J C O'Neill (1966, with precedents in Haering 1892 and Lohmeyer 1928) proposed that 1 John consists of two parts: the anti-heresy document which most scholars see in that text, and (2) statements of the view which 1 John is concerned to oppose. O'Neill thought that the other view was one of Jews (specifically, Qumran-influenced Jews) who had left the fellowship of the Christians. It seems to us more likely that it was Alpha Christians who continued to hold their earlier, non-Resurrection view of salvation, and that a previously mixed community of Alpha and Beta Christians is here see in the process of coming apart.
O'Neill's division of the text into opposing and authorial views is here reconsidered,
and the opposing view is collected together to form a plausible original sermon, which has general similarities to the original sermon of James:The Alpha Sermon incorporated in 1 John (at end; compare previous version)
This view of 1 John invites reconsideration of the much-discussed relationship between that text and the Gospel of John. Does the Gospel draw the same lines? If so, does it add anything to the treatment of 1 John?
Whatever may be the case with that relationship, 1 John seems clearly to be a witness to the division of the early Christian community into Alpha and Beta segments. This is not the only event of importance toward the end of the 1st century, but surely ranks among them.
25 Nov 2011 / Contact The Project / Exit to Home Page