“A STUDENT IS NOT ABOVE HIS TEACHER:” AN EXAMINATION OF THE POSSIBLE DISCPLE-TEACHER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS OF NAZARETH

Open Access
Author:
Actis-Grande, Michael
Area of Honors:
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Paul Dilley, Thesis Supervisor
  • Paul Chandler Dilley, Thesis Supervisor
  • Paul B Harvey, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mary Lou Z Munn, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Historical Jesus
  • New Testament
Abstract:
The idea that Jesus of Nazareth once began his ministry under the guidance of John the Baptist is a theory well known among scholars of the historical Jesus but virtually unknown to the general populace, despite the fact that it may be the key to understanding the historical Jesus. Ancient religious leaders can often be interpreted properly by examining their similiarities and differences with their teachers. Yet, because Jesus of Nazareth is seen by Christians as the Son of God, many assume wrongly assume that he required no teacher and that he never changed his mind with regards to his view of the kingdom of God. A major focus of this thesis is not only to provide evidence for the discipleship of Jesus by John but also examine how and why Jesus eventually decided to diverge from his teacher and form his own group of disciples. As such, I have agreed with much of the evidence put forth by scholars in the past, particuarly Gerd Thiessen, in proving the disciple-teacher relationship. But at the same time I have attempted to take their arguments even further to see how Jesus consciously altered or kept certain aspects of the Baptist’s worldview after his baptism and possible discipleship. In other words, while previous authors have often simply attempted to authenticate the discipleship of Jesus by John, in the second part of the thesis, I will essentially take that fact as granted and move on from there. Careful examination will reveal that Jesus began his career as a disciple of John and accordingly underwent his baptism ritual, which was an expression of conversionary repentance and mediation of divine forgiveness based on Yahweh’s metaphorical ablutions in the Old Testament. This makes it possible that Jesus was initially attracted to John’s offer of forgiveness because he felt he was burdened by guilt and under God’s wrath should he return imminently. Later, Jesus’ ability to perform miracles, together with the failure of John’s predicted apocalypse to come about, led him to forge his own eschatology while still holding to some of John’s basic framework of the coming kingdom.