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Re: [John_Lit] Chronology

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  • Thomas W Butler
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2001
      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
      of sacrifice.

      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,
      Tom Butler

      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
      > themes?
      > 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
      > have
      > tried to 'harmonise' the four gospels without any success at all.
      > We
      > have even tried to suggest that different calendars were being used.
      > We
      > 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
      > to
      > construct a consistent chronology out of the synoptics, let alone
      > with
      > 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'
      > one.
      > 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
      > totally
      > silent while Jesus went on and on and on? Wasn't there dialogue?
      > Didn't
      > 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
      > repeated
      > teachings, bringing together what Jesus said on a number of
      > different
      > occasions as a reminder to the readers of the fundamental
      > principles
      > that Jesus was trying to inculcate into his followers.
      > Let me also point out that when we ignore the imperfect tenses in
      > Mark
      > we give the impression that Jesus said these things only the once.
      > Mark
      > 4:2 actually says, 'And he used to keep on teaching them many things
      > in
      > 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
      > good
      > texts add 'who is in heaven'); Pentecost occurs before the
      > ascension
      > (20:22-23).
      > There is no institution of the Lord's Supper at Jesus' last meal in
      > the
      > FG. But the eating of Jesus' body and drinking of his blood as a
      > symbol
      > of oneness with Jesus and each other is there in 6:53f.
      > I really believe we must stop concentrating so much on chronology
      > and
      > instead look at FG thematically. We must let these ancient authors
      > speak
      > 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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