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The Problem of John the Baptist

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THE
PROBLEM
A
OP
JOHN
THE
BAPTIST
T H E S I S
s u b m itte d t o t h e S e n a tu s A cadem icus
of
th e
UNIVERSITY OP GLASGOW
. i n c a n d id a c y f o r $he
DEGREE
OP
DOCTOR
OP
PHILOSOPHY.
J . HAULTAIN L . BROWN
1 9 4 0.
ProQuest N um ber: 13905614
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In tro d u c tio n
...
CHAPTER I .
The V alu e o f t h e E x t e r n a l E v id e n c e
r e l a t i n g t o Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
...
CHAPTER I I .
The C h ro n o lo g y o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
CHAPTER I I I .
The B a p tism o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t . . .
CHAPTER IV.
The D i s c i p l e s o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t ,
CHAPTER V.
The M i n i s t r y o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t . .
CHAPTER V I.
The R e l a t i o n s o f J e s u s and Jo h n th e
B a p tis t
...
...
•* .
...
C o n c lu s io n and R e c o n s tr u c ti o n ••
B ib lio g r a p h y
...................
...
...................
INTRODUCTION.
The p ro b le m o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t i s t h e p ro b le m o f h i s
p e rs o n a lity .
Was h e , a s t h e E v a n g e l i s t s s u g g e s t , m e re ly
a V o ice i n t h e W ild e rn e s s - a V o ice w hich s e r v e d i t s p u rp o se
f o r a v e r y b r i e f s p a c e o f tim e i n p r e p a r i n g t h e Way, and
th e n was r u d e l y s i l e n c e d l e a v in g s c a r c e l y a n echo i n t h e
p a g e s o f h i s t o r y , o r was he a p r e a c h e r whose m i n i s t r y l a s t e d
l o n g e r and was m ore in d e p e n d e n t an d o f g r e a t e r c o n seq u en ce
f o r C h r i s t i a n o r i g i n s t h a n t h e G o s p e ls a llo w ?
What w ere
t h e m o tiv e s w hich l e d him t o summon t h e p e o p le t o b a p tis m ,
and w hat v iew s d id h e h o ld a s t o t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f h i s
b a p tism ?
D id he form a band o f d i s c i p l e s , i n te n d i n g t h a t
th e y sh o u ld c a r r y on h i s work a f t e r h i s d e a t h , o r was t h e
in f lu e n c e o f h i s p e r s o n a l i t y su c h t h a t h i s f o l l o w e r s , w ith ­
o u t any w a r r a n t from Jo h n h i m s e l f , p e r p e t u a t e d h i s t e a c h i n g ,
and u p h e ld i t t o t h e d a n g e r o f C h r i s t i a n i t y ?
Does t h e p r o ­
m in en t p a r t w hich he t a k e s i n t h e M andaean l i t e r a t u r e p o i n t
i n t h e same d i r e c t i o n , and i s t h e M andaean S e c t i t s e l f t o
be r e g a r d e d a s a c o n tin u in g B a p t i s t S e c t?
t r u e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e B a p t i s t ’s m i n i s t r y ?
W herein l a y t h e
Did he
announce a p o l i t i c a l program m e, o r was he p u r e l y a m o ra l r e ­
fo rm er?
I n e i t h e r c a s e , w hat was h i s c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the~~
th o u g h t o f t h e t im e , an d h i s p l a c e i n h i s e n v iro n m e n t?
F i n a l l y , w hat w ere t h e h i s t o r i c a l r e l a t i o n s b etw een J e s u s
and Jo h n ?
How f a r d id t h e fo rm e r come u n d e r t h e s p e l l o f
th e p e rs o n a lity o f th e l a t t e r ?
How f a r , i f a t
t h e l a t t e r c o n s c io u s o f t h e r o l e o f t h e
way d id he p r e p a r e t h e w o rld f o r
fo r m e r ,
a l l , was
and i n w hat
Jesu s?
I n d e a l i n g w ith t h i s p ro b le m , c e r t a i n im p o rta n t f a c t s
s h o u ld be k e p t c o n s t a n t l y i n m in d .
(1 ) T he m e a g re n e ss o f t h e e v id e n c e r e l a t i n g t o t h e
B a p t i s t i n o u r s o u r c e s c o n s t i t u t e s a s o u rc e o f d a n g e r , i n
th a t th e c r i t i c
i s te m p te d t o in v e n t im a g in a ry d e t a i l s a b o u t
t h a t f i g u r e i n a n a tte m p t t o a r r i v e a t g r e a t e r f u l n e s s and
p re c is io n .
W h atev e r c o n j e c t u r e s , t h e r e f o r e , a r e m ade, w i l l
be s u p p o r te d a s f a r a s p o s s i b l e by t h e b e s t a v a i l a b l e e v i ­
dence.
T h is i s n o t a lw a y s p o s s i b l e , h o w ev er, and i n c e r t a i n
o a s e s , t h e r i g h t i s c la im e d t o e x e r c i s e t h e h i s t o r i c a l im ag­
i n a t i o n , t h e r e s u l t s o f w h ic h m ust be ju d g e d b y t h e i r i n ­
h e re n t p r o b a b ility .
(2 ) The p o r t r a i t o f t h e B a p t i s t was draw n m ore t h a n h a l f
a c e n tu r y a f t e r h i s d e a t h .
A llo w an ce m u st be m ade, t h e r e ­
f o r e , f o r c e r t a i n m o d i f i c a t i o n s w hich may h av e c r e p t i n m o d if i c a t io n s due p a r t l y t o t h e p o i n t o f v ie w o f t h e n a r r a t o r s
th e m s e lv e s , and p a r t l y t o t h e d e v e lo p in g th e o lo g y o f t h e
E a r ly C h u rch .
I t was a lm o st i n e v i t a b l e t h a t t h e e a r l y t r a d -
3.
i t i o n s h o u ld h a v e b een c o lo u r e d by t h e s e f a c t o r s an d i t i s
t h e t a s k o f t h e c r i t i c t o d e te rm in e t o w hat e x t e n t t h i s p ro ­
c e s s h a s ta k e n p l a c e .
(3 )
T he c l o s e c o n t a c t b e tw e e n J e s u s and J o h n v e r y
g r e a tly in c re a s e s th e d i f f i c u l t y o f a r r iv in g a t th e ex act
s ig n ific a n c e o f th e l a t t e r .
I t w ould be a much e a s i e r t a s k
t o e s t i m a t e t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f a n y one o f t h e O .T .p r o p h e ts
on t h e one h a n d , o r e v e n o f P a u l on t h e o t h e r , in asm u ch a s
t h e i r h i s t o r i e s s ta n d o u t c l e a r c u t , and w ere n o t o v e r­
shadowed b y t h a t o f J e s u s .
t h e same d i f f i c u l t y .
The E v a n g e l i s t s e x p e r ie n c e d
O ra l and w r i t t e n t r a d i t i o n may have
p r e s e r v e d a c o n s i d e r a b le amount o f m a t e r i a l r e g a r d i n g th e
B a p t i s t , b u t v e r y much m ore a b o u t J e s u s .
The tw o names w ould
o f t e n be l i n k e d t o g e t h e r , and t h e p r e c i s e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f
th e B a p t i s t may h a v e b e e n somewhat p u z z l in g t o t h e E v a n g e l­
i s t s th e m s e lv e s .
I n an y c a s e , t h e y w ere c o n c e rn e d p r i m a r i l y
w ith J e s u s , a n d , c a p t i v a t e d by h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , u n c o n s c io u s ly
l e f t , we may w e ll b e l i e v e , t h e B a p t i s t i n t h e shadow .
t o w hat e x t e n t d id t h e y do t h i s c o n s c io u s ly ?
But
T h is i s t h e
r e a l l y c r u c i a l p o i n t , f o r b e h in d i t l i e s t h e t r u e p e r s o n a l i t y
o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
I n t h e e l u c i d a t i o n o f t h e p ro b le m , t h e New T e sta m e n t
e v id e n c e i s p la c e d f i r s t and f o r e m o s t.
I t i s a p p ro a c h e d
w ith a l l due c a u t i o n , inasm uch a s t h e S y n o p tic s hav e no c la im
4.
t o b e in g r e g a r d e d a s h i s t o r i c a l w o rk s, i n o u r s e n s e o f _ t h e
te r m .
T h e i r p r im a ry o b j e c t i s t o p r o c la im t h e Good News
a b o u t J e s u s , an d e v e r y t h in g e l s e i s s u b o r d in a te d t o t h i s .
They a r e com posed o f p o p u la r t r a d i t i o n s w h ic h e m p h a sise t h i s
fa c t,^
I n t h e F o u r th G o sp el i t i s e v id e n t t h a t t h e m a t e r i a l
i s c h o sen fro m a n a p o l o g e t i c p o i n t o f v ie w , and t h a t i t
t h e r e f o r e c a l l s f o r m ore c a r e f u l and m ore c a u t io u s exam ina­
tio n .
I n t h i s c o n n e x io n i t may be s t a t e d g e n e r a l l y h e r e
t h a t t h e S y n o p tic s seem t o t h e p r e s e n t w r i t e r t o c o n t a i n m ore
r e l i a b l e in f o r m a ti o n a b o u t t h e B a p t i s t t h a n t h e F o u r th G o s p e l,
and t h a t t h e m o st v a lu a b le s e c t i o n s i n t h e S y n o p tic s a r e
u n d o u b te d ly t h e Words o f J e s u s (H e rrn w o rte ) ,2
comes t h e e x t r a - c a n o n i c a l e v id e n c e .
S e c o n d ly
T h e re i s a c h a p t e r on
t h e v a lu e o f t h i s e v id e n c e , and w here i t i s fo u n d t o b e r e ­
l i a b l e a f t e r c r i t i c a l e x a m in a tio n , i t i s p la c e d a lo n g s id e th e
New T e sta m e n t e v id e n c e .
F i n a l l y , acknow ledgm ent i s due t o
p r e v io u s w r i t e r s i n t h i s f i e l d , whose w orks a r e m e n tio n e d
in th e t e x t o r in th e f o o tn o te s .
l c C f. D i b e l i u s : D ie u r c h r i s t l i c h e S b e r l i e f e r u n g von Jo h a n n e s
dem T & u fe r. p . l , " W r itin g s o f t h i s ty p e f o llo w no h i s t o r i ­
c a l p u rp o s e i n t h e m odern s e n s e : t h e y do n o t n a r r a t e a
l i f e o f J e s u s : t h e y do n o t s e t f o r t h a h i s t o r y o f J o h n : th e y
p r o c la im t h e G o s p e l." On t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h e te n d e n c y might
b e , w here t h e y do m e n tio n J o h n , t o s t r e s s u n d u ly h i s a f f i n ­
i t i e s w ith J e s u s .
2 . C f, D i b e l i u s : o p . c i t . , p .S , " I n t h e o r i g i n a l w ords o f J e s u s ,
t h e r e sp e a k s one who had b e en a c o n te m p o ra ry o f th e B a p t i s t ,
o n e , th e p u rp o s e o f whose l i f e was c l o s e l y c o n n e c te d w ith
t h a t o f J o h n * s . H is s a y i n g s , t h e n , w here a u t h e n t i c i t y i s
c e r t a i n , a r e b e t t e r s o u r c e s f o r t h e h i s t o r y o f J o h n , th a n
t h o s e , com posed by t h e E v a n g e l i s t s fro m t h e p o i n t o f v iew o f
t h e e a r l y C h r i s t i a n com m unity."
5.
T h is w ork d o e s n o t c la im t o g i v e , e x c e p t i n th e re c o n ­
s t r u c t i o n and summary a t t h e e n d , a c h r o n o l o g i c a l se q u en ce
o f e v e n t s , o r i n o t h e r w o rd s , a h i s t o r y o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t ,
I n t e r e s t i s c e n t r e d m ore upon h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , i n t h e w id e s t
s e n s e o f t h e w o rd , and upon h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r C h r i s t i a n
o rig in s .
H ow ever, a s t h e h i s t o r i c a l r e l a t i o n s b etw een J e s u s
and Jo h n m u st be c o n s id e r e d , i t i s a d v is a b l e t o d i s c u s s t h e
tim e o f t h e B a p t i s t ’ s b i r t h , m i n i s t r y , and d e a th , i n o r d e r
t h a t J e s u s and Jo h n may be view ed i n t h e i r t r u e p e r s p e c t i v e .
The m a t e r i a l i s p r e s e n t e d i n t h e f o llo w in g fo im and
o rd e r.
I n C h a p te r I t h e v a lu e o f t h e e x t e r n a l e v id e n c e i s
d i s c u s s e d , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e e v id e n c e o f J o s e p h u s and t h e
S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts , an d a n e f f o r t i s made to d e c id e how f a r
i t may be a llo w e d w e ig h t i n t h e s o l v i n g o f t h e p ro b le m .
In
C h a p te r I I t h e c h ro n o lo g y o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t i s d e a l t w ith ,
and i n C h a p te r s I I I , IV , and V t h e b a p tis m , t h e d i s c i p l e s ,
and t h e m i n i s t r y o f t h e B a p t i s t a r e c o n s id e r e d r e s p e c t i v e l y
f o r t h e l i g h t w h ic h t h e y th ro w upon h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e .
In
C h a p te r VI t h e r e l a t i o n s o f J e s u s and Jo h n a r e e s t im a t e d .
F i n a l l y c o n c lu s io n s a r e draw n, and a s h o r t r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f
t h e h i s t o r y o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t i s g iv e n .
An e n d e a v o u r h a s b een made th ro u g h o u t t o p a i n t a p e n p o r t r a i t o f t h e B a p t i s t , a s he l i v e d , b a p t i s e d and m in i s t e r e d ,
a s a c c u r a t e l y and a s d i s p a s s i o n a t e l y a s p o s s i b l e , a p o r t r a i t ,
6
u n d i s t o r t e d on t h e one hand b y e x tre m e c o n s e r v a tis m o f
o u t lo o k , and on t h e o t h e r , b y a r a d i c a l i s m w h ic h deem s th e
G o s p e ls t o be no m ore t h a n " a n a iv e and t o u c h in g le g e n d ” . 1
1* E i s l e r : The M e s s ia h J e s u s and Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t »
E d ., p . 9 2 .
—
E n g lis h
7.
CHAPTER
I
THE VALUE OF THE EXTRA-CANONICAL EVIDENCE
*
A, The E v id e n c e o f J o s e p h u s .
Any a tte m p t t o e s t i m a t e t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f Jo h n t h e
B a p t i s t m u st t a k e i n t o a c c o u n t t h e e v id e n c e o f J o s e p h u s and
any a tte m p t t o e v a l u a t e h i s e v id e n c e w i l l be l a r g e l y b a se d
on w h a te v e r v ie w i s ta k e n a s t o t h e r e l i a b i l i t y o f J o s e p h u s
as a h is to r ia n .
c o n s id e ra tio n .
A n o th e r f a c t o r , t o o , s h o u ld be t a k e n i n to
I t s h o u ld be a s c e r t a i n e d w h e th e r t h e h i s t o r ­
i a n ’ s s t a te m e n t on t h e B a p t i s t h a s b e e n worked o v e r by a
C h r i s t i a n c e n s o r , who h a s o b s c u re d and a l t e r e d Jo sep h u s* own
o p in io n , i n o r d e r t o b r i n g t h e p o r t r a i t o f t h e B a p t i s t i n t o
harm ony w ith t h e t r a d i t i o n a l p o r t r a i t .
Jo s e p h u s was b o rn i n J e r u s a le m i n t h e y e a r o f t h e a c c e s ­
s io n o f t h e E m peror C a li g u l a (3 7 -3 8 A .D .) .
H is f a t h e r ’ s
name was M a t th i a s and h i s m o th e r , he t e l l s u s , b e lo n g e d t o
t h e a r i s t o c r a t i c A sam onaean f a m i l y A t
t h e e a r l y ag e o f
f o u r t e e n he was c o n s u lte d by t h e R a b b is on p o i n t s o f la w , and
he m akes i t c l e a r t h a t h i s t a l e n t s s u r p a s s e d t h o s e o f t h e
o r d in a r y r u n o f m en.
At t h e a g e o f s i x t e e n he s t a r t e d h i s
U n iv e r s ity t r a i n i n g and a f t e r a c a r e f u l s tu d y o f t h e t e n e t s
o f t h e E s s e n e s , t h e P h a r i s e e s and t h e S a d d u o e e s, fo llo w e d by
1.
Loeb J o se p h u s. I , p . 2 .
th r e e rig o ro u s y e a rs o f a s c e tic l i f e
in th e w ild e rn e s s a s
a d i s c i p l e o f t h e E sse n e B annus, he r e t u r n e d t o J e r u s a le m
and a t t a c h e d h i m s e l f t o t h e P h a r i s a i c p a r t y , t r a c e s o f
whose d o c t i n e s a r e t o be fo u n d i n p l e n t y o f h i s w o rk s.
D e s iro u s o f p u r s u in g a p r a c t i c a l r a t h e r t h a n a p u r e l y t h e o r ­
e t i c a l c a r e e r , he was a t p a in s t o su p p le m e n t h i s A ram aic
m o th e r - to n g u e w ith a know ledge o f G re e k , and i n 64 A.D. he
v i s i t e d Rome o s t e n s i b l y t o p r o c u r e t h e r e l e a s e o f some
J e w is h p r i e s t s , b u t a c t u a l l y t o s e d u re an a p p o in tm e n t from
t h e E m p ero r.
He su c c e e d e d i n e n l i s t i n g t h e f a v o u r o f
P o p p a e a , t h e E m p e ro r’ s w if e , and a p p a r e n t l y g r e a t l y im p re sse d
t h e a u t h o r i t i e s by h i s w e a lth o f l e a r n i n g . U p t o t h i s
p o i n t , p r o b a b ly , J o s e p h u s had t h e i n t e r e s t s o f h i s c o u n try ­
men a t h e a r t .
D a z z le d , h o w ev er, by t h e s p le n d o u r and
m ig h t o f Rome, he g r a d u a l l y came t o p e r c e i v e how h o p e le s s
Je w ish r e s i s t a n c e t o Rome w ould b e .
H is r e t u r n t o J e r u s a ­
lem c o in c id e d w ith t h e o u tb r e a k o f t h e J e w ish w ar o f in d e ­
p e n d e n c e , and from t h i s tim e i t seem s t h a t J o s e p h u s th re w
i n h i s l o t w ith w h ic h e v e r s id e was w in n in g .
I t i s n o t un­
l i k e l y t h a t J o s e p h u s was a Z e a lo t a t f i r s t , b e c a u se he was
a p p a r e n t l y g iv e n e i t h e r suprem e command, o r an im p o r ta n t
com m ission i n G a l i l e e by t h e r e v o l u t i o n a r y c o m m itte e , th o u g h
1 . Loeb J o se p h u s. I , p . 9 .
t h e a c c o u n ts o f t h i s p e r i o d o f l i f e
a re n o t q u ite c le a r . 1
He had l i t t l e a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a b i l i t y an d t h e d o u b le r o l e
w h ich he w as now p l a y i n g soon aw akened th e s u s p i c i o n s b o th
o f h i s own cou n try m en and o f t h e Romans.
On J u n e 8 t h ,
67 A .D ., h e was b e s ie g e d by V e s p a s i a n 's arm y i n J o t a p a t a ,
and t a k e n p r i s o n e r a f t e r f o r t y - s e v e n d a y s ' s i e g e .
H is l i f e
was s p a r e d b e c a u s e , a s h e t e l l s u s , h e f l a t t e r e d V e s p a s ia n
by p r o p h e s y in g t h a t h e , V e s p a s ia n , and h i s s o n , T i t u s ,
w ould be E m p e ro rs.
I t seem s m ore l i k e l y , h o w ev er, t h a t
t h e r e a l r e a s o n f o r t h i s a c t o f clem ency w as, a s E i s l e r
t h i n k s , t h e f a c t t h a t he had re m a in e d i n to u c h a l l a lo n g
w ith t h e Roman i n t e l l i g e n c e d e p a r tm e n t.
h i s p r o g r e s s was r a p i d .
p
From t h i s tim e
He was g iv e n a g i f t o f e s t a t e s i n
P a l e s t i n e , t a k e n t o Rome, and g r a n te d a p la c e i n t h e I m p e r ia l
h o u s e h o ld , b u t h a p p y , i n a l l t h i s , he c o u ld s c a r c e l y have
been.
He t e l l s u s t h a t he was now b etw een two f i r e s , s u s ­
p e c te d o f t r e a c h e r y by t h e Romans, an d h a te d w ith p e c u l i a r
i n t e n s i t y b y t h e Je w s .
The d a te o f h i s d e a th i s u n c e r t a i n ,
b u t he o u t l i v e d A g rip p a I I , who, a c c o r d in g t o P h o t i u s , d ie d
i n 100 A .D ..
' 1* V i t a , 1 4 . ( 7 7 ) .
Compare t h i s w ith B . J . i i . 2 0 . 4 . (5 6 8 ).
Tiie d iv e r g e n c e i n t h e a c c o u n ts i s due t o th e f a c t t h a t
t h e B . J . was w r i t t e n u n d e r Roman p a tro n a g e w h ile t h e
V ita was a n a p o lo g i a i n f a c e o f J e w is h a c c u s a t i o n .
2 . O p .c it. . p .26.
10.
I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o form a j u s t e s t im a t e o f t h e c h a ra c ­
t e r o f Jo sep h u s.
U n d o u b te d ly t h e r e w ere t r a i t s i n i t
w h ich c a n n o t be a d m ire d , h i s b o a s t i n g , h i s i n d e c i s i o n , h i s
o b s e q u io u s n e s s .
B u t a llo w a n c e m u st be made f o r t h e c i r ­
c u m sta n c e s i n w h ic h he fo u n d h i m s e l f .
L ik e o t h e r s he
s u r r e n d e r e d to t h e l u r e o f I m p e r i a l f a v o u r , y e t , no d o u b t,
he was r i g h t i n h i s c o n v i c t i o n t h a t r e s i s t a n c e t o Rome was
fu tile .
The f e e l i n g re m a in s t h a t he d id , in d e e d , r e t a i n t o
t h e l a s t a c e r t a i n y e a r n in g f o r h i s co u n try m en and t h a t h i s
b i t t e r d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s l o t i s r e a l l y g e n u in e .
T h a c k e ra y , 1
h o w ev er, p e rh a p s g o e s to o f a r i n s i n g i n g h i s p r a i s e s , w h ile
E i s l e r p a i n t s a l t o g e t h e r to o c r u e l an d v i n d i c t i v e a p o r t r a i t
o f t h e h i s t o r i a n , r e f e r r i n g t o him a s an ’a m b itio u s b u re a u ­
c r a t * , a ’young s c a p e - g r a c e ’ , and ev en a s ’a n o ld s i n n e r and
s p o u n d re l* . 2
How f a r can t h e e v id e n c e o f Jo s e p h u s be t r u s t e d ?
t a i n l y i t m ust be t a k e n i n some c a s e s cum g ra n o s a l i s .
C e r­
Y et
i t i s t o l e r a b l y c e r t a i n t h a t w h e re v e r J o s e p h u s ’ own p e r s o n a l
a t t i t u d e and b e h a v io u r a r e n o t i n q u e s t io n , h i s e v id e n c e may
be r e g a r d e d a s o f v e r y d e f i n i t e w o rth .
He had a c c e s s t o
th e o f f i c i a l r e p o r t s o f t h e E m p e ro rs, and d e r iv e d much o f
h i s m a t e r i a l from N ic o la u s o f Damascus who l i v e d i n t h e tim e
o f Herod and A u g u s tu s and w ro te a U n iv e r s a l H is to r y i n 144
*'
■
-
--
- —■
-■ ■
-
1» J o s e p h u s , The Man and t h e H i s t o r i a n .
2 . O p . c i t . . p a s s im .
■■-
" 11
*
11 •
boo k s,
"He s h o u ld b e c a r e f u l l y s t u d i e d " , w r i t e s F o a k e s
J a c k s o n , " b e f o r e he i s condem ned, o r r e f u s e d h i s p l a c e a s
t h e g r e a t h i s t o r i a n o f Ju d a is m , an d a n i n v a l u a b l e c o n t r i ­
b u t o r t o o u r know ledge o f a n t i q u i t y . " - 1-
On t h e o t h e r h a n d ,
i t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t he w ould o f f e n d t h e E m peror t o whom
he owed h i s p o s i t i o n , and t h e i n f e r e n c e u n d o u b te d ly i s t h a t
r e f e r e n c e s t o C h r i s t i a n i t y w ould r e q u i r e c a u t i o u s h a n d lin g .
The fam ous T estim o n iu m 2 h a s a lm o s t c e r t a i n l y b e e n w orked
o v e r t o a c e r t a i n e x t e n t , a t l e a s t , by a C h r i s t i a n h a n d ,
and i t m ust b e d e te rm in e d w h e th e r t h e p a s s a g e d e a l in g w ith
Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t h a s b e e n s i m i l a r l y i n t e r p o l a t e d .
3
C o n s i d e r a t i o n , ho w ev er, m u st f i r s t be g iv e n t o a v e ry
p o i n te d a rg u m e n t, s u p p o r t i n g , i t i s h e l d , 4 a C h r i s t i a n
c e n s o r s h ip o f t h e t e x t o f J o s e p h u s so e x te n s iv e and th o ro u g h ­
g o in g i n c h a r a c t e r a s p r a c t i c a l l y t o c l i n c h t h e s p u r io u s
n a tu r e o f t h e r e s t o f t h e e x ta n t e v id e n c e i n i t s p r e s e n t
fo rm , v i z . , t h e s i l e n c e o f J o s e p h u s r e g a r d in g Jo h n t h e
B a p t i s t and J e s u s i n h i s e a r l i e r w ork known a s t h e Je w ish
War i s s u e d b e tw ee n 75 and 79 A .D .
5
1* J o s e p h u s and t h e J e w s , p . x v i . 2 . A n tiq . x v i i i . 5 . 5 . ( 6 3 f f . )
3 . A n t i q .x v i i i 5 . 2 . ( 1 1 6 f f . ) .
4 . E i s l e r : o p . o i t . , p p .6 3 f f .
5 , "The t i t l e by w h ich t h e a u th o r r e f e r s t o ^ h i s yrork i s 'C on­
c e r n in g t h e J e w is h War*
to o !Tou^»’koO T\o\&j aou , V ita
4 12. A n t i q .x x .2 5 8 , c f . x v i i ^ . l l ) . . . . The expanded form ,
’Zouh/fKod TJoUjUOO 7T(?d$ cP<*)/*c(/0U$
fo u n d a t th e head o f th e
f i r s t tw o b o o k s i n N i e s e 's p r i n c i p a l MS, P , may, i t h a s
b e en s u g g e s te d , be a n a tte m p t o f t h e a u th o r t o n e u t r a l i s e
t h e o f f e n s i v e c h a r a c t e r o f t h e fo rm e r s u p e r s c r i p t i o n . But
t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h q MSS em ploy a n o th e r t i t l e , "C o n c ern in g
( t h e ) C a p tu re " ( Ifcfl
) . . . . . The s h o r t t i t l e i s
one w h ich t h e a u th o r may w e ll have em ployed h i m s e l f ."
T h a c k e ra y ; Loeb J o s e p h u s I I , p p . v i i - v i i i .
12.
The d i f f i c u l t y c a n n o t be s a t i s f a c t o r i l y overcome- by
su p p o s in g t h a t i n t h e i n t e r v a l b e tw e e n t h e c o m p o s itio n o f
t h e J e w is h War an d t h e A n t i q u i t i e s (94 A .D .) , J o s e p h u s had
become a c q u a in t e d w ith t h e G o s p e ls o f M ark and M atthew , and
had h e a rd fro m them o f J e s u s f o r t h e f i r s t t im e .
S uch i s
t h e o p in io n o f Renan 1 who b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e G o s p e ls hav e
m a g n if ie d o u t o f a l l due p r o p o r t i o n t h e c ir c u m s ta n c e s o f
t h e l i f e and d e a th o f J e s u s , and t h a t t h e s e w e re , by com­
p a r i s o n w ith o t h e r e v e n ts o f t h e tim e s , r e a l l y i n s i g n i f i c a n t
i n c o n te m p o ra ry e y e s .
D ib e liu s
su p p o sed t h e o m is s io n t o
b e due t o t h e lo w ly s o c i a l p o s i t i o n o f J e s u s and h i s f o llo w ­
e r s , b u t t h i s o p in io n t o o , seem s s c a r c e l y s a t i s f a c t o r y .
v ie w o f t h i s ,
In
i s i t p o s s i b l e o n ly t o a d o p t E i s l e r ’ s t h e o r y
o f d e l i b e r a t e and v e r y sw ee p in g C h r i s t i a n c e n s o r s h ip ?
T h e re
i s s t i l l a n o th e r p o s s i b i l i t y w h ich , so f a r a s t h e p r e s e n t
w r i t e r i s a w a re , h a s h i t h e r t o e sc a p e d a t t e n t i o n .
The J e w is h War was is s u e d i n i t s G reek form betw een
75 A .D . and 79 A .D ., o n ly a few y e a r s a f t e r N e ro ’ s d re a d
e d i c t a g a i n s t t h e C h r i s t i a n s o c c a s io n e d by th e g r e a t f i r e
i n Rome i n 64 A .D ..
T e r t u l l i a n rem a rk s o f t h i s e d i c t :
P e rm a n s it e r a s i s om nibus hoc solum i n s t i t u t u m N eronianum .
“T h is e d i c t a lo n e rem a in e d v a l i d when a l l t h e o t h e r e d i c t s
i* La V ie de J e s u s , p . 3 8 8 .
2* T h e o lp g is c h e B l S t t e r . 6 , 19 2 7 , p p .2 1 3 f f .
o p .c i t . . p .64.
3 . Ad N a t io n e s . 1 : 7 .
C ite d .by E i s l e r :
13
o f N ero w ere c a n c e l le d (o n h i s d e a t h ) .
.
Now t h e t a c t f u l
h i s t o r i a n , w r i t i n g w ith t h i s c o m p a r a tiv e ly r e c e n t t h r e a t
i n m ind, w ould s u r e l y deem i t b e t t e r t o p a s s o v e r i n s i l e n c e
t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e P o u n d e r o f C h r i s t i a n i t y and a l s o t h a t o f
Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t who was so c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w ith h im .
The memory o f a l l th e h o r r o r s w h ic h a tt e n d e d th e p e r s e c u t i o n
o f N ero w ould n o t a l t o g e t h e r hav e so q u ic k ly v a n is h e d , and
i t i s o n ly n a t u r a l t o su p p o s e t h a t J o s e p h u s w ould c o n s i d e r
i t a d v i s a b l e , i n h i s own i n t e r e s t s , a t l e a s t , i f n o t i n t h e
C h r i s t i a n s ’ , t o a v o id an y r e f e r e n c e t o t h e s e h i s t o r i c a l
fig u re s .
By 9 3 -9 4 A .D ., h o w ev er, t h i r t y y e a r s a f t e r th e
e v e n t, t h e k e e n n e s s o f t h e p a s t h o r r o r s w ould have b een
b l u n te d .
The C h r i s t i a n s had e n jo y e d p e a c e , p r e c a r i o u s
th o u g h i t w as, u n d e r V e s p a s ia n a n d T i t u s , and a s y e t , D om iti a n , how ever to u c h y and s u s p i c i o u s , had n o t a c t u a l l y r a i s e d
h i s hand a g a i n s t th e m .
J o s e p h u s , t h e n , may w e ll have f e l t
t h a t a s h o r t a c c o u n t o f J e s u s and t h e B a p t i s t w ould n o t be
out o f p la c e in h i s A n t i q u it i e s .
He may have f e l t t h a t he
c o u ld r i s k su c h a n a c c o u n t t h e n , f o r was n o t C h r i s t i a n i t y a
’r e l i g i o l i c i t a ’ , and i n an y c a s e t h e A n t i q u i t i e s would
a p p e a r in c o m p le te i n t h e e y e s o f h i s p u b l i c w ith o u t r e f e r e n c e
t o th e m o st p ro m in e n t f i g u r e s c o n n e c te d w ith C h r i s t i a n i t y . 1
1 . I f t h e J e w is h War was is s u e d i n i t s f i n g l form i n 96 A .D .,
(s o E i s l e r : o p . c i t . . an d L a q u e u r: P e r j u d is c h e H i s t o r i k e r
P l a v i u s J o s e p h u s ) , w h ich d o e s n o t , h o w ev er, seem p r o b a b le ,
t h e re n e w a l o f p e r s e c u t i o n by D o m itia n i n 95 A.D. would
a c c o u n t f o r t h e f u r t h e r o m is s io n o f any r e f e r e n c e to J e s u s
and Jo h n i n t h e f i n a l e d i t i o n !
14.
The f a c t t h a t J o s e p h u s d o e s n o t t h i n k i t n e c e s s a r y , " t o
im pose upon h i m s e l f t h e s l i g h t e s t r e s e r v e , when he comes
t o sp e a k o f t h e o t h e r M e s s ia h s o f t h i s tr o u b le s o m e p e r io d "
i s e a s ily e x p lic a b le .
1
The p e r s e c u t i o n o f N ero was d i r e c t e d
a g a i n s t a s e c t w h ich h ad o u t l i v e d i t s F o u n d e r, a s e c t whose
m em bership was i n c r e a s i n g d a i l y .
S ile n c e in t h e i r case
was t a c t f u l , b u t w hat n e e d t o b e s i l e n t a b o u t t h e s e o t h e r
M e s s ia h s whose u p r i s i n g s had b e e n q u i c k l y e x p lo d e d , and o f
whose f o l lo w e r s t h e r e rem a in e d b u t l i t t l e
d e a th o f t h e i r l e a d e r s ?
t r a c e a f t e r th e
P e rh a p s t h e s i l e n c e o f Jo s e p h u s
i n t h e J e w is h War may be m ore f e a s i b l y e x p la in e d a lo n g t h e s e
l i n e s , t h a n by s u p p o s in g i t t o be due t o a C h r i s t i a n c e n s o r­
s h ip so r a d i c a l a n d w h o le s a le a s E i s l e r p r o p o s e s .
I t w ould a p p e a r , t h e n , t h a t a s an y p r e c o n c e iv e d id e a
o f a C h r i s t i a n c e n s o r s h ip on a g ra n d s c a le may be c o n f i d e n tl y
d is m is s e d , t h e B a p t i s t p a s s a g e i n t h e A n t i q u i t i e s may now
be exam ined t o d e te rm in e w h e th e r i t h a s e n t i r e l y e sc a p e d th e
B
c e n so r’s pen.
The p a s s a g e may be r e n d e r e d a s f o llo w s :
"B u t some o f t h e Jew s th o u g h t t h a t t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f
H ero d ’ s arm y was t h e w ork o f God, who th u s e x a c te d a v e ry
j u s t r e t r i b u t i o n f o r J o h n , surnam ed, t h e B a p t i s t .
F o r Herod
sle w him , a good m an, who bad e t h e Jew s p r a c t i s e v i r t u e ,
b o th by a c t i n g j u s t l y to w a rd s one a n o th e r , and p i o u s l y t o ­
1. E is le r:
o p .c it. . p .6 8 .
2 . A n tiq . x v i i i . 5 . 2 . ( 1 1 6 f f . ) .
15.
w ard s God, an d t o a sse m b le f o r b a p tis m .
F o r im m ersio n ,
he h e l d , was a c c e p t a b l e t o God, i f em ployed, n o t f o r t h e
b e g g in g o f f o f c e r t a i n s i n s , b u t f o r t h e p u r i f i c a t i o n o f
t h e b o d y , when t h e s o u l had b e e n p r e v i o u s l y c le a n s e d by
rig h te o u s n e s s .
Now, when p e o p le f lo c k e d t o him - f o r t h e y
w ere g r e a t l y p l e a s e d (
(fad''
by h e a r in g h i s w ords -
H ero d , f e a r i n g t h a t h i s g r e a t p e r s u a s iv e po w ers w ith men
m ig h t c a u se some k in d o f r e v o l t ,
( f o r t h e p e o p le seemed r e a d y
t o do a n y th in g he a d v i s e d ) , deemed i t f a r b e t t e r to f o r e ­
s t a l l and k i l l him b e f o r e some s e d i t i o n a r o s e th ro u g h him ,
r a t h e r t h a n r u e h i s d e la y when p lu n g e d i n t o t h e t u r m o il o f
su c h a n u p r i s i n g .
And s o , th r o u g h H e ro d ’ s s u s p ic i o n , Jo h n
was s e n t a s a p r i s o n e r t o M a ch a eru s, th e a fo re m e n tio n e d
f o r t r e s s , and t h e r e s l a i n .
The Jew s t h e r e f o r e th o u g h t t h a t
t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f H e ro d ’ s arm y was th e p e n a l t y i n f l i c t e d
on him t o a v en g e J o h n , God b e in g w ro th w ith H e ro d .”
The n o t i c e i s re m a rk a b ly c o n c is e and s o b e r , and ex­
tr e m e ly f a v o u r a b l e t o Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
S c h ftre r w r i t e s ,
”S u s p ic io n i s aw akened by t h e f a v o u r a b le e s t im a t e o f Jo h n ,
who c o u ld hav e b e e n r e g a r d e d w ith sym pathy by J o s e p h u s o n ly
on one s i d e , a s a n a s c e t i c and a p r e a c h e r o f m o r a l i t y , b u t
n o t a s a p r o p h e t o f t h e Coming M e ss ia h , who p o w e r f u lly moved
g
t h e p e o p l e . . . . ” - t h i s i n v ie w o f J o s e p h u s ’ p o s i t i o n a s
1* So N ie s e , w ith some MSS. o f E u s e b iu s ; b u t a l l o t h e r MSS.
have 'rj£0^<rdv * ”t h e y w ere ( g r e a t l y ) e l a t e d ” .
2 . A H i s t o r y o f t h e J e w is h P e o p le i n th e Time o f J e s u s C h r i s t :
T , v o l . i i , p . 2 5 , n o te 2 4 .
1 6.
c o u r t h i s t o r i a n , and h i s c o n v i c t i o n o f t h e h o p e le s s n e s s
o f r e s i s t i n g t h e Roman m ig h t.
E i s l e r , t o o , t a k e s th e
same l i n e , and b e l i e v e s t h a t a C h r i s t i a n hand h a s b e e n a t
w ork i n t h e p h r a s e s u n d e r l i n e d . ’*'
T h u s, " a v e r y j u s t r e ­
t r i b u t i o n " i s t o be re g a rd e d a s a p a t h e t i c e x c la m a tio n o f
a s s e n t on t h e p a r t o f a C h r i s t i a n s y m p a th is e r w ith J e s u s
an d J o h n .
I n s t e a d o f 11a good m an ’1 a " w ild m an 11 s to o d i n
t h e o r i g i n a l - a change e f f e c t e d by t h e a l t e r a t i o n o f o n ly
tw o l e t t e r s i / 4 0 o v 7
.
The s i g n i f i c a n c e o f J o h n ’ s
b a p tis m h a s b e e n d e l i b e r a t e l y a l t e r e d t o i t s d is a d v a n ta g e
by t h e t r a n s p o s i t i o n o f " n o t f o r ’* and " b u t f o r ".
The t r u e
t e x t sh o u ld r u n , ”F o r im m e rsio n , he h e ld , was a c c e p ta b le to
God, i f em ployed f o r t h e b e g g in g o f f o f c e r t a i n s i n s , and
n o t f o r t h e p u r i f i c a t i o n o f t h e b o d y .”
F o r t h e e x p r e s s io n
"When p e o p le (T&* i W o o v ) f lo c k e d t o h im ", "when t h e m asse s
( tljv fro AX&v' ) f lo c k e d t o him " s h o u ld be r e a d .
In s te a d o f
" t h e y w ere g r e a t l y p le a s e d a t l i s t e n i n g to h i s w o rd s" , th e
o r i g i n a l was " t h e y w ere g r e a t l y e l a t e d by h e a r in g him”
( e f f e c t e d by c h a n g in g (f t o 5 ) .
F i n a l l y , i n s t e a d o f " th e
Je w s" i n t h e l a s t s e n te n c e , "some o f t h e Je w s” was w hat
J o s e p h u s r e a l l y w r o te , n o t im p ly in g t h a t t h e Jew s a s a body
re g a r d e d t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f H e ro d ’s arm y a s a n a c t o f God,
t u t g iv e n t h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e by t h e s y m p a th e tic i n t e r p o l a t o r .
1«
O p . c i t . . p p . 2 4 6 -2 5 0 .
17.
I n g e n io u s a s t h e s e s u g g e s tio n s may he* t h e y seem t o
be q u i t e u n c o n v in c in g .
The change fro m lfp l e a s e d " t o
(’ e l a t e d " i s d o u b t l e s s c o r r e c t , b u t t h i s was m e re ly a v a r i a n t
r e a d in g i n t h e MSS due t o a s c r i b a l e r r o r , and need n o t i n ­
d ic a te C h r is tia n c e n s o rs h ip .
T h e re was c e r t a i n l y n o th in g
i n t h e B a p t i s t ’ s p r e a c h i n g , a s w i l l be s e e n , 1 c a l c u l a t e d to
g iv e p l e a s u r e :
i t was much m ore l i k e l y t o " e l a t e ” i n t h e
s e n s e o f " t o s t i r ^ o r " t o e x c i t e ”, w h e th e r o r no i t was
a c t u a l l y d e s ig n e d t o do s o .
Tcov dXku>y i s q u i te i n t e l l i g ­
i b l e a s d e n o tin g " p e o p le i n g e n e r a l " an d i s n o t i n f r e q u e n t l y
em ployed l o o s e l y by G reek w r i t e r s i n t h i s s e n s e .
T h e re r e ­
m ain t h e a l l e g e d a l t e r a t i o n o f t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f J o h n ’ s
b a p tis m , w h ic h i s n o t o f im m ed iate i n t e r e s t h e r e , and th e
s ta te m e n ts t h a t Jo h n was a " good m an’1, and t h a t H e ro d ’ s
p u n ish m en t by God a p p e a re d t o " t h e J e w s * a s a body
How, fro m a l l t h i s , one p o i n t c l e a r l y e m erg es.
v e ry 3 u s t
Had a
C h r i s t i a n c e n s o r b e e n a t w ork on t h i s p a s s a g e he would c e r ­
t a i n l y h av e done h i s w ork m ore th o r o u g h ly and b e tr a y e d him­
s e l f m ore u n m is ta k a b ly .
The f a c t t h a t t h e p a s s a g e " o m its
th e d i s t i n c t i v e e m p h a sis upon t h e M e s s ia n ic te a c h in g o f John"
w eighs v e r y s t r o n g l y a g a i n s t t h e view o f C h r i s t i a n m anipu­
la tio n .
A g a in , a lth o u g h Jo s e p h u s c a l l s Jo h n " a good man"
d e s p i t e h i s a p p a r e n t l y b e in g t h e m eans o f s t i r r i n g up some k in d
1* C h a p te r V, The M i n i s t r y o f Jo h n th e B a p t i s t , p p . 2 . feOff.
2 . M acgregor an d P u rd y : Jew an d G reek: T u to r s u n to C h r i s t ,
p . 113.
-------------------------------------- — —
18.
o f l i k e l y r e v o l u t i o n , t h i s i s n o t r e a l l y so s u r p r i s i n g a s
i t m ig h t a t f i r s t a p p e a r when c o n s id e r e d i n i t s c o r r e c t
h i s t o r i c a l s e ttin g #
T r u e , i f t h e p a s s a g e w ere t o he u n d e r­
s to o d a s m ean in g t h a t Jo h n was a c t i v e l y s t i r r i n g up a r e ­
b e l l i o n a g a i n s t t h e Rom ans, t h e w ords c o u ld n o t p o s s i b l y
have come from t h e p e n o f J o s e p h u s , and S c h u r e r ’ s o b j e c t i o n
w ould h o ld g o o d .
B ut t h e r e i s n o th in g i n t h e n o t i c e t o
i n d i c a t e t h a t J o s e p h u s i s h e r e a l l u d i n g t o th e Roman a u t h o r ­
i t i e s s p e c ific a lly *
He i s h a v in g a t i l t a t H erod A n t i p a s .
How, i n t h e J e w is h War. J o s e p h u s d i s p l a y s , i t i s t r u e , a
v e r y f a v o u r a b l e a t t i t u d e t o t h e H e ro d ia n f a m i ly , b u t i n th e
A n t i q u i t i e s i t i s n o t i c e a b l e t h a t t h i s a t t i t u d e h a s com­
p l e t e l y c h a n g e d ,^ ” and t h a t on m ore t h a n one o c c a s io n he
s e v e r e l y c e n s u r e s members o f t h e H e ro d ia n f a m i ly , d e s c r i b i n g
t h e i r a t r o c i t i e s i n t h e m ost o u tsp o k e n m an n e r.
I t i s v e ry
p o s s i b l e , t h e n , t h a t i n t h e B a p t i s t p a s s a g e , we have a r e ­
f l e c t i o n o f t h a t change o f a t t i t u d e , and t h a t Jo se p h u s i s
b o ld ly p o in tin g o u t t h a t a s a r e s u l t o f J o h n ’s a c t i v i t y ,
t h e p e o p le w ere s t i r r e d up a g a i n s t th e c rim e s and in f a m ie s
o f one o f t h e m ore n o t o r io u s o f th e H e ro d s , Herod A n tip a s .
Such an a t t i t u d e on t h e h i s t o r i a n ’s p a r t w u l d s c a r c e l y
p re ju d ic e h i s p o s itio n a s c o u r t- h is to r ia n .
The Em peror
g e n e r a l l y demanded t h a t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i n t e r r i t o r i e s
1*
C f. T h a c k e ra y :
o p . c i t ** p*53.
19.
d i r e c t l y o r i n d i r e c t l y u n d e r h i s r u l e s h o u ld be j u s t and
f a i r , an d from t h e tim e o f A u g u stu s t h e p r o v i n c i a l s w ere
much l e s s l i k e l y t o s u f f e r from t h e m a l - a d m i n i s t r a t i o n o f
a n u n s c r u p u lo u s g o v e rn o r t h a n b e f o r e .
s e l v e s w ere c a r e f u l l y c h o s e n .
The g o v e rn o r s them ­
"T hey c o u ld be w ith d raw n
from a n I m p e r i a l p r o v in c e a t an y tim e i f t h e E m peror so
d e s i r e d , and r a r e l y g o v e rn e d a S e n a t o r i a l p r o v in c e f o r m ore
th a n a y e a r .
The m a c h in e ry f o r b r i n g i n g c o m p la in ts t o
Rome w as g r e a t l y im proved an d a s u c c e s s f u l p r o s e c u t i o n f o r
*r e p e t u n d a e y w ould r u i n a m an’ s c a r e e r . " 1
The r e l a t i o n s
b etw een t h e E m perors a n d t h e H e ro d s , t h e i r n o n e - t o o - w i l li n g
re p re s e n ta tiv e s , i l l u s t r a t e t h is p r in c ip le .
A r c h e la u s , f o r
i n s t a n c e , was b a n is h e d i n 6 A .D . f o r in c o m p e te n t a d m i n i s t r a ­
t i o n and h i s p r o v in c e g iv e n t o a n I m p e r ia l p r o c u r a t o r .
A n tip a s , i t
Herod
i s t r u e , m e r i te d a t f i r s t th e p r a i s e o f T i b e r i u s
f o r h i s a d m i n i s t r a t i v e . a b i l i t y , b u t s u b s e q u e n tly l o s t f a v o u r ,
and was b a n is h e d from h i s d o m in io n s i n 3 9 -4 0 A .D . on a
c h a rg e o f p l o t t i n g a g a i n s t t h e E m peror.
F o r th e m ost p a r t
A n tip a s seem s t o h a v e b een h a r d , m e rc e n a ry , and s e n s u o u s , and
J o s e p h u s , th o u g h s i l e n t a b o u t t h i s , o u t o f d e f e r e n c e , no
d o u b t, t o h i s p a t r o n A g rip p a , does n o t h id e t h e f a c t t h a t
Jo h n was in d e e d " a good m an", and t h a t H e ro d ’ s p u n ish m en t
a p p e a re d t o t h e Jew s a s a body " v e r y j u s t ”.
C am bridge A n c ie n t H i s t o r y , v o l . x , p . 1 9 2 .
He had n o th in g
20
to lo s e by t e l l i n g th e t r u t h in t h i s m a tte r, a t l e n s t ,
and t h e p a s s a g e a s i t s t a n d s v e r y p r o b a b ly c o n ta in s J o s e ­
p h u s ’ o r i g i n a l and u n a l t e r e d o p in io n s
The e v id e n c e o f J o s e p h u s on Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t a p p e a r s ,
t h e n , t o be g e n u in e a s i t s t a n d s .
I t i s c l e a r , ho w ev er,
t h a t we h av e n o t g o t t h e w hole p o r t r a i t .
H is s i l e n c e a s
t o t h e M e s s ia n ic a c t i v i t y o f Jo h n i s n e v e r t h e l e s s r e a d i l y
u n d e r s ta n d a b le a s due t o t h e h i s t o r i a n ’ s d e s i r e t o g iv e no
o f f e n c e t o h i s G raeco-R om an r e a d e r s , and i s e n t i r e l y i n
l i n e w i t h h i s c u sto m a ry s i l e n c e on t h a t p o i n t .
The e v id e n c e
o f J o s e p h u s c o n f l i c t s w ith t h e G o sp e l e v id e n c e a c c o rd in g to
w h ich th e B a p tism o f Jo h n had a m o ra l and n o t a p u r i f i c a t o r y
s i g n i f i c a n c e , and a p p a r e n t l y a l s o i n a t t r i b u t i n g t h e d e a th o f
Jo h n t o p o l i t i c a l r e a s o n s .
T h ese m a t t e r s w i l l be c o n s id e re d
in su b seq u en t c h a p te rs in t h e i r n a tu r a l p la c e ,
b u t f o r th e
sa k e o f c l a r i t y and c o m p le te n e s s i t may be s t a t e d h e re t h a t
th e v ie w i^fcaken (a ) t h a t J o s e p h u s was m is ta k e n i n b e li e v i n g
t h a t J o h n ’ s b a p tis m was sim p ly f o r b o d ily p u r i f i c a t i o n and
lb ) t h a t he was r i g h t i n a t t r i b u t i n g th e B a p t i s t ’ s d e a th to
p o l i t i c a l r e a s o n s , a lth o u g h t h e s e a r o s e i n d i r e c t l y and u n 1* An a d d i t i o n a l p o i n t i s t h a t J o s e p h u s em p h asizes t h a t John
was a p r e a c h e r o f v i r t u e . T h ro u g h o u t h i s h i s t o r y he i s a t
p a in s t o show t h a t Ju d a ism c o u ld b o a s t o f many such m o ra l­
i s t i c p re a c h e rs.
I n v i r t u e o f t h i s , t h e d e s i g n a t io n o f
"A good m an" i s v e r y a p p r o p r i a t e .
2 . The e v id e n c e r e . b a p tis m i n C h a p te r I I I ; t h e e v id e n c e r e .
p o l i t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e i n C h a p te r V.
21.
d e s ig n e d ly .
On t h i s p o i n t t h e G o s p e l e v id e n ce , and J o s e ­
p h u s n e e d n o t be r e g a r d e d a s i r r e c o n c i l a b l e b u t r a t h e r a s
s u p p le m e n ta ry t o e a c h o t h e r . 1
B. The E v id e n c e o f t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts .
I f t h e e v id e n c e j u s t exam ined i s re a d i n c o n ju n c tio n
w ith t h e B a p t i s t p a s s a g e i n t h e S la v o n ic F ragm ent s . and i f
t h e s e F ra g m e n ts can be r e g a r d e d a s a g e n u in e s ta te m e n t o f
J o s e p h u s , t h e y would p o w e r f u lly a l t e r , i t w ould seem , t h e
t r a d i t i o n a l p i c t u r e o f Jo h n th e B a p t i s t , a s may be s e e n from
t h e f o llo w in g e x t r a c t s : ( a ) wNow a t t h a t tim e t h e r e w alked among t h e Jew s a man
i n w ondrous g a r b , f o r h e had s tu c k on t o h i s body a n im als*
h a i r w h e re v e r i t was n o t c o v e re d by h i s own.
te n a n c e he was l i k e a s a v a g e .
But i n coun­
T h is man came t o t h e Jew s
and a l l u r e d th em t o free d o m s a y i n g , fGod h a t h s e n t me to shew
you th e way o f t h e law , by w hich ye s h a l l be f r e e d from many
ty ra n ts .
And no m o r ta l s h a l l r u l e o v e r you b u t o n ly t h e
H ig h e st who s e n t m e*.
w ere g l a d .
And when th e p e o p le h e a rd t h a t , t h e y
And he d id n o th in g e l s e t o them sav e t h a t he
d ip p e d them i n t h e s tre a m o f t h e J o rd a n an d l e t them g o ,
w arn in g them t h a t t h e y s h o u ld re n o u n c e e v i l d e e d s .
So would
th e y be g iv e n a K ing who w ould f r e e them and s u b j e c t a l l who
1 . Such a l s o i s t h e o p in io n o f D i b e li u s : o p . c i t . . p . 124;
H e itm f ille r : R .fr. 6 . , I , i i i , p . 590; K L ausner: J e s u s o f
N azareth. p.l^Eot
22.
a r e i n s u b o r d i n a t e , b u t b e h im s e lf w ould be s u b j e c t e d to
none.
A t h i s w o rd s, some m ocked, b u t o t h e r s p u t f a i t h
i n h im .
And when he was b ro u g h t t o A rc h e la u s and t h e
l e a r n e d d o c t o r s o f t h e law had a ss e m b le d , t h e y a sk e d him
who he w a s, and w here he had b een t i l l t h e n .
w ered an d s a i d ,
And he a n s ­
’ I am a man; a s su c h h a s t h e S p i r i t o f God
c a l l e d me, and I l i v e on b u lr u s h e s an d r o o t s an d woods h a v in g s .’
B ut when t h e y t h r e a t e n e d to t o r t u r e him i f
he d id n o t d e s i s t fro m t h e s e w ords and d e e d s , he s a i d ,
’I t
i s m eet r a t h e r f o r you t o d e s i s t fro m y o u r sh a m e fu l w orks
and t o su b m it t o t h e L o rd y o u r G o d .’
a r o s e i n w r a th , and s a i d ,
day.
And Sim on, a s c r i b e ,
’We re a d t h e d iv in e books e v e ry
B ut t h o u , o n ly now come l i k e a w ild b e a s t from th e
w oods, d u r s t th o u t e a c h u s and le a d t h e m u lt i tu d e s a s t r a y
w ith t h y a c c u rs e d sp e e c h e s ? *
t o re n d h i s b o d y .
And he f lu n g h im s e lf fo rw a rd
B ut he s a id i n r e p r o a c h to them *1 w i l l
n o t r e v e a l t o you t h e s e c r e t w hich i s among you, b e c a u se
you d e s i r e d i t n o t .
F o r t h i s c a u se h a s u n sp e a k a b le m is f o r ­
tu n e b e f a l l e n you and f o r y o u r own d o in g . ’
And when he had
t h u s sp o k e n he w ent away t o th e o t h e r s i d e o f J o r d a n .
And
s in c e no man d u r s t h i n d e r him , he d id a s he had done b e f o r e .
A r c h e la u s , ho w ev er, e v e r s in c e he had t a k e n p o s s e s s i o n o f
h i s e th n a r c h y , m in d fu l o f t h e e n m ity o f t h e Je w s, h a ra s s e d
them w ith i n t o l e r a b l e o p p r e s s io n , l ik e w i s e a l s o t h e Sam aritans".'1' j
! • T r a n s .t a k e n from E i s l e r : The M e ssia h J e s u s , p p .2 2 4 f£ :
c f . T h a c k e ra y : Loeb Jo s e p h u s ~HX» p p .6 4 4 f f ♦
j
'
23.
( b ) #<W hile P h i l i p was i n p o w e r, he saw a dream i n w hich
a n e a g l e p lu c k e d o u t b o th h i s e y e s .
w is e men t o g e t h e r .
And he c a l l e d a l l h i s
When some had e x p la in e d t h e dream i n
t h i s m a n n e r, and some i n t h a t , t h e r e came t o him s u d d e n ly
w ith o u t b e in g c a l l e d t h a t man o f whom we hav e w r i t t e n a b o v e ,
how he w ent a b o u t ( c l o t h e d ) i n a n im a ls 1 h a i r and c le a n s e d
t h e p e o p le i n t h e w a te r s o f t h e J o r d a n .
t h e w ord o f t h e L o rd :
And he sp o k e : *H ear
t h e dream -which th o u h a s t s e e n :
th e
e a g le i s t h y v e n a l i t y , f o r t h a t b i r d i s b r u t a l and r a p a c i o u s .
And t h i s s i n s h a l l t a k e away t h i n e e y e s , w hich a r e th y
d o m in io n and t h y w if e .*
And when he had t h u s sp o k e n , P h i l i p
e x p ir e d b e f o r e t h e e v e n in g , and h i s dom in io n was g iv e n t o
A g r ip p a .
And h i s w if e was ta k e n by H erod h i s b r o t h e r .
Be­
c a u se o f h e r , a l l la w - a b id in g p e o p le a b h o rre d him , b u t t h e y
d u r s t n o t a c c u s e him t o h i s f a c e .
B ut o n ly t h a t man wham
we h av e c a l l e d a w ild man, came t o him i n w r a th and spoke:
^ B ecau se th o u h a s t t a k e n t h y b r o t h e r ’ s w i f e , th o u t r a n s ­
g r e s s o r o f t h e la w , ev en a s t h y b r o t h e r h a s d ie d a m e r c il e s s
d e a t h , so a l s o s h a l t th o u be c u t o f f by th e h e a v e n ly s i c k l e .
P o r t h e d iv in e d e c r e e w i l l n o t be s i l e n c e d , b u t w i l l d e s tr o y
t h e e th r o u g h s o r e a f f l i c t i o n s i n o t h e r la n d s ;
b e c a u se th o u
a r t n o t r a i s i n g up se e d t o t h y b r o t h e r , b u t s a t i s f y i n g
f l e s h l y l u s t s an d c o m m ittin g a d u l t e r y , s in c e h e h a s l e f t
c h ild r e n .*
B ut H erod when he h e a rd t h a t was w r o th ^ a n d
24.
o r d e r e d him t o he h e a te n an d d r i v e n aw ay.
B u t- h e , w h ere­
s o e v e r he fo u n d H e ro d , n e v e r c e a se d t o a c c u s e him , u n t i l
Herod g rew f u r i o u s and o r d e r e d him ,to be s l a i n .
Now h i s
( J o h n ’ s ) n a t u r e was s t r a n g e and h i s ways w ere n o t human.
F o r ev en a s a f l e s h l e s s s p i r i t , so l i v e d t h i s m an.
H is
m outh knew no b re a d n o t even a t t h e p a s s o v e r f e a s t d id he
t a s t e o f t h e u n le a v e n e d b r e a d , s a y in g : *4.n rem em brance o f
God who redeem ed t h e p e o p le fro m bondage i s t h i s g iv e n t o
e a t , and f o r t h e f l i g h t o n ly s in c e t h e jo u r n e y was i n h a s t e .*
B ut w ine and s tr o n g d r i n k he w ould n o t so much a s a llo w t o
be b ro u g h t n ig h h im .
And he l o a t h e d ( t o e a t ) an y a n im a l.
And e v e r y a c t o f i n j u s t i c e he e x p o s e d .
And w o o d -sh a v in g s
s e rv e d f o r h i s needs.*'*'
The im p r e s s io n c r e a t e d by t h e s e e x t r a c t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y
t h e f i r s t , i s u n d o u b te d ly t h a t Jo h n was so m e th in g more th a n
a n in n o c u o u s p r e a c h e r o f m o r a l s .
The w ords "No m o r ta l s h a l l
r u l e o v e r you” , "y e s h a l l be f r e e d from many t y r a n t s " , " th e y
w ould b e g iv e n a k in g who w ould f r e e th em ", seem t o be o f
2
q u i t e d e f i n i t e p o l i t i c a l im p o r t.
J .W .J a c k b e l i e v e s t h a t
t h e s e e x p r e s s io n s n eed n o t s u g g e s t a n y p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t y
on J o h n ’ s p a r t b u t t h a t t h e y a r e c a p a b le o f b e in g i n t e r ­
p r e te d i n a m o ra l an d s p i r i t u a l v\ay.
Thus "no m o r ta l s h a l l
r u l e o v e r you" an d " t h e y w ould be g iv e n a K ing who would
1. E is le r :
o p . c i t . . p p .2 2 9 f f .
2* The H i s t o r i c C h r i s t . p p . H 5 f f .
25.
f r e e th em ” a r e e n t i r e l y i n l i n e w ith th e t h e o c r a t i c o b je c ­
t i v e o f J o h n 's m i n i s t r y , a s r e p o r t e d i n t h e New T e s ta m e n t.
S i m i l a r l y , 11fre e d o m from many t y r a n t s 11, h e e x p l a i n s a s
m ean in g "fre e d o m fro m t h e ty r a n n y o f e v i l " .
I t is not
a l t o g e t h e r im p o s s ib le t o i n t e r p r e t t h e p a s s a g e s i n t h i s
way, b u t c e r t a i n l y , i t d o es n o t seem t o be v e ry n a t u r a l ,
and E i s l e r i s p e r h a p s r i g h t i n so f a r a s he u n d e r s ta n d s th e
w ords a s b e in g o f p o l i t i c a l r a t h e r t h a n o f m o ra l s i g n i f i ­
cance.
R e ly in g on t h i s e v id e n c e , how ever, h e p ro c e e d s t o
m a n ip u la te t h e t e x t , and a f t e r a b e w ild e r in g s e r i e s o f ex­
c i s i o n s an d c o r r e c t i o n s , c o u p le d w i t h a n am azing t w i s t i n g
o f t h e G o sp e l t e x t s , o f t e n c a r r i e d o u t i n t h e m ost a r b i t r a r y
f a s h i o n , h e p ro d u c e s t h e f o llo w in g t h e o r y r e g a r d in g Jo h n t h e
B a p t i s t and J e s u s , b a se d on h i s c o r r e c t e d t e x t .
"A r a b b i i s r e p o r t e d a s w o rk in g s p e c t a c u l a r c u re s on
th e Mount o f O liv e s :
t h e mob g a t h e r s ro u n d him and p la n s a
M e s s ia n ic r i s i n g i n w h ich J e s u s i s t o f i g u r e a s G o d 's
A n o in te d , t h e l i b e r a t o r - k i n g .
them P i l a t e , h e a r o f i t ,
When t h e h i e r a r c h y and th ro u g h
a m i l i t a r y a t t a c k i s made on t h e
crowd on t h e Mount o f O liv e s , j u s t a s was made by P e l i x a
num ber o f y e a r s l a t e r .
B ut w h e re a s , th e n , th e p se u d o -
M e ssia h d is a p p e a r e d i n t h e crowd n e v e r t o be s e e n a g a in ,
Jesu s is a rre s te d ,
b ro u g h t up f o r ju d g m en t, and th e p l o t ,
h a v in g t h u s b e en f r u s t r a t e d , c r u c i f i e d f o r t h e m ere w eakness
26.
o f h a v in g c o n s e n te d t o t h e p l o t , j u s t a s T heu d as was ta k e n
a l i v e , and w ith o u t t r i a l b e h e a d e d , o r hewn i n p i e c e s .
J e s u s , t h e n , a c c o r d in g t o E i s l e r , was m e re ly a p o l i t i c a l
r e b e l , a l e a d e r o f a band o f r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s s e e k in g J e w is h
in d e p e n d e n c e , and g u i l t y o f h ig h t r e a s o n .
l i k e J e s u s , was a l s o a p o l i t i c a l r e b e l .
Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t ,
He was E e l d g e i s t -
l i c h e r o r f i e l d - c h a p l a i n o f t h e r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s from th e
tim e o f A r c h e la u s , and f i l l e d w ith t h e d e s i r e t o be f r e e d
from many t y r a n t s , bound h i s f o l lo w e r s by a 'sac ram en tu m
m i l i t a r e ' o r m i l i t a r y o a th w hich to o k t h e form o f a s p e c i a l
lu s tra l r i te .
B ro u g h t b e fo r e th e S a n h e d rin , he d e c la r e d
h i m s e l f , E i s l e r a s s u r e s u s , t o be t h e M e ssia h
a llo w e d a t l e n g t h t o r e t u r n t o t h e d e s e r t .
and was
E a r from c e a s ­
in g h i s p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t y , he r e d o u b le d h i s e f f o r t s , p re a c h ­
in g t h a t t h e M e s s ia n ic l i b e r a t o r - k i n g was a t h a n d . A f r e s h
4
r e v o l t was p la n n e d and ’t h o s e on t h e w a r - p a th 1 c o n s u lte d
Jo h n a s t o w hat t h e y were t o d o .
The r e v o l t was su p p re ss e d
and Jo h n r e t u r n e d t o t h e d e s e r t " c a u s in g c o n s t e r n a t i o n w ith
h i s e v e r and anon r e p e a t e d announcem ent o f th e coming t e r r o r
o f t h e l a s t d a y s , now and t h e n b a p t i s i n g new ly won f i g h t e r s
R
f o r t h e l a s t M e s s ia n ic w a r ."
t o Jo h n .
A t t h i s p o in t J e s u s r e s o r t e d
At f i r s t h i s a t t i t u d e was one o f q u ie tis m , b u t on
The M e ssia h J e s u s , p p .4 5 8 -4 5 9 .
p . 270.
3 . E n a s h 'a n a , (H ebrew 'E n o sh 'a n i ) , * 1 am a m an*, i . e . , " th e
r e b o r n E nosh f o r e t o l d i n D a n i e l 's v i s i o n ( 7 : 1 5 ) , i . e . t h e
M e s s ia h ." E i s l e r : o p . c i t . , p . 2 3 2 .
4 . Lk. 3: 1 4 .
------5. E is le r : o p . c i t . . p . 567.
27.
t h e f a i l u r e o f t h i s p o l i c y , f i r s t a n e x o d u s, an d t h e n a
r e v o l t w ere p la n n e d , w ith th e d i s a s t r o u s r e s u l t s a lr e a d y
d e s c rib e d .
F i n a l l y i n 35 A .D . Jo h n em erged o n ce m ore from
t h e d e s e r t s t o denounce t h e u n la w fu l m a r r ia g e o f A n tip a s ,
and t o c o n tin u e h i s p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s , b u t t h i s tim e he
was a r r e s t e d and e x e c u te d .
I n v ie w o f a l l t h i s , and o f t h e s e v e re judgm ent w hich
o t h e r s c h o l a r s h av e p a s s e d on E i s l e r * s c r i t i c a l m e th o d s ,^ t h e
S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts m ust be exam ined t o d e te rm in e w hat c la im s
t h e y h av e t o be ra n k e d a s t r u s t w o r t h y e v id e n c e .
T h e s e F ra g m e n ts . Z u s a tz e , o r A d d i t io n s , on Jo h n t h e
B a p t i s t and J e s u s a p p e a r i n th e S la v o n ic V e rs io n o f Jo sep h u s*
Je w ish W ar.
Some o f them w ere p u b lis h e d i n R u s s ia n a s e a r l y
a s 1866 by P o pov, and o t h e r s i n 1879 by S r e z n e v s k i.
They
w ere b ro u g h t t o t h e n o t i c e o f W estern s c h o l a r s i n 1893 by
p
B onw etsch, and c r i t i c a l l y exam ined by B e re n d ts i n 1 9 0 6 .
He
b e lie v e d t h a t t h e y w ere b a s e d on a n A ram aic e d i t i o n o f th e
1* G o g u el: Au S e u i l de l * E v a n g ile . J e a n - B a p t i s t e , p . 299, "T h ere
i s i n E i s l e r * s c r i t i c a l m ethod so m e th in g s o v i o l e n t and
a r b i t r a r y a s a lm o s t t o r u l e o u t any s e n s i b l e d i s c u s s i o n ."
O f. G .H .C .M a cg re g o r: E x p o s ito r y T im e s, May. 1935, p p .3 5 5 f f ;
L a g ra n g e : Revue B i b l i q u e , x x x ix . ( J a n . 1 9 3 0 ), p p .2 9 -4 6 .
( e s p e c . p p . 3 3 - 3 9 ) ; G oguel: Revue H i s t o r i q u e , c l x i i , (1929);
W in d isc h : Neue Jah rb tL ch er f f i r W issensdbaft und J u g e n d b ild u n g ,
v i i . (1 9 3 1 ), p p . 2 8 9 -3 0 7 ; J.M .G re e d : f e r v .T h e o l .R e v ., x x v .
( O c t .1 9 3 2 ), p p .2 7 7 -3 1 9 .
D ie Z e u g n is s e vom C h ris te n tu m im s l a v i s c h e r *De B e llo Ju d a ic o * d e s J o s e p h u s . T e x te und X Jntersuchungen, N e w -S e rie s,
14, 1906.
J e w is h W ar, w h ich p re c e d e d th e G reek e d i t i o n 1 and t h a t th e y
w ere i n t e n t i o n a l l y s u p p r e s s e d t o a v o id g iv in g o f f e n c e t o
g
3
t h e Romans i n t h e l a t t e r . S c h u re r and B au er r e f u t e d th e
t h e o r i e s o f B e r e n d t s , m a i n t a i n in g t h a t t h e S la v o n io F ra g m en ts
w ere c o m p le te ly u n a u t h e n t i c .
A p a rt fro m th e h i g h ly con-
j e c t u r a l t h e o r y o f G o e th a ls , t o w hich G oguel draw s a t t e n t i o n
4
a c c o r d in g t o w hich t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts a r e drawn from th e
S o u v e n irs o f H e g e s ip p u s , n o th in g f u r t h e r o f co n seq u e n ce a p ­
p e a re d t i l l 1 925, when E i s l e r i n a l e c t u r e d e l i v e r e d t o th e
German P h i l o l o g i c a l C o n g re ss a t E rla n g e n r e - a f f i r m e d h i s
b e l i e f i n t h e a u t h e n t i c i t y o f t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m en ts and
made th em t h e b a s i s f o r h i s re m a rk a b le t h e o r i e s l a t e r pub­
l i s h e d i n The M e ss ia h J e s u s and o t h e r w o rk s.
S in c e a n
a d m ira b le r e f u t a t i o n o f t h e s e t h e o r i e s h a s a l r e a d y b een p u b 5
l i s h e d by J .W .J a e k , i t i s n e c e s s a r y t o n o t i c e o n ly t h e
s a lie n t
p o in ts h e re .
E i s l e r * s f i r s t t h e o r y was t h a t t h e S la v o n ic F rag m en ts
w ere a d i r e c t t r a n s l a t i o n , w ith c e r t a i n C h r i s t i a n re to u c h e s
1 . I n t h e G reek e d i t i o n , A , 1 . 1 . ( 3 ) J o s e p h u s s t a t e s t h a t he
had w r i t t e n t h e J e w is h War t*} v<*tc ity
, (p re su m a b ly A ram aic,
b u t p o s s i b l y Hebrew) f o r t h e ’ b e n e f i t o f to?$ c(V<a?
i . e . t h e S e m itic E a s t e r n p e o p le s .
'
2 . T h e o l . L i t e r a t u r z e i t u n g , 1906, colI»262-266.
3 . Das L eben J e s u im Z e i t a l t e r d e r n e u te s ta m e n tlic h e n Ap o k ry P h en . p . 1 9 8 . "T h a t t h e y come from t h e p en o f J o s e p h u s , as
t h e y p u r p o r t t o , i s q u i t e im p o s s ib le * T hey b e a r o n ly to o
c l e a r l y t h e a p o c r y p h a l s ta m p .”
4. O p .c it. . p . 22.
5 . The H i s t o r i c C h r i s t .
29
o r i n t e r p o l a t i o n s , from t h e A ram aic v e r s i o n o f t h e J e w is h
War, t h e MSS. o f w hich had b e en p r e s e r v e d i n t h e l i b r a r y o f
t h e C h a z a r J e w is h r u l e r s t i l l t h e 1 0 th c e n t u r y .
B ut when
i t was c l e a r l y shown t h a t t h e S la v o n ic V e rs io n m ust hav e b een
t r a n s l a t e d n o t from A ram aic b u t from G reek - t h e r e a r e
num erous G re ek w ords a lm o s t l i t e r a l l y t r a n s c r i b e d '1’ - he
a f f ir m e d t h a t t h e V e rs io n i n q u e s tio n was a t r a n s l a t i o n made
by a R u s s ia n p r i e s t i n t o Old S la v o n ic i n L it h u a n i a ( c i r c a
1261) fro m a B y z a n tin e copy o f a l o s t e a r l i e r e d i t i o n o f t h e
War i n G reek e n t i t l e d
*0n t h e C a p tu re o f J e r u s a le m y. T h is
e a r l i e r G reek e d i t i o n , he h o l d s , was a t r a n s l a t i o n , made by
t h e a s s i s t a n t s o f J o s e p h u s , o f t h e o r i g i n a l S e m itic ro u g h
d r a f t o f t h e J e w is h War ( n o t t h e A ram aic V e r s io n ) , and t h e r e ­
f o r e , rem o v in g t h e C h r i s t i a n r e to u c h e s , th e S la v o n ic V e rs io n
o r H a l o s i s . a s he c a l l s i t , p r o v id e s v e r y e a r l y and v e ry
t r u s t w o r t h y e v id e n c e , a n d , a s com pared w i t h - th e G o sp el
n a r r a t i v e s i s i n f a c t " a r e l i e f and a g e n u in e i n t e l l e c t u a l
2
s a tis f a c tio n .”
The g r e a t e s t o b j e c t i o n t o t h i s t h e o r y i s t h e f a c t t h a t
no s a t i s f a c t o r y e v id e n c e can be p ro d u c e d f o r th e e x i s t e n c e
o f th e e a r l i e r G reek e d i t i o n o f t h e J e w is h War e n t i t l e d Tfefi
.
was made t o
i t i s p u re a s s u m p tio n t h a t i n 71 A.D. t h i s e d i t i o n
c e l e b r a t e t h e triu m p h o f T i t u s , and q u i te im-
K a tap e ta sm a s K*nvoT&Tdfjft
/
s k i n o p i g ja = <rKv(v'oTr*|yf^
> e t c/■>.
The M e s s ia h J e s u s , p r e f a c e , p«9.
30.
p r o b a b le t h a t i n t h e f o llo w in g y e a r s " t h e - h i s t o r i a n con­
s t a n t l y im p roved t h i s f i r s t d r a f t by c o r r e c t i n g m is ta k e s ,
d e l e t i n g p a s s a g e s w hich had p ro v e d d i s t a s t e f u l to i n f l u e n t i a l
r e a d e r s , and by a d d in g new m a t e r i a l ” .
1
Even i f i t d id
e x i s t - b u t t h e r e i s no t r a c e o f i t i n G reek MSS t r a d i t i o n i t i s u n l i k e l y , i n v ie w o f what h a s a l r e a d y b e en s a i d r e ­
g a r d in g N e r o ’ s e d i c t , t h a t i t would h av e c o n ta in e d a n y r e ­
f e r e n c e t o Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t and J e s u s .
U n t i l E i s l e r can
p ro d u ce s a t i s f a c t o r y e v id e n c e f o r t h e e x is te n c e o f t h i s
e a r l i e r d r a f t , h i s w hole t h e o r y m ust be ju d g ed i n t h e l i g h t
o f t h i s f a t a l i n i t i a l w e a k n e ss.
A p a rt from t h i s , t h e n a tu r e o f t h e c o n te n ts o f th e
S la v o n ic V e r s io n m akes i t a l t o g e t h e r im p ro b a b le t h a t i t goes
b ack t o J o s e p h u s .
The a n ti-R o m a n a t t i t u d e m a n if e s t th r o u g h p
o u t i s q u i t e u n l ik e J o s e p h u s , who w ould n o t have d a re d t o
u se su c h a d i s p a r a g i n g n o m e n c la tu re a s ’ I t a l i a n s ’ and ’L a t i n s ’
when r e f e r r i n g t o th e Romans, n o r t o have d e s c r ib e d them i n
th e f o llo w in g t e r m s ,
3
" F o r su c h a r e th e L a t i n s : t h e y ru n t o
a c c e p t p r e s e n t s and b r e a k t h e i r o a th f o r t h e sake o f p r e s e n t s " ,
and a g a i n , " F o r ( t h e Romans) a r e i n s a t i a b l e i n r e c e i v i n g : b u t
i f anyone g i v e s them m o re , tom orrow th e y w ant s t i l l m o re. And
1 . E i s l e r : The M e ss ia h J e s u s , p . 2 7 .
2 . The A n ti- H e r o d ia n a t t i t u d e p o i n t s i n t h e same d i r e c t i o n , b u t
does n o t seem t o be so c o n v in c in g a n a rg u m en t, b e c a u se o f
th e l a t e r c o o ln e s s o f J o s e p h u s , ( a l r e a d y n o te d ) , to w a rd s
th e H e ro d ia n f a m i ly . C f. J a c k : o p . c i t . , p p .5 2 -5 9 .
3. E is le r :
o p . c i t . . p . 128.
31.
a a t h e s e a c a n n o t he f i l l e d , n o r h e l l s a t i s f i e d , n o r w om an's
p a s s i o n , e v en so a r e t h e Romans i n s a t i a b l e i n r e c e i v i n g . "
I t i s s u r e l y t h e l i m i t o f a b s u r d i t y t o e x p la in away t h i s , a s
E i s l e r d o e s , by a ssu m in g t h a t t h e s e r v i l i b r a r i i o f Jo s e p h u s
w ere b r ib e d t o i n c o r p o r a t e t h e s e p a s s a g e s by h i s e n e m ie sI^
T he im p r e s s io n t h a t t h e S la v o n ic V e rs io n i s u n a u th e n tic
i s f u r t h e r c o n firm e d b y t h e many o m is s io n s , a d d i t i o n s , and
a l t e r a t i o n s , w hich d i s t i n g u i s h i t from t h e e x i s t i n g t e x t o f
'kk® J e w is h War.
T ak e n s i n g l y t h e s e d i f f e r e n c e s do n o t p r e s e n t
a c o n v in c in g a rg u m e n t, f o r i t would be n a t u r a l t o lo o k f o r
c e r t a i n d iv e r g e n c e s a t l e a s t betw een a n e a r l i e r and a l a t e r
e d i t i o n , b u t t h e i r c u m u la tiv e e f f e c t i s w h o lly d e c i s i v e . An
2
e x c e l l e n t summary o f t h e s e h a s b e e n g iv e n by J a c k and Thacte3
e ra y •
T hey need n o t be i n v e s t i g a t e d i n d e t a i l h e r e , b u t
th e p a s s a g e s a l r e a d y q u o te d on Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t , r e v e a l i n g
a s th e y do t h e in a c c u r a c y and ev en t h e a b s u r d i t y o f c e r t a i n
o f t h e d i f f e r e n c e s , may be exam ined and re g a rd e d a s t y p i c a l .
4
The f o llo w in g p o i n t s may be n o t e d : (a )
The s ta te m e n t t h a t on t h e d e a th o f P h i l i p i n 34 A .D .,
h i s p r o v in c e was g iv e n t o A g rip p a i s n o t h i s t o r i c a l l y a c c u r5
a te .
A c c o rd in g t o t h e A n t i q u i t i e s C a lig u la on h i s a c c e s s io n
1. O p .c it. . p .130.
2 . O p .c it. . p p .5 9 f f •
3 . Loeb J o s e p h u s I I I , p p . 6 3 5 f f . ; S la v o n ic A d d itio n s and Omis­
s io n s •
4 . C f, G o g u el: J e a n - B a p t i s t e . p p .2 6 f f .
5 . x v l i l . 4 . 6 . (1 0 8 7 1
i n 37 A .D . g av e i t t o A g rip p a , w h e re a s i n 34 A .D . i t had b een
i n c o r p o r a te d i n t h e Roman p r o v in c e o f S y r i a ,
(b ) The F ra g m e n ts r e p r e s e n t P h i l i p a s b e in g t h e f i r s t
h u sb a n d o f H e r o d ia s w h e re a s t h e r e a l name o f h e r f i r s t h u sb an d
was n o t P h i l i p b u t H e ro d .1
F u r th e r , th e y r e p r e s e n t th e
seco n d m a r r ia g e o f H e ro d ia s a s t a k i n g p la c e a f t e r t h e d e a th
o f h e r f i r s t h u s b a n d , w h e rea s t h e A n t i q u i t i e s r e c o r d t h a t
t h i s to o k p la c e d u r in g h i s l i f e t i m e ,
2
(c ) The s ta te m e n t t h a t ’t h e w ild man* was b ro u g h t b e f o r e
A rc h e la u s i n v o lv e s a g ra v e c h r o n o l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t y .
rz
A rc h e -
l a u s was d e p o sed from o f f i c e i n 6 A .D ., and h en ce t h e B a p t i s t ’ s
a c t i v i t y w ould be th ro w n b ack t o a p e r io d a n t e r i o r t o t h i s
d a t e , w h ile h i s m i n i s t r y w ould be le n g th e n e d t o c o v e r m ore
th a n t h i r t y y e a r s , b e c a u se he i s r e p r e s e n te d a l s o a s r e p r o a c h ­
in g A n t i p a s f o r h i s u n la w fu l m a r r ia g e w ith H e ro d ia s a f t e r th e
d e a t h o f h e r f i r s t h u sb a n d , P h i l i p , i n 33 o r 34 A.D.
It
w i l l be se en from a s tu d y o f t h e c h r o n o lo g ic a l d a ta i n t h e
n e x t c h a p te r t h a t t h e r e i s no t r u s t w o r t h y e v id e n c e f o r a s s i g n ­
in g t o t h e B a p t i s t su c h an e x te n d e d m i n i s t r y .
The G o s p e ls , s t r a n g e l y enough, commit t h e same e r r o r .
x v i i i . 5 . 1 . ( 1 0 9 ff,) •
• G oguel: o p . c i t . , p . 38 p o i n t s o u t t h a t G o e th a ls i n Je a n
^ pr e 'c u r s e u r de J~esust p p ,1 7 f f . h a s so u g h t t o e li m in a te t h i s
f
d i f f i c u l t y by r e a d i n g i i n s t e a d o f
Such
~ ~^~nge, h o w ev er, ” i s n o t v e ry p r o b a b le from a p a la e o " c a l p o i n t o f v ie w ” . In an y c a s e , t h e a c c o u n t o f
- a p p e a ra n c e b e f o r e t h e d o c to r s o f t h e law l a c k s any
' ■ and n a t u r a l c o n c lu s io n .
The n a r r a t i v e o f h i s
■ p u n ish m en t s a v o u rs m ore o f le g e n d th a n h i s t o r -
i n 37 A .D . gav e i t t o A g rip p a , w h e re a s i n 34 A .D . i t had b een
i n c o r p o r a te d i n t h e Roman p r o v in c e o f S y r i a .
(b ) The F ra g m e n ts r e p r e s e n t P h i l i p a s b e in g t h e f i r s t
h u sb a n d o f H e r o d ia s w h e re a s t h e r e a l name o f h e r f i r s t h u sb an d
was n o t P h i l i p b u t H e ro d .^
F u r th e r , th e y re p r e s e n t th e
seco n d m a r r ia g e o f H e ro d ia s a s t a k i n g p la c e a f t e r t h e d e a th
o f h e r f i r s t h u s b a n d , w h ereas t h e A n t i q u i t i e s r e c o r d t h a t
o
t h i s to o k p l a c e d u r in g h i s l i f e t i m e .
( c ) The s ta te m e n t t h a t ’t h e w ild m an1 was b ro u g h t b e f o r e
A rc h e la u s i n v o lv e s a g ra v e c h r o n o lo g ic a l d i f f i c u l t y . 3
A rc h e -
l a u s was d e p o sed from o f f i c e i n 6 A .D ., and h en ce t h e B a p t i s t ’ s
a c t i v i t y would be th ro w n b a ck t o a p e r io d a n t e r i o r t o t h i s
d a t e , w h ile h i s m i n i s t r y w ould b e le n g th e n e d t o c o v e r m ore
th a n t h i r t y y e a r s , b e c a u s e h e i s r e p r e s e n te d a l s o a s r e p r o a c h ­
in g A n tip a s f o r h i s u n la w fu l m a r r ia g e w ith H e ro d ia s a f t e r th e
d e a th o f h e r f i r s t h u sb a n d , P h i l i p , i n 33 o r 34 A.D.
It
w i l l be se e n fro m a s tu d y o f t h e c h r o n o lo g ic a l d a ta i n t h e
n e x t c h a p t e r t h a t t h e r e i s no t r u s t w o r t h y e v id e n c e f o r a s s i g n ­
in g t o t h e B a p t i s t su c h a n e x te n d e d m i n i s t r y .
1* The G o s p e ls , s t r a n g e l y en o u g h , commit t h e same e r r o r .
2. x v iii.5 ,1 .( 1 0 9 f f .) •
3 . G o g u el: o p . c i t . . p . 38 p o i n t s o u t t h a t G o e th a ls i n Je a n
p r e c u r s e u r de J ^ s u s . p p . l 7 f f . h a s so u g h t t o e li m in a te t h i s
d i f f i c u l t y by r e a d i n g i n s t e a d o f
Such
a c h a n g e , h o w ev er, n i s n o t v e ry p r o b a b le from a p a la e o g r a p h i c a l p o i n t o f v ie w ” . I n any c a s e , t h e a c c o u n t o f
J o h n ’ s a p p e a ra n c e b e f o r e t h e d o c to r s o f t h e la w l a c k s any
s e n s i b l e and n a t u r a l c o n c lu s io n .
The n a r r a t i v e o f h i s
e sc a p e fro m p u n ish m e n t s a v o u rs m ore o f le g e n d th a n h i s t o r ­
ic a l f a c t .
33.
(d ) The v i o l e n t a t t a c k on t h e d o c to r s o f t h e Law p u t
i n t o t h e m outh o f t h e
'w i l d m an1, who b id s them Tre n o u n c e
t h e i r a b o m in a b le w o r k s ' c a n n o t be a s s ig n e d w ith an y d e g re e
o f c o n fid e n c e t o J o s e p h u s , who now here i n h i s w r i t i n g s e v in o e s
su ch a n a t t i t u d e t o t h e s e s c h o l a r s .
(e ) The t w o - f o l d r e f e r e n c e to th e B a p t i s t 's m eans o f
s u s te n a n c e , f i r s t i n th e B a p t i s t F ragm ent (A) and t h e n i n t h e
P h i l i p F rag m en t (B ), in v o lv e s a clum sy r e p e t i t i o n w hich J o s ­
e p h u s, f o r a l l h i s o c c a s i o n a l m e d io c r ity o f c o m p o s itio n ,
c o u ld s c a r c e l y hav e c o u n te n a n c e d .
( f ) The a c c o u n t o f P h i l i p 's dream r e q u i r e s no a rg u m e n ts
t o d e m o n s tr a te i t s le g e n d a r y and n o n - h i s t o r i c a l c h a r a c t e r ,
r e m i n is c e n t , a s i t i s , o f t h e dream o f N e b u ch a d n ez za r.
The f a c t i s t h a t t h e S la v o n ic V e rs io n , w ith i t s c h ro n ­
o l o g i c a l e r r o r s , i t s C h r i s t i a n r e t o u c h e s , i t s f a n c i f u l le g e n d s ,
and i t s v i o l e n t a n ti-R o m a n a t t i t u d e , b e tr a y s q u i t e c l e a r l y
i t s c o m p a r a tiv e ly l a t e o r i g i n and i t s u n t r u s t w o r t h in e s s a s
a so u rc e on w h ich t o r e l y .
As J a c k p u t s i t , "A re we t o
b e li e v e t h a t J o s e p h u s f i r s t is s u e d t h e one a c c o u n t and l a t e r
on w ith d re w i t ,
and i n s e r t e d i n o u r e x ta n t V e rs io n a t o t a l l y
d i f f e r e n t s ta te m e n t?
Was th e o f f i c i a l Roman s o u rc e n o t
a v a i l a b l e t o him a t f i r s t ?
A c c o rd in g t o E i s l e r ( i n o t h e r
p a r t s o f h i s book) i t w a s, and was f u l l y u sed by h im .
Why
th e n sh o u ld he p a s s o v e r t h e o f f i c i a l s ta te m e n ts a b o u t Jo h n
when i s s u i n g h i s e a r l i e r e d i t i o n , and u se a l e s s r e l i a b l e
so u rc e ?
The f a c t i s , t h e S la v o n ic Fragm ent comes c e r t a i n l y
from a d i f f e r e n t s o u r c e , b u t i t i s a C h r i s t i a n one o f an
a p o c ry p h a l n a t u r e , an d Jo s e p h u s had n o th in g t o do w ith i t . " 1
Who, t h e n , was t h e a u th o r ?
T h e re a r e v e r y good r e a s o n s
f o r b e l i e v i n g t h a t t h e S la v o n ic V e rs io n i s a t r a n s l a t i o n o f
a l a t e B y z a n tin e v e r s i o n o f t h e J e w is h War, t h e l a t t e r com­
po sed w ith t h e o b j e c t o f g iv in g a C h r i s t i a n a c c o u n t o f t h e
J e w ish War, and d ra w in g p o s s i b l y upon t h e G o s p e ls , th o u g h t h i s
i s n o t q u i t e c e r t a i n , b u t a s s u r e d l y on a p o c ry p h a l l i t e r a t u r e . 2
The B y z a n tin e w r i t e r f e l t h im s e lf a t l i b e r t y t o r e w r i t e th e
n a r r a t i v e o f J o s e p h u s , and t o i n s e r t c e r t a i n n o t i c e s on John
th e B a p t i s t and ^ e s u s w h ich w ould f i l l t h e gap i n t h e Je w ish
War and s e r v e t h e p r a c t i c a l p u rp o s e o f i n f lu e n c i n g h i s r e a d e r s
in f a v o u r o f C h r i s t i a n i t y .
I n t e r p o l a t i o n was a common p r a c ­
t i c e i n e a r l y t i m e s , and was n o t a t a l l re g a rd e d a s f o r g e r y ,
and was v e r y o f t e n c a r r i e d o u t w ith am azing e x p e r t n e s s , a s
E i s l e r h a s shown.®
The a n ti-R o m an a t t i t u d e m a n if e s t i n t h e
V e rsio n p o i n t s t o i t s h a v in g b een composed i n t h e 1 2 th cen­
tu ry .
"From t h e tim e o f t h e sc h ism (1054 A .D .) betw een t h e
p a t r i a r c h o f C o n s ta n tin o p le and t h e Roman p o n t i f f , and e s ­
p e c i a l l y a f t e r t h e Roman a n a rc h y i n B yzantium (1180-1204 A .D .)
"there was d e v e lo p e d a d e e p - s e a te d a n ta g o n ism on t h e p a r t o f
I*
P .H 4 .
*1* Z e i t l i n : The J e w is h Q u a r te r l y R eview , XX, J u l y 1930, p p .3 0 ff.
• 3Lke Mess i a h J e s u s : p a s s im .
35.
t h e B y z a n tin e G re e k s a g a i n s t t h e W e ste rn p e o p l e ." ’*’ A g a in st
t h i s b a ck g ro u n d t h e b i t t e r i n v e c t i v e s a g a i n s t Rome a r e p e r ­
fe c tly in te llig ib le .
B u t a f u r t h e r , and a v e r y im p o r ta n t, in f e r e n c e i s war­
r a n ta b le , p e rh a p s.
G ra n te d t h a t t h i s i l l - f e e l i n g e x is te d
b e tw ee n E a s t and West a t t h a t tim e , i t would n o t be to o much
t o assum e t h a t t h e B y z a n tin e c o p y i s t , c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y
en o u g h , r e a d b a c k h i s own p o l i t i c a l a n im o s i t ie s i n to th e l i f e
o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t , t h u s s u g g e s tin g t h a t even th o s e who were
c o n n e c te d w ith t h e v e r y b e g in n in g s o f C h r i s t i a n i t y , had th e
c o u ra g e and s p i r i t t o oppose and t o d e fy th e Roman g overnm ent.
T h is w ould a c c o u n t f o r t h e p o l i t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e w hich th e
B a p t i s t a lm o s t c e r t a i n l y h a s i n t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts.
It
i s t o be f u r t h e r o b s e rv e d t h a t t h e n o t i c e on th e B a p ti s t
£
b e a r s no t r a c e o f r e a l h o s t i l i t y to w a rd s him b u t i s m e re ly
c o lo u re d by t h e o u tlo o k o f t h e w r i t e r .
T h is v ie w p o in t seems
t o c o v e r t h e f a c t s b e t t e r t h a n t o su p p o se , a s Ja c k h a s done,
t h a t no p o l i t i c a l a s p e c t i s s u g g e s te d i n J o h n f s a c t i v i t y , a s
d e s c r ib e d by t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts.
1# J a c k : o p . o i t . . p . 5 1 .
2 . E i s l e r : o p . c i t . . p p .£ £ 5 f f . b e li e v e s t h a t t h e n o t i c e i s
h o s t i l e t o J o h n . B ut t h e e x p re s s io n *a w ild man^ s u r e l y
m eans no m ore t h a n a ’man o f t h e c o u n tr y * , T)J.y
w h ile
o t h e r re m a rk s , w hich he t h i n k s d e r o g a to r y , a re r e a l l y n o t
so .
C re e d : o p . c i t . . p . 316, w r i t e s : - " I t i s te m p tin g t o
c o n j e c t u r e t h a t t h e f i g u r e o f some c o n te m p o ra ry e re m ite
h a s i n f lu e n c e d t h e p o r t r a i t b u t a tte m p ts to d is c o v e r any
d e f i n i t e s o u rc e h a v e n o t been s u c c e s s f u l ."
36 o
T he t r a n s l a t i o n i n t o S la v o n ic w$s u n d e rta k e n , a c c o rd in g
t o J a c k , by t h e R u s s ia n O rth o d o x C h r i s t i a n C hurch, and t h e
S la v o n ic V e r s io n was v e r y p o s s i b l y u se d a s p ro p ag an d a m a te r­
i a l a g a i n s t t h e J u d a i s i n g h e r e t i c s , i/sfoo commenced t h e i r a c t ­
i v i t i e s a b o u t 1470 u n d e r th e l e a d e r s h i p o f o n e , Z a c h a r ia s ,
and who, a f t e r e x p e r ie n c in g v a r i o u s t u r n s o f f o r t u n e , w ere
f i n a l l y t r i e d b e f o r e a n e c c l e s i a s t i c a l c o u rt i n 1503 and
condemned t o t o r t u r e and d e a t h . 1
Now, i t i s re m a rk a b le t h a t
i n t h e ffra g m a its on Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t and J e s u s , p a s s a g e s i n
w h ic h , above a l l ,
one m ig h t h av e e x p e c te d a C h r i s t i a n t o
b e t r a y h i m s e l f c l e a r l y , t h e r e o c c u r no v e ry o b v io u s c h a r a c t e r
i s t i e C h r is tia n e x p re s s io n s .
I t i s t r u e t h a t th e y seem t o
have t h e G o s p e ls a s t h e i r b a ck g ro u n d , b u t had t h e a u th o r
been a C h r i s t i a n , c o u ld he h av e r e f r a i n e d from m e n tio n in g o r
a t l e a s t a l l u d i n g t o J o h n 's acknow ledgm ent o f th e M e ss ia h sh ip
of Jesus?
A g a in , i n t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f th e R e s u r r e c tio n o f
J e s u s , t h e f o l lo w in g a p p e a r s ,
'And i t was s a i d , t h a t a f t e r he was p u t to d e a th , yea
a f t e r b u r i a l i n t h e g r a v e , he was n o t fo u n d .
Some t h e n , s a y t h a t he i s r i s e n ; b u t o t h e r s t h a t he h as
been s t o l e n by h i s f r i e n d s ; I , h ow ever, do n o t know w hich
sp e ak m ore c o r r e c t l y .
F o r a dead man c a n n o t r i s e o f h im s e lf - th o u g h p o s s ib ly
w ith t h e h e lp o f a n o th e r r i g h t e o u s man: u n l e s s her w i l l be an
O p .c it. . p p .7 5 f f .
37.
a n g e l o r a n o th e r o f t h e h e a v e n ly p o w e rs, o r God H im se lf
a p p e a r s a s a man a n d a c c o m p lis h e s w hat he w i l l s - b o th w alk s
w ith m en, and f a l l s , and l i e s down and r i s e s u p , a s i t i s
a c c o r d in g t o H is w i l l .
B u t o t h e r s s a i d t h a t i t was n o t p o s s ib l e t o s t e a l him ,
b e c a u s e t h e y had p u t g u a rd s a ro u n d h i s g r a v e , 30 Romans, b u t
1
1 ,0 0 0 Jew s • f
I s i t p o s s i b l e t h a t a C h r i s t i a n c o u ld have d e s c r ib e d
t h e R e s u r r e c t i o n o f J e s u s i n su c h g u a rd e d t e r n s " h e s i t a t i n g
i n h i s ju dgm ent an d f r a n k l y c o n f e s s in g h i s i n a b i l i t y t o make
up h i s m ind?" 2
J a c k ’ s e x p la n a tio n o f t h i s i s to o s u b t l e .
rz
" I t m ust be rem em b ered ", he w r i t e s , " t h a t t h e a u th o r o f th e
p a s s a g e , p r o f e s s i n g t o w r i t e i n t h e name o f J o s e p h u s , had
t o m a in ta in a c e r t a i n amount o f r e s e r v e .
He c o u ld i n s i n u a t e ,
h i n t , and s u g g e s t c e r t a i n C h r i s t i a n f a c t s , b u t co u ld n o t
a l l e g e o r a f f i r m th em o p e n ly ."
B ut s u r e l y so u l t r a - r a t i o n a l
and n o n -c o m m itta l a m ethod i s q u i t e f o r e i g n to t h e m e n ta lity
o f any c o n v in c e d C h r i s t i a n , how ever much he m ight p r o f e s s t o
w r ite i n t h e name o f J o s e p h u s .
I t would demand i n a d d i t i o n
g r e a t l i t e r a r y s k i l l - a f e a t u r e w hich i s by no means e v id e n t
e lse w h e re i n t h e F ra g m e n ts u n d e r c o n s i d e r a ti o n .
We may ob­
se rv e f u r t h e r t h a t t h e a s s e r t i o n t h a t John w ould n o t e a t
unleavened bread e v e n a t t h e P a s s o v e r tim e , and th e r e f e r e n c e
1 . F o llo w s B . J . v . 5 . 4 . (2 1 4 ) a f t e r th e d e s c r i p t i o n o f th e Temple
c u r t a i n . C f. T h a c k e ra y : Loeb Jo s e p h u s I I I , p . 658.
O .R .S .M ead: T he G n o s tic Jo h n t h e B a p t i z e r , p . 114.
3. O p . c i t . . p p . 1 6 5 -1 6 6 .
38
t o t h e d i s c i p l e s a s ’ s e r v a n ts * a r e n o t a t a l l d i s t i n c t i v e l y
C h r i s t i a n b u t r a t h e r J e w is h c o n c e p tio n s .
I t may be h e l d , t h e n , e i t h e r t h a t th e B y z a n tin e V e rsio n
was w r i t t e n by a J e w is h C h r i s t i a n r a t h e r th a n a C h r i s t i a n ,
o r t h a t t h e S la v o n ic t r a n s l a t o r was a J e w is h C h r i s t i a n o r
a Jew , r a t h e r th a n a C h r i s t i a n .
On t h e w hole, i t seem s m ost
s a t i s f a c t o r y t o r e g a r d t h e B y z a n tin e V e rs io n a s b e in g o f
C h r i s t i a n o r i g i n , and t h e t r a n s l a t o r a s h a v in g b e e n a Jew .
The S la v o n ic MSS a p p e a re d a s l a t e a s t h e 1 5 th o r 1 6 th c e n tu r y ,
j u s t a t t h e tim e when t h e J u d a i s i n g h e r e t i c s w ere a t w ork.
I t i s u n n e c e s s a r y t o a ssu m e , a s E i s l e r does,"** and in d e e d ,
q u i te im p ro b a b le i n v ie w o f t h e v a s t amount o f C h r i s t i a n
m a t e r i a l i n t h e V e r s io n , t h a t i t was u se d a s p ro p ag an d a
m a t e r i a l b y t h e J u d a i s i n g h e r e t i c s a g a i n s t th e O rthodox
C hurch.
On t h e o t h e r h a n d , i t i s e q u a l ly p r e c a r i o u s , con­
s i d e r i n g t h e J e w is h m a t e r i a l i n th e V e rs io n , t o assum e, a s
Ja c k d o e s , t h a t t h e t r a n s l a t i o n was u n d e rta k e n by t h e O rtho­
dox C hurch and u se d a g a i n s t t h e s e h e r e t i c s .
seems b e s t .
A m id d le l i n e
P ro b a b ly t h e S la v o n ic F rag m en ts form ed no p ro ­
paganda m a t e r i a l on e i t h e r s i d e , b u t t h e t r a n s l a t i o n was
u n d e rta k e n by a Jew , who, a c q u a in te d w ith th e J u d a is in g move­
m ent, and a t t h e same t im e , w ith t h e C h r i s t i a n B y z a n tin e
V e rsio n o f t h e J e w is h War, was p u z z le d by th e c o n f l i c t i n g
id e a s , a n d , u n c e r t a i n w ith w hich s id e t o th ro w i n h i s l o t ,
1. O p . c i t . . p p , 1 5 5 f f .
39
was a n x io u s t o s t a t e h i s c a s e .
W orking on th e B y z a n tin e
V e r s io n , h e w eig h ed t h e p r o s and c o n s, a llo w in g c e r t a i n
C h r i s t i a n c o n c e p tio n s t o s t a n d , i n s e r t i n g h e r e , d e l e t i n g
t h e r e , and b e t r a y i n g th r o u g h o u t h i s sh ak y know ledge o f th e
G ospel f a c t s .
H ence, i t w ould seem , we have th e S la v o n ic
V e rs io n w ith i t s C h r i s t i a n i n t e r p o l a t i o n s and i t s
s tr a n g e
i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s on t h e one h an d , and i t s p e c u l i a r Je w ish
c o lo u r in g on t h e o t h e r .
I n t h e l i g h t o f w hat h a s b e e n s a i d , th e p r e s e n t w r i t e r
has l i t t l e
h e s i t a t i o n i n r u l i n g o u t t h e S la v o n ic F ragm ents
a s u n tr u s tw o r th y e v id e n c e f o r a s tu d y o f John t h e B a p t i s t .
As G oguel w r i t e s , r e f e r r i n g t o them , "Nous n Tavons p a s
a f f a i r e a une r e l a t i o n h i s t o r i q u e m a is a une f i c t i o n l i t t e r a ir e .”^
The way i n w h ich E i s l e r b u i l d s up h i s t h e o r i e s
r e g a r d in g Jo h n and J e s u s on t h e i r b a s i s i s n o t m e re ly c h a ra c
t e r i s e d b y an e x tre m e a r b i t r a r i n e s s o f c r i t i c a l m ethod, b u t
i f h i s t h e o r i e s a r e f a l s e , a s in d e e d th e y seem to be i n th e
o p in io n o f o t h e r s c h o l a r s , t h e y can o n ly e x h i b i t "one o f th e
most p r o d i g io u s e r r o r s o f judgm ent and method e v e r made in
th e dom ain o f h i s t o r i c a l s t u d i e s . "
!• O p .c it. . p . 30.
2 . G oguel: Revue H i s t o r i q u e , c l x i i , (1 9 2 9 ), p . 218; c f.W in d is c h :
P P . c i t . . p . 3 0 7 , " I n t h e end one can o n ly sa y o f E i s l e r : As
r e g a r d s th e g o a l w h ic h he so u g h t t o r e a c h , h i s p r o d ig io u s
la b o u r h a s p ro v e d t o be a f a i l u r e I"
40.
0 . O th e r E x t e r n a l E v id e n c e .
The p r i n c i p a l re m a in in g e x t e r n a l e v id e n c e i n w hich John
th e B a p tis t a p p e a rs i s a s fo llo w s : ( a ) The H e g e s ip p u s : a f r e e p a r a p h r a s e o f t h e J e w is h War
i n L a t i n e n t i t l e d Be B e llo J u d a ic o e t e x c id io u r b i s H ie rs o ly m ita n a e .
1
I n t e r n a l e v id e n c e shews t h a t i t was n o t composed
"before t h e 4 t h C e n tu ry , and t h a t i t comes from t h e hand o f a
C h r i s t i a n , e x h i b i t i n g a s i t does t h e m ost re m a rk a b le p r o s e l y t ­
i z i n g t e n d e n c i e s . C r i t i c a l o p in io n h a s a s s ig n e d i t to Ambrose,
g
B ish o p o f M ila n (3 4 0 -3 9 7 A .D .) th o u g h E i s l e r t h i n k s i t was
composed b y a c o n v e r te d Jew named Is a a c ,
who l a t i n i z e d h i s
name a s H i l a r i u s o r G a u d e n tiu s .
(b ) The J o s ip p o n :
a f r e e p a r a p h r a s e o r ep itom e o f th e
Je w ish War i n H ebrew , d ra w in g l a r g e l y on t h e H e g e s ip p u s. and
e x i s t i n g i n se v e n MSS. and many p r i n t e d e d i t i o n s .
W ritte n in
p u re B i b l i c a l H ebrew , i t was com posed, so f a r a s can be ju d g e d ,
from t h e s t y l e , t h e s p e l l i n g o f p r o p e r nam es, and th e geograph­
i c a l r e f e r e n c e s , by a Jew l i v i n g i n S o u th e rn I t a l y o r on th e
I l l y r i a n c o a s t o f t h e A d r i a t i c , and may be a s s ig n e d to th e
t e n t h c e n t u r y , a lth o u g h Z e i t l i n t h i n k s i t was com pleted a s
e a r l y a s t h e s i x t h . ^ _________________ _______________________
1 . E i s l e r : o p . c i t . . p . 7 5 , h o ld s t h a t i t i s a p a ra p h ra s e o f th e
H a l o s i s , and t h e r e f o r e q u o te s from i t a number o f p a ssa g e s
T n o t i n t h e e x t a n t G reek V e rs io n ) a s th o u g h from th e hand o f
Josephu s.
2 . wT h is i s t h e p e r f e c t l y c r e d i b l e and u n w a rra n ta b ly d is p u te d
w itn e s s o f t h e a n c i e n t MSS.” N ie s e : E .R .E ., v o l . v i i , p .5 8 1 b .
3. O p .c it. . p .7 5 .
J e w is h Q u a r t e r l y R eview , x x i , 1930, p .4 1 6 , wMy re a s o n f o r
d a ti n g t h e Hebrew J o s ip p o n i n t h e 5 th o r e a r l y 6 th c e n tu ry
i s b r i e f l y t h a t i t s a u th o r a lth o u g h he made u se o f th e t a n n a i t i c l i t e r a t u r e , d id n o t make u se o f th e am oraic l i t e r a t u r e
w hich he a p p a r e n t l y d id n o t know .”
41.
( c ) A R um anian V e r s io n o f t h e J e w is h War1 o r l a t e o r i g i n
b a se d p a r t l y on t h e S la v o n ic V e r s io n , and p a r t l y on t h e A cta
p
P i l a t i an d o t h e r a p o c r y p h a l w r i t i n g s . A v e r y s h o r t a c c o u n t
o f t h e B a p t i s t ’ s a c t i v i t y i s g iv e n , and h i s a p p e a ra n c e b e fo re
th e S a n h e d rin i s d is m is s e d i n a s i n g l e s e n te n c e .
None o f t h e s e V e r s io n s , L a t i n , Hebrew, o r Rumanian a d d s
m a t e r i a l l y t o o t h e r e x i s t i n g e v id e n c e r e l a t i n g t o th e B a p t i s t ,
and i n an y c a se i t
i s c l e a r t h a t t h e i r l a t e n e s s and t h e i r
a p o c ry p h a l n a t u r e m u st p r e c lu d e them from b e in g re g a rd e d aw
tru s tw o rth y .
(d ) The E b i o n i t e G o sp el o r t h e G o sp el o f t h e Twelve
A p o s tl e s , and t h e G o s p e l o f th e H ebrew s, t h e fo rm e r d a tin g p r o ­
b a b ly fro m t h e f i r s t h a l f , and th e l a t t e r from th e second h a l f ,
3
o f t h e 2nd c e n t u r y ,
i n u se among Je w ish C h r i s t i a n s o f E b io n ite
te n d e n c y .
B o th c o n t a i n a c c o u n ts o f th e b a p tis m o f J e s u s ,
and t h e f o llo w in g s ta te m e n t r e g a r d in g th e B a p t i s t a p p e a rs in
th e fo rm e r: ’ I n t h e d a y s o f H ero d , K ing o f J u d a e a , came John b a p t i s i n g
1* The MS i s i n t h e p o s s e s s io n o f D r.G a s te r (No*89 o f h i s c o l­
l e c t i o n i n t h e B r i t i s h Museum). C f . E i s l e r : The M essiah
J e s u s . A p p endix 8 , f o r a t a b l e o f c o n te n ts .
2 . G e n e r a lly a g re e d to be a s p u r io u s 4 th c e n tu r y document con­
t a i n i n g a n a c c o u n t o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t i n H ad es. C f. M.R.
Jam es: The A p o c ry p h a l New T e s ta m e n t, p p . l 2 5 f f .
3 . The d a te o f t h e l a t t e r may be ro u g h ly f ix e d by th e f a c t t h a t
E u s e b iu s : H i s t . E c c l e s . . i i i , 39, c f . Loeb E u se b iu s I , P#291,
s p e a k s o f P a p ia s and I g n a t i u s a s h a v in g known s t o r i e s con­
t a i n e d i n t h e G o s p e l. The d a te o f th e fo rm e r i s - i n d i c a t e d
hy t h e f a c t t h a t i t was known t o O rig e n and H e g e sip p u s.
42 .
. . . . . and a l l w ent o u t t o h i m .’
1
On t h e s t r e n g t h o f t h i s , E i s l e r w ould a s s i g n th e b e g in n ­
in g o f J o h n ’ s m i n i s t r y t o t h e r e i g n o f A rc h e la u s , a s i n d ic a t e d
a l s o by t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n t.
T h ere can be l i t t l e
d o u b t,
how ever, t h a t t h e H erod r e f e r r e d t o h e re i s n o t Herod th e
G r e a t, b u t H erod A n t i p a s , and t h a t t h e t i t l e a s c r i b e d t o him
3
i s sim p ly a l o o s e one f o r ’t e t r a r c h ’ .
(e ) The P r o te v a n g e liu m J a c o b i , a n Em esian V ita J o h a n n is .
and A pocrypha and L eg en d s c o n c e rn in g Z a c h a r ia s and Jo h n - a l l
p u r e ly le g e n d a r y e m b r o id e r ie s o f th e G o sp el n a r r a t i v e s and
o f c o m p a r a tiv e ly l a t e o r i g i n .
The P ro te v a n g e liu m J a c o b i, p a r t
o f w hich was composed i n t h e 2nd c e n tu r y , and p a r t i n th e 4 th
c e n tu r y , g i v e s a n a c c o u n t o f t h e a p p e a ra n c e o f t h e a n g e l t o
Z a c h a r ia s and o f h i s dum bness, and s t a t e s t h a t a f t e r th e b i r t h
o f Jo h n , when E l i z a b e t h h e a rd t h a t H e ro d ’ s o f f i c i a l s sought
him, ’ sh e w ent up i n t o t h e h i l l c o u n try , and lo o k ed a b o u t h e r ,
where sh e s h o u ld h id e him , and t h e r e was no h id in g p la c e , and
i4
im m e d ia te ly t h e m o u n ta in c la v e a s u n d e r .
I t a ls o r e c o r d s
t h a t Z a c h a r ia s was s ta b b e d to d e a th i n th e tem ple by H erod’ s
h ir e d a s s a s s i n s . ^
The E m esian V ita J o h a n n is , l i k e c e r t a i n
o th e r l i v e s o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t , c o n ta in s f a n c i f u l a c c o u n ts o f
1 . Jam es: o p . p i t . , p . 9 .
P .3 0 3 ,
C f . C h a p te r I I .
C f. Mk: 6 :1 4 , w here A n tip a s i s d e s c r ib e d a s ’K in g ’ .
4. P r o t.J a c ,. x s i i .
C f. M .R .Jam es: o p . c i t . , p p .48^49.
i d . , x x i i i , x x iv .
43.
t h e d is c o v e r y o f S t . J o h n ’ s h ead a t Emesa i n 453 A .D .1
The
A pocrypha an d L eg en d s c o n c e rn in g Z a c h a r ia s and Jo h n t h e Bap­
t i s t co n fo rm i n c e r t a i n p o i n t s t o t h e S la v o n ic s t o r y o f
Z a c h a r i a s , a n d , f o r t h e m ost p a r t , a r e o b v io u s ly l i t t l e b e t t e r
g
th a n p u re i n v e n t i o n s .
T h ese w orks c a n n o t be s e r i o u s l y r e ­
g a rd e d a s o f t h e s l i g h t e s t v a lu e f o r a s tu d y o f th e h i s t o r i c a l
f i g u r e o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
(f)
lite ra tu re .
The p s e u d o -C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s , and t h e Mandaea
As t h e s e w o rk s w i l l be c o n s id e r e d a t some l e n g t h
i n C h a p te r IV , t r e a t m e n t o f t h i s e v id e n c e may b e s t be r e s e r v e d
t i l l th a t p o in t i s re a c h e d .
1* T h is w ork may be fo u n d i n L iv e s o f Jo h n th e B a p t i s t , Ed. E.
Nau, F a t r o l o g i a O r i e n t a l i s i v . f a s c . 5 , r e f e r r e d to by Jam es:
P P « c it. . p .x x x i.
2 . An i n t e r e s t i n g s ta te m e n t on th e t e x t u a l h i s t o r y o f th e s e
w r i t i n g s h a s b een made b y B e re n d ts : Die h a n d s c h fif t l i c h e
u b e r l i e f e r u n g d e r Z a c h a ria s -u n d -J o h a n n e s Apokry p h e n , T ex te
c e r a l t C h r i s t l i c h e n L i t e r a t u r , New iS e rie s , x i , ±*04, w ith
r e f e r e n c e s t o B e r e n d ts : S tu d ie n flb er Zacha ria s -u n d -J o h a n n e j,
A pokryphen. D e i c h e r t , 1895.
44.
CHAPTER
I I ..
THE CHRONOLOGY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
I t i s now n e c e s s a r y t o exam ine t h e c h ro n o lo g y o f John
t h e B a p t i s t a c c o r d in g t o t h e G o s p e ls and J o s e p h u s i n o rd e r
t h a t t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f J e s u s and Jo h n may he v iew ed i n t h e i r
tr u e p e rs p e c tiv e .
The m a t e r i a l f a l l s n a t u r a l l y i n to t h r e e
d iv is io n s :
(a ) The e v id e n c e r e l a t i n g t o t h e b i r t h o f John
and t h e commencement o f h i s m i n i s t r y ;
(b ) The q u e s t i o n a s t o w h e th e r t h e m i n i s t r i e s o f
J e s u s and Jo h n o v e rla p p e d , w ith s p e c i a l r e ­
f e r e n c e t o t h e F o u rth G o sp e l;
(c ) The e v id e n c e r e l a t i n g t o t h e B a p t i s t f s d e a th .
(a ) The e v id e n c e r e l a t i n g t o t h e b i r t h o f Jo h n and t h e
commencement o f h i s m i n i s t r y .
The n a r r a t i v e d e s c r i b i n g t h e b i r t h o f Jo h n i s p e c u l i a r
t o L uke, and i s c l o s e l y in te rw o v e n w ith h i s a c c o u n t o f t h e
b irth of Je su s.
The c o m p o s itio n o f t h e s e c t i o n i s v e ry c a r e ­
f u l l y p la n n e d , and a p p e a rs t o be a com pact w h o le, 1 :5 - 2 :5 2 .
Thus i n 1 : 5 - 2 5 , t h e announcem ent o f J o h n 's b i r t h i s made
by th e A ngel G a b r i e l , and i n 1 : 2 6 -3 8 , a s i m i l a r announcem ent
i s made o f t h e b i r t h o f J e s u s .
In 1 : 3 9 -5 6 , E li z a b e th , t h e
m other o f J o h n , an d M ary, t h e m o th e r o f J e s u s , exchange g r e e t in g s .
i n 1 : 5 7 -6 6 , t h e b i r t h , c ir c u m c is io n , and naming o f
4 5 .4 k ,
Jo h n , t o g e t h e r w ith c e r t a i n accom panying w o n d e rs, a r e r e ­
l a t e d , w h ile i n 2 ; 1 - 2 1 , a s i m i l a r a c c o u n t i s g iv e n o f J e s u s .
I n 1 : 6 7 -8 0 , Jo h n i s e x t o l l e d by Z a c h a r ia s , and a n o te i s
added on t h e c h i l d 's e a r l y d a y s , and in 2 : 2 2 -4 0 , a p a r ­
a l l e l d e s c r i p t i o n i s g i v e n o f t h e e x t o l l i n g o f J e s u s by
Simon and H annah, t o g e t h e r w ith t h e i d e n t i c a l fo rm u la ,
th e c h i l d waxed and g rew s tr o n g i n s p i r i t , '
'And
F i n a l l y in
2 : 4 1 -5 5 , a n a d d i t i o n a l n o t i c e a p p e a rs r e g a r d in g t h e e a r l y
y e a r s o f J e s u s , p e r h a p s w ith t h e i n t e n t i o n o f shew ing t h a t
he who was M e s s ia h , e x h i b i t e d , w h ile s t i l l a boy, a p p r o p r ia te
M e s s ia n ic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s .
I t i s j u s t p o s s i b l e , how ever,
t h a t t h i s l a s t s e c t i o n , 2 : 4 1 -5 5 , e m p h a siz in g , a s i t d o e s,
t h e z e a l o f J e s u s t o be a b o u t h i s F a t h e r 's b u s i n e s s , o r
b e t t e r , t o be i n h i s F a t h e r 's h o u se ( R .V .) , and somewhat
s p o i l i n g t h e p e r f e c t harm ony o f t h e s t r u c t u r e o f t h e whole
p a s s a g e , i s d e s ig n e d t o b r in g o u t t h e c o n tr a s t betw een J e s u s
and J o h n , and t o e s t a b l i s h even a t t h i s e a r l y s ta g e t h e i n ­
f e r i o r i t y o f th e l a t t e r .
The s k i l l w i t h w h ich th e m a t e r i a l i s a rra n g e d s u g g e s ts
t h a t Luke i s d ra w in g upon some w r i t t e n s o u r c e .
As SfV.Manson
o b s e r v e s , "As i t i s n o t L u k e 's m ethod i n u s in g h i s s o u rc e s
bo s u p p ly c o n n e c tiv e s b etw een e v e n ts where h i s a u t h o r i t i e s
do n o t g iv e th em , we i n f e r from h i s in te rw e a v in g o f th e two
1 . C f .D i b e li u s : J . d . T . . p . 68: "T h ere b y ( i . e . by t h e a d d itio n
o f 2 : 4 1 - 4 5 ) , t h e n a r r a t i v e i n d i r e c t l y a s c r i b e s to John th e
in f e r io r p o s itio n ."
n a r r a t i v e s , t h a t i n t h e t r a d i t i o n upon w hich he drew t h e
b i r t h s o f Jo h n and J e s u s w ere a lr e a d y a s s o c i a t e d . A
f u r t h e r p o i n t i n f a v o u r o f t h e view t h a t Luke i s d raw in g on
a w r i t t e n s o u rc e and n o t com posing t h e n a r r a t i v e s h im s e lf
on t h e b a s i s o f o r a l t r a d i t i o n 2 i s t h e f a c t t h a t
" it is
d i f f i c u l t t o se e how a G e n t il e C h r i s t i a n l i k e Luke c o u ld
th ro w h i m s e l f b a c k by a suprem e e f f o r t o f th e h i s t o r i c a l
im a g in a tio n t o t h e s t a n d p o in t o f th e s e c h a p t e r s . " 3
Nor can
t h e n a r r a t i v e s be r e g a r d e d a s a l a t e r i n s e r t i o n b e c a u se th e
kvuQey/ o f t h e p ro lo g u e seem s t o e x c lu d e them .
I t i s tru e
t h a t a p o s t o l i c t r a d i t i o n r e g a rd e d th e b a p tis m o f J e s u s by
John a s t h e s t a r t i n g - p o i n t , A c ts 1 :2 1 - 2 2 , b u t i t d id n o t
d e f i n i t e l y e x c lu d e a n y m a t e r i a l b e f o r e t h a t .
The in tr o d u c ­
t i o n o f Jo h n a s th o u g h f o r t h e f i r s t tim e a t L k .3 :2 need
n o t be s t r e s s e d , n o r n eed t h e a p p e a ra n c e o f th e w ords, L ucas
autem i n i t i u m f e c i t a b a p tism o J o h a n n i s . i n an a d d it i o n a r y
frag m en t t o tw o 1 2 th c e n tu r y MSS. o f th e Arm enian V e rsio n
o f E p h ra e m 's com m entary on t h e D i a te s s a r o n .
The o r i g i n o f
t h i s fra g m e n t i s q u i t e o b s c u re and i n any c ase t h e r e can be
no do u b t t h a t Ephraem d id r e a d L k. 1 and 2 i n h i s copy o f
D ia te s s a r o n .
q#
it
seem s u n l i k e l y , t h e r e f o r e , t h a t t h e n a r r a -
—ke Gosp e l o f L u k e r p . 3 .
• So H a rn a c k : Luke t h e P h y s i c i a h , E n g .E d ., A ppendix I I ,
P P .1 9 9 -2 1 8 .
• ^ o f f a t t : I n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e L i t e r a t u r e o f th e New T e s ta m en t, p . 267:
M o f f a tt:
o p . c i t . . p . 272.
t i v e s can be r e g a r d e d e i t h e r a s a f r e e c o m p o s itio n o f t h e
E v a n g e lis t h i m s e l f , o r a s a l a t e r a d d i t i o n , and a l t o g e t h e r
p r o b a b le t h a t Luke was d ra w in g upon some w r i t t e n r e c o r d .
The s t y l e , d i c t i o n and c o n te n ts o f t h e n a r r a t i v e s would
seem t o i n d i c a t e t h a t t h i s w r i t t e n r e c o r d was a P a l e s t i n i a n
J e w i s h - C h r i s t i a n A ram aic docum ent w hich Luke h a s t r a n s l a t e d
and i n c o r p o r a te d p o s s i b l y w ith c e r t a i n m in o r r e v i s i o n s .
1
I f i t be assu m ed , t h e n , t h a t Luke drew upon a w r i t t e n
s o u rc e f o r t h e B i r t h n a r r a t i v e s , r e f e r e n c e may c o n v e n ie n tly
be made a t t h i s p o i n t t o t h e i n t e r e s t i n g th e o r y o f G oguel,
v i z . t h a t t h e E v a n g e li s t a c t u a l l y u se d n o t o n e , b u t two
w r itte n s o u rc e s in th e s e n a r r a tiv e s , one, a d i s t in c t iv e l y
B a p ti s t s o u r c e em bodying m a t e r i a l on th e B a p t i s t o n ly , th e
o t h e r , C h r i s t i a n , r e f e r r i n g t o J e s u s o n ly .
2
I f i t c o u ld
be shown t h a t t h e E v a n g e li s t r e a l l y u sed a s e p a r a te B a p t i s t
s o u rc e , t h i s w ould v e r y p o s s i b l y i n d i c a t e t h e e x is te n c e o f
a B a p t i s t s e c t o r even o f a c o n tin u in g B a p t i s t s e c t w ith a
l i t e r a t u r e o f t h e i r own.
In v iew o f th e im p o rta n c e o f t h i s
m a tte r - w h ic h w i l l be s e e n more c l e a r l y i n C h a p te r IV - th e
1« The s t y l e p o i n t s u n m is ta k a b ly t o a n u n d e rly in g S e m itic
id io m , and t h e p i e t y w h ich p e rv a d e s t h e w hole n a r r a t i v e ,
t o g e t h e r w ith t h e d e f i n i t e to p o g r a p h ic a l n o te s a t 1*65, and
and 2 :1 8 , a r e i n f a v o u r o f t h i s v ie w p o in t.
2#
p p . 7 1 -7 4 . T h is th e o r y , a s G oguel p o i n t s o u t, i s
h e ld a l s o by V o e l te r : D ie A pokalypse d es Z a c h a ria s im Evang e liu m d e s L u k a s : T h e o l. T i d j s c h r i f t , 1897, p p .24 4 -2 6 9 , and
by B a ld e n s p e r g e r : P e r P ro lo g d e s v i e r t e n Evangelium s,_ s e in
p o l e m i s c h e r - a p o l o g e ti s c h e r Zweck, p . 135.
arg u m e n ts a d v a n c e d i n s u p p o r t o f t h i s Tw o-Source theorym ust be ex am in e d .
The s e c t i o n s i n w hich G oguel s u s p e c t s th e u se o f a
B a p t i s t s o u r c e a r e 1 : 5 - 2 5 , and 1 :5 7 -8 0 .
The argum ent i s ,
t h a t i n 1 : 5 - 2 5 , t h e r e a p p e a r s a n a r r a t i v e d e s c r ib in g t h e
A n n u n c ia tio n t o Z a c h a r ia s o f J o h n ’ s b i r t h w hich c o u ld have
o r i g i n a t e d i n c i r c l e s o n ly d i r e c t l y i n t e r e s t e d i n th e p e rs o n
o f th e B a p t i s t .
A g a in , i n t h e same s e c t i o n - th e use o f
th e te rm K u r io s m akes Jo h n t h e p r e c u r s o r n o t o f J e s u s b u t
o f God, and i s a p p a r e n t l y t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t from vdiat one
would e x p e c t i n a d i s t i n c t i v e l y C h r i s t i a n s o u rc e .
Thus in
v .1 6 i t i s s a i d o f t h e B a p t i s t , *Many o f t h e c h i l d r e n o f
I s r a e l he s h a l l t u r n t o t h e L ord t h e i r God1 and i n v .1 7 i t
i s h i s f u n c t i o n ’t o make re a d y a p e o p le p re p a re d f o r th e L o rd 1.
I n i ; 5 7 -8 0 , t h e u se o f a B a p t i s t so u rc e i s a g a in a p p a r e n t,
Goguel h o ld s :
1 :5 7 -6 6 d i s p l a y s t h e p e c u l i a r i n t e r e s t o f
J o h n ’ s a d h e r e n t s i n h i s b i r t h and nam ing;
1 :6 7 -7 5 c o n s t i t u t e s
a Je w ish M e s s ia n ic p salm c o n ta in in g no a l l u s i o n s t o J e s u s o r
h i s Work o r t o t h e G o s p e l, and 1 :7 6 -8 0 i s a B a p t i s t p salm ,
(w hich h a s t o be d e ta c h e d from 1 :6 7 - 7 5 ) , d e s c r ib in g once more
th e B a p t i s t a s t h e p r e c u r s o r n o t o f J e s u s , b u t o f God.
Thus
in v ,7 6 Jo h n i s t h e ’p r o p h e t o f t h e M ost H ig h ’ and i n v .7 8
he, n o t J e s u s , i s r e f e r r e d t o a s ’t h e D a y sp rin g from on h ig h ’ .
The c o m b in a tio n o f t h e J e w is h p salm and t h e B a p t i s t psalm ,
50.
G oguel c o n c lu d e s , may have b een due to a BaptJLst a u th o r who
added t h e B a p t i s t p sa lm t o o r i e n t a t e h i s own i d e a s , o r t o
a B a p t i s t r e d a c t o r who combined t h e tw o .
At any r a t e t h e i r
s e p a ra te B a p tis t o r ig in i s c e r ta in .
T h is h y p o t h e s is i s c e r t a i n l y a t t r a c t i v e b e c a u se i t i s
by no m eans im p ro b a b le t h a t a c e r t a i n l i t e r a t u r e may have
grown up a ro u n d t h e B a p t i s t a s i t h a s done round many h i s t o r ­
ic a l fig u re s .
B u t, on t h e o t h e r h a n d , th e h y p o th e s is seems
t o be d is c o u n te n a n c e d , i n th e f i r s t p l a c e , by what h a s a l ­
re a d y b e en s a i d r e g a r d i n g L uke*s u se o f h i s s o u r c e s .
The
B i r t h - n a r r a t i v e s p r e s e n t to o g r e a t a u n i ty t o be a t t r i b u t e d
t o more t h a n one s o u r c e .
M o f f a tt p u t s t h e m a t t e r i n a n u t­
s h e l l , " I t r e q u i r e s a r b i t r a r y h a n d lin g t o d i s e n ta n g le from
1
1 :5 - 2 :5 2 . . . .
a J e w is h a p o c a ly p s e o f Z a c h a r ia s ."
A gain,
t h e r e i s n o th in g i n t h e c o n te n ts o f th e p a s s a g e s w hich d e f i n ­
i t e l y f o r b id s t h e i r a s c r ip tio n to a J e w is h -C h ris tia n , as
d i s t i n c t fro m a C h r i s t i a n s o u r c e .
The u se o f t h e term
C u r i o s 1 i n 1 :1 6 ,1 7 and o f t h e 1p ro p h e t o f th e Most H ig h 1 in
v .7 6 a r e r e m i n is c e n t o f t h e O .T . , and may q u i t e w e ll have
been in te n d e d t o r e p r e s e n t Jo h n a s t h e p r e c u r s o r o f th e
M e ssia h , i f , a s seem s v e r y p r o b a b le , ju d g in g from th e O.T.
f la v o u r o f t h e w h o le , O .T . te rm in o lo g y was i n uwe i n th e
O p .c i t.. p .267.
2 . C f. P s .4 7 : 2 , 8 3 :1 8 , 9 2 :8 ;
I s . 1 4 :1 4 ;
H o s .ll:7 .
51
J e w i s h - C h r i s t i a n c i r c l e s i n w hich t h e n a r r a t i v e s w ere com­
p o se d .
T he e x p r e s s io n i n v t 78, fThe D a y sp rin g from on
h ig h h a t h v i s i t e d us* may q u i t e n a t u r a l l y r e f e r t o J e s u s ,
o r r a t h e r t o t h e M e s s ia n ic e r a , i f t h e n a r r a t i v e s w ere com­
p o sed a f t e r J e s u s came t o be r e g a rd e d a s M e s s ia h .’1' The com­
p o s i t i o n o f w . 7 6 -7 8 d o e s n o t d e f i n i t e l y f o r b i d a change
o f s u b j e c t fro m Jo h n t o J e s u s i n v .7 8 .
F in a lly , i t i s to
be n o te d p a r t i c u l a r l y t h a t b o th i n 1 :5 - 2 5 , and 1 :5 7 -8 0 , t h e
a c c o u n t o f t h e B a p t i s t ’ s a c t i v i t y a g r e e s v e ry w e ll w ith th e
C h ris tia n i n te r p r e ta t i o n o f h is s ig n ific a n c e .
Thus v .1 7 ,
’He s h a l l go b e fo r e him i n t h e s p i r i t and i n th e pow er o f
E l i a s t o t u r n t h e h e a r t s o f th e f a t h e r s t o th e c h i l d r e n and
th e d i s o b e d ie n t t o t h e wisdom o f t h e j u s t ’ , i s p a r a l l e l to
th e B a p t i s t ’ s c a l l t o r e p e n t a n c e , w h ile v .7 7 , where i t i s
p ro p h e s ie d t h a t
’J o h n w i l l g iv e know ledge o f s a l v a t i o n u n to
h i s p e o p le by t h e r e m is s io n o f s i n s ’ i s re m in is c e n t o f Mk.
1 :4 ,
’p r e a c h in g a b a p tis m o f r e p e n ta n c e u n to th e r e m is s io n
o f s i n s ’ , and o f t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s p re a c h in g a s ’an
e v a n g e l’ , ( euy
) , i n L k .3 :1 8 .
The o n ly o t h e r s e c t i o n i n th e B i r t h - n a r r a t i v e s which
m ight i n d i c a t e t h e u s e o f a s p e c i a l B a p t i s t so u rc e i s 1 :4 6 -5 6 ,
M a g n ific a t.
Though commonly a s c r i b e d t o M ary, t h e r e i s
1» The f u t u r e
, ftI B
how ever, b e t t e r a t t e s t e d t h a n
Syr** A e th .
S y r .Arm. G oth. Boh, L . i s ,
eir&CKtfUTO , A C D m in Lat,
52.
some e v id e n c e t h a t i t may have o r i g i n a l l y been . u t t e r e d by
E l i z a b e t h , and i f t h i s w ere s o , i t may have b een drawn from
an in d e p e n d e n t c y c le o f t r a d i t i o n i n t e r e s t e d i n Jo h n .
The
q u e s tio n h a s b e e n h o t l y d is p u te d and no one o p in io n h a s h e ld
th e f i e l d . 1
K<<i
The o r i g i n a l t e x t o f 1 :4 6 was a lm o st c e r t a i n l y
> and th e p ro b le m i s w h e th e r
, or
KfJcSeT
1 2
E l i z a b e t h 1 a p p e a rs i n t h r e e o ld L a t i n MSS,
is th e s u b je c t.
and i s v o u ch ed f o r by N ic e ta o f R em esiana a s r e p r e s e n t i n g
e a rly t r a d i t i o n .
an
I n t e r n a l e v id e n c e seem s, i f a n y th in g ,
s l i g h t l y i n f a v o u r o f ’E li z a b e t h * .
E l i z a b e t h i s f i l l e d w ith
th e H oly S p i r i t , 1 :4 1 , and i t i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f Luke to
i n s e r t eni6 de
o r K/i e i t f e
betw een t h e sp e e c h e s o f h i s c h a r­
a c t e r s w ith o u t a change o f s p e a k e r .
e x p r e s s io n ,
A g a in , i n v .5 6 , t h e
’And M ary rem a in e d w ith h e r ’ , seems somewhat un­
n a t u r a l i f M ary h a s j u s t b e e n s p e a k in g .
’And sh e abode w ith E l i z a b e t h * .
The t e x t sh o u ld ru n ,
F i n a l l y , i t i s h e ld , th e
w ords, ’He h a th lo o k e d upon t h e w re tc h e d e s t a t e o f h i s s e r ­
v a n t ’ , seem t o f i t b e t t e r E l i z a b e t h ’ s jo y on b e in g r e le a s e d
frcan a lo n g p e r i o d o f u n f r u i t f u l n e s s t h a n M ary’ s c a s e .
o f t h e s e a rg u m e n ts , h o w e v er,
c o n c lu s iv e .
None
can a c t u a l l y be r e g a rd e d a s
The harm ony o f t h e s e c t i o n , 1 :3 4 -5 6 , i s b e t t e r
1* F o r a b i b l i o g r a p h y , c f . M o f f a tt; o p . c i t . , p p .2 71-272.
S ^ V e r c e l l e n s i s , V e r o n e n s is , R e h d lg e ra n u s •
o. N ic e ta : De P s a lm o d ia e Bono. 11, ” Cum E li z a b e th Dominum
anim a n o s t r a m a g n i f i c a t . ”
53.
p r e s e r v e d by a s c r i b i n g t h e M a g n if ic a t t o M ary.
E li z a b e th
and M ary a l t e r n a t e l y c la im t h e a t t e n t i o n from 1 :2 3 , and
1 :4 5 i s a f i t t i n g
c o n c lu s io n t o E l i z a b e t h ’ s e x p r e s s io n o f
jo y a t M a ry ’ s v i s i t t o h e r .
E l i z a b e t h ’ s song o f p r a i s e i s
o u t o f p l a c e a f t e r 1 :4 5 , and w ould m ore n a t u r a l l y c o n tin u e
a f t e r 1 :2 5 .
The c o n te n ts o f t h e song - t h e e x a l t a t i o n o f
h u m il i ty , t h e o v e rth ro w o f th e m ig h ty , t h e s a t i s f y i n g o f
h u n g e r - g iv e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y no i n d i c a t i o n o f th e o b je c t
o f t h e th a n k s g iv i n g and c o u ld j u s t a s w e ll be a t t r i b u t e d to
Mary a s t o E l i z a b e t h .
The d i f f i c u l t y o f v .5 6 ,
’And Mary
abode w ith h e r ’ c a n b e s a t i s f a c t o r i l y removed by t r a n s f e r r i n g ,
a s D i b e li u s s u g g e s t s ,
v .5 6 t o f o llo w v .4 5 , w hich was v e ry
p ro b a b ly i t s o r i g i n a l p o s i t i o n .
F in a lly , th e te x tu a l e v i­
dence i n f a v o u r o f M ary i s s t r o n g e r t h a n i t i s f o r E li z a b e th .
On t h e w h o le , t h e p r e s e n t w r i t e r p r e f e r s t o a s c r i b e th e Mag­
n i f i c a t t o M ary r a t h e r t h a n to E l i z a b e t h , a lth o u g h com plete
c e r t a i n t y on t h i s p o i n t i s im p o s s ib le .
I t would seem, t h e r e ­
f o r e , t h a t t h e r e i s n o t s u f f i c i e n t e v id e n c e t o s u p p o rt th e
o p in io n t h a t t h e B i r t h - n a r r a t i v e s em anated from tw o d i s t i n c t
s o u r c e s , one a C h r i s t i a n , and t h e o t h e r a p u r e ly B a p t i s t c y c le
of t r a d i t i o n .
I f t h e n , Luke h a s u se d a P a l e s t i n i a n J e w is h - C h r is tia n
Aramaic s o u rc e f o r t h e B i r t h - n a r r a t i v e s , what can be s a id o f
O p .o it.. p .73.
54,
t h e c h a r a c t e r o f t h i s s o u r c e , and how f a r may i t h e _ t r u s t e d
f o r c h r o n o l o g i c a l i n f o r m a tio n r e g a r d in g Jo h n th e B a p t i s t ?
I t c a n s c a r c e l y be d o u b ted t h a t t h e n a r r a t i v e s i n q u e s tio n
c o n ta in a l a r g e am ount o f p u r e l y le g e n d a r y m a t e r i a l .
T hey
a r e p o e t r y , and t h e p io u s im a g in a tio n o f t h e p o e t h a s woven
ro u n d h i s h e r o e s c e r t a i n m y s te r io u s and w o n d e rfu l d e t a i l s *
C h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f le g e n d a r y c o m p o s itio n i s th e announcem ent
o f th e h e r o ’ s b i r t h by h e a v e n ly m e s s e n g e rs .
The O .T . f u r ­
n is h e s e x c e l l e n t p a r a l l e l s . God ann o u n ces a w ondrous lin e a g e
1
2
t o Abram ; a n a n g e l p r o p h e s ie s t h e b i r t h o f Manoah •
Sim­
i l a r l y , t h e a n g e l G a b r ie l a p p e a rs t o Z a c h a r ia s and M ary.
C h a r a c t e r i s t i c , t o o , o f h e ro l i t e r a t u r e i s th e lo n g u n f r u i t f u l n e s s o f t h e m o th e r
rz
w hich was r e g a r d e d a s a r e p r o a c h .
The rem o v al o f t h i s r e p r o a c h by God i n d i c a t e d t h a t th e c h il d
would s ta n d i n e s p e c i a l f a v o u r w ith God, and be o f c o n se ­
quence i n t h e w o r ld .
F u r t h e r , th e dumbness a t t r i b u t e d t o
4
Z a c h a r ia s i s a c o n s t a n t l y r e c u r r i n g m y th ic a l t r a i t w h ile th e
wondrous h a p p e n in g s im m e d ia te ly p re c e d in g th e b i r t h o f th e
c h il d , 1 : 44f f . , and a t t e n d a n t a ls o on h i s nam ing, 1 :6 0 -6 3 ,
p o in t i n t h e same d i r e c t i o n .
I t i s c l e a r t h a t t h e s e h ig h ly
p o e tic n a r r a t i v e s c a n n o t be re g a rd e d a s h i s t o r y i n t h e s t r i c t
1*
2.
3.
4.
G en. 1 5 :5 .
J u d g e s , 1 3 :3 .
I.S a m . 1 :1 - 2 3 .
^TT A „ )
Compare t h e b l i n d i n g o f T e i r e s i a s , (A p o llo d o r . , l i i . o . •/>
c i t e d by D i b e l i u s : o p . c i t . , P*72, n o te 1.
55,
s e n s e o f t h e w o rd .
To r e g a r d them a s su c h i s t o do i n j u s t i c e
t o t h e i r l i t e r a r y fo rm .
H i s t o r y h a s been c lo th e d w ith imag­
i n a r y d e t a i l s o f t h e p io u s fa n c y , and i t i s o n ly w ith th e
u tm o st c a u t i o n t h a t t h e n a r r a t i v e s can be used f o r e s t a b l i s h ­
in g c h r o n o l o g i c a l d a ta .
The i n f o r m a ti o n s u p p lie d r e g a r d in g th e B a p t i s t 's b i r t h
i s c o n ta in e d i n Lie. 1 : 5 , and 1 :3 6 .
I n 1 :5 we a r e in tro d u c e d
t o t h e p a r e n t s o f Jo h n , Z a c h a r i a s , a p r i e s t o f th e c o u rs e o f
A b ia , and E l i z a b e t h .
In 1 :3 6 we a re g iv e n to u n d e rs ta n d
t h a t Jo h n was s i x m onths o l d e r th a n J e s u s .
S in c e b o th th e s e
d a ta h av e b een e x t e n s i v e l y u se d t o e s t a b l i s h th e d a te o f
J o h n 's b i r t h , and s in c e d e d u c tio n s have been drawn from them
a s t o t h e tim e o f t h e b e g in n in g o f h i s m i n i s t r y , t h e i r c laim s
t o t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s m ust be i n v e s t i g a t e d .
T h e re a re no v a l i d re a s o n s f o r d o u b tin g t h e s ta te m e n t
t h a t Jo h n was o f p r i e s t l y d e s c e n t.
H is f a t h e r , Z a c h a ria s ,
was p r o b a b ly a n o r d i n a r y p r i e s t and n o t h i g h - p r i e s t .
At
any r a t e , t h e name Z a c h a r ia s i s n o t in c lu d e d i n th e l i s t o f
h i g h - p r i e s t s b e tw ee n 25 B .C . and 5 B .C . w hich Jo se p h u s drew
up a p p a r e n t l y w ith some c a r e . 1
He i s c a l le d sim p ly
by L uke, and t h e f a c t s t h a t he o f f e r e d in c e n s e by l o t , a
f u n c tio n w h ich t h e h i g h - p r i e s t r e s e r v e d f o r h im s e lf a t
1 . From 24 B .C . t h e names a r e Sim on, B o eth u s, M a tth ia s , Jo sep h
and J o s s a r . C f. S ch & rer; o p . c i t . , I I , v o l . i , p p .l 9 7 - iy ,
w ith r e f e r e n c e s t o J o s e p h u s .
56.
p l e a s u r e , and a f t e r b i s te rm o f o f f i c e r e tu r n e d to b i s borne
fin a c i t y o f Judah . . . .
i n th e b i l l c o u n tr y ’1 w hereas th e
h i g h - p r i e s t r e s i d e d i n J e r u s a le m , s u g g e s t th e same c o n c lu s io n .
B ra n d t t h i n k s i t
s tr a n g e t h a t Jo se p h u s sa y s n o th in g o f J o h n ’ s
p r i e s t l y c o n n e x io n s .
He f e e l s t h a t Jo se p h u s would n o t have
f a i l e d t o m e n tio n t h e f a c t , b eca u se t h e h i s t o r i a n h im s e lf
shews g r e a t p r i d e i n h i s own p r i e s t l y d e s c e n t.
T h is argum ent urn
e s i l e n t i o i s s t r e n g t h e n e d , he b e l i e v e s , by th e c o n s id e r a tio n
t h a t no p r i e s t would have b a p ti s e d i n t h e J o rd a n , th e w a te r
o f w hich was r e g a r d e d a s u n f i t f o r r e l i g i o u s l u s t r a t i o n s .
The s i l e n c e o f J o s e p h u s need n o t , how ever, be s t r e s s e d , in
view o f t h e t e r s e n e s s o f h i s n o t i c e r e g a r d in g th e B a p t i s t ,
w h ile t h e se co n d o b j e c t i o n may be met by th e r e f l e c t i o n t h a t
th e w a te r o f J o r d a n may w e ll have been re g a rd e d a s h o ly i n
view o f E z e k ie l 4 7 , and th e r e b y s u i t a b l e f o r l u s t r a t i o n s . I t
may have b e e n , h o w e v e r, t h a £ Jo h n d e l i b e r a t e l y r e j e c t e d th e
p r i e s t l y t a b u and i n so d o in g d is p la y e d a d a rin g o r i g i n a l i t y
in a cerem ony o v e r la d e n w ith cram ping r e s t r i c t i o n s .
In any
c a se , B r a n d t ’ s o b j e c t i o n s do n o t a p p e a r t o be w h o lly d e c i s i v e .
' The f a c t t h a t p r i e s t s w ere s e n t to exam ine John
s u g g e s ts
t h a t t h e s e w ere t h e p e o p le who would be b e s t c a l c u la te d to
u n d e rs ta n d him , and Luke may be even u n d e r lin in g J o h n ’ s p r i e s t l y
Lk. 1 :3 9 ,
j?*
.i&dis c h e n B a p tis m e n , p . 79.
Jn; 1 : 1 9 .— :— K----------
57.
p a r e n ta g e t o shew t h a t a t l a s t a p ro p h e t a p p e a re d among
th e p r i e s t s . 1
The e v id e n c e i s to o s le n d e r t o be q u ite
d e f i n i t e , h o w e v e r, b u t i t may be s a f e l y s a i d t h a t none o f
t h e known f a c t s o f t h e l i f e o f John c o n t r a d i c t s th e view
t h a t t h e B a p t i s t was o f p r i e s t l y d e s c e n t.
I f , t h e n , a s seem s n o t im p ro b a b le , John was o f p r i e s t l y
d e s c e n t , i s i t p o s s i b l e t o d a te h i s b i r t h from t h i s f a c t ?
S c a l i g e r b e l i e v e d t h a t i t w as, and s in c e th e o p in io n s ex­
p r e s s e d i n h i s e r u d i t e w ork De E m endations Temporum have been
u p h e ld by many o t h e r s c h o l a r s , 2 i t may be a d v is a b le t o g iv e
th e g i s t o f t h e a rg u m e n t.
Z a c h a ria s b e lo n g e d to th e p r i e s t l y
c l a s s o f A b ia o r jfcb ija h , t h e e ig h t h in th e l i s t o f th e
tw e n ty - f o u r c l a s s e s i n t o w hich David d iv id e d th e p r i e s t l y
body, e ac h c l a s s h o ld in g o f f i c e i n t u r n . 3
A f t e r th e e x i l e
o n ly f o u r o f t h e tw e n ty - f o u r c l a s s e s r e tu r n e d from B a b y lo n ia ,
th e c l a s s e s o f J e d a i a , H arim , P h e sh u r, and Emmer, and th e s e
f o u r w ere a g a in s u b - d iv id e d injro tw e n ty - f o u r by E zra and to o k
4
t h e names o f t h e o r i g i n a l D a v id ic d i v i s i o n s .
In th e y e a r
70 A.D, on t h e 9 t h A ugust t h e c l a s s o f J e h o j a r i b was in
E . P . S c o t t : The Kingdom and th e M e ss ia h , p*77, "We have no
f a i r r e a s o n f o r d o u b tin g th e t r a d i t i o n t h a t John was d e s ­
cended fro m a p r i e s t l y f a m ily : b u t t h e b a re f a c t i s e la b o r ­
a te d by Luke w ith a p u rp o s e t h a t can h a r d ly be o th e r thah^
s y m b o lic a l. A p r o p h e t a r o s e among th e p r i e s t s . The p la c id
r o u t i n e o f t h e c o n v e n tio n a l r e l i g i o n • • • • • was su d d en ly
in te r r u p te d ."
2 . N o ta b ly b y E .R .M ontgom ery H itc h c o c k ; D i e t .o f C h r is t and
th e G o s p e ls , v o l . i , p . 4 1 0 .
5* I .C h r o n . 2 4 .
_ .
4* Jo s e p h u s : A n t i q . v i i . 1 4 . 7 . ( 3 6 3 f f • ) •
58.
o ffic e .
So, fo r ScaXiger and h is fo llo w er s, i t i s only a
question o f an a rith m e tica l ca lc u la tio n to determine at
what tim e th e fa m ily of Abia was in o ffic e *
He b e lie v e s
that i t i s p o s s ib le to f i x the week 3-9 O ct., 6 B.C. as such
a p eriod .
Now i f th e Annunciation to Zacharias took place
in Oct. 6 B.C. and th e pregnancy of E lizabeth began at that
tim e, th e date o f John’s b ir th would f a l l roughly about July
5 B.C. and th a t o f Jesu s, who, we are to ld , was six months
younger, in December o f the same year.
This theory o f S cal-
ig e r ’ s i s open to a th r e e -fo ld o b jectio n .
E ir s t , i t i s by
no means c e rta in th a t the c la s s o f Jehojarib was in o ffic e
on 9 Aug. 70, th e date of th e d estru ction of the Temple.
As
Busy puts i t , ”I t i s at the very le a s t curious that the c la ss
of Jeh ojarib , which i s a lleg ed to have been serving in the
Temple on the day o f th e Temple’s d estru ction , was a lso accord­
ing to R abbinical a u th o rity performing i t s o f fic e at the
time o f th e f i r s t d estru ctio n of the temple by Nabuchodonosor.
One may very w e ll ask whether t h is i s a mere coincidence or
whether i t i s not rather the r e s u lt of some attempt at system­
a tic h arm onisation .”"^
Second, the theory assumes that Jesus
was born in 5 B .C ., and on th e strength o f t h is , the week
3-9 October in the year 6 B.C. i s se lec te d as the period of
o f fic e o f Zachariah.
But su rely the date o f the birth of
The L ife o f St.John the B a p tist, English Ed., p.26.
59.
Jesus i s one o f th e most uncertain and h igh ly debated
p o in ts o f N.T. chronology, so th a t i t i s q uite gratu itou s
to assume th a t the year 5 B.C. was the year in question
and hence to work out the B a p tist* s date of b irth as f a llin g
in the same y ea r.
There i s an *'inquietante naivete"^ about
t h is method o f c a lc u la tio n which makes i t quite improbable
i f not e n t ir e ly in a d m issib le.
Third, even though i t were
granted th a t Jesus was born in 5 B.C ., the theory would hold
good only i f th e date of Jesus* b irth f e l l in December of
th at year, and i f we could tru st the statement that John was
ex a c tly s ix months older than Jesus.
As fo r the former p oin t,
i t has to be borne in mind th a t Christmas was celebrated for
the f i r s t time in Rome on 2 5th December in the year 354 A.D.
by Pope L iberus, and as Goguel says, **If t h is date was
adopted as th e date of the b irth of Jesus, i t was not because
of th e ir being any c e r ta in ty o f i t s being based upon a trad­
it io n r e la tin g to the b ir th of Jesus, but s o le ly from the
d esire to transform to th e advantage of a C hristian f e s t iv a l
the custom o f th e celeb ra tio n on the 25th December of the
N atalisL-Solis Invicti**.^
Moreover the account in Lk.2:8
that the shepherds were watching th e ir flo ck s in the f ie ld s
does not suggest th e w inter season, but more p ossib ly the
la te summer or autumn, the usual time for doing so.
1. Buzy: op. c i t . . French E d., p .29.
2 . O p . c i t . . p p .278-279.
As for
60.
th e l a t t e r p o in t, v i z . th a t John was- s ix months older than
Jesus, i t i s sc a r c e ly lik e l y that t h is r e sts on good trad­
it io n .
I t i s part and parcel o f the p o e tic a l imagination
which wove to g eth er th e se n a rra tiv es, and i s very probably
in sp ired by a s t r a l c a lc u la tio n s which are a con stantly re­
curring fea tu re of t h is p a rticu la r type of lite r a r y work.
The s ix months would then r e fe r to the d iv isio n s of the SunYear, and th e b ir th o f John would f a l l in the period of the
Sun's d e c lin e , and th a t of Jesus at the moment when the sun
began to grow stron ger and the day to lengthen,^
It is
ju st p o ssib le th a t t h i s symbolism may have been intended to
str e ss th e in f e r io r it y o f John, and to shew that h is m inistry
was o f no great duration or consequence, as compared with
that o f J e su s.
There seems to be a d is tin c t echo of th is
a s tr o lo g ic a l term inology in Jn .3:30, 'He must in crease, but
I must d e c r e a se 1.
In the case o f the B irth-N arratives,
however, i t i s unnecessary, perhaps, to look beyond the
p oetic nature o f the com position for an explanation of the
formula.
So f a r th e n , a s th e B ir th -N a r r a tiv e s are concerned, i t
appears t h a t th e c h r o n o lo g ic a l data which th e y c o n ta in r e ­
1. Cf. D ib eliu s: o p . c i t . , p .75, "On the two halves of the
Sun-Year, stands th e One (J esu s), in the sign of the In­
crease, th e other (John), in the sig n of the decrease of
the d ay.M
61.
garding th e B a p t is t ’s b ir th can sca rcely be se r io u sly con­
sid ered .
Just as the pious im agination, in the case of
Jesu s, wove round h is B irth " in tu itiv e conclusions from the
transcendant nature and d estin y of One who had been received
in the Church as th e Son of God and of the nature of God",1
so, in th e case o f John the in tu it iv e conclusions have been
extended to cover in a measure the forerunner, and can even
represent a G a lilea n and a Judaean, the resp ective parents,
as cou sin s!
E x q u isite as the n arratives are, they can
sca rcely be trea ted as h isto r y .
What i s to lera b ly certain ,
n ev e r th e le ss, i s th a t John the B ap tist was of p r ie s tly des­
cent, th e son o f Zacharias and E lizabeth; beyond t h is , how­
ever, i t i s unsafe to go.
C onsideration may now be given to other chronological
notes on which, perhaps, more relia n ce may be placed.
The
most d e f in it e appears at L k .3 :l, ’Now in the f ifte e n th year
of th e r e ig n o f T ib eriu s Caesar, Pontius P ila te being gover­
nor of Judea, and Herod being tetra rch of G a lile e , and h is
brother P h ilip te tr a r c h o f It urea, and o f the region of
T rach on itis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of A bilene, Annas
and Caiaphas being th e h ig h -p r ie sts , the word o f God came
unto John, th e son o f Zacharias, in the w ild er n e ss.1
Un-
W.Manson: Gospel o f Luke, p .278.
2. Pontius P ila t e : 26-36 A.D.; Herod 4-34 A.D.; P h ilip 4-39 A.D.
Caiaphas 17-35 or 36 A .D ..
62.
fo r tu n a te ly , the 15th year o f T iberius i s a date which
i s keenly d isp u ted , and four methods of ca lcu la tio n s are
su ggested .
(a) The d yn astic method, according to which
Luke would be reckoning from the time of the death o f
Augustus, 19 Aug., 14 A .D ., and the 15th year would be that
which began on 19th Aug., 28 A .D ..
Ramsay, however, has
admirably shown th a t t h is was not the usual method of
c a lc u la tio n in an cient tim e s, and th at i t was adopted only
for s im p lic it y ’s sake by la t e r historians.^"
(b) The Roman
o f f i c i a l method, according to which the years were reckoned
from the day o f the Emperor’s assumption o f the ’trib u n ic ia
p o te s ta s *.
I t i s sc a rce ly lik e ly , however, that t h is
method would have been employed by Luke, e sp e c ia lly as the
’tr ib u n ic ia p o t e s t a s ’ o f T iberius was interrupted for a
considerable p erio d ,
(c) The method o f dating the Emperor’s
reign from the point at which he was associated in o ffic e
with h is p red ecessor.
T iberiu s was associated with Augustus
in 12 A.D. and th e 15th year in t h is case would, be 26 A.D..
But t h is method was adopted only in sp ec ia l circumstances,
and i t i s not a lto g e th e r probable that the Evangelist would
have employed i t .
(d)
to the lo c a l p r o v in c ia l
The method of ca lcu la tio n according
years.
On t h is Ramsay w rites,
In
Asia Minor and North Syria a year beginning at the autumn
equinox was very w idely
used.
It might, with very great___ _
1. H astin g’ s D iction ary
of the B ible, V, pp.479ff.
63.
p r o b a b ility , be argued th at men lik e S t. Luke and S t. Paul,
brought up in lands where a year of th at kind m s c e r ta in ly
or probably in ordinary u se, would n a tu ra lly count accord­
ing to i t .
That must be admitted as reasonablej and there
seems to be no weighty consideration against i t . ”1
I f t h is
were so, the f i r s t year of T iberius would be 19th Aug. - 22nd
Sept. 14 A.D. and the 15th year that commencing on 22nd Sept.,
27 A .D .•
Important as i t i s to f i x t h is date with p rec isio n , i t
i s o f s t i l l g rea ter importance to determine ju st what Luke
wished to in d ica te by h is elaborate chronological statement.
It i s p r a c t ic a lly u n iv e r sa lly held that i t was intended to
mark the withdrawal o f lohn from h is so litu d e in the d e se r t,
and the beginning o f h is a c tiv e m in istry .
Colour i s given
to t h is opinion by L k .3:2, (at that time) ......... 'The word
of God came to John in the d e s e r tf •
Despite this,how ever,
i t i s not im possib le th a t Luke's rea l in ten tio n here m s
not to set fo r th so ela b o ra tely the date of the commencement
of John's m in istr y , but to f i x p r e c is e ly the date of the
baptism o f J e su s.
T his i s the real climax to which h is
narrative lea d s up, and the a c t iv it y of the B aptist i s in­
troduced merely as a prelude to the great event.
The
E vangelist was not p a r tic u la r ly in terested in the Baptist
O p .c i t . . p .4 8 3 b .
64.
as an independent fig u r e , but only in so fa r a-s he was
o f s ig n ific a n c e fo r the l i f e of Jesus.
This has already
been n oticed in th e constant interweaving o f the two per­
s o n a lit ie s in the B irth-N arrative s .
U nless, then, the
commencement o f John’s m in istry and the baptism of Jesus
took p lace at th e same time - a view which i s d iscred ited
by se v e r a l co n sid era tio n s - the more natural conclusion
would seem to be th a t the E vangelist was dating here not
th e beginning o f Johnfs a c t iv it y , but the year of the
baptism o f J e su s.
That th e commencement o f John’s m inistry and the
baptism o f Jesu s were not concurrent events, and that they
have been run to g eth e r by the E vangelist probably from a
d esir e to have done with the account of the forerunner, and
to proceed w ith h is cen tra l theme, i s suggested by the
follow in g co n sid er a tio n s.
F ir s t , i t i s extremely un­
lik e l y th at Jesus would have accepted baptism so quickly
from one whose t e n e ts he had not f i r s t c a r e fu lly weighed
and examined.
The im pression conveyed by h is estim ate of
John, togeth er w ith the very d e fin ite tra ces of the teach­
ing o f the forerunner in th a t o f Jesus suggest a much
longer period o f contact than the E van gelists admit.
The
baptism o f Jesus was the culm inating point of t h is period
° f con tact, and not simply a chance meeting or even one of
65.
b r ie f duration .
1
Second, the p ecu lia r emphasis on the
crowds o f people who flocked to hear John would in d icate
th a t h is a c t iv it y was not a short and passing phenomenon,
but o f s u f f ic ie n t len g th and importance fo r news of i t to
spread throughout ’th e whole of Judea, Jerusalem, and the
d i s t r i c t of Jordan’ .
Even Herod had become alarmed at
i t s magnitude and i t s p o ssib le repercussions.
Third, there
i s some te x tu a l evidence p ointin g to a period o f independent
a c t iv it y lon ger than would at f i r s t sig h t appear.
I t is
to be observed th at Mark, in h is account of the B a p tist,
1 :1 -8 , seems to id e n tify the W ilderness3 and the d is t r ic t
of the R iver Jordan.
Luke draws a sharp d is tin c tio n be­
tween the W ilderness and th e Jordan d is t r ic t , Lk.3:2 and
3:3, and th e same may be sa id , though to a le s s e r extent,
o f Matthew, M a tt.3 :l and 3:6 .
A ll three E van gelists sta te
that a fte r the baptism, the S p ir it drove Jesus into the
w ild erness which seems rather strange i f the d is t r ic t of
Jordan were regarded as part of the W ilderness.
Blakiston
p oints out th a t at 3:1 Matthew employs the word K * i e v f f u \ f
4
1. See e s p e c ia lly Chapter VI.
2. M k.l:4.
3. For a d e sc r ip tio n of the Wilderness of Judea, see B asting’s
D ie t .o f C hrist and the G ospels, v o l . i i , p p.822-823.
The
exact id e n t if ic a t io n o f i t i s uncertain. It is not to be
conceived o f as a barren tr a c t of sand, but as a wild
w aste-land broken here and there by shrubs and tr e e s. The
Jordan v a lle y , however, was f e r t i l e , abounding in p r o lif ic
v eg eta tio n and shaded by palms.
John th e B a p tist and His R elations to J esu s, p .203.
66.
(preach in g), and not | » i r n £ ( b a p t i s i n g ) and thinks th at
the a ctu a l b a p tisin g commenced only with the appearance of
John on th e banks o f the Jordan.
Again, the words of Luke
at 3 :2 , TAnd John came in to a l l the d is t r ic t of Jordan
preaching a baptism o f repentance* suggest an itin era n t
m in istr y .
John preached on the way, seeking out a su ita b le
place fo r in trodu cing h is baptism al r i t e .
Great crowds
follow ed him, and h is p op u larity which was already great,
was immeasurably increased by the commencement of the bap­
tism i t s e l f .
No great s tr e s s can be la id upon Lk.3.:80,
*John was in the d esert places* (the plural is sig n ific a n t!)
* t i l l the day o f h is m an ifestation to I sr a e l.*
The lo n ely
prophet in the d esert p la ces i s ju st the theme for p o etica l
fancy and was more probably inspired by t h is than based on
accurate t r a d it i o n .1
As fo r the opening verses of the
Gospel o f Mark, i t i s acknowledged that these present a d i f f i ­
cu lt e x e g e tic a l problem.
meaning o f t y i v e T o
What i s of importance here i s the
in v .4 , and the sig n ifica n ce of v . l and
i t s connection, i f any, with what fo llo w s.
I f v . l i s con­
nected d ir e c t ly w ith v .4 , the tr a n sla tio n would be: *The
beginning o f th e Gospel of Jesus Christ (the son of God) . . . .
was {ey'vei'o
) John who baptized in the w ilderness.*
Rawlin-
son takes t h i s view^ and, in certain re sp ects, i t is a ttra cGf. D i b e l i u s : o p . c i t . . p . 77.
go sp el o f Mark, p .6.
67.
tiv e .
Thus in ea rly C h ristian c ir c le s the question may
have been asked:
How did the Gospel begin?
Mark, fo llo w ­
ing perhaps th e rem iniscences of P eter, who s ig n ific a n tly
s ta r ts the Gospel at the same p o in t, provides the answer by
sta tin g th a t i t began w ith Jesus* a sso c ia tio n with John.
But v . l may eq u a lly w e ll, i f not b e tte r , be regarded as a
su p erscrip tio n or t i t l e fo r the Gospel as a whole.
Thus,
the l i f e o f Jesus was only *the beginning of the Gospel*,
Acts 1 :1 , H eb.2:3, and *the end is not yet*, Mk,13:7.
The
h isto r y o f the Church i s the rea l sequel to the Gospel h is ­
to ry .
As Wellhausen puts i t , quoted by Rawlinson,^ **Jesus
cannot be understood in ab stra ctio n from h is influence in
h isto r y , and i f he i s cut o ff from t h is he i s robbed of h is
main s ig n ific a n c e ."
S t y l i s t i c con sid erations, to o , turn
the sca le in favour o f t h is view .
Mark*s s ty le i s character­
ised by a roughness o f construction of which a polished open­
ing sen ten ce, such as i s produced by running together w . 1
and 4, i s by no means t y p ic a l.
before
, Xe'^To7j , u[ou
The absence of the a r tic le
, &eou i s a lso worth observing,
as t h is i s the normal p ra ctic e in t i t l e s of books ( e .g . James
lil).
On th e whole, th e r e fo r e , i t i s p referable, perhaps,
to make a fr e sh sta r t at v .4 , and to assume that the real
beginning of the Gospel has been l o s t .
O p .c it. . p .250
I f v.2 which i s to
68.
be regarded as a la t e r in se r tio n by a co p y ist1 i s om itted,
and i f 6v
(*> i s taken c lo s e ly with
e y t\f£ T o
in v .4 ,
the tr a n s la tio n would run, ’John did appear in the w ilder­
n ess, he who b aptised and preached the baptism of repentance
2
for the rem ission o f s i n s . T
I f t h is ex egesis is j u s t if ie d ,
as perhaps i t i s , in view of the support i t gains from
Matthew and Luke, the apparent id e n tific a tio n in Mark of
the W ilderness and th e Iordan d is t r ic t van ish es, and Mark
i s now in su b sta n tia l agreement with Matthew and Luke, v i z . ,
that John began h is a c t iv it y in the Wilderness and that at
some period subsequent to t h is he preached and baptised on
the banks o f th e Jordan.
I f t h is i s so , i t w ill be to th is
phase o f John’ s m in istry to which the question o f Jesus,
i3
’What did you go out in to th e w ilderness to see?
r e fe r s.
That th e S y n o p tists and in p a rticu la r Mark have fore­
shortened John’s m in istry , yet not so su cc essfu lly as to
remove a l l tr a c e s o f a lon ger period of independent a c t iv it y ,
and th at th e S y n o p tists probably knew more about these
e a r lie r sta g e s than they cared to t e l l , i s the impression
which an a n a ly sis o f th e fa c ts a ffo rd s.
I f ,
t h e n ,
a s
se e m s
h i g h l y
probable, the elaborate
Of. Chapter VI, ( c ) , p . 38$,
2, Heading
I*'*! gJ <f<T6jy . Although the m ajority of te x ts
have
a lon e, kwi
/<T<fwi/ i s probably correct.
Cf, I n c y .B ib lic a . v o l . i i , c o l , 2499, (note 1 ). Cf. B lakist
opTcTbTT p . 201
3. M att.11:7. Cf. B lakiston : o p .c it . , p .88.
onr
69.
chronology o f Luke i s meant to mark the year of the baptism
o f Jesu s, i s i t p o ssib le to determine how long before t h is
time John had begun h is own m inistry?
There are two in ­
d ic a tio n s which may be o f value towards arriving at a de­
c is io n .
The f i r s t appears at Matt. 3:1, fIn those days came
John the B a p tis t, preaching in the w ilderness of Judea.1
To what period do the words, Tin those daysT, refer?
l
E isle r
holds th a t th e reference must be to the period immediately
subsequent to the death of Herod in 4 B.C ., mentioned in
the previous chapter, 2 :1 9 -2 2 .
He contends that adequate
support i s given to t h is view by the Ebionite Gospel, and
would p lace the opening o f Johnfs m inistry before the begin­
ning o f the C h ristia n era.
"He must then have been an old
man in the time o f Jesus between f i f t y - f i v e and s ix t y - f iv e
years o f age as he i s , in f a c t , gen erally represented in
early C h ristia n a r t . ”2
A ttra ctiv e as t h is view i s , i t
does not seem to be the correct one.
The nature of the
Ebionite Gospel has already been examined, and i t has been
made c le a r th a t th e fHerod’ referred to there was probably
not Herod th e Great, but Herod Antipas, the tetra rch .
As
for the words, *in th ose d aysT, i t is more natural to take
them c lo s e ly with 2:23, TAnd Joseph came and dwelt in a
c ity ca lled Nazareth . . . . in those days came John.T
i- Revue Arch^ologique, x x x ii, 1930, pp.116-126.
2* E isler : The Messiah J esu s, p .244.
The
70*
period in d ica ted would then be some point o f time during
th e resid en ce o f Josephus in Nazareth, which extended over
many y ea rs, and not n e c e ss a r ily , as E isle r would have us
b e lie v e , th e years immediately follow in g upon Herod’s
death in 4 B.C*
I t might appear, however, that E is le r ’s th e s is that
John was tw enty or t h ir t y years older than Jesus, and that
h is a c t i v i t y had already started before the C hristian era,
gain s some support from Lk* 1:80, and 8:1.
In 1:80, Luke
s ta te s th a t ’th e c h ild (John) grew and -waxed strong in
s p i r i t , and was in th e d eserts t i l l the day of h is mani­
f e s t a tio n to I s r a e l* ’
those d a y s
At 8:1 th e Evangelist w rites, ’In
Mary brought fo rth her fir st-b o r n son’ *
I f th ere i s a r e a l connexion between these two verses, i t
would be n ecessary to b e lie v e that the B aptist was in
r e a lit y about t h ir t y years old er than Jesus, and that h is
m in istry commenced p rio r to or sh ortly a fte r the l a t t e r ’s
birth*
But apart from the dubious nature of the statement
that ’John was in th e d eserts t i l l the day of h is manifes­
ta tio n to I s r a e l ’ , which, as already shown, i s probably the
product o f p o e tic fancy rather than based on good tra d itio n ,
i t does not seem l i k e l y that there i s any rea l connexion
intended in any case between the two verses, at le a s t, from
n ch ron ological p o in t of view .
The p lu ra l, ’those days’
71.
2 :1 , fo llo w in g upon th e sin gu lar, 'the day', 1:80, does
not suggest th at th e two periods of time were r e a lly con­
current, and as Goguel observes, "the scene of the Annun­
c ia tio n would lo s e a l l i t s sig n ific a n c e i f i t took place
twenty years before the b irth of Jesus was announced to
Mary."
We have here the interweaving of the B irth-
H arratives o f forerunner and Master.
The poet who composed
them can sc a r c e ly have intended by Lk. 1:80, and 2:1, that
a gap of tw enty years or more separated the births of
John and J e su s.
The second in d ic a tio n regarding the period of the
opening o f th e B a p tist Ts m in istry i s given, though in d irectly ,
in Lk. 1 :5 , 'There was in the days of Herod, the King of
Judea, a c e r ta in p r ie s t named Zacharias, e t c . f
This verse
quite d e f in it e ly p la ce s the b irth of John at some point
during the reig n o f Herod the Great, although, here again,
E isle r d isa g re es with t h is view and w rites, "In my opinion
i t i s q uite unnecessary to in terp ret the passage L k .l:5 . . . .
as i f the author meant that E liza b eth rs pregnancy and the
b irth o f th e B a p tist narrated in the sequel f e l l within the
reign o f Herod th e Great.
ey/^TO
has i t s usual sense
’flo u r ish e d 1, liv e d in the days of Herod the Great, and,
when he and h is w ife were now w ell advanced in years,
jlea n -B a p tiste. p .280.
72.
toward th e end of t h e ir l i v e s , they, through Godfs mercy,
had a so n ,”
He th in k s th a t the correct date of the birth
o f Jesu s was 6 or 7 A .D ., the year of the well-known census
o f Cyrenius, L k .2:2, and th a t Luke has erroneously placed
the B a p tist* s b ir th in the same year.
In reply to t h is ,
i t may be said th a t Lk. 1:5 can be properly understood only
as im plying th a t John was a ctu a lly born during the reign
of Herod th e Great, and as fo r the census of Cyrenius in 6
or 7 A .D ., ”we now know th at there was a census in 8 or 7
B.C. when Cyrenius was m ilita r y governor and waging war
again st th e Homonadenses in Syria, Saturninus being the
ordinary c i v i l r u le r .”
I f t h is i s so , and there are at
le a s t t o le r a b ly good grounds fo r the statement, the con­
clu sion may be drawn th a t John was born towards the end of
the reign o f Herod th e Great, and i f i t be assumed, as is
p e r fe c tly n a tu ra l, th a t he was about th ir ty when he started
h is a c t iv it y , i t i s p o s sib le to arrive f a ir ly accurately
at the date o f th e commencement of h is independent m inistry.
Thus f a r , then, the chronological data may be arranged
as fo llo w s : (a ) The baptism o f Jesus took place in the autumn
o f 27 A .D ., and the a c tiv ity of John^the Baptist
had s ta r te d some time previous to t h is .
Lk.3 :1 ; M k.l:4; M att.3:1; Lk.3:3.
M essiah J e su s, p .292.
m
^ack: The H isto'rlc C h r ist, p .242, Cf.M att.2:1, and Terb n llia n : adv.Marcionem. 1:19, ”Sed et census consta a
sub Augusto •nunc ip fildaea per Sentium Saturninum.
73.
(b) John was born during the reign of Herod the
G reat.
Lk.1 :5 -7 .
(c) John’ s a c t iv it y had not commenced as early
as 4 B .C ..
M att.2:23, 3:1 .
(d) John was not twenty to th ir ty years old when
Jesus was born.
L k .l:8 0 , 2:1 .
The im pression derived from these data i s that John was
born about 8 B .C ., and th a t he commenced h is m inistry about
22 A .D ., when 30 years old , though he may have done so even
e a r lie r .
Between 22 A.D. and 27 A.D. news of h is preaching
came to Jesus and at some point in t h is period Jesus went
to John, and spent in h is company a very considerable tim e.
This
contact culminated in the baptism of Jesus in 27 A.D..
It i s im p o ssib le, however, to be anything lik e dogmatic on
the chronology in q u estion .
The most valuable point, and
one which w i l l be strengthened in the course of th is t h e s is ,
i s the long period both o f John’s own m in istry, and o f the
a sso c ia tio n o f J esu s w ith him.
The short way in which
the E v a n g elists r e fe r to t h is period may perhaps exhibit
what Bacon has described as the "obvious reluctance of our
Gospel sources to a llo w Jesus to appear in any way dependent
upon John, a determ ination on th e ir part to regard a l l
John’s a c t iv it y as p r o le p tic , a prophet.’ & pointing forward
to what should come a f te r ” , or, in other words, as the attempt
° f C h ristian tr a d itio n to show "a progressive m agnification
74.
o f e v e r y t h i n g t h a t c o u ld s e t Jo hn f o r t h i n j t h e s u b o r d i n a te
r e la tio n o f herald and forerunner of the Gospel with the
p rogressive m inim ising o f a l l that might allow to h is re1
formatory movement independent v a lu e .”
(b) The Q uestion as to whether the m in istr ie s o f Jesus and
John overlapped, with sp e c ia l reference to the Fourth
G ospel.
In t h is se c tio n one o f the most in te re stin g and impor­
tant p o in ts in th e chronologies of John and Jesus i s reached
- a p oint which must be in v estig a ted in some d e ta il because
on i t hangs to a considerable extent the perspective in
which th e m in is tr ie s of John and Jesus should be envisaged.
According to the Synoptics the arrest of John by
Herod follow ed immediately or very sh ortly a fte r the Baptism
of Jesu s, and i t was only a fte r John's arrest that the min­
is t r y o f Jesus opened.
Thus Mark s ta te s , fNow a fte r that
John had been put in p riso n . Jesus came into G a lilee, preach­
ing the G o sp e l.'2
S im ila rly Matthew, TNow when Jesus heard
that John was cast in to prison, he departed into G a lile e .. ••
1. Journal o f B ib lic a l L ite ra tu r e, v o l . x l v i i i , 1929, pp.44-45.
2 , M k . l : l 4 . 7 T « < f - Ttt o be handed o v e r” , hen ce, w ith
t h e a d d i t i o n a l th o u g h t o f b e in g " d e l i v e r e d up” i n t o p r is o n .
T h i s i s t h e m ost n a t u r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f th e v e rb , and
i t i s w ell supported by i t s use in other contexts. Of. m
and M: Vocabulary of the Greek New Testamen t, p .480. rs is
2,& r$
a ls o su pp orted by M att. 1 1 :
» r ceiy
p i t e i t s ab sen ce from th e Lucan p a r a l l e l , ^7 .1 8 , ?
. _
be s a t i s f a c t o r i l y regarded as an unauthorised e l
tim e-com m ent. Of. V/.F. Howard: A m ic itia e Coro l l a , i
>
p p . 118-124.
75.
from th a t tim e Jesus began to p r e a c h . L u k e is so
anxious to e s ta b lis h t h is fa c t that the account of John’s
a rr est appears in h is Gospel even before the baptism of
J esu s.
’Herod added yet t h is above a l l that he shut up
John in p r is o n .’
2
According to the Fourth Gospel, John’s
arrest did not fo llo w immediately a fte r the baptism of
J esu s.
A fter th e baptism there followed (a) a period in
which th e d is c ip le s of the B ap tist are represented as
passing over to J esu s.
in Perea.
This took place not in G a lilee, but
’Again the next day a fte r John stood and two
of h is d is c i p le s , and looking upon Jesus as he walked sa id ,
Behold th e Lamb o f God.
And the two d is c ip le s heard him
speak and th e y follow ed J e s u s .’
(b) a period in which
the m in is tr ie s o f Jesus and John d e fin ite ly overlapped.
’A fter th e se th in g s came Jesus and h is d is c ip le s into the
land o f Judea, and th ere he ta rried with them and baptised.
And John also was b a p tisin g at Aenon near to Salim for there
was much water th ere:
and th ey came and were baptised.
John was not y et ca st in to p riso n .
For
The d e fin ite way in
which t h i s statem ent i s made in d ica tes that the Fourth
E vangelist i s aware that he i s contradicting the Synoptic
tr a d itio n .
T his tr a d itio n must have been w ell established
1. Matt. 4:1 2 ,1 7
Jn. 1 :3 5 -3 7 .
2.
4.
Lk. 3:18-20.
Jn. 3:22-24.
76.
e ls e th e Fourth E v an gelist would not have been at such
pains to a sse r t th a t the m in istr ie s of Jesus and John did
overlap , and th a t 'John was not yet cast into p r iso n '.
In view o f t h is discrepancy between the Synoptics and
the Fourth Gospel, attempts have been made to harmonise
them by supposing, in the f i r s t in stan ce, that the Fourth
E van gelist i s r e fe rr in g to a c a ll of the d is c ip le s before
the beginning of th e Synoptic n a rra tiv e.
It i s true that
Mk.J.:16 seems to imply that Jesus had known Simon and
Andrew fo r some time previous to th e ir formal c a ll.
On the
other hand, Johnfs use of the formula, ’Follow meT, and the
fa ct th a t no mention i s made o f any other c a ll in subsequent
chapters, p oint to th e conclusion that the Fourth Evangelist
is d escrib in g here th e formal c a l l, and not referring to
any period o f acquaintance of Jesus with h is d is c ip le s prior
to the opening o f the Synoptics.
The apparent strangeness
of the exp ression at M k.l:18 i s reliev ed , perhaps, by the
r e fle c t io n th a t the account of the c a ll is given very shortly
and c o n c ise ly , because the E vangelist desired to get over
these p relim in a r ies as quickly as p o ssib le and to proceed
with h is account o f th e Good News.
It may be assumed - and,
as w ill be seen, th ere are good grounds for the assumption that Jesus had known th o se who were la te r to become h is
d is c ip le s fo r a con sid erable period an terior to th e ir foimal
77.
c a ll.
The S y n o p tists and the Fourth E van gelist, then,
are r e fe r r in g to th e same event, and the discrepancy re­
mains.
To determ ine which viewpoint i s correct is not easy.
I t should he remembered that the weight of evidence is not
s t r i c t l y th r e e , (Matt.Mk.Lk.) to one, ( I n .) ,
I f Mark had
the statem ent th at the m in is tr ie s did not overlap, the
p ro b a b ility th a t Matthew and Luke simply repeated th is opin­
ion must be s e r io u s ly reckoned w ith.
But i t may be asked:
Does t h is seem a very natural point to assert so d e fin ite ly
u n less i t were based on good trad ition ?
It seems to be
scarcely so , although i t i s p o ssib le that the Synoptists
have made t h i s ch ron ological note p r o le p tic a lly in order to
exclude th e idea th a t th e B a p tis t’s work la sted for any
extent o f tim e , and had any independent sig n ific a n c e .
To
be quite f a ir , th e evidence may be taken as evenly balanced,
and the ch oice th erefo re l i e s between the Synoptists and
the Fourth E v a n g e list,
This involves an inquiry into the
h is to r ic a l value o f th e Fourth Gospel, an inquiry, which
in compass o f th e present work cannot be exhaustive, but
embracing th e s a lie n t p o in ts only.
The most d iv e r se opinions have been held regarding the
h is to r ic a l valu e o f th e Fourth Gospel,
Radical criticism
has declared i t to be h is t o r ic a lly u tte r ly unreliable,
con
78.
se r v a tiv e sc h o la rs have stressed i t s accurate h is to r ic a l
b a sis on which a v a st superstructure of th e o lo g ic a l teach­
ing has been b u ilt up.
The present w riter regards t h is
superstructure o f th e o lo g ic a l teaching as the most important,
i f n o t, the a ll- c o n t r o llin g motive which inspired the Evan­
g e l i s t to w rite t h i s Gospel, and b elie v es that t h is d id actic
d esir e has in many cases coloured the fa c ts of h isto ry , and
a lte r e d and m odified them to provide su ita b le se ttin g s in
which to bring home the teaching intended.
The Evangelist
was not p rim arily in te r e ste d in giving concise and chronol­
o g ic a l h is t o r ic a l f a c t s .
His was a ’sp ir itu a l Gospel1 and
i t i s from t h is standpoint that i t should be interpreted.
I t i s in fa c t a kind of sermon "which reminds us of the
la te r Jewish h o m iletic method known as Eaggada in which
r e lig io u s teach in g i s driven home by the a lle g o r isin g of •
sacred h is to r y .
The te x t o f th e sermon i s ,
’That you may believe Jesus
i s the C h rist, the Son o f God, and b elievin g may have l i f e
through h is name,
I t i s true that these words set forth
the programme not m erely of the Fourth Evangelist but also
°f the S y n o p tists , but whereas the Synoptists expound the
tex t by d ir e c t n arration of the words and acts of Jesus,
the Fourth E v a n g elist does so rather by allowing the words
I*
G.H.C.Macgregor:
Jn. 20:51.
The Gospel of John, p .x x i.
79.
and a c ts t o remain s o le ly as a background providing an
admirable s e t t in g fo r h is own r e fle c tio n s about Jesus,
which in an extrem ely b ea u tifu l way bring home the con­
clu sio n th a t J esu s i s the Son of God.
"Indeed so l i t t l e
carefu l i s the author to d istin g u ish between h is om.
thoughts and th o se which he puts into the mouths of h is
characters th a t i t i s sometimes im possible to t e l l where
the speech which he i s reporting ends and h is own comment
upon i t b egin s."
These d id a ctic personal r e fle c tio n s
c o n stitu te th e p rin cip a l element in the Gospel to which
a l l e ls e - speakers, d ia lo g u e, se ttin g - are subordinate.
The m ir a c le s, to o , are introduced as 1s ig n s 1 to shew that
Jesus i s th e Son of God and Tto d isp lay h is glory*.
2
The Fourth E v a n g elist pre-supposes on the part of h is
readers an in tim ate knowledge of the fa c ts of the beginning
of C h r is tia n ity .
As D ib eliu s w rites, "The Gospel of John
i s a Book fo r people who knew.
P er so n a lities and situ a ­
tio n s bearing upon the h isto r y of Jesus are frequently in­
troduced, but fo r a l l that the Fourth Evangelist t e l l s us,
the q u estion s might be asked:
Who was John the Baptist?
1* Macgregor: o p . c i t . , p .x x iv . E xcellent p a r a lle ls , as noted
here, are to be found in the practice of Thucydides and
P lato who report not the ip sissim a verba of th e ir speakers,
but in term in gle t h e ir own r e fle c tio n s , th eo ries and ph osop h ies.
2* J n . 2 : l l # The S yn op tics, on the other hand, make fa ith a
con d ition o f m ira c les.
80.
When did th e events narrated at 1:32 take place? . . . . What
were the ’ signs* mentioned in 2:23?
does not say.**1
The Evangelist
C lea rly he presupposes on the part o f h is
readers th e knowledge o f Mark, and p o ssib ly a lso of Luke,
which he, h im s e lf, had.
As Bernard observes, "The words
o f Mark were adopted in many cases both by Luke and Matthew,
sometimes w ithout change and sometimes with corrections,
which, in th e judgment o f the la te r ev a n g elists improved the
s t y le or made fo r accuracy.
I t i s p o ssib le that John may
have used th e Synoptics in lik e manner.
It would have
been q uite c o n s is te n t with the lite r a r y habits of the time
i f he o c c a sio n a lly borrowed a sentence from h is predecessors.
There w i l l , th en , be nothing to surprise us i f we find in
John not only t r a d itio n s which he shared with e a r lie r
e v a n g e lis ts , as w e ll as with the whole Church o f h is day,
but a lso tr a c e s o f the a ctu a l incorporation in h is tex t of
d e sc r ip tiv e phrases from the Synoptic Gospels, or from th e ir
so u r c e s.”2
But t h is by no means covers a l l the cases. The
fa ct i s , th at i t was not the events nor the sequence of
events in which t h i s w riter was prim arily in terested , but
in th e ir inner meaning and in th e ir deeper sig n ifica n ce as
showing th a t Jesus was the C h rist, the Son of God.
The
events them selves formed part of the great array of w it­
nesses massed to g eth er by our author in testimony to th is
Q P .cit. . p .101.
2. S t.Joh n . I .C .C ., p p .x cv -x cv i.
81.
supreme tr u th .
I t i s as a w itn ess that John the B aptist i s introduced
in t h i s G ospel.
The key-note i s already struck in the Pro­
logu e, ’There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
The same came fo r a w itn ess to bear w itness of the Light
that a l l men through him might b e lie v e .’
at 1:'8,15,31,34;
2:26,28;
5:32,33;
This is repeated
and so pre-occupied
i s the E v a n g elist w ith t h is idea that the impression he
conveys i s th a t John was no more than a w itn ess.
No mention
i s made o f any independent m in istry and teaching of the
B a p tist.
"In place o f the powerful p erson ality . . . . whom
we have in th e S yn op tics, we find in the Fourth Gospel no
more than a su b sid ia ry fig u r e introduced to make knovai the
m ajesty of Jesus - a fig u r e endowed with supernatural know­
led ge, but monotonous, always the same, and h is to r ic a lly
without the s li g h t e s t colour."
It seems that the tendency,
already suspected in the Synoptics, to in tegrate the Baptist
in th e e v a n g e lic a l h is to r y , and to minimise h is own peculiar
r o le , i s here in th e Fourth Gospel pushed to i t s extreme.
No b e tte r illu s t r a t io n of t h is tendency can be found
than in the p la cin g of Jesus and John sid e by side as is
done in th e s e c tio n 3 :2 2 ff.
Jesus and John and th eir d is ­
c ip le s are represented as b ap tisin g in the same neighbour­
hood.
a
d isp u te a r is e s on some point concerning p u rifica -
1* S c h m ie d e l: E n cy.B ib ., v o l . i i , c o l.2 5 1 9 A . ( s l i g h t l y a l t e r e d ) .
82
t io n between J o h ^ s d is c ip le s and the d is c ip le s o f Jesus^
a d isp u te which p o s sib ly o rig in a ted in a d iffe r e n c e of
op inion between Jesus h im self and John h im self on t h is prac
tic e .
Already at 3:26 th e su p e r io r ity of Jesus to John
i s su b tly h inted at in th e words, *A11 men come to him1.
The stage i s now se t fo r an ex p o sitio n in which th e B a p tist
assumes h is regular r o le o f w itn ess and forerunner.
THe
must in c r e a se , but I must decrease*, v .3 0 , i s the theme
around which the E v a n g elist weaves h is own r e f le c t io n s .
It
i s im possib le to t e l l where th e words o f the B a p tist end
and th o se o f th e E v a n g elist b egin, but i t seems almost cer­
ta in th a t w . 31-36 belong to another con text, and should
fo llo w e ith e r 3:21, as Bernard su g g ests,
gregor prop oses.
's
o
or 3 :13, as Mac­
The h is t o r ic a l nucleus o f the passage
reduces i t s e l f , th en , to th e **q uestion” or "dispute about
1. This in te r p r e ta tio n i s based ^upon B entley and Semler*s
con jectu re, v i z . , th a t J&tik
’X^&od
has been corrupted
to ^ tr k ’Xovbciioo
# The reading ofAl*© fam.13, ,the
L atin v s s . , and S y r.cu . i s Xoo&evuiv , but 'XaoStf/ou ,
wc A B L N Wf
i s almost eq u a lly w ell a tte s te d . At any
r a te , some confusion in th e te x t i s apparent.
N either
’HtfuWoo nor 'Xou&rfno/ seem to make the best p o ssib le
sense in the c o n te x t.
I t i s unusual, as L oisy p oin ts
out, to r e fe r to the adherents o f Jesus as "Jews” , without
any other d esig n a tio n , and the narrative does appear to
imply th at the d isp u tan ts were e x to llin g the m erits o f
Jesus* baptism , as contrasted with John*s,^ a contingency,
which, in i t s e l f , i s most improbable.
’J-*)<sod
on the other hand, g iv e s admirable point to the whole in ­
cid en t, but, at the same tim e, embodies a tr a d itio n , which,
at an early d a te , i t was f e l t d esirab le to o b lite r a te .
c f . O.Holtzmann: Das Johannes-Evangelium, 21,
could q u ite e q s ily be made i n t o ’J-ov&diou , > c f . Balden-
83.
p u r ific a tio n ” .
There i s reason to b e lie v e th a t t h is i s
based on good t r a d itio n , as i t i s d i f f i c u l t , i f not impos­
s i b l e , to see how i t could have been in ven ted , but the
s e t t in g and th e denouement are stage-managed to bring out
John’ s testim ony to Jesus a g a in st a background o f h is t o r ic a l
v e r is im ilitu d e .
As D ib eliu s puts i t , ”Just as the author
o f ’Mary S tew a rt’ brings to g eth er in Fotheringay Park th e
two Queens, who never saw each other, fo r th e sake of con­
tr a s tin g them, s im ila r ly th e Fourth E van gelist p la ces John
and Jesus to g eth er at th e same work and at the same time:
he w ishes t o shew by t h is th a t the f u l l Sunshine has ex­
tin gu ish ed th e lig h t o f the moon, and th a t th e work of the
B ap tist i s done:
from th e stage:
h is joy i s complete, he can step down
in the r e st o f the Gospel he i s m erely one
who ’has been’ . ”*1In support o f the con ten tion that the overlapping o f
the m in is tr ie s i s u n h is to r ic a l, and that th e sectio n ju st
d iscussed i s in r e a lit y a m ise en scene, i t may be observed
how con trad icto ry and c o n flic tin g i s the evidence o f the
Fourth Gospel on th e r e la tio n s of John and J esu s.
We are
to ld th a t John recognised Jesus as Messiah (1 :2 9 ), and that
the whole p oint o f h is b a p tisin g was to prepare the people
for h is coming (1 :2 3 ).
I f t h is were so , why does John
continue to b a p tise sid e by sid e with Jesus? (3:2ft)•
'Why
84
do John’s d is c ip le s require to underline the su ccess o f one
whom John h im self openly avowed to he Messiah (3:26)?
Jesus
has more d is c ip le s than John (3 :2 6 , 4:1) but no one r e c e iv e s
h is w itn ess (3 :3 2 ) I
F in a lly , Jesus i s represented as
b a p tisin g (3 :2 2 ), and as not b a p tisin g ( 4 : 2 ) .^
I t would be
p recariou s to attempt to exp lain away a l l th ese in c o n sis ­
t e n c ie s as due to clum siness o f red a ctio n .
however, c e r ta in ly some of them may be due.
To the redactor,
More lik e l y
they are to be explained as a r is in g "through the u t il is a t io n
of a source which the E v a n g elist has m odified and surcharged
to adapt i t to h is own id ea s."
p
To determine what stood
3
in th a t source o r ig in a lly i s by no means sim ple.
The best
way to do so may be to d e le te what probably did n o t.
C learly
the words, ’For John was not yet cast in to p r iso n ’ did n o t.
(3 :2 4 ).
This has a l l the appearance of a ch ron ological note
of th e E van gelist h im self in h is a n x iety to excuse him self
from d iff e r in g w ith e sta b lish ed tr a d itio n .
Nor did the
statement in v .2 6 , ’He who was w ith you beyond Jordan, and
The co n tra d ictio n between th e se two v erses can sca rcely
be regarded as more apparent than r e a l. P aul, i t might
be argued, r a r e ly baptised in person, but authorised others
to b a p tise h is co n v erts. But the fundamental d ifferen ce
i s , th at whereas th ere i s clea r evidence fo r t h is in P a u l’s
case, th ere i s no evid en ce, apart from t h is doubtful pas­
sage, th a t e ith e r Jesus or h is d is c ip le s ever b a p tised .
2. Goguel: J ea n -B a p tiste, p .87.
3. Cf. S p itta : Das Johannes-Evangelium a ls Quelle der Gesch ich te Jesu , p p .86-98.
8 5.
to whom you bore w itn e ss* .
T his i s a d is t in c t echo o f the
f i r s t chapter of the G ospel, and too c h a r a c te r is tic o f the
E van gelist t o be m issed 2
Nor, as alread y observed, did a l l
the words a ttr ib u te d to John th e B a p tist in 3 :2 7 -5 6 .
They
bear too p la in ly the Johannine stamp both in exp ression and
in t h e o lo g ic a l con ten t.
Again, the words, ’Though Jesus
him self b ap tised n o t, but h is d is c i p le s ’ , (4 :2 ), are c le a r ly
an a d d itio n o f the E v a n g e list, ( le s s l i k e l y of the R edactor),
to h is source to harmonise w ith the p r e v a ilin g view th a t
Jesus did not b a p tis e , and to correct th e anachronism.
The
cr u c ia l p o in t, however, i s to determine whether the in d ica ­
tio n s a t 3 :2 2 , 3 :26, and 4 :1 , that Jesus h im self did b a p tise
are to be regarded as having o r ig in a lly stood in the source.
Goguel b e lie v e s th a t they did because such a viewpoint con­
tr a d ic ts th e Synoptic t r a d itio n , and because i t i s out o f
harmony w ith Johannine thought which could scarcely have
envisaged baptism by Jesus h im self.
1
There i s cogency in
t h is argument, but th ere is , perhaps, a more cogent counter­
argument.
The Eourth E v a n g elist i s p la in ly d esirous o f
bringing Jesu s and John sid e by sid e a t t h is point in order
to put on th e l i p s o f the l a t t e r a f in a l great testim ony
to the form er.
The p ictu re would not be balanced:
th e
stage would not be properly se t u n less he gave u s, on the
The L ife o f J e su s, p .275.
8 6.
one h a n d , J o h n b a p t i s i n g , on t h e o t h e r , _J e s u s b a p t i s i n g .
Only thus would the p ictu re be p e r fe c t, and the testim ony
r e a lly con vin cin g.
The E van gelist i s a c u te ly con sciou s,
however, o f the n o n - h is to r ic ity of h is p ic tu r e , and i s at
pains at 4:2 to correct i t by em phatically sta tin g th a t
fJesus h im self b aptised n o tT.
had been served .
His purpose, n e v e r th e le ss,
Jesus and John had been represented as
b a p tisin g to g eth e r sid e by s id e , John, th e w itn e ss, about
to lea v e th e s ta g e , and J esu s, the Son o f God, with h is
earth ly g lo r y ju st b egin ning.
F in a lly i t i s to be observed
that the extrem ely awkward referen ce to the P h arisees at
4 : 1 , whose h o s t i l i t y i s given as th e a lle g ed reason fo r
J esu s’ sep aration from John, i s yet another a d d itio n to the
source, being an attempt to patch up the q uite in c o n siste n t
preceding scene.
The sudden appearance o f the P h arisees i s
strange and unnatural, and th e use o f the term Ko<?io$ never
applied elsew here to Jesus t i l l a fte r .the R esurrection, makes
the m atter co n clu siv e.^
I t i s h ig h ly probable th a t the
P harisees have been introduced here to cover up the re a l
reason fo r th e u ltim a te departure of Jesus from John - that
being a fundamental d iffe r e n c e o f opinion on th e subject of
baptism.
I f , t h e n , a l l t h i s a d d i t i o n a l m a t t e r be s e t a s i d e , i t
I*
Cf. The Gospel according to S t. John, I.C .C ., p .132.
87.
appears th at th e source used by th e E v a n g elist at t h is
point referredjjS© v .2 5 ^jto 'a q u estion . . . about p u r if ic a t io n ’ .
This source has been r a d ic a lly a lte r e d and added to by the
E van gelist h im self p a r tly because o f th e u n s u it a b ilit y of
the nature o f i t s co n ten ts, p a r tly , to e s ta b lis h h is o f t repeated and w ell-b elo v e d con trast o f John and J esu s.
The
source may have been q u ite an ancient one g iv in g an extrem ely
precious note on the ea r ly r e la tio n s o f John and J esu s.
The
f e e lin g i s th at the w riter of the Fourth Gospel has set
fo rth here an account o f th in g s, which, by i t s very contra­
d ictory n a tu re, by i t s patch-work a d d itio n s and exp lan ation s,
and by i t s c h a r a c te r is tic emphasis on th e ro le of John as a
w itn e ss, i s in i t s p resen t form devoid of ch ron ological s ig ­
n ific a n c e .
The S yn op tics, on the other hand, can b ette r bear exam­
in a tio n .
I t i s p o ssib le to ex tra ct from them c e rta in in d ica ­
tio n s th a t t h e ir view point i s the correct one.
The f i r s t o f
these i s to be derived from the rumour which had spread abroad
that Jesus was John r is e n fran the dead.^
I t does not seem
probable th a t such a rumour would have a risen had Jesus
gained any measure o f p o p u la rity during the B a p tis t’s min­
is tr y .
The im pression i s rather that Jesus was a l i t t l e -
fcnown Figure t i l l a fte r the B a p tis t’s death, and that the two
1.
Mk.6:14 = M att.14:2 = Lk.9:7 -9 ;
Mk.8:27-29 - Lk.9:18-20.
had never been recognised as working sid e by s id e .
The
second in d ic a tio n i s afforded by the words o f one o f th e
d is c ip le s o f Jesus as reported by Luke, ’And i t came to
pass th a t as he was praying in a ce r ta in p la c e , when he
ceased, one of h is d is c ip le s said unto him, Lord, teach us
to pray, even as John taught h is d i s c i p l e s . As th ere
i s no reason to doubt the accuracy o f Luke’s rep o rt, a two­
fo ld in feren ce may be drawn;
f i r s t , th a t the q uestioner
had not yet been taught how to pray.
I f th a t were so , he
can sc a rce ly have been a d is c ip le of John who, we are in ­
formed, s p e c ia lly in stru cted h is d is c ip le s in prayer;
second, th a t i f the q uestioner had a c tu a lly heen a d is c ip le
of John, he would almost c e r ta in ly have sa id , ’Teach us to
pray, even as John taught u s. ’
I t should be noted th a t
apparently the d is c ip le i s not speaking fo r h im self a lo n e.
but fo r the whole inner c i r c l e of J e su s’ d is c i p le s .
The
th ird and l a s t in d ic a tio n of a clea r d is t in c tio n between th e
two groups o f d i s c i p l e s , and in no way suggesting a period
of p a r a lle l a c t i v i t y i s given at Mk.2:18-20, ’And John’s
.
1
: .
11 1
2. I t i s , of course, in the narrower sense of the word ’’d is ­
ciple*’ in which the p resen t argument i s to be understood.
The argument a f f e c t s only the Twelve, and those o f lik e
a lle g ia n c e , in the case o f Jesu s, and only those who had
d e f in it e ly accepted the B a p tis t’s ru le and p r a c tic e , in^
the case o f John.
Thus the whole point o f the d iscu ssio n
i s to discountenance the narrative in J n .l: 3 5 f f . I t i s
q uite p o s s ib le , on the other hand, that not a few of the
’h ea rers’ or ’d i s c i p l e s ’ o f John in the wider sense of the
word did a c tu a lly become ’hearers"7 or ’d is c i p le s ’ of Jesus.
d is c ip le s and th e P h arisees were fa s tin g s
and th ey come
and say unto him, Why do the d is c ip le s o f John and the
P h arisees f a s t , hut thy d is c ip le s f a s t not?
And Jesus
sa id unto them, Can the sons o f the bride-chamber fa s t
w h ile the bridegroom i s w ith them?
As -long as th ey have
the bridegroom w ith them, th ey cannot f a s t .
But the days
w ill come when th e bridegroom s h a ll be taken away from
them, and th ey w i l l fa s t in th at d a y .1 These v erses re­
ferred o r ig in a lly to a d iffe r e n c e in p ra ctic e between th e
d is c ip le s o f J esu s and the d is c ip le s of John o n ly .’*’
The
d is c ip le s o f John very p o ssib ly were observing a sp e c ia l
mourning f a s t owing to the imprisonment of th e ir m aster. I t
i s unnecessary to assume th a t John was already dead, and
that Mark has an te-d ated the in c id e n t.
John’s imprisonment,
which, no doubt, h is d is c ip le s feared would have a f a t a l
term ination, s u f f ic ie n t l y ex p la in s t h e ir g r ie f .
On e ith e r
view, however, the n arrative c le a r ly im plies that Jesus
already had h is d is c i p le s , and they do not jo in with the
.d iscip les o f John in mourning.
’The sons o f the bride-
chamber’ are q u ite d is t in c t from the fo llo w ers of John.
They s h a ll have t h e ir turn to mourn when t h e ir Master i s
taken a w a y . _________________________________________________
T* The referen ce to th e P harisees i s an e d it o r ia l in se r tio n
intended ”to f i t th e sectio n in to i t s context as an
example of c o n f lic t between the P h arisees and our Lord”,
Rawlinson: The Gospel o f Mark, p .30.
F in a lly , i t i s not w ithout s ig n ific a n c e th a t in th e
Book o f A cts th ere i s no evidence to support th e view th at
Jesus recru ited h is d is c ip le s from th ose o f John or that
th e two m in is tr ie s overlapped.
There are, i t would seem,
in d ic a tio n s to th e contrary although i t must be admitted,
they cannot be s tr e s s e d .
These in d ic a tio n s do not appear
to have been introduced by Luke to draw s p e c ia l a tte n tio n
to th e f a c t , or to b u ttr e ss the chronology o f h is Gospel
a gain st any d iffe r e n t view .
Had t h is been h is in te n tio n
the m atter would have been put much more stro n g ly .
In
f a c t , the very in c id e n ta l nature o f the in d ic a tio n s lends
support to th e idea th a t they are based on a p rim itiv e and
well-known t r a d it io n .
Thus at Acts 10;36, P eter says
’The word which God sent unto you . . . th at word, I say, ye
know, which was published throughout a l l Judaea and begun
from G a lile e , a f te r the baptism which John preached!
At
Acts 13:23-24, Paul says ’Of t h is man’s seeri hath God r a ise d ,
according to h is prom ise, unto I s r a e l a Saviour Jesu s, when
John had f i r s t preached before h is coming the baptism of
repentance to a l l the people o f I s r a e l . ’
And f in a lly at
Acts 19:4, Paul again sa y s, ’John v e r ily baptized . . . saying
unto th e people th a t they should b e lie v e on him which should
.come a f t e r him, th a t i s on C hrist Jesus.*
These passages
seem to convey th e im pression th a t the m in istry o f John was
a c tu a lly complete before Jesus began h is own m in istr y .
In view o f a l l th e se f a c t s , th e period o f p a r a lle l a c t­
i v i t y o f John and Jesus as represented in the Fourth Gospel
at 3 : 2 2 ff •, to g e th e r with th e d escrip tio n of th e p assin g over
of John's d is c ip le s to Jesus at l : 3 5 f f . , can sc a rce ly be r e ­
garded as h i s t o r i c a l .
An apparent h is t o r ic a l v e r is im ilitu d e
is given to th e n a rra tiv e by the ch ron ological n o te s, 'The
next d ay', 1 :2 9 , and, 'again th e next day a f t e r 1, 1:35, and
'the day f o llo w in g ', 1:44, but h ere, as at 3:22, the Fourth
E vangelist has created a mise en scene to e s ta b lis h beyond a l l
doubt the idea th a t John was merely a forerunner and a w itn e ss.
There can be l i t t l e doubt th a t John has replaced the e a r lie r ,
and, as i t seems, th e more accurate Synoptic account, ”by one
modified to s u it h is own purpose in order to emphasize the
1
passing over o f th e d is c ip le s from the Old Master to the New.”
On t h is J o in t, however, th e Synoptic record i s su p erior, and
there was, i t would appear, no period o f p a r a lle l a c t iv it y .
M a cg r e g o r:
o p . c i t . . p .46.
2. It must not be supposed however that the chronology o f the
S yn op tists i s on a l l p o ip ts superior to that of the Fourth
E v a n g elist.
I t i s very probable that th e Fourth Evangel­
i s t i s correct in lengthening the m in istry of Jesus to a
period of more than two years, (as contrasted w ith the Syn­
op tic record o f one y ea r), and th a t, although the m in istry
of Jesus began in G a lile e , allowance must be made in th e
Synoptic record fo r the Johannine record o f a v i s i t to Herusalem by Jesus p rio r to h is f in a l v i s i t . On the whole
question: c f . Schw eitzer: The Quest of the H is to r ic a l J esu s,
pp. 86-87. B .H .S treeter: The Four G ospels, p p .595-426.
92 .
(c) The evidence r e la t in g to the B a p tis t’s Death.
A very f u l l account o f the circum stances o f the B a p tist Ts
death i s given in Mk.6 :1 4 -2 9 , and in Matt .1 4 :1 -1 2 .
At f i r s t
s ig h t, i t might appear somewhat su rp risin g th a t Luke, who
g iv e s so f u l l an account o f the h ir th of John, should omit
e n t ir e ly Mark’s n a rra tiv e o f h is death.
I f , however, the
Proto-Luke th eory be accep ted, t h i s w ill occasion no great
d iffic u lty .
The explanation would simply be th at when Luke
came to expand the o r ig in a l d raft o f h is Gospel by adding
m aterial from Mark and other sou rces, the E van gelist did not
regard th e story of th e B a p tis t’s death as s u ita b le fo r h is
immediate purpose.^-
I f the Proto-Luke theory i s not accepted,
(the p resen t w riter has l i t t l e h e s ita tio n in accepting i t ) , i t
can only be supposed th a t Luke d e lib e r a te ly passed over the
Marcan sto ry because even he doubted i t s a b ilit y , in i t s
d e ta ils , at l e a s t , to pass as genuine h isto r y .
The s e ttin g in which th e n arrative appears in Mark re­
veals the fa c t th a t i t i s merely a stop-gap to hold the in ­
terest from the time when th e d is c ip le s are sent out by Jesus
st 6:12, t i l l t h e ir return at 6 :3 0 .
This i s apparent from
the u n sk ilfu l way in which the n arrative i s introduced.
If
the te x t i s co n su lted , i t w ill be seen that there i s no r e a l
connection between 6 :1 3 , and 6:14.
What did Herod hear? What
Cf* Vincent Taylor: Behind the Third G ospel, p .138.
r e la tio n was th e re between th e sending out o f the d is c ip le s
and Herod’ s id e n t if ic a t io n of Jesus with John r is e n from the
dead?
P la in ly , no i n t e l l i g i b l e one.
another co n tex t.
Vv,14-16 belong to
They can be explained only by supposing
th at a t some la t e r stage in th e m in istry of J esu s, Herod
grew h o s t ile towards him, and at t h is point Jesus had to
withdraw from h is territory.'*'
Por a proper understanding o f the Gospel n a rra tiv e,
certa in h is t o r ic a l f a c t s should be borne in mind.
On the
death o f Herod th e Great, h is dominions were divided up
among th ree o f h is son s.
His fourth son, who according
to Mark and Matthew2 bore the name of P h ilip , was deprived
of h is share o f the t e r r it o r y and liv e d as a p riv a te person
somewhere in the E a st.
He had married h is n iece Herodias,
the daughter of A risto b u lu s and the grand-daughter o f Herod
the Great.
Herod Antipas was married to a daughter o f
A retas, King of Nabatea.
Now, w h ile Herod A ntipas was at
Rome and re sid in g w ith h is brother P h ilip , he f e l l in love
with Herodias, h is b rother’ s w ife .
Josephus r e la te s that
agreement was made fo r her to change her h a b ita tio n and
come to him; one a r t ic le of t h i s marriage was t h i s , that he
4
should divorce A r e ta s’ daughter.”
The daughter o f A retas,
i s p o s s i b l y a f t e r 7:23, at w h ic h p o i n t
Jesus le a v e s Herod’s dominions. C f.D ib eliu s: o p > cit. , p .82.
Mk.6:7, M att.1 4 :3 .
J o s e p h u s : A n tiq .. x v i i i . 5 . 1 . ( 1 0 9 f f . ) .
T h eir tru e p o s i t i o n
Ib id .
94.
however, le a rn in g o f t h is a f f a i r , asked her husband to send
her to the f o r t r e s s o f Herod and A retas.
Escaping from
Machaerus, she crossed in to her fa th e r ’s t e r r it o r y and, as
Buzy p uts i t , "thus escaped the unpleasantness o f a summary
d i v o r c e . T h e outcome of t h is unhappy b u sin ess was th a t
A retas was fu r io u s a t the in s u lt done to h is daughter, vowed
vengeance on A n tip as, and a f te r a period declared war ag a in st
him.
Josephus again t e l l s us th a t " a ll Herod’ s army was
destroyed by th e treachery o f some f u g it iv e s . . . who joined
with A re ta s’ army."
2
I t was again st t h is unlawful marriage
that John the B a p tist ra ised h is v o ic e , ’I t i s not law ful
for thee to have thy b ro th er’ s w ife ’ ,^ and i t was John’ s
outspokenness which, the Gospels inform us, brought about
h is a r r e s t.
Mark t e l l s the sto ry in greater d e t a il than Matthew.
The in cid en t i s a fa m ilia r one.
in- Herod’ s dungeons.
The B a p tist i s languishing
4
In th e rooms above a birthday fe a s t
is being celeb ra ted in Herod’s honour.
The daughter o f
Herodias p le a se s Herod w ith her dancing so much th a t he
announces., ’Whatsoever thou sh a lt ask of me, I w ill give i t
thee, unto the h a lf o f my kingdom .’
The g i r l co n su lts her
The L ife o f St.John the B a p tis t, Eng.Ed., p .168.
2. Ibj'd. .
'
3. Mk.6:18.
4. Eor th e meaning o f
, c f . Schiirer: op . c i t . , I , v o l.
i i , p .26, note 27; M.andM.: Vocabulary
of the Greek
Testament. p .123.
95.
mother and retu rn s w ith the demand, ’The head of John th e
B a p tist in a p l a t t e r ! f
The vexation o f Herod i s then d es­
cribed fo r he knew th a t John th e B a p tist was ’a ju s t man
and a h oly man: and when he heard him he did many th in g s and
heard him g la d ly ! ’
At len g th he g iv es way to the request
’fo r h is o a th ’ s sake and fo r th e sake of th o se who sat w ith
him’ .
The execu tion er i s summoned and th e head o f the Bap­
t i s t i s p r e se n tly brought in .
The n arrative c lo s e s w ith
the words., ’And when the d is c ip le s heard of i t , th ey came and
took up h is corpse and la id i t in a tom b.’
sh o rter.
Matthew
is
He does not say th a t Herod regarded John ’as a
ju st and holy man’ .
Indeed, from h is account, 14:4, i t
would seem th a t Herod had d esired to put John to death long
sin ce, but had been restra in ed because ’he feared th e m u lti­
tu d e .’
The dance of H erodias’ daughter e l i c i t s only once
from Herod th e d ecla ra tio n which appears tw ice in Mark.
No
mention i s made o f the ex ecu tio n er, but Matthew adds a veiy
human note at 14:12, s ta tin g , th at a fte r John’s death ’h is
d isc ip le s went and to ld J e s u s ’ .
There can be l i t t l e doubt that the o r ig in a l l i e s with
Mark, which Matthew has shortened.
I f Matthew were the
o rig in a l, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to explain the in co n sisten cy be­
tween Matt. 14:4 and 1 4 :9 .
Herod, we are t o ld , had long
since wished to put John to death, ( v .4 ) , but, now that the
opportunity had come, he regreeted i t # ( v .9 ) .
The d i f f i ­
c u lty might he removed by supposing th a t v ,9 i s an in te r ­
p o la tio n , or by ta k in g th e view th a t i t would have been
only n atu ral fo r Herod to repent before g iv in g the f a t a l
order.
But n e ith e r o f th e se explanations i s l i k e l y .
V.9
i s c le a r ly no in te r p o la tio n , but i s taken over d ir e c t from
Mark.
As forJJerod ’ s s e n s itiv e n e s s , one may w ell ask i f i t
was customary fo r O rien tal p rin ces o f Herod’s type to evince
such f e e l in g s .
Matthew’s account does not ring q uite tru e.
P la in ly , he has ascrib ed to Herod him self a personal hatred
towards John, which h is w ife alone bore to him, or at l e a s t ,
he has exaggerated th a t h atred.
I t would be rash to regard th e se n a rra tiv es of Mark and
Matthew as e n t ir e ly th e product o f the legen d -b u ild in g imag­
in a tio n .
Yet i t may be r e a d ily admitted that they contain
certain elem ents which can be accepted only with caution,
i f at a l l .
Mark commits th e same error as the Slavonic
author in g iv in g th e name o f P h ilip to Herod’s fourth son.
On t h is Schiirer w e ll ob serves, ’’S in ce, according to Josephus,
not the te tr a r c h P h ilip , but Herod, was the f i r s t husband
of H erodias, th e statement of Mark and Matthew i s e v id e n tly
a m istake.
Many seek to ex p la in away t h is m istake by assum­
ing th at th e y gave to t h i s Herod the name Herod P h ilip • • • • •
But i t must be admitted as very remarkable th at the one name
should be chosen by Josephus, and the other by the New
Testament w r ite r s:
and y et more p ecu lia r would i t have been
had the old Herod two sons w ith the name of P h ilip ,
We can
th erefo re come t o no oth er conclusion than t h is . . . . th a t
the two e v a n g e lis ts made a m i s t a k e . R e n a n sees in the
m istake ’an error of in advertancef ,
2
and t h is i s probably
the correct view , aw Mark has probably confused the name o f
H erodiasf husband with th a t of the husband of Salome, whose
name was P h ilip .
Again, Mark r e fe r s to Antipas as *kingf
whereas, in r e a lit y , he was only fte tr a r c h T, and as regards
h is o f fe r of h a lf h is kingdom, L oisy remarks in h is stimu­
la tin g way, "We may observe, not without reason, that
Antipas had not h is kingdom to d ivid e and that he had not
a fr e e hand in the d is p o s itio n of th e t e r r it o r ie s which he
governed.
The in flu en ce of th e book of Esther on th e Gospel
3
redaction can alone ex p la in the exaggeration of the o f f e r .”
Once more, i t was contrary to a l l e tiq u e tte fo r p rin cesses
of royal blood lik e Salome to dance in public and i t i s not
lik e ly th a t Salome, who at t h is time was almost c e r ta in ly
married, could be f i t l y c a lle d a K o e o v
- a title
usually reserved fo r unmarried g ir ls under twenty.
Extreme
conservatism has an answer to a l l th ese d i f f i c u l t i e s in d iv id o p . c i t . . I , v o l . i i , p .22, n o t e 19.
ge J 6 su s. p . 114, note 2 .
- es ^ v a n g iles Synoptiques, I , p .426.
1. S c h u r e r :
**
98.
u a lly , but cum ulatively th ey form a formidable array.
They
stamp th e n a rra tiv e in which th e y appear as not being en­
t i r e l y h i s t o r i c a l l y accu rate.
C learly a genuine h is t o r ­
ic a l b a s is has been expanded and embroidered to a certa in
e x te n t, a t l e a s t , by popular fancy.
What i s the h is t o r ic a l b a s is of the narrative?
There
can be l i t t l e doubt th a t t h is was the execution o f the
B a p tist by Herod’ s ord ers.
The c a p tiv ity of John i s
vouched fo r independently by Matthew and Luke.
1
Matthew
E
s t a te s th at John’s d is c ip le s v is it e d him in p riso n .
The
very fa c t th at Mark does not mention t h is episode confirms
the f a c t th at the c a p tiv ity and the execution o f the Bapt i s t are based on good t r a d itio n .
I t i s p la in , however,
that popular im agination, working upon the bare f a c t s , has
succeeded in producing a n arrative r e la tin g more to Herod
than to John, a n a rra tiv e which i s e n tir e ly devoid o f
e v a n g elica l in t e r e s t , and lackin g in h is t o r ic a l p r e c isio n .
D ib eliu s i s su re ly rig h t when he observes that the r e a l
point o f in te r e s t in the sto ry i s "that a king traps him4
s e lf in h is oath and must do something which he r e g r e ts .”
This was an exceed in gly common theme o f popular anecdote.
One can w e ll imagine how Herod’s dark deed would be w his1. M att. 4 : IE; L k.3:S0.
S. Matt.11:2 = L k.7:18.
3. Cf. Gpgu el: o p . c i t . . p .56. 4 . J .d .T . . p .80^
pered round th e bazaars and with what, pleasure the fo lk
would dw ell upon the way in which the hated tetra rch had
cornered h im s e lf.
F an cifu l a d d itio n s would grow with
every new account of i t .
I t would be unwise, however, to
lea v e the n arra tiv e out of a l l account whatsoever.
It
fu r n is h e s, as w i l l be seen p r e se n tly , certa in valuable
evidence fo r serio u s co n sid era tio n in regard to the chron­
ology of John th e B a p tist.
I f the Gospel n a rrative of John’s death i s compared
w ith th a t o f Josephus, ce r ta in in te r e s tin g and important
divergences p resen t them selves.
Josephus s t a te s that the
place o f John’s imprisonment was Machaerus, a gloomy and
forb idd in g f o r t r e s s on th e co n fin es of the te r r ito r y of
Herod and A reta s, and towering 3,000 f e e t above the Dead
Sea.^"
The G ospels make no mention of th e p la c e , which i s
strange because th e n arrative they contain, being of th e
anecdotal typ e, would have been lik e l y to preserve the name
of so infamous a fo r t as Machaerus, had the B ap tist r e a lly
met h is end th e r e .
The E v a n g elists suggest that John was
imprisoned somewhere in G a lilee because the ch ief men o f
G alilee are mentioned as being present at the f e a s t .
More­
over, i t i s extrem ely u n lik e ly th at Herod would have chosen
a border f o r t r e s s fo r John’s place o f confinement.
"To
100.
s e le c t such a p la ce on the fr o n tie r o f A retas would have
been th e h eigh t of imprudence.
I t i s much more l i k e l y that
he was imprisoned and put to death, as Mark im p lie s, in
G a lile e .”^"
A more v i t a l d iffe r e n c e a r is e s in the reasons given for
John’ s a r r e st and ex ecu tio n .
According to the G ospels,
t h is was o r ig in a lly due to the pique o f Herodias.
Josephus,
on the other hand, a sc r ib e s h is a rrest to Herod’ s fea r,
l e s t h e, the B a p tis t, might cause p o l i t i c a l tr o u b le .
No
account i s given by the h isto r ia n o f the banquet with i t s
f a t a l co n clu sio n .
He s ta te s sim ply that ’’through Herod’s
su sp icio n , John was sent as a p rison er to Machaerus and
th ere s l a i n . ’’
I t must not be in ferred from t h i s statement
that Josephus h im self regarded the B ap tist as a p o lit ic a l
fig u r e .
As sta ted b efo re, he i s ca refu l to emphasize that
t h is was Herod’s
su sp icio n and Herod’s
fe a r .
N evertheless
i t i s s ig n if ic a n t th a t the h isto r ia n regarded t h is , and not
personal p iqu e, as the d ire ct reason for Herod’s a c tio n .
To
regard th e two view p oin ts as ir r e c o n c ila b le is a m istake.
Both have t h e ir element o f tru th .
The Gospels record the
more clamant reason fo r John’s a rrest - h is attack on
Herod’s m orals, bringing a period of precarious freedom and
simmering su sp icio n t o an end.
I t cannot be denied that
Jackson and Lake: The Beginnings o f C h r istia n ity . v o l.i,p .l&
2. A ntiq. x v i i i * 5 .2 ,(1 1 9 )7
such an outburst was e n tir e ly in lin e with h is f ie r y de­
n un ciation o f th e ’o ffsp rin g of v ip e r s ’ , and t h is alone
should be s u f f ic ie n t to save the Gospel view p oin t, f i t t i n g
in , as i t does, so w ell w ith the re st o f the p ic tu r e .
On
the other hand, i t i s very probable th a t Josephus has se t
asid e the tr a d itio n embodied in the Gospel n a rra tiv e, i f he
knew i t at a l l , not merely because o f i t s h is t o r ic a l in ex a ct­
itu d e s, but because i t would have been u n ta ctfu l to rake up
me&ories
so p e c u lia r ly undesirable in the fa c t of h is patrons.
There can be l i t t l e doubt, however, th at th e B a p tist, by h is
stin g in g censure o f the morals of h is day, and by the very
fa ct o f h is gatherin g around him so large a fo llo w in g , would
in sp ire in Herod a ce r ta in trep id a tio n l e s t the moral preacher,
seemingly harm less enough, were r e a lly something more than
he appeared to b e.
But th a t t h is su sp icion was unfounded,
and th at John’s m in istry was not designedly o f a p o lit ic a l
nature, w ill be shown in a la t e r chapter.'*'
Meantime, i t i s
to be noted th a t th e reason given by the h isto r ia n fo r the
B a p tist’s a r r e st i s h is t o r ic a lly extremely probable, and.
that i t goes hand in hand with that o f the G ospels.
Josephus
1. Chapter V. gp .2 S 5 -2 feo ,
2. Loisy: Les E van giles Synoptiques, v o l . i , p p .922-923, admits
that the reasons given by th e Gospels and Josephus are
com patible. ’’Josephus speaks as an h isto r ia n s u f f ic ie n t ly
w ell in str u c te d in Herodian p o lit ic s : th e Gospel sto ry i s
presented as a popular legend in which everything is ex­
plained by th e mutual r e la tio n s of the persons in the c a s e .”
B ib eliu s: op. c i t . , extends the preference to Josephus,
g iv e s th e lo n g-sta n d in g reason, th e Gospels, the immediate
one.
Both are c o r r e c t, and i t would be rash to extend the
p reference to th e one or to the oth er.
F in a lly , whereas Josephus in d ic a te s th a t the B a p tis t’ s
execu tion took p la ce immediately a fte r h is a r r e s t,
the
Gospels imply th a t a certa in time elapsed between h is apprehension and h is death. 1
I t i s very probable that t h i s d i­
vergence i s more apparent than r e a l, and that Josephus has
omitted a l l referen ce to a period o f imprisonment in view
of the b rev ity o f h is n o tic e .
T his con sid eration leads
d ir e c t ly to con sid erin g the date of the B a p tis t’s death.
Josephus r e la t e s that "the Jews thought th a t the des­
tru ctio n o f Herod’ s army was the work o f God, who thus
exacted a very ju s t r e tr ib u tio n fo r John, surnamed the Bap*
t is t .”
2
The d efea t referred to was th at which Herod s u ffe r ­
ed at thehands o f A retas in 36 A .D ..
by Keim
I t was maintained
th at sin ce Herod’s d efeat took place in th is year,
the death o f John must be dated sh o rtly before t h a t, p o ssib ly
a year e a r lie r a t the lo n g e s t, because John’s death and
Herod’ s d efeat went c lo s e ly togeth er in popular thought.
A
sim ilar view was held by other sc h o la r s, but the theory
seemed l i k e l y to be abandoned t i l l E is le r r e su scita ted i t ,
and proceeded to b u ttr e ss i t by other arguments o f h is own.
1. M att.11:2 = L k .7:18.
3: M t i & . x v i i i . 5 . 2 . ( l l 6 ) .
* The H istory o f Jesus o f Nazara, Eng.Ed., v o l . i v , p .223.
One o f th e se was, as alread y noted, th a t the Slavonic Ver­
sion re p resen ts John as s t i l l a liv e at the time of P h ilip ’s
death in 34 A .D ..
I t would appear, then, E is le r holds,
that John o u tliv e d J esu s, and that th e date of John’s death
was not before 35 A .D ..
This argument may be dism issed
owing to the untrustworthy nature of the S lavonic Fragments.
Another o f h is arguments
1
i s based upon the p o sitio n at which
John’ s death i s recounted by Josephus in the A n tiq u itie s .
He
p oints out th a t the h is to r ia n has already referred to the
deaths o f Jesu s and P h ilip , and only immediately before Herod’s
defeat ( in 56 A .D .) does Josephus r e fe r to John’s death.
Conclusion: th a t John o u tliv e d J esu s.
In rep ly to t h is , i t
may be said th a t i t was q u ite natural fo r Josephus to recount
John’s death at the p oint he did.
The n o tic e is introduced
by the statem ent th at some of the Jews saw in Herod’ s defeat
a very ju st r e tr ib u tio n fo r h is a ctio n s towards John.
What
could be more n atu ral than to add here a short account of the
prophet’ s work and death?
It need not be supposed that t h is
stands in i t s co rrect ch ron ological s e tt in g .
I t is rather a
rem iniscence, taking the form o f an asid e from the main thread
°f the n a r r a tiv e .
That i t i s an a s id e , and not in i t s cor­
rect p o s itio n , i s shown by the r e p e titio n of the introductory
words below, ”Now the Jews thought th a t th e d estru ction o f
The M essiah J e su s, p .291.
Herod’ s army e t c . ” .
Here the main thread i s picked
and the h is to r y proceeds smoothly from t h is p o in t.
up,
1
E i s l e r ’ s arguments in favour o f the year 35 A.D. for the
B a p tis t’ s death add nothing to support that date as already
advocated by Keim.
This p o s itio n , in i t s e l f , i s not without
i t s v u ln e r a b ility .
In the f i r s t p la c e , i t does not allow
s u f f ic ie n t l y fo r th e p r o b a b ility th a t popular b e lie f would
r e ta in over a con sid erable number of years the memory o f a
crime in f l ic t e d on one who had been th e ir hero, and that i t
would see in Herod’ s punishment proof of the fa c t that d ivin e
punishment i s sometimes slow , but always su re.
Second, the
theory assumes th a t the marriage between Antipas and Herodias
took p lace about 35 or 36 A .D ., because Aretas declared war
on Herod in 36 A .D ..
assumption.
There are no v a lid grounds for t h is
Josephus im p lies th a t t h is marriage had been the
beginning o f the hatred between Aretas and Herod, and that
they had been fo r long at daggers drawn, Aretas awaiting h is
chance.
H is f i r s t r e a lly favourable opportunity came only
in 36 A.D. when the Romans were at war with the Parthians and
could not help Herod.
In view of th ese f a c t s , i t would be
precarious to regard the date of Herod’s defeat as giving any
Jack: The H is to r ic C h rist, p .247, p oints out that there i s
a sim ila r in sta n ce m the Hegesippus, where the cr u c ifix io n
of Jesus fo llo w s the u prisin g of the Samaritan messiah in
35 A .D ..
105
tru e in d ic a tio n a® to the year o f the B a p tis t’ s death.
In the G ospels i t i s c le a r ly sta ted th a t John the
B a p tist did not o u tliv e J esu s.
This i s p la in not only from
the iviarcan and Matthaean records of h is death which p lace i t
at some point during the m in istry of Jesu s, but a lso from
the p assages in which i t i s reported that the people and Herod
b elieved th at Jesus was John r is e n from the dead.^
It is
q uite im possib le th at Herod could have b eliev ed t h is u n less
John were alread y dead, and i t i s barely p o ssib le that the
people could have shared the b e lie f u nless John had been
a c tu a lly only in a s ta te of c lo se confinement, and the rumour
had got around th a t he had a lread y been executed.
f a l l s back upon t h is p o s s ib ilit y !
the relevan t p assages
E is le r
”A ca refu l comparison of
at once shews that L k.9:7, and an
array o f MSS. at M k.6:14, quote the saying only as a popular
opinion, and not as a statement o f Herod’s .
L k.9:9, indeed,
3
makes the te tr a r c h r e je c t t h is b e lie f as im p o ssib le.”
Y et,
whatever array o f MSS. a t Mk.6:14 a scrib es the words to the
people by the use o f the p lttra l, (
) f there s t i l l
remains s a t is f a c t o r y evidence in favour o f th e sin gu lar,
1. Mk.6:14-16; M att.14:1; Lk.9 :7 -9 .
Mk.6:14-16; M att.14:I f f .; L k .9:7-9.
The M essiah J e s u s , p .304.
106.
v\
) , and t h i s i s , perhaps, the co rrect read in g.
1
In
any case th ere can he no doubt about M att. 14:2, fAt th a t
time Herod th e tetra rc h heard of th e fame o f J esu s, and said
unto h is serv a n ts, This i s John th e B a p tist: he i s r is e n from
th e dead: and th e r e fo r e m ighty works do shew fo r th them selves
in h im .1
Observe how E is le r d isp o ses of t h is statem ent!
The referen ce to John’s being r ise n from the dead i s not
o r ig in a l, he t e l l s u s, "because th e idea that one who i s
r is e n from the dead thereby becomes fo rth w ith capable o f
m iraculous a c ts of power i s unsupported."
Unsupported,
perhaps, as fa r as our records go, but by no means im p o ssib le,
su rely , con sid erin g th e uniqueness of th e mighty a c ts o f
Jesus, and th e stabs o f a g u ilt y con scien ce!
As for Mk.
6:16, E is le r i s forced to take t h is as an ir o n ic a l q u estion ,
•But when Herod heard th e r e o f, he sa id , - I t su rely i s n ’t
John, whom I beheaded, i s i t ? ’ , whereas the natu ral meaning
of the Greek i s ,
from th e d ea d .’
’I t i s John whom I beheaded;
he i s r is e n
F in a lly , E is le r m aintains th at Mk.6:16,
taken as an ir o n ic a l q u estio n , i s supported by L k .9:9, ’And
Herod s a i d , J o h n h a v e I b e h e a d e d : b u t who i s t h i s o f whom
1* I t i s tru e th a t the impersonal p lu ra l i s c h a r a c te r is tic o f
Mark; cf.C .H .T urner: Journal o f T h eological S tu d ie s , xxv,
1924, p p .378-386, but the sin gu lar s u it s the sense b e tte r
and i s supported by M a tt.1 4 :2 . N eith er Mk.8:28 nor Lk.9:7
can be c ite d as ’g u a ra n tees’ fo r the p lu ra l when so many
good a u th o r itie s have the sin g u la r. "It i s improbable, in
any ca se, th a t Herod would take up a common rumour, whereas
i t i s evid en t that t h is strange conjecture sta rted with the
k in g ’s con scien ce." I.C .C . , p .109. The r e p e titio n o f the
statem ent in v.16 shews th a t Herod does not en terta in the
other view s ( v .1 5 ), but th a t he regards h is o r ig in a l opin­
ion (v ,1 4 ) as c o r r e c t.
2# Q p .o it. . p .305.
107.
I hear such th in g s ? ’
by the Lucan p a r a lle l.
In r e a l i t y , no such support i s g iv e n
P la in ly , th e meaning i s th a t a l ­
though Herod i s aware th at he has beheaded the B a p tis t, he
was becoming in c r e a sin g ly apprehensive l e s t Jesus might be
John r is e n .
T h is i s e n t ir e ly in lin e w ith the fa c t th a t
Herod was a Sadducee, and th a t only in th e most s p e c ia l and
unique circum stance would he have concluded th at Jesus was
John re-em bodied.
But the circum stances were undoubtedly
o f t h i s n atu re, and the evidence of Luke, fa r from contra­
d ic tin g Mark, when taken in i t s sim plest and most natu ral
way, c o n s titu te s a most p recio u s statement in support of
th e accuracy o f the la t t e r .
I t i s m a n ifest, then, th a t only by a rb itra ry a lt e r a ­
tio n s and stra in ed in te r p r e ta tio n s of the Gospel t e x t s can
any support be derived fo r the view th a t John o u tliv ed J esu s.
Adm ittedly, at Lk.3:20 John’s a rrest i s described in a sentence which i s "stra n g ely h a ltin g " ,
1
and which con tains a
somewhat awkward r e p e titio n o f th e name ’Herod’ , but to re­
gard th e senten ce as o r ig in a lly having contained no referen ce
to John’s imprisonment, and to have term inated a t
and to take th e second ’Herod* as belonging t o a new sentence
• a la t e r in te r p o la tio n - and tr a n s la tin g , ’And Herod added
th is above a l l th a t he shut up John in p r iso n ’ - a l l t h is
i* E isle r :
o p . c i t . . p .306.
108.
does not a lle v ia t e in th e s lig h t e s t th e grammatical d i f f i ­
c u lty - fo r t h is reason.
I t would be n ecessary to suppose,
on t h is v iew , th a t th e in terp o la ted sentence was introduced
w ithout a connecting p a r t ic le , inasmuch as i t i s most im­
probable th a t th e said p a r t ic le would have been om itted
la t e r by some c o p y is t, who thus a c c id e n ta lly concealed the
in te rp o la ted sen ten ce, and made i t appear to belong to th e
preceding one.
The om ission o f a p a r t ic le at t h i s p o in t
i s a flaw which even the clum siest o f in te r p o la to r s would
have been ca refu l to a v o id .
The fa c t i s , th a t th e sen ten ce,
though somewhat harsh in grammatical co n stru ctio n , though
by no means w ithout p a r a lle l, stands ju st as Luke wrote i t ,
and th e theory th a t i t i s a la t e r in te r p o la tio n in ser te d
w ith the in te n tio n o f f i n a l l y demonstrating to John’s d is ­
c ip le s "that t h e ir Master la y h e lp le s s and in a c tiv e in
p rison , w h ile Jesus was performing mighty deeds"’*’ i s a pure
figment o f the im agination.
Such a view point pre-supposes
that a la r g e and powerful continuing group of Johannine
d is c ip le s were at work in op p o sitio n t o the d is c ip le s o f
J e s u s - a m a t t e r t h e l i k e l i h o o d o f w h ic h h a s s t i l l t o be
examined.
2
Apart from t h i s , i t may w e ll he asked why the
in te r p o la to r , i f he were so anxious to have John in p rison
and to demonstrate h is h e lp le s s n e s s , did not c lin c h the
!• E is le r : o p . c i t . . p .307
2 . Chapter IV.
109.
m atter by s ta tin g th a t he was dead!
Surely t h i s would have
been th e best way to remove a l l b a s is fo r fu r th er argument.
As fo r th e o b je c tio n th a t the Fourth E v a n g elist does not
record John’s death, he does not recount e ith e r th e baptism
o f Jesu s by John!
The Fourth E v a n g elist has s e le c te d h is
m a te ria l w ith some care, and the n a rrative d escrib in g John’ s
death would sc a r c e ly have had any d ir e c t bearing on the
prom ulgation o f h is t h e s is that Jesus i s the Son o f God.
There a r e , however, ce rta in in d ic a tio n s in the Fourth Gospel
th a t John did not o u tliv e J esu s, the most d e f in it e being at
5:35, ’He (John) was the lamp that burneth and s h in e t h .’
True, t h is may r e fe r only to John’s imprisonment, im plying
th at h is period o f a c tiv e w itn essin g was over, but i t i s
much more n atu ral to r e fe r i t to h is death.
Like Luke,
the Fourth E v a n g elist does not mention e x p l i c i t l y the Bap­
t i s t ’ s ex ecu tio n , but in both Gospels h is death i s im p lic it ,
w hile the n a r r a tiv e s of Mark and Matthew put the m atter
beyond a l l doubt.
In con clu sion i t may be sa id that the jo in t evidence
on which r e lia n c e may be p u t, p o in ts q u ite c le a r ly to the
fa c t th at John did not o u tliv e Jesu s.
He was execu ted, a f te r
a period o f confinem ent, at some p o in t, (perhaps about mid-way),
in the p u b lic m in istr y of J esu s, and i f Jn .5:35 can be
tru sted , h is death took p la ce before the date o f the fe a s t
110.
referred to in J n .5 : l , i . e . not la t e r - t h a n .39 A.D*.
If
J esu s was c r u c ifie d on the 14th o f Nisan o f th a t year, th e
Chronology adopted by most modern reckonings,
1
th e B a p tist
was put to death some time before t h i s d ate.
!• C f, G.H.C.Macgregor:
The Gospel of John. p . x i i i .
111.
CHAPTER
III.
THE BAPTISM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
A.
C onsideration may now be g iv en to the baptism o f John
th e B a p tis t, and th e lig h t which t h i s remarkable r i t e throws
upon h is p e r s o n a lity .
The d esig n a tio n ”remarkable” i s
appropriate, not because th ere was anything new in th e
p r a c tic e o f baptism i t s e l f , but because i t i s rath er sur­
p r isin g th a t John who, a f te r a l l , was only one among many
who b a p tise d , should have borne th e s p e c if ic t i t l e
or ’B a p t is t * .1
’Baptiser*
The exp lan ation of t h is i s , may be, th a t
whereas, o r ig in a lly , John was referred to not as
o B<*nr16" ^ $at a l l ,
(th ere i s no Aramaic eq u ivalen t fo r the
Greek word), but sim ply as
flacK
^
v
and o
, at a la t e r stage
j&<<UTi<rr*^
o
came to be c lo s e ly
attached t o h is name as d e sc r ip tiv e o f h is well-known p ra ctic e,
and from th e very c lo se n e ss o f the a s s o c ia tio n tended t o take
the form o f a t i t l e .
th is p rocess
1*
B k t t Ti G’T'vjs
shows th e com pletion o f
as a t i t l e f u l l y developed fo r him in e a r ly
means *to dip* or ’sin k * . I t i s employed not in ­
freq u en tly in a l i t e r a l and m etaphorical sen se, but only
tw ice does i t appear to contain th e i£ea o f r e lig io u s lu s ­
t r a t io n . J u d .l2 :7 , E c c lu s .31:35. XdUttfOti and p^TfT6i\/r
are r e g u la r ly used in t h is connexion.
The word may have
come in to u se, (as Jackson and Lake su g g e st), in Greek­
speaking Jew ish C h r istia n c ir c le s as meaning ’r e lig io u s
w ashings’ .
112.
C h ristia n c i r c l e s , fu r th e r suggested no doubt, by th e con­
sid e r a tio n th a t he had b aptised our Lord.
So(TTTI<TTyl? < ,
th en , should be regarded in i t s o r ig in a l form not s t r i c t l y
as a name or t i t l e , but rather as an e p ith e t d e s c r ip tiv e o f
h is work.
As such, however, i t s appearance in connection
with John lo s e s none o f i t s n o v elty .
To account fo r i t the
p o s s i b i l i t y a r is e s th a t in the baptism al r i t e o f John, th ere
was something str ik in g and o r ig in a l, something which d i s t i n ­
guished i t from contemporary baptism al r i t e s , w ith the r e su lt
that John came to be referred to as ’the one who baptised* or
’th e b a p tis e r ’ par e x c e lle n c e .
To d isco v er such character­
i s t i c s i t w i l l be n ecessary to in v e s tig a te th e o r ig in ,
method and s ig n ific a n c e o f John’ s baptism.
T his in v e s tig a ­
tio n i s preceded by a short examination of th e l o c a l i t y in
which John carried out h is baptism al work, and i s rounded o f f
by con sid erin g the r e la tio n s , i f any, between John’s baptism
and C h ristian Baptism.
The Baptism o f Jesus i s d ea lt w ith
in a sep arate s e c tio n .
(a) The l o c a l i t y o f John’s baptism .
I t i s g e n e r a lly assumed th a t the Jordan was the p rin cip a l
s ite of the B a p t is t ’ s a c t iv it y .
■the fo llo w in g p o in ts may be n oted .
In t h i s con n ection , however,
F ir s t , Josephus says no­
t i n g about John’ s having baptised in the Jordan.
P ie .ifldischen Baptismen. p p .74-75.
Brandt1
113.
th in k s t h i s very remarkable, sin ce th e h is to r ia n , he h o ld s,
would not have f a ile d to mention so important a s i t e .
Second,
th e Fourth E v a n g elist i s a lso s i l e n t as regards the Jordan,
and h is s ile n c e i s even more s tr ik in g than the s ile n c e o f
Josephus.
He g iv e s Bethabara (A .V .) or Bethany,
near t o Salim
o
1
and Aenon
as l o c a l i t i e s in which John b a p tise d .
Third,
the q u estion of J esu s, ’What did you go out in to the w ild er­
ness to se e ? ’ i s somewhat strange, because one would have
expected ’t o th e Jordan’
had John r e a lly b ap tised th e re.
F in a lly , i t i s pointed out that baptism in the Jordan would
not have been a g reea b le, i f not a c tu a lly dangerous, in view
of th e muddy yello w n ess o f i t s water and the speed o f i t s
flow .
Considering th e se f a c t s , Brandt su g g ests, though
with th e utmost c a u tio n , th a t John had no re a l connection
at a l l w ith the R iver Jordan, and th a t the main cen tres o f
h is a c t i v i t y were in th e neighbourhood of various towns and
v illa g e s throughout G a lile e , Judea, and Perea.
The main o b je c tio n to t h is theory i s th a t i t i s not
easy to see how the tr a d itio n th a t John baptised in th e
Jordan could have a r is e n u n less he had a c tu a lly done so .
The
tr a d itio n i s so firm ly rooted in the Synoptics th a t i t is
p r a c tic a lly ce rta in th a t fo r some period in h is l i f e at
le a st he must have been known to summon the people to baptism
1.
1 :28.
2.
3 :2 2 ,2 3 .
4.
Brandt: op.»cit. , p .71.
114.
at t h i s p o in t.
Perhaps, however, i t i s a m istake to re­
gard th e Jordan as the p lace a t which the B a p tist spent th e
major p o rtio n of h is l i f e .
This was on ly one d i s t r i c t among
many in which he executed h is ta sk .
Herein l i e s th e true
s ig n ific a n c e o f th e above-mentioned arguments.
The s ile n c e
o f Josephus and th e Fourth E v a n g elist shews not n e c e s s a r ily
th a t th e y knew nothing about John’ s a c t i v i t y on the Jordan,
but th a t th ey did not thin k i t e s s e n t ia l to s in g le out t h is
s p e c if ic th e a tr e o f a c t i v i t y .
The question o f J esu s,
’What did you go out in to the w ild ern ess to see? ’ r e f e r s ,
as alread y noted,
I
to an e a r lie r period o f the B a p t is t ’s
work, and p o in ts very c o n c lu siv e ly in the d ir e c tio n th a t
John moved co n sta n tly from p lace to p la c e .
As for the danger
o f baptism in th e Jordan, i t i s alm ost in cred ib le th a t th ere
was not some spot sa fe enough, e . g . a ford , to carry out
the r i t e w ithout per i l l
Far from being an unsu itable p la c e ,
the Jordan would have been a most convenient one for a tim e,
at l e a s t , s e le c te d , no doubt, because o f the numerous cara­
vans which would pass to and fr o .
But would i t have been
wise to have remained too long in one p a r tic u la r spot in
view o f the su sp icio n o f th e government a u th o r itie s?
I t i s p o ssib le to determine roughly, at l e a s t , at which
Part of th e r iv e r John baptized fo r a certa in tim e.
The
southern reaches are d e f in it e ly in d icated by Mark? and Matthew^
Chapter I , p.fc>8,
ls5*
3.
3 :5 .
115.
by th e referen ce to th e people o f Jerusalem going out to
John’s baptism .
I t i s probable that a f te r a period o f
preaching in th e w ild ern ess, fJohn came in to a l l th e country
round about Jordan1*** near th e point at which i t en ters th e
Dead Sea, and th e re sta rted b a p tisin g at some ford on the
caravan rou te from Jerusalem to Perea v ia J er ich o .
The Fourth E v a n g elist mentions (a) ’Bethabara’ (A .V .)
2
as a s i t e o f John’ s a c t iv it y , but the reading ’Bethany, b e­
yond Jordan* i s to be preferred both on te x tu a l grounds and
because the a d d itio n ’beyond Jordan’ i s c le a r ly meant to
d is tin g u is h t h i s Bethany from th e well-known v illa g e o f the
same name situ a te d a m ile or two S.E. o f Jerusalem .
5
The
reading ’Bethabara’ i s very probably due to a topographical
su ggestion o f Origen, who s t a te s that although a l l the b est
MSS. read ’Bethany beyond Jordan’ , he could not fin d any
v illa g e o f th a t name on the banks o f that r iv e r , whereas a
place c a lle d ’Bethabara* some m ile s inland on the East sid e
of the r iv e r was pointed out to him.
4
This i s b e tte r than
to suppose, as L o isy d oes, th a t Bethabara was the o r ig in a l
reading and th at Bethany was su b stitu ted on the strength o f
John 10:40, 1 1 :1 , where the name Bethany occurs sh o rtly a f te r
5
& referen ce to the place where John f i r s t b a p tised .___ I t i s
L k .3:3.
2. 1 :2 8 .
3. Cf.Macgregor: The Gospel o f John, p .26.
4. D rigen: Commentary on S t.J o h n , v i , 40. q ited by Macgregor:
Q £ iO it., ib id . iTre/rfaut,
U h t w B-i&v/f i n w v C K K t w ,
saU 4kb*(ik&.
.
,
^
3* See fu rth er Macgregor: o p . c i t . . ib id . The referen ce i s to
Loisy: Le Quatrieme E van gile. p p .211-214.
116.
more a t t r a c t iv e , t o o , than to suppose with Xundsin'*' th a t
th e referen ce to Bethany in th e Fourth Gospel i s by no means
a n c ie n t, but th a t i t arose because C h ristia n s were wont to
make p ilgrim ages a t th e time o f th e com position o f the
Gospel to Bethany as a s i t e e s p e c ia lly venerated from i t s
a s s o c ia tio n s w ith Gospel h is to r y , and hence, th a t the
E v a n g elist has in a ccu ra tely su b stitu te d a C h ristia n p la ce
o f ven eration fo r a B a p tist ce n tre .
I t i s much more n a tu ra l
to suppose th a t the said p ilg rim s would find Bethany a l ­
ready mentioned in th e Gospel t e x t s as a sacred p la c e , and
th e ven eration of the spot would be due to t h is f a c t .
As
to th e lo c a tio n o f t h i s Bethany, C.R.Conder, according to
2
G.A.Smith , i d e n t i f i e s i t w ith Batanea or Bashan, but t h is
i s improbable because a t I n .1:18 p r ie s ts and L e v ites are
represented as having been sen t to Bethany to question John.
This im p lies th a t Bethany was not at any very great d ista n ce
from Jerusalem , whereas the province o f Batanea l i e s w ell
to th e N .E ..
The id e n t if ic a t io n o f th e s i t e o f Bethabara
and Bethany, which would only be p o ssib le in any case i f both
words mean ’house o f the fe r r y b o a t1 i s u n lik e ly fo r the
same reason.
Bethabara i s at le a s t 100 m ile s from Jerusalem .
It i s suggested th a t Furrer may be righ t in h is id e n t if ic a ­
tio n o f Bethany w ith Betane, which, although i t i s some way
1* T opologische ftb e r lie fe r u n g sto ffe im Johannes-Evangelium,
Forschs zur R elig io n und L ite r a tu r , N .F ., x x i i , p p .18-25.
2. H astin g’s D iction ary of the B ib le / v o l . i , p.255b.
from th e Jordan, may have been a p oint at which John bap­
t i s e d , sin c e h is m in istry was. e s s e n t i a lly an itin e r a n t o n e.1
The s a f e s t view however, i s to regard Bethany as some l i t t l e
known v ill a g e in South P erea, jbossibly not fa r from the
o r ig in a l p lace at which John worked, in view o f th e deputation
sen t from Jerusalem .
The Fourth E v a n g elist mentions a lso
2
(b) Aenon near to Salim
as a th ea tre o f John’ s a c t i v i t y .
Aenon i s probably to be lo c a te d on the West sid e o f the r iv e r
Jordan in Samaria, and p o s sib ly not fa r from Shechem.
Here,
th e B a p tist would be sa fe from Herod A ntip as, and as ’th ere
was much water t h e r e ’ , he may have spent a considerable time
at t h i s p la c e .
O bjection has been taken to the view th a t
John would m in iste r in Samaritan te r r ito r y , and i t has been
thought th at th e referen ce to Aenon and Salim i s purely
sym b olical.
4.
Thus Aenon (S p rin g s), and Salim (Peace) s i g ­
n ify a baptism preparatory to a grea ter one - that of
M elchizedek, th e Prince o f Peace.
fa r -fe tc h e d .
This seems a lto g eth e r too
At 3:22 the referen ce to th ese p la ce s has
1. M a c g r e g o r : o p . c i t .« i b i d .
2 . Jn. 3:22.
3. Cf. W.Bauer: Das Johannesevangelium, p .39, "According to
E usebius, Onom. p .40, Aenon and Salim l i e eig h t m iles
south o f S cy th o p o lis in the very north o f Samaria.
In
Samaria, 5^- k ilo m etres ea st of Shechem, th ere i s to be
found today a p la ce c a lle d S a lim .”
Some doubt e x is t s as
to the exact lo c a tio n of the sp ot, but there i s reason to
b e lie v e th a t i t la y in Samaria*
4, E .g . by Loisy: Le Quatri&me E van gile. p .332, note 2;
W.Bauer: o p . c i t . , p .39.
118.
every appearance o f a sober topograph ical n o te, and sin ce
John could move about w ith complete s a fe ty in Samaria, t h i s
co n sid era tio n la r g e ly cou n teracts th e im p rob ab ility o f h is
having m in istered in th a t t e r r it o r y .
Aenon near to Salim
i s very probably another h is t o r ic a l s i t e o f John’ s baptism a s i t e , i t i s worth ob serving, r e a d ily a c c e s s ib le both from
Judea and G a lile e .
Now, i f John began h is a c t iv it y in the W ilderness o f
Judea, and i f the baptism o f Jesus formed the culm inating
point both in h is r e la tio n s with J esu s, and in h is own min­
i s t r y , th e topograph ical n otes may perhaps f i t in as f o llo w s : (a) John preaches in the W ilderness without b a p tisin g .
(b) John appears in the South Jordan d is t r ic t a t a
ford on th e caravan route from Jerusalem to
P erea. He begins b a p tisin g .
(c) John continues h is a c t iv it y at Bethany in P erea,
where th e su sp icio n s o f Herod are roused.
(d) John withdraws to Aenon in Samaria, where J esu s,
coming from G a lile e , f i r s t m eets John, and where,
i t would seem, the d iscu ssio n ta k es p lace between
John and Jesus regarding baptism.
(e) John, accompanied by J esu s, retu rn s along the
Jordan v a lle y to the southern reaches of the
r iv e r . Jesus is b a p tised , and le a v es John.
( f ) John r is k s going in to Perea once more, and p o ssib ly
accu ses Herod d ir e c t ly on th e score o f h is unlaw­
f u l m arriage. He i s a t once arrested by A ntipas.
(g) John i s sent to some prison in G a lile e , and a f te r
a period of confinem ent, i s executed. Immediately
a f t e r John’s imprisonment, th e m in istry o f Jesus
opens.
119
(b) The o r ig in o f Joh n ^ baptism .
For a true a p p recia tio n o f the genius o f John's baptism ,
a short account must be given o f the h is to r y o f baptism s in
g e n e r a l.
The p r a c tic e hah i t s o r ig in in a n im istic concep­
t io n s o f the u n iv e rse , and reaches baclc in to the m ists o f
a n tiq u ity .
"Water o b viou sly p u r if ie s the body from d ir t:
then as i t s powers become enhanced in the p rim itiv e mind,
i t can clean se from e v il considered as a m a teria l or s p ir it u a l
p o llu tio n , or can vvard i t o f f by a sp e c ie s o f m agical v ir tu e ;
u n t il f i n a l l y , i t comes to be thought that i t can a lso
clean se from the s ta in of moral g u i l t . T h i s p rocess
while by no means p e c u lia r to the Jew ish r e lig io n may be
admirably illu s t r a t e d th ereb y.
I t i s natural to suppose th a t
the I s r a e l i t e s , in th e nomadic stage of th e ir e x iste n c e ,
shared th e tab u -con cep tion o f the peoples w ith whom they
came in con tact.
By t h is is meant th a t c e r ta in men or th in g s ,
by d in t of th e ir connection w ith the m ysterious fo rce s of
nature, became p ossessed o f a strange and dangerous power.
In tim e the m ysterious fo rce s o f nature came to be represented
as liv in g powers or gods, and th o se who came in contact w ith
them, were avoided.
A thorough p u r ific a tio n by water was
regarded as the b est means o f escape from t h i s s t a t e .
2
With
J.A.MacCulloch: E.R.E. , v o l . i i , p .367.
2. Sand was sometimes used, but was not considered so e f f e c ­
t i v e . Cf. Brandt: Die .iftdischen Baptismen. p .10.
120.
th e coming o f monotheism and w ith the growing importance
o f th e p r ie s t s in the l i f e o f the people o f I s r a e l, lu s ­
t r a t io n s were considered n ecessary before and a f t e r coming
in to con tact w ith the ’H oliness* o f Jahweh, and were carried
out by the priests.^"
The p r e - e x ilic p r a c tic e was g r e a tly
extended and varied in the p o s t - e x ilic period with the en­
forcement of Ezra’ s P r ie s t ly Code - a Code which t h i s remfirkable man brought back with him from Babylonia, and
which in 444 B.C. was accepted by th e Jewish community as
con tain in g r u le s from the hand o f Moses to be obeyed. 2
The
m inutest r e g u la tio n s were la id down fo r p u r ific a tio n r e g u la tio n s in which tra ce s o f the old
unmistakably appear.
a n im istic ideas
Contact w ith a dead man or b ea st,
with a newly born ch ild or with a le p e r required immediate
lu s t r a t io n , and the nature o f th e lu s tr a tio n varied accord3
ing to th e serio u sn ess o f the o ffen ce committed.
Though
a f fe c t in g the p r ie s t s in p a r tic u la r , i t cannot be doubted
that th e se r e g u la tio n s caused considerable a c t iv it y , i f not
a n x iety , among the people in g en er a l.
Already, however,
or sh o r tly afterw ards, the view th a t water washes away moral
g u ilt had been su ggested , but apparently not immediately
1* I.Sam .16:5; E x o d .l9 :1 0 ,1 4 ,2 2 ; L ev .6:20, 16:23; Numb.19:7,
8 ,10,21.
2. The Babylonian w a te r -r ite s , e .g . th a t o f ’Holy Water’ would
d o u b tless impress the ex iled Jews, and give a new impetus
to th e p r a c tic e .
3* C f.L e v itic u s, Numbers, passim . P arts of th ese books pro­
bably belong to t h is p eriod . Cf. a ls o Erazer: The Golden
Bough, p p .194-262.
121.
d evelop ed .
Thus Zechariah*- p ro p h esies, *In th a t day th ere
s h a ll be a fou h ta in opened to the house o f David, and to the
in h a b ita n ts o f Jerusalem fo r s in and fo r u n clean n ess*, and
E z ek iel , lik e w is e , fThen w i l l I sp rin k le clean water upon
you and you s h a ll be c le a n .1
The H e lle n is t ic p erio d (331
B.C. - 167 B.C .) gave a furth er impetus to baptism s.
However
stubbornly th e Jew r e s is t e d th e encroachment o f th e Greek in
other sp h eres, i t i s c le a r th at th e in term in glin g o f th e two
r e su lte d in new and refin ed types o f lu s tr a tio n , in ex tern a l
form, at l e a s t .
Sumptuous baths were constructed in many
towns in P a le s tin e , and sim ila r step s were taken in the
v i c i n i t y o f th e Temple and on the Mount o f O liv e s.
It is
d ou b tfu l, however, where th e se were used in t h i s period fo r
r e lig io u s p u r if ic a t io n s .
Brandt th in k s i t sc a rce ly li k e l y
because th e poor would not have been able to pay so o fte n the
p rice o f adm ission.
In fa c t i t i s improbable th a t complete
immersion was th e recogn ised procedure, inasmuch as water
was very scarce at c e r ta in seasons, and had to be kept fo r
, .
4
drinking purposes.
F in a lly , at the time of J esu s, there
were in operation c e r ta in lu s tr a tio n s not a c tu a lly mentioned
in th e Law, but no doubt comprehended by i t , th e washing o f
1. 1 3 :1 . The date o f the passage i s , u n fortu n ately, uncertain .
2. 36:25. The date i s again u n certain .
3. Mishnajf, Parah, 3 :7 , "The eld ers used to go to the Mount
o f O liv e s. There was a p lace o f immersion th ere."
O p .c it. p p .34-35.
122.
hands b efore m eals, a bath b efore meals^, and d iv e r s c le a n s in g s o f e a tin g and drinking v e s s e ls .
2
Baptism s, th en , in the sense o f p u r ific a to r y lu s t r a t io n s
were a fa m ilia r fea tu re in P a le s tin e a t th e time of John the
B a p tis t.
Their m otive was a r e lig io u s one, and the method
employed was g e n e r a lly a sp ersio n .
S p ecia l emphasis was la id
upon th e q u a lity o f th e water to be used.
I t had to be
e s s e n t i a lly pure, and was u su a lly run o f f from springs and
c o lle c te d in n atu ral or constructed b a sin s, (miquoth), from
which i t could be drawn o f f when required.
There i s l i t t l e
evidence th a t th e r i t e was p ra ctise d in the open.
In the
Diaspora, i t appears th a t th e r i g i d i t y o f th e r u le s regarding
the q u a lity o f water was slackened.
This was p e r fe c tly
n a tu ra l, as th e Jews would have before them th e example o f
t h e ir heathen neighbours who bathed in the T ig r is , Euphrates,
and T ib er, and i t would be f e l t th a t streams and r iv e r s might
be su ita b ly used fo r th e purpose.
"The water o f the r iv e r s
whose source man knew not would be reckoned as a more or l e s s
3
pure form o f sp rin g-w ater."
I t i s important to observe,
however, that according to the Parah T ra cta te, the River
Jordan had never been considered e n t ir e ly su ita b le fo r general
1* Mk.7:4b. The v erse i s not q u ite c le a r . The washing may
r e fe r e ith e r to the people coming from the market, or to
the purchases made th e r e .
2. Mk.7.
3. Brandt: o p . c i t . . p .47. C f.J u d ith , 12:7, "Judith washed
h e r s e lf at the fountain o f water in the camp."
223.
lu s t r a t io n , because i t s water was mixed w ith_brackish w ater.
1
The baptism o f John the B a p tist was th e refo re e s s e n t ia lly
e x t r a - le g a l.
Together w ith th e se cerem onial p u r ific a t io n s , th ere
f a l l fo r co n sid era tio n as p o ss ib le in flu e n c e s behind Johnfs
baptism , th e baptism o f the Jew ish p r o se ly te s and the baptism
o f the E ssen es.
The su b ject o f Jewish p r o se ly te baptism i s g en er a lly
admitted to be one o f th e most obscure and d i f f i c u l t problems
m th e whole round o f Jewish lit e r a t u r e .
2
I t i s not ce rta in
when t h i s r i t e had i t s o r ig in , but i t was in operation by
the end o f th e f i r s t century A .D ..
E p ictetu s probably r e fe r s
to i t , s ta tin g th a t when the G en tiles underwent the exper­
ience *of th e B aptized and th e chosen1, then th ey were in
r e a lit y Jews.^
The r i t e i s mentioned a lso in the Babylonian
Talmud, according to which Rabbi E lie z e r and Rabbi Joshua,
who held o f f ic e towards the end of the f i r s t century A .D .,
engaged in a d isp u te as to the correct method o f performing
the ceremony.
Rabbi E lie z e r was fo r circum cision only, w ith­
out baptism, Rabbi Joshua fo r baptism, w ithout circu m cision.
1. 8:10, "The w aters of Keramiyon and the Puga are in v a lid be­
cause th ey are miry w aters. The waters o f the Jordan and
Yarmuk are in v a lid because they are mixed w aters. R. Judah
d ecla res them in v a lid .” On t h i s , Strack and B illerb eck :
Kommentar zum N .T ., I , p .109, observe th a t perhaps the^
I n v a lid it y ap p lied only to sp e c ia l ca ses, but no such lim i­
t a tio n i s im plied in the t e x t . Eor the tr a n sla tio n , c f .
Danbyfs Mishnah, p .707.
2, In a d d itio n to the a r t ic le s in the Encyclopaediae on t h is
su b jec t, c f . Journal of T h eological S tu d ies, x i l , p p .437-445;
x i i i , p p .411-414.
3 # D iss. i i , 9.
124.
The s o lu tio n h it upon was t o adopt both circu m cision and
baptism .1
F in a lly th ere i s a referen ce to the r i t e in the
Mishnah, in which i t appears that a d iffe r e n c e o f op inion
arose between th e schools o f Shammai and H il le l as to the
correct procedure fo r the newly-made p r o s e ly te .
2
Whether
th e r it e was g en era lly p ra ctise d before t h is time i s open
to doubt.
I t i s p o s s ib le , on the one hand, th a t th e water
element was added to the o r ig in a l form, i . e . circu m cision
alone - on the analogy of the C h ristian baptism o f p rose3
l y t e s , and th a t baptism tended to d isp la ce circu m cision .
I t i s c e r ta in ly su rp risin g that th e r i t e i s not mentioned
in our sources where a llu s io n s to i t would n a tu r a lly have
been exp ected.
On th e other hand, i t may have been th a t
the r i t e was not in op eration in a l l d i s t r i c t s t i l l the
end o f th e f i r s t century.
H itherto i t may have been con­
fin ed to s p e c ia l p arts o n ly , and have had a gradual growth
t i l l f i n a l l y i t vies w id ely accepted and adopted.
T his
would p a r tly exp lain th e s ile n c e o f our sources, and the
p o s s ib ili t y would a r ise th a t the Jewish p ro sely te baptism
may have in flu en ced C h ristia n baptism, and that alread y in
the B a p t is t ’ s tim e, the r i t e was known.
In favour o f t h is
view i s th e con sid era tio n th a t the p ro se ly te baptism had
1* Cf. Strack and B ille rb eck : o p .c i t . , 1, p p .104-106.
2. Pesahim, 8 :8 , Cf. Danby’s m shnah, p. 148. 3. Strack and B ille r b e c k , o p . c i t . , 1, p .102.
125.
marked a f f i n i t i e s w ith the old L e v it ic a l w a te r -r ite s , sug­
g e s tin g th a t i t s an teced en ts may be traced to t h e s e .
The
main o b je c tio n to t h i s view - one which cannot but be re­
garded as a se r io u s one - i s th a t running water was g en er a lly
used fo r th e p r o se ly te baptism .
The candidate stood in
the water reaching to h is neck during the r e c it a t io n of the
commandments o f th e Law, and then plunged h is head beneath,
t o t a l l y submerging h im se lf.
Running water was, as already
observed, not considered to meet w ith the le g a l requirements
as to th e p u rity of water t i l l the time of the D iaspora. T his
accords very w e ll w ith the lack o f evidence r e la tin g to the
r it e b efore th at p erio d , and p o in ts to the con clu sion that
the p r o se ly te baptism was in fluenced by the C h ristia n , rather
than v ic e v er sa .
I t may be noted, to o , th a t the Jewish
p ro sely te baptism was e s s e n t i a lly an act of r it u a l p u r ific a t io n ,
whereas th e baptism o f John th e B a p tist, embodied, as w ill be
seen, a moral element as w e ll.
I f i t i s open to doubt whether th e Jewish p ro se ly te bap­
tism e x iste d at th e time o f John, there can be no such doubt
2
regarding the e x iste n c e of the baptisms o f the E ssenes.
The
1* Cf. Lietzmann: E.B r. , 14th e d ., v o l . i i i , p .82, "It can be
said d e f in it e ly th a t C h ristian baptism cannot be derived
from t h is Jew ish prototype, because C hristian Jews a lso had
to undergo C h ristia n baptism, w h ilst the meaning o f prose­
ly t e baptism, as the washing away o f r itu a l im purity, could
only have been considered in r e la tio n to pagans.
An e x c e lle n t account of t h is sect i s given by Schurer: op.
P i t . . I I , v o l . i i , p p .188-218; a ls o a bibliograp h y.
126
p r in c ip a l data bearing on t h is se c t are to be found in
I P
3
Josephus , P h ilo , and P lin y th e Elder .
Josephus f i r s t
m entions them at th e time o f Jonathan the Maccabee, ( c ir c a
150 B .C .), and p la ces them alon gsid e the P h a risees and
4
Sadducees as a th ir d se c t of th e Jews.
He t e l l s us th a t
he h im self had passed through the th ree courses o f Essenism .
5
Various su g g estio n s have been made as to the o r ig in and mean­
ing o f th e name.
P h ilo connects i t with 0 ^ ,c)i > (the Pious
on es), but perhaps t h is was due to the fa c t that the Essenes
were indeed pious rath er than to s t r ic t etym ological d eriva­
t io n .
In the f i r s t century A.D. the Essenes were about
4000 stron g, and were spread over almost the whole o f P a le s­
t in e .
They were a s c e t ic s , wore white c lo th e s , liv e d in
th e ir own con ven ts, and cu ltiv a te d a p ecu lia r s a n c tity and
calmness o f l i f e .
They were divided in to four c la s s e s , and
admission to each o f th e grades was preceded by lu s t r a t io n .
Before t h e ir mid-day meal they came togeth er to a s p e c ia l
place in the open, and washed t h e ir body w ith cold water.
I f th ey came in to con tact w ith persons not belonging to
th e ir order, a thorough clean sin g o f the v/hole body was
e s s e n t ia l.
Even i f in th e ir own order a member o f a lower
grade came in to con tact with a member o f a higher grade, the
I. B jJ ., i i . 8 . 2 . (1 1 9 f f . ) ; A ntiq. , x v i i i . 1 . 5 . ( 1 8 f f . ) .
Omnis Probus L ib er, 1 2 .
3* N a t.H is t., v , 17.
4. A ntiq. . ~ x i i i . 5 . 9 . ( 1 7 1 f f .) .
5* V it a . 2 . ( 1 0 ) .
127.
same rigorou s p u r ific a to r y ru lesjw ere en forced .
They did
not engage in trad e and b a rter, but shared t h e ir goods, and
p ra ctise d ch a rita b le a c t i v i t i e s .
revered by them.
The sun was s p e c ia lly
"Before th e sun i s up they u tte r no
word on profane m atters but o ffe r to him ce rta in prayers as
1
though en tr e a tin g him to r is e ."
They were forbidden to
in s u lt h is rays by any a ct of u ncleanness.
While h ig h ly
esteem ing th e Law o f Moses, d ilig e n t ly studying the Holy
S crip tu re, and keeping the Sabbath w ith extraordinary
rig o u r, th ey n e v e r th e le ss seem to have re je cted the o f f e r m g o f animal s a c r if ic e s in the Temple.
2
They held th e
an gels in great honour, b eliev ed in the p re-ex iste n c e and
im m ortality o f the so u l, and in reward and re tr ib u tio n in
the h e r e a fte r .
In t h is re sp e c t, Josephus t e l l s us, t h e ir
b e lie f s were in harmony with thoiare To f the sons o f Greece*.
I t appears too th a t th ey p ossessed ce r ta in e s o te r ic books
on which th ey co n sta n tly nourished t h e ir minds.
F in a lly ,
Josephus m entions another order o f E ssen es, who, he says,
perm itted marriage fo r the continuance of the race on ly.
In t h is connexion, to o , v ariou s lu s tr a tio n s were carried
4
out w ith the most scrupulous care.
1. J b J ., i i . 8 . 5 . (1 2 8 ).
2. A ntiq . . x v i i i . 1 . 5 . ( 1 9 .) .
t h is passage i s d oub tfu l.
Law o f Moses, p p .61-63.
3. B .J .. j j . 8 .1 2 .( 1 5 9 .) .
l i i - > i i . 8 . 1 3 . (1 6 0 f f . ) .
The exact in te r p r e ta tio n o f
Of. Branscomb: Jesus and the
The E ssenes p resen t an in te r e s tin g problem.
Whether
th e op in ion o f Josephus i s c o r r e c t, v iz . th a t th e Essenes
were a th ir d se ct o f th e Jews, or whether they.w ere in
r e a l i t y q u ite w ithout th e p ale o f P a le s tin ia n Judaism, or
whether th ey were a su b -sect o f th e P h a risees, i s open to
doubt.
On t h i s Loewe w r ite s , "That they ware a separate
se c t used to be the accepted view .
I t was held th a t fo reig n
in flu e n c e s , P ersian or Buddhist or Pythagorean or Syrian
were re sp o n sib le fo r th e E ssen es.
The op posite view , th a t
of K ohler, i s , in th e main, true:
he regards the Essenes
as *a branch o f the P harisees who conformed to th e most
r ig id r u le s o f l e v i t i c a l p u r ity , w hile a sp irin g to the
h ig h est degree o f h o l i n e s s . S i m i l a r l y , Klausner w r ite s,
"There i s nothing in Essenism , so far as we know, to force
us t o th e con clu sion th a t i t contains anything derived from
the Pythagorean philosophy . . . . as Z e lle r , in h is Philosophy
of G reece, t r i e s to i n s i s t ."
2
ft
•
Schurer, to o , th in k s th a t
3
"Essenism i s f i r s t and mainly a Jew ish formation".
Y et,
in view o f th e f a c t s th a t the Essenes seem to have rejected
animal s a c r if ic e s , and th a t they conducted t h e ir baptisms
in the open, i t seems th a t t h e ir procedure could not have
been regarded as f a l l i n g w ithin the scope of le g a l Jewish
1» E.B r. . 14th e d ., v o l . v i i i , p p .718-719.
Jesus o f N azareth, p .209.
3. O p .c it. . I I , v o l . i i , p .218.
129
baptism s, at l e a s t .
I t i s true th at many .of t h e ir doc­
t r in e s and p r a c tic e s seem to have Pharisaism as t h e ir
b a s is , and th a t i t might be p o ssib le to understand Josephus*
referen ce to t h e ir ven eration o f th e sun as meaning no more
than th a t th e Essenes " ju st b efore su n rise turned eastward,
and said the usual Jewish prayers lik e men who implore th a t
the sun may r is e ."
1
But i f t h i s i s a l l th at i s meant, i t
i s c e r t a in ly p e c u lia r ly expressed.
Whether Josephus i s
r e a lly "appealing t o the non-Jewish world to see th a t Juda­
ism included a m ystery r e lig io n , an a ss o c ia tio n fo r p h ilosophic lif e "
g
or whether th e account o f the h isto r ia n has
been worked over "with a p h ilo so p h ic veneer in an attempt
2
to approximate i t to Greek ideas" are p o in ts on which th ere
i s no gen eral consensus of op in ion .
The p o s s i b i l i t y cannot
be a lto g e th e r ruled ou t, but i t seems not improbable th at
the Essenes them selves developed th ese ideas in the f i r s t
century A.D. through contact w ith H ellenism .
On th e whole,
i t i s somewhat d i f f i c u l t to thin k th at th e Essenes were
o r ig in a lly a Jew ish sect or su b -se c t.
More probably th ey
were o f ea r ly o r ig in , (hence t h e ir p rim itiv e id eas about
the su n), and at a la t e r sta g e, (cir ca 200-150 B .C .), they
were joined by a considerable number of Jews who were im­
!• Eoakes Jackson: Josephus and the Jews, p .76, fo o t-n o te .
2, Eoakes Jackson: o p . c i t . , p .75.
3. Klausner: o p . c i t . , p .209.
130.
p ressed by t h e ir p a r tic u la r d is c ip lin e of l i f e .
N a tu rally
the o r ig in a l group would tend to absorb the b e l i e f s and prac­
t i c e s o f th e Jews who joined them, and t h i s may have given
them th e appearance o f a d is t in c t Jewish s e c t.
At a s t i l l
la t e r stage th ey were in flu en ced by Greek id ea s, and p o s sib ly
w ith the gen eral r e la x a tio n of the r u le s in the Diaspora came
to be regarded as a th ir d se c t alon gsid e of the P h arisees
and Sadducees.
The data already g iv en regarding the p r a c tic e s o f the
Essenes make i t q u ite c le a r th a t th ere ex isted no r e a l con­
n ectio n between them and John the B a p tis t.
The on ly sim ila r ­
it y l i e s in th e a sc e tic is m common to both, but t h is i s much
too gen eral a c h a r a c te r is tic to be o f d e c is iv e v a lu e.
There
is no tr a c e o f a c u lt of the sun or of angels in JohnTs teach ­
ing, nothing i s said about various grades among h is fo llo w ers;
and nothing about t h e ir p o ssessio n o f e s o te r ic books.
It is
very su r p r isin g , th e r e fo r e , to fin d w riters a sse r tin g that
John the B a p tist and h is fo llo w ers are to be counted among
the E ssenes as a m atter o f course.
Thus Graetz can even
w rite, "The Essene who thu s abjured th e I s r a e lit e s was John
the B a p tist (h is name d o u b tless meaning the Essene, he who
daily bathed and cleansed h im self in spring viater)"!^
Like
the baptism o f the Jewish p r o s e ly te s, and unlike John's baptism,
H istory o f the Jews, v o l . i i , p .146.
131.
th e baptism s o f th e Essenes partook o f th e nature o f a
r it u a l p u r if ic a t io n .1
The baptisms o f the Essenes were
repeated again and again, whereas th ere i s no evidence
th a t th e baptism of John was performed more than once in
each in d iv id u a l case.
Although th e O.T. p u r ific a tio n s and the baptism s of
the E ssenes cannot be invoked as d ir e c t p a r a lle ls to the
baptism o f John, and th erefo re w holly explanatory of h is
r i t e , i t seems th a t t h e ir very e x iste n c e and widespread
employment may ex p la in to a certa in extent John's p r a c tic e .
T his exp lan ation i s much b ette r at any rate than to go
fu r th er a f ie ld and to exp lain John's baptism by the w aterr i t e s p e c u lia r to other r e lig io n s .
o f course q u ite undeniable.
That th ese ex iste d i s
MacCulloch c it e s sev era l
in te r e s tin g in sta n c e s - baptisms among the American Indian
t r ib e s , among th e Egyptians and Hindus at the Malay A rchip elago, and variou s other p re-C h ristia n European r i t e s ,
2
buy
i t i s doubtful whether much can be made of th e se rather fa r ­
fetch ed a n a lo g ie s .
Nor should too much str e s s be la id upon
the H e lle n is t ic Mystery r e lig io n s with th e ir in it ia t o r y
baptism al cerem onies, embodying the idea of regen eration ,
sin ce i t i s by no means certa in at what point o f time th ese
1. B ousset: Die R e lig io n des Judentums, p .231, th in k s that
the baptism of the Essenes had a sacramental character.
The evidence i s too meagre to warrant such a conclusion.
2* E.R.E. . v o l . i i , p p .3 6 7 ff.
132.
c u lt s were e sta b lish e d and extended t h e ir influence."*"
With
th e contemporary Jewish p u r ific a tio n s as a background, and
a l i t t l e o r i g in a l it y on John’s p a rt, i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to
see how he devised h is baptism.
I t has alread y been pointed out how even in O.T. tim es
a step had been taken towards the idea th a t baptism cle a n se s
from moral g u i l t .
There can be no doubt th at John, who
was o f p r ie s t l y d escen t, would be acquainted with the O.T.
S c r ip tu r e s.
Both E zek.36:25, ’I w i l l sprinkle clea n water
upon you, and ye s h a ll be c le a n 1, and P s.5 1 :7 , ’Wash me and
I s h a ll be w hiter than snow’ , may have pow erfully impressed
him, and h is baptism was probably in sp ired by e ith e r o f
th ese p assages or by both.
According to the former, John’s
baptism would be regarded by him as the d ir e c t fu lfilm e n t of
the prophecy th a t God would cleanse the I s r a e li t e s from a l l
th e ir id o ls and t h e ir s in .
According to the l a t t e r , i t
would be regarded as the answer to the prayer of the P sa lm ist,
1. The p oin t w i l l be taken in se c tio n (d) of t h is chapter. The
baptism al r i t e employed in the Mystery cu lt of Mithra, may
be noted here. ’’The p u r ific a tio n by water washed away sin
and was thu s a kind o f adult baptism, while the la t e r stages
o f s e a lin g th e ca n d id a te’s forehead as the mark o f h is i n i ­
t i a t i o n to the grade o f ’s o ld ie r ’ was compared by T e rtu llia n
to th e r i t e o f co n firm a tio n .” MacCulloch: a r t . c i t . , p .374.
Worthy o f n ote, to o , i s th e curious r itu a l of the Taurobolium, or baptism in b u l l ’s blood.
The candidate sat in
a tren ch underneath an open gra tin g on which a b u ll m s
s a c r if ic e d .
The blood gushed a l l over him and the candidate
was declared to be ’reborn in to e t e r n it y ’ . See furt& er,
MacCulloch: a r t . o i t . , p .374.
’Wash me thoroughly frcm mine in iq u it y ’ .
th en , th a t th e B a p tis t, convinced
I t would appear,
as he was o f an inner
c a l l , lin k ed up th e se S crip tu r a l passages w ith the p revalen t
Jew ish lu s t r a t io n s in a b r illia n t and p r a c tic a l way, by in ­
s t it u t in g a baptism s im ila r ,to a ce rta in e x te n t, but by no
means e n t ir e ly s im ila r ,to the l a t t e r - a baptism whose
p o p u la rity would be g r e a tly increased by r e f le c t io n upon
th e form er.
Opinions w ill d if f e r as to why John chose th e
Jordan as one of th e th e a tr es of h is a c t iv it y .
Attempts
have been made to exp lain t h is as due to E zek iel 47 from
which i t might appear th a t the water o f Jordan would be
regarded as s u ita b le fo r baptism.
I t i s much more lik e l y ,
however, th a t John’ s a c tio n may be w holly explained by the
daring o r ig in a lit y of h is ou tlook .
I t mattered l i t t l e to
him where and how the r i t e was performed, so long as i t
achieved i t s purpose.
Indeed, the very n o v elty o f the pro­
cedure must have p ow erfully a ttr a cted the popular im agination
and t h i s fa c to r , t o o , may have weighed with John in givin g
h is r i t e an unusual and a str ik in g a sp ect.
I t seems to be
quite unnecessary to go beyond th e se con sid era tio n s to
account fo r the o r ig in o f John’s baptism.
Why go in search
of remote a n a lo g ie s , and deny the B a p tist an o r ig in a lit y
which h is r i t e , a s w ill immediately be seeh, so p a ten tly
exem plified?
134.
(c) The Method o f John’ s Baptism.
The o r ig in a lit y o f John’s baptism appears f i r s t l y
in th e method of i t s execu tio n .
The Gospels in d ic a te
th a t the method employed was as fo llo w s .
Those about to
be b a p tised descended in to the Jordan (im plied at M k.l:10,
M a tt.3 :1 6 ), and a f te r a tim e, (how long i s not s ta te d ),
came up out of the r iv e r on the com pletion o f the ceremony.
John h im self performed the a ctu a l b a p tisin g .
8 ,9 ; M att.3 :6 ,1 1 ,1 3 ,1 4 ,1 6 ;
33, 3:22, 4 : 2 ) .
(M k.l:14, 5,
L k .3:7,1 6 ,2 1 , 7:30;
J n .1 :2 6 ,2 8 ,
I t i s not clea r whether th e baptism in ­
volved complete or p a r tia l immersion, or whether i t in ­
volved a sp rin k lin g or washing o f the body.
C h ristia n art
represented John as pouring a s h e l l - f u l l of water over the
head o f Jesu s at h is baptism , but t h is i s probably due to
the la t e r C h ristia n p r a c tic e .
Almost c e r ta in ly , in th e
Jordan, at l e a s t , immersion was the r u le .
In the Mandaean
lit e r a t u r e John i s given to say, ”1 throw men in to the
Jordan lik e sheep before t h e ir shepherds, and I make th e
water flo w over them w ith my s t a f f , and I u tte r th e name o f
L ife over them .”'*’
At Aenon near to Salim , and at other
th e a tr e s o f John’s a c t i v i t y , the method may have varied to
s u it th e w ater-supply, and a sp rin k lin g may have s u ffic e d ,
Ginzat L id zb ., p .192, 2 f f . (= G.R.v .1 9 1 .)
135.
but i t i s d i f f i c u l t to see how John h im self could have
performed t h is l a t t e r type o f baptism in view o f the enor­
mous crowds who flo ck ed to h is r i t e .
The fa c t th a t he
did b a p tise in person, however, as the evid en ce indubi­
ta b ly su g g ests, to g eth er with th e con sid era tio n th a t immer­
sio n was almost c e r ta in ly employed, g iv e s h is baptism a
d is t in c t and s tr ik in g o r ig in a lit y , sin ce such a procedure
cannot be p a r a lle le d e ith e r in the O.T. p u r ific a tio n s or
in the baptisms o f th e E ssenes, as fa r as can be judged.
In a l l o f th e se the baptised performed the ceremony him­
s e l f , and in th e Jewish p ro se ly te baptism the same ru le
held good.
The la st-m en tio n ed , i t i s tru e, was perfoimed
in the presence o f two or three w itn e sse s, but th e se
w itn e sse s took no a c tiv e part in the lu s tr a tio n i t s e l f .
In
view o f th e n o v elty of John’ s p r a c tic e , Oremer^ may perhaps
be r ig h t in su ggestin g that
o j&oirrTi^uV as applied to
John sp e e d ily c r y s t a llis e d in to the t i t l e
’B a p t is t ’ , be­
cause whereas in other baptism al s e c ts everybody performed
th e a b lu tio n s on h im self, John h im self performed them on
th o se whom he b a p tised .
F in a lly , there i s no evidence
th a t John’s baptism was repeated.
The im pression which
the E v a n g elists and Josephus convey i s th at i t was per­
m is s ib le only once in each in d iv id u a l case.
1. O p .c it. . p . 127;
v o l . i , p .544.
c f . K itte l: Theolog.Wort.zum N.T. .
136.
Summarising:
There ex iste d a sharp co n tra st between
John’ s baptism and a l l other contemporary baptism s - the
l a t t e r w ith t h e ir cramping r e s t r ic t io n s regarding the
q u a lity o f w a ter, ( spring-w ater), and the place fo r the
performance of th e r i t e ,( r a r e l y in the open), w ith t h e ir
frequent r e p e titio n and t h e ir a sp ersio n or washing o f the
body, the former, with i t s daring r e je c tio n o f a l l th ese
forms v/hich tended to e x a lt the r i t e i t s e l f at the expense
o f i t s s ig n ific a n c e .
Even in e x te r n a ls, John’ s baptism
ex h ib ite d a very str ik in g o r ig in a lit y !
(d) The S ig n ific a n c e o f John’s Baptism.
I t was in the s ig n ific a n c e of John’s baptism, how­
ever, th a t the B a p t is t ’s g r e a te st o r ig in a lit y appears to
have l a in .
The p a r a lle l pawsages in the Synoptics d ealin g with
the con trast between John’s baptism and the baptism which
was to fo llo w h is may f i r s t be considered.
Mark has:
’ I indeed have b ap tised you with water . . . . but he s h a ll
1
b a p tise you with the Holy S p ir it . ’
Matthew and Luke,
*1 indeed b a p tise you with water . . . . but he sh a llb a p tise
you w ith the Holy S p ir it and w ith f i r e . ’
A ll th ree
E v a n g elists represent John as co n tra stin g h is water baptism
w ith a coming S p irit-b a p tism , but Matthew and Luke add
1.
1 :1 8 .
2.
M a tt.3 :1 1 =
L k .3 :1 6 .
137.
very s ig n if ic a n t ly th at the coming baptism was to be
accompanied w ith f i r e .
There can be no doubt that th e
referen ce to f i r e i s o r ig in a l.
belong to th e 9
Not on ly do th e words
tr a d itio n , but i t i s almost in cr ed ib le
th a t th ey would have been in ven ted, inasmuch as th e la t e r
C h ristia n baptism was not accompanied by f i r e .
While
t h i s i s c le a r , i t i s not so certa in whether the other
element in th e coming baptism - the Holy S p ir it - can be
s a f e ly regarded as an o r ig in a l utterance o f the B a p tis t.
I t i s true th a t the idea o f the S p ir it i s not u nfam iliar
in th e O .T ., but nowhere does the set exp ression - the
Holy S p ir it - appear.
For the conception o f the pouring
out o f th e S p ir it , presumably in baptism, J o el i s commonly
c ite d as a p o s s ib le in flu e n c e on John’ s thought, ’And i t
s h a ll come to pass afterward that I w i l l pour out my s p ir i t
upon a l l f le s h ; and your sons and your daughters s h a ll
prophesy, your old men s h a ll dream dreams, and your young
men s h a ll see v is io n s ;
and a lso upon the servants and
upon th e handmaidens in th e se days w ill I pour out my s p ir it .
And I w i l l shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth,
blood, f ir e , and p illa r s o f smoke.
The sun s h a ll be turned
in to darkness, and the moon in to blood, before the great
and t e r r ib le day o f the Lord com e.’’*'
1.
J o el: 2 :2 8 -3 1 .
I t would be rash to
138
exclude th e p o s s ib ili t y o f the B a p t is t ’ s acquaintance
w ith t h i s passage and o f i t s in flu en ce in forming h is
thought.
The p o in t, ra th er, i s in what way the words o f
J o e l were l i k e l y to have been understood by John.
I f the
chapter i s con su lted , i t i s p la in th a t 2:21-27 form one
d is t in c t se c tio n d escrib in g the b le s s in g s which Zion w i l l
in h e r it at th e end o f tim e, and th a t the v er ses quoted,
2: 28-31, (a ls o v .3 2 ) , form another d is t in c t s e c tio n ,
announcing the fa te o f the ungodly.
The v is io n s and
prophecies are to .b e understood in no good se n se , but
rather as denoting the u p se ttin g of th e mind and a l l
manner o f con fu sion , an in te r p r e ta tio n which i s supported
by the referen ce to blood, f i r e , p illa r s o f smoke, dark­
n ess.
In fa c t th e passage i s p a r a lle l to Isa ia h 4 :4 ,
’When the Lord s h a ll have washed away the f i l t h o f th e
daughters o f Zion . . . . by the s p ir it o f judgment and the
d p ir it o f burning’ , to Isa ia h 57:13, ’When thou c r i e s t ,
l e t thy companies d e liv e r th ee . . . . but the wind s h a ll
carry them away1, to Isa ia h 41:16, ’Thou sh a lt fan them
and the wind s h a ll carry them away’ , and f in a l ly , to Psalm
1 :4 , 'The wicked are lik e the chaff which the wind d riv eth
away . . . . th e wicked s h a ll not stand in the judgm ent,’
What the B a p tist r e a lly envisaged, th e r e fo r e , was not a l l
a baptism w ith Holy S p i r i t , but a baptism w ith s p ir it or
139.
wind, (th e word rweuUotT/
in our t e x t s may he o r ig in a l
^
c /
in t h i s se n se , minus the a d je c tiv e yI to ), a scorching
wind which would thoroughly fan and s i f t , and the f i r e
which the B a p tist referred to was not by any means th e
f i r e o f enthusiasm a sso c ia te d w ith the S p ir it , but th e
consuming f i r e o f which Malachi speaks, ’For behold the
day cometh th at s h a ll burn as an oven’ , 4 :1 .
’Who s h a ll
stand when he appeareth, fo r he i s lik e a r e f in e r ’ s f i r e
and f u l l e r ’s soap?’ , 3 :2 ,
This in te r p r e ta tio n f i t s in
admirably with the B a p t is t ’s own referen ce to the ch aff
and to the th r e s h in g -flo o r and w ith h is cry, ’F lee from
the wrath to cornel’
On the other hand, Mark’s referen ce
to the Holy S p ir it , and the Matthaean and Lucan c o n fla tio n
o f Holy S p ir it and f i r e , shew how John’s message was ea r ly
m isunderstood and s p ir itu a lis e d in C hristian c i r c l e s .
The o r ig in a l co n tra st, then, as John pronounced i t ,
was between h is own baptism , in v olvin g the m ilder elem ent,
water, and a coming baptism to be accompanied by the more
searin g elem ents, wind and f i r e .
What ex a c tly t h is coming
baptism was to be, and by whom i t was to be performed, need
not be d iscu ssed a t p resen t,'1'
be asked:
Rather, the q uestions may
Did p a r tic ip a tio n in John’s baptism secure sa fe ty
from the f i r e and wind baptism?
Was John’s baptism for
b od ily p u r ific a tio n o n ly, or had i t a s o le ly moral s i g n i f i 1.
C f. C hapter V, p . 2 b 0 f f .
140.
cance?
Was John’s baptism sim ply a p r a c tic a l means o f
gath erin g the people to g eth er to take an oath to repent
in view o f th e nearness of the fir e -b a p tism , and thus
sym bolical o f th e p u rity o f l i f e he demanded, and devoid
o f sacram ental effica c y ?
To th e se q u estio n s no a b so l­
u te ly c le a r and unequivocal answer i s given in the G ospels,
but y e t , i t i s p o s s ib le , perhaps, to get f a i r l y near the
mark, by examining the evidence our sources a ffo r d .
According to the G ospels, John’s baptism had q u ite
unmistakably a certa in moral s ig n ific a n c e .
According to
Mark, ’John appeared in the w ilderness . . . he who b ap tised
and preached th e baptism o f repentance fo r the rem ission
o f s in s .
And th ere went out to him a l l the land o f Judea,
and th ey o f Jerusalem , and were baptised in the riv er of
Jordan, co n fessin g th e ir s in s . ’
According to Luke, ’John
came . . . . preaching the baptism of repentance fo r the rem ission o f s i n s . ’
According to Matthew, ’Then went
out to him Jerusalem and a l l Judea and th e country round
about Jordan and were b aptised of him in th e Jordan co n fe ss­
in g t h e ir s i n s . ’5
Matthew a lso rep resen ts John as saying,
4
*1 b a p tise you w ith water unto repentance’ .
Before the
genuineness and the meaning of th ese passages is examined,
i t w i l l be o f in te r e s t to compare the gen eral im pression
1. 1 :4 .
3. 3 : 5 ,6 .
2.
4.
3 :3 .
3:11.
141
which th ey convey, w ith the t o t a l l y d iffe r e n t estim ate
o f Josephus,
There are three str ik in g d iffe r e n c e s in the h is t o r ­
ia n ’ s account.
F ir s t , the baptism o f John i s d is s o c ia te d
from e s c h a to lo g ic a l co n sid era tio n s.
This i s p urely nega­
t i v e , however, and q u ite in lin e w ith the h is t o r ia n ’ s
customary s ile n c e on such m a tters.
Second, i t would appear
th a t Josephus in d ic a te s th a t John extended h is baptism
f i r s t to Jews, who had already improved t h e ir l i v e s by
v ir tu e and p ie t y , and that the baptism was the crowning
p oint o f r ig h te o u sn e ss.
Only when th e people in gen eral
flo ck ed to him did Herod grow su sp ic io u s.
’’The statement
thu s im p lies th a t th e virtu ous rather than th e s in fu l were
in v ite d to baptism , which was only open to th ose who had
alread y p u r ified t h e ir sou ls by r ig h te o u sn e ss.”
2
This
account o f John’s baptism cannot be recon ciled w ith the
Gospel account, u n le ss i t be referred to an e a r lie r stage
o f John’s a c t iv it y during which h is baptism was so con­
s t it u t e d .
Had t h i s been the ca se, however, i t i s very
d i f f i c u l t to understand why, w ith in a few y ea rs, h is baptism
underwent so ra d ic a l a change.
Third, according to Josephus,
the baptism o f John was fo r b o d ily p u r ific a tio n only, and
in i t s e l f involved no question of clean sin g from moral
g u ilt.
No recourse can be had to E is le r ’ s su ggestion th a t
1. C f. Chapter I , p. 14-15,
2. Jackson & Lake: The Beginnings o f C h r is tia n ity , v o l . i , p . 103,
142.
a C h ristia n co p y ist has been at work on the passage "who,
u n w illin g to admit th a t John's baptism was connected w ith
repentance and the fo r g iv e n e ss of s in s , d e lib e r a te ly a lt e r ­
ed th e s ig n ific a n c e of th e same by tran sp osin g the members
o f the a d v ersa tiv e c la u s e s , 'not i f ' , and 'but fo r * ." 1 I f
a C h ristia n cop yist d e lib e r a te ly a lte r e d the te x t o f
Josephus in th e manner d escrib ed , i t i.s hard to imagine
how a sim ila r phrase, 'a baptism fo r the rem ission o f
s i n s ' , could have been in serted in the Gospel accoun ts,
or, i f i t were o r ig in a lly th e re, how i t could have been
l e f t stand in g!
A ccordingly, i t must be admitted th a t on
the two last-m en tion ed p o in ts , the Gospel evidence and
the evidence o f Josephus are in d ir e c t c o n tra d ictio n .
Perhaps the true so lu tio n o f the d i f f i c u l t y l i e s
along the fo llo w in g l i n e s .
One f e e l s that the way in
which Josephus p resen ts h is estim ate of John's baptism
su ggests q u ite d e f in i t e ly that he i s con tra d ictin g some­
th in g .
Can t h is be the Gospel records?
reasonable p o s s i b i l i t y that i t can.
T hereis a
The h is to r ia n , in
f a c t , fin d in g i t Stated th e rein that John's baptism was
connected w ith repentance and the fo rg iv en ess of s in s , may
have been struck by the contrast between t h is and the puri­
f ic a t o r y r i t e s which had h ith erto obtained.
R e fle c tin g
fu rth er Upon the fa c t th a t C hristian baptism had a moral
1 . C f,C h a p ter I , p .lb .
s ig n if ic a n c e , lie may very p o ssib ly have concluded th a t th e
a s c r ip tio n o f th e same to John’s baptism had been due to a
1
con fu sion between John’ s baptism and C h ristian baptism*
He p r e fe r s th erefo re to represent John’s baptism as being
sim ila r to th e r i t e s o f contemporary Judaism, and thus
in tim a te s, th a t, in r e a lit y , i t was extended on ly to a
s e le c t body of Jews, and that i t was not fo r th e rem ission
o f s in s , but s o le ly fo r th e p u r ific a tio n of th e body.
Such
an account o f th in g s would offend nobody - n e ith e r h is
C h ristia n readers, nor h is patrons, and at th e same tim e,
i t would afford Josephus an e x c e lle n t opportunity to a ir h is
su p erio r knowledge on Jewish s e c ts - a subject in which he
always d isp la y s th e most in ten se in t e r e s t .
A l i t t l e re­
f l e c t i o n , however, shews how u n lik e ly the account of
Josephus r e a lly i s .
The Gospel tr a d itio n th a t John’s
baptism had a ce r ta in moral sig n ific a n c e i s alm ost cer­
t a in ly c o r r e c t, because th at tr a d itio n would never have
been invented by C h r istia n s.
The tendency would have been
to s t r e s s th e d iffe r e n c e between John’s baptism and C h ristia n
1* Cf. Naber: Mnemosyne Z e it s c h r if t , New S e r ie s, v o l . x i i i ,
1885, p .281. The on ly ob jectio n to the view th a t Josephus
had in mind C h ristia n baptism at t h is point i s th e ex­
p r e ssio n , ”th e rem ission of c e r ta in s in s ” . This does not
seem to s u it C h ristia n baptism which was fo r the fo r g iv e ­
n ess o f a l l s in s . The e a r lie s t sta g es of C h ristia n bap­
tism a re, however, not c le a r , and there may have been some
such r e s t r ic t io n at f i r s t .
Otherwise, i t may be supposed
th a t Josephus i s co n tra stin g John’s baptism w ith certa in
Mystery C u lts.
144 .
baptism , had th e former not q u ite in d isp u ta b ly been con­
n ected w ith moral is s u e s .
The. account o f Josephus appears,
th e r e fo r e , to be l e s s accep tab le than the Gospel t r a d itio n .
The l a t t e r i s p rim itiv e:
th e former m erely the personal
opinion of th e h is to r ia n .
The p oin t ju s t made, th a t John’s baptism would not
have been given a ce rta in moral sig n ific a n c e by the Evangel­
i s t s , had i t not a c tu a lly p ossessed t h is s ig n ific a n c e , le a d s
d ir e c t ly to a d isc u ssio n of th e phrases d escrib in g the r i t e
and to an estim a tio n of t h e ir genuineness and t h e ir meaning.
1
I t i s noteworthy th a t Mark
and Luke
2
s ta te th a t th e baptism
was connected w ith ’fo rg iv e n e ss o f s i n s ’ .
I t i s u su a lly
assumed th a t th e se words are a d d itio n a l, r e fle c t in g the
s ig n ific a n c e o f C h ristian baptism.
John’ s baptism has
been giv en , i t i s h eld , an in correct sig n ific a n c e through
th e attempt to draw him in to C hristian c i r c l e s .
the words should be d eleted as not p r im itiv e .
s ig h t, t h is su g g estio n i s a t t r a c t iv e .
Hence
At f i r s t
The p r o b a b ility th a t
C h ristian in flu e n c e has a ttr ib u ted to John the words ’He
w ill b a p tise you w ith Holy S p i r i t ’has already been observed.
But, i t may w e ll be asked, i s i t probable th a t John’s bap­
tism would have been f i c t i t i o u s l y represented as connected
d ir e c t ly or in d ir e c tly w ith the fo rg iv en ess o f s in s , in
1.
1 :4 .
Cf. Brandt:
2 . 3 :3 .
Die jfidischen Baptismen, p .70
145
view o f th e s in le s s n e s s of J esu s, and the fa c t th a t he
had been b aptised by John?
The two id eas cla sh q u ite
unm istakably, and r a is e very acute d i f f i c u l t i e s .
I t was
not th e in te n tio n of the E v a n g elists to r a is e any such
d i f f i c u l t i e s fo r t h e ir readers, but th a t the d if f ic u lt y
was e a r ly f e l t i s c le a r from the a p o lo g etic a d d itio n o f
Matthew in h is account o f the baptism o f Jesus^ and from
h is om ission o f th e phrase, Tfo r the fo rg iv en ess o f s i n s 1,
in d escrib in g JohnTs r i t e .
In view of t h i s , i t i s pro­
bable th a t th e phrase should be regarded not as a la t e r
in s e r tio n but as p r im itiv e , and hence that John's baptism
was connected in some way with the rem ission o f s in s .
John's baptism i s fu rth er described as a 'baptism o f
repentance*, (
) .2
I t i s not
c le a r in what way the phrase i s to be understood.
It is
p o ssib le to take the g e n itiv e e p e x e g e tic a lly as in d ica tin g
th a t the f r u it o f baptism was repentance, or to take the
g e n itiv e as eq u ivalen t to 'unto repentan ce', (
f Mr Td v 0 \ d \ )
j
1 .e . a baptism w ith a view to repentance, or a baptism whose
demand was repentance.
The l a t t e r in te r p r e ta tio n i s b e tte r
because i t i s supported by Matthew, who u ses once the phrase
(
)
word
1*
2.
3.
12
Now there i s good evidence th a t the
was not always used by ancient w riters
C f. s e c tio n B o f t h is chapter.
Mk. 1 :4 .
3:11.
e x a c tly in our sense o f 'repentance* = a 'change o f m ind',
but in th e f u l l e r sense o f a 'change o f l i f e * , (Lebensw andel).
A change o f l i f e i s o f course preceded by a
change o f mind, but there i s a tran sferen ce o f the em phasis.
I t i s probable, then, th at John's baptism was one whose
demand was a change o f l i f e .
This demand was necessary in
view o f the coming fire -b a p tism , and only by evin cin g such
a change o f l i f e could the b aptised hope to secure re­
m ission o f sin s and to pass unscathed through the hour o f
tr ia l.
T his in te r p r e ta tio n lin k s up admirably with the
ever-repeated emphasis o f the B a p tist on the n e c e s s ity o f
1
repentance in h is preaching.
Indeed i t i s q u ite remark­
a b le how l i t t l e th e B a p tist has to say about th e r it e
i t s e l f , and how much more about moral req u irem en ts.’
It
seems c e r ta in th a t he ascribed to h is baptism no sacramental
e f f i c a c y .2
The fo rg iv e n e ss o f s in s was co n d itio n a l not on
acceptance o f the baptism a lo n e, but on change o f l i f e , as
both the moral emphasis in John's m in istry , and the absence
o f any se t formula fo r the baptism imply.
It does not
seem, th e r e fo r e , that Otto i s wholly j u s t if ie d in a sc r ib in g
to John "a water sacrament, which, w ith i t s m agical dynamic
was to provide a charm again st the menace o f the e sch a to lo g ic a l order."
3
Rather, i t would appear th at the r i t e was
1. Cf. Chapter V, p.2,7feff.
/ .
2. C f. J .V .B a r tle t : E.R.E. t v o l . i i , p .375.
3. The Kingdom of God and the Son o f Man, p .80.
14 7 .
employed by John sim ply as a means to gather th e people
to g e th e r to e l i c i t from them what Bultmann has c a lle d an
,1
’e s c h a to lo g ic a l oath
to change t h e ir l i v e s because o f the
nearness o f the end, and to renew t h e ir covenant w ith God.
P ow erfully s tir r e d by the B a p t is t 1s words, the people con­
fe sse d t h e ir sin s and, as a s e a l th a t t h e ir co n fessio n was
g en u ine, and th a t th ey were determined to bring fo r th
f r u i t s to prove th a t a change o f l i f e had taken p la ce ,
o
John b ap tised them in water which was sym bolical o f t&e
p u r ity o f l i f e which was henceforth to be t h e ir s .
The appearance o f the B a p tist with a w a te r -r ite a sso c­
ia te d , be i t in d ir e c t ly , w ith moral iss u e s was something
e n t ir e ly new in th e h isto r y of Jewish baptism s.
The id ea ,
i t i s tru e, had alread y been voiced by P salm ist and Prophet,
but i t took the gen iu s o f a bold and o r ig in a l p e r so n a lity
to work i t out in a p r a c tic a l and im pressive manner.
John’ s
baptism marked a d e f in ite step away from the l e g a l i s t i c
r e s t r ic t io n s of orthodox Judaism, and fore-shadowed the
emphasis o f C h r is tia n ity on change of l i f e .
But y e t, th e re was another sid e to the p ic tu r e , and in
t h is resp ect O tto ’ s words may be tru e.
I t was almost in ­
e v ita b le th a t many who flock ed to John’s baptism would do
so more out of c u r io s it y to see the strange phenomenon, than
1*
Jesus and the Word, p .23.
2 . L k .3:8.
1 48.
w ith any r e a l d e s ir e t o change t h e ir l i v e s .
I t may have
been th a t John’ s scath in g wDrds struck terr o r in to t h e ir
s o u ls , and th a t th ey accepted h is baptism hoping that the
r i t e i t s e l f would wash out t h e ir past s in s, and d e liv e r
them from the fir e -b a p tism .
C erta in ly th ey had no warrant
fo r such a hope from the B a p tist h im self, but i t would be
su r p r isin g i f th ere did not lin g e r in the minds o f the
people c e r ta in tr a c e s o f the old a n im istic id ea s as t o the
m agical clean sin g p ro p erties o f water.
S u p e r stitio n s
are hard to er a d ica te and i t i s by no means improbable
th a t th e rumour went round that on the Jordan, and e l s e ­
where, th ere worked one who o ffered a baptism which would
rem it s in s and provide a means of escape from the wrath
to come.
I t i s not su rp risin g , i f t h is were so , th a t
’Jerusalem and a l l th e land o f Judea and a l l th e country
round Jordan’ flo ck ed to p a r tic ip a te in a r i t e which was
said to p o ssess t h is v ir tu e .
In f a c t , the extreme popu­
l a r i t y o f th e baptism almost su ggests in i t s e l f th at t h is
was what a c tu a lly happened.
This unexpected, but only too
n atu ral development, had, i t would seem, a very profound
in flu e n c e on the r e la tio n s o f Jesus and John, and w ill come
1
up fo r fu rth er d isc u ssio n in a la t e r chapter.
Meantime,
i t i s to be re-em phasised th a t such a conception was
1.
Chapter VI
apparently e n t ir e ly fo r e ig n to the B a p tist h im se lf.
T h e -. '
evidence shews th a t he strove to counteract i t at every
p oint by s tr e s s in g th e a b so lu te n e c e s s it y o f a change o f
l i f e , fo r i t was h is co n v ictio n th a t by t h is alone would
the b ap tised fin d se c u r ity from the f i r e and wind baptism ,
and be gathered as wheat in to the garner.
(e) John’ s Baptism and C h ristian Baptism.
I t i s d esir a b le to continue t h is e x p o sitio n of John’ s
baptism one step fu rth er and to consider what l i g h t , i f
any, John’s p r a c tic e throws upon the r i t e o f C h ristia n
baptism .
By the middle o f the f i r s t century the la t t e r
fcite had a sacram ental s ig n ific a n c e .
I t was adm inistered
w ith the formula ’in the name of J e su s’ , was c lo s e ly a sso c ­
ia ted w ith the Holy S p ir it , and was regarded as rem ittin g
s in s and as bringing i t s p a r tic ip a n ts in to union w ith C h r ist.
The exp lan ation o f C h ristia n baptism has always been a
d i f f i c u l t problem, as th e very d iv e r s ity o f views a s to i t s
o r ig in shews.
There are th ree p o ssib le explanations o f the o r ig in o f
C h ristian baptism .
(a) The tr a d itio n a l view i s th a t baptism
was in s t itu t e d by C hrist in h is parting address to h is d is ­
c ip le s'1* and the r i t e was a d ire ct con tinu ation o f the pract i c e o f Jesus during h is lif e - t im e .
(b) Baptism was adopted
1. M att.28:19, ’Go ye unto a l l the world and make d is c ip le s
o f a l l th e G e n tile s, b ap tisin g them in th e name of the
Bather, the Son, and the Holy S p i r i t . ’
150
on th e analogy o f the w a te r -r ite s o f the H e lle n is t ic
Mystery R e lig io n s .
(c) Baptism was in h e r ite d by the
e a r ly C h r istia n s from Judaism, and in p a r tic u la r , from
th e r i t e o f John the B a p tis t, who used the Jewish lu s t r a ­
t io n s in a new and-more accep tab le way.
(a)
The tr a d itio n a l view i s open to se rio u s o b je c tio n
on the ground o f te x tu a l, h is t o r ic a l, and lit e r a r y c r it ic is m .
In c e r ta in t e x t s o f th e Gospels used by Eusebius and J u stin
Martyr, the commission to b a p tise did not appear.
The
fork er e ith e r om its the verse or g iv e s i t in the form, ’Go
you in to a l l the world and make d is c ip le s o f a l l the
G e n tile s in my name.’
Only four tim es out o f twenty-one
does th e t r a d itio n a l rendering appear, and th ese in sta n c es
are confined to h is la t e r w r itin g s.
The l a t t e r , in des­
crib in g th e regen eration of C hristian converts in connec­
t io n w ith baptism , invokes not Matt. 28:19 as j u s t if y in g
the p r a c tic e , but f a l l s back upon Isa ia h and A p o sto lic
tradition.'*'
T his su ggests th at J u stin was unacquainted
w ith the t r a d itio n a l t e x t .
I t i s s ig n if ic a n t , moreover,
th a t in th e D id a ctie the r i t e i s not c le a r ly described as
an in ju n ctio n given by Jesus h im self, e .g . as prayer i s .
2
How i t cannot be doubted th a t had the e c c le s ia s t ic a l formula
been o r ig in a l to Matthew, the tendency o f la t e r w riters
1.
A p o lo g i a , i ,
61.
2 . v i i : 1-4.
151.
would have been not to d isp la c e i t , but to_re-em phasise
it.
I n tr in s ic p r o b a b ility i s th erefo re a g a in st th e verse
being p r im itiv e .^
On lit e r a r y grounds, th e s ile n c e o f
Mark, Q, and Luke i s extrem ely s ig n if ic a n t .
I t i s gen­
e r a lly agreed th a t the Gospel o f Mark was l e f t u nfin ish ed
a t 16:8, and th a t 16:9-20, (th e Longer Ending), i s based
upon th e Lucan w ritin g s supplemented by Matthew and o ra l
t r a d it io n .
No weight can th erefo re be la id upon the
re fe r e n c e s to baptism in t h is se c tio n , r e f le c t in g as i t
d oes, the la t e r e c c l e s i a s t i c a l p oint of view .
As for Luke,
who had undoubtedly an e x c e lle n t opportunity to mention
th e commission to b a p tise in h is account o f the p arting
words o f C hrist at 24:47, i t must be supposed e ith e r th a t
he has in te n t io n a lly suppressed i t , or th a t he was not
acquainted w ith any such t r a d itio n .
As th ere i s no s a t i s ­
fa c to r y argument in favour of the former view , i t would
seem th a t, f a i l i n g any th ir d a lte r n a tiv e , th e la t t e r view
i s c o r r e c t.
F in a lly , on h is t o r ic a l grounds, the use o f
the Triune formula at Matt. 28:19 i s s ig n ific a n t - a formula
which appears nowhere e ls e in the N .T ., and which c o n f lic t s
with the evidence of A cts, according to which the e a r lie s t
form o f baptism was ’ in th e name of the Lord’ a lo n e.
The
1 . Cf. Conybeere: Hibbert Journal, i , 1902, p p .102-108;
Riggenbach: Der t r in it a r is c h e T aufbefehl, B eitrage gur
Ford.der ch r.T h eol. , i , 1903.
152.
cum ulative evidence thus presented makes i t p r a c t ic a lly
c e r ta in th at th e tr a d itio n embodied in M att. 28:19 i s
la t e and n o n -h isto r ic a 1 and the argument i s made a l l the
more d e c is iv e by the fa c t th at th e referen ces in th e Fourth
Gospel to Jesus and h is d is c ip le s b a p tisin g are, as a l ­
ready pointed ou t, almost c e r ta in ly f i c t i t i o u s .
C h ristian
baptism , th e r e fo r e , can sc a r c e ly be explained as a con tin ­
u a tio n o f the p r a c tic e o f Jesus and d ir e c t ly enjoined by
our Lord in h is parting words.
(b)
F a ilin g the t r a d itio n a l explanation, i s i t p oss­
ib le to tra ce the o r ig in of C h ristia n baptism to the waterr i t e s o f th e H e lle n is t ic Mystery R eligions?
I t cannot
be denied th a t in th e se r i t e s , e s p e c ia lly in the culfc o f
I s i s , and the c u lt of Mithra, (Taurobolium), th ere are
many p o in ts o f s im ila r ity w ith the C h ristian r i t e , the
ou tstan din g one being t h e ir sacramental ch aracter, whereby
th e sin s o f th e candidate were washed away, and he was
.
.
th u s prepared fo r union with the d iv in ity of the c u lt .
1
Indeed, so c lo se was the resemblance th at the Early Fathers
did not h e s it a t e to brand th ese c u lt s as d ia b o lic a l im ita­
t io n s o f the C h ristia n sacraments.
According to Cumont,
however, th e se r i t e s were already in ex iste n c e in P ersia
and Greece at the tim e of the beginning o f C h r is tia n ity f
1. For the c u lt of I s i s , c f . A puleius: Metamorphoses, x i;
fo r th e c u lt o f Mithra, c f . Prudentius: P eristep h an es, x,
I l.lO lf f.
2. The M ysteries o f M ithra, 1903, pp.l55if.
15 3.
and the p o s s i b i l i t y remains that th e E arly Fathers were
m istaken in t h e ir judgment, and th a t, in r e a lit y , th e
C h ristia n r i t e was in fluenced by the pagan.
rash, however, to p ress t h is opinion too fa r .
I t would be
The point
i s w ell taken by Macgregor and Purdy, ”As a great d eal has
been made of th e e f f e c t of th ese O riental M ysteries upon
G en tile C h r is tia n ity , i t i s important to remember th a t,
though in Egypt and th e A s ia tic p ro v in ces, they had long
flo u r ish e d in the West Mediterranean, i t was only a f te r
C h r is tia n ity had obtained a firm footh old that the M ysteries
began to have a vogue.
U n ju stifia b le deductions concern­
ing th e o r ig in o f C h ristian d octrin e and p ra ctic e have
o fte n been made from evidence which i s too la t e fo r the
p u rp ose.”
1
Thus, the evidence fo r union with the d iv in ity
and regen eration in the ceremony of Taurobolium d ates from
as la t e as 376 A.D. , 2 w hile the d esc rip tio n of th e c u lt of
I s i s appears in a book dating from the second h a lf o f the
second century A .D ..
I t i s to be presumed, of course,
th at t h i s evidence p o in ts to the e x iste n c e of the ceremony
at a much e a r lie r d ate, but i t i s im possible to say d e fin ­
i t e l y at what point of time the r i t e s began to ex ert th e ir
in flu en ce on the thought and p ra c tic e of the Early Church,
nor i s i t q u ite c e r ta in th at there was a Mystery r it e ex a c tly
1. Jew and Greek: Tutors unto C h r ist, p .279. Acknowledgment
i s due to t h is work in p a rticu la r fo r t h is se c tio n .
2. C .I.L . . 6 , 510.
154
p a r a lle l to the C h ristian r i t e .
There i$ ,^ fo r in sta n ce,
no evidence that in any of th e pagan M y steries, the formula
’ in th e name of* was used.
I t has to be borne in mind,
to o , th a t n ea rly a l l ancient r e lig io n s grad u ally developed
sacram ental p r a c tic e s , and th at the r it e s of the M ysteries
and C h r is tia n ity may represent a q uite independent growth,
as indeed th e
d iffe r e n c e in t h e ir
d is t in c t from t h e ir outward form,
thought and con ten t, as
would seem to imply. I t
would be li k e l y , however, t h a t , as C h r istia n ity and Mith­
ra ism came in the second century to be r iv a l f a it h s , each
would borrow from the other to a greater or le s s e r e x te n t.
On th e whole,
th e r e fo r e , i t seems doubtful whether the
M ysteries had any in flu en ce on the o r ig in o f C hristian
baptism , at l e a s t , although i t i s p o ssib le th a t the develop­
ment o f th e C h ristia n p r a c tic e was unconsciou sly, though
p e r f e c tly n a tu r a lly , in fluenced by the r i t e s o f i t s com­
p e t it o r s , which were products o f roughly the same age.
(c)
I f both the tr a d itio n a l view, and the theory of
G raeco-O riental in flu en ce are set a sid e , i t would seem th a t
th e C h ristian Sacrament was in some way in sp ired by the
baptism o f John.
This appears to be the most probable
stan d p oin t, although, i t , to o , i s not without i t s d i f f i c u l t y .
Perhaps th e development took place in the fo llo w in g sta g e s.
Tlae f i r s t stage was P en teco st.
Whether assent, i s given to
155
th e remarkable' s e r ie s of events in a l l the in - d e t a ils whidh
took p lace on th at day does not m a te r ia lly m atter.
The
p oint i s th a t in the assembled company a c e r ta in change
took p lace which v\as regarded as due to the pouring out o f
or the b a p tisin g with the Holy S p ir it according to the
promise o f J esu s.
This S p irit-b a p tism was thought o f as
re p la cin g the water-baptism o f John, and in the exuberance
o f t h is experien ce, both the prophecy o f J o e l, and the
baptism o f John were s p ir it u a lis e d .
The former was r e ­
garded as p o in tin g forward to a baptism w ith the S p ir it
which would k in d le with enthusiasm , whereas, in r e a lit y ,
J o e l meant th e s p ir it o f Judgment, and the la t t e r was re­
presented aw co n tra stin g h is water-baptism w ith a baptism
w ith Holy S p ir it , whereas, in r e a lit y , John spoke o f the
scorching wind o f d estru ctio n , A cts 2 :1 -2 1 .
The same
p oint o f view appears in the sto ry o f C ornelius, both in
the d ir e c t n a rra tiv e , A cts 1 0 :1 -4 6 , and in P e te r 's report
o f i t , A cts 11.
According to Acts 10:44, 'While P eter yet
spake th e se words th e Holy S p ir it f e l l on a l l them which
heard th e word.
And they o f th e circu m cision, which be­
lie v e d , were a sto n ish ed , as many as came w ith P eter, because
th a t on th e G e n tile s a ls o was poured out the g i f t o f the
Holy S p ir it .
magnify God.*
For they heard them speak w ith tongues and
In Acts 11:17, P eter, reporting_the m atter,
1 56.
sta te s,
'Forasmuch, th en , as God gave them (the G e n tile s)
th e lik e g if t, as he did unto us who “b elieved in th e Lord
Jesus C h r ist, what was I , th a t I could withstand God?'
T his n a r r a tiv e , lik e that, o f P en te co st, shews th a t in the
e a r l i e s t stage a general S p irit-b a p tism was regarded as
having taken th e p la ce o f John's w ater-baptism , and at the
same tim e p o in ts forward to the second stage in th e develop­
ment o f the C h ristia n r i t e .
The second stage took place
w ith the growth o f e c c le s ia s t ic a l consciousness in the
e a r ly C h ristian community.
One o f the co n d itio n s of
membership in t h is community was the g i f t o f the Holy S p ir it ,
but as the n arra tiv e o f C ornelius shews, the idea o f a pro­
miscuous pouring out of the S p ir it on the G e n tile s, and
hence o f t h e ir autom atic membership in the C h ristian commun­
i t y , was thought to be o b je c tio n a b le .
I t was, in fa c t,
deemed ad visab le to have some concrete element v/hich might
more d e f in it e ly convey the g i f t o f the S p ir it , and i t would
be strange i f r e f le c t io n on John's baptism did not suggest
th e element of water.
But t h is was not enough.
With a view
to even greater p r e c is io n , i t was held th a t the TAater-baptism
did not convey the S p ir it , u n less the form ula, 'in the name
o f J e s u s ', were used.
As th ere i s no evidence th a t John
used any formula at h is baptism, i t would seem that the words,
'in th e name o f , were taken over from the c o llo q u ia l usage
1 57.
o f th e tim e.
’’The exp ression was used in solemn or formal
connexions, and w ith s p e c ia l referen ce to p ro p rie to r sh ip .
Thus a payment i s made
an account:
qMoJ^ oC
7
£15
ovoyUrf T i v o 5
a p e t it io n i s presented
'
y m to so-and-so
615 To
T 00
to th e King’ s person, and s t i l l more s ig n if ic a n t ly
in one con n ection , s o ld ie r s swear f in th e King’ s name’ . 11
There i s no need to assume th a t th e expression was under­
stood to begin w ith , at le a s t , in th e pregnant sense of
id e n t if ic a t io n between th e baptised and the Lord J esu s, i . e .
as union with C h r is t.
The phrase i s m erely a sse r tin g in
a solemn way th a t th e in d iv id u a ls were baptised as Chris­
t ia n s , and i s p a r a lle l to such statem ents a s , ’We who are
b ap tised in to C hrist J e su s’ , (Rom.6 :3 ), and, ’As many of
you as were b ap tised in to C h r ist’ , (G a l.3 :2 7 ).
At t h is
stage baptism was fu rth er regarded as rem ittin g sin s - an
id ea , perhaps, taken over d ir e c t ly from the r i t e o f John
the B a p tis t, which almost c e r ta in ly came to
s ig n ific a n c e in popular estim a te.
Ivave t h is
The second stage i s
r e f le c t e d , then, in A cts 2 :37-41, a passage which i s c le a r ly
e d it o r ia l , inasmuch as i t i s hard to see how th e viewpoint
here expressed, v iz . th a t baptism in water in the name o f
Jesus C hrist fo r th e rem ission o f sin s conveys th e Holy
S p ir it , f i t s in w ith th e e a r lie r part of the chapter, accord­
1 . B a r t le t :
E.R.E. , v o l . i i , p .377.
158.
in g to which a gen eral S p ir it-b a p tism had .replaced en­
t i r e l y th e water-baptism o f John.
The same may be said
o f A cts 10;47-48, (an addendum to the C ornelius s to r y ),
fo r what would have been the point of b a p tisin g the G e n tile s
s in c e , according to the previous v er ses, they had already
receiv ed th e Holy S p ir it?
C lea rly the ed ito r i s making
a somewhat clumsy ex post fa c to attempt to jo in up th e
e a r lie r and the more advanced view s,b y rep resen tin g the
w ater-baptism as clin c h in g th e g i f t of the Holy S p ir it .
S im ila r ly , at A cts 1 9 :1 -7 , th e point of view expressed i s
th a t baptism *in th e name of the Lord* conveys the Holy
S p ir it , although here, perhaps, more than usual emphasis is
la id upon th e formula, and at Acts 9:17ff., Saul r e c e iv e s
h is s ig h t , and i s f i l l e d w ith the Holy Ghost, as a r e s u lt
o f h is baptism by Ananias.
In th e case of th e baptism of
th e E thiopian eunuch by P h ilip , A cts 8:36-39, i t i s not
c le a r ly sta te d th a t baptism conveyed th e Holy S p ir it . ’When
th ey were come up out of th e water, the S p ir it o f the Lord
caught away P h ilip th a t th e eunuch saw him no more, and he
went on h is way r e j o i c i n g .*
It does n o t, however, demand
too great a str e tc h of the im agination to see th at the imp a rta tio n o f the S p ir it i s , in r e a lit y , im plied.
In any
case, i t i s unnecessary to suppose th a t a well-known fa ct
would requ ire p a r tic u la r mention on each o c c a sio n .- I t i s
15 9 .
not mentioned at A cts 16:15, (L ydia’ s baptism ), 16:33,
(th e g a o le r ’ s baptism ), 18:8, (C risp u s’ b aptism ), and Paul,
in h is d e sc r ip tio n o f h is conversion at 23:16 i s equally
s i l e n t , although, thanks to the p a r a lle l account at 9 : 1 7 f f .,
th e im p lica tio n c le a r ly i s th a t th e g i f t o f the S p ir it at
baptism was regarded as an e sta b lish e d f a c t , req u irin g no
s p e c if ic mention on every o cca sio n .
I t seems d oub tfu l,
th e r e fo r e , whether Jackson and Lake are correct in t h e ir
a s s e r tio n th at the s ile n c e as to the im partation o f the
S p ir it in th e se passages p o in ts to a time when C h ristian
water-baptism was e n t ir e ly d isso c ia te d from the g i f t
of
the S p ir it , and hence th a t the o r ig in of the r i t e i s to
be sought in Greek as d is t in c t from Jewish c i r c l e s . ’1'
The
p oin t o f view in th e se passages i s a c tu a lly in su b sta n tia l
agreement with P auline thought - th a t the Holy S p ir it was
th e g i f t of baptism in the name o f the Lord.
The th ird
stage in th e development o f the r i t e , which may, however,
be no more than a v a r ia tio n of the second, appears in the
n a rra tiv e o f the baptisms in Samaria by the Seven, Acts 8 :
8 -1 7 .
The p oint o f t h is n a rra tiv e i s to shew th a t in
c e r ta in c a se s, the Holy S p ir it was not given d ir e c t ly by
baptism , but only a fte r the la y in g on of hands by the
A p o stle s.
The p a ren th esis in v erse 16 - ’Por as yet the
1. The Beginnings o f C h r is tia n ity , i , p p .3 4 1 ff.
160.
Holy S p ir it was f a lle n upon none of them’_ - shews, however,
th a t the w riter o f th ese words i s aware th a t the sequence
o f events described here i s contrary to th e usual one.
The
n arra tiv e i s best regarded as a p r o o f - illu s t r a t io n in
j u s t if y in g s p e c ia l caution a s to the f u l l adm ission of cert a in G e n tile s in to the C h ristian community.
1
The fourth
s ta g e , and the la s t which i s o f in te r e s t here, i s the s tr e s s
la id by Paul upon th e fa c t th a t baptism brings about union
between th e b ap tised and C h r ist. 2
I t may be, th at in t h i s
con ception , Paul was in flu en ced by the r i t e s of the Mystery
r e lig io n s , and th at C h ristia n baptism came to be coloured by
th e p a r a lle l id ea s in th e se c u lt s .
C ertain ly Paul would
not have been slow to employ such a conception, i f thereby,
he had found a point o f contact w ith h is -hearers.
On the
whole, however, i t i s unnecessary to b e lie v e th at t h is was
the case.
As Weinel puts i t , "Paul’s d octrin e of the
S p ir it of C hrist i s not an im ita tio n of Mystery d o ctrin e,
but inmost personal experience m etap h ysically in terp reted
a f te r th e manner o f h is tim e."
1. As there i s no trace o f red action in t h is passage, i t i s
p o ssib le th a t the procedure adopted here was m erely a var­
ia tio n o f th e second stage employed in d i f f i c u l t and dan­
gerous c a s e s ,( e .g . ’Simon used sorcery and bewitched the
people o f Samaria’ , A cts, 8 ; 9 ) . I t does n o t, however, go
back beyond the second sta g e, as th e p aren th esis shews,
and no more p o in ts to a Greek o rig in o f baptism than th e
examples alread y noted.
2. C ol. 2 :1 2 .
3. C ited by Macgregor and Purdy: Jew and Greek: Tutors unto
C h r ist, p .290.
161.
I t would appear, then, th a t the C h ristian r i t e o f
baptism i s to be explained n eith e r by the t r a d itio n a l
view nor by pagan a n a lo g ie s , but to a le s s e r exten t by
th e tendency o f a l l r e lig io n s to develop sacramental id e a s,
and to a g rea ter ex ten t by the baptism o f John the B a p tist,
B.
The Baptism o f J e s u s.
Whatever e ls e in the Gospel n a rra tiv e may be open to
doubt, th ere seems to be nothing more certa in than the
fa c t th a t Jesus was b aptised by John the B a p tist.
The
h i s t o r i c i t y o f the event has been questioned only by a
few c r i t i c s and t h e ir arguments are q u ite unconvincing.
1
The baptism was not m y th ica l, but h is t o r ic a l, inasmuch as
such a n arra tiv e would never have been invented by th e
com pilers o f the G ospels.
No one of them would have dreamed
o f rep resen tin g the s in le s s Jesus as having submitted him­
s e l f to a baptism whose demand was change of l i f e , had not
our Lord a c tu a lly done so , and had not the tr a d itio n been
very firm ly e sta b lish e d .
A ccordingly, the baptism o f Jesus
by John may be regarded w ith p erfect confidence as an estab ­
lis h e d h is t o r ic a l f a c t .
I t i s one th in g , however, to accept the fa c t, but quite
another to accept the d e t a ils of i t as presented in the
1. N otably by E.Meyer: Ursprung u. Anfange des C hristentum s,
i i , p .406, note 3 .
16 2 .
Gospels and elsew here.
So important an event was t h is in
th e eyes of the Church, so stran gely would i t se iz e the
popular im agination, th at i t would provide an e x c e lle n t
f i e l d , on th e one hand, fo r c u ltiv a tio n along lin e s in
accord w ith the varying th e o lo g ie s and 6h r is t o lo g ie s o f the
day, and on the oth er, fo r embellishment with picturesq u e
borders.
Both ten d en cies already appear in the G ospels,
while th e l a t t e r i s s p e c ia lly pronounced, as might be
expected, in th e apocryphal lit e r a t u r e .
I t i s n ecessa ry ,
th e r e fo r e , to examine c r i t i c a l l y the p assages r e la tin g to
th e baptism o f Jesu s, in order to determine as p r e c is e ly
as p o s s ib le what a c tu a lly tran spired at th at moment.
The
r e s u lt w i l l be to throw considerable lig h t upon the s ig ­
n ific a n c e o f John the B a p tis t.
Mark's account o f the baptism i s as fo llo w s , fAnd i t
came to pass in th ese days th a t Jesus came from Nazareth
o f G a lile e and was b ap tised o f John in th e Jordan, and
straightw ay coming up out o f th e water, he saw th e heavens
rent asunder, and the S p ir it as a dove descending upon him;
and a v o ic e came out o f th e heavens, Thou art my beloved
Son;
in th ee I am w e ll p l e a s e d . T h e most remarkable
featu re o f t h i s n arrative i s i t s b r e v ity .
No rea'sons are
given to show how Jesus knew o f Johnfs whereabouts, or why
1.
Mk. 1 : 9 - 1 1 .
163.
he su ffered h im self to be baptised by John.
The narra­
t i v e does not f o llo w n a tu r a lly on what p reced es, because
th ere th e Coming One i s conceived o f as g iv in g the Holy
S p ir it , and here Jesus r e c e iv e s the Holy S p ir it .
Immed­
i a t e l y a f te r th e baptism, the S p ir it d riv es Jesus in to
th e w ild er n e ss.
The fa c t i s , one g ets the im pression th a t
th e whole in cid en t was not a lto g e th e r p le a sin g to the
E v a n g e list, and that he was at pains to pass over i t as
q u ick ly as p o s s ib le .
Suppress i t , he could n o t, because
th e tr a d itio n was too firm ly rooted .
The next b est course
was t o d ism iss i t sh o r tly .
The E van g elist con ceives th e v is io n of the S p ir it ,
which descended as a dove, as vouchsafed to Jesus on ly.
C lea r ly the su b ject of
<5
/•
, (he saw), i s J esu s, not John
th e B a p tist, as Bultmann maintains,'*’ which would in volve a
very harsh and unnatural grammatical co n stru ctio n .
o th erw ise, however., w ith the v o ic e .
It is
The E van gelist c le a r ly
w ishes to in d ic a te th a t t h is was heard not only by Jesu s,
but by the B a p tist and the people in g en era l.
change to e ye y/ er o
Hence th e
, (th ere came a v o ic e ), in stead o f,
*Jesus heard a v o ic e '.
The th e o lo g ic a l point o f view o f
th e account i s th u s A doptianist and p o in ts to i t s f a ir ly
e a r ly o r ig in .
1 . Eorsch.zur R e lig io n und L ite r a tu r , N .F ., x i i , 1921, p .152.
1 64.
P assin g to Matthew, we read, 'Then cometh Jesus from
G a lile e to the Jordan unto John to be b ap tised o f him. But
John would have hindered him saying, I have need to be
b ap tised o f t h e e , and eomest thou to me?
But Jesus answered,
saying unto him, S u ffer i t now, fo r thus i t becometh us
to f u l f i l a l l rig h teo u sn ess.
Then he su ffe r e th him.
And
Jesu s, when he was b a p tise d , went up straightw ay from the
w ater, and lo , th e heavens were opened unto him, and he
saw th e S p ir it of God descending as a dove and coming upon
him:
and, l o , a v o ic e out o f the heavens, sayin g, This i s
my beloved Son in whom I am w e ll p le a s e d .'
1
The impres­
sio n conveyed by t h i s account i s that Matthew knew the
Marcan v e r sio n , and i s d e lib e r a te ly a lte r in g i t to su it h is
own pre-con ceived C h r isto lo g ic a l id e a s.
F ir s t, i t i s ex­
plained th a t the baptism o f Jesus was due to the eter n a l
purposes o f God.
He came 'to be b a p tise d '.
Second, he
composes a conversation between John and Jesu s, the con­
te n ts o f which are fu r th er designed to remove th e o b je c tio n ­
ab le idea o f the s in le s s Jesus being baptised unto the r e ­
m ission o f s in s .
This was 'to f u l f i l a l l r ig h te o u s n e s s .'
Third, both the v is io n and the v o ic e are represented as
o b je c tiv e .
'This i s my beloved Son' rep la ces 'Thou art
my beloved S o n .'
1.
M a tt. 3 : 1 3 - 1 7 .
The r e s u lt o f th ese changes i s to remove
1 65.
any idea o f subordination of Jesus to John, and at the
same tim e to e s ta b lis h the fa c t th at the baptism o f Jesus
was sim ply a p u b lic proclam ation o f h is M essiahship, sin ce
Jesu s, in Matthew's view , was Messiah owing to h is super­
natu ral b ir th .
Turning to Luke, 'I t came to pass when a l l the people
were b a p tised and Jesus was baptised and praying, the
heavens were opened and the Holy S p ir it descended in b o d ily
form lik e a dove upon him, and a v o ice came from the
heavens, Thou art my beloved Son:
p le a s e d .'’1'
in th ee I am w e ll
This account i s much nearer Mark than Matthew,
y et th e E v a n g elist has con trived to g iv e i t a d iffe r e n t
point o f view .
F ir s t , th e baptism i s mentioned only in
p a ssin g , as one among many.
No s p e c ia l a tte n tio n i s drawn
to Jesus p resen tin g h im self in d iv id u a lly fo r the r i t e .
Consequently the o b je ctio n to h is doing so appears l e s s
grave.
Second, the opening o f the heavens i s made to
fo llo w upon the prayer of Jesu s, rather than upon the r i t e
o f John.
In t h is way, th e idea o f subordination to the
B a p tist i s su b tly removed.
Third, the proceedings are
conceived of o b je c tiv e ly - a s, in Matthew, a p u b lic pro­
clam ation of th e M essiahship o f J esu s.
A very in te r e s tin g
v a r ia tio n , however, appears in the & t e x t .^
Instead o f,
1. Lk. 3 :2 1 -2 2 .
2 . Represented by D a b c ff* 1 r and by J u stin , Clement o f
A lexandria, Origen, H ila ry , L a cta n tiu s, and A ugustine.
166
’1n th ee I am w ell p le a se d 1, the te x t i s ,
have b egotten t h e e . ’
’T his day I
Goguel i s su r e ly rig h t in h is
con ten tion th a t th ere i s a very good case fo r th e l a t t e r
reading. 1
I t i s much more n atural to suppose th a t th e a.
reading was su b stitu te d under th e in flu en ce o f fih r is to lo g ic a l p re-occu p ation s than th a t the S reading was invented
through the tendency t o conform quotations from th e O.T.
to t h e ir exact o r ig in a l co n ten t.
In other words, the
A d op tian ist idea contained in th e £ reading would have
been more r e a d ily d iscarded, than an attempt made to bring
th e second h a lf o f the quotation in to lin e w ith Psalqi 2 :7 .
I t i s th e refo re very probable th a t th e ^ reading i s o r ig ­
in a l, and even p o ssib le that the o r ig in a l te x t o f Mark
contained th e se very words.
The Fourth E v a n g elist does not give a d ir e c t account
o f th e baptism o f Jesus by John, but i t i s probable th at
he knew o f i t .
One of the aims of the Fourth E van gelist
i s to con trast th e Greater and the L esser L ig h ts.
How
could he have been convincing i f he had represented th e
G reater as being baptised by th e Lesser?
Instead of
d ir e c t ly t e l l i n g th e sto ry of the baptism, he con ten ts
h im self w ith p u ttin g on John’s l i p s th ese words, ’I beheld
th e S p ir it descending as a dove from th e heavens, and i t
1 . J e a n -B a p tiste : p p .l5 4 f f .;
J e s u s, p p .2 5 5 ff.
c f . Harnack: The Sayings of
167.
abode w ith him1, but fo r the Fourth E v a n g elist t h is was
not a sign o f the M essiahship o f J esu s, but simply th a t
t h i s was He who would b a p tise in Holy S p ir it , J n .l: 3 3 .
The centre of g r a v ity has been d isp la ced from the baptism
i t s e l f to the Holy S p ir it which accompanied baptism .
The
baptism was o f no sig n ific a n c e fo r the Fourth E v a n g elist,
ex cep t, perhaps, as re v ea lin g to I s r a e l in greater fu ln e s s
the g lo ry o f the Greater L ig h t, J n .l: 3 1 .
The Greater
L ight had been in e x iste n c e before th e beginning o f the
w orld, J n . l : l , and had been sin ce then d iv in e, J n . l i l .
There i s no q u estion here of the Fourth E v a n g elist d e lib e r ­
a t e ly co r re ctin g th e Synoptic tr a d itio n or o f h is om ittin g
a l l referen ce to th e baptism because th e story had already
been t o ld .
He e lim in a te s i t , and le a v e s only an echo
p a r tly because i t i s w holly ir r e c o n c ila b le w ith h is th eo lo g y
o f th e Word In carnate, and p a rtly because o f h is d esire to
e ffa c e the L esser before the Greater L ight.
In the ex tra -ca n o n ica l lit e r a t u r e , the baptism of
Jesus i s v a r io u sly conceived.
In the E bionite G ospel,'*'
th e
fo llo w in g account appears, ’A fter the people were b a p tised ,
Jesus came a lso and was b aptised by John: and as he came
up from the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the
Holy Ghost, in th e lik e n e s s o f a dove th a t descended and
1.
G f. c h a p te r I , p .
41.
168.
entered in to him:
and a v o ice from heaven, saying: Thou
a rt my beloved Son, in thee I am w e ll pleased: and again:
T his day have I begotten th e e .
And straightw ay th ere
shone about th e p la ce a great l i g h t .
Which, when John
saw, he s a ith unto him, Who a rt thou?
And again a v o ice
from heaven saying: T his i s my beloved Son in whom I am
w e ll p lea se d .
Then John f e l l down before Jesus and said:
I beseech th e e, Lord: b a p tise thou me.
But he prevented
him saying: Let i t go, fo r thu s i t behoveth th a t a l l th in g s
1
should be f u l f i l l e d . ’
This n a rra tiv e has every appear­
ance o f dependence upon Matthew, and of being secondary.
T his i s apparent, because th e author combines both the CL
and S readings o f th e words o f th e v o ic e , rep ea ts th e words
o f the v o ic e w ithout adding anything new, ta k es over the
con versation between Jesus and John, and adds the p ic tu r ­
esque d e t a il o f th e great l i g h t .
Whereas, in Matthew, how­
ever, th e con versation at the baptism was designed to shew
th a t Jesus was already d iv in e , the point o f i t here i s to
shew th a t at th e baptism Jesus became d ivin e by the e ffu s ­
ion o f th e Holy S p ir it , a fundamental ten et o f E bionite
C h risto lo g y .
The conversation i s accordingly tran sferred
t i l l a fte r the baptism, and John i s represented as d esirin g
baptism from Jesus because he r e a lis e d by the heavenly
1.
C f. M.R. James: o p . c i t . , p . 9.
sig n s th a t Jesus was indeed d iv in e .
The A dop tianist
C h ristology im p lic it in this n arrative need not e s s e n t i a lly
p oin t to i t s e a r ly o r ig in .
As Goguel puts i t , nThe d evelop ­
ment o f C h risto lo g y was not homogeneous nor r e c t i l i n e a l ,
and the c ir c le of Jew ish -C h ristian E b io n ites remained
f a it h f u l to an A dop tianist C hristology to a p eriod, when,
in th e gen eral Church, t h i s C h risto lo g y had long sin ce
1
been abandoned. ”
In th e Gospel according to the Hebrews,
the te x t i s ,
’Behold the mother of the Lord and h is brothers
sa id to him, John B a p tist b a p tise s unto the rem ission o f
s in s .
Let us go and be b ap tised of him.
Jesus said to
them: Wherein have I sinned th at I should go and be bap­
t is e d of him - u n le s s, haply, t h i s very th in g which I have
sa id i s ign oran ce’2 . . • • ’ When the Lord was come up out
o f the water, th e whole foun tain o f the Holy S p ir it des­
cended and re sted upon him, and said: My Son, in a l l the
prophets was I w aiting fo r th e e, that thou shouldst come
and I might r e s t in th e e .
Thou art my r e s t , my f i r s t 3
b egotten Son, th a t r e ig n e st fo r e v e r .*
Like the E b ion ite
O P*cit. . p .175. Only a few c r i t i c s think th at t h is narra­
t iv e i s ixrim itive. Among o th ers, Goguel mentions Keim:
The H istory o f Jesus o f Nazara, i i , p p.266-299.
2. Jerome: Dialogue a g a in st R e la g iu s, i i i , 2, tra n sla ted by
M.R.James: o p . c i t . , p .6.
3. Jerome: On Isa ia h x i , 2 , tr a n sla te d by M.R.James: o p . c i t . .
p .5.
A .F .E m dlay: C h r istia n ity in the Li^ht o f Modern
Knowledge, p p .3 2 3 ff. su ggests th a t Jerome i s quoting from
the Gospel o f the Nazarenes rath er than from the Gospel
according to the Hebrews.
170.
account, t h i s has a ls o a d i s t i n c t l y secondary appearance,
as i s suggested by the om ission o f th e a ll-im p o rta n t fea tu r e
o f repentance in the B a p t is t ’ s r i t e , by the emphasis upon
rem ission o f s in s , by the curious exp lan ation o f J e s u s ’
acceptance o f the baptism owing to the d e sir e o f h is mother
and h is b roth ers, (perhaps a confused rem iniscence o f the
S yn op tics, where th e in flu e n c e i s exerted in quite a d i f f e r ­
ent manner and on ly a f te r th e baptism ), and by the atmos­
phere o f t h e o lo g ic a l sp ec u la tio n , which cannot be m issed.
The om ission o f the fig u r e o f the dove need not su g g est, as
has been h eld ,'1' th a t th e n a rra tiv e i s more p rim itiv e than
th at o f th e S y n o p tists .
The fig u re has been in te n tio n a lly
suppressed no doubt because th e author would fin d i t hard
to envisage how ’the whole foun tain o f the Holy S p i r i t ’
could have been contained in the sim ple foim o f a d ove.!
It
i s unnecessary, however, to examine the n a rrative in d e t a il,
because i t con tains nothing d ir e c tly bearing upon John the
B a p tist.
S u ffic e i t to say th a t i t i s an e x c e lle n t
example
o f th e work of the p o e tic im agination which d e lig h ts in
embroidering so f r u it f u l a theme.
The pious im agination
was not con ten t, however, w ith sp ecu la tio n s so lim ite d as
th e s e .
Gradually fr e sh id eas suggested them selves -
m in iste rin g an gels at the baptism, thunder and lig h tn in g ,
1* E .g . by 0 . Holtzmann:
War Jesus E k sta tik er?, p p .35-43.
171 .
and the r o llin g back of th e r iv e r .^
There i s , nothing
su rp risin g in any o f th ese developm ents.
The f i r s t was
suggested p o s s ib ly by the appearance o f the an gel heraldin g
th e b irth o f C h r ist, as w e ll as by the a n g els in the dream
o f Jacob, the second by Psalm 29, ’The God of g lo ry maketh
the thunder ro a r ’ , and the th ir d by Psalm 114:3, ’Jordan
turned back’ or by Psalm 7 7:17, ’The waters have seen th e e ,
0 God, th e w aters have seen th e e , and th ey have trem b led .’
There i s nothing in a l l t h is which can be regarded as
p r im itiv e .
Such d e t a ils are no more than legendary en­
richm ents o f an otherw ise p la in and sim ple event.
They
i l l u s t r a t e , in f in e , th e tendency to transform the baptism
in to an Epiphany.
Prom the a fo re-g o in g a n a ly s is , i t would appear th a t
th e most p rim itiv e and genuine conception of the baptism
o f Jesus i s to be found in Mark.
Later a d d itio n s are to
be seen, (a) in the reasons a lle g e d fo r J e s u s ’ acceptance
o f John’s baptism, (b) in the conversation between Jesus
and John, and (c) in the complementary wonders of n ature.
The o ld e st t r a d itio n to ld q u ite simply th a t Jesus was bap­
t is e d by John, and that on the completion of th e r i t e , th e
sk ie s opened, th e Holy S p ir it descended d o v e -lik e upon
J esu s, and a v o ic e was heard d ecla rin g h is Sonship.
1.
E .g . in th e Mandaean L ite r a tu r e .
17 2 .
The fo llo w in g p o in ts may now be made:(a)
I f the reasons in sp ired by a p o lo g e tic endeavour
are se t a s id e , the r e a l reason for J e s u s’ acceptance of
John’ s baptism was, i t would seem, h is thorough-going
sympathy w ith the B a p t is t ’s emphasis on th e n e c e s s it y o f
change o f l i f e .
He had been gripped by the preacher, and
f u l l y r e a lis in g th a t the baptism of John was sym bolical o f
th e p u r ity o f l i f e which the la t t e r demanded, Jesus might
f e e l th at he could best in d ic a te h is approval of the B a p t is t ’ s
demands by undergoing the ceremony.
There was, o f course,
no q u estion of d ir e c t fo rg iv e n e ss o f sin s by the r i t e i t ­
s e l f , at le a s t so fa r as John was concerned, so th a t the
d i f f i c u l t y o f th e s i n l e s s Jesus subm itting to a baptism for
s in -fo r g iv e n e s s need not cause any concern.
J e s u s ’ accep­
tance o f th e baptism was a n in d ic a tio n of h is wholehearted
approval o f the earnest pleading o f the B ap tist fo r changed
l i v e s - an appeal which Jesus h im self was to continue w ith
g rea ter and more winning power than h is p red ecessor.
If
t h i s i s so, i t i s ce r ta in th a t J e s u s ’ contact w ith John had
not been a short one.
I t has alread y been in d ica ted th a t
th ere i s every p r o b a b ility th a t the period o f contact was
much lon ger than the E v a n g elists would have us b e lie v e .
In
f a c t , th e baptism o f Jesus marked th e culm ination o f a long
period o f frien d sh ip during which Jesus had been most pro-
17 3 .
foundly in flu en ced by th e thought and th e p e r s o n a lity
of John.
The baptism marked the s e a l o f h is g r a titu d e ,
1
and th e commencement o f h is own a c t i v i t y .
(b)
The o ld e s t t r a d itio n r e la tin g to the baptism con­
tain ed the view th a t by the e ffu sio n o f the Holy S p ir it ,
Jesus became th e Son o f God, and in view o f t h is h is work
and h is p e r so n a lity were ex p lain ed .
Such a C h risto lo g y can
sc a r c e ly be a ttr ib u ted to Mark, much l e s s to Matthew, Luke,
and John, and le a s t o f a l l to Jesus h im se lf.
The fa c t i s ,
th a t when th e ea r ly C h ristia n community proclaimed Jesus
as t h e ir M essiah, th e q u estio n arose at what point o f
tim e Jesus became M essiah, and to t h is q uestion d iffe r e n t
answers were probably g iv en in d iffe r e n t c i r c l e s .
Thus
Paul unm istakably taught a p r e -e x is te n t C h risto lo g y ,
2
where­
as the Shepherd o f Hermas, which, according to D ib e liu s,
must a lso be regarded as r e f le c t in g ea r ly op inion, s t a te s
th a t Jesus became th e Son of God on th e com pletion o f h is
3
work on ea r th .
Other c i r c l e s held th at Jesus became
M essiah at h is baptism , or th a t h is D iv in ity was due to h is
supernatural b ir th .
I t i s exceed in gly d i f f i c u l t to tra ce
1. This p oin t w i l l be supported and developed in Chapter VI.
E. P h ilip p .S :9 must be in terp reted in the lig h t o f P h ilip p .
E :6 ,7 , and Rom.1 :3 -4 , in the lig h t of P a u l’ s teach in g
elsew h ere.
»t p .64; Sim.V, i i , 7,
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any d e f in it e time sequence in the development o f C h r isto lo g ic a l thought, or to he q uite ce rta in which op inion a c tu a lly
held the f ie ld at d iffe r e n t tim es.
The n a iv e ty o f the view
contained in Mark’ s account o f ' th e baptism seems to stamp
i t as f a i r l y p r im itiv e , emanating from a period priofc to
th a t o f th e more developed and w e ll-e s ta b lis h e d C h r isto lo g ie s current in th e E v a n g e lis t’s own tim e, and forming what
may be c a lle d , an ’e r r a tic b lo c k ’ in h is G ospel.
I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to account for the form ation o f
th e t r a d itio n .
C h ristia n baptism was regarded from ea r ly
tim es as being the means of acq u irin g the g i f t o f the Holy
S p ir it $
What could be more n atu ral than th a t th e Holy
S p ir it , which, a f te r P en teco st, was thought o f as descend­
ing upon th ose b a p tised in th e name o f the Lord, should
have been fa rth er represented as descending par ex c ellen ce
on C hrist at h is baptism , the p roto-typ e of C h ristia n bap­
tism ?
The fig u r e o f the dove i s p e r fe c tly appropriate to
the Holy S p ir it , and i s the product o f the pious and p o etic
1
im agination.
The opening of the heavens may be compared
w ith the v is io n s of E z ek iel
2
or with the ap o ca ly p tic la n ­
guage of J n .l: 5 1 , while th e v o ice i s p a r a lle l to numerous
1. Cf. Song of S o l .# 5:2; I s . 60:8; Ezek.7:16; Nahum 2 :7 .
The th ree uses o f th e dove in O .T .tim es, fo r a s a c r if ic e ,
a covenant, and a purgation a l l su ggest s p ir it u a l in te r ­
p r e ta tio n and quite w ell exp lain the present symbolism.
Cf. Robertson Smith: R elig io n of th e S em ites, p .294.
2 . ’The heavens were opened and I saw v is io n s of G od.’ 1 :1 .
175.
other in sta n c e s o f the same phenomenon as in stanced in
Josephus'5" and the Talmud.
Abrahams p o in ts out th a t in
c e r ta in ca ses the "Daughter
o f the Voice" was id e n t if ie d
w ith the Holy S p ir it , and that both were sometimes a sso c la ted m r a b b in ica l co n tex ts w ith the symbolism o f the dove.
2
On great and solemn o cca sio n s the "Daughter o f the Voice"
(Bath-Q uol), spoke.
I t i s p o s s ib le , then, th a t in the
ea r ly C h ristia n community t h is d e lig h t fu l symbolism was
woven around the sto ry o f the baptism o f J esu s.
I t would
exp ress in v iv id terms the thought th a t J esu s, at th e moment
o f h is baptism , receiv ed from God the g i f t o f the Holy
S p ir it , which made him M essiah, which, in turn, guaranteed
the same g i f t o f th e S p ir it to a l l th o se who were b aptised
in h is name.
The n a rra tiv e o f th e baptism o f Jesus i s what Bultmann
has a p tly described as a "Glaubens-Legend" , or a Story o f
3
Earth.
In i t s d e t a ils , i t i s not h is to r y , but above h i s ­
to r y .
Such a n a rra tiv e does not admit o f too harsh c r i t i c a l
in v e s tig a tio n .
(c)
I t must be b elieved or not b e lie v e d .
There i s no in d ic a tio n in the o ld e st tr a d itio n th a
John r e a lis e d th at he was b a p tisin g the M essiah.
C erta in ly
i f i t i s m aintained th a t the opening of the heavens, the
descent of the Holy S p ir it , and the v o ice are h is t o r ic in
1. E .g . A n tiq . , x i i i . 1 0 .3 .( 2 8 2 .) .
2 . S tu d ies in Pharisaism and the G osp els, i , p p .4 7 ff.
3. F orsch.zur R elig io n und L ite r a tu r , N .F ., x i i , pp.152-153.
17 6 .
the f u l l sense o f th e word, then i t i s d i f f i c u l t to con­
c e iv e how John h im self could have f a ile d to in te r p r e t the
s ig n s .
I t i s true th a t even in the Marcan n a rra tiv e the
v o ic e i s represented as having spoken to a l l assem bled, but
i s t h is to be put down to adtual h is t o r ic a l f a c t , or to
the community in which th e tr a d itio n was developed?
It
seems more n a tu ra l to a ttr ib u te i t to th e l a t t e r , rath er
than to the former, because th ere i s no in d ic a tio n th a t
John r e a lis e d th a t Jesus was Messiah even at a la t e r point
o f time.'*"
In e ith e r c a s e , i t i s p recariou s to o v e r str e s s
the id eas o f s u b j e c tiv ity and o b je c t iv it y which undoubtedly
meant fa r l e s s to the an cientq than th ey do now.
The
baptism al exp erien ce, i t would seem, was p ecu lia r to Jesus
h im self, and th e account o f i t was in sp ired by the f a it h
o f th ose who b eliev ed in him.
There i s no in d ic a tio n th a t
Jesus ever allu d ed to t h is exp erien ce, e ls e such an a llu s ­
ion would alm ost in e v ita b ly have found i t s way in to the
G ospels, lik e h is strange and str ik in g words at Lk. 10:18.
At the g r e a te st moment o f h is l i f e , th e B a p tist did not
r e a lis e th a t he was b a p tisin g the One on whom a l l h is hopes
were s e t .
For John, the baptism of Jesus was but one among
many, but for Jesu s, i t s ig n if ie d th a t th e time was at hand
when he must begin h is own m in istr y , confident in th e
approval o f h is heavenly F ather._______________
1.
C f. c h a p te r VI, p p , 2 . 8 9 “ 30O.
177.
CHAPTER
IV.
THE DISCIPLES OP JOHN THE BAPTIST.
A.
T h e re i s e v id e n c e i n t h e New T e sta m e n t t h a t t h e r e
e x i s t e d d u r in g t h e B a p t i s t 1s l i f e - t i m e a g ro u p o f d i s c i p l e s
c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w ith t h a t p r e a c h e r .
T h e re i s e v id e n c e ,
t o o , t h a t t h e s e d i s c i p l e s m a in ta in e d t h e i r e x is te n c e f o r
a c e r t a i n tim e a f t e r J o h n ’ s d e a th .
s o , h o w e v er, i s a d i s p u t e d q u e s t io n .
may be a s k e d :
J u s t how lo n g t h e y d id
I n f a c t , t h e q u e s tio n
D id Jo h n i n te n d to form a g ro u p o f d i s c i p l e s
t o c a r r y on h i s m i n i s t r a t i o n s a f t e r he h im s e lf had gone?
Or d id h i s d i s c i p l e s do so w ith o u t a n y a c t u a l w a rra n t from
t h e B a p t i s t h im s e lf ?
Did t h e y , a s h a s b een su p p o se d , form a
r i v a l g ro u p w hich p ro v ed d q n g ero u s t o t h e e a r l y C h r i s t i a n
C h u rch , and a r e t r a c e s o f p o le m ic a g a i n s t t h i s g ro u p t o be
fou n d i n t h e P o u r th G o sp el?
P i n a l l y , c an th e M andaeans,
who s t i l l e x i s t , and who c a l l th e m s e lv e s " d i s c i p l e s o f S t .
J o h n " , be r e g a r d e d a s a c t u a l d e s c e n d a n ts o f th e o r i g i n a l
B a p t i s t g ro u p ?
So much h a s been w r i t t e n , p a r t i c u l a r l y by German
s c h o l a r s , i n f a v o u r o f t h e l a s t- m e n tio n e d p o i n t , t h a t i t
w i l l be a d v i s a b l e t o i n v e s t i g a t e t h e r e l e v a n t e v id e n c e i n
a s e p a ra te s e c tio n in t h i s c h a p te r.
W hatever c o n c lu s io n s ,
how ever, a r e re a c h e d a s t o t h e N .T . e v id e n c e f o r o r a g a i n s t
178.
t h e e x i s t e n c e o f a B a p t i s t s e c t , t h e s e c o n c lu s io n s w i l l
n o t a f f e c t t h e argum ent r e g a r d i n g t h e M andaeans.
In a l l
f a i r n e s s t h e c la im s o f t h e M andaeans t o he re g a rd e d a s
d e s c e n d a n ts o f a n o r i g i n a l B a p t i s t g ro u p w i l l be c o n s id e r e d
on t h e i r own m e r i t , and d e c i s i o n s w i l l be b a se d on t h i s
f a c to r a lo n e .
A lth o u g h t h e G o sp el r e f e r e n c e s t o t h e d i s c i p l e s o f
Jo h n a r e fe w , t h e y a r e s u f f i c i e n t t o show t h a t su ch a body
d id e x i s t .
T hey a r e m e n tio n e d i n t h e F o u rth G o sp el a s
b a p t i s i n g w ith t h e i r m a s t e r , ’*’ and i n th e S y n o p tic s a s h a v in g
b e e n s e n t by Jo h n t o e n q u ir e w h e th e r J e s u s was in d e e d th e
2
3
M e s s ia h .
T hey a p p e a r t o habe p ra y e d and f a s t e d , and
a f t e r J o h n ’ s e x e c u tio n t h e y w ere p e r m itte d t o t a k e away
h i s body an d b u ry i t .
4
Prom t h e e v id e n c e a v a i l a b l e , i t i s v e ry c l e a r t h a t
t h e r e e x i s t e d c e r t a i n m arked d i f f e r e n c e s betw een th e d i s ­
c i p l e s o f Jo h n and t h e d i s c i p l e s o f J e s u s .
I t i s now here
s t a t e d t h a t t h e fo rm e r w ent o u t and p re a c h e d l i k e C h r i s t ’s
d is c ip le s .
T h e re a r e no t r a c e s o f an y s p e c i a l o r g a n i s a ­
t i o n o f t h e i r company, n o r o f an y i n t e n t i o n on J o h n ’ s p a r t
t h a t t h e y s h o u ld c o n tin u e h i s work a f t e r h i s d e a th .
If it
1 . 3 :2 5 .
2 . M a t t .1 1 :2 -6 = L k .7 :1 8 -2 3 .
3 . M k .2 :18 = M a t t . 9 :1 4 ; c f .L k .5 : 3 3 and L k . l l : l .
4 . M a t t . 1 4 :1 2 = M k .6 :9 . 0
^
/
5 . The p h r a s e o f Jo s e p h u s pyrrn
<t v * ie\/«ti m eans n o t " t o
band t o g e t h e r by b a p tis m ”, i . e . t o form an o r g a n is e d group,
b u t s im p ly " t o come t o g e t h e r f o r b a p tis m ”. I t i s p a r a l l e l
t o m&X*i <ruv//vo(f s " t o come t o g e t h e r f o r b a t t l e " . C f.
T h a c k e ra y : J o s e p h u s , t h e Man and th e H i s t o r i a n , p . 132.
179.
i s b o rn e i n m ind t h a t t h e B a p t i s t b e li e v e d t h a t t h e end
o f t h e w o rld was a t h a n d , i t may w e ll be a s k e d :
Would he
h av e c o n s id e r e d i t n e c e s s a r y t o o r g a n is e a body o f d i s ­
c i p l e s and t o e q u ip them w ith i n s t r u c t i o n s f o r t h e f u t u r e ?
The a n sw e r i s c e r t a i n l y i n t h e n e g a t i v e .
I t seem s h i g h ly
p r o b a b l e , t h e n , t h a t i f t h e r e o u t l i v e d t h e B a p t i s t a g ro u p
o f men p o w e rfu l enough t o c o n s t i t u t e a d a n g e r t o th e C h r i s ­
t i a n C h u rch , t h i s g ro u p d id so w ith o u t an y w a r r a n t from
Jo h n h i m s e l f .
The m ost d i r e c t e v id e n c e w hich p o i n t s o r a p p e a rs to
p o i n t t o t h e e x is te n c e o f a c o n tin u in g Jo h a n n in e g ro u p i s
c o n ta in e d i n ( a ) A c ts 1 8 :2 4 -2 6 , th e a c c o u n t o f A p o llo s , and
(b ) A c ts 1 9 : 1 - 8 , t h e n a r r a t i v e o f th e d i s c i p l e s a t E p h e su s.
(a )
’A c e r t a i n Jew , named A p o llo s , a n A le x a n d r ia n , an
e lo q u e n t man, and m ig h ty i n th e S c r i p t u r e s , a r r i v e d a t
E p h e s u s.
T h is man was i n s t r u c t e d in th e way o f th e L o rd ,
and b e in g f e r v e n t i n s p i r i t , he sp ak e and ta u g h t w ith d i l i ­
g e n ce th e t h i n g s o f t h e L o rd , knowing o n ly t h e b a p tism o f
John.
And he b eg an t o sp eak b o l d ly i n th e synagogue; and
when P r i s c i l l a an d A q u ila h e a rd him , t h e y to o k him u n to
th e m , and expounded u n to him t h e way o f God e x a c t l y . ’
(b )
’P a u l, h a v in g p a s s e d th ro u g h th e u p p e r c o a s ts came
t o E p h e su s, and f i n d in g c e r t a i n d i s c i p l e s t h e r e ,
them :
s a id t o
Did you r e c e i v e th e H oly S p i r i t on b e lie v in g ?
t h e y s a i d t o him :
And
We have n o t even h e a rd i f t h e r e be H oly
180.
S p irit.
And P a u l s a i d :
What b a p tis m d id you r e c e iv e ?
And t h e y s a id : J o h n ’ s b a p tis m .
And P a u l s a i d :
Jo h n gave
a b a p tis m o f r e p e n ta n c e t e l l i n g t h e p e o p le t o b e l i e v e on
him who was t o come a f t e r him , t h a t i s , on J e s u s .
H e a rin g
t h i s , t h e y w e re b a p t i s e d i n t h e name o f t h e L ord J e s u s .
And P a u l l a i d h i s h an d s upon them and t h e Holy S p i r i t
d e sc e n d e d upon them , and t h e y spoke w ith to n g u e s and p r o ­
p h e s i e d , a n d , i n a l l , t h e r e w ere some tw e lv e o f t h e m .’
I t i s re m a rk a b le t h a t b o th t h e s e i n c i d e n t s to o k p la c e
a t E p h e s u s, and s t i l l m ore re m a rk a b le when i t i s b o rn e i n
m ind t h a t t h e F o u r th G o sp el was p r o b a b ly w r i t t e n a t t h a t
p l a c e , an d t h a t i n t h i s G o sp el t h e r e a r e v e ry e v id e n t t e n ­
d e n c ie s t o d im in is h th e im p o rta n c e o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t , i f
n o t a c t u a l l y t o d i r e c t a p o le m ic a g a i n s t him .
i s th e c o in c id e n c e t h a t ,
So s t r i k i n g
i n many c a s e s , c r i t i c s have con­
c lu d e d t h a t t h e d i s c i p l e s a t E p h e su s, and i n some c a s e s ,
A p o llo s t o o , a r e t o be re g a rd e d a s members o f a c o n tin u in g
B a p t i s t g ro u p .
In v ie w o f t h e c o in c id e n c e , how ever, th e
m a t t e r r e q u i r e s a l l th e more c a u t io u s e x a m in a tio n , and one
m ust bew are o f r u s h in g i n t o p i t f a l l s .
The n a r r a t i v e d e a l in g w ith th e d i s c i p l e s a t E p h esu s
i s p r o b a b ly l e s s d i f f i c u l t t h a n th e A p o llo s n a r r a t i v e , and
may be t a k e n f i r s t .
On h i s a r r i v a l a t E p h e su s, P a u l found c e r t a i n d i s c i p l e s
th e re .
The u se o f t h e word ’d i s c i p l e s ’ i s s i g n i f i c a n t .
T h e re i s no d o u b t t h a t i t m eans *C h r i s t ian**1, and u n le s s
i t i s a n ex p o s t f a c t o t i t l e ,
i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o se e how
i t c o u ld have b een u se d o f t h e f o l l o w e r s o f J o h n .
fin d s i t
M e G iffe rt
s tr a n g e t h a t t h e te rm sh o u ld have b een u sed o f
t h e s e p e o p le a t a l l , b e c a u se i t i s im p lie d , he h o ld s , t h a t
t h e y knew n o th in g w h a ts o e v e r a b o u t J e s u s .
2
I t i s not
c e r t a i n , how ever, t h a t a n y su ch i m p l i c a t i o n i s in te n d e d .
The p o i n t o f t h e n a r r a t i v e seem s t o l i e , n o t i n t h e ig n o r ­
a n c e o f t h e s e p e o p le o f J e s u s o r o f t h e G o sp e l - an
ig n o ra n c e w h ich i s o n ly a p p a r e n t and n o t borne o u t by th e
s e q u e l - b u t r a t h e r i n th e d i f f e r e n c e betw een J o h n ’ s bap­
t i s m an d C h r i s t i a n b a p tis m , t h e fo rm e r b e in g a b a p tis m w ith
w a te r o n ly , t h e l a t t e r , w ith t h e H oly S p i r i t .
The grow th
o f t h e C h r i s t i a n r i t e o f b a p tis m h a s a lr e a d y b e e n t r a c e d ,
an d i t h a s b een n o te d how i t p a s s e d th ro u g h c e r t a i n w e l ld e f in e d s t a g e s i n t h e th o u g h t and p r a c t i c e o f t h e e a r l y
com m unity, f i r s t , t h e f r e e and u n lim ite d S p i r i t b a p tism ,
s e c o n d , b a p tis m w ith w a te r i n t h e name o f J e s u s w hich con­
f e r r e d t h e g i f t o f th e H oly S p i r i t , and t h i r d , b a p tis m
p l u s t h e l a y i n g on o f h a n d s , a f t e r w hich th e H oly S p i r i t
was u n d e rs to o d t o d e sc e n d .
f l e c t s v e r y w e ll t h e s e s t a g e s .
The p r e s e n t n a r r a t i v e r e ­
Paul f i r s t a sk s,
’Did you
r e c e i v e t h e H oly S p i r i t , when you b e li e v e d ? ’ , i . e . when
1 . Compare th e u se o f t h e te rm i n o t h e r p a s s a g e s i n A c ts ,
p a r t i c u l a r l y i n 1 1 :2 6 . E veryw here i t m eans ’C h r i s t i a n s ’ .
2 . H i s t o r y o f C h r i s t i a n i t y i n th e A p o s to lic A ge, p . 2 8 6 .
3 . C f . c h a p te r I I I , s e c t i o n ( e ) .
182
you became C h r i s t i a n s ?
The r e p l y o f t h e men o f E p h e s u s,
'No I we h a v e n o t even h e a r d i f t h e r e be H oly S p i r i t 1, so
s t a r t l e s P a u l , t h a t he im m e d ia te ly t u r n s t o t h e seco n d way
o f r e c e i v i n g H oly S p i r i t ,
'W hat b a p tis m d id you h a v e , t h e n ,
when you d id n o t r e c e i v e H oly S p i r i t ? 1
The a n sw e r,
b a p t i s m ', a t once c l e a r s up t h e m a t t e r .
The l i m i t a t i o n s
o f J o h n 's b a p tis m a r e d u ly e x p la in e d .
'J o h n 's
'J o h n gave o n ly a
( w a te r) b a p tis m o f r e p e n t a n c e ', and t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f
J o h n 's p r e a c h in g i s r a d i c a l l y a l t e r e d t o s u i t t h e C h r i s t i a n
p o in t o f v ie w , ' t e l l i n g t h e p e o p le t o b e l i e v e on him who
was t o come, t h a t i s on J e s u s . ’
T h e re i s no i n d i c a t i o n
t h a t Jo h n e v e r e x h o rte d t h o s e whom he b a p ti s e d t o b e li e v e
on t h e Coming One.
He was c o n te n t t o p o in t o u t t h a t a
Coming One was a t h a n d , and i n view o f t h i s , i t was e s s e n ­
t i a l to re p e n t.
But when, i n t h e e a r l y C h r i s t i a n commun­
i t y , t h e Coming One o f J o h n 's p re a c h in g was i d e n t i f i e d
w ith J e s u s , i t was p e r f e c t l y n a t u r a l t h a t Jo h n s h o u ld have
b e e n r e p r e s e n te d a s u r g in g b e l i e f i n t h i s Coming One, t h a t
i s , in J e s u s .
The tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s a t E phesus do n o t
h e s i t a t e t o a c c e p t t h i s argum ent - a s t h e y m ig h t w e ll have
d o n e, had t h e y b een w h o lly ig n o r a n t o f t h e G ospel and had
t h e y n o t known t h a t J e s u s was in d e e d M e ssia h - and t h e y a re
b a p ti s e d i n t h e name o f C h r i s t , a n d , a s a n added a s s u ra n c e
o f t h e g i f t o f t h e S p i r i t , P a u l l a y s h i s hands upon them ,
and th e y r e c e i v e th e H oly S p i r i t i n t r u t h .
T h e re i s no
1 83.
q u e s t i o n , t h e n , o f t h e s e men o f E p h esu s n o t knowing C h r i s t
o r t h a t J e s u s was M e s s ia h .
The w hole p o i n t o f t h e n a r r a ­
t i v e , th o u g h d o u b t l e s s i t i s c o lo u re d somewhat by th e
a u t h o r 's own p o i n t o f v iew , i s t h a t b a p tis m i n t h e name o f
J e s u s , f o llo w e d by t h e l a y i n g on o f h a n d s , was an e s s e n t i a l
m eans o f p r o c u r i n g H oly S p i r i t .
A v e ry i n t e r e s t i n g v a r i a t i o n o c c u rs i n t h e S t e x t .
In s te a d o f,
'We have n o t even h e a rd i f t h e r e be H oly S p i r i t ' ,
t h e d i s c i p l e s a r e g iv e n to s a y ,
'We have n o t ev en h e a rd i f
some do r e c e i v e H oly S p i r i t . *
I t may be t h a t t h e l a t t e r
r e a d in g i s a n a tte m p t to m o d ify t h e h a r s h n e s s o f th e
f o r m e r , b u t , on t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h e fo rm e r i s i n i t s e l f
s c a rc e ly c re d ib le .
E phesus was f u l l o f nvtuu*r »fcof ,
' s p i r i t u a l ' p e r s o n s , and i t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t t h e d i s c i p l e s
had n e v e r h e a rd o f H oly S p i r i t .
P e rh a p s t h e m eaning i s
t h a t a t t h e i r b a p tis m by J o h n , t h e y had h e a rd n o th in g
a b o u t H oly S p i r i t - w hich w ould be p e r f e c t l y i n t e l l i g i b l e b u t m ore p r o b a b ly th e r e a l g i s t o f th e c o n v e r s a tio n i s
g iv e n b y t h e
S
r e a d i n g , v i z . t h a t th e d i s c i p l e s la c k e d
p r o o f t h a t H oly S p i r i t c o u ld a c t u a l l y be g iv e n , and t h a t
t h e y w ere a n x io u s t o e x p e r ie n c e t h i s d i s p e n s a t i o n f o r
th e m s e lv e s .
The c a se o f A p o llo s i s n o t g r e a t l y d i f f e r e n t from
t h a t o f th e tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s .
P o s s e s s in g t h e g i f t o f
e lo q u e n c e , t h i s A le x a n d ria n was a t p a in s t o p ro c la im t o
18 4 .
t h e w o rld h i s know ledge o f th e G o sp el and o f J e s u s .
It
i s , no d o u b t, t h e c o n t r a s t b e tw ee n t h e e x u b e ra n t and o u t ­
sp o k en f a i t h o f A p o llo s , and th e r e s e r v e d a t t i t u d e o f th e
tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s , w hich h a s , i n p a r t , l e d c r i t i c s t o
su p p o se t h a t t h e l a t t e r w ere i n r e a l i t y ig n o r a n t o f th e
G o s p e l.
But t h e r e i s no r e a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r t h i s p o i n t
o f v ie w .
B o th A p o llo s and t h e tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s had h e a rd
o f J e s u s and t h e G o s p e l, b u t t h e i r r e a c t i o n s m a n if e s te d
th e m s e lv e s i n d i f f e r e n t w ays.
A p o llo s i s s a i d t o have b een 'i n s t r u c t e d i n th e way
o f th e L o rd 1
and t o have 't a u g h t w ith d i l i g e n c e th e t h i n g s
c o n c e rn in g t h e L o r d ', a lth o u g h he knew t h e b a p tism o f Jo h n
o n ly .
I t w ould be i n t e r e s t i n g to know p r e c i s e l y w hat i s
m eant by 't h e t h i n g s c o n c e rn in g t h e L ord *.
V a rio u s e x -
p l a n a t i o n s hav e b e e n g iv e n , b u t i t i s p ro b a b le t h a t th e
e x p r e s s io n m eans q u i te s i& p ly " t h e p r i n c i p a l e v e n ts i n
th e l i f e o f J e s u s ” .
T h ese e v e n ts , A p o llo s knew, and he
r e l a t e d th em , p e rh a p s w ith an a d m ix tu re o f G n o s tic sp e o u 1
l a t i o n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f A le x a n d ria n p h ilo s o p h y ,
but
n e v e r t h e l e s s , w ith e n th u s ia s m and a r d o u r .
What he d id n o t
know, h o w ev er, was t h a t , a c c o rd in g t o t h e d o c tr i n e o f th e
e a r l y C h u rch , C h r i s t i a n b a p tis m , a s c o n t r a s t e d w ith J o h n 's
b a p tis m , was a m eans o f o b t a i n i n g B e ly S p i r i t .
1.
C f# I .C o r . 1 :12
A p p a re n tly
185.
h i s e n u n c i a t i o n 'o f t h e t h i n g s c o n c e rn in g t h e Lord* o m itte d
t h i s im p o rta n t d e t a i l , and P r i s c i l l a and A q u ila to o k him
a s i d e t o g iv e him exact*** in f o r m a tio n on t h i s p o i n t , w h ich
i s d e s c r i b e d , i n c o n t r a s t w ith 't h e t h i n g s c o n c e rn in g th e
L o rd * , a s 't h e way o f God*.
I t i s somewhat s u r p r i s i n g t h a t
we do n o t re a d i n so many w ords t h a t A p o llo s was a c t u a l l y
b a p t i s e d , and t h u s r e c e iv e d p e r s o n a l l y th e d i s t i n g u i s h i n g
m ark o f a C h r i s t i a n .
The m ost f e a s i b l e e x p la n a t i o n o f t h i s ,
i s , p e r h a p s , t h a t t h e a c t u a l b a p tis m i s t o be re g a rd e d a s
i m p l i c i t i n t h e 'e x a c t i n s t r u c t i o n ' w h ich P r i s c i l l a and
A q u ila i m p a r t e d .2
The p o i n t o f th e A p o llo s n a r r a t i v e i s
t h e r e f o r e e x a c t l y th e same a s t h a t o f t h e tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s n am ely , t h e c o n t r a s t b e tw ee n J o h n 's b a p tis m and C h r i s t i a n
b a p tis m .
What a c c o u n t, th e n ,
can be g iv e n f o r t h e e x is te n c e o f
p e o p le l i k e A p o llo s and t h e tw e lv e d i s c i p l e s ?
I t may be
t h a t many Jew s and o t h e r s , who made t h e P a s s o v e r p ilg r im a g e
t o J e r u s a le m fro m d i s t a n t p a r t s , had b een p o w e r f u lly a t t r a c t ­
ed by th e B a p t i s t 's announcem ent o f a Coming One, and f e e l ­
in g t h a t r e p e n ta n c e was n e c e s s a r y , had s u b m itte d th e m s e lv e s
1 . The word
ha s t h e s e n s e , n o t o f a t r u e com­
p a r a t i v e , b u t o f an a d v e rb , 'e x a c t l y ', a s o f t e n .
2 . I t c a n n o t be v e ry w e ll supposed t h a t t h e a c c o u n t o f t h e
b a p tis m i s s u p p re s s e d b e c a u se A p o llo s aiLready^ p o s s e s s e d
t h e Holy S p i r i t , ( 'f e r v e n t i n S p i r i t ' ,
tw -nvtvjAiri ) ,
T h is e x p r e s s io n m eans s u r e l y no more t h a n t h a t A p o llo s
was f i l l e d w ith a 'f e r v o u r o f s p i r i t ' i n h i s p ro c la m a tio n
o f t h e e v e n ts o f th e l i f e o f J e s u s . C f. Homans 1 2 :1 1 .
18 6.
t o t h e b a p tis m o f Jo h n .
T hey h a d , m o re o v e r, on a s u b s e ­
q u e n t v i s i t , b e e n im p re ss e d by t h e t e a c h in g o f J e s u s and
had a c q u a in te d th e m s e lv e s w ith th e p r i n c i p a l e v e n ts o f
h is l i f e .
I t may e v e n be su rm ise d t h a t a few - b u t o n ly
a few - o f t h e sh re w d e r m inds had i d e n t i f i e d i n some way
t h e Coming One o f J o h n 's p re a c h in g w ith J e s u s .
T h ese
t i d i n g s t h e y conveyed t o t h e i r own c o u n t r i e s , b u t t h e t i d ­
in g s w ould i n some c a s e s c o n ta in no a c c o u n t o f P e n t e c o s t ,
b e c a u s e , a f t e r t h e c r u c i f i x i o n o f J e s u s and t h e f e a s t o f
P a s s o v e r , some w ould r e t u r n im a g in in g , a s i s p e r f e c t l y
n a t u r a l , t h a t t h e w hole s t o r y was c o m p le te .
To more
d i s t a n t p a r t s news o f t h e e x p e rie n c e a t P e n te c o s t would
s p re a d o n ly g r a d u a l l y , and h e re i n E p h e su s, w ere p e o p le ,
(who no d o u b t had r e c e n t l y a r r i v e d t h e r e from m ore rem ote
d i s t r i c t s ) , who knew a b o u t th e s t o r y o f J e s u s , b u t who
knew n o th in g a b o u t t h e d e v e lo p in g d o c t r i n e o f t h e r e l a t i o n
betw een b a p tis m and t h e g i f t o f t h e H oly S p i r i t .
They
knew o n ly th e b a p tis m o f Jo h n ; t h e y w ere u n a c q u a in te d w ith
t h e "way o f God” •
I f t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e two p a s s a g e s i s c o r r e c t ,
t h e f o llo w in g t h r e e p o i n t s may, p e rh a p s , be m ade,
(a ) F u r­
t h e r s u p p o rt i s g iv e n t o t h e v iew , a lr e a d y s t a t e d , t h a t
t h e p r e a c h in g o f Jo h n c o n ta in e d no m e n tio n o f a coming
b a p tis m i n H oly S p i r i t .
He p o in te d t o a b a p tis m w ith f i r e
and w ith w ind only.**'
______________________
1 . C f .M o f f a tt: C h r i s t i a n i t y i n t h e L ig h t o f M odern K now ledge,
p . 194.
187
(b ) I t may be su p p o sed w i t h - v e r y good r e a s o n t h a t
b a p tis m was h a r d l y e v e r , i f a t a l l , p r a c t i s e d by th e d i s ­
c i p l e s o f J e s u s , and n e v e r by J e s u s h im s e lf - a c o n c lu s io n
p r e v i o u s l y i n d i c a t e d a f t e r e x a m in a tio n o f th e r e l e v a n t
p a s s a g e s i n t h e F o u r th G o sp el and e ls e w h e r e .’*"
I t i s in ­
c o n c e iv a b le , t h a t p e o p le who had s u b m itte d th e m s e lv e s t o
J o h n 's b a p tis m , and who knew t h e p r i n c i p a l e v e n ts i n t h e
l i f e o f J e s u s , s h o u ld have b e e n u n a c q u a in te d w ith th e
b a p tis m o f J e s u s , had su c h a r i t e a c t u a l l y b e en p r a c t i s e d
by o u r L o rd .
T he f a c t s a r e b e s t e x p la in e d by assum ing
t h a t J e s u s and h i s d i s c i p l e s n e v e r b a p t i s e d , and t h a t t h e
p r a c t i c e was i n s t i t u t e d by t h e E a r l y C hurch a lo n g th e l i n e s
i n d i c a t e d i n t h e p r e v io u s c h a p t e r .
(c ) T h ere a r e no r e a l g ro u n d s f o r b e l i e v i n g t h a t
A p o llo s and th e d i s c i p l e s a t E phesus w ere d i s c i p l e s o f John
t h e B a p t i s t i n t h e f u l l se n se o f t h e w ord.
T hey were
m e re ly a few among many o f th o s e who had r e c e iv e d J o h n ’s
b a p tis m .
T hey w ere C h r i s t i a n s , b u t n o t f u l l C h r i s t i a n s ,
a c c o r d in g t o th e p o i n t o f view o f th e E a r ly C h u rch .
They
la c k e d w hat t h e o f f i c i a l C h r i s t i a n comm unity demanded - a s
Luke c o n c e iv e d i t - b a p tis m and th e g i f t o f th e S p i r i t . The
fo rm e r was th e m eans o f r e c e i v i n g th e l a t t e r , and i n c e r ­
t a i n c a s e s t h e l a y i n g on o f h an d s was a l s o n e c e s s a r y .
1*
The
Of. ch ap ter I I , p . 91 ff.
i
188.
u tm o s t t h a t can be s a i d o f A p o llo s and th e tw e lv e i s t h a t
t h e y may have had t r e a s u r e d m em ories o f t h e i r fo rm e r t e a c h e r
a t whose h a n d s t h e y had r e c e i v e d a b a p tis m o f r e p e n t a n c e .
I t i s j u s t a s p r o b a b le how ever t h a t t h e y , one an d a l l ,
c h e r is h e d e q u a l l y l a s t i n g m em ories o f J e s u s .
At an y r a t e ,
i t seem s t o be q u i t e u n n e c e s s a ry t o se e i n them t r a c e s o f
an o p p o s i t i o n movement t o C h r i s t i a n i t y .
T h is i s t h e p r o ­
d u c t o f t h e h y p e r - c r i t i c a l im a g in a tio n .
As f o r t h e F o u r th G o s p e l, i t m ust be a d m itte d t h a t
h e re a v e r y m arked te n d e n c y i s t o be found t o m in im ise t h e
im p o rta n c e o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t a s com pared w ith J e s u s .
So
u n m is ta k a b le i s t h i s te n d e n c y t h a t many c r i t i c s have con­
c lu d e d t h a t t h e p o le m ic i s i n r e a l i t y d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t a
c o n tin u in g Jo h a n n in e g roup who e x a lte d t h e c la im s o f t h e i r
m a s te r above th o s e o f J e s u s , and some have ev en a s s e r t e d
t h a t t h e p u rp o s e o f t h e F o u r th G o sp el was t o combat t h i s
1
s e c t.
T h is c o u ld o n ly be t r u e - th o u g h i t need n o t be i f t h e p a s s a g e s i n w hich t h e p o le m ic a p p e a rs c o u ld be
a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e a u th o r o f t h e G o s p e l.
T h e i r c la im s t o
b e in g i n t e g r a l t o th e G o sp el m u s t, t h e r e f o r e , be exam ined.
(a )
J n . 1 : 6 - 8 , and v .1 5 .
I t i s commonly h e ld t h a t
t h e s e v e r s e s b re a k t h e seq u en ce o f th e P r o lo g u e , 1 :1 -1 8 ,
1 . The l i t e r a t u r e on
s a tis fa c to ry l i s t
p r a c t i c a l l y e v e ry
o p in io n i s a lm o s t
p o lem ic*
t h i s s u b j e c t i s so e x te n s iv e t h a t no
can be g iv e n . I t i s d e a l t w ith in
commentary on th e F o u rth G o sp e l, and
e q u a lly d iv id e d f o r and a g a i n s t th e
189.
an d sh o u ld be a s s ig n e d t o t h e R e d a c to r .
g ro u n d s f o r t h i s b e l i e f .
T h e re a r e some
I t i s t r u e t h a t v .9 f o llo w s v e r y
n a t u r a l l y on v . 5 , and t h a t v .1 6 fo rm s a n e x c e l l e n t con­
t i n u a t i o n o f t h e th o u g h t e x p re s s e d i n v .1 4 .
I t i s a ls o
t r u e t h a t w . 6 - 8 , and v .1 5 c a n n o t be f i t t e d
rh y th m ic scheme o f th e Hymn t o t h e L o g o s.
i n t o th e
T hey i n t e r r u p t
t h e se q u en ce o f th o u g h t and g iv e t h e im p re s s io n a t f i r s t
s i g h t , a t an y r a t e , o f b e in g r e d a c t i o n a l .
T h is im p re s s io n
i s n o t c o n firm e d , how ever, by t h e s t y l e o f t h e v e r s e s in
q u e s t io n .
In v .8 , in p a r t i c u l a r , th e re a re s t y l i s t i c
t r a i t s v e r y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h e E v a n g e lis t h i m s e l f . T h u s :(i)rV i* jA4eTue*i<>/yi
: t h e E v a n g e lis t i s v e ry p a r t i a l t o
t h i s c o n s tru c tio n .
C f. 1 1 :4 , ^
. • • e X ^ ^ E x e g e t i c a l Mfol
<bo^*<rO+i
•
6 :4 0 ,
?W
c l a u s e s ) , 1 5 :8 , 1 5 :1 2 , e t c .
( i i ) The p l a c in g s id e by s i d e o f n e g a tiv e and p o s i t i v e :
C f. 3 :1 7 , a n e x a c t m odel o f 1 : 8 , 7 :2 8 , 1 5 :1 6 , 1 5 :1 9 , 1 7 :9 ,
1 7 :1 5 , e t c .
I n v iew o f t h i s ,
i t i s p e rh a p s somewhat p r e c a r i o u s
t o a s s i g n t h e s e v e r s e s t o th e R e d a c to r .
T hey a re more
p r o b a b ly a p a r e n t h e s i s o f t h e E v a n g e lis t h i m s e l f .
If th is
i s t r u e o f w . 6 - 8 , i t i s n o t im p o s s ib le t h a t v .1 5 a ls o
b e lo n g s t o th e E v a n g e l i s t , and i f t h e E v a n g e lis t th o u g h t
i t n e c e s s a r y t o i n t e r r u p t h i s Hymn i n t h i s way, i t i s
l i k e l y t h a t he was d r i v e n t o do so by some v e ry p r e s s i n g
o c c a s io n .
190.
(b ) 5 : 3 1 f f .
I n t h i s s e c t i o n a l s o , w h ich f u r t h e r
m in im is e s t h e r o l e o f J o h n , t r a c e s o f th e R e d a c to r have
been se en .
The them e o f th e s e c t i o n i s t h e c o n t r a s t b e ­
tw e en t h e w i t n e s s o f Jo h n a n d t h e w itn e s s o f God.
Now i t
i s v e ry c l e a r t h a t t h e s e v e r s e s i l l u s t r a t e t h e k e y -th e m e
o f t h e F o u r th E v a n g e l i s t , v i z . t h e d e s i r e t o show t h a t
J e s u s i s i n d i s p u t a b l y th e Son o f God.
J o h n ’ s w itn e s s i s
r e p r e s e n te d a s s a t i s f a c t o r y enough, b u t i n v .3 6 t h e u l t i ­
m ate c la im s a r e made t o r e s t on t h e te s tim o n y o f th e F a t h e r .
T h is i s s u r e l y t h e a tm o sp h e re o f th e P r o lo g u e .
Jo h n ’s
w i t n e s s , h e re a s t h e r e , i s r e p r e s e n te d a s b e in g o f im por­
ta n c e l e s s f o r J e s u s , t h a n f o r t h e Je w s.
T ru e ,
’Jo h n was
a b u rn in g and a s h in in g l i g h t ’ , b u t t h e f e e b le n e s s o f t h a t
l i g h t a s com pared w ith th e l i g h t o f J e s u s i s a g a in s u b t l y
e m p h a sise d .
’You w ere c o n te n t t o r e j o i c e i n h i s ( J o h n ’ s)
lig h t fo r a season’ .
A l l t h i s i s so c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f th e
them e o f th e G o s p e l, t h a t i t m ig h t be a s c r i b e d more r e a d i l y
t o th e E v a n g e li s t h im s e lf t h a n t o t h e hand o f th e R e d a c to r.
(c ) 1 0 :4 0 - 4 2 .
The s t y l i s t i c p e c u l i a r i t i e s o f t h e s e
v e r s e s , (w h ich n eed n o t be exam ined i n d e t a i l h e r e ) , w hich
a g a in r e f l e c t d e p r e c i a t i o n o f Jo h n , make i t u n l i k e l y t h a t
t h e y a r e i n t e g r a l t o th e G o s p e l.
P o s s i b l y t h e y p o in t t o th e
R e d a c to r ’* d e s i r e t o m in im ise s t i l l f u r t h e r t h e im p o rta n c e
o f Jo h n th e B a p t i s t .
As a r e s u l t o f t h i s a n a l y s i s , i t i s n o t e a s y t o f e e l
191.
q u i t e s u r e t h a t t h e F o u r th G o sp el i n i t s o r i g i n a l form
d id n o t c o n ta in a c e r t a i n m ea su re o f p o lem ic d i r e c t e d t o ­
w ard s m in im is in g th e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f John t h e B a p t i s t .
T h is i s s u g g e s te d b o th by th e P ro lo g u e , and a t 5 :3 1 , i n
p a r t i c u l a r , and t h e p o le m ic seem s t o have b een c o n tin u e d
a t c e r t a i n p o i n t s , e s p e c i a l l y a t 1 0 : 4 0 f f . , by th e R e d a c to r.
The q u e s t io n now a r i s e s :
A g a in s t whom was t h e polem ic o f
t h e E v a n g e li s t d i r e c t e d , s in c e he th o u g h t i t n e c e s s a r y t o
ad v an c e p e r i o d i c a l l y su c h g la n c in g t h r u s t s ?
I n v ie w o f t h e l a c k o f e v id e n c e f o r a c o n tin u in g
B a p t i s t g ro u p , i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o a d o p t th e view t h a t th e
p o le m ic i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t a g e n u in e Jo h a n n in e g ro u p .
It
i s much m ore l i k e l y t h a t t h e E v a n g e lis t i s d e a lin g w ith a
c o n te m p o ra ry movement on th e p a r t o f c e r t a i n Je w s, who
so u g h t t o b u t t r e s s t h e i r o p p o s i t io n t o C h r i s t i a n i t y by
e x a l t i n g th e c la im s o f Jo h n th e B a p t i s t .
T h ese Jew s w ere
n o t g e n u in e d i s c i p l e s o f Jo h n , n o r even d e s c e n d a n ts o f th e
sam e, b u t t h e y in v e n te d t h i s c le v e r m ethod o f a t t a c k i n g
C h r i s t i a n i t y , a p p a r e n t l y w ith some l i t t l e
su ccess.
T hey
seem t o h av e th ro w n a n a p p le o f d is c o r d i n t o th e C hurch,
t h e rem o v al o f w hich n e c e s s i t a t e d a n u rg e n t a p p e a l by th e
F o u r th E v a n g e l i s t .
The la n g u a g e w hich th e F o u r th E v a n g e l­
i s t em ploys r e f e r r i n g t o Jo h n ,
’He was n o t th e L i g h t ’ , i s
u n d o u b te d ly th e te rm in o lo g y w h ich c e r t a i n o f th e d i s a f f e c t e d
o n es w ith in th e C h r i s t i a n com m unity would u se in i n t e r p r e t -
192.
in g t h e c o n te m p o ra ry J e w is h movement.'*'
T h e re i s no e v i ­
d e n ce t h a t t h i s movement a c h ie v e d a n y g r e a t m easu re o f
s u c c e s s , a lth o u g h i t l a s t e d lo n g enough, a p p a r e n t l y , t o
o c c a s io n a few m ore w a rn in g s on t h e p a r t o f t h e R e d a c to r.
No d o u b t, i t i s t o he re g a rd e d on t h e w hole a s c o m p a ra tiv e ly
s h o rt-liv e d ;
t h e p o lem ic o f t h e E v a n g e li s t , and th e Re­
d a c t o r , c o u p le d w ith th e i n s e c u r e f o u n d a tio n on w hich th e
movement was b u i l t , would q u ic k ly b r in g a b o u t i t s f a i l u r e .
The a p p a r e n t p o le m ic , t h e r e f o r e , a g a i n s t a Jo h a n n in e g roup
w i l l amount t o no more t h a n a s p e c i a l f e a t u r e o f th e a n t i J e w is h te n d e n c y o f th e F o u r th G o s p e l.
A n o th e r w r i t i n g i n w hich a l l u s i o n s to a c o n tin u in g
Jo h a n n in e g ro u p have been t r a c e d i s th e C lem en tin e Recogn itio n s .
I n t h e c o u rs e o f a n a c c o u n t o f v a r io u s Je w ish
s e c t s , S a d d u c e e s, S a m a r ita n s , and P h a r i s e e s , th e f o llo w in g
s ta te m e n ts a p p e a r : wSome o f th e d i s c i p l e s o f Jo h n who a p p e a re d t o be
g r e a t o n e s s e p a r a te d th e m s e lv e s from th e p e o p le and d e c l a r e d t h e i r own m a s te r t o be C h r i s t . ”
2
"And, h e h o ld , one o f t h e d i s c i p l e s o f Jo h n d e c la r e d
1 . I n t h i s way i t i s p o s s ib l e t o answ er th e o b j e c ti o n o f
G oguel t o th e v iew o f S c h w a rtz : N a c h .v .d .K S n .G e s .d .W is s .
z .G B t. . P h i l - h i s t .E L ., p p . 5 2 2 f f . , t h a t t h e polem ic i s
d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t Je w s. C e r t a i n l y , Jew s would n o t r e f e r
t o Jo h n a s ft h e L i g h t f , i * e . a d iv in e b e in g , a s Goguel
p o i n t s o u t , b u t t h e i r t h e o r i e s would e a s i l y le n d them ­
s e l v e s t o t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ahd te rm in o lo g y i n th e
C h r i s t i a n com m unity.
2 . i : 54.
1 93.
t h a t Jo h n was C h r i s t , and n o t J e s u s :
b e c a u s e , he s a i d ,
J e s u s h i m s e l f d e c la r e d t h a t Jo h n was g r e a t e r th a n a l l men
and p r o p h e t s .
I f , t h e n , he s a i d , Jo h n i s g r e a t e r th a n
a l l m en, he m ust be d o u b tle s s g r e a t e r t h a n Moses and J e s u s
h im s e lf.
B ut i f he i s g r e a t e r th a n a l l , t h e n he i s
C h ris t
A g r e a t v a r i e t y o f o p in io n s t i l l p r e v a i l s a s to th e
v a lu e o f t h e C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s a s a so u rc e f o r th e
e a r ly s ta g e s of th e h is to r y of C h r is tia n ity .
The T ttbingen
s c h o o l h a s l a i d g r e a t s t r e s s upon them , and H ilg e n f e ld
w r i t e s , nT h e re i s s c a r c e l y a s i n g l e w r i t in g w hich i s o f
so much c o n seq u en ce f o r t h e h i s t o r y o f C h r i s t i a n i t y in
its f ir s t
s t a g e , and w hich h a s a l r e a d y g iv e n su c h b r i l l i a n t
d i s c l o s u r e s a t t h e h an d s o f t h e m ost renowned c r i t i c s , in
r e g a r d t o th e e a r l y h i s t o r y o f th e C h r i s t i a n C hurch, a s th e
w r i t i n g s a s c r i b e d to th e Roman C lem en t, th e R e c o g n itio n s
and H o m ilie s . ”2
O th e r c r i t i c s have p e rh a p s m ore a c c u r ­
a t e l y re g a rd e d t h e C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s a s a k in d o f
p h i l o s o p h i c a l and t h e o l o g i c a l rom ance.
”The w r i t e r o f th e
work” , sa y s D r. S m ith , "seem s t o have had no i n t e n t i o n o f
p r e s e n t i n g h i s s ta te m e n ts a s f a c t s ;
b u t , c h o o sin g th e
d i s c i p l e s o f C h r i s t and t h e i r f o llo w e r s a s h i s p r i n c i p a l
1 . i : 6 0 . The C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s w ere o r i g i n a l l y w r i t te n
i n G reek t h e o r i g i n a l o f w hich i s l o s t ; a L a t in t r a n s l a ­
t i o n was u n d e rta k e n by R u fin u s o f A q u ila . (410 A .D .) .
D ie C lem .R ecog.und Hom.nach ihrem U rsp ru n g und I n h a l t
d a r g e s t e l I t , y .T .
194.
c h a r a c t e r s , he h a s f u t i n t o t h e i r m ouths t h e m ost im p o rta n t
o f h i s b e l i e f s , and woven t h e w hole t o g e t h e r by a th r e a d o f
f ic titio u s n a rr a tiv e .”
1
T h o se c r i t i c s who have fo u n d i n t h e A c ts and i n t h e
F o u r th G o sp e l s u f f i c i e n t e v id e n c e t o s u s t a i n t h e i r th e o r y o f
a c o n tin u in g B a p t i s t g ro u p , hav e n o t b een slo w t o s e iz e upon
t h e p a s s a g e s q u o te d above a s s t r e n g th e n in g , i f n o t a c t u a l l y
c l i n c h i n g , t h e i r a rg u m e n t.
T hey b e li e v e t h a t a s t h e Clem­
e n t i n e R e c o g n itio n s r e f l e c t t h e c o n d it i o n s o f t h e C hurch in
t h e t h i r d c e n tu r y A .D ., t h e r e i s e v id e n c e h e re t h a t t h e r e
m ust h av e b een a g r a d u a l d ev elo p m en t w ith in i t o f a h e r e t i c
g ro u p who m a g n ifie d Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t a t t h e expense o f J e s u s .
B ut do t h e t e x t s i n q u e s tio n r e a l l y g iv e any c o u n te n an c e t o
su c h a n o p in io n ?
2
wI t m ust be rem ark ed ” , w r i t e s Buzy , ” t h a t
t h e t e x t sa y s n o th in g r e g a r d in g t h e c o n ti n u a t i o n o f th e
J o h a n n i te s a s a s e c t .
I f th e s e c t o f J o h a n n ite s r e a l l y
p o s s e s s e d an y e f f e c t i v e o r g a n i s a t i o n , o r was i n an y way r e ­
nowned, i t i s a s t o n i s h i n g t h a t e a r l y w r i t e r s su c h a s H egesip p u s , J u s t i n , E u s e b iu s , E p ip h a n iu s , knew n o th in g o r a t
l e a s t w ro te n o th in g a b o u t i t . ”
I t would seem , t h e r e f o r e ,
t h a t t h e C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s r e f e r e i t h e r t o a te n d e n c y
on t h e p a r t o f some o f t h e B a p t i s t ’s h e a r e r s t o re g a rd him
2#
C le m e n tin e R e c o g n itio n s , p . 137.
Jo a n t h e B a p t i s t . Eng .E d ., p . 243.
a s M e ss ia h d u r in g h i s l i f e - t i m e o n l y , o r m ore p ro b a b ly t o th e
movement o f t h e Jew s a g a i n s t C h r i s t i a n i t y , a lr e a d y m e n tio n e d
a s g i v in g r i s e t o t h e p o le m ic i n t h e F o u r th G o s p e l.
C e rta in ly
t h e r e a s o n in g by w hich Jo h n i s made g r e a t e r t h a n C h r i s t
s a v o u rs v e r y s t r o n g l y o f t y p i c a l J e w is h c a s u i s t r y I
I t o n ly re m a in s t o sa y so m eth in g o f th e H e m e ro b a p tis ts
who hav e b e e n re g a r d e d by some a s b e in g r e l a t e d t o th e d i s ­
c i p l e s o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t . '1'
The H e m e ro b a p tis ts a r e r e f e r r e d
t o by H e g e s ip p u s , w r i t i n g a b o u t 160 A .D ., a s one among o t h e r
J e w is h s e c t s ,
g
w h ile E p ip h a n iu s , a b o u t t h e end o f th e 4 th
c e n tu r y , d e s c r i b e s them a s h a v in g h e ld th e same t e n e t s a s t h e
S c r ib e s and t h e P h a r i s e e s , th o u g h th e y w ere Sadducean a s to
th e R e s u rre c tio n .
”i£bove a l l t h e y have t h i s s p e c i a l c h a r a c t e r ­
i s t i c t h a t i n s p r i n g and autum n, summer and w in te r , th e y
b a th e e v e ry d a y , whence t h e i r nicknam e o f H e m e ro b a p tis ts . They
sa y one c a n n o t l i v e i n human f a s h i o n , u n l e s s one p lu n g e s e a c h
d ay i n t o w i|te r , t o wash and p u r i f y o n e s e l f from a l l s t a i n . ”
In th e A p o s to lic C o n s t i t u t i o n s a d e s c r i p t i o n a p p e a rs o f
H e m e ro b a p tis ts ”who e v e ry d a y , u n le s s t h e y w ash, th e y do n o t
e a t:
n a y , and u n l e s s t h e y c le a n s e t h e i r b e d s and t a b l e s , o r
p l a t t e r s and cu p s and s e a t s , do n o t use a n y o f th e m .”
4
F in -
1* B la k is to n : Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t . p p . l 3 7 f f . , h o ld s t h a t t h e Bap­
t i s t s o f Jo h n , and th e H e m e ro b a p tis ts am algam ated, and p r o ­
duced a C h r i s t i a n h e r e s y .
2 . C f. E u s e b iu s : E c c l . H i s t . i v . 2 2 . 7 . ; Loeb E u s e b iu s I ,^ p .3 7 6 .
3 . H a e r e s e s . 1 :3 7 .
v i .6.
196.
a l l y i n t h e C le m e n tin e H o m ilie s . Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t h im s e lf
i s d e s c r ib e d a s a H e m e ro b a p tis t
On t h e s t r e n g t h o f
t h i s e v id e n c e i t may be s a i d t h a t th e s e c t o f H e m e ro b a p tis ts ,
i f in d e e d t h e r e d id © x is t a d i s t i n c t s e c t b e a r in g t h a t name,
was known d u r in g th e f i r s t f o u r c e n t u r i e s A .D ..
T h e re i s
n o th in g , h o w e v e r, i n t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e i r p r a c t i c e s
w h ich s u g g e s ts a n y c lo s e c o n n e c tio n b e tw ee n them and Jo h n
th e B a p t i s t .
P a r t i c u l a r l y t o be o b se rv e d a r e t h e r e p e a te d
l u s t r a t i o n s o f t h e H e m e ro b a p tis ts a s com pared w ith t h e
s i n g l e b a p tis m o f Jo h n .
The a n te c e d e n ts o f t h i s s e c t
sh o u ld be so u g h t i n th e P h a r i s a i c w a sh in g s, o r in t h e r e ­
p e a te d b a p tis m s o f th e E s s e n e s , o r i t may be su p p o sed ,
p e rh a p s l e s s p l a u s i b l y , w ith S c h u r e r , t h a t na s p e c i a l s e c t ­
a r i a n name h a s b een f a b r i c a t e d from a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c p e c u l­
i a r i t y o f a l l J e w s .”2
I t i s n o t q u ite a c c u r a t e t h a t a l l
Jews to o k a d a i l y b a th a s i s r e p o r t e d o f t h e H e m e ro b a p tis ts ,
b u t p e r h a p s , i n t h e D ia s p o r a , th e p r a c t i c e became common
enough th r o u g h i m i t a t i o n o f th e h e a th e n , t o g iv e r i s e t o
th e p e c u l i a r n ick n am e.
A t any r a t e , i t i s a lm o st c e r t a i n l y
th e H e m e ro b a p tis ts t o whom J u s t i n M a rty r a l l u d e s when he
sp eak s o f s i x J e w is h h e r e s i e s , th e l a s t o f w hich was th e
B a p t i s t h e r e s y , 3 and i t i s f u r t h e r p r o b a b le t h a t by a s i m i l a r
1 . i i . 2 3 . A h i g h ly f a n t a s t i c a c c o u n t o f J o h n ’s d i s c i p l e s
fo llo w s t h i s .
2* O jp .c it. . I I , v o l . i i , p . 2 1 0 .
B i a l .c .T r y p h o . 8 0 :4 .
197.
confusion th e Clementine Hofliilies r e fe r to John as a
Hem erobaptist.
I t i s s u f f ic ie n t , however, to observe the
complete d is s im ila r it y o f p ra c tic e between John’ s d is ­
c ip le s and the Hemerobaptists - a fa ct which in i t s e l f i s
s u f f ic ie n t to remove a l l thought o f the la t t e r being a
genuine continuing B ap tist group.
In con clu sion , i t may be h elp fu l to ta b u la te, fo r
the sake o f c la r it y , the arguments for arid against a B a p tist
Sect opposed to the early Church.
In favour of the ex isten ce of the sect are th ese
p oin ts
(a) The appearance in A cts of a group o f people who
might be regarded as d is c ip le s of John the B a p t is t .,
(b) The curious coincidence that th ese people were
found in Ephesus where the Fourth Gospel was pro-,
bably w ritten with i t s polemic against John.
(c) The evidence o f the Clementine R ecognition s.
A gainst the ex iste n c e of the sect are th ese p o in ts :(a) The fa ct th a t, on c r it ic a l examination, the people
at Ephesus have no r e a l claim s to be regarded as
members o f a continuing B ap tist group. They were,
in r e a lit y , C h ristia n s, except that they lacked
baptism and i t s g i f t , the Holy S p ir it .
(b) The fa ct that the polemic in the Foipth Gospel
can eq u ally w ell be understood as d irected against
a contemporary Jewish movement which had, in p art,
made i t s in flu en ce f e l t in the Church.
(c) The fa ct that th e Clementine R ecognitions may
q u ite w e ll, in turn, allude to t h is movement, and
not n e c e ss a r ily to a genuine continuing B ap tist
group.
198.
Thus fa r the evidence i s adm ittedly f a i r l y evenly
balanced, but when the fo llo w in g con sid eration s are added,
the balance seems to swing q u ite d e f in it e ly again st the
idea o f a continuing B ap tist s e c t,
(a) The la ck o f orga n isa tio n o f John’s d is c ip le s dur­
ing h is lif e t im e .
(b) The u nlik elih ood that John, who b eliev ed that the
end o f the world was near, would make d is c ip le s in the
true and f u l l sense o f the word.
(c) The fa c t that the d is c ip le s o f John, unlike the
d is c ip le s o f J esu s, had no v is io n of th e ir R isen Master.
I t was the R ecurrection o f Jesus which gave h is d is c ip le s
hope, drew them more c lo s e ly to g eth er, and inspired in
them the determ ination to carry the Gospel message to a l l
n a tio n s.
There was nothing p a r a lle l to t h i s in the case
o f John’s d is c i p le s .
(d) The s ile n c e o f Paul.
Bad there r e a lly been a
Johannine group who exalted t h e ir claim s above those of
Jesus, i t i s very su rp rising that an attack upon them did
hot form part o f the m issionary propaganda o f the early
Church.
Not even John the B ap tist him self i s mentioned
by P a u l.1
1* B lakiston: o n . c i t . . p .136, regards Rom.6:4 as an a llu s ­
ion to John the B a p tist, but t h is seems very improbable.
199.
(e)
The sile n c e of ea rly w riters such as. Hegesippus,
Eusebius and Epiphanius.
(See above, on the Hemerobaptists).
I t may be concluded th a t n eith er was i t the Baptistes'
in te n tio n to group togeth er around him a body of men to
continue h is m in istr y a fte r he h im self had gone, nor did
any o f h is fo llo w ers s e r io u s ly contemplate doing so.
Dur­
ing h is lif e - t im e John had a number o f d is c ip le s or fo llo w ers
upon whom he enjoined h is a s c e tic ways of liv in g , but at
no tim e, i t would seem, did he band them in to a f u l l y
organised d is c ip le s h ip .
A fter the axe had done i t s deadly
work in some G alilean f o r t r e s s , they soon d isin teg ra ted and
d isp ersed , takin g with them cherished memories of th e ir
m aster, and mourning the untim ely end o f so great a so u l.
S*
Since German scholars o f note have pronounced that in
the Mandaean lit e r a tu r e may be found the key to the Pro­
logue o f the Fourth Gospel, and sin ce they have raised in
a more acute form the p o s s i b i l i t y of the Mandaeans being
c lo s e ly connected w ith a John the B ap tist s e c t, i t i s
necessary to consider t h is problem in a study of John the
B a p tist.
Two questions present them selves:
f i r s t , the
r e la tio n , i f any, between Mandaism and C h ristia n ity ; second,
the r e la tio n , i f any, between th e Mandaeans and Johnjthe
200 .
B a p tist.
These two questions are o f couyse c lo s e ly re­
la te d , and th e answer to the f i r s t w i l l have an important
bearing upon the answer to the second.
In the examination
o f th e f i r s t q u estion , th e h isto r y and lit e r a tu r e o f the
Mandaeans w ill be trea ted in gen eral, and in the second
a tte n tio n w i l l be paid, in p a r tic u la r , to the p erso n a lity
-of John the B a p tist as he appears in the Mandaean lite r a tu r e .
I.
The Mandaeans dw ell at the present day on the lower
reaches o f the T ig r is and Euphrates, in the southernmost
part o f Iraq, and in a sm all part o f the province o f Chuzis ta n .
Although th e ir numbers are comparatively sm all,
about 10,000 so u ls,^ they s t i l l continue to avoid absorption
with th e ir Muslim neighbours.
They p r a c tise frequent r it e s
of baptism in running water, hold an observance c lo s e ly re­
sembling th e C h ristian E ucharist, and la y p ecu lia r s tr e s s
upon c e r ta in teach in g on "Light” and "Life” .
They are
ca lled by t h e ir neighbours Subbis or B a p tisers, but the
name which th ey them selves use i s Mandaeans.
documents c a l l them Nazoreans.
The Mandaeans
They have a language of
tiie ir own, but i t i s r a r e ly used now except fo r r e lig io u s
purposes.
In everyday conversation they speak Arabic or
1» According to the la t e s t inform ation of K .D ojaily, Lec­
tu rer in Arabic at the School of O riental S tu d ies. Cited
by G.R.S.Mead: The Gnostic John, p .29. S o u ffi's estim ate,
in 1875, o f 4 ,0 0 0 , is,a c co r d in g to Mead, too low.
2 01,
P ersian .
The Mandaean s c r ip t i s p lea sin g and gracefu l and
th e vowels are w ritten in f u l l .
The c h ie f extant documents
a r e :(a) The Ginza, (Treasury) . divided in to Right and L eft
pages, th e former d ealin g with the liv in g , the
l a t t e r w ith the dead, though in some cases t h is
order was apparently reversed. I t c o n sis ts of 64
t r a c t a t e s on various su b jec ts, th e o lo g ic a l, e th ic a l,
cosm ological, m yth ological, and h is t o r ic a l, much
o f which dates from very ancient tim es.
(b) The John-Book, a m iscella n y , but d ealin g in the
main w ith the l i f e and teaching of John the B a p tist.
(c) The Q o la sta . (Q u intessence) . c o n sistin g o f l i t u r ­
g ie s and hymns fo r baptism, m arriage, and the dead.
(d) The Divan, containing ru le s fo r the exp iation of
ceremonial o ffe n c e s, and d esc rip tio n s of the regions
through which the soul p asses on i t s ascen t.
(e) The A sfar Malwashe, a book of the Z o d ia c a l Con­
st ella tio n sT
( f) In sc r ip tio n s on cups and t a b le t s .
The o r ig in o f the Mandaean sect has been keenly d is ­
puted, and i t may be o f in te r e s t and value to in d ica te the
main trends o f c r i t i c a l scholarsh ip.^
Period I . 1645-1777:
ABRAHAMUS ECCHELLENSIS in h is Eutychius Patriarcha Alexandrinus v in d ica tu s et su is r e s titu tu s O rien ta lib u s, e t c . ,
m aintains th a t th e Mandaeans belong to those s e c ts , qui dua
p rin cip ia te n e n t. and hence t h e ir r e lig io u s outlook is
dominated by a d u a lis tic view of l i f e .
The Father of L ight,
1 . The admirable c la s s if ic a t io n o f Svend Aage P a llis : Essay
on Mandaean Bibliography 1560-1930, i s follow ed here. Only
"the p rin c ip a l names, nowever, are s e le c te d .
202.
Pater l u c i s , they c a l l A bthahil, and h is counterpart i s
Hesciucha, Darkness.
He concludes th at th e Mandaeans are
in r e a lit y a G nostic se c t with an Iranian admixture, and
th a t they belonged from e a r lie s t tim es to the d is t r ic t in
which th e y now l i v e .
RICHARD SIMON in h is H isto ir e C rit­
ique du Vieux Testament a ls o b e lie v e s that the Mandaeans
were a G nostic s e c t , and id e n t if ie s the word Mandai with
"gnostikos", "knowing".
He m aintains furth er th at there
i s a connection w ith the Chaldaeans as regards a str o lo g ic a l
id ea s, and th a t th ere are Manichaean elements a ls o in the
Mandaean system .
BARTHELEMY D’HERBELOT in h is B ibliotheque
O rientale f i r s t su g g ests th at the Mandaeans o r ig in a lly be­
longed to the West, and were connected with Jewish p o stC hristian s e c ts , e . g . the Hemerobaptists.
ISAAC DE BEAU-
SOBRE in h is H isto ir e C ritique de Manichee et du Manicheisme
suggests th at there i s a very d e fin ite a f f in it y between the
Mandaeans and the Manichaeans, w hile PICQUESIUS and LA CROZE
in th e ir remarkable L atin L etters are responsible fo r the
extrem ist view th a t th e Mandaeans are in fa c t Manichaeans.
Apart from the d e sc r ip tiv e works o f IGNATIUS and THEVENOT
■who v is it e d the Mandaeans, the afore-mentioned works give a
concise and rep resen ta tiv e summary o f Mandaean research in
the f i r s t p eriod .
I t i s to be observed that three p oin ts of
view alread y appear, p o stu la tin g (a) an Eastern Gnoshic
203.
O rigin (b) a Western (Hemerobaptist) o r ig in , and (c) a
Manichaean o r ig in .
Period I I . 1778-1821: a period of Man­
daean te x tu a l study, crowned by NORBERG*s e d itio n o f the
Ginza in 1815-1816.
No new su ggestion was made by Norberg
as to the o r ig in o f the Mandaeans, and he agrees with
d*Herbelot*s th eory o f th e ir Western Hemerobaptist, as
opposed to t h e ir Eastern G nostic, o r ig in .
O.G.TYCHSEN in
h is Von der Sekte der Sabbaer und N a ssa irier c r i t i c i s e s
the whole of Norberg*s work and holds that th e Mandaeans
were n a tiv e s o f Chaldea, as i s shown by th e ir language and
s c r ip t , and th at the sect i s e s s e n t ia lly o f la t e o rig in ,
o r ig in a tin g not from the time of John the B a p tist, but
from the 9th century A .D ..
On t h is P a llis remarks, "Even
i f nowadays we abandon the attempt to learn anything about
the founder of the se c t, Tychsen with h is clea r in sig h t
in to the occurrence of Arabic and C hristian as w ell as
Iranian r e lig io u s conceptions in the Mandaean w ritin gs is
f u ll y up to the standard o f modern research.
And Tychsen
in conjunction w ith A. E c ch ellen sis who pointed out the
dualism o f the Mandaean r e lig io u s system, and Simon who
defined i t as G nostic with Chaldean and Manichaean elem ents,
la id the foundation of that understanding of the Mandaeans
on which modern research i s b ased .O V E R B E C K in h is
Q n « c it. . p . 5 5 .
204 .
Neue Versuche fiber das Evangelium des Johannes, id e n t if ie s
the Mandaeans w ith the d is c ip le s of John the B a p tist,
again st whom, he h o ld s, the Fourth E van gelist d ir e c ts a
polem ic.
Echoes o f t h is theory have been heard right down
to the present day.
Period I I I . 1822-1867:
In t h is period
A. JACQUES MATTER in h is H isto ir e C ritique du Gnosticisme
goes back to Simon’ s view o f the Gnostic o r ig in of the Man­
daeans, and in t h i s i s follow ed by BAUR in Die C h r istlic h e
G nosis, and, in* p a rt, by RENAN in h is H isto ir e general et
systeme compare des langues sem itiq u es.
CHW0LS0HN in h is
Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus holds that th e Mandaeans were
P a r sifie d Babylonian heathens, and that they gained th e ir
knowledge o f B ib le legends and characters from JewishC hristian G nostic neighbours.
I t i s absurd to imagine,
he m aintains, th a t the Mandaeans had anything to do with
John the B a p tis t.
Period IV, 1867 onwards.
In th is period
sp e c ia l reference must be made to the Text E ditions of
PETEHMANN and LIDZBARSKI, to nBldEKE’ s m asterly Mandaische
Grammatik, and to BRANDT’S Die mandSische R elig io n , the la s t
containing an e x c e lle n t d e ta ile d account o f Mandaean re­
lig io n , to g eth er with an h is to r ic -g e n e tic p resen tation of
i t s o rig in and development.
Of great importance a lso are
BOUSSET ’ s Haupt pr obi erne der G nosis, LIDZBARSKI ’ s p ublicat ion
of the John-Book. (Lidzbarski goes back once more to -the
205 .
Western th e o r y ), REITZENSTEIN,$. Das mandaische Buch des
Herrn der Grosse und die E vangelienuberlieferung. which has
proved to he th e cen tra l point o f modern Mandaean research,
and LOISYTs Le Mandeisme et Les O rigines C hretiennes.
Be­
sid e s the works m entioned,there i s an ex ten siv e lit e r a tu r e ,
to part o f which referen ce w ill be made in the fo o tn o te s.
I t w i l l be apparent from t h is b r ie f sketch of Mandaean
research th at the problem i s a complicated one, and that
c r i t i c a l opinion i s w idely d ivergen t.
Two main p o in ts,
however, may be kept in mind in the course o f the enquiry:
(a) Were the Mandaeans o f p re-C h ristian origin?
(b) Did
th ey o r ig in a lly dw ell in the West, that i s , in P a le stin e ,
or did th ey always belong to Babylonia in the East?
If
th ese w ell-d efin ed questions are borne in mind, i t may be
e a sie r to fin d a way through the Mandaean maze.
I t should
be sta ted , however, at the o u ts e t, that sin ce i t l i e s out­
sid e the scope o f the present work to give a f u l l exp osition
o f the Mandaean r e lig io n , only the broader aspects o f the
subject can be in d ica ted here.
The e a r lie s t evidence fo r the ex isten ce o f the Mandaean
1
sect i s that o f Theodor bar Konai.
Writing about 792 A.D.
Cf. Loisy: Le Mandeisme et l e s Origenes C hretiennes, p. 19,
note 1.
L oisy p o in ts out that the book has been published
by J.B.Chabot in h is O riental Library. E xtracts may be
found in H.Pognon: In scr ip tio n s mandaltes des coupes de
Khouabir. 1899.
i
206.
lie s t a te s th a t th e sect was founded by one, Ado, who had
derived h is tea ch in g from th e M arcionites, th e Manichaeans,
and the Kantaeans.
Whatever doubts may be entertained as
1
to th e connection between Ado and the Mandaeans, i t must
be remembered th a t Theodor g iv e s very e x c e lle n t information
about other s e c t s , and hence i t would be unwise to r e je c t
a lto g e th e r , as i s often done, the in d ica tio n s he provides
as to th e date o f the o r ig in o f the se c t, e s p e c ia lly as he
h im self liv e d in the d is t r ic t in which th e Mandaeans d w ell.
2
Apart from th e evidence of Theodor, i t i s only by the
Mandaean lit e r a t u r e i t s e l f th a t any idea might be formed
as to the o r ig in o f the s e c t .
The Ginza, the p rin cip a l
work, i s not homogeneous, but c o n sis ts o f a com pilation o f
fragment® o f varying age and character, developing, i t would
seem, from polytheism to monotheism.
The o ld est parts are
based mainly on th e Babylonian r e lig io n , v e ile d under JewishC hristian names, and deal w ith Theogony and Cosmogony.
Thus,
we read o f nthe great ’F r u it1 from whom other unnumbered
’f r u i t s ’ o rig in a ted , and the ’Great Mana o f Glory’ , including
1. Loisy: o p . c i t . . p .20, th in k s that the connection i s quite
p o ssib le; B u rk itt: Journal of T heological S tu d ies, x x ix ,
1928, p .232, thin k s th at "Theodor’s account of the Man­
daeans may be reasonably in terp reted."
2. Cf. Peterson: Z.N.T.W.. x x v ii, 1928, p p .6 5 f f., "Seine
(Theodor’ s) M itteilun gen dber manche sonst v o llig unbekannte Sekten Mesopotamiens sind fur uns von so e in z ig a rtigen Wert, w eil s ie auf einem inm itten d ieser Sekten
lebenden Augenzeugen zurttckgehen.
207.
th e ’F ir s t L i f e ’ and the ’Great L i f e ’ .
From the l a t t e r ,
many other Manas sprang, in clu d in g ’h is image*, Manda d ’Haya,
’Knowledge o f L i f e ’ .
Other d iv in e b ein gs are H ib il, S i t i l
and Enos, who in h ab it th e l o f t y Ayar-land watered by ’th e
great Jordan*, which i s d escribed as a stream o f ’w hite
water* and as th e ’liv in g * , th e ’sh in in g and sp ark lin g w ater*.
Far below l i e s th e underworld, the world o f darkness, or
’black TA&ter*.
The c r ea tio n of th e firmament, th e earth ,
and o f man, i s assigned to P ta h il, who i s thus the Mandaean
Demiurge, and sometimes th e e v il s p i r i t s o f the underworld
are mentioned as sharing in th e ta s k .
But whatever be the
case as regards th e body, th e sou l i s heavenly in i t s o rig in :
i t i s breathed in to Adam by Manda d ’Haya or i s sen t down by
one o f th e envoys from th e Treasure House o f L ife , and for
p r o te c tio n a g a in st the w ile s of e v il s p i r i t s man i s in ­
stru cted from th e beginning about h is o r ig in and th e nature
o f true religion.**'1'
Of la t e r d ate, and shewing P ersian
in flu e n c e , are th e e s c h a to lo g ic a l id eas contained in th e
work.
L ater s t i l l are th e Jew ish, C h ristia n and Manichaean
elem ents, 2 and f in a l ly appears the m on oth eistic d octrin e of
the King o f L ig h t.
"The King of Light s i t s in ’th e high
north’ , and i s Lord o f a l l L ig h t-b ein g s, the creator o f a l l
1. Vincent Taylor: Hibbert Journal, x x v i i i , ^ 30>
2. Brandt: Die mandSische Religion-* p .46, c a l l s t h i s ,
Verwirrung der mandhischen Theologie •
Die
2 08 .
forms, and o f en d less grace and goodness.
Opposed to h is
ru le i s th e TKing o f Darkness*, a g ig a n tic m onster, f r ig h t ­
f u l in h is fu ry , a t th e r a is in g of whose eyes th e mountains
trem ble, and a t th e whisper of whose l i p s th e p la in s rock.
Earth and sky w ith a l l th a t th ey con tain are brought in to
being a t th e command o f th e King o f L ig h t, or by means of
1
h is envoy, and th e soul o f man i s h is c r e a tio n .**
Now i f
th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e could be s a fe ly regarded as g iv in g
a tru e in d ic a tio n o f th e age o f th e s e c t , th ere would be
l i t t l e doubt th a t i t e x is te d hundreds o f years before
C hrist and hence, th a t i t might have passed through a
period o f d ir e c t contact with C h r is tia n ity .
I t does not
seem, however, th at th e thoroughly composite Mandaean l i t e r ­
ature j u s t i f i e s such a co n clu sio n .
When i t i s r e c a lle d
th at th e d i s t r i c t in which the Mandaeans now dw ell has
been th e s i t e of the most varied admixtures o f population Aramaeans, C h r istia n s, P ersia n s, Jews, and even people of
Indian d escen t, - the p o s s i b i l i t y a t once su g g ests i t s e l f
th at the Mandaeans found a rich d ep o sit o f composite ideas
in Maisan, and in h e r ite d or took over from neighbouring
se ct§ many o f the con ception s which appear in t h e ir l i t e r a ­
tu r e .
C erta in ly the Mandaean lit e r a t u r e was not reduced
to i t s p resent form before 700 A .D ., which roughly agrees
1.
Taylor:
o p . c i t . t p . 535.
209
w ith Theodor’s estim ate a s to the date o f th e o r ig in o f the
se ct.
In favour o f a Western and an ea r ly o r ig in o f the
Mandaean s e c t , are invoked, apart from the B a p tist and the
C h ristia n elem en ts, th e Jew ish m a te ria l in th e Mandaean
lit e r a t u r e , the a n ti-C h r is tia n polem ic, the ro le which
Jerusalem and th e Jordan p la y in th e w r itin g s , an Apocalypse
in the Ginza thought by R e itz e n s te in to r e fe r to co n d itio n s
in the year 70 A .D ., th e Nabataean elem ents in th e s c r ip t,
and the a f f i n i t i e s of term inology w ith the Fourth G ospel.
The Jew ish elem ents appear in c e r ta in Mandaean prayers
and in p a r tic u la r con ception s embodied in the King o f Light
1
d o c tr in e .
E qually Jew ish i s the emphasis la id upon the
g iv in g o f alms, upon p ie t y , and upon fam ily d u t ie s .
These
c h a r a c te r is tic s have g iv en r is e to the opinion th a t the
Mandaeans were o r ig in a lly Jews.
There i s , however, sca rcely
s u f f ic ie n t evidence to warrant t h is co n clu sio n .
There i s no
proof th a t th e Mandaeans were r e a lly acquainted w ith Jewish
sources o f the O .T .,
2
w h ile the t e x t s which the Mandaean
sch olars did use were o fte n g r o s s ly misunderstood by them.
5
"Otherwise**, w rites Brandt, "they would not have derived
1. G inza. L id zb ., p .73, 1 0 f f .( = G . K . i i i . 7 6 . ); p . 5, I f f .(= G.R.
i . 1 - 1 5 . ).
2. B u rk itt: a rt . o i t . . p .835, w r ite s , "The B ib lic a l knowledge
o f the Mandaeans can a l l be traced to a study o f the
P e s h it ta , the B ib le o f the o f f i c i a l C h ristia n s o f Babylonia,,
in clu d in g th e unsympathetic p o r tr a it o f Jesus C h rist."
P ie jfld isch en Baptismen. p .147, and E.R.E. . v o l . v i i i , p .385;
c f . L oisy: o p . c i t . .m .64.
210.
from th e name M oses, the form Mescha, from Miriam, M irja i,
from I s r a e l, U s r ie l, from Jacob, J a q if, from the a n g els o f
heaven, Kings e tc ."
The p o ly t h e is t ic system o f the Man­
daeans i s a ls o in strong con trast to th e monotheism o f the
Jews, as a ls o are th e fig u r e s o f th e D evil in the r e sp e c tiv e
lit e r a t u r e s - Ruha and Satan, and the divergent views as to
th e R esurrection from the dead.
Further, th ere i s no r e fe r ­
ence in th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e to circu m cisio n , nor to turn­
ing towards Jerusalem in p rayer, nor are th e Mandaean f e s ­
t i v a l s s t r i c t l y o f the Jewish ty p e .
I t i s not im p ossib le,
c e r ta in ly , th a t th e explanation o f th e se f a c t s may be th a t
the Mandaeans were o r ig in a lly a Jewish group, and th a t th e
non-Jewish elem ents were absorbed through contact w ith
G nostic neighbours.
But t h i s i s u n lik e ly , and much more
u n lik e ly in view o f the sharp polemic in t h e ir lit e r a tu r e
a g a in st th e Jews.'1'
I t i s much more natural to suppose th a t
the G nostic elem ents were o r ig in a l, and that th e Jewish
elem ents have been superimposed upon them.
A ccordingly,
the view th a t th e Mandaeans were o r ig in a lly a Jew ish group
does not seem s a t is f a c t o r y .
The a n ti-C h r is tia n polemic p resen ts a more acute problem,
and i s in d ic a t iv e , i t i s h e ld , by the champions of the Western
1.
G inza. L id zb ., p .43, 4 f f . (« G.R. i i . 4 5 . ); p .225, 1 6 f f.
(= G .R .ix .2 2 4 .) .
21 1 .
th eo ry ,^ o f a c lo s e r e la tio n s h ip between Mandaism and C hris­
tia n ity .
The polem ic appears p e r io d ic a lly in the Ginza, and
more so in th e John-Book.
Jesu s bears the name Eshu Mshiha,
and i s a f a ls e prophet whose name i s a ls o Nbu, or th e p la n et
2
3
Mercury. He i s a d eceiv er, and i s g ir t about w ith f i r e ,
4
He le a d s the sons of men a stra y by v i l e s o r c e r ie s , and
5
sep arates f a m ilie s .
Whether the d e t a ils in the Mandaean
lit e r a t u r e r e la t in g to Jesus and John th e B a p tist sprang
from an independent t r a d itio n w i l l be examined p r e s e n tly .
Meantime i t may be asked i f i t i s r e a lly n ecessary to b e lie v e
th a t t h is polemic o rig in a ted from a ctu a l contact between
Mandaism and C h r is tia n ity .
P eterson , in an a r t ic le on the r e la tio n s h ip between
Mandaism and C h r is t ia n ity ,6 makes th e very in te r e s tin g and
what appears to be in some ways the very a t tr a c t iv e sugges­
t io n th at the a n ti-C h r istia n polem ic was in sp ired by oppos­
it io n to neighbouring s e c ts whose p r a c tic e s and id eas were
s u f f i c i e n t l y c lo s e to th ose o f th e Mandaeans to th reaten the
l a t t e r w ith amalgamation or ab sorp tion.
Thus, the Jazuquaeans,
7
neighbours o f th e Mandaeans, and id e n t ic a l, P eterson h o ld s,
1 . E .g . by W.Bauer: Das Johannesevangelium, passim; Lohmeyer:
Die Offenbarung des Johannes, passim; Bultmann: Z.S.T.W. .
x x iv , 1925, pp„100-146.
Ginza, L id z b ., p .52, 3 f f . ( = G .R .ii.5 8 .).
3. Ginza, L id z b ., p .29, 1 7 f f . (= G.R. i . 2 8 .) .
4 . Ginza, L id z b ., p . 52, 3 3 f f . (= G .R .ii.5 9 .) .
5. ^rinza. L id zb ., p . 53, 2 f f . (= g.fe. i i . 5 9 . ).
6. A r t . c i t . , p p .5 5 f f .
7. Gmza, L id z b ., p .225, 4 f f . (» G.R. ix . 2 2 3 -2 2 4 .).
212.
w ith th e Kantaeans, held d o c tr in e s extreme&y sim ila r to
th o se o f th e Mandaeans - Baptism, Communion, S a c r ific e fo r
th e dead, the in ju n ctio n t o f i d e l i t y , - and i t i s probable
th a t the A n ti-C h r istia n polem ic gained some stren gth in
o p p o sitio n to s e c ts lik e t h e s e , "who, liv i n g in the n eigh ­
bourhood o f the Mandaeans appeared to be dangerous r iv a ls
through the s im ila r it y o f the cu lt and t h e ir r e lig io u s
1
lit e r a t u r e ."
Further, P eterson argues, i f the Kantaeans
were forerunners o f th e Mandaeans, and i f th e Mandaean a n tiC h ristia n polem ic was in sp ired by o p p o sitio n to th a t s e c t ,
and i f the Kantaeans, as seems probable, appeared about the
same tim e as th e r is in g o f the fo llo w er s o f Mazdak (490 A .D .),
th ere i s evidence that th e prominence o f the Mandaeans would
date roughly from th e time which Theodor bar Konai s t a t e s .
The 6th and 7th ce n tu rie s would serve to impress the B a p tist
f o lk o f the Euphrates w ith the danger o f amalgamation, and
t h i s had i t s clim ax in the red action o f t h e ir lit e r a tu r e
about 700 A .D ., a ssu rin g the independent e x iste n c e o f the
s e c t , and in corp oratin g a polem ic a g a in st C h r is tia n ity with
the o b ject o f confirm ing t h is independence.
This argument i s an in gen iou s one, perhaps too ingen­
io u s in i t s d e t a i l s , though i t sc a rcely deserves so r a d ic a l
p
a c r itic is m as th a t o f L id zb arsk i.
Whatever in d ic a tio n s
2.
A r t . c i t . . p . 63.
Z.N.T.W., x x v ii, 1928, p p .3 2 1 ff.
213
i t may provide a s to the age o f th e Mandaean s e c t, i t
c e r ta in ly shews th a t i t i s not e s s e n t ia l to p o s it a d e f in it e
r e la t io n between Mandaism and C h r is tia n ity to ex p la in th e
a n ti-C h r istia n p olem ic.
Perhaps, however, much o f t h i s
s o -c a lle d polem ic i s nothing more than a mere camouflage
invented p o s s ib ly at the time of th e campaigns o f Mohammed I . .
The Mandaeans had no d esire to be m istaken fo r C h r istia n s,
and the su rest way o f ensuring th e ir sa fe ty was to incorpor­
a te in t h e ir lit e r a t u r e p olem ical passages a g a in st C hris­
tia n ity .
Perhaps th ese two fa c to r s - th e d esire to avoid
amalgamation with neighbouring s e c t s , and, on a wider s c a le ,
to avoid p ersecu tio n by the Muslim a u th o r itie s - may ex p la in
th e a n ti-C h r istia n polem ic in th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e .
It
i s to be observed th a t th e polemic i s sharpest in what are
considered to be l a t e s t p arts o f th e Mandaean books.
In fu r th e r support of the Palestiniaa o r ig in o f the Man­
daeans Lidzbarski w r ite s , "They c a l l the water in which th ey
b a p tise , Jordan.
I do not know how t h is appellation could
o r ig in a te u n less th e Mandaeans had some connection w ith the
Jordan.**^
In rep ly to t h i s , i t has been pointed out w ith
j u s t if ic a t io n th at ’Jordan* i s a sym bolical name fo r any kind
o f h o ly water.
In a hymn o f Severus o f A ntioch appears the
fo llo w in g , *Let us set fo r th and go to the m ysterious clea n s1.
Z.N.T.W. . x x v i , 1927, p . 7 1 .
21 4.
ing fou n tain o f Jordan*, i . e . to the s p ir it u a l Jordan or
th e tem ple o f b a p t is t r y .1
In D enzinger’ s R itu s O rientalium
appear, *Tu r e sp ic e in has aquas ereaturam tuam, e t da e i s
gratiam s a l u t i s , benedictionem Jord an is, sa n c tific a tio n e m
s p ir it u s ,*
and, ’Like a n g els are you, b elo v ed , r is e n from
3
Jordan through the pov/er o f the Holy Ghost.*
From th e se
p assages i t appears th a t Jordan was a sym bolical name among
Syrian C h ristia n s fo r any type of baptism al water.
While
t h i s i s so , i t i s improbable that th e terms ’Jerusalem* and
’Jordan* are to be understood sy m b o lica lly in th e Mandaean
lit e r a t u r e in every ca se.
I t seems that th e use of th e se
terms shows a curious admixture o f G nostic sp ecu la tio n
coupled w ith an attempt by the Mandaeans t o present t h e ir
c o n f lic t w ith the Jews in Babylonia a g a in st a background o f
myths r e la tin g to Jerusalem , and the Jordan, which th e y had
gathered and p ieced to g eth er from the oral and w ritten tra d ­
i t io n s o f neighbouring s e c t s .
This argument i s not in v a li­
dated by the con ten tion th a t th e Mandaeans su ffered no oppos­
i t i o n frcm the Jews in B abylonia.
L i t t l e i s known about
th e a c t i v i t i e s o f th e Jews in th e E ast, but i t seems c e r ta in ,
at l e a s t , th a t th ey persecuted in Egypt and at Palmyra.
4
!t
does not appear n ecessa ry , th e r e fo r e , to b e lie v e th a t the
1.
2.
3!
4.
P atro lo g ia O r ie n ta lis . v o l . v i , p .131.
I p .275.
I , p!315i C ited by P eterson: Z.N.TjW. . xxv, 1926, p .238.
Of. P a tro lo g ia O r ie n ta lis . v o l . v i , v ie d ’Alexandre
I ’Ac&n&te, p p .685-686; Josephus: A n tiq . . x v i i i . 9 . 1 . ( 3 l 0 f f .) ;
x x .2 . 1 . ( 1 7 f f . ) .
215
Mandaeans were connected w ith P a le s tin e because o f the men­
t io n of Jerusalem and Jordan in t h e ir lite r a tu r e *
L i t t l e need be said regarding th e se c tio n in th e
Ginza which R e itz e n s te in b e lie v e s to be a genuine Mandaean
Apocalypse r e fe r r in g to co n d itio n s in the year 70 A.D..^"
L idzbarski sums up th e m atter q u ite admirably by s ta tin g
th a t Ma man who liv e d near the time of C hrist could not
c a ll
P i l a t e ‘King o f th e World***, a s, in f a c t , he i s d es-
cribed in t h i s A pocalypse.
Nor, as noted above, can
any strong support fo r R e itz e n ste in * s th eory be derived from
th e appearance of th e word 'Jerusalem *, in the s o -c a lle d
*King-Book* or *Great Apocalypse*.
The remarkably accurate
l i s t o f P ersia n kings which appears h ere, co n tra sts very
stra n g ely w ith th e in a ccu ra cies regarding B ib lic a l h is to r y
in th e se c tio n immediately p receding, and p o in ts to th e
con clu sion th a t t h i s tr a c ta te was composed about th e time of
the overthrow o f th e P ersian su zerain ty in 632 A .D ..
It
appears to be o f P ersian o r ig in , as i s shown by the referen ce
4
to a p e c u lia r kind o f P ersian punishment, and was probably
taken over by th e Mandaeans, worked over, and set in a
t y p ic a l Mandaean framework.
Thus the referen ce to Jerusalem
1 . Ginza. L id zb ., p .29, 2 8 -p .3 0 , 14 (= G.R. i . 2 9 .) .
G-iflza. L id z b ., p . x i i . But R eitze n ste in : Z.N.T.W. « x x v i,
1927, p .49, note 3, su g g ests that the words in q u estion
may be a la t e r in te r p o la tio n . There i s , however, no proof
of th is .
3. Ginza, L id z b ., p .410, 6 f f . (= B .R .x v iii.3 8 1 f f . ) .
4 . Ginza. L id z b ., p .414, 29 ( - G.ft. x v i i i . 3 8 7 . ).
216.
h ere, and th e e x p ec ta tio n o f the d estru ctio n o f Jerusalem
envisaged elsew here - an element w hich,according to R eitzen ­
s t e in , would have no p oin t a f te r th e a c tu a l d e str u c tio n o f
Jerusalem in 70 A.D. - are perhaps, in th e se c a s e s , at
lea w t, to he conceived o f not as r e fe r r in g to the r e a l
Jerusalem , but in the sym bolical sense o f a G nostic Aeon.
On th e w hole, th e r e fo r e , i t would seem th a t th ere need be
l i t t l e h e s it a t io n in d ism issin g the idea th at in the opening
chapters o f the Ginza th ere i s an Apocalypse belonging to
th e year 70 A .D ..
L idzbarski m aintains that the r e lig io u s term inology
o f the Mandaeans belongs not to th e Aramaic language o f
Babylon but has a f f i n i t i e s w ith th e language o f the West.
1
Thus th e word Manda i t s e l f i s not at a l l a Babylonian word.
On th e strength o f t h i s Lidzbarski b e lie v e s th a t support i s
given to the Western o r ig in of the s e c t .
t h i s argunent does not seem con vin cin g.
Once again, however,
The Mandaeans in a l l
p r o b a b ility took over con sid erab le p ortion s o f th e ir l i t e r a ­
tu r e , and the r e su lt would be an admixture of term inology as
w e ll as o f r e lig io u s id e a s.
I t i s c le a r , at any r a t e , th a t
th ere are a la r g e number o f Greek words in th e Mandaean t e r ­
minology:
must i t be supposed, th e refo re , th a t th e Mandaeans
o r ig in a lly belonged to Greece?
Lidzbarski fu rth er holds th a t
th e Mandaean s c r ip t haw a f f i n i t i e s w ith th e Nabataean.
A r t . c i t . . p .7 0 .
Thus
217.
th e Mandaean ’A lep h ’ i s the same as the Nabataean.
As the
Nabataeans dwelt on th e borders of P a le s tin e and A rabia,
t h i s shews, according to L id zb arsk i, th a t th e Mandaeans, to o ,
belonged o r ig in a lly to th e West.
1
In r e p ly , i t may be
pointed out th a t any argument based on s c r ip t i s p reca rio u s.
P eterson r e c a l l s , w ith j u s t ic e , how u n su ccessfu l was the
attempt o f Indo-Germanic sch o la rs to base a h isto r y and to
e s ta b lis h th e o r ig in a l d w ellin g -p la ce o f the Indo-Germanic
people in an in v e s tig a tio n o f the ro o ts o f th e ir language
and s c r ip t .
g
A ccordingly, th e Mandaeans need not be r e ­
garded as o f Western o r ig in on the b a sis o f L idzbarski*s
d ata.
More convincing proof i s required before assen t
can be given to h is th eo ry .
F in a lly , the s im ila r it y in term inology and idea between
3
th e Fourth Gospel and Mandaism must be con sid ered .
•Pro­
minent in both i s the thought o f th e m issio n o f a d iv in e
Redeemer to impart l i f e to men, and lead them from darkness
to l i f e ; 4 o f worlds which ’know not* Manda d ’Haya and ’do
not understand h is l i g h t ’ : o f a Redeemer who knows h is own
and chooses them out o f the world.
The words ’l i g h t ’ , ’tr u th ’
’glory* occur in both lit e r a t u r e s with great frequency.
Of
1 . A r t .c I t . , p .71.
Z.JJ.T.W. , x x v ii, 1928, p .63.
3. Examples of th ese may be found in th e 2nd e d itio n , (1925),
o f W.Bauer’s Das Johannesevangelium.
4 . "The Sent o f th e lig h t am I , whom the Great One has sent
in to the w o rld .” G inza, L id zb ., p .58, 1 7 f f. (* G.R. , i i ,
64.) .
the Mandaean Saviour i t i s s a id , ’Thou r e v e a le s t to us the
way of (Life. and d id st a llo w us to t r a v e l th e ways o f tr u th
and f a it h . *^
There are r e fe r e n c e s ,t o o ,to ’w ater’ and
’bread’ and th e ’ spring of l i f e ’ and th e ’H elper*.
And
f i n a l l y sayin gs occur which are c lo s e ly p a r a lle l to th e great
’I am* sayings o f the G ospel.
Thus, ’th e true envoy am I ,
in whom i s no l i e ; a vin e are we, a vin e o f l i f e , a tr e e
2
which cannot l i e ’ ; ’a shepherd am I who lo v e s h is sheep; I
keep watch over my sheep and my lambs . . . . I bring them in to
th e f o ld , th e good f o ld , and then with me th ey fin d pasture'.
And t h i s i s a l a s t str ik in g p a r a lle l:
’I (Manda d ’Haya)
d e s ir e to go away, to a ssig n H ib il a p lace in th e new chamber, and come th en quickly to you’” .
4
I s there evidence,
h ere, at l a s t , th a t th e Mandaeans gathered th ese id eas in
P a le s tin e or th a t Mandaism i s a p re-C h ristia n Gnosticism?
An answer to th e second q u estion may b est be reserved t i l l
th e B a p tist t r a d it io n s in th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e have been
examined.
Meantime i t may be noted th a t i t i s not impera­
t iv e to b e lie v e th a t the Mandaeans them selves were connected
w ith P a le s tin e because o f the appearance of th ese conceptions
1.
2.
3.
4.
Cf. Bauer: o p . c i t . t p .57.
Ginza, L id zb ., p p .5 9 f f ., (= Cr.R. , i i , 6 5 .) .
M. Joh.x i .4 4 ,4 5 .
C f. Bauer: o p . c i t . . p .l7 8 J Ginza, L id zb ., p p .2 5 9 ff.,
frG .R .,xi.260). T h is quotation and th e referen ces are taken
from Macgregor and Purdy: o p « c it. , p p .326-327.
,
tr a n s la tio n o f the e x tr a c ts from th e Ginza, and John-Book,
see W.F.Howard: London Quarterly Review, J a n ., 1927, p .« 2 .
219.
in t h e ir l it e r a t u r e .
They could p e r f e c tly n a tu r a lly have
taken over such id eas from th e t r a d itio n s o f e a r lie r s e c t s
who emanated from the West and who brought w ith them a
common stock o f s y n c r e t is t ic id eas and symbolism.
The
problem seems to be not whether Mandaism i t s e l f was a p reC h ristia n G nosticism , but ra th er, whether c e r ta in id e a s,
which th e Mandaeans borrowed from o th e r s, have any claim
t o be regarded as such.
The vast d ep o sit o f lit e r a t u r e s
o f variou s ages gathered to g eth er in the Ginza appears to
c o n sis t o f w r itin g s which sprang c e r ta in ly not from th e
genuine Mandaean r e lig io u s community, but which came from
other sources in to the hands o f th e B a p tist fo lk o f the
Euphrates.
They tr a n sla te d them, adopting, perhaps, a cer­
ta in s im ila r it y in s c r ip t and term inology to the o r ig in a ls ,
and working over them, f i n a l l y brought them in to lin e w ith
t h e ir own d is t in c t iv e id e a s .
As Brandt puts i t , ”I t i s
l i k e l y th a t th e Mandaeans welcomed as revealed knowledge
whatever t h e ir eyes lig h te d upon so long as i t did not contra­
d ic t t h e ir own r e lig io u s p r a c tic e s , and a l l t h is has en­
riched th e genuine Mandaean w ritin g s and made them a f a i r l y
lush v e g e ta t io n .”^
As a r e s u lt of the a fo re-goin g a n a ly s is , i t may be
concluded th a t th e evidence in support o f a Western o r ig in
o f the Mandaean se ct seems in s u f f ic ie n t .
The Mandaeans are
r ig h t ly , perhaps, to be regarded as a G nostic se c t who have
1* Die jlld isch en Baptismen,ff.l4 6 .
liv e d sin c e the time o f t h e ir o r ig in in B abylonia, and
whose lit e r a t u r e shows a curious amalgam o f G n o stic, Jew ish,
C h r istia n , and other elem en ts.1
I t cannot be sa id pre­
c i s e l y at what p oint o f tim e th e se c t was founded, but th e
evidence p o in ts on th e whole to a la t e rather than to an
e a r ly d a te , probably somewhere between 200-7Q0 A .D ..
2
It is
u n lik e ly th a t th e Mandaeans them selves had at any tim e any
d ir e c t con tact w ith C h r is tia n ity , although th e data suggest
th a t th ey had come in to r e la t io n w ith other s e c t s who had
dwelt in an atmosphere, or who had passed through a period
o f co n ta ct w ith , C h ristia n id e a s.
II.
While i t i s a lrea d y evident from th e above d isc u ssio n
th a t th e Mandaeans have no r e a l claim to be regarded as
descendants o f th e d is c ip le s o f John th e S a p t is t , i t w i l l be
o f in te r e s t to examine th e B a p tist m aterial i t s e l f in the
1. The G nostic elem ents in the Mandaean system have been
examined by J .C .B u r k itt. Noteworthy are the id eas o f the
Demiurge, o f th e ascen t o f th e sou l through variou s
" region s” , o f th e m essengers who bring knowledge o f th e
tr u th , and o f th e soma-sema view o f l i f e . B u rk itt, him­
s e l f , th in k s th a t the Mandaeans were h e r e tic a l C h ristia n s,
Church and G n osis, p .105, but th e evid en ce, i t would seem,
can sc a r c e ly support t h is op in ion .
2. The account in th e Ginza, L id zb ., p#48, 5 f f . ( a G.B. , i i .
5 3 ), and p .52, 3 f f .« (« G.R. , i i . 5 8 . ) where the Mandaeans
tr a c e t h e ir o r ig in to th e r e v e la tio n o f Anos-Uthra who
appeared in Jerusalem at the time o f P ila t e , and who brought
about th e death of Jesus and destroyed Jerusalem , i s , of
course, pure f i c t i o n . I t has been observed,however, th a t
t h i s legend could not have been invented by the Mandaeans
before 200 A.D. about which time C h r istia n ity spread to
South Babylonia. The o r ig in o f th e sect seems to l i e th e r e ­
fo re between 200 and 700 A .D ..
221.
Mandaean lit e r a t u r e i f on ly to show th a t t h i s m a teria l i s
secondary to th e Gospel a cco u n ts, and th a t i t , in tu rn , in
no way p o in ts to th e Mandaean sect being o r ig in a lly a
Nasoraean B a p tist group.
The idea o f th e e x iste n c e o f a Nasoraean B a p tist s e c t ,
c o n sis tin g o r ig in a lly o f th e d is c ip le s o f John th e B a p tis t,
o f which Jesu s was a member, and whose descendants are to
be found in th e Mandaeans, has commended i t s e l f to se v era l
sc h o la r s.^
The evid en ce, however, on which t h i s bold
assumption i s b u ilt seems to be too slender to support i t .
The argument i s bawed p a r tly on the m istr a n sla tio n o f th e
Josephan phrase
Ti $7**3 (fovte^df as "to band to g eth er by
/ '
2
baptism", and hence "to form a baptism al group or s e c t ” ,
and p a r tly on th e appearance in th e N.T. of th e terms ’Naso­
raean ’ ,
and fNazarenef ,
in g to Jesus.®
r e fe r r ­
9 at l e a s t , i t i s m aintained, has
nothing to do w ith ’N azareth’ or ’N a z a r ite s ’ , but i s to be
i" -
i
derived from y'NZR meaning ’to ob serve’ , hence ’O bservers’ .
L idzbarski m aintains th a t the th in g s observed were e ith e r
1 . E .g . Bultmann: Z.N.T.W. , x x iv , 1925, p p .100-146; E is le r :
The M essiah J e s u s, p p .2 3 1 ff.
2 . C f. chapter t v , p. 178 , note 5.
3 . The former a t: M att.2 :2 3 , 26:71; L k.18:37; J n .l8 :5 ,7 ;
A cts 2 :22, 3 :6 , 4 :1 0 , 6 :1 4 , 2 2 :8 , 24:5 (in the p lu r a l, not
re fe rr in g to J esu s, but to h is fo llo w e r s, 2 6 :9 ). The la t t e r
a t:M k .l:24 , 10:47, 14:67, 16:6; L k.4:34, 24:19. While
th ere can be no doubt a s to the d u a lity o f the form, A cts
shows th a t
was the form which p rev a iled .
222.
laws or ordinances, or in a wider se n se , the h o ly l i f e ,
1
and th in k s th a t th e meaning may th e refo re be "keepers o f
s e c r e ts ” .
As the term ’N asoraeans’ was one used by se v e r a l
an cien t s e c t s , and as there i s evidence in A c ts, in th e
op inion o f th e exponents o f t h is th eory, in d ic a tin g th a t
John’ s d is c ip le s m aintained t h e ir independent ex iste n c e
long a f te r h is death, and f i n a l l y , as the Mandaeans used
t h i s very name ’Nasoraean’ o f th em selves, th e connexion
between a John th e B a p tist group and the Mandaeans i s , i t
i s h e ld , e s ta b lish e d .
The b est part of t h is statem ent
appears to l i e in th e su g g estio n th a t
connection w ith ’N azareth’ . 2 N d f a
to be a p h ilo lo g ic a l im p o s s ib ility .
fw?o<has no
from NcC^dftBseems
The term o rig in a ted
very p o ssib ly in /NZ^ and means ’’keepers o f s e c r e t s ”, as
L idzbarski h o ld s.
The weak part o f th e statem ent l i e s ,
f i r s t , in connecting the term s p e c if i c a ll y w ith a f u ll y
organised Johannine group, w h i c h , as already noted, never
e x is te d .
’N a s o r a e a n ’ was a form o f d esig n a tio n used by a
f a i r l y large number o f e a r ly s e c t s , and cu rio u sly enough,
appears to ha ve b e en eq u ivalen t
any ea rly date to C hris-
1 . Mand&ische L itu r g ie n . p p .x v if f .
2.
however, i s not an im possible d e r iv a tio n . Jhe
b est a r t i c l e on the subject i s th a t of Bauer:
in
G riechisch-D eutsches wBrterb.zu den S o h iften des N.T. .
c o l l . 839-840.
3. But c f . a r t i c l e by G.F.Moore i n B e g i n n i n g s o f C h r istia n ity
I , i , p . 4 2 6. Moore t h i n k s t h a t t h e form may be explained
on t h e a n a l o g y o f t h e common m e t - 2 t'th e s i s / o f t h e vowels o ^
and u. and p o i n t s out t h e v a r i a n t form s
and
But “ NdUedf o a p p e a r s t o be t o o rem ote from
to
a d m i t or t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n .
tie n s .
As used by the e a r ly s e c t s , th e s ig n ific a n c e was,
no doubt, "keepers o f s e c r e t s ’1, but t h is very d esig n a tio n
would suggest i t s e l f as an admirable one w ith which to d es­
crib e the C h r istia n s.
Thus, by a sim ple change, ’Nasoraean’
would be su b stitu te d fo r ’Nazarenes*, and t h is would w e ll
exp ress t h e ir h a b itu a l guardedness and secrecy:
and, second,
in assuming th a t because the Mandaeans, in p a r tic u la r , were
c a lle d Nasoraeans, th ey are descendants o f a B a p tist sect
whose members used t h is d esig n a tio n .
The use o f th e term
’Nasoraean’ by th e Mandaeans may be due rath er to one o f
th ree fo llo w in g reasons:
(a) because th ey had passed through
a p eriod o f contact w ith C h r is tia n ity ,
1
,
V
or (b) because th ey
had taken over t h i s d esig n a tio n from neighbouring s e c ts in
a period in vdiich C h ristia n id ea s were not unfavourable to
them, or (c) because, lik e other s e c t s , th ey adopted i t
sim ply as denoting "keepers o f s e c r e ts " .
(a) i s excluded,
because i t i s u n lik e ly th a t Mandaism and C h r istia n ity came
in to d ir e c t contact at any p erio d .
The so lu tio n w i l l th e r e ­
fo re l i e between (b) and ( c ) , (b) being p o s s ib le because the
polem ic a g a in st C h r istia n ity belongs m ainly to the la t e r
str a ta o f th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e and i s , in p a rt, a camou­
fla g e ; and (c) being not a lto g e th e r excluded because i t f i t s
in so w e ll w ith the secrecy and s e c lu s io n which ch a ra c te rise
1« So K essler:
P.R.E. , x i i , 1903, p p .l5 5 f f .
224.
th e Mandaeans to the present day.
The Idea th a t the Mandaeans are an o ffsh o o t o f a
Nasoraean B a p tist Sect has been extended fu r th er by Robert
lis le r .
He th in k s th a t th e r e a l a n cesto rs o f th e se people
are to be found in th e R echab ites, who, lik e th e Mandaeans,
were craftsm en - b o a tb u ild ers, sm iths, gold and s i l v e r ­
sm ith s, lo c k -sm ith s, etc.^
A fu rth er c h a r a c te r is tic which
a l l had in common was t h e ir a b sten tio n from w ine.
John
th e B a p tis t, th en , i s to be regarded as a descendant o f
the nomadic sons o f Rechab.
Apart from the slend er pature of the evidence on
which t h is assum ption i s based, there i s , i t would seem,
con sid erab le doubt whether the R echabites reta in ed t h e ir
independent e x is te n c e , and t h e ir p ecu lia r p r a c tic e s u n t il
th e tim e o f John the B a p tis t.
In the p r e - e x ilic period
i t appears th a t th e y belonged to th e C a leb ite branch o f
th e K en ites, and th a t th ey accompanied the I s r a e li t e s in to
Canaan, keeping t h e ir nomadic h a b its, and forbidding a g r i­
c u ltu r e , the use of wine, and the co n stru ctio n o f permanent
h ouses.
2
A fter the e x i l e , however, a Rechabite i s to be
found engaged in the r e -b u ild in g o f a p o rtio n o f the w a ll
o f Jerusalem ,
w hile the o r ig in a l tr ib e seems to have s e t t le d
2
a t J a b e z , and t o h a v e t a k e n up s c r i b a l w o r k .
1 . The Messiah J e su s, p p .234-235.
2 . I.C hron.2:55; I I Kings, 10:15.
3. N eh.3:14.
In v ie w o f
225.
th e se f a c t s , th ere i s much to he said in favour o f th e
view o f Jack1 th a t a fte r the e x ile th e R echabites beoame
incorporated in th e tr ib e o f Judah, and d iscon tinu ed t h e ir
p e c u lia r p r a c tic e s , w hile the name a lo n e su rvived , as i t
s t i l l d o es.
The sile n c e o f Josephus i s s ig n if ic a n t , and
p o in ts in th e same d ir e c tio n .
I f t h is i s so , th ere are no
su b s ta n tia l grounds fo r tr a c in g a d ire ct lin e o f connection
between th e R ech ab ites, a Nasoraean B a p tist sect and th e
Mandaeans•
In th e m o n th eistic system o f the Mandaeans, th e ’King
o f L ig h t1 i s the supreme B eing.
From h is person proceed an
innumerable array o f Uthras or T reasures, the p r in c ip a l o f
which i s Manda d ’Haya, th e ’Knowledge o f L ife * .
A fter him
fo llo w s th e emanations H ib il (A bel), S i t i l (S eth ), Anush
(Enosh), and la s t o f a l l , John the B a p tis t.
Of th e se H ib il
or H ibil-Ziw a i s e a s ily the most important, while the younger
brother o f H ib il, Anusji-Uthra, i s regarded as the true mess­
enger from heaven as opposed to Jesus who i s a f a ls e prophet,
(Eshu M shiha).
John th e B a p tist b a p tise s Eshu Mshiha by
m istake, b a p tise s Anush-Uthra, and retu rn s clothed in lig h t
to the d w ellin g -p la ce o f th e King o f L ig h t.
Anush-Uthra de­
nounces Eshu Mshiha who i s c r u c ifie d by th e Jews, and Anush
sends fo r th 365 prophets to teach in h is own name and then
departs to th e Kingdom o f L ig h t._______________________________
1* The H isto r ic C h r ist, p .254.
226.
]?rom t h is i t i s evident th a t th e r o le o f John the
B a p tist in th e Mandaean system , though an important one, i s
1
by no means the commanding o n e .'
Indeed, th e r e fe re n c es to
t
th e B a p tist a l l belong to th e very l a t e s t s e c tio n s o f the
Mandaean lit e r a t u r e .
2
He i s mentioned only once in th e
3
o r ig in a l p arts of, th e Ginza. and in th e John-Book he f r e ­
q u en tly bears the Arabic form o f the name TYahyaf as com­
pared w ith fYohanaf .
C erta in ly t h is may in d ic a te no more
than th a t in th e red a ctio n o f th e Mandaean l it e r a t u r e , th e
Arabic form was s u b s titu te d , and thus no in d ic a tio n i s
afforded as to the date o f e a r lie r w ritin g s from which the
4
p ie c e s were copied o u t.
But th e general im pression con­
veyed by the B a p tist m a teria l in the John-Book does not con­
firm t h i s .
I t i s much more l i k e l y th a t John was brought to
the fo r e in t h e ir lit e r a t u r e by th e Mandaeans them selves at
a time when th ey seemed lia b le to su ffe r Muslim p ersecu tio n
through being m istaken fo r C h r is tia n s .5 ( circa 600-700 A .D .).
The in d ic a tio n s alread y given as to the h is to r y o f th e Man­
daeans a gree, at l e a s t , with t h is view p oin t.
1. L oisy: o p . c i t . . p . 27, p o in ts out th at i t i s very s i g n i f i ­
cant th at John i s not mentioned at a l l in th e Q o la sta . i . e .
L itu r g ie s .
" If John had always occupied a commanding
r o le In th e Mandaean t r a d itio n , he would not have been
n eg lected thus in th e L itu r g ie s ."
2. Cf. B urkitt: Church and G nosis, p p .100-122.
3. C f. L oisy: o p . c i t . , p p .2 8 ff.
4. Cf. G.R.S.Mead: The G nostic John, p .35, note 1 .
5. Mead: o p . c i t . . p .123.
2 27.
Some e x tr a c ts from th e Mandaean lit e r a t u r e r e la t in g
to John th e B a p tist may now be examined:1 . The b ir th o f John th e B a p tis t.
i
"Yahya proclaim s in th e n ig h ts , Yohana on th e N ig h t’s
ev en in g s.
Yahya proclaim s in the n ig h ts and speaks, ’The
(heavenly) wheels and ch a r io ts quaked.
Earth and Heaven
weep and the te a r s o f the clouds flow down.’
’My f a t h e r ’ , says Yahya, ’was 99 and my mother was 88
years o ld .
Out o f th e basin o f Jordan th ey took me.
They
bore me up and la id me in th e womb o f Enishbai ( E liz a b e t h ) .’
’Nine months’ , said th e y , ’thou sh a lt sta y in her womb as
do a l l other c h ild r e n .* . . . . The region of Jerusalem quakes
and th e w all o f th e p r ie s t s rocks.
E liz a r , the great house,
stands th e r e , and h is body trem b les.
The Jews gather t o ­
g eth er, come unto old fa th er Zakhria and they speak to him,
’0 old fa th e r Zakhria, thou art to have a son.
now, what name s h a ll we g iv e him?
T e ll us
S h a ll we g iv e him fo r
name, Zatan th e P i l l a r , so th a t the Jews may swear by him
and commit no d e c e it ? ’
When Enishbai heard t h i s , she cried
out and sa id , ’Of a l l th e se names which you name, w i l l I
not g iv e him one: but th e name Yahya-Yohana w ill I g iv e him,
which L i f e ’ s s e l f has given h im .’
When the Jews heard t h i s ,
th ey were f i l l e d w ith wicked anger a g a in st her and sa id ,
TWhat weapon s h a ll we make ready fo r a c e r ta in one, ( i . e .
228
J e s u s ), and h is mother th a t he be s la in by our hand?'
When
Anush, the T reasurer, heard t h i s , he took th e c h ild and
brought i t to Parwan, th e w hite mountain, to Mt.Parwan,
on which su ck lin g s and l i t t l e ones on h oly drink are reared
1
up.
There I remained u n t il I was 22 years old . . . . e t c . ”
The im pression conveyed by t h is p assage, e s p e c ia lly
by the p a r tic u la r s regarding th e naming o f the B a p tis t, i s
th a t i t i s sim ply a pure p iec e of embroidery o f th e Gospel
n a r r a tiv e .
The Lucan account, 1 :5 9 -6 3 , i s sh o rter, m entions
only one a lte r n a tiv e name, Zacharias, and i s e x a c tly the
type of sto ry which would lend i t s e l f to fu rth er legendary
d e ta ils .
The use o f th e numbers 99, 88, 22, which pro­
bably belong to some G nostic system o f m ystic psephology,
and which may be compared w ith the 888 valu e o f the name
o f C hrist in th e 2nd century system o f G nostic Markos, and
th e 666 o f the Beast of th e Apocalypse, point in th e same
d ir e c tio n .
2
In connection w ith the naming o f the B a p tist, i t i s
convenient to n o tic e a t t h i s point attem pts which have been
made to connect John w ith the an cient Babylonian f is h - c la d ,
fish e r -g o d , Eani-Oannes, who, according to B erossus, the
Chaldaean p r ie s t who wrote fo r the Greeks a h is to r y of h is
1 . M.Joh.x x x i i . 115, 6 f f . T ran slation by Mead: o p . c i t . .
p p .56-57.
2. C f. Mead: o p . c i t . . p .57, note 6; Howard: The Fourth Gospel
in Recent C riticism and In te r p r e ta tio n , p .2^1'.
p eo p le, and had taught mankind a l l th e a r ts o f c i v i l i s a t i o n ,
rose from the sea in su c c e ssiv e p eriod s at th e P ersian
G u l f A s
the n o tio n o f m a n ifesta tio n and s a lv a tio n in
su c c e ssiv e p eriod s i s a fundamental ten et o f the Mandaeans,
th e nomenclature o f th e B a p tist i s t o be exp lain ed in t h i s
way, and t h i s , in tu rn , lin k s him up more c lo s e ly than ever
w ith th e Mandaean se ct I
In support o f t h is con ten tio n th e
Ezra A pocalypse, (end of 1 st c e n t.A .D .), i s invoked, in
which i t i s sta te d th a t the Redeemer of the World i s ex2
pected to r is e ’from th e heart o f th e ocean1•
I t i s by
no means u n lik e ly , th e r e fo r e , i t i s h eld , th a t th e more
w ild ly im aginative o f John’s fo llo w e r s saw in t h e ir master
t h is expected m a n ife sta tio n .
Now, w hile a l l due allowance must be made fo r the
a l l e g o r i s t i c im agination of th e tim es in which th e B a p tist
flo u r is h e d , i t does not seem th a t even the very w ild est
im agination would have connected th e B a p tist w ith the Baby­
lo n ia n Oannes.
The B a p tist had nothing to do with the sea ,
nor did he in s tr u c t h is fo llo w er s in th e p r in c ip le s o f law,
in d u stry, a g r ic u ltu r e , and a r c h ite c tu r e , as th e Babylonian
Oannes was reputed to have done.
In f a c t , the su g g estio n
th a t any connection between the two ex isted in th e minds o f
the B a p t is t ’ s contem poraries i s too absurd to requ ire r e fu ta ­
1* C f. E is le r , o p . c i t . , passim .
2, I I Esdras 1 3:3, 25-32.
t io n , and in t h is resp ect may he c la sse d w ith the eq u a lly
f a n t a s t ic attempt to id e n t if y John w ith th e wonder-worker
1
Hanan, or the Hidden One.
In th e ex tra ct under co n sid era tio n i t i s to be noted
th a t th e statement th a t John was taken away to Mt.Parwan by
Anosh-Uthra seems to be based on c e r ta in la t e C h ristia n
Legends in sp ired by Herod’s p ersecu tio n o f th e in fa n t s .
2
Ishodad, in h is Commentary on S t . Matthew, i s acquainted w ith
four legen ds d escrib in g the B a p t is t ’ s place o f r e tr e a t .
According to one, E liza b eth fle d w ith the ch ild in to the
d e s e r t.
Another had i t th a t an an gel took th e B a p tist from
h is m other’ s s id e , and n e ith e r fa th er nor mother knew the
p lace where he had been hidden.
Yet another, th at John
had been led away by the wind in to the d e s e r t.
And a
fo u rth , th a t a fte r h is fa th er had la id him upon th e a lt a r
in th e Temple, an an gel took him away in to the d e s e r t.
The
Mandaean account seems to be based on th e second of th e se
leg en d s.
The an gel who snatches th e ch ild from h is mother
i s the Uthra, who in th e John-Book c r ie s , nWhat woman has
a son, who was s to le n away?”
In both accounts an emanation
from heaven tak es the c h ild away, and t h is p o in ts to the
con clu sion th a t th e Mandaean v er sio n r e l i e s on la t e legen d s,
and i s th erefo re secondary to the Gospel n a r r a tiv e .
1. Suggested a ls o by E is le r : o p . c i t . t ib id .
2. Cf. P eterson: Z.N.T.W. , x x v ii, 1928, p .86.
3. M.Joh. x x x ii, 1 1 7 ,4 f f .
231.
2. The Baptism o f J esu s.
"Yahya proclaim s in th e n ig h ts: Yohana on the N ig h t's
ev en in g s.
Yahya proclaim s in th e n ig h ts .
th e w orlds.
Who to ld Yeshu (Jesu s)?
Glory r i s e s over
Who t o ld Yeshu
M essiah, son o f Miryam, who to ld Yeshu, so th a t he went to
th e shore of th e Jordan and said unto Yahya, 'Yahya, b a p tise
me w ith th y b a p tisin g , and u tte r over me th e Name th y wont
i s to u t t e r .
I f I show m y self as thy p u p il, I w i l l remember
th ee in my w r itin g .
I a t t e s t not m yself as thy p u p il, then
wipe out my name from thy p a g e ." 1
(Here fo llo w s a long
passage in which John d ecla res the u n fitn e ss o f Jesu s fo r
baptism , w hile Jesus p r o te s ts h is f i t n e s s .
F in a lly a l e t t e r
comes out o f th e house o f Abathur, s t a t in g ) , "'Yahya, b a p tise
the d eceiv er in Jordan.
Lead him down in to the Jordan and
b a p tise him and lead him up again to the shore and th ere se t
him .'
Then Ruha, (the Lower S p ir it ) , made h e r s e lf lik e to
a dove and threw a cross over the Jordan.
A cross threw
she over the Jordan and made i t s water to change in to v a rio u s
co lo u rs.
'0 Jordan', she sa y s, 'thou s a n c t if ie s t me and
thou s a n c t if ie s t my seven sons . . . The Jordan in which
M essiah -P au lis was b a p tised , have I made in to a trough' .........
e tc ."
The referen ce in t h is extract to the 'c ro ss o f L ig h t'
M.Joh. x x x ,1 0 3 ,9 f f • , 1 0 7 ,2 4 f f ., 108, 6 f f .
Mead: o p . c i t . , pp.48, 49, 51.
T ra n sla tio n by
23 2.
thrown over th e J o r d a n .is rem iniscen t o f the d e sc r ip tio n
o f th e great lig h t which shone on th e Jordan at th e baptism
o f Jesu s as d escribed in the apocryphal Gospel according to
the Hebrews, and a lso preserved in T a tia n ’s D ia tessa ro n ,
(2nd h a lf o f 2nd c e n t .) .
I t i s not u n lik e ly th a t th e
Mandaean account emanated from th e same c ir c le o f legendary
m a te r ia l.
The words o f Yeshu Messiah: ”1 w i l l remember thee
in my testim ony” , combined with th e exp ression ’M essiahP aulis* r e c a ll perhaps M arcionite id ea s.^ According to
2
Adamantius some o f the M arcionites thought th a t Jesus
h im self had composed th e Gospel, and th a t Paul added the
d e sc r ip tio n of th e death and re su rre ctio n o f C h r ist.
Now
the words, ”1 w i l l remember thee in my testim ony” in d ic a te
th a t Jesus h im self had composed the G ospels, w h ile the
exp ressio n ’M essia h -P a u lis’ r e f l e c t s the c lo se c o llo c a tio n
o f Jesu s and Paul in M arcionite thought.
I t may w e ll be,
th e r e fo r e , th a t th e polem ic a g a in st Jesus in t h is se c tio n
arose in a period when th e Mandaeans came in to con tact w ith
some se c t stro n g ly in flu en ced by M arcionite or pseudoM arcionite id e a s, and a sim ila r explanation may be the
correct one to account fo r the sharp
con trast which i s drawn
between John’s baptism and C h ristian
baptism. ”They,
(the
C h r istia n s), l e f t th e liv in g water and went to the l i f e l e s s
1. See fu rth er P eterson: a r t . c i t . , p .88.
2. De Recta in Deum F id e, i , 8, I f f .
235.
w ater.
To the l i f e l e s s water th ey went: thej- went to the
burning flam e.
They l e f t th e liv i n g fire': th e y went and
loved th e consuming f i r e .
They loved the consuming f ir e :
th ey loved the burning flame."'*’
I f s e c ts who liv e d near
the Mandaeans had connected C hrist in some way w ith f i r e ,
th e Mandaeans may have devised a sharp polem ic a g a in st
C h r is tia n ity to avoid absorption w ith th ese s e c t s - a polem ic
which was in t e n s if ie d as a safeguard a g a in st Muslim p erse­
c u tio n .
There i s nothing in th e Mandaean account o f the
baptism o f Jesu s which can be regarded as p r im itiv e .
It is
th e product of th e leg en d -b u ild in g im agination and, to use
G oguel’ s phrase, the B a p tist here already i s a type o f
"eponymous hero".
3 . The Marriage o f John.
"There came a l e t t e r from th e house o f Abathur: ’Yahya
take a w ife and found a fa m ily , and see th a t thou dost not
l e t t h is world come to an end . . . . ’
Thereupon th ey fashioned
fo r Yahya a w ife out o f th e e , thou Region o f the F a ith fu l.
From th e f i r s t conception were Eandan and Sharrath born.
From th e middle conception were Birham and R’himath-Haiye
born.
From the la s t conception were Nsab, Sam, Anhar-Ziwa c
and S h arrath > born.
These th ree conceptions took p lace in
2
th e e . 0 Ruins, J e r u s a le m ." ____________________________________
1 . G inza. L id zb ., p . 69, 17-24, (a G .R ., i i i . 7 3 . ) .
2 . M.Joh. x x x i, 110, 1 3 f f . T ran slation by Mead: o p . c i t . . p.53.
234.
4 . Length o f John’s M in istr y .
"Then answered John Manda d ’Haya: ’Forty-tw o years did
I take the Jordan, and b a p tis e th e p eop le in w ater, but y et
1
no one has c a lle d me to J o rd a n .’
Then a l l h is fo llo w er s ra ised t h e ir v o ic e as one and
sa id to John: ’For forty-tw o years have you performed your
baptism and y et no one has c a lle d you to Jordan except t h i s
sm all b o y .’"*5
5. An e x tr a c t from John’ s preaching.
"Yahya proclaim s and speaks: ’Ye nobles who l i e th e r e ,
ye la d ie s who w i l l not wwaken - ye who l i e th e r e , what w i l l
ye do on th e day o f judgment?
When th e so u l strip s, o f f the
body on Judgment day, what w i l l ye do?
jumbled-up world in ruin I
sc r ip tu r e s are c lo se d .
0 thou d istr a c te d
Thy men d ie , and thy f a l s e
Where i s Adam, the f i r s t man, who
was here, head of the aeon? . . . The Last Day i s lik e a f e a s t day fo r which the aeons and the worlds are w a itin g .
The
P la n ets are lik e fa tte d oxen who stand there fo r the day
o f sla u g h te r.
The ch ild ren o f t h is world are lik e fa t rams
who stand in th e markets fo r s a le .
But as for my fr ie n d s
who pay homage to L ife , t h e ir sin s and tra n sg ressio n s w ill
be fo rg iv en them. ”*3
1.
2.
3.
Ginza. L id z b ., p .191, 3 2 f f . (« g .R .. v .1 9 0 .) .
Ginza, L id z b ., p .192, 7 f f . ( z G.R. . v .1 9 1 .) .
M .Joh.xxv, 92, 2 7 f f . T ra n sla tio n by Mead: o p . c i t . t
Pp7£5-46.
6. John's d eath .
"When Manda d ’Haya heard t h i s . . . he removed John’ s
covering in Jordan, he removed h is covering o f f le s h and
b lood , he clo th ed him in b r i l l i a n t raiment and bedecked
him w ith a good clean garment o f L ig h t.
Manda d ’Haya began h is journey to the region where a l l
i s b rig h tn ess, to the region where Light i s , and John want
w ith him.
The f is h o f the sea, and the bird s on both banks
o f th e World Sea gathered around the body o f John and covered
it.
When John perceived h is body, he was g riev ed .
Then
spake Manda d ’Haya to John, ’Why g r ie v e st thou over f le s h
and blood which I removed from thee?
w i l l lead thee back to th e sam e.’
I f thou w i l l ’s t I
Then spake John t o Mande
d ’Haya, ’B lessed and p raised be the man who removed my
garment of f le s h and blood, who freed and set me at lib e r t y
from i t .
P r a ise d , honoured, esteemed and g lo r if ie d , be the
chosen man who has clothed me w ith the d ress o f b rig h tn ess
and has bedecked me with the good clean garment o f Light in
which I was.
No!
I was grieved over my ch ild ren , who are
f u l l o f envy, whom I must lea v e behind, and no one i s th ere
to care fo r them.
These four e x tr a c ts may be grouped to g eth er as i l l u s ­
tr a tin g how d iff e r e n t the Mandaean John i s from the Gospel
1. G inza» L id z b ., p .193, 26-194, 10
{= G.R. , v .1 9 3 .) .
256
John.
No*3 shows the v io le n t h o s t i l i t y o f the Mandaeans
towards c e lib a c y , which is a l s o apparent in other s e c t io n s
o f t h e ir lit e r a t u r e .
With l i t t l e regard for h is t o r ic a l
f a c t s , th ey make John the fa th er of e ig h t, and the fa m ily
l i f e o f t h e ir hero i s the type o f fa m ily l i f e which they
e x t o lle d .
No.4 r e v e a ls another g ross h is t o r ic a l inaccuracy.
There may be some m ystic symbolism in the number 42 which
suggested t h is p a r tic u la r period fo r the len g th o f John’ s
m in istr y .
N o.5 shews th a t th e content o f the preaching o f
th e Mandaean John i s d iffe r e n t from th a t of the Gospel John.
In th e G ospels the emphasis i s la id upon repentance:
here
Yahya con ten ts h im self -with drawing a m elancholy p ic tu r e
of the wickedness o f the world.
th e legendary im agination.
N o.6 i s a pure f l i g h t o f
The hero on earth must r e c e iv e
a f i t t i n g g lo r if ic a t io n a fte r h is death.
The combined im pression conveyed by th e se passages
makes i t hard to b e lie v e th a t th ey are anything more than
im aginative products o f the Mandaean fancy.
l e a s t , i s to le r a b ly ce rta in :
One th in g , at
the Mandaeans can sc a r c e ly be
regarded as descendants o f the Gospel John.
The l i f e - s t o r y
o f t h e ir hero i s q uite d iffe r e n t from the Gospel sto r y ,
whereas tru e descendants o f John would have treasured cor­
r e c t ly , i f not the exact d e t a ils , at l e a s t , the gen eral out­
lin e o f the l i f e o f t h e ir m aster.
237.
7. The Condemnation o f J e s u s .
"I w i l l destroy and re b u ild my p a la ce .
R e itz e n s te in b e lie v e s th a t t h is ex p ressio n , which
c lo s e ly resem bles th a t a ttr ib u te d to Jesus a t M k.l4:57 and
M att.26:60, i s a n te r io r to and explanatory o f the Gospel
one.
Without d e ta ile d examination of th e v e r se s in q u estio n ,
i t may be taken th a t Jesus had declared th a t in h is ca p a city
o f Son o f Man he would d estroy the Temple, and rep la ce i t
by another i . e . he would overthrow the e x is t in g r e lig io u s
economy o f Judaism and put a new economy in i t s p la c e .
This
id e a , R e itz e n s te in h o ld s, i s p e c u lia r ly Mandaean, coming
from John the B a p tis t, because i t was as a d is c ip le of John
the B a p tist th a t Jesus was condemned by th e Sanhedrin.
The
same idea appears a ls o in a Manichaean fragment o f the
Turfan, ”1 can destroy t h is palace made by th e hand of man
and in th ree days I w i l l b uild up th a t which i s not made
by th e hand of man.”
These con ception s, in R e itz e n s te in 's
op in ion , cannot be explained as due to the in flu en ce of the
Gospel ex p ressio n , because, whereas the Gospels use the
word 'tem p le', th e Mandaean and the Manichaean sources em­
p loy the word 'p a la c e 1, which, fo r th e Mandaeans means both
'body* and 'u n iv e r s e '.
The Mandaean exp ression "I w ill
d estroy and reb u ild my palace" denotes th erefo re the d estru c1 . M. J oh . l x x v i .2 4 2 « 1 1 .
t io n and th e renewal o f th e world - a very an cien t id ea ,
and p e r fe c tly i n t e l l i g i b l e w ithout th e help o f the C h ristia n
ex p re ssio n .
C h ristia n one.
In f a c t , the Mandaean formula ex p la in s the
1
A ll t h i s , however, i s sc a r c e ly so s e lf - e v id e n t as
R eitzen steo n b e lie v e s .
The point i s taken ex ceed in g ly
w e ll by Goguel, nI t i s not c e r ta in th a t th e r e la tio n between
th e e v a n g e lic a l and the Manicho-Mandaean formulae i s so
c lo s e as R e itz e n s te in supposes . . . The Manicho-Mandaean
idea i s th a t of cosmic renew al.
J esu s, w ithout doubt, a ls o
expected t h is renewal, but t h is idea was so widespread in
th e m ilie u in which he liv e d , th a t i t would be rash to say
th a t i t could be a ttr ib u ted to John the B a p tist only . . . .
While the formula o f the John-Book exp resses an idea o f
very general ch a ra cter, tJlfi d ecla ra tio n of Jesus i s r e la te d
to a very p a r tic u la r h is t o r ic a l s itu a tio n , namely, the
c o n f lic t between Jesus and Judaism.
I t i s p o s sib le th a t
th e Manichaeans, who knew the C h ristian tr a d itio n , were
in sp ired by the formula used by Jesus to expresw thereby
t h e ir theory o f the renewal o f the world, but in t h is ,o n ly
an e x te r io r co n ta ct, w ithout s ig n ific a n c e , i s to be seen,
and when we con sid er th e r e sp e c tiv e dates o f the documents,
we can only th in k th at i t would be precarious to pretend to
1 . Acknowledgment i s due here to Goguel: J ea n -B a p tiste.
pp•1 3 2 ff.
2 39 .
exp lain th e idea of Jesus by th e very h y p o th e tic a l con stru c1
t io n o f such a d octrin e o f John th e B a p t is t .”
I t i s along sim ila r l i n e s , perhaps, th a t an account can
be given fo r the s im ila r it ie s of term inology and con ception
in the Fourth Gospel and the Mandaean lit e r a t u r e .
C lose as
they o fte n a re, th e p r io r ity seems to l i e not on th e Man­
daean, but on the C h ristia n s id e .
The term inology and id ea s
were no doubt widespread, but they reached the Mandaeans
only nas echoes o f a world th o u g h t in which the Fourth
E v a n g elist h a b itu a lly l i v e d . ”
During t h e ir journey to
B abylonia, as th ey became fu rth er and fu rth er removed from
th e area in which they o r ig in a lly c ir c u la te d , the id ea s lo s t
very con sid erab ly t h e ir o r ig in a l v i t a l i t y and power and in ­
ward depth.
They were grad u ally interwoven in to an in t r ic a t e
network o f mythology and symbolism, and became in th e end
"not so much verb al p a r a lle ls to th o se contained in the
Fourth G ospel, as rath er in te r e s tin g and sometimes c lo se
an alogues, a ctin g upon the mind lik e cues which by a s s o c ia tio n
of id ea s prompt th e r e c a ll of more fa m ilia r p assages."
It
i s im p ossib le to determine how fa r t h is p rocess was carried
out by th e Mandaeans th em selv es, and how fa r i t was done by
other s e c t s from whom th e Mandaeans borrowed t h e ir id e a s .
There can be l i t t l e doubt, however, th at both fa c to r s are to
1 . O p .c it. . p p .134-135.
2. V incent Taylor: Hibbert Journal, x x v i i i , 1930, p . 545.
3. V incent Taylor: a r t . c i t . , p .539.
be taken in to account, and the n et r e s u lt was a m ysticism
1
fa r more m y stify in g than the Fourth Gospel i t s e l f .
1 . Some o f Bultmannf s p a r a lle ls between the Fourth Gospel and
the Mandaean lit e r a t u r e , Z,N,T.W, , x x iv , 1925, p p .lO O ff.,
are given h ere.
(A) I n .1 : 1 -5 . ’In th e beginning was the Word and the Word
was w ith God, th e same was in th e beginning w ith God.
A ll th in g s were made by him; and without hdm was not
anything ma.de th a t was made. *
L i t . , L id zb ., lx x v i, 134, 16. "Praise to the most ancie n t one, (o r, th e f i r s t o f a l l ) , the Son of the f i r s t
Great L ife ."
Ginza, L id zb ., p . 70, 1 (= G.R. . i i i . 7 3 . ) . "Before the
Uthras e x is te d , has the Great L ife created and appointed
th e e."
(B)
’And y e t , i f I judge, my judgment i s true:
fo r I am not a lo n e , but 1 and the Father who sen t m e.1
8 :2 9 . ’And he th a t sent me i s with me: the Father
hath not l e f t me alone: for I do always th e se th in g s
which p le a se h im .’
1 0 :5 0 . ’I and my Father are o n e .’
Q inza. L id z b .. p . 68, 1 3 f f . (= G.R. i i i . 7 2 . ) . When Manda
d ’Baya asks the g rea t Mana: " If I seek th ee whom w i l l I
behold? I f I am in tro u b le , in whom s h a ll I tru st?
Whereon s h a ll I support my so u l which was with thee?",
he r e c e iv e s t h is comfort: "Thou sh a lt not be cut o f f
from us: i t i s our d esire much more to be with th e e . A ll
th a t thou sa y e st i s v a lid fo r u s. Thou art e sta b lish e d
w ith u s, and s h a lt not be cut o f f from u s. We are w ith
th e e , fo r L ife i s f u l l of good for th ee,"
G inza, L id zb ., p . 296, 3 7 f f. (= g.R . , x v .2 9 9 .) : "Vex t h y s e lf and fea r not
And say not: There I stand alone,
I f tro u b les b e f a ll thee
We s h a ll a l l be with th ee."
*Tri.5:27. ’And hath given him a u th o rity to execute judg­
ment a lso because he i s the son o f Man. ’
1 7 :9 . ’I pray fo r them: I pray not fo r the world but
fo r them which thou hast given me, fo r th ey are th in e .*
Ginza, L id zb ., p . 70, 3 f f . (= G .R ., i i i . 7 3 . ) . "The Great
One has created and appointed th ee: equipped th e e , and
appointed th e e , sent thee th it h e r , and given thee f u l l
power over everyth in g."
241.
In co n clu sio n , i t only remains to n o tic e a few more
g en eral fea tu r es o f the Mandaeans and th e ir lit e r a t u r e , which,
in tu rn , in no way suggest th a t t h e ir tr a d itio n i s p r im itiv e ,
or th a t th ey are genuine descendants o f John th e B a p tis t.
In a d d itio n to t h e ir weak grasp o f h isto r y in c a llin g P ila t e ,
"King o f the World” , may be added the thoroughly u n h is to r ic a l
1
way in which the d estru ctio n o f Jerusalem i s r e la t e d .
No­
th in g i s sa id about the Roman War.
Coupled w ith h is t o r ic a l
(Note cont.from previous page).
(D) J n .5 :1 9 . ’And t h is i s the condemnation, th a t Light
i s come in to th e w orld , and men loved darkness rath er
than L ig h t, because th e ir deeds were e v i l . ’
8 :1 2 . ’Then spake Jesus again unto them saying: I
am th e L ight o f the world. He th at fo llo w e th me s h a ll
not walk in darkness, but s h a ll have the lig h t o f l i f e . ’
Ginza, L id zb ., p . 57, 3 3 f f. (u G.R. , i i . 6 4 . ) . ”1, the
Unvoy o f L ig h t, the King? who went th ith e r from the
L igh t, came, w ith communion and power in my hand, lig h t
and p ra ise upon me, b rig h tn ess and b r illia n c y around
me, and th e sig n and the baptism upon me, and I en­
lig h ten ed the dark h e a r t s .”
Ginza, L id z b ., p . 58, 2 3 f f. (a G .R ., i i . 6 4 . ) : ’’The Envoy o f Light am 1;
He who sm ells h is fragran ce, r e c e iv e s L if e .
He who accep ts h is words,
His eyes f i l l with L ig h t.”
J n . l 5 : l . ’I am the true v in e , and my Father i s the
husbandman.*
Ginza. L id zb ., p . 59, 3 9 f f. (= G.R. i i . 6 5 . ). ’A vin e
branch are we, the vin e o f L ife in which th ere i s no
d e c e it . ’
(F) J n .1 2 :3 1 -3 2 . ’Now i s the judgment o f t h is world; now
s h a ll the p rin ce of t h is world be cast o u t. And I , i f
I be l i f t e d up from the earth , w ill draw a l l men unto
me. ’
Ginza, L id zb ., p .435, 3 5 f f . (s G.L. i . 1 6 . 1 7 . ) .
When
Adam r i s e s up and a l l h is descendants fo llo w him, then
’’a l l gen era tio n s end, and a l l creation ce a ses; A ll
sp rin gs and p o o ls dry up, and r iv e r s and brooks fail.M oun­
t a in s and h i l l s w i l l be sh a ttered , f a l l , and sin k dow n...
242,
erro rs i s a very patent weakness in geography.^
Jerusalem
i s describ ed as being situ a te d on th e banks o f th e River
Jordan.
Again, f a s t in g and c e lib a c y are both abhorrent to
th e Mandaeans, w hile t h e ir repeated baptisms fo r r it u a l pur­
p oses are q uite d iff e r e n t from the sin g le baptism o f John
w ith i t s moral s ig n if ic a n c e .
A ll t h is goes to show that
th ere i s no re a l connection between th e Mandaeans and the
fo llo w e r s o f John, and that th e true h is t o r ic a l fa c ts have
in t h e ir t r a n s it to Babylonia become d isto r te d and enveloped
by degrees in a fog o f m yth ological symbolism and fancy.
I t i s evident th at d isc u ssio n and controversy over the
Mandaean problem are by no means at an end.
Y et, as fa r
as can be judged at p resen t, i t seems th a t the attempt to
e s t a b lis h a Western o r ig in for the Mandaeans, to se e in them
descendants o f the fo llo w er s o f John the B a p tis t, and even
to d isco v e r in t h e ir lit e r a t u r e tr a c e s o f a p re-C h ristia n
G nosticism have f a i l e d .
The data on which c r i t i c s lik e
Bauer and Bultmann r e ly do not support t h e ir con ten tion s
c o n c lu s iv e ly .
As fa r as the B a p tist i s concerned, i t seems
(Note cont.from p reviou s page).
When the earth f a l l s in ru in s, the heaven stands there
w ithout s ta r s . . . A ll wicked ones f a l l in to deep dark­
n ess: th e r e fo r e , a l l h a il! Adam, because thou wast
chosen and r i s e s t out o f th e world of ( e v il) a n g els,
and out of the sorrow o f the w orld .”
There are many other s o -c a lle d p a r a lle ls , but su rely
th e Mandaeqn sayin gs have not th e same v i t a l i t y and fr e sh ­
n ess as th ose of the Jourth Gospel!
1. (P241) Ginza, L id z b ,, p p . 3 4 2 -4 (= G .R .xv. 3 3 2 - 3 . )
1* ( p .2 4 2 ),M.Joh.x x i.8 6 .1 4 .
243,
c le a r , as Lagrange puts i t , "that th e Mandaeans say nothing
about him th a t bears resemblance to a p e c u lia r h is t o r ic a l
t r a d i t i o n . I n view o f the la te n e s s of th e m a teria l r e la t
ing to John in th e Mandaean w r itin g s, i t i s l i k e l y th a t he
was adopted by them as a kind o f ,feponymous h ero ” a t a time
when th e y were in danger o f Muslim p ersecu tio n .
The in ­
accuracy o f the d e t a ils su g g ests th a t th e data may have
passed through sev era l hands before reaching the Mandaeans
th em selves.
N eith er by working forward from the G ospels, nor back­
wards from the Mandaeans, i s any cogent evidence to be found
in favour o f th e ex iste n c e o f a continuing B a p tist s e c t .
However in te r e s tin g the idea o f the e x iste n c e o f such may
be, i t seems to be on ly an id ea , and not borne out by th e
f a c t s o f h is t o r y .
1 . Revue B ib liq u e , x x x v ii, 1928, p p .5-36; t o t h is may be
added the judgment o f L oisy: o p . c i t . , p .45, "The Mandaean
w ritin g s throw no lig h t upon the problem o f John the
B a p tist, because th ey add nothing to th e knowledge o f
John gained from other sources."
244.
CHAPTER
V.
THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
The p oin t has now been reached a t which it . i s d e s ir ­
ab le to examine what lig h t i s thrown upon John th e B a p tist
by h is outlook and h is tea ch in g .
As i t i s im p ossib le to
do j u s t ic e to a h is t o r ic a l fig u re w ithout taking in to account
th e c o n d itio n s o f th e tim es in which he liv e d , and above
a l l , th e in flu e n c e s which would be l i k e l y to mould the
content o f h is thou ght, i t i s n ecessary to con sid er th e
background again st which the B a p tist began h is m in istr y .
(a)
P o l i t i c a l c o n d itio n s :'1’ S h o rtly a fte r the beginning
o f the C h ristia n era, P a le s tin e was divided up between the
sons o f Herod the G reat.
They owed t h e ir p o s itio n to the
Emperor, and t h e ir tenure o f o f f ic e depended p a r tly on
Im perial favour, and p a r tly on t h e ir own c a p a b ilit ie s fo r
good a d m in istra tio n .
The re a l power la y , however, w ith the
Roman p rocu rators, and under t h e ir j u r is d ic tio n th e p o l i t i c a l
lib e r t y o f the Jews was at an end.
I t was only natu ral
th a t some should have resen ted Roman overlord sh ip , and longed
fo r a retu rn o f p o l i t i c a l independence, but i t appears that
in th e main the people were not g r e a tly roused a g a in st the
newregime.
The Roman overlordship was probably b e n e fic ie n t
1. C f. Schurer: A H isto ry of the Jewish P eop le. I , v o l . i i ,
p p .1 -7 9 .
2 4 5.
rath er than the r e v e r se , and the Romans g e n e r a lly allow ed
th e Jews a la rg e measure o f freedom in r e lig io u s m a tters.
It
i s p o s s ib le th a t in G a lile e and Perea where Herod A ntipas
seems to have enjoyed a la r g e r measure o f autonomy than
h is b roth ers, the advantages o f the Roman su zera in ty were
not so f u l l y f e l t as in Judea and elsew h ere.
It is s ig n ifi­
cant th a t G a lile e w itn essed a p o l i t i c a l u p risin g a g a in st
c o n stitu te d a u th o rity in the u n su ccessfu l attempt o f Judas
and h is fo llo w e r s .
Upheavals o f t h is type were, however,
com paratively ra re, and i t would not be too much to say,
th a t, although d is s a t is f a c t io n did e x i s t , there was no r e a l
d e s ir e , except in s p e c ia l c a s e s , to overthrow by d r a s tic
a c tio n th e Im perial government, which made fo r a calmer and
a b e tte r s o c ia l order.
K lausner’s p ictu r e o f ”wars, r e ­
b e llio n s , outbreaks, and r i o t s and a l l o f them, w ith t h e ir
1
concomitant o f in cessa n t bloodshed” i s almost c e r ta in ly
overdrawn, and a sim ila r c r itic is m may be applied to h is
statem ent, "At t h is time . . . . none dare take part in p o l i t i c a l
m atters or adopt a d e f in it e a ttitu d e to the fortu n es o f h is
m iserable but beloved fath erlan d ; he might not even u tte r h is
ideas aloud.
S p ies were everywhere and the p o lic e held the
population in su b jectio n : a l l a lik e were down-trodden and
overcome by f e a r .”
In f a c t , i t i s lik e l y th at many o f the
1* Jesus o f Nazareth, p .167.
2. I b id .
Jews who join ed in th e war a g a in st Rome in 7CLA.D, were
swept in a g a in st t h e ir p r in c ip le s by circum stances beyond
t h e ir c o n tr o l,
(b) Moral and s o c ia l c o n d itio n s:
I t i s d i f f i c u l t to
form a correct estim ate o f the moral co n d itio n s o f t h is
p eriod , p a r tly because o f th e p au city o f th e evidence, and
p a r tly because the evidence which we do p o ssess i s e ith e r
from the p o l i t i c a l p oint o f view or from th e standpoint o f
the m o ra list h im se lf,
Josephus g iv e s a lu r id p ictu r e o f court
l i f e , but says l i t t l e about the con d ition s o f the people in
g en era l.
Jesus and John th e B a p tist, as m o r a lis ts, v ig o r ­
o u sly denounced the s in s of the tim es, b ut, i f M ontefiore i s
r ig h t , th e se denunciations should not be made to form th e
1
b a s is o f too sweeping g e n e r a lis a tio n s .
C ertain ly i t cannot
be doubted th a t th ere was much which was vulgar and sordid ,
as might be expected where a mixed population and u n s a tis fa c ­
to ry housing co n d itio n s e x is te d .
Greed, oppression and
immorality were common, and the in flu en ce of H ellenism , how­
ever stubbornly the Jews r e s is te d i t , made i t s e l f f e l t to
some e x te n t, at l e a s t , in im pairing th e r i g id i t y o f former
standards.
Tremendous co n tra sts o f w ealth and poverty would
a lso have a d istu rb in g e f f e c t - the P h arisees and the Sadducees,
at the one extrem e, the former, probably w ealthy merchants,
1, Hibbert L ectu res, 1892, p p .4 8 9 ff.
247.
th e l a t t e r , a r is t o c r a t ic landowners; and at th e oth er ex­
trem e, p easan ts, a r tis a n s and s la v e s ground down by ex­
c e s s iv e ta x a tio n , d eb to rs1 law s, and laws o f in h e r ita n c e .
E qually d istu rb in g must have been th e u n sa tisfa c to r y system
o f education, wherein le g a lism was unduly str e ss e d which
regu lated the a c t i v i t i e s of th e in d iv id u a l by ordinances
covering th e m inutest d e t a ils of ordinary l i f e .
L i t t l e room
was l e f t fo r the expansion o f characterrand conduct tended
to become divorced from conscience and r e lig io u s id e a ls .
Y et, i t cannot be said th a t th e moral co n d itio n s in P a le s tin e
in t h i s period were n early so bad as th ose in Rome, fo r
example, nor th a t th e y were much worse than in the pree x i l i c p eriod .
S t i l l , i t i s not su rp risin g th a t in view
o f th e co n d itio n s d escrib ed , various p i e t i s t i c and reforma­
to r y movements sprang up, whose aim i t was e ith e r to w ith­
draw from the world to a l i f e o f se c lu sio n , or to ch allen ge
th e world w ith a demand fo r repentance,
(c) R e lig io u s c o n d itio n s:
I t i s p o ssib le to form a
c le a r e r p ictu re o f the r e lig io u s co n d itio n s o f t h is time
than o f the moral and s o c ia l co n d itio n s.
One o f the most
unmistakable l i n e s in t h is p ic tu r e was the M essianic hope.
Opinions d iffe r e d as to th e nature o f the M essiah, according
as Jewish or H e lle n is t ic in flu e n c e s predominated.
Some
b e lie v e d th a t th e Messiah would be a King o f David’s lin e
248
who would in v e st with new b r illia n c y th e throne o f Jerusalem;
o th ers spoke o f a World-Redeemer who would bring in a period
o f happiness and peace;
s t i l l oth ers b elie v ed in a descent
from heaven o f a Redeemer surrounded by a n g els - an idea
embodying O rien tal n o tio n s.
P r a c tic a lly a l l who en terta in ed
the M essianic hope thought th a t the New Age would be one o f
b l i s s and p ro sp er ity , as d is t in c t from the hardships and
m isery o f t h e ir present l o t .
*Happy to l i v e in th o se days
1
and to see th e g lo ry of the L o rd .’
TThen w ilt thou be happy,
0 I s r a e l, and God w ill e x a lt th e e , and bring thee to th e
sta rry sphere.*
2
*The lig h t o f Days w i l l abide upon them,
and g lo r y and honour w i l l turn to the Holy.
I t i s in str u c ­
t iv e to observe p r e c is e ly what a ttitu d e the Herodians, the
P h arisees and the Sadducess, the Z ea lo ts and the s o -c a lle d
People o f th e Land adopted towards t h i s M essianic Hope, and i t
i s by con sid erin g t h e ir a ttitu d e towards t h i s , and t h e ir out­
look in g en er a l, th at th e m in istry o f John the B a p tist may be
sharply se t again st i t s r e lig io u s background.
The Herodians,
as t h e ir name in d ic a te s , were champions
o f the Herodian government.
Though not d e f in it e ly opposed to
the su zera in ty o f Rome, t h e ir ambition was to see the f o r fe ite d
provinces o f Judea,
Samaria and Idumaea once more underthe
ru le o f the Herods.
They welcomed H ellen ic in flu e n c es and
1. P s .S o l. l 8 : 6 . K a u tz s c h ,ii,p .l4 8 .
2. A sc .o f Moses. 1 0 :8 ,9 , K a u tz s c h ,ii,p p .327-328.
3. Enoch. 50:1. K a u tz sc h ,ii,p .2 5 4 .
249,
in consequence b it t e r ly hated the M essianic hope w ith i t s
e s c h a to lo g ic a l id e a s.
I t i s very l i k e l y th at Josephus in
h is e a r lie r years, at a l l ev en ts, shared the views o f the
Herodian p arty, and i t i s p o s sib le th a t h is s ile n c e regarding
the a p o c a ly tic elem ents in the B a p tis t’ s preaching may be
due, to some e x te n t, to h is p o l i t i c a l sym pathies.
The P h arisees and the Sadducees may be co n v en ien tly
taken to g e th e r .
o r ig in .
Their names throw l i t t l e lig h t upon t h e ir
P harisee i s derived from th e Hebrew "parash" and
th e usual in te r p r e ta tio n i s th a t the P h arisees were the
"Separated Oneslt'L.
Sadducee i s probably connected w ith Zadok,
the p r ie s t , whose descendants f i l l e d th e o f f ic e o f p riesth ood
a f t e r th e e x i l e .
This view i s more accep tab le than to re­
gard the name as derived from "Zaddik" = "righteous", or from
another Zadok, who was a d is c ip le o f Antigonus o f Soko, and
a f e llo w - d is c ip le of B oeth u s.2
On what grounds the P h arisees
and the Sadducees formed two d is t in c t p a r tie s in t h is period
i s not c le a r .
I t i s g e n e r a lly assumed th a t the d iv is io n
hinged on r e lig io u s m a tters, the P h arisees being p ro g ressiv e
and l i b e r a l , the Sadducees, con servative end narrow.
Others
b e lie v e that p o l i t i c a l d iv is io n s divided the two p a r t ie s , the
1. An a lte r n a tiv e meaning o f "parash" might be "to d istin g u ish " .
Hence the view th a t th e P h arisees were th e "Exegetes" or
the " P recisia n s" . C f. Moore: Judaism, v o l . i , p .62.
2. Gf. B lak isto n : John the B a p tis t, p . 167, and note 202,
250.
P h arisees being n o n - p o lit ic a l, the Sadducees aiming a t
independence from fo reig n in flu e n c e .
F in k e ls te in , however,
has r e c e n tly suggested that th e cleavage was due to s o c ia l
co n d itio n s, sin c e the Sadducees b it t e r ly d is lik e d the su cc ess
o f t h e ir r i v a ls in winning over wealthy landowners to t h e ir
group.
1
On the whole, w h ile p o l i t i c a l and s o c ia l fa c to r s
cannot be l e f t e n t ir e ly on one s id e , th ere i s much to be
s a id , i t would seem, in favour o f the tr a d itio n a l view, be­
cause, to contemporary Judaism the most im pressive fea tu re
about th ese p a r tie s was the divergence th ey d isp layed in
t h e ir r e lig io u s b e l i e f s .
I t i s not n ecessary to g iv e here a f u l l statem ent of
th e t e n e ts of th e se p a r t ie s .
2
S u ffic e i t to say th a t w hile
both P h arisees and Sadducees were agreed that the l i f e o f the
in d iv id u a l must be regulated by the Law o f Moses, they d i f f e r ­
ed as to what the Law p r e c is e ly was.
Broadly speaking, the
Sadducees held th a t the Law co n siste d o f the Law of Moses
o n ly , w hile th e P h arisees conceived i t as embracing not only
th e Law of Moses but the whole S crip tu res to g eth er w ith cer­
ta in re g u la tio n s not a c tu a lly w ritten in the Law, but which
were d eliv ered by tr a d itio n .
Thus the broad b a sis o f d i s ­
t in c t io n was th a t whereas the Sadducees accepted the Law o f
Moses on ly, th e P h arisees accepted both Law, (the whole S crip ­
1 , Harvard T h eo lo g ica l Beviewt v o l .x x i i , N o.3, 1929, p p .l8 5 f f .
2, a f u l l statem ent appears in Schttrer: o p . c i t . , I I , v o l . i i ,
pp.1 0 -4 3 .
251.
tu r e s ) , and T ra d itio n as a u th o r ita tiv e .
I t w ill r e a d ily
be r e a lis e d th a t in both system s, and, in p a r tic u la r , in
th a t o f the P h a r ise es, th e tendency would be to o v e r s tr e s s
le g a lism at th e expense o f m o ra lity , and, although the
P h arisees won th e day because th ey were more lib e r a l than
the Sadducees, th e Sadducees did not g iv e up th e f i e l d w ith­
out sharply a tta ck in g the la b o rio u s d o c tr in a l and le g a l
developments which t h e ir r iv a ls evolved from the ra b b in ica l
comments on the Law.
Again, in t h e ir a ttitu d e to the
M essianic hope, P harisee and Sadducee probably d iffe r e d .
Of
the P h a r ise es, Josephus w r ite s , "Every so u l, th ey m aintain, i s
im perishab le, but th e sou l o f th e good alone p asses in to an1
other body" and o f the Sadducees, "As fo r th e p e r s iste n c e of
th e soul a f te r death, p e n a ltie s in th e underworld and rewards,
th ey w ill have none o f them."
True, the h isto r ia n says
n oth in g d ir e c t ly here about th e M essianic hope, but from the
l a t t e r statem ent i t i s n atu ral to deduce th a t the Sadducees
were a n ta g o n istic to M essianic esch a to lo g y , u n le ss, o f cou rse,
Josephus i s o v e r sta tin g m a tters.
The P h a risees, on the
other hand, as may be judged from the Psalms o f Solomon and
the Book o f J u b ile e s , which are both from a P harisaic hand,
did share in the M essianic hope, and in the opinion o f the
more moderate members o f the party, the Messiah would be a
King o f David’ s l i n e , and a period o f great happiness would
£•£•» 1 1 .8 .1 4 .(1 6 3 ).
!•£ •» i i . 8 .1 4 .( 1 6 5 ).
2 52 .
b eg in .
Y et, fo r th e P h a r ise es, th e M essianic hope can
sc a r c e ly have been c e n tr a l, but on ly subordinate.
It is
q u ite u n lik e ly th a t w ith t h e ir in te r e s t devoted to the Law,
and to the r e g u la tio n o f conduct by c a s u is t ic a l in te r p r e ta ­
t io n o f th e Law, t h e ir outlook extended beyond the immediate
p resen t as a gen eral r u le .
At any r a te , i t i s sa fe to
assume th a t t h e ir M essianic hope was not o f th e type ca lcu ­
la te d to in sp ir e in the m ajority o f them thoughts o f armed
r e s is ta n c e aga in st co n stitu te d a u th o r ity .
As opposed to the moderate lin e taken by the P h arisees
in g en era l, the Z e a lo t s ,”*" who are to be regarded as an ex­
trem ist P h arisa ic group, b eliev ed th a t armed r e s is ta n c e and
fo rce formed the on ly means o f a ch iev in g t h e ir id e a ls .
The
name comes from the Greek word "Z elotes", connected w ith the
S yriac "Kanenyeh" « "zealous".
In Mk.3:18, and M att.10:4,
Simon th e A postle i s c a lle d the ’Cananaean’ , but t h is does
not mean ’a descendant of Canaan’ , but the ’Z e a lo t’ or ’the
zealou s on e’ as L k .6:5, and A cts 1:13 show.
I t i s not
c e r ta in when the Z ealots as a party a rose, but i t i s probable
th a t Josephus i s r e fe r r in g to them in h is account o f the
r e v o lu tio n of Judas o f G a lile e a g a in st the Roman census in
6-7 A .D ., although th e name'Zealot' does not a c tu a lly appear.
This i s a l l the more li k e l y inasmuch as th e h is to r ia n regards
Judas as the founder o f a fourth p h ilo so p h ic se c t among the
1. Cf. Schlirer: o p . c i t . t I , v o l . i i , p .80, 177-178, 227-230.
2. A n tiq . x v i i i . 1 . 1 . ( I f f . ); B .J . i i . 8 . 1 . ( 1 1 7 f f . ) .
Jews, a se c t o f whose d o c tr in e s he w r ite s , "While th ey agree
in a l l other r e sp e c ts w ith the P h a r ise es, they have an in ­
v in c ib le p assio n fo r lib e r t y and take God as t h e ir on ly
Leader and L ord.”
1
In the G ospels, beyond the referen ce to
Simon, th ere i s no c le a r m ention of the p arty, although th ere
are strong in d ic a tio n s which p oin t to t h e ir e x is te n c e at
th at p e r io d .2
On the whole, i t may be taken, th at at the
time o f John the B a p tist th ere did e x is t a group o f p eop le,
who, in t h e ir z e a l fo r a theocracy and in t h e ir fu rio u s
hatred o f th e Roman su ze ra in ty , were not content w ith peaca b le measures to achieve t h e ir end, but pressed fo r a g it a tio n
and re v o lu tio n whenever a su ita b le opportunity presented i t ­
s e lf.
F in a lly , the s o -c a lle d ’People o f the Land’ or ^mme-ha~
j
A reg, must be taken in to account. 3
I t i s usual to r e fe r to
them by the l a t t e r name, sin ce the E nglish rendering o f the
Hebrew i s rath er m islea d in g .
The term does n.ot mean a g r i­
c u ltu r a l workers, though many of th ese were undoubtedly Ammeha-itreQ, nor does i t denote the poor a s contrasted w ith the
r ic h , nor th e humble and p ious over a gain st th e arrogant and
wicked.
The s i g n i f i c a n c e o f the term i s best understood
when i t i s c o n t r a s t e d with another term, gaberim, or A ssoc1. A n t i o . x v i i i , 1 . 6 . ( 2 3 ) .
,
2. Cf. M att. 11:12; M k.l5:7; J n . 18:40. ( A+?erT*/s ) .
3. C f . M o n t e f i o r e : R a b b i n i c L i t e r a t u r e and G o s p el T e a c h i n g s ,
p p . 3 - 1 5 , w i t h b i b l i o g r a p h y and r e f e r e n c e s .
254.
ia te s .
The l a t t e r represented a group o f th e P h a risees who
prided them selves on t h e ir s t r i c t observance o f c e r ta in tra d ­
i t i o n s , and pledged them selves to keep them.
C hief among
th e se tr a d itio n s were th e payment o f t i t h e s from fo o d s, and
the observance o f elab orate r u le s r e la tin g to clea n n ess and
u nclean ness.
As a r e s u lt o f th ese p r a c tic e s , s o c ia l d is t in c ­
t io n s sprang up, and the A sso c ia te s gave them selves su p erio r
a ir s as an educated and in t e lle c t u a l group as opposed to the
ignorant and uneducated cAmme- ha -Are q, w ith whom th ey had no
d e a lin g s .
I t was among the ^Amme-ha-Arec, however, th at the
M essianic hope was most fon d ly cherished.
As D ib e liu s puts
i t , "Here la y th e re a l sphere o f in flu en ce of the coming re­
formatory movements . . . . The preaching o f John and Jesus could
o n ly fin d r e c e p tiv e hearers where r e lig io n was s t i l l f u l l o f
a n tic ip a tio n , where p ie ty was s t i l l f u l l o f lon gin g, where
H e lle n is t ic in flu e n c e s had not taken p o sse ssio n o f th e mind,
and where the Law had not silen ced a l l q u estio n s and d e sir e s
o f the h ea rt.
The fAmm&- ha -*Are q were not p o l i t i c a l l y minded,
and in the a p o ca ly p tic lit e r a t u r e which emanated from t h e ir
c i r c l e s , th ere i s a s p ir it o f calm and h o p efu ln ess.
They
seem to have accepted e x is tin g co n d itio n s in s ile n c e and to
have awaited th e coming o f the M essianic Kingdom with p a tien ce,
although t h e ir a ttitu d e varied as to how the Kingdom would be
in augu rated .2
______________________________________
1. O p .c it. . p . 131.
2. Cf.Box: Journal o f T h eo lo g ica l S tu d ie s, v o l . x i i i , p p .321-338.
255
I t was a g a in st t h i s background in which Law and Hope
predominated, in which p o l i t i c a l , m oral, s o c ia l and r e lig io u s
is s u e s were now c lo s e ly interwoven, now kept more or l e s s
ap art, th a t John th e B a p tist began h is m in istr y .
What part
did th e B a p tist p la y in t h i s w elterin g environment?
Did he,
lik e the Z e a lo ts, advocate a c tiv e r e sista n c e a g a in st c o n s t i­
tu ted a u th o rity , or did he sharply d is s o c ia te h im self from
p o l i t i c a l aims?
What was h is a ttitu d e to the p a r tie s and the
thought o f h is day, and wherein la y h is own con trib ution ?
On exam ination o f th e ex ter n a l evidence r e la t in g to
John the B a p tis t, i t was seen th a t no weight can be attached
to th e Slavonic Fragments which seem to make him a r e v o lu tio n ­
ary.^-
I t was a ls o suggested th at w hile Josephus r ig h t ly
a ttr ib u te s th e B a p t is t 's a rr est to p o l i t i c a l reason s, the
B a p tist was not in r e a lit y in favour o f p o l i t i c a l a g ita tio n ,
but th a t he came in to c o n f lic t w ith the a u th o r itie s undesigne d ly .
I t now remains to su b sta n tia te t h is view p oin t.
That John th e B a p tist came in to c o n f lic t w ith the author­
i t i e s undesignedly i s not su rp risin g i f th e rigour o f the
Homan ad m in istra tio n i s borne in mind.
Although th ere i s no
reason to b e lie v e , as E is le r d oes, th a t John bade the people
"band to g eth er by baptism" (
<ru\/ieV4i
) ^ yet the
very fa c t of h is a ttr a c tin g crowds around him, however innocu­
ous the purpose, may have caused th e a u th o r itie s some concern.
1. Cf. chapter I , pp. Z iff.
2. Cf. chapter IV, p. 1 7 $ note 5 .
2 56.
The Imperian Government was very su sp icio u s o f a l l kinds of
gath erin gs which might in any way c o n s titu te a danger to the
s t a t e , and one r e c a ll s the rather amusing a n x ie ty which P lin y
d isp la y s im asking Trajan whether a lo c a l fir e -b r ig a d e would
come under t h i s ca te g o r y .1
C erta in ly the co n d itio n s at the
end o f the f i r s t century were much s t r i c t e r than at the be­
gin n in g, but i t i s at le a s t p o ssib le th a t Herod A n tip a s, who
owed h is p o s itio n to Rome, and h is s a t e l l i t e s were a c tin g on
s t r i c t in s tr u c tio n s to break up gath erin gs which assumed the
proportions of th a t o f John th e B a p tist,
Again, i t w i l l be r e a d ily r e a lis e d th a t the e sc h a to lo g ic a l elem ents in the B a p t is t ’ s preaching would do nothing
to endear him e ith e r to the Romans or to the Herodians.
Y et,
to judge from the G ospels, he presented h is case h arm lessly
enough.
There i s nothing in h is sermon as reported by Luke
which can be in terp reted in any other way than as supporting
a n o n - p o litic a l programme.
The c r u c ia l words are th e s e ,
’And s o ld ie r s , ( <rte*rtoojxey/oi ), a lso asked him say in g , And
what must we do?’
The B a p tist r e p lie s , ’Do v io le n c e to no
man, n eith e r accuse any f a l s e l y , and be content with your p a y .’ 2
E i s l e r ’s su g g estio n th at a more exact rendering of <TTe«T6oojA6(/ol
rz
would be ’persons on the w ar-path’ or ’going to warn does not
1* Correspondence with Trajan, x x x i i i , x x x iv .
2 ,
L k . 3 . 1 4 .
3. O p .c it. . p . 265. I f Lk.had rn^ant people of t h is kind he
would have w ritten S tokt
or <rr</<ri£
» no^
ore^Teuo^evci
.
Cf. l^and M.: Vocabulary of the Greek
Testam ent, p.592b.
2 57 .
seem probable.
The utmost th a t can be said o f t h is idea i s
th a t John’s audience may have included ?rev o lu tio n a ry champions o f lib e r t y who had flo ck ed to the B a p tist from Ju dea.”
1
I f t h i s be so , E is le r co n tin u es, the correct in te r p r e ta tio n
o f th e passage i s t h i s , v i z . , "that th e r e v o lu tio n a r ie s are
r e c e iv in g an ex h o rta tio n from t h e ir m ilita r y ch ap lain , the
B a p tis t, to help each other out as com rades-in-arm s, as fa r
as p o s s ib le I”
But th ere i s nothing in John’ s words to
j u s t i f y t h is view .
The r e a l s it u a tio n was q u ite d if f e r e n t .
The r e v o lu tio n a r ie s , lik e everybody e l s e , had heard o f John’s
preaching, and perhaps some of them may have hastened to h is
s id e , hoping th a t they might fin d among the crowds who
flock ed to h is baptism new r e c r u its fo r t h e ir p o lic y o f
a c tiv e r e s is t a n c e .
Instead o f t h i s , however, the hotheads
would have found th a t the B a p tist had nothing to say in favour
of a g it a tio n and r e v o lu tio n , but th a t he enjoined upon them,
as upon the regu lar s o ld ie r s , p recep ts fo r proper conduct.
John was not concerned w ith p o l i t i c a l is s u e s at a l l :
whole emphasis o f
th e
h is teaching la y upon th e need fo r changed
l i v e s in view o f th e approach o f the Coming One.
N otw ithstanding, the B a p t is t ’ s p o s itio n was a dangerous
one.
R e lig io u s is s u e s were so o fte n bound up w ith p o l i t i c a l
is s u e s in t h i s period th a t the a u th o r itie s would fin d i t very
d i f f i c u l t to d is tin g u is h the harm less from the harmful type
1. O p .c it . . ib id .
2. O p .c it. . p .266.
o f movement.
Josephus n a rra tes th a t, at. t h i s tim e, th ere
was a su cc essio n o f prophets who as ”d ece iv er s and im posters
under th e pretence o f d iv in e in s p ir a tio n , f o s te r in g r e v o l­
u tion ary changes, persuaded th e m ultitud e to act lik e mad­
men, and led them out in to the d esert under th e b e l i e f th a t
1
God would th ere g iv e them tokens o f d e liv e r a n c e .1*
Some
saw th e M essiah in Judas o f G a lile e , others in Simon M agus
and D osith eu s, s t i l l oth ers in the "prophet’’ Theudas, or
th e "bandit" E leazar.
I t i s h ig h ly probable, t o o , th a t
some o f John’ s hearers whose enthusiasm ou tstrip p ed th e ir
lo g ic , were fo r regarding the B a p tist h im self during h is
lif e t im e as th e M essiah.
But t h i s , o f cou rse, was only a
p assin g fancy, and disappeared w ith h is death ju st as
q u ick ly as the p a r a lle l b e l i e f in th e other f a l s e M essiahs.
There i s no r e a l in d ic a tio n th a t John h im self ever made
M essianic claim s.
He appears, on the contrary, to have
devoted no l i t t l e energy to d is p e llin g t h i s id ea , and th e
g
passage in the Fourth Gospel which d escrib es h is e f f o r t s
in t h i s d ir e c tio n i s alm ost c e r ta in ly genuine, and fo r t h i s
reason:
John sy ste m a tic a lly d en ies th a t he i s ’th a t prophet’
’E lij a h ’ or ’the C h r is t’ .
I t i s almost in co n ceiv a b le th a t
the passage .is w holly u nau th en tic, (though the E v a n g elist i s
ob viou sly p resen tin g th e episode as part o f th e gen eral con­
f l i c t between Judaism and C h r is tia n ity ), inasmuch as no
1. B .J ., i i . 1 3 . 4 . (2 5 9 .)
2. T F l9 ff.
Cf.Bultmann: Jesus and the Word, p .22
259,
C h ristia n would ev er have put th e se words in to John’ s mouth
in view o f the fa c t th a t Jesu s Him self had id e n tifie d John
1
w ith E lija h ,
But th ere need be no su rp rise th a t Josephus
s t a t e s th a t ’’Herod deemed i t fa r b e tte r to f o r e s t a l l and k i l l
John, b efore some s e d itio n arose through him ,”
2
The govern­
ment did n o t, as a r u le , make any d is t in c t io n between p o l i t i c a l
and n o n - p o litic a l movements o f a M essianic character; and,
indeed, they could not have been expected to do so in an
environment in which so many currents and cr o ss-cu rren ts
e x is t e d .
There i s , th en , no r e lia b le evidence p o in tin g to the
con clu sion th a t th e B a p tist had any p o l i t i c a l aim s, nor th a t
he had any le a n in g s towards the programme drawn up by Judas
o f G a lile e ,
At th e same time i t cannot be doubted th a t
h is m in istry caused ce r ta in p o l i t i c a l rep ercu ssio n s.
It is
p reca rio u s, perhaps, to fa s te n upon any one feature in p a r t i­
cu lar which would in v o lv e him in a cla sh w ith c o n stitu te d
a u th o r ity .
I t may have been the s iz e o f the crowds he
a ttr a c te d , h is M essianic tea ch in g , th e fa c t th a t some o f the
more ardent o f h is hearers b eliev ed th a t he h im self was th e
M essiah, or sim ply the in a b i lit y o f th e government to d is ­
tin g u ish between Z ea lo ts and n o n - p o litic a l le a d e r s.
At any
r a te , i t may w e ll be b eliev ed th a t John’ s outspoken c r itic is m
1* Cf, c h a p t e r VI, p p . £73 ff.
2 . C f. c h a p t e r I , p . 15 .
260.
o f th e morals o f Herod stamped th e B a p tist as a d e f in it e ly
o b je c tio n a b le , i f not alread y dangerous f ig u r e , and brought
m atters sp e e d ily to t h e ir tr a g ic clim ax.
I t i s now tim e to examine th e content o f th e B a p t is t ’ s
m in istr y , a m in istr y of which u n fortu n ately on ly the barest
d e t a ils are g iv en by the G ospels and Josephus.
The m a te r ia l
i s divided in to two p a r ts, (a) John’ s view o f th e Kingdom
and the M essiah, and (b) John’ s e t h ic a l tea ch in g .
(a) There can be no doubt th a t John th e B a p tist a rd en tly
en terta in ed a c e r ta in type o f M essianic hope.
H is baptism
was in r e a l i t y a demand fo r change of l i f e in view o f the
approaching baptism o f a Coming One, and h is preaching as
reported by Matthew and, in p a rt, by Luke, was in sp ired q u ite
unmistakably by the same ex p ecta tio n .
Matthew rep resen ts
John as sa y in g , ’Repent ye, fo r the Kingdom o f Heaven i s at
1
hand.’
I t may be doubted whether John a c t u a lly used the
s e t exp ression ’The Kingdom o f Heaven’ .
I t does not occur
in the Old Testament, nor does i t appear to have been used
g
more than once in a p o ca ly p tic lit e r a t u r e .
A ccordingly, the
exp ression may perhaps be an e d it o r ia l note suggested by i t s
1. 3 :2 i
2. In I I Baruch 1 1:2, K a u tz s c h ,ii.p .455.
But **Thy Kingdom**,
’’His Kingdom” , ’’The Kingdom” , appear freq u en tly in the 0,T .
Apocrypha. Cf. Kautzsch, i i , p .129.
2 61 .
frequent use by J e su s.
Otto ta k e s i t in t h i s way, and
th in k s th at the idea o f a coming Kingdom o f God was e n t ir e ly
fo r e ig n to the thought o f John th e B a p tis t.
”I f" , he w r ite s ,
nan account o f th e coming Kingdom o f God had been presen t
o r ig in a lly in the e a r ly records about John, i t would have
been im possib le to suppress i t l a t e r , fo r th a t account i s
ju st what would have shewn him to be C h r ist’s forerunner and
1
pathmaker.”
Thus, fo r O tto, the fundamental d is t in c tio n
between John and Jesus was th a t John spoke only o f the Day
o f Yahweh, i . e . the Day o f Judgment, whereas Jesu s replaced
t h i s id ea by the preaching of th e Kingdom of God.
I t must
be adm itted that th is view i s , in c e r ta in r e sp e c ts, a t t r a c t iv e ,
and th a t i t con tains a very con sid erable element o f tr u th .
But i t seems that th e d is t in c tio n i s put in too clea rc u t a
manner.
The absence o f any d ir e c t mention o f th e ’’Kingdom
o f Heaven” , i f M att. 3 : 2 i s not genuine, should occasion no
great su r p r ise , in view o f th e very fragmentary records o f
John’s tea ch in g .
I t appears however th a t th e idea o f the
Kingdom does seem to u n d erlie the B a p t is t ’s words, ’He w ill
gather h is wheat in to h is garner. ’
A more se rio u s o b jectio n
to O tto ’s hard and f a s t d is t in c t io n i s , perhaps, th a t i t
f a i l s to do j u s t ic e to the com plexity o f Jewish thought on
the Kingdom, and th ereb y does not a llo w s u f f ic ie n t l y fo r the
p r o b a b ility th a t fo r John, no l e s s than J esu s, the idea o f
1. The Kingdom o f God and the Son of Man. p . 6 9 .
262 •
th e Kingdom was in te g r a l to h is tea ch in g .
T his l a s t point
c a l ls fo r some ela b o r a tio n .
On th e su bject o f th e Kingdom Jew ish thought p resen ts
con sid erable com plexity.^
The idea i s rooted in O.T„ pro­
phecy, and i t i s p o s s ib le , perhaps, to d is tin g u is h two main
lin e s o f thought.
The f i r s t was th e o c r a tic and n a tio n a l,
according to which th e p ious Jew looked forward to a Good
Time for I s r a e l, a Time in which th e monarchy would be r e sto red , and the M essianic King would be o f Davidf s l i n e .
2
S t r ic t ly speaking, t h is was not the a ctu a l Kingdom, but the
period o f th e r e a lis a t io n o f th e Kingdom, whereas the Kingdom
i t s e l f was the S overeign ty o f God in t h i s Good Time.
The
second was purely t h e o c r a tic , according to which the Kingdom
was envisaged as the S overeign ty o f God over a l l the world,
and the u n iv e r s a lity o f r e lig io n .
Fundamental, th en , to
both lin e s o f thought was the S overeign ty o f God, the d i f f e r ­
ence being as to whether th ere would or would not be a
n a tio n a l M essiah.
Upon t h is o r ig in a l Jew ish substratum o f
thought was imposed a la y e r o f P ersian thought, the o r ig in s
4
o f which, as Otto has shewn, " lie . . . in the p r e h is to r ic
period o f Aryan r e lig io n , v i z . , in the Asura r e lig io n ."
As
1. Cf. Smith: The R elig io n o f I s r a e l, chapters x iv and xv;
E .B ib lio a , i i , c o l l s . 1355-1390; B a stin g ’ s D.B. . i , p p . 734-756.
2 . I s . 9 :6 -7 , 19-24.
3. I s . 45:23; P s.9 4 , 103, 114; P s .S o l. 17; K a u tz s c h ,ii,p .144.
4 . O p .c it. f p p .20-33; c f . B ousset, Die R elig io n des Judentums,
p p .5 7 7 ff.
263.
y et th e idea o f the Kingdom was not a sso c ia ted with esch ato lo g y .
T his connection was apparently f i r s t made by Zoroas­
t e r , and from th a t time was g r e a tly developed and extended.
According to th e P ersian view , the present world would be
d estroyed by f i r e , and a fte r i t s d estru ctio n th ere would come
a New Age in which the rig h teo u s would ob tain t h e ir rewards.
The c le a r e s t exp ression o f t h is view point appears in 4 Ezra,
and th e same idea runs through Baruch, and i s perhaps re­
f le c t e d in I C or.15, and Rev, 19.
I t seems th at Jewish
thought on t h is su b ject was profoundly in flu en ced by the
P ersia n , and th a t the combination o f the two system s r e ­
su lte d in a curious and complex amalgam.
The scene i s con­
s t a n t ly s h if t in g and sometimes th e fo llo w in g s e r ie s i s to
be found:
(a) M essianic Conquest and founding o f a m ille n -
i a l Kingdom, (b) R esu rrection and Day of Yahweh, (c) F in al
d is tr ib u tio n o f rewards and punishments to rig h teo u s and
sin n ers; or again:
(a) The appearance o f M essiah to Judg­
ment, (b) Establishm ent o f the Kingdom a fte r th e R esu rrection ,
(c) A f i n a l con d ition o f b l i s s or pain in the Age to Come.
I t i s not d i f f i c u l t to understand the o r ig in o f t h is com­
p le x it y .
Those whose hopes were centred on a n a tio n a l
M essiah would tend to id e n tify the Kingdom w ith the Good
Time or th e Days o f th e M essiah, and th ese exp ression s might
be used as synonymous fo r th e Kingdom i t s e l f , as d is t in c t
from th e period o f i t s r e a lis a t io n .
On th e other hand,
th o se who looked forward to the end o f the p resen t world,
might id e n tify th e Kingdom w ith th e Age to Come.
In f a c t ,
th e n a tio n a l form o f th e M essianic ex p ecta tio n was not
c le a r ly d istin g u ish e d in t h is period from th e esch a to lo g i c a l form.
"They run in to each other and blend lik e th e
1
overlapping edges o f two clou d s."
I t was the e s c h a to lo g ic a l, and not the n a tio n a l form
o f th e M essianic ex p ec ta tio n , which seems to have conditioned
th e B a p t is t ’s thou ght.
There i s nothing in h is preaching
which su g g ests th e coming o f a n a tio n a l M essiah, nor o f a
Good Time fo r I s r a e l in th e p resen t world.
The Coming One
o f whom th e B a p tist spoke was to f i l l the r o le o f Judge on
the day o f doom - a r o le which the Messiah i s freq u en tly
apportioned m th e a p o ca ly p tic lit e r a t u r e .
2
He was to s i f t
out th e wheat from the ch aff by a t e r r ib le baptism o f wind
and f i r e , and on ly th ose who submitted to John’s water baptism
and changed t h e ir l i v e s could hope to pass through th e f i r e baptism unscathed.
The appearance of the th ree elem ents
1. Moore: Judaism, i i , p . 323; cf.Jack son & Lake: o p . c i t . , i ,
p p .269-278.
E .g .Baruch. 2 : 2 1 f f ., K a u tz s c h ,i,p .218; P s .S o l. 17:2I f f . .
K a u t z s c h ,ii,p .146; Enoch, 60:25, K a u tz s c h ,ii,p .270; J u d ith ,
16:18, K a u tz s c h ,i,p .164; J u b ile e s , 9:15, K a u tz s c h ,ii,p .57.
I t i s to be observed th a t very o c c a sio n a lly God i s assigned
t h i s r o le , and Brandt: Die jllid.Bap. ,p .7 7 , th in k s th at John
taught th a t God, not th e M essiah, would execu te judgment.
T his i s p o s s ib le , but improbable, because the transcendant
Jew ish view o f God would permit Him to be thought o f as Judge
on ly in very s p e c ia l circum stances. For other r e fe r e n c e s,
c f . Encyclopaedia B ib lic a , i i , c o l l . 1355-1372.
265.
o f w ater, wind, and f i r e in th e B a p t is t ’ s preaching may be
no more than mere chance, but E is le r su g g ests th a t here are
to be seen tr a c e s o f a H e lle n is t ic th eo ry o f th ree world
ca ta stro p h e s.
"Since th e Greeks, lik e th e E gyptians, divid ed
th e year in to th ree season s, sp rin g , summer and w in te r, and
in terp reted th ese seasons by a c y c lic overbearing of th e
th ree elem ents a ir , f i r e and w ater, th ere must have been a
H e lle n is t ic theory p o stu la tin g three world ca ta stro p h es, by
w ater, wind and f i r e , corresponding to the r a i n f a ll o f the
w in ter, th e e q u in o tic a l storms o f th e sp rin g, and th e glow
o f th e summer sun . . . .
Under th e in flu en ce o f such id ea s,
the B a p tist must have regarded th e ’woes o f th e M essiah’ as
a ca ta stro p h ic yea r, whose w inter would induce a world flo o d ,
i t s sp rin g , a ca ta stro p h ic tem pest, and i t s summer, a world
co n fla g ra tio n ." '5'
S im ila r ly the referen ce to th e ’fa n ’ and
to th e ’a x e ’ o f th e Coming One are to be understood, E is le r
th in k s, as due to the in flu en ce o f a s t r o lo g ic a l id ea s.
The
’fa n ’. i. s th e c o n s t e lla tio n m izre, or winnowing-shovel, 2 and
th e ’axe* th e c o n s t e lla tio n Orion, in which the a n cie n ts
imagined th ey saw th e image o f a double-headed axe or p ick 53
axe.
Whether the B a p tist was in r e a lit y so versed in a s t r o l4
°gy, as E is le r b e lie v e s , i s u n certa in .
Both the ’fa n ’ and
5
the ’axe* appear in the Old Testament as t y p ic a l instrum ents
1. E is le r : o p . c i t . , p . 280.
. , ib id .
5, J er.5 1 : 2 0 f f .
2. Job, 37:9.
4 . I s . 41: 15-16; J e r .5 1 :2 .
266,
o f d estru ctio n w h ile th e fir e -b a p tism or world co n fla g ra ­
t io n was a very common idea in ap o ca ly p tic lit e r a t u r e in ­
flu en ced by P ersia n , as d is t in c t from H e lle n is t ic , n o tio n s .
Of th e impending cata stro p h e, however, th ere can be l i t t l e
doubt#
John’s message was one o f doom fo r th e unrepentant,
and Matthew undoubtedly g iv e s th e correct note in th e words,
*0 gen eration o f v ip e r s , who hath warned you to f l e e from
1
th e wrath to come?’
Luke, on th e other hand, t r i e s to
so fte n down John’ s message by adding, ’With many such exh o rta tio n s and oth ers did John ev a n g elise th e p e o p le .’
2
This
v erse w i l l r e a d ily be recognised as one o f Luke’s ch aracter­
i s t i c attem pts to round o f f h is p erio d s.
’E v a n g elised ’ , or
’preached the good news’ , conveys q u ite the wrong im pression
o f John’ s preaching.
For John, the present world would
experience a t e r r ib le fir e -b a p tism , and a f te r judgment had
been meted out by th e M essiah, the New Age or th e Kingdom o f
God would begin.
I t i s not ea sy to determine to what ex ten t the e sch a to lo g ic a l as d is t in c t from the n a tio n a l form o f th e M essianic
hope was a fea tu re o f contemporary thought.
To judge from
th e scanty a llu s io n s in P h ilo and Josephus, and from the
G ospel r e fe r e n c e s, i t would seem, at any r a te , th a t the
e s c h a to lo g ic a l was th e l e s s popular form.
1.
3:18,
2.
The m ultitude in
3:7.
267.
gen eral expected not a world co n fla g ra tio n , nor a Messiah
s i t t i n g in f in a l judgment, but a n a tio n a l M essiah, th e Son
o f David, who would bring v ic to r y and p ro sp er ity to a l l the
Jews.
On the other hand, i t would be rash to suppose th a t
th e people in general were unacquainted w ith a p o ca ly p tic
sp e c u la tio n .
I t i s tru e th at 4 Ezfra and Baruch which present
t h is sp ec u la tio n in i t s purest form cannot be dated e a r lie r
than 70 A. D. , but th e idea i s already apparent in D a n iel,
and in the S im ilitu d e s o f Enoch, (c ir c a 80-60 B. C. ) , and
i t i s known th a t the former, at l e a s t , circu la ted f r e e ly .
The w r itte n word, however, i s not always a safe guide to the
time o f o r ig in of the b e lie f s i t s e t s fo r th and the Apoca­
ly p se s in t h e ir f in a l form no doubt represent a body o f
thought w ith a sh orter or a longer h is to r y behind i t , which
was c r y s t a llis e d and se t down in w r itte n form.
E.F. S cott
i s su re ly correct in sa y in g , "It may be concluded th a t in
the popular tr a d itio n , as in the lit e r a t u r e , the n a tio n a l
and th e ap o ca ly p tic elem ents of th e M essianic hope were
blended.
The people would n a tu ra lly apprehend the hope on
i t s p o l i t i c a l (or n a tio n a l) sid e:
but they were conscious
that i t had another asp ect (th e e s c h a to lo g ic a l) which they
1
w illin g ly recognised as le g itim a te ."
In view of t h i s , i t would seem th a t there are no grounds
1. The Kingdom and the Messiah, p.56.
268.
fo r th e assumption th a t the p e c u lia r work o f the B a p tist la y
in p op u larisin g e s c h a to lo g ic a l id ea s. According to t h is
1
op in ion , as E.E. S co tt p o in ts out, e s c h a to lo g ic a l specula-*
t io n s were th e property o f a com paratively sm all lit e r a r y
group on ly, and were not shared by the people in g e n e r a l.
The s ig n ific a n c e o f the B a p tist* s m in istr y la y in g iv in g
th e se e s o te r ic sp ec u la tio n s a wider currency.
However
a ttr a c tiv e t h is theory may be at f i r s t s ig h t , th ere i s , E.E.
S co tt con tin u es,
2
no evidence to support i t .
E sc h a to lo g ica l
sp ec u la tio n s were not confined to a sm all lit e r a r y c i r c l e ,
but formed part and p arcel o f the deepest hopes o f th e masses
in t h i s p eriod .
I t can sc a r c e ly be denied, o f co u rse, th a t
such sp ec u la tio n s were as yet in an inchoate and p la s t ic
s t a t e , and th a t on ly at a la t e r period were th ey brought
in to a more d e f in it e and more i n t e l l i g i b l e form.
Of the
gen eral currency o f th e se id e a s, however, the same w riter
3
concludes, th ere can be no doubt, and th ere i s no in d ic a tio n
th a t the B a p t is t ’ s view o f the Kingdom and the Messiah was
an eB oteric one.
Schw eitzer goes a step fu rth er.
In h is opinion the
s ig n ific a n c e o f the B a p tist la y not so much in p o p u larisin g
e sc h a to lo g ic a l id ea s, as in g iv in g them a com pletely new
o r ie n ta tio n . "The u ltim ate d iff e r e n tia o f t h is new esch a to log.y” , he w r ite s ,^ " is , th a t i t was not c a lle d in to e x iste n c e
1. O p .c it. , p .66, with referen ce to T itiu s : Jesu Lehre v.R.G-..
2. O p .c it . , ib id .
3 . Ib id .
4. The Quest o f the H is to r ic a l Jesus, p p .367-368.
269.
by h is t o r ic a l events . . . but s o le ly by the appearance o f tv/o
great p e r s o n a litie s (John and J e s u s), and subsides w ith t h e ir
disappearance, without le a v in g among the people g e n e r a lly any
tr a c e .
The B a p tist and Jesus are not th e refo re borne on the
current o f a gen eral e s c h a to lo g ic a l movement.
crea te e s c h a to lo g ic a l f a c t s . ”
They them selves
Perhaps t h i s statem ent might
be tru e o f Jesu s i f h is l i f e and teach in g as a whole are
in terp reted in a p a r tic u la r way, but i t i s doubtful whether
i t can be regarded as tru e o f John in view o f the very
lim ited nature o f r e lia b le evidence.
The records of' the
B a p t is t ’s teach in g seem much too fragmentary to permit o f
such a fa r-rea c h in g and sweeping pronouncement.
i t i s not c le a r from the Gospel
In any case,
tr a d itio n th a t John’s
e s c h a to lo g ic a l n o tio n s did d if f e r in any way from the pre­
v a ilin g id eas of th e tim e.
”80 fa r from adding new fe a tu r e s
to the ordinary p ictu re of the la s t days, John aimed at
p resen tin g i t in i t s sim p lest form, w ithout any ela b o ra tio n
1
o f d e t a ils ."
Now i f John’ s n otion cf the Kingdom and the M essiah was
e s c h a to lo g ic a l rather than n a tio n a l, and i f the e sc h a to lo ­
g ic a l view was le s s popular with the masses than the n a tion al,
th e q uestion may w ell be asked: Wherein la y the se cre t o f the
B a p t is t ’s p o p u la rity , o f which both the Gospels and Josephus
leave no one in any doubt?
1 . E . j p . S c o t t : . o p . c i t . , p . 68.
In view o f h is p o p u la rity , would
270.
i t not be more n atu ral to suppose th a t he p ro p h e sie d the
coming o f a -n a tio n a l M essiah, and o f a Good Time fo r I s r a e l
under h is rule?
Would he not have been more l i k e l y to win
th e ears o f the people by the proclam ation o f a m ild er and
more h opeful ex p ecta tio n than by th e f r ig h t f u l p ictu r e o f
Judgment which he appears to have drawn?
In some r e sp e c ts
t h is co n sid era tio n i s a powerful one, but i t cannot be
allowed g rea ter weight than th e im pression conveyed by what
appears to th e p resent w r ite r to be the correct in te r p r e ta ­
tio n o f the Gospel reco rd s.
fo r mass p sychology.
Allowance must be made, to o ,
There can be no doubt th a t John’s
appearance, h is manner o f d r e ss, and h is a u stere mode o f
liv i n g , would produce a very profound im pression.
Coupled
w ith t h is was the fa c t th a t he o ffered a baptism which many
erroneously in terp reted a s securing t h e ir sa lv a tio n in the
coming fir e -b a p tism .
More than t h is , th e masses could hardly
f a i l to r e a lis e the in ten se s in c e r it y w ith which the B a p tist
drove home h is tea ch in g .
Perhaps the re a l key to th e s i t ­
u ation , however, la y in the blending o f e s c h a to lo g ic a l and
n a tio n a l M essianic hopes in the B a p t is t ’s tim e.
There were
many, d o u b tle ss, who would in terp ret John’s preaching in
th e ir own way, and who v/ould lin k up h is message w ith t h e ir
inmost n a tio n a l hopes.
I t i s even probable th a t seme regarded
John as the Messiah during h is lif e t im e .
C erta ih ly t h is view
271.
would be held on ly in extreme and iso la ted - c a s e s, but more
common may have been the op inion th a t he fo r e to ld th e coming
o f a conquering n a tio n a l M essiah.
There i s no evidence,
however, th at t h i s was a c tu a lly John’ s own view p oin t, but
i t i s easy to see how such an error might have a r ise n in an
environment of in term in g lin g id e a s , and, in tu rn , to under­
stand the B a p t is t ’s p e c u lia r p o p u la rity .
I t i s to be observed th a t the B a p tist g iv e s p r a c t ic a lly
no d e s c r ip tio n o f th e coming Kingdom.
A fter th e baptism by
f i r e , and the s i f t i n g out of the wheat from the c h a ff, he
sim ply s ta te s th a t th e Messiah ’w i l l gather h is wheat in to
1
th e garner ’ . He no doubt im p lies th a t th o se who are gathered
in to th e garner w i l l enjoy c e r ta in b le s s in g s , but whether
th e se are s p ir i t u a lly or m a te r ia lly conceived cannot be
a cc u r a te ly determ ined.
I t i s very remarkable how John dw ells
alm ost co n tin u a lly upon the other sid e of the p ic tu r e , the
hideous fa te o f the unrepentant, the burning o f the ch a ff in
’unquenchable f i r e ’ .
be m issed .
The a u s te r ity o f h is message cannot
I t i s ju st t h i s , however, which may exp lain h is
s ile n c e as to the co n d itio n s in the future Kingdom.
John
was much more concerned w ith the requirements e s s e n t ia l fo r
p a r tic ip a tio n in th e Kingdom, than w ith the Kingdom i t s e l f .
As M cGiffert puts i t , "John was concerned not with future
co n d itio n s and developm ents, but only w ith p resent reforma1. Matt.3:12.
272.
t io n , which he f e l t to he the immediate and p r essin g need
o f th e hour in view o f th e nearness o f judgment. ""*■
In h is s ile n c e as to the co n d itio n s ob ta in in g in the
Kingdom, John d iffe r e d sharply from the m ajority o f the O.T.
p rop hets.
Most o f th ese prophets are not content with p re­
d ic t in g the coming o f th e Kingdom, hut give in a d d itio n
sh orter or lon g er d e sc r ip tio n s o f the Kingdom i t s e l f .
o
This
i s understandable, c e r ta in ly , inasmuch as the Kingdom was
g e n e r a lly conceived o f by them in th e n a tio n a l se n se , and
th u s would lend i t s e l f the more r e a d ily to d e s c r ip tiv e de­
ta ils .
But i t would not be su rp risin g i f the people in
g e n e r a l, who were fa m ilia r w ith e s c h a to lo g ic a l n o tio n s,
p ictu red the a p o ca ly p tic Kingdom in the same m a teria l and
sensuous way as th ey did the n a tio n a l.
To judge from the
a p o ca ly p tic lit e r a t u r e i t s e l f , i t may w e ll be b eliev ed th a t
th ey did so , sin c e the a p o ca ly p tic w riters them selves f r e ­
quently sp ecu la te on the c o n d itio n s o f th e Kingdom.
It is
not c le a r whether the B a p tist h im self shared th e se n o tio n s.
While th ere i s no d e f in it e evidence to show th a t he d id, i t
would be precariou s to deduce from h is s ile n c e th a t he did
n o t.
A ll th at can be s a f e ly said i s that fo r John the con­
d itio n s in th e Kingdom were of much le s s importance than th e
p reparation fo r i t .
1. H istory o f C h r is tia n ity in the A p o sto lic Age, p .13.
2 . E~,g. J o e l, 3 : 1 8 f f ; I s .6 5 : 1 7 f f ; Micah, 5 : 8 f f .
273
I f John said l i t t l e regarding the co n d itio n s in th e
Kingdom he sa id more about i t s membership*
The c r u c ia l
p oin t in t h i s connection i s to determine whether he regarded
the Kingdom as open to a l l men, or as lim ite d to the Jew ish
people o n ly .
Did he a n tic ip a te the u n iv ersa l ou tlook o f
J esu s, or did h is v is io n not extend beyond the r a c ia l ex­
c lu siv e n e ss c h a r a c te r is tic of Judaism in general?
The words
Judaism in g en era l are ap propriate, because i t should not
be imagined th a t a t no time did Judaism r is e above narrow
and e x c lu s iv e n a tio n a l h opes.
'Where i t does, however, one
g e ts the d is t in c t im pression th a t c r it ic is m has been lo a th
to accord i t i t s f u l l due.
The tendency has been to d is t in ­
gu ish Judaism and C h r is tia n ity too sharply as fa r as the
Kingdom i s concerned, and to regard Judaism as w holly e x c lu s­
iv e and narrow, and C h r is tia n ity as u n iv e rsa l and unlim ited
in t h e ir r e sp e c tiv e view s as to the membership of th e Kingdom.
While t h is i s g en er a lly tr u e , i t does not always h old, and
th e excep tion s are so s tr ik in g th at sweeping statem ents lik e
the above can be accepted on ly with the utmost r e se r v e .
fo r example, has a remarkable v/idth o f view .
Amos,
As J.E.McFayden
sa y s, "H istory, r e f l e c t i o n , and r e v e la tio n have convinced him
th at I s r a e l has had unique r e lig io u s p r iv ile g e s , 3:2;
never­
t h e le s s she stands under the moral laws by which a l l the
world i s bound, and which even th e heathen acknowledge, 3:9,
274
- Amos has nothing to say o f any w r itte n law s p e c ia lly given
to I s r a e l - and hy th e se laws she w i l l he condemned to d es­
tr u c tio n , i f she i s u n fa ith fu l, ju st as su rely as th e P h il­
i s t i n e s and th e P h o en icia n s.
Indeed, so ste r n ly im p a rtia l
i s Amos th a t he at tim es seems even to ch allen ge th e prero­
g a tiv e of I s r a e l . . . I s r a e l i s no more to Jehovah than th e
swarthy p eop les of A fr ic a , 9 : 7 .”^
Jonah, lik e w is e , can
en visage th e lo v e o f God as embracing not on ly the Jews, hut
even th e people of Nineveh, 4 :2 ,1 1 .
Zechariah, in turn,
w hile upholding the importance of Jerusalem , i s in sp ired hy
a noble u n iv ersa lism .
’A ll the n a tio n s s h a ll go up from
year to year to worship the King*, 1 4 :1 6 ff.
F in a lly ,
Malachi r i s e s fa r above th e le v e l of ordinary Judaism in
th ese words, ’From the r is in g o f the sun even unto the going
down o f the same my name s h a ll be great among the G e n t i l e s . . . .
my name s h a ll be great among the heathen, s a ith the Lord o f
H osts’ , 1 :1 1 .
I t i s p o s s ib le to m u ltip ly such p a ssa g e s, but
th e se are s u f f ic ie n t to show th a t the s p ir i t o f Judaism,
e s p e c ia lly in i t s la t e r form, mas by no means narrow and
e x c lu s iv e , and i t i s in the lig h t o f th e se passages that the
teach in g o f John the B a p tist regarding the membership o f the
Kingdom should almost c e r ta in ly be in te r p r e te d .
Very s ig n i­
f ic a n t are the words, ’And think not to say w ith in y o u rselv es:
1. Introduction to the Old Testament, pp.220-221.
2 75 ,
We have Abraham to our Father; fo r I say unto you -th at God ,
1
i s able o f th e se sto n es to r a is e up ch ild ren unto Abraham.T
Instead o f r e ly in g on t h e ir a n cestry , th e people of I s r a e l
must ’b rin g fo r th f r u it s * t o show t h e ir change o f l i f e . :
It
i s not im plied , o f cou rse, th a t Jew ish descent i s o f no
v a lu e, but i t does seem t o be im plied , f i r s t , th a t Jewish
descent w ithout the n ecessary moral q u a lific a tio n s w i l l be
v a lu e le s s at judgment, and second, th a t o th e rs, not of
Jewish descend, but n e v e r th e le ss ev in cin g changed l i v e s ,
would most a ssu red ly be ’gathered in to the garner’ .
It is
open to doubt, however, whether th e B a p tist a c tu a lly worked
out c le a r ly in h is m in istr y th e second im p lica tio n which i s
to be ex tra cted from h is a llu s io n to the child ren o f Abraham.
As b e fo r e , John i s r e a lly le s s concerned with the membership
o f th e Kingdom, than w ith the moral w orthiness e s s e n t ia l
fo r en try th e r e in .
I t is u n lik e ly , however, th a t **the
thought was w holly beyond John’s horizon that the Kingdom
2
would be opened to a l l men, ir r e s p e c tiv e o f r a c e .n
This
thought, as alread y n oted, came very near to exp ression in
the more generous passages of Judaism, and i t i s very p oss­
ib le th a t the B a p tist shared t h is view .
It was a c o n v ic tio n ,
however, which, as fa r as can be judged, he voiced not d ir ­
e c t ly and in so many words, but in d ir e c tly and by im p lic a tio n .
1. M att. 3:9 s Lk. 3 :8 .
2. E .F .S c o tt: The Kingdom and the M essiah, p .72.
276
Jew as he was, I s r a e l wqs d o u b tless dear to h is h e a r t, and
in c e r ta in r e sp e c ts i t i s tr u e , he remained w ith in th e
narrower lim it s of Judaism.
For a l l t h a t , the M essiah, in
h is o p in io n , would be im partial; moral not r a c ia l con sid era­
t io n s would c o n s titu te the d e c isiv e t e s t .
The Kingdom
would be shared f i r s t and forem ost, no doubt, by a repentant
I s r a e l, but o th ers who repented would not be excluded.
In
t h is generous idea John p ro tested a g a in st current id ea s o f
judgment and s a lv a tio n ,
1
developed th e sublimer a sp e c ts o f
the M essianic hope, and showed that he belonged not w holly to
the old order, but a lso in some measure to the new.
(b) As regards th e e t h ic a l teach in g o f John the B a p tis t,
i t may be observed, to begin w ith, th a t h is m in istry s i g n i f ­
ied a return to the s p i r i t o f Prophetism .
In other words,
i t i s to be regarded in ce r ta in o f i t s a sp ec ts as a p r o te st
again st th e narrow le g a lism of the o f f i c i a l r e lig i o n , and as
a r e -a ffir m a tio n o f the importance of the moral law .
For
cen tu ries the tru e s p ir i t o f prophet ism had been dead, and
i t s p lace had been taken by r it u a l and ceremonial observances
embracing every aspect of l i f e and crushing out in d iv id u a lism .
I t cannot be doubted th a t the emphasis on law and r it u a l m s
unwelcome to the people in g en era l, imposing as i t did upon
1. The polem ic in Rom.2:12, again st th e idea th at God would
judge the people o f I s r a e l d if f e r e n t ly from pagans^on rac­
i a l grounds shows how firm ly rooted th at idea musC have
been in Jew ish thought in g en era l.
277.
them cramping r e s t r ic t io n s and wearisome d u tie g .
They were
th e refo re a l l the more ready t o welcome th e B a p tist in whom
they saw the embodiment of th e old p rop h etic s p i r i t , which
was s t i l l dear to them.
Here was a man whose emphasis la y
not upon law and r i t u a l , but upon change o f h ea rt, upon
m o ra lity in i t s tr u e s t and p la in e s t form.
Convinced th a t a retu rn to prophetic id e a ls was essen ­
t i a l , the B a p tist h im self led the way by adopting the pro­
p h etic garb and the prophetic manner o f liv in g .
He donned
the prophet*s m antle o f camel’ s h a ir , and the lea th ern g ir d le
o f E l ij a h ,1 w hile h is food co n sisted o f the scant nourish­
ment which th e w ild ern ess provided.
I t is. very p o ss ib le
th a t in a l l t h is John d e lib e r a te ly a sso c ia ted h im self w ith
the r e lig io u s tr a d itio n s o f the I s r a e l i t e s .
As D ib eliu s
w r ite s , ’’The r e lig io u s reformers o f I s r a e l had sin ce the
time o f E lija h more or l e s s c lo s e ly represented the Nomadic
or R echabite id e a l, to w it, th a t I s r a e l ’s sa lv a tio n would
come not from w ealth and c u ltu r e , but from freedom from
cu ltu r e , not from w ith ou t, but from w ith in , not from the
world, but from God, and th ey had o fte n g iv en exp ression to
t h is view in th e ir c lo th in g and ways o f living.**
2
T h is ex-
!>imation o f John’s p r a c tic e seems much superior to th at which
sees in i t tr a c e s of E ssen ic or even Mandaean in flu e n c e ,3
1. II.K in g s , 1 :8 .
2. D ib e liu s: J .d .T . , p . 133; c f . Amos, 2:12;
3. So E is le r : o p . c i t . . chapter 3.
J e r . 3 5 :1 -1 1 .
278.
or fin d s in i t a n a lo g ie s w ith the p r a c tic e s o f ojbher Jew ish
or non-Jew ish s e c t s .
Y et, whichever exp lan ation i s adopted,
one cannot e n t ir e ly escape the f e e lin g th at John adopted an
o b so le te garb in order to command a tte n tio n and t o im press,
and hence h is manner o f d ress and liv i n g was a sp ecta cu la r
attem pt to rev iv e co n d itio n s which had long sin c e been super­
se d ed .1
I t would be u n fa ir, however, to go so fa r as to
say th a t John’s p r a c tic e was d e lib e r a te ly a r t i f i c i a l in the
la s t r e s o r t.
The B a p tist f e l t that he had a message to im­
part which c lo s e ly resembled th a t o f I s r a e l’ s p rop hets, and
so convinced was he of t h i s , th a t he may w ell have f e l t th a t
on ly by adopting the prophetic garb and th e a s c e t ic l i f e
would th ere be no in c o n siste n c y between h is l i f e and h is
tea ch in g .
The a u s te r ity o f th e B a p t is t ’s preaching, and
the in ten se s in c e r it y which la y behind i t , have alrea d y been
observed.
It may well b e , th en , th a t John’s a u stere mode
o f liv in g was not so much a sp ecta cu la r and a r t i f i c i a l re­
v iv a l as a personal p r o te sta tio n o f th e s in c e r it y o f h is
tea ch in g and o f th e n e c e s s it y fo r a l l men to adhere to i t .
S t . Luke g iv e s the f u l l e s t account of the B a p tis t’ s
tea ch in g , though, at the b e s t, i t i s a meagre one.
In the
se c tio n 3:10ff., i t i s im possib le to determine whether th e
E v a n g elist i s u sing a s p e c ia l source or sim ply recording h is
1. E.E.Scott:
op.cit., p.78.
279.
own im pressions o f what the B a p tist ta u g h t.
I t is - n o t e ­
worthy, however, th a t in t h i s s e c tio n , in which Mark i s
v ir t u a lly ignored, the e s c h a to lo g ic a l elem ents are a b sen t,
and th ere i s some a f f i n i t y to the estim ate o f Josephus, v iz .
th a t John was sim ply a preacher of m orals.
The a f f i n i t y
seems too s lig h t to the p resen t w riter to warrant the view
th a t th e E v a n g elist and the h is to r ia n were using a common
source.
T his would be p o s s ib le only i f th e passage in ques­
t io n could be f o r c ib ly removed from i t s co n tex t, and i f no
account were takeh o f Luke’s d e sc r ip tio n o f John’s esch a to lo
g ic a l emphasis elsew h ere.
In t h is s e c tio n , then, th e Evan­
g e l i s t s e l e c t s , whether from h is source or at random, th ree
c la s s e s of hearers to whom the B a p tist gave a d v ice.
F ir s t ,
to the people in gen eral, he i s represented as sa y in g , ’He
th a t hath two c o a ts , l e t him impart to him that has none;
and he th a t hath meat, l e t him do l i k e w i s e .’
1
By means o f
concrete examples John i s here no doubt form ulating the
gen eral r u le :
he who has must share w ith him who has n o t.
Second, to the ta x g a th er ers, ’Exact no more than th a t which
i s appointed unto you’ ;
a l l monetary m atters.
o
a demand fo r scrupulous honesty in
T hird, to th ose on m ilita r y s e r v ic e ,
’Do v io le n c e to no man, n e ith e r accuse any f a ls e l y ; and be
content w ith your r a t io n s ’^: an in ju n ctio n to the regu lar
troop s to r e fr a in from c r u e lty , unjust a cc u sa tio n s, and d is ­
1. 3:11.
2.
3:13.
3.
3:14
280.
contentm ent.
While th ere i s no reason to doubt t h i s account
o f John’ s tea ch in g , i t should be borne in mind th a t th e
E v a n g elist g iv e s here on ly the barest summary o f a m in istr y
which la s t e d fo r se v era l y ea rs, and, hence, that i t i s some­
what p recario u s to attem pt to estim ate th e r e a l s ig n ific a n c e
o f the B a p t is t ’s e t h ic a l teach in g from th e se fragm ents.
Y et,
as Buzy sa y s, ’’They are s u f f ic ie n t to prove that th e B a p tis t,
le a v in g on one sid e sp e c u la tiv e developments o f dogma and
the b r ill ia n t f a n t a s ie s o f the a p o ca ly p tic w r itin g s , planted
h im self squarely in th e domain o f popular m o ra lity , and
c a lle d upon h is audience to rep en t, and to s t r iv e a f te r th e
1
p e r fe c tio n o f t h e ir s t a t e . ”
In h is p r o te st a g a in st d i s ­
h onesty, s e lf is h n e s s , u njust a cc u sa tio n s, and m ilit a r y d is ­
con ten t, John was no doubt a tta ck in g th e most p rev a len t f a i l ­
in gs in human character in h is day.
In th e teaching o f John the B a p tis t, as reported by
Luke, i t may be sa id , on the n eg a tiv e s id e , th a t th ere is
nothing new.
Every asp ect o f i t can be p a r a lle le d in the
thought of the O.T. p rop hets, and in t h is f i e l d , at l e a s t ,
he does not seem to have transcended them.
There i s , in
f a c t , a ce r ta in bareness in h is e th ic a l teach in g, occasioned
p a r tly by an undue emphasis on the gloomy and a u stere sid e
o f l i f e , and p a r tly by h is f a ilu r e to announce any s a t is f a c 1. The Life of St.John the Baptist, Eng.Ed., p.81.
281.
to r y p r in c ip le by which the reforms he demanded might be
carried ou t.
In other words, he appears to have formulated
h is demands as th e o ccasion
a r o s e , and th e se demands hadas
t h e ir b a s is not an e th ic o f fo rg iv e n e ss and lo v e ,
punishment and o f judgment.
but of
The p r a c tic e o f u n s e lfis h n e s s ,
or honesty and j u s t ic e i s not represented so much as p le a sin g
in God’ s s ig h t and worth s tr iv in g a f t e r , as the op p osite
q u a lit ie s are denounced as the su rest guarantee of the wrath
o f God.
While f e e lin g very a c u te ly the a r t i f i c i a l i t y o f
th e p r e v a ilin g e t h ic s , he seems to have announced no thorough­
going and c le a n -c u t p r in c ip le on which a reco n stru ctiv e pro­
gramme could be based and ap p lied to the co n d itio n s o f h is
d a y .1
On th e
newed emphasis
p o s it iv e s id e , i t may be said that John’ s r e ­
on the moral law, whatever form i t took,
cannot be regarded too h ig h ly .
I t showed th a t he was able
to d is tin g u is h broadly, at l e a s t , the e s s e n t ia ls and the none s s e n t ia ls fo r co rrect liv in g ; i t enabled him to think of God
not as an a b str a c tio n behind the Law who on ly revealed him­
s e l f through t r a d itio n a l system s, and p r ie s t s and s c r ib e s ,
but as the liv i n g Father to whom a l l men must answer;
it
enabled him ”to appear in th e a rid Jewish world of h is tim e
2
as a fr e sh and v i t a l p e r s o n a lity ” ; and f i n a l l y , i t enabled
him to turn the minds of h is countrymen to th ose deeper iss u e s
1. C f. M cG iffert: op. c i t . , p . 13.
2. E .F .S co tt: The Kingdom and the M essiah, p .79.
282.
of heart and soul which were to be d e a lt w ith by J e su s.
The above estim a te of John’ s e t h ic a l teach in g i s con­
firm ed, i t would seem, by c e r ta in other in d ic a tio n s which
the E v a n g e lists p rovid e.
Although h is m in istr y in some
of i t s a sp ects i s to be regarded as a p ro test a g a in st the
le g a lism o f th e Jewish r e lig io n , i t i s to be observed th a t
nowhere does John appear to have d ir e c t ly questioned or
c r i t i c i s e d the value of Jewish p r a c t ic e s , much l e s s , o f the
Jew ish Law.
He seems, in f a c t , to have accepted the r ig o r ­
ous laws regarding f a s t in g .
Thus at Mk.2: 18-20, although
th e d is c ip le s o f John are holding a s p e c ia l mourning fa s t
owing to t h e ir m aster’ s imprisonment, th e context and the
Lucan p a r a lle l suggest th a t t h is mourning f a s t was on ly a
con tin u a tio n o f an a s c e t ic p ra c tic e customary during John’ s
a s s o c ia tio n w ith them .1
I f the v e r se s which fo llo w are
in t h e ir proper co n tex t, as seems, on th e whole, probable,
2
the words o f J esu s, ’No man p u tte th new wine in to old s k in s ’ ,
sim ply mean th at w h ile Jesus sympathised with t h i s p a r tic u la r
f a s t , John’s d is c ip le s were m istaken In imagining th a t i t
was p o ssib le to express the f u l l im p lica tio n and th e rea l
s ig n ific a n c e o f the moral law by s t r i c t adherence to the
cramping and outworn forms o f Judaism.
Again, th e very fa ct
1 . Lk.5 :3 3 -3 9 , ?The d is c ip le s o f John fa s t fr e q u e n tly ’ ; cf*
M att. 11:19, ’John came, n e ith e r ea tin g nor d r in k in g .’
2. Mk. 2 :2 2 .
283.
th a t the B a p tist was l e f t unmolested by th e P h a risees and
th e Sadducees i s s ig n if ic a n t .
I t i s true th a t he ra ised
t h e ir s u s p ic io n s , but s a t i s f i e d th a t he did not make any
M essianic claim , th ey l e f t him in p eace.
Probably h is
adoption o f Jew ish customs did much to a lla y t h e ir doubts,
and, w hile not in sympathy w ith h is movement, th ey could •
not d iscover in h is tea ch in g any v i t a l l y dangerous in c o n s is ­
ten cy w ith accepted standards.
Very s ig n if ic a n t , a ls o , i s
th e divergence between Matthew and Luke as to the hearers
to whom John addressed h is warning.
Luke s t a te s quite
em p h atically th a t i t was to the m ultitude in general;
M att­
hew eq u a lly em p hatically th a t i t was to the P h a risees and
Sadducees o n ly .1
There i s l i t t l e doubt th a t Luke’ s v e r sio n
i s th e correct one, and th a t Matthew’ s i s to be explained
p a r tly by the p e c u lia r ly Jew ish p r e d ile c tio n s which pervade
h is Gospel, and p a r tly as a r e f le c t io n o f the vehement
a tta c k s o f Jesu s on th ese c l a s s e s .
2
The B a p t is t ’ s warning
i s much more l i k e l y to have been addressed to a l l who flo ck ed
to hear him in view o f the enormous crowds who presented
them selves fo r baptism .
F in a lly , th a t John did not throw
h im self in to open c o n f lic t w ith the o f f i c i a l r e lig io n i s
fu rth er suggested by the favourable estim ate o f h is work given
1. M att.3:7 = L k .3 :7 .
2 . The counter-argument i s th a t Luke has atendency to r e fe r
in cid en ts to the m u ltitu d e.
284
by th e P h arisee Josephus.
On the oth er hand, it-w o u ld be
wrong to suppose th a t the B a p tist la id any great emphasis
on th e cramping and o b so le te forms o f Judaism.
He accepted
them w ith d if f id e n c e , p o s s ib ly because th e y were customary,
but more probably because th e y harmonised w ith the a u s te r it y
o f h is tea ch in g , c e r ta in ly not because th ey p o ssessed in
them selves any great value in h is o p in io n .
Although h is
v is io n transcended them, he did not th in k i t n ecessa ry to
d isp en se w ith them com p letely.
He could see through th e ir
a r t i f i c i a l i t y and e x te r n a lity , he could re-em phasise the
n e c e s s ity of a moral code, but he had no d e6p-set p r in c ip le
t o enable him to ’f i l l th e Law f u l l ’ .
was fa r from v a lu e le s s .
Yet h is co n trib u tio n
Although he s t i l l clung to c e r ta in
outworn and o b so lete form s, he r e a lis e d that th e se were o f
secondary im portance, and he d irected the mainstream o f h is
en er g ies not to th e s e , but to combining the sublim er a sp ec ts
o f the M essianic hope w ith moral is s u e s , and to w atering
thereby th e arid s o i l o f Judaism.
In th e lig h t o f t h i s ex p o sitio n o f John’s e s c h a to lo g ic a l
and e t h ic a l tea ch in g , i t may be p o s sib le to d efin e sh o r tly
h is r e la t io n to th e main currents o f op inion in h is tim e, as
s e t fo rth at th e beginning o f t h is chapter.
By h is in s is te n c e on the approach o f an a p o ca ly p tic
M essiah, John must have estranged h im se lf, f i r s t , from the
285.
H erodians, on p o l i t i c a l grounds, and second, from the
Sadducess, on r e lig io u s grounds.
By h is p r o te st again st
form alism , by h is d ec la r a tio n th a t I s r a e l would have no
s p e c ia l p r iv ile g e s at judgment, and by h is f ie r y denuncia­
t io n o f h is h e a r e r s’ s in s , he must have thoroughly em bittered
th e P h a r ise e s, though w ithout a c tu a lly providing them w ith
a handle aga in st him.
His d ecla ra tio n th a t he was not the
M essiah, h is p rop hetic garb, and h is p r a c tic e o f f a s tin g
d o u b tless helped to m o llify them, but th ey would not f a i l
to observe th a t he had nothing to do with the Temple and
Synagogue, w ith the P riesthood and S a c r if ic e .
By h is non­
p o l i t i c a l programme, he must have a lie n a te d the Z e a lo ts, once
th ey had thoroughly grasped h is view s.
On the other hand,
by h is r e - v iv ic a t io n o f the prophetic s p i r i t , by h is in ­
s is te n c e on a moral code, and by h is proclam ation of the
approach of the Kingdom and the M essiah, he must have power­
f u l l y a ttr a c te d th e <Amme-ha-&rec, refresh ed t h e ir drooping
s p i r i t s , and e x c ite d in t h e ir h ea rts the hopes and the ex­
p e c ta tio n s which were dearest to them, however d iv erse in
d e t a ils th e se hopes and ex p ecta tio n s may have been.
John the B a p tist stands out a gain st h is background as
a d is t in c t p e r s o n a lity .
He was a man, very la r g e ly , though
not com pletely independent of h is surroundings.
In e x te r n a ls,
he belonged to the old order rather than to the new:
in
thou ght, he reached at tim es beyond the old order and entered
in to th e new.
While h is adherence to outworn forms shows
h is part in the old order, h is v is io n o f a u n iv e r sa l Kingdom
b rid g es old and new.
His e t h ic a l code s c a r c e ly transcends
th e old order, but h is emphasis on change of heart a n t i c i ­
p ates the new.
H is m in istr y , la ck in g as i t d id , th e funda­
m ental p r in c ip le s o f lo v e and fo r g iv e n e s s, was not one which
waw. l i k e l y to abide; yet h is m in istr y , w h ile i t la s t e d ,
created the very deepest im pression, and lin k ed up the p ree x i l i c past w ith th e presen t and the fu tu r e.
As B la k isto n
p u ts i t , "It i s t h is fa c t which g iv e s John h is unique impor­
tan ce in the r e lig io u s development o f h is people: fo r in h is
own person he lin k ed up the old and the new, he u n ifie d ce r­
t a in d iv er se elem ents in both p h a ses, and he f i t t i n g l y rounded
o f f th e p ro g ressiv e h isto r y o f the p a st, bringing i t to th e
p oint where i t sh o r tly culminated in the r e v e la tio n to be
made by J e su s." 1
Even th e scanty nature o f our sources can­
not hide the fa c t th a t the m in istr y o f John the B a p tist was
o f fa r g reater s ig n ific a n c e than was, and i s , g en er a lly b e­
lie v e d , and th at th e Voice o f John was not a mere Voice in
the W ilderness, but th e instrument o f an en ligh ten ed and
independent p e r s o n a lity .
The B a p tist cannot be regarded as
b elonging e n t ir e ly to Judaism*
1. John the Baptist, p.182.
He stood at th e crossroads
287
between Judaism and C h r is tia n ity , re-emphasisii^g th e grand­
e s t thought of the Old Testament, and at the same tim e,
a n tic ip a tin g , and in p a rt, in augu ratin g, the d is t in c t i v e
ou tlook o f the new e r a .
Chapter
V I.
THE RELATIONS OF JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST.
Although th e S y n o p tists reduce the period o f r e la t io n ­
sh ip between J esu s and John to th e very b r ie f e s t con tact at
th e moment o f th e baptism o f J esu s, and although th e Fourth
E v a n g elist c r e a te s a m ise en sc&ne by in d ic a tin g th a t the
m in is tr ie s o f John and Jesus overlapped in order to g iv e
h is t o r ic a l v e r is im ilitu d e to th e testim ony o f John to J e su s,
yet a l l four E v a n g e lists p reserve very v a lu a b le evidence
to enable th e c r i t i c to estim ate th e correct s ig n if ic a n c e
o f th e r e la t io n s between Jesus and the B a p tis t.
^ h is
evidence c o n s is ts p a r tly o f concrete in c id e n ts , and p a r tly
o f d ir e c t testim on y, which suggest a con sid erable period
o f more or l e s s c lo s e contact between the tw o.
Opinions
w i l l d if f e r as to the way in which t h is evidence should be
in te r p r e te d , and as to what part o f i t i s h is t o r ic a l, and
what r e d a c tio n a l, but i t i s from t h i s ev id en ce, when pruned
o f la t e r a d d itio n s , th a t i t w i l l be p o ssib le to gain th e
c le a r e s t p ic tu r e o f th e s ig n ific a n c e o f John th e B a p tis t.
I t may be ad v isa b le at th e o u tset to summarise fo r
c l a r i t y ’ s sake th e statem ents alread y made regarding the
ch ron ologies o f John and J e s u s.
These were, f i r s t , th a t
th e m in istry o f John the B a p tist extended over a much
289.
lon ger period than th e E v a n g e lists in d ic a t e , and second,
th a t th e baptism o f Jesus marked th e culm ination o f a
period during which J esu s had been a sso c ia te d with John,
b efore th e beginning of h is own m in istr y .
The f i r s t o f
th e se p o in ts has already been demonstrated as p r a c t ic a lly
c e r ta in both on te x tu a l and other grounds, and not l e a s t ,
by th e e x p o sitio n of th e importance o f the B a p t is t ’s
m in istr y in th e preceding chapter:
th e second, apart from
the non-overlapping o f th e two m in is t r ie s , s t i l l remains
t o be proven.
Now i f i t should so happen th a t th e thought
of Jesus should appear t o have been profoundly in flu en ced
by the thought o f John, and i f , at th e same tim e, Jesu s
should seem to have g iv en an u n q u a lified eulogy o f th e
p e r s o n a lity o f th e B a p tis t, then i t would sc a r c e ly be wrong
to conclude th a t the con tact between th e two was anything
but a b r ie f one.
Whether th e ev id en ce, in i t s o r ig in a l
form, p o in ts in t h is d ir e c tio n may now be examined.
The
m a teria l i s d ivid ed in to th ree s e c tio n s :
(A) John’s opinion o f J esu s.
(B) The thought of John and th e thought o f J e su s.
(C) The p e r s o n a lity o f John and the thought o f J esu s.
(A) The o ld e s t and the most r e lia b le tr a d itio n records
th at J esu s, immediately a f t e r h is baptism , l e f t John and
withdrew in to th e w ild ern ess fo r a period o f communion w ith
290.
God in prayer; t h a t , in th e in t e r v a l, th e B a p tist was
a rrested and confined in some G a lilea n f o r tr e s s ;
and,
f i n a l l y , th a t th e a r r e st o f th e B a p tist coin cid ed w ith
th e beginning o f th e m in istr y o f J esu s.
I t i s now n eces­
sary t o con sid er th e very important m a teria l common to
Matthew and Luke d escrib in g the m issio n of John’ s d is c ip le s
to Jesu s at some p oint during the l a t t e r f s p u b lic m in istr y .
1
According to Matthew, John had heard m p riso n o f the
a c t i v i t y o f J e su s, and sends two o f h is d is c ip le s to ask
him: ’Art thou he who was t o come, or ought we to expect
another?*
Jesu s b id s the m essengers t e l l John o f the
m ira cles which he i s accom plishing, and o f h is preaching
o f th e G ospel, th a t i s , the fu lfilm e n t o f th e M essianic
p
p r e d ic tio n s o f Isa ia h , and con clud es, ’B lessed i s he who
fin d s no cause o f o ffen ce in m e .’
As soon a s the mes­
sengers depart w ith the answer, Jesus begins to speak to
3
the crowd about John.
Luke n a rra tes the episode in much
th e same way, except fo r the unimportant v a r ia tio n , (v .2 1 ),
th a t th e m ira cles o f which Jesus speaks are represented ,
fo r the sake o f v iv id n e s s , a s tak in g p lace b efore the eyes
o f th e aston ish ed d e le g a tio n .
There immediately fo llo w s ,
a s in Matthew, a speech about John.__________________________
1. l l : 2 f f .
2 . 2 9 :1 , 19; 30:5-6; 61:1.
3 . 7 : 1 8 f f . Luke i s s l i g h t l y lon ger, but the repeated ques­
t io n i s very c h a r a c te r is tic o f th e E v a n g e list. There i s
nothing to in d ic a te th a t Luke i s using a second source.
291.
A lth o u g h i n b o th G o s p e ls th e e p is o d e Qf t h e d e le g a ­
t i o n imme d i a t e l y p r e c e d e s t h e s p e e c h o f J e s u s on t h e
B a p tis t, i t
i s u n n e c e s s a r y t o su p p o se t h a t i n a c t u a l f a c t
t h e se q u en c e was so c l o s e .
The s p e e c h o f J e s u s , a s w i l l
b e s e e n p r e s e n t l y , i s n o t a c o m p le te u n i t y a s i t s t a n d s ,
b u t i s com posed p a r t l y o f wH e rrn w o rte ft d e l i v e r e d on
d i f f e r e n t o c c a s io n s and g ro u p e d t o g e t h e r by t h e E v a n g e l i s t s
b e c a u s e o f t h e i r common th e m e , and p a r t l y o f l a t e r a d d i ­
tio n s .
The e a r l y C h r i s t i a n com m unity was i n t e r e s t e d t o
know w hat o p in io n J e s u s had o f J o h n , and t h i s i n t e r e s t l e d
t o t h e v e ry n a t u r a l p r a c t i c e o f t h e E v a n g e l i s t s t o b r i n g
u n d e r a s few h e a d in g s a s p o s s i b l e i s o l a t e d and s c a t t e r e d
re fe re n c e s o f Je su s to Jo h n .
The d e l e g a t i o n p a s s a g e may
t h e r e f o r e b e c o n s id e r e d a p a r t from t h e s p e e c h w hich f o l l o w s .
In fa c t i t
i s v e r y f i t t i n g l y and v e r y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y
ro u n d ed o f f by t h e w ords o f J e s u s , r e f e r r i n g ,
s u re ly , n ot
t o Jo h n i n p a r t i c u l a r , b u t o f q u i t e g e n e r a l a p p l i c a t i o n ,
’B le s s e d i s he who f i n d e t h no c a u se o f o f f e n c e i n m e . 1
The c r u c i a l p o i n t i s t o d e te rm in e w h e th e r th e d e le g a ­
t i o n e p is o d e i s h i s t o r i c a l o r a l a t e r i n v e n t i o n .
i s a l a t e r in v e n tio n , i t
If it
c a n n o t be r e g a r d e d a s p o s s e s s i n g
any in d e p e n d e n t v a lu e i n e s t i m a t i n g t h e r e l a t i o n s o f J e s u s
and J o h n .
I f , on th e o t h e r h a n d , i t c o u ld be s e r i o u s l y
c o n s id e r e d a s b e lo n g in g t o an o ld t r a d i t i o n , t h e n i t m ig h t
292
y i e l d some p e c u l i a r l y v a lu a b le e v id e n c e r e g a r d i n g th e
p e r s o n a l i t y and t h e o u tlo o k o f Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t .
The b e s t c r i t i c a l a p p ro a c h w i l l be t o s e t f o r t h th e
a rg u m e n ts w h ich h av e b e e n ad v an c ed a g a i n s t t h e h i s t o r i c i t y
o f th e p a ssa g e .
S u c c in c tly th e s e a r e ,
(a ) t h a t t h e vtfiole
i n c i d e n t i s c o n c e iv e d fro m t h e p o i n t o f v ie w , n o t o f J o h n ,
b u t o f J e s u s , t o show t h a t i n J e s u s M e s s ia n ic p ro p h e c y was
fu lfille d ;
(b ) t h a t J o h n ’ s q u e s t i o n i s in c o m p a tib le w ith
h i s v iew o f a n a p o c a l y p t i c M e s s ia h ;
(c ) t h a t t h e e p is o d e
i s o m itte d by M ark; and (d) t h a t t h e p a s s a g e s h o u ld be
r e g a r d e d a s a p i e c e o f p o le m ic a g a i n s t Jo h n f o r n o t r e c o g ­
n i s i n g t h a t J e s u s was in d e e d t h e M e s s ia h .
At
s i g h t t h e s e a rg u m e n ts seem i m p r e s s iv e , b u t i t
firs t
seem s d o u b t­
f u l w h e th e r t h e y can b e a r t h e w e ig h t w h ic h h a s b e e n p u t upon
th e m .
(a )
I t c a n h a r d l y be d e n ie d t h a t t h e m ain i n t e r e s t o f
t h e E v a n g e l i s t , a t l e a s t , l i e s n o t i n t h e q u e s t i o n o f Jo h n ,
b u t in th e re p ly o f J e s u s .
N o th in g i s s a id a s t o th e e f f e c t
o f t h e r e p l y o f J e s u s on Jo h n h i m s e l f .
D id he draw t h e
c o n c lu s io n i n te n d e d , v i z . , t h a t J e s u s was t h e M e s s ia h , o r
d id he n o t?
T he E v a n g e l i s t d o e s n o t s a y .
B ut ev en a lth o u g h
th e E v a n g e lis t’ s i n t e r e s t l i e s n o t in th e q u e s tio n but in
t h e a n s w e r, i t
i s s u r e l y r a t h e r a r b i t r a r y t o su p p o se t h a t
t h e w hole i n c i d e n t was f a b r i c a t e d t o show t h a t i n J e s u s th e
293.
M e s s ia n ic program m e was f u l f i l l e d .
I t w ould be d i f f i c u l t
t o t h i n k o f a m ore a r t i f i c i a l way o f p r o v in g t h i s .
i n t r o d u c e Jo h n a t a l l ?
Why
C ould n o t t h e E v a n g e l i s t h av e r e ­
p r e s e n t e d J e s u s a s m aking t h e same d e c l a r a t i o n i n r e s p o n s e
t o a q u e s t i o n o f one o f t h e crowd?
Why h av e r e c o u r s e t o
J o h n , who was s h u t up i n p r i s o n , a w a i t in g h i s e x e c u tio n ?
A g a in , t h e r e i s n o th in g i n t h e q u e s t i o n o f J o h n a n d i n th e
a n s w e r o f J e s u s w h ic h i n t h e l e a s t way s u g g e s t s r e d a c t i o n .
T he e x p r e s s io n o
how ever t e c h n i c a l i n J e w is h -
C h r i s t i a n c i r c l e s f o r t h e M e s s ia h was u n d o u b te d ly u se d by
t h e B a p t i s t h i m s e l f , s i n c e i t a p p e a r s on h i s l i p s i n a n ­
o t h e r p a s s a g e , t h e a u t h e n t i c i t y o f w hich t h e r e i s no r e a s o n
t o d o u b t.
1
The i n d i r e c t n e s s o f t h e a n sw e r o f J e s u s i s
v e ry c h a r a c t e r i s t i c .
I t was h i s custom n o t t o g iv e men
a d i r e c t a n s w e r t o su c h q u e s t i o n s , b u t t o l e a d them i n
2
s u c h a way a s t o f i n d o u t t h e a n sw e r f o r t h e m s e lv e s .
In
a l l t h i s , t h e r e i s , i t w ould seem , v e r y s t r o n g e v id e n c e i n
fa v o u r o f th e h i s t o r i c i t y o f th e p a ssa g e .
(b )
The o p in io n t h a t J o h n f s q u e s t io n i s in c o m p a tib le
w i t h h i s v ie w o f a n a p o c a l y p t i c M e ss ia h c o n t a i n s a c e r t a i n
e le m e n t o f t r u t h , b u t y e t i n i t s e n t i r e t y i t a p p e a r s t o be
to o sw e e p in g .
I t s e le m e n t
o f t r u t h l i e s in th e f a c t th a t
i t p o i n t s t h e way t o t h e c o r r e c t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e
1 . M a t t .3 : 1 1 .
2 . O f. Mk.1 0 : 1 9 , L k .1 0 : 2 6 .
294
in c id e n t.
I t h a s a l r e a d y b e e n shown t h a t Jo h n e n v is a g e d
t h e M e s s ia h a s a n a p o c a l y p t i c J u d g e , an d t h a t th e o l d e s t
t r a d i t i o n o f t h e b a p tis m c o n ta in e d no i n d i c a t i o n t h a t Jo h n
r e c o g n is e d J e s u s t o be t h e M e s s ia h he e n v is a g e d .
Jo h n ’s
q u e s t i o n , t h e r e f o r e , s h o u ld , a lm o s t c e r t a i n l y , be t a k e n a s
d e n o tin g n o t w an in g f a i t h , b u t r i s i n g hope t h a t J e s u s m ig h t
in d e e d be t h e M e s s ia h .
L o is y i s s u r e l y c o r r e c t on t h i s
when he w r i t e s , "The q u e s t i o n w h ic h Jo h n a d d r e s s e s t o J e s u s
i s n o t a d o u b t a f t e r f a i t h , b u t t h e f i r s t s u s p i c i o n w h ich
aw akened i n h i s h e a r t r e g a r d i n g t h e g ra n d r o l e w hich m ig h t
b e lo n g t o t h e p r e a c h e r o f N a z a r e t h .”
1
T h a t su c h a h o p e ,
h o w ev er f a i n t , may have aw akened i n t h e B a p t i s t ’ s m ind i s
n o t a n im p o s s ib le p s y c h o l o g i c a l p r o c e s s , i n v ie w o f t h e
r e p o r t s he r e c e i v e d o f t h e p r e a c h in g and t h e m i r a c l e s o f
Jesus.
I n a n y c a s e , t h e q u e s t i o n i s o n ly a t e n t a t i v e o n e .
C e rta in ly i t
c a n n o t be r e g a r d e d a s so u n n a t u r a l and incom ­
p a t i b l e w ith J o h n ’ s v ie w s a s t o c l i n c h th e n o n - h i s t o r i c i t y
o f th e in c id e n t.
(c)
c o n c e rn .
The M arcan o m is s io n o f t h e p a s s a g e need c a u se no
M atth ew an d Luke had a c c e s s t o s p e c i a l s o u r c e s
w h ic h Mark d id n o t u s e , an d t h e re m a rk a b le a g re e m e n t b e ­
tw e e n M atthew an d Luke i n t h e form o f t h e q u e s t io n o f Jo h n
and t h e a n sw e r o f J e s u s s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e y a r e h e re d raw in g
1 . L e s E v a n g ile s S y n o p tiq u e s . I , p . 6 6 0 . E o r a l i s t o f i n t e r ­
p r e t a t i o n s o f t h i s p a s s a g e , c f . Buzy: O p . c i t . , F re n c h E d .,
p p . 2 8 6 -3 0 6 .
295.
u pon t h e Q s o u r c e .
(d )
F i n a l l y , t h e i d e a t h a t t h e w hole i n c i d e n t i s a
p i e c e o f p o le m ic a g a i n s t Jo h n f o r n o t r e c o g n i s i n g t h a t
J e s u s was t h e M e s s ia h i s m o st u n l i k e l y .
P re su m a b ly w hat
i s m ean t by t h i s i s t h a t t h e p o le m ic i s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t
a c o n ti n u i n g B a p t i s t g ro u p su p p o sed t o h a v e b een r i v a l s
to C h r is tia n ity .
(^ u ite a p a r t fro m t h e f a c t t h a t t h e r e i s
r e a s o n t o b e l i e v e t h a t no su c h c o n ti n u i n g g ro u p e x i s t e d , i t
may w e ll be a s k e d : Would t h i s have b e e n a l i k e l y way t o
a t t a c k t h a t h y p o t h e t i c a l g ro u p ?
Would anyone d e s i r o u s o f
show ing t h e m em bers o f t h i s g ro u p t h e e r r o r o f t h e i r w ays
have p o in te d o u t t h a t t h e i r fo u n d er d id n o t b e lie v e t h a t
J e s u s was t h e M e ssia h ?
T he p o le m ic , t o be s u c c e s s f u l w ould
h av e show n q u i t e c o n c l u s i v e l y , a s i n t h e F o u r th G o s p e l, t h a t
t h e B a p t i s t d id a ck n o w led g e J e s u s t o be t h e M e s s ia h , and
h e n c e , by i m p l i c a t i o n , t h a t t h e g ro u p was m is ta k e n i n i t s
v ie w s .
I f t h e id e a o f p o le m ic be a b a n d o n e d , i t
seem s n a t u r a l
t o c o n c lu d e t h a t t h e i n c i d e n t i s h i s t o r i c a l , " in a s m u c h a s
no l a t e r a g e w ould a s c r i b e t o Jo h n a mood o f d o u b t so com­
p r o m is in g t o h i m s e l f . " 1
I n o t h e r w o rd s , t h e C h r i s t i a n
t r a d i t i o n , w h ich made o f Jo h n t h e h e r a l d o f J e s u s , w ould
n e v e r h a v e d e p ic te d him i n so u n f a v o u r a b le a l i g h t .
The im p o rta n c e o f t h e d e l e g a t i o n p a s s a g e f o r a c o r r e c t
1 . W.Manson: The G osp el o f Luke, p . 7 8 .
296.
u n d e r s ta n d in g o f t h e r e l a t i o n s o f Jo h n an d J e s u s c a n h a r d l y
be o v e re s tim a te d .
I t shows t h a t o n ly i n h i s l a s t d a y s d id
t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o c c u r t o Jo h n t h a t J e s u s m ig h t be t h e
M e s s ia h .
The c o n v e r s a t io n a t t h e b a p tis m o f J e s u s , a s r e ­
p o r t e d by M a tth e w , i n d i c a t i n g t h a t Jo h n r e c o g n is e d J e s u s
a s t h e M e s s ia h , i s a lm o s t c e r t a i n l y u n h i s t o r i c a l .
I t cannot
h a v e b e e n w r i t t e n by t h e hand w h ic h r e c o u n te d t h e d e le g a ­
tio n in c id e n t.
I t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t Jo h n saw i n J e s u s a
p e r s o n a l i t y d i s t i n c t from t h e o t h e r s who came t o h i s b a p tis m ,
a n d t h a t t h e a c t i v i t y o f J e s u s a s r e p o r t e d t o him i n p r i s o n ,
c o n firm e d h i s o p in io n t h a t i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r A p p lic a n t f o r
b a p tis m t h e r e had b e e n and t h e r e was so m e th in g u n iq u e w h ich
p ro m p te d t h e h a l f - h o p e f u l , h a l f - d o u b t f u l q u e s t i o n - ’A rt
th o u h e ? ’
B u t t h a t h o p e , so f a r a s c a n be ju d g e d , n e v e r
r e a c h e d c o n v i c t i o n , and t h e B a p t i s t d ie d w ith o u t f u l l y
r e a l i s i n g t h a t t h e Coming One o f h i s m ost c h e r i s h e d e x p e c ­
t a t i o n s had in d e e d come.
I t i s a f a r c r y fro m t h i s e s t i m a t e o f J o h n ’ s o p in io n
o f J e s u s t o t h e t r a d i t i o n a l e s t im a t e w h ich r e g a r d s him a s
c o n s c io u s f o r e r u n n e r and w i t n e s s .
The S y n o p t i s t s have done
t h e i r b e s t t o c r e a t e t h i s im p r e s s io n , b u t t h e y have n o t
e n t i r e l y h id d e n t h e f a c t t h a t t h e B a p t i s t ’ s r o l e was i n
r e a l i t y d i f f e r e n t from w hat t h e y s a y .
T hey have m in im is e d
th e r e a l l y s i g n i f ic a n t a sp e o t o f th e B a p t i s t ’ s l i f e - h is
p o w e rfu l and in d e p e n d e n t m i n i s t r y - and t h e y h av e e x a g g e ra te d
2 97.
i n t o a c o n v i c t i o n a hope w h ic h Jo h n b e g a n t o e n t e r t a i n t o o
la te
i n t h e d a y t o be o f a n y s i g n i f i c a n c e w h a ts o e v e r .
i n t h i s t h e F o u r th E v a n g e l i s t i s c l e a r l y t h e m a s t e r .
B ut
To
ju d g e fro m h i s G o s p e l a lo n e , t h e r e c o u ld be no d o u b t t h a t
Jo h n d i d r e c o g n i s e J e s u s a s t h e M e s s ia h .
So a n x io u s i s
t h e E v a n g e l i s t t o e s t a b l i s h t h i s , t h a t he h a s n o th in g t o
s a y a b o u t J o h n ’ s own m i n i s t r y a t a l l .
o b se rv e,
Jo h n i s g iv e n t o
’T h is w as he o f whom I s p a k e : He t h a t com eth a f t e r
me i s p r e f e r r e d b e f o r e me, b e c a u s e he was b e f o r e m e .’’*’ L a t e r
he sa y s a g a in ,
’B e h o ld t h e Lamb o f God who i s t o rem ove t h e
s i n o f t h e w o rld .*
2
I n t h e te s tim o n y o f Jo h n t o J e s u s a t
3 : 2 7 f f . , Jo h n d e c l a r e s t h a t he s ta n d s a s a f r i e n d b e s id e
J e s u s , t h e B rid e g ro o m , and r e j o i c e s t o h e a r t h e v o ic e o f
t h e B rid e g ro o m .
T h e se a r e n o t t h e a c t u a l w ords o f th e
B a p t i s t , b u t r e f l e c t i o n s o f t h e E v a n g e li s t h i m s e l f r e m i n i s ­
c e n t o f t h e te r m in o lo g y em ployed by J e s u s a t Mk. 2 :1 9 .
M o re o v e r, t h e s e c t i o n 3 :3 1 -3 6 i s a lm o s t c e r t a i n l y o u t o f
3
p l a c e an d s h o u ld b e lo n g t o t h e d i s c o u r s e w ith N icodem us •
E v e ry v e r s e i s r e m i n is c e n t o f a s a y in g a t t r i b u t e d t o J e s u s
e ls e w h e r e . 4
In a l l t h is ,
it
i s o b v io u s t h a t t h e s i m i l a r i t y
b e tw e e n t h e s p e e o h e s i n w h ich t h e B a p t i s t g i v e s h i s t e s t i ­
ly J n . 1 :1 5 .
2 . J n . 1 :2 9 , 3 6 .
3 . C f . c h a p t e r I I , p . BZ.
4 . 3 :3 0
r I .J n .l:4
=
2 J n .1 2 .
3 :5 3 =
3 :3l
- 3*3
3:34 ■
3732
= 3 :1 2 s I . J n . 4 : 6 .
3 :3 5 =
3 :3 6 z 3 :5 a 3 :1 8 «
I .J n .5 :1 0 .
7 :1 6 * 8 :2 8 "
5 :2 0 * 1 7 :2 .
6 :4 7 .
6 . 68 ,
298.
mony an d t h e d i s c o u r s e s o f J e s u s H im s e lf i n t h i s G o sp e l
an d e ls e w h e r e , i s du e t o t h e f a c t t h a t t h e E v a n g e l i s t i s
r e c a s t i n g c o m p le te ly t h e B a p t i s t 1s u tte r a n c e s * i n t h e a f t e r ­
l i g h t o f t h e r e v e l a t i o n o f t h e Word, and t h a t , t o o , w ith
a v e r y d e f i n i t e aim i n v ie w .
The F o u r th E v a n g e l i s t had
a n axe t o g r i n d , and by i n t e g r a t i n g Jo h n i n t h e G o sp el
h i s t o r y , an d b y m in im is in g t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f h i s w o rk ,
h e was p r o b a b ly a t t a c k i n g n o t a g e n u in e c o n ti n u i n g B a p t i s t
m ovem ent, b u t a c o n te m p o ra ry J e w is h d i s a f f e c t i o n .
The
h i s t o r i c i t y o f t h e F o u r th G o s p e l, a s f a r a s t h e B a p t i s t
i s c o n c e rn e d , r e d u c e s i t s e l f ,
s m a ll p r o p o r t i o n s .
i t would seem , t o v e r y
N o n -h is to ric a l i s th e B a p tis t’s t e s t i ­
mony t o J e s u s ; n o n - h i s t o r i c a l i s t h e a c c o u n t o f t h e p a s s i n g
o v e r o f Jo h n ’s in n e r c ir c le o f d is c ip le s to J e s u s .
H is ­
t o r i c a l i s t h e s h o r t p a s s a g e 1 :1 9 - 2 8 , ( e x c e p t v e r s e 2 6 B ),
d e s c r i b i n g t h e d e p u ta ti o n s e n t by t h e Jew s t o e n q u ir e who
Jo h n w as;
h i s t o r i c a l , t o o , when p ru n e d o f i t s l a t e r r e ­
d a c t i o n s , i s t h e d i s c u s s i o n b e tw e e n Jo h n and J e s u s a b o u t
p u r i f i c a t i o n a t Aenon n e a r t o S a lim , ( 3 : 2 5 ) .
C u r io u s ly
en o u g h , i n t h e f i r s t o f t h e s e p a s s a g e s , t h e F o u r th E van­
g e l i s t , h o w ever a n x io u s h e i s e ls e w h e re t o re d u c e th e s i g ­
n i f i c a n c e o f J o h n , c r e a t e s t h e im p r e s s io n t h a t i f J o h n ’ s
a c t i v i t y c a lle d f o r t h an o f f i c i a l d e le g a tio n to in v e s tig a te
i t , t h a t a c t i v i t y m ust h av e b e e n m ore im p o r ta n t and f a r -
299.
r e a c h i n g t h a n m ig h t o t h e r w i s e be ju d g e d !
_ The e v id e n c e
o f th e F o u rth E v a n g e lis t d o es n o t r in g q u ite t r u e , b u t
i t i s p o s s i b l e t o a p p r e c i a t e t h e im p o rta n c e o f t h e m o tiv e
w h ic h l e d him t o do l e s s j u s t i c e , a n d , a t t h e same t im e ,
m ore j u s t i c e t o Jo h n t h a n he d e s e r v e d , l e s s j u s t i c e , i n
p a s s i n g o v e r i n s i l e n c e t h e B a p t i s t ’ s m i n i s t r y , m ore j u s ­
tic e ,
in o v e rs tre s s in g h is a f f i n i t i e s to J e s u s .
I n t h e l i g h t o f t h e s e f a c t s , t h e t r a d i t i o n a l v ie w o f
J o h n ’ s s i g n i f i c a n c e a s f o r e r u n n e r a n d w i t n e s s t o th e P e r s o n
o f J e s u s seem s t o be d i s c o u n te d .
W h atev er e l s e Jo h n d i d ,
h e d id n o t p r e p a r e h i s h e a r e r s t o f i n d t h e M e s s ia h i n
J e s u s o f N a z a r e th .
T h a t John, h i m s e l f had n o t th e f a i n t e s t
i n k l i n g d u r in g h i s m i n i s t r y t h a t J e s u s was t h e M e s s ia h i s
f i r m l y e s t a b l i s h e d by t h e o l d e s t t r a d i t i o n .
The M e s s ia h
o f Jo h n was a t r a n s c e n d e n t a p o c a l y p t i c B e in g , and J o h n ’ s
h e a r e r s had l e a r n e d t o e x p e c t t h a t t h e a p p ro a c h o f su c h a
B e in g was a t h a n d .
T h u s , when J o h n ’ s v o ic e was s i l e n c e d
and J e s u s b e g an t o p r e a c h , t h e p e o p le c o u ld se e i n J e s u s
no o u tw a rd a f f i n i t y t o t h e p ro m ise d M e s s ia h .
F o r many
J e s u s was o n ly a n o th e r p r o p h e t a n d , t o b e g in w i t h , he d o e s
n o t seem t o h av e had t h e same m ea su re o f s u c c e s s and i n ­
f lu e n c e a s Jo h n h a d .^
fin d .
The r e a s o n f o r t h i s i s n o t h a rd t o
J o h n 's m i n i s t r y had b een a s p e c t a c u l a r o n e .
The
1* O f. B e r n o u i l l i : J o h a n n e s d e r T g u f e r und d ie U rg e m e in d e ,
p .90.
300.
p r o p h e t fro m t h e d e s e r t w ith h i s d a r i n g b a p ti s m a l r i t e
an d h i s f e a r f u l w a rn in g s had p o w e r f u ll y c a p tu r e d t h e im ag­
in a tio n o f th e f o lk .
f i r s t , an a n ti-c lim a x .
The a p p e a ra n c e o f J e s u s w a s, a t
I t was o n ly when t h e crow ds h e a rd
o f t h e w o rk s w h ic h J e s u s was p e r f o r m in g t h a t t h e y h a s te n e d
t o l i s t e n t o t h e m essa g e o f t h i s new P r o p h e t , an d w e re , i n
t u r n , g r ip p e d by h i s w o rd s , an d a s t o n is h e d by h i s d e e d s . . . .
Bad Jo h n b e en r e l e a s e d fro m c o n fin e m e n t, h i s m i n i s t r y from
t h a t p o i n t m ig h t h av e t a k e n a d i f f e r e n t c o u r s e .
He m ig h t
t h e n h av e r e a l l y b e e n t h e w i t n e s s t o J e s u s , w h ich t h e
F o u r t h E v a n g e l i s t would d e a r l y have b e l i e v e d o f h im .
B ut
th a t i s s p e c u la tio n , n o t h i s t o r i c a l f a c t .
(B) I n a n e s t i m a t e o f t h e i n f l u e n c e o f t h e th o u g h t
o f Jo h n upon t h e th o u g h t o f J e s u s , i t may be n o te d , t o
b e g in w i t h , t h a t J e s u s , l i k e J o h n , announced no p o l i t i c a l
program m e.
I t w ould h av e b een u n n e c e s s a r y t o i n s i s t upon
t h i s , d id n o t E i s l e r so e m p h a ti c a l ly m a i n t a i n t h e o p p o s i t e
v ie w .
F o r E i s l e r , J e s u s , no l e s s t h a n Jo h n was a p o l i t i c a l
r e b e l , and i n s p i r e d by J o h n ’ s e x a m p le , so u g h t t o o v e rth ro w
t h e Roman g o v e rn m e n t, and t o s e t h im s e lf up a s K ing and
D e liv e re r.
The a tte m p t p ro v e d f u t i l e , and i t was b e c a u se
o f t h i s , E i s l e r a s s e r t s , t h a t J e s u s was condemned and c r u ­
c if ie d .1
As i n J o h n ’ s c a s e , E i s l e r ’ s e s t i m a t e o f th e
1* The Mesfeiah J e s u s , p p .5 6 7 -5 7 1 .
301.
M e s s ia h s h ip o f J e s u s i s b a s e d p a r t l y on t h e S la v o n ic F r a g ­
m e n ts and l a t e A p o c ry p h a l w r i t i n g s , p a r t l y upon a r b i t r a r y
h a n d lin g o f t h e G o s p e l t e x t s , and p a r t l y upon s p e c u l a t i o n s
o f h i s own w h ic h a r e p r e s e n t e d w i t h th e u tm o s t c o n fid e n c e
a s in d is p u ta b le h i s t o r i c a l f a c t s .
Now i t d o e s n o t l i e
w i t h i n t h e sc o p e o f t h i s work t o r e f u t e i n d e t a i l E i s l e r ’ s
1
o p i n io n s r e g a r d i n g J e s u s ; a few re m a rk s , h o w e v e r, w i l l n o t
be o u t o f p l a c e .
I t h a s a l r e a d y b e e n shown t h a t no w e ig h t
c a n be a t t a c h e d t o t h e S la v o n ic F ra g m e n ts on w h ic h E i s l e r
b u i l d s h i s im p o s in g t h e o r i e s , an d ex am p les h a v e b e e n g iv e n
o f h i s u n c r i t i c a l m eth o d s i n d e a l i n g w ith t h e G o sp el t e x t s .
A c c o r d in g ly , i t i s n e c e s s a r y t o c o n s i d e r h e r e o n ly w h a t,
on E i s l e r ’ s own a d m is s io n , i s t h e k e y s to n e o f h i s t h e o r y
r e g a r d i n g t h e M e s s ia L s h ip o f J e s u s .
J e s u s , l i k e Jo h n t h e B a p t i s t , E i s l e r s t a t e s , b e lo n g e d
t o t h e w a y f a r in g R e c h a b ite c l a s s .
D i s i l l u s i o n e d and home­
l e s s , t h e s e i t i n e r a n t c r a f ts m e n , d e sc e n d e d fro m J a r e d ,
m arked w ith a common s i g n ("f") w i t h t h e i r r a n k s com posed o f
p e o p le who had come down i n t h e w o r ld , w ere b i t t e r l y opp o sed
t o t h e Roman g o v e rn m e n t, and e a g e r l y a w a ite d t h e l e a d e r s h i p
o f a t r u e s c io n o f D avid t o r e - e s t a b l i s h t h e g l o r i e s o f t h e
h o u se o f I s r a e l .
” 325 i t
s u r p r is in g th e n ” , E i s l e r w r ite s ,
1 . I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e l i t e r a t u r e c i t e d on p*2.T » s e e a l s o
D ra g u e t: Revue d ’H i s t o i r e E c c l ^ s i a s t i q u e . X x v i, 1930,
p p . 8 5 3 -8 7 9 : B ra u n : Revue B i b l i q u e . x l . 1 9 3 1 , p p .3 4 5 -3 6 3 ;
Groguel: o p . o i t . . a p p e n d ix , p p .2 9 9 f f .
302.
" t h a t i n one o f t h e s e so n s o f D a v id ,th e b lo o d o f t h e o ld
a d v e n t u r e r and f r e e b o o t e r , v i c t o r i o u s i n b a t t l e an d r i s e n
t o be K in g o f I s r a e l , s h o u ld h a v e s t i r r e d up a g a i n an d
d r i v e n t h i s p o e t and d rea m er ( J e s u s ) t o s t e p f o r t h from
t h e d a rk l i f e
i n w h ic h he l i v e d t o p r o c la im i n t h i s tim e
o f t h e d e e p e s t h u m i l i a t i o n o f h i s p e o p le a re n e w a l o f t h e
a n c i e n t g l o r y th r o u g h a m ir a c l e o f God im m e d ia te ly im pend­
i n g ? ” ’*’
T h u s, f o r E i s l e r , t h e c o n s c io u s n e s s o f J e s u s o f
h i s M e s s ia h s h ip i s t o be e x p la in e d n o t by a n e x p e r ie n c e a t
h i s b a p tis m , b u t e n t i r e l y b y p o l i t i c a l and s o c i o l o g i c a l
c o n s id e ra tio n s .
F o r two im p o r ta n t r e a s o n s t h i s t h e o r y seem s t o be
u n a c c e p ta b le .
F i r s t , t h e r e i s no c l e a r e v id e n c e t h a t
J e s u s e v e r p r o c la im e d h i m s e l f t o be th e Son o f D a v id , a s
th e th e o ry p re -s u p p o s e s .
T h a t t h i s was t h e b e l i e f n o t o f
J e s u s h i m s e l f b u t o f t h e d i s c i p l e s and t h e e a r l y C h r i s t i a n
com m unity i s t h e im p r e s s io n w h ic h a c a r e f u l p e r u s a l o f t h e
so u rc e s a f f o r d s .
A t Mk. 1 2 :3 5 J e s u s s a y s ,
’How do t h e
s c r i b e s s a y t h a t t h e C h r i s t i s a Son o f D a v id ? ’
The i m p l i ­
c a t i o n seem s t o be t h a t t h e s c r i b e s w ere w rong, and t h a t ,
i n M a rk ’ s o p i n io n , J e s u s , w h ile b e in g t h e M e s s ia h , d id n o t
c la im t o be t h e Son q f D a v id .
th e t i t l e
I f i t be f e l t , h o w e v er, t h a t
i s t o o d e e p ly r o o t e d i n C h r i s t i a n t r a d i t i o n t o
1 . E i s l e r : o p . c l t . . p p .3 2 6 -3 2 7 .
303.
h a v e a r i s e n u n l e s s i t h ad a c t u a l l y b e e n u se d b y J e s u s
h i m s e l f , i t m ig h t be p o s s i b l e t o e x p l a i n t h e Marca*p
p a s s a g e a s i n d i c a t i n g t h a t a lth o u g h J e s u s d id i n f a c t ,
c a l l h i m s e l f Son o f D a v id , he was n o t Son o f D avid i n t h e
p o p u la r s e n s e , b u t Son o f D avid i n t h e l i g h t o f t h e S e r v a n t
p a s s a g e s i n I s a i a h . ’*’
B ut t h i s i s im p r o b a b le .
The i d e n t ­
i f i c a t i o n o f J e s u s w ith t h e Son o f D avid b e lo n g s t o t h e
l a t e r s t r a t a o f t h e G o s p e ls and t h e e a r l i e r c h a p t e r s o f
A c t s , and n e i t h e r a t Mk. 1 0 :4 7 n o r a t 1 1 :1 0 , d o e s J e s u s
a p p e a r t o have c l e a r l y a c c e p te d t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n made by
B a r tim a e u s and t h e crow d.
T h e re seem s t o b e , t h e n , no
r e a l p r o o f t h a t J e s u s h i m s e l f l a i d c la im t o D a v id ic , i . e .
ro y a l d e s c e n t.
g
S e c o n d , E i s l e r p r e s e n t s no c o n v in c in g
a rg u m e n t t h a t J e s u s a n y m ore t h a n J o h n b e lo n g e d t o th e
R e c h a b ite c l a s s .
I t h a s a l r e a d y b e en i n d i c a t e d t h a t t h e s e
p e o p le a s a d i s t i n c t c l a s s w ere p r o b a b ly no l o n g e r i n
e x i s t e n c e i n t h e f i r s t c e n tu r y A .D .,
and e v e n i f t h e y w e re ,
w hat e v id e n c e i s t h e r e t h a t J e s u s was one o f them ?
The
f a c t t h a t t h e g e n e a lo g y o f J e s u s i n L k. 3 :3 7 i s t r a c e d b a ck
t o J a r e d , t h e c a r p e n t e r , whom E i s l e r assu m e s t o be t h e
a n c e s t o r o f th e R e c h a b it e s , p ro v e s n o t h in g , b e c a u s e , a s
J a c k p u t s i t , " t h e r e m ust have b e e n th o u s a n d s o f h i s d e s 1 . C f.R a w lin s o n : G o sp e l o f M ark, p p . 174, 256; T.W .M anson:
The T e a c h in g o f J e s u s , p . 2 6 6 . n o te 2 .
2* C F T lle ic k io n a n O I a E iT o p . c i t . , I , i , p p .3 6 4 -3 6 6 .
3* C h a p te r IV , p .Z Z ^ - 2 ^ 5 ,
304.
I
c e n d a n ts i n t h e tim e o f J e s u s who w ere n o t nom ads, h u t
w ere d w e llin g l i k e o t h e r s i n to w n s and v i l l a g e s and e n ­
gaged in e s ta b lis h e d t r a d e s . ” 1
E q u a lly i n c o n c l u s i v e i s
h i s a tte m p te d i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f t h e t r i b a l s i g n o f t h e
R e c h a b it e s ,
(w h ic h , h e s u p p o s e s , t h e y assum ed on t h e b a s i s
o f E x e k .9 : 4 ) , w i t h t h e c r o s s w h ich J e s u s b a d e h i s f o l l o w e r s
ta k e .
§
T h e re i s no e v id e n c e t h a t J e s u s t o l d h i s f o l l o w e r s
t o m ark th e m s e lv e s w ith a c r o s s .
S t i l l l e s s c o n v in c in g i s
t h e l i n e o f c o n n e c tio n w h ic h he a tt e m p t s t o draw b e tw e e n
t h e R e c h a b ite s a n d J e s u s on t h e g ro u n d o f t h e i r common
p r a c t i c e o f d i v i n a t i o n and h e a l i n g .
No o n e , u n l e s s , l i k e
E i s l e r , he had a p r e - c o n c e iv e d t h e o r y t o p r o v e , w ould
e v e r im a g in e t h a t J e s u s was a R e c h a b ite b e c a u s e he w ent
ab o u t h e a lin g .
I f t h e n , on h i s own a d m is s io n , E i s l e r c a n
e x p l a i n h i s v ie w o f t h e M e s s ia h s h ip o f J e s u s o n ly on t h e
g ro u n d s t h a t J e s u s p ro c la im e d h i m s e l f t o be t h e Son o f D av id ,
and b e lo n g e d t o t h e d i s p o s s e s s e d so n s o f I s r a e l , and i f h i s
a rg u m e n ts i n s u p p o rt o f t h e s e c o n t e n t i o n s a r e v o id o f p r o o f ,
t h e n he c a n n o t e x p e c t anyone t o b e e n t h u s i a s t i c o v e r h i s
a r b i t r a r y a l t e r a t i o n s and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f t h e G o sp e l
1* The H i s t o r i c C h r i s t . p * 2 5 6 .
2. i ff «
(LXXT i n E x e k .9 :4 p r o b a b ly m eans - a to te m ic
s i g n o r i d e n t i t y m ark t o be p la c e d on t h e f o r e h e a d , n o t
n e c e s s a r i l y l i k e a c r o s s , b u t r e s e m b lin g t h e s i g n s commonly
p la c e d on s to n e w o rk .
3 . The M e s s ia h J e s u s , p p . 3 2 8 -3 2 9 .
305
t e x t s in su p p o rt o f h is th e o r y .
e s t h e re .
T h ese a r e n o t o f i n t e r ­
S u ffic e i t to say t h a t th e in d is p u ta b le re c o rd
o f t h e s e t e x t s g o e s t o show t h a t t h e th o u g h t* and t h e t e a c h ­
in g o f J e s u s w ere e s s e n t i a l l y n o n - p o l i t i c a l .
I f th e in ­
t e r p r e t a t i o n a l r e a d y g iv e n o f t h e B a p t i s t ’ s m i n i s t r y i s
c o r r e c t , J e s u s c e r t a i n l y d id n o t r e c e i v e fro m J o h n , a s
E i s l e r im a g in e s , a n y i n c e n t i v e t o a tte m p t r e v o l u t i o n a r y
m e th o d s .
In d e e d , th e n o n - p o litic a l a tt i t u d e o f J e s u s ,
w h ic h a p p e a r s on p r a c t i c a l l y e v e ry page o f t h e G o s p e ls ,
may p e r h a p s hav e b e e n i n t e n s i f i e d by th e d eep im p r e s s io n
w h ic h he g a in e d fro m th e n o n - p o l i t i c a l t e a c h i n g o f t h e
B a p t i s t a s c o n t r a s t e d w ith th e f i e r y p o l i t i c a l p ro p a g a n d a
o f th e Z e a lo ts .
C e r t a i n l y J o h n ’ s o u tlo o k chim ed i n
a d m ir a b ly w ith J e s u s * o w n 'v ie w s , and l i k e J o h n , J e s u s
s t r o v e , w h e n ev e r n e c e s s a r y , t o d i s c r e d i t t h e id e a t h a t he
was i n an y way a p o l i t i c a l M e s s ia h .’*'
I m p o r ta n t a s t h e s e c o n s i d e r a t i o n s a r e , i t i s p o s s i b l e ,
p e r h a p s , t o t r a c e a much m ore d i r e c t l i n e o f c o n n e c tio n
b e tw e e n t h e th o u g h t o f Jo h n a n d t h e th o u g h t o f J e s u s .
N ot
o n ly d id J e s u s anno u n ce a n o n - p o l i t i c a l M e s s ia h s h ip , b u t
t h e Kingdom o f w h ich he sp o k e was f o r h im , a s f o r J o h n ,
n o t i n i t s e l f a n e t h i c a l o r m o ra l v a l u e , b u t a n e s c h a t o l o g i c a l Kingdom , i n w h ich e t h i c a l , m o r a l and s p i r i t u a l
1 . C f. J n . 6 : 1 5 .
306.
v a lu e s w o u ld o p e r a t e .
The f i r s t w ords ofL J e s u s ’ own
m i n i s t r y , a s r e p o r t e d b y M atth ew , a r e a n echo o f J o h n ’ s ,
1
’R ep en t ye f o r t h e Kingdom o f h e av e n i s a t h a n d . ’
I t is
v e r y s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t M ark a d d s ,
’B e lie v e i n t h e G o s p e l’ .
I t s h o u ld b e r e a l i s e d , o f c o u r s e , t h a t h e r e th e E v a n g e l­
i s t s a r e g i v in g o n ly t h e b a r e s t summary o f o u r L o r d ’ s
p r im a r y m e s s a g e , b u t i n v ie w o f t h e f a c t t h a t t h e M arcan
summary s e t s f o r t h so a d m ir a b ly t h e e s s e n c e o f h i s t e a c h ­
i n g , i t i s h a rd t o b e l i e v e t h a t M ark i s n o t p r i m i t i v e .
I t can s c a r c e l y be due t o t h e d e s i r e o f t h e E v a n g e l i s t t o
add so m e th in g new t o t h e m essag e o f J e s u s a s com pared w ith
2
J o h n ’ s , o r i n o t h e r w o rd s , t o a n t e - d a t e t h e G o s p e l.
It
i s n o t e a s y t o a g r e e w ith th o s e who on t h e s t r e n g t h o f
M atth ew ’ s t e x t r e g a r d t h e i n i t i a l s t a g e s o f t h e m i n i s t r y
o f J e s u s a s i d e n t i c a l w ith t h a t o f J o h n .
E ven a lth o u g h
i t be a d m itte d t h a t t h e M arcan a d d i t i o n i s n o t p r i m i t i v e ,
and t h a t t h e word ’G o s p e l’ i s u sed i n i t s P a u lin e s e n s e
d e n o tin g ’ s a l v a t i o n by C h r i s t ’ , s u r e l y i t
i s a r b itr a r y to
t a k e su c h a t e r s e summary a s i s g iv e n h e r e a s i n d i c a t i n g
th e w hole c o n te n t o f t h e th o u g h t o f J e s u s a t th e s t a r t o f
h is m in is try .
T h e re i s , h o w ev er, no c o m p e llin g n e c e s s i t y
t o u n d e r s ta n d t h e word ’G o s p e l’ i n t h i s way.
At f i r s t ,
’G o s p e l’ m ean t sim p ly ’good t i d i n g s * and o n ly l a t e r was i t
1 . Mk. 1 :1 5 s M a tt. 4 : 7 .
2 . So G o g u e l: o p . c i t . . p p . 2 4 3 -2 4 5 .
307.
s p e c i a l i s e d t o d e n o te ’t h e e s s e n t i a l s o f C h r i s t i a n t r u t h * ,
o r ’s a lv a tio n by C h ris t* .
J e s u s , t h e r e f o r e , may w e ll h av e
u se d a n A ram aic word m e a n in g ’good t i d i n g s ’ w h ic h was
r e n d e r e d by t h e G re e k w ord e u o ty y ^ X io v .
O nly b y r a t h e r
s t r a i n e d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s c a n t h e e x p r e s s i o n be r e g a r d e d i n
M ark ’ s G o s p e l w h e re v e r i t a p p e a rs a s a l a t e r a d d i t i o n a n d
a vox t e c h n ic a l
w ord
C^uite a p a r t fro m t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f th e
i t i s n o t easy t o b e lie v e th a t J e s u s in
h i s p u b l i c m i n i s t r y , w h ic h l a s t e d n o t m ore t h a n a l i t t l e
o v e r tw o y e a r s a t t h e l o n g e s t , r a d i c a l l y a l t e r e d o r d e v e lo p ­
e d i n t h i s p e r i o d t h e e s s e n t i a l c o n te n t o f h i s th o u g h t t o
c o v e r i d e a s a b o u t t h e lo v e an d p r o v id e n c e o f God w hich had
h i t h e r t o b e en u n f a m i l i a r t o h im .
J e s u s d id n o t b e g in
h i s m i n i s t r y t i l l he was c e r t a i n o f t h e e x a c t n a t u r e w h ich
h i s t e a c h i n g a b o u t God s h o u ld t a k e .
F or th e s e re a so n s ,
t h e r e f o r e , i t would seem t h a t fro m t h e v e ry f i r s t th e
m essa g e o f J e s u s c o n ta in e d c e r t a i n o r i g i n a l and d i s t i n c t i v e
e le m e n ts , and was n o t , e v e n a t t h e o u t s e t , a d i r e c t c o n ti n ­
u a t i o n o f t h e B a p t i s t ’ s te a c h i n g i n a l l i t s a s p e c t s .
T h is
c o n s i d e r a t i o n , h o w e v er, m ust n o t o b s c u re th e f a c t t h a t i n
c e r t a i n o f i t s a s p e c t s i t was a d i r e c t c o n t i n u a t i o n o f t h e
B a p t i s t ’ s th o u g h t, and i t
i s im p o r ta n t t o r e a l i s e , t o b e g in
w ith , t h a t t h e e s c h a t o l o g i c a l v iew o f t h e Kingdom fo im e d
one o f t h e s e a s p e c t s . ______________________
1 . C f.H a rn a c k : The C o n s t i t u t i o n and Law o f t h e C h u rc h ,
p p .3 3 2 f f .
__
308
T h a t J e s u s i d e n t i f i e d t h e Kingdom w i t h t h e Age t o
Gome i s v e r y c l e a r i n t h e s t o r y o f t h e r i c h young r u l e r
who a s k e d J e s u s w hat he m ust do t o i n h e r i t e t e r n a l l i f e . ’*’
J e s u s h ad e him s e l l h i s p o s s e s s i o n s an d g i v e t o t h e p o o r ,
h u t t h i s , t h e r u l e r was n o t p r e p a r e d t o d o , b e c a u s e he
w as v e r y r i c h .
T hen J e s u s s a i d ,
*How h a r d l y s h a l l t h e y
t h a t h a v e r i c h e s e n t e r i n t o t h e Kingdom o f G o d .T
The
Kingdom o f God i s h e r e r e g a r d e d a s t h e s p h e r e i n w h ich
e te rn a l l i f e
e x i s t s , an d a s e v e ry good J e w is h t h i n k e r
lo o k e d upon t h e Age t o Come a s t h i s p a r t i c u l a r s p h e r e , one
can h a rd ly e sc a p e th e c o n c lu s io n t h a t J e s u s i s i d e n t i f y 2
in g t h e Kingdom w ith t h e Age t o Come.
T he s e q u e l m akes
t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a l l t h e m ore l i k e l y in asm u ch a s J e s u s
c o n t r a s t s t h e re w a rd s o f t r u e d i s c i p l e s h i p
i . e . h e r e a n d now, w ith t h o s e
f i n t h i s t i m e 1,
Ti n t h e w o rld t o com e1, i . e .
i n t h e Age t o Come, o r i n t h e Kingdom .
The e s c h a t o l o g i c a l
v iew o f t h e Kingdom i s a l s o a p p a r e n t i n t h e i n j u n c t i o n ,
*And i f t h i n e eye o f f e n d t h e e , p lu c k i t o u t; i t i s b e t t e r
f o r t h e e t o e n t e r i n t o t h e Kingdom o f God w ith one ey e
3
th a n h a v in g two e y e s t o he c a s t i n t o h e l l - f i r e * , i n t h e
w a rn in g ,
*Not e v e r y one t h a t s a i t h u n to me, L o rd , L o rd ,
4
s h a l l e n t e r i n t o t h e Kingdom o f h e a v e n 1 , i n t h e f u r t h e r
w a rn in g ,
1.
2.
3.
4.
TAnd I sa y u n to you t h a t many s h a l l come fro m th e
M k .l 0 : 1 7 f f . s L k . 1 8 : 1 8 f f .
C f. L ake and C ad b u ry : o p . c i t . , I , i , p . 2 8 1 .
Mk. 9 : 4 3 .
M a tt. 7 : 2 1 .
309.
e a s t and w e st and s h a l l s i t down w i t h Abraham a n d I s a a c
an d J a c o b i n t h e Kingdom o f h e a v e n b u t t h e c h i l d r e n o f t h e
kingdom s h a l l be c a s t o u t i n t o o u t e r d a rk n e s s * ^ an d i n t h e
d e s c r i p t i o n o f ju d g m e n t,
fCome, ye b l e s s e d o f my F a t h e r ,
i n h e r i t t h e Kingdom p r e p a r e d f o r you fro m t h e f o u n d a t i o n
o f th e w o r ld .'
2
M ore d i f f i c u l t a r e c e r t a i n o t h e r p a s s a g e s ,
b u t t h e r e i s n o th in g i n an y o f them w h ich d e f i n i t e l y
c l a s h e s w ith t h e u s u a l e s c h a t o l o g i c a l s t a n d p o i n t .
P ro m i­
n e n t among t h e s e a r e (a ) M k . 4 : l l ; J e s u s s a y s t o h i s d i s ­
c ip le s ,
'U n to you i s g iv e n t o know t h e m y s te ry o f t h e K in g ­
dom o f G o d .'
I t i s t r u e t h a t h e r e t h e Kingdom seem s t o
d e n o te a n e t h i c a l v a l u e , b u t t h e s a y in g can s c a r c e l y be
p rim itiv e .
The word 'm y s te ry * a p p e a r s now here e l s e i n t h e
G o s p e ls , an d i s u se d a s a t e c h n i c a l te rm i n t h e P a u l i n e s
and t h e A p o c a ly p s e .
V e r s e s 1 0 -1 2 hav e e v e ry a p p e a ra n c e o f
b e in g a p a tc h w o rk a d d i t i o n , i n t e r r u p t i n g t h e e x p o s i t i o n o f
t h e p a r a b l e o f th e Sow er ( 2 b - 9 ) , a n d t h e e x p l a n a t i o n o f i t ,
3
( 1 3 - 2 0 ) . E i t h e r i t may be su p p o se d w ith W e llh a u se n t h a t
v e r s e s 1 0 -1 2 a r e a n i n t e r p o l a t i o n , o r b e t t e r , t h a t h e re
“t h e E v a n g e l i s t h i m s e l f h a s com bined a t h e o r y o f t h e
'm y s te r io u s * c h a r a c t e r o f p a r a b l e s , w hich came t o him
from c u r r e n t C hurch t r a d i t i o n , w ith a c o n te x t to w h ic h i t
4
was o r i g i n a l l y f o r e i g n . "
(b) M k.4 : 2 6 - 2 9 ; J e s u s s a y s ,
1.
2.
3.
4.
M a t t . 8 :1 1 s L k .1 3 :2 9 .
M a tt.2 5 :3 4 f f .
Das E v an g e liu m M a r c i, p p . 3 2 -3 3 .
R a w lin so n : o p . c i t . , p . 57; c f . Dodd: The P a r a b l e s o f t h e
Kingdom , p . I F . "
----------------------------------
310.
•The Kingdom o f God i s a s i f a man th ro w s s e e d on t h e
e a rth .
He s l e e p s and r i s e s n i g h t and d a y and t h e s e e d
s p r o u t s up an d g ro w s, he knows n o t how.
T he e a r t h b r i n g s
T o r th o f h e r s e l f , f i r s t , t h e b l a d e , t h e n , t h e e a r , a f t e r
t h a t t h e f u l l c o rn i n t h e e a r .
When t h e g r a i n i s r i p e ,
h e im m e d ia te ly se n d s t h e r e a p e r s , f o r t h e h a r v e s t i s r e a d y . '
Commenting on t h i s p a r a b l e , B ultm ann w r i t e s , "Much a
p a r a b l e m u st n o t be i n t e r p r e t e d i n t h e l i g h t o f m odern
c o n c e p tio n s o f 'n a tu r e * and 'e v o l u t i o n *.
I f we n eed p r o o f
t h a t we m ust l a y a s i d e o u r m odern v ie w p o in t i n o r d e r t o
u n d e r s ta n d s u c h a s a y in g i n t h e s e n s e o f p r i m i t i v e C h r i s ­
t i a n i t y , l e t u s c o n s id e r a v e ry s im ila r p a ra b le o f th e
e a r ly C h ris tia n tr a d itio n .
*0 you f o o l s , c o n s i d e r a
p l a n t , a g r a p e - v i n e , f o r e x a m p le .
F irs t,
i t sh e d s t h e o ld
l e a v e s , t h e n t h e young s h o o ts s p r o u t , t h e n l e a v e s , th e n
^ flo w e rs, t h e n t h e g re e n g r a p e s ; f i n a l l y , t h e r i p e g r a p e s
e p p e a r.
You se e how q u i c k l y t h e f r u i t i s r i p e .
E ven so
q p io k ly an d s u d d e n ly w i l l G o d 's judgm ent come, a s th e
S c rip tu re t e s t i f i e s :
■ tarry:
He w i l l come q u i c k l y and w i l l n o t
s u d d e n ly th e L ord w i l l come t o h i s te m p le , t h e
H o ly One f o r whom you w a i t .
(1 C lem ent 2 3 : 4 , 5 ) . "
T he
p o i n t o f t h e p a r a b l e o f J e s u s , th e n , i s t h a t j u s t a s t h e
h a r v e s t comes upon men a lm o s t u n a w a re s, so w ith e q u a l
1 . J e su s and th e Word, pp. 3 6 -3 7 .
311
s u d d e n n e s s s h a l l t h e e s o h a t o l o g i e a l Kingdom a p p e a r .
M k .lQ :1 4 ;
Jesu s say s,
’S u f f e r t h e l i t t l e
c h ild r e n to
come u n to me; do n o t f o r b i d them ; f o r o f su c h i s t h e K ing­
dom o f God.
Y e r i l y I s a y u n to y o u , w h o so ev er s h a l l n o t
r e c e i v e t h e Kingdom a s a l i t t l e
th e r e in ,1
c h ild , s h a ll not e n te r
I n t h i s s a y in g t h e Kingdom i t s e l f i s n o t
i d e n t i f i e d w ith th e i m p l i c i t f a i t h o f c h i l d r e n :
ra th e r,
men m u st a c c e p t w ith i m p l i c i t f a i t h th e te a c h i n g o f J e s u s
r e g a r d i n g t h e Kingdom .
The Kingdom w i l l be com posed o f
t h o s e who so a c c e p t h i s t e a c h i n g ,
(d ) M k .l2 :5 4 ; ’And when
J e s u s saw t h a t t h e s c r i b e a n sw e red d i s c r e e t l y , he s a i d u n to
him : Thou a r t n o t f a r from t h e Kingdom o f G o d .’
The
d i s c r e e t n e s s o f th e s c r i b e ’ s an sw e r showed t h a t he was n o t
f a r fro m p o s s e s s i n g t h e q u a l i f i c a t i o n s n e c e s s a r y f o r p a r ­
t i c i p a t i o n i n t h e Age t o Come,
Onee m o re, t h e r e a p p e a r s
t o b e no i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f t h e Kingdom i t s e l f w ith a n
e t h i c a l v a lu e .
(e ) M a t t . 5 : 3 ; J e s u s s a y s ,
’B le s s e d a r e
t h e p o o r i n s p i r i t , f o r t h e i r s i s t h e Kingdom o f h e a v e n .’
By t h i s , J e s u s p r o b a b ly m eant t h a t , ev en now, t h o s e who
p o s s e s s a p r o p e r h u m i l i t y o f s p i r i t , a r e show ing a q u a l i t y
w hich w ould c e r t a i n l y be o p e r a t i v e i n t h e Age t o Come.
(f) M a tt.6 :3 8 : J e s u s s a y s ,
’S e e k y e f i r s t t h e Kingdom o f
God, and h i s r i g h t e o u s n e s s , and a l l t h e s e t h i n g s s h a l l be
added u n to y o u . 1
T h is s a y in g , i n p a r t i c u l a r , m ig h t s u g g e s t
t h a t t h e Kingdom i s a m o ra l v a l u e , h u t t h i s n eed n o t he
th e c a se .
What J e s u s m e a n t, p e r h a p s , was t h a t men m ust
s e t t h e i r m in d s f i r s t and fo re m o s t on t h e com ing o f t h e
Kingdom , and i n v ie w o f i t s a p p ro a c h , t h e y m ust c o n c e n t r a t e
1
on t h e r i g h t e o u s n e s s e s s e n t i a l f o r e n t r y t h e r e i n .
J e s u s , t h e n , l i k e J o h n , seem s t o hav e a n n o u n ced t h e
a p p ro a c h o f a n e s c h a t o l o g i c a l Kingdom, o r i n o t h e r w o rd s ,
a C onsum m ation, i n w hich God w ould r e i g n a l l i n a l l .
B ut
t h e a f f i n i t y b e tw e e n t h e two t e a c h e r s d id n o t s to p t h e r e .
I f Jo h n was s i l e n t a s t o t h e c o n d i t i o n s e x i s t i n g i n t h e
Kingdom , J e s u s , i n t u r n , m a in ta in e d a s i m i l a r r e s e r v e .
He
p a i n t e d no e l a b o r a t e p i c t u r e s o f t h e Kingdom n o r d id he
e n c o u ra g e s p e c u l a t i o n on t h e p o i n t .
dom
The n a t u r e o f t h e K in g ­
was q u i t e beyond human pow er t o g r a s p , and th e d e s ­
c r i p t i o n s o f t h e Kingdom i n t h e A p o c a ly p tic books f i n d s no
p la c e i n t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s .
T h a t t h e c o n d it i o n s i n t h e
Kingdom d e f i e d t h e im a g in a tio n o f man i s im p lie d i n t h e
s a y in g :
fF o r when t h e y s h a l l r i s e from th e d e a d , t h e y n e i t h e r
1* At M a t t . l 6 : 1 3 f f . , th e Kingdom i s i d e n t i f i e d w ith th e
C h u rch . The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n d o e s n o t seem t o be a g e n u in e
s a y in g o f J e s u s , b u t r e f l e c t s t h e p o i n t o f v iew o f t h e
p r i m i t i v e C h u rc h . The same c r i t i c i s m a p p l i e s , p e r h a p s , to
th e P a r a b l e s o f t h e T a r e s and t h e D ra g n e t i n C h a p te r 1 3 .
As t h i s w ork i s c o n c e rn e d p r i n c i p a l l y w ith Jo h n t h e
B a p t i s t , i t i s n o t i n p l a c e h e re t o e n la r g e on th e v a rio u s
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s w h ic h h av e been g iv e n t o a l l t h e s e s a y ­
in g s and p a r a b l e s o f J e s u s . The p r e s e n t w r i t e r sim p ly
s t a t e s h i s own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , a s he h a s re a c h e d i t , a ftfe r
due c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f d i f f e r e n t s h a d e s o f o p in io n .
313.
m a rry n o r a r e g iv e n i n m a r r ia g e b u t a r e a s t h e a n g e l s
w h ich a r e i n h e a v e n . E l s e w h e r e ,
2
in g and d r i n k i n g i n t h e K ingdom .
J e s u s speak s o f e a t C l e a r l y , h o w e v e r, J e s u s
p i c t u r e d t h e Kingdom a s b e in g u s h e re d i n by f e a r f u l con­
v u l s i o n s o f n a t u r e , a s m a rk in g t h e s t a r t o f a New Age o f
p r o s p e r i t y , a n d , above a l l ,
o f human l i f e .
a s s i g n a li s i n g th e re n o v a tio n
W hether t h i s p i c t u r e i s t o be u n d e r s to o d
s y m b o l ic a l l y , w h e th e r J e s u s drew i t
i n t h e la n g u a g e o f
c o n te m p o ra ry t h o u g h t, b e c a u s e he l i v e d an d moved i n t h e
a tm o s p h e re o f s u c h i d e a s , w h e th e r t h e fram ew ork i n w h ic h
i t i s s e t i s no lo n g e r v a l i d , e a c h m u s t, i n t h e l a s t r e ­
s o r t , d e c id e f o r h i m s e l f .
I t i s e asy to o v e r s tr e s s th e
a p o c a l y p t i c e le m e n t i n t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s , b u t i t
is
p e r h a p s ev en m ore te m p tin g t o e f f a c e i t q u i t e u n d u ly , b e ­
c a u s e a p o c a l y p t i c i d e a s b e lo n g t o a w o rld o f th o u g h t d i f f e r ­
e n t fro m o u r own.
P e r h a p s t h e b a la n c e may be h e ld by
o b s e r v in g t h a t , w h ile t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s was p la c e d
w i t h in a n a p o c a l y p t i c fra m e w o rk , w h ic h c a n n o t b e , and d a re
n o t b e, in a l l j u s t i c e d is re g a rd e d , th e a p o c a ly p tic e le ­
m e n ts c o n s t i t u t e d o n ly t h e fram ew ork, and n o t t h e l i v i n g
p i c t u r e , t h e t r u e g e n iu s o f C h r i s t i a n i t y .
w h e re .
T hat la y e l s e ­
F o r t h e p r e s e n t p ro b le m , h o w ev er, i t i s im p o r ta n t
to o b s e rv e t h a t t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s r e g a r d i n g t h e com ing
1.Mk.1 2 :2 5 .
2.M k.1 4 :2 5 = M a t t . 2 6 :2 9 ;
L k .2 2 :1 8 .
*
o f t h e Kingdom seem s t o h av e b e e n n o t g r e a t l y d i f f e r e n t
fro m J o h n ’ s , a n d i n t h e r e j e c t i o n o f a p o c a l y p t i c s p e c u l a ­
t i o n a s t o t h e e x a c t c o n d i t i o n s o f t h e New Age t h e r e i s a
v e r y re m a rk a b le s i m i l a r i t y .
A t t h i s p o i n t r e f e r e n c e may be made t o t h e t o t a l l y
d i f f e r e n t e s t i m a t e o f c e r t a i n m odern w r i t e r s , o f whom O tto
may be t a k e n a s a n e x a m p le .
A c c o rd in g t o O t t o , t h e K ing­
dom i n t h e th o u g h t o f J e s u s i s t o be r e g a r d e d n o t a s t h e
C onsum m ation i n w h ich God w i l l r e i g n a l l i n a l l , b u t a s
" d y n a m is , t h e i n b r e a k in g m ir a c u lo u s pow er o f t h e t r a n s ­
c e n d e n t, t h e i n b r e a k in g pow er o f God i n t o s a l v a t i o n .
su ch , i t
As
i s o p e r a t i v e i n t h e e x o r c i s t dynam is o f i t s
m e s s e n g e r, and e q u a l l y i n t h e e x o u s ia and c h a r i s o f h i s
p re a c h in g .
He h i m s e l f i s c h a r i s m a .”
1
T h u s, w h e re a s
Jo h n s to o d s t r i c t l y i n th e l i n e o f l a t e r J e w is h a p o c a l y p t i c ,
th e th o u g h t o f J e s u s i s t o be t r a c e d b ack t o t h e a n c i e n t
A sura r e l i g i o n i n w hich Kingdom s i g n i f i e s ” pow er an d m ig h t
c o e r c iv e r u l i n g pow er . . . w h ich c o n q u e rs e n e m ie s and o p p o s­
i t i o n s , w h ic h i s c a p a b le o f m ig h ty w o rk in g , and w h ich ,
e s p e c i a l l y a s d i v i n e pow er c a n r e g u l a t e f a s h i o n and c r e a t e . "
T h is i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s i s a n in g e n io u s
o n e , p a r t i c u l a r l y s o , i n v ie w o f t h e many r e f e r e n c e s t o th e
2
315.
s u c c e s s o f J e s u s i n c a s t i n g o u t dem ons, and i n v ie w o f
t h e m o d ern te n d e n c y t o
" m ira c le s ” .
seek a r a t i o n a l e x p la n a tio n o f th e
I t i s t r u e t h a t e x o rc is m a s a f e a t u r e o f
J e s u s ’ a c t i v i t y h a s , in th e p a s t , n o t b een s u f f i c i e n t l y
s t r e s s e d , b u t , on t h e o t h e r h a n d , i t w ould seem t h a t O tto
t e n d s t o o v e r s t r e s s i t and t o a t t r i b u t e undue im p o rta n c e
t o w h at was a n o t u n f a m i l i a r p r a c t i c e i n t h e tim e s o f
J e s u s , a n d a s u f f i c i e n t l y w e ll a t t e s t e d phenom enon i n t h e
a n n a ls o f p s y c h o lo g ic a l h e a lin g .
W ith o u t a tt e m p t i n g a
d e t a i l e d c r i t i c i s m o f O t t o ’ s t h e s i s , th e p r e s e n t w r i t e r
f e e l s t h a t w h ile i t i s p o s s i b l e t o r e g a r d J e s u s a s a n
i t i n e r a n t c h a r i s m a t i c p r e a c h e r , and t h e Kingdom a s a n
in b r e a k in g d y n a m is, t h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n d o es n o t im p ro v e
i n a n y way upon t h a t a l r e a d y a d o p te d .
On r e l i g i o -
h i s t o r i c a l l i n e s i t i s q u ite le g itim a te to reg a rd J e s u s ,
j u s t l i k e o t h e r w o n d e r-w o rk e rs o f t h a t e r a , th o u g h , p e r h a p s ,
i n a u n iq u e s e n s e , a s a w a n d e rin g e x o r c i s t , b u t i t
is not
c l e a r w h e th e r su ch an a n s w e r w i l l s a t i s f y th e dem ands o f
fa ith .
A c c o r d in g ly , a s t h e r e a r e no d i f f i c u l t i e s i n th e
way o f r e g a r d i n g J e s u s ’ t e a c h i n g o f t h e Kingdom a s b e in g
i n l i n e w ith J o h n ’ s , i t
seem s p r e f e r a b l e to t a k e t h e v iew
t h a t f o r J e s u s t h e Kingdom was t h e g ra n d Consum m ation o r
th e R e ig n o f God, w h ic h f a i t h a w q its , t h e g ra n d Consumma-
316.
t i o n o f t h e p u r p o s e s o f God, w h ic h , how ever lo n g d e la y e d ,
s h a l l n o t be f i n a l l y f r u s t r a t e d #
Now i f t h e t e a c h i n g o f J e s u s r e g a r d i n g t h e com ing
o f t h e Kingdom was n o t g r e a t l y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t o f
J o h n , e v e n m ore r e m a r k a b le was t h e a g re e m e n t on t h e
m em b ersh ip o f t h e Kingdom .
I m p l i c i t i n t h e th o u g h t o f
J o h n , i f n o t e x p l i c i t i n h i s t e a c h i n g , was t h e b e l i e f
t h a t t h e Kingdom w ould be open t o a l l men i r r e s p e c t i v e
of rac e.
t h i s v ie w .
th e s a y in g ,
T h e re c a n b e no d o u b t t h a t J e s u s h i m s e l f h e ld
The c l e a r e s t e x p r e s s io n o f i t a p p e a r s i n
'T h e re s h a l l be w eep in g and g n a s h in g o f t e e t h
when y o u se e Abraham and I s a a c an d J a c o b and a l l t h e
p r o p h e t s i n t h e Kingdom o f God, and y o u r s e l v e s c a s t o u t .
From e a s t an d w e s t, fro m n o r t h a n d s o u th , men w i l l come
an d w i l l s i t down t o e a t i n t h e Kingdom o f God.*
1
B u lt-
m ann, who r e j e c t s t h e id e a t h a t t h e Kingdom i n t h e th o u g h t
o f J e s u s was a u n i v e r s a l Kingdom , h o ld s t h a t t h e w ords
j u s t q u o te d " m e re ly a s s e r t t h a t t h e c h o se n p e o p le and i t s
2
h e r o e s h e ld t h e c e n t r a l p la c e i n t h e K ingdom ."
E ls e ­
w h e re , h e w r i t e s , " J e s u s to o k f o r g r a n te d a s d id h i s
c o n te m p o r a r ie s , t h a t t h e Kingdom was t o come f o r t h e b e n e 2
f i t o f t h e J e w is h p e o p l e ."
I t i s d i f f i c u l t , ho w ev er, t o
1 . L k .1 3 :2 8 -2 9 = M a t t .8 : 1 1 - 1 2 .
2 . J e s u s and t h e Word, p . 4 5 .
3 * O P ^-clt. ^ p . 4 3 .
317.
a g r e e w ith t h e s e s t a t e m e n t s .
I t is tr u e jth a t a c e rta in
c o lo u r i n g i s g i v e n t o them b y t h e w ords p u t on t h e l i p s
o f J e s u s i n M a t t . 1 9 :2 8 ,
'V e r i l y I s a y u n to you t h a t you
who h av e f o llo w e d m e, i n t h e r e g e n e r a t i o n when t h e Son
o f Man s h a l l s i t i n t h e t h r o n e o f h i s g l o r y , you s h a l l
a l s o s i t on tw e lv e t h r o n e s , ju d g in g t h e tw e lv e t r i b e s o f
I s r a e l.'
A lth o u g h t h i s s a y in g b e lo n g s t o Q, i t i s
d o u b t f u l w h e th e r su c h a p ro m is e g o e s b a c k t o J e s u s .
t h e M arcan p a r a l l e l
1
In
no r e f e r e n c e i s made t o t h e p ro m is e ,
an d a t 1 9 :2 9 M atthew i s c l e a r l y d raw in g upon Mark f o r
t h e g e n e r a l p ro m is e o f re w a rd f o r d i s c i p l e s h i p .
But
w h e re a s i n M ark t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c J e w is h d i s t i n c t i o n
b etw een re w a rd i n k in d i n t h i s w o rld and re w a rd i n
e te rn a l l i f e
i n t h e Age t o Gome i s d u ly k e p t , t h i s d i s ­
t i n c t i o n i s d ro p p e d i n M a tth e w , and J e s u s i s r e p r e s e n te d
a s p ro m is in g re w a rd i n k in d i n t h e r e g e n e r a t i o n , o r t h e
Age t o Come.
I t i s s c a r c e l y l i k e l y t h e r e f o r e t h a t th e
p ro m is e o f t h r o n e s o f judgm ent t o t h e T w elve was made
by J e s u s h i m s e l f ;
m ore p r o b a b ly i t r e f l e c t s th e hope
o f t h e p r i m i t i v e com m unity i n w h ich t h e Tw elve w ere f i r s t
c h o se n .
P e r t i n e n t a l s o i s t h e J e w is h e m p h asis a t M a tt.
1 0 : 5 ,6 , w h ere J e s u s b i d s h i s d i s c i p l e s ,
'Go n o t i n t o t h e
way o f t h e G e n t i l e s , and e n t e r n o t i n t o a n y c i t y o f t h e
1 . 1 0 :2 8 f f .
318
S a m a r i ta n s , b u t go r a t h e r t o t h e l o s t sh e e p o f t h e h o u se
of I s r a e l.’
I n t h e L u can p a r a l l e l
1
th e s e r e s t r i c t i v e
i n s t r u c t i o n s a r e o m itte d b u t i n L u k e ’ s c a s e t h e o m is s io n
c o u ld be e x p la in e d by t h e f a c t t h a t h i s G o sp el was i n ­
te n d e d f o r G e n t i l e r e a d e r s .
I f t h i s i s s o , M atthew may
b e d ra w in g upon Q f o r t h i s s a y in g , an d t h e w ords may be
p r i m i t i v e , and n o t due t o t h e J e w is h c o lo u r in g o f M a tth e w ’ s
G o s p e l.
The r e s t r i c t i v e e le m e n t a p p e a r s a l s o i n M a t t.
1 5 :2 4 i n t h e s t o r y o f t h e S y r o p h o e n ic ia n woman an d i n
M a t t . 1 0 :3 3 i n t h e s a y in g ,
’B ut when t h e y p e r s e c u t e you
in t h i s c i t y , f l e e in to th e n e x t.
I t e l l y o u , you s h a l l
n o t h av e gone th r o u g h t h e c i t i e s o f I s r a e l t i l l t h e Son
o f Man c o m e s .’
B ut i t
seem s q u i t e a r b i t r a r y t o d e d u ce
fro m a n y o f t h e s e p a s s a g e s t h a t J e s u s was l i m i t i n g t h e
2
m em bership o f t h e Kingdom .
The p r o h i b i t i o n o f p r e a c h in g
t o t h e G e n t i l e s was q u i t e i n c o n fo r m ity w ith t h e h i s t o r ­
ic a l s itu a tio n .
J e s u s f e l t t h a t h i s f i r s t d u ty was f o r
h i s own p e o p le .
The tim e was s h o r t and he c o u ld su c c e e d
o n ly b y c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f e f f o r t .
But he d id n o t im p ly
t h a t t h e Kingdom was f o r t h e J e w is h p e o p le o n ly , n o r
ev en t h a t t h e Jew s by v i r t u e o f t h e i r d e s c e n t w ould h o ld
p r i v i l e g e d p o s i t i o n s i n t h e Kingdom.
For Jesu s, as fo r
1. 9 :1 -6 .
2 . The s a y in g i n L k .1 2 :3 2 , ’F e a r n o t l i t t l e f l o c k f o r i t
i s y o u r F a t h e r ’ s p l e a s u r e t o g iv e you th e K ingdom ’ ,
s h o u ld T io tb e in te rp re te d i n a r e s t r i c t i v e s e n s e , b u t i n
t h e l i g h t o f L k .6 :2 0 , ’B le s s e d a r e you p o o r , f o r y o u rs
i s t h e Kingdom o f h e a v e n . *
319.
John, th e Kingdom would be a u n iv e rsa l Kingdom and i f
John had f a i l e d to make t h is p e r fe c tly c le a r , Jesus was
n e v e r th e le ss in thorough sympathy w ith the B a p t is t ’ s
e f f o r t s to do so , and he h im self made e x p lic it the
u n iversalism la te n t in th e B a p t is t ’s tea ch in g .
Of paramount s ig n ific a n c e i s th e s t r e s s which both
Jesus and John la id upon th e n e c e s s it y of immediate r e ­
pentance in view o f the coming o f th e Kingdom.
T his de­
mand i s in te g r a l to the whole o f th e tea ch in g of J esu s,
and fin d s very c le a r ex p ressio n in L k .l3 : l, ’At th at time
some people came to inform him about th e G alila ea n s whose
blood P ila t e had mingled w ith th e ir s a c r if ic e s .
But
Jesus r e p lie d : Do you th in k th a t th e se G alilaean s are
worse sin n ers than th e r e s t o f th e G alila ea n s because
th ey su ffered th is ?
No, I t e l l you.
I f you do not r e ­
pent you w i l l a l l p e r ish , in th e same w a y .’
This warn­
ing echoes th e i n i t i a l words o f h is m in istr y , *Repent,
fo r the Kingdom o f heaven i s at hand’ , and the warning
i s repeated again and again w ith the most unmistakable
earn estn ess throughout th e whole course o f h is tea ch in g .
Thus, in L k .6 : 4 6 f f ., Jesu s sa y s, ’Why do you c a l l me,
Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?
Every one, who
comes t o me and hears my words and does them, X. s h a ll
320.
show you what he i s l i k e .
He i s lik e a man who b u ilt a
house, who dug deep, and made i t s foundation upon a rock.
When th e flo o d came th e r iv e r hurled i t s e l f a g a in st th a t
house, but could not shake i t because o f i t s firm str u c ­
tu r e.
But he who hears my words and does them not i s lik e
a man who b u ilt a house upon earth w ithout fou n d ation .
The r iv e r hurled i t s e l f upon i t , and at once the house
c o lla p se d , and great was th e ruin o f th a t h o u s e .1
Again,
in M a tt.7:14, ’Narrow i s the gate and s t r a it th e way
th a t le a d s to l i f e , and few th ere be who fin d i t ’ , and
to th e woman who cried out to J esu s, ’Happy i s th e womb
which bore you and th e breast which gave you su ck ’ , Jesus
r e p l ie s , ’Rather, happy are th ey who hear th e word o f God
1
and keep i t . ’
A s im ila r thought i s expressed in Mk.
3:35, ’Whosoever does the w ill o f God i s my brother and
s i s t e r and m other’ , and th e demand fo r in sta n t d e c is io n
seems to be the r e a l point o f the parable of th e Great
Supper.
In th e lig h t o f th e se paswages, i t i s im possible
to m inim ise th e c lo s e connection in the thought o f Jesus
between repentance and th e Kingdom.
The Kingdom i s lik e
a p ea rl o f great p r ic e 2 or lik e trea su re hidden in a
f i e l d , fo r which a l l e ls e must be renounced, ahel repentance must m anifest i t s e l f in in sta n t a c tio n .
1 . L k .1 1 :2 7 -2 8
3 . M a tt.1 3 :4 4 .
2 . M a tt.1 3 : 4 5 - 4 6 .
Indeed, i t
321.
i s d i f f i c u l t not to thin k th a t Jesus I s employing the
imagery, which he had heard th e B a p tist employ, in
th e se words in the Sermon on th e Mount, ’Every good tr e e
b rin geth fo r th good f r u it ; but a corrupt t r e e b rin geth
fo r th e v i l f r u i t .
Every tr e e th a t b rin geth not fo r th
good f r u it i s hewn down, and cast in to the f i r e . Where1
fo r e by t h e ir f r u it s ye s h a ll know th em .’
Compare
John’s words, fEvery tr e e th a t bringeth not fo r th good
f r u it i s hewn down and ca st in to the f i r e ’ , and ’Bring
fo r th th e refo re f r u i t s worthy o f r e p e n ta n c e .’
2
I t may
fee th a t Jesus employs more o f the imagery o f John than
3
i s r e a lis e d .
M att.23:33 look s very lik e an echo of
John’s , *Ye se rp en ts, ye gen era tio n o f v ip e r s , how can
you escape th e damnation o f h e l l ? ’ - w h ile i t i s ju st
p o ssib le th a t c e r ta in o f th e B ea titu d es, and p o ssib ly
p a rts o f th e Lord’ s prayer may have been suggested by
h is tea ch in g .
But t h i s i s u n certa in .
What does appear
to be c e r ta in , however, i s th a t Jesus had been much
impressed by th e c lo se c o llo c a tio n in John’ s thought o f
the Kingdom and th e n e c e s s it y o f immediate repentance
sin ce t h is very c o llo c a tio n i s fundamental to the teach ­
ing o f Jesu s h im s e lf.
1. M att.7 :1 7 ,1 9 ,2 0 .
2 . M att.3 :1 0 ,8 . "
3 . Cf. B.W eiss: Das Matth&usevangelium, p . 105.
322.
F in a lly , i t might be argued w ith some p l a u s i b i l i t y
th a t the t i t l e Son o f Man which Jesu s a p p lied to h im self
was suggested by i t s use by John in r e fe r r in g to the
Coming One.
U n fortu n ately, much o b scu rity surrounds
t h i s t i t l e and attem pts have been made to deny i t s use
by Jesu s both on l i n g u i s t i c grounds and as incom patible
w ith the f a c t s o f h is l i f e .
I t i s unnecessary to d is ­
cuss th e se arguments in d e t a il h ere.
I t may be s a id ,
however, th a t the t i t l e seems too deep ly rooted in th e
1 .
Gospel t r a d itio n to be anything but p r im itiv e .
As E .F .
S co tt puts i t , "The evidence seems to prove unm istakably
th a t not o n ly was i t used by J esu s,
but th a t i t impressed
i t s e l f on th e memory of h is d is c ip le s a s one o f h is
c h a r a c te r is tic term s."
2
What i s o f more in t e r e s t , how­
ev er, i s th e meaning o f th e t e m as employed by J e su s.
I t i s su ggested th a t th e exp ression " is the f in a l term in a
s e r ie s o f co n cep tio n s, a l l o f which are found in the Old
Testament.
These a re: the Remnant ( I s a ia h ), the Servant
o f Jehovah ( I I I s a ia h ), the ’ I* o f th e Psalm s, and the
Son o f Man (D an iel) . . . .
The Son o f Man i s , lik e th e
Servant o f Jehovah, an id e a l fig u r e and stands fo r the
m a n ifesta tio n o f the Kingdom o f God on earth in a people
1. I t occurs 69 tim es in the S y n o p tics, 12 tim e s-in th e
Fourth G ospel.
2. The Kingdom and th e M essiah, p .194.
323.
1
w holly devoted t o t h e ir heavenly K ing.1*
Whether t h i s
in gen iou s in te r p r e ta tio n can he accepted w i l l depend
t o a la r g e ex ten t on th e view taken as to th e tea ch in g
o f Jesus regarding th e Kingdom.
But q u ite apart from
t h i s , i t i s not improbable th a t th e o ld er exp lan ation i s
c o r r e c t, v i z . , th a t th e ex p ressio n i s an in d iv id u a l one,
and i s connected in the thought o f Jesus w ith the b u f f e r ­
ing Servant* of Isa ia h and w ith the a p o ca ly p tic n otion o f
th e Son o f Man as Judge, and th e Instrument through which
th e Kingdom would be inaugurated.
In O tto ’s words, **This
phrase bore such emphasis in c i r c l e s fa m ilia r w ith th e
Book o f Enoch, th a t when mention was made o f 'the man,
w ith a s s o c ia tio n s o f the judgment . . . th e words ’Son o f
Man’ had th e fo rce o f a t i t l e ; and when an e s c h a to lo g ic a l
preacher spoke o f the coming o f the Son o f Man and o f
h is judgment, i t was known whom he meant, v i z . , the king
in th e coming w orld .”
2
When i t i s r e c a lle d th a t th e
B a p tist h im self was thoroughly steeped in the a p o ca ly p tic
lit e r a t u r e , and when i t i s borne in mind th a t th e Coming
One fo r him was e s s e n t i a lly Judge, i t would sc a r c e ly be
too much to assume th a t John may have applied the t i t l e
Son o f Man to the Messiah he en visaged .
I t i s true that
T.W.Manson: The Teaching o f J e s u s , p .227.
2. Otto: The Kingdom o f Goa and th e Son o f Man, p .226.
O tto, however7 develops t h i s idea in an ingenious way
o f h is own. For a c r it ic is m o f O tto’s theory and T.W.
Manson’s view , cf.V .T a y lo r: Jesus and His S a c r if ic e ,
pp.21-28.
324.
t h i s t i t l e does not occur in th e fragm entary records
o f h is tea ch in g , hut support i s g iven t o th e idea hy
th e fa c t th a t Jesus never used th e t i t l e o f h im self be­
fo re h is unequivocal avowal o f h is M essiahship a t Caesarea
1
P h ilip p i.
Up to t h is p oin t Jesu s was ap p aren tly un­
w illin g to s t a t e c le a r ly th a t he was M essiah.
Hence
h is avoidance o f a t i t l e which presumably h is prede­
c e sso r had fa m ilia r is e d w ith i t s M essianic co n n o ta tio n s.
Now th e remarkable a f f i n i t y between th e thought o f
Jesu s and th e thought o f John, which has been traced
up to t h i s p o in t, su g g e sts, perhaps, two th in g s;
fir s t,
th a t Jesus had moved in John’s c i r c le fo r a very consid era b lep erio d b efore the beginning o f h is own m in istr y .
During t h is p eriod J esu s, w ithout a c tu a lly becoming a
d is c ip le o f John in th e f u l l sense o f th e word, was pro­
foundly im pressed by th e thought and the teach in g o f th e
B a p tis t.
I t was in t h i s same p eriod , however, th a t
Jesus seems t o have f e l t th a t th e tea ch in g o f John was
in c e rta in o f i t s a sp ects inadequate.
H is a ss o c ia tio n
with John enabled him t o estim a te very p r e c is e ly wherein
ex a c tly th e B a p t is t ’ s str e n g th and weakness la y .
Thus
i t was th a t when Jesus began h is own m in istr y he r e i* In M k.2:10, 2 :2 8 , Son o f Man i s almost c e r ta in ly a m is­
tr a n s la tio n fo r ’man’ . For a d isc u ssio n o f t h is su b je c t,
o f. T.W.Manson: o p i c i t . , p p .211-236; Jackson & Lake:
o p .c i t . . I , i , p p ,3 7 8 ff•
325.
emphasised on th e one hand th o se a sp e c ts o f h is prede­
c e s s o r ’ s thought which chimed in com p letely w ith h is
own, w h ile , on th e other hand, he e ith e r supplemented or
d iscarded th o se a sp e c ts which seemed t o him t o be e ith e r
wanting in fu ln e s s or w holly unnecessary.
I t should be
r e a lis e d , however, - and t h i s co n sid era tio n i s o f th e
utmost importance - th at Jesus* estim a te o f th e B a p t is t ’s
stren g th and weakness was completed b efore th e opening
o f h is own m in is tr y .
The m in istr y o f J esu s was d is t in c ­
t i v e and new from th e very o u ts e t, and i t should not be
imagined th a t i t was a d ir e c t co n tin u a tio n o f John’s in
a l l i t s a s p e c ts .
Such an assum ption would not only be
untrue to the Gospel record s, but would do in j u s t ic e t o
th e unique p e r s o n a lity o f J e s u s.
However much Jesus
was in sympathy w ith th e B a p t is t ’ s thought, he struck
from th e f i r s t a d iff e r e n t n o te , which fundam entally d is ­
tin g u ish e d h is tea ch in g from th a t o f h is p red ecesso r.
The second p oint suggested i s , th a t although th e B a p tist
did not prepare h is hearers to fin d th e Messiah in J esu s,
he n e v e r th e le ss did prepare h is hearers to a considerable
ex ten t fo r c e r ta in elem ents in th e teaching o f J esu s.
It
i s not easy, however, to agree mdth B e r n o id lli th a t
C h r is tia n ity would be more e a s ily conceived w ithout Jesus
1
th a n w ith o u t ciohn t h e B a p tis t , y e t i t i s tr u e t h a t a_____
Johan nes d er T iu f e r , p . 1 0 4 .
326.
study o f John’s tea ch in g makes more in teJL ligib le th e
e s c h a to lo g ic a l elem ents in the Gospel o f J e su s.
John
had emphasised w ith p e c u lia r in t e n s it y th e approach o f
th e Age to Come;
he had in s is t e d upon p erson al change
o f l i f e as e s s e n t ia l fo r p a r tic ip a tio n in t h is New Age;
he had, moreover, im plied th a t th e Kingdom would not be
lim ite d , but u n iv e r sa l in i t s scope, and had thus a n t i­
cip ated the view which Jesus developed to i t s f u l l e s t
e x te n t.
In a l l th e se ways John had prepared h is audience
fo r th e message o f J e su s.
As Goguel puts i t , "John had
form ulated very a c u te ly the r e lig io u s problem: How w i l l
man stand on th e day o f Judgment?
Jesus h im se lf and
th e f i r s t C h ristia n m issio n a r ie s posed th e problem in
the same way.**^
But Jesus had a f u l l e r and deeper answer
to g iv e t o t h i s problem than John, and i t must now be
asked wherein the d is tin c tiv e n e s b o f th e tea ch in g o f
Jewus la y .
For by attem pting an answer to t h is q u estion ,
i t may be p o s s ib le t o throw fu rth er lig h t upon th e re­
la t io n s o f John th e B a p tist and J e su s.
I t was sta ted above th a t Jesus supplemented c e r ta in
asp ects o f John’s tea ch in g where th ey were la ck in g in
fu ln e s s .
Thus, to begin w ith , w h ile agreeing with John
that th e Kingdom la y in the fu tu r e , Jesus f e l t th a t h is
own work was so p e c u lia r ly bound up w ith the Kingdom th a t
J e a n - B a p t is t e . p . 2 9 5 .
327.
he could p ic tu r e i t alm ost as a lread y beginning.
A l­
ready Satan i s overthrown, fI saw Satan f a l l lik e l i g h t ­
ning from heaven*1 , *If I by th e fin g e r o f God d rive out
2
demons, th en th e Kingdom o f God i s come unto you. *
Once
more, th e pub licans and h a r lo ts go in to th e Kingdom b efore
3
th e s e lf- r ig h t e o u s , and men do not understand th a t the
4
la s t hour has come.
Yet in none o f th e se sayin gs does
Jesus c le a r ly imply th a t th e breaking in o f the Kingdom
in i t s s t r i c t and o r ig in a l sense a s th e Reign o f God had
alread y taken p la c e .
And i t i s ju s t h ere, perhaps, th a t
th e l a t e s t phase o f in te r p r e ta tio n o f the tea ch in g o f
Jesus regarding th e Kingdom might la y i t s e l f open to
c r it ic is m ,
O tto, fo r in sta n c e, puts great s t r e s s upon
th e sayin g s ju st quoted, and fin d s in them s u f f ic ie n t
evidence t o support h is theory th a t fo r Jesus the Kingdom
5
was a p resen t r e a l i t y , an **inbreaking dynamis**.
T.W.
Manson th in k s th a t whereas ”the Kingdom i s where God*s
w ill i s done on earth as i t i s in heaven” ,
on earth may be a lso d efin ed as
en visages God as t h e ir Kingin th e
6
the Kingdom
”a community whose f a it h
sen se that he and he
alone i s t h e ir p r o te c to r , guide, and le g is la t o r :
and
whose r u le o f l i f e i s summed up in complete lo y a lt y , t r u s t,
1.
3.
5.
6.
L k.10:18; c f . M k.3:27.
2 . Lk. 1 1 :2 0 .
M att.21 :3 1 .
4 . Mk.13:28, Lk.1 2 :5 4 -5 6 .
The Kingdom o f God and th e Son of Man, p p .97-112.
The Teaching o f J e s u s , p .2 1 1 .
388.
and obedience to God t h e ir K ing.”
1
Both th e se concep­
t io n s , he h old s, were in te g r a l to th e thought o f J e su s.
O tto’ s opinion i s based upon a p sy c h o lo g ic a l in te r p r e ­
t a tio n o f th e tea ch in g o f Jesus which, as alread y s ta te d ,
does not seem to th e p resen t w r ite r to be w holly a ccep t­
a b le:
T.W.Hanson’ s op inion depends m ainly upon what i s
perhaps a rath er hard and f a s t d iv is io n o f th e tea ch in g
o f J esu s regarding the Kingdom in to two d is t in c t p h ases,
(a) th e sowing o f th e word o f th e Kingdom, and (b) the
en terin g in to the Kingdom, th e p oin t o f d iv is io n ta k in g
p lace p r e c is e ly at th e moment o f P e te r ’ s co n fessio n at
Caesarea P h ilip p i.
Prom th a t tim e th e Kingdom i s a
present r e a l i t y , and i s id e n tic a l w ith th ose who fo llo w
C hrist a l l the way, i . e . th e Remnant.
2
Now although
t h is in te r p r e ta tio n i s p o s s ib le , i t seems doub tfu l whether
the evidence can support the w eight o f th e argument im­
posed upon i t .
I t i s not p e r fe c tly c le a r th a t a d e f in ite
change in J e s u s ’ tea ch in g regarding th e Kingdom took p lace
a f te r Caesarea P h ilip p i.
I f th ere be a change, i t would
seem th a t a l l Jesus im p lies i s th a t he f e l t more in te n s e ly
than b efore how c lo s e ly h is own work was bound up w ith
the b ringing in o f th e fu tu re Kingdom, and hence th e p ress­
ing n e c e s s it y fo r men to accept h is Word w holeheartedly.
O p .o lt. . p .195.
O p .o it. . chapters V and V II.
329.
For i f men would only rep en t, God would do the r e s t .
Nor
i s i t c e r ta in th a t a r ig id d is t in c t io n can always be drawn
between th e terms ’Kingdom1, ’the Day’ , ’Parousia o f th e
Son o f Man’ , ’Coming o f th e Son of Man’ in such a way a s
to detach th e f i r s t from the oth ers and to tr e a t i t a s a
p resen t r e a l i t y .
These exp ression s o fte n appear to be
in terchan geab le and in e x tr ic a b ly lin k ed to g e th e r , d esp ite
a l l th a t has been w r itte n to th e con trary.
What does
seem to be c le a r , however, i s th a t in th e thought o f
Jesus in flu e n c e s were a lrea d y at work which would f i n a l l y
overthrow th e Kingdom o f Satan, and ensure th e triumph
o f th e Kingdom o f God.
But, as y e t, s t r i c t l y speaking,
the fu ln e s s of th e Reign o f God la y in th e fu tu r e.
Nor
does th ere seem t o be any genuine tr a d itio n th a t Jesus
h im self id e n t if ie d th e Kingdom i t s e l f w ith a community
o f people in t h i s world.'*'
C erta in ly th e community of
th ose who accepted h is Word would be members o f th e King­
dom, and t h e ir part i s to persuade oth ers to repent in
preparation fo r God’s R eign.
But between the Kingdom
i t s e l f and i t s members, th ere i s a c le a r d is t in c t io n ,
which has not always been m aintained.
The Kingdom i t s e l f
1. Even th e examples c ite d o f t h is id e n t if ic a t io n being
in te g r a l to Jewish thought in gen eral are la t e or in ­
c o n c lu siv e . Of. O esterley: The Gospel P a ra b les, p p .2021; T.W.Manson: o p . c i t . . p p .130-141.
330.
i s th e Reign o f God, i t s members, th o se who a f t e r endur­
ance and c o n f lic t w ith the fo r c e s o f E v il both in t h i s
l i f e and very probably in th e n ex t, w i l l f i n a l l y come
under th e Reign o f God, when God i s a l l in a l l .
It is of
paramount importance fo r men to begin the c o n f lic t at
once, to d ecid e fo r th e good, to grasp th e Truth, and so
to d eclare them selves here and now fo r membership in th e
future Kingdom o f God, whose Truth Jesus r e v e a ls .
T h is
seems to be a l l th a t Jesus teach es in th e se sa y in g s.
No­
th in g more seems to be intended than a very v iv id drama­
t i s a t i o n o f an even t, th e r e a l g lo ry o f which la y in th e
fu tu r e .
T h is i s made c le a r in L k .l7 :2 0 ff, ’Now th e
P h arisees demanded when the Kingdom o f God should come,
and Jesu s sa id : The Kingdom does not come by observation ;
nor s h a ll men say, LookJ here i t i s j , nor, Look! th ere
i t i s ! fo r the Kingdom (even w hile you are arguing about
i t ) , i s in your m id st*’*'
In other words, c e r ta in ty o f
the fu tu re Reign o f God has already broken in upon th e
world in th e Person and the Teaching o f J esu s.
The Word
o f Jesu s i s th e guarantee o f th e Kingdom, and t h is fa c t
can be grasped on ly by th o se who accept the Word o f Jesus
’
\
c
*
1. £vroS
, A crux in te rp re t urn. Two tr a n s la tio n s
are p o s s ib le , ’w ith in you*, or ’among you’ , and both
are capable o f d iff e r e n t shades o f in te r p r e ta tio n , ac­
cording to th e view adopted regarding J e s u s ’ tea ch in g
o f the Kingdom elsew h ere. The present w r it e r ’s own in ­
te r p r e ta tio n i s in d ica ted in the t e x t . For other view s,
see T.W.Manson, o p . c i t . . p .125, note 1; C.H.Dodd: op.
c i t . , p .84, note I .
331.
as Truth.
Indeed, in t h i s sa y in g , i t seems to he th e
v i t a l l y important connection between th e Reign o f God and
th e Word o f i t s d iv in e Messenger which i s u n d erlin ed .
The
Word o f Truth i s already come to th e world and e t e r n a lly
r e v e a ls th e c e r ta in ty o f God’s Reign, and on ly by grasp­
in g the tr u th o f th e Word o f Jesus can men p erceiv e t h e ir
d e stin y and decide fo r sharing in th e Kingdom.
In t h i s
r e s t r ic te d se n se , i t would seem, i t i s p o s sib le to speak
o f nr e a lis e d esch a to lo g y " .
must l i v e w ith th e King­
dom in t h e ir th ou gh ts, ’Take ye heed; watch and pray, fo r
1
you know not what th e time i s . ’
Moreover, Jesus seems
to have expected th a t t h is world would form part o f the
sphere o f th e r e a lis a t io n o f th e Kingdom, and he thereb y
gave a new o r ie n ta tio n t o th e idea o f th e Age to Come,
which h ith e r to seems to have im plied th e a n n ih ila tio n o f
the p resen t world and the beginning o f a new.
A pparently,
to o , Jesus expected the denoument before the end o f th a t
gen eration , ’V e r ily I say unto you th a t t h is generation
2
s h a ll not pass away before a l l th e se th in g s be a cco m p lish ed .’
This may b est be exp la in ed , as Rawlinson puts i t , ”by the
su p p osition th a t the psychology o f h is human mind was akin
3
to th a t o f the p ro p h ets’ , but th e v iv id dram atisation o f
the Kingdom appears to suggest very stro n g ly th a t during
1. Mk.13:33; M att.2 4 :4 2 , 25:13;
2 . Mk.13:30; c f . M k .9:l.
3. Gospel o f Mark, p .192.
L k.12:40, 2 1:34.
332.
h is a s s o c ia tio n w ith John, Jesus became in c r e a sin g ly
con sciou s o f h is v o ca tio n a s M essiah.
O therw ise, i t i s
hard to understand how he p ic tu r e s th e Kingdom alm ost as
a p resent r e a l i t y in v ir tu e o f h is own work.
Again, i t i s evident th a t w hile J esu s, lik e John,
in s is t e d upon repentance as a p reparation fo r th e Consum­
m ation, Jesu s deepened and extended the idea o f repentance
q u ite beyond John’s horizon o f thought.
For John, i t
i s tr u e , repentance was to be from the h ea rt, but appar­
e n tly he f a ile d to en u nciate p r e c is e ly how t h i s was to be
ach ieved .
way.
J e su s, on th e other hand, c le a r ly showed the
For him, repentance meant nothing l e s s than a
renewal o f th e whole moral nature o f man by obedience to
the w ill o f God, and fundamental to t h is obedience, were
1
the q u a lit ie s o f lo v e and fo r g iv e n e s s .
A dm ittedly, in
h is in s is t e n c e upon obedience to th e w i l l o f God as em­
bracing th e d u tie s of lo v e and fo r g iv e n e s s, Jesus was not
announcing a theory u n p a r a lle lle d in th e b est Rabbinic
thought o f h is tim e, and i t i s f a t a l l y easy to draw to o
sharp a con trast between th e thought o f Jesus and the
teach in g o f th e Rabbis.
But, as fa r as John i s concerned,
the d is t in c t io n i s a c u te , and John’ s f a ilu r e to enunciate
a s a t is f a c t o r y and thorough-going p r in c ip le o f moral re­
1 . M a t t .5 : 4 3 - 4 8 ; 1 8 :2 1 ;
L k .6:36#
333
form ation may be la r g e ly explained by b is on e-sid ed view
o f th e fu n c tio n s o f th e M essiah.
For John, th e M essiah
would be p r in c ip a lly a p i t i l e s s Judge, whose c h ie f fun c­
t io n would be condemnation.
For J esu s, the M essiah was
a m ercifu l Judge, who would not only condemn but sa v e.
Thus when J esu s began h is own m in istr y th ere was in i t a
new elem ent.
While not m inim ising th e j u s t ic e o f God and
th e anger o f God, he brought in to g re a te r prominence th e
mercy o f God and the lo v e o f God, and he showed how th e se
a ttr ib u te s could be r e c o n c ile d .
Hence h is in s is te n c e
th a t men, in t h e ir turn, should show lo v e and fo r g iv e ­
n ess towards o th e rs, fo r by the e x e r c is e of th ese qual­
i t i e s men are tr u ly obedient to Godrs w i l l .
In t h i s
way, Jesus gave fundamental content to h is programme of
human renew al, and u n lik e John, enunciated a thorough­
going p r in c ip le by which the programme might be carried
ou t.
But th e thought o f Jesu s regarding repentance went
even deeper than t h i s .
Whereas John had announced th a t
the repentance demanded by h is baptism would ensure th e
a ccess of men t o th e Kingdom, Jesus declared th at no
m atter to what exten t men repented th e y were not thereb y
e n t itle d by r ig h t to en ter th e Kingdom.
For J esu s, even
the repentant sin n er i s s t i l l Godfs debtor, and can make
334
no claim o f h is own upon th e fo rg iv en ess, o f God,
God’s
fo r g iv e n e ss i s a fr e e g i f t , and a s such can on ly be
accep ted , and not demanded by men as a reward fo r v irtu o u s
a c t io n s .
A whole s e r ie s o f parables and sayin gs i l l u s ­
t r a t e t h i s con cept.
I t i s very c le a r in th e sto r y o f
the P h arisee and the t a x - c o lle c t o r , ’Two men went up to
the Temple to pray, th e one, a P h a r ise e, the o th e r , a
t a x - c o lle c t o r .
The P harisee stood up and prayed, God,
I thank th e e , th a t I am not as other men, t h ie v e s , e v i l ­
d oers, a d u lte r e r s , or even lik e t h is t a x - c o lle c t o r .
I
f a s t every week and g iv e a ten th o f a l l th a t I g e t .
But
the t a x - c o lle c t o r stood at a d ista n c e and would not even
l i f t up h is ey e s,b u t beat h is b reast and s a id , God have
mercy on me, a s in n e r .
rath er than the oth er.*
I t e l l you, he went home j u s t if ie d
1
In t h i s sto ry the P harisee i s
reproved by Jesu s fo r making an e x h ib itio n o f h is v ir tu e ,
and consequently, fo r not r e a lis in g the true nature o f
the fo rg iv e n e ss o f God.
The t a x - c o lle c t o r , on the other
hand, i s commended fo r p erceiv in g th e u tte r h e lp le s sn e ss
o f h is p o s itio n before God and fo r accep ting God’s fo r ­
g iv e n e ss as a fr e e g i f t .
A gain, in M att. 18:23-35, the
parable o f th e m e r c ile ss c r e d ito r shows very p la in ly th a t
even though one man fo r g iv e s the oth er, he i s not thereby
1 . L k .1 8 : 1 0 - 1 4 .
335
e n t it le d to God’ s pardon.
Often th e poor and humble are
th e f i r s t to p erc eiv e th a t God’ s fo r g iv e n e ss i s a fr e e
g ift,
’T ruly, I t e l l you, t a x - c o lle c t o r s 1and h a r lo ts ,
1
s h a ll en ter th e Kingdom o f God before you’ and again ,
’B lessed are ye poor, fo r yours i s the Kingdom o f G od,’
2
As Bultmann puts i t , ’’A ll th e se words are d irected a g a in st
th o se who cannot r e a lis e what God’ s grace and fo r g iv e n e ss
a re, who do not understand th at man can re ce iv e God’s
goodness only as a g i f t and th a t, th e r e fo r e , i t i s only
3
the sin n er who r e a lly knows what grace i s . ”
I t i s un­
n ecessary to d isc u ss by what p sy ch o lo g ica l p rocess Jesus
arrived at t h i s c o n v ic tio n .
U ltim a tely such a concept i s
e x p lic a b le on ly in the m ystery o f h is P e r so n a lity .
More
important i s i t to grasp th a t by th e en u n ciation o f t h i s
co n v ic tio n Jesu s did not m inimise in any way the a b so lu te
n e c e s s ity o f th e repentance o f man as co n d itio n a l for h is
p a r tic ip a tio n in th e Kingdom; ra th er, repentance must be
extended to cover the idea th a t God’ s fo r g iv e n e ss i s a
fr e e g i f t .
Thus, w hile fo r John, the Kingdom was a t t a in ­
ab le by man’ s e f f o r t s a lo n e , fo r J esu s, the Kingdom was
e s s e n t ia lly a g i f t o f God.
In Goguel’s words, ’’John
thought th a t th e i n i t i a t i v e o f sa lv a tio n comes from men,
sin ce i t i s th ey who wish to fin d th e prophet and sin ce
1 . M a t t .2 1 : 2 8 - 3 1 .
3 . J e s u s and t h e Word, p . 2 0 6 .
2 . L k .6 :2 0 .
i t i s by th e ir repentance th a t they w i l l escape judgment.
In th e Gospel, on th e con trary, th e f i r s t step i s taken
by th e Envoy o f God who c a l l s sin n ers and goes to them.
S a lv a tio n does not come from men, but s o le ly from God
who g iv e s h is pardon and opens th e way to th e Kingdom.
There seems to be l i t t l e doubt th a t during h is a ss o c ­
ia t io n w ith John Jesus p erceived very a c u te ly the inade­
quacy o f the B a p t is t ’ s view o f the M essiah and repentance,
and i t i s p r e c is e ly t h is which ex p la in s, in p a rt, the
u ltim ate sep aration o f Jesus from him.
But t h i s , per­
haps, was not th e so le reason fo r h is departure from John.
Not m erely did c e r ta in p arts o f th e B a p tis t’ s teach in g r e ­
quire supplem enting, but c e r ta in of h is p r a c t ic e s . i f what
immediately fo llo w s has any claim to h i s t o r i c i t y , appeared
to Jesus unnecessary.
To th e se a tte n tio n may now be
g iven .
With regard to the B a p t is t ’ s a ttitu d e to the Law, i t
was pointed out th a t th ere i s no evidence th a t John ever
c r it ic is e d th e Law.
On th e contrary, he appears to have
enjoined upon h is d is c ip le s th e customary Jew ish f a s t s as
la id down by the Law.
J esu s, on the other hand, imposed
no such r u le s on h is d i s c i p l e s , and the oon trast between
the fa stin g o f John’ s d is c ip le s and the n o n -fa stin g o f
Jre a n -B a p tiste . p .269.
337.
J e s u s 1 d is c ip le s was a h o tly debated t o p ic .
1
Indeed,
Jesus h im self drew a tte n tio n t o the d is t in c t io n .
1John
came n e ith e r ea tin g nor drinking and th ey say, He hath
a d e v il.
The Son o f Man came e a tin g and drinking and
th ey say, Behold a w in e-bib b er, a g lu tto n , and a fr ie n d
o f p u b lican s and s in n e r s .’
2
What i s th e exp lan ation o f
t h is remarkable d iffe r e n c e of p ra ctice?
Surely i t i s
n o t, as i s sometimes supposed, th a t Jesus intended to se t
a sid e th e Law!
’Think not th a t I am come to d estro y th e
Law or th e prophets.
fu lfil.
I am not come to d estro y , but to
For v e r ily , I say unto you, T i l l heaven and
earth p a ss, one jo t or t i t t l e s h a ll in no w ise pass from
3
th e Law t i l l a l l be f u l f i l l e d . ’
T h is saying i s p a r ti­
c u la r ly illu m in a tin g .
I t i l l u s t r a t e s , on the one hand,
the con serv a tiv e a ttitu d e o f Jesus towards the Law, and,
on th e o th er, th e new and f u l l e r in te r p r e ta tio n he pro­
posed t o g iv e to i t .
J esu s came not to d estroy th e Law
but to f u l f i l i t , i . e . to f i l l the Law f u l l , to r e v e a l
the whole meaning o f th e Law, to make i t include th in g s
not commonly accepted a s f a llin g w ith in i t s range.
Now
the one demand o f J esu s was th at men should obey the w i l l
o f God as revealed in h is Word, but th e very essen ce o f
t h is obedience was threatened by a conform ity to the Law
1. M k.2:18ff. - Matt♦9 : 1 4 f f .
2. M att.11:18-19 = L k.7 :3 3 -3 7 .
3. M att.5 :1 7 -1 8 .
338.
such as th e common in te r p r e ta tio n o f i t s cp n ten ts en­
jo in e d .
For by t h i s in te r p r e ta tio n ex tern a l r i t e s and
cerem onies were regarded as p le a s in g to God as such,
w hile no account was taken of th e m otive and th e moral
p r in c ip le s underlying them.
Hence the f ie r c e d enunciation
o f th e P h a r ise es, 'Woe to you, s c r ib e s and P h a r ise e s,
h y p o c r ite s, you clea n th e o u tsid e o n ly , cup and p la t t e r ,
but w ith in you are f u l l o f t h e f t and s e lf i s h n e s s .
to you, sc r ib e s and P h a r ise e s.
Woe
You are lik e whitewashed
graves which appear clean o u tsid e , but w ith in are a mass
o f dead bones and f i l t h .
So you appear rig h teo u s before
the p eo p le, but w ith in you are f u l l o f hypocrisy and
w ick ed n ess.’
1
Outward conform ity to le g a l r i t e s was
u s e le s s without an inward understanding o f th e tru e nature
o f th e w i l l o f God, and i t was p r e c is e ly because o f th e
danger th at th e emphasis might be la id upon e x te r n a ls
rather than upon the m otive th a t J e su s, as con trasted with
John, la id down no r u le s fo r f a s t in g to be observed by
h is fo llo w e r s .
For i t i s true th a t in the a ct o f fa s tin g
there does a r is e a very grave danger o f confusing th e
is s u e .
T his may ex p la in th e saying o f J esu s, 'When y e
f a s t do not put on, as th e h y p o crites do, a mournful fa ce;
for th ey d isfig u r e t h e ir fa ces th a t th ey may be seen by
men to f a s t .
V e r ily I say unto you. They have t h e ir re -
1. M att.23:25, 27, 28.
Cf. M att.2 3 :1 3 .
339.
ward.
But th ou , when thou f a s t e s t , anoint th y head
and wash th y f a c e , th a t thou may be seen to f a s t not unto
men, hut unto th y gat he r . I n
other words, men, i f
f a s t th ey w i l l , should pay a tte n tio n to the m otive o f
t h e ir f a s t in g .
Only then i s fa s tin g p erm issib le and a
tru e sig n of repentan ce.
But i t seems c le a r th a t the
saying o f Jesus ju s t given i s in no way to be in terp reted
as an in ju n ctio n to f a s t , nor as showing th a t Jesus con­
ceived th a t by f a s tin g men gain any s p e c ia l q u a lity in
God*s s ig h t .
In the la s t r e s o r t, Jesus demanded of men
no p a r tic u la r a s c e tic is m , but sim ply the w i l l to renounce
and to make s a c r if ic e s in a g en eral way.
To quote B u lt-
mann once more, "Man does not have to ach ieve fo r h im self
p a r tic u la r q u a li t ie s , e ith e r an e s p e c ia l v ir tu e or an
e s p e c ia l s a in t lin e s s :
he must sim ply be o b ed ien t, and
fo r th a t he needs no sp e c ia l q u a litie s :
God i s not fa r
from him so th a t a technique i s necessary to approach
him; on th e contrary, God speaks to him in every concrete
s itu a tio n , fo r every concrete s itu a tio n i s a c r i s i s of
d e c is io n .
Man h a s, so to speak, no time fo r any p reo
occupation w ith a s c e t ic is m .”
Cj
I t wss t h is co n v ic tio n ,
among o th e r s, which led J esu s, perhaps, to part company
w ith the B a p tist and to abandon in h is own m in istry a
1 . M a tt. 6 : 1 6 - 1 8 .
2 . O p . c i t . . pp. 1 0 1 -1 0 2 .
p r a c tic e , which however widespread in h is day, appeared
to him unnecessary.
Now i f t h is i s the true exp lan ation o f J e s u s ’ a t t i ­
tude towards f a s t in g , i t may he ap plied w ith double fo rce
and cogency towards h is a ttitu d e to th e r i t e o f baptism ,
and i t i s ju s t h ere , perhaps, th a t th e c r u c ia l p o in t i s
reached, fo r a co rrect understanding o f the r e la t io n s of
Jesus and John th e B a p tis t.
Although arguments from s ile n c e are p reca rio u s, i t
can sc a r c e ly be w ithout s ig n ific a n c e th a t th ere i s no
p r im itiv e tr a d itio n th a t Jesus h im self b a p tised .
statem ent may stand for two very good reason s.
1
T his
F ir s t, i f
Jesus had r e a lly b a p tise d , i t i s q u ite unthinkable, in
view o f the a tte n tio n which John’s r i t e aroused, th a t
mention would not have been made o f J e s u s ’ adoption o f
the same p r a c tic e .
Second, and more com pelling, i t i s
p r a c t ic a lly c e r ta in th a t th e E v a n g elists would have j u s t ­
if ie d the Church’s p r a c tic e of baptism by freq u en tly r e ­
ferr in g to the p r a c tic e o f Jesus h im se lf, th a t i s , i f
they had had any r e a l warrant fo r so doing.
Such a war­
ran t, however, they do not seem to have p ossessed - hence
the n e c e s s it y o f p u ttin g th e in ju n ctio n to b a p tise upon
the l i p s o f Jesus in h is p artin g commission.
2
N eith er
1. Cf. chapter I I I , p . l + 9 f f .
2. M att.28:19, cf.M k .l6 :1 6 , a verse belonging to the Longer
Ending o f Mark, (1 6 :9 -2 0 ). The Longer Ending i s w id ely
regarded as n o n -au th en tic.
341
in i t s Matthaean nor in i t s Marcan form can th e in ju n c­
t io n be regarded as p r im itiv e , nor can th e Fourth Evangel­
i s t ' s referen ce to the p r a c tic e be considered as anything
1
other than a crea tio n o f h is own im agin ation .
Accord­
in g ly i t appears to be alm ost c e r ta in th a t Jesus h im self
did not b a p tis e .
There a r e , however, two p assages in the G ospels
which, a t f i r s t s ig h t, might suggest th a t Jesus did not
regard w ith any d ub iety John's p r a c tic e o f baptism .
On
being questioned on one o ccasion by th e r e lig io u s oppos­
i t io n as to h is a u th o r ity fo r preaching in the Temple,
Jesu s r e p lie d , 'Let me ask you a q u estio n .
T e ll me, did
2
th e baptism o f John come from heaven or from men?'
This
q u estion threw th e r e lig io u s a u th o r itie s in to a dilemma
b ecau se, as W.Manson puts i t , "to derive th e a u th o r ity
o f John from heaven la y s them open to the charge o f having
opposed th e w i l l o f God through t h e ir r e fu s a l to be bap­
tis e d .
To d erive i t from men, i . e . to say th a t John had
no d iv in e a u th o rity i s to outrage p u b lic opinion which,
at t h i s moment, i s s o li d ly on the sid e o f J esu s.
In t h i s
predicament they answer th at th ey have no knowledge where
3
John's a u th o rity comes from .”
I t i s n ecessa ry , however,
to expand t h i s statem ent a l i t t l e .
1. John 3 : 2 2 f f . Cf. chapter I I .
2. Matt .2 1 :2 3 ff. s L k .2 0 : lf f .
3. Gospel o f Luke, p .220.
There can be no doubt
th a t Jesus h im se lf, derived John's baptism from heaven,
but t h is being so , i t seems to have been on ly in a v ery
p a r tic u la r way th a t Jesus meant th a t th e r e lig io u s oppos­
it io n was opposing God's w i l l by re fu sin g John's baptism .
I t i s d i f f i c u l t to b e lie v e that when Jesu s used th e word
'baptism* he meant thereby the r i t e o f baptism in th e
narrow se n se , and not rath er th e p rop h etic message and
work o f John in th e w id est se n se .
I f t h is be so , th e
meaning would be th a t th e r e lig io u s a u th o r itie s by r e fu s ­
ing to a s s o c ia te them selves w ith John's c a l l to repentance,
which h is baptism demanded, showed t h e ir o p p o sitio n th e r e ­
by to God's w i l l .
The em phasis, th e r e fo r e , i s not
a c tu a lly upon the r i t e o f baptism i t s e l f but upon the
moral renewal fo r which i t sto o d .
C uriously enough t h i s
im pression i s strengthened by the second o f the p assages
which at f i r s t sig h t might suggest th e o p p osite view .
A
comparison o f th e Mattaean and the Lucan v er sio n o f the
saying i s most in s t r u c t iv e .
According to Matthew, sh o r tly
a fte r th e ep isod e ju s t referred t o , Jesu s i s reported as
saying to the o p p o sitio n , 'For John came unto you in the
way. o f rig h teo u sn ess and you b eliev ed him not:
publicans and h a r lo ts b e lie v e d him:
but th e
and you, when you had
seen i t , repented not afterw ard, th a t you might b e lie v e
him .'1
Luke in corp orates the saying in the body o f J e s u s *
1. M att.2 1 :3 2 ..
d isco u rse upon John, and g iv e s i t a s fo llo w a , ’And a l l
th e people th a t heard him and the pub licans j u s t i f i e d
God being b ap tised w ith the Baptism o f John.
But th e
P h a risees and law yers r e je c te d th e counsel o f God a g a in st
1
th em selves being not b a p tised o f h im .’
I t i s doubtful
whether th e Lucan v e r sio n can be regarded as a p r im itiv e
saying o f J esu s.
One su sp ects ra th er th a t i t i s an
explanatory p a ren th esis o f th e E v a n g elist in view o f the
enigm atic saying which fo llo w s in v .3 5 , ’Wisdom i s v in d i­
cated by a l l her c h ild r e n .’
words, ’A ll the p eop le*.
P e c u lia r ly Lucan a re the
Yet even although th ere might
be some h e s it a t io n in r e je c tin g the sayin g, the Matthaean
v e r sio n shows i t s true in te r p r e ta tio n .
Once a g a in , th ere
i s no emphasis on the r i t e o f baptism i t s e l f a s j u s t if y in g
men in th e sig h t of God.
The emphasis seems to be e n t ir e ly
upon repentance, and i t was fo r t h i s th a t John’s baptism
sto o d .
I t i s p r e c is e ly along th e se lin e s th at p oin t may be
giv en t o the important passage in the Fourth Gospel con­
st
cerning J e s u s ’ d isc u ssio n w ith John regarding b a p tisa .
The
r e a l nature o f the d isc u ssio n h as, as alread y noted, been
obscured by the E v a n g e list, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t not to
thin k th a t the o r ig in a l con versation was r e la te d to the
1. L k .7 :2 9 -3 0 .r
2. J n . 3 : 2 S f f .
344
e f f ic a c y o f the r i t e .
I t can hardly have escaped Jesus
th at many would see in John’s r i t e an easy means o f e s ­
caping the moral e f f o r t s which the baptism in r e a l i t y
demanded.
The b aptised would r e a d ily a sc r ib e to i t a
sacram ental e f f ic a c y which would, th ey hoped, in i t s e l f
secure t h e ir sa lv a tio n on the day o f Judgment,
There i s
no tra ce o f any such idea in th e o r ig in a l teach in g o f J esu s.
He did not con ceive th a t men could approach God in a spec­
i a l manner through any c u lt or sacrament.
His one command
was th a t men should obey the w ill o f God as revealed in
h is Word.
For by so obeying, men shew th a t t h e ir thoughts
and a c t i v i t i e s are centred upon th e u ltim a te triumph o f good
over e v i l , and thereby d ecla re them selves fo r the Kingdom
o f God as opposed to the Kingdom of Satan.
I t i s not su rp risin g th a t there i s very l i t t l e e v i­
dence in the Gospels regarding the true a ttitu d e of Jesu s
towards baptism .
A dm ittedly, i t i s p o s s ib le th a t Jesu s
referred to th e m atter very seldom, but when i t i s r e c a lle d
that th e e a r ly Church had adopted th e r i t e by th e tim e th e
Gospels were being w r itte n , one wonders whether th e Evan­
g e l i s t s them selves may not have s e le c te d t h e ir m a te ria l on
t h is d e lic a t e m atter w ith e s p e c ia l careI
As compared with
the apparent s ile n c e o f the S y n o p tists , the Fourth Evangel­
i s t q u ite u n in te n tio n a lly sheds a p e c u lia r ly p en etra tin g
345
ray o f lig h t upon the thought o f Jesus on t h is important
is s u e .
His evidence i s in v a lu a b le .
Using in a l l proba­
b i l i t y the memoirs o f an ey e-w itn ess o f the e a r ly y ea r s,
he may have found in th e se memoirs th e sto r y o f a d is ­
cu ssion between Jesus and John on th e su b ject o f the
e f f ic a c y o f baptism .
But such a d isc u ssio n in i t s o r ig in a l
form was em inently u n su itab le fo r h is Gospel both fo r the
reason alread y m entioned, and because o f h is d esir e to
bring Jesu s and John to g e th e r , b a p tisin g sid e by s id e .
A ccordingly he reserves h is m a teria l to a la t e r p o in t and
u ses i t to introduce th e account o f th e f in a l testim ony
o f John to J e su s.
But i s i t r e a lly th e case th a t th e S y n o p tists are
com pletely s i l e n t on th e m atter?
I s th ere not an is o la te d
saying o f Jesus to b u ttr e ss th e h in t supplied by the
Fourth E van g elist?
Perhaps th ere i s .
I t i s in t h is
sense th a t a very s a t is f a c t o r y exp lan ation may be g iven
o f the obscure and d i f f i c u l t words of J esu s as reported
by Matthew, 'From the days o f John the B a p tis t, u n t il now,
the Kingdom o f heaven s u ffe r e th v io le n c e and v io le n t men
1
take i t by f o r c e . ’
T his saying c a l ls fo r very p a r tic u la r
examinat io n .
N eith er in i t s Matthaean nor in i t s Lucan s e tt in g
1. M att.11:12 « Lk.1 6 :1 6 .
346.
ean t h i s saying o f Jesus be regarded as in te g r a l to the
c o n te x t.
In Matthew, th e saying occurs in th e m iddle
o f J e s u s 1 d isco u rse on th e B a p tis t, ( l l : 7 f f . ) , but where­
as th e theme of th e d isco u rse i s John, th e theme o f t h i s
saying i s c le a r ly not John, but th e Kingdom.
S im ila r ly
in Luke, the saying occurs in a group o f is o la te d sayin gs
o f Jesu s emphasising the etern a l nature o f the Law, (16:
1 6 -1 8 ).
But ob viou sly the p a r tic u la r saying under d i s 1
cu ssion has no d ir e c t connection w ith t h is is s u e .
For th e sake o f c la r it y th e two v ersio n s o f the say­
ing may be se t sid e by s id e : Matthew.
'And from the days o f John
the B a p tist u n t il now th e
Kingdom o f heaven s u ffe r e th
v io le n c e , and the v io le n t
take i t by fo r c e .
For a l l the prophets and the
Law prophesied ( s c . of the
Kingdom) t i l l J o h n .f
Luke.
fThe Law and the prophets
(
) u n t il John: sin ce
th a t time the Kingdom o f God
i s preached and every man
p r e s se s h is way in to i t . '
I t i s not w ithout s ig n ific a n c e th a t th e referen ce to
the Law and the prophets appears in Matthew a f t e r , and in
Luke, b efo re, th e saying on the Kingdom.
I t i s p la in
th at Matthew has attempted to run th e two sayin gs t o ­
geth er and to ex p la in th e former by means o f th e l a t t e r .
But h is choice o f th e word p r o p h e s ie d 1 i s su re ly p e c u lia r ly
1. Cf. D ib eliu s: J .d .T .. p p .£ 3 ff.
347 .
unhappy, fo r i t i s d i f f i c u l t to con ceive o f .th e Law pro­
phesying th e Kingdom,
There can he l i t t l e doubt, th e r e ­
fo r e , th a t th e Lucan v e r sio n , fThe Law and the prophets
(were) u n t il John*, i s p r im itiv e .
On the other hand, i t
i s eq u ally c le a r th a t Luke has drawn the two sayin gs t o ­
geth er in th e reverse order with a view t o e s ta b lis h in g an
even c lo s e r connection between th e two fo r reasons o f h is
own which w ill p r e s e n tly be ex p la in ed .
Now i f Luke’s
v er sio n i s su b stitu te d fo r Matthew’s v ersio n and in ser te d
1
in th e p resen t p o s itio n o f M att.11:10, the t e x t o f the
speech o f Jesus becomes p e r fe c tly i n t e l l i g i b l e , as fo llo w s
’Why did you go out then?
Was i t to see a prophet?
Yes, I t e l l you, more than a prophet.
phets and the Law were u n t il John.
For a l l the pro­
V e r ily I say unto you,
among them th a t were born o f women th ere hath not a risen
a g re a te r than John th e B a p t is t .’
O r ig in a lly th en , the
sayin gs on the Kingdom and on the Law and the prophets
were unconnected.
Of the two v er sio n s of the saying on the Kingdom,
Matthew’ s i s alm ost c e r ta in ly the more p r im itiv e .
It is
the l e c t i o d i f f i c i l i o r , and D ib eliu s i s su rely co rrect
when he w r it e s , "The Lucan v er sio n g iv e s exp ression to a
1., Reasons fo r om ittin g v .1 0 appear in S ectio n (c) o f t h is
ch ap ter. V.10 seems to have ousted v .1 3 from i t s true
p o s it io n .
348.
u n iv e rsa l m ission ary idea la ck in g in th e Matthaean version :
) and every
1
one ’p re sse s in to it* or ’ i s p ressed in to i t ’ . ”
Surely
the Kingdom
t h is i s very c h a r a c te r is tic o f Luke’s Gospel!
Again,
whereas in Matthew, th e saying embraces three d is t in c t
p erio d s, Luke reduces th e periods to two.
Thus:
the
Matthaean v ersio n r e fe r s to something th a t was happening
to the Kingdom only during the days of John the B a p tist,
and not before h is tim e, nor a f t e r i t .
The Lucan v ersio n
r e fe r s to something th a t was happening only a fte r th e days
o f John the B a p tis t, and not during h is tim e.
As Luke
con ceiv es i t , what was happening was th a t men were ea g erly
p ressin g in to the Kingdom opened to them by the teach in g
o f J esu s, as i t had never been by the Law and the prophets
in clu d in g John th e B a p tis t.
However b e a u tifu l th e thought,
i t probably r e f l e c t s a t y p ic a l Lucan in te r p r e ta tio n o f the
harder saying o f Jesu s in Matthew’s verwion.
And i t i s
fo r t h i s reason th a t Luke has a lte r e d the order o f the
two sa y in g s referred to above.
The c r u c ia l p oint i s
whether th e p rim itiv e v ersio n o f Matthew can in any way
bear t h i s in te r p r e ta tio n .
C learly th e Matthaean form
must be examined independently and not in te r p r e te d , as
i s u su a lly done, in the lig h t o f th e Lucan p a r a lle l.
1* O p . o i t . . p p . 2 3 - 2 4 .
349
Opinions d i f f e r as to whether the^Matthaean v ersio n
i s to be understood in a good or a bad se n se , th e key
words being j£ \
jl\
, f i l d t i T c U and deiroC^oufl .
th e se words bear a favourable meaning?
Can
Harnack b e lie v e s
th a t th ey can, and advances seven arguments in support
1
o f h is view .
D ib e liu s th in k s th a t th ey cannot, and
h is c r it ic is m o f Harnackfs th eory appears to the p resent
w riter to be very con vin cin g.
The fo llo w in g p o in ts r e ­
quire a t t e n t io n : (a) Should
a p assive?
be regarded as a middle or
In th e former c a se, th e tr a n s la tio n would be,
TThe Kingdom o f heaven fo r c e s i t s e l f ’ (upon men’s a tte n ­
t io n ) ;
in th e l a t t e r ’The Kingdom o f heaven i s f o r c e d .1
Harnack argues fo r th e m iddle, because the present p a ssiv e
use o f j
i s extrem ely ra r e .
There a re, however,
examples o f th e p a ssiv e u se, and D ib eliu s p o in ts out th a t
th e p a ssiv e i s stro n g ly supported by th e fo llo w in g /oi^ O T /i.
(b) Does
bear a good or a bad meaning?
In
th e former c a se , th e tr a n s la tio n would be, ’V iolen t men
s e iz e i t * , ( r ig h t f u lly ) , in th e l a t t e r ,
’V io len t men s e iz e
1. Sitzxm gsberichte der K 8nigl.P reuss.A kad.der Wissexu
B erlin 7 1907, p p .9 4 ? ff.
n
2 . Cf. M.and M.: Vocabulary, p.109b. ”That
<l \ can be
p a s s iv e , as a l l the a n cien t v er sio n s assume, may be
illu s t r a t e d by such evidence as Oxy. ii,2 9 4 : 16 (A.D.22)
eyw
fitbioiAdii &tt'o
, cf.
in
Sophocles (A n t i ^ . 6 6 ), *1 am forced to it /"
350.
i t ’ , (by rob b ery).
Now i t i s open to very grave doubt
whether Jesus taught th at men could s e iz e th e Kingdom,
even r i g h t f u lly .
I t would seem rather th a t Jesus regarded
th e Kingdom always as a g i f t o f God, to which men were not
in t h e ir own r ig h t e n t it l e d .
The bringing in o f th e King­
dom la y e n t ir e ly in God’s hands, and man’s duty was to
prepare h im s e lf, to rep en t, and to await th e day in p a t­
ie n c e .
Nor, ap paren tly, did Jesus teach men th a t th ey
could in flu e n c e God to hurry on the advent o f the Kingdom.
S urely i t i s not in t h is sense th a t the p e t it io n , ’Thy
Kingdom come’ , i s to be in te r p r e te d .
The purpose o f the
p e t it io n i s not to a lt e r God’ s eter n a l p lan , but to show
th a t th e p e t it i o n e r ’s mind i s w holly centred on the King­
dom as the supreme fa c t fo r which a l l e ls e must be s a c r i­
fic e d .
I t i s true th a t th ere are ce rta in in d ic a tio n s th a t
th e parables o f the importunate widow, and th e t r a v e lle r
a t m idnight, referred o r ig in a lly not to prayer in gen eral
1
but to prayer fo r the coming o f the Kingdom.
But t h i s
i s u n certain .
C erta in ly Jesu s seems to have encouraged
a c e r ta in im portunity in prayer in g en era l, assu ring men
th at God would hear t h e ir prayers and answer them.
Other­
w ise i t i s im p ossib le to understand the sa y in g s, ’Ask and
ye s h a ll r e c e iv e ;
1 . Lk. 1 8 : 7 , 8 .
seek and ye s h a ll fin d ;
knock and i t
35 1 .
s h a ll be opened unto y o u .’
1
But i t i s not a lto g e th e r
easy to b e lie v e th a t Jesus included prayer fo r th e King­
dom w ith in t h i s ca teg o ry .
The a ttitu d e o f Jesus i s one
o f im p lic it t r u s t in the Fatherhood o f God and in the
Purposes o f God, and to him he le a v e s the d ir e c tin g and
ordering o f a l l th in g s .
The Kingdom belonged to God,
and could n o t, a cco rd in g ly , be r ig h t f u lly se ize d by men.
A ll th a t men can do i s to prepare th em selves, and o th ers,
fo r th e Reign o f God.
I t i s to be presumed, th e r e fo r e ,
th a t th e sayin g, ’V io len t men s e iz e i t ’ , in d ic a te s th a t
men were s e iz in g , or rath er attem pting to s e iz e , the
Kingdom, u n la w fu lly .
T his im pression seems to be con­
firmed by the sense o f th e word d e n i z e n
which i s prac­
t i c a l l y always used w ith the idea o f s e iz in g something by
robbery.
As D ib eliu s puts i t , ”So commonly i s th e word
employed su gg estin g an in ju s t ic e . . . th a t we cannot depart
from t h is idea w ithout very com pelling r e a s o n s .”
(c)
2
The e n c l i t i c s , ( S ^ v .1 2 ) , and ( y i f v . 1 3 ) , which,
fo r Harnack, lend support to a favourable in te r p r e ta tio n
o f th e saying cannot be s e r io u s ly considered in view of
the fa c t th at th e saying i s an is o la te d one in ser te d in to
a con text to vtfiich i t was o r ig in a lly fo r e ig n (see above).
1. M att.7 :7 r L k .ll: 9 . Cf. a ls o th e s t o r ie s o f the para­
l y t i c at Capernaum, the Syrophoenician woman, the b lin d
man by the w ayside, and iSacohaeus,
2. O p .p it. . p .25.
352.
A dm itting, th en , th a t the saying i s to be. understood
in an unfavourable se n se , and th a t i t r e fe r s t o an un­
warranted attempt to s e iz e th e Kingdom in th e in te r v a l be­
tween th e past and th e commencement o f th e m in istr y o f
J esu s, i . e . in th e in te r v a l occupied by th e a c t i v i t y o f
1
John the B a p tis t, i t i s p o s s ib le , perhaps, to in te r p r e t
i t in on ly one r e a lly s a t is f a c t o r y way.
I t can sc a r c e ly
r e fe r q u ite innocuously to the eager rush o f the B a p t is t ’ s
h earers to en ter the Kingdom in response to h is preaching,
as Luke’ s v e r sio n in d ic a te s .
2
Nor can i t a lto g e th e r
f i t t i n g l y r e fe r to th e misguided z e a l o f th e Z ea lo ts who
wished to bring in th e Kingdom by fo rce in stea d o f a w a it3
ing the tim e o f God’s good p lea su re .
I t i s tru e that
t h i s exp lan ation i s in some ways a ttr a c tiv e in the lig h t
o f what was sa id above about th e Kingdom being e n t ir e ly
in the Providence o f God, b ut, on th e other hand, i t i s
d i f f i c u l t to see why the a c t i v i t y o f th e Z ea lo ts should
have been narrowed down sim ply and s o le ly to th e period o f
John the B a p tis t.
Surely they continued t h e ir p o l i t i c a l
propaganda long a f te r the B a p tist was dead and gone I
F in ­
a l l y , D ib e liu s h im se lf, rather in g en io u sly , r e fe r s th e
saying to the unseen powers o f the world, to the e v i l
1* Not in th e in te r v a l between the end o f John’ s m in istry
and th e beginning o f the m in istr y of J esu s, as-~Dibelius
seems to understand i t •
2. So Otto: o p . c i t . , p p .108-112.
3. So T.W.Manson: o p . c i t . , p .124, note 2 .
353
s p i r i t s , whom Paul d esc r ib e s as ’th e r u le r s o f t h i s a g e ’
and in te r p r e ts i t a s meaning th a t sin c e the tim e o f John
the B a p tist th e se sp irit-p o w e rs had been bringing th e King­
dom, which ex iste d f i r s t from John’ s days, in to t h e ir own
p o sse s sio n .
I t i s very d ou b tfu l, however, whether the
saying im p lies th a t th e Kingdom e x is te d f i r s t from John’s
days, and even though t h is meaning i s rather a r b it r a r ily
read in to i t , th ere i s no reason fo r assuming th a t the
a c t iv it y o f th e se G eisterm achte would have been regarded by
Jesus as s p e c ia lly dangerous in the in te r v a l between John’s
m in istry and the beginning of h is own m in istr y , i f , indeed,
the saying could be considered as r e fe r r in g to t h is in te r ­
v a l.
In any c a s e , th e th eory i s perhaps a l i t t l e fa r ­
fetch ed .
To a rriv e a t what may be th e true in te r p r e ta tio n
of th e sayin g, something must be looked fo r which was takin g
place in r e la tio n to the Kingdom pre-em inently during the
m in istry o f John th e B a p tis t.
Immediately John’ s baptism al
r it e i s thought o f, n ovel in i t s ex ecu tio n , by means of
which th e B a p tist added a sp ecta cu la r appeal to h is demand
for repentance in view o f th e nearness o f the Kingdom.
Now
even though i t be granted that fo r John h im self th e r i t e had
no sacramental e f f ic a c y , i t i s alm ost c e r ta in th a t many o f
the b ap tised regarded i t as p o sse ssin g t h is power.
I .C o r . 2 : 6 - 8 .
I f th is
354 .
be so , the saying may w ell r e fe r to th o se v io le n t, ones who
imagined th a t th ey could s e iz e the Kingdom sim ply by under­
going John’s w ater-baptism , w ith ou t, on th e one hand, f u l ­
f i l l i n g John’ s demand fo r
repentance, and w ith ou t, on th e
o th er, r e a lis in g th a t th e
Kingdom was e s s e n t i a lly a g i f t o f
God.
In t h i s sense the saying may be lin k ed up q u ite admir­
ably w ith the r e s t o f the
teach in g of Jesus regarding th e
Kingdom, and i t would imply th a t w ith
Jesus h im self
)
the p ra c tic e o f baptism had ceased , and a cco rd in g ly , no lon ger
afforded the v io le n t ones any ground fo r im agining th a t they
could s e iz e the Kingdom o f heaven in t h is way.
O bjection might be taken to t h is in te r p r e ta tio n of the
saying on the ground that Jesus h im self accepted John’s bap­
tism .
Had Jesus been r e a lly dubious as to the a d v is a b ilit y
of continuing th e p r a c tic e , would he have presented h im self
to John as w illin g to undergo h is r ite ?
To answer t h i s
question d e f in i t e ly an in sig h t would be required in to the
psychology o f th e mind o f Jesu s such as i s im possible to
gain.
Yet from th e knowledge o f the P e r so n a lity o f Jesus
which the New Testament a ffo r d s , and in th e lig h t o f th e
nature of John’ s baptism p rev io u sly exp la in ed , there seems
to be no insuperable o b je ctio n to the idea th a t, although
Jesus thought i t u ndesirable to continue John’s baptism al
r ite , he n e v e r th e le ss most r e a d ily allow ed h im self to^be
355.
b aptised by John.
There was in the P e r so n a lity o f Jesus a
u n iversalism and a width o f v is io n which enabled him to per­
c e iv e not m erely the danger o f the r i t e being regarded as
a key, so to speak, to unlock the doors o f th e Kingdom, but
a lso to look beyond t h is a sp ect o f th e p r a c tic e to i t s r e a l
and true s ig n if ic a n c e .
I t was a baptism whose demand was
repentance, and i t was in t h i s way, and in t h is way a lo n e,
that i t was offered by John t o h is h ea rers.
As such, i t
cannot but have appealed to Jesus h im self, who, no l e s s than
John, in s is t e d upon the n e c e s s it y o f repentance.
J esu s,
then, could p e r f e c tly n a tu r a lly accept John’ s baptism as
sym bolising th e change o f heart which was to be th e c e n tr a l
theme o f h is own m in istr y .
I t i s unnecessary to argue why
the s in le s s Jesus should have su ffered h im self to have been
baptised by John, unnecessary to evolve ab stru se C h r isto lo g ic a l or t h e o lo g ic a l d o ctrin es to ex p la in or to j u s t i f y t h i s
step .
The r e a l exp lan ation i s perhaps su r p r isin g ly sim p le.
John had touched a chord in th e heart o f J esu s, and J e s u s ’
acceptance o f John’s baptism was a f in a l token o f h is approval
of th ose a sp e c ts of th e B a p t is t ’ s thought which chimed in
with h is own.
I t was a f in a l g estu re o f frien d sh ip
and
appreciation such as one frien d might render to another.
T hereafter, con scious through h is baptism al experience th a t
the time was at hand to begin h is own m in istr y , con scious o f
356.
the approval o f God, Jesu s l e f t the B a p tist w ith f u l l know­
ledge o f th e ways in which he would p erp etu ate, m odify, or
1
abandon h is p red ec esso r’s thought and p r a c tic e s .
In the lig h t o f t h is e x p o sitio n o f the thought o f Jesus
and th e thought o f John, i t i s p o s s ib le to see very c le a r ly
both th e stren gth and the weakness o f John th e B a p tis t.
It
i s p o s s ib le to see a lso how the E v a n g elists have done lesw
j u s t ic e to him as a preacher in h is own r ig h t and how th ey
have tended to o v e r str e s s h is a f f i n i t i e s to J e su s.
At the
same tim e the way i s cleared fo r e s ta b lish in g w ith con sid er­
able c e r ta in ty th e nature of th e r e la tio n s between John and
Jesu s.
The fo llo w in g p o in ts may be noted.
There cannot be th e s lig h t e s t doubt th a t John had pro­
foundly impressed J e su s.
This i s c le a r not m erely from th e
e x p lic it testim ony o f Jesus to John, to be examined p r e se n tly ,
but perhaps even more so from J e s u s ’ p erp etu ation o f c e r ta in
a sp ects o f the B a p t is t ’ s m in istr y .
T his argues, on the one
1* The fa c t th at th e d is c ip le s allowed baptism to become the
outward sign o f adm ission in to the Church i s not a grave
o b je c tio n to t h i s th eory. The o r ig in o f C h ristia n Baptism
has alread y been exp lain ed , and to t h is may be added th e se
co n sid era tio n s: ( i ) That tr a d itio n would tend to lo s e sig h t
of th e o r ig in a l nature o f J e s u s ’ d iffe r e n c e w ith John, be­
cause i t did not lead to an immediate break in the r e la tio n s
of Jesus and John, and because Jesus probably said very
l i t t l e on the m atter, out o f deference to h is p red ecessor,
allow in g h is non-adoption o f th e p ra c tic e to speak fo r i t ­
s e lf.
( i i ) That a l l the p r a c tic e s o f the E arly Church,
apart from baptism , cannot be traced to the d ir e c t injunc­
tio n s of our Lord, ( i i i ) That sacramentalism i s an obvious
and alm ost in e v ita b le development in the growth o f r e l i g ­
io n s.
357
hand, fo r a much longer con tact between Jesus _and John
than th e G ospels a llo w , and on the o th er, fo r a much lon g er
independent m in istr y on John’s p a rt.
The S y n o p tists re­
duce the period o f con tact between Jesus and John to th e
moment o f th e baptism o f J esu s.
In so doing they have
almost c e r t a in ly passed over in s ile n c e a very important
form ative period in the l i f e and thought o f J esu s.
But i f the S y n o p tists have shortened th e period of
contact between Jesus and John, the Fourth E v a n g elist has
represented th e period o f contact as taking p lace a f t e r
the baptism o f J esu s.
He rep resen ts Jesus as r e c r u itin g
h is d is c ip le s from those o f John, as preaching and b a p tis­
ing sid e by sid e with John, and as having an e x p lic it
testim ony rendered to him by John as ’the Lamb o f God who
i s to remove the s in of th e w o r ld .’
I t has already been
shown th a t p r a c t ic a lly the whole o f t h i s account does not
seem to r e s t on genuine t r a d it io n .
There i s other and
b e tte r evidence th a t Jesus did not r e c r u it h is d is c ip le s
from th o se o f John, and th a t th e m in is tr ie s o f John and
Jesus did not overlap .
The d i f f i c u l t y o f harmonising the
Synoptic and tjie Johannine v er sio n s o f the c a ll of the
d is c ip le s has been noted, and a tte n tio n has been drawn
to the c o lo u r le s s and in co rrect r o le of John as w itn ess
in the Fourth G ospel.
At the same tim e, there ijs reason
558.
to b e lie v e th a t the referen ce to the d is c u ssio n regarding
the e f f ic a c y o f baptism may be p r im itiv e , when pruned o f
i t s c h a r a c t e r is t ic a lly Johannine a d d itio n s .
This d is ­
cu ssio n has been p o st-d ated by the Fourth E v a n g elist to
a p oint subsequent to the baptism o f Jesus in order to f i t
in w ith the gen eral ch ro n o lo g ica l sequence of the G ospel.
I f the evidence o f the Fourth E v a n g elist o f a longer con­
t a c t between J esu s and John be lin k ed up w ith th e impres­
sio n to the same e f f e c t given in d ir e c tly by the S y n o p tists ,
and i f the period o f con tact be placed in i t s correct
p o s itio n before the baptism of J esu s, the fo llo w in g p ic tu r e
w i l l r e s u lt .
Jesus had heard in G a lile e o f th e m in istr y o f John
the B a p tis t, a m in istry which from a l l rep o rts he b eliev ed
to answer so w e ll to h is own a sp ir a tio n s and preoccu pation s.
Desirous o f se e in g and hearing the preacher fo r h im se lf,
he l e f t G a lile e , accompanied by some fr ie n d s who afterw ards
became h is d is c i p le s .
Among the group may have been P eter
whose rem iniscen ces of th ese ea r ly sta g es Mark has appar­
e n tly almost com pletely o b lite r a te d .
These ea rly sta g es
ex p la in , in tu rn , the rea d in ess with which the d is c ip le s
o f Jesus la t e r responded to h is formal c a l l , and, at the
same tim e, may u n d erlie th e n a rra tiv e o f the Fourth Evangel­
i s t who p o st-d a te s the events to a point o f tim e a fte r the
359.
baptism o f J esu s.
J esu s and b is fr ie n d s made t h e ir way
to Aenon near to Salim , not fa r from G a lile e , where John
was b a p tisin g .
Jesu s was a t once impressed by John’s
proclam ation o f the coming o f th e Messiah to inaugurate
the Kingdom, by the u n iversalism o f i t s membership im p lic it
in h is thought, and by h is demand fo r repentance, but at
the same tim e he may have f e l t th a t th e r i t e o f baptism
which John offered was being p opu larly in terp reted as in
i t s e l f secu rin g s a lv a tio n and as e n t it l in g a cc ess to the
Kingdom.
To t h is in te r p r e ta tio n , as w e ll as to John’ s
sombre view o f a p i t i l e s s M essiah, J esu s, con scious from
h is youth o f th e Love and Providence of God, co n scio u s,
to o , th a t the Kingdom was a g i f t o f God and u n attain ab le
by human e f f o r t , was from the very f i r s t opposed.
At
t jiis p o in t, acco rd in g ly , th e d isc u ssio n regarding the
e f f ic a c y o f baptism arose between Jesus and John, referred
to by th e Fourth E v a n g elist.^
A pparently, however, t h is
did not take the form o f a c la sh , nor did i t im m ediately
lead to anything lik e a rupture in the r e la tio n s o f Jesus
1. I t i s im possible to determine p r e c is e ly how the Fourth
E v a n g elist obtained t h is in form ation. That i t i s not an
in v en tio n i s shown by the nature o f i t s c o n te n ts. No
one would have invented a d iscu ssio n between Jesus and
John on the e f f ic a c y o f baptism. The most f e a s ib le ex­
p la n a tio n o f i t s o r ig in may be th a t one o f th e G a lilea n s
who accompanied Jesus on h is pilgrim age to John, imparted
the inform ation to the Beloved D is c ip le , the Jeru sa lem ite,
whose memoirs the Fourth E v a n g elist appears to have used.
The l a t t e r , however, has r a d ic a lly a lte r e d i t s o r ig in a l
sense and s e t t in g .
360 •
and John.
Jesus continued t o move in the-company of
p ilg rim s who flo ck ed to hear John’ s preaching, but he did
not jo in John’ s ’ inner c ir c le * o f d is c i p le s .
During t h i s
period o f co n ta ct, Jesus c a r e fu lly weighed and te s te d the
valu e of th e thought and p r a c tic e s o f John, perhaps f r e ­
quently q u estion in g John, and thereb y arousing th e B a p t is t ’®
in t e r e s t in t h is P ilg rim as one d is t in c t from the usual run.
But as yet John never dreamed th a t Jesus might be the
M essiah whose coming he announced.
A fter a tim e John
moved on to the Jordan d is t r ic t and Jesus accompanied him.
The r e la t io n s between the two in creased in f r ie n d lin e s s .
By then Jesus could ap preciate very p r e c is e ly both the
stren g th and the weakness o f the B a p t is t ’ s a c t i v i t y , t e s t ­
ing i t again st h is own c o n v ic tio n s, and growing more and
more conscious as tim e passed, o f th e Love and Fatherhood
o f God.
F e e lin g , at le n g th , th a t th e time was at hand
fo r him to begin h is own Work, and f u l l y r e a lis in g that
the r i t e of baptism as o ffered by h is frien d s ig n if ie d
fo r John no more than a demand fo r repentance, a demand
which Jesu s ard en tly shared, he accepted John’ s baptism
and at th a t moment receiv ed God’ s assurance o f h is approval.
Jesus did not in ten d , however, to sta r t a lo n g sid e of John
an o p p o sitio n m in istr y .
He l e f t John’s company, and spent
a time o f c lo s e communion in prayer w ith h is F ather, and
361.
i t was, i t would seem, th e a r r e st o f John the B a p tist
which f i n a l l y convinced Jesus th a t he must at once begin
h is own m in istr y .
His fr ie n d la y h e lp le s s in p riso n .
sig n s o f th e tim es were unm istakable.
The
The hour had come
fo r Jesus h im self to l i f t up h is Voice and to proclaim
th e Good News of the Kingdom.
The hour had come fo r him
on th e one hand to perpetuate th o se a sp ec ts o f h is prede­
c e s s o r ’ s thought which harmonised com pletely w ith h is
own, and, on the other, to m odify or abandon th ose other
a sp e c ts which to h is unique P e r so n a lity appeared unneces­
sary .
I t was th en th at Jesus began h is m in istr y in G a lile e ,
a m in istr y which in part resembled th at o f John, but which
from the very f i r s t bore a new and o r ig in a l emphasis.
I t seems ev id en t, th en , th a t the p ictu r e presented by
the S y n o p tists and the Fourth E v a n g elist of the r e la tio n s
o f Jesus and John, as w ell as o f the a c t iv it y o f John him­
s e l f , corresponds only in part to what a c tu a lly took p la c e .
It i s not exact th a t the a c t i v i t y o f John la s te d for such
a short time a s th e S y n o p tists su g g est.
I t i s not exact
th a t th e r e la t io n s o f Jesus and John reduced them selves
to a b r ie f moment of contact at th e baptism o f J esu s.
It
i s not exact th a t th e m in is tr ie s o f Jesus and John over­
lapped, as the Fourth E v a n g elist in d ic a te s , nor that Jesus
recru ited h is d is c ip le s from th o se o f John, nor th a t John
362.
bore w itn e ss to Jesus a s th e M essiah.
On the oth er hand,
i t i s exact th a t Jesus did not begin h is own m in istr y
t i l l John was im prisoned.
I t i s exact that the m in istr y
o f Jesus was o r ig in a l from the o u tse t and not a d ir e c t
con tin u ation o f John’s in a l l i t s a s p e c ts .
From the
f i r s t , J e su s, w h ile con tin u in g th e n o n - p o lit ic a l a ttitu d e
o f John, w h ile sharing h is e s c h a to lo g ic a l view o f the
Kingdom and su b scrib in g to the u n iv e r s a lity o f i t s member­
ship and the need fo r repentance, at th e same time modi­
fie d h is p red ecesso r’s sombre view o f th e M essiah, and
declared th a t adm ission to th e Kingdom was in th e l a s t
r e so r t a g i f t o f God, depending upon man’ s free acceptance
o f God’s fo r g iv e n e ss as revealed in h is Word.
F in a lly ,
from the very o u ts e t, th e a c t i v i t y o f Jesus d iffer ed from
John’s in th a t Jesus did not en join upon h is d is c ip le s any
r u le s fo r fa s tin g or fo r baptism.
I f i t i s not a lto g e th e r easy to b e lie v e th at the
S y n o p tists g iv e th e exact p ictu re o f the r e la tio n s o f
Jesus and John, i t seems im possible to do so in th e case
o f the Fourth E v a n g e list.
The im pression i s th a t, as
fa r as th e S y n o p tists are concerned, the B a p tist has been
l e f t in the shadow, m ainly, although not e n t ir e ly , because
the E v a n g e lists were in te r e ste d p rim arily in J esu s, and
only s u b s id ia r ily in John h im se lf.
Nothing i s sa id o f
363.
the e a r lie r r e la t io n s o f Jesus and John, n o t.s o much,
perhaps, w ith a view to d is c r e d itin g th e idea th a t John
could he regarded as a patron o f J esu s, hut because th e
E v a n g e lists had no r e a l concern w ith anything but J e s u s ’
own p u b lic m in istr y .
So far as John in te r e ste d them, i t
was on ly in h is ca p a city as immediate p red ecessor and
b a p tise r of J esu s.
I t i s not su r p r isin g , th e r e fo r e , th at
th ey in te g r a te him In th e G ospel, to an exten t to which
he had no r e a l claim .
The Fourth E v a n g elist, on the other
hand, has a p olem ical aim in view , and the r e la t io n s of
Jesus and John seem to be constructed to serve th a t end.
The B a p tist i s robbed of h is independent m in istr y and
p e r s o n a lity and becomes not m erely th e forerunner, but the
w itn ess to J esu s.
Not content w ith t h i s , th e Fourth Evan­
g e l i s t p o in ts out th a t in the la s t r e so r t John’s w itn ess
was r e a lly unimportant, almost su p erflu ou s.
The works th a t
Jesus did were a much more convincing proof of h is D ivine
m ission than John’ s w itn e ss.
1
F in a lly , no b e tte r in stan ce
of the p olem ical aim o f th e author can be found than in
the scene where John’ s d is c ip le s pass over to J esu s.
The
Fourth E v a n g elist i s reading a le s so n to th e se C h ristia n s
of h is day who appear to have been unduly in flu en ced by
the exalted claim s made fo r th e B a p tist by some o f the Jews.
1 . Jn . 5 : 3 2 f f .
364
He in s tr u c ts them to observe how John’s d is c ip le s went
over to Jesus at t h e ir m aster’ s express b id d in g.
His
rea d ers, th e r e fo r e , should r e s o lu t e ly oppose the Jewish
propaganda in favour of th e B a p tis t, and bring them selves
in to lin e w ith what, as he rep resen ts them, were th e
h is t o r ic a l p ro cesses o f the p a st.
(C) To examine, in co n clu sio n , the p e r s o n a lity of
John and the thought of J esu s, i t i s n ecessary to return
to the speech of Jesus on the B a p tist as reported in M att.
l l : 7 f f . = L k .7 : 2 4 f f ..
Two p o in ts o f v i t a l importance
are o f in te r e s t h ere.
F ir s t , the p u b lic id e n t if ic a t io n
o f John w ith the E lija h ;
and second, the words, ’Notwith­
stand in g, he th a t i s only sm all in the Kingdom i s g rea ter
than h e ’ (John).
O bviously, i t i s im possible to a ssig n
th e se two pronouncements to the same o cca sio n , and i t may
be asked whether e ith e r of them can be regarded as in te g r a l
to the thought o f Jesu s.
I t i s , ad m itted ly, very strange to fin d included in a
panegyric on th e B a p tist so trenchant a .c r it ic is m as i s
contained in' the words, ’N otw ithstanding he th a t i s only
small in the Kingdom i s grea ter than h e . ’
The Matthaean
and the Lucan t e x t s o f the words immediately preceding
t h is statem ent requ ire ca r efu l comparison.
Matthew has,
’There hath not a r ise n among th ose born o f women a g rea ter
365.
than John the B a p t i s t .’
Luke i\l 8
h as, _’Among them horn
o f women th ere i s no one g re a te r than J o h n .’
Luke A D has,
’Among them born of women th ere i s no g rea ter prophet than
John.*
Luke
The p r io r ity undoubtedly r e s t s w ith Matthew and
B as a g a in st Luke A O .
By the a d d itio n o f the
’prophet* Luke A D b etrays a lim it a tio n and a so fte n in g
o f th e o r ig in a l words o f Jesus to render them l e s s o ffe n ­
s iv e to th e ea r ly C h ristia n community.
Luke ?\| 6 and
Matthew might imply th a t John was g rea ter than Jesus him­
s e lf.
Luke AO excludes t h is p o s s i b i l i t y , e s ta b lis h in g by
in feren ce the su p e r io r ity o f J esu s.
Matthew and Luke ?Y 8
is d iffic u lt.
To decide between
Perhaps Luke 7V6 , be­
ing s l i g h t l y wider and more gen eral than Matthew, should
be p referred .
The te x t w i l l then run, ’V e r ily I say unto
you, Among them born o f women there i s no one g re a te r than
John, but he who i s on ly sm all in th e Kingdom i s g re a te r
than h e . ’
Now i f th e o r ig in a l words of Jesus have been a lte r e d
here once, fu rth er a lt e r a t io n s might be a l l th e more
r e a d ily expected.
On grammatical grounds, i t does not
seem th at th e words, ’No one i s g r e a te r ’ , follow ed by ’He
th at i s sm aller i s g r e a te r ’ , hang to g eth er at a l l n a tu r a lly .
As D ib e liu s puts i t , "The f i r s t exp ressio n i s very strong:
i t g iv e s the B a p tist an outstanding p o s it io n .
The fo llo w -
366
ing lim it a t io n , judged by th e su p e r la tiv e o f th e f i r s t
se n ten ce , i s not m erely a lim it a tio n but a d e f in i t e nega­
t io n .
We do not say, fNo one i s g r e a te r 1, when we intend
to add im mediately th e r e a fte r , not an ex c ep tio n , but to
in v a lid a te , fo r th e most p a r t, our previous sta te m e n t.”
1
I t i s probable, th e r e fo r e , th a t v . l l B , whether an o r ig in a l
sayin g o f Jesus or n o t, i s not in i t s co rrect p o s it io n , a t
l e a s t , at t h is p o in t.
Can i t be supposed, th en , th a t the ex p ressio n , though
wrongly in serted h ere, was an o r ig in a l word o f Jesus?
bably n o t,
Pro­
Jesu s seems to have b eliev ed th a t the Kingdom
was id e n tic a l w ith the Age to Come, and th a t i t s in flu e n c e s
could be f e l t even th en .
Now i t would be ex ceed in g ly
strange i f Jesus had p u b lic ly proclaimed th a t John was l e s s
than any member who would en ter th e Kingdom, e s p e c ia lly
in view o f the fa c t th a t John had spent h is en erg ies in
preparing men fo r th e coming of th e Kingdom.
So hard a
sayin g, in the lig h t o f Johnfs work and o f th e fr ie n d ly
r e la tio n s between Jesus and John, i s sc a r c e ly e x p lic a b le .
I t i s to be observed, moreover, th a t in t h is p a r tic u la r
sayin g, th e Kingdom i s described as a p resen t r e a lit y .
T h is, in i t s e l f , does not provide s u f f ic ie n t grounds fo r
r e je c tin g the sayin g, because i t i s p o ss ib le th at Jesus i s
1* J .d .T . . p*13, w ith referen ce to Franz D ib e liu s, Z.N.T.W. ,
I 9 i 0 , p .190, "After v . l l a i t i s im possible to continue
th a t a la r g e number of people are g rea ter than John.”
367
here d ra m a tica lly p ic tu r in g a fu tu re event as a present
r e a lity .
On th e oth er hand i t i s d i f f i c u l t not to ask
whether th e Kingdom in t h i s saying should not be id e n t­
if ie d w ith the e a r ly Church.
Other examples o f t h i s
appear, as alread y n oted, in the G osp els.
1
This impres­
sio n i s strengthened by the te x tu a l a lt e r a tio n s in th e
f i r s t h a lf o f the v e r se , by the grammatical d i f f i c u l t y
referred to above, and by the a lto g e th e r too harsh conno­
t a tio n o f th e words i f used by Jesus r e fe r r in g to th e New
Age.
The saying seems t o be a product o f ea rly C h risto lo g y ,
and i l l u s t r a t e s a con tin u ation o f th e process begun by
the in s e r tio n o f the word ’prophet’ in Luke / \ D .
The
e a r ly Church was u n w illin g to admit th a t John who had
never been b aptised by Jesus could be regarded as ’the
g r e a te st of men born o f women’ .
But th e lim it a tio n to
the g rea ter ’p rophet1 born of women was not s u f f i c i e n t . To
c lin c h the m atter, and to e s ta b lis h f i n a l l y th e su p e r io r ity
of J e su s, a ls o ’born of women’ (G a l.4 : 4 ) , the sweeping
negation was added, ’But he who i s on ly sm all in the
Church i s greater than h e . ’
The only o b je c tio n to t h is lin e o f in te r p r e ta tio n i s
1. M att.16:19; 13:47, e t c .
2. The con scious low ering o f John’ s p o s itio n in t h is way
need not be regarded as evidence fo r a continuing B a p tist
group. C h r is to lo g ic a l in t e r e s t s q u ite w e ll ex p la in the
o r ig in o f t h is sa y in g .
568.
th e fa c t th at th e saying occurs in a l l r e co n stru ctio n s of
Q, and i s th e r e fo r e , presumably, p r im itiv e .
This ob jec­
t io n , however, i s not in r e a lit y so serio u s as i t might at
f i r s t appear, because in the words o f Jackson and Lake,
'th e se re co n stru ctio n s o f Q, are in th e main m echanical com­
p ila tio n s
o f m a teria l common to Matthew and Luke which may
1
have been used in common la t e as w e ll as e a r ly s o u r c e s .1
I f , th en , th e se words are> om itted, and i f i t be
assumed fo r th e moment th a t M att. 11:13 should be placed
in the p resen t p o s itio n o f M att. 11:10, i t i s p o s s ib le ,
perhaps, to a ssig n the t e x t o f the speech o f Jesus from
M att. l l : 7 f f . to one o cc a sio n , and i t would run as fo llo w s ,
'And as the deputation departed, Jesus began to speak to
the crowds about John, Why then, did you go out in to the
w ilderness?
Was i t to see a reed shaken by the wind? Why,
th en , did you go out?
raiment?
houses.
Was i t to see a man cloth ed in s o ft
Behold, th ey who wear s o ft raiment are in K ing's
Why was i t then you went out?
To see a prophet?
Yes, I t e l l you, and more than a prophet.
prophets and th e law were u n t il John.
For a l l the
Y e r ily I say unto
you, among th o se born o f women there i s no one grea ter
than John the B a p t is t .1
I f the in te r p r e ta tio n o f the
words 'more than a prophet' be reserved fo r the p resen t,
1* The Beginnings o f C h r is tia n ity , I , i , p . 331.
2. T?his tr a n s la tio n i s based upon a s lig h t a lt e r a tio n o f the
punctuation in v erses 7 ,8 ,9 which g iv e s more fo rce and
point to the q u estion s of J esu s.
369.
th e remainder o f th e speech req u ires l i t t l e comment.
It
exp resses unreserved adm iration o f th e p e r s o n a lity o f
John th e B a p tis t.
John was not. a reed shaken by the wind,
a mere crazy f a n a t ic , bowing to the breath of popular
op in ion , but a man o f stron g, upright and determined char­
a cter .
He was not a man cloth ed in s o ft raim ent, a man
who saw to h is b o d ily com forts before a l l e l s e , but a down­
r ig h t earnest man evincing an in ten se a u s te r it y o f l i f e .
He showed, in f a c t , by h is manner o f l i f e and by h is tea ch ­
ing th a t he had, in r e a l i t y , a v i t a l message to d e liv e r
to the world, and t h is stamped him as a prophet in the
tr u e s t se n se .
I t i s im p ossib le to b e lie v e th at such a
panegyric w ith i t s c lo s in g words - Tnone i s greater than
John* - would ever have been invented in view o f th e t e n ­
dency o f tr a d itio n to m inim ise Joht^s s ig n ific a n c e b efore
J esu s.
Indeed, so illu m in a tin g a character study as t h i s
confirm s th e b e l i e f th a t th e r e la tio n s between Jesus and
John extended over a lon ger period than the S y n o p tists
a llo w , and th a t th ese r e la t io n s were o f the very fr ie n d ­
l i e s t nature u n t il the l a s t .
In th e sim ile which fo llo w s , i t i s th e s o lid a r it y be­
tween the work o f Jesus and John, d esp ite t h e ir d iffe r e n t
1
methods o f approach, which i s emphasised.
The v a ria n ts
1 . M a tt.1 1 :1 6 -1 9 z L k .7 : 3 1 - 3 5 .
370.
between Matthew and Luke are s lig h t and unimportant.
as u su a l, g iv e s the f u ll e r v e r sio n .
Luke,
The v er ses f a l l in to
two groups, (a) th e sim ile i t s e l f , and (b) th e a p p lic a tio n .
According to Matthew, Jesus sa y s, (a) ’Whereunto, th en ,
s h a ll I lik e n t h i s generation?
I t i s lik e unto ch ild ren
s i t t i n g in the markets and c a llin g unto t h e ir fe llo w s and
saying: "We have piped unto you, but you have not danced:
we have mourned unto you, but you have not lamented."
(b)
For John came n e ith e r e a tin g nor drinking and they say:
"He hath a d e v il."
The Son o f Man came
), (
P e r fe c t, in Luke), ea tin g and drinking and they say: "Be­
hold a g lu tto n , a w in e-bib b er, a frien d o f ta x -g a th e re rs
and sin n ers!"
But Wisdom i s v in d ica ted by a l l her c h i l ­
dren. * D ib e liu s th in k s th a t th e a p p lic a tio n (b) i s not
o r ig in a l to the thought o f J esu s, but r e f l e c t s the p oin t
1
o f view o f th e ea r ly community.
In support o f h is opin­
ion he p o in ts ou t, f i r s t , the use by Jesus o f the t i t l e
Son o f Man, which he alm ost c e r ta in ly did not employ b efore
Caesarea
P h ilip p i, second, the P erfect
su g g est­
ing a p e r sp e c tiv e o f past ev en ts, and th ir d , the "Community
Saying", ’ Wisdom i s v in d ica ted by a l l her ch ild ren * .
In
s p it e o f th e se arguments, i t seems to the p resent w riter
th a t th e a p p lic a tio n may w e ll r e st upon an o r ig in a l saying
1* J .d .T . . p p .1 8 -2 0 .
371.
o f Jesu s which has been a lte r e d to some ex ten tjb y the
E v a n g e lists th em selv es.
Thus ’Son o f Man’ stands fo r ’I ’
in the o r ig in a l saying o f J esu s, w h ile th e Lucan P erfect
need not be taken e s s e n t ia lly as su g g estin g a p ersp e ctiv e
o f p ast ev e n ts, but may w e ll have been an o r ig in a l word
o f Jesu s s ’I am come’ (P erfect w ith P resent f o r c e ) .
Whe­
th e r th e saying, ’Wisdom i s v in d ica ted by a l l her c h ild r e n ’
i s to be regarded as e d it o r ia l depends upon the a ttitu d e
taken to Matthew’s com pository methods.
I t i s true th a t
Matthew shews a tendency to add such co n clu sio n s, but even
so , i t seems rather a rb itra ry to d ism iss th e saying on
th e se grounds a lo n g .
The p o s s i b i l i t y s t i l l remains th a t
i t may have been an o r ig in a l word o f J esu s.
I f i t be adm itted, th en , th a t th e a p p lic a tio n (b ), no
l e s s than the sim ile i t s e l f ( a ) , i s a u th e n tic , th e r e s u lt ­
ant sense i s c le a r , provided th e d e t a ils are not unduly
p ressed .
I f t h is i s done, en d le ss and q u ite n eed le ss
d i f f i c u l t i e s a r is e .
P la in ly , the p ictu re in the mind of
Jesus was th at o f a group o f cBaildren c a llin g t h e ir fe llo w s
to p lay at a wedding or a t h olding a fu n er a l.
Their com­
rades r e fu se , and those who proposed the game grow angry.
In the end, they a l l sta r t shouting and q u a r rellin g among
th em selves, and have no game a t a l l .
The re a l point o f the
sim ile l i e s th e refo re in nothing more than the c h ild is h
372.
quarrelsom eness and s u lk in e s s o f ch ild ren at t h e ir games.
The a p p lic a tio n i s then made in a broad and gen eral way.
The gen eration resem bles quarrelsome c h ild r e n in th a t
th ey refused to l i s t e n to Jesus and John.
John, th e
a u ste r e , th ey branded a madman fo r h is very a u s te r it y of
l i f e , and J e su s, who entered in to s o c ia l a c t i v i t i e s , th ey
c a lle d a g lu tto n and a t ip p le r , fo r h is g rea ter freedom
o f h a b its .
Like th e su lk y ch ild ren the gen eration ended
up by fo llo w in g n e ith e r John nor J esu s.
N ev e rth e less,
Jesus con clu d es, ’Wisdom i s v in d ica ted by a l l her c h ild r e n .1
T h is saying has caused th e commentators very great p erp lex ­
i t y , but th e sim p lest and perhaps the b est in te r p r e ta tio n
i s th at the D ivine Wisdom (Proverbs 1:20) has been v in d i­
cated at le a s t by th ose o f the p e t tis h gen eration who did
indeed hearken to John’s c a l l to repentance, or who did
1
cast in t h e ir l o t w ith J e s u s .
Thus, w hile ill u s t r a t in g
1 . Zo<f i d i s here probably a p e r s o n ific a tio n o f the D ivine
Wisdom - a p e r s o n ific a tio n f a i r l y common in the Wisdom
L ite r a tu r e . (C f.Job, 2 8 :1 2 ,2 0 ,2 3 ; P ro v .8 :22-31; E cclu s.
2 4 ). Perhaps the saying i s a d ir e c t quotation from some
lo s t Wisdom-Book.
i s elsew here used in the N.T. ■
prudence, in a good se n se , and s w orldly wisdom, in a
bad se n se . B esides th e explanation of the saying given
in the t e x t , two o th e r s, at l e a s t , are th erefo re p o s s ib le ,
(a) The ’ch ild ren of wiwdom* are th e B a p tist and Jesus:
the prudence of th ese two tea ch ers, d esp ite c r it ic is m ,
has been v in d ica ted by t h e ir work. T his seems, however,
to be an involved iianner o f speaking, (b) T?he ’ch ild ren
o f Wisdom’ are the P h a risees in the audience: th u s, ’’the
shallow wisdom o f th ese c r i t i c s has been v in d ica ted by the
use o f e p ith e ts borrowed from such wisdom’ s armoury.” This
in te r p r e ta tio n i s too s u b tle , and fa r -fe tc h e d , and p resupppses a lim ita tio n o f.th $ sa y in g .to the P h a r ise es, o f
which th ere i s no c le a r in d ic a tio n m th e t e x t . For t h i s
note acknowledgment i s due to B lak iston : John the B a p t is t ,
p p .225-227.
373.
th e d iffe r e n c e between the p r a c tic e s o f Jesus^and John,
th e saying emphasises the e s s e n t ia l s o lid a r it y which, fo r
J esu s, e x iste d between h is own work and the work o f John.
I t i s , in f a c t , another testim ony to the B a p t is t ’ s g re a t­
n e ss, and su g g e sts , once again, more than a f le e t in g con­
t a c t between Jesus and John.
In the o r ig in a l testim ony o f Jesu s to John’s person­
a l i t y , th ere i s , th e r e fo r e , i t would seem, no word o f
censure, but on ly the h ig h e st p r a is e .
The e f f o r t s of
t r a d itio n to m odify t h i s p ictu re have not been com pletely
s u c c e s s fu l, fo r i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to tra ce where the
la t e r hand has been at work, a lt e r in g and m odifying th e
o r ig in a l p o r t r a it .
To turn now to the second p oin t - th e id e n t if ic a t io n
o f John w ith E lija h ;
i f such an id e n t if ic a t io n could be
regarded as in te g r a l to the thought o f J esu s, i t would have
a h ig h ly important bearing upon h is M essianic co n scio u sn ess.
The problem may be posed as fo llo w s;
(a) Did the
E lija h id e n t if ic a t io n form part o f the p u b lic panegyric
of Jesus on the B a p t is t ’s p e r s o n a lity , or (b) was the
id e n t if ic a t io n made by Jesus in e s o te r ic fa sh io n to h is
d is c ip le s o n ly , or (c) was the id e n t if ic a t io n the product
o f the a a rly Church, in th a t once Jesus had been worshipped
as M essiah, John the B a p tist came to be regarded .as the
E lijah?
374*
I f M att. 11:10 * Lk. 7 :2 7 , and M att. 11;JL4 are in
t h e ir proper con text and s e t t in g , then th e f i r s t view
must be accep ted.
Jesu s i s reported a s sa y in g , ’For t h i s
i s he o f whom i t i s w r itte n , Behold I send my messenger
b efore th y fa ce who w i l l prepare th y way before t h e e ’ ,
and ’I f you w i l l receiv e i t , he (John) i s E lia s which was
to com e.’
These v er ses are based on Malachi 3:1 and 4:5
which f o r e t e l l the appearance of the E lija h im m ediately
preceding the Day o f the Lord.
The E lija h b e l i e f was
apparently much elaborated in S c r ib a l t r a d itio n with
M essiahic con n o ta tio n s, and in E cclu s.4 8 h is fu n ctio n was
’to p a c ify anger before i t break fo r th in to wrath:
to
turn th e heart of the fa th er unto th e son and t o re sto re
the t r ib e s of J a c o b .’
At the beginning o f th e f i r s t cen­
tu ry A.D. th e b e l i e f was w idespread, as may be judged from
th e popular e s tim a te s, to be noted p r e se n tly , o f John and
1
Jesus being th a t f ig u r e .
I f the c lo se a s s o c ia tio n in
popular thought between the E lija h and the M essiah i s
borne in mind, i t would seem to be not a lto g e th e r easy
to regard the p u b lic id e n t if ic a t io n of John v/ith E lija h
as a u th e n tic .____________________________________________ _ _ _
1. The widespread b e l i e f in the reappearance o f E lija h len d s
a c e r ta in colour to th e t h e s is o f Schw eitzer: The Quest
o f th e H is to r ic a l J e s u s, p p .360-395, v i z . th a t John fo r e ­
t o ld the coming not of th e Messiah but o f E lija h .
The
th eory in v o lv e s , however, a very strain ed in te r p r e ta tio n
o f John’s baptism , as sa n c tify in g men fo r the recep tion
o f Holy S p i r i t . I t seems much more n atural to accept th e
t r a d itio n a l view th a t John fo r e to ld the coming o f the
M essiah.
I f a u th e n tic , i t i s strange th a t th e populace were
id e n tify in g Jesus
w ith E lija h .
Rumours to t h is e f f e c t
are reported in Mk.6:14-16 = Lk.9 :7 -9 , in connection w ith
Herod’ s opinion th a t Jesus was John the B a p tist r is e n from
the dead.
The same rumours are reported by the d is c ip le s
o f Jesus im m ediately before P e te r ’ s co n fessio n at Caesarea
P h ilip p i, Mk.8:27-30 = M att. 16:13-28 - L k.9 :1 8 -2 7 .
Had
Jesus p u b lic ly id e n tifie d John with the E lija h , i t i s
hardly p o s s ib le that such rumours would have a r ise n regard­
ing h is own Person.
A gain, i t i s sc a r c e ly li k e l y th a t
i f the p u b lic id e n t if ic a t io n o f John w ith E lija h had been
a fa c t w e ll-e s ta b lis h e d in t r a d itio n , the Fourth Evangel­
i s t would have allow ed John’ s d en ia l t o stand, ’I am not
E lija h * , J n .l: 2 1 .
L a s tly , i t i s Improbable th a t J e su s,
at t h is p oin t in h is m in istr y , would have announced h is
M essiahship t o the p eo p le.
The id e n t if ic a t io n of John w ith
E lija h would suggest the co ro lla ry th a t Jesus h im self was
M essiah, and even although many of the people might not
have drawn-the in feren ce because t h e ir M essianic exp ecta­
tio n s le d them to look fo r a Messiah whose a ttr ib u te s were
d iffe r e n t from those o f J esu s, i t i s improbable th a t a l l
would not have done so , and in p a r tic u la r , h is own d is ­
c ip le s .
Yet at Caesarea P h ilip p i and at the T ransfigura­
tio n Jesus found i t n ecessary to repeat h is announcement
376.
more e x p l i c i t l y to h is d i s c i p l e s , who, in tu rn , showed
no knowledge o f th e fa ct th a t John had been p u b lic ly iden­
t i f i e d w ith E lija h .
In view o f t h i s , : i t seems that the
p u b lic id e n t if ic a t io n o f John w ith E lija h in M att.11:10 =
Lk.7:27 and in M att.11:14 i s almost certa in ly m a u th en tic.
I t must be supposed, then, e ith e r th a t th e s e v erses are
a product o f th e ea rly Church, or th at th e id e n t if ic a t io n
r e s t s upon a saying o f Jesus communicated to h is d is c ip le s
p r iv a t e ly .
Between th e se two p o s s i b i l i t i e s a d e c isio n
must now be attem pted.
I f the Marcan and the Matthaean accounts o f the Trans­
fig u r a tio n and of th e in cid en t immediately th e r e a fte r are
allow ed an h is t o r ic a l b a s is , then the l a t t e r view may be
1
accepted. I f TurnerTs re-arrangement o f M k.9:9-13 i s
adopted, the E lij a h - id e n t if ic a t io n appears as fo llo w s ,
fv . 9 And as th ey were coming down from th e mountain, Jesus
charged the d is c ip le s th a t th ey should t e l l no man what
th in g s th ey had seen, save when the Son o f Man should have
r ise n again from the dead,
v .1 0 And the d is c ip le s kept the
saying, q u estio n in g among them selves what the r is in g again
from th e dead should mean, v.IS b and how i t i s w r itte n o f
the Son o f Man th a t he should s u ffe r many th in g s and be
se t at nought,
v . l l And they asked him saying, Why do the
1 . The Stu dy o f th e New T e sta m en t, p . 6 1 .
377.
sc r ib e s say th a t E lija h must f i r s t come?_
v .l2 a And he
answered and sa id , E lija h i s come and th e y have done unto
him whatsoever th ey l i s t e d even as i t i s w ritten o f h im .’
Matthew adds, ’Likewise a ls o s h a ll th e Son o f Man s u ffe r
o f them.
Then the d is c ip le s understood th a t he spake
1
unto them o f John the B a p t i s t .’
Can th e se words be r e ­
garded as a u th e n tic , i f not in t o t o , at le a s t in part?
There has been a tendency in recen t tim es to regard
Mark’s n a rra tiv e from Caesarea P h ilip p i onwards as con­
ta in in g very l i t t l e genuine h is to r y .
"The Marcan narra­
t i v e ” , w r ite s J . W eiss, ’’becomes at t h i s p oin t v ir t u a lly
an im pressive sermon addressed to the reader.
I t en­
sh rin es in the g u ise o f narration the kernel o f a r e lig io u s
e th ic appropriate to the martyr and m ission ary Church o f
Nero’ s tim e .”
2
S im ila r ly W ellhausen, ’’The s it u a tio n and
mood o f the early C h ristia n community are r e fle c te d b efo re3
hand in Jesus as he goes forward to meet h is f a t e . ”
For
some w r ite r s , th e r e fo r e , th e tr a n sfig u r a tio n o f Jesus and
the p r e d ic tio n s o f h is P assion are to be regarded as the
product of subsequent C h ristian fa n ta sy and C h r isto lo g ic a l
p reoccu pation s.
As fa r as the p r e d ic tio n s o f s u ffe r in g are
concerned, however, i t seems to the present w riter th a t a
1. M a tt.l6 :1 2 b -1 3 .
2. Die S c h r ifte n des N.T. , i , p .145, c ite d by Rawlinson:
QP-. P i t . . p .108.
3. Das Evangelium M arci, p .66, c ite d by Rawlinson: o p . c i t . .
p .109.
378.
sym pathetic study o f th e thought o f Jesus makes "it a l t o ­
g eth er probable th a t th e se were h is t o r ic a l.
I t i s im­
p o s s ib le to en ter here in to a study o f : t h i s complex prob­
lem, but the p o s itio n may be summed up q u ite admirably
in th e s ig n if ic a n t words of E .E .S c o tt, "We can have l i t t l e
doubt th a t Jesus id e n tifie d th e S u fferin g Servant o f the
Lord w ith the M essiah.
When we a llo w fo r the con tin u al
in flu e n c e on him o f th e great passage in Is a ia h , we can
no lon ger regard the p r e d ic tio n s o f h is su ffe r in g and death
as purely u n h is to r ic a l.
They may have come down to us,
i t may be granted, in a stereotyped form and recur at
reg u la r in te r v a ls according to a given scheme.
To t h is
ex ten t th ey betray a lit e r a r y o r ig in . . . yet t h e ir sub1
s t a n t ia l a u th e n tic ity need not be q u estio n ed .”
The E lij a h - id e n t if ic a t io n enshrined in the Gospel
passage quoted above has o fte n been regarded as e n t ir e ly
u n h is to r ic a l.
D ib e liu s , fo r example, w r ite s, "The passage
con tain s th e o lo g ic a l id e a s.
Three ex p ecta tio n s are put
forward, the coming o f E lia s , the su ffe r in g o f E lia s , the
S u fferin g of th e M essiah . . . Can t h i s th e o lo g ic a l compos2
it io n r e a lly have been o r ig in a l to Jesus?"
He concludes
th a t t h is i s u n lik e ly , but th a t c e r ta in ty i s im possible
owing to the d i f f i c u l t y of reco n stru ctin g th e o r ig in a l form
1. The Kingdom and the M essiah, p .222.
2. J .d .T . . p .31.
379.
and s e ttin g o f th e p erio d .
I t i s tr u e , th a t even w ith
Turner’ s rearrangement o f the v e r s e s , the passage i s some­
what obscure, in p a r tic u la r , th e connection between v .l2 b
and v . l l .
Yet d esp ite th e o b scu rity provided th a t the
n a rra tiv e o f th e T ra n sfig u ra tio n of Jesus and the pre­
d ic tio n s o f h is P assion are allowed some h is t o r ic a l b a s is ,
i t i s not im possib le to regard the passage under d isc u ssio n
as being in i t s o r ig in a l s e tt in g , and fo r the most p a rt,
in i t s o r ig in a l form, as i t stand s.
According to Mark, the T ra n sfig u ra tio n took p la ce
s ix days, according to Luke, eig h t days a fte r th e p red ic­
t io n by Jesus o f h is P assion at Caesarea P h ilip p i.
The
ca r efu l d atin g o f the event i s to be observed, su g g estin g
a c e r ta in connection between the two ep iso d es.
t h is connection?
What was
C lea r ly , a t Caesarea P h ilip p i the
d is c ip le s o f Jesus had receiv ed a profound shock on lea rn ­
ing th a t t h e ir Master was to su ffe r and d ie .
The announce­
ment o f such a d estin y was q u ite incom patible with the
t r a d itio n a l M essianic r o le , and l e f t them in bewilderm ent.
A week la t e r th e y were granted some kind of v is io n o f Jesus
tra n sfig u red in prayer, to g eth e r w ith Moses and E lija h ,
and w ith th e p assin g of the v is io n Jesus apparently r e ­
peated h is p r e d ic tio n o f S u fferin g .
Now although the pur­
pose o f t h i s v is io n was to show th a t th e M essiahsfiip o f
380.
Jesus in i t s f u l l e s t sen se la y in the fu tu r e, i t i s not
su rp risin g th a t the d is c ip le s did not at once grasp th e
r e a l import of t h e ir ex p erien ce.
The idea of a S u ffe rin g
M essiah s t i l l remained very strange to them, but th e
appearance o f E ligah in the v is io n sta r te d in t h e ir minds
a tr a in o f thought which u ltim a te ly found ex p ressio n in
the q u estio n , ’Why do th e sc r ib e s say th at E lija h must
f i r s t come?’
I t i s p o s s ib le , perhaps, to tra ce the tr a in
o f thought lea d in g t o t h is q u estio n .
h is M essiahship at Caesarea P h ilip p i:
Jesus had revealed
he had ju st appear­
ed to h is d is c ip le s tran sfigured ' in a v is io n :
on both
o cca sio n s he had in d ica ted th at he must s u ffe r and d ie .
But the d is c ip le s could not comprehend th e se th in g s .
Though u n w illin g to doubt the accuracy o f J e s u s ’ pronouncement at Caesarea P h ilip p i, th ey ventured, humanly
enough, to in te rr o g a te him about th e E lija h o f popular
e x p e c ta tio n s, hoping, thereby, perhaps, by r a is in g an
o b je c tio n , to e l i c i t from Jesus fu rth er in form ation.
Jesus
explained th a t th e E lija h had alread y appeared, adding,
’They have done unto him whatsoever they l i s t e d even as
i t i s w ritten o f h im .’
C erta in ly , i t i s nowhere w ritten
th at E lija h would s u ffe r , but probably Jesus was re fe rr in g
to some well-known p r e d ic tio n o f an E lija h -P a ssio n in an
Apocryphal sc rip tu re now lo s t .^
I f Matthew’ s v ersio n
1. I t i s ju st p o s s ib le , however, th a t the a llu s io n may be
to J e z e b e l’ s denunciation o f E lija h {Kings, 1 9 :2 ,1 0 )
which found i t s u ltim ate v ic tim m John the B a p tist,
through H erodias, the new J e z e b e l.
i s accep ted, Jesus co n tin u es, ’Likewise a ls o s h a ll th e
Son o f Man s u ffe r o f them’ , a saying which, i f o r ig in a l,
can be exp lain ed by th e th eo ry o f the S u ffe rin g M essiah
already in d ic a te d .
F in a lly , Matthew con clud es, ’Then
understood th e d is c ip le s th a t he spoke o f John th e B a p t i s t .’
The e d it o r ia l nature o f t h i s verse i s q u ite unmistaKab|£?
b ut, at the same tim e, th ere i s reason to b e lie v e th a t the
E lij a h - id e n t if ic a t io n was communicated by Jesus e s o t e r ic a lly to h is d is c ip le s at t h i s p o in t, and th a t th e e d it o r ­
i a l note i s based on genuine h is t o r ic a l rem in iscen ces.
I f i t be admitted th a t the E lija h passage stands in
i t s o r ig in a l s e ttin g a f te r the T ran sfigu ration of J esu s,
1
as seems not unreasonable, i t i s to be observed th a t th e
referen ce o f Jesu s to th e E lija h re d iv iv u s and to h is
own P assion was made not lon g a fte r th e execu tion o f John
the B a p tis t.
Now i t has been shown in another p la ce th a t
th e imprisonment o f John the B a p tist was fo r Jesus the
s ig n a l to commence h is own m in istr y , and i t i s o f c r u c ia l
importance to note th a t not long a fte r John’s imprisonment
Jesus appears to have been conscious th a t he, to o , would
2
su ffe r lik e John.
Many c r i t i c s have f e l t th a t t h i s
passage i s so thoroughly out o f harmony w ith the mood o f
hopefulness which pervades the e a r lie r teach in g of J esu s,
1. An a lte r n a tiv e s e ttin g might be a fte r 8 :3 8 , i . e . a f t e r
the second p r e d ic tio n o f S u ffe rin g .
2 . Mk.2 :1 8 -2 0 .
382
th a t th ey would a ssig n i t to a la t e r p erio d .
q u ite a r b itr a r y .
JJut t h i s i s
I t i s very d i f f i c u l t to think o f any
reason why Mark should have a n te -d a te d -th is p a r tic u la r
saying in view o f the fa c t th a t elsew here he assumes th at
the p r e d ic tio n s o f S u ffe rin g began on ly a f te r Caesarea
P h ilip p i.
The h is t o r ic a l s itu a tio n i s q uite i n t e l l i g i b l e .
John had been im prisoned, but not yet executed.
His d is ­
c ip le s were h olding a s p e c ia l f a s t because t h e ir m aster
had been taken away.
I t can only be supposed th a t Mark’s
account o f J e s u s ’ p r e d ic tio n of S u ffe rin g at t h i s p oint i s
based on h is t o r ic a l f a c t , and that th e tr a d itio n was too
strong fo r him to ignore i t .
There a re , then, th e fo llo w ­
ing p a r a lle ls
Imprisonment o f John th e
B a p tis t.
Death o f John the B a p tis t.
J e s u s ’ p r e d ic tio n o f death.
J e s u s ’ p r e d ic tio n o f d eath.
Avowal of h is M essiahship.
Saying about the E lija h .
On both o cc a sio n s, J e s u s ’ p r e d ic tio n of h is S u fferin g
fo llo w s sh o r tly a f te r the same fa te had overtaken the Bap­
tis t.
The in feren ce i s th at Jesus b eliev ed h is own des­
t in y to be lin k ed up in some m ysterious way w ith th a t o f
John.
M essiah.
As i t had been w ith John, so i t would be with th e
John, in f a c t , was th e E lija h re d iv iv u s in a
s p ir itu a l se n se , and t h is id e n t if ic a t io n was made by Jesus
383.
to h is d is c ip le s e s o t e r ic a lly .
I f , howevej*., at the time
o f th e com position o f the G ospels, the s c r ib a l o b je c tio n
a g a in st C h r is tia n ity was s t i l l being urged, v i z . th a t
1
E lija h must f i r s t appear, the best means o f d isp o sin g o f
t h i s o b je ctio n would have been the method adopted by Mat­
thew.
A ccord ingly, in h is G ospel, the E lij a h - id e n t if ic a t io n
i s presented not as an e s o te r ic theory but as a proclama­
t io n to the people in g en era l, w hile at th e beginning o f
Mark’s Gospel th e same id e n t if ic a t io n i s made by some copy2
i s t in flu en ced , i t would seem, by the same in t e r e s t s .
To draw out th e f u l l im p lica tio n of th e E lija h id e n t if ic a t io n would in v o lv e going too fa r a f i e l d .
Yet
the m atter i s so im portant, th at th e s a lie n t p o in ts may
be se t down.
F i r s t l y , although the id e n t if ic a t io n was not made to
the d is c ip le s by Jesus before th e r e v e la tio n o f h is M essiahsh ip , the Marcan passage considered above su g g ests that
11 C f.J u stia : Dialogue c.Trypho, x l i x , ’’For we Jews a l l ex­
pect th a t C hrist w i l l be a man of men and th a t E lia s must
anoint him when he i s come; but i f he o f whom you speak
be shewn to be C h rist, one must conclude on a l l hands
th a t he i s a man born of men, although from E lia s not
having come, I do not consider th a t t h is i s C h r is t.”
2 . Mark 1 :2 . T his verse i s a ’p r o o f - t e x t ’ . As Mark h im self
shows no sig n s o f dependence upon p r o o f-te x ts , i t i s l i k e ­
ly th a t the verse i s a la t e r in s e r tio n .
In favour o f
t h is view a re, fu r th e r , (a) M att, and Lk. omit th e v e r se .
Presumably, th e r e fo r e , i t did not stand in t h e ir copy o f
Mark, (b) The almost u n b elievab le error on Mark’ s part
in a ssig n in g t h is q uotation to Isa ia h !
384
J esu s, from th e opening sta g es o f h is m in istr y , had re­
garded John as E lija h r e d iv iv u s in a s p ir it u a l way.
Sec­
on d ly. i f Jesu s had regarded John as E lija h re d iv iv u s from
th e f i r s t , i t i s to be presumed that he h im self was con­
sc io u s o f h is own M essiahship from th e commencement o f h is
p u b lic m in istr y .
T h ird ly , th e in ju n ctio n s to s ile n c e r e ­
garding h is M essiahship are to be understood n e ith e r as
in d ic a tin g th a t Jesus was not sure of h is M essiahship from
1
th e f i r s t , nor as la t e r a d d itio n s in the in t e r e s t s o f
C h ristia n dogma, nor by supposing th a t from Caesarea P h il­
ip p i onwards Jesus decided t o a lt e r h is p lans and to id en ­
t i f y h im self openly w ith the promised M essiah and to arouse
a M essianic a g it a tio n , nor on th e ground th a t Jesus d esired
to avoid a premature cla sh w ith the Roman a u th o r it ie s , nor,
f i n a l l y , by th e commonly accepted view th a t Jesus was
a fra id to re v ea l the r e a l nature o f h is M essiahship at
f i r s t , l e s t th e purpose of h is m ission might be misunder­
stood .
In c e r ta in o f th ese o p in io n s, th ere may be an
element of tr u th , but the r e a l reason was, i t would seem,
q u ite d if f e r e n t .
Jesus enjoined secrecy , because he pre­
ferred h is hearers in each in d iv id u a l case to form t h e ir
own d e c isio n , t h e ir own co n clu sio n , from the evidence pre­
1. So E .E .S co tt: The Kingdom and the M essiah, p p .l 5 9 f f ., w ith
re feren ces to Wrede: Das M essiasgeheim nrs» R d v ille: Jesus
o f N azareth, and Cairns, C h r istia n ity in th e Modern # o r ld ,
r e s p e c tiv e ly , fo r th e other opinions c it e d .
385.
sen ted to them, from th e content and character o f h is
m essage.
Jesu s never attempted to fo r c e th e op in ion o f
any man, but on ly t o draw men unto him by the power o f h is
Word.
That i s why, in rep ly to John’ s q u estio n , ’Art
thou He?’ , Jesus did not r e p ly , *1 am He*, but pointed to
h is fu lfilm e n t o f O.T. p rop h ecies, le a v in g the B a p tist to
make h is own d e c is io n .
Only when Jesus f e l t th a t th e time
was sh ort did he f i n a l l y r e v e a l h is M essiahship openly.
L a s t ly , Jesus was con sciou s from the f i r s t not on ly th a t
he was M essiah, but th a t h is M essiahship in i t s f u l l sense
le y in the fu tu re and that th e way to h is M essiahship would
lead through S u fferin g and d eath.
As the Kingdom la y in
the fu tu r e , so did h is M essiahship.
Y et, in a se n se , he
was Messiah not on ly in the fu tu r e , but in th e p resen t,
corresponding to h is teach in g th a t th e in flu e n c e s o f the
fu tu re Kingdom were alread y making them selves f e l t in the
world.
At no tim e in h is m in istr y did Jesus proclaim him­
s e l f to be the v ic to r io u s Messiah o f popular ex p ecta tio n s;
ra th er, from the very f i r s t th ere was a h int o f traged y.
In th e su ffe r in g o f th e B a p tis t, Jesus perceived th a t h is
in te r p r e ta tio n o f th e S u fferin g Servant passage in Isa ia h ,
however strange th a t in te r p r e ta tio n may have seemed even
to Jesus h im self, was confirm ed.
And whatever e ls e the
S u fferin g and death of Jesus might mean fo r th e world, i t
386 •
meant fo r Jesus before a l l e ls e th a t thereby, th e Kingdom
o f God would be opened to every in d iv id u a l - to every
in d iv id u a l who accepted h is Word as Truth.
Prom th e moment o f h is baptism by John, Jesu s was
M essiah, and alread y, perhaps, th e shadow o f S u fferin g
was p r e se n t.
During h is a s s o c ia tio n w ith the B a p tis t,
h is M essian ic con sciou sn ess had g ra d u ally ripened towards
c e r ta in ty .
The imprisonment and death o f John, in whom
Jesus saw in a s p ir it u a l sense th e E lija h r e d iv iv u s ,
appear to have convinced him beyond a l l doubt th a t he,
to o , must su ffe r lik e I s a ia h ’s Servant.
fo r e , John was ’more than a prophet’ .
For J e su s, th e r e ­
He was th e E lija h
whose appearance heralded th e approach o f th e Kingdom o f
God.
I f t h is thought i s applied to the panegyric o f
Jesus on John in Matt .1 1 : 9ff., the te x t ru n s:’Why did you go out then?
Was i t to see a prophet?
Y es, I t e l l you, and more than a prophet.
prophets and th e Law were u n t il John.
For a l l the
V e r ily , I say unto
you, among them born of women there i s none g re a te r than
John th e B a p t is t .1
The in te r p r e ta tio n i s c le a r .
John was more than a
prophet in the sense t h a t , fo r Jesus h im se lf, John was the
E lija h , although, at t h is p o in t, th e p u b lic id e n t if ic a t io n
o f John w ith th e E lija h i s improbable.
’A ll th e prophets
387.
and the Law had been u n t il John’ in th e sense th a t now
th e age o f preparation had been succeeded by the age o f
f u lf ilm e n t .
In v ir tu e o f h is unique r e la tio n s h ip to
the M essiah, John was indeed ’g rea ter than any man born
o f woman*.
**Unawares t o h im self John had hastened the
coming o f the M essiah whom he had f o r e t o ld .
The claim
o f Jesus to M essiahship was indeed founded in th e l a s t re
so rt on an inward co n v ictio n : but h is estim ate o f John
re -a c te d on th a t co n v ic tio n and served to illu m in a te and
stren gth en i t .
In th e su ffe r in g of the new E lija h at
the hands o f h is enem ies, he saw th e foreshadowing o f
h is own.
The m ission o f John not on ly confirmed him in
the knowledge o f h is great V ocation, but pointed out to
1
him th e road along which i t would be accom plished.1*
1 . E .F .S c o t t :
The Kingdom and th e M e ssia h , p . 8 7 .
388
CONCLUSION and RECONSTRUCTION.
John, th e son of Zacharias, afterw ards known a s the
B a p tis t, was horn a few years before th e commencement o f
th e C h ristia n er a .
The n a rra tiv e o f h is b ir th , which
i s c lo s e ly interwoven w ith the n a rra tiv e o f th e b ir th of
J e su s, and which need not be a scrib ed to a separate B a p tist
sou rce, i s la r g e ly due to the pious leg en d -b u ild in g imag­
in a tio n , and can be used only w ith cau tion fo r chronolo­
g ic a l d e ta ils .
There i s no reason to doubt, however, th a t
John was o f p r ie s t l y d escen t.
During h is youth he fa m il­
ia r is e d h im self w ith the Old Testament S crip tu res and w ith
current a p oca ly p tic sp e c u la tio n s, and h is study o f the
l a t t e r seems to have been the determ ining fa c to r in mould­
ing th e content o f h is thou ght.
At len gth John withdrew to th e d eserts - t h i s would
g iv e r is e to the tr a d itio n of th e ’ch ild in th e deserts* p a r tly owing to h is co n v ictio n th a t the manners o f h is
countrymen were fa r from what th ey should have been, p a r tly
because he b eliev ed th a t the n a tio n a l M essianic n otion s o f
the v in d ic a tio n o f I s r a e l were m istaken.
He imposed upon
h im self a r ig id a sc e tic is m , donned th e prophetic garb, and
began an outspoken denunciation o f th e morals o f I s r a e l.
The appearance o f a prophet at a time when men^deemed
389.
th e age o f prophecy to be p a s t, at a time when th e study
o f le g a lism h eld the f i e l d , had an in stantaneous and t r e ­
mendous e f f e c t .
The report spread around th a t a prophet
had appeared, and people of a l l c la s s e s became anxious to
know whether, o f a tru th , th ey had liv e d to see a phenomenon
h ith e r to fo r many a gen eration unfam iliar to I s r a e l.
John drove home h is message w ith a fe a r fu l in te n s ity
of s p ir it.
In keeping w ith ap o ca ly p tic sp ec u la tio n s he
announced th a t th e Day o f the Lord was at hand, and that
th e Messiah in h is cap acity o f Judge would appear and
accom plish the great act of judgment by which sin n ers would
u t t e r ly p e r ish , w hile only th e righ teou s would be gathered
in to the New Age, or the Kingdom o f God.
At th e same tim e
John combined th e se a p o ca ly p tic sp e c u la tio n s with the
sublim est p assages of Old Testament prophecy in an o r ig in a l
and daring way.
The hour o f judgment would not be as
was commonly expected, the hour o f d eliv era n ce and ven­
geance fo r I s r a e l.
a v a il.
C onsiderations o f race would be o f no
Each would be rewarded s t r i c t l y according to h is
own m e r its, and th e Kingdom o f God would be opened to a l l ,
ir r e s p e c tiv e o f ra ce, who repented and changed t h e ir l i v e s .
John was thu s an e s£ h a to lo g ic a l preacher and not
m erely a tea ch er of v ir tu e , as Josephus would have us be­
lie v e .
His g en iu s la y in a s k i l f u l combination of^escha-
390.
t o lo g ic a l id ea s w ith a re-em phasis upon th e mgral law.
With p o l i t i c a l is s u e s John was not in th e le a s t concerned,
and the S lavon ic p o r tr a it o f th e B a p tis t, in which he seems
to play a p o l i t i c a l r o le , may he d ism issed on exam ination
o f i t s o r ig in and h is to r y , as com pletely u n h is to r ic a l.
In d ivid u al judgment, not n a tio n a l judgment, was th e key­
note o f John’s preaching.
The n o n - p o litic a l nature of
John’ s m in istr y d istin g u is h e s him sharply from a l l the
pseudo-m essiahs o f the f i r s t century.
The i n i t i a l sta g es o f John’s a c t i v i t y took p la ce in
th e W ilderness of Judea, as d is t in c t from the Jordan d i s ­
t r i c t , about 22 A .D ..
Since the E v a n g elists are but l i t t l e
in te r e ste d in the B a p t is t ’ s independent m in istr y , i t i s
only by ca r efu l examination of the Gospel t e x t s th a t th ese
i n i t i a l sta g es are to be tra ced .
In the W ilderness of
Judea John offered no baptism , but sim ply announced th e
Coming o f th e Messiah and demanded repentance.
A fter a time John moved on t o the South Jordan d is ­
t r i c t , and introduced th ere h is baptism al r i t e , a r i t e
which e x p la in s, in la rg e measure, th e la t e r p r a c tic e o f
C h ristian baptism .
The r i t e may have been in sp ired in
part by contemporary baptism , e .g . th e baptism o f the
E ssenes, and in part by the prophecy in E zek iel
47 and
c e r ta in Psalm s, b ut, in the la s t r e s o r t, allowance-m ust
be made for a daring o r ig in a lit y on the part o f i t s
391.
o r ig in a to r , both in view o f i t s form and,, i t s s ig n if ic a n c e .
In th e se r e sp e c ts no exact p a r a lle l can be found in con­
temporary baptism s.
Although Josephus s t a t e s th at John’ s
baptism was fo r b o d ily p u r ific a tio n o n ly , i t seems cer­
t a in th a t a c tu a lly i t was connected in some way w ith moral
is s u e s .
I t was, in f a c t , a baptism which demanded re­
pentance, w ith the fu r th er im p lica tio n th a t i f repentance
were duly put in to p r a c t ic e , the b a p tised would have t h e ir
s in s rem itted , and would pass through the coming baptism
unscathed.
Both in e x te r n a ls, as r e je c tin g contemporary
r e s t r i c t i v e r u le s fo r baptism, and in i t s s ig n if ic a n c e ,
as connected s o le ly w ith moral is s u e s , and as brought in to
c lo se a s s o c ia tio n w ith the Kingdom o f God, John’s r i t e
was something a b so lu te ly new in th e h isto r y o f Jew ish bap­
tis m s .
I t i s p r a c t ic a lly c e r ta in , judging by
th e emphasis
which John la id upon ’f r u it s o f repentance* th a t he assigned
no sacram ental e f f ic a c y to h is r i t e .
I t was designed,
sim ply as a means to get the people to g eth er to take an
e s c h a to lo g ic a l oath to rep en t, and was intended to g iv e a
sp ectacu lar appeal to h is demand fo r repentance, and t o
sym bolise th e p u r ity of l i f e which was e s s e n t ia l fo r sa lv a ­
t io n .
The h isto r y o f baptism s, however, in p a r tic u la r
the old a n im istic n o tio n s regarding th e m agical p ro p erties
392.
o f w ater, r a is e s th e presumption th a t many ,pf th e b ap tised
would b e lie v e th a t th e r i t e did p o sse ss a c e r ta in m agical
power.
Meanwhile, John gathered round him a c e r ta in number
o f d is c ip le s upon whom he enjoined r u le s fo r f a s tin g and
prayer.
There i s no convincing evidence th a t th e se d is ­
c ip le s formed a h ig h ly organised group w ith a lit e r a t u r e
o f t h e ir own, nor need such a con clu sion be ex tra cted from
the Josephan phrase
<yvviev^i0
s in c e John be­
lie v e d th a t th e end o f th e world was at hand, th ere would
have been no p oint in such an o rg a n isa tio n .
With the in tro d u ctio n o f h is baptism al r i t e , John
drew even g rea ter crowds than b efo re, many exp ectin g th e r e ­
by to be saved from the fe a r fu l baptism which was t o come,
f e a r f u l, in th at the coming baptism was to be one not
w ith the Holy S p ir it , as i t i s C h r istia n ised in the G ospels,
but th e baptism o f P ersian A pocalyptic thought, w ith wind
and w ith f i r e .
As th ere i s no reason to doubt the evidence which the
Fourth E van gelist su p p lie s as to the s i t e s o f John’s bap­
tism , although th ere i s good reason, i t would seem, to
r e je c t h is account of th e overlapping of the m in is tr ie s o f
John and Jesus as u n h is to r ic a l, i t may be con jectu red ,
p e r f e c tly n a tu r a lly , th a t th e B a p tist, a fte r working fo r
393.
a tim e on th e Judean sid e o f th e Jordan, crossed,.the r iv e r
to P erea, and continued h is m in istr y at Bethany.
I t would
appear, however, th a t at t h i s p o in t, he ra ised th e sus­
p ic io n s o f Herod A n tip as,
The grounds fo r t h i s su sp icio n
are u n certain , but at any r a te , John’s appearance a t Aenon
near to Salim in Samaritan t e r r it o r y may be b est explained
by h is d esir e to avoid a premature cla sh w ith Herod A ntipas
a t that tim e.
While John was thus proclaim ing th e coming o f the
M essiah, and demanding th e repentance o f I s r a e l, th ere was
growing up in G a lile e One who p ossessed in unique measure
the sense of the Fatherhood and the Love o f God.
To Jesus
came rep orts o f John’s m in istr y , and as th e se rep o rts
harmonised in no sm all measure w ith h is own a s p ir a tio n s ,
Jesu s determined to go and hear John fo r h im se lf.
Accom­
panied by some G alilaean fr ie n d s , in clu d in g P eter and o th ers
who la t e r became h is d is c ip le s , he made th e journey to
Aenon near to Salim , at no great d ista n ce from G a lile e ,
where John was b a p tisin g .
Jesus was a t once arrested by
th e p e r s o n a lity and the message o f John.
He accep ted, in
th e main, John’s view o f the Kingdom, o f the u n iv e r s a lity
o f i t s membership, and o f the need fo r repentance, but at
the same tim e, w ith h is overwhelming co n v ictio n o f the Love
o f God, he could not share John’ s p o r tr a it o f a p i t i l e s s
394
M essiah who would condemn sin n ers without a chance.
He
may have p erc eiv e d , to o , th a t th e baptism o f John d efeated
in many ca ses i t s r e a l purpose, g iv in g men an opportunity
to dispense w ith the e s s e n t ia l d is c ip lin e o f repentance.
At t h is p o in t, th e r e fo r e , th ere seems to have a r ise n a
d isc u ssio n between Jesus and John regarding th e e f f ic a c y
o f baptism, o f which on ly the barest h in t i s given by the
Fourth E v a n g e lis t.
This h in t, however, i s extrem ely valuable
inasmuch as i t i s im possible to b e lie v e th a t such a diwcu ssio n would ever have been invented in c i r c l e s which
derived t h e ir p r a c tic e of baptism from J esu s.
The Fourth
E v a n g e list, h im se lf, has apparently been at p ains to ob­
scure th e rea l nature o f th e con versation and h is represen ­
t a tio n o f Jesus b a p tisin g a lo n g sid e o f John, and o f the
p assin g over of John’ s d is c ip le s to Jesu s, may be regarded
as m ise-en -scen es fo r th e purposes of p olem ic.
That t h i s
was the re a l nature o f the d isc u ssio n i s made more probable
by the fa c t th a t there i s no good tr a d itio n th a t e ith e r
Jesus or h is d is c ip le s b a p tised , and by th e saying o f Jesus
on th e storming o f the Kingdom by men of v io le n c e , which
can be very s a t i s f a c t o r i l y in terp reted as r e fe r r in g t o th e
r e s u lt s o f John’s baptism al r i t e .
Leaving Aenon John returned to the South Jordan d is ­
t r i c t and Jesus accompanied him.
Although Jesus did not
395.
jo in the "inner c ir c le " o f John’s d is c i p le s , there sprang
up a f a s t frien d sh ip between th e tw o.
John continued to
announce the coming o f th e M essiah, but h is tran scen d en tal
n otion o f th a t Figure prevented him from im agining, as y e t ,
th a t h is Friend might be th e M essiah whom he fo r e to ld .
J esu s, in tu rn , w ith the sense o f h is own Vocation growing
d a ily , continued to ponder John’s m essage, and to compare
i t w ith h is own preoccu pation s, and in p a r tic u la r , w ith
h is own o r ig in a l in te r p r e ta tio n of th e Servant p assages o f
I s a ia h ’s prophecy.
During t h is period o f a s s o c ia tio n w ith
John, th e p o s s i b i l i t y f i r s t occurred to Jesus th a t he
h im self might be th e M essiah, and w ith th a t, th e fu rth er
p o s s i b i l i t y th a t John, in a s p ir it u a l sen se, might be
th e E lija h r e d iv iv u s , as he seems to have been regarded
by some of h is h ea rers.
At le n g th , Jesus f e l t th a t the
tim e had come to lea v e John and to begin h is own m in istr y .
F u lly r e a lis in g th a t John’s baptism meant nothing more
fo r John h im self than a demand fo r repentance - a demand
which Jesus f u l l y shared - Jesu s presented h im self for
baptism , thereby in d ic a tin g h is thorough approval o f th a t
demand, and, a t the same tim e, se a lin g h is fr ie n d sh ip .
At
th e moment o f h is baptism, in an experience vouchsafed to
Jesus a lo n e, Jesu s reached co n v ic tio n th a t he w^s M essiah.
I f the baptism o f Jesus i s dated in th e autumn^of
27 A .D ., as the ch ro n o lo g ica l data o f Luke sugge-st, John’ s
independent m in istr y must have begun much e a r lie r .
It
seems most probable th a t the E v a n g elists have done l e s s
j u s t ic e to John than he d eserves as a preacher w ith a
bold and, in c e r ta in rep p ects, an o r ig in a l m essage.
The
m in istr y o f John and h is tru e r e la tio n s w ith Jesus can be
recon stru cted on ly w ith d i f f i c u l t y , but once reco n stru cted ,
i t i s e a s ie r to understand the thought and th e p r a c tic e s
o f Jesu s h im s e lf.
Immediately a f te r h is baptism Jesus l e f t John and
spent some tim e in communion w ith h is Father in prayer.
In the in te r v a l, John apparently ventured again in to the
domains o f Herod A n tip as, p o s sib ly to reproach him for
h is a llia n c e with H erodias.
This time Herod, y ie ld in g to
the m achinations of h is w ife , and no doubt alarmed in
a d d itio n by the s t i r which the B a p tist was causing - the
a u th o r itie s would sc a r c e ly be ab le to d is tin g u is h non­
p o l i t i c a l from p o l i t i c a l M essianic movements - ordered h is
a r r e s t, and imprisoned him, not at Machaerus, but probably
in some G alilea n f o r t r e s s .
The news o f John’s a rr est
spread abroad, and t h is was, fo r J esu s, th e f in a l and un­
m istakable sig n th a t th e hour had struck to begin h is own
m in istr y .
From the very f i r s t , Jesus both perpetuated in la rg e
measure th e thought o f h is p red ecessor, and, a t the same
tim e, struck a new and d iffe r e n t n o te .
In no sen se
should th e m in istr y o f J esu s, even at the o u ts e t, be r e ­
garded as a d ir e c t co n tin u a tio n o f John’ s in a l l i t s a s p e c ts .
While agreeing e n t ir e ly w ith John’s n o n - p o lit ic a l ou tlook ,
w hile r e ta in in g the e s c h a to lo g ic a l view o f the Kingdom,
as eq u ivalen t to the Reign o f God in which moral and
s p ir it u a l v alu es would op erate, and whose fu ln e s s la y ih
th e fu tu r e , w hile proclaim ing the u n iv e r s a lity o f i t s
membership and in s is t in g upon the need o f repentance, Jesus
taught men th a t they had no claim to en ter the Kingdom by
r ig h t, by any e ffo r ts o f t h e ir own.
The Reign o f God be­
longed e s s e n t i a lly to God, and enjoyment of i t s b e n e fits
depended upon men’s acceptance o f God’ s fo r g iv e n e ss as a
fr e e g i f t .
essa r y .
This did not mean th a t repentance was unnec­
Rather, men had to r e a lis e through the d is c ip lin e
o f repentance how n ecessary God’s fo r g iv e n e s s, as offered
to men in h is Word, r e a lly was.
For t h is reason, i t would
seem, Jesus did not fo llo w John’s p r a c tic e of baptism ,
which afforded in; popular opinion an easy way in to the
Kingdom.
N atu rally enough, only th e barest h in ts o f
J e s u s’ a ttitu d e towards baptism appear in the G ospels, but
th ese h in ts are extrem ely s ig n if ic a n t .
While the strong s im ila r it y in c e r ta in r e sp e e ts be-
398.
tween th e teach in g o f Jesus and the teach in g o f John g iv e s
great stren g th to the argument fo r a con sid erab le period
o f con tact between the twD, the p o in ts o f divergence i l l u s ­
tr a te very w e ll the lim it a tio n s of th e B a p t is t ’ s m in istr y .
Powerful and o f tremendous import w hile i t la s t e d , i t was
not o f a ch aracter c a lcu la te d to endure.
John had announced
the n e c e s s it y o f repentance, but he had f a ile d to enunciate
any thorough-going p r in c ip le by which t h i s reform ation
could be carried o u t.
j u s t ic e over mercy:
He had in s is t e d on th e triumph o f
he had announced M essianic fo r g iv e n e ss
only in a very su b sid ia ry way.
J esu s, on th e oth er hand,
w hile not m inim ising th e j u s t ic e o f God, taught from the
f i r s t the Good News th a t mercy would triumph over j u s t ic e .
Unlike John, he went to sin n ers and in v ite d them to accept
as a fr e e g i f t h is Word o f fo r g iv e n e s s.
Jesu s ca lled h is own d is c ip le s in G a lile e , and they
c o n stitu te d a body q u ite d is t in c t from the Johannine group.
T heir e a r lie r a s s o c ia tio n w ith Jesus exp lain s the readiness
w ith which th ey then responded t o h is formal c a l l .
In
keeping with h is l e s s au stere view o f l i f e in g en er a l, Jesus
imposed upon h is d is c ip le s no r u le s fo r f a s t in g .
The in ­
d ic a tio n , however, g iv en by Jesus at the o u tset o f h is
m in istry - which th ere i s no reason to regard as an te-d ated
- th at one day h is own d is c ip le s would hold a s p e c ia l mourn­
399.
ing f a s t lik e th a t o f John’ s d is c ip le s i s very s ig n if ic a n t .
I t seems to show that J esu s regarded John’s fo rtu n es as
being m y ste rio u sly bound up w ith h is own, and su g g ests
almost beyond a l l shadow o f doubt th a t from th a t tim e Jesus
was convinced th a t the way to M essiahship la y through
s u ffe r in g .
News o f th e m in istry o f Jesus reached John a t len g th
in p rison , and there i s no reason to q u estion the h i s t o r i ­
c i t y o f h is sending some o f h is d is c ip le s to enquire
whether Jesu s were in r e a l i t y the Coming One o f whom he
had spoken.
John’s q u estio n i l l u s t r a t e s , probably,
a waning f a it h but a doubtful hope, and confirms
not
th e fa c t
th a t at no time had John recognised in Jesus th e M essiah,
but th at he remained unconvinced t i l l th e l a s t .
The C h ristia n t r a d it io n , on th e oth er hand,
o f John th e precursor o f J esu s.
has made
Although the words at th e
opening o f Mark’ s G ospel, ’th e beginning o f the Gospel o f
Jesus C h r ist’ , can be sc a r c e ly regarded as th e E v a n g e lis t’s
attempt to in te g r a te John in th e C h ristia n tr a d itio n - they
have every appearance o f being a t i t l e added to the Gospel
as a wh©le and w ith a d iff e r e n t s ig n ific a n c e - y et elsew here
th ere are numerous attem pts to " C h ristia n ise” him.
Thus
the " C h ristian isin g" o f th e s ig n ific a n c e o f the coming bap­
tism , as one w ith the Holy S p ir it , th e conversation between
400.
J esu s and John at th e baptism o f J esu s, Luke’ s statem ent
th a t ’John ev a n g elised the p e o p le ’ and, in p a r tic u la r ,
p r a c t ic a lly the whole account o f John’s r e la t io n s w ith
Jesu s as recorded by the Fourth E v a n g e list, are to be
n oted .
Yet th e term precursor does q u ite admirably
summarise the r o le o f John in the h is to r y o f r e lig io n .
However much he clung to the p a st, r e ta in in g th e cramping
and outworn forms o f Judaism, y et on se v era l counts he
had indeed been the precursor o f C h r is tia n ity .
He had
prepared h is h ea rers, i f not for J esu s, at le a s t fo r the
e s c h a to lo g ic a l elem ents in the Gospel o f Jesu s:
re-em phasised th e moral law o f th e prophets:
he had
he had in ­
s is t e d upon th e judgment, not o f th e n a tio n , but o f the
in d iv id u a l.
Above a l l in h is v is io n of a u n iv e r sa l King­
dom, he showed th a t he belonged not w holly to the old
order, but a ls o , in some measure, to the new.
S h ortly a f te r John had sent h is d is c ip le s to J esu s,
th e end came.
The d e t a ils of the Gospel account may be
legendary, but th a t John’s execu tion f e l l about mid-way
in the m in istry o f Jesus i s extrem ely probable.
There i s
no su b sta n tia l evidence, as E is le r th in k s, th a t John out­
liv e d J esu s.
The ch ron ological data are much more in
favour o f h is ea r ly death.
The death o f John p r o fo u n d ly a f f e c t e d J e s u s r and s h o r t ly
401.
t h e r e a fte r , he seems to have id e n tifie d the- B a p tist with
E lija h , not p u b lic ly , but e s o t e r ic a lly to h is d is c i p le s .
The s ig n ific a n c e o f the B a p tist i s not th e refo re exhausted
by h is in flu e n c e on the content o f th e teach in g o f J esu s.
H is s ig n ific a n c e extends fu r th e r , even to confirm ing J e s u s ’
estim a te o f h is own Person and D estin y .
In th e death of
John, Jesus saw once more th e unmistakable sig n o f h is
own P a ssio n , and once again h is own o r ig in a l in te r p r e ta tio n
o f th e S u fferin g Servant passages o f S crip tu re received
ir r e fu ta b le con firm ation.
A fter John’ s ex ecu tio n , h is d is c ip le s q u ick ly d is ­
p ersed .
The evidence fo r the e x iste n c e o f a ’’continuing"
B a p tist group, who opposed the d is c ip le s o f J esu s, and la t e r ,
the e a r ly Church, has been a lto g e th e r unduly exaggerated.
The ’d i s c i p l e s ’ at Ephesus are probably not to be regarded
as members o f a continuing Johannine group, but as Chris­
t ia n s , or rather h a lf-C h r is tia n s , who had not receiv ed th e
hall-m ark o f the C h ristia n community, v i z . , C h ristia n bap­
tism w ith i t s g i f t o f th e Holy S p ir it .
S im ila r ly , the
polem ic in the Fourth Gospel i s apparently d ire cted not
a g a in st a genuine B a p tist group, but again st a contemporary
Jew ish movement, which sought to attack C h r is tia n ity ,
apparently w ith some l i t t l e su c c e ss , by e x a ltin g the claim s
o f the B a p tist a t th e expense of C h rist, and thia-m ay be
402
th e movement referred to in the Pseudo-Clementine Recog­
n it i o n s .
F in a lly , whatever may be the outcome o f Mandaean
research , i t i s not a l i t t l e rash in th e p resent s t a t e o f
in v e s tig a tio n at l e a s t , to connect what appears to be an
Eastern G nostic s e c t w ith John’ s d is c i p le s , and to see in
them descendants o f a Nasoraean B a p tist group*
A study o f
the data seems to show th a t the evidence i s much too slen d er
to warrant any such conclusion*
0O 0
403.
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