from earlier gospels, and this comes out in various places, particularly with undesigned coincidences." Ed: (responding to above) You state that "each Gospel contains substantial indepdendent information not derived from earlier Gospels." The question is how substantial. I think it would be fairer to use the world "substantial" for the percentage of Marcan stories reproduced in Matthew and Luke, and also use the word "substantial" for the amount of material shared by Matthew and Luke and called "Q." The duplication and triplication of such material sometimes almost word for word is substantial. Hence the idea of literary dependence, rather than independence. As for the most substantial disagreements between the three synoptic Gospels, those would lie in the birth and childhood narratives of Jesus, and the post-resurrection appearance stories in Matthew and Luke. And those are exactly the parts of Jesus's story that is not found in Mark. The idea is that the places where Matthew and Luke could follow both "Mark and Q" is where they agree the most. But in the places where they could not follow "Mark and Q" is where their stories diverge the most. (Mark lacks a birth narrative or stories of Jesus' youth since Mark begins with Jesus' baptism, and Mark ends with an empty tomb and the women telling no one and a promise of seeing Jesus in Galilee, so there are no descriptions of the post-resurrection Jesus in Mark. Matthew and Luke could not follow Mark there is Mark is silent. And yet that is exactly where Matthew and Luke diverge the most in the tellings of those things. About all they agree upon is the town in which Jesus was born, but they each devise different reasons for him being born there, yet raised in Nazareth, and they agree with Mark that the tomb was empty, but with many disagreements after that.) Besides reproducing substantial portions of Mark and Q, Matthew and Luke also contain some material unique to each of them, such as the material I already mentioned concerning their differences in birth narratives and post-resurrection stories. Other differences concernning material unique to Matthew alone, and unique to Luke alone, are less substantial. There's some parables for instance, and some summaries at the end of parables. Also, Matthew keeps many of the parables and teachings of Jesus' big sermon [on the mount] in one long block, parable following parables with summaries added, unique to Matthew. But Luke breaks up the parables and teachings found there into different sections of his Gospel, placing them after certain stories say, in Mark. So Matthew and Luke differ in how they break up and treat the "Q" material.
CONTINUED FROM ABOVETim: "I think the example of Lazarus is a terrible one for your cause, a clear case of straining desperately to find a redaction where there obviously isn't any real connection between the stories, just a superficial resemblance."Ed (responding to the above): If the Gospel of John arose last, as many agree it did, then that Gospel was composed at a time when the stories from the previous Gospels were known and being retold, including places, names, and events from those earlier Gospels. I would be surprised if such stories did not change at all in the retelling over time, or if no stories or names were ever combined with others, not after repeated retellings. And I would be surprised if such stories did not reach the ear of yet another person who was writing yet another Gospel, i.e., John. To what extent the creation of the story of a real Lazarus, risen form the dead, was the author's own creation or a story he heard, who can say. Perhaps he heard the story from another, or heard two parts of a semi-synthesized story and joined them together to flesh out his full final version, but all the data needed for such a synthesis to occur is found in the prior Gospels of Mark and Luke:Mark 14:3--An unnamed woman anointed Jesus’ head in BETHANY at the house of Simon the Leper.Luke 7:37-38--An unnamed sinner anointed Jesus’ FEET and wiped them with her HAIR in Nain at the house of a Pharisee.Luke 10:38-39--MARY, the sister of MARTHA, listened at Jesus’ FEET in an unnamed town at her house.Luke--A parable about "LAZARUS, a street beggar, who dies, and is asked to return from the dead by Dives as a warning, but God forbids it. Something I did not mention before is that the pertinent Gospels, Mark and Luke, are exactly the ones that the Gospel of John shows knowledge of, including direct verbal parallels (with Mark and Luke), and knowledge of synpotic episodes indicated or presupposed (from Mark and Luke). L. Michael White lists the parallels on pp. 354-355 of his new book, Scripting Jesus. So the same two Gospels containing all the information needed to form the Lazarus story in John are the very same two Gospels that we can show the author of John reproduced direct verbal sayings from as well as presupposed other knowledge from, i.e., Mark and Luke. CONTINUED BELOW
CONTINUED FROM ABOVE And lastly, note that John was writing his Gospel at a time when stories about what Jesus did appear to have been growing. Because John ends his Gospel with these words: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." "Not even the whole world?" How many stories about Jesus were being spread by the time the Gospel of John was composed? Some of those stories could be combinations of earlier ones. Why does the story of Lazarus arise only in the last written Gospel if it was the real reason why the chief priests sought to have Jesus executed (especially since the earlier Gospels said the real reason was the table turning episode?--But John places that episode at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and doesn't connect it with the priests seeking to have Jesus executed). Why in the Gospel of John does Jesus announced in public that he is the resurrection and the life and by believing on him they will have life and never die? All in public, especially when compared with Mark's Jesus who tells the disciples and lepers not even to speak about Jesus being the Messiah? Even when Jesus raises a young girl in Mark/Matthew who is "near death" or "just died" he does not use that opportunity to proclaim such a thing in public as "“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11. These are questions based on a prima facie reading of the Gospels compared with one another.And there is much more to Gospel comparisons than listing "undesigned coincidences." There are prima facie questions concerning the ways stories differ and that suggest these were not based on eyewitnesses, nor based on independent testimonies. Just peruse Strauss' 1300 pages in the Life of Jesus critically examined, published in the 1800s, to note such differences.
Acts 12,12 and 15,22 on the one hand and 1 Peter 5,12-13 on the other hand provide undesigned coincidences pointing to the fact that Mark and Silas were members of the church in Jerusalem.
The agreement of the wording among the synoptic gospels can also be accounted for by assuming that the disciples learned by heart what Jesus said. This is the view Riesner holds in the book mentioned above and it can also be found in the following scholarly contributions:Harald Riesenfeld, The Gospel Tradition and its Beginnings: A Study in the Limits of 'Formgeschichte', London 1957.Birger Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, Lund 1961.Peter H. Davids, The Gospels and Jewish Tradition: Twenty Years after Gerhardsson, in: R.T. France and David Wenham (eds.), Gospel Perspectives, vol. 1, Sheffield 1980, pp. 75-99.
The common view about Markan priority can be questioned by pointing to the “minor agreements”, i.e. the fact that at some points Matthew and Luke agree with each other against Mark. This can be seen from the following excerpt from the Wikipedia article ‘Two-Source Hypothesis’:“… The "minor agreements" … call into question the proposition that Matthew and Luke knew Mark but not each other. Streeter devoted a chapter to the matter, arguing that the Matthew/Luke agreements were due to coincidence, or to the result of the two authors' reworking of Mark into more refined Greek, or to overlaps with Q or oral tradition, or to textual corruption.A few later scholars explain the minor agreements as being due to Luke's using Matthew in addition to Q and Mark (3SH). But the modern argument for Q requires Matthew and Luke to be independent, so the 3SH raises the question of how to establish a role for Q if Luke is dependent on Matthew. Accordingly, some scholars (like Helmut Koester) who wish to keep Q while acknowledging the force of the minor agreements attribute them to a proto-Mark, such as the Ur-Markus in the Markan Hypothesis (MkH), adapted by Mark independently from its use by Matthew and Luke. Still other scholars feel that the minor agreements are due to a revision of our Mark, called deutero-Mark. In this case, both Matthew and Luke are dependent on proto-Mark, which did not survive the ages."Therefore, the minor agreements, if taken seriously, force a choice between accepting pure Markan priority on one hand or the existence of Q on the other hand, but not both simultaneously as the 2SH [Two-Source Hypothesis] requires."”
Ed,Yes, I have a harmony of the Gospels -- it's not news to me that there are passages that are much alike, particularly in quotations of the words of Jesus. But when you say that "Mark was earliest and influenced Matthew and Luke's telling," the claim is so thin that it will not support your immediate dismissal of undesigned coincidences as showing nothing but Marcan priority. Not all of Matthew's variations from Mark look like editorial alterations; some of them look like he has other sources of information (beyond Q, if there ever were such a document, which is being increasingly widely doubted). Mark ends with an empty tomb and the women telling no one and a promise of seeing Jesus in Galilee, so there are no descriptions of the post-resurrection Jesus in Mark.Our oldest manuscripts of Mark end in the middle of a sentence. The idea that εφοβουντο γαρ was the intended termination of the gospel is not credible. Therefore, no inferences can be drawn regarding lack of detail in the resurrection narrative in (the oldest manuscripts of) Mark. Regarding Lazarus, you write:Perhaps he heard the story from another, or heard two parts of a semi-synthesized story and joined them together to flesh out his full final version, but all the data needed for such a synthesis to occur is found in the prior Gospels of Mark and LukeThis is the kind of literary fantasy that gives biblical scholarship a bad name. No small part of the blame belongs to D. F. Strauss, whom you go on to cite:There are prima facie questions concerning the ways stories differ and that suggest these were not based on eyewitnesses, nor based on independent testimonies. Just peruse Strauss' 1300 pages in the Life of Jesus critically examined, published in the 1800s, to note such differences.I have read large portions of Strauss's tedious Leben Jesu, and it is my considered opinion that his work is a complete argumentative disaster. He borrows most of his "contradictions" from Christian writers or the earlier deists, omits all mention of the detailed answers given to them in the extant literature (e.g. in the Dilucidationes of Wouters, which he had apparently read), and invents frankly ludicrous just-so stories for the origins of bits of the Gospels he does not like. This is not scholarship: it is an abrogation of reasonable standards of historical and philological research.
A famous supporter of the view that “Babylon” in 1 Peter 5,13 refers to Jerusalem was James Stuart Russell. On pp. 346-350 of his book “The Parousia: A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord's Second Coming” (London 1878) he presents his arguments in favour of such a view.
Another set of undesigned coincidences in connection with Acts and 1 Peter might be provided by the passages in which the geographical names Pontus and Cappadocia appear, passages which we can only find in these two New Testament books. These passages are Acts 2,9, 18,2 and 1 Peter 1,1. Maybe the Jewish Christians in these areas came to faith in Christ by the sermon Peter delivered on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2,14-41. Maybe the pagan Christians that are addressed in 1 Peter came to faith in Christ by the witness of Jewish Christians just as according to Acts 11,20 it happened in Antioch.
If “Babylon” refers to Rome, it is rather unlikely that 1 Peter was written by the apostle Peter. This is shown in the following scholarly contribution:Claus-Hunno Hunzinger: Babylon als Deckname für Rom und die Datierung des 1. Petrusbriefes, in: Henning Graf Reventlow (ed.), Gottes Wort und Gottes Land, FS Hans-Wilhelm Hertzberg, Göttingen 1965, pp. 67–77.“Babylon” as a code name for Rome was only used after Peter’s lifetime. It was the Jews who used it as a reaction to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.On the other hand, if “Babylon” refers to Jerusalem, 1 Peter was written before 70 AD, most likely in the early 60s. Acts might have been written about the same time, as is argued in the following book:Colin Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, Tübingen 1989.The dating of these New Testament books in favour of such early dates and the undesigned coincidences strongly support the historical reliability of these writings.
Acts 2,2 and 1 Peter 1,12 are the only places in Scripture where we can read that the Holy Spirit was sent “from heaven”, and it may well be that both places refer to the same event, namely the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It could be that those who had preached the gospel to the addressees of 1 Peter were Jews from Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia who were present at Pentecost and later went back to their respective homelands and told their fellow citizens about their experience in Jerusalem. So we might have before us yet another case of undesigned coincidences in connection with Acts and 1 Peter.
Post a Comment