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2572[XTalk] Re: Who was apocalyptic?

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    Oct 4, 1999
      I wrote:

      > Among canonical gospels there is also no sudden climactic divine
      > intervention in John.

      Antonio Jerez replied:

      > Is that really so? What about verses like John 5.28? Sounds like
      > a climatic divine intervention at the End Time to me and many
      > others. In this scenario John is just as apocalyptic as his Christian
      > brethren Mark, Matthew, Luke and Paul. The Lazarus resurrection
      > scene in GJohn only underscores the future expectations the Johannines
      > held.

      Your objection, Antonio, only shows that as in your defense of
      "allegory," you are using "apocalyptic" in a sense that disregard the
      standard definition of the term. I don't want to get into a pedantic
      argument over semantics, but "apocalyptic" is an adjectival derivative
      of "apocalypse" which means basicly "revelation." "Apocalyptic"
      unfortunately has come to be used ambiguously as either referring to a
      genre of visionary literature (e.g. Daniel & 1 Enoch, the latter of
      which has little to do with any climactic intervention at the end of
      history) or to material akin to the contents of the last book of the NT.
      Daniel is "apocalyptic" in both senses. The Gospel of John is not.

      The fact that there are references to a future resurrection in John 5:28
      & 11:23-24 does not make that work "apocalyptic," since the doctrine of
      resurrection is older than & existed independently of the type of
      literature generally classified as "apocalyptic" (Dan, Rev, etc.). Is
      Isaiah an "apocalyptic" work simply because Isa 26:19 affirms: "Your
      dead will live, their bodies will rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake
      and sing for joy"? This assurance of revival is quite independent of any
      vision of cosmic crisis. The same can be said for references to
      resurrection in GJohn or the Mishah. Were all Pharisees "apocalyptic"
      simply because they defended the idea of a resurrection against
      Sadducean skeptics? On what basis? Where's the evidence that they got
      this notion from apocalyptic works like Daniel?

      That is why I prefer to use the terms "eschatology" & "eschatological"
      to refer to the type of end-time expectations in GJohn & rabbinic
      literature, reserving "apocalyptic" for passages that reflect the
      influence of the graphic visionary scenarios mapped out in Dan & Rev &
      Mark 13. John does have an "eschatology" despite his general lack of
      imagery akin to that found in Dan & Rev. But as Dodd long ago pointed
      out, John minimizes future expectations by using the mystical "I am"
      affirmations to affirm the present reality of salvation. Acc to John,
      those who believe in "the Son" have *already* been "saved" & likewise
      those who don't have *already* been judged (John 3:18). Thus any future
      judgment is not going to change the verdict. Likewise, with the raising
      of Lazarus. In fact, Lazarus' "resurrection" is a decidedly
      anti-apocalyptic interpretation of normal Jewish ideas of the conditions
      of resurrection. John 5:28 anticipates this. There is not mention of
      end-time catastrophe is this verse, only the promise the those in the
      tombs will here the voice of the SofM. That promise is probably based on
      Ezek 37 where the prophet's word revives the dead. Thus Lazarus responds
      to the earthly J. He does not have to wait for the end of history. And,
      as I said before, there is not the slightest hint of cosmic catastrophe
      in GJohn. So the only way to maintain that John is "just as apocalyptic"
      as the synoptics is to totally ignore all the differences between them.





      Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
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