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Re: Beloved disciple puzzle

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    ... Ramon, Thank you for your kind words. It s been already almost year and a half that I ve been working on ms Pepys pretty intensively, and it s been a very
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 10, 2001
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      On Thu, 9 Aug 2001, Ramon K. Jusino wrote:

      > Yuri:
      > I am responding to a message posted by you on June 21, 2001 (#1705).
      > First, thank you very much for your work with the Pepysian Gospel
      > Harmony. It is definitely an important document that belongs in the
      > library of every Johannine scholar. I do have some questions, however,
      > about your use of it regarding the Beloved Disciple mystery.


      Thank you for your kind words. It's been already almost year and a half
      that I've been working on ms Pepys pretty intensively, and it's been a
      very interesting project for me. I think this gospel will be much better
      known in the future, because it seems to afford many interesting and
      unique insights not only about Jn, but also about other canonicals. At
      this time, I'm completing a book that will include the translation of
      Pepys, as well as some commentary.

      > I have read several objections to your hypothesis on this list. I find
      > your motivational hypothesis to be very weak. That is -- your reasons
      > for believing that the Apostle John was changed into the anonymous BD
      > in the Fourth Gospel do not add up.

      Actually, since my first posting, and as a result of further discussion
      both on John-L, as well as on Loisy-L, some of my opinions in this area
      have changed already. Admittedly, the whole area is rather difficult and
      confusing, and I'm still trying to sort out some related issues. Also,
      meanwhile, reading Boismard and some others helped me to understand some
      of the background better. Still, my main thesis is not changed much, it's
      just that some of the details are.

      [omit my earlier statement of the issues]

      > Here are just a few questions about this:
      > 1. If, as you say, John was the BD and therefore the author of the
      > Fourth Gospel -- why would Irenaeus, et al., need to come up with a
      > "bold strategy" to simply tell the truth?

      Actually, I would not say that John was the author of the Fourth Gospel.
      Like other early gospels, Jn was likely originally an anonymous
      composition. Now I see early activity of John the author of the Revelation
      in Ephesus, as well as his fame, as important in eventually supplying both
      the name and the location for Jn. But neither is it likely that the author
      of the Revelation was also the author of Jn.

      As to Irenaeus, I now see his "bold strategy" primarily in reducing two
      Johns, as associated previously with Jn, to only one John, namely, John
      the Zebedee.

      > If John was named in the text as the primary witness/author of the
      > Gospel

      Yes, I still believe that, in pre-canonical Jn, "John" was likely named in
      the text as the primary witness/author of the Gospel.

      > -- why is the strategy to name him as the author so bold?

      See below for one such reason.

      > 2. Why would the martyrdom of John be a problem?

      Well, I think it is clear that this was a problem. Whether or not my
      solution is valid, still this fact seems to be clear, as Boismard also

      > If anything, martyrdom of the author would tend to bolster the stature
      > and credibility of the text. Are you saying that the early martyrdom
      > of John would make it difficult to establish the authorship of the
      > Fourth Gospel because of its late appearance in the church
      > communities?

      This is precisely what my answer would be. If John the Zebedee indeed was
      martyred very early, the attribution of Jn to him clearly could have been
      seen as problematic. I remind that, in my view, at the earlier stages, it
      was John the Elder who was widely seen as the author of Jn.

      > 3. How does changing John into the BD take the edge off the
      > controversy about attribution of Jn to John the Apostle?

      Rather, in my view, changing John into the BD was done primarily to take
      the edge off the controversy about the acceptance of Jn into the canon. On
      the other hand, clearly, it did not stand in the way of attribution of Jn
      to John the Apostle.

      > How do you figure that they had an easier time attributing the Gospel
      > to an anonymous mysterious figure rather than a well-known Apostle who
      > was a pillar within Jesus' inner circle?

      I see the addition of BD to Jn as primarily a distraction, that was meant
      to deflect the criticism of the gospel. And we do know that there was
      quite a lot of such criticism.

      > This "controversy" obviously didn't last long since the Gospel became
      > known as "the Gospel according to John" within a generation or two.
      > Yet, the Beloved Disciple remained in the text despite its universal
      > attribution to John.

      It is obvious that BD did not in any way prevent the attribution of Jn to
      John the Apostle.

      Now, let's look at possible reasons why "John" in an earlier version of Jn
      could have been replaced by BD. A number of arguments may be possible
      here, but the following one seems to be the simplest. Mt, Mk, and Lk are
      all, in essence, anonymous compositions. None of them say who wrote this
      or that gospel. No such attributions are present in their texts. So if an
      early version of Jn would have had such an attribution in its text, this
      would have clearly tended to privilege Jn in relation to the other
      gospels. And this could have created problems for the acceptance of Jn.
      Naturally there would have been objections in this regard from the
      adherents and sponsors of Mt, Mk, and Lk. So this seems to provide a good
      reason why "John" would have been replaced later with BD -- to bring Jn in
      line with Mt, Mk, and Lk in this area.

      Thus, essentially, BD was a distraction ensuring that Jn would be received
      into the canon. At the same time, this distraction did not prevent in any
      way the attribution of Jn to John, that was still maintained, obviously.

      Best wishes,


      Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

      Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority,
      it is time to reform -=O=- Mark Twain
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