Emil Bartos – Dragostea dintai – la Biserica Penticostala Filadelfia, Bucuresti 06 Mai 2012

Photo – Emil Bartos la Biserica Baptista “Buna Vestire” din Iasi

Textul – Apocalipsa 2:1-7

Îngerului Bisericii din Efes scrie -i: ,,Iată ce zice Cel ce ţine cele şapte stele în mîna dreaptă, şi Cel ce umblă prin mijlocul celor şapte sfeşnice de aur:
,,Ştiu faptele tale, osteneala ta şi răbdarea ta, şi că nu poţi suferi pe cei răi; că ai pus la încercare pe cei ce zic că sînt apostoli şi nu sînt, şi i-ai găsit mincinoşi.
Ştiu că ai răbdare, că ai suferit din pricina Numelui meu, şi că n-ai obosit.
Dar ce am împotriva ta, este că ţi-ai părăsit dragostea dintîi.
Adu-ţi dar aminte de unde ai căzut; pocăieşte-te, şi întoarce-te la faptele tale dintîi. Altfel, voi veni la tine, şi-ţi voi lua sfeşnicul din locul lui, dacă nu te pocăieşti.
Ai însă lucrul acesta bun: că urăşti faptele Nicolaiţilor, pe cari şi Eu le urăsc.
Cine are urechi, să asculte ce zice Bisericilor Duhul: ,,Celui ce va birui, îi voi da să mănînce din pomul vieţii, care este în raiul lui Dumnezeu.

Published on May 6, 2012 by  Biserica Filadelfia Bucuresti, http://filadelfia.com.ro 6 mai 2012, Duminica dimineata.

Anunțuri

Conferinta Nationala ”Peniel” – Sibiu, 18-19 mai 2012

Urmăreşte  LIVE

CONFERINTA NATIONALA „PENIEL”

Sibiu, 18-19 mai 2012

Intalnirea se va desfasura dupa urmatorul program:

Programul:

Vineri, 18 mai
9:00 – 11:00 înregistrarea participanților
11:00 – 13:00 sesiunea I
16:00 – 17:30 seminarii paralele
18:00 – 20:00 sesiunea II
Sâmbătă, 19 mai
10:00 – 12:30 sesiunea III
15:30 – 16:30 seminarii paralele sau concert
17:00 – 19:30 sesiunea IV

Alfa Omega TV va transmite DOAR sesiunile principale de invatatura.

 Citeste mai mult la http://www.alfaomega.tv/#ixzz1vE14N8AU

Daca vrei sa afli mai multe despre Dumnezeul nostru suveran si despre modul cum poti sa I te inchini in frumusetea sfinteniei, esti invitat sa participi la cea de-a 16-a conferinta nationala de tineret „Peniel” de la SIBIU.

Alte detalii necesare:

  1. Conferinta va avea loc la Sala Sporturilor „Transilvania” din str. Octavian Goga, nr. 1, pe 18-19 mai.
  2. Titlul: „SUVERAN”
  3. Motto: Ieremia 18:6b – „Iata: cum este lutul in mana olarului, asa sunteti voi in mana Mea.”
  4. Vor predica din Cuvantul lui Dumnezeu:

Cristian Barbosu – pastor al Bisericii „Metanoia” din Arad (www.bisericametanoia.ro); a obtinut licenta in teologie la Moody Bible Institute, masteratul (MTh) la Dallas Theological Seminary si doctoratul (PhD) la Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Mesajele lui Cristi pot fi auzite saptamanal pe diferite statii de radio sau urmarite la televiziunea „AlfaOmegaTv.” El este autorul mai multor carti si articole crestine. Cristi este casatorit cu Anne si impreuna au trei fiice: Fiona, Tara si Eden.

Bill Prevette – misionar AG din 1986 in tari precum India, Singapore, Indonezia, Tailanda, Cambogia si Romania, si-a obtinut masteratul la Fuller Theological Seminary si doctoratul la Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, UK unde si slujeste in prezent (http://prevetteresearch.net). Autor al cartii „Child, Church and Compassion”, Bill este casatorit cu Ky si impreuna au un fiu pe nume Daniel.

Vasilica Croitor – pastor al Bisericii Betleem din Medgidia (www.betleem.ro) si vicepresedinte al Comunitatii Regionale Penticostale Constanta. Ca membru fondator al Agentiei Penticostale de Misiune Externa, a calatorit deseori în Asia ?i Africa in scop misionar. Este autorul cartii „Rascumpararea memoriei” iar ca traducator si editor, a coordonat aparitia a peste treizeci de carti in limba romana, prin Editura Succeed Publishing. Vasilica este casatorit cu Mihaela si impreuna au trei copii: Denisa, Beniamin si Miriam.

  1. Inchinarea va fi condusa de catre Peniel Band si Peniel Band Jr. Vor mai lauda pe Domnul corul Sanctus Pro Deo (www.sanctusprodeo.ro).
  2. La aceasta conferinta vor putea participa primele 2.400 de persoane care se vor inscrie pe internet la http://www.peniel.ro, prin liderul de grup care le va insoti; participantii trebuie sa isi valideze participarea prin plata in avans, pana la data de 10 mai (vezi detalii despre cont pe site)! Donatia pentru participare este 30 lei/persoana!
  3. Organizatorii Peniel nu vor asigura cazarea participantilor, dar vor acorda asistenta celor interesati. Pentru a ne usura munca si pentru a va rezolva singuri cazarea, va rugam sa luati legatura direct sau prin pastorul dv. cu crestinii din Sibiu! De asemenea, va puteti caza si la locatiile afisate pe site-ul nostru. Nu uitati sa mentionati parola „Peniel”, pentru ca unele preturi sunt negociate special pentru acest eveniment. In cazul in care nu va descurcati, va rugam sa luati legatura cu Daniel Lieneth la tel. 0745. 992.160 sau email: danydiry@yahoo.com.
  4. Pe parcursul celor doua zile va avea loc un maraton de necurmata închinare prin rugaciune, lauda, adorare si citire a Scripturii. Bisericile sau formatiile muzicale care doresc sa slujeasca in acest maraton organizat in paralel sunt rugate sa ia legatura cu pastorul Sorin Capatana, coordonatorul echipei responsabile de aceasta actiune, la tel. 0744.141.499 sau email:soranac28@yahoo.com.
  5. Vineri dupa-masa vom oferi 10 seminarii optionale, care vor fi reluate a doua zi. Asadar, sambata puteti alege un alt seminar de care sunteti interesati. Prin urmare, in momentul inregistrarii, va rugam sa bifati si seminariile optionale la care ati dori sa participati. Veti gasi lista seminariilor in formularul de inscriere de pe site-ul nostru.
  6. Fiindca dorim sa aducem glorie lui Dumnezeu si sa transpunem Evanghelia in practica, si in acest an ne vom implica in 4 actiuni sociale. De aceea, fiecare participant este rugat sa aduca la conferinta (cel putin) doua perechi de sosete si un prosop pe care sa le donam oamenilor fara adapost din Sibiu. Proiectul este coordonat de primaria orasului. Ne vom implica si in alte proiecte sociale; prin urmare, veniti cu bani in plus!

Pentru buna desfasurare a procesului organizatoric si a conferintei in sine, va rugam sa fiti alaturi de noi in rugaciune si post pe data de 4 si 11 mai. Fie ca Dumnezeu sa faca din acest eveniment un adevarat Peniel si sa ne modeleze tot mai mult dupa chipul Sau!

R.T.France – Aspects of Gospel Harmony

R.T. France, “Chronological Aspects of ‘Gospel Harmony’,” Vox Evangelica 16 (1986): 33-60. via www.biblicalstudies.org/uk/

Chronological Aspects of ‘Gospel Harmony

R.T. France

The recently published excursion by B. S. Childs into the area of New Testament criticism, under the title The New Testament as Canon: an Introduction,1 contains many challenges to accepted methods of New Testament study. Coming into the area as an outsider (ie an Old Testament specialist), Childs argues that traditional ‘Introductions to the New Testament’ have ignored the most important question. They have argued at length about precisely how, when and by whom the New Testament books were composed, and have taken opposing stands on questions of historicity, but they have not considered how these books function for us as the canonical scriptures of Christianity.

One striking indication of Childs’ distinctive approach is the fact that while he has virtually nothing to say about the synoptic problem (ie the process whereby three of the gospels came to be written in such a tantalizingly similar and yet distinct form), he devotes nearly seventy pages to the question of ‘gospel harmony’, by which he means the problem of how we should respond to a canon which has presented us with four differing accounts of Jesus instead of a single ‘authorized biography’. But this is no call for an uncritical conservatism. Childs rejects equally the conservative desire to make all the gospels say exactly the same and the critical approach which is interested only in paring away the later ‘accretions’ in order to uncover ‘what really happened’. His concern is rather to listen to the four accounts side by side, recognizing that their differences pose historical problems, but not allowing those problems to distract him from what the evangelists are actually saying.

‘Harmonization’ of the details of the gospel narratives began as early as the second century, and has remained a major interest of conservative scholars. The more critical scholarship has emphasized the discrepancies between the gospels, and has declared the attempts of harmonizers both futile and perverse; the more conservative scholars have undertaken to prove that every detail can be accounted for as an accurate record of what took place. Great ingenuity has been exercised in the search for possible ways of reconciling the apparently irreconcilable, and many of the proposed solutions strike critical observers as artificial to the point of absurdity.

In this situation of mutual incomprehension and of increasing polarization, Childs’ approach seems to offer the possibility of a way out of what has become a rather sterile debate. By considering the question of harmony worth discussing at all, he has challenged the general critical assumption that harmonization is a pursuit unworthy of scholarly attention, But by refusing to allow the question to be limited to arguments over what is or is not historically feasible, he has rightly insisted that it be dealt with in the context of a wider understanding of the gospels as canonical scripture.

This is a healthy corrective, but it is not, either in intention or in execution, a vote for a traditionally conservative harmonistic approach. When Childs goes on to discuss specific examples of gospel discrepancies, while he has much of value to say on the messages to be drawn from the passages concerned, he generally leaves the historical problems unresolved. Sometimes he clearly regards the accounts as irreconcilable in detail, but in any case he does not seem to regard such resolution as important. It is, rather, a distraction from listening to what the gospels are saying.

But what are they saying? Childs suggests that this question is to be answered not, as exegesis has generally done, by trying to reconstruct the author’s intention, but rather by reading the texts ‘canonically’, ie by considering how they have spoken, and still speak, in the life and doctrine of the church which has adopted these texts as its basis of belief and life. It is this orientation which makes it possible for him to sit loose to more historical questions, since the details of what happened belong together with the process of composition and the original author’s intention in the area of the text’s pre-history, not of its canonical use and meaning. It is what the text is saying now, rather than what it said originally or how it came to be as it is, that is his concern.

This approach raises in an acute form the now familiar literary debate (which is pursued much more widely than only in biblical studies) between those who believe in the autonomy of the text and those who believe that our understanding of it must be governed by the author’s intention in so far as we are able to recover it. A really thorough-going belief in the autonomy of the text does away with any need for historical study in biblical interpretation. To discover the cultural and historical setting of the writing of the text, to reconstruct the literary conventions within which it would originally have been understood, even to discern its place in the development of the author’s thought and ministry, all these traditional concerns of biblical exegesis become secondary, indeed ultimately irrelevant, when the meaning of the text is understood relative to its impact on us in itself, without reference to what the author meant it to convey.

As one who is not persuaded of the autonomy of the text, while I welcome Childs’ attempt to bring the question of gospel harmony back onto the scholarly agenda, I would like to suggest that it should not be divorced from a consideration of the author’s intention. And if it is the case that part (though of course not all) of the intention of the biblical writers is to convey factual information, then it does seem to be appropriate, indeed necessary, to pay attention to those areas where their factual information appears to be in conflict, rather than to dismiss the question in favour of an exclusive concentration on the more ‘spiritual’ aspect of their message.

But this does not mean that I, any more than Childs, want to return to the sort of ‘harmonization’ which caused Osiander in the sixteenth century to conclude that Jairus’ daughter was twice raised from the dead, and which in more recent times has led to the proposal that Peter denied Jesus not three times (as all four gospels say!) but six.2 It means rather a serious attempt to understand how the original writers expected their texts to be taken, an attempt which deals with the texts as works of literature belonging to a particular cultural context, rather than as jigsaw puzzles made up of unconnected pieces awaiting the ingenuity of the modern interpreter to fit them together into a composite picture―an ingenuity which is required to be that much greater in view of the fact that many of the pieces are missing, and no one is sure how many there originally were.

In this article I want to discuss this issue of harmonization in relation to the author’s intended meaning by concentrating on one traditional area of harmonization, that of chronology. This is not a side-issue. A high proportion of the factual discrepancies between the gospels which critical scholarship has pointed out fall in this area, where different gospels record what are apparently the same events in a different relative order, or where they give specific settings for the same event which seem irreconcilable. Indeed Childs mentions that B. F. Westcott ‘regarded the chief problem of harmonization to be the divergence among the Gospels in temporal sequence’.3 Childs rightly sees this as an overstatement, and I would not want to suggest that to find a satisfactory way of resolving chronological differences would eliminate the problem of gospel harmony. But it remains true that much debate has centred on such issues, and it is possible that an approach which offers the hope of resolving some such questions may be in principle applicable to other harmonistic problems also.

In this area of chronological discrepancies I would like to suggest that a consideration of the authors’ intentions, while it will not solve all problems, may suggest that some of the traditional areas of dispute were all the time pseudo-problems. The simple question to be posed is how far the evangelists’ records were meant to be chronologically structured. While in a modern biography we might assume that events were related in chronological order unless the author clearly indicated otherwise, have we any right to make the same assumption for the gospels? The critical dictum that ‘the gospels are not biographies’, while it has rightly been questioned in relation to the nature of biographical writing in the ancient world,4 was right at least in its observation that they are not structured like most modern biographies. They might better be described as anthologies of stories and sayings of Jesus, and it is the privilege of the compiler of an anthology to arrange the material according to whatever scheme he feels appropriate, a privilege of which, to judge by their differences, the gospel writers have to some extent availed themselves. The rather vague links by which they generally connect episodes (‘then’, ‘in those days’, ‘after these things’, etc) do not suggest an annalistic structure, and while Luke declares that he has presented his material kathexēs, ‘in order’, he does not state that the sort of order he means is chronological.

A careful study of the arrangement of material in the gospels often reveals a more thematic connection between the sections. A very obvious example is in chapters 5-9 of Matthew, where an extensive collection of Jesus’ teaching on discipleship (much of which occurs in other contexts in Luke) is followed by an equally striking collection of stories illustrating Jesus’ miraculous activity. Thus chapters 5-7 present Jesus the Messiah in his words, while chapters 8-9 present his messianic deeds. The whole section thus prepares the scene for the following’ account of his mission and of the varying response of his contemporaries. (Most commentators go further and discern in Matthew 8-9 a deliberate structuring of the miracles in three groups of three. It is of course possible that they happened just like that, but is it likely?) A similarly careful composition can be discerned throughout the gospel of Matthew, adding up to a powerful dramatic presentation of the person and mission of Jesus leading up to the inevitable confrontation with Jewish orthodoxy, which in turn culminates in his death and resurrection. The whole gospel is thus an effectively structured portrait of Jesus. Students of Matthew vary in the structural pattern which they regard as basic to the gospel, but all agree that the whole book has been carefully composed for literary and theological effect. Similar observations are regularly made with regard to the other gospels.

There is, of course, no necessary conflict between such a dramatic or thematic ordering of material and a strict adherence to chronological order. But we are at least entitled to ask how important the chronology was to the author, and whether he may not sometimes have recorded events and teaching ‘out of order’ so as to achieve a more effective presentation of the significance of Jesus’ ministry. To observe that there is a basic agreement between the gospels on the broad outline of Jesus’ life and ministry does not require us to assume also that every event is intended to be understood as occurring in the order recorded. Since that order does in fact vary in detail between the gospels, the question is clearly important.

I want to ask, then, whether some of the traditional problems of chronological harmonization are really problems at all. If the gospel writers are not intending to teach us the chronological order of events, where is the problem?

This sounds, no doubt, like a quite arbitrary magic wand to be waved over any suggested discrepancy. Wherever the order varies, invoke a non-chronological principle of arrangement, and the problem is solved! But I am not arguing for any such simplistic approach. All I want to suggest is that in some cases non-chronological arrangement is a possibility to be considered. The problem then is to know where the writers intended a chronological arrangement and where they did not, and to avoid the temptation of the convenient assumption that they were not interested in chronology wherever problems of harmonization arise in this area.

The sort of factors which will be important here will be whether explicit chronological markers occur in the text, whether any theological or other implications seem to be drawn out from the order or concurrence of events, or whether there is an apparent dependence of one story on another having already occurred. On the other hand, a proposal to treat the order as non-chronological will carry more conviction in a case where some other principle of composition can be shown to account better for the form of the text.

In order to show how these considerations may affect our understanding of particular problem passages, I propose to consider a few of the issues arising in what appears to be one of the clearest chronological sequences in the gospels, and yet one in which several notorious problems of harmonization occur, that is the last phase of Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem, the so- called ‘Holy Week’.5 Even with this restriction, the treatment must necessarily be selective,

5 Even this general designation is open to chronological question. Mk. 11-13 is not explicitly linked chronologically with 14-16, and while the events of Mk. 11:1-25 are given a clear three-day framework, no time indications are given for the contents of 11:27-13:37. So while Jn. 12:1, 12 sets the events from the entry to Jerusalem to the passion within the Passover context, the inclusion of all the events of Mark 11-16 within one week is a matter of traditional inference rather than of explicit statement. Further, it has been argued that the entry to Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple (the latter of which John in any case places elsewhere in his gospel, though again in an explicitly Passover context) would fit more appropriately at the Feast of Tabernacles (so T. W. Manson, BJRL 33 (1950/1) 271-282; C. W. F. Smith, JBL 79 (1960) 315327) or that of the Dedication (so B. A. Mastin, NTS 16 (1969/70) 76-82), in which case the events of ‘Holy Week’ may have occurred over a period of up to six months! Do Jesus’ words in Mk. 14:49 also point in the direction of a longer period in Jerusalem?

THE FIG-TREE

Mark 11:1-20 gives a detailed account of certain events following Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem in what is ostensibly chronological order. His entry to Jerusalem took him straight into the temple, where he had a look around and then, ‘as it was already late’, went out to Bethany to spend the night (v 11). ‘On the following day’, on the way back into Jerusalem from Bethany, he cursed the fig-tree (vv 12-14). The cleansing of the temple follows on their arrival in Jerusalem on this second day, and then ‘when evening came’ Jesus and the disciples left the city again (v 19). ‘In the morning’, presumably on the way back into the city, they passed the fig-tree again, and found it now withered (v 20). This is a clear, consistent account of the events of some forty-eight hours.

Matthew 21 differs in two ways. First, there is no suggestion of a night’s delay between the initial entry to Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple: immediately after the entry Matthew continues, ‘And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought…’ (v 12). It is only after this that Matthew mentions going out to spend the night at Bethany (v 17). Matthew thus apparently presents Jesus’ action as an immediate and spontaneous response to a provocative situation, whereas Mark allows us to see it as a deliberate gesture, coolly planned overnight. But while these impressions of Jesus’ action are undeniably different, it is surely pedantic to find a factual discrepancy here. It is Matthew’s regular practice to omit details in the narratives which he finds unnecessary or distracting, and to relate only the essentials of the story (see eg his drastic abbreviation of the vivid stories of 5:1-43 into a mere 16 verses, 8:28-34; 9:18-26, or his omission of Luke’s mention of the centurion’s Jewish friends, Lk. 7:3-6, cf Mt.8:5-8). The one-day interval would be such a detail. Matthew therefore mentions only one night at Bethany, after the cleansing of the temple, which presumably corresponds to the second night in Mark.

But the situation is complicated, in the second place, by the incident of the fig-tree. Integral to the Marcan story is the repeated visit to the tree on successive mornings. But Matthew’s telescoping of the story has removed one of those mornings. So what in Mark appears as a two-stage story (cursing on one day, discovery of withering on the next) is in Matthew a single incident after the (second?) night at Bethany which follows the cleansing of the temple. Is this another editorial simplification by Matthew? Perhaps, but in this case he does seem to be interested in the chronology in a way which puts him into apparent conflict with Mark, for he adds that the fig-tree withered parachrēma, ‘immediately’, when Jesus cursed it, and he further reinforces this emphasis in the wording of the disciples’ response which again focuses on the fact that the tree withered parachrēma. This suggests that the immediacy of the miracle is the point which Matthew wishes to stress, as the basis for the following teaching on the limitless opportunities open to faith.

Now a fig-tree does not normally wither in a mere twenty-four hours from being ‘in leaf’, so that even in its Marcan form the story is of a very sudden and miraculous effect from Jesus’ curse, and the same lessons about faith are rightly drawn in Mark’s account as in Matthew’s. Even if the process took longer than Matthew’s account suggests, his parachrēma is still amply justified. But it does seem that Matthew’s account (if, as most scholars assume, it was dependent on that of Mark) has subordinated strict chronology to a more effective dramatic presentation of the incident in order to draw out more powerfully what he understands to be its theological implications.

I have operated so far on the assumption that things actually happened as Mark’s more circumstantial account relates, and that Matthew has deliberately telescoped the Marcan story. There is, however, another possible explanation. Suppose, as not a few scholars are now prepared to believe, that Matthew’s story is the original, and that it is Mark who has modified the chronological sequence. In that case he would have deliberately separated into two stages an event which in fact occurred all at once.

But why should Mark do such a thing? An answer is immediately to hand in one of the most widely recognized characteristics of Mark’s literary method, his so-called ‘interpolation’ or ‘sandwich’ technique.6 Quite frequently a story is interrupted while another incident is related, after which the original story is concluded. While it is possible that this device may in some cases be used purely to maintain the reader’s interest (one of my students pointed out that it is similar to Ronnie Corbett’s narrative style!), in several cases it seems clear that stories are thus interwoven so that one may throw light on the other. In this case it is generally agreed that, even without this Marcan interweaving, the cursing of the fig-tree is to be understood as symbolic of the fruitlessness of Israel, which is more overtly condemned in Jesus’ action in the temple. In Mark’s version this point is strongly reinforced by the narrative structure:

The temple observed
The fig-tree observed and denounced The temple denounced
The fig-tree destroyed

Later the analogy is completed by the explicit prediction that the temple, too, will be destroyed (13:2).7

So there would be a clear theological reason for Mark to restructure the story into two stages in order to achieve this suggestive ‘sandwiching’ of the two events. We have thus seen good theological reason for either evangelist to have modified the chronology; Matthew by telescoping a two-stage event into a single incident, or Mark by splitting into two stages an incident which in fact happened all at once. Which of these is the more probable explanation will depend on one’s overall view of the extent and the direction of literary dependence between Matthew and Mark, and on one’s estimate of their respective literary methods. But what is clear is that one or the other (or conceivably both) has not felt bound to follow a strictly chronological order. Either the cursing and the dialogue resulting from the withering of the tree occurred all at once after the cleansing of the temple, or they were two separate episodes with the cleansing in between; both cannot be chronologically correct.

Here, then, it seems clear that at least one evangelist has deliberately subordinated chronological order to the effective communication in narrative form of the theological significance which he saw in the cursing of the fig-tree. This need be no embarrassment for the evangelical reader once he is prepared to recognize that chronological sequence isnot the only literary procedure permissible. If either Matthew or Mark was not at this point intending to write in strict accordance with chronology, it is perverse to label non- chronological order as an ‘error’.

THE ‘CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE’

In the previous case the chronological difference involved was a mere twenty-four hours. Much more striking is the divergence between John and the synoptic gospels over the setting of the incident usually described as ‘the cleansing of the temple’. Here the whole length of Jesus’ ministry separates the two settings offered. In John it is recorded very early in the gospel, after the ‘first sign’ at Cana; it is the first public action of Jesus in this gospel, his first recorded confrontation with ‘the Jews’ (2:18), and precedes any Galilean activity other than the Cana incident. But in the synoptic gospels it occurs in the context of Jesus’ final visit to Jerusalem, following his dramatic entry to the city at the head of a crowd of Galilean supporters. The record in each case is of an apparently single-handed onslaught at Passover time on the traders in sacrificial animals and the money-changers, which succeeded (at least temporarily) in driving them out, and which led to a challenge from the Jewish religious leaders as to Jesus’ authority to act in this way. Most scholars therefore assume that it is the same incident which is recorded in each gospel. In that case either John or the synoptics has the event in quite the wrong position chronologically.

The traditional evangelical response has been to claim that in fact two separate incidents are recorded, one at the outset of Jesus’ ministry (during the early Jerusalem ministry to which the synoptics make no reference), the other at its close. If Jesus could act in this way once, why not twice? In principle this is not an unreasonable suggestion. Two similar incidents might well occur within a period of perhaps two or three years, and a situation which excited Jesus’ anger once might be expected, if it was repeated, to provoke a similar reaction again. In some cases of similar narratives in the gospels some such explanation seems preferable to the evolution of circumstantially conflicting accounts from a single incident. For instance, the four stories of Jesus being anointed by a woman (Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Lk. 7:36-50; Jn. 12:1-8) contain several variations of detail which are hard to explain on the basis of a single incident, and the feedings of the 5,000 and the 4,000, for all their similarity in outline, are clearly presented by Matthew and Mark (each of whom records both incidents, not just one) as separate incidents in different settings (one Jewish, one Gentile, probably).

But in this case there are reasons for doubting this sort of explanation. For one thing, apart from the question of date, there are no significant factual discrepancies between the accounts; despite some differences in detail and in theological perspective the similarity in the essential narratives is remarkable (and indeed John’s version is closer in detail to those of Matthew and Mark than is that of Luke!). If it were not for the assumption that both John and the synoptics intend to place the incident in chronological sequence, no-one would have dreamed of suggesting that there were two such occasions. Nor does any of the gospels hint at a second such occurrence (as in the case of the 5,000 and the 4,000); it is simply that they locate it differently.

But the decisive objection to the theory of two ‘cleansings’ is the nature of the act itself. Recent studies by B. F. Meyer8 and E. P. Sanders9 have effectively reminded us that this was not an attempt at moral or liturgical reform such as any religious teacher might have carried out, but rather a daring and provocative ‘demonstration’, setting out both Jesus’ conception of a radical, eschatological change in God’s dealings with Israel and his own claim to be the Messiah, the ‘Lord of the temple’, through whom it was to be carried out. No less than the equally provocative gesture of his ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, enacting the messianic prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10, this was a deliberate throwing down of the gauntlet, a challenge to Israel’s existing leadership which could not be ignored.

If such an incident had occurred at the very outset of Jesus’ ministry, could the authorities have ignored it for two years or so? Such a decisive declaration at the beginning surely leaves no room for the gradual growth of suspicion and opposition which the synoptic gospels record. Nor can it be squared with the repeated emphasis in the synoptic gospels on Jesus’ reluctance to make any open claim to messianic authority during the majority of his ministry, until the final showdown when he deliberately confronted Israel with his claims, after which his arrest and trial as a messianic pretender followed swiftly and inevitably. In the context where the synoptic gospels place it the incident fits perfectly into this scheme, but if another such event had occurred two years earlier, their whole presentation of Jesus’ approach to Israel is thrown out of gear. The theory of two cleansings thus depends on a quite unrealistic minimizing of the significance and impact of the event; once it is recognized as the provocative ‘demonstration’ which its Jewish context demands, the synoptic account of Jesus’ ministry effectively rules out a second such incident at an earlier date.

For these reasons I regard it as highly probable that John has recorded at the beginning of his gospel an event which in fact occurred at the end of Jesus’ ministry.10 Is this then an error by John, or a deliberate deception of his readers? This would be so only if John’s gospel were clearly presented as an account in chronological sequence of what Jesus did. But is this the only, or indeed the most likely, way to read the opening chapters of the gospel?

10 This majority view has been challenged most recently by J. A. T. Robinson, in E. Bammel & C. F. D. Moule (eds), Jesus and the Politics of his Day (Cambridge, 1984) 455-461. In order to play down any political implications in the incident, Robinson takes it as purely ‘an act of religious zeal for the purity of the holy place, a prophetic protest’, and therefore believes that John has recorded it in its proper chronological position. The synoptic writers were obliged to move it to the final act of the drama because their structure had no room for any activity by Jesus in Jerusalem before that time.

The book as a whole is explicitly presented as a selection of Jesus’ words and deeds recorded in order to inculcate faith (20:30-31). It begins not with an account of his birth or early life, but with a meditation on his true significance as the revelation of God (1:1-18), which leads on to a series of cameos presenting the witness of John and of the first disciples to Jesus as the Messiah (1:19-51). Jesus himself comes centre stage in chapter 2, where initially we have recorded the miracle in which he first ‘manifested his glory’ to the disciples, a miracle which at the same time symbolizes the replacement of the old order of Judaism (2:1-11); then follows this incident, which demonstrates his messianic authority and again illustrates his decisive significance in relation to Israel’s worship, together with the resultant conflict with the authorities and the favourable response of the crowds (2:13-25).

Are we intended to see this as a chronological sequence of events? It is true that in chapter 1 the incidents are linked by temporal expressions: ‘the next day’ (1:29), ‘the next day again’ (1:35), ‘the next day’ (1:43), after which chapter 2 begins with ‘on the third day’. This looks like a deliberate sequence from 1:19 to 2:11, so deliberate that some have seen it as not so much chronological as ‘a dramatic framework, perhaps paralleling the seven days of the first creation in Genesis 1’.11 But in 2:12 the sequence becomes more vague (‘after this’, and a stay at Capernaum of ‘a few days’), and there is no explicit temporal link between this transition verse and the Passover visit to Jerusalem in 2:13, nor between the events of that visit (2:13- 25) and the following chapters.

All this suggests that John allows us to construe the position of the temple incident not so much as the first event of Jesus’ public ministry, but rather as part of an effective ‘collage’ of incidents from Jesus’ life put together at the outset to introduce the one who is to be the subject of the gospel. The particular function of this incident is to apprise the reader of the messianic authority of Jesus, and of the basic challenge which he presents to established Judaism, a perspective which will guide the reader with deeper understanding through the controversies with ‘the Jews’ which will be so prominent a feature of the ensuing gospel narratives.

If this understanding of John’s literary method is anywhere near the mark, then to speak of a chronological conflict between John and the synoptic writers in the placing of the temple incident is to miss the point, and to impose on John a chronological style of composition which may have been far from his intention at this point.

The two examples so far considered have both illustrated the possibility that a difference in order between the gospels need not always be construed as a problem for gospel harmony, since it is arguable that in these cases at least one of the evangelists is not compiling his record in chronological sequence. But I am not wanting to suggest that all differences in order may be dismissed by invoking non-chronological structure. The fact that sometimes the evangelists may have operated on a structural principle other than temporal sequence does not mean that they were never interested in chronology.

11 L. Morris, Studies in the Fourth Gospel (Exeter, 1969) 140. Morris himself prefers to regard the sequence as evidence of personal reminiscence. See further R. E. Brown, The Gospel according to John (New York, 1966) 1, 105-106. C. H. Dodd, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge, 1963) 153n, sees the reference to ‘days’ as serving ‘rather to articulate the stages of the exposition of the theme than to give a day-to-day chronology’.

Sometimes they offer what appears to be deliberate and significant chronological information. If in such a case there is a prima-facie discrepancy it is not good enough to say that the problem is ‘merely’ one of chronology. If we have reason to believe that the authors intended their chronological statements to be taken literally, and if what they say is apparently in conflict, then there is a problem for gospel harmony. We turn now, therefore, to such a case.
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Iosif Ton – Noi suntem chemati sa mijlocim pentru Israel

Tudor Petan: Vorbind despre Israel, unul din punctele care le avem ca permanenta si biserica Domnului din Romania nu stie foarte mult despre Israel, despre planul Domnului, se fac tot felul de speculatii. Vrem sa aducem o intelegere biblica.

Iosif Ton: Este una dintre cele mai mici tari din lume, daca nu chiar cea mai mica tara din lume ca suprafata, inconjurata de cei mai mari dusmani si nu exista nici o tara impresurata de atitia dusmani ca Israelul. Rugati-va ca Dumnezeu sa le dea intelepciune ca sa stie sa traiasca, sa apere lumina acolo, in mijlocul lumii arabe. Tocmai sa constituit un guvern de uniune nationala. Probabil tocmai in vederea apararii fata de amenintarea Iranului si noi suntem chemati sa mijlocim pentru Israel. Rugati-va pentru pacea Ierusalimului, asa ne spune cuvantul. Deci facem si aceasta.

Dar, va indemn dar inainte de toate sa faceti rugaciuni, cereri, mijlociri, multumiri pentru toti oamenii, pentru ca lucrul acesta este bun si bine primit inaintea lui Dumnezeu Mantuitorul nostru, care voieste ca toti oamenii sa fie mantuiti si sa vina la cunoasterea adevarului. Dumnezeu vrea ca toti sa fie mantuiti, dar n se cere noua sa ne rugam pentru asta pentru ca Dumnezeu asteapta mijlocirile noastre si de aici e importanta rugaciunii de mijlocire. Cand noi ne rugam, Dumnezeu zice: Am asteptat mijlocirea asta ca vreau sa binecuvintez, dar asteptam ca cineva sa mijloceasca. Si noi ascultam, ca Dumnezeu zice: Rugati-va pentru oamenii astia  ca Eu vreau sa-i binecuvintez, dar eu conditionez binecuvantarea lor de mijlocirea voastra. Toti cei care sunteti in varsta, care puteti sa faceti multe mijlociri, ganditi-va la asta. Dumnezeu vrea sa ii binecuvinteze, dar asteapta mijlocirea ta.
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