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[John_Lit] Re: Re:

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  • Paul Anderson
    Thank you, John, for a really important set of questions, and thank you, Jim and Felix, for your responses. Here are some of my thoughts on the relation
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 18, 1999
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      Thank you, John, for a really important set of questions, and thank you,
      Jim and Felix, for your responses. Here are some of my thoughts on the
      relation between the Johannine gospel and epistles:

      1) The relation is not a certain one, but there is clearly a connection --
      part of the same community or set of communities. In that sense, while
      necessary connections are less than certain, one cannot say there is no
      connection. While she does not claim the latter directly, I feel Judith
      Lieu's approach individuating II John and III John is overdone. True, III
      John was not accepted canonically until later, but alien authorship is not
      the best explanation. More likely are two other factors: its being
      addressed to an individual rather than a community (likewise the retarded
      reception of the Pastorals), and the fact that it is critical of structural
      leadership. Especially the latter issue would have been more than enough
      to dampen its broader reception and use -- especially by church leaders.
      Nonetheless, Lieu is correct that the inclusion of III John comes in on the
      heels of II John, which comes in on the heels of I John. II John is most
      like I John stylistically and thematically, but there is no piece of NT
      writing more like III John than II John (both claiming to have been written
      by "the Elder"). I believe the epistles have a common author.

      2) Their relation to the gospel, however, is a multivalent one. Much of
      the style and content is similar, but there are also particular
      differences. Most significant is the difference between the evangelist's
      more dialectical presentation of Jesus as the truth, in contrast to the
      epistle writer's more monological presentation of "the truth which we have
      received" suggesting a second-order process of thought (see chapter 7 of
      _The Christology of the Fourth Gospel_, TPI 1997). This is what leads me
      to believe the gospel and epistles represent the same sector of
      Christianity (and in that sense are illuminative of each other) but are
      written by different leaders. If indeed supplementary material (1:1-18,
      chs. 6, 15-17, 21, etc.) has been added by the gospel's editor to a first
      edition of the gospel, several other connections follow. Many of the
      themes in this supplementary material are also in I John, and are echoed in
      II and III John. Add to that the redactor's tendency to appeal to
      apostolic authority, and I believe there is good reason for assuming the
      gospel's redactor is the Elder who has also written the epistles. The
      evangelist, however, is responsible for most of the traditional material in
      the gospel itself, as well as the bulk of the supplementary material.

      3) The sequence of the compositions, thus, may have been something like this:
      a) The first edition of John finalized around 80 CE by the Fourth
      Evangelist (notice that most of the contentions with the Jewish leaders
      appear in this body of material),
      b) the Elder's writing of the first epistle (ca. 85 CE) as a circular
      to bolster church unity and fellowship in the aftermath of a first
      antichristic threat (a Jewish-Christian defection) and warning about a
      second antichristic threat (a docetizing visitation, ca. 90 CE),
      c) the Elder's writing to a specific community (the chosen lady and
      her children) regarding the dangers of the docetizing teachers and their
      false gospel of assimilation,
      d) the Elder's letter to Gaius (an individual leader) encouraging him
      after abrupt treatment by Diotrephes (a local, proto-Ignatian hierarchical
      leader who has rejected Johannine visitations, ca. 95 CE),
      e) and finally, after the death of the evangelist, the Elder finalizes
      the gospel and sends it off as the testimony of the Beloved Disciple (ca.
      100 CE) as a preservation of the Johannine tradition and also (at least
      partially) as a corrective response to docetism and rising institutionalism
      in the late first-century church (thus, the incarnationalist motifs and the
      ecclesial emphases in the supplementary material).

      So, hermeneutically, these four writings cast a fair bit of light on a
      common set of issues faced by this sector of the early church, and yet we
      also see more than one approach to particular issues. I would say the
      writings indeed inform each other, and that knowledge about each also
      inform our hermeneutical approaches to the others.

      Thanks, John, for an excellent question!

      Paul Anderson

      At 8:31 AM +0000 6/9/99, John Painter wrote:
      >May I ask the seminar to consider a hermeneutical question. What is the
      >relevance of the Johannine epistles for the reading ot the Gospel and
      >what is the relevance of the Gospel for the reading of the epistles?
      >There is a growing tendency to insist that each work should be read
      >independently (even 2 and 3 John). This is different from first reading
      >the particular document to determine its probable relationship to the
      >others and then reading it in the ligh of these conclusions (not
      >presuppositions). Given that these conclusions are at best only
      >probable, should the interpreter refrain from them and read each
      >document independently? Or is the assumtion of independence only a less
      >likely conclusion than that of some relationship? It is of course more
      >complex because"some relationship" itself offers many options. Is this
      >now a question that calls for more concentrated attention in the light
      >of new perspectives and approaches and the insights that they bring? In
      >recent discussions some cotributors have referred the the Johannine
      >epistles as a factor distinguishing the Gospel of John from the
      >Synoptics for which there are no associated epistles. What difference
      >do the epistles make for our reading of John and John for our reading of
      >the epistles?
      >Professor John Painter
      >St Mark's National Theological Centre
      >Charles Sturt University Canberra Campus
      >15 Blackall Street
      >Barton ACT 2600 Phone 61 (0)2 6273 1572
      >Australia Fax 61 (0)2 6273 4067
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