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Re: [John_Lit] Reaction 3

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    ... From: PLP/MCdeB To: Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 4:53 PM Subject: [John_Lit] Reaction 3
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "PLP/MCdeB" <plp-mcb@...>
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 4:53 PM
      Subject: [John_Lit] Reaction 3

      > 3. Raimo writes: "I cannot see why the Johannine Christians should be
      > regarded as liars if the expulsion from the synagogue or the persecution
      > Johannine Christians in the hands of the Jewish authorities of this time
      > denied." Well what else should they be called if (as you say) the
      > never happened whereas the Gospel says it did? What other word would be
      > appropriate for the Johannine Christians if not "liars"? Can the Johannine
      > Christians be excused for making such supposedly false accusations just
      > because they had "a genuine feeling" of being persecuted by certain Jews
      > their environment? Your question: "how much fire is needed to create
      > is a good one, but my counter question would be: what sort of fire is
      > to create what sort of smoke? If the issue is simply feeling persecuted
      > believing that the world is a hostile place (even though it presumably is
      > not), then why would that lead to the charge that the persecutors have
      > officially decided to exclude you from their fellowship and are even
      > attempting to kill you (John 16:2)? Why not come up with the sort of
      > generalized polemic and character assassination against opponents and
      > outsiders we find, e.g., in the Pastoral Epistles (cf. e.g., 1 Tim
      > the Epistle of Jude, or 1 John for that matter? That sort of smoke would
      > correspond to that sort of fire. But the Gospel does not confine itself to
      > polemical "topoi" or the conventions of slander (on which see L. Johnson's
      > essay in JBL 108, 1989), but to quite specific charges (expulsion and
      > murder). Raimo pointedly asks: "Do you really think that the Johannine
      > Christians were killed by some Jewish group at the end of the first
      > Well, what do we make of John 16:2b, combined with 12:10, and the plot
      > against Jesus if, following Martyn, we read John as a two-level drama?
      > sort of fire would explain John's sort of smoke?>

      Dear Martin de Boer and Othe JL Listers:
      > What about the fire of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment? I define
      this as the members of the Jerusalem Sanheidrin (and,
      above all, the High Priest) and the two Herod Agrippas.
      Certainly, with this "fire" of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment, there
      was the "smoke" of murder and murderous plots. The Jerusalem Sanheidrin was
      responsible for the execution of Stephen. Herod Agrippa I was responsible
      for the execution of James bar Zebedee and would have executed Simon/Peter
      if he hadn't have escaped jail and fled Jerusalem. A High Priest, just
      appointed by Herod Agrippa II, railroaded the Jerusalem Sanheidrin into
      executing James the Just. In History (Book 3, Sect. 5), Eusebius states
      that, following the execution of James the Just, "the remaining apostles, in
      constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judea." I wonder,
      in view of the increased level of persecution starting in 62 CE,
      whether the flight of the rest of the Jerusalem Church to Pella c. 65 CE was
      due to persecution rather than (as legend has it) due to their miraculously
      forseeing not only that the revolt would occur, but that it would end with
      the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.
      The big question, of course, is whether this "fire" caused the "smoke" of
      making the followers of Jesus exsynagogue. Ultimately, this question is
      unanswerable. However, there are indications that this "fire" might,
      indeed, be the cause of this "smoke". Above all, it is noteworthy that, in
      John, all the references to Christians being made exsynagogue seem to
      localize it to Jerusalem. The parents of the blind man, who fear being made
      exsynagogue, lived in Jerusalem. It is while Jesus is in Jerusalem that the
      author of John makes the comment that those in authority feared being made
      exsynagogue--the implication being, I think, that these authorities resided
      in Jerusalem. Jesus told his inner circle of disciples at the Last Supper
      that they would be made exsynagogue and, after the crucifixion of Jesus,
      they settled down in Jerusalem.
      Too, in Acts 5:40-42, Luke's narrative is strange.. First, he declares,
      the Jerusalem Sanheidrin ordered the apostles to not speak in the name of
      Jesus. Second, he declares, the apostles then went out preached that Jesus
      is the Christ in the temple and in homes. Yet, they were not punished by
      the Jerusalem Sanheidrin for doing this. My interpretation is that the
      Jerusalem Sanheidrin ordered the apostles to not preach in the name of Jesus
      *in Jerusalem synagogues*--in effect, making them exsynagogue.. The
      apostles then obeyed this edict and limited their preaching to the temple
      and to homes. As a result, the Jerusalem Sanheidrin left them alone. In
      this case, Luke's narrative is flawed in that it does make it clear that the
      order of the Jerusalem Sanheidrin to not speak in the name of Jesus was
      limited in scope to the synagogues in Jerusalem.
      Soon afterwards, Stephen was arrested, tried, and executed by the
      Jerusalem Sanheidrin after charges were made against him by members of the
      synagogue of the freedmen. Apparently, he had been speaking about Jesus in
      this synagogue located in Jerusalem.
      I think that, at this point, the Jerusalem Sanheidrin issued an edict
      expanding the ban on the apostles speaking in Jerusalem synagogues to all
      Christians in Jerusalem--making them all, in effect, exsynagogue. Further,
      while they knew that the apostles could be trusted to obey the ban (for they
      had been obeying it up to this point), they weren't sure that all the other
      followers of Jesus would obey the ban and, so, to make sure that Christians
      would not set foot in Jerusalem synagogues, they ordered all Christians but
      the apostles out of Jerusalem--the violation of which, they decreed, would
      be punishable by
      imprisonment. This is my interpretation of why, right after the execution
      of Stephen, Luke states that all Christians except the apostles had to flee
      Jerusalem or face imprisonment.
      If this (admittedly) speculative interpretation of Luke's narrative in
      Acts is correct, then there was a period, in the late 30s, when the "fire"
      of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment created the "smoke" of making
      Christians in Jerusalem exsynagogue. Possibly, this "fire" might even have
      been re-instituted this "smoke" at one or more later times--such as during
      the persecution of 62-c 65 CE.
      In conclusion, the "fire" of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment, did
      create the "smoke" of murder and murderous plots against Christians. It
      might have also created the "smoke" of banning Christians from synagogues
      in Jerusalem. Therefore, I suggest, the sitz em leben for John is
      Jerusalem and time of its composition was most likely during the period of
      persecution that begain in 62 CE and ended c. 65 CE. In this case, John is
      the "swan song" of the Jerusalem Church and it is not just an account about
      Jesus but, rather, also has interwoven into it echoes of important events
      in the life of the Jerusalem Church and the area under its
      jurisdiction--such as the inability of Pharisaic Christians there to
      understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the conversion of many Samaritans
      by the Hellenists, and the episodic persecution of Christians there by the
      Jewish Jerusalem Establishment.
      I am not sure how this relates to the identity of "the Jews" in John and
      to your observation that these people considered themselves to be disciples
      of Moses. Possibly, "the Jews" has several meaning, depending upon the
      context. In a narrow sense, it might mean the official spokespeople for the
      Jewish people, i.e., the members of the Jerusalem Sanheidrin (particularly
      the High Priest) and, during their reigns, the two Herod Agrippas. In a
      wider sense, it might also include those groups who had representatives in
      the Jewish Jerusalem Establishement, i.e., the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the
      Herodians, the scribes, the lawyers, and the high priestly aristocracy. In
      an even wider sense, it might also include all who were obedient to the
      pronouncements of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment. In the widest sense,
      it might encompass all the members of the Jewish ethnic group. I would
      think that the members of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment deemed
      themselves to be disciples of Moses--for the Jerusalem Sanheidrin based its
      decisions on Mosaic Law and, as portrayed by Josephus, both Herod Agrippas
      were zealous for Mosaic Law. Probably, this belief that one is a disciple
      of Moses would have been held by each member of the groups from which the
      members of the Jewish Jerusalem Establishment were recruited and, beyond
      that, by each person who was obedient to its pronouncements.


      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN USA
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