A Contribution to the Discussion Concerning the Authenticity of Jesus` Words in the Fourth Gospel
Author: Philipp F. Bartholomä
Publisher: Narr Francke Attempto Verlag
Die negative Beurteilung der Authentizität der johanneischen Jesusreden basiert häufig auf der Annahme erheblicher Gegensätze zwischen Johannes und den Synoptikern. Allerdings wurde ein sorgfältiger Vergleich zwischen den Jesusworten des Johannesevangeliums und denen in Matthäus, Markus und Lukas bisher nicht durchgeführt. Vorliegende Studie gelangt durch einen detaillierten Vergleich zu dem Ergebnis, dass die Reden Jesu im vierten Evangelium zwar in einem spezifisch johanneischen Wortlaut formuliert sind, auf inhaltlicher Ebene aber in bedeutendem Maße mit der synoptischen Lehre Jesu übereinstimmen. So lässt sich zeigen, dass die Authentizität der johanneischen Reden nicht aufgrund einer vermeintlichen Unvereinbarkeit mit den Synoptikern in Abrede gestellt werden kann.
Anyone who reads the Gospels carefully will notice that there are differences in the manner in which they report the same events. These differences have led many conservative Christians to resort to harmonization efforts that are often quite strained, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Many people have concluded the Gospels are hopelessly contradictory and therefore historically unreliable as accounts of Jesus. The majority of New Testament scholars now hold that most if not all of the Gospels belong to the genre of Greco-Roman biography and that this genre permitted some flexibility in the way in which historical events were narrated. However, few scholars have undertaken a robust discussion of how this plays out in Gospel pericopes (self-contained passages). Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? provides a fresh approach to the question by examining the works of Plutarch, a Greek essayist who lived in the first and second centuries CE. Michael R. Licona discovers three-dozen pericopes narrated two or more times in Plutarch's Lives, identifies differences between the accounts, and analyzes these differences in light of compositional devices identified by classical scholars as commonly employed by ancient authors. The book then applies the same approach to nineteen pericopes that are narrated in two or more Gospels, demonstrating that the major differences found there likely result from the same compositional devices employed by Plutarch. Showing both the strained harmonizations and the hasty dismissals of the Gospels as reliable accounts to be misguided, Licona invites readers to approach them in light of their biographical genre and in that way to gain a clearer understanding of why they differ.
The Gospel of Luke, often mined for information about the life of Jesus, is also one of the earliest Christian examples of narrative theology. Luke goes to great lengths to ground the work of Jesus in the continuing story of God's redemptive plan, and his emphasis on the ongoing character of that story challenges his audience to discern the purpose of God and order their lives around it. This exploration of the way in which he accomplishes his theological task in the first century is both informative and illuminating for contemporary readers.
When the earliest Christ-followers were baptized they participated in a politically subversive act. Rejecting the Empire's claim that it had a divine right to rule the world, they pledged their allegiance to a kingdom other than Rome and a king other than Caesar (Acts 17:7). Many books explore baptism from doctrinal or theological perspectives, and focus on issues such as the correct mode of baptism, the proper candidate for baptism, who has the authority to baptize, and whether or not baptism is a symbol or means of grace. By contrast, Caesar and the Sacrament investigates the political nature of baptism. Very few contemporary Christians consider baptism's original purpose or political significance. Only by studying baptism in its historical context, can we discover its impact on first-century believers and the adverse reaction it engendered among Roman and Jewish officials. Since baptism was initially a rite of non-violent resistance, what should its function be today?