Back To the Historical Jesus Through Paul and His School (the Ransom Logion—Mark 10.45; Matthew 20.28)

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Author: Rainer Riesner1
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  • 1 University of Dortmund, Germany
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Luke knew the Ransom logion (Mk 10.45/Mt. 20.28) from his special tradition. In the ethical context of Jesus' farewell address, Luke (22.27) re placed it by another word of Jesus. But at three other prominent places Luke made use of parts of the Ransom logion. The introduction is cited in Lk. 19.10. According to Luke, Paul referred to the Ransom logion in his farewell address at Miletus in a sacrificial (Acts 20.28) and in an ethical (Acts 20.35) dimension, thus showing the apostle to be a true follower of Jesus. Reminiscences of the Ransom logion can be found in two other texts of the Pauline school with possible connections to Luke (Col. 1.13-14; 1 Tim. 2.5-6). Already Paul knew the Ransom logion. With some kind of introductory formula he gives its substance in 1 Cor. 9.19-23 and 10.33— 11.1 and there are other probable (1 Cor. 7.22-23; Phil. 2.7; Rom. 5.15) or possible (Gal. 1.4; 1.10; 2.17, 20; 3.13; 4.5; Rom. 15.8-9) allusions. The Ransom logion might have played a role in the dispute between Paul and Peter at Antioch (Gal. 2.17-21) around 48 and apparently has shaped the pre-Pauline credal formula in 1 Cor. 15.3-5 in the 30s. All this strengthens the trust in the authenticity of the Ransom logion. The tradition history of this particular logion might offer some general insights in the different streams of the Jesus tradition in the early Church.

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