REL 015 The English Bible

Class Notes for Week #12, 8-10 April 2003
By Sarah Farkash and Jessica Wallin (as revised by RAK)

Tuesday 4/8

Resurrection and Appearance Accounts (more)

The Ending of Mark is a big deal too:

Another famous passage with widespread text critical problems is in the First Epistle of John --

The NT as a loosely organized anthology:

[Question about women named "Mary"]

The Book of Acts in the NT is not the only ancient Christian book of Acts

Thursday 4/10

EARLY CHRISTIANITY: Materials, Authors, Chronology, Who's Who, Events

Methodological comment: if we approach Christian materials strictly chronologically, the earliest surviving literature is Paul's letters, from around 48-58 CE (earliest copies around 200 CE), earlier than Matthew Mark Luke & John but perhaps about the time of the presumed "Q" source;
although the surviving gospels are later than Paul, they might incorporate earlier material. Mark apparently is the earliest and was written around 70 CE but Paul died around 65 CE.

In reports about Paul in Acts, there is no hint of his writing letters -- is this significant? Josephus and early Roman historians also don't mention Paul.
-a borrowable video on Peter & Paul that Dr. Kraft has covers issue: do you have to be Jewish (circumcised) to become Christian? But the movie does not highlight eschatological message of Paul and early Christians

-NT materials were in wide circulation by 200 (see papyri fragments) -- other writings associated with Paul besides the 13 (or 14 --Catholics include Hebrews as 14th letter of Paul) in the New Testament include a letter to Laodicea, a third letter to Corinth, correspondence between Paul and Seneca, two apocalypses, and the Acts of (Peter and) Paul

-Hebrews - letter "to" or "against" the Hebrews? (Greek ambiguity)

A possible explanation for why Luke-Acts is so concerned about women: perhaps dedicated to/written for a woman called Theophile = "lover of God" (masculine form is Theophilos) -- was it a name or a title? need to examine ancient gravestones, letters, genealogies, etc., to be sure.

-Luke expanded by Acts -- resurrected Jesus is with the disciples 40 days -- gnostic sources focus on the "living Jesus" (resurrected Jesus with disciples, teaching, much longer than 40 days in some of these sources); Matthew and John don't specify a period of time.

-Acts was written after 60 CE (mentions people and events to then), but how much? Don't know -- some people say about 80 CE, some say as late as 120 CE -- what is author doing with chronology and geography?

Themes of Luke-Acts:

There are various accounts of Jesus' "ascension." Did Paul have an idea of ascension? according to Paul Jesus' resurrected appearances were to Cephas/Peter, the 12, more than 500, Jacob/James, all the apostles, and finally to Paul (1 Cor 15); does this imply that Paul thought Jesus then left the earth? After how long a period? The crucifixion can be located in time and space (in Jerusalem, when Pilate was prefect); but the reported resurrection appearances and their aftermath are less clear

"Par/ousia" = "presence" of Jesus, but as time passes, becomes a "2nd coming" -- thus "wait for my presence" initially involved finishing what had been begun, completing the end times; "2nd coming" is a later interpretation as the end does not arrive but again becomes a future hope

There were many more accounts of Jesus' life/crucifixion/resurrection/ascension than are in the New Testament -- e.g. the appearance to Jacob/James (mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor 15) is not in the NT gospels, but appeared in the lost "Gospel of the Hebrews," of which we have fragments (quotations).

Gospels that are included in NT are much more oriented toward history, material world, countering gnostic ideas about Jesus representing non-material reality -- the polemical situation in 1st 3-4 generations of Christianity may be reflected here -- the winners choose their traditions, others are not represented.
-gnostics - not happy with God who created awful world - distinguish between God of Jews (creator) and the God of Jesus and Paul (who rescues from created world by mystical/spiritual means).

Christians couldn't get together legally in the early period -- Romans didn't like new or secretive movements
-Christians were critical of their Roman situation - corrupt & sinful applied to Rome and Jewish leaders - not overtly political, but overtones
Justin the "Apologist" and Martyr -- addresses writings to emperor explaining Christian views and seeking fair treatment -- literary address.

[Aside] Occam's Razor - simplest answer is preferable. Kraft - "historian should not shave with Occam's Razor" - history is not simple, just as our lives are not simple; recognize complexity of issues

-next time : Paul - relate him to Acts author claims
read Galatians and Romans then 1st and 2nd Corinthians
... then Pastorals - 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus

//end of notes for week #12//