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Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus by Norman Perrin


Norman Perrin is the Associate Professor of New Testament at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus and has published numerous articles and book reviews. Published by Harper & Row, New York and Evanston, 1967. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Dick and Sue Kendall and Ted & Winnie Brock.


Chapter 1: The Reconstruction and Interpretation of the Teaching of Jesus


THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS

The fundamental problem in connection with knowledge of the teaching of Jesus is the problem of reconstructing that teaching from the sources available to us, and the truth of the matter is that the more we learn about those sources the more difficult our task seems to become. The major source, the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), contains a great deal of teaching material ascribed to Jesus, and it turns out to be precisely that: teaching ascribed to Jesus and yet, in fact, stemming from the early Church.

The early Church made no attempt to distinguish between the words the earthly Jesus had spoken and those spoken by the risen Lord through a prophet in the community, nor between the original teaching of Jesus and the new understanding and reformulation of that teaching reached in the catechesis or parenesis of the Church under the guidance of the Lord of the Church. The early Church absolutely and completely identified the risen Lord of her experience with the earthly Jesus of Nazareth and created for her purposes, which she conceived to be his, the literary form of the gospel, in which words and deeds ascribed in her consciousness to both the earthly Jesus and the risen Lord were set down in terms of the former. This is a fact of great theological significance, and this significance will concern us in our last chapter, but it is also the reason for our major problem in reconstructing the teaching of Jesus: we do distinguish between those two figures and when we say ‘the teaching of Jesus’ we mean the teaching of the earthly Jesus, as the early Church did not.

Further, the gospel form was created to serve the purpose of the early Church, but historical reminiscence was not one of those purposes. So, for example, when we read an account of Jesus giving instruction to his disciples, we are not hearing the voice of the earthly Jesus addressing Galilean disciples in a Palestinian situation but that of the risen Lord addressing Christian missionaries in a Hellenistic world, and if the early Church had not needed instructions for those missionaries in that situation, there would have been no such pericope in our gospels. Of course, there may have been a faint echo of the voice of the earthly Jesus, for example, instructing his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God, but if this is the case, it is overlaid and almost drowned out by the voice of the risen Lord, so that fine tuning indeed will be needed to catch it.

Many will say that all this is supposition and the purpose could have been historical reminiscence. To this we can only reply that could is not the point. The point is that contemporary scholarship, as we shall argue below, has been completely successful in explaining pericope after pericope on the basis of the needs and concerns of the early Church, and that over and over again pericopes which have been hitherto accepted as historical reminiscence have been shown to be something quite different. So far as we can tell today, there is no single pericope anywhere in the gospels, the present purpose of which is to preserve a historical reminiscence of the earthly Jesus, although there may be some which do in fact come near to doing so because a reminiscence, especially of an aspect of teaching such as a parable, could be used to serve the purpose of the Church or the evangelist.

To defend this statement we will now give some of the considerations that have led us to make it, for we began our work on the gospel materials with a different view of their nature, and we would claim that the gospel materials themselves have forced us to change our mind.

We have been particularly influenced by a consideration of Mark 9.1 and its parallels:

Mark 9.1. And he said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’

Matt. 16.28. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,

Luke 9.27. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste of death before they see the kingdom of God.

Here it is clear that the Matthaean and Lukan sayings are theologically motivated variations of the Markan. Matthew has a characteristic concern for the expectation of the coming of Jesus as Son of man which lie betrays in several ways: lie is the only evangelist to use the technical term ‘parousia’ (24.27, 37, 39); he alone has the parable of the sheep and goats, a kind of haggada on the theme ‘When the Son of man comes in his glory . . .‘ (25.31); lie introduces a reference to it into a saying from Q (Matt. t9.28; cf. Luke 22.28—30). So here he has understood the coming of the Kingdom ‘in power’ in Mark to be a reference to the eschaton and has then reformulated the saying to express his own particular conviction with regard to the form of that eschaton. It should be noted that he has also strengthened the reference in the previous verse, changing Mark’s ‘. . . the Son of man when lie comes . . .‘ to ‘. . . the Son of man is about to come .‘ (Mark 8.38; Matt. t6.27). Matthew leaves his readers in no doubt as to what it is they are to expect!

Luke, on the other hand, completely reformulates the primitive Christian eschatology. It is true that lie maintains the traditional form of the expectation (Luke 21.27 = Mark 13.26), but it is no longer for him a point of major concern. His major concern is the ongoing life and work of the Christian community as it settles down to face, so to speak, the long haul of history. So he subtly alters the tone of the whole pericope by a series of omissions and insertions which transform the Markan challenge to preparedness for martyrdom into a Lukan challenge to bear the burden of a continual witnessing.1 Two of the subtlest but most effective of his changes in the text of his Markan Vorlage are the insertion of ‘daily’ in Luke 9.23 (cf. Mark 8.34) and the omission of ‘come with power’ in our text. The former changes the concern of the whole to a continual witnessing, and the latter makes the reference to the Kingdom a quite general one which we, following Conzelmann, would interpret as a reference to the Kingdom which becomes visible in the ministry of Jesus, but which will he truly known only at the End. Another possible interpretation is that of Streeter, who refers it to the era of Pentecost and the Christian Church, an interpretation denied by Conzelmann.2 In either case, the saying in its Lukan form reflects a Lukan conception of the Kingdom and serves a purpose in terms of the Lukan theology; that is the point which concerns us.

The Matthaean and Lukan versions of the saying are theologically motivated productions of the evangelists, but how does the matter stand in the case of Mark 9.1 itself? A study of the composition of this pericope as a whole shows that it has been carefully composed by Mark. 3. The first question, ‘Who do men say that I am?’ (v. 27), answered in terms of a tradition the evangelist had already used in 6:14f., leads to the second, ‘But who do you say . . .?‘ (v. 29), answered by Peter as spokesman for the disciples, and for the Christians for whom Mark was writing, in terms of a post-Easter Christian confession. Then we have the dramatic presentation of the theme that, as the way of the Christ was not without suffering, so also the way of the Christian may involve martyrdom. This is then developed through a group of sayings about discipleship, martyrdom and reward, ending with the warning which the Christian must heed in his hour of trial: those who fail their Lord and reject him will be rejected by him when he comes as Son of man. But they need expect to suffer only a little while, for God is about to act ‘in power’ and thereafter there will be no more suffering, only glory, no more death, only life.4.

The pericope moves to its climax, then, with the verses 8.38 and 9.1, and these sayings, in their present form, are essential to the Markan purpose. They form the climactic combination of warning and promise with which the pericope closes. In the case of Mark 8.38, we know that Mark has not composed the saying itself, because it is part of a tradition with a very complex history;5 rather, he has modified a saying in the tradition to make it suitable for his purpose. In this respect, Mark 8.38 is like Matt. 16.28 and Luke 9.27, where we can see the theologically motivated work of the evangelists because we have the earlier forms of the sayings upon which they worked. But in Mark 9.1 this is no longer the case. We have no other and earlier version of this saying. However, if we examine it carefully, we can see that it is a very complex saying indeed. As we shall point out in detail later in our discussion of sayings which set a time limit to the coming of the End, 6. it is related in form anti wording both to Mark 13.30 and 8.38. It shares with 13.30 its overall form, its solemn introduction and its particular negation (double negation with subj.), and with 8.38 its final reference to the eschaton ‘coming’. Furthermore, it has a number of features either particularly relevant to its present function in the pericope or apparently characteristic of Mark himself. ‘. . . some who will not taste death . . .‘ is an expression from the world o fJewish apocalyptic where it refers to men who have been removed from the earth without dying, especially Enoch and Elijah, and who were expected to return with the Messiah to inaugurate the time of salvation and blessing.7. Its presence is, therefore, peculiarly appropriate in a saying promising final deliverance from a time of persecution, certainly understood by Mark as the period of the ‘messianic woes’ immediately preceding the End (cf. Mark 13.30: ‘. . . this generation will not pass away before all these things take place’). The idea of ‘seeing’ the parousia is a feature of Mark (9.1; 13.26; 14.62), 8. as is also the use of ‘power’ and ‘glory’ in this connection. 9.

We shall argue later that the explanation for these phenomena is that the saying is a Markan construction, modeled on the saying now found in 13:30 and deliberately echoing the last part of 8.38, but with variations from botrh of these sayings which can be accounted for in terms of the Markan style and of the specific use Mark intends to make of the saying as a promise tro a church facing the possibility of persecution. 10.

The three sayings: Mark 9:1; Matt. 16:28; Luke 9:27, therefore, are, in our view all products of the evangelists, each creating the particular saying, Matthew and Luke transforming Mark 9:1 and Mark producing a new saying from Mark 13:30 and 8:38. But if this is true of Mark 9:1 and its parallels it can be equally true of any and every saying in the gospels. Any and every saying in the Gospels could be the product of an evangelist or transmitter of the tradition. Nor can we assume that the sayings will be based upon genuine sayings of Jesus. Mark 9:1 is not, and both Matthew and Luke simply use the saying before them without concerning themselves as to its origin, and the saying they use is, in fact, a Markan production. The freedom of the evangelists to produce theologically motivated variations, and their lack of concern for the origins of sayings which they find in the tradition, are clearly revealed in Mark 9:1 and its parallels, and they are very siignificant indeed, so far as our understanding of the nature of the synoptic tradition is concerned.

Let us continue to examine the nature of the synoptic tradition by considering the results of the work of the scholar who has probably done more than any other to make available to contemporary scholarship historical knowledge of the teaching of Jesus, Joachim Jeremias of Gottingen, whom we are proud to acknowledge as our teacher. Jeremias has achieved his most spectacular results by connection with the parables ascribed to Jesus in the tradition, for he has been able to reconstruct a history of the parabolic tradition, working back from the texts as we have them, through the various stages of the Church’s influence on it, to the tradition as it must have existed at the beginning of the history of its transmission by the Church. At this point he is able to argue that the tradition in this form must be ascribed to Jesus rather than to the early Church, because it now fits the situation of the ministry of the historical Jesus much better than that of the earliest Christian community and because its theology, and in particular its eschatology, is Jesuanic rather than early Christian. 11. The results of this work on the parables have been widely accepted, and most recent works on the teaching of Jesus make extensive use of them. We shall return to Jeremias’s work on the parables again and again, for it is epoch-making in several respects, but for the moment we want only to call attention to the consequences of this work so far as a general view of the nature of the synoptic tradition is concerned the success of Jeremias’s work demands that we accept his starting-point, namely, that any parable as it now stands in the gospels represents the teaching of the early Church and the way back from the early Church to the historical Jesus is a long and arduous one. 12.

There are a limited number of instances where the parable in very much its original form made a point of significance to the early Church, even if that was different from the point originally intended by the historical Jesus, and in such cases the gospel form of the parable may approximate to the original, e.g. the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. But these arc exceptions, and they are exceptions which prove the rule. They are presented in more or less their original form because in this form they served the purpose of the Church, or the evangelist, and not because there was any historical interest in the original form as such. Most of the parables, however, have been considerably modified in the tradition; they were transformed into allegories, supplied with new conclusions, interpreted and reinterpreted, and always under the pressure of meeting the need of the Church in a changing situation. Certainly, every single parable in the tradition has to be approached with the basic assumption that, as it now stands, it represents the teaching of the early Church: that the voice is the voice of the risen Lord to the evangelist, and of the evangelist to the Church, not that of the historical Jesus to a group gathered by the sea of Galilee.

But the parables represent by all odds the most markedly individualistic characteristic of the teaching of Jesus; both in form and content they were highly original and strongly stamped with the personality of their author. If they could be so readily and completely transformed in the tradition, how much more must not less strongly individualistic forms of teaching have been transformed?

Another point to be considered in this connection is the increasing degree of success attaching to efforts made to analyze forms of teaching present in the gospel tradition as forms known to be characteristic of the early Church. One can mention here, as a good example, Ernst Kasemann’s brilliant ‘Satze heiligen Rechtes im Neuen Testament’, 13. which clearly shows that there existed in the early Church what we shall call an eschatological judgment pronouncement tradition having its roots in Christian prophecy and its Sitz im Leben in the Eucharist. The characteristic form of this tradition is that of a two-part pronouncement with the same verb in each part, in the first part referring to the activity of man and in the second to the eschatological activity of God. We give four examples of this form, two each from the gospels and epistles respectively.

I Cor. 3:17, If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.

I Cor. 14.38. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 14.

Mark 8.38. For whoever is ashamed . . . of him will the Son of man also be ashamed.

Matt. 6:14f. For if you forgive . . . your heavenly Father also will forgive you . . . if you do not forgive . . . neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.

Kasemann’s argument that this form of pronouncement comes from early Christian prophecy is careful and convincing, with the result that we must accept the fact that in their present form the two gospel sayings come from an early Christian tradition and not from the teaching of Jesus. This does not mean that they may not ultimately be based upon a saying of Jesus—Matt. 6.14 is certainly derived ultimately from the central petition of the Lord’s Prayer and Mark 8.38 will concern us later—but it does mean that these gospel sayings are a direct source for knowledge of early Christian prophecy, not of the teaching of Jesus.

Another instance of the way in which material now in the gospels can be shown to be the product of early Christian tradition may be quoted from Barnabas Lindars, New Testament Apologetic (London: SCM Press, and Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961). This is a most important book, developing new insights into the nature and formation of earliest Christian tradition from observation of the use of the Old Testament, an observation made possible by information derived from the Qumran pesliarim. It is evident that the earliest Christians made most significant use of the Old Testament in their theologizing. They developed major aspects of their belief and expectation from Old Testament texts, interpreting the texts in the light of their experience and their experience in the light of the texts. The Christian practice here paralleled that of the Qumran scribes and, like those scribes, the Christians read the Old Testament texts as strictly relating to themselves and their experiences, and they exercised very considerable freedom in regard to the wording of the texts. An example of the development of Christian exegetical traditions as we see the matter, having taken our starting-point from Lindars’s work, may be found below in the discussion of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings. 15. For the moment, however, we concern ourselves with a particular aspect of Lindars’s own work, his convincing demonstration of the fact that the pericope on the question of David’s son, Mark 12.35-37, is a product of early Christian exegetical traditions and not a reminiscence of the ministry of Jesus.

In a brilliant analysis of Peter’s Pentecost speech in Acts 2, Lindars shows that its present structure reveals a combination of two different Old Testament passages, each accompanied by the Christian pesher on it: Joel 2.28—32 (Acts 2.14—2!; 38f.) and Ps. 16.8—11 (Acts 2.22_36). The Christian pesher on Psalm i6, like the pesharim from Qumran, uses both that Psalm itself and also other Old Testament passages in its interpretation, in this instance particularly Ps. I 10.1, and Lindars offers a detailed, and completely convincing, analysis of Acts 2.22—36 and the early Christian exegesis which underlies it. 16. The point which concerns us here is that he is able to go on to show that the argument in the pericope Mark 52.35—37 turns upon a claim that ‘Lord’ is either inconsistent with, or greatly superior to, ‘son of David’. But such a claim depends upon the arguments that the ‘Lord’ sits at the right hand of God whereas the ‘son of David’ sat upon an earthly throne, i.e. it depends on the argument of Acts 2.34 (‘For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, "the Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand . . .‘ " ‘). ‘Viewed in this light’ concludes Lindars, quite correctly, ‘the whole pericope is evidently derived from the exegesis preserved in Acts 2. In other words, the pericope about David’s son is a ‘historicization’ of an early Christian exegetical tradition and a product of the early Church; it is not a historical reminiscence of the ministry of Jesus.

Still another factor to be adduced in a consideration of the nature of the synoptic gospel tradition is the success with which this tradition has been approached from the viewpoint of its exhibiting the theological concerns of the evangelists. Here the crux of the matter is the gospel of Mark, for this is regarded by main-stream critical scholarship as the earliest of the gospels, and it has been used as the major source in all attempts to achieve a historical presentation of the ministry of Jesus. British scholars, such as T. W. Manson and C. H. Dodd, for example, concerned to preserve the broad outline of the ministry of Jesus as historical, must of necessity strenuously defend the historicity of the Markan order. But recent scholarship has shown that the Markan order in general represents the theologically motivated order of events presented in early Christian preaching, and in its detail the order represents the concerns of the evangelist himself. The one thing it does not represent, either in general or in detail, is historical reminiscence of the ministry of Jesus. The most one could argue is that the order presented in early Christian preaching was the result of historical reminiscence; but this is to make an assumption about early Christian preaching, that it was interested in historical reminiscence, for which we have absolutely no evidence. The opposite view, that it was theologically motivated, is the one for which we have evidence. The characteristics of the Markan order, and the order of early Christian preaching, are precisely the things that we can explain theologically, whereas it is doubtful whether they are, in fact, true historically. Examples of this are the beginning with John the Baptist and the one visit to Jerusalem. Both of these clearly reflect a theological purpose, and although the former may also be historically true, the latter is against all probability. The Markan order in general, and the views of Manson and Dodd in particular, were discussed in the present writer’s previous book 17. and the views of contemporary scholarship on the theological motivation of Mark, and of the other synoptic evangelists and their traditions, are readily available. 18. We do not, therefore, propose to discuss the matter further here; it is sufficient for our purposes to call attention to this aspect of the contemporary understanding of the nature of the Markan gospel material and to remark that what is true for Mark is true also for Luke and Matthew. They, too, are theologically motivated in the arrangement, presentation and even formulation of their material. Nor is this true only of the evangelists themselves; when we go behind the evangelists to the material they have used, for example, the account of the Temptation or Transfiguration or the source Q’, we do not come to historical reminiscence, but still only to theologically motivated narrative or formulation and collection of sayings.19.

The views that we are here presenting as to the nature of the gospel tradition are the results of what may loosely be called ‘form criticism’, although technically one would have to use a whole array of German words to describe the various aspects of the work: Formgeschichte, Redaktionsgeschichte, Reaktionstheologie, Traditionsgeschichte, etc. We will, however, follow the generally accepted usage and refer to them as ‘form-critical’ views. They have not, of course, escaped criticism and attempts at refutation. The arguments against them most often found are those characteristic of Roman Catholic and the more conservative Protestant biblical scholarship. They consist of three main points:20. (1) The community would not have possessed the creative power which form criticism attributes to it in ascribing so much of the gospel material to the early Church. (2) The New Testament itself appeals to ‘eyewitnesses and ministers of the word’ as authorities for the tradition (Luke 1:2), thereby showing its concern for the historical ministry of Jesus. (3) During the period of the formation of the tradition, the first few decades of the Church’s life, there were men living and active in the Church who had been eyewitnesses and earwitnesses of the ministry of Jesus, for example, James, Peter and John, the ‘pillars’ of the church in Jerusalem (Gal. 2.9). These are a strong guarantee for the accuracy of the tradition of Jesus’ words and deeds.

Before discussing these three points in some detail, two things need to he said in general. The first of these is that we must strenuously avoid the assumption that the ancient world thought as the modern western world thinks. This is such a truism that one is almost ashamed to pen the words, and yet it remains a fact that, in a great deal of the more conservative biblical scholarship, it does seem to be assumed that the appeal to factual accuracy would he as valid and important a factor in the case of ancient Near Eastern religious texts as it would be in a modern western court of law or in a somewhat literally-minded western congregation. Against this it can only he stated that this is simply not the ease. No ancient texts reflect the attitudes characteristic of the modern western world, and some of the difficulties we see in texts about Jesus could be matched by difficulties to be seen in texts about Pythagoras or Socrates. All this is obvious and yet it needs to be said, if only to clear the air for a consideration of the early Christian use of a word such as ‘eyewitness’.

The second thing to he said in general is that we must constantly remind ourselves that the early Church absolutely identified the risen Lord of her experience with the historical Jesus and vice versa, as we pointed out earlier in this chapter. This becomes particularly important to us, in our present immediate context, when we consider the practice of the apostle Paul. He claims, as the basis for his apostleship, to have ‘seen the Lord’ (I Coy. 9.1), by whom he certainly means the risen Lord of the Damascus-road experience; and we should note that when he uses the technical formula for receiving and handing on tradition, and speaks of having received it ‘from the Lord’ (I Cor. II .23), he also there means the Risen One, the Lord of the Church. Even if the Lord’s Supper paranese which follows (I Cor. 11:.23b--25) should ultimately be based upon a historical reminiscence of an actual Passover celebrated by Jesus with his disciples shortly before his death—and that is in itself a very considerable ‘if’—there is no doubt hut that the paranese represents an extensive development away from that original reminiscence. At the very least, all the Passover aspects have disappeared, the ‘words of institution’ have been reformulated in light of early Christian eucharistic practice (‘Do this as often as you drink, in remembrance of mc’), and the paranese concludes with an injunction (v. 26) which cannot have come from the earthly Jesus. Now, none of this would matter to Paul. Precisely because for him risen Lord and earthly Jesus are one and the same person, it would be a matter of complete indifference to him whether all, some, or none, of the words ascribed to the ‘Lord Jesus’ of the paranese had, in fact, been spoken by the earthly Jesus to his disciples at an actual Passover, since they were being spoken by the risen Lord to his Church at the Eucharist. But it would matter to a modern writer who concerned himself with the question of the teaching of Jesus about his death, to such a one it would matter very much indeed. This, again, is an obvious point, but it needs to be stressed: the modern distinction between historical Jesus and risen Lord is quite foreign to the early Church.

Now to the three arguments against the form-critical view of the gospels, of which the first was that it ascribes too great a creative power to the community. This argument breaks down on the fact that the contemporary form critic does not deal with a nebulous entity, ‘the community’, to which he ascribes all kinds of powers; he deals with specific groups, individuals and traditions which he isolates, identifies and delineates. Käsemann, for example, deals specifically with Christian prophecy, isolating it by references taken from the Pauline corpus and Revelation; Lindars with Christian exegetical traditions; Haenchen with the evangelist Mark, to mention only works we have used above. The force of this work is not to be denied by any generalization about ‘the community’ and its ‘creative power’, or lack of it. It could only be denied by offering an alternative and more convincing explanation of the actual phenomena in the New Testament texts to which these scholars are calling attention and with which they are dealing.

The second argument turned on the fact that the New Testament itself; and more especially Luke, appeals to the testimony of ‘eyewitnesses and ministers of the word’ (Luke 1.2). If we resolutely ban from our minds, however, what a modern writer would mean by an ‘eyewitness’ and ask ourselves what Luke meant by the expression, then this argument also breaks down. Luke considers Paul an eyewitness! The actual word used in Luke 1.2, autoptai, does not occur again in Luke—Acts, 21. but it is paralleled in meaning in the words which Luke has Ananias say to Paul in Acts 22.14f.: ‘The God of our Fathers has appointed you . . . to see the Just One and to hear the voice from his mouth, that you may be a witness to him . . .‘, and the risen Lord to him in Acts 26.16: ‘I am Jesus . . . for this reason I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and witness . .Any attempt to argue for accuracy of the tradition so far as the historical Jesus is concerned on the basis of Luke’s use of ‘eyewitness’ is to fail to take into account the clear fact that he, like Paul, absolutely identifies risen Lord and earthly Jesus and so regards Paul as, in effect, an ‘eyewitness and minister of the word’.

The third argument was an appeal to the fact that there were some people active in the early Church whom even we would have to call ‘eyewitnesses’, such as James, Peter and John. This argument would be effective if we could show that these men, unlike Paul and Luke, did feel that it was important to maintain the separate identity of the historical Jesus, and hence to preserve the Jesus tradition from changes under the influence of the risen Lord. It has always to be remembered that no one in the early Church regarded the changes going on in the synoptic-type Jesus-tradition as due to anything other than the influence of the risen Lord. The only man whose work we can trace in the synoptic tradition who ever concerns himself to remain reasonably true, in our sense of that word, to his sources is Luke, and even he does not hesitate to make very considerable changes indeed when he has theological reasons for doing so. 22. But where is there any evidence whatever that an attempt was made to preserve a narrative from theological development and change? Or, alternatively, where is there a narrative, the details of which are more readily explicable on the basis of an eyewitness’s concern for historical accuracy and reminiscence than on that of evangelical and theological motives demonstrably at work in the tradition?

The influence of such eyewitnesses would he most evident in the case of narratives of events and occasions, as distinct from collections of sayings and teaching material. But if we consider the narratives in the gospels, we must note that many of them have been freely created within the early Church, especially the controversies, for example, the David’s Son pericope we discussed above, and the ascension narrative (Luke 24.51 RSV margin) 23. and even ones in which the ‘eyewitnesses’ play a considerable role: the Confession at Caesarea Philippi, discussed above, and the Transfiguration.’ Others have been so modified in the course of their transmission in the tradition that today we can know almost nothing about the details of the events themselves, only the fact that they happened. The details have been supplied, often from the Old Testament, but also from other sources, to serve the theological, apologetic and interpretative motives of the Church. In this connection we think particularly of the narratives of the Baptism and the Crucifixion. 25. The most that the present writer believes can ever be claimed for a gospel narrative is that it may represent a typical scene from the ministry of Jesus, for example the narrative of the Paralytic at Capernaum, Mark 2:1—12 par. Here, we can argue, is something the like of which must have happened in the ministry ofJesus; here are elements that must have been a feature of that ministry. 26. But we can argue this on the basis of the ‘criterion of dissimilarity’, to be described below, i.e. on the basis of differences between these stories and those to be found in Judaism, Hellenism or later Christianity, not on the basis of the veracity of eyewitnesses and the tenacity of their influence. Against this latter argument there is one decisive factor: the fact that the ‘eyewitnesses’ would have had to be quite different in interest and concern from any men whose influence we can trace in the synoptic tradition. In the instance of the story of the Paralytic at Capernaum, the evangelists have used the tradition to serve their own purposes, Mark (followed by Luke) as a demonstration of the authority of the Son of God (Mark 2.12), and Matthew as a basis for the Church’s authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9.8). As we argued was the case with some of the parables, it is the fact that the evangelists were able to use the story to serve their purposes that has caused it to be preserved, not an interest in historical reminiscence as such. If the ‘eyewitnesses’ are to he regarded as different in this regard from Matthew, Mark and Luke, then we need some evidence that they were, evidence which the New Testament narratives themselves do not seem to offer. No single man whose work and influence on the tradition we can trace shows any signs of the interest in historical reminiscence and accuracy which the opponents of form criticism ascribe to the ‘eyewitnesses’. We may, therefore, be forgiven for being sceptical of the possibility that these were different in their fundamental attitude from those men whose work we do know and whose attitude we can determine.

This brings us to the most determined recent effort to overturn the results of form-critical work on the gospels, namely, the Scandinavian reaction against form criticism culminating in B. Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript (Acta Seminarii Neotestamentici Upsaliensis XXII (Lund: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1961, 1964]). This work attempts to show that Jesus taught, and the early Church handed on his teaching, in a manner analogous to that of the later rabbis, and that the synoptics have recorded condensed memory texts of Jesus’ teaching, and also interpretative expositions of his sayings which go back in principle to him.

The most successful part of the work is the study of ‘oral tradition and written transmission’ in rabbinic Judaism, to which Gerhardsson has clearly devoted a great deal of time. His claim, however, that this is to he found before AD 70 in Judaism, and his study of the same processes in early Christianity have not been so well received. Indeed, the reviews which the book received were of such a nature as to provoke Gerhardsson to take the unusual step of publishing a specific reply to his reviewers: Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity (Coniectanea Neotestamentica XX und: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1964]). Most damaging to his cause, as he himself recognizes, are two lengthy reviews by scholars who are not particularly devotees of form criticism and who are experts in the Jewish materials of which he makes so much: Morton Smith and W. D. Davies.27. Smith is able to show that Gerhardsson misrepresents both rabbinic and Christian tradition by reading back into the period before AD 70 the conditions circa AD 200, and that the differences between rabbinic and New Testament materials themselves are such as to refute his theory. W. D. Davies is himself sympathetic to Gerhardsson’s basic concern in that he believes that Jesus’ disciples would have treasured the memory of his works and words with reverent tenacity, 28. and this makes his searching criticism of the work the more telling. Two particularly important points that he makes are that there is no evidence in the New Testament for the importance Gerhardsson has to ascribe to the Twelve in Jerusalem and the teaching emanating from them, and that there is every indication that the centre of gravity for primitive Christianity was not a transmitted body of words and works, but Jesus Christ, past, present and to come.

This last point reaches the heart of the matter, for the most characteristic feature of the gospel tradition, especially in contrast with Jewish rabbinical tradition, is the remarkable freedom which the transmitters of that tradition exercise in regard to it. The almost cavalier manner in which sayings are modified, interpreted and rewritten in the service of the theology of the particular evangelist or editor is quite without parallel in Judaism, and is only possible in Christianity because of the basic Christian conviction that the Jesus who spoke is the Jesus who speaks, i.e. because of the absolute identification of earthly Jesus of Nazareth and risen Lord of the evangelist’s or editor’s Christian experience. The strength of the form-critical approach to the gospels is that it does justice to this basic and fundamental aspect of earliest Christianity; the weakness of Gerhardsson’s approach is that it does not.

Catastrophic so far as the overall impact of Gerhardsson’s work is concerned is that in a book having some 325 pages of text, only twelve of those pages are devoted to a discussion of the gospel tradition itself (pp. 324—35), and these pages include no exegesis whatever of the text of the synoptic tradition on the basis of his hypothesis. In sharp contrast to form criticism, which takes its point of departure from the observable phenomena in the texts, which it seeks to explain, Gerhardsson is content to offer a string of hypothetical possibilities with regard to the variations between different parallel traditions, including the reminder that we may be dealing with sayings ‘delivered by Jesus himself in more than one version’. 29. In view of the exegesis we have offered above of Mark 9.I and its parallels, and in view also of what we have claimed to be the success of the total contemporary approach to the synoptic tradition in which these variations are accounted for on the assumption that they are due to, and a source of knowledge of, the theology of the evangelist or redactor concerned, we claim that we are entirely justified in challenging Gerhardsson to produce an exegesis of some sets of parallel sayings as evidence for his hypothesis, as we are prepared to do as evidence for ours. When he has done this, and the final pages of his book promise such a work at some future date, then further debate will become possible on this point. But we must insist that the crux of the matter is to explain the phenomena present in the texts.

Given the form-critical view of the tradition, it is evident that the way back from the tradition as we have it to the historical Jesus will be a long and arduous way, and there will be many instances where it will simply not exist, since much of the tradition will have been created in the early Church and will lead us at most to an aspect of the Church’s understanding of the risen Lord. Indeed, on accepting this view of the tradition, one’s first impulse is simply to give up the ghost and content oneself with selecting from the earlier strata of the tradition such teaching as is in keeping with one’s overall view of the historical Jesus, making no systematic attempt to defend the authenticity of each saying used. But this could lead to a multiplicity of pictures of Jesus of Nazareth and could amount to an abandoning of any scientific historical research upon him and his teaching. What we must attempt to do is to recognize that the problem is more difficult than we first expected, but to allow this to act as a spur rather than a deterrent. It is much too soon, and the subject-matter is much too important, for us to abandon the task as hopeless.

If we are to establish any sayings attributed to Jesus in the tradition as authentic, then the first thing we must be able to do is to write a history of the tradition of which a given saying is a part, establishing so far as we are able to do so the earliest form of the saying known in the tradition. The synoptic tradition as we have it is the culmination of a long and complex process of transmission according to the needs, interests, and emphases of the Church. It follows, therefore, that only the earliest form of any saying known to us, and a form not reflecting these needs, interests or emphases, has a claim to authenticity.

In our earlier mention of the work of Jeremias on the parables we pointed out that one of the reasons for its success is that he achieves a history of the parabolic tradition; he is able to show how the parabolic tradition reached its present form and what that tradition was like in its earlier and earliest forms. In particular, he is able to isolate considerations at work on the tradition at various points: the change of situation and audience, the loss of the original eschatological setting, the introduction of allegory, and so on. 30. Then he is able to move from this to the conditions of the ministry of Jesus itself as they differed from these, in particular, the use of parable as distinct from allegory and the relationship to the Kingdom of God proclamation. This remains a classic example of the prime necessity in the reconstruction of the teaching of Jesus: the ability to write a history of the aspect of the tradition with which we are concerned.

The achievement of Jeremias in respect of the parabolic tradition only is that of Bultmann in respect of the synoptic tradition as a whole, and his History of the Synoptic Tradition 31. is the pioneer work in attempting a history of the synoptic tradition. All of us currently working in this field are immeasurably indebted to him for his demonstration of both the necessity and the possibility of doing this, and for a thousand invaluable insights into that history itself.

Other work on the history of the synoptic tradition will be mentioned in the course of our own work; at this point our concern is simply to argue that the reconstruction of the teaching of Jesus must begin by attempting to write a history of the synoptic tradition. Not that we must produce over and over again works of the scope of Bultmann’s or Jeremias’s; but we must be prepared ever to learn from them and to consider any and every saying in the light of the history of the particular branch of tradition of which it is a part. Only the earliest, most primitive form of the saying will concern us. Also, we must be prepared to keep learning things about the tradition from the work that has been done on various parts of it. An insight derived from work on one part of the tradition will often help us in our consideration of another part. For example, the work of Kasemann on what he calls ‘Saze heiligen Rechtes’ and what we call ‘an eschatological judgement pronouncement tradition’ will help us in our consideration of the apocalyptic Son of man tradition.32. Further, our work upon the history of the tradition will enable us to recognize the characteristic interests and emphases of the Church and the evangelists, which we must always be prepared to recognize and to remove.

A consideration of the history of the synoptic tradition must proceed on the basis of an assumption with regard to the literary relationships between the gospels. The era of literary criticism, which culminated in B. H. Streeter’s The Four Gospels, published in 1924, led to the general acceptance of the two-source hypothesis, i.e. that Mark and a sayings source (‘Q’) used by Luke and Matthew are basic sources for the three synoptic gospels, that Mark and Q are prior to Matthew and Luke, and that, so far as we can tell, Mark and Q are independent of one another, as are Matthew and Luke. From time to time attempts are made to overturn this basic hypothesis, usually in favor of the theory that Matthew is prior to both Mark and Luke, and that Luke used Matthew, and Mark used both Matthew and Luke. 33. These attempts to overturn the work of a previous era of scholarship must be regarded as unsuccessful, because the most they achieve is a demonstration that the literary relationships between the texts of the gospels as we have them are more complex than the older form of the two-source hypothesis imagined. This may be granted at once, but then the point has to be made that the literary relationships between the texts of the synoptic gospels are more complex than any theory of direct relationship imagines. First of all, we must recognize that the era of literary criticism was also an era of optimism about establishing the original texts of the gospels to a degree of high probability; that any theory of literary dependence is a theory of literary dependence between texts established by the process of textual criticism; and that such optimism is not as widespread today as it was in the era of Westcott and Hort. This tends to diminish the importance of verbal relationships as a decisive factor in themselves, and to emphasize the importance of more purely theological factors. Another point not recognized in the era of literary criticism as it would be today is that we must conceive of the existence of a living, free tradition of sayings of Jesus, out of which the gospels have come. But this tradition did not come to an end with the writing of the gospels. To the contrary, a careful study by Köster 34. has shown that even as late as the first half of the second century such free tradition was a strong factor in the Church, and this must be considered even more the case for the second half of the first. So, in any single instance, or in any number of instances, it must always be considered possible that the tradition which the first written gospel source has used has lived on to affect the later gospel traditions in cases where they have used the earlier written source.

The effect of all this is to throw into relief the results, and especially the theological results, of the work done on the basis of a given hypothesis of gospel interrelationships as the only effective test of the validity of that hypothesis. Here the two-source hypothesis establishes itself beyond reasonable doubt. We can appeal to the work of Bultmann and Jeremias on the history of the tradition; we can appeal to the recent work on the theology of the synoptic evangelists and their tradition; and, as we shall see in our work below, the acceptance of this hypothesis as a working hypothesis is validated over and over again by the results achieved in individual instances. If Farmer or others wish to return to the hypothesis of the priority of Matthew, then they must show us that this contemporary work is producing false results, and that better results would be attained on the basis of their hypothesis. They must also be prepared to show us how they believe the theological characteristics of the various evangelists are to be accounted for on the basis of their hypothesis, something we are constantly prepared to do on the basis of ours. We, at any rate, have no hesitation in basing our work on the two-source hypothesis, with suitable recognition of the possibility of the continuing existence and influence of synoptic-type tradition alongside the synoptic gospels themselves all through the period that concerns us.

Any discussion of the history of the synoptic tradition today must take into account the newly discovered Coptic gospel of Thomas, 35. for here we have a gospel radically different from the synoptic gospels. It contains no narrative of any kind and consists entirely of synoptic-type teaching material, i.e. sayings and parables with very simple introductions. Much of this material parallels material already to be found in the canonical synoptic gospels, while other parallels material already known to us from extra-canonical sources, especially the Oxyrhynchus papyrus sayings,36. and some is quite new. The gospel itself in its present form is heavily gnostic in tone, and much of the material in it has clearly been either modified or created to serve gnostic Christian purposes. In this respect, it is like the canonical gospels, for, as we argued above, much of the material in them has been either modified or created to serve orthodox Christian purposes. The crucial question is that of the relationship between Thomas and the canonical synoptic tradition. That is a question to which there is at the moment no agreed answer, 37. and which perhaps cannot definitely he answered. But we do not need a definite answer; we need a working hypothesis. As a working hypothesis, we have chosen to treat the Thomas material as independent of our gospels in their present form.

This working hypothesis seems to us to be justified, simply because of the complete lack of anything except verbal similarities to indicate possible dependence of Thomas upon the canonical tradition. We pointed out above that this is a difficult factor to assess in the case of gospel relationships because of the difficulty of establishing original texts, and because of the possibility of parallel free tradition living on side by side with the written gospels and influencing them at various stages. In the case of Thomas, these difficulties arc multiplied because we have no Greek text of the gospel, except to the limited extent to which the Oxyrhynchus sayings may be said to be part of a text of Thomas, and because of the additional possibility that the Thomas tradition has been influenced by the Coptic gospel tradition. Verbal similarities are not therefore a strong argument for the dependence of Thomas upon the canonical gospel tradition, and all other factors arc against such dependence. The fact is that canonical tradition is scattered about in Thomas ‘as if it had fallen from a pepperpot’ (R. McL. Wilson); that sayings appear in totally different combinations and a totally different order from that found in the canonical tradition; that almost invariably what the canonical traditions join together Thomas puts asunder, and vice versa; that although Thomas reproduces the parables in the Matthaean tradition, he scatters them throughout his gospel for no conceivable reason; and so on. In addition to this, and most significant, is the fact that over and over again the text of a parable in Thomas will he different from that of the canonical tradition, and often it will he closer to a form which on J eremias’ form-critical grounds is to be regarded as earlier than that of the canonical tradition. This may not justify the absolute claim that Thomas is independent of the canonical synoptic tradition, but it certainly justifies the acceptance of this as a working hypothesis, and hence the use of Thomas material, where relevant, in addition to the canonical material in an attempt to reconstruct the history of the tradition and to arrive at the earliest form of a saying or parable. This will be our procedure in the central chapters of this work.

An important factor in the writing of a history of the tradition is the use of linguistic features, especially the observation of Aramaisms. We must note that Aramaic and Greek are radically different languages, so that it is often possible to say that a given construction or use of vocabulary is Aramaic and not Greek. Of course, we must always remember that many early Christians must have been bilingual and, moreover, more at home in Aramaic than Greek, and that many early Christian congregations were Aramaic speaking. All in all, however, it is true to say that the observation of Aramaisms can help to reach an earlier stratum of tradition than the Greek one in the text before us. In the past, this has tended to be overstated; on the basis of the fact that Jesus certainly taught in Aramaic, and on the assumption that when we had reached one step behind the tradition in our synoptic sources we had reached the teaching of Jesus, it was sometimes assumed that an Aramaism represented the voice of Jesus. This is certainly not necessarily the case. But it is the case, as Jeremias always insists, that an Aramaism can help us to reach an earlier stratum of the tradition, and an example of this in our own work will be found below in our discussion of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings. 38.

A particularly interesting Aramaism is the use of a passive voice of the verb to represent the activity of God. This is very common in Palestinian Aramaic of New Testament times, where the passive voice of the verb is very frequently used for this purpose, and it is often to be found in the New Testament. In our discussion of Kasemann’s ‘Satze heiligen Rechtes’ we noted an example from I Cor. 34.38, and some examples from the gospels would be: Mark 4.11 par.; Matt. 5.7, 7.1 par.; 7.7f. par.; 12.31 par., 32; 21.43. The fact that the construction is found in the eschatological judgment pronouncement tradition must warn us against ready assumptions that a saying using tins construction is from Jesus. But certainly Jesus must have used it, since in Palestinian Aramaic nothing else would be possible; and it is obviously true that the increasingly Hellcnistic tradition of the Church loses its feeling against the direct mention of God, witness the widespread ‘Kingdom of God’ which would never he found in Aramaic. So it is reasonable to assume that, other things being equal, this construction will belong to Palestinian and probably earlier strata of the tradition, and it may be expected to be found in preference to other constructions in genuine sayings of Jesus. It must have been a feature of his teaching, but that does not mean that a saying containing it must necessarily be dominical.

In what we are saying here, we are particularly indebted to Jeremias’ work on ipsissima vox Jesu. 39. In many ways the most interesting aspect of that work is the argument that the formula-like turn of phrase, ‘Amen, I say to you . . .‘ is a feature of the teaching style of Jesus. It must be said at once that he has one decisive argument on his side: that it is a phrase unique in Judaism, where Amen signifies assent to something said, or links one to a prayer, but never introduces sayings, and that the developing Christian tradition tends to modify it to something much less startling. 40. This is an example of the ‘criterion of dissimilarity’ that will concern us below, and it is the strongest criterion for authenticity that contemporary research has found. So strong is this argument that Jeremias must be granted his point: the turn of phrase comes from Jesus and is a feature of his teaching. But this does not necessarily guarantee the authenticity of any saying featuring it. We saw above that Mark 9.1, although introduced by it, owes its present form to Mark, and we must recognize the very real possibility that the characteristic early Christian conviction that the Lord who spoke is the Lord who speaks has led to an imitation of the very style of that speech, at any rate to a limited extent. The presence of the formula may indicate, therefore, either a dominical element in the saying, or it may indicate a particularly solemn feeling that here the Lord who had spoken was speaking, as we would be prepared to argue is the case in the eucharistic sayings Mark 14-18b, 25. Each saying will have to be judged on its own merits; the most the presence of this formula will do is to increase the possibility that the saying concerned contains a certain genuine dominical element.

In our attempts to reconstruct the teaching of Jcsus, then, we must first seek to write a history of the tradition with which we are concerned and to arrive at the earliest form of the saying in the tradition, or the earliest form of the saying we can reconstruct from the tradition. What next? Well, clearly, we have to ask ourselves the question as to whether this saying should now be attributed to the early Church or to the historical Jesus, and the nature of the synoptic tradition is such that the burden of proof will be upon the claim to authenticity. This means in effect that we must look for indications that the saying does not come from the Church, but from the historical Jesus. Actually, our task is even more complex than this, because the early Church and the New Testament are indebted at very many points to ancient Judaism. Therefore, if we are to ascribe a saying to Jesus, and accept the burden of proof laid upon us, we must he able to show that the saying comes neither from the Church nor from ancient Judaism. This seems to many to he too much to ask, but nothing less will do justice to the challenge of the burden of the proof. There is no other way to reasonable certainty that we have reached the historical Jesus.

Thus we reach the fundamental criterion for authenticity upon which all reconstructions of the teaching of Jesus must he built, which we propose to call the ‘criterion of dissimilarity’. Recognizing that it follows an attempt to write a history of the tradition concerned, we may formulate it as follows: the earliest form of a saying we can reach may be regarded as authentic if it can be shown to be dissimilar to characteristic emphases both of ancient Judaism and of the early Church, and this will particularly be the case where Christian tradition oriented towards Judaism can be shown to have modified the saying away from its original emphasis.

The first part of this formulation follows from what we have said above; the second needs a word of explanation. The teaching of Jesus was set in the context of ancient Judaism, and in many respects that teaching must have been variations on themes from the religious life of ancient Judaism. But if we are to seek that which is most characteristic of Jesus, it will he found not in the things which he shares with his contemporaries, but in the things wherein he differs from them. Now those circles of early Christians who were most concerned with the Jews, now represented for the most part by traditions to be found in Matthew, 41. tended both to ‘tone down’ the startlingly new element in the teaching of Jesus, as we shall see in some examples below, and also to develop new traditions specifically related to emphases in Judaism. 42. So far as our criterion of dissimilarity is concerned, the former tendency in these traditions will be very important, for it will help us to focus our attention on elements in the teaching of Jesus which were, in fact, new and startling to Jewish ears, and it is for this reason that we called attention to it in the formulation above.

The criterion of dissimilarity we have formulated was not reached on the basis of theoretical considerations, although it can he defended on this basis, but in the course of practical work on the synoptic tradition. It was, in fact, first used by Bultmann, who, in discussing the parables, reached the conclusion: ‘We can only count on possessing a genuine similitude of Jesus where, on the one hand, expression is given to the contrast between Jewish morality and piety and the distinctive eschatological temper which characterized the preaching of Jesus; and where on the other hand we find no specifically Christian features. 43. The subsequent discussion has simply taken up the principle and applied it to other forms of the teaching, as, of course, may quite legitimately be done.

The use of this criterion has always been a feature of the work of Jeremias. We called attention above to the way in which it is used in connection with the formula, ‘Amen, I say to you . . .‘, introducing sayings of Jesus. Another striking example from his work is in connection with his investigation of the use of abba in addressing God. First announced in a paper read to a Theologentag in Berlin in January 1954, and since published in several forms as the work progressed, this is now to be found in English in his book, The Central Message of the New Testament (London: SCM Press, and New York: Scribner’s, 1965), presented in rather a general form, and in his collected essays entitled Abba (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1965) in a more academic form. The crux of the matter is that we find in the New Testament tradition that Jesus addresses God as abba in Gethsemane, Mark 14.36: ‘Abba, Father . . .‘, where ‘Father’ is simply a translation of the Aramaic word. In the parallels, Luke 22.42 simply echoes Mark, but omits the Aramaic word; Matt. 26.39 also omits the Aramaic word, but offers an alternative translation of it: ‘My Father . . .‘ Both ‘Father’ and ‘My Father’ are correct translations of abba, since this particular form of the word served both as the substantive and as the substantive with the first person singular suffix the Lord’s Prayer tradition, Luke 11.2 again has the simple ‘Father’ clearly representing abba here, as it did in 22.42, whereas Matt. 6.9 has ‘Our Father who art in heaven’, a very considerable modification. An intensive investigation of the Jewish traditions has shown that to address God as Father is by no means a commonplace of ancient Jewish piety, and that when it does happen the form abba, ‘Father’ or ‘My Father’, is never used. An equivalent of the Matthaean ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ is the most common form, and this is especially the case during the time of Johanan ben Zakkai (circa AD 50—80), which is also approximately the time of the fashioning of the Matthaean tradition.

The reason for the avoidance of abba in address to God in the ancient Jewish piety is that this is the form of the word used by a child in first learning to speak to his earthly father. Aramaic, unlike English, does not have an onomatopoeic word to be taught to children (Dadda or the like) and then a quite different root for the formal word. In Aramaic, the root ab has to serve for both. Thus, the ancient Jews maintained the dignity of God, in so far as they addressed him as Father at all, by scrupulously avoiding the particular form of the word used by children.

The New Testament tradition represents Jesus as addressing God as abba (Mark 14.36) and as teaching his disciples to do so (Luke 11.2). In the first instance Matthew maintains the tradition also, but in the second he modifies it to a form more acceptable to Jewish ears, to the form that indeed in his day flowered in Jewish circles. This is a good example of the things for which the criterion of dissimilarity seeks: radical difference from Judaism and later modification towards Judaism. Since, however, abba is also found in Rom. 8.15 and Gal. 4.6, it could be argued that the Jesus tradition is not here dissimilar to that of the early Church. But these may not be regarded as representing early Christian tradition as such. They are the only examples of it, and the Lord’s Prayer is universally known with its Matthaean form of address, even in most texts of Luke! The most reasonable explanation is that it is characteristic of Jesus rather than the early Church, but that Paul knows the tradition preserved in Luke and, as a bilingual Jew, fully appreciates its significance. All in all, therefore, we may regard it as established, on the basis of the criterion of dissimilarity, that Jesus addressed God as abba and taught his disciples to do so.

A particularly effective presentation of the criterion of dissimilarity is that by Ernst Käsemann in the essay which sparked the intensive discussion of the question of the historical Jesus which has been such a prominent feature of recent New Testament scholarship, ‘Das Problem des historischen Jesus’.44. Here he writes, in connection with the question of reconstructing authentic teaching of Jesus, ‘we have reasonably secure ground under our feet only in one particular instance, namely, when there is some way of showing that a piece of tradition has not been derived from Judaism and may not be ascribed to early Christianity, and this is particularly the case when Jewish Christianity has regarded this tradition as too bold and has toned it down or modified it in some way’. 45.

In the most recent discussion this criterion has been widely used, especially by members of the ‘Bultmann school’, who are indebted for it to Bultmann himself. We will mention only one example, that in Hans Conzelmann’s most important article ‘Jesus Christus’ in the third edition of the German encyclopedia, Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. 46. The importance of this article is that Conzelmann successfully attempts a presentation of the current situation in life of Christ research, as seen from the perspective of the radical acceptance of the form-critical view of the sources characteristic of the Bultmann school, and so achieves a presentation of the factors involved in this research that should become a standard, a basis for future work as the perspective from which he starts becomes even more widely accepted. In passing, may we say that it is an article which demands both translation into English and presentation in a form more readily accessible than that of an article within the pages of a multi-volume learned encyclopedia. So far as our criterion of dissimilarity is concerned, Conzelmann formulates this as follows: ‘What can, therefore, be accepted as authentic [on the basis of the radical form-critical view of the sources] ? we do have some starting points. . . . So far as the reconstruction of the teaching is concerned the following methodological basis is valid: we may accept as authentic material whichfits in with neither Jewish thinking nor the conceptions of the later [Christian] community.’ 47.

This, then, is the criterion of dissimilarity, and it must be regarded s the basis for all contemporary attempts to reconstruct the teaching of Jesus. Of course, it is limited in scope—by definition it will exclude all teaching in which Jesus may have been at one with Judaism or the early Church at one with him. But the brutal fact of the matter is that we have no choice. There simply is no other starting-point that takes seriously enough the radical view of the nature of the sources which the results of contemporary research are forcing upon us.

With the criterion of dissimilarity as our starting-point, and with the results of the application of this criterion as the only foundation upon which we can build, the next step is to find a criterion by means of which we can more carefully into areas of tradition where this criterion would not be applicable. Here we propose a second criterion, which we will call ‘the criterion of coherence’: material from the earliest strata of the tradition may be accepted as authentic if it can be shown to cohere with material established as authentic by means of the criterion of dissimilarity." 48.

Like the criterion of dissimilarity, the criterion of coherence was first reached in the course of practical work on the synoptic tradition, and again by Bultmann. In his History of the Synoptic Tradition, we find him accepting an authentic ‘such sayings as arise from the exaltation of an eschatological mood’, oor, ‘sayings which demand a new disposition of mine’, 49. He accepts them because they ‘contain something characteristic, new, reaching out beyond popular wisdom and piety and yet are in no sense scribal or rabbinic nor yet Jewish apocalyptic’. 50. In other words, they satisfy the criterion of dissimilarity. But once characteristics of the teaching of Jesus are established in this way, these characteristics can be used to validate sayings which themselves would not meet the requirements of the criterion of dissimilarity. Already in the History of the Synoptic Tradition we find traces of this, because it is noticeable that when he is grouping together sayings which reflect one of these characteristics, Bultmann shows no great concern if some of them are dubious on other grounds, although he will note the possibility in passing. In his Jesus and the Word, 51. however, he goes beyond this, for in that book he by no means restricts himself; in his presentation of the message of Jesus, to sayings which he had found to be authentic in the course of the discussion in the History of the Synoptic Tradition. What he does is to use any saying from the earliest stratum of the tradition which expresses something he has previously determined to be characteristic of the teaching of Jesus. 52. This is in practice the criterion we have sought to formulate in principle.

As was the case with the criterion of dissimilarity, this second criterion has also been used by Jeremias. It is particularly to be found in his work on ‘unknown sayings of Jesus’, i.e. sayings to be found in sources outside the gospels, both canonical and extra-canonical. 53. He formulates it as follows: ‘By a process of elimination we are left with twenty-one sayings whose attestation and subject matter do not give rise to objections of weight, which are perfectly compatible with the genuine teachings of our Lord, and which have as high a claim to authenticity as the sayings recorded in our four gospels. 54.

In the body of the work he then argues the authenticity of these twenty-one sayings on the basis of this criterion. A good example of his methodology is his discussion of a saying preserved by Origen and now also found in the gospel of Thomas:

Thomas 82. He that is near me is near the fire;

he that is far from me is far from the Kingdom.

This can be accepted as authentic because, among other things, it has ‘the ring of a genuine saying of Jesus’, it ‘echoes Mark 9.49 and 12.34’, its purpose is to ‘convey a stern warning’ as to the cost of discipleship, as does Matt. 8.19f 55.

Jeremias’ concern is to establish that these sayings have the same claim to authenticity as those in the gospels, but in his discussion he tends to assume that to do this and to establish their authenticity as sayings of Jesus are one and the same thing. He can do so because the twenty-one sayings are selected from a much greater number, and no doubt were selected because they were compatible with elements in the gospel tradition which Jeremias regards as authentic. In effect, then, his criterion is ours (or, better, our criterion is his!), except that we have preferred ‘to cohere with’ to the ‘to be perfectly compatible with’ chosen by R. H. Fuller to represent Jeremias’ German sich einfügen. However, where Jeremias has applied it to sayings from outside the gospels, we propose to apply it also to sayings within the gospel tradition, since we are convinced that, in this regard, no distinction should be made between canonical and extra-canonical sayings. As Köster has shown,56. they are all part of a living tradition in the Church, and no distinction was made between them at all before the second half of the second century.

In regard to the actual formulation of the criterion we have attempted, it should be noted that we are still insisting on the importance of establishing a history of the tradition and of restricting ourselves to the earliest stratum of that tradition; in our view, material dependent upon other material already present in the tradition is necessarily a product of the Church. What we are proposing, in effect, is to use material established as authentic by the one sure criterion as a touchstone by means of which to judge material which itself would resist the application of that criterion, material which could not be established as dissimilar to emphases of Judaism or the early Church.

Before leaving the question of criteria, we must mention one further one: the criterion of multiple attestation. 57. This is a proposal to accept as authentic material which is attested in all, or most, of the sources which can be discerned behind the synoptic gospels. It is a criterion much used in England, as McArthur points out, and he claims that it is the most objective of the criteria which can be used. 58.

We must admit to some reservations about this criterion, reservations which McArthur shares in part. It was first used in England in an atmosphere in which it was felt that the sources of the synoptic gospels came very close to being actual historical reminiscence. This is particularly evident in the work of T. W. Manson, who uses the criterion extensively. In his view, when a saying is found in Mark and Q the two versions can be compared and the voice of Jesus recovered; but then he believed that Peter stood directly behind Mark and that Q was the work of the apostle Matthew. 59. If we cannot accept the basic presupposition that to take one step behind the sources is to arrive at firm historical tradition about Jesus, then this criterion becomes much less effective. Again, we must always take into account the possibility that something may have multiple attestation because of the role it played in primitive Palestinian Christianity, or in early Christian liturgy. We do tend to agree with McArthur, however, that this criterion does have a usefulness in terms of establishing the authenticity of motifs from the ministry of Jesus, although rarely that of specific sayings, 60. and particularly when we think in terms of strands and forms of tradition rather than in terms of synoptic gospel sources. We may say that a motif which can be detected in a multiplicity of strands of tradition and in various forms (pronouncement stories, parables, sayings, etc.) will have a high claim to authenticity, always provided that it is not characteristic of an activity, interest or emphasis of the earliest Church. So, for example, we may accept the authenticity of Jesus’ special concern for ‘tax collectors and sinners’, which certainly has multiple attestation in this sense, 61. and this is so clearly the case that we shall not argue the authenticity of this aspect of Jesus’ ministry in our work below, but only concern ourselves with its meaning.

The usefulness of this criterion is somewhat restricted. It will not often help with specific sayings, but rather with general motifs, and consequently will tend to be more useful in arriving at general characteristics of the ministry and teaching of Jesus than at specific elements in the teaching itself. Our procedure will be to attempt to arrive at elements in the tradition which have a high claim to authenticity and then to move out from there, going from the specific to the general rather than vice versa. We shall therefore have only limited occasion to use the criterion of multiple attestation, preferring to work upon the basis of the establishment of the history of the tradition and the criteria of dissimilarity and coherence.

We are ourselves convinced that there are three aspects of the tradition where the establishment of the history of the tradition and the application of the criterion of dissimilarity enable us to reconstruct major aspects of the teaching of Jesus beyond reasonable doubt: the parables, the Kingdom of God teaching and the Lord’s Prayer tradition. In the case of the parables, Jeremias achieves a history of the tradition, and then is able to show that the earliest forms of the parables are dissimilar to emphases of the early Church , (they are parables and not allegories, they reflect Palestinian peasant life, etc.) and of ancient Judaism (above all the esehatology). The Kingdom of God teaching diffen from both the early Church and ancient Judaism in its use of the key concept, Kingdom of God, and in aspects of its eschatology, where, incidentally, it is in agreement with the eschatology of the parables. The Lord’s Prayer is dissimilar to both the early Church and ancient Judaism in the address to God and in the linking of a petition for forgiveness with a preparedness to forgive (which ancient Judaism does not have in a prayer and which the early Church legalizes, Matt. 6.14), is strongly Aramaic (the word play ‘debt/sin’ is possible only in Aramaic), and has a characteristic brevity and a strongly personal element in its phraseology which is derived from the spirit of the use of abba. We would argue that any attempt to reconstruct the teaching of Jesus today must build upon the foundations laid by the application of the criterion of dissimilarity in these three areas. Then, by the application of the criterion of coherence, it is possible to go on to accept as authentic that material from the earliest strata of the traditions, the tendencies of the tradition having been taken into account, which coheres with the emphases to be found there. Similarly, any new material established as authentic on the basis of the criterion of dissimilarity will carry with it new possibilities with regard to the use of the criterion of coherence.

In accordance with these views, it will be found that in the central section of this work we have relied heavily upon the parables, the Kingdom teaching and the Lord’s Prayer. So far as the last two are concerned, we have assumed the results of our previous work in The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus, except that we have modified them where necessary in view of the more stringent criteria for authenticity which we have come to accept in the period between the two works. So far as the parables are concerned, it will be found that, where applicable, they are always the starting-point for our discussion, except in the case of the Kingdom teaching.

Thus far we have assumed that we are dealing with material where it is possible to write a history of the tradition; what are we to do in the case of material where this is not possible, that is, in the case of isolated and independent sayings which have no history in the tradition? If they can be ascribed to an early stratum of tradition by reason of their content or association, then we may treat them as belonging to that stratum and, of course, if they have to be ascribed on the same grounds to a comparatively late stratum, then we have to treat them as belonging to that. The first possibility will bring them into serious consideration by the criteria of dissimilarity and coherence. The second will mean that we will have to have extraordinarily strong grounds for accepting them. In the case of completely isolated and independent sayings, then, the only thing to do is to apply the criteria even more carefully; such sayings will not inspire the same confidence as those demonstrably from the earlier strata, but we may certainly not forejudge them.

In our discussion so far we have made no mention of the gospel of John, the fourth gospel, and its possibilities as a source for knowledge of the teaching of Jesus. The reason for this is simple: as far as our present knowledge and methodological resources go, the gospel of John is not a source of knowledge of the teaching of Jesus. It is generally recognized that it represents a reinterpretation of the ministry and teaching of Jesus along markedly theological lines, witness the fact that it has been widely accepted as the ‘spiritual’ gospel since the time of Clement of Alexandria, and contemporary research has scarcely modified this opinion. What has happened in contemporary research is that opinion with regard to the synoptic gospels has moved nearer, concerning their theological motivation, to what opinion with regard to the fourth gospel always has been, without opinion with regard to that gospel changing significantly. In the case of the synoptic gospels, however, we find that we are dealing with a number of authors and complexes of tradition, and that the multiplicity of influences at work on the tradition tend to cancel one another out, to call attention to one another and, in short, to enable us to write a history of the tradition and work our way back through it. But in the case of the fourth gospel we are dealing with a single entity exhibiting a marked degree of unity in theological emphasis such that no attempt to divide the gospel into different sources and to begin to write a history of the Johannine tradition has commanded anything like a common consent among scholars. One has only to compare the very different results exhibited in the works of the two greatest contemporary commentators on the gospel, R. Bultmann and C. H. Dodd, 62. to realize how far we are from being able to write a history of the Johannine tradition. But until we can write a history of that tradition and learn to work our way back through it, there is not very much that we can do with the gospel of John as a source for knowledge of the teaching of Jesus.

The work of C. H. Dodd on the historical tradition in the fourth gospel does not help us appreciably here, because, even if we grant his case (and we could not accept his basic premise that early tradition and historical tradition are synonymous), 63. all that we then have is a series of historical allusions in some of the events recorded in the gospel, especially in the passion narrative, with little or no teaching material involved. All in all, the problems are such that we have felt it necessary to ignore the Johannine material altogether, even in the case of the Son of man teaching, and the only major reference to be found on the fourth gospel in what follows is one of the account of the crucifixion where it does seem apparent that John is referring to a Christian exegetical tradition. On the basis of a surer knowledge of the synoptic tradition, and of more and more work on the Johannine, it may one day be possible to make use of the fourth gospel in the reconstruction of the teaching of Jesus, but that day is not yet.

 

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS

Once we have arrived at a reconstruction of an aspect of the teaching of Jesus, our next task is to seek to understand it, by which we mean to interpret it in its original setting and to arrive as closely as we can at its original meaning. Here we are at once confronted by a whole series of problems. Most serious of them all is the fact that we are simply not first-century Palestinian Jews, and that no effort of historical imagination can make us become such. Thus, there will always be a barrier between us and the original meaning of the teaching of Jesus, the barrier of two millennia and radically different Weltanschauungen. But it remains a fact that we have no choice but to attempt to surmount this barrier, at any rate to achieve some sort of a glimpse over it, if we are to arrive at the teaching of Jesus.

One of the most disturbing things about the history of the life of Christ research is the way in which the teaching of Jesus has been seen in categories of nineteenth-century liberalism, of twentieth-century existentialism, or of some other ‘modern’ way of thinking. None of this would be disturbing in devotional works, but the thing is that it happens over and over again in academic works. The problem is not one of wilfulness on the part of the scholars concerned; it is simply that any historian tends to see the past in terms which are most real to him personally, perhaps, indeed, in some sense it is impossible to see the past at all except when it can be seen in such terms. This is particularly the case with research into Jesus of Nazareth, who, as a historical figure, certainly transcended the categories of his own day, and therefore, so to speak, invites consideration in terms of the categories of another day. Again, most serious research into the teaching of Jesus is carried on by historians who are also Christians, and who, therefore, by definition have some concept of the risen Lord of their faith and experience, and of his teaching to them. This naturally, even unconsciously, influences them, and can lead to the situation where a historian carefully disentangles the original Jesus of history from the Christ of faith of the first-century Church only to reidentify him with the Christ of his own faith and so reinterpret the teaching all over again.

So it is that we have, so to speak, two problems: a barrier which is almost insurmountable on the one hand, and a figure who can all too easily be drawn into our own time and categories on the other. It is little wonder that we often do this latter thing, and in so doing think we are overcoming the former. These problems are perhaps insoluble in the work of any one scholar, but there are certain precautions that he can and should take.

In the first place, he should demand of himself that the understanding of the teaching of Jesus he reaches should do justice to the categories of first-century Judaism in terms of which that teaching was originally expressed. In itself this is an extraordinarily difficult task because of the intrinsic difficulty in comprehending the meaning of those categories to the men of first-century Judaism. To give an example from a matter that will concern us later, the eschatology of Jesus demands that we wrestle with the problem of the meaning of the element of futurity in the hope of first-century Judaism, and at the same time that we do justice to the new element in the teaching of Jesus in this regard. But now all kinds of questions arise. Many first-century Jews certainly expected God to act, to visit and redeem them through a concrete individual figure and by means of actual historical events at a chronological moment in time. If this had not been the case, then there could not have been the almost constant revolts against Rome led by messianic pretenders who began a war in the expectation that God would end it which are a feature of the history of this period. But at the same time, a reading of the apocalyptic literature from the period discovers such a bewildering variety of imagery, such a complex mixture of historical and mythical expectation, 64. that it becomes a real problem as to how much of this is to be taken literally. Some scholars have suggested that there were two distinct kinds of expectation, a nationalistic historical one based upon the expectation of a human messiah, and a trans-historical one based upon the expectation of a heavenly redeemer. This is possible, but one suspects that it is an oversimplification of the matter, especially when one notes the ease with which language from a text which, on this theory, reflects the historical expectation can be used in a text which reflects the trans-historical. 65. The problem is intensified when we come to the teaching of Jesus. He certainly added a new note and a new dimension to the Jewish eschatology in terms of which he expressed his hope for the future. But did he, in effect, ‘demythologize’ it so that we may properly express his teaching in existentialistic categories, or speak of the present and future elements in his teaching in terms of the nearness and distance of God? Or must we conclude that he was as literalistic in this matter as the early Church, and expected a world historical act of God at a chronological point of time in the near future, as the Church expected her Lord’s return? So the problems multiply, both the difficulty of determining the meaning of first century categories to first-century man and the natural tendency of a twentieth-century man to read them in terms of his own understanding, literalistic, existentialistic or whatever, adding to their number. Yet these are problems with which we must wrestle, for unless we are prepared to do justice to the categories of the first century in our interpretation, we are not going to reach the historical Jesus and his teaching. A prerequisite of historical research of this kind is constant wrestling with, and reference to, the literature, idioms and categories of the social, cultural and historical context of the subject.

A second point, closely related to this first one, is that we must always set the teaching of Jesus in the context of the circumstances and situation of his ministry. It is no accident that research into the parables came alive with the attempt to set them systematically into the situation of the ministry of Jesus. It was C. H. Dodd and J. Jeremias, above all, who achieved this, 66. and the result was a new era, not only in the understanding of the parables, but also in the whole field of research into the teaching of Jesus. What was found to be true of the parables is true of every aspect of the teaching of Jesus. That teaching is always directed to specific circumstances, to a concrete situation, to a definite person or group of people; and it is, if not unintelligible, certainly all too easily misunderstood if it is not first seen in the historical context to which it was directed or in which it was given. No understanding of the teaching of Jesus is possible without the recognition of the significance of its original historical context, and the precaution of constantly seeking to discover that context and to take it into account is one that is most necessary for us to take. This is the way to a true historical understanding and it is a major protection against the ever-prevalent danger of eisegesis.

A third precaution concerns the work on the sources, in this instance the synoptic gospels: the methodology should be appropriate to the nature of the sources. In order to work adequately with the sources, we must use a methodology which arises out of the nature of those sources and not one which is imposed upon them from outside. It is for this reason that we have insisted so strenuously upon the necessity of using what is loosely and somewhat inappropriately called the ‘form-critical approach’ to the gospels. No other approach does justice to the special nature of the synoptic tradition and the synoptic gospels. If we use a methodology derived from a study of rabbinic Judaism, we shall fail. Rabbinic Judaism has a respect for the text and content of that which was being passed on, and in this respect is absolutely different from the freely creative nature of the synoptic tradition. If we work only with source and literary criticism, we shall fail. This approach assumes that if we can take one step behind the sources we can observe, then we reach historical reminiscence of Jesus and his ministry; but this is not the case. One step behind Mark or Q, indeed several steps behind Mark or Q, we are still only reaching the preaching, teaching or apologetic of the early Church; and the main source for the content of this is not historical reminiscence of Jesus, but present experience of the risen Lord. Of course, it is not a question of either/or. Some things we learn from a study of rabbinic traditions will help us, and source criticism is a starting-point for the attempt to write a history of the tradition so integral to the form-critical method. But the cutting edge of our method must always be that which does justice to the special nature of our sources. This is an essential aspect of any historical research.

But perhaps the most important thing in this regard is the consensus of scholarly opinion, granted that the scholars concerned are doing justice, so far as they are able, to the categories of first-century Judaism and the nature of the synoptic gospels. Then a consensus reached by scholars of different confessional and theological viewpoints becomes the really significant thing. It is unlikely that they will all make the same mistakes and impossible that they should all have the same presuppositions, and in this lies our only hope for true progress. In the historical sciences, we cannot, as in the natural sciences, achieve the clarity of observation that will enable all observers to describe the same phenomenon in the same way, but we can enter into debate with one another with regard to our findings and so strive for a consensus that will take us all further forward. It is in this spirit that this present work is offered, as one man’s contribution to the ever-continuing task of research into the teaching of Jesus.

 

ENDNOTES:

1. E. Haenchen, ‘Die Kompositiun von Mk. 8.27—9.1 und Par.’, Yorum Testa?flCTI toni 6 (1963), i o8f.

2. H. Conzelmann, Theology of St Luke (ET by Geoffrey Buswell of Die Mitte der Zeit London: Faber and Faber, and New York: Harper & Bros., 1960), Pp.104f. B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels (London: Macmillan Co., 1936), p. 520.

  1. E. Haenchen, ‘Die Komposition . . .‘, .Norum Testamentum 6 (1963), 81109, esp. 8i—86.
  2. We have expressed the themes in our own words without claiming thereby to be representing Haenchen. But it was his essay that convinced us that the passage is a Markan construction and that the scene is created by Mark rather than representing a Petrine reminiscence. The artistic nature of the scene is clear: the setting of the questions to build up to a climax; the representative role of Peter; the post-Easter confession; the sudden appearance of the crowd when the time comes for general instruction, as so often in Mark; the reflection of the situation of a Church facing the possibility of persecution; and the way in which the whole pencope moves to its climax in the last two verses.
  3. See below, pp. 185—91..
  4. See below, pp. 199—202.
  5. IV Ezra 6.25f. R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913) 11,576 (G. H. Box).
  1. Matthew follows Mark on each occasion. Luke transforms the first into a nonparousia reference and omits the ‘seeing’ in the third (Luke 22.69). Matthew nowhere has the verb in connection with the parousia except in dependence on Mark, nor has Luke.
  2. This point is important here and will be important also in our discussion of the apocalyptic Son of man sayings, so we must give the evidence. Mark 8.38: the Son of man ‘comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels’. Both Matthew (16.27) and Luke (9.26) follow this with modifications. Mark 9.1: the kingdom will ‘come with power’. Matthew (16.28) has the Son of man ‘coming in his kingdom’; Luke (9.27) has no parousia reference . Mark 10.37 has ‘in your glory’ which Matthew (20.21) modifies to ‘in your kingdom’; Luke has no parallel. Mark 13.26: The Son of man ‘coming in clouds with great power and glory’. Both Matthew (24.30) and Luke (21.27) follow this with modifications.
  3. There is no such use in Luke independent of Mark and only one in Matthew. Matt. 25.31 begins the parable of the sheep and the goats: ‘When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.’ In view of Matt. 19.28 (‘. . . in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne’ [no parallels]) this looks like a combination of Matthaean and Markan characteristics. Finally, Mark 14:62 has ‘power’, but then it is used in a quite different way, i.e. as a circumlocution for God.

  4. See below. We have abandoned our previous views on this saying (The Kingdom of God in

the Teaching of Jesus [Hereinafter, Kingdom] [London, SCM Press, and Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963] pp. 137ff.] and can no longer follow W. G. Kummel [most recently in his article ‘Die Naherwartung in der Verkundigung Jesu’, Zeit und Geschichte, Dankesgabe an Rudolf Bultmann zum 80, Geburtstag, ed. E. Dinkler, [Tubingen: J. G. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1964], pp. 39ff. [= W.. G. Kummel, Heilsgeschichten und Geschichte (Marburger Theologische Studien 3 [Marburg: N. G. Elwert, 1965]}, pp. 464ff.]) in regarding Mark 9:1 as an authentic saying of Jesus. But it should be noted that the difficulties Kummel sees in fitting this saying into the context of a prophetic word addressed to a community troubled by the delay of the parousia (so, above all, G. Bornkamm, in his article, ‘Die Verzogerung der Parusie’, In Memoriam Ernst Lohmeyer, ed. W. Schumauch [Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagwerk, 1951], pp. 116-19) are real difficulties.

1l. J. Jeremias. Parables of Jesus (ET by S. H. Hooke of Die Gleichnisse Jesu. [1962]

[London, SCM Press, and New York: Scribner’s, 1963], representing a revision of the first English edition of 1954), passim.

  1. It should be emphasized that we are now drawing our own conclusions is to the
  2. consequences of Jeremias’s work for a general view of the nature of the synoptic tradition.

    Professor Jeremias himself has not discussed the matter in these terms, and in this instance

    the pupil does not claim to be necessarily representing the mind of his teacher.

     

  3. First published in NTS I (i~~4/~~). 248—60, and now in Käsemann’s collected essays,
  4. Exegetische Versuche und Besinnuggen (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht)

    11(1964), 69—82.

  5. Understanding the passive as referring to the eschatological activity of God. The passive

referring to the activity of God is an Aramaism frequently to be found in the New Testament.

15. See below, pp. 173-85.

16. Ibid., pp. 38—45.

  1. N. Perrin, Kingdom, pp. 96f.
  2. See Annotated Bibliography No. a: Theology of the Synoptic Evangelists and Their
  3. Tradition.

  4. For some recent examples of this kind of work on the tradition, see the books of H. E. Todt
  5. and F. Hahn in Annotated Bibliography No. 2.

  6. We take them from a recent Roman Catholic work, J. R. Geiselmann, Jesus der Christus I

Die Frage nach dem historischen Jesus (Munehen: Kosel-Verlag, 1965), 144—7.

  1. It may have been a conventional word to use in a ‘preface’ to a Hellenistic ‘historical’ work.

H. J. Cadbury, Beginnings of Christianity, ed. Foakes Jackson and Lake) London Macmillan), II (1922), 488f.

  1. See below, pp. 176—79, for an example of this even more striking than his version of Mark
  2. 9.1 discussed above.

    23. On this as a creation of Luke himself, see below.

  3. For an excellent study of the christological motives at work in the formation and

transmission of the transfiguration narrative, with references to and discussion of the literature, see F. Hahn, Christologische Hoheitstitel (Gottingen: Vandenboeek & Ruprecht, 1964) pp. 334—40.

  1. On the narrative of the Baptism, see again F. Hahn, op. cit., pp. 340—6. Attention was decisively called to the role of the Old Testament in the Crucifixion narrative by Martin Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel (ET by B. I. Wolf of Die Formgeschicte des Evangeliums ); London : Lutterworth, and New York: Scribners, 1935.
  2. See below for a discussion of exorcism and healing narratives from the gospels and their authenticity, or more accurately, the authenticity of certain elements within them.
  1. Morton Smith, ‘A Comparison of Early Christian and Early Rabbinic Tradition’, JBL 82

(1963). 169—76. W. D. Davies, ‘Reflections on a Scandinavian Approach to ‘the Gospel Tradition" ‘, in Neotestamentica et Patristica. Freundesgabe Oscar Cullmann (Supplements to Novum Testamentum VI London: E. J. Brill, 1962]) , pp 14—34, now reprinted in his book The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge: University Press, 1964), pp. 464—80

28. W. D. Davies, Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 466.

29. B. Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript, p. 335.

  1. J.Jeremias, Parables of Jesus (rev. ed., 1963), pp. 23—114.
  2. R. Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition; ET by John Marsh of Geschichte der
  3. synoptischen Tradition, first published in 1921, ET from the third German edition of 1958; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, and New York: Harper & Row, 1963. M. Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel, does not deal with the history of the tradition as a whole, as does Bultmann.

  4. See below, pp. 185.-.91.

33. See most recently W. R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem; New York, and London:

Macmillan, 1964.

34. H. Köster, Synoptische Uberlieferung bei den apostolischen Vatern (Texte und

Untersuchungen 65); Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1957.

  1. The Gospel According to Thomas, ed. A. Guillaumont et al.; Leiden: E. J. Brill, and New York: Harper & Bros., 1959.
  2. See F. Hennecke—W. . Schneenelcher, New Testament Apocr5pha, I Gospels and Relatcd Writings (London: Lutterworth Press, and Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963), 97—113.
  3. See Annotated Bibliography No. 3 Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels.
  4. See below, Chapter 4.

39. J. Jeremias, ‘Kennzeichen der ipsissima vox Jesu’, Synoptsche Sludicn (Fcstschrift A.

  1. Wikenhauser [München: Karl Zink Verlag, 1953]), pp. 86—93.
  1. For the many examples, see Jeremias, ibid., pp. 90f.

41. This remains true irrespective of whether or not Matthew’s gospel is to be regarded as

  1. ‘Jewish Christian’ in any stricter sense.
  1. See, for example, the very interesting suggestion by W. D. Davies that the Matthaean Sermon on the Mount may represent a Christian answer to Jamnia, Setting of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 315.
  2. R. Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, p. 205.

44. Originally published in ZTK 51 (1954), 125—53, arid then in Käsemann’s collected essays

Exegetische Versuche und Besmnunngen (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) I(1960), 187—214. An English translation by W. J. Montague is to be found in E. Käsemann, Essays on New Testament Themes (Studies in Biblical Theology 44 London: SCM Press, 1964]), pp. 15—47.

45. E. Kasemann, Exegetische Versuche und Besinnungen I, 205, cf. Essays, p. 37. The above

translation is our own and we are glad to acknowledge our indebtedness to Käsemann’s formulation in the one we have ourselves attempted.

46. RGG (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck]) III (1959) 619-53.

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