Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 5 Day 2 Exodus 17-21

Our reading challenge for the day is Exodus 17-21. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Exodus 17 - God gives the people of Israel water to drink, not a small amount of water for that many people. He also gives the Israelites victory over the Amalekites. See how God uses physical means to accomplish his will. Sometimes the means which God uses don't seem to make sense to us. But they are his means nonetheless.

Exodus 18 - The pattern implemented by Moses at the suggestion of Jethro is one which we find to this day in Church, business, and politics. The leader has trained and respected assistants who are leaders in their own right. These people bear some of the burdens of leadership but always report to their leader. There is a place in the Church for training up elders from within the body, people who are biblically qualified for the tasks presented to elders in Scripture, who will engage in the work of the ministry as they are able.

Exodus 19-21 - See how God's presence is fearful? We do not dare approach the living God on our own terms. Yet he comes to us in ways that we can approach, through servants like Moses, who bring his words of mercy. The commandments - notice they are not numbered in the Bible - show God's desire for our good, but at the same time serve to condemn us, as we realize we cannot keep them before our Lord. He goes on in chapter 21 to give various social commands which show his desire that we show mercy and kindness to one another. There are many safeguards against being killed in a civil situation, representing a remarkable change from the customs recorded in other Ancient Near Eastern civilizations.

"Ancient Testimony to Mark's Gospel"

"Ancient Testimony to Mark's Gospel" Wenham, pp. 136-145

p. 136 "Eusebius quote Papias, who in turn quotes John the Presbyter. . . who says that Mark became Peter's interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord. . . Eusebius contrasts the orderly arrangement of Matthew with the less structured oral teaching of Peter."

p. 136 "Irenaeus tells how Mark the disciple of Peter handed on Peter's teaching after the latter's 'exodus' - probably his death. . . Clement of Alexandria says that Mark wrote at the request of leading Christians in Rome and that Peter later gave his approval. Origen says that Mark wrote on the instruction of Peter."

It seems there is a strong tradition that Mark's Gospel is heavily influenced, even dependent on the teaching and preaching of Peter. The book and traditions about the book show all the signs of coming from Rome.

Eusebius quotes from Papias. Though it is impossible to tell where Papias ends and Euesebius begins in the quote, (p. 137) "The main thrust of the whole statement appears to be a contrasting of the recollections of Mark derived from the preaching and teaching of Peter with the more orderly arrangement of the gospel of Matthew." The first sentence of the quotation of Papias makes four points.

p. 137 "1.) Mark became Peter's ἑρμηνεθτής." This is an interpreter, not necessarily a translator. Mark's role may well have been to expound on what Peter said, to explain it for others.

p. 138 "2.) He wrote 'accurately'."

p. 138 "3.) He wrote fully."

p. 138 "4.) He wrote 'not in order'." Mark has a greater emphasis on the Lord's activity than Matthew. He has a tendency to be less orderly in his chronology. This is a sign that Mark may well have pulled from Peter's preaching and teaching rather than from any sort of historical notes, as Matthew may have done.

Irenaeus discusses both Mark's gospel, identifying him as a disciple of Peter and as the person who has handed over apostolic teaching, probably shortly after the death of Peter. p. 139 "The passage contrasts the traditions of the heretics with the public declarations of the apostles, first preached, then committed to writing and now preserved in the church. Irenaeus does not say that after the death of Peter and Paul, Mark wrote his gospel, but that he has handed on the preaching of Peter to us in writing. Any suggestion of discontinuity between the time of preaching and the time of writing would weaken his argument, and no such notion should be read into it.

Some manuscripts of the New Testament have prologues to Mark known as the "anti-Marcionite" prologues. Mark's says, among other things, (p. 140) post excessionem ipsius Petri descripsit idem hoc in partibus Italiae evangelium . . . descripsit suggests what is absent from, or at best ambiguous in, Irenaeus - that Mark wrote down his gospel after Peter's death.

Clement of Alexandria also is quoted by Eusebius. p. 141 "Clement has inserted a tradition of the primitive elders . . . those present, who were many, exhorted Mark, as one who had followed him for a long time and remembered what had been spoken, to make a record of what was said; and that he did this, and distributed the Gospel among those that asked him. And that when the matter came to Peter's knowledge he neither strongly forbade it nor urged it forward."

Eusebius also quotes a passage from Origen, saying, (p. 142) "And second, that according to Mark, who did as Peter instructed him, whom also he acknowledged as a son in the catholic epistle."

p. 142 "All these testimonies point to a solid core of tradition, which makes Mark the author of the gospel, which makes him a fellow-worker with Peter, and which makes his book a faithful record of what that apostle taught in Rome. The tradition is not entirely clear as to whether he wrote before or after the apostle's death."

The next step to adequate dating of Mark's Gospel is, therefore, to identify when Peter was teaching in Rome and when Peter died.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 5 Day 1 Exodus 12-16

Our reading challenge for the day is Exodus 12-16. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Exodus 12-13 - After 430 years in captivity in Egypt God delivers his people at the Passover. Look at Passover through the lens of communion, with Jesus the lamb of God slain to redeem his people from death. This time is a testimony to all generations, as we tell the story of our rede;mption to explain what we enact together in communion.

Exodus 14-15 - God delivers his people by having them pass safely through the Red Sea. Their pursuers are destroyed. The people stop and reflect on this event, singing the praises of God. This is another event that Christians can view as particularly significant, calling to mind the deliverance from the waters of death which we experience in baptism. As he did with Noah, God sets aside his chosen people by bringing them safely through a watery grave.

Exodus 16 - God gives his people manna, bread which they did not know before, to eat in the wilderness. Notice how each day he gives them what they need for that day. They cannot gather more and put it aside for later. Yet on the sixth day of the week God has them gather twice as much. That day and only that day it will keep until the next day. Our Lord gives us our daily bread. We gather according to his abundance, knowing that it all comes from him. While we can put aside some of what we earn for future times, we realize that our dependence is always on God, not on our own foresight.

"New Testament Letters"

"New Testament Letters" Carson & Moo pp. 331-353

p. 331 "The letter was not a typical method of religious instruction among Jews." So why do we find that no fewer than twent-one of the New Testament books are letters? p. 331 "The answer is probably twofold. First, the early Chrsitian movement, with its fast growth and peripatetic missionaries, demanded a means of communication at a distance . . . A second reason the letter may have been chosen by the apostles is its sense of personal immediacy."

The typical letter in the Greco-Roman world included an address/greeting portion, a body, and a closing, often sending greetings to others. Most of the New Testmaent letters follow this patten, generally with a more elaborate greeting in the form of a blessing or a doxology at the beginning. p. 333 "Classifications of ancient letters have their beginning in Adolf Deissmann's famous distinction between "epistles" (carefully composed, public pieces of literature) and "letters" (unstudied, private communications). Deissmann put all the letters of Paul into the latter category, arguing that they bore the same signs of hasty composition and lack of literary pretensions as are found in the Greek papyri letters. Deissmann's distinction was an artificial one, and it is now generally agreed that one cannot erect such rigid distinctions between a private letter and a public one."

An amanuensis is a scribe who would take dictation. It seems that these scribes were frequently used in the New Testament. For instance, in Romans 16:22 Tertius identifies himself as the one who wrote the letter. Typically the person who dictated the letter would add a final greeting after reading over the letter and approving it (cf. 2 Thess. 3:17 and Gal. 6:11). We do not know how much leeway authors gave to their amanuenses. In some cases it may have been considerable, in others we may have almost the exact words dictated.

Many scholars consder that Paul's letters were collected into a group after a period of neglect, possibly fifty years or more after composition.
Other scholars consider that Paul's letters circulated and gradually were accumulated by different churches, being identified as a complete collection during the first century.

Pseudonymity is the practice of identifying oneself as a different author, purporting that one's own work is that of another. Pseudepigraphy is similar, but involves simply placing a false title or superscription on a work. The terms are today used almost synonymously. Pseudonymous or pseudepigraphical works should be distinguished from apocryphal works, which would be viewed as works that contain error which would prevent their admission into a canon.
Pseudonymity is a widespread practice in antiquity. It is not always shunned and does not indicate a forgery. p. 338 "a literary forgery is a work written or modified with the intent to deceive. All literary forgeries are pseudepigraphical, but not all psuedepigrapha are literary forgeries: there is a substantial class of writings which, in the course of their transmission, became associated with some figure or other - judgments made with the best will in the world, however fallacious." Carson and Moo discuss multiple reasons why pseudepigraphers would ascribe their works to others.
Jewish literature is full of examples of texts which would be ascribed to someone else. It was not an uncommon practice. However, it was very uncommon in the writing of letters. A false claim to having written a letter would be considered fairly easy to detect.
There are a good number of pseudonymous Christian works starting about the middle of the 2nd century. This includes some letters, including a collection of alleged correspondence between Paul and Seneca.
Early Christian leaders were adamant in their opposition to works which they could find were forged or otherwise not authentic. This characteristic caution and desire to be public and honest in assessment of teaching which would be accepted as authoritative led to a higher standard of evidence among Christians than in the society at large.
p. 344 "Despite the consistent evidence from the early church outside the New Testament, many scholars assert, in the most confident terms, that writing letters in the name of another was common practice. Nowhere is evidence cited that any member of the New Testament church accepted the idea that a pious believer could write something in the name of an apostle and expect the writing to be welcomed."
p. 346 "Some are convinced that the New Testament contains many examples of literary forgeries and are unembarrassed by this conclusion."
p. 347 "On the other side are those who similarly point out how often deception plays a role in pseudepigraphy, but recall how the church universally rejected any hint of such deception."
p. 347 "In recent years several mediating positions have been advanced." These suggest that there may have been some instances of pseudonymity but that it was not widespread.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sermon for 1/29/12 "Jesus Our Healer" Mark 3:1-6

Sermon “Jesus Our Healer” Mark 3:1-6 Audio Link http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23575548/120129Mark3.mp3

Lord Jesus Christ, our Sabbath-Day's Rest, bring us your healing and grace, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

We have already read today about God raising up another prophet like Moses. And we realize, if we think about it for about half a minute, that the prophet like Moses is Jesus, the one who sees God face to face, who brings God's word without any error, who serves as the true mediator between man and God.

We have also read about how our Lord has proclaimed all things clean, but that we bind ourselves in our consciences, not trusting the Lord. We can deceive ourselves into trusting in the purity of our own flesh, our own consecration to God, rather than trusting in the perfect work of Jesus, who became sin for us so that sin may be condemned and we would not have to bear it any more.

Yet during this time of Epiphany we want to see more. It's still the time of year for realization of our Lord's mercy. It's still the time to see that Jesus is working in his people, that he is accomplishing his purposes, and today, to see that Jesus is in fact the God who comes to heal us.

If you have been keeping up with our Bible reading challenge, you read Mark's Gospel this week and began to read the book of Exodus. In both places you saw our God delivering his people from the bondage of sin. And you saw that ultimately that deliverance from the bondage of sin happens through the work of Jesus who died for you, and it is realized in the context of the people of God assembled together, learning to walk in this forgiveness that Jesus has purchased. This is one of the reasons that we urge people to being faithful in attendance at church. It is in the context of Christ's assembled people, the visible church, that we realize Jesus' work for us. It is in the context of the church gathered together that we see how we are members of one another. And in our readings today we see that it is in the context of the people of God gathered together for worship that we receive the healing and grace that we need.

We already read one of the passages from Mark where Jesus heals a man in the synagogue on a Sabbath day. But I'd like to pull us to another of those passages for our sermon today. We see over and over again in the Scripture that Jesus is doing his healing work, again and again, as far as there is need for healing. He didn't stop with casting out a demon in the synagogue. He went on to heal someone of another ailment at another time. And he keeps coming to his people over and over again until he has healed them all.

Rise with me, if you can, as we read the Gospel from Mark, the third chapter (NIV).

1 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


Let us then observe three elements of this Gospel which our Lord has delivered to us. First, that we who are sick, disabled, in bondage are present in the assembly. Second, that as we are assembled together we are in the right place for our Lord to do good, to heal, to deliver. And finally, that our Lord is the one who delivers his people from bondage, no matter what.

The sick man is here in the synagogue. In the first Gospel reading we had today he was bound by a demon. In this second passage he is disabled. Do we realize that the Church is the place for people who are weak, who are broken, who are tormented? Or do we put on a facade of wellness? I wonder just how many of us came in today planning to lie to everyone else and say that we were doing well even though we aren't? Now I don't want to encourage everyone to come to the divine service so as to have a time to dump our frustrations on everyone else who is here. It isn't a good idea to come in and sing a litany of every possible complaint that we have. That isn't going to build anyone up. But are there some of us who are aching, who are tormented with our sin, who are fearful for our families' well-being, for our jobs, for our health, for our futures? Are there some of us who come in weak and sorrowful, heavily burdened, and tell everyone else that everything is wonderful? Should we not rather come into this place, ask someone to pray for us, even without telling many details, and commit ourselves to our Lord's care? It doesn't have to become a complaint session. In fact, it shouldn't become a complaint session. It becomes a prayer time instead.

Let me give you an example. I don't think it will betray any confidences. I had an encounter recently which draws a good picture of what we can all be doing. It happened to me because I was dressed in my pastor uniform. I walked into a nursing home to visit with someone. As is my custom, I greeted those people I saw in the hallways in a friendly manner and asked them how they were. One lady shook her head and said she was terrible. I asked her what was wrong. She said she was in a lot of pain with a back problem and was going for surgery shortly. I laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed that the Lord would bless her and protect her from pain and distress, that he would give her his joy and peace. Enough said. I haven't seen her since, nor do I remember her name, though I think I might remember her face next I see her.

Can we pray for one another in such a way? We don't need a complete history of the situations that are troubling. We don't need to try to give advice and counsel. We are gathered as God's people on Sunday so as to come before his throne and receive from him. Do we do it? Or do we put on a show of wellness and come and go without receiving the healing and grace that we need?

You might notice that on Sunday mornings people tend to come into the nave, the seating area of the church building, and that it is pretty quiet in here. We try to keep the conversations out in the narthex and in the fellowship hall. This is the place for worship and prayer. This is the place we have set aside to look to our Lord in hope, expecting his mercy. But I'd like to encourage you. If you are troubled, gather some others and pray for one another. Fill this room with your prayers, as our Lord fills it with his gracious presence.

We come in here as the sick and troubled. And we see, second, that it is the place to receive God's deliverance. Just as the man with the demon or the man with the shriveled hand came to hear from God's word, just as they received the blessing of Jesus who was there with them, we also gather in this place to hear the life-giving words of the Gospel. We gather together knowing that where we are together in Christ he is also here to bring reconciliation. We gather together knowing that Jesus has promised never to leave us or forsake us, to be with us always. We gather together to sit at the feet of Jesus, the one who teaches us, who encourages us, who exhorts us, who has the words of life for us, who gives himself for our sin, who himself bears all our iniquities, and by whose stripes we are healed. Is there any wonder that we have trouble in our society? We are a people who turn everywhere except our Lord's mercy and grace when we are troubled. Is there any wonder that we raise children who look for a fix for every difficulty in medical treatment when we decide that character issues are best treated with sedatives? Is it any wonder that we have a generation of young people who don't know how to interact with older or younger people when they are sent to age-segregated schools, when they are taken away from the realities of life in an intergenerational church body so they can experience teen togetherness, and who are taught that they are social misfits so should be separated from any sort of larger community? We take on our secular culture's model of how to raise good and compliant citizens and then we're surprised when our culture tries to rule us. And all along we have departed from the view that says God's assembled people can live and work together as the community of Christ's grace. We have departed from looking to the Church as that living entity where people are raised up as citizens for the Lord. We have departed from looking to our Lord as the one who is present to heal us. So we have to turn elsewhere. It won't work. It won't work. Jesus is the one who comes to give us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Let us look to him as the one who is present in the context of this body called the Church. This is exactly the right place.

Finally, we see that Jesus is the one who comes to give that forgiveness, life, and salvation. He is the one who has broken into the lives of those people assembled in the synagogue. He is the one who has broken into the life of the man with the demon, into the life of the man with the shriveled hand. Jesus is the one who has come to bring them healing. And he does it despite the people who are plotting to arrest him and kill him. He does it despite the people who deny that he is who he says he is. He does it despite the hardness of hearts in the people who do not wish the Sabbath to be a time for healing. Jesus is the one who loves us and gives himself for us. Jesus, in fact, is the one who literally loves us to death – his own death. He is the one who loves us and gives himself for us while we are yet sinners. He is the one who hates our sin so much that he will take it upon himself and die under its curse. He is the one who has come to fulfill all the law which became a curse to us since we could not keep it. He is the one who will not stop working his righteousness in us as long as we need it – forever.

What does this tell you about your Savior? Is he not the one we need? Is he not the one we come to in faith? Is he not the one all our friends, all our neighbors, even all our enemies need? And where are we going to receive from our Lord? We will receive from him in the context of the Church, Christ's people assembled, gathering together, as one body, a family, with one Lord, being converted by one faith, one baptism, looking to the one God and Father of us all. This is the message of the Gospel. This is the place to receive from the Gospel. Let us never forget the precious faith which our Lord has given us, as we gather together to receive from our Lord and Savior.

Let us pray. Our Lord, grant that we may see you as the one who is present, present to heal us, to cleanse us, to forgive us, to equip us with all the grace we need to be witnesses to your Gospel. As you show yourself to be the healing God in our midst, reach out through us to this community. Call many to yourself in faith, believing that you are the Lord who saves us, for you ever live to make intercession for us, one God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"The Modern Critical Period: From Griesbach to the Present"

"The Modern Critical Period: From Griesbach to the Present" Metzger & Ehrman pp. 165-194

Johann Jakob Griesbach (1745-1812) p. 165 "further developed Bengel's and Semler's grouping of manuscripts in recensions. At first, he was inclined to divide the extant materials into five or six different groups; he afterward limited them to three: the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine recensions." Griesbach came up with 15 canons of textual criticism which served as specific guidelines for determining whether one reading of a passage should be preferred over another. Thse canons are very specific and detailed. Use of these canons tended to direct scholars toward readings of passages which were found in early texts, such as the Codex Vaticanus, which had not been published and studied at the time of Griesbach.

p. 170 "The first recognized scholar to break totally with the Textus Receptus was the celebrated classical and Germanic philologist of Berlin Karl Lachmann (1793-1851), who published an edition of the Greek Testament that rests wholly upon the application of textual criticism in the evaluation of variant readings. Lachmann is famous for his editions of ancient classical authors, including Propertius, Catullus, Tibullus, Lucretius, as well as medieval epics and lyrics such as the Nibelungenlied. Walther von der Vogelweide, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. He demonstrated how, by comparison of manuscripts, it is possible to draw inferences as to their lost ancestors or archetypes, their condition, and their pagination. In his most famous work, that on Lucretius, he showed that the peculiarities of the three chief manuscripts all derive from a single archetype, containing 302 pages of 26 lines each, and thus he was able to make various transpositions in ther eceived text." Lachmann spent 5 years working with majuscule manuscripts and in 1831 published a list of passages in which he considered the Greek text current in the East by about A.D. 380 differed from the Textus Receptus.

p. 172 "The man to whom modern textual critics of the New Testament owe most is without doubt Lobegott Friedrich Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-74), who sought out and published more manuscripts and produced more critical editions of the Greek Bible than any other single scholar. Between 1841 and 1872 he prepared eight editions of the Greek Testament, some of which were reissued alone or with German or Latin versions, as well as 22 volumes of texts of biblical manuscripts. The totla number of his books and articles, most of them relating to biblical criticism, exceeds 150."

Tischendorf in 1869-72 released a two volume Greek New Testament which had an apparatus assembling all the variants readings which he and other scholars had found.

Various other scholars pursued collations of evidence with an eye to publication of an authoritative New Testamnet text. Among these two most influential were Westcott and Hort. p. 177 "Westcott and Hort distinguished four principal types of text: the Syrian, Western, Alexandrian, and Neutral."

p. 177 "The latest of these four forms of text is the Syrian, which is a mixed text resulting from a revision made by an editor or editors in the fourth century who wished to produce a smooth, easy, and complete text. This conflated text, the farthest removed from the originals, was taken to Constantinople, whence it was disseminated widely throughout the Byzantine Empire. . . The Textus Receptus is the latest form of the Syrian text."

p. 178 "The so-called western type is both ancient and widespread. It is preserved in certain bilingual majuscule manuscripts, notably Codex Bezae of the Gospels and Acts and Codex Claromontanus of the Epistles, the Old Latin version(s), and the Curetonian Syriac."

p. 179 "The Alexandrian text, according to Westcott and Hort, is preserved to a greater or lesser extent in Codex Ephraem, Codex Regius, Codex 33, and the Coptic versions (especially the Bohairic), as well as the quotations of the Alexandrian fathers Clement, Origen, Dionysius, Didymus, and Cyril." This text uses a "delicate philological tact" and attains a good degree of "polish" in its usage.

p. 179 "The Neutral text, as its question-begging name implies, is, in the opinion of Westcott and Hort, the most free from later corruption and mixture and the nearest to the text of the autographs. It is best represented by Codex Vaticanus and next by Codex Sinaiticus."

p. 180 "Scholars today generally agree that one of the chief contributions made by Westcott and Hort was their clear demonstration that the syrian (or Byzantine) text is later than the other types of text."

Westcott and Hort's work was not uniformly accepted. Metzger and Ehrman bring up the arguments of John W. Burgon (1813-88) who condemned this new edition of the Greek New Testament. p. 181 "As an ardent high churchman, he could not imagine that, if the words of Scripture had been dictated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God would not have providentlally prevented them from being seriously corrupted during the course of their transmission. Consequently, it was inconceivable to Burgon that the Textus Receptus, which had been used by the Church for centuries, could be in need of the drastic revision that Westcott and Hort had administered to it."

p. 183 "The overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion recognzies that their [Westcott and Hort's] critical edition was truly epoch-making. They presented what was doubtless the oldest and purest text that could be attained on the basis of information available in their day.

Another approach to scholarship was taken by (p. 183) "Bernhard Weiss (1827-1918), professor of New Testament exegesis at Kiel and at Berlin, [who] edited the New Testament in Greek (3 vols., Lepzig, 1894-1900; 2nd small ed., 3 vols., 1902-5). Primarily an exegete, Weiss brought to his task an extensive and detailed knowledgeof the theological and literary problems of the text of the New Testament . . . Weiss discriminated among readings in accordance with what he deemed to be the most appropriate meaning in the context." Despite the different methodology, Weiss came up with nearly the same conclusions as did Westcott and Hort. p. 184 "The importance of Weiss's text is not only that it represents the mature opinion of a great exegetical scholar who had given years of detailed consideration to the meaning of the text but also that the results of his subjective methodology confirm the results of scholars who followed a different procedure, sometimes regarded as more objective because it started from teh grouping of the manuscripts themselves."

The chapter culminates in very recent history, discussing the development of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament as well as the United Bible Society's edition. In their most recent editions both Nestle-Aland and UBS have the same text, though differences in their apparatus. The textual study clearly builds on the foundations discussed in this chapter.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Ancient Testimony to Matthew's Gospel"

"Ancient Testimony to Matthew's Gospel" Wenham, pp. 116-135

It is appropriate to consider ancient sources of information about pieces of ancient literature.

p. 117 "The fathers regularly make the following points:
1.) Matthew the tax-collector, otherwise known as Levi, one of the twelve, was the author.
2.) His was the first gospel to be written.
3.) He wrote for Hebrews in the Hebrew language (and in the Hebrew script)."

Wehnam goes on to quote and summarize testimony of Papias, Irenaeus, Pantaenus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Cyril of Jerusalem. He observes that similar testimony continues through the early and later fathers.

p. 119 "To begin with, the references to Jewish Christian gospels in the fathers and in later writers form a notoriously complex study concerning which no consensus has yet emerged." Church fathers often did not refer to a book specifically by name. They also had a tendency to refer to one book by any of several names. Citations were often made from memory, as paraphrases, so it is sometimes difficult to find the kind of evidence which modern historians would like. pp. 120-121 "But, while it is possible to find arguments that whittle away the whole tradition, it needs to be remembered that these arguments only open up the possibility that all came from a single erroneous source, they constitute no proof." We cannot find an autograph manuscript of any New Testament text, nor could we definitively prove that a purported autograph from the middle of the first century was either truly original or falsified. We are left then with tradition. p. 121 "As far as we know, there was only one tradition known to scholars and historians of the early and medieval church which they considered worth recording, and we need not lightly assume that it all sprang from an erroneous statement of one denigrated Phrygian bishop which obliterated knowledge of the true facts."

Papias, who lived and worked near the end of the first century and beginning of the second century may well have written his observations about the origin of the Gospels very shortly after the apostolic period, possibly during the lifetime of John. Papias' information about the origin of Matthew's gospel purports to come from John the "presbyter" who may be identified with the apostle or may be identified with a follower of one or more of the apostles. He clearly identifies that Matthew wrote a gospel.

p. 125 "Four means have been used to discredit his testimony:
1.) insistence of Matthew's derivation from Mark;
2.) emphasis on the ambivalence of Eusebius;
3.) attempted explanations of how Papias got it wrong;
4.) attempted reinterpretations of Papias.

Matthew's Use of Mark
p. 125 "Modern critical opinion has for a long time been almost unanimous that Papias was wrong - certainly about the first gospel being originally in Hebrew and probably about Matthew being the author. This derives principally from the vast measure of assent given to the theory that our Greek Matthew was based on the Greek Mark. This makes it impossible to believe that Matthew is a translation from a Semitic original, and difficult to believe that it is the work of an eyewitness apostle."

The ambivalence of Eusebius
Eusebius was not enthusiastic of Papias, attributing to him millennarian attitudes and tending to erode impressions of Papias' intelligence. Eusebius takes this to an extreme as he attempts to show that Papias' identification of a separate apostle John and a presbyter John was in error. Yet Papias has said what he has said. p. 128 "Papias claimed (and why should we doubt him?) that he made it his practice to get his information from those who had got it direct from the apostles, a good deal of it before the last of those who had accompanied Jesus were dead, and some of it may well have come from the apostle John himself." p. 128 "There is no alternative tradition about the authorship of Matthew's gospel, as there is in the case of hebrews, nor was there doubt of its apostolic authorship, as htere was in the case, for instance, of 2 Peter."

Attempts to explain how Papias got his ideas wrong
Scholars in the past 150 years have emphasized that the composition of a gospel by one of the apostles seemingly of lesser importance is unlikely. They have also tried to tie Papias' statemtn of what Matthew wrote to something other than a gospel account, something more like a collection of the sayings of Jesus which may have been lost by now.

Attempst to reinterpret Papias' expression Ἑβραίδι διαλέκτῳ
Papias was a rhetorician. It is quite possible that he would have taken the term "in the Hebrew dialect" to mean "following a Hebraic style." Yet Eusebius may well have taken the term to mean "in the Hebrew language," i.e., "in Aramaic." This is a debate which is not easily resolved. There is evidence that Matthew is written in a rather sophisticated style, consistent with a text written in Greek, not translated from Hebrew. Yet there are Hebraic elements evident in the composition. The tax collector Levi would certainly have been someone of adequate education to make good notes and communicate effectively in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. There is therefore no reason to reject any of the possible scenarios of composition.

While there was only one written gospel there would be no reason to attach a name to it. As soon as there were two a name would become important. Books in antiquity were generally titled with the name of the author in genitive, for example, "of Plato" followed by a brief title, for example, "Physics." However, the gospels never circulated with titles of this sort. They appear to have assumed the word "gospel" then they were identified by a prepositional phrase, "according to Matthew." This may well have been a scribal practice, typical for putting a label on a scroll to identify the contents readily. The titles are uniform for as long as we have found titles. There is no evidence that any of the gospels ever circulated under any other name. This should bear some weight in a discussion of the origin of a text.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 4 Day 5 Exodus 5:22-11:10

Our reading challenge for the day is Exodus 5:22-11:10. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

We often get caught up in the idea of the hardening of hearts. I observe that one of the places where we see hardened hearts in today's reading is in the people of Israel. They are not predisposed to believe Moses or to be delivered from their slavery. Even though they want to have a better life they don't seem ready to follow Moses as a deliverer or to strike out into the wilderness. So God works on the people of Egypt and the people of Israel to leave no option other than departure. By the signs he performs he finally leaves no question that he is the one calling his people to leave the land.

Notice all the hardening of hearts in Pharaoh. At first we have his heart being hardened. Then we see him hardening his heart. Finally we see God hardening his heart. What is the result of our hardness toward sin? Ultimately (Romans 1) God gives us over to our sinful attitudes. Our hearts are left to be the way the are by our fallen nature. This is a terrible judgment indeed. Yet even in this hardened condition, notice Pharaoh's confession of sin and apparent repentance. He repents, but he has no resolve left to live in the forgiveness which God grants him. He returns immediately to wallow in his unrepentance.

By the beginning of chapter 11 everyone in Egypt has had adequate warning that God, the living and true God, is operating and making demands upon their nation. Yet they refuse to listen as individuals also.

May the Lord have mercy upon us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 4 Day 4 Exodus 1:1-5:21

Our reading challenge for the day is Exodus 1:1-5:21. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

We fast-forward through almost five hundred years' time in Exodus chapter 1. God's work in his people seems to take a long time. But during that time he has built the family of Jacob into a mighty nation.

See how the Lord prepares the path for Moses' life and work. He prepares us in ways we do not know for the tasks we are to do.

The calling of Moses at the burning bush is not a calling we should expect to have repeated in our lives. It is Moses' call. How do we perceive our Lord appointing us to our vocations? How is God's promise to Moses that he has heard the sufferings of his people and will deliver them an encouragement to us when we endure sufferings?

In Exodus 5 we see the Israelites forced to make bricks without the required supplies. How does our Lord build our character when we are faced with difficult circumstances?

"The Precritical Period: The Origin and Dominance of the Textus Receptus"

"The Precritical Period: The Origin and Dominance of the Textus Receptus" Metzger & Ehrman, pp. 137-164


Metzger & Ehrman start by discussing the early printing of the Bible. p. 137 "Quite appropriately, the first major product of Gutenberg's press was a magnificent edition of the Bible. The text was Jerome's Latin Vulgate, and the volume was published at Mayence (Mainz) between 1450 and 1456." The printing of Bibles continued to flourish, but Greek text was more difficult to print, without a New Testament until 1514. Printing was difficult due to the decisions of printers to create fonts reproducing the cursive manuscript styles of the day, which included a very wide variety of different connections between letters. This required a very large set of type. But that was not the only reason for a delay. p. 138 "The principal cause that retarded publication of the Greek text of the new Testament was doubtless the prestige of Jerome's Latin Vulgate.

pp. 138-139 "At length, however, in 1514, the first printed Greek New Testament came from the press, as part of a polyglot Bible. Planned in 1502 by the cardinal primate of Spain, Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros (1436-1517), this magnificent edition of the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin texts was printed at the university town of Alcala (called 'Comlutum' in Latin). Known as the Complutensian Polyglot, the project was under the editorial care of several scholars, of whom Diego Lopez de Zuniga (Stunica) is perhaps the best known." It is unclear precisely what manuscript evidence was used for the Greek text.

p. 142 "Though the Complutensian text was the first Greek New Testament to be printed, the first Greek New Testament to be published (ii.e., put on the market) was the edition prepared by the famous Dutch scholar and humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469-1536)." Apparently Erasmus was under some time pressure to produce a Greek New Testament quickly. As a result, he gathered the manuscripts which he could as quickly as possible. p. 143 "Since Erasmus could not find a manuscript that contained the entire Greek Testament, he utilized several for various parts of the New Testament. For most of the text he relied on two rather inferior manuscripts from a monastic library at Basle, one of the Gospels and one of the Acts and Epistles, both dating from about the twelfth century." As an example of the scholarly care which haste can create, Metzger and Ehrman give the following account of the way Revelation moved to the printer. p. 145 "Unfortunately this manuscript lacked the final leaf, which contained the last six verses of the book. Instead of delaying the publication of his edition while trying to locate another copy of Revelation in Greek, Erasmus (perhaps at the urging of the printer) depended on the Latin Vulgate and translated the missing verses into Greek. As would be expected from such a procedure, here and there in Erasmus' self-made Greek text are readings that have never been found in any knwon Greek manuscript of these verses - but that are still perpetuated today in printings of the so-called Textus Receptus of the Greek New Testament." Erasmus' edition of the Greek New Testament did go through quite a few different editions and was improved over the years.

Erasmus was not alone, though. p. 150 "Stephanus' fourth edition (1551), which contains two Latin versions (the Vulgate and that of Erasmus) printed on either side of the Greek text, is noteworthy because in it for the first time the text was divided into numbered verses." p. 151 "Theodore de Beze (Beza, 1519-1605), the friend and successor of Calvin at Geneva and an eminent classical and biblical scholar, published no fewer than nine editions of the Greek Testament between 1565 and 1604, and a tenth edition appeared posthumously in 1611."

From the time of Stephanus' 1550 Greek New Testament to the 18th century collection and collation of variant readings became a popular pastime among New Testament scholars. Ranging from a simple notation and footnote of what variants existed to a very systematic apparatus suggesting the validity of different readings, different scholars gathered significant manuscript evidence, rather than simply accepting or rejecting readings without making explanation. p. 159 "In 1725, while teaching at the Lutheran preparatory school for ministerial candidates at Denkendorf, [Johann Albrecht] Bengel published an elaborate essay as a 'forerunner' to his projected edition of the New Testament. Here, he laid down sound critical principles. He recognized that the witnesses to the text must not be counted but weighed, that is, classified in 'companies, families, tribes, nations.' He was accordingly the first to distinguish two great groups, or 'nations,' of manuscripts: the Asiatic, which originated from Constantinople and its environs and included the manuscripts of more recent date, and the African, which he subdivided into two tribes, represented by Codex Alexandrinus and the Old Latin." This evaluation of variant readings and manuscript weight has continued to exercise influence in scholarship to the current time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 4 Day 3 Mark 11-16

Our reading challenge for the day is Mark chapters 11-16. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Mark 11 - Here we begin the Passion Week with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. See the popular support he has but also see that the opposition will start by the end of chapter 11. Consider how much of Mark's Gospel is spent on this period of time surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection.

Mark 12-13 - Jesus' work of teaching and healing in the temple could easily be seen as an affront to the Jewish leaders. He remains popular with many of the people he interacts with, but continues to push the leaders in a way they do not wish to go. Jesus also begins talking about the end times in terms which we find difficult to understand. He is clear that there is a time of persecution to come and that people should rejoice that they are under God's protection. Yet beyond that it is hard to make out many of the specifics of his message.

Mark 14-16 - In the plots to arrest Jesus we have to ask ourselves if we are those who would sit at the table with him and then deny him later. The fact is that we are very likely to be just that kind of people. Does this negate Jesus' mercy and grace? Not at all, for Jesus died for exactly that kind of sinners. Thanks be to God that the story is not over with Jesus hanging dead on a cross. He comes and delivers his commission to his disciples, restoring them and sending them to bring the Gospel to the whole world.


"Acts" Carson & Moo pp. 285-330

Acts serves in a way as the second volume of the gospel according to Luke, but in a way as the historical document cataloging the progress of the gospel from its roots at the time of the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem to the middle of the first century, by which time it had spread to a significant portion of the Roman empire. Carson and Moo outline as follows beginning on p. 286.

p. 286 "Prologue: foundations for the church and its mission (1:1-2:41). Luke begins by rooting the church and its mission in Jesus' acts and words.

p. 286 "The church in Jerusalem (2:42-6:7). Luke begins this section with a summary of the characteristics of the early church in Jerusalem."

p. 287 "Wider horizons for the church: Stephen, Samaria, and Saul (6:8-9:31).

p. 287 "Peter and the first gentile convert (9:32-12:24).

p. 288 "Paul turns to the Gentiles (12:25-16:5). From Peter, luke turns now to Paul, who dominates the remainder of the book. Paul's significance for Luke lies in his being used by God to pioneer an extensive ministry to Gentiles, to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, and to show that the gospel was no direct threat to the Roman government.

p. 288 "Further Penetration into the Gentile world 916:6-19:20). It seems a bit odd that we should divide Luke's story at this point. Yet by the care with which he shows how Paul was directed by God's Spirit step-by-step to take the gospel into Macedonia (16:6-10), Luke implies that we have reached a decisive stage."

p. 289 "On to Rome (19:21-28:31). Again we may feel that it is rather artificial to insert a major break in the midst of Paul's stay in ephesus. But Luke again suggests such a break with his first indication that Paul was determined to go to Rome (19:21-22).

The Traditional Case - throughout history it has been broadly held that Luke was the author of both Luke and Acts. p. 291 "The tradition that Luke, a companion of Paul, was the author of the third gospel and of Acts is early and unchallenged: The Muratorian Canon (C. a.d. 180-200?), Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3.1; 3.14.1-4), the anti-Marcionite prologue (end of second century), Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 5.12), Tertullian (Adv. Marc. 4.2), and Eusebius (H.E. 3.4; 3.24.15).

The Case against the Tradition
Arguments from the external evidence don't seem to hold much weight. They are advanced but are not overly persuasive. Even the alleged differences in theological orientation between Paul as revealed in his letters and Paul as described in Acts are not differences which can't be harmonized.

Conclusion - Carson and Moo do not find a convincing reason not to conclude that Luke was the author of Acts.

Dates suggested range from about A.D. 62 to the second century. A second century date originated with the Tubingen school, dating it from the first outside reference to the book. This view has fallen out of favor and is no longer held by many scholars. More scholars suggest that Acts was written in the 80s. It is suggested that it should be dated quite a while after the gospel, which is typically dated no earlier than 70. The book tends to have a fairly optimistic view of Roman government, which would be less likely during a period of state persecution. A date before 70 can be supported by the abrupt ending which leaves Paul in the year 62 without resolving his imprisonment, despite the fact that Paul appears to have been released from prison for a period about 62 before being imprisoned and executed around 64 or 65. For this reason, Carson and Moo suggest a date in the early to mid 60s.

Genre - Luke's writing fits generally into the realm of historiography, though it has a strong element of the gospel.

Addressees and Purpose - Acts is addressed to Theophilus, probably a patron of Luke. Finding how much broader the intended audience might have been depends on Luke's purpose, which is not clearly stated in the text. He may have written to seek conciliation between different factions of early Christianity. He may have been writing to provide examples of evangelistic and apologetic works. The work includes some strong theological elements which may suggest that Luke is intending to clarify orthodox doctrine. And the theme of edification of the Christian is pervasive, indicating that Luke may well have desired to strengthen Christian communities through a narrative of the early events of the Church.

We do not have much information about the sources Luke may have had. He is clear that much of his material comes from research, and that research may include written and oral sources. Some of the material comes from his own eyewitness account, apparently, as there are the "we" passages of the text.

The text of Acts is intriguing as there are two distinct text traditions. One of the two, the Western tradition, is approximately ten percent longer than the text in the Codex Sinaiticus. It is unclear at many points which may have been closer to the original text.

Carson and Moo survey recent research about Acts, much of which focuses on finding the purposes which Luke may have held in writing. A great deal of effort has also gone into identifying whether Luke's writing is as historically accurate as other ancient historians. Since the mid 1960s Luke as the theologian has emerged.

Acts has been shown again and again to be a reliable and definitive text to inform us about the events of the early Church. Where events mentioned by Luke are mentioned by other historians Luke appears to be sound and accurate. Our expectation would be that he is a credible witness to other events as well. p. 321 "Perhaps Luke's most important contribution is precisely this careful linking of the apostolic proclamation of the Word of God with the word that Jesus both taught and fulfilled. The "Word of God" thus binds together Luke's two volumes, as the salvation that the angel first announced on the night of Jesus' birth on a Judean hillside is brought finally to the capital of the Roman Empire. Luke focuses on six key theolgoical themes, identified by Carson and Moo on pp. 322 and following.
1) The Plan of God
2) The Presence of the Future
3) Salvation
4) The Word of God
5) The Holy Spirit
6) The People of God
All these themes are illustrative of the ongoing work of the Gospel in the people of the primitive Church.

This chapter points up that in a book like Acts there is more than meets the eye at first. We can look to the text on many different levels.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 4 Day 2 Mark 6-10

Our reading challenge for the day is Mark chapters 6-10. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

In chapter 6 Mark seems to begin stressing Jesus' work with his disciples, teaching them and preparing them for the work which he will leave for them. See how the disciples are involved in healings, in feeding the multitude, and in arriving with Jesus in a new area where he will be flocked by followers. Jesus' work is increasingly opposed, as people either become wholehearted in support of him or in their efforts to hinder him.

Jesus does not always draw our families together. How can we pray for those we know whose families are broken due to refusal of some or all of the members to hear Jesus' words of grace and mercy?

Jesus begins to speak more plainly about his death and resurrection near the end of Mark chapter 8. Notice again how shocking so many of Jesus' words and deeds are. We should never become used to the idea that Jesus is true man and true God, nor that he is able to take our sin upon himself and die in our place, giving us his life.


"John" Carson & Moo pp. 225-284

John's Gospel may be variously separated into parts, but generally consists of a prologue (1:1-18), main body (1:19-chapter 20), and an epilogue (chapter 21).

p. 229 "As far as we can prove, the title "According to John" was attached to it as soon as the four canonical gospels began to circulate together as 'the fourfold gospel.'" The author is not mentioned in the gospel itself but the title may have been recognized from the start.

External Evidence
p. 229 "the first writer to quote unambiguously from the fourth gospel and to ascribe the work to John was Theophilus of Antioch (c. A.D. 181)." However we do find quotes from other authors including Tatian, Claudius Apollinaris, and Athenagoras who do not specify the author but consider it an authoritative text.

p. 230 Irenaeus wote, "'John the disciple of the Lord, who leaned back on his breast, published the gospel while he was resident at Ephesus in Asia; (Adv. Haer. 3.1.1). In other words, the name of the fourth evangelist is John and is to be identified with the beloved disciple of John 13:23."

Authorship has been questioned in recent time. p. 233 "The fact remains that, despite support for Johannine authoriship by a few front-rank scholars in this century and by many popular writers, a large majority of contemporary scholars reject this view. As we shall see, much of their argumentation turns on their reading of the internal evidence. Nevertheless, it requires their virtual dismissal of the external evidence. This is particularly regrettable. Most historians of antiquity, other than New Testament scholars, could not so easily set aside evidence as plentiful and as uniform."

Among the external evidence the testimony that causes most doubt is that of Papias, who, as reported by Eusebius, suggests that there were two individuals named John, one of whom was an apostle and the other of whom was an elder, and that the elder, not the apostle, was responsible for the gospel. Recent scholarship has pointed to four reasons an appeal to Papias in this might not be appropriate.

p. 233 "In the terms of Papias, 'the discourses of the elders' means the teaching of Andrew, Peter, and the other apostles." Thus John the elder might well be an apostle.

p. 234 "It is worth noting that "apostle" and "elder" come together with a common referent in 1 Peter 5:1. Indeed, the Greek syntax Papias employs favors the view that 'Aristion and John the elder' means something like "Aristion and the aforementioned elder John.' Not only here but in H.E. 3.39.14 it is John and not Aristion who is designated 'the elder.' In choosing to refer to the apostles as elders, Papias may well be echoing the language of 3 John (on the assumption that Papias thought that epistle was written by the apostle John)."

p. 234 "It appears that the distinction Papias is making in his two lists is not between apostles and elders of the next generation but between first-generation witnesses who have died (what they said) and first-generation witnesses who are still alive (what they say).

Finally, we consider that Euesebius may have had an agenda himself. In his dislike for the apocalyptic teaching of Revelation he may have been wishing to suggest that Papias identified a non-apostolic author for revelation and possibly other writings which seem to be by the same person.

Internal Evidence (for authorship)
p. 237 "The traditional reason seems most plausible: the beloved disciple is non oether than John, and he deliberately avoids using his personal name. This becomes more likely when we remember that the beloved disciple is constantly in the company of Peter, while the Synoptics and Acts not to mention Paul link Peter and John in friendship and shared experience."

Carson and Moo detail several of the objections posed to authorship by John the apostle, most convincingly the objection that John was uneducated and therefore would not be capable of executing a literary work like the gospel. They observe that if he lived to a great age, as tradition seems to indicate, he would have had adequate time to build his skills in any way which would be necessary.

Stylistic Unity and the Johanine "Community"
Some scholars have suggested extensive redaction and source-gathering work prior to the release of John's gospel. The community would have identified the narratives which would be drawn into the gospel and would have modeled the narrative appropriately. Yet there do not seem to be the signs of such work in the gospel itself. There are some specific idiomatic ways of phrasing different concepts, but this is not unheard of within the work of a skilled author.

Geographically, we see suggestions that the gospel came from Alexandria, Antioch, Palestine, or Ephesus. Ephesus is the one location which has ancient testimony supporting it.

Conceptual Provenance
John's Religious World
Consider the conceptual world of Philo, the hermetic writings, Gnosticism, and Mandaism, all of which used a good deal of symbolism and allegory. There are many different movements available which could have influenced the thought life of John. p. 256 "Moreover, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 and their subsequent publication have shown that the closest religious movement to the fourth gospel in terms of vocabulary at least, was an extremely conservative hermetic Jewish community. This is not to say that John springs from the Essenes, thought to be represented by the Dead Sea Scrolls, but tha the appeal to strongly Hellenistic sources is now much less convincing than it was six decades ago."

John's Relation to the Synoptics
John is quite different in some respects from the synoptic gospels. He has more of a focus on Jesus' ministry in the sough than in the north. In John Jesus is very specifically identified as God, while the comparison is a little more oblique in the synoptics. However we find that the content and ideas of the gospels all are remarkably in unity. p. 258 "More impressive yet are the many places where John and the Synoptics represent an interlocking tradition, that is, where they mutually reinforce or explain each other, without betraying overt literary dependence." It appears quite clear that the four evangelists are writing about the very same events, but that they write about them differently. p. 259 "Conversely, numerous features in John are explained by details reported only by the synoptists."

Considering the relationship of John to Mark's gospel, on p. 260 Carson and Moo point out, "Granted the close friendship that Peter and John enjoyed, would it be very likely that either of them would long remain ignorant of a publication for which the other was responsible? Considerations of date then become important. For instance, if Mark was written about A.D. 64, and John within a year or two of that date, then the likelihood of mutual independence is enhanced. But if Mark was written sometime between 50 and 64, and the fourth gospel not until about 80, it is very difficult to believe that John would not have read it. The idea of hermetically sealed communities is implausible in the Roman Empire anyway, where communications were as good as at any time in the history of the world until the nineteenth century."

Do we need to assume an inter-relationship among the different gospels? p. 261 "On its own, John's account makes good historical sense. . . it is John who most persistently catalogues how much the early disciples did not understand, how much they actively misunderstood."

People have suggested a wide variety of dates, from before 70 to the last quarter of the second century. It does make sense that based on chapter 21 we can assume that Peter's death in 64 or 65 was before the composition. There are people who suggest composition very late in the first century, suggestion various reasons why the historical events in Domitian's reign (81-96) would fit well. Tradition says that John lived a very long time. Yet this does not require that the composition bet at the end of his life. Carson and Moo suggest (p. 267) a date between 80 and 85, though they are quite tentative about the dating.

There is no clear destination for this gospel.

While many scholars have suggested many purposes for the gospel of John, the purpose seems to be stated in chapter 20, "that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah."

The text of John, except in a few places, seems quite solid and well documented. The narrative of the woman caught in adultery does not seem to be original, at least not original in its location. Aside from that there are very few passages with significant disputes, none of which cause any overall theological difficulty.

All four canonical gospels were accepted quite solidly by the end of the second century.

John has been subject to many studies of different themes over the generations. In recent years scholars have sought to do literary, social-scientific, and postmodern philosophical studies on the text, or rather on the community which created the text.

John adds a great deal of depth to the picture of Jesus which we receive from the synoptists. The overall picture of Jesus as a fully-functioning person who lives in perfect obedience to the Father so as to die as a substitutionary atonement gives us a more three-dimensional picture of Jesus than we find elsewhere. John is also always concerned with eschatology as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ's people.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sermon for 1/22/12 "God's Promises, No Matter What" Genesis 50:15-21

Sermon “God’s Promises, No Matter What” Genesis 50:15-21

The audio link is a little experimental, as I was working on deciding what to pick up for a couple of home-bound families in our congregation. There may be a drop-out of a few minutes at one point. Please forgive the experiment :). Audio is at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23575548/120122Genesis50.mp3

Lord, confirm to your people your covenant love and promises, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

If you've been following our Bible Reading Challenge this past week you read over a good portion of Genesis, reaching the end just recently. Remember, five chapters a day, five days a week, and we'll have read through the Bible in about fifty weeks. In our readings this week we saw Joseph emerge as the main character. And there was a pattern in his life which I think we can see in our own lives as well. We know this will happen, after all, because Joseph was a sinful human just like we are. He was a recipient of God's blessing and he reacted much the same way we would. He took God's blessings and used them for his own advantage, at least a good part of the time.

Let's remember what happened to Joseph. It was revealed to him that he would find his family bowing down to him. He decided it would be a good idea to tell his family members about this revelation. The young brother who was already known to be a favorite of his father, who was never known for doing a good day's work, bragged to his brothers and showed himself to be exactly the kind of arrogant young man they would like to sell to slave traders.

When Joseph was humbled in that circumstance, he was again raised by God's mercy to a position of leadership, this time a higher position of leadership than he had before, in the household of Potiphar. Once again, his self-righteousness shows through even as he is being entrapped by Potiphar's wife. So Joseph is humbled again and sent to prison. In prison, by God's mercy, Joseph finds himself in a position of leadership and assures his fellow prisoners that his interpretation of their dreams will be accurate. He gives glory to God but also to himself and gets to wait longer for his release from prison. When he is sent for in prison because of Pharaoh's troubling dreams, he seems to have been humbled adequately, though he still can't resist suggesting that Pharaoh should elevate someone who is really smart, like himself, to the position of leadership in anticipation of a famine. During this period of Joseph's exaltation he is made a pagan priest, he marries two daughters of Pharaoh, and is glad that God has raised him up and blessed him to make him forget his life in his father's house. He glories in God at the same time that he says he is glad that he is not in the position he used to be in, as a member of the household of God's promise. Meanwhile, Joseph is Pharaoh's instrument to enslave all the people of Egypt and gain possession of all their lands.

When the famine became severe Joseph's brothers came to buy grain. They found themselves in the position of bowing down to Joseph, exactly what God had revealed to him that they would do. How did Joseph use this situation? He tormented his brothers with their past failings and sins. Yet at the same time he did serve as God's instrument to preserve their lives and deliver them into the land of Egypt where they could live and thrive.

At last, Joseph seems to have come to his senses. This arrogant young man has been both blessed by God time and again and has been humbled by God time and again. He has seen that God fulfills his promises and claims all the glory for himself, no matter what his servants try to do. Over and over again, Joseph has seen that the Lord who promises his favor on his chosen people will show his favor on those people. Our Lord is the God who blesses us. And no matter how much credit we try to claim for God's blessing, our claims are nothing. It is not by our own righteousness, not by our trying hard, not by our circumstances, not by our intelligence, not by any of our resources, but only by the power and grace of God that we are delivered from death and destruction. Joseph has seen this time and again.

How are we to react to this grace of God? We see those reactions in our lectionary readings for today as well. In Jonah, when confronted by the majesty of God the people repent and plead for God's forgiveness. In 1 Corinthians we turn our cares and concerns over to our Lord and trust that he can use our resources and our very lives for his purposes. In Mark we see that when the Lord calls his disciples they drop what they are doing to go and follow him. There's this dynamic that we can call “Repent, Believe, Follow.” God shows his grace to us and we realize our sin. We repent. He gives us the things of the faith, delivering them to us through Word and sacraments, passing them down from one generation to the next, and we trust that he is still the Lord of promise. We see that Jesus loved us and died for us, revealing his authority to take our sin and to put it to death, rising to newness of life. God calls us by revealing specifics of his work in our world, and we respond by entrusting our very lives to him, running our business as if it is his business, governing our families as his family, loving our wives as he loves his Church, trusting and obeying husbands as the Church trusts and obeys the Lord. This “repent, believe, follow” dynamic shows up over and over in Scripture. And it fits the life of Joseph as well.

We read in Genesis 50, beginning in verse 15 (NIV):

“15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

God has called Joseph to repentance. He has done it again and again. And finally, here in Genesis 50, that repentance seems to be genuine and lasting. Joseph is no longer trying to put himself on the throne. He is no longer exalting himself as an object of worship. He knows that it is God we worship, none other. May the Lord work this same kind of repentance in us, humbling us. I recall in one of the confessions of sin that is often used, though it isn't as common today as it used to be, we say, “I am heartily sorry” for sin. I ran into one person whose father, when he was about eight years old, told him that he needed to be reading the confession of sin out of the hymnal. Quoting it from memory wasn't doing well for him. The reason? The boy was being quite frank, saying what we all admit to. “I am hardly sorry” for sin. Isn't that the truth? Our Lord confronts us with sin and we're sorry. But really we are hardly sorry. We aren't sorry enough. And it will pass, all too soon. May the Lord show us the weight of our sin before him. May God the Father remind us that our sin is so crushing that when God the Son took it upon himself he was abandoned by God, forsaken, cast into torment. Our sin crushes us. Like Joseph we are imprisoned again and again, and all our efforts to rescue ourselves fall apart. We need a deliverer. May the Lord grant us repentance so we may be forgiven.

What did the Lord work in Joseph for belief? What will he do in us? As Joseph was driven from one place to another, again and again he saw that God was using him in the lives of people who surrounded him. God's gracious will was at work even in slavery, even in prison, even in his decades of separation from home and family. Did Joseph believe that God was accomplishing his good will? Do we believe that our Lord is accomplishing his good will in and through us, regardless of our circumstances? Do we see that whether we are in want or in plenty, whether we are in sickness or in health, whether we are in sad or happy circumstances, the risen Lord Jesus Christ is working out his will, and that his will is to bring his blessing and favor on our world? He who died for us has also risen from the dead and will bring us to rise in newness of life as well. Even in this difficult providence that the Lord brings about, bringing his chosen people into captivity in Egypt for five hundred years, yet the Lord is using the children of Abraham, the children of promise, to bless the whole world. We may not understand how this is happening. In fact, I'll just about guarantee that we won't understand it. Yet it is God's promise and our Lord always keeps his promise. Blessing he will bless us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be with us always, to the very end of the world. Our role is to believe that he is working out his good, not evil. That's just what Joseph confessed. That's just what we confess. Even when life looks difficult, we know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has called us to faith and will carry us through the world we are in, using us as his instruments of grace.

So how did Josph follow the Lord? Most of the time he didn't seem to have much choice, did he? He was probably tied up, literally tied up, for many of his journeys early in his adulthood. And once he was in Pharaoh's household he had political ties which would have been nearly impossible to break. Maybe we feel like we are bound by circumstances. Maybe we think we aren't free to follow our Lord like he would like us to. But that isn't so. Where God has called us, he will always make a way for us to follow him. Has the Lord given you gifts? He will make ways for you to use those which he desires, in the way and at the time he has prepared. You know I don't like to stand up and give you a “thus says the Lord, this is how to follow God in obedience.” Where the Lord calls us we can follow him. Is the Lord calling you to be witnesses to him? This is always his call. Has he given you access to his written Word that you can read and study? Has he put you in the surroundings of a local church where you can gather on a weekly basis, and maybe even more frequently, to receive encouragement, exhortation, and training in righteouseness? Do you have a pastor who will read the Scripture and pray with you and take you around on visitation, doing studies, and preparing and working in worship services as you consider whether the Lord might wish you to serve in pastoral ministry or to train as a deaconess or as an elder or deacon in the local church? Has the Lord surrounded you with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers whom he would desire to bless? Hs he provided you with finances that you can use to show mercy? Maybe he has even provided you with some vacation or personal time from your job that you can use to devote yourself to study, worship, or service. Maybe he has given you gifts to feed the hungry, to deliver goods and services to people who need them, to bring prosperity to an employer that can use that prosperity to keep many people employed and provide them with wages so they can live and serve the Lord. Our Lord has made many many ways that you and I can follow him in our vocations. May we see all these opportunities as opportunities to be our Lord's instruments of blessing to our world. As Joseph found he could take no credit for God's blessing, we also see that we receive no credit for God's blessing. Salvation is of the Lord, not of us. May we be God's instruments, giving glory, honor and praise to him.

Now may the Lord of all grace bless us by making us his instruments of grace in our world, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 4 Day 1 Mark 1-5

Our reading challenge for the day is Mark chapter 1-5. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Mark's Gospel is action-packed. Look how Mark kicks the action off showing Jesus hard at work - in the very first chapter being the baptizer in the Holy Spirit, the one who is tempted in the wilderness, who comes to preach once John is put into prison, who calls disciples, who goes around healing . . . it makes our head swim as we think how busy Jesus is. A good devotional practice in a quick reading of a short account like Mark's is to write a list of all the many things Jesus is doing, as we realize the Gospel is all about Jesus and his works.

In chapters 4 and 5 Mark has Jesus speaking and performing parables. Yes, it seems that Jesus can not only speak in parables, but he can also do actions which have the significance of a parable. Consider how he casts demons out of a man. The demons leave the man and are still harmful, but Jesus has them bring harm to creatures which are considered unclean. The healed man, on the other hand, is clean and in his right mind. Look at some of the parables and see what Jesus' main point might be.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 3 Day 5 Genesis 44-50

Our reading challenge for the day is Genesis chapters 44-50. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

At long last, Joseph is humbled and reveals himself to his brothers as the one who will watch over them and care for them. Does this mean his character changed entirely? Observe that he still proceeded to work as Pharaoh's instrument to enslave the nation. But then again, the people were left being able to work the land and pay a total tax rate of 20%, which is considerably lower than the taxes I pay as a self-employed citizen of the United States.

There's a big picture here. Joseph is used as God's instrument as well. For some reason, and we don't know the reason, God planned to keep his people in Egypt for some 500 years, in captivity, as they grew into a great nation which would inherit the land promised to Abraham. We never know how we will be acting as our Lord's instruments. We also can't predict reliably what he will do through us. All we can do is be faithful with the situation he has placed us in. May we grow in grace as we seek to do our Lord's will.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 3 Day 4 Genesis 39-43

Our reading challenge for the day is Genesis chapters 39-43. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

A very long time ago - my - twenty-eight years ago, I spent a year at an undergraduate Bible college where I took an Old Testament course. When we were confronted with the narrative of Joseph the professor repeated again and again, "Cream always rises to the top." This view of Joseph influenced me fairly strongly. Yet when I have been reading the text of Genesis in recent years I have found that all the patriarchs are just like the rest of us. They are deeply flawed people. Joseph is no less flawed. He starts out as an arrogant young man, the kind of man his brothers would frankly like to sell to slave traders. When that happens, Joseph has several cycles of exaltation but he always rises to the occasion by showing a haughty spirit. See that happening in today's reading. There's a striking statement in Genesis 41:51. Joseph says that God has made him forget all his hardship and his father's house. He comes to that realization as he has become a priest to the Egyptian deities and has been instrumental in enslaving all of the people of Egypt to their government. Joseph then goes on to confront his brothers, dangling their hopes over his angry memories of the way they treated him in the past.

Cream may rise to the top. But it's the sinful nature that rises to the top in the children of Adam, even those who are being blessed by God.

When the Cap'n goes to sick bay . . .

it all falls way behind. But he seems to be out of sick bay now, teaching classes all week with a voice and everything! Gradually catching up on pastoral visits and hopes to get beyond writing the post for the moment on the blog in the near future.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 3 Day 3 Genesis 34-38

Our reading challenge for the day is Genesis chapters 34-38. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Genesis 34 - In the case of Jacob's Family versus Hamor's Family, notice that Jacob and his sons, though wronged, used deception in a matter of religious conscience in order to accomplish their goal. There is never a biblical sanction for saying one thing about a matter of faith, such as circumcision, then acting in opposition to that statement. Everyone is about as wrong as wrong can be.

Genesis 35 - God renews the covenant with Jacob, now called Israel. We still see that the covenants are established by God out of his own good pleasure, despite the sinful attitudes and behaviors of the recipients of the covenant. This mercy of God should bring comfort to us when we see our own failure.

Genesis 36 - When we see lengthy genealogies like this we probably do well to observe that many of the tribal peoples we will meet later spring from these foundations. Knowledge of who one's people might be is important in the Old Testament, particularly as God traces the lineage of the Messiah to come.

Genesis 37 - Sometimes we idealize Joseph. I observe that he seems to have a haughty attitude and to treat his brothers and even his parents as someone who is superior to them. Of course that doesn't excuse deciding to sell him . . .

Genesis 38 - Consider the importance of raising up offspring for your deceased relatives. This was a serious issue in terms of inheritance and providing for future generations of a family. The sin of Er is not mentioned. The sin of Onan is that he refuses to risk his inheritance for the benefit of his older brother's widow. Judah? Guilty of self-protection. We don't find out much about Shelah. Yet we continue to see that the people of God's promise have just as many flaws as we do ourselves.

Building a Synoptic Theory: (3) The Relation of Matthew to Mark

"Building a Synoptic theory: (3) The Relation of {Matthew to Mark" Wenham, pp. 88-115.

p. 88 "Matthew's relation to Mark can be satisfactorily explained on the lines of patristic tradition."

Wenham suggests, on p. 89, "There are three main possibilities as to the relation of the first two gospels: 1.) They are independent; 2.) Matthew used Mark; 3.) Mark used Matthew." In modern scholarship we typically see a view that favors Mark being written first and Matthew depending upon Mark and one or more other sources. There are numerous objections to the primacy of Matthew, even though until fairly recently it was assumed that Matthew was composed first.

p. 91 "It is difficult to believe that Mark would have omitted so much important Matthean material had he known of its existence. . . If it is supposed that Mark was intended as a replacement of Matthew, it has great weight - we should indeed be much the poorer without the great discourses and all Matthew's unique contributions. But whoever suggested that this was the intention?"

p. 91 "Mark's wealth of detail is a prima facie indication of priority . . . Wealth of detail would make it an acceptable supplement, but in itself it has nothing to do with order of production."

p. 92 "Matthew's account of the death of the Baptist requires a knowledge of Mark's account." Yet this is not necessarily the case. "It is perfectly possible that Herod was torn between great annoyance that John had repeatedly denounced his sexual sin in public, and respect for one he knew to be a good man. There is no need for Matthew to have known Mark's gospel, it is sufficient that he should have known the fuller story."

p. 92 "Matthew 27:15-18 has destroyed the logic of Mark 15:6-10."

p. 93 "The claim is that Mark's 'comparatively clear' sequence 'seems' to have a logic which has been blurred by Matthew, whose account lacks 'clear logic'. This appears to be hypercriticism with no real basis. The point of the statement 'For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up' may not be immediately obvious - but this applies equally to both gospels. They are both making the point that Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent, and he hoped that the demand of the people would get him out of his predicament."

Judging from the evidence displayed, Wenham is unconvinced that Matthew or Mark was written in dependence on the other. He suggests that it is quite possible that Mark was written with a knowledge of, but not dependence upon, Matthew. He goes on to discuss several reasons this seems to be a valid hypothesis.

p. 94 Matthew looks original. "Whether he assembled recollections and testimonies of his own or whether his work was based on Mark and other sources, all must admit that it was a careful and brilliantly successful operation. It is difficult to see it as the result of making eight thousand alterations to someone else's work. But of course it is not impossible."

p. 95 Matthew looks early and Palestinian. "Matthew's account looks like a vivid record of a terrible clash between Jesus and the religious leaders, rather than a veiled polemic of church against synagogue."

p. 96 "Mark looks like Peter's version of the same Palestinian tradition composed for Jewish and Gentile readers outside Palestine."

p. 97 "It looks as though Mark is omitting Matthean material at certain points."

p. 101 "Matthean priority provides the better rationale for the differences in order between the two gospels."

p. 109 "Matthew looks as though it may have been originally in a Semitic language."

p. 115 "To sum up our investigation of the internal evidence of the symoptic problem thus far: There seems to be a good case for believing that Matthew, possibly in a Semitic language, was the first gospel; that Mark is substantially the teaching of Peter, who knew Matthew's gospel; and that Luke knew and used both matthew and Mark. However, Mark shows a large measure of independence of Matthew, and Luke shows a large measure of independence of both. These conclusions (which have already to some extent anticipated it) will be seen to fit the external evidence remarkably well."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge - Week 3 Day 2 Genesis 29-33

Our reading challenge for the day is Genesis chapters 29-33. I'll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Rather than break up by chapter, I read the whole passage and looked for the big point. See how Jacob begins as the deceiver who tries to take advantage of every situation he can. He seems selfish. Yet over the years, he finally starts to see that he doesn't win anything by himself. By the time he has departed from his twenty years' service to Laban, he is realizing that though he wants to take credit for his prosperity, the credit really belongs to God. When he is about to meet up with his brother again he has a stroke of realization. He has become a great prosperous man, a fact which weighs on him heavily. He could lose a great deal and begins to have concern about the well-being of his family and flocks. God rewards him by meeting with him, letting him struggle all night, and having Jacob realize that he is not the master of his own destiny. Thus empowered, Jacob is re-named Israel and carries on into his ancestral land where he will be much more the kind of man God appoints him to be.

Building a Synoptic Theory: (2) The Relation of Luke to Matthew

"Building a Synoptic Theory: (2) The Relation of Luke to Matthew" Wenham, pp. 40-87

p. 40 "Luke may be presumed to keep to the sense of his other sources. The differences of sense between the Q-material of Matthew and of Luke make dependence on Q or large-scaled borrowing from Matthew improbable."

Wenham suggests that Luke shows in places that he does not borrow from Mark and change the overall meaning of what he borrows. This suggests that Luke would be similar in his work with other sources.

p. 41 "When comparing Luke with Mark we have seen how consistently he keeps to Mark's sense. Since his aim was to confirm Theophilus in the truth, it follows that he would only have used sources which eh believed to be trustworthy, and that he would have been as faithful to them as he was to Mark."

The problem which then arises is that scholars have suggested a hypothetical "Q" document which served as a source for the evangelists. If both Luke and Matthew borrowed heavily from this document but took its information quite differently from each other, one or both of them misrepresented it. Wenham is going to consider the claims that Luke borrowed from a "Q" but made significant innovations. He'll look at it first in the central section of Luke, then the Sermon on the Level Place, then the rest of Luke.

1. The Central Section (9:51-18:14)
p. 43 "If Q is regarded as a single Greek document roughly coterminous with the material not found in Mark which is common to Matthew and Luke, the Q theory is sufficiently precise for thorough investigation."

p. 43 "Where several pericopes, which have no apparent logical or chronological succession, are found in the same order, a natural possible inference is a literary connection. Similarly, if a sequence of material is broken by an omission or by the intrusion of new matter and is then resumed again, a literary connection is a natural explanation."

Yet on p. 44 Wehnam points out passages where the order of events in Matthew and Luke are in a significantly different order. He discusses various views of how the order may have been derived, but observes that all fall short in that they require us to know what a source document may have contained and in what order. I observe that all the theories discussed seem to indicate that authors are slavishly trying to follow or purposely modify an existing pattern, either to protect their presuppositions or to alter an historical account.

p. 51 "Redaction critics tend to see the redactionary process as something quite complex, so it may seem naive to try to assess the probability of a literary connection by simply laying parallel passages side by side and asking ourselves whether they look as though one is adapting the text of the other."

The arguments from wording in redaction criticism strike me as being weak. Because there is some similarity in wording, even a slight similarity, a redaction critic often suggests a literary relationship. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, people speaking about similar events tend to use similar language. Wenham introduces a section of comparison of different Greep passages in which he highlights similarities and differences.

p. 54 "In the case of Mark (as we have seen) Luke almost invariably keeps to his sense, but this (as we shall now show) is not so in the Q-material. Even in the ten fairly long passages (pp. 55-66 below) where there is general agreement in wording and sense the relation does not appear to be a literary one; in the nine examples (pp. 67-76) where the sense is markedly different a literary connection is improbable in the extreme."

p. 59 "If to some the wording seems to close for separate utterances retained in separate minds over several years, it needs to be remembered that in addition to a tendency towards divergence there could also have been a tendency towards assimilation when similar sayings were taught in the church."

Wenham is suggesting, then, that different authors may use different vocabulary and style to discuss the same matters, particularly if they are depending not on a source as a literary quote-book, but if they are depending rather on the events detailed in a source book. There is also a tendency to start using the same language to discuss matters when the matters are discussed within the context of an assembly such as a church body. One person uses a particularly apt manner of expression and others follow suit. This is not strictly a literary dependence.

p. 63 "The Beelzebul controversy (11:14-32) has perhaps the most plausible claim to a literary connection. It has nineteen verses which run parallel to the twenty-four verses of Matthew 12:22-45. Not only are several of the sayings of Jesus found in identical or nearly identical form, but there is a sustained similarity of order throughout much of the passage. In addition the setting, including the reactions of Jesus and of the crowds, is similar."

Wenham sums up his argument briefly on p. 66 "Looking at the Q-material studied thus far, it does not look as though the Luke who followed Mark so closely would have constructed passages out of Matthew in this way. Nor does it look as though the two evangelists followed a single common Q-source, since it would have entailed (particularly as we shall see, in the nine most divergent passages) one or other or both of them treating its different parts in too inconsistent a way."

He then goes on to bring out nine passages with sense differences between Luke and Matthew.

pp. 76-77 "If the Q-material of the Central Section does not come from the one or more Qs or from Matthew, what is the alternative? The simplest answer is the most revolutionary. The answer could be that these Q-passages have no common literary, or even oral, origin, but derive from different sayings of Jesus."

The material can be explained easily with five arguments Wenham explains on pp. 77-79.
1. It fits the claims of the narrative.
2. It fits Luke's claims for his sources.
3. It would explain the extraordinary interest in the mission of the seventy.
4. It would explain the order of the material.
5. It would account for the verbal likenesses and unlikenesses.

Wenham goes on to discuss the Great Sermon, Luke 6:20-49, which has a strong parallel in the Sermon on the Mount. Though the parallels are strong, Wenham does not think there is a clear literary dependence, because there are significant differences which would seem very odd in a literary derivation.

He goes on to talk about the remainder of Luke's Gospel, addressing five Q-passages in the rest of the book. Because the passages do not seem to line up with their parallels very well, we are faced with problems from a standpoint of literary dependence. We would expect that two authors who are not trying to be misleading would report their sources in approximately the same manner. Yet Luke and Matthew seem to report this alleged source very differently from one another.

p. 83 "This brings us back to the question of method in redaction criticism. Thus far we have simply laid the Q-passages side by side and asked the question: Does the similarity necessitate a belief that there is a direct literary connection between them? And the answer (except in rare cases) seems plainly to be, No. But of course moern writers do not conceive the relationship in this simplistic fashion. We have quoted from Fitzmyer, who presents his theory of Luke's composition with elegant sophistication. We saw in his treatment of the Coming Crisis in Luke 12:49-59 on p. 69 a case in point. He found there in succession: L, L heavily modified, Q, redaction, Q, a passage where six words out of forty-seven agree with Matthew - partly Lukan composition, partly L, Lukan composition, Q. This is all right, if one is assured a) that the relationship is primarily literary, b) that Luke was in the habit of altering the substance of his sources, c) that Q actually existed, d) that L source(s) actually existed, e) that Luke (whether by inspiration or not) created a good deal of his material de novo. But all these propositions are debatable and they beg the very question that we are investigating."

With all this data, Wenham asks a probing question on p. it. "But might it not be that Luke has kept to the sense of Q and that Matthew has done nearly all the changing?" What are other options?

p. 86 "just as Luke would not have altered a Q of the Matthean type in the way supposed, neither would Matthew have done so to one of the Lukan type. That both Matthew and Luke would have made major changes sufficient to account for the divergences between the two known versions of the Q- material is of precisely equal improbability" - we simply don't have adequate data to assess the way hypothetical sources were used.

p. 87 "Finally, we must consider the possibility that Luke got his Q- material direct from Matthew."

p. 87 "The picture which is emerging would suggest that Luke had two documents which are known to us which he used quite differently but equally scrupulously. He took Mark as his guide to the basic framework of the gospel, following the order and main substance of Mark's pericopes in the first third and final third of his book, though seldom following his actual wording. Matthew he seems to have used in a minor way to provide some supplementary information in the early part of the book."

However we stack it, it seems to me that forming a theory of literary dependence is going to be very difficult and fraught with weaknesses. It does not seem a way that authors write, which to me throws up a very substantial difficulty.