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October 02, 2013

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It also should be noted that the Koine Greek John uses is rather simple in style. Most students learning the NT Greek begin with John and work towards the harder grammatical style of Paul.

While John's Greek might be simple, his writing style, not only for his gospel but also in his other writings, betrays a level of philosophical sophistication that I think exceeds even that of Paul. Paul was the great theologian. John was the great philosopher. Paul's theology was intricate, but you don't get a sense of logical foundation for that theology. His foundation is more pastoral. John's theology was simple, but he lays an intricate philosophical foundation for it. He addresses the ancient philosophical debate in identifying Jesus as the Logos of God, for example. He also derives his theology of love on Jesus' trinitarian discourse in John 14 and following. Paul teaches the very same thing pastorally, by contrast, in 1 Cor 13.

Jim,

Thank you for your admirable (really neat) post.

This line of thought reminds me of one of my favorite Adventure in Odyssey episodes. It featured the character of Eugene Meltsner, a rather intelligent (real smart)and loquacious (talks alot, uses big words) young man who had taken a bet that he could not go a week using short words of two or three syllables at most. Then he remembers that he must give a scientific dissertation (big speech on a science topic) for a prestigious group of scholars. Which he does with hilarious (real funny) results.

This is John's Gospel exactly. Small words. Simple style. Deep significance. Thank you for reminding us of this.

J. Warner Wallace: “Hebrew children were required to memorize the first five books of Torah before they were twelve years old.”

Does anyone have a citation for this claim? The (albeit brief) research I did of the Talmud would indicate this was not true in the early 1st Century.

Thanks.

DagoodS,

Puzzled by your reference to the Talmud (the Talmud would indicate this was not true in the early 1st Century.), a developed collection of rabbinic interpretation compiled in the second and third centuries AD. There was the initial groundwork in the work of the scribes and the early schools of Hillel and Sadduk. Their schools were rigorous, and the necessary home education for the young would prepare young men for rabbinic training.

As for citations, I would suggest Alfred Edersheim's Sketches of Jewish Social Life, particularly the eighth chapter. I cut/paste something of the chapter that may be pertinent: There is reason for believing that, even before this, that careful training of the memory
commenced, which has ever since been one of the mental characteristics of the Jewish nation. Verses of Scripture, benedictions, wise sayings, etc., were impressed on the child, and mnemonic rules devised to facilitate the retention of what was so acquired. We can understand the reason of this from the religious importance attaching to the exact preservation of the
very words of tradition. The Talmud describes the beau ideal of a student when it compares him to a well-plastered cistern, which would not let
even a single drop escape. Indeed, according to the Mishnah, he who from negligence “forgets any one thing in his study of the Mishnah, Scripture
imputes it to him as if he had forfeited his life;” the reference here being to Deuteronomy 4:9 (Ab. 3. 10).

This reading contains a footnote about a story of the Talmud, if destroyed, could be restored by the collective memories of twelve rabbis.

A pleasure conversing. The cares of the day will take me from the computer for the rest of the day.

DGFischer,

Thanks for the direction. Interesting reading. When mentioning the Talmud, I was referring to Tractate Baba Bathra Folio 21a (cited by Edersheim) wherein Joshua ben Gamala established schooling systems for Hebrew children out of concern the Torah was being forgotten throughout Israel. This was in 64 CE or so. He did establish learning should start at 6 years of age.

What I have not found was a specific reference they memorized the Torah by age 12. Nor anything explicit in the early 1st Century what was generally required in studying.

The Gospels were originally anonymous. Early in church history they came to be associated with the apostles (Matthew & John) or associates of apostles (Mark & Luke). I was also taught that the Hebrew boys memorized the Torah by the time they were 12. Catherine Hezser's book "Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine" is the definitive book relating to this topic. She shows that literacy (defined as those who could copy out a page of Greek) in 1st century Palestine was almost certainly less than 5%. Likely only a small portion of the elites within that culture were literate to the point of being able to compose a treatise like the gospel of John. There is no evidence that all 1st century Jewish boys went to Synagogue school, or even that such schools existed.
Using a quotation from the gospel of John to show that John was educated is assuming what you are attempting to prove.
I want to study the issue of the use of an amanuensis more to see if that gives a plausible rational for Johannine authorship. I would want to study how the amanuenses were used during that time to see how strong that argument is.

I don't think anyone argues that amanuensis means that John authored the gospel. I think the most powerful argument is that Irenaus says that John wrote. Irenaeus was a direct disciple of Polycarp, and this is where he got this information. Polycarp was converted by John and was John's disciple. This is incredibly strong evidence, and most who take this line are convinced by it (myself included). See D.A. Carson's commentary on John, and he has a great argument there for John the apostle's authorship. Whether or not the author is educated has zero bearing on the issue. If John is the beloved disciple, then it's likely he would have been a little boy, 7,8,9,10,11 years old when he became Jesus's disciple (the beloved disciple was the only disciple that saw Jesus crucified). Most scholars believe the disciples were adolescents now, so that is not outside the realm of possibilities at all. Think how many things this explains about the gospel of John.

If John was a little boy when the events he is reporting happened, then we have no way of knowing if John was actually educated after that or not. Assuming that he never received some kind of education, he could have easily gotten someone to help him write the gospel or edit it for him. My guess is that he was never educated formally, but that he probably learned how to read and write in Greek, speak Greek well for sure (he lived in Ephesus!) But once again, almost no one makes the argument (that has half a brain) that John did not write John because it is too theologically advanced, and John was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter for crying out loud. As far as I can tell, scholars argue against Johanine authorship for other reasons.

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