Gary Greenberg's blog on biblical studies and related matters

The Case for a Proto-Gospel and the Healing of a Blind Man in Bethsaida

I have been doing a series of posts on my new book The Case for a Proto-Gospel. Here are links to previous entries.

Introduction

Standard Source Criticism Theory

The Luke-John Problem

John’s Theological Biases

John’s Editorial Techniques

The Paralytic on the Mat

Mark 8:22-26 tells of Jesus healing a blind man at Bethsaida. According to the story, some people brought a blind man to Jesus  and asked for help. Jesus put saliva in the man’s eye and laid hands upon him. When he finished he asked if the man could see anything. The man indicated that he had some vision but it was not clear. Jesus laid hands on him again, and the man’s vison was restored and he could see clearly. The laying of hands suggests that Jesus healed the blind man through an exorcism.

Scholarly commentaries on this story focus on two elements. First, they are troubled by the allegation that Jesus used saliva to heal the man, and many scholars see this as an indication that the story goes back to an early primitive layer in the Jesus tradition. Matthew and Luke also seem to have been troubled by Jesus’ use of saliva to heal as they both chose not to include this story in their respective gospels. This suggests that as time went by, some Jesus followers were troubled by the way this story portrayed Jesus.

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June 2020 Biblical Studies Carnival

Catch up in the June 2020 Biblical Studies Carnival roundup of some of the interesting bible-oriented posts you may have missed. Just don’t think you arrived at the wrong place when you take a fast look at the header. This month’s host, Jim West.

Interested in hosting a future carnival. Jim posts the following message from Phil Long, the carnival organizer.

Here are the upcoming hosts. No hosts for October 2020 (Due November 1) and after. I am willing to take a later month if someone wants August. July 2020 (Due August 1) – Bob MacDonald  @drmacdonald

August 2020 (Due September 1) – Phillip Long, Reading Acts @plong42

September 2020 (Due October 1) – Brent Niedergall’s blog. https://niedergall.com  @BrentNiedergall

Are you new to blogging? Are you a lapsed biblioblogger? James McGrath has some encouraging words for you.

Would you like to see your posts included in a future carnival? Start by writing a quality academic post, perhaps a book review. Then send the link to the upcoming host. It is entirely their decision to include your post in their carnival, but you can at least nominate yourself for inclusion. Sometimes you have to toot your own horn.

If you have questions about what writing a carnival involves, contact me via email, plong42@gmail.com or twitter DM @plong42. I would be happy to answer any questions.

The Case for a Proto-Gospel and the Paralytic on the Mat

Mark 2 and John 5 both have stories about Jesus healing a paralytic lying on a mat that seem to share some common features. Yet the details of the respective stories are so different that many (most?) scholars question whether the two stories share a common literary heritage. The consensus seems to be that they two accounts are unrelated and evolved from different sources. In The Case for a Proto-Gospel I argue otherwise.

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Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem?

Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem?

Luke and Matthew both place Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. These are the only references in the New Testament to Bethlehem as Jesus’ place of birth. There are problems with those claims and  I’ll come back to them in a moment. First, let’s look at Mark, the first gospel written, and John, the last gospel written.

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The Case for a Proto-Gospel and John’s Editorial Techniques

In my previous post on The case for a Proto-Gospel I outlined the theological reasons behind John’s rewriting of Mark’s source document. In this post I will examine some of John’s editorial practices that frequently make it hard to recognize his use of a story appearing in Mark.

A major Johannine practice was to take multiple stories that shared a similar theme or some other common story details and integrating them into a single narrative such that the constituent stories no longer look like the original versions.

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The Case for a Proto-Gospel and John’s Theological Biases

While it is almost universally recognized that Matthew and Luke used Mark as their prime source of information for their respective gospels, it is also well recognized that Matthew and Luke frequently add to, omit or change details present in Mark’s source story, occasionally in significant ways. This is largely attributed to Matthew and Luke editing Mark to fit their respective theological agendas. Yet, when stories in John appear to intersect with stories in the synoptic gospels, John is rarely accorded the same privilege.

While there is obviously a vast library of writings describing John’s theology and how it might differ from the synoptic gospels, there appears to be almost no effort to apply John’s theological principles to any of the synoptic gospels, using the theology as a filter for examining what changes John would likely have made if he knew the story. While there may be an isolated comparison between a Johannine story and a synoptic story here and there, I believe The Case for a Proto-Gospel presents the first scholarly study to provide a full-scale systemic look at all of John and how his theological principles interact with the synoptic gospel stories.

In this post, I will outline how John’s theological concerns can function as a filter for reading the synoptic gospels, which enables us to identify theological problems that would bother John and require corrections if he were to edit the synoptic story. In the next post, I’ll identify some of the editorial techniques John used to make these corrections. In subsequent posts, I’ll examine various synoptic stories and show how John’s theology and editorial practice come together to transform synoptic stories into Johannine versions that share the same underlying story elements present in the synoptic story but which often looks so different from the synoptic story.

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Podcast: Does John know the synoptic gospels?

An interesting discussion between Mark Goodacre and Chris Keith about John’s interaction with the synoptic gospels. Both are well-respected scholars and they raise questions about the current consensus that John did not know the synoptic gospels. As a predicate (or follow-up) you may want to look at my article at the Bible and Interpretation site, Is John a Synoptic Gospel?

And, of course, if you want the full story, check out my new book, The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source behind Mark and John