|dc.contributor.author||Mansfield, Merrilyn Anne||-|
|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation explores three Hebrew Scriptures (Exod 23:20; Isa 40:3-5 and Mal 3:1) that are associated with John the Baptist in the Gospels. These Scriptures are well known within the literature of Second Temple Judaism. They were reused time and again to reflect current events in later eras that were different from the events described in their original contexts. These Scriptures were also reinterpreted in the literature of early Christianity to describe aspects of John the Baptist’s mission. This project outlines how these Scriptures were used by each Gospel author to create their accounts of John the Baptist.
Various methodologies have provided the framework within which a detailed exploration of the texts can be conducted and evidentiary data extracted. These methods include source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, intertextuality and reception history method, the criteria of cross section and counter-tendency and a note about history’s epistemological fragility. Attention has also been given to the detection of bias. These tools have assisted in determining the common sources that were used by the authors of the Gospels, and in identifying any unique views that the individual authors have provided about John the Baptist. This research uncovered evidence from the earliest stratum of traditions about John. Using this data the next task was to compare the use of these Scriptures in the Gospels, and their use in other time periods, beginning with the original contexts in the Hebrew Scriptures, and tracing a trajectory of reinterpretation through Jewish literature and Christian literature up to 200 CE.
The outcome of this research is that certain aspects of John the Baptist’s mission are historical. These aspects include John’s focus on baptism, his request to those engaging in baptism to repent and make behavioural changes, his wilderness locale, his preaching about imminent judgment, his religious criticism of Herod Antipas, and the notion that John was viewed as a real prophet. All these activities that are accepted as historical are also theological, yet many scholars have struggled to reconcile aspects of the historical John with what are commonly regarded as theological constructs of the Baptist and his mission in the Gospels, particularly in light of Jesus’ advent.
But John the Baptist remains an historical character, who came preaching a message imbued with theological meaning, within the construct of the Judaisms of the first century. It is therefore historically likely that John the Baptist’s mission reflected the teachings of the Jewish Scriptures. John, like the many other would be prophets of deliverance mentioned by Josephus, appeared in the southern wilderness and preached a message based on certain Scripture texts. Aspects of the historical Baptist’s mission (wilderness, repentance, preparation, and judgment) were directly correlated to the Scriptures that are associated with him in the Gospels. These Scriptures described a voice in the wilderness. They spoke of a messenger of YHWH. A phrase in Isa 40:3 ‘prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’ indicated to a Jewish audience that the ethical preparation of the people prior to the arrival and imminent judgment of God was now occurring. But scholars were not quite sure whether the historical John associated himself with these Scriptures, or if they were more or less later theological constructs that made John the forerunner of Jesus.
This dissertation carves a way through this question and argues that the widely accepted historical aspects of John the Baptist’s mission reflect Jewish interpretations of these Scriptures, therefore making it more likely that John the Baptist used these Scriptures in his preaching, rather than the Gospel authors introducing them at a later time to make theological points about John being a forerunner to Jesus.||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||University of Sydney||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||School of Letters, Art and Media||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||Department of Studies in Religion||en_AU|
|dc.rights||The author retains copyright of this thesis. It may only be used for the purposes of research and study. It must not be used for any other purposes and may not be transmitted or shared with others without prior permission.||en_AU|
|dc.subject||Historical John the Baptist||en_AU|
|dc.title||John the Baptist and the fulfilment of scripture: an exploration of the tradition history||en_AU|
|dc.type.pubtype||Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.||en_AU|
|dc.description.disclaimer||Access is restricted to staff and students of the University of Sydney . UniKey credentials are required. Non university access may be obtained by visiting the University of Sydney Library.||en_AU|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (University of Sydney Access only)|