A program unit of the Society of Biblical Literature
Sessions held at the 2012 Annual Meeting
(Chicago, IL - Nov. 17-20, 2012)
S17-114: John, Jesus, and History (Joint Session with Synoptic Gospels)
11/17/2012, 9:00 to 11:30 AM Theme: Jesus Remembered in the Gospels of John and Mark Paul Anderson, George Fox University, Presiding
Craig Blomberg, Denver Seminary The Sayings of Jesus in Mark: Does Mark Ever Rely on a Pre-Johannine Tradition? (25 min)
Abstract: Philipp Bartholomä’s 2010 Ph.D. dissertation in Louvain ably demonstrated the higher degree of similarity between large segments of the Johannine Jesus' teaching and the Synoptic Jesus' teaching than is usually acknowledged. But what happens if the exercise is reversed? Limiting our investigation to Mark's sayings tradition, to what degree do linguistic or conceptual parallels appear in John? Do the parallels ever show signs of greater primitivity? This investigation demonstrates a surprisingly high degree of correlation between the two traditions. It does not suggest that John is normally more primitive than Mark, but does find that this may be the case in an important minority of instances, giving further support for the basic contours of Paul Anderson's bioptic approach to the tradition history of the four Gospels.
Dale C. Allison, Jr., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary John and the Transfiguration of Jesus in Mark (25 min)
Abstract: We have good reason to believe that John's Gospel reflects a knowledge, not only of some form of the saying preserved in Mark 9:1, but also of the event that follows it in Mark: the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-8). More than that, it appears that the evangelist was familiar with a source that (like Mark) linked that saying with that event. It remains an open question whether or not all this requires that John knew Mark or one of the Synoptics (although it ups the odds). When, however, one further takes John 21:20-23 into account, the implications for understanding the nature of the Jesus tradition behind John, as well as for what John has to say about the so-called beloved disciple, are considerable.
Dorothy Lee, MCD University of Divinity Signs and Works in Mark and John (25 min)
Abstract: More than twice as many signs/works occur in Mark as in John. Taken as a whole, they are very different. The miracle stories are shorter in Mark, with emphasis on the exorcisms; in John, they are part of extended narratives, containing no exorcisms. Apart from the feedings, there are no common signs/works. The miracles in Mark demonstrate divine, beneficent sovereignty over human life, physical and spiritual, personal and social. In John, they are symbolic, revealing Jesus' identity. Yet, for all the differences, there are parallels. John and Mark share images of blindness-sight, with metaphorical import. Both narrate healings of the body with spiritual implications. Both point to Jesus' dominion over nature, as well as death and evil. Both depict his emotional reactions to suffering. These similarities, within the patent divergences, are suggestive for understanding the inter-relationship of the Johannine and Synoptic traditions, and the way each sees itself as a trajectory of Jesus' historical ministry.
Adriana Destro, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, and Mauro Pesce, independent scholar Jesus Remembered in the Johannine and Markan Passion Narratives—Questions about a Sociology-of-Memory Analysis (25 min)
Abstract: In the investigation of Jesus remembered in Johannine and Mark perspective, the following issues merit consideration: 1) Mark and John make use of materials coming from different groups of Jesus followers located in different parts of the land of Israel. 2) The groups that transmitted the different materials on which the two gospels are partially based were probably not in reciprocal communication for decades. 3) It is important to ask about the consequences of the fact that only at a certain point the traditions—that we now find in Mark—came to the knowledge of the Johannine prophetic school that was writing the fourth Gospel. 4) For these reasons, a sociology-of-memory analysis—applied to two case-studies in the passion narrative—takes into account different mechanisms of constructions of memory: distance and discontinuity, localizations of the transmitted materials, uses of written texts, and polemics between lines of transmission.
Mark Matson, Milligan College, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (30 min)
S17-229: John, Jesus, and History
11/17/2012, 1:00 to 3:30 PM Theme: Jesus Remembered in the Fourth Gospel and Second Century Traditions
Tom Thatcher, Cincinnati Christian University, Presiding
Chuck Hill, Reformed Theological Seminary Seeing the Johannine Jesus in the Second Century (30 min)
Abstract: This paper identifies connections between the Johannine portrait of Jesus and the memory/reception of that portrait in early, non-canonical sources. It asks whether these sources reflect dependence upon the Gospel itself or upon independent, parallel tradition, and how they affect our understanding of the Gospel’s presentation of history and the historical Jesus. While we find that historical issues related to Jesus are generally fused with theological and spiritual ones in this literature, it is also possible to tease out ways in which the historical import of the Johannine Jesus was perceived and appropriated.
Kasper Bro Larsen, Aarhus University Johannine Recognition Scenes in the Second Century (30 min)
Abstract: On the basis of previous studies in Johannine recognition scenes (anagnorisis), this paper presents how second century authors rewrote such type-scenes from the Fourth Gospel for new ideological and theological purposes. Focus will be on the Epistle of the Apostles and the Acts of John.
Tuomas Rasimus, Helsingin Yliopisto - Helsingfors Universitet Intimately Linked? The Gospel, Letters, and the Apocryphon of John on Jesus’ Baptism and John’s Authority (30 min)
Abstract: The Apocryphon of John is a chief representative of so-called Classic Gnosticism. Together with some of its probable source material, which is paraphrased by Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 1.29–30, it may be connected to the literary history of the Fourth Gospel and the so-called "Johannine schism" reflected in 1–2 John. Significant points of contact include the correct interpretation of Jesus’ baptism (incarnation vs. possessionism), the representation of baptism as the culmination of the Savior’s cosmic activity in the form of a hymn, and the claim of the apostle John’s authorship. These issues are reflected in the various stages of the Apocryphon’s complex literary history. To some extent these stages mirror the probable literary development of the Fourth Gospel, including the secondary addition of the title “according to (KATA) John,” as well as some of the questions raised in 1–2 John.
Lorne Zelyck, University of Cambridge The Johannine Jesus in Extra-Canonical Gospels from the Second Century (30 min)
Abstract: The identity and role of Jesus in multiple extra-canonical gospels from the second century may be dependent on his portrayal in the Fourth Gospel. The placement of Jesus on the seat of judgment in Gospel of Peter may be an interpretation of John 19:13 that intends to depict Jesus as the king. The Unknown Gospel (P.Eg.2 + P.Köln.255) presents Jesus as the one foretold by Moses (John 5:39-47), who has come from and is one with the Father (John 3:2; 10:30-31). Jesus is also the peace-giver who imparts his peace to the distressed disciples in Sophia Jesus Christ and Gospel of Mary (John 14:27). The introduction of Gospel of Thomas may be an adaptation of John 8:51-52, which emphasizes the soteriological importance of Jesus’ words. This same theme also appears in a quotation of John 8:32 in Gospel of Philip, where these words are interpreted as a call to moral purity. In these instances, it appears that the Jesus remembered in these extra-canonical gospels, was (at least partially) based on the Johannine Jesus of the Fourth Gospel. Methodological issues surrounding the reception of the Fourth Gospel will be addressed throughout the paper, and other extra-canonical gospels from the second century that have minimal parallels with the Fourth Gospel (P.Oxy. 840; Gospel of Judas; Dialogue of the Savior) will be briefly mentioned.
S17-321: John, Jesus, and History
11/17/2012, 4:00 to 6:30 PM Theme: Jesus Remembered in the Johannine Tradition
Catrin Williams, Prifysgol Cymru, Y Drindod Dewi Sant - University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Presiding
Susanne Luther, University of Mainz, Germany The Conception of History in John’s Gospel (30 min)
Abstract: This paper takes up the question of the conception of history in John’s Gospel and proposes that the evangelist presents a text of ‚literary-dramatic‘ historiography. In contrast to the idea of scientific historiography, dramatic historiography does not formulate absolute, but rather discoursive truths and aims to provide a specific, overall interpretation of the historic events and processes rather than a representation of history. This approach is based on the perception of John‘s presentation of history through remembrances, transmitted traditions, and stories. In dramatic-historiographic literature, history is presented parabolically or theologically in order to construct history, that is to interpret elements of historical material and endow them with meaning. Through the selection and emphasis of narrated elements of Jesus memory, their arrangement and combination, as well as the temporal, local, personal, and thematic relations of the selected elements, the notion of history in the Gospel of John can be described as fictionalized history – although John’s specific account of history is also contextualized within ancient history through topographic and chronological specifications, personal names, and other elements of traditional historiography. The literary-dramatic historiography in John’s Gospel operates with semantics of space in combining this-worldly history with the cosmic metahistorical framework. Through ‚semanticizing‘ places, objects, and events John emphasizes the significance of space as a ‚realm of remembrance‘ (Erinnerungsräume) for historical consciousness and cultural memory. Through the ‚semanticizing‘ of time and the sense of time, history is presented as subjective and fragmentary, as a construct of memory. Literary-dramatic and fictionalized historiography serves a productive function for collective and cultural memory, for identity construction, and the generation of conceptions of history for contemporary society. Memories of historical events are not only used to construct and interpret history, but as the emerging historiographical texts are interpreted anew along dramatic lines, the interpretation of history is encouraged and perpetuated in the recipient.
N. Clayton Croy, Trinity Lutheran Seminary Translating for Jesus: Philip and Andrew in John 12:20-22 (30 min)
Abstract: In John 12:20-22 Greeks at the Passover festival request an audience with Jesus, a request made indirectly through Philip and, secondarily, Andrew. Some scholars have wondered whether these two disciples may have served not only as the brokers of this meeting, but also as its translators. The debate over the languages of first century Palestine and of Jesus himself forms the backdrop of this question. Multilingualism in first century Palestine is a given, but a particular individual’s bilingual facility (e.g., Greek and Aramaic) varied widely depending on the chronological period, locality, urban vs. rural settings, educational level, commerce, cultural influences, and individual aptitude and need. Although our information about these factors vis-à-vis Jesus and his disciples is modest, there is enough evidence reasonably to conjecture that Philip and Andrew would have had a greater bilingual facility than Jesus. Their names, their hometowns, and their professions are suggestive of this difference. Philip and Andrew are the only two disciples of the twelve with purely Greek names. The town of Bethsaida, twice mentioned as Philip’s hometown (1:44; 12:21), was likely more Hellenized than other towns in Galilee such as Nazareth. Even the professions of builder/carpenter vs. fisherman may imply differences in linguistic ability. In addition, recent research in bilingualism, the role of translators in antiquity, and the archaeology of Galilee has increased our understanding of first century language barriers and the ways that they were overcome. (It has been shown, for example, that when the skill of translators was required, their presence was often invisible.) All this suggests that Philip and Andrew may very well have translated for Jesus at the Passover festival.
Charles Gieschen, Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne The Divine Name in the Gospel of John: A Link to the Historical Jesus? (30 min)
Abstract: An intriguing historical link between the Jesus traditions in the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John is the use of “I am” (ego eimi) in an absolute construction as a self-disclosure formula (Matt 14:27; 28:20; Mark 6:50; 13:6; 14:62; Luke 21:8; 22:70; 24:39; John 4:26, 6:20; 8:24, 28, 53; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8). Helpful research has been done in locating the background for the use of this formula in YHWH’s self disclosure formulae as found at the conclusion of Deuteronomy (32:39) and in the latter third of Isaiah (41:4; 43:10, 13, 25; 46:4; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6). Less research has been done on the relationship between the use of this formula in John and Jesus’ self-understanding in this Gospel as the Son who shares the divine name of the Father (i.e., the Tetragrammaton). This paper will demonstrate that the Gospel of John provides evidence for a much broader use of this formula by the historical Jesus and that this usage is closely related to the testimony that Jesus shares the divine name, a tradition which may also be very early and have its origin in Jesus.
Lena Einhorn, independent scholar Jesus and the “Egyptian Prophet” (30 min)
Abstract: Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, John 18:3 and 18:12 state that Jesus on the Mount of Olives was confronted by a speira – a Roman cohort of 500 to 1000 soldiers. This suggestion of a battle preceding Jesus’ arrest is reminiscent of an event described by Josephus in the 50s (A.J. 20.169-172; B.J. 2.261-263), involving the so called “Egyptian Prophet”. This messianic leader – who had previously spent time “in the wilderness” – has “advised the multitude… to go along with him to the Mount of Olives”, where he “would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down”. Procurator Felix, however, sent a cohort of soldiers to the Mount of Olives, where they defeated the “Egyptian Prophet”. Although the twenty-year time difference would seem to make all comparisons futile, there are other coinciding aspects: The preceding messianic leader named by Josephus, Theudas (A.J. 20.97-99), shares distinct characteristics with John the Baptist: Like John, Theudas gathered his followers by the river Jordan, and, like John, he was arrested by the authorities, and they “cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem”. Curiously, although the names of dignitaries may differ, comparing the New Testament accounts with Josephus’ accounts of the mid-40s to early 50s in several respects appears to be more productive than a comparison with his accounts of the 30s: It is in this later period, not the 30s, that Josephus describes the activity and crucifixion of robbers (absent between 6 and 44 C.E.), a conflict between Samaritans and Jews, two co-reigning high priests, a procurator killing Galileans, an attack on someone named Stephen outside Jerusalem, and at least ten more seemingly parallel events. Importantly, these are parallels that, judging by Josephus, appear to be absent in the 30s. The significance of this will be discussed.