- [For more information about this series, see this post: Paul Anderson to Teach at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.]
- [For a summary of the first part, see this post: Paul Anderson on Revelation – Session 1.]
- [For a summary of the second part, see this post: Anderson on Revelation – Session 2.]
Last Wednesday (March 10), Paul Anderson presented on two of four Johannine crises that lay in the background of the Johannine literature, particularly the Epistles and Revelation. Before I report on this, I would like to back up to Session 2 and make some additions/corrections.
In Session 2, Anderson noted four threats in history which the Johannine writings were seeking to address. Anderson gave a few evidences for these. I already noted the compositional evidence and the Epistles. In addition to those, here are some other evidences for these threats: 1) two-edition hypothesis of John, 2) echoes from the Apocalypse, 3) letters of Igantius, and 4) John 6 and traces of history. In regard to the two-edition hypothesis of John, the first edition (namely the Gospel of John without the Prologue, ch. 6, chs. 15-17, and ch. 21) addressed synagogue tensions and presented Jesus as the Messianic king. With the additional material added in later to form the second and final edition of John, the Gospel addressed gnostic tendencies and ecclesiology. The letters of Ignatius provide a corroborative witness to these threats. I am thankful to Anderson for providing me with his outline for all the lectures.
Coming to Session 3, Anderson began by addressing a question on his two-edition hypothesis and the interfluence between John and the other Gospels. He has allowed me to share with us an outline of his Bi-Optic Hypothesis and below I have reproduced the interfluence chart found therein:
A Charting of Johannine-Synotpic Interfluential Relations
Of note are the following: 1) Markan and Johannine traditions have influence on each other, 2) Johannine tradition has influence on Q and the Lukan tradition, and 3) after the first written edition of John, the continued preaching of John interacts with the Matthew’s Gospel until the production of John’s final edition.
Now onto the two crises that Anderson covered. These were:
- The Synagogue and Antichrist threat (1 John 2:18-25)
- Emperor Worship and its Implications: “the Second Beast” and “666” (Revelation 13)
Because I have already mentioned the antichrists more than a few times, I only want to point out that the message here is: Abide with Jesus and his community and love one another. With regard to the second crisis, Anderson mentioned that the topic of emperor worship is a pressing one in Revelation. Underlying this are the emperors Nero (reigned 54-68 CE) and Domitian (reigned 81-96 CE), both known persecutors of Christians. Because of the synagogue threat, in which Christian Jews were expelled due to their perceived ditheism, Christians were vulnerable because they were no longer under the religious protection afforded to Judaism. This left the Christians open to persecution as the Roman government did not take kindly to any “new” religious movement. Christians were also the recipients of persecution due to the institution of emperor worship. As Christianity became predominantly Gentile in population, the potential for emperor worship grew. Perhaps Gentiles were being persuaded to just go through the motions of offering incense and giving homage to the emperor without really meaning it; perhaps some Gentiles saw nothing wrong with syncretization—after all, the Pantheon had many gods and Christ could be one god while the emperor could be the other. For Gentiles, the threat of persecution could cause them to reason in this manner. Revelation would be a corrective and a guide for those facing such temptation.
James McGrath pointed out in a comment on my first summary that “666” was the number for Nero; most scholars would agree. There is a numerological system in Hebrew that allows for each letter of Nero to be assigned a numerical value: when added together, the number is 666. Some manuscripts have “616” because of the deletion of a final letter of a word that can but does not always have to be present in the original language. Because 666 is applied to Nero as the mark, then the Beast would be reference to Nero and his fierce persecution of Christians. When Domitian came upon the scene, he was just as fierce as Nero, if not more fierce. Domitian then becomes the second Beast in Revelation. The number 666 also becomes applied to him. The imagery in Revelation is meant to address the issue of imperial religion.
The message in Revelation for the original recipients in this crisis would be two-fold: 1) do not bow down or worship, contra to “all the world” doing so; and 2) those who overcome will be recorded in the Book of Life.
The Beast is not creed bound.The Bible is very clear that the beast demands the worship of “the whole world”.Not just a particular faith.For the identity of the beast ,and the false prophet click on this link: http://to./3935
Thanks for the comment and link, Nadia. I checked out the phrase “the whole world” in other parts of the Scripture and found its usage interesting: in all other instances it refers to the particular land in which the writers lived (see Matthew 9:26, 31; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:34). I don’t see any reason why “the whole world” should all of sudden include the seven continents.
You mention “not just a particular faith.” I’m not sure what you mean by that and I’m having difficulty understanding why you said that, especially in light that my report wasn’t about only one particular faith being demanded to worship.
I found the anti-Christ, but he got away, so I have nothing on that.
As regards “the whole world” I agree that this is rhetorical hyperbole. The apostles in Acts had turned “the whole world upside down” but we know they never made it into interior Africa, China, North or South America, and so forth.
I’m stuck on that chart, JohnDave. It is fascinating. We usually think of Johannine tradition being completely independent, but the idea of it influencing Pre-Markan AND theoretical Q (and thereby Matthew and Luke) is pretty intriguing.
I definitely want to read your thesis when you are done, JohnDave.
Brian, great point about the phrase as a rhetorical device. In regard to the anti-Christ, you’ll need to have the Holy Grail if you’re to keep him from getting away, although I hear that silver bullets could be useful in stunning him.
Nadia, I checked out the link, and I honestly feel that the post is no more accurate than previous speculations (much of what is said is re-articulation of previous speculation). I appreciate that the author is trying to articulate a position and answer questions that people have been asking about Revelation. But I really doubt that any of this is what the author of Revelation had in mind as the document was being penned.
I have always wondered how scholars who give the Synoptics such late dates address the silence regarding the fall of the temple in Jerusalem. Have you seen Anderson’s opinion on this matter?
Thanks, Jimmy. Did you download the Bi-Optic Hypothesis? An outline of how the chart works is there. Also, Paul Anderson is featured in the George Fox Journal on this very topic. I will definitely let you read the thesis once it’s done. But for the material in the chart, you may not have to wait that long. Paul and I will be working together over the summer to explore some of these areas.
Brian, I haven’t read or heard Anderson on this, but I will ask him for his take. From my own observations, it didn’t seem like the destruction of the Temple did played too much of a role in the gospel authors’ portrayal of Jesus.
You may want to check out this article: Paul Fredriksen, “The Historical Jesus, the Scene in the Temple, and the Gospel of John,” in John, Jesus, and History, Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series 44, ed. Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just, and Tom Thatcher, vol. 1 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 249-276.
I tend to disagree that the temple didn’t play a role, at least in the Synoptics. Jesus’ statements against the temple and John’s controversial Jordan River baptisms would point to an anti-temple position amongst some of the early Christians. I am not sure about John though.
Great points. I agree that the Temple itself does have some role in the Synoptics; probably not as much in John. But the writers’ silence on the destruction (assuming a late dating for the gospels) seems to say that the Temple’s destruction wasn’t particularly important for the points they were making literarily.
I guess this would be a sufficient answer, but one I find very unsatisfying. It seems to me that they would not miss the opportunity to say “Jesus told you so”!
Definitely unsatisfying, no doubt. Maybe at the end of the summer I’ll be able to work something out, from the perspective of late gospel dating.
I guess I can wait until then. 🙂
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