Monday, August 22, 2011

An Example of Recurrent Attestation

Dale Allison has argued for a criterion of recurrent attestation.  These are themes, ideas, and elements that occur across a wide variety of materials and give a certain impression of the historical Jesus.  Allison gives the following as an example:
  • The temptation narrative, in which Jesus bests the devil (Mark 1:12-13; Matt 4:1-11 par. Luke 4:1-13)
  • Stories of successful exorcism (Mark 1:21-28; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-27; Matt 12:22-23 par. Luke 11:14; Matt 9:32-34; cf. the passing notices of successful exorcisms in Mark 1:32, 34, 39; 3:22; Matt 8:16; Luke 13:32)
  • Jesus’ authorization of disciples to cast out demons (Mark 3:15; 6:7; cf. 6:13; Matt 7:22; Luke 10:19-20)
  • The saying about Satan being divided (Mark 3:23-27; Matt 12:25-27 par. Luke 11:17-19)
  • The parable of binding the strong man (Mark 3:27; Matt 12:29 par. Luke 11:21-22; Gos. Thom. 35)
  • The story of someone other than a disciple casting out demons in Jesus’ name (Mark 9:38-41)
  • The declaration that Jesus casts out demons by the finger/Spirit of God (Matt 12:28 par. Luke 11:20)
  • The report of Jesus' vision of Satan falling like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18)
  • The announcement that the ruler of the world has been driven out (John 12:31; 16:11; cf. 14:30)
 According to Allison, “one infers from all this material not only that Jesus was an exorcist but also that he and others saw his ministry in its entirety as a victorious combat with Satan. This holds, whatever one makes of the individual units, at least some of which may be difficult to think of as historical. What counts is not the isolated units but the pattern they weave, or the larger images they form.”

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