What to Do With an Errant John the Baptist?

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  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @JamesBoswellII

    I think the historical J the B was an OT prophet and martyr whose promise remained unfulfilled. So he becomes a figure in search of a theological explanation - and the gospel writers give him one.

    His role as the originator of the sign of baptism gives him a key significance in Christian belief and practice, his baptism of Jesus creates a connection between them both and the Pentecost event recasts Jesus as the baptiser in the Holy Spirit - which explains J the Bs role as his symbolic forerunner.
  • @Rublev,
    Jesus' eschatological promise also remained unfulfilled. The messianic age is not here. Certainly not fully.

    That does not mean, however, that we cannot catch the excitement and joy and hope in the dreams of the prophets and of Jesus.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Well, that's an interesting point because the answer is Yes and No. The narrative arc of scripture is complete but we are still living in the gap between Jude and Revelation.

    Are you moving into eschatology now?
  • No, I dealt with that in the "What to do With an Errant Jesus?" thread. If it is not obvious that Jesus himself, like John, was into apocalyptic eschatological thinking -- and indeed, even here in the Q passage we are examining -- I don't know what could be more obvious.
  • New question:
    Why did Jesus add to his excited list of wonders this--
    "And blessed is any one who is not offended by me"?
    Why did he feel he the need to add that?
    And did he intend it specifically for John?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 29
    Martin54 wrote: »
    In what way was JtB errant as Jerusalem fell in 40 years?

    John was not merely predicting the fall of Jerusalem, nor was Jesus.

    Was he precluding it? Unlike Jesus.
  • @Rublev
    @Martin54

    Sorry, but I am not going to discuss apocalyptic eschatology in the thinking of JtB, Jesus, Paul and all the authors of the NT here. I did that on the Errant Jesus thread, and I am just now posting a follow-up on that thread in reply to Rublev, and I will quote and respond to you there too, Martin.

    I will gladly discuss that subject there, but here I want to keep the focus on John the Baptist and Jesus.
  • So:
    Why did Jesus add to his excited list of wonders these words--
    "And blessed is anyone who is not offended by me"?

    Why did he feel he the need to add that?
    And did he intend it specifically for John? And if so, why?

    These are, I think, important questions that lead to important answers.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    @Rublev
    @Martin54

    Sorry, but I am not going to discuss apocalyptic eschatology in the thinking of JtB, Jesus, Paul and all the authors of the NT here. I did that on the Errant Jesus thread, and I am just now posting a follow-up on that thread in reply to Rublev, and I will quote and respond to you there too, Martin.

    I will gladly discuss that subject there, but here I want to keep the focus on John the Baptist and Jesus.

    Did they agree or not? And in what way was JtB errant?
  • They did agree. Both were expecting the end of this age soon. John's emphasis was more on the coming wrath, Jesus' more on the coming Kingdom.
  • So, yet again I ask:
    Why did Jesus add to his excited list of wonders these words--
    "And blessed is anyone who is not offended by me"?

    Did he feel he really needed to add that? And if so, why?
    And did he intend it specifically as a sort of warning for John? And if so, why?

    These are, I think, important questions that lead to important answers.
    And if no one ventures an answer, I (of course) eventually will. :wink:
  • We have now looked at all the Q information we have about John the Baptizer,
    and one thing that is especially striking is this: Jesus regards John as a true prophet –– indeed, “a prophet and more than a prophet” –– and Jesus says that even though it has just become clear that John doesn’t know what to think about him -- about Jesus!

    In spite of that, Jesus says that John is as great as, or greater than,* any prophet who has ever lived! In other words, this prophet who is as great as or greater than any of the others who have ever lived is having trouble recognizing that Jesus is the Messiah! Astounding!

    And there is another thing that is especially striking: Apparently Jesus feels that he must issue this John a warning not to be offended by him. Why?
    ______
    *Q's Jesus: "no one is greater than John" 
  • Why does Jesus say that those would be blessed who were not offended by him, and why does he stress that to John?

    It may be because Jesus is not doing what John had said the coming mighty one would do. Jesus is not throwing “the chaff,” the wicked people, into unquenchable fire. Instead, he is sitting at table with them, eating with them, associating with the "chaff," accepting and even loving “tax collectors and sinners” -- and that is so offensive to Jesus’ critics that they are calling him an irreligious reprobate, “a glutton and a drunkard” –– Mosaic legal terminology for one so irredeemable, so evil, as to deserve death by stoning (Deuteronomy 21:21)!
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I'd never considered that 'Blessed is the one who takes no offence at me' was intended for John the Baptist, rather than the critical Pharisees. But it would certainly fit the context. And maybe John did see Jesus as a rival teacher.
  • The offense might be more that Jesus was simply not being the predicted mighty one so much as the merciful one. John himself accepted repentant sinners, even tax collectors, for baptism, but even John may have had some difficulty adjusting to how extremely accepting Jesus was toward sinners. To sit at table with them, perhaps without requiring prior repentance, may have been for John a bridge too far.

    Perhaps we should here note that much of this information is also reflected in the Gospel of Mark, for there too Jesus is strongly criticized by some Pharisees for “eating with tax collectors and sinners” in Levi's house.

    Also, in Mark Jesus’ own disciples are so delighted by the prospect that they, the followers of the Son of Man, could hope that in the Kingdom of God even the least of them would be greater than the greatest prophet who ever lived! Indeed, they were so delighted by this prospect that they became obsessed by it, and were repeatedly arguing about which of them will be the greatest in the Kingdom!–– much to Jesus’ displeasure (Mark 10:43-45).  
    ______

    This is encouraging, for it shows that there’s a lot in Q and in Mark about "the historical Jesus and the historical John” that fits in well together, that corroborates, and that is surely encouraging, even wonderful, for historical study.

    Next we should turn to the Gospel of Mark, as we continue looking for the historical Baptizer.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes, I like that image of Jesus as the merciful one rather than the mighty one. It underlines the good news of the gospel - and shows how His NT theology is different from the OT approach of John.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    They did agree. Both were expecting the end of this age soon. John's emphasis was more on the coming wrath, Jesus' more on the coming Kingdom.

    And they were both right.
  • They were neither of them entirely right in their expectations. If they had been, we today would be living in the wonderful, fully realized Messianic Age wherein the wolf would be lying down with the the lamb and all swords (weapons) would have been beaten into plowshares (implements of peace) and all nations and all peoples and families of the earth would be sitting at one table where death would be no more, swallowed up in the love of God, and there would be peace and plenty and harmony among us all.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    The arc is long.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    You have only got to turn to Rev 21 and there it is.
  • In the book of Revelation, Jesus repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly says, "See, I am coming soon!"

    Readers of that book no more expected 2,000 more years of history to follow them than did the Corinthian readers of Paul's letters think they had much time left -- not when he encouraged them to give up sex within marriage, re-marriage, and even marriage itself(!) in order to devote themselves to spiritual preparation for Jesus' imminent return because, he said, "the time is short" and "this world in its present form is passing away."

    Readers of that book no more expected 2,000 more years of history to follow them than did those who rushed into the Jordan to be baptized by John, nor those who stood listening as Jesus said, "There are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power (Mark)/the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom" (Matthew).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited August 30
    I see we have finally got around to eschatology. Yes, Paul in his letters expected an immanent parousia. The Corinthians were waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1: 7) and Paul counselled the single to remain unmarried because the time was short (1 Cor 7: 25-29). So they must have felt a bit miffed.

    Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the resurrection of the dead in Christ (1 Thess 4: 16-17). And he wrote again to correct their misapprehension that 'the day of the Lord has come' (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12).

    But Peter explains in his letter that God is not being slow in fulfilling His promise but is being patient in seeking to redeem all people (2 Pet 3: 9).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    In the book of Revelation, Jesus repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly says, "See, I am coming soon!"

    Readers of that book no more expected 2,000 more years of history to follow them than did the Corinthian readers of Paul's letters think they had much time left -- not when he encouraged them to give up sex within marriage, re-marriage, and even marriage itself(!) in order to devote themselves to spiritual preparation for Jesus' imminent return because, he said, "the time is short" and "this world in its present form is passing away."

    Readers of that book no more expected 2,000 more years of history to follow them than did those who rushed into the Jordan to be baptized by John, nor those who stood listening as Jesus said, "There are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power (Mark)/the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom" (Matthew).

    His soon, our soon. He ALWAYS exaggerates.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    It just depends on your definition of soon.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    It just depends on your definition of soon.

    If you borrow $100,000 from the bank, soon means one thing; if you borrow $5 from a friend, it means something else entirely.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited August 30
    OK, it depends on God's definition of soon. And He exists outside time. So maybe that's the reason...
  • He forgot to set a timer.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Which was tough on the single Corinthians. I wonder what they wrote back to Paul? Is that why we only have one side of the correspondence?
  • The hell thread is lost.
  • Which was tough on the singles...

    Right. Can you imagine a young couple comes to me wanting to get married and I try to talk them out of it because Jesus is coming soon?

    If I had lived in Paul's day under his influence I probably would have.

    But today, assuming they listened to me, they'd be back in five years complaining, "We could have started a family by now."

    You can laugh at this, but I know of an elderly woman who spoke up angrily when in college we were discussing Paul's 7th chp. of 1 Cor. and said how upset she was because when her husband had died years before, she had wanted to remarry, but did not because of the words of Paul and the fact that no one had explained to her the real, errant situation out of which Paul was writing. "They all left me in the lurch," she said, "my pastor, my church, my friends, even my conservative Bible commentary."

    I made up my mind never to hide the truth about the errant eschatological expectations of J th B, Jesus, Paul, etc. etc. And see my next post.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Yes - If the NT had a Hell thread: What would the Corinthians say? What would Pilate say? And what about Judas?

    There's a gap in the market. We need some Christian midrash.
  • @Rublev @mousethief @Martin54 u
    Rublev wrote: »
    I see we have finally got around to eschatology. Yes, Paul in his letters expected an immanent parousia. The Corinthians were waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1: 7) and Paul counselled the single to remain unmarried because the time was short (1 Cor 7: 25-29). So they must have felt a bit miffed.

    Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the resurrection of the dead in Christ (1 Thess 4: 16-17). And he wrote again to correct their misapprehension that 'the day of the Lord has come' (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12).

    But Peter explains in his letter that God is not being slow in fulfilling His promise but is being patient in seeking to redeem all people (2 Pet 3: 9).

    Rublev, your first two paragraphs are spot on, but you do know, do you not? that II Peter is pseudonymous, not written by Peter, but by someone in his name perhaps as late as the first or even the second quarter of the second century. Even Eusebius admitted that in his day many rejected its authenticity and today even the New American Bible (Catholic) states that it is pseudonymous.
  • Sorry, that was not Eusebius, but Origin, in the third century!
  • What would Pilate say? And what about Judas?

    Well, I guess Judas could finally set us straight on whether he hanged himself or fell forward and burst open. :wink:
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    There are plenty of writers on board the Ship. We could have a competition to write the best NT hell thread / midrash / pseudonymous letter.
  • I doubt if anyone could come up with a gospel much better than The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which should have been titled the Gospel of Jesus the Spoiled Divine Brat.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The clay birds that came to life are a nice touch though, aren't they?
  • Yeah, the evidence the elders would have used against him for making graven images and breaking the Sabbath just flew away!

    Also, his stretching of the too short wooden board to make it the same length as a longer one was a nice touch. Joseph liked that.

    By the way, when the boy kept striking playmates dead and teachers blind, Joseph once grabbed him by the ear lobe in protest. Damned if I would have grabbed him by anything!
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Sounds like you have a winner in the Apocryphal Gospel category. Closely followed by The Acts of Paul and Thecla. And The Golden Legend as runner up.
  • I don't know anything about the Acts of Paul and Thecla. I hope they kept it clean.
  • Having looked at the only two J the B parallel Q passages, and having concluded that they are largely historical and even fit in well with the opening description of the Baptizer in Mark 1:2-8 (though Mark does not at all mention the fiery wrath part!) let us now go to Mark 1:9-12, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, and ask how much of that is historical--or not.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I would say that the Baptism of Jesus by John was historical. It appears in all 4 gospels. Josephus calls John 'the Baptist.'
    And it has the criterion of embarrassment that it should really have happened the other way round (the very words put into John's mouth).
  • Absolutely! But the words put into John's mouth were put there only by Matthew, a clearly non historical intrusion into the text of Mark which has not even the slightest suggestion that Jesus and John knew each other, or that John knew what happened to Jesus at his baptism (vision, Spirit, voice). Matthew also changes You are my Son to This is my Son another Matthean tampering with Mark, neither of which are historical.

    But yes, the Baptism of Jesus as related by Mark is historical!
  • And it was a purely subjective experience of Jesus, as was the following temptation, also historical and attested by both Mark and, more extensively, by Q.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    They're one roll! Leave them to it!! ...bugger.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited August 31
    This is my reading of the four gospels too - that Mark invents the gospel genre as a special kind of literary/theological biography of the meaning of the life and death of Jesus Christ. His theological agenda is to present Jesus as the Messiah (Mark 1: 1). And the other three evangelists adapt his template to their own theological perspectives. Probably mainly to suit their respective readerships. But also to bring in other theological reflections and insights about Jesus and Christian discipleship. So that would make Mark the most 'historical' version in the modern sense of the term.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Is Q historical? Can anyone prove its existence? Or is it merely the assumption of a reasonable theory?
  • Did Mark "crown" Jesus Messiah in order to do that? Or was there tremendous evidence available to him that Jesus himself so regarded himself?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Absolutely! But the words put into John's mouth were put there only by Matthew, a clearly non historical intrusion into the text of Mark <snip>

    With what evidence do you make this assertion?
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Absolutely! But the words put into John's mouth were put there only by Matthew, a clearly non historical intrusion into the text of Mark <snip>

    With what evidence do you make this assertion?

    A simple comparison of the texts, plus Matthew's non Markan, non Lukan alteration of the words of the divine voice. Matthew had theological reasons to want John to be a witness to Jesus, and Luke did too (the birth stories) but both kept the earlier attested Q question sent by the Baptizer to Jesus: Are you the one...?
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