Gospel Inflation

A Christian minister asked a really interesting question on Twitter:

‘What are we to make of the fact that Jesus refers to God as Father roughly 170 times while the Old Testament does only about 11?’

I suggested a take on this question he may not have considered before. Geoff Holsclaw is a Christian minister and seminary professor of theology in the US.

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Professor of New Testament studies, James D. G. Dunn, in his book The Evidence For Jesus gives a statistical table showing how the early church remembered only a very few occasions in which Jesus spoke of God as ‘Father’ (just 3 such utterances in Mark). Yet in the later gospels (especially Matthew and John) we can see a huge inflation and expansion of the number of such sayings:

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It is fair to conclude therefore that we cannot take John’s reported testimony on this point as firm evidence of what Jesus actually said about himself. It represents a much later theological development.

Categories: Gospels, Jesus, New Testament scholarship

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