Talk:Oral gospel traditions

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Working our way to Consensus[edit]

We are once again spinning our wheels. Let us downshift to first gear and see if we can get some traction. I like the idea (above) that we start at the beginning and work our way through the different issues building consensus based on the reliable sources. (I have no problem with the minor changes made by Ignocrates)


We just reverted In ictu oculi's edit without debating his concerns (see above). Therefore I have restored his edit until we reach consensus. His position is that Given that English sources have a wider range - from serious material to large amounts of enthusiastic nonsense, anchoring this article in a more reputable and stable academic tradition - the German one, is useful.

However, I disagree.
  • It is true that in the 20thC the German was considered a more reputable and stable academic tradition. However, in the past few years there has been a a major shift in Christian Biblical scholarship. Leading Biblical scholars such as Ehrman, Casey, Edwards have now taken the position that Jesus was a Jew and that the historical roots of Christianity must be seen in a Jewish context. This scholarship has sparked debate for some still hold the position that Jesus was a Greek speaking Galilean whose teachings were anti-Jewish. Last year, one of the world's leading historians on Early Christianity released his latest work. James D. G. Dunn, The Oral Gospel Tradition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013. argues that the assumption that Jesus was not Jewish has been a real stumbling block for Biblical scholars. If anything, more serious has been what might be called “institutional anti-Semitism, or more accurately anti-Judaism, which for so long disfigured Christian theology, including NT scholarship." The so called mainline or classic position of Ernest Renan, who wrote: "Fundamentally there was nothing Jewish about Jesus" is mistaken and encapsulates "Christianity's historic denigration of Judaism." The truth is Christianity has been anti Jewish and Christian scholarship has failed to be "Christian" in its treatment of Jews. This can be seen in the disparagement of the Hebrew Gospel which is viewed as little more than a Jewish Bastardwerk. The mainline position of 20th Century scholars bordered on antisemitism. The Deutsche Christen movement produced the Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, still the standard Theological Dictionary of the New Testament found in theological libraries and used by students all over the world as if it were nothing but a standard work of reference. Nor should it be imagined that such bias was isolated to scholars who fought for Nazi Germany for even Bultmann was tainted by the effect of working in a German environment in which Jewishness was so unwelcome. Google Link Nor should it be imagined that such anti-Jewish sentiment was isolated to scholars coming out of Germany. Google Link. The Jewish tradition has generally been viewed pejoratively and judged inferior by many other scholars instrumental in the formation theories regarding the Synoptic tradition. Google Link. One must take care to distinguish between Biblical Scholarship based on reliable historical evidence and “the age-long, inbred, instinctive Jew-hatred” of the West.
Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann
Volume 20 of Studies in Jewish History and Culture, BRILL, 2009. -
Susannah Heschel, 2008
Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, HarperCollins 2012.
James Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel, 2009. pp 194 - 208
Maurice Casey, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010

  • The German appears to be a mistranslation.
  • No reliable source was provided.

If you cannot find a reliable source in the next litte while the the German will be deleted. - Ret.Prof (talk) 15:53, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

The German was deleted because it is unsourced content. There was plenty of discussion (see above) that this addition requires a reliable source. Consensus doesn't require unanimity. Please supply the reference or self-revert your change. Ignocrates (talk) 15:56, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, self-revert is even better. - Ret.Prof (talk) 16:05, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
We have given User:In ictu oculi a reasonable time to find a reliable source. Since he has not responded I have removed the German. Cheers - Ret.Prof (talk) 01:37, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
If it's simply wanting a source you could have provided that yourself: Hans Dieter Betz Antike und Christentum 1998 Page 6 "Therefore, the oral tradition of the gospel was originally Aramaic, and since it is known to us only as it was written up in Greek it has ... Die mündliche Überlieferung des Evangeliums war also von Haus aus aramäisch, und wenn sie uns nur in ..." etc. There are plenty of sources. The issue is more whether anything can be done with this article while is not clear yet where you are heading. I still think that anchoring the discussion into a broader base of sources - including German sources - will balance against fringe and overweight. In ictu oculi (talk) 17:15, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Generation to Generation[edit]

Presently I am at the Seminary library. All the sources seem to support the Jan Vansina definition which defines our topic as verbal testimony from one generation to the next. Sources on the Oral Gospel Tradition seem to support Vansina. I could not find a single source that says the Oral Tradition lasted only one generation. Your comment above seems to indicate that you are on board. Do we have consensus? - Ret.Prof (talk) 16:20, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm on board with this definition. For example, it would include oral testimony transmitted by next-generation disciples of the apostles, such as John the Elder and his followers. Ignocrates (talk) 19:25, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
The "gospel" of the Oral Tradition is, in its purest sense, the kerygma of Jesus Christ - that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, so that we may have eternal life. This is the sense of the gospel conveyed by Paul, Mark, and Ignatius of Antioch. Only later did the the definition come to be associated with a specific written form. Ignocrates (talk) 19:42, 13 January 2014 (UTC)


Several issues. First, this ignores the question of narrative - what marks the gospels from the Pauline letters is narrative. I am a little confused. Please explain further. We may have a major disagreement. I feel like this article is morphing into an article on the synoptic problem rather Oral Tradition? Cheers - Ret.Prof (talk) 16:47, 13 January 2014 (UTC)


Stage i: Oral Traditions Before the Gospels were written, early Christians passed on traditions about Jesus by word of mouth. These oral traditions included various types of stories about Jesus: for example, stories about Jesus healing the sick or debating with his opponents. The traditions also included various types of sayings attributed to Jesus, such as parables and teachings on various subjects.

— Burkett 2002, page 124

I have no trouble with Burkett. - Ret.Prof (talk) 23:51, 13 January 2014 (UTC)


I've put a OR banner across the top of the article. This article started as a 1-person essay with no consultation with or integration with other New Testament subject articles. It has accumulated sources of sorts since then. And credit particularly to PiCo for time spent on it. But still - the heavy air of agenda lies on the article. I'd like to see some demonstration of the topic and weight of a reliable tertiary sources, such as the ABD, applied here. In ictu oculi (talk) 17:24, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

In ictu oculi, please provide examples of OR that are specific and actionable, preferably with diffs. Vague expressions of unease, such as "the heavy air of agenda lies on the article", don't help much. Ignocrates (talk) 01:33, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
For specifics: have all specific issues of Talk:Oral gospel traditions/Archive 1 been laid to rest? In ictu oculi (talk) 04:38, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
Maybe not, but the burden rests on you as the editor who applied the OR tag to make the basis of your complaint explicit for other editors. Otherwise, it sounds like a case of WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT. Ignocrates (talk) 17:07, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
Removed tag. @ In ictu oculi at Wikipedia an OR banner must be supported examples that are specific and actionable, preferably with diffs. If any material needs a source let us know. Cheers - Ret.Prof (talk) 21:45, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
Where to start? "Ehrman stresses that Jesus was raised in a Jewish household in the Jewish hamlet of Nazareth. He was brought up in a Jewish culture, accepted Jewish ways and eventually became a Jewish teacher, who, like other Jewish teachers of his time, debated the Law of Moses orally" - does he really - this repetition of the blindingly obvious doesn't sound to me like Ehrman's style. In ictu oculi (talk) 07:09, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like Ehrman to me. Please read the sources carefully and you will see it is all there! In any event I will be stepping back. Please see my talk page. - Ret.Prof (talk) 14:33, 2 February 2014 (UTC)