As I prepare my paper for this year’s AAR-SBL PNW meeting I have taken interest in the role of the memory of John the Baptist as juxtaposed with Jesus that receives attention in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts. It has a prominent place in the message of these books and there are points where it seems like the authors are writing a semi-polemic against those who may be giving special honor to the Baptist (e.g. Acts 19.1-7). Yet the Apostle Paul seems to have no interest in the man, even if he is depicted in the Book of Acts as meeting people like Apollos and other disciples who identify with John’s baptism. Why?
Well, there are two things that stand out as likely reasons: (1) Paul doesn’t give much time to the Jesus’ ministry in Judea/Galilee. He may have talked about such matters, but his letters are to established churches, and he doesn’t seem to feel the obligation to tell stories from the life of Jesus to make his point. (2) He wrote to audiences who may not have known about the role of John being that they were Gentiles or diaspora Jews.
If passages like Acts 18.24-19.7 have grounding in history it seems like John was not a person whose memory had faded all that quickly. In fact, Paul is said to have met some “disciples” who knew of the baptism of John alone and the Apollos of 18.24-28 is likely the same one met in his letters. He was someone who knew of the baptism of John as well.
That works like Mark and Luke-Acts (which seem to have audiences foreign to Judea/Galilee) felt the need to address the person of John and that the Gospel of John contains a semi-polemic against John seem to indicate that John the Baptist was a relevant figure for many late into the first century (unless one dates John earlier).
Paul says in his letter to Timothy he is an apostle by special appoinment, how was it so he was an apostle without directly following Jesus as the 12 did? I remember Dr.Seagraves saying something on this matter but I cant call to memory his words.
Can we really argue from silence? Most if not all of Paul’s letters are dealing with ‘other’ church issues, to which John the Baptist is not involved. Luke who was a travelling companion of Paul, has the most detailed account of the coming of Christ and John the Baptist of any of the Gospel accounts… I am positive that we set up a false dichotomy between Luke and Paul, and within his dialogue with the disciples near Ephesus, we get a partial insight into how he shared the gospel when he went into the Synagogues. And that as ministry companions, Paul would have drawn much from Luke and even perhaps Luke drew much of his Gospel from Paul.
Paul wasn’t interested much in the past, he was the apostle of the future
Well, Paul wasn’t concerned with anything Jesus taught or did, apart from his death and resurrection. 1 Corinthians 1:22 even suggests he didn’t ascribe any miracles to Jesus (and see Matthew 12:39 in that regard). I think that whatever Paul’s religious milieu was, it was very different from that which later produced the gospels and acts documents, both canonical and non-canonical. I don’t think the goings-on of Judaea or Galilee were really on his radar.
Well he mentioned him once in Acts 13: 24
The gospel writers seem to use John as a way to properly contextualize their presentation of Jesus. Since Paul’s letters are to established churches he does not need to present Jesus. His letters are about other issues.
We can learn many things from Paul’s letters but if we expect them to represent a perfectly-proportioned microcosm of the what the early church promulgated, we are expecting too much. I think this caveat applies to the entirely of the New Testament as well, though obviously to a lesser degree.
Hanimax99’s reference to Acts 13:24 is good to keep in mind as well.
It seems that Paul saw himself as a unique apostle in that he was chosen by the risen Jesus. He speaks of himself this way in 1 Cor 15.8-11.
Admittedly, every answer to a question like this is speculation at best, but interesting speculation! I agree that we shouldn’t oppose Luke and Paul, but it is still worth noting that everything said by Paul is Luke’s in Acts just as all the words of Jesus, while some may be more easily traced back to Jesus himself, ultimately are the words of the Evangelists.
Indeed, the Lukan Paul does interact with questions related to John in 13.24 and 19.1-7. That is part of the reason for my interest in why John seems to be completely ignored in the epistles of Paul.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Paul had no interested in Jesus’ words or deeds. He may have begin to adopt them as his own, but there are times when he seeks to clarify that a particular teaching of his is without precedent in the teaching of Jesus. This is interesting to me because it could indicate that he thought of most of his teachings as having a foundation in the teachings of Jesus.
I find the allusion to 1 Cor 1.22 to be a bit of a stretch, but overall I do agree that Paul addresses matters different from those addressed by the Evangelists.
which John is mentioned in Acts 13:24? Is it John the Baptist? or another John?
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