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[John_Lit] Identifying the Beloved Disciple

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  • James McGrath
    Tom, Although it is an interesting hypothesis, it seems to me that, if one is going to set aside church tradition and attempt to identify the BD solely on the
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 3, 2001
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      Tom,

      Although it is an interesting hypothesis, it seems to me that, if one is
      going to set aside church tradition and attempt to identify the BD solely on
      the basis of internal evidence, then it is hard to avoid concluding that the
      first person called 'the one whom you love', i.e. Lazarus, is the Beloved
      Disciple. Of course, if tradition's weight is felt to counterbalance this,
      then one can argue the case that the author was John ben Zebadee. But if one
      sets that tradition aside, the author would seem to give as clear an
      identification of who the disciple is that Jesus loved as one could possible
      hope for. Any thoughts?

      James




      ___________________________________
      Dr. James F. McGrath
      Adjunct Professor of New Testament
      Alliance Theological Seminary
      93 Worth Street
      New York, NY 10013

      Adjunct Professor of New Testament
      Biblical Theological Seminary
      200 N. Main St.
      Hatfield, PA 19440

      ___________________________________
    • Thomas W Butler
      Dear James, The passage to which you may be referring is Jn. 11: 5, which reads Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus ... Please
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 5, 2001
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        Dear James,
        The passage to which you may be referring is Jn. 11: 5, which
        reads "Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and
        Lazarus ..." Please note that THREE people are named in this
        passage. The first two are females. Tradition has focused upon
        the third candidate (when this passage has been used to discern
        the identity of the BD), to the exclusion of the other two. I submit
        that scholarship can justify a hypothesis that conflicts with tradition,
        when it appears that previous scholars (those who have maintained
        the tradition) have overlooked an important piece of evidence like
        this.
        Note also that only one of the two females in this passage is named.
        The other is identified only as "her sister." This is similar to the
        Jn. 19: 25 passage in which one of the people at the foot of the
        cross is identified only as "his mother's sister." As I mentioned in
        the post to which you have responded, it is not clear whether this
        identifies a biological relationship or one that is defined as a
        religious
        designation. In both cases (11: 5 and 19: 25) there is support for
        the contention that this "sister's" name is Mary. My last post offers
        that support for the 19: 25 passage. In 11:1-2 and 12: 3 Mary of
        Bethany is clearly identified as the Mary in 11: 5.

        Yours in Christ's service,
        Tom Butler

        On Sat, 3 Nov 2001 22:28:35 -0500 "James McGrath"
        <jamesfrankmcgrath@...> writes:
        > Tom,
        >
        > Although it is an interesting hypothesis, it seems to me that, if
        > one is
        > going to set aside church tradition and attempt to identify the BD
        > solely on
        > the basis of internal evidence, then it is hard to avoid concluding
        > that the
        > first person called 'the one whom you love', i.e. Lazarus, is the
        > Beloved
        > Disciple. Of course, if tradition's weight is felt to counterbalance
        > this,
        > then one can argue the case that the author was John ben Zebadee.
        > But if one
        > sets that tradition aside, the author would seem to give as clear
        > an
        > identification of who the disciple is that Jesus loved as one could
        > possible
        > hope for. Any thoughts?
        >
        > James
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ___________________________________
        > Dr. James F. McGrath
        > Adjunct Professor of New Testament
        > Alliance Theological Seminary
        > 93 Worth Street
        > New York, NY 10013
        >
        > Adjunct Professor of New Testament
        > Biblical Theological Seminary
        > 200 N. Main St.
        > Hatfield, PA 19440
        >
        > ___________________________________
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • khs@picknowl.com.au
        Dear Tom, In this debate on the gender of the BD, it is not unreasonable to consider other references to the one who was clearly an intimate friend of Jesus.
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 5, 2001
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          Dear Tom,

          In this debate on the gender of the BD, it is not unreasonable to
          consider other references to the one who was clearly an intimate
          friend of Jesus.

          In 20:4 we have the BD out-running Peter to the tomb. This, of
          itself, does not demand a male - and I might be accused of
          being sexist if I say that I think it may, however, be an indication
          in that direction - but there are masculine terms attached, e.g.
          'the other disciple'.

          In 21:1f. the BD was amongst the group who went fishing (v.7). In
          v. 2 they appear to be a group of males, even the two un-named
          'others' (alloi) are, by intimation, male. Added to this, would it be
          appropriate for a woman to have been out on the boat all night
          with these men, at least one of whom was 'stripped (naked?) for
          work' (21:7).

          Just a thought.

          Kym Smith
          Adelaide
          South Australia
          khs@...
        • Thomas W Butler
          Dear Kym, I quite agree that it is reasonable to consider other references to the one who was clearly an intimate friend of Jesus. In fact, I would say that
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 8, 2001
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            Dear Kym,

            I quite agree that it is reasonable to consider other references to
            the one who was clearly an intimate friend of Jesus. In fact, I would
            say that it is necessary to consider all such references in order to test
            the theory.

            MAQHTHN appears in three passages (Jn. 19: 26; 21: 20 [the disciple];
            20: 2 [the other disciple]. All three references are to the beloved
            disciple.

            MAQHTHS appears in 12 passages, 8 of which (Jn. 18: 15 [another
            disciple]; 18: 16; 20: 3, 4 (which you mentioned), 8 [the other
            disciple];
            19: 27 [the disciple]; 21: 7 [that disciple] and 21: 23 [this disciple]
            are
            clearly indicating the beloved disciple, as shown by Raymond E. Brown.

            While this term in both forms is grammatically a male noun, it does
            not
            always refer only to males. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, in
            their Greek-English Lexicon of the NT based on Semantic Domains
            (NY: United Bible Societies), 1988, 1989, (36.38) observe:

            "Though in the NT MAQHTHS generally refers to men, it is neutral as to
            sex distinction, and thus in a few instances in the NT also includes
            women
            (as in Ac 6.1). In some languages it may be important to indicate
            clearly
            the sex distinction, and in those contexts in which the twelve disciples
            are
            being referred to, obviously the reference must be to men. However, when
            the wider group of disciples is referred to, then some indication should
            be
            introduced as to the fact that both men and women were involved."

            The issue thus focuses upon whether the BD is a member of the 12 or
            part
            of the larger group of disciples who followed Jesus and learned from him.
            The twelve are specifically mentioned only four times in the Fourth
            Gospel
            (three in one short passage: Jn. 6: 67, 70, 71, and one in Jn. 20: 24).
            One
            might argue (as I believe some have, though I cannot cite them) that
            these
            are not complimentary references to the twelve, since they imply
            criticisms
            of the twelve, which included Judas Iscariot and the doubter, Thomas.

            I have shown (Let Her Keep It, pp. 123-128) that the FG offers a
            definition
            of the term *disciple* that includes many more than 12 among the
            disciples,
            including both men and women. John the Baptist sets standards for
            disciples
            in Jn. 1: 24:

            "And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of
            God."

            The two criteria set down by this verse for discipleship are (1) that one
            has
            seen the Christ in Jesus and (2) that this same one has witnessed this
            truth
            to others. Following that definition, the number of disciples listed in
            the
            Gospel of John are innumerable and, as I have said, include both men and
            women.

            You mention Jn. 21 in which the disciples (all of whom that are named
            are male) decide to go fishing after the crucifixion and first
            resurrection
            appearance of Jesus. Though I agree with those who contend that this
            passage is an addendum to the gospel, probably written by an editor who
            is not the original source or author of the main text, it seems to me
            that
            this editor knows the identity of the BD. In fact, I suspect that it is
            this
            editor who has chosen to hide that identity from subsequent readers.

            You suggest that the BD could not have been a female disciple because
            those who go fishing are male and presumably had stripped as Peter did
            (21:7) to do their hard work. I agree that it is not likely that a
            female
            disciple would have accompanied these men, or if she had that even one
            of them would have been comfortable with stripping naked in her presence.

            However, that does not prove that the BD was not a female. There are
            two ways that this can be true. (1) 21: 4 indicates that Jesus stood on
            the
            beach at daybreak, but it does not indicate that Jesus stood alone. One
            of the things we can say about the BD is that this disciple was not only
            close to Jesus in a relational sense, but is also presented as being
            physically
            near to him (Jn. 13: 23; 18: 15-16; 19: 26), in fact the point is often
            made
            that the BD is closer to Jesus than Peter is, so, though the text does
            not
            specifically indicate it, the BD could be standing with or near Jesus.

            Just as Jesus is able to speak to the fishermen, so could the BD,
            revealing
            to them what they are at that point unable to see. As I indicated above,
            the
            first criteria for being a disciple is the ability to see the Christ in
            Jesus. The
            BD (whether one accepts my theory or not) is, in this passage, revealing
            the Christ to those who have been disciples, but are not seeing the
            Christ
            at that point. "... the disciples did not know that it was Jesus" (21:
            4).

            Clearly, though the BD is not listed as one among the fishermen in the

            boat (here I disagree with Charlesworth who suggests that, since Thomas
            IS in the boat, that supports the theory that the BD is Thomas), the BD
            IS PRESENT. That she was with the resurrected Jesus is one way that
            can be.

            (2) The second way this could be true is more mystical. That is to
            suggest
            that the Christ abides in the BD, so that, while the disciples in the
            boat did
            not at first recognize that the person who spoke to them from the shore
            was
            Jesus, the BD was able to reveal the Christ to them, because it was the
            Christ
            in the BD that spoke to them. Such a mystical interpretation is one that
            can
            be either accepted or not. I'll just leave it at that.

            Yours in Christ's service,
            Tom Butler

            On Tue, 06 Nov 2001 00:20:39 -0000 khs@... writes:
            > Dear Tom,
            >
            > In this debate on the gender of the BD, it is not unreasonable to
            > consider other references to the one who was clearly an intimate
            > friend of Jesus.
            >
            > In 20:4 we have the BD out-running Peter to the tomb. This, of
            > itself, does not demand a male - and I might be accused of
            > being sexist if I say that I think it may, however, be an indication
            >
            > in that direction - but there are masculine terms attached, e.g.
            > 'the other disciple'.
            >
            > In 21:1f. the BD was amongst the group who went fishing (v.7). In
            > v. 2 they appear to be a group of males, even the two un-named
            > 'others' (alloi) are, by intimation, male. Added to this, would it
            > be
            > appropriate for a woman to have been out on the boat all night
            > with these men, at least one of whom was 'stripped (naked?) for
            > work' (21:7).
            >
            > Just a thought.
            >
            > Kym Smith
            > Adelaide
            > South Australia
            > khs@...
            >
            >
            >
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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • khs@picknowl.com.au
            Dear Tom, By the definitions you gave, if I have read them properly, the masculine form of MAQHTHN can represent male and female disciples in the plural form.
            Message 5 of 5 , Nov 8, 2001
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              Dear Tom,

              By the definitions you gave, if I have read them properly, the
              masculine form of MAQHTHN can represent male and female
              disciples in the plural form. That does not seem to be a problem.
              However, to use the masculine form when speaking of a single
              disciple is, I would think, something else. Either we have a male
              disciple or, as you suggest, the author/s intentionally hid the fact
              that the BD was a woman. As we are dealing with those who are
              given the responsibility of proclaiming the truth, that makes little
              sense to me that they would do so, but I think you have already
              given your reasons why you consider they may have.

              I know that chapter 21 is considered by many to be a later
              addition, I think there is evidence to the contrary, however. I
              believe that 20:30-21:25 is a ten-part chiastic structure in which a
              (20:30) and b (20:31) parallel b' (21:24) and a' (21:25). The
              whole structure can be seen in Part Three of my book on the
              website mentioned in my post #2048. For 20:30-31 to be so
              linked with chapter 21 either means that those two verses are
              also part of the later addition or chapter 21 was part of the
              original. I guess it could mean that a later writer used the last
              two verses to build such a structure but that would only be so if
              that chiastic structure was unique in John. If I am right that the
              whole of John is made up of such structures, the last one being
              the 70th, then not only the structure itself but the complete
              number (i.e. 70) indicates that the last one was part of the whole.

              While I can see how you could manage to get your two
              interpretations concerning the BD in chapter 21, I think the clear
              understanding is that he was one of the six men on the boat.

              Sincerely,

              Kym Smith
              Adelaide
              South Australia
              khs@...
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