More on Ἀπομνημονεύματα and the Gospels

First, read here. Dr. Bird has responded. The reason the connection between Justin and the Socratic defense by Xenophon is that it fits an earlier theory announced by Theodore Zahn and promoted by Robert Grant. (See here: Terence Y. Mullins Vigiliae Christianae Vol. 14, No. 4 (Dec., 1960), pp. 216-224.)

Simply, this: Connecting the Gospels to the ahistorical defense is important because it affirms the possibility that this was the most common understanding of the Gospels. Not so much biography, but bios, in the Plutarchian sense. Anne O’Leary covers some of this in her book, Matthew’s Judaization of Mark. The idea is this: While the person is historical, the person has now become ahistorical, as is the defense of the person. The defense is a philosophical one, an almost judicial defense. It allows the lawyer, so to speak, to defend the person using elements of historical fact and the teaching of the community (kerygma?). In other words, Mark used only some of Peter’s teaching – Peter’s teaching providing the authority of acceptance – to tell the story of Jesus.

But, this is why I am attracted to this notion of Justine and Xenophon because it underscores the understanding of Zahn and Grant (and me).



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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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