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The Johannine Jews

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  • Moloney, Francis J.
    Dear Everyone Thanks to the number of most thouhgtful and helpful contributions to this discussion. As I have been looking at the issue, preparing a paper
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2001
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      Dear Everyone

      Thanks to the number of most thouhgtful and helpful contributions to
      this discussion. As I have been looking at the issue, preparing a paper
      related to the issue, there are two matters that emerge for me that we
      may not have looked at closely enough. Then there are a couple of
      references that might be of help. The two issues are:

      1. I agree that there is no getting away from what has happened in the
      subsequent Christian reading of the Johannine text, no matter what we
      make of what was going on in the "world behind the text" which produced
      the Fourth Gospel. As David Rensberger has very recently written: "John
      serves as a very sobering reminder that words once written leave their
      writer's control, and that no one can expect to utter violent words
      without facing a violent consequence" (see below for ref.). What I do
      not find in the discussion, however, is a serious explanation for 3:1;
      4:9; 4:22 (especially); 8:31; 10:19; 11:45; 12:11; 18:20, 33, 35, 39;
      19:3, 19, 21. Maybe we should start from there? Then, of course, there
      are the so-called "neutral" uses - recently explained by Galot (Les
      Juifs dand l"Evangile selon Jean [CahRB 34]) on the basis of their
      belonging to the earliest strata (alla Boismard-Lamouille) ... but is
      that good enough? As the group is aware, my own work is leading me back
      to the older debate over "Israel" and "people," an issue which my
      meanderings are finding useful.

      2. So much weight is given to 8:44a in these discussions, without
      placing it within its literary context (not even v. 44bc). Across
      8:31-59 the crucial issue is paternity. "The Jews" lay claim to their
      Abrahamic paternity, while the Johannine Jesus claims God as his father.
      Here is the issue. Neither will accept the other's claims. For "the
      Jews" Jesus was born in fornication (v. 41), is possesssed by the devil
      (v. 48), and they want to kill him (vv. 37, 59). The process with
      Jesus' response is more subtle. He questions "whether" Abraham and God
      can be their father (vv. 39-40, v. 42). For Jesus, they are telling
      lies and planning murder. This is the basis for the terrible charge of
      v. 44a. The devil works in murder and in lies ... that is his nature
      (v. 44bc). Citing v. 44a, without its context misses this crucial
      rhetorical link. It is because "the Jews" tell lies and plan to murder
      Jesus that they show that they are children of the devil. The overall
      rhetoric must be taken into account. Jesus' paternity is reflected in
      what he says and does ... "The Jews'" paternity is reflected in what
      they say and do: "I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do
      what you have heard from your father" (v. 38). The description the
      nature of the devil in v. 44bc leads to the logical (but subsequently
      terribly harmful [see above, under 1]) remark of v. 44a.

      The references are:

      D. Rensberger, "Anti-Judaism and the Gospel of John," in Anti-Judaism
      and the Gospels (ed. W. R. Farmer; Harrisburg, Pa: TPI, 1999), 120-57.

      J. Frey, "Heiden - Griechen - Gotteskinder. Zu Gestalt und Funktion der
      Rede von den Heiden im 4. Evangelium," in Die Heiden. Juden, Christen
      und das Problem des Fremden (eds. R. Feldmeier and U. Heckel; WUNT 70;
      Tuebingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1994), 228-68.

      Thanks to everyone,

      Frank Moloney
      Catholic University
      Washington DC
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