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Re: [John_Lit] Reaction 3

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  • Raimo Hakola
    Thanks again Martin for your response to my thoughts. This conversation has been most useful at least to me, and I hope that also others have learned something
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 2, 2001
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      Thanks again Martin for your response to my thoughts. This conversation
      has
      been most useful at least to me, and I hope that also others have learned
      something from it. You have made good points and given me something to
      think over. However, I am not yet convinced that the criticism that I and
      some other scholars have levelled at the two-level reading of the Gospel
      is
      ill-founded. I think that the basic disagreement between our approaches is
      a methodological one, as you suggest in your reply.

      Martin wrote:
      "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?
      What
      sort of fire would explain John's sort of smoke?"

      The point of my criticism is precisely that it may not be legitimate to
      take this kind of details in the narrative as a direct reflection of what
      has happened actually in the life of the Johannine Christians. I do not
      suggest
      that we cannot know anything about the historical context of the Gospel,
      but I do think that the leap from the Gospel text to the real life is
      much more complicated than the two-level reading suggests. Given the
      polemical character of what the Gospel says of the Jews, we cannot take
      the
      Gospel as an impartial witness of Jewish-Christian relations at the end of
      the first century. I think we do well if we ask how the portrayal of the
      Jews in the Gospel fits to what we know of the nature of Jewish
      communities
      and Jewish-Christian relations. And as many scholars have recently
      noticed,
      we do not have much evidence of Christians who were executed by the Jews
      at
      this time. Jack T. Sanders says (against J. L. Martyn and following
      Douglas
      R. Hare) that "as far as the available evidence informs us, few if
      any such
      executions took place" (in Schismatics, Sectarians, Dissidents,
      Deviants:
      The First Hundred Years of Jewish-Christian relations. Trinity Press1993,
      p. 91) Claudia Setzer notes also in her Jewish Responses to Early
      Christians: History and Polemics, 30-150 C.E. (Fortress, 1994) that after
      100 C.E. or so, the reactions of the Jews to Christians are in the verbal
      sphere only (pp. 182ff.) In case of John, Setzer notes that "given
      the
      context of anti-Jewish polemic and persecution in the FG, it is perhaps
      suprising that there are only two possible references (16:2 and 12:10) to
      Jews killing Christians, and very general ones at that." On the basis
      of
      this kind of general statements that may not be supported by other
      contemporary sources, I hesitate to take the Johannine references as
      evidence that the Christians were killed by the Jews at the end of the
      first century. As I earlier said, I do not deny that some Christians were
      killed by some of the Jews earlier, maybe prior to the destruction of the
      temple. These indicents are also referred to by Frank McCoy in his recent
      message, even though I am not convinced that on this basis we could date
      the gospel back to the period between 62 CE and c. 65 CE.

      Martin, let me conclude this message by developing the metaphor of fire.
      Is
      it not true that the greatest smoke is caused by the fire that does not
      burn properly? And if you throw water upon a fire in order to extinguish
      the flames, then you really have smoke. So this metaphor is actually a
      very
      ambiguous one. Once again, thanks for this conversation.

      Raimo Hakola
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      Raimo Hakola
      Department of Biblical Studies
      P.O. Box 33
      FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
      tel. +358 9 191 22518
      fax + 358 9 191 22106
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