James Tabor writes -
In the references below I have put these interpolative elements bold italicized brackets. This exercise strongly suggests that these are later additions to an original Jewish text inserted to “Christianize” a book that in its origins had nothing to do with Jesus. This is a rather astounding phenomenon and once one sees it it seems clear that the underlying original text remains intact and makes complete sense without these references:
His exercise is remarkably mundane and based on the same subjective movements employed in the Q camp. We simply have no hard evidence of a ‘pre-Christian’ apocalypse in Revelation.
Tabor’s argument has merit and I would have no disagreement with those who can see such things. My only real disagreement is drawing too fine a line between Judaism and Christianity at the stage when this was written and implying early Jewish believers in Jesus ‘Christianized’ pre-existing documents. Like the Didache, Revelation would be leftovers. Well, a basic core of it anyway.
Sidenote – several scholars see in the Didache a pre-existing document likely used by later believers in their worship. Not to draw too close to anachronistic imagery here, but Wesley used the 39 Articles of Religion from the Anglican Church to draw up his 25 Articles of Religion for Methodists groups. Wesley was not yet independent, but remained Anglican. He simply used what he had and what was familiar.
As I have previously stated, my position on Revelation is that it is built on Psalm 2. I further believe ancient liturgical practices are incorporated inside of Revelation. Fitting, I believe, since Psalm 2 and liturgy would most likely go together. Jewish believers in Jesus, like they do with other works, would see a natural enough structure to give them something to use to build their new community. After all, they aren’t really separated from Judaism of the time. It is possible the Jewish author, one who believed in Jesus, took a pre-existing liturgical document and made use of it for his community. It was familiar, safe, and served his theological purpose. The pre-existing document, a pre-midrash of Psalm 2, fitted nicely with Jesus becoming enthroned as the Lamb. And remember, any such pre-existing document would not necessarily not belong to the new group, especially if they saw themselves in continuity with Moses and the Prophets.
It wasn’t ‘Christanized;’ it was reworked to include the new order of things.
In other words, we shouldn’t really call works ‘Christian’ until we get to certain times in the 2nd century nor should we assume there was an agenda to ‘Christianize’ Jewish documents. This is anachronistic.
So, while we may have a pre-existing core, we cannot really say it is Jewish and the added material is Christian. Such a dichotomy likely did not exist at the time. Rather, we have a pre-existing liturgical framework Jewish believers in Jesus used to plug in their theological statements. I do not, however, believe we can easily remove the core, if there is really a core, from the overlaying layers.
As far as the author, I am not as convinced as some the name ‘John’ is not the author’s real name. I mean, Mark is but a surname.
- Eucharist: From Jewish Meal to Christian Meal (vatikos.wordpress.com)