SBL 2004

Sessions and Papers related to Johannine Literature
presented at the
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature
San Antonio, Texas - November 20-23, 2004

[For the latest updates, check the complete Online Program Book from the official SBL website.]

Sessions Sponsored by
the Johannine Literature Section:

S21-63: Johannine Literature Section (Sunday, Nov. 21, 1:00 - 3:30 PM; NEW ROOM: Salon G - Marriott Rivercenter)

Theme: Panel Review of An Introduction to the Gospel of John, Raymond E. Brown (edited by Francis J. Moloney; NY: Doubleday, 2003)

Presiding: Francisco Lozada, Jr., University of the Incarnate Word

Adele Reinhartz, Wilfrid Laurier University, Panelist (15 min)
Colleen M. Conway, Seton Hall University, Panelist (15 min)
Dorothy Lee, United Faculty of Theology, Milbourne, Panelist (15 min)
Jean-Pierre Ruiz, St. John's University, Panelist (15 min)

Break (10 min)
Francis J. Moloney, Catholic University of America, Respondent (15 min)

S23-9: Johannine Literature Section (Tuesday, Nov. 23, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; NEW ROOM: Salon J - Marriott Rivercenter)

Open Session: Submitted Papers

Presiding: Dorothy Lee, United Faculty of Theology, Milbourne

  • Catherine Playoust, Harvard Divinity School
    “Lord, Why Can’t I Follow You Now?” The Ascension of Jesus and Believers’ Ascents in the Fourth Gospel (25 min)
    • It has long been noticed that the Fourth Gospel emerges from a context familiar with mystical ascents to see God and gain heavenly knowledge. The text is often thought to deny the occurrence of these ascents, reserving ascent to the Son of Man who descended from heaven, since he is the only mediator of God’s revelation and salvation. Yet the text is not simply polemicizing against believers’ ascents, but transforming the concept in ways related to Jesus’ own ascent. Firstly, just as John aligns Jesus’ ascent with his crucifixion, making his death a glorious departure, so the deaths of believers in God’s service may be seen as their following Jesus up into heaven. This theme is worked out particularly in the case of Peter, and is expressed using a network of motifs (bearing fruit, glorifying God, being hated and persecuted, laying down one’s life, and the question of who can follow Jesus). Secondly, the whole notion of above and below collapses for believers following Jesus’ crucifixion. In the Farewell Discourses, Jesus makes several predictions about what will happen after his ascent: Jesus and the Father will come and dwell with them; the Spirit will come instead of Jesus; Jesus will be the Way to the Father for the believers to follow; and Jesus will come and take them to the Father’s house. This seemingly contradictory array of material is made less so by the realization that verticality, hitherto so important for the descending-and-ascending Redeemer and the traditional idea of ascent during one’s life, is no longer an issue for those who are reborn “from above” and with whom God abides. Thus Johannine realized eschatology is spatial as well as temporal.
  • Jaime Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology
    Death and Afterlife in the Fourth Gospel (25 min)
    • Every Christian of every era has had an opinion about death and afterlife. Modern Christians hold a variety of beliefs on the subject: on the one hand, immortality, on the other, resurrection; on the one hand, metaphorical interpretations, on the other literal; on the one hand, concretely physical notions, on the other, existential. Any Christian view of death and afterlife has to begin with the New Testament, which contains the earliest evidence of Christian attitudes on the subject. What, exactly, does the New Testament say about death and afterlife? The New Testament texts exemplify the rich variety of early Christian ways of constructing the expected future life. All of the New Testament texts were forged by and written for people who inhabited a Greco-Roman world. To fully understand the texts then, they must be set within the context of the options already being deployed by other groups in the Roman Empire. Surprisingly, neither New Testament scholars nor classicists have studied how the New Testament texts that address death and afterlife fit into their contexts. On the contrary, the notable classicist Ramsay MacMullen denies that most Romans had any serious conception of an afterlife, an opinion based on the fact that some tomb inscriptions contain the acronym for the tripartite exclamation: “I was not, I was, I am no more. Who cares?” My own analysis of the evidence contradicts his argument. In this paper, I will present the view evinced by the author of the Fourth Gospel. In addition to attending thoroughly to relevant Jewish and Christian literature of the period, I will explore evidence drawn from pagan consolation literature, Hellenistic philosophers, the mystery religions, and inscriptional evidence.
  • Tat-Siong Benny Liew, Chicago Theological Seminary
    Revealing Closet: Cross-examining John's Engendering and Transgendering Word (25 min)
    • Because of the similarities between John’s portrayal of Jesus and the Jewish traditions of Wisdom or Sophia, many scholars have questioned and critiqued what they read as the masculinization of Wisdom or Sophia in the Fourth Gospel. Focusing on only the female gender of Wisdom or Sophia and only the male gender of John’s Jesus, these studies have, however, both started out assuming and ended up reinforcing a binary construction of gender. Instead, I will propose in this paper that we look at Wisdom’s embodiment in John’s Jesus in transgendering as well as engendering terms. Interpreting the cross-bearing Jesus in John as also a boundary-crossing cross-dresser, I will argue that one can read this Gospel for the cross-purposes that create a new and blurred gender, and in the process put into crisis not only binarity, category and identity, but also the originality and primacy of Jesus’ “Father.”
  • Regina Plunkett-Dowling, Fordham University
    "Why Do You Hide Your Face?" Jesus and Lamentation Tradition in John 11:1–44 (25 min)
    • This paper argues that Martha's and Mary's salutations to Jesus ("Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died . . .") are reproaches that stand in the long tradition of reproaches cast against God by Israel in the face of imminent or realized catastrophes. By reading John 11.1–44 against the Jewish lamentation tradition, I will show that the evangelist both relies on and subverts the genre to sharpen his portrait of "the Lord" and "his own". The paper will also consider to what extent the Raising of Lazarus functions as theodicy for the Johannine community following the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
  • Stan Harstine, Friends University
    "Un-Doubting" Thomas: Recognition Scenes in the Ancient World (25 min)
    • This paper will seek to determine whether Thomas truly earns his “doubting” moniker in John 20. Using results from examinations of the reputation of Thomas in the early history of the church, of the characterization of Thomas in 4G, and of recognition scenes in the Fourth Gospel and Homer’s corpus, a historical setting will be proposed for the reception of Thomas by ancient readers. Some interaction is given to William Bonney’s manuscript, Caused to Believe: The Doubting Thomas Story at the Climax of John’s Christological Narrative, (Brill, 2002). The paper’s conclusion is that the characterization of Thomas is consistent throughout the 4G and Thomas’s scene in John 20 should be read with greater consideration given to the setting of the ancient readers.

Papers related to Johannine Literature in Other Program Units:

S20-12: New Testament Textual Criticism (Saturday, Nov. 20, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; Room #215 - San Antonio Convention Center)
Theme: Digital Editions of the Gospel of John (This session is devoted to three digital scholarly projects on John prepared at the Univeristy of Birmingham: the Byzantine Text Edition; the Principio Project; and the Verbum Project. Presenters include Jon Balserak, Philip Burton and Ulrich Schmid.)

Michael W. Holmes, Bethel University, Presiding
David Parker, Bruce Morrill, University of Birmingham, Roderic L. Mullen and Hugh Houghton

S20-14: Psychology and Biblical Studies (Saturday, Nov. 20, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; Room #208 - San Antonio Convention Center)

Paul N. Anderson, George Fox University - Antichristic Errors...and Errors of the Johannine Antichrists

S20-60: Jesus Traditions, Gospels and Negotiating the Roman Imperial World (Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:00 - 3:30 PM; Room #214A - San Antonio Convention Center)

Jonathan Pennington, University of St. Andrews - The Kingdom of Heaven against All Earthly Kingdoms
Gerhard van den Heever, University of South Africa - Reconceptualizing Christian Origins as Mirroring Roman Imperial Ideology

S20-62: New Testament Textual Criticism (Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:00 - 3:30 PM; Room #214B - San Antonio Convention Center)

Jennifer Knust, College of the Holy Cross - Early Christian Rewriting and the History of the Pericope Adulterae

S20-66: Recent Uses of Theory in Latino/a Hermeneutics and Teaching of the Bible (Saturday, Nov. 20, 1:00 - 3:30 PM; Salon C - Marriott Rivercenter)

Leticia Guardiola-Saenz, Drew University - Jesus the Border-crosser: A Postcolonial Representation from John’s Gospel

S21-16: John Jesus History Consultation (Sunday, Nov. 21, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; Room #214A - San Antonio Convention Center)

Theme: History, Tradition, Theology: The Challenge of the Johannine Literature (click here for full program)

S21-106: Bible in Ancient and Modern Media (Sunday, Nov. 21, 4:00 - 6:30 PM; Room #005 - San Antonio Convention Center)
This session will be devoted to two recent Jesus films, "The Gospel of John" (Visual Bible International), and "The Passion of the Christ" (Newmarket Films/Icon Distribution). After papers critiquing both films, there will be a panel discussion of the role of scholars in the production of commercial films based on the Bible, with particular attention to the problem of anti-Semitism in the Gospels.

Arthur J. Dewey, Xavier University, Presiding

Bernard Brandon Scott, Phillips Theological Seminary - Review of the Film, "The Gospel of John"
Jo-Ann A. Brant, Goshen College - Camera as Character in Philip Saville’s “The Gospel of John”
Seth Sanders, University of Chicago - The Word's Self-Portrait in Blood: The Language Ideology of Mel Gibson's Passion and the Languages of First-Century C.E. Palestine
William Sanger Campbell, Columbia Theological Seminary - The Gospel According to Mel: Reading Gibson Reading "The Passion of the Christ"

Panel on "John" and "The Passion"
Charles Hedrick, Southwest Missouri State University, Panelist
Carolyn Osiek, Texas Christian University, Panelist
Alan Segal, Barnard College, Columbia University, Panelist
Mary Boys, Union Theological Seminary, Panelist
Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University, Panelist
Paula Fredriksen, Boston University, Panelist

S21-125: Semiotics and Exegesis (Sunday, Nov. 21, 4:00 - 6:30 PM; Room #006B - San Antonio Convention Center)

Jesper Tang Nielsen, University of Copenhagen - The Secondness of the Fourth Gospel

S22-15: Late Antiquity in Interdisciplinary Perspective (Monday, Nov. 22, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; Room #006C - San Antonio Convention Center)

Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, Roanoke College - Heroic Epiphany and Eros in the Johannine Farewell Discourse

S22-22: Philo of Alexandria (Monday, Nov. 22, 9:00 - 11:30 AM; Room #214A - San Antonio Convention Center)

Harold W. Attridge, Yale University - Philo and John: Two Riffs on One Logos?

Call for Papers (from December 2003)

Three sessions are planned:

One session will feature a panel review of Raymond E. Brown's and Francis J. Moloney's book, Introduction to the Gospel of John, for which participants have already been invited.

The second session, co-sponsored with the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media, will focus on the films, The Gospel of John (Visual Bible International, Inc.) and The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson).
Preference will be given to proposals for papers addressing the role of scholars in the production of films and/or the challenges of handling the anti-Judaism of the gospels in films.

Finally, the third session welcomes paper proposals on all aspects of Johannine literature.

First-time presenters to the section should send their completed paper to the co-chairs:
Adele Reinhartz, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5, (O) 519/884-1970 ext. 3324, (F) 519/884-1020, (E)
Francisco Lozada, Jr., University of the Incarnate Word, Box 328, 4301 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209, (O) 210/283-5051, (F) 210/829-3880, (E)

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