Goulder on "the Jews"
- I am citing below a portion of the interesting article by M. Goulder "A POOR MAN'S
CHRISTOLOGY". (Please read the complete article!)
In this article Goulder says, that GJohn was written against Jewish-Christian Ebionites,
and the Jews are actually Jewish-Christian Ebionites. What do you think?
Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
New Test. Stud. vol. 45, 1999, pp. 332-348
A POOR MAN'S CHRISTOLOGY
"... The Johannine writings are all dominated by fear: the hatred of 'the Jews' which
pervades the Gospel, and the harsh spirit of the Epistles are alike evidence of a fear
which is far from being cast out by perfect love. The opponents are not a few wandering
preachers. Maurice Casey has pointed to evidence that those in the first Epistle are Jews.
'No one who denies the Son has the Father' (1 John 2.23) comes in the earlier antichrist
passage, 2.18-25. 'Who-ever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son' (2
John 9). These followers of antichrist claim like Jews to have the Father, but if you deny
the Son, you deny the Father also; only those who stick to John's incarnational gospel
have both Father and Son. Another hint of the same Jewish nature of the opposition is 3.4,
'Everyone who commits sin commits law-breaking (ANOMIAN) also, and sin is law-breaking':
who is concerned about law-breaking but Jewish-type Christians? So the opposition of the
Epistles, so veiled, seems to clarify: those who thought they had the Father but denied
the Son must be Jewish, and, since they had been members of the church, they must be
Jewish Christians, champions of Torah, NOMOS.
I must limit myself to one further Johannine passage, John 8.31-59, perhaps the most
scandalous piece in scripture, where Jesus tells 'the Jews' that they are of their father,
the devil. This is because he has spoken of himself as the Son abiding for ever in his
Father's house, unlike the slave; his teaching is the truth which he has heard from the
Father, from whom he came. Eventually he says, 'Before Abraham was, I am', and they take
up stones to kill him, as he foretold in v. 37. Now a surprising feature of this discourse
is that it is in fact addressed to 'those Jews who had believed in him' (8.31); and the
phrase in the discourse following, 'the seed of Abraham', together with the contrast
between the son abiding and the slave dismissed from the house, recalls Paul's attack on
the Jewish Christians of Gal 4. John does not apparently distinguish 'Jews who have
believed in him' (v. 31) from 'the Jews' (v. 52); and this gives a much more convincing
explanation for the fear and hatred we deplore in the Johannines. John sees two religions,
Judaism and incarnational Christianity, where Jewish Christians saw one, Judaism with a
hopeful Messianist movement within. To John, Jews who had believed in Jesus were not
proper Christians at all; and as a majority of the church (as we would see it) they were a
frightening threat: that is why he abhors them, as the Trotskyists abhorred Stalin. In
other words, the opposition against whom John wrote the Gospel, and the opposition in the
Johannine epistles, are the same: Jewish Christians who deny the incarnation. As Irenaeus
said, John wrote the Gospel against Kerinthus. ..."