REL 015 The English Bible
Class Notes for Week #12, 8-10 April 2003
By Sarah Farkash and Jessica Wallin (as revised by RAK)
Resurrection and Appearance Accounts (more)
- role of Galilee
- big deal in the resurrection/ascension story
- Kraft has a file about the resurrection differences in the gospels
- Luke doesn't have Jesus going to Galilee at all, unlike Matthew, (Mark).
the Gospel of Peter (kind of wishy-washy -- has it in one place but not the
other), and Gospel of Nicodemus (see also the "appendix" to G.John
= chapter 21)
The Ending of Mark is a big deal too:
- there's a problem at the end -- why does it make a difference? It's not
too big a deal in the context of our class but for detailed literary and textual
criticism it's an obvious problem
- how did we copy stuff before xerox? Typically manuscripts of any length
copied by hand are all different either because someone messed up, or there
was a purposeful change:
There are various types of purposeful changes -- e.g.
- sometimes it's a change in spelling of a name,
- sometimes it's an accidental omission of a word or line,
- sometimes it's an addition to clear something up (the manuscript says
"he" but the writer changes
it to be a specific name),
- quotations are often messed up (Matthew quotes a little of Isaiah and
the transcriber adds the rest or the transcriber changes words to be exactly
what he knows)
- Mark ends abruptly at 16.8 in two of the oldest extant manuscripts (from
the 4th Century)
- how was the ending lost? Perhaps when it was in codex form, it wasn't glued
or sewn or "stapled" and the last page was lost. If it was, in fact,
a codex, it would be our earliest Christian codex. Some people think that
Mark wanted it to be abrupt and mysterious-- there is a conscious element
of secrecy in Mark so maybe the author wanted to keep the secrecy. Maybe he
was planning on writing another book.
- Verses 9-20 (the longer ending) is found in many later manuscripts and in
most translations (often as a separate section or footnote). Some other copyists
also added their own alternate endings.
- Some manuscripts even combine two endings (the long and short). Make sure
you are aware of these differences in writing scholarly papers (and refer
to several translations when possible)
- this helps us realize that we need to be careful when taking things at face
value -- when considering theological issues, remember that things aren't
always the same from one biblical manuscript or translation to the next
Another famous passage with widespread text critical problems is in the First
Epistle of John --
- the author mentions "three witnesses" in a vague reference but
a copyist made this more explicitly to refer to the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit (story of Erasmus and his edition of the Greek NT)
- differences like this aren't a huge deal theologically but show us how the
process of transmission prior to the printing press (and xerox) allowed, perhaps
even encouraged, modifications.
- [Aside:] "Cleanliness is next to godliness" isn't in the Bible
-- it's not in Ben Sira either; Ben Franklin probably said it! ha ha ha --
sometimes what copyists expected to be there caused them to add it!
- also, terminology changes over time -- we should realize that words that
used to be used are no longer used, or have a different sense, so the transcribers
may want to change them (e.g. "gay" today!)
The NT as a loosely organized anthology:
- Traditions about Jesus' (life and) ministry mostly in the gospels
- Book of Acts is the second volume of Luke-Acts:
-not clear how the two got separated -- perhaps when John was added to the
gospel collection, it caused the separation
- there are letters associated with Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude
- Letters aren't super revealing about exactly who wrote them, so we're
- two attributed to Peter, but the styles are very different (1 Peter is
in relatively good Greek; 2 Peter is written in poor Greek and actually
reads better in translation) -- is the same author responsible for both?
Was Peter actually involved?
- John and Paul -- both "apostles" (apostle = ambassador in Greek,
one who is sent), but in different senses
- this John isn't the one associated with the book of Revelation
- Jude (Judah, Judas) could be one of a number of possibilities
- James the brother of John, son of Zebedee is an "apostle" too,
but not likely to be this author
- James who is called the "brother of Jesus" is not listed as
an "apostle" -- although Paul calls him "apostle" in
Galatians 1-2 -- and is a powerful leader of the Jerusalem group in Acts
- Paul calls himself an "apostle" because he's called the spread
- Neologism = new word (literally means new word, and it's a new word that
Kraft taught us neophytes)
- similar problem with Paul -- did he write all of the stuff attributed
to him? (13 letters in NT, plus a few not included in NT)
- four core letters -- Galatians, Romans, and 1-2 Corinthians, then 3 medium
and 3 questionable ones
- on his Paul
class site, Kraft has information on the
letters including ones not in the New Testament
[Question about women named "Mary"]
- it's tough to figure out what Mary we're talking about at certain times
- for example, at the cross, Mary Magdalene is there along with maybe 2 others,
but is one of them Jesus' mom? Is one of them James' mom?
- recognize that monogamy was not yet universal in Judaism, so family trees
can be messed up a lot
The Book of Acts in the NT is not the only ancient Christian book of
- Acts of Paul, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, John, etc
- Acts of Paul - fragments - journeys in Asia Minor - Galatia, etc.
- Acts of Peter - Peter's ministry
- Not much overlap between other Acts and Luke's Acts
- not like synoptic problem of parallel accounts
- there are two main "heros" in canonical Acts -- Peter and Paul
- no real discussion of anyone else (except Stephen) -- good place to begin
for your last paper -- Peter's preaching and healing then Paul doing the similar
things -- setting them up to be alike
- Peter is the main figure in Acts 1-5; in the beginning of Acts 8 Paul is
introduced as a persecutor (when Steven, the protomartyr [= first martyr,
or "witness" in the face of death], is stoned to death)
- [Question] Do Muslims have "martyrs"? Don't know -- probably
don't have that word for it but coule easily have taken it from Western usage
(in semitic languages, add an M to the beginning of a verb to make it a noun;
thus "Muslim" = "one who submits," Islam = "to submit")
- Jesus' followers are in the Jerusalem area only -- Steven is chosen to
minister to widows and orphans as one of the "seven deacons" --
he offends the Jews -- his death is the impetus to preach to the surrounding
- Paul is the antagonist of Steven -- Paul gets permission to kill Jews in
the North (by Damascus)
- Jesus appears to Paul, who is blinded temporarily in the process -- we have
reports of Paul traveling and making converts among the Gentiles
- paper topic -- evidence that early Christians believed that the end times
- Acts 15: "Apostolic Council" in Jerusalem
- the radical faction (like Paul) wanted followers of Jesus NOT to have
to be Jewish
- the conservatives believed a person had to be Jewish to follow Jesus
- the decision was that a person didn't have to be Jewish but needed to
follow Noahic Laws (about food and idolatry and sexual behavior)
- Why does Paul want to preach to the Gentiles? Presumably he thinks that
the end times are at hand when the promise to Abraham in Genesis that
through him all the nations/gentiles will be blessed
- Acts 15 and after also mentions the centrality of James/Jacob, Jesus'
brother, in Jerusalem
- Acts 28 ends with Paul's house arrest in Rome -- from his travels, he got
to Rome which means that the Christian message reached the symbolic center
of that world
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
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?
- internal evidence (what it says) v. external evidence (who used it, who
quoted, alluded, cited it?)
- technical, type of Greek in which written could suggest early 2nd cent.
- chapter 16 onward has "we" sections - author there? - diary source?
- why didn't regularize things? they -> we -> they -> we conjecture:
participant in some events with mechanical insertions -
- compare w/ Matthew and Mark and then apply to Luke & Acts
- "culture living on"-(piggies - mice - Gospels morph similarly
over time) none of the preserved Christian writings are in Hebrew - Matthew
sayings of Lord might have been in Hebrew and then translated - different
Matthew than the one we typically reference? different tradition or development
of that one?
- Jerusalem = where God operates primarily - Paul not from there, but by being
there gets validation --
- Luke Acts discusses geography a lot (like of Jerusalem)
Themes of Luke-Acts:
- Beginning with the birth of John the Baptist -> birth of Jesus ->
Jesus in Jerusalem at 12 years old ->... etc
- only in Luke-Acts is there attention to what's going on in the non-Jewish
world - mentions census by Augustus - gives context of when Herod the Great
was alive, mentions who was governor of Syria; but it is hard to fit these
historical refs together;
- then Jesus baptized at about 30 (only gospel to mention this sort of information).
-Matthew & Mark are less concerned about chronology, Luke talks about
the relationship between Pilate and Herod.
- Theophile probably funding project, & didn't have great deal of knowledge
= patron to project, research. It was considered a duty of the rich at the
time to spend money on "liturgies" (= "services") supporting
temples and civic institutions (as we see from various inscriptions). "Luke"
(author of Luke Acts) may have been commissioned to report on what's going
on, and has personal involvement
- Dedication to Theophilus/Theophile at the beginning of Luke and Acts is
unique in New Testament.
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//