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Martyrdom of John

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  • Emmanuel.Fritsch@ign.fr
    The yet quoted Boismard s book is probably the most precise overview of the John s martyrdom question in the last decades. He gives some references for the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2001
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      The yet quoted Boismard's book is probably the most precise
      overview of the John's martyrdom question in the last decades.
      He gives some references for the 1890-1920 period, when the
      question as been widely debated by scholars.

      All what I will say on the topic comes from Boismard.

      In his book, he provides an extensive examination of all kind
      of evidences provided a century ago, and join his own views.

      # If Mk 10:39 par. does not contain a certain vaticinium of the
      # martyrdom of the two sons of Zebedee, one cannot deduce from
      # it with certainty that the early Church had any knowledge of
      # the violent death, of the Apostle John at an early date.

      Boismard analyses ancient liturgies and homelies,
      arguing that "cup" was allways understand as "martyrdom".
      In the same works, James and John have often been associated
      in the martyrdom.

      Thus, from the cup notation and other evidences, we may deduce
      with a high degree of confidence that the early church honoured
      and feasted John as a martyr.

      # His
      # brother James soon fell victim to King Herod Agrippa I (A. D. 44).

      Some Ethiopian manuscripts wear a strange reading, replacing
      James by John as victim of Herod Agrippa. The confidence we
      may attach to this tradition is quite low, since the history
      of ethiopian manuscripts is hard to trace, but Boismard is
      higly interested with this tradition, since he estimates
      in a previous study leaded with A. Lamouille that these
      manuscripts were witnesses of the occidental tradition for
      the Acts. (reference : "Texte occidental des Actes des apôtres
      - reconstitution et réhabilitation" - Marie-Emile Boismard et
      Arnaud Lamouille - Recherches sur les civilisations, 1984)

      # But John was still alive, and "pillar" of the Church, when Paul
      # met the first Apostles in Jerusalem which can only have been at
      # the "Council of the Apostles" of Acts which must be dated about
      # 49. If John died a martyr's death, it would have had to be later
      # (at the hand of Jews); to connect it with the martyrdom of James
      # "the brother of the Lord", in 62, is an arbitrary procedure.

      "which must be dated about 49." Is it certain ? This argument
      is week, since it assumes the veracity of the Act indication,
      plus that modern datation of the council.

      What occurs with John after the death of his brother, according Act ?

      # Some ancient martyrologies or menologies are also invoked. The Breviarium
      # Syriacum (of A.D. 411) gives for 27 December: "John and James, Apostles, in
      # Jerusalem", and the Armenian calendar (probably earlier, third century): "St
      # James the Elder and St John the Evangeliist for 28 December.

      In fact, this has been aknowledged a century ago either by
      oponents to martydom. Their answer was arguing that St John
      reference in those martyrologies was corrupted from John the
      Baptiste toward the evangelist, and they had good arguments
      to support it.

      # Such notices vary in the different calendars, and they intend to
      # do is to fix the date for the liturgical remembrance of the saints
      # which is celebrated under various headings: not only martyrdom but
      # consecration as bishop, transfer of relics, etc.; feasts of different
      # saints were celebrated on the same day, and no further conclusions
      # are possible [Cf. Braun, pp. 381-5, appealing to H. Delehaye].

      What is forgiven here is that the post-Christmas sequence of
      saints were often early martyrs. For instance :
      26 dec => St Stephanos
      27 dec => St James & St John
      28 dec => St Peter & St Paul

      This is not due to random, and Boismard shows how each kind of saints
      was honoured at a given season : Prophets, bishops, virgins, etc.
      The Baptist was placed among the prophets.

      If placed in the early martyr sequence, John the evangelist
      should have been considered as a martyr.

      # In view of all this, the hypothesis of the martyrdom of
      # the Apostle John may be pigeon-holed without misgivings.

      According Boismard, even if it is difficult to place and date with
      precision the martyrdon of John, the earlier tradition of this
      martyrdom is so consistent that it should be taken into account.


      references :
      Cahiers de la revue biblique - 1996 - Gabalda, Paris.
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