Re: Did Peter walk on water?

From: george murphy (
Date: Tue Oct 01 2002 - 20:47:45 EDT

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    Adrian Teo wrote:

    > Hello George,
    > > -----Original Message-----
    > > From: George Murphy []
    > > 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

             I don't claim any more than a competent parish pastor's
    knowledge of biblical language & would not try to base an argument
    here on my own expertise. I do know enough to know what the debates
    are about & make sense of the arguments. I gather that you are in
    more or less the same situation. For those in this position,
    counting - & weighing! - scholarly opinions is necessary if anything
    if we are ever to make any judgments, however tentative.
             Certainly there are indications of Semitic usage in Mt as
    well as other NT writings: Mt's use of "the kingdom of the heavens"
    (_basileia tOn ouranOn_ ) is one example. One has to be careful of
    "Hebraisms" as evidence for a Hebrew or Aramaic source. It may be
    due to the fact that the author is a native Aramaic speaker. If a
    German writes in English "I have the book read" it doesn't mean he's
    translating from a German document.

    > > 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.

             The traditional belief that the 1st Gospel was written by the
    apostle Matthew is just that - tradition. I think that tradition is
    of great value for some purposes - and, in particular, for the
    theological interpretation of scripture. But when it comes to
    extra-biblical matters of fact I have much less confidence in it. I
    was recently told by an Orthodox Christian that Holy Tradition
    teaches us that the church of Constantinople was founded by the
    Apostle Andrew. I doubt it.


    George L.Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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