C Witnessing and Remembering

Two important motifs in the NT also confirm the importance for the first Christians of retelling the story of Jesus and of taking steps actively to recall what Jesus said and did.

One is the motif of 'bearing witness'. The motif is particularly prominent in Acts and John. In Acts it is stressed that the role of the first disciples (or apostles in particular) was to be 'witnesses' (martyres) of Jesus (1.8). Particularly in mind were the events of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection (2.32; 3.15; 5.32; 10.41; 13.31).26 But it is clear from 1.22 and 10.37-39 that Luke understood the witnessing to include Jesus' ministry 'beginning from the baptism of John'. Paul preeminently is presented as a 'witness' of Jesus (22.15, 18; 23.11; 26.16). In John's Gospel the importance of witness-bearing to Jesus is equally stressed.

21. J. Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (Madison: University ofWisconsin, 1985) 37.

22. Mark 5.35/Luke 8.49; Mark 9.17/Luke 9.38; Mark 10.17/Matt. 19.16/Luke 18.18; Mark 10.20; Mark 12.14, 19, 32/Matt. 22.16, 24, 36/Luke 20.21, 28, 39; Matt. 8.19; 9.11; 12.38; 17.24; Luke 7.40; 10.25; 11.45; 12.13; 19.39.

23. Mark 4.38; 9.38; 10.35; 13.1/Luke 21.7; Mark 14.14/Matt. 26.18/Luke 22.11; though it is noticeable that Matthew and Luke seem to have avoided the term (for the most part) on the lips of the disciples, presumably as not being sufficiently exalted.

24. Mathetes ('disciple') is used frequently in the Gospels — Matthew 73, Mark 46, Luke 37, John 78.

25. R. Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer (WUNT 2.7; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1981) has particularly emphasized this feature of the tradition (particularly 246-66, 357-79, 408-53); also 'Jesus as Preacher and Teacher', in Wansbrough, ed., Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition 185210. See further below §15.8.

26. The implication of 1 Cor. 15.6 is that most of the 'more than five hundred' to whom Jesus had appeared were still alive, and thus able to confirm the witness of the

John the Baptist is the model witness (1.7-8, 15, 19, 32, 34; 3.26, 28; 5.32), but also the woman at the well (4.39) and the crowd (12.17). The immediate disciples have a special responsibility to bear witness (martyred) to Jesus, assisted by the Spirit (15.26-27), a responsibility which the Evangelist was deemed to be carrying out by means of his Gospel (19.35; 21.24).27

The motif runs over into the Johannine epistles (1 John 1.2; 4.14), where it is strengthened by two complementary motifs. One is the 'from the beginning' (ap' arches)theme: what is borne witness to is 'that which was from the beginning' (1.1), what the witnesses heard 'from the beginning' (2.24), particularly the command to love one another (2.7; 3.11; 2 John 5-6); in John 15.26-27 it is made clear that 'from the beginning' embraces the whole of the original disciples' time with Jesus (as with Acts 1.22). Luke had the same concern when he promised to narrate what had been 'delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses28 and ministers of the word' (Luke 1.1-2; cf. Mark 1.1).29

The other complementary theme emphasizes the importance of a continuity of 'hearing' from first disciples to converts, and of the converts both retaining what they had 'heard' and living in accord with it — again not only in the Johannine epistles,30 but also in Heb. 2.1, 3 and in the later Paulines.31 All this indicates a strong sense within first-century Christianity of the need to ensure a continuity of tradition from first witnesses to subsequent disciples and of a life lived in consistency with that tradition.

More striking still is the motif of 'remembering, also important for identity formation.32 Already Paul stresses the importance of his converts remembering him and the 'traditions' which he taught them (1 Cor. 11.2; 2 Thess. 2.5). And close to the heart of the Lord's Supper tradition which Paul passed on was the exhortation to remember Christ — 'Do this in remembrance of me' (eis ten emen anamnesin) (1 Cor. 11.24-25; Luke 22.19) — by no means a merely cognitive act of recollection.33 2 Timothy retains the motif with reference to well-established

27. Note also 1 Pet. 5.1; Rev. 1.2, 9; 6.9; 12.11, 17; 19.10; 20.4.

28. S. Byrskog, Story as History — History as Story: The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History (WUNT 123; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000) has given particular emphasis to the importance of eyewitness testimony ('autopsy') as source for the Gospel traditions (see, e.g., 69-70, 103-104, 106-107, 162, 247, 292).

29. It is often noted that use of 'the word' (logos) in Luke 1.2 approaches the Johannine concept of Jesus as 'the word' (John 1.14; 1 John 1.1).

31. Particularly Eph. 4.21; 2 Tim. 1.13; 2.2. See also §13.1 below.

32. Schröter draws on A. Assmann, Das kulturelle Gedächtnis: Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen (München, 1992) in stressing 'the concept of remembering as an identity-establishing and thus also cultural phenomenon' (Erinnerung 46263).

33. See particularly 'The Lord's Supper and the Lord's Supper Tradition: Re traditions (2.8, 14), the first (2.8) echoing the (presumably well-known) formula with which Paul reassured the Roman believers regarding his own gospel (Rom. 1.3-4).34 The importance of post-Easter believers remembering Jesus' words is a repeated theme in Luke-Acts and John; the equivalence of John 14.26 and 15.27 indicates that 'remembering all I have said to you', and 'witnesses with me from the beginning', are two sides of the same coin. 2 Peter confirms that remembering the teaching first given was a central concern in early Christianity sim ilarly Rev. 3.3. 1 Clement uses the phrase 'remember(ing) the words of the Lord Jesus' to introduce abriefcatena of Jesus' sayings on two occasions (13.1-2; 46.78), as does Polycarp with a similar introductory formula, 'remembering what the Lord taught when he said' {Phil. 2.3). Here we should also simply note the famous Papias tradition, which repeatedly emphasises the importance of 'remembering' in the transmission of the earliest traditions stemming from the first disciples (Eusebius, HE 3.39.3-4, 15; 6.14.6), and Justin's concern to 'bring to remembrance' teachings of Jesus (Dial. 18.1; 1 Apol. 14.4).36

Cameron argues that 'the formulaic employment of this term ("remembering") to introduce collections of sayings of Jesus is a practice which began with the relatively free production of sayings traditions . . And it is certainly true that the motif includes some freedom in the transmission of the sayings in view.38 But the idea of remembering Jesus tradition is as early as our earliest references to such tradition (Paul). And it is notable that John, despite his freedom in producing dialogues of Jesus, seems for the most part to have restricted the remembering motif to sayings which have clear Synoptic parallels, that is, which were well rooted in Jesus tradition.39 It is more likely, then, that the use of the motif in the flections on 1 Corinthians 11.23b-25% in B. F. Meyer, ed., One Loaf, One Cup: Ecumenical Studies ofl Cor. 11 and Other Eucharistie Texts (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University, 1993)75-115 (here 103-11); W. Schräge, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (EKK VII, 4 vols.; Zurich: Benziger, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2001) 3.41-42.

34. For more detail see my Romans (WBC 38; Dallas: Word, 1988) 5-6.

35. Luke 24.6, 8; Acts 11.16; 20.35; John 2.22; 12.16; 14.26; 15.20; 16.4.

36. As is well known, Justin called the Gospels 'memoirs, recollections (apomnemoneumata)'of the apostles (1 Apol. 66.3; Dial. 100.4). The point was properly emphasized in a neglected essay by N. A. 'Anamnesis: Memory and Commemoration in Early Christianity' (1946), Jesus in the Memory of the Early Church (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1976) 11-29.

37. Sayings Traditions 3 (here

38. Cf. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels 70. But Cameron also notes Polycarp's 'tendency to bring such collections into conformity with the written gospels of his church' (Sayings Traditions or, once again, is it rather the case that the tradition was known in variant forms?

39. John 2.19-22 (Mark 14.58 par.); John 12.14-16 (Mark 11.1-10 pars.); John 15.20 (Matt. 10.24-25); the only exception is John 16.4.

Apocryphon of James (Cameron's main focus) was an attempt to manipulate a well-established and deeply rooted concern (to remember Jesus' teaching) by using it to commend a sayings tradition laced with 'secret' (Gnostic) elements.40

In short, the witnessing and remembering motifs strengthen the impression that more or less from the first those who established new churches would have taken care to provide and build a foundation of Jesus tradition. Particularly important for Gentiles taking on a wholly new life-style and social identity would be guidelines and models for the different character of conduct now expected from them. Such guidelines and models were evidently provided by a solid basis of Jesus tradition which they were expected to remember, to take in and live out.

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