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Re: [John_Lit] BD 20:2-10

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    ... From: Thomas (Tom) Butler Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 6:59 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] BD 20:2-10 ... want to interrupt the
    Message 1 of 22 , Jan 25, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Thomas (Tom) Butler" <butlerfam5@...>
      Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 6:59 PM
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] BD 20:2-10

      > Dear Frank McCoy and other JL listers,
      > I shall forward this response through our list manager, since I do not
      want to interrupt the process he has outlined for discussion of SBL papers.
      However, I do want to reply to Frank's post on 12-31. I will trust that
      this comment will be made available to the list when the timing is
      > As we were considering what can be learned from 20: 2-10 re: the BD, Frank
      offered a very interesting article showing a material connection between 11:
      38-44 and J.H. Breasted's description of the resurrection of Osiris, thus
      suggesting that the value of the connection between 20: 2-10 and 11: 38-44
      can best be seen via the connection between 11: 38-44 and the ancient myth
      of Osiris, namely by concluding that the BD is the brother of Jesus: James
      the Just.
      > I have no expertise re: the ancient myth, and therefore do not feel
      qualified to dialog on that particular point. I would like to point out,
      however, that the material connection between the empty tomb of Jesus and
      the story of the resurrection of Lazarus has significance within the
      narrative world of the FG, without regard to any connection to the ancient
      myth of the resurrection of Osiris.
      > I would like to focus the attention of our group on this internal material
      connection, since I believe that it points to a different conclusion, namely
      that the BD is someone who under- stands the importance of the semeia listed
      in both stories: the head, the hands and the feet.
      > Specifically, consider 11: 44 in which the resurrected Lazarus emerges
      from the tomb with "his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth and his
      face wrapped in a cloth" (NRSV) and 20: 5-8 in which Peter sees the cloths
      that have bound the body of Jesus, including "the cloth that had been on
      Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by
      itself," and seems to make no conclusion based upon what he has seen, while
      the BD enters the empty tomb and sees the same set of signs, "and he saw and

      Dear Tom Butler and Other JL Listers:

      I do not see where the head, the hands and the feet play an important
      role in 20:5-8. Rather, in 20:5-8, the emphasis is solely on the soudarion
      that had been on the head of Jesus. Indeed, neither the hands nor the
      feet of Jesus are even mentioned.
      Also, one of the advantages of the hypothesis that there are allusions to
      the Osiris myth in 11:38-44 and 20:2-8 is that it can explain why: (1) in
      11:44, it is emphasised that Lazarus had special protection for his head,
      hands, and feet and why: (2) in 20:5-8, it is emphasised that the soudarion
      was "rolled up in a place by itself."
      In Tutankhamen, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt notes (p. 165), this
      Pharaoh (aka King Tut) was interred with "all the Osirian rites". That is
      to say, he had been buried in the same fashion that, it was believed,
      Osiris had been buried. This relates to shortly before (p. 164), where
      Desroches-Noblecourt states, "Too many oils were lavished on Tutankhamen,
      burning away nearly all of the tissues and attacking the bones. Only the
      parts protected by gold were preserved: the face covered by the mask and the
      hands and feet guarded by finger stalls." Here, we learn, extra special
      care had been taken to protect the head, hands, and feet of Tutankhamen.
      Since he had been buried in the same fashion that, it was believed, Osiris
      had been buried, this means that, it was understood, Osiris had been
      buried with extra special care taken to protect his head, hands. and feet.
      What this means is that the stress, in 11:44, that Lazarus had special
      protection for his head, hands, and feet could very well be a literary means
      of alerting the intended readers that he is being likened to Osiris. If so,
      then this is one more piece of evidence that, in 11:38-44, Lazarus is being
      likened to Osiris.
      In 20:5-8, why is it emphasised that the soudarion for Jesus was
      "rolled up"? Well, if Jesus is being likened to Osiris in 20:2-8, then, as
      the head of Osiris had been protected by a mask, the meaning of this is that
      the soudarion of Jesus had been, in effect, a mask which had preserved the
      outline of his head even after he or someone else took it off and placed it
      apart from the other burial clothes. Compare Raymond Brown who, in The
      Gospel According to John (p. 987), states, "However, John may simply mean
      that the soudarion was rolled up in an oval loop, i.e., the shape it had
      when it was around the head of the corpse."
      One final point: While it is correct to
      speak of "the ancient myth of the resurrection of Osiris", this should not
      delude us into thinking that it was unknown in the first century CE.
      Rather, at that time, the Isis-Osiris mystery religion was very popular in
      the Roman Empire and might even have been the leading religion. Hence,
      knowledge about its key divinities and its key doctrines was widespread in
      the Roman Empire, especially among those who were literate. Note that
      Josephus, immediately after his passage on Jesus (unfortunately, only
      preserved as altered by an early Christian), relates a story of how a man,
      at a temple of Isis in Rome, seduced a woman by claiming to be Anubis.
      What is significant is that Josephus does not tell his intended readers
      anything about Isis or Anubis. Hence, he understood, they already were
      knowledgeable concerning these two major dieties in the Isis-Osiris mystery
      religion. The bottom line: the author of John likely knew about the
      Isis-Osiris mystery religion, including its myth of the resurrection of
      Oisiris, and, probably, so did most of the intended readers.


      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN 55109
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