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Fw: Reinhartz and Hakola

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  • PLP/MCdeB
    From Martin de Boer I would like first respond to a couple of Adele Reinhartz s challenging comments on my paper and then to Raimo Hakolo s paper. 1. I thank
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 6, 2001
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      From Martin de Boer
      I would like first respond to a couple of Adele Reinhartz's challenging comments on my paper and then to Raimo Hakolo's paper.

      1. I thank Adele for clarifying her views on "the disciples of Moses". My response would be: both John 9:28 (assuming that the Gospel was written by and for Jewish Christians) and the rabbinic text from Yoma 4a cited by Billerbeck (even if there is some uncertainty about the reading) are at least indications that the expression was possible among Jews (in any event we have no Gentile or Gentile Christians texts which refer to Jews as disciples of Moses). I'll have to go look at Philo sometime, but I may perhaps be allowed here refer to John Barclay's observation that "If the law was the focal point of Judaism, it was natural that Jews should find their identity defined by Moses..." (Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora, p. 426). If this is so, John's placing of the words "we are disciples of Moses" into the mouths of "the Jews" of John 9 can hardly be considered a misrepresentation of "the Jews" in John. Then too John and the Jesus of John also regard themselves (in their own way) as disciples of Moses (1:45; 5: 45f.) so it is not as if they are attributing a view to the opponents which they reject for themselves. The issue is whether Jesus as Messiah (or discipleship to this Jesus) is compatible with discipleship to Moses.

      2. Adele will not be surprised to learn that I do not find her counterthesis convincing, namely, the claim that John avoids the term "Jews" for disciples of Jesus "in order that it may be applied more or less unequivocally to the 'bad guys' and thus maintain the rather sharp polarities (dark/light, unbelief/faith, flesh/spirit, them/us, death/life) around which Johannine rhetoric revolves." I agree that John has these polarities and that the term "Jews" for the opponents finds a place with them, but that still does not explain (or does not sufficiently explain) how it was that people who were Jews in the ethnic/religious sense came to abandon the term to describe themselves and came to use it for opponents who were also Jews in the ethnic/religious sense. John could have used the term "Pharisees" or "rulers" just as well to serve his rhetorical needs. Why then "the Jews"? Well, you know my answer. (Incidentally, before we all forget: only about half of the instances of the term hoi Ioudaioi clearly have this import -- there are neutral or even positive uses of the term in John, e.g., 11:31, 36, 45).

      3. Personally, I do not think it is splitting hairs to argue that "John 8:44 addresses only the JewsÂ’ behaviour and not the Jews themselves." I regard the point as crucial, for it means that (for John) diabolical paternity can only be attributed (to "the Jews", whether these be believers in Jesus as Messiah or not) when a very particular form of behavior (namely, the conspiracy to commit murder) is involved. For John, then, Jews as such are not diabolical and John does not elsewhere so characterize them. This is further supported by the fact that the term "the Jews" is not used monolithically in John, as noted above.

      4. I deal with most of Adele's remaining comments in the footnotes of my paper (these will be available in the published form) and by anticipation in my postings to the list last week. She may not agree but I will not test the patience of the other list participants by repeating myself.

      5. I thank Raimo for a very good and challenging paper. I am convinced by the basic thesis, that Jesus' Jewishness does not necessarily provide an antidote to (certain kinds of) anti-Judaism. Indeed it can exacerbate it. I would pose some questions in connection with the conclusion.

      a. Raimo writes: "Salvation is really from the Jews, but the gospel also shows that salvation is now moving out of their reach if they do not abandon their old faith". I wonder if that last phrase is appropriate for John's own view of the matter, given 5:45f.. In that light, does acceptance of Jesus for John require that Jews abandon "their old faith"? If not, in what way can John's view of the matter then be characterized as "anti-Jewish"?

      b. Raimo writes: "the Jews from whom salvation comes, are described as the children of the devil". This statement assumes as a matter of course that the term "the Jews" has a univocal meaning for John and is shorthand for "the Jewish people". Is this what Raimo means to say?

      Martin de Boer
      Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam







      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Raimo Hakola
      Dear Martin, Again -- thank you for your thoughtful response. Your questions really hit the heart of the matter and give me a reason to clarify my thoughts.
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 7, 2001
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        Dear Martin,
        Again -- thank you for your thoughtful response. Your questions really hit
        the heart of the matter and give me a reason to clarify my thoughts.
        Martin wrote:
        Raimo writes: "the Jews from whom salvation comes, are described as the
        children of the devil". This statement assumes as a matter of course that
        the term "the Jews" has a univocal meaning for John and is shorthand for
        "the Jewish people". Is this what Raimo means to say?

        The problem of who "the Jews" are in John is a very difficult one, and I
        cannot give a comprehensive answer to it in this connection. But I make
        some points that show quite well what I think of this problem:
        I think that we both agree that the term does not have a geopraphical
        meaning ("Judeans") in John. You note this quite explicitly in one of your
        earlier messages when you write:
        "Shaye Cohen has recently shown (in The Beginnings of Jewishness) that the
        term Ioudaios in the ancient world had attained a predominantly religious
        meaning among Greek and Roman authors in the late first century, 'a
        designation for anyone who venerates the God of the Judeans' ... The
        English term "Judeans" thus does not seem to do justice to the religious
        nuances of the Greek term in John's time or John's Gospel."
        Thus far I totally agree with you. The term "the Jews" has predominantly a
        religious meaning in John. (Of course, it was not easy to separate
        religious and ethnic dimensions of the word in the ancient world). But I
        think that the problems begin, when you (and also other scholars) want to
        restrict the Johannine use of the word to a certain limited group among
        those (using Cohen's words) who "venerate the God of the Judeans," i. e.
        who practice the rites of the Jews and share their religious beliefs. If
        the writer had had in his mind only (as you suggest) "certain
        authoritative, learned (Pharisaic) Jews who, with their followers among the
        synagogue rank-and file, rejected and opposed Jesus and his followers," why
        would he use the very same term in a more "neutral" sense to designate
        Jewish festivals etc. You suggest that the term is used in an ironic sense
        for those who "claim to be the arbiters of a genuinely Jewish identity." I
        have some doubts with this explanation. I think that the writer uses the
        word "the Jews" for example for the Pharisees, because for him they are
        representatives of all those who practice the religion that, from the
        writer's point of view, is now superseded by the new revelation. The
        Pharisees are not called the Jews in certain passages because they are a
        group that is distinct from "other Jews," but because they illustrate what
        the writer thinks is a typical response of "the Jews": unbelief and
        hostility. It should be noted that the Pharisees are not the only group
        that has a hostile attitude towards Jesus and that is called "the Jews" in
        the narrative. In the passion narrative the narrator uses the words " the
        Jews" and "the chief priests" interchangeably, and again I think this is
        because he thinks that the action of the chief priests typifies the
        reaction of "the Jews." And I think that many scholars have not paid enough
        attention to some passages of the Gospel where the word "the Jews" is used
        for the common crowd that is in conflict with Jesus. This is the case in
        John 6 where Jesus' interlocutors are at first called the crowd (v. 22, 24)
        but are later identified as "the Jews" (v. 41, 52). In 7:33-36 Jesus is
        discussing with a group of people who are called the Jews (v. 35). They
        cannot be the Pharisees who are absent from the scene (cf. v. 32 and v.
        45). In 7:44 it is told that some of the crowd wanted to arrest Jesus. The
        context does not suggest that these people are "followers of the
        Pharisees," because they seem to act independently. So unbelief and
        hostility are not just characteristics of the Pharisees or the Jewish
        leaders in the Gospel. This is well illustrated in John 12:37-42. It is
        almost universally acknowledged among the scholars that these verses form
        the conclusion to the first part of the Gospel, that is sometimes called
        the Book of Signs (John 112). Most scholars take these verses as the
        narrator's final explanation for the unbelief of "the Jews," that has been
        a recurrent theme in the previous narrative. It is noteworthy, however,
        that in their immediate narrative context, these verses do not speak about
        "the Jews," or about the Pharisees. In ch. 12 Jesus has been discussing
        with the crowd or the common people, and in v. 36 it is told how Jesus
        departed and hid from them. The fact that the narrator's concluding remarks
        about unbelief follow right after the discussion with the crowd suggests
        for me that he did not make a clear cut distinction between the response of
        the crowd and that of "the Jews."
        The narrator acknowledges earlier in the Gospel that there were some among
        the common people who had an initial faith in Jesus, but he also
        acknowledges that there were some among the leaders or the Pharisees who
        were open to Jesus. But in the end, as John 12:37-42 suggests, the response
        of these both groups was rejection and unbelief from the narrator's point
        of view. So when Pilate says in 18:35 to Jesus that "your own nation and
        the chief priests have handed you over to me," these words reveal how the
        writer and his community approached the events leading to Jesus' death.
        They regarded all those Jews who did not share their faith in Jesus as
        culpable for these events.
        So, I am finally ready to answer your question: I think that the word "the
        Jews" in John designates all those different groups among the Jewish people
        who did not share the faith of the writer and his community.
        The term may not quite be a shorthand for the Jewish people, but it surely
        comes very close to this meaning. As unfortunate as this is, I think that a
        significant step has been taken in John toward the view that does make any
        distinction between different Jewish groups but in general regards them as
        responsible for what happened to Jesus. Yes, I think that is unhistorical,
        untrue and morally wrong, but I cannot help thinking that some believers at
        the end of the first century thought so. I know that my claims may sound
        provocative and offensive, and so, please, let me cite a higher authority
        to conclude my long response. In his excellent book Related Strangers: Jews
        and Christians 70-170 C.E. (Fortress 1995), Stephen G. Wilson reaches a
        following conclusion concerning the use of the word "the Jews" in John (p.
        76): "There is every reason to think that the term has shifted decisively
        from a local to a universal plane of meaning. HOI IOUDAIOI have become the
        Jews in general."

        I apologise my all too long answer. I try to return to another part of your
        question in my later response. However, I have dealt with some of those
        questions concerning Moses in John in my earlier (and also too long)
        response to Frank McCoy. Thanks again for your interest in my thoughts.

        Regards
        Raimo

        Raimo Hakola

        Department of Biblical Studies
        P.O. Box 33
        00014 University of Helsinki

        tel. +358 9 191 22518
        fax +358 9 191 22106
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