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Re: [GTh] Re: Thomas and John

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  • Michael Grondin
    ... The second occurrence is 14.5, not 16.5, and it s not clear to me that that this one is in the context of the resurrection . Thomas is made to say, Lord
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 9, 2003
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      Rick Sumner writes:

      > Another persuasive point: Three times Thomas speaks in the GJohn
      > (11.14, 16.5, and the Doubting Thomas pericope). All three times it
      > is in the context of the resurrection. All three times he is
      > wrong. Blessed are those who, unlike Thomas, do not need to see to
      > believe (20.29).

      The second occurrence is 14.5, not 16.5, and it's not clear to me that that
      this one is "in the context of the resurrection". Thomas is made to say,
      "Lord [he already calls him 'Lord' here, which seems to emphasize the 'my
      God' of the later 'my Lord and my God'], we don't know where you are going,
      so how do we know the way?" It's just not clear to me in the context that
      "where you are going" includes resurrection. I'm wondering whether the point
      of this mention of Thomas might not rather have been to place the Thomists
      in a questionable position vis-a-vis "the Way". This particular mention also
      seems much more integrated into the surrounding text than 11.14 and the
      chapter 20 stuff.

      > Gregory J. Riley's _Resurrection Reconsidered_ discusses the
      > resurrection traditions of the Thomasine and Johanine gospels at
      > length, J. H. Charlesworth takes a slightly different road in his
      > _The Beloved Disciple_ and contends that the disciple in question is
      > none other than Thomas.

      Charlesworth doesn't have a leg to stand on, if you ask me - remembering
      that the BD already believes at the tomb and is the first to do so. Why
      would he then be presented later as also the *last* to believe - and the one
      pointedly requiring physical proof specifically not present at the tomb?
      There are other reasons to disregard Charlesworth's view, but that alone
      seems sufficient.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
    • rickmsumner
      ... wrote: Michael Grondin writes: ... remembering ... Why ... and the one ... tomb? ... alone ... Charlesworth wonders what, exactly, the beloved
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 10, 2003
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        --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, Michael Grondin <mwgrondin@c...>
        wrote:

        Michael Grondin writes:

        <snip>

        > Charlesworth doesn't have a leg to stand on, if you ask me -
        remembering
        > that the BD already believes at the tomb and is the first to do so.
        Why
        > would he then be presented later as also the *last* to believe -
        and the one
        > pointedly requiring physical proof specifically not present at the
        tomb?
        > There are other reasons to disregard Charlesworth's view, but that
        alone
        > seems sufficient.

        Charlesworth wonders what, exactly, the beloved disciple believed?
        Rather than the resurrection, Charlesworth contends that the beloved
        disciple believed Jesus had ascended.

        Seems a bit of a stretch, but we read it in with our own supposition
        as to what, exactly, the Beloved Disciple *should* have believed.
        John's audience didn't. They likely knew who the beloved disciple
        was, and knew what John was trying to say.

        Charlesworth's book was much more persuasive than I expected.
        However, to be fair I've never been persuaded that the BD was Mary
        Magdalene--a possibility Charlesworth neglects to explore in depth.

        I think a much weaker point on Charlesworth's argument is the
        distinct possibility that the Doubting Thomas pericope (which
        Charlesworth believes to be the climatic revelation of the BD's
        identity), is interpolated.

        Regards,
        Rick Sumner
      • Michael Grondin
        ... As well he should, since in chapter 21, Simon Peter asks concerning the BD, What about this *man*? And Jesus responds, If I want *him* to remain until I
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 10, 2003
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          [Rick Sumner]:
          > Charlesworth's book was much more persuasive than I expected.
          > However, to be fair I've never been persuaded that the BD was Mary
          > Magdalene--a possibility Charlesworth neglects to explore in depth.

          As well he should, since in chapter 21, Simon Peter asks concerning the BD,
          "What about this *man*?" And Jesus responds, "If I want *him* to remain
          until I come ..." (Even if chapter 21 is an addition, it seems plausible
          that the author(s) of that chapter would have understood the authorial
          scheme of the original text, especially assuming them to have been of the
          Johannine "school".)

          It's fun to sift thru the textual clues about the BD, and it has a point to
          it, since the device of the BD gets us into the mind of the author(s). Again
          referring to chapter 21, the BD must have been one of the seven disciples
          mentioned there, and he could not have been Peter, so we're left with
          Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two others unnamed.
          Coincidentally, two disciples of John the Baptist are cited in chapter 1as
          being the first to seek out Jesus; one of them turns out to be Andrew, the
          other is never named. Nathanael receives a lot of attention in chapter 1 -
          including the implication that Jesus has had his eye on him. On the other
          hand, Nathanael is found by Philip, and Philip is the only one said to be
          found by Jesus himself, and the only one to whom he says "Follow me!" Yet
          Philip seems to be downgraded in the same section (14:5-10) wherein Thomas
          says that he doesn't know where Jesus is going.

          If the BD isn't just a conceptual symbol, the prime candidate is probably
          John bar Zebedee, who is usually credited as being the last living original
          disciple - which accords well with what's said about the BD in chapter 21.
          As I recall, the Zebedee brothers are mentioned only the once, and aren't
          individually named in GJn - which may be a crucial clue, since it seems
          unlikely that the author of GJn would name the BD in some contexts, and then
          hide his identity in others. Of course, the author might name him once and
          then hide his identity thereafter. It's even plausible that the author would
          name the BD twice - once at the beginning and again at the end - but too
          many repetitions of the actual name (as in Thomas being named four times),
          and it begins to look like that candidate can't be the one - otherwise the
          anonymity device is compromised.

          Our own Frank McCoy has argued cogently for Jacob the Righteous. For various
          reasons, JR appears to be a plausible candidate, except that the
          instructions at the foot of the cross ("Woman, behold your son!") are prima
          facie inconsistent for a man (Jacob) who was *already* Mary's son. There is
          a way around this, however, if we think of J's instructions as releasing
          Jacob from his supposedly life-long Nazarite vows, and thus returning him to
          the natural relationship he would have had to his parents if he had not been
          dedicated to God at birth.

          The search for the BD is also a kind of test of our own methodologies - do
          we adopt a hypothesis, and then defend it at all cost - maximizing the
          evidence for it and minimizing (or ignoring) the evidence against it, or do
          we truly try to be impartial - even to the point of remaining agnostic if
          the entirety of the evidence doesn't appear to yield a clear result?

          Regards,
          Mike Grondin
          Mt. Clemens, MI
        • Wade and April
          ... From: Michael Grondin ... original ... then ... would ... I wonder if folks are thinking a bit too hard about this. Maybe the author of John didn t
          Message 4 of 5 , Jun 10, 2003
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Michael Grondin"

            > If the BD isn't just a conceptual symbol, the prime candidate is probably
            > John bar Zebedee, who is usually credited as being the last living
            original
            > disciple - which accords well with what's said about the BD in chapter 21.
            > As I recall, the Zebedee brothers are mentioned only the once, and aren't
            > individually named in GJn - which may be a crucial clue, since it seems
            > unlikely that the author of GJn would name the BD in some contexts, and
            then
            > hide his identity in others. Of course, the author might name him once and
            > then hide his identity thereafter. It's even plausible that the author
            would
            > name the BD twice - once at the beginning and again at the end - but too
            > many repetitions of the actual name (as in Thomas being named four times),
            > and it begins to look like that candidate can't be the one - otherwise the
            > anonymity device is compromised.

            I wonder if folks are thinking a bit too hard about this. Maybe the author
            of John didn't really intend BD to be an anonymity device. He does say
            (John 11:3) "So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, 'Lord, he whom you love
            is ill.'" That is, of course, a direct reference to the disciple Lazarus.
            In another reference to Lazarus in John 11:36 we read "So the Jews said
            [referring to Jesus and Lazarus] 'See how he loved him!'" All references to
            the disciple whom Jesus loved (BD) come after these passages. (I don't
            think it is an artifact of the translation. In the unambiguous references
            to Lazarus the Greek uses the term "phileo" for love and the references to
            the BD use "phileo" in at least one place (John 20:2) and "agapa" in others,
            "agapa" and "phileo" being basically interchangeable.) Maybe the author
            assumes that once he has identified Lazarus as the disciple that Jesus loved
            he can use either the name or title interchangeably without ambiguity.

            Lazarus as the BD also makes sense of the ending of John. It seems fairly
            clear that John has two endings, the second coming after the BD has died
            which seemed to cause the community some concern because "the rumor spread
            in the community that this disciple would not die." (John 21:23). This
            would be natural if Lazarus was the BD since he had already died and been
            resurrected. A community that believed that could certainly be forgiven for
            spreading a rumor that he was not going to die again!

            Wade
          • Michael Grondin
            Thanks for your note, Wade. Not being very well read in the literature, I hadn t run across the Lazarus possibility before, but I see now that it answers some
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 10, 2003
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              Thanks for your note, Wade. Not being very well read in the literature, I
              hadn't run across the Lazarus possibility before, but I see now that it
              answers some important structural questions much more satisfactorily (to my
              mind) than any of the others. I was aware that the BD wasn't mentioned in
              GJn until after Lazarus was raised, but I failed to put two and two
              together. And what you say about over-analyzing a problem is so true. If I
              may say so without embarassing you, I think your exegesis is a very model of
              fine analytical reasoning. Hard to imagine that such a persuasive case could
              be put with such economy of reasoning - combining linguistic considerations
              and structural explanations to boot! To me, this is one of the better
              contributions of a very fine recent crop that gives me more hope than I've
              felt in a long time for the future of this group.

              OK, some possible large-picture implications:

              1. Since Lazarus evidently wasn't one of the Twelve, and since Lazarus is
              present at GJn's last supper, this must mean that the author didn't buy into
              the idea that it was the Twelve (and only them) present at the last supper -
              or that he/they wished to deny it for ulterior reasons. I can see how one
              might go in two quite different directions with this: either that the
              Johannines knew the truth of the matter - or that they were intent on
              downplaying the Judaically-symbolic importance of the Twelve (as
              representing the twelve tribes of Israel). Believing (as most do) that GJn
              was the late gospel, and that it represented a much more radical separation
              from Judaism than the synoptics, I'm inclined toward the latter view - that
              GJn had it in for the Jews. Some take GJn to be more historically reliable
              than the synoptics (other than the theological speeches), but what I see in
              it is some fixing-up of certain problem-areas in the synoptics (which makes
              it _look_ more historically reliable in some instances), plus some rather
              blatant revisionist attempts to make Jesus look much more godlike and
              innocent (the moving of the Temple incident away from his arrest, e.g.).

              2. The "Secret Gospel of Mark" (along with Morton Smith's views) seems to
              take on much more significance. Therein, the young man involved isn't named,
              nor does it look much like John's story (being much more amenable to a
              naturalistic explanation of someone simply secreting himself in a tomb and
              refusing to come out), but there does seem to be a basis laid there for J
              having "loved" the lad - perhaps the same lad who fled naked from the garden
              in Mark's story of J's arrest? Could the author of GJn have been familiar
              with this story and just built it up out of all proportion? If so, why? Why
              not just ignore it? And finally - if I may broach the subject in a scholarly
              way without everybody getting overly excited - why the reference to
              nakedness, and the desire of the young man to be "with him", if these
              weren't hints of homosexual love? Was this an invented sop to the Greeks, or
              what? (One is reminded of Gandhi sleeping naked with young women,
              purportedly to demonstrate control over his physical urges.) Or should we
              ignore the "Secret Gospel" as being historically suspect? But if we do, what
              is the possible reason for GJn designating Lazarus as "the disciple whom
              Jesus loved"?

              3. Other references to Lazarus may take on added significance.

              Regards,
              Mike Grondin
              Mt. Clemens, MI
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