Thursday, February 11, 2010

We finished John's Gospel this evening, the final three chapters, and will start the Letters next time. He said that John's Jesus is capable of bearing his own cross without the help of Simon the Cyrenian. He said the inscription is a four-fold tradition but John's detail, the listing of the languages in which it appeared, is the mark of an eyewitness. I wanted to ask, when John describes how Jesus' garments were divvied up, whether John had the same misunderstanding of Jewish poetry as Matthew, taking it literally. But I didn't. Instead it was about how, all of a sudden, John has a bunch of Scriptures that Jesus' death is fulfilling.

Now, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus do such a proper job preparing Jesus' body for burial that there's no need for the women to return in a couple of days' time to do it. So John has only Mary Magdalene come back, even though in 20:2 she speaks in the first person plural ("we don't know where they have put him!"). Kostenberger follows Morris in thinking that Mary Magdalen hardly went to the tomb alone, while it was still dark, with a religious festival in progress. (cf. NAB footnote). And whatever rivalry appears between Peter and the Beloved Disciple is put down to the founding of their respective communities, that the community which produced the Fourth Gospel was associated historically with the Beloved Disciple. The belief in 20:8 is tempered with a lack of understanding in verse 9.

Then, so, the idea that Jesus' resurrected body isn't readily recognizable by Mary (or the disciples on the road of Emmaus) until he calls her name (cf. John 10:3). And he really thinks the Gospel ended with chapter 20 because Thomas' affirmation of Jesus as "My Lord and my God" was a title reserved for Caesar, even though there aren't any extant manuscripts with only 20 chapters.

One lady asked how much time elapsed between the first post-resurrection appearance and the last. And we went into the tradition of it being forty days between the resurrection and the ascension but it could have been as much as a year. The point is that Jesus' followers had experiences of him after his death. And she wondered whether he appeared only to pious people so we reminded her of the Damascus Road experience. Paul was hardly yet believing. And my Scofield Bible had a handy table of post-resurrection and post-ascension appearances of the Lord. (The table is not a part of the original 1917 notes.) And her concern was about alleged appearances of Jesus to people in our own day and time and whether these could be credible. Everyone pretty much said such appearances weren't likely to be genuine.

We moved on to chapter 21 which in my Bible, and in many others, is subtitled "Epilogue." It occurred to me that the text is a reworked "call" (cf. Luke 5). That the story turns over upon itself, repeating again with each new generation. We didn't get into the agape/phileo discussion for which I was grateful because I don't think there's anything there. Scofield's notes do actually dip into that. Jim remarked on the NAB footnote which I think he found schizophrenic, at best. And he told us that even though this study may have been the deepest we've been in the Gospel to date, it only scratched the surface and encouraged us to go to or someplace and read early sermons for even broader interpretations.

1 comment:

Kathleen@so much to say, so little time said...

Very interesting perspectives on the Gospel. Thanks for sharing!