Lecture 5: Presuppositions and Results
Course: New Testament Survey - Gospels
Lecture: Presuppositions and Results
Well let’s open with a word of prayer.
We rejoice our father for the joy we have in being able to come before you. Not through some priest not through some other person, but directly in the name of Jesus Christ we have access. And we are even so bold as to call you Abba, Father. Because through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness. And we have been born into your family. We rejoice in the salvation that is ours. We rejoice that you have given us your word to guide us and direct us. Now, teach us more about it. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
We’ve been talking about how before the Gospels were written they existed in a church. A period where much of the Gospel materials were being passed on by word of mouth, orally. We don’t want to think there was a period that was- everything was strictly oral. And that after that it was strictly written. But there were overlaps during these periods of time. But, primarily, the period before Mark we think of as an oral period. And we looked at several presuppositions. One, that there was an oral period. Secondly, that they tended to be memories- these individual traditions, tend to be memorized as individual units and passed on this way. Thirdly, that they can be classified into form – some can be more easily than others. And then, fourthly, what caused the church to preserve these stories was that those that were particularly valuable for them.
For instance, what did you do when you were a Jewish Christian and you didn’t feel the same about kosher foods any longer? And that a Jewish person said to you what happened Abraham? You’re no longer kosher, you’re-you’re eating forbidden things. And then wouldn’t it be helpful to say something like well the Lord, Jesus, told us that it’s really not what goes into a man’s stomach that defiles him, but what comes out of his heart. That- it’s out of the heart that all sorts of evils come. And so that would be a story that would help you to understand the freedom you had to eat anything that was set before you. So those that were valuable were preserved. The peanut butter story got lost until I discovered it a few years ago.
Now, another presupposition is that the traditions essentially had no interest in chronology or biography or geography. Now, what we have here is an insight that many of the stories don’t have interest in geography or things like this made into a universal rule. Now it’s true that sometimes the stories have no close connection with anything that proceeds. They are isolated. But there are stories that have certain ties.
Turn with me to page 40 in your synopsis. Here we have an incident that clearly takes place in the city of Capernaum. “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.” There’s no reason to deny that this story was during the oral period associated with the city of Capernaum. Some people- the more radical form critics to argue their case would- no, no they later added city names like this, but there are too many city names that are added like this.
Turn to page 123. Mark 5:01, “they came to the other side of the sea to the country of the Gerasenes.” And you’ll notice there’s an n there. Some have Gergazines- some say Gaterines. The fact is no one knows what- what this place is. Now, if you simply created names of cities and threw them in you’d expect they’d be pretty well known cities. You’d say they came to Tiberius. Or they came to Jericho. Or they came to Shechem. You don’t put in a place name that no one seems to know. The very ambiguity of this argues that it must be part of the tradition.
Turn to page 145. Now here’s an example of a stories that doesn’t have any intimate tie. For instance, Mark 8:01, “in those days there came a great crowd that had gathered. And they had nothing to eat.” In other words, once in the ministry of Jesus, a great crowd had gathered about Jesus and they didn’t have any food. Now, what is that tied to? The ministry of Jesus. But when and where - who cares when and where? Do you have to know this was a Tuesday? I have some inside information here, it doesn’t matter. The- Do you need to know it was rainy that day? Or that they were five miles southeast of Bethsaida? The story makes sense all by itself. It doesn’t have to have that, but what do you do when you go to page 148 and now you find a place name here. “And they came to Bethsaida.”
Some of these places have names associated with it and there’s every reason to believe that this was part of the tradition. When you come to Peter’s confession, on page 149, this takes places in verse 27 of Mark 8 in the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Now, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. And the place designation is Caesarea Philippi. Where do you read about Caesarea Philippi? Well, you read about it in Mark 8:27 and Matthew 16:13, that’s all-that’s the only place you find it. You don’t find it anywhere in the early history of the church. Now why do they name Caesarea Philippi as the place? May I be so naïve as to success that’s probably where it happened? Alright.
If you were making up a place, and say let- let’s put a place designation to this. Oh, I could do a better job than that. Caesarea Philippi? I’d say this, “and as Jesus and the disciples entered into Jerusalem they came into the temple and as they walked in the temple Jesus said to the disciples, ‘who do men say that I am?’ and they said, ‘you are the Messiah.’” Now that’s a classy story. In the temple, in Jerusalem that’s where the confession should be made. Caesarea Philippi? But you know it doesn’t look like they made up stories like this. They had these associations with it- already in the stories. So, here you have an idea that every time you find something chronological or alike that it was made up. Not likely. Some stories do have places some have designation of chronology, and geography.
Turn to page 153. The story of the transfiguration. It’s hard to conceive of it ever circulating as an isolated unit. How do you say a story like this, once, after 6 days, Jesus took with him Peter and James. – you -Six days after what? A designation like that ties it with something. And here you have that story beginning this story this way. So you have to understand the transfiguration and what took place in Caesarea Philippi having taken place at the same time or closely related.
Sometimes there may be interests in a geographical or chronological ties as well. If you look at, for instance, Mark 14:51. Page- turn to page 300, there’s this really strange incident that people try to explain somehow and say that this is not historical this is a figurative experience of some sort. So, in the Mount of Olives in the garden of Gethsemane we read that after Jesus is arrested at the very bottom of the page 300, line 70, following Mark, “and they all forsake him and fled. And a young man followed him with nothing but a linen cloth about his body and they seized him but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” Now if you say this is not a historical incident, you have to say why do they- story like this? What would be the meaning of such a story? And there have been attempts to try to find meaning in this. And the very attempts show it must be a real incident or something like that. Most of the older interpreters of Mark thought this is probably a biographical incident in which Mark himself is relating something in which he is present. But to try to find meaning in? Well – well maybe my mother would say something like, Bobby that all goes to show where ever you go you better have clean underwear on. You-you never know what might happen.
But it looks like a biographical tidbit that the writer may have placed in there at that time. Uh- one last one. Turn to page 313, here. In Mark 15:21 you have a little -er- reference, “and they led him, Jesus, out to crucify him and they compelled a pass by Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus to carry the cross.” In other words, the writer of Mark is telling his readers by the way, the man who carried the cross of Jesus was the father of Alexander and Rufus. They must know who Alexander and Rufus would be. They say it was Alexander and Rufus’ father. Who did that. And so you have another kind of historical and biographical reference that way. What you have then in this presupposition is a general rule that much of the material may be even most of it, has little such geographical ties or chronological ties or things like that. But you can’t make that into a universal rule. Sometimes they do. And we just have to accept that.
Now, another presupposition that form critics have made is that what you should do, and what you can do, is figure out what the rules of passing on such traditions should be. And the early form critics were Germans and what they did was to note how German folk stories in the 12th to 13th centuries, as they were being passed on primarily orally at this time, developed and later on when they written down to see the kinds of things that tended to be added. And so they said, ahh the way oral tradition develops.
There are certain rules by which you can figure out oral tradition will progress. And now that we have those oral traditions in Mark we can reverse the rules and go back to their purest form. And they would come out with some rules like names tend to be added to people so that originally had an anonymous person, later he is named. Let’s give him the name Malkus or something like that. If you had an ear being cut off later on it tends to be a specific ear; the right year or something. Those are later additions. Now these rules developed out of watching the oral growth of German literature over a period of centuries. And they also watched how the Gospels later on where quoted and copied in other apocryphal Gospels and alike. The rules were developed in seeing how oral traditions develop over centuries. How many centuries do you have between the resurrection of Jesus and Mark? Not many, do you? You have a period of decades. And so that has become questionable.
And a man by the name of E.D. Sanders- E.P. Sanders wrote a work, “The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition,” he’s written some other works on Paul, very influential. And he pointed out that if you look and follow the Gospels and if you say Matthew and Luke use Mark sometime a person who is named in Mark is unnamed in Matthew. Sometimes a person who is named is- unnamed in-in Mark is named in Matthew. In other words, sometimes names are added looks like by the later writings sometimes they are omitted. Now what kind of a general rule do you have? The general rule is that sometimes names are added and sometimes names are omitted. The general is that sometimes the details become more specific and sometimes they become less specific. Well these are not rules. And so the whole question of whether you can read back and say an earlier form of the tradition in this oral period would have been like is very much debatable at the present time.
Now I have a list here a 7th presupposition, which is very seldom mentioned, in fact, generally nothing is ever said about it. And that is that the eye witnesses had little influence over the tradition. The eye witnesses had little influence on the passing on of the tradition. For the radical form critics uh- Vincent Taylor, tongue in cheek, said, “it looks like when they talk about this oral tradition being passed on the eye witnesses went to heaven with Jesus at the ascension.” The reason is they never referred to the eye witnesses. And the question you have to ask is, during this oral period, what did the eye witnesses do? The more radical of the form critics never discuss that. And so as far as Taylor said, well, you know, they just kind of disappeared. But I eye witness testimony is very important for the early church. What’s the first event that happens after Jesus ascends to heaven in the book of Acts?
Not Pentecost. It’s the selection of the replacement for Judas. There’s one requirement. Does he have to be a great preacher? Does he have to be bilingual? Nothing like that. What’s the requirement?
He had to be an eye witness from the beginning. So there’s an importance that you’re the writings of the New Testament place on this. And when we’re all through with some- form critics and we are going to go back to Luke 1:01 to 4. Where Luke, who writes by the way, 1900 years or so nearer to what happened than form critics and people today. He argues that the Gospel tradition who are being passed on by those who were the eye witnesses and ministers of the word. So right in the forefront of all this we have, according to Luke, the eye witnesses. So, I think, the radical form critics error by omitting and essentially denying the impact of the eye witnesses in this regard.
For some people form criticism is negative. Form criticism is simply the study of the Gospel traditions during the oral period. There is nothing negative, nothing positive about it. It’s just neutral. It’s the presuppositions that people bring with them that will determine if it’s positive or negative . You- Just because a thief uses a knife to kill someone that doesn’t mean all knives are bad. I had major back surgery years ago that allowed me to walk. I love that knife. Good thing. But in the hands of a thief a knife can be an instrument of terror and murder. So form criticism is a neutral thing. It’s how you use it. Now, some people say that during this oral period the material was radically changed by the church not the disciples, but anonymous people. It’s easier to blame anonymous people than to blame Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others.
Now, I think, there are a number of arguments against us. First of all, if that were really true, it’s strange that, if the church were making up materials to help service their religion that the most important area that they ever had to face, they never made anything up about. I mean the one thing that the church struggles with. In the history of the early church is going to wrestle with the issue, what about Joe Gentile who wants to become a Christian? Does Joe have to become a Jew to become a Christian? What is that? That’s silly, of course not. Well, you know, you are talking about it in the Gentile world of church- of- of Christianity. What happens if everybody who’s ever a Christian was a Jew? And now you want to join this Jewish group of Christians.Do you have to become a Jew as well? Well, they struggle over that. It-the struggle is evident in the book of Acts and the experience of the conversion of Cornelius, a Gentile. Cause the church council in Acts 15 that wrestles with that question. The book of Galatians chapter 2 deals with that council in which Paul is wrestling withthe issue that Galatians Christians who were Gentiles are being told by certain Jewish Christians that if you don’t become a Jew you can’t become a Christian. You have to be circumcised. Well, if that’s such a big struggle and the church is making up stuff to help it out putting it out on the lips of Jesus, how come we never read anything about circumcision from Jesus? Wouldn’t it have been easy to answer the whole problem? And says does a Gentile have to be circumcised and John says hold on I’ll be right back I have to get my computer. And here- here’s what Jesus said, “there is a time coming were neither circumcision or un-circumcision will be of any matter, only faith working through love.” see Jesus said that. Solved. They never quote Jesus on anything like this. Because the traditions are sacred to them. They don’t make up traditions simply in order to fulfill particular needs. There are issues on church polity. Never discussed. No sayings of Jesus involved. The issue of tongues, spiritual gifts, those kinds of -no sayings of Jesus made up to cover those things.- uh- The fact is we- we have to be aware that they had a great- great regard and reverence toward this.
Uh- Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that our abilities of memorizing materials should never be read back into the first century. You and I can’t memorize a lick. We don’t have to. Knowledge today is not dependent on memorization. It’s dependent on filing and being able to retrieve information. Well you can’t file and retrieve information back in the first century. If you don’t have it memorized you don’t have it. And so memorization is taught. And people learn to memorize and it’s interesting the children today. Well, they can memorize pretty- pretty well when they are young, but as they get older they lose that ability. And it’s the bait do you lose the ability because the memory muscle in your brain atrophies because you don’t use it? Or is it that there is so much other information coming in that it is being pushed aside. Regardless, children can memorize and we can’t. If you develop that over years and decades it can become a very, very good tool.
There were in the time of Jesus, for instance, rabbis who memorized the whole Old Testament by heart. How many of you know a chapter of the Bible by heart, leaving the Psalm 23 or Psalm 100 out. There is some, okay. I had memorized two chapters one. Isaiah 53, and I still know two or three of the verses. Uh- and uh- First John 5 and I still know a couple of those, too. But you could have a rabbi in Jesus day come here and say “and what would you like my children? A little Deuteronomy? Isaiah’s nice. ? Jeremiah? Psalms? You want Leviticus?” And he could spew out the whole Old Testament to you. Word for word.
Now, I know it’s true, but I don’t believe it. What I mean by that is I can’t contemplate it. But it’s true. They do. I know today- uh- I’ve been reading of people who have memorized the whole Koran. Word for word. And the interesting things is they don’t know Arabic. You can do those things. So, memorization of these materials is not like our game of telephone where I give you something and you pass it on -over here we have something – we play it back. First of all, the materials that are being memorized are- shaped and forms easy to memorize. Parables are a lot easier to memorize than five- five six verses of Paul’s argument in Romans. In the same way poetry is easy to memorize. A lot of Jesus’ teaching is in poetry. So it comes already in early form. You give it to people who are able to memorize. And they memorize and then it doesn’t go to number 20 and come back and it comes over here and Peter, Andrew, John and James say how does that- no it goes this way. And you have the control of the eye witnesses over this. So what we have here is a carefully controlled passing on of oral tradition. It’s not a free-for-all in any sense of the word.
Another thing is that you have to realize that there is a leadership in the church. It’s not everybody does their own thing. There’s a leadership; the circle of the apostles in-in Jerusalem and a like. The New Testament also has a very high few of tradition. We kind of thing - uh- of well there are certain traditions we have to preserve. Paul in Romans 6:17 doesn’t talk about our being entrusted with the tradition. He says the tradition has been entrusted with us. We have been handed over to it. Now that’s a high few of tradition. When Paul talks to the Corinthians about divorce he says, “Now I’m telling you this, but it’s not me, it’s the Lord.” And then he quotes a saying of Jesus on divorce.
In the next verses he says, “Now I’m telling you, not the Lord.” Now he’s not saying I’m not inspired. He’s not saying this is- no- of less value then proceeds. He is simply saying look Jesus commented on this aspect of divorce. He never said anything here, but I’ll tell you. And it’s equally weighting to-to be obeyed. But notice the distinction. Paul doesn’t simply say well, let-I’ll just make up one and say the Lord said that. He says Jesus didn’t say this, but I’ll tell you about this. Now that kind of an attitude and reverence to the word on divorce saying of Jesus is by one who calls himself an apostle. Now, if that the reverence Paul shows to the teachings of Jesus do you think Herman the plumber in Antioch is going to have less reverence for this? Or more even? So we have this great respect for this. We also have passages of scripture, which must indicate that the church is very, very faithful in passing on this material.
Turn to page 262, for a minute. At the top of page 262, you have number 293 the time of the coming. The parable of the fig tree. And here you have the parable of the fig tree. In then in verse 32, listen to these words, “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the son, but only the father.”
Years ago I had a colleague and we were teaching in Minnesota. The colleague came to me and said, “one of my students in class said that you said in class that Jesus did not know the day when he would return.” And I said yeah, I quoted Mark 20:32 where he says, “of that day and hour no one knows, not the son or the angels in heaven, but only the father.” And he said, “yeah, but he- he meant in his human nature he didn’t know that, but as the son of God he knew that.” That’s not what it says. It says no one- no human person knows the angels don’t know the son doesn’t know, but only the father. And he says, “well, he was speaking from the perspective of his humanity at that point.” Now, my- my Christology develops this way. What’s clear in the Bible is the basis for the unclear. Now that verse is about as clear. That verse is about as clear as I think it can get that Jesus said he didn’t know. How being divine and human, how that all works together, how him emptying himself and taking the form of a servant how all that works out. I don’t know all of that. But the one thing I do know that seems fairly clear is that he said he didn’t know. My friend said no, he did know. Now his theology didn’t permit this.
Alright. Now. Do you think anybody in the early church would make up a saying like this? Remember the apocryphal Gospels how they treat Jesus? They tend to amplify the deity. His super natural nature. Here’s a saying that talks about him not knowing. This has to go back to Jesus. I don’t think anybody in the church would have made up a saying like this. The odd- The tendency of the church is the very opposite of this kind of thing. Does that make sense? What does that mean? It means that the church is faithful in passing on the traditions. Even if they have difficulties.
Let’s look at another passage that has difficulty. Page 217, Mark 10 verse 18, 17 begins, “and as he, Jesus, was setting out on his journey a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ and Jesus said to him, ‘why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’” Do you think anybody in the early church would have made up that saying? Do you think my colleague would ever have made up a saying like that? Or the former one about Jesus being ignorant? No, the tendency is just the opposite way. What this reveals is the faithfulness of the church in passing on traditions even when they were difficult. Because Jesus said these things and our job is not to change them, but to pass them on faithfully.
When we go to the rest of the New Testament, what are the titles that are most favored in the church? When you loo- read Acts to Revelation and you have Jesus what – what do you expect after, what titles? Favored titles –rest- titles of Jesus?
Woman 1: Christ.
Christ. Okay, Jesus Christ, sure. Lots of that. What other titles?
Woman 2: Lord.
Lord. Lord. Christ. What else? Son of God. Alright. There’re a number of others. But if you read, the Lord Jesus Christ has a couple of them right there and you think of that. Son of God and so forth. Now, if you go to the Gospels what is the favorite title of all?
Son of Man. Son of Man is found 4 times in Acts to Revelation. Once in the sense that Jesus used it. On the other hand, the titles that are not found frequently in the Gospel of Jesus, titles Christ and Lord, now they’re there, but not to the extent they are found in Acts to Revelation. Now how does one explain that, if the church is making up the Gospel materials? Would you not expect that the Gospel materials would refer to Jesus in the same way as they do in Acts through Revelation? In other words, the titles most prominent in the Gospels would be Christ, Lord, Son of God and alike. But that’s not what we find. We find the title Son of Man. Now the interesting thing is the Son of Man is not found in the rest of the New Testament. It’s a title that the early church, apparently, did not understand real well and chose after the resurrection of Jesus to use other titles instead.
Now if you have the church reading back into the Gospel traditions their theology, in this instance there Christology, you expect Lord, Christ son of God all the time. You don’t find that. Rather, you find the title Son of Man. I think you can only explain that one way. And that is that Jesus favorite self designation was Son of Man and the church is faithful in reproducing that title on the lips of Jesus. It doesn’t read into it the titles that the church chooses and prefers later on. I think you have to say this reveals as a faithfulness in the oral period when the church is passing on the traditions of Jesus. Yes, they believed Jesus is the Christ. They believe he is the Lord. But this saying talks about him as the Son of Man and that’s the way they passed it on. I think it argues very strongly for a very faithful transmission of this material.
Now let me go on and talk about a summary of what we can learn from form criticism. I think this discussion of form criticism is very helpful for us. I think it tells us that our Gospels are not objective, historical biographies. No. I’m going to qualify that. So please don’t just hear only that. Would anybody really say that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are objective? Neutral objective lives of Jesus. If you love Jesus can you be neutral? Can you be objective?
I Remember when my best friend from college was telling me that he was about to get married. and he said- oh okay, when’s it going to be. and he said- well, tell me about her. He said, she’s really a beautiful woman. I said oh. That’s not very objective from a man who’s about to marry a woman to say she’s very beautiful. But he said something that made me believe. Yeah, she was second runner up in Miss America last year. Well, then probably not very unattractive.
To be telling the truth doesn’t mean you’re objective. It means you –be- very fond of this truth. So our Gospels are not objective in this sense. But they’re true. They’re the truth, but they’re not objective. They’re not neutral. It- uh- It- if you thin Matthew, Mark and Luke are neutral they’re not Evangelists are they? So they’re not objective.
Now the second one, they’re not historical. Okay, we have to understand what people mean now by historical. Historical could mean several things. In the context of this discussion among form critics, historical means non-supernatural. They live by the rules that history does not allow for the supernatural. And, therefore, since the supernatural is found all through the Gospels these are not- quote unquote- “historical.” They’re supernatural works. I think it’s a dumb way of defining history, but if that’s the way you’re using it alright, okay. Quotes around historical.
Now the next thing is they are not biographical. Well, Mark’s Gospel begins with the baptism of Jesus. Do you ever write a biography- read a biography that starts 30 plus year after the birth? There’s nothing here about the grandparents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s parents. You don’t even have the birth of Jesus in Mark. And you can say well the birth of Jesus appears in Matthew and Luke, but Matthew goes from the birth to the baptism, 30 years later. Luke has one incident, 12 years old then the baptism. It’s not a normal biography in any sense of the term because we’re omitting all sorts of aspects of life- and when you usually write a biography you talk about the formative influences of a person’s life. Talk about the childhood, the training, the schooling and none of that is talked about in the Gospels. The Gospels are not biographies in our traditional sense. And when we get to the material after the baptism and temptation we’re not exactly sure what order a lot of this material fits. So in that sense we are not dealing with either objective or historical biographies.
Now another thing is that they are preserved for their religious value. Okay, so we can read them asking the question, why was this preserved? What religious need did it meet? And what needs it can meet as well. And another thing it also helps us with because they’re not objective biographies, when we talk about a story of Jesus many times, I think, it’s totally irrelevant what precedes and follows it. It’s a story that all it needs is the background of the life of Jesus. Unless there is a specific close tie between this event and what is preceded you don’t have to worry about it.
Sometimes people have thought of them as chronologies. And all sorts of problems develop. For example, a man by the name of [Foreign name Oseander], in the late 1500’s, very devout, had a rigid view of inspiration that everything in the Gospels was strict chronologies.
He was troubled by a number of things. One of the things he was troubled with was in the Gospel of Mark Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee from the east goes immediately to the home of Jairus and raises his daughter from the dead. But in Matthew it doesn’t occur that way.
In Matthew, what happens is that Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee and he heals two people- that- two individuals. Two separate- you know- one after the other. Two separate stories. And then he goes to Jairus’ house and raises -daughter from the dead. That troubled Oseander. And so he resolved it this way. What actually happened? Well just like Mark said, Jesus came immediately to the home of Jairus raised his daughter from the dead. However, as he was healing two other people she died again and he had to go back a second time. Just like Matthew says and so Jairus’ daughter is explained as having been raised twice from the dead.
Another example, in the Gospel of Mark, you have Jesus being arrested. Peter follows. Then you have a trial. Then you have Peter’s denial. And then you have the end of the trial.
In Luke, you have Jesus is arrested. Peter follows. He denies the Lord three times like in the other account. And then you have the trial and the rest of the trial.
So the way he resolved that is saying that what happened is exactly the way Luke said it and immediately after Jesus was arrested Peter denied the Lord three times. Then, during the trial, he denied the Lord another three times. You have six denials.
Well, the writers of the Gospels are not interested in giving you a minute by minute chronology. What happened in Luke’s telling of the story, Luke said, why should I interrupt what’s going on here and go back and forth from the trial back to Peter and the trial back to Peter again. Let me tell you while I’m at it what happened with Peter. Peter denied the Lord. Now, let’s go on with the trial. And he finishes it. Makes perfectly good sense. But if you press it chronologically you have six denials and things of this nature.
I think form criticism tells us that’s not the way the Gospel materials were written. That’s not the way they were passed on. They tended to be passed on as individual units. Sometimes there are ties chronologically. Sometimes there are not. The Gospel writers are not writing chronological biographies in this way.
Well, let’s look then, one more time, at Luke 1. Page 1 in your synopsis. Now that we’ve gone through all this material there’s what Luke say here, conform to what we’ve been discussing in class. Luke writes- page 1- “In as much as many have undertake to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us. The things which have been accomplished among us involve Jesus’ life and deeds” and so forth, teachings and a like. Others have written; Luke is not the first person. He’s saying I’m not the first one- person who has written it. Others have done that. Now before these people wrote and could compile these narratives he says just as they, the things have been accomplished among us the deeds and teachings of Jesus, were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word. The word delivered is a technical term used to describe the passing on of tradition.
First Corinthians 11, “for I delivered to you what I also received.” On that of the night in which Jesus was betrayed he took bread and when he blessed it he broke it. He’s passing on a tradition of the Lord’s Supper, which he received. For he delivered to you and all that. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. That he was buried. That he on the third day he rose from the dead and so forth and so on.
I First Corinthians 15:03 and following another tradition being passed on. You have here those who delivered to us these traditions and he mentioned them as eye witnesses and ministers of the word. That’s a single group. Those who are eye witnesses and ministers, not the eye witnesses and the ministers. One Greek article connecting the two nouns indicating it’s a single group being understood. The eye witnesses and ministers of the word for sometime passed having looked at these things. To write an orderly account a few most excellent [foreign word]. Then he goes on that this orderly account that he writes to them. And by the way, that orderly probably means logically orderly, more than chronologically orderly. I- you- there are some examples of that I give in the text. He does this that you [foreign word]may know the truth concerning the things in which you have been informed. [Foreign word] has been taught things orally.
Luke says I’m writing this so you may know those things that you’ve been taught are true. So, clearly, Luke is in conformity with the oral traditions [foreign word] has been taught. But notice you have Jesus, who is the one who accomplished these things among us, you have the eye witnesses and ministers of the word who deliver the traditions you have others who write; some before Luke and now Luke. You have what we will talk about in the next class as three [foreign word], three situations in life. You need some German to throw out to tell mom and dad you’re learning a great deal about theology here. You’re learning about Jesus, one situation. You’re learning about the oral period, the second situation. You’re learning about the Evangelists- Luke, Matthew, Mark; the third situation. So when we talk about three settings in life you can study in the Gospel: the situation of Jesus, the situation of the oral period, the situation of the church. And if you want you can read to learn about the first, the second or the third. Either of those are possible. We’ll talk next week about how to investigate the third situation.