More and More, Scripture Lives! A personal account by a noted classics scholar -- By: E.M. Blaiklock
BSP 6:1 (Winter 1977) p. 1
More and More, Scripture Lives!
A personal account by a noted classics scholar
[E.M. Blaiklock taught Latin, Greek, and ancient and biblical history at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, for more than forty years. He is well known for his books on classics, history, and the New Testament, and also as an essayist and journalist. This article was given in November of 1972 as the presidential address to the New Zealand Scripture Union.]
It is thirty years since, in strong reaction against Bultmann and his school, A.G. Olmstead insisted that the narratives of John could be the oldest part of the gospel tradition, going back to Aramaic narratives earlier than A.D. 40. A long sequence of small archaeological discoveries have all, since the Second World War, pressed toward that same conclusion. To list a few of them: First, John, much more frequently than the Synoptists, uses the term “rabbi”. This was thought to indicate a second-century origin for the Gospel, when the term “rabbi” began to be used in the synagogues. However, in 1930 E.L. Sukenik discovered an ossuary in an ancient tomb that was certainly much earlier than the second century. These earthenware or stone containers for the bones of the dead bore names and titles, and Sukenik’s find bore the title of Rabbi Theodotion.
This was two years before the Nazareth Decree was published, that strange slab of stone from Nazareth bearing a decree of Claudius that throws vivid light on the story of the empty tomb. And in 1935 G.H. Roberts found a fragment of papyrus in the collection in Manchester’s John Rylands Library that may be dated to before A.D. 130. It contained a portion of John’s text. In 1935 two other scholars published a larger papyrus fragment of slightly later date containing a harmony of the Gospels, including passages from John. Books, in those days, were not rapidly multiplied or rapidly worn
BSP 6:1 (Winter 1977) p. 2
out, so tattered remnants from a thousand miles away from Ephesus, where the book was written, and dating to something near a generation of John’s last activities, support with great strength the authority and historical worth of the Gospel.
Ossuary inscriptions also bear the common names of John’s Gospel, which was irresponsibly dismissed as fictional — not only Mary but also Martha, Elizabeth, Salome, Johanna, and others. The name Lazarus, a form for Eleazar, is common. Topographical allusions have similarly been under strong attack, on the allegation that the writer did not know Palestine. Father Vincent has uncovered and identified Gabbatha, or The Pavement, a fine Roman stone floor under the Ecce Homo Arch, 2,500 square meters of itYou must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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