Friday, July 21, 2006

J.A.T. Robinson on Historical Tradition and the Fourth Gospel

Yet when we come to the teaching of Jesus we see him [John] using a different technique to the same end, though the difference is one of degree rather than of kind, for the works and words of Jesus are not sharply distinguished. John is still concerned with what Jesus is really saying and meaning, and the words, like his actions, can be understood at different levels. Yet he does not simply set them down straight, and then comment upon them – allowing the sayings and their interpretation to stand side by side, with the raw material presented in its untreated state. Rather, it is worked up; the interpretation is thoroughly assimilated and integrated.
J.A.T. Robinson, The Priority of John (Oak Park, IL: Meyer Stone, 1987), 72.

I have two questions about this comment:

(1) Is it a fair assessment of how John simultaneously transmits and interprets the Jesus tradition so that memory, history, hermeneutics, and theology are all intertwined?

(2) Could this statement be applied to the canonical Gospels as a whole?

In an on-line interview with Alan Bandy, Craig Evans made some similar remarks about John and History (see the remarks here).


Corn on the Robb said...
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Corn on the Robb said...

It's this exact tendancy in John that makes me wary of the book sometimes. But perhaps in the Greco-Roman bioi, this sort historical writing wasn't a problem, so we shouldn't expect John to conform to our modern standards of "authentic historical recollection" or whatever.

Dr. David Ritsema said...

I think this is an interesting question.

I particularly like the fact that you are reading Robinson. I wonder why you are reading him?

I am looking at the historicty of John in my research. Do you think that Robinson is taken very seriously? I have not found his views to have converted any skeptics.