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Re: RE: [John_Lit] Further on Nicodemus and "the Jews"

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  • Paul Anderson
    ... Excellent points, Ray and Frank. The fact is that, like so many other themes in John, the presentation of the Ioudaioi in John is not a monological one
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 13, 2001
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      johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com writes:
      >Thus, Nicodemus, one of "the Jews,"
      >Jesus "a Jew," and salvation came from "the Jews." Does this not
      >indicate that the identification of "the Jews" = the bad guys = "the
      >Jews in general" (Raimo) does not work.

      Excellent points, Ray and Frank. The fact is that, like so many other
      themes in John, the presentation of the Ioudaioi in John is not a
      monological one (see Barrett's far-reaching essay, "The Dialectical
      Theology of St. John" in his New Testament Essays, 1972, pp. 49-69). The
      evangelist works with his themes dialectically -- in this case,
      associating the term with Judea and Jerusalem-centered interests, at times
      religious leaders opposed to Jesus, at times the crowd or the world, and
      at times the source of salvation. To reduce a dialectical presentation of
      Johannine motif to a monological proposition is most certainly going to be
      wrong.

      Back to Bultmann's view, the Ioudaioi are paired in John with the
      disbelieving world, and as such, are not limited to a particular religion
      or group. Their presentation functions so as to challenge all who are
      scandalized by the Revealer. This is why the Fourth Gospel is also one of
      the greatest antidote to religious supersessioninsm and antisemitism,
      especially if it is exegeted adequately. It is written about a Jew, by a
      Jew, in the context of intramural Jewish struggles.

      Thanks!

      Paul
    • Raimo Hakola
      Thank you again Frank for your comment. Frank (Moloney) wrote: Yes, I am quite happy to see Nicodemus as part of hoi Ioudaioi ... and I particularly like
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 14, 2001
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        Thank you again Frank for your comment.

        Frank (Moloney) wrote:
        Yes, I am quite happy to see Nicodemus as part of hoi Ioudaioi ... and I
        particularly like Jouette Bassler's "Mixed Signals" in the JBL about 1990
        (not to speak of your own work on characters, Ray). But that is
        precisely my point. Whatever we make of Nicodemus, he is not a "bad guy"
        guilty of lies and planning the death of Jesus ... suggesting that Jesus
        was born in fornication and possessed by a demon. People who behave like
        that look to a demonic paternity, rejecting the paternity of Jesus (see
        8:39-59 in the light of 5:23). They are the issues surrounding the
        infamous 8:44. Thus, Nicodemus, one of "the Jews," Jesus "a Jew," and
        salvation came from "the Jews." Does this not indicate that the
        identification of "the Jews" = the bad guys = "the Jews in general" (Raimo)
        does not work.


        I think it is surprising that Jesus' "infamous" words in John 8:44 are
        directed at those Jews who believed in Jesus (8:30-31). I read the dialogue
        in 8:31-59 as a kind of test in the course of which the Johannine Jesus
        betrays that these believing Jews are in fact seeking to kill him. So
        Jesus' harshest words in John are not about those Jews who are openly
        hostile to him but about those who seem to believe in him. I think that
        this blurs a clear-cut distinction between those Jews who are "guilty of
        lies and planning the death of Jesus" and those whose intial response to
        Jesus is positive.
        I still want to refer to my earlier message where I admitted that the
        statement "the Jews=the Jews in general" may be misleading. I tried to
        point out that the term is not reserved for any specific group of the Jews
        such as the Pharisees or the leaders. And I think that Jesus' words in John
        8 confirm this, because even the believing Jews turn out to be Jesus'
        murderers. I tried to argue in my paper that Jesus' Jewishness, as
        presented in John, is not necessarily contradictory to the kind of
        theological anti-Judaism that I (still) think John represents. In fact, the
        presentation of Jesus as a Jew may well contribute to the development of
        supersessionism. And I think that the fact that there are such Jewish
        characters as Nicodemus who are not among "the bad guys" does not really
        change this. From the point of view of the evangelist, Nicodemus may well
        represent those leaders of the Jews who were open to the faith of the
        Johannine community (what is the historical reality in the background of
        these characters, we do not know). In John, these believers testify to the
        superiority of Jesus' message, because even the best among the Jews
        acknowledged that he is sent from God.

        In this connection I also like to thank all those who have commented my
        paper. I have learned very much from your encouraging but also critical
        comments. Let the conversation continue!
        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
      • Maluflen@aol.com
        In a message dated 3/14/2001 6:00:29 AM Eastern Standard Time, raimo.hakola@helsinki.fi writes:
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 14, 2001
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          In a message dated 3/14/2001 6:00:29 AM Eastern Standard Time,
          raimo.hakola@... writes:

          << From the point of view of the evangelist, Nicodemus may well
          represent those leaders of the Jews who were open to the faith of the
          Johannine community (what is the historical reality in the background of
          these characters, we do not know). >>

          Could I make a suggestion here? It seems to me that the background of
          Nicodemus as a character in Jn may be more literary than historical. The
          presence of both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in the burial story of Jn
          19:38-42 suggests that John has taken the two very different descriptions of
          Joseph in Matthew's and Luke's narratives, respectively, and made two
          characters out of them. Joseph himself is described in clearly Matthean terms
          (Jn 19:38, and cf. Matt 27:57f), and Nicodemus, taken as an entire character
          throughout John, and especially in 7:50ff, answers to the very different
          description of Joseph given in Lk 23:50-51. The two characters are likewise
          assimilated narratively in John in the sense that both act "secretively" out
          of "fear of the Jews" (Jn 19:38, explicitly, for Joseph, and 3:2; 19:39,
          implicitly for Nicodemus). Note that Nicodemus also takes over the function
          of the women at the tomb in Luke (bringing myrrh and aloes; cf. Lk
          23:56-24-1). Of course the name "Nicodemus" still needs to be explained.

          The opposite phenomenon may be observed in Jn 20:1ff where the multiple women
          of the Synoptic accounts are merged into the single figure of Mary. The Mary
          Magdalene story likewise takes on literary features from Matt and Lk
          respectively: like the women in Matt, her first encounter is with an "angel"
          at the tomb, and as in Luke they are two (cf. Lk 24:4 and 23); as the story
          progresses, she then meets with Jesus, as do the women in Matt; she does not
          recognize him immediately, as was the case with the disciples on the road to
          Emmaus in Lk 24:13-33.

          Leonard Maluf
        • g
          I think the formulation of the Jews can best be understood from the standpoint of the Samaritans . In John, we know that Jesus is referred to as a
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 27, 2001
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            I think the formulation of "the Jews" can best be
            understood from the standpoint of "the Samaritans".

            In John, we know that Jesus is referred to as a
            Samaritan. And we know he spends quite a bit of
            his time recruiting members in as far away as Tyre
            (some manuscripts - Sidon as well). While he obviously
            spends some time in Jerusalem, it is not surprising
            to think that most of his "sinner" recruits are
            thought to be "sinners" because they were SAMARITANS.

            Certainly Josephus can vouch for the intense antipathy
            between "the Jews" and "the Samaritans". And it would
            not be unlikely that the generations of hatred between
            Christians and Jews found the first roots in the hatreds
            between Jews and Samaritans.

            Jesus's story of THE GOOD SAMARITAN (someone who is more
            concerned about righteousness than every rule of purity...
            hmmmm, someone amazingly like Jesus) could be about Jesus
            himself.

            I would think surmising the Samaritan ancestry of Jesus
            goes a long way to explaining what is all this "the Jews"
            talk! Paul, a Benjaminite, ALSO uses this phrase.

            George
          • Jack Kilmon
            ... From: g To: Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 2:34 PM Subject: [John_Lit] Further on
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 30, 2001
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              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "g" <george.x.brooks@...>
              To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 2:34 PM
              Subject: [John_Lit] Further on Nicodemus and "the Jews"


              > I think the formulation of "the Jews" can best be
              > understood from the standpoint of "the Samaritans".
              >
              > In John, we know that Jesus is referred to as a
              > Samaritan. And we know he spends quite a bit of
              > his time recruiting members in as far away as Tyre
              > (some manuscripts - Sidon as well). While he obviously
              > spends some time in Jerusalem, it is not surprising
              > to think that most of his "sinner" recruits are
              > thought to be "sinners" because they were SAMARITANS.
              >
              > Certainly Josephus can vouch for the intense antipathy
              > between "the Jews" and "the Samaritans". And it would
              > not be unlikely that the generations of hatred between
              > Christians and Jews found the first roots in the hatreds
              > between Jews and Samaritans.
              >
              > Jesus's story of THE GOOD SAMARITAN (someone who is more
              > concerned about righteousness than every rule of purity...
              > hmmmm, someone amazingly like Jesus) could be about Jesus
              > himself.
              >
              > I would think surmising the Samaritan ancestry of Jesus
              > goes a long way to explaining what is all this "the Jews"
              > talk! Paul, a Benjaminite, ALSO uses this phrase.

              Actually, the frequent use of "The Jews" in the NT texts should be correctly
              translated as "The Judeans," meaning the Temple cultus. In this light it is
              not
              necessary to make Jesus a Samaritan but just the Galilean he was. Galileans
              were looked down upon by Judeans almost as much as Samaritans.

              JK
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