2022.09.16. Puskas and Robbins, The Conceptual Worlds of the Fourth Gospel

Charles B. Puskas and C. Michael Robbins, The Conceptual Worlds of the Fourth Gospel: Intertextuality and Early Reception
Christopher Seglenieks

1 comment:

  1. First of all we [Charles B. Puskas and C. Michael Robbins] wish to thank RBL for publishing the review of our book. The reviewer, Christopher Seglenieks, has given our book some good exposure in your review journal and has made a few favorable recommendations for classroom use. However, we were concerned to find what we consider several misrepresentations of our work and a tendency to forget the purpose of the book when evaluating it. In what follows we offer first a quotation from the review, then our response.

    1. “They then state that the primary purpose of the book is to set out possible parallels and comparisons with other texts as a starting point for the reader to make further analysis.”

    We consistently held to this purpose, for example: “but these efforts will only function as a starting point” (13; see also 52, 195, 234). Nevertheless throughout the review Seglenieks expected us to go beyond our stated purpose. For example, he wrote that we did not make “any clear distinction between diverse strands of Second Temple Judaism.” We did list plausible dates and locations for Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom, Joseph and Aseneth, and other Second Temple works (see 46n6), though in keeping with our purpose we did not offer a full discussion of them.

    2. “However, there is no interaction with the possibility that John directly knew any of the Synoptics.”

    “We list below three sets of Synoptic-type parallel traditions, oral and written, that may have been selectively used in the composition of FG” (27). Also we give a supporting quotation here from Raymond E. Brown, “In addition to the material drawn from this independent tradition, John has a few elements that seem to suggest a more direct cross-influence from the Synoptic tradition” (27n47). Examples follow to support this quotation. Again, consistent with our purpose, we provided the information as a starting point for further study but did not discuss this matter in depth.

    3. “They include the Birkat Haminim as evidence of the commonality, despite the extensive counterarguments that have been made regarding this connection since Martyn popularized it.”

    On page 76, we discuss the Kimelman article “Birkat Ha-Minim” that challenges Martyn’s thesis, and conclude that “separation from the synagogue was probably a long process that advanced in different ways in different locations and lasted far into the second century CE and beyond” (Frey, Glory of the Crucified One, 61).

    4. “The narrow limits of this chapter are surprising, such as the limitation of the philosophical context to Plato—and to Plato himself, rather than to the developments in Middle Platonism.”

    Lest readers misunderstand, we note that our index indicates that we discuss Middle Platonism on many pages of our work. We understand if Seglenieks wished that we had given greater attention to one or another topic, but this was not the goal of the book.

    5. The final section [of ch. XI] covers Mandean [sic] literature, and the connections listed are dependent largely on those identified by Bultmann.

    We only cite Bultmann’s contribution in two paragraphs (164–65); for the rest we worked through the primary sources ourselves (see 162–65).
    Again, we do appreciate the time and effort taken by the reviewer and his complimentary recommendations in the closing paragraphs, but we feel that it is necessary to mention his criticisms seem to reflect disagreement with the purpose for which we wrote the book.

    Charles B. Puskas and C. Michael Robbins


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