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Re: [John_Lit] Identifying the Beloved Disciple

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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