“Gospel Origins”: A Rejoinder -- By: John W. Wenham

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 02:1 (Spring 1981)
Article: “Gospel Origins”: A Rejoinder
Author: John W. Wenham


“Gospel Origins”:
A Rejoinder

John W. Wenham

Oxford

I am most grateful to Douglas Moo for taking my article so seriously and for dealing with me so gently. It is encouraging that he can accept so much of a thesis which runs counter to most contemporary scholarship. Obviously this is not the place for a full-scale reply, which would require a book, but just for some brief comments.

First, for points well taken. My bald use of the Liber Pontificalis as evidence for Peter’s visit to Rome in A.D. 42 was ill-judged. In spite of the book’s status and influence, its material is of mixed value, and belief in Peter’s twenty-five year overseership does not depend on its testimony. We shall return to this subject in a moment.

I was glad to be reminded again how enormous is the task of establishing that Luke was an eyewitness. The external evidence is against the idea, though I would argue that it is not so strong in this case as in the case of Matthew, where I accept it. I stand by my interpretation of παρακολουθέω, which naturally means “to follow in person” or “follow with attention” or (as in Mark 16:17) “accompany”—the idea of “researches” has to be read into it. H. J. Cadbury remained insistent on this point, though he argued that it referred to the latter part of Luke’s second volume.1

I agree that “there is in Jerusalem” is not decisive for a pre-A.D. 70 date for John’ it may be a historic present. The immediate context, however, does not suggest it: past tenses precede and follow it.

Moo’s strongest disagreements concern the most exciting part of the thesis, the earliness of the dates. Till about 200 years ago dates of this sort were accepted by the whole church. Happily I find Moo’s objections quite unconvincing. On Matthew, he quotes teaching of Jesus (c. A.D. 30) as evidence of a post-A.D. 55 date. Matthew’s own phrase “to this day” could (I repeat) refer to an interval of two years or of two hundred.

With regard to Mark the crucial question is, “When were Peter and Mark together in Rome?” Moo refers to D. W. O’Connor’s scholarly but rather skeptical book, and unfortunately quotes a sentence which happens to be untrue. It is not “certain” that the twenty-five year episcopate of Peter was “born in the imagination or developed out of genuine confusion.” O’Connor himself says (p. 5): “In 1933 appeared the fourth edition of the Manual of Christian

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