Saturday, April 15, 2017

Announcing A Festschrift In Honor Of David Alan Black

TWH: I have the privilege and the pleasure of announcing a new book titled Getting into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black, which was recently published by Wipf and Stock. You can find the book on Amazon here and the publisher's website here, and you can download the promotional flyer from the publisher here. The back cover reads as follows:
"David Alan Black has been one of the leading voices in New Testament studies over the last forty years. His contributions to Greek grammar, textual criticism, the Synoptic problem, the authorship of Hebrews, and many more have challenged scholars and students to get into the text of the New Testament like never before and to rethink the status quo based on all the evidence. The present volume consists of thirteen studies, written by some of Black’s colleagues, friends, and former students, on a number of New Testament topics in honor of his successful research and teaching career. Not only do they address issues that have garnered his attention over the years, they also extend the scholarly discussion with up-to-date research and fresh evaluations of the evidence, making this book a valuable contribution in itself to the field that Black has devoted himself to since he began his career."
I'll have more to share about the book––and the man it aims to honor––in the days ahead, but I wanted to let you know about it as soon as possible. Danny and I are so thankful to each of the contributors, and we trust you'll find much in this volume to reflect on as you get into the Text.

Hint: If you're in Wake Forest, North Carolina or its environs on Thursday, April 20th, you might want to head over to Southeastern for chapel (or tune in via the live stream here). That's all I'm saying . . .

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Structure Of The Sermon On The Plain

The following is taken from Thomas' book on Luke 6:40. You can find it on Amazon here.

TWH: The SOP discourse unit is found in Luke 6:12–49. The first eight verses are introductory (6:12–19). Luke 6:12–16 contains the selection of twelve of Jesus’ disciples and their naming as apostles (6:13). Luke 6:17–19 sets the stage for Jesus’ teaching, which accomplishes three purposes:
1. It identifies where the teaching takes place (6:17, ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ of the mountain/hill [τὸ ὄρος] mentioned in 6:12). By the way, claims of any symbolism intended by Luke’s use of τόπου πεδινοῦ and τὸ ὄρος (i.e., that the mountain/hill represents “vertical, divine/human communication” and the level place represents “horizontal human-to-human communication”) are unwarranted (Nickle, Preaching the Gospel of Luke, 64). Luke’s use strictly continues the narrative offering a geographical reference that connects the material to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount.
2. It specifies who is present for the teaching. The audience consists of three groups. The first group is marked by the pronoun αὐτῶν (6:17), whose antecedent is the Twelve (δώδεκα) who Jesus named as apostles (ἀποστόλους). The second group is the larger group of Jesus’ disciples (ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ). The third group consists of an even greater number of people traveling from Judea in the south and from coastal regions north of Galilee.
3. It explains why the latter group traveled to where Jesus was. The main clause marked by the relative pronoun reveals two reasons: (1) to hear Jesus teach (ἀκοῦσαι αὐτοῦ), and (2) to be healed (ἰαθῆναι) by him.
Following a brief transition (6:20a), Luke’s account of Jesus’ teaching begins (i.e., the sermon proper). The sermon proper consists of three discourse units (Kingsbury, Conflict in Luke, 113). The first unit (6:20b–26) contains Jesus’ pronouncement of blessings (μακάριοι) and woes (οὐαί), consisting of four each. The second unit (6:27–38) records Jesus’ commands for kingdom-living supplemented with different rhetorical questions. The final unit (6:39–49), marked by the phrase that has puzzled some (εἶπεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴ αὐτοῖς, 6:39a), consists of a series of sagacious illustrations ultimately followed by Jesus’ call for everyone to come to him, hear his words, and act on them (6:46–49). That Luke intends a new unit of thought here is clear because of his narrative insertion, the only such insertion in the sermon proper, and, as David L. Tiede points out, the change in “the kind of sayings material.” Even though a new unit begins, the content that follows logically flows from Jesus’ commands in vv. 35–38:
1. Love, do good, and lend (v. 35).
2. Be merciful (v. 36).
3. Do not judge or condemn, and pardon (v. 37).
4. Give (v. 38).
Michel Gourgues (Luc, de l’Exégèse à la Prédication, 40) shows how this formula is used to illustrate preceding material when there is no indication of a change in setting or time. The climax of the SOP will specify how someone can carry out Jesus’ commands, be children of the Most High (ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ ὑψίστου, 6:35), and be just like (καθώς) their heavenly Father (6:36) by coming to Jesus, hearing his words, and actually doing what he says.

This third and final unit in the sermon proper is best divided into two subunits: (1) 6:39–45, and (2) 6:46–49. Others divide the unit at different points, such as: 6:39–40, 6:41–42, 6:43–45, and 6:46–49.28 Nevertheless, the aforementioned division best subdivides the unit. Verses 39, 40, and 41–42 each concentrate on different types of persons and the effect that they have on another. In 6:39 it is the relationship of a blind person with another blind person; in 6:40 it is the relationship of a teacher with his or her student; in 6:41–42, it is the relationship of two brothers, who each have something in their eye. The first two subunits are addressed in the third person. Jesus switches to the second-person singular in 6:41–42 with two questions. The first question asks “why?” (τί) and the second asks “how?” (πῶς). This subunit concludes with four uses of γάρ (6:43–45). The second subdivision is marked by the switch to the first-person singular followed by the clearest material representative of παραβολή in the unit.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Conference On Francisco De Enzinas And The Protestant Reformation

TWH: My friend Ignacio Garcia sent me an announcement for a conference at the end of year (Nov. 30–Dec. 1) in Bugos, Spain. I wanted to share some of the information about the conference with our audience in case anyone is interested in attending. The title of the conference is "The Memory of a Man. Francisco de Enzinas in the Fifth Century Since the Protestant Reformation." Here's the call for papers translated into English:

In 1517 Martin Luther published his ninety-five theses in Wittenberg, an act that symbolizes the beginning of huge shake-up in all orders for Christian Europe. The following year in Burgos Francisco de Enzinas, a member of an important family of merchants in that Castilian city, so dynamic and flourishing at the time, was called upon to become one of the first representatives of Hispanic Protestantism.

This Congress aims to commemorate the quincentenary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation and the birth of Francisco de Enzinas. In addition to being the author of the first printed Castilian translation of the New Testament and various works of Luther and Calvin, as well as Greco-Latin authors, Enzinas was more than anything else one of the most significant figures in Humanism and the first century of the Reformation in Spain.

The Congress wants to deepen, on the one hand, the knowledge of the figure and work of Enzinas, placing him in his historical, humanist, and reformed context, attending to intellectuals, cultural, political, and religious. On the other, it is focused on the need to establish criteria that help others to understand the new concepts linked to what was happening on the religious frontiers generated in that historic moment in the history of Europe. Ultimately, it is a question of reviewing and evaluating the presence of the Protestant Reformation in Spain in modern times.

There will be four topics of papers: (1) Burgos: Between Commerce and the Protestant Reformation; (2) The Inquisition, the Monarchy, and the Protestant Reformation; (3) The University and Humanism; and (4) Translation and the Bible.

You can read more about the conference here. If you've never been to Spain, let me just say this: Such a conference would be an opportune time to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Hope to see you there.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Announcing A New (Very Short) Book On Textual Criticism

TWH: Henry Neufeld at Energion wrote me this week to let me know that my little primer on New Testament textual criticism is now published and available for the world to enjoy. The title is Those Footnotes in Your New Testament: A Textual Criticism Primer for Everyone. Grab an English translation like the Christian Standard Bible or the International Standard Version, and flip through the New Testament, paying special attention to the footnotes that mention manuscripts. By the way, I mention the CSB and ISV simply because they have the most (you'd be surprised how little the "literal" translations include, a point I address in the book!). Well, this book exists because those footnotes exist. Why in the world are they there? Get ready and enjoy. You can grab a copy now on Kindle (see here) or Google Play (see here). Other formats, including a print edition will be available shortly.

Here's the book description:
Have you ever seen a passage in the New Testament that was placed in brackets, or a footnote at the bottom of a page referring to "ancient authorities" or "manuscripts"? Most people scratch their heads and just keep reading, but these notes are very important. So is understanding why they're even there. In this short introduction, Thomas W. Hudgins explains for the average reader the need for, criteria of, and some misconceptions associated with New Testament textual criticism.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Structure And Word Order In Luke 6:40

The following is taken from Thomas' book on Luke 6:40. You can find it on Amazon here.

TWH: The relationship of a teacher and disciple is very similar to the idea of one person leading another. It is to this relationship Jesus now turns. “An apprentice is not above his or her teacher; but each one, after having been fully trained, will be like his or her teacher” (Luke 6:40). This second unit consists of two maxims:
1. οὐκ ἔστιν μαθητὴς ὑπὲρ τὸν διδάσκαλον· 
2. κατηρτισμένος δὲ πᾶς ἔσται ὡς ὁ διδάσκαλος αὐτοῦ.
Maxims dealing with likeness are present throughout the literature of different languages. George L. Apperson includes the following English maxims: “like cow like calf,” “like crow like egg,” “like father like son,” “like fault like punishment,” “like host like guest,” “like mistress like maid,” “like mother like daughter,” etc. (Apperson, Dictionary of Proverbs, 338–40). The most commonly referenced maxim from the first century similar to Luke 6:40 is Petronius’ qualis dominus talis et servus (Sat. 58), which translated means, “As the master is, even so is the slave.” Perhaps the only likeness proverb in the OT is in Hos 4:9 (καὶ ἔσται καθὼς ὁ λαὸς οὕτως ὁ ἱερεύς, LXX) pertaining to God’s judgment.

The structure and content of this unit bears some similarities with the previous one in 6:39b:
1. In each maxim, there are two participants—the former with two blind men and the present with a disciple and teacher. 
2.Both maxims consist of two parts—the former with two rhetorical questions and the present with two declarative statements. 
3.The second half of each maxim concentrates on the effect that the one participant has on the other. In the case of the two blind men, both will fall into a pit (εἰς βόθυνον ἐμπεσοῦνται); in the present maxim, the disciple will become like his or her teacher (ἔσται ὡς ὁ διδάσκαλος αὐτοῦ). 
4. Finally, both second halves are designed to be more inclusive than the first. For example, in the first maxim, one blind man attempts to lead another blind man, yet both will end up falling into a pit. In the second, both obviously cannot become like the teacher (since one is the teacher). Instead, the proverb extends beyond a single disciple to include each disciple (πᾶς).
The first half of the maxim consists of a negated stative verb (οὐκ ἔστιν), an anarthrous subject (μαθητής), and a predicate prepositional phrase (ὑπὲρ τὸν διδάσκαλον), occurring in that order. Prepositional phrases can only be used as a predicate with a linking verb, written or implied. Proverbs and parabolic discourse alike often take the stative verb εἰμί since both attempt to show similarities between two persons or objects. In parables, one of the distinguishing features is the use of ὁμοία ἐστίν (Turner, Matthew, 296). With proverbs, the goal is to state a principle that communicates something that is generally true (even common) but not universal. They are basically warnings designed to lead someone to wise living. In cases like this, the verb serves as a linking verb (See Porter et al., Fundamentals of New Testament Greek, 72).

The maxim has the same word order in Matt 10:24. Οὐκ ἔστιν comes at the beginning of two other proverbs (Matt 13:57//Mark 6:4; Matt 15:26//Mark 7:27), as well as in Matt 18:14, when Jesus explains his illustration of a shepherd leaving all of his sheep to rescue one that is astray. The use in Mark 12:31 shows that the construction can appear at the end of a sentence. The use in material describing God as the God of the living and not the dead shows how the subject can be fronted if the author so chooses (Matt 22:32//Luke 20:38//Mark 12:27). In Luke 20:38, the subject θεός is placed before οὐκ ἔστιν. This construction is not prevalent in Proverbs (LXX) yet it does occur with great frequency in Ecclesiastes (LXX) and often maintains the same word order (i.e., the verb fronted before the subject and predicate). For example: οὐκ ἔστιν πᾶν πρόσφατον ὑπο τὸν ἥλιον (Eccl 1:9). Even John’s similar material with δοῦλος-κύριος has οὐκ ἔστιν preceding the subject and predicate. In demotic proverbs, the verb is always fronted. However, Nikolaos Lazaridis says the word order in Greek proverbs is more fluid. The word order, he writes, “mostly depends on the style of the text and what is to be emphasized in each sentence. In proverb literature, sentences are short and therefore the weight of focus is balanced and may fall on any of the words employed” (Lazaridis, Wisdom in Loose Form, 60).

Context is ultimately the deciding factor for determining emphasis, especially in short sayings like proverbs. In general, it appears that proverbial word order when using the stative verb is Verb + Subject + Predicate. Deviations from this order are often markers of emphasis. For example, in Mark 6:3, the position of οὗτός is definitely emphatic. If Luke 6:40 were a quotation from the LXX, it would be easier to determine if any emphasis were intended by the position of οὐκ ἔστιν. For example, in Rom 3:10–18, Paul might intend some amount of emphasis with the fronted οὐκ ἔστιν if he is not doing so solely for the purpose of repetition as a rhetorical device (cf. Eccl [LXX] 7:20 and Rom 3:10; Ps 52:3 [LXX] and Rom 3:10; etc.). However, there is no OT parallel and no deviation among the Gospel authors. So, it is best to determine that there is not any intended emphasis (although it is impossible to rule out).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Announcement to Mary in Luke 1:26–38

AP: The following is a portion taken from my book The Hidden Life of Jesus. If you're interested in reading more about this book or getting a copy for yourself, you can find it by clicking here.

This story seems more like a literary invention than an actual historical account, since Luke draws on previously written literary traditions. The main ones that he pulled from are the “annunciation” passages of Old Testament heroes or saints, especially the birth announcements of Moses and Samuel. A careful comparison between the Old Testament stories and this fragment of the Gospel of Luke—as they do in commentaries—proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the author is inspired more by the sacred literature of the past than the oral traditions that could have existed during Luke’s own time.

That Mary was “betrothed” or promised to Joseph must be understood in light of what we know of Jewish betrothals in those days. Marriages were usually prepared by the family. Once decided, the first step was to get the mutual consent of the spouses, in the presence of witnesses. The second was the arrival of the bride at the husband’s house. Women in Israel married very young—between the age of twelve or thirteen—which was also common in the Greco-Roman world.

Once mutual consent was given, the marriage was legal, but the whole marriage process usually took some time, roughly one year. Apparently sexual abstinence during this time was the norm, especially in Galilee where it was taken very seriously. During this period of time, the wife was prepared by her mother for her new life, the dowry was given, and the pair was kept faithful until the marriage was complete. A failure in this regard could be considered adultery. After an agreed upon time, the bride was moved to the groom’s house and the marriage was consummated.

Matthew and Luke describe this betrothal period leading up to the actual time when the marriage is consummated. Mary is the wife of Joseph, but she was still a virgin . . . at least according to the customs of Galilee.

Nothing is said in the Infancy Gospels of Matthew and Luke about whether Mary was also of the family and lineage of David. For a reader in the first century, such information was not all that important. What did matter—whether or not Joseph was Jesus’ biological father—was that Joseph adopted Jesus. A legal adoption actually had more force than being a physical descendent. One example that is very similar to Jesus’ in the Greco-Roman world is that of Augustus, an adopted child of Julius Caesar. When Caesar was declared divine (i.e., that his soul resided in another empire with the gods) after his death, Augustus was immediately appointed as divi filius (“son of god”), and, therefore, divine also. Before the composition of the Gospels, somewhere around AD 57–58, Paul of Tarsus wrote at the beginning of his letter to the Romans (1:1–3) that Jesus was the “son of God,” but had descended from David “in the flesh.”

Since it is very likely that this statement about Jesus’ Davidic lineage was taken by the apostle from a pool of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs, it is pretty well certain that Jesus’ lineage from David was a very old belief among the followers of Jesus. For the Jewish people of that time, to be the “son of David” (i.e., the Messiah King) usually involved expectations of liberation and the salvation of Israel, even by force through the use of swords that, though wielded by man, were swung by the arm of God. This expectation included the idea that all of Israel’s enemies would be literally swept away at the arrival of the theocratic kingdom, replete with blessings—material and spiritual—in which God himself governs through the reign of the Messiah King. With that kingdom Israel would become the center of the world and the other nations would be converted in part to Yahweh as their main God, or at least they would revere him with great fear. The Prince Messiah King would reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom would never end.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Antonio Piñero's Latest Article In National Geographic

TWH: National Geographic has a magazine called National Geographic History. Some in our audience may not know that Antonio Piñero is one of the editors and contributors. His latest contribution in the March-April 2017 volume is titled "Seeking the Hidden Gospels: The Forbidden Books of the Gnostics." If you're interested, you can pick up a copy of this magazine basically anywhere magazines are sold. I was just at the grocery store here in Washington, D.C. and there it was on the magazine rack. Here's the abstract:
"Lost in the desert for centuries, ancient texts have revealed new dimensions to a familiar story: The life and lessons of Jesus. These books were written by the Gnostics, an early sect of Christianity rejected as heretical by the church in the second and third centuries. Denounced and mocked at the time, these Gnostic works are now providing an intriguing insight into the formation of the Christian church." 
It's definitely an interesting read. Pick a copy up and take a look.

If you want to read his article "How King Herod Transformed the Holy Land" online, just click here.

(Someone is going to write, so I'll go ahead and answer the question . . . You can't get the new article online. A subscription is needed to view the one on the hidden Gospels online, otherwise you'll need to pick up a physical copy.)

A Peculiar Translation In John 2:1

TWH: I was reading John 2 yesterday morning when I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before––the translation of γάμος in the Reina-Valera translation. Here's the Greek, followed by the Reina-Valera 1960:
NA28: Καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ γάμος ἐγένετο ἐν Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἦν ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐκεῖ·
R60: "Al tercer día se hicieron unas bodas en Caná de Galilea; y estaba allí la madre de Jesús."
I've underlined the Greek word in question and the translation for that particular lexeme found in the Reina-Valera. So we would translate "unas bodas" something like "some weddings." The issue is the use of the plural when γάμος is singular. What's more interesting is I can't find a single manuscript that has γάμοι here, but it makes me think there was one (at least). Or was there some other reason for this translation in John 2:1? There isn't another translation that I've seen in Spanish (or otherwise) that uses the plural in John 2:1. In any event, the translation issue was cleared up with the 2015 edition of Reina-Valera. Anyone have an idea why the plural was used in John 2:1 until 2015 when it was changed to "una boda"?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Most Ambiguously Translated Verse In The Entire New Testament

TWH: Ambiguity in Bible translation isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've discussed this on a number of occasions. If you're interested in reading some of my thoughts on so-called "literal" and "word-for-word" translations, you can read my post "On The Expressions 'Word-For-Word' And 'Literal' Dealing With Translations" (click here). Ambiguity in translation allows room for study and teaching.  It means there is less interpretation involved than there would be if there was less ambiguity. One example of ambiguity, in case you're curious about what I mean, is "for us" in Rom. 5:8. By ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν Paul could be referring to Jesus' substitutionary death (i.e., he died in place of the sinners). I believe that's how Paul is using the phrase here. But that's not the only way that the expression could be understood. It's also found in Rom. 8:31, but there it is what is known as a genitive of advantage (i.e., "for us" = the opposite of "against us"). So, let's say someone didn't believe Paul was highlighting Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice in Romans 5. It would be very difficult for them to use a translation that went ahead and offered a translation that brought out that aspect of his death. Therefore, translators have opted for the ambiguous translation, which opens the translation up to a broader audience.

Someone asked me the other day about what I consider the most ambiguously translated verse in the entire New Testament. That was a great question. And I didn't need long to think about it at all. It just so happens that the verse I consider the most ambiguously translated verse is also one of the most significant verses in the entire New Testament. That's at least part of the reason for the ambiguity. Even translations that are not way on one end of the spectrum like the ESV and NASB use a fairly standard translation when it comes to the verse I'm about to mention.

Here's how I would translate/paraphrase 2 Cor. 5:18-21:
"Now all of these things are from God the Father, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. When we say that God the Father was reconciling the world to himself by Christ, we are saying that God the Father stopped holding their trespasses against them. And he's given to us the message of reconciliation. What's that mean? Well, it means we are ambassadors for Christ. We go out representing him. When we go out and talk to people, it's as if God the Father is going out and making an appeal through our words and actions. We say what he would say! We go where Jesus wants us to go, and we beg people on his behalf. What would he say? 'Be reconciled to God the Father!' God the Father treated his Son Jesus Christ as if he had committed every single sin in the history of the world, even though he never committed a single sin; and God the Father did that so that he could treat those of us who believe in his Son as if we had never committed a single sin, even though we had committed them all."
Pay attention to the last verse––v. 21, which I've italicized. Paul says this is the message of reconciliation. How can someone be reconciled to God the Father? The answer to that question is believing the message that Paul explains in v. 21.

Now here are some of the many translations (though some I include are considered paraphrases) of this passage:
NIV: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
ERV: "Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God."
ESV: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
NASB: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
HCSB: "He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
ISV: "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that God’s righteousness would be produced in us."
MSG: "How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God."
I actually have to go to Spanish to find a translation that looks closest to my own: "Cristo nunca pecó. Pero Dios lo trató como si hubiera pecado, para declararnos inocentes por medio de Cristo" (TLA). In English that is, "Christ never sinned. But God treated him like he had sinned, so that he could declare us innocent through Christ."

What makes this so interesting is this verse is "the message" that God uses to reconcile people to himself. But if this message is unclear or ambiguous, where then is its power to accomplish that purpose that Paul says it has. Ambiguity has its place. I agree with that. I benefit from an ambiguous translation on a regular basis, but it also means that I need to recognize ambiguity in translations. Sometimes people don't recognize the ambiguity. Sometimes they just settle for it. I see this in churches that I visit around the world. 2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of those very important verses in the New Testament. This verse that actually contains "the message" will almost never show up in an evangelism resource. Other verses are pulled together to build the message. There's nothing wrong with that per se. But I think the reason has to do with the ambiguity in the translation. If it weren't the norm, I think this verse would show up in more discussions on the gospel, not just those that are more theological in nature.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Moving From Oral Tradition To Gospel

Part 1 is available here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here.

AP: It has been pointed out many times that the life of the early Christian communities provided various cardinal and catalytic axes that enabled the slow crystallization of the words of Jesus. These include their preaching, acts of liturgy, controversies with Jews or, more rarely, with pagans, and their missionary endeavors.

It has also been observed that we can deduce the geographical origin of some of these traditions from the geographic framework of certain pericopes offered by the Gospels themselves. Thus, for example, from Mark 1:16–3:4 it can be deduced that the activity of Jesus spreading throughout Galilee was particularly collected at Capernaum, where it was put down in writing.

Traditions about the Passion must have been formed in Jerusalem, first orally, then in writing, in the liturgy and implicit or explicit quotations from the Old Testament. In this same locality, the great tension of the eschatological expectation had to function as a catalyst to bring together these prophetic and apocalyptic teachings of Jesus among those who lived there and had lived with the Master. In the meeting places of the local churches, where Jesus was remembered in the breaking of the bread, a Haggadah could be formed, a Christian narrative similar to the Jewish Passover haggadah. And this led to the stories about the Last Supper.

Some of the sayings of Jesus––those that were perhaps "gnostic" or in which one had a greater appreciation for sapiential subjects––were collected in communities that shared their likeness. As an example of this process, see Luke 11:49–51: "That is why the Wisdom of God says: I will send you prophets . . ." in contrast to Matt. 23:34–35 (Jesus speaking): "Therefore, look, I am going to send you prophets . . ." This is a clear example of a saying put in the mouth of Jesus by a Christian prophet.

It has been rightly argued that it is in the Coptic Gospels of Nag Hammadi (for example, the Savior's Dialogue or the Gospel of Thomas) that the intra-evangelical evolution of the wisdom sayings of Jesus can be observed or deduced. If the Gnostic extracts of the Gospel of Thomas are removed, one can see in it certain texts that are similar to those which the historical Jesus could have pronounced (if there are not some of them that are authentic like logion 82: "He who is near me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the Kingdom"). Such sayings were then developed within the community, by the hand of a prophet or an unknown writer, in the form of wisdom dialogue between Jesus and a disciple––such as those collected in the texts of the Nag Hammadi Library, or in form of a discourse or monologue of the Savior such as found in the Gospel of John.

The mission to the pagans required that these communities assemble the stories of miracles that were told of Jesus so that they could use them them in their apologetics. One can suspect that the first ones that were collected were the true miracles of Jesus, that is, exorcisms with expulsions of demons and healings, facts in which the patient's faith and the charismatic power of the healer intervened. Later this possible first collection of authentic miracles was enlarged with legendary stories, such as miracles that went "against natural laws" (e.g., walking on water).

That this process of formation of miraculous legends is not an invention of the critics can be known by taking into consideration Acts 8, the first news about a certain man named Simon (vv. 9–24). This individual is later called a magician. He wished to buy the power to transmit the Holy Spirit and the power to perform miracles.

After about a century, the apocryphal Acts of Peter began to circulate. In this text, there was already a record of some remarkable miracles performed by that magician. This relationship is greatly increased in the later Pseudo-Clementine homilies in their final writing to the Acts of Peter. No one can doubt that all the miracles attributed to Simon for the Christian tradition are purely legendary, created by the mythopoetic function of some imaginative believers. It can also be thought that once the first collections of authentic miracles of Jesus were set up, many others were created that finally passed into the Gospel tradition, years later, and have come down to us as if from Jesus himself.