Talk:Mystery:Was John a Child?

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Is there any basis for this?

This unreferenced article appears to be little more than speculation based on the flimsiest of evidence. And much of the evidence could, I believe, be better explained by John being a young man, rather than a child.

  • "John ran like a child to the empty tomb, and then waited as a child might do in deference to adult supervision".
The Bible does not say that John ran "like a child". Both John and Peter ran, with John outrunning Peter, which might suggest that John was younger (although there's all sorts of other possibilities), but not necessarily that he was a child. He may have waited for his elder, but again that doesn't mean that John was a child. And it doesn't even have to mean that he waited out of deference; there are a number of other possible reasons for waiting.
Children often run to destinations, and often outrun adults in an immature manner. John's waiting for Peter before entering is just as a child would wait for an adult before going into a strange place.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Yes children often run, but in this case we know that Peter, whom you say was an adult (and I'm not seriously questioning that) also ran. And adults often engage in a bit of friendly rivalry. I'm not saying that the facts don't fit your explanation. I'm saying that the facts can fit any number of explanations. Further, I'm agreeing that John may have been young, and thus less mature, but questioning whether there's sufficient evidence to believe that he was so young that he was still a child. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John was not identified and interrogated, as Peter was, during the Passion".
I fail to see how failure to be identified suggests that he was a child. If anything, a child amongst Jesus's disciples would have stood out, and John would then more likely have been identified.
No, it would be common for unnoticed boys or pages to be in a court-like proceeding, and even more common for them to be ignored even if identified.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm inclined to agree about being ignored even if identified (although I could easily believe otherwise), but not so inclined to agree that he wouldn't be noticed, on the basis that one child amongst Jesus' disciples would be noticed, and thus more recognisable in other situations. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John believed more quickly than Peter, as age and experience can be detriments to accepting new ideas"
That is possible, but again there are other explanations, and this is a flimsy basis for the claim.
What other explanations? Youth is the most plausible reason for John to believe more quickly than Peter.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Different personalities, or different backgrounds could easily predispose someone to accept something more readily than someone else would. Further, did John believe more quickly than just Peter, or more quickly than all the other adults also? Or was Peter simply slower to believe than the remaining eleven, due to his own personality or etc.? Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "Jesus "loved" John much as a teacher can have a platonic love for a special student"
Again, a flimsy basis.
Again, you don't offer a plausible alternative explanation.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Even in adult situations, a leader might very well have a greater love for a particular adult over other adults. That is not something that is exclusive to children. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John once rested his head on Jesus's breast, much as a boy would do with a guardian"
This would carry more weight if we knew what the customs were in this regard at the time. But there's no references in the article to allow that to be determined.
That was at the Last Supper, when Jesus was reflecting on his life and his imminent trials. That is when one would expect a father to hug his "son" or beloved student.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
One might expect that today. Would one expect that in first-century Palestine? I don't know, and my point was that no evidence has been offered to support that. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John lived a very long time after Jesus and longer than most other Apostles"
That does support the idea that he was younger, but not necessarily that he was a child.
John lived decades longer, and that does such he was decades younger.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
That he lived a long time after Jesus means nothing, given that Jesus died young. That he lived longer than disciples who were martyred means nothing, as they died "before their time" anyway. If he did live longer than the other disciples who were not martyred suggests that he was younger than them, but not necessarily the youngest, and not necessarily a child. The actual date he died may give a clue to his age, but then we don't know how old he was when he died, do we? It might simply mean that he lived to a very old age, and much older than the other disciples. What do we know about when the other disciples died? Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John understood Jesus's teachings better than anyone else, perhaps again aided by his young age and lack of conflicting, incorrect views "
Flimsy evidence again. It could just has easily been according to the particular circumstances of his upbringing, or any number of reasons.
Youth is the most plausible explanation, again.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
"most plausible" is a pretty subjective argument, I'd suggest. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "Jesus assigned John to take care of Jesus's mother, Mary, a duty more appropriately given to a boy than to a grown man."
On the contrary, I would expect that this would be a responsibility more appropriately given to an adult than a boy.
I disagree. Adults typically have existing obligations and their own families that make such an assignment less suitable. How many adults do you see acting as pages in the workforce? Not many.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
The Old Testament law, if I recall and understand it correctly, was that if a man died, his brother was to take on the responsibility of looking after the dead brother's wife. In many cases that brother would have already had a similar responsibility of his own, and I don't believe that there was any provision for the widow to be looked after specifically by someone without existing obligations. I don't see pages acting in the workforce at all, and certainly not children. I'm not even sure what point you're trying to make there. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John was typically accompanied by his brother James, just as childhood brothers would be and not as adult brothers typically act."
Again, information about customs at the time would be helpful here. Without that, I find this quite unconvincing. And they were not the only brothers, with Andrew being the brother of Peter. Does that mean that Andrew was also a child?
Ah, but Andrew did not accompany Peter everywhere, so this reinforces my point.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
What exactly is said about John being "accompanied" by his brother? Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
  • "John's mother asked that he and her other son James be placed at Jesus's side in heaven, which is a request a mother would more likely make about children than adults."
Oh, I don't know about that. All parents have a problem recognising when their children become adults, don't they?
Mothers make more requests like that for their children when they are children.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I don't know of any mother that's ever requested such a thing! Besides, aren't you saying that John was a child but James was an adult? So why is their mother requesting this for her adult son, if what you say is true? Why not request it just for John? Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

John was a fisherman, which suggests (at least as strongly as the suggestions above) that he was an adult.

Children fish, Philip.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Yes, but "fisherman" implies a career, not a past-time. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

One source I found said that Peter was the younger son. Perhaps John was older than Peter and waited at the tomb not in deference to age, but because he knew that Peter would be immaturely disappointed in John going in first. Perhaps Peter's rejection of Jesus' prediction that Peter would betray him indicates a youthful arrogance and disrespect of one's elders. In other words, with the strength of the arguments in this article, one could make a case that Peter was a child. Or probably almost any other disciple, if one really tried. Philip J. Rayment 03:25, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Almost none of the above arguments apply to Peter who, by the way, was married.--Aschlafly 09:37, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Was Peter married at the time, or later? You may be right there, I'm not sure, but that was just off the top of my head, and as I said, to point out that one could make such an argument about almost any of the disciples if one tries hard enough.
Perhaps a more important point to address is what age John was. I seem to recall that Israelite children were considered "adult" from about 15, although not "fully adult" (I don't recall the exact terms) until 30. Simply calling John a "child" is insufficient: You really need to indicate an approximate age. Philip J. Rayment 10:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
As with any argument based on circumstantial evidence, a determined skeptic can always find (implausible) explanations. But an accumulation of circumstantial evidence becomes persuasive, as every implausible explanation would need to be correct for the asserted conclusion to be invalid. The probability of the alternative explanation becomes vanishingly small.
Note that I've added three more circumstantial points to the entry since our discussion here.
As to a specific age, I conclude that John was too young to be arrested along with Jesus, based on John's presence at the trial and Crucifixion without even being questioned. The presence of John's mother and his brother, and John's "father-son"-like relationship with Jesus as reflected by His special love and affection at the Last Supper, also indicate that John was well shy of the age of adulthood. If adulthood was 15 years old, then I'd expect that John was 12 or 13.--Aschlafly 15:24, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

You're right: None of these points by themselves mean much, and most have other explanations, but taken as a whole, there does appear to be a prima facie case, even if I don't find it particularly convincing.

However, I still have problems with the idea of a 12 or 13 year old being told that it was his responsibility to take care of Mary, and that he would be referred to as a fisherman.

Further, are you planning on adding references to this, from experts who also make this argument? If not, it should be counted as an essay, not an article.

Philip J. Rayment 23:27, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

It's curious why you seem to take comfort in not being convinced. You cite only two reasons for disbelief: that John was referred to as a fisherman, and that he was told to take care of Mary. As to the first point, I'm confident that thousands of 12 or 13-year-olds were referred to as fishermen in John's day, and even more today. As to the second point, Mary was probably only 16-20 years older than Jesus, and would not have needed special care until decades after the Crucifixion. A 12-year-old can easily take care of a 50-year-old woman.
References are to the Bible, and the statements are not controversial or disputed. It's a routine task filling in the references and I welcome help.--Aschlafly 23:41, 7 April 2008 (EDT)
It's curious why you seem to think that I take comfort in not being convinced.
I specifically said "references...from experts who also make this argument". References from the Bible will back up the facts of your argument (e.g. that John ran to the tomb), but the facts are agreed; it's the conclusions that need references. Have any experts before suggested that John was a child? If the answer is 'no', then your claim that the statements are not controversial or disputed is meaningless. If the answer is 'yes', then they are the people you need to reference.
Philip J. Rayment 00:41, 8 April 2008 (EDT)
There may be "experts" who make the same claim. I heard a respected speaker suggest last year that many of the Apostles might have been children during Jesus' ministry. But I don't rely on the opinions of others for my conclusions. My view of this is based on my own review of the evidence, which is compelling.--Aschlafly 21:17, 8 April 2008 (EDT)
That's fine, but as I said above, as long as it is your conclusion, your view, it should be an essay, not an article. Philip J. Rayment 05:35, 9 April 2008 (EDT)
The entry simply presents the facts, and raises the question, none of which is seriously disputable. This is not an essay, which typically includes persuasive writing, opinion and novel assertions.--Aschlafly 10:45, 9 April 2008 (EDT)

This article propagates some stupid conspiracy theory all the evidence it has isn't really convincing -- 50 star flag.png User:Deborah (contributions) (talk) 20:52, 2 May 2008 (EDT)

I realize that it is liberal style to claim something disliked is a "conspiracy theory," but there is no conspiracy in this entry. Disbelieve if you like, but the evidence that John was a child is overwhelming.--Aschlafly 20:54, 2 May 2008 (EDT)
A very interesting article supporting Andrew's conclusions here. In the context of first century Jewish culture, the argument for a 12 year old John as youngest and an 18 year old Peter as eldest is convincing. 10px Fox (talk|contribs) 21:04, 2 May 2008 (EDT)
Fantastic and compelling article! Thanks, Fox. The tax point is particularly compelling.--Aschlafly 21:46, 2 May 2008 (EDT)
I'm glad that there is now independent support for this, taking it out of the realm of being an essay. I do think that the author in the linked article makes a good case. I wonder though if it would be better in a more general article about th disciples. Philip J. Rayment 11:51, 3 May 2008 (EDT)
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