Re: [John_Lit] Chronology
- Dear Ross Saunders,
I quite agree with your assertion that the Fourth Gospel does
not seem to be written in a chronological fashion, but I disagree
with your assumption that this is because the author(s) was (were)
story tellers instead of historians.
The FG is repleat with references to signs. It uses what I
call Mosaic oracles extensively because it is a midrash - like
document, using the language of the Pentateuch (more specifically
the exact Greek terms from the Septuagint version of the
Pentateuch) to tell the Jesus story. The order of the stories
told within the Johannine narrative have more to do with the
achievement of the theologically consistent objective of the
writer(s) than with the chronological accounting of Jesus'
ministry. That objective is to prove to Christian disciples
that Jesus systematically replaced every element of the Mosaic
system of worship: its festivals of sacrifice, the temple and all
of its components, and the priesthood.
In reference to Jn. 11: 2, where the story about Mary of
Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus is acknowledged before
it is told (Jn. 11: 55-12: 8), a significant sign is being offered
to the discerning reader: that the story of the raising of Lazarus
and the account of the anointing are linked together. In fact
it can be shown that these two stories are also linked to the
story of the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus that
occurs in Jn. 13.
These three stories comprise what I call the Ordination Trilogy
of the Gospel of John. They tell how Jesus systematically
prepared his disciples (focusing upon Mary and Martha of
Bethany in chapters 11 and 12) to become the new priests
in the new temple (his own body), authorizing them to perform
the new ritual of sacrifice (the Eucharist) in place of the festivals
I agree with you that we must study the FG as it is written,
not as we try to re-write it. You suggest that the order of the
text is determined thematically. I suggest that it is determined
theologically, and that the theology is developed according to
the pattern found in the Septuagint version of the Pentateuch.
In other words, the Greek language version of the Law is the
source book for the signs in the FG as well as the source for
the pattern of stories and lessons.
Yours in Christ's service,
On Sat, 30 Jun 2001 12:29:58 +1000 RHS <diadem@...> writes:
> Why do we assume that the long monologues in FG occur as presented
> without a break on the one occasion?
> Is it not the case that writers in the ancient world were not
> chronographers but story-tellers? Is it not the case that the
> author of FG was not putting together a chronology of the
> life and teachings of Jesus but rather interweaving several
> Surely John 11:2 'It was Mary who anointed the Lord with
> ointment...' is clear evidence that the author is not writing
> chronologically when the anointing by Mary does not happen
> until 12:3f?
> We in the West are generally obsessed with chronological time. We
> tried to 'harmonise' the four gospels without any success at all.
> have even tried to suggest that different calendars were being used.
> have failed to realise that a strict order of events was nowhere
> near as
> important to the ancient writers as it is to us. It is impossible
> construct a consistent chronology out of the synoptics, let alone
> the FG included!
> And for those who may fling Luke 1:3 at me, the translation
> 'orderly' is
> misleading. It is not a 'chronological' account but a 'meaningful'
> Luke is to give the meaning of the life and death of Jesus, not a
> chronological account.
> Can we really imagine that those Mediterranean men sat there
> silent while Jesus went on and on and on? Wasn't there dialogue?
> they keep interrupting and asking questions and arguing against him?
> Their almost complete silence is unimaginable!
> What we have, especially in FG, is the linking together of oft
> teachings, bringing together what Jesus said on a number of
> occasions as a reminder to the readers of the fundamental
> that Jesus was trying to inculcate into his followers.
> Let me also point out that when we ignore the imperfect tenses in
> we give the impression that Jesus said these things only the once.
> 4:2 actually says, 'And he used to keep on teaching them many things
> parables and in his teaching he used to keep saying...'. How often
> in FG
> did Jesus repeat himself? Many, many times I am sure!
> In FG the ascension occurs before the crucifixion (3:13, where very
> texts add 'who is in heaven'); Pentecost occurs before the
> There is no institution of the Lord's Supper at Jesus' last meal in
> FG. But the eating of Jesus' body and drinking of his blood as a
> of oneness with Jesus and each other is there in 6:53f.
> I really believe we must stop concentrating so much on chronology
> instead look at FG thematically. We must let these ancient authors
> to us in their way instead of trying to make them conform to our
> ways of
> telling stories.
> Anyway, that's how I've come to see it. How about you?
> Ross Saunders from SownUnder
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