GJohn and Jerusalem
- I Is it just my failing memory or is it a fact that quite a
few 'questers' go along with Mark's scenario where Jesus arrives in
Jerusalem for the first time and is dead on a Roman cross within a
In any case I still remember the first time I came across Raymond
Brown's laconic statement (GJohn I p.309):
"We say only that John's picture wherein Jesus remains a long period
in the Jerusalem area between Tabernacles and the following Passover
may well be more accurate than the crowded Synoptic picture where he
seems to arrive ib n Jerusalem a few days before his death."
Stylistically, I especially like that economic 'crowded'.
This would still be compatible with Wellhausen's remark--quoted in
Schweitzer, but I cannot now find it--to the effect that Jesus' life
was abruptly cut short, almost as soon as his mission had begun.
II GJohn has Jesus abandon Galilee early and focus his attention
exclusively on Jerusalem, where he goes no less than five times. Here
it is not the number of visits that is interesting but the idea that
Jesus has something to accomplish in Jerusalem and he is not free to
die and return to the world of light until he has completed it.
(The only reason why in John Jesus comes to Jerusalem a number of
times is that while there he pushes his mission to the point where
his life is endangered without having accomplished his mission. And
then leaves--deliberately avoids dying-- in order to be able to
return and pick up his unfinished task where he had left it.)
What I like about this is how it contradicts Mark's heavily
theological and apologetic construction which asserts that what in
fact happened--what Mk thought in fact happened--was precisely what
was meant to happen; and that Jesus knew and intended it to happen.
Question: What, in John, is this task that Jesus must complete before
he is free to die and return to the Father?
(I am not arguing for the historicity of the five-visits scenario! So
don't waste time attacking me on that point.)
III What, if any, is the standing of the idea that way at the
origins of the Johannine tradition there were Jerusalem sources
lacking to the Synoptics?
(Again I am not trying to smuggle in reasons for tracing back the
discourses to Jesus. This, after all, is the gospel where it is
better for the disciples that Jesus should leave them so that he may
be replaced by a new--superior?--teacher, the Paraclete.)