3.0 General Discussion
At this point another gap occurs in the notes. Theophilus has only a few notes but it appears that there was considerable discussion on where to shelve the Gospels. Simon and Eleazar seem to have been in the middle of it, and it concerned what it meant to be a true Jew and to live according to the covenant with Abraham. Theophilus wrote down syntheke (mutual covenant) and then scratched it out and wrote down diatheke (the Christian word for “covenant, testament”).
The Greek librarian, Aponarius, and the Roman librarian, Plotinus, must have given up on the matter, casted their votes for Eleazar because they wrote down “Gospels of Jesus Christ from Nazaret: Didactic, kerygmatic Biography.” The rest of the notes on the scroll were about Eleazar’s and Simon’s continuation of their debate about the covenant. There are words about cross and resurrection, about eating flesh and drinking blood, and it all seems to have ended when Simon left — for there are only three votes. All in favor of Eleazar. Simon apparently did not vote.
Theophilus’s conclusion is telling. First, it states at the end of the scroll in the clearest writing on the entire scroll this: I, Theophilus, read these books from one end to the other, and testify that I find Eleazar’s view to be true and reliable. We put up a new shelf: Gospels. Why? Because they are not Greco-Roman Biographies and they are not philosophy books, but seem to be their own kind.
Second, Theophilus professes faith: “I, Theophilus, not only read these books but I became convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and so I sought out Eleazar, found him at a house in Alexandria, and then watched him leave for a visit to Carthage, where he was to be preaching the gospel about Jesus — he said that one day someone great would come from Carthage. I did find a man named Mark and asked him if I could be a part of the ecclesia at Alexandria. The ecclesia now meets in my house and we partake in the sacred meal each time we meet. This is my last day in the Library, for tomorrow I will be resigning to devote my life to the church.”
Third, at this point in the scroll a new pen appears. It is the pen of another librarian, and it reads, “I Clearchus, assume the position of Theophilus because he, being irreligious and supersititious, has joined the ranks of the growing Christians in Alexandria. Domitian.”
So ends my favorite lecture ever. Hope you enjoy it. The theory behind it is that the Gospels are biographies that are shaped by the Evangelists to be books that teach the teachings of Jesus and proclaim the goods news about Jesus all in one book.
My thanks to Ken White for sending me this lecture and sending me back to a time and place that have special meaning for me.