RE: Did Peter walk on water?

From: Adrian Teo (ateo@whitworth.edu)
Date: Tue Oct 01 2002 - 14:55:43 EDT

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    Hello George,

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: George Murphy [mailto:gmurphy@raex.com]
    > On linguistic grounds few biblical scholars today hold
    > that our present Mt is
    > based upon a Hebrew or Aramaic original. The tradition
    > attested in the late 2d century
    > has to be given some respect but it is - from Irenaeus - at
    > least 100 years after the
    > composition of the gospel. Since one of the criteria for
    > acceptance of the NT was that
    > they be written by an apostle or a companion of one of the
    > apostles, it is not
    > surprising that the idea of authorship of one of the 12 would
    > have been accepted. The
    > evidence is not, however, compelling.

    On linguistic grounds, most people (including many theologians and of
    course, myself) do not have the required mastery over the ancient
    languages to evaluate the scholarly arguments. However, I have heard
    a presentation recently by a scholar fluent in both Hebrew and Greek,
    who had spent time going over some of the extant manuscripts and
    claimed to have found evidence of "Hebraism" (phrases that make sense
    only in Hebrew) in Matthew's gospel. Again, it is nearly impossible
    for me to evaluate such a claim. However, what I can appreciate is
    that any person living in closer temporal proximity to the events in
    question is more likely to understand those events that those living
    further away in time. Simply counting the number of scholars falling
    on one side or the other is not a convincing argument.

    > I would add that Irenaeus place in the Johannine
    > tradition perhaps gives him
    > special credence as far as authorship of the 4th gospel is
    > concerned, but one wonders
    > how familiar he was with the churches - perhaps in Syria -
    > where Mt was written.

    One wonders, but oral traditions travel far and wide and relatively
    quickly. It is at least plausible to think that Irenaeus was familiar
    with communities as far away as Syria. The communication network was
    already in place by the end of the 1st century as attested to by the
    letters of Ignatius and Clement of Rome.

    > I do not, in fact, accept the "2 source theory" in the
    > form in which it's
    > usually stated. It does seem likely that both Mt & Lk used
    > some sayings source like the
    > hypothetical Q, but it's also clear that each of them had
    > other sources of information
    > as well.

    I can go with that. I think Q can be thought of basically as a
    collective label for the various oral and a few written traditions
    that were floating around.

    > But the only aspect of that really germane to the
    > present question is that Mt
    > used Mk as one source, & I think it's very hard to argue
    > against that.

    I would have to disagree, at this point anyway. I haven't read any
    Markan source argument that cannot also be explained differently and
    more in line with the traditional claims.

    > Far from Mk just
    > being a brief version of Mt (as Augustine, e.g., said, & as
    > was often thought), careful
    > study shows that in the material common to both it is Mt who
    > appears to condense Mk, not
    > vice versa.

    It appears to me that the reason why scholars reject Matthew as the
    author is so that it could be brought in line with the theory of
    Markan priority. However, isn't it entirely possible that Mark and
    Matthew had significant personal contact with each other? It is only
    in our modern culture of dependence on printed matter that we seem to
    think that most common knowledge is due to common reading, rather
    than personal contact.

    Another point is that there is no evidence of anyone in early
    Christiantiy challenging the authorship of Matthew. Were these early
    literate Christians so incompetent in the languages that they could
    not see what modern scholars are now able to see through linguistic
    analysis? Surely some early writers would have challenged claims of
    Matthew's authorship if they knew that it wasn't true.

    Adrian.



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