Re: [John_Lit] Re: What did the BD believe (20:8)?
- In a message dated 11/6/2001 3:28:12 PM Eastern Standard Time,
<< Dear Leonard,
I am serious in arguing that the Beloved Disciple in Jn.
is a woman named Mary. This is not a joke. My agenda
is a scholarly one, not a means toward "doing violence
to exegesis" or advancing a contemporary PC agenda
or even "whatever.">>
This is good to hear, and I surely take your word for it.
<< I have been amused, as I suspect others have been,
by your response and the responses of others to your
response, but rest assured that I take your reply seriously.
I ask only that you give me the same courtesy. Clearly
you disagree with my thesis. Be assured that I have
expected disagreement. What I seek is serious dialogue
and discussion of my exegesis, which, of course, is much
more in depth than I have presented so far on this list.
As you may know, I have published my ideas and will
gladly provide a free copy of my book to any scholar who
will read it and provide a critique of it in any published
format, including this list (if that is permitted by the list
owner). I pray that those whose minds have been
closed to such ideas will consider the possibility that a
new approach to this sacred text might uncover some
new understandings that differ from established ones.>>
I doubt that my reason for resisting your view on the gender of the BD has
anything to do with its incongruity with tradition. I am quite used to the
phenomenon of scholarship in our field challenging established theological
and other ideological positions, and I can handle that -- in spite of a
slight instinctive inclination in favor of tradition. What I need is a bit of
initial plausibility in a proposal to justify even spending the time
attempting to follow an argument in its support. There are so many possible
avenues to pursue in NT scholarship and we have only a limited time on this
earth. If I were in temporary custody, supplied with nothing but your book
for my library, I would gladly spend otherwise wasted hours investigating
your proposal. In the absence of this happy eventuality, your courteous
response and offer may just be enough to substitute for the denied
incarceration and push me to inquire further into this question at some
A note of hope. I must admit something else, now that I think of it, which
might work in your favor. I myself have been known to propose an
interpretation of a Gospel passage that is low on initial plausibility, but
that I believe I have been able to support with an impressive number of
converging exegetical arguments. See my "The Least Among All of You is the
Great One: Lk 9:46-48 in the Light of the Two Gospel Hypothesis", in
"Imaginer la theologie catholique", Studia Anselmiana 129, Rome 2000,
543-562, where I argue that the text intends to allude to Paul as the least
of all the apostles -- who (for Luke) is the great one.
- Dear Paul,
I'm still trying to catch up on previous e-mails.
On Fri, 7 Dec 2001 "Paul Schmehl" <p.l.schmehl@...> wrote:
> I'm afraid I'm not following you here. First let's look at what
> the text does not say.
> 1) It does not say that Peter did not believe.
Obviously I inferred that from the contrast between 20: 6 where
Simon Peter went in and saw, while in 20: 8 the "other disciple"
who reached the tomb first (the BD) also went in, and saw and
believed. The parallel structure in those two verses seems to be
suggesting that there is a contrast between how Simon Peter and
the BD responded to what they saw.
We are told in 20: 9 that neither of them understood the scripture
that explained the meaning of what they were seeing - that Jesus
must rise from the dead. I take that to mean that neither of them
was expecting the resurrection based upon their knowledge of
the scriptures. ISTM that it can be inferred that the identification
of those scriptures and the declaration that what Peter and the BD
saw was confirmation of the resurrection came after this event.
For the BD this look into the empty tomb generated belief, for
Peter we are at least not told that it generated belief.
I'm just pointing out that the hair I'm splitting here was split by
the way the text was written.
> 2) It does not say that the BD believed *until* (s)he went into
> the tomb
Are you suggesting that something I wrote indicates that the BD
stopped believing after (s)he went into the tomb? If I said any
thing to suggest that, I must have said what I meant poorly. I
have no intention of saying that the event stopped her believing.
If you mean that the text does not say that the BD believed
*before* (s)he went into the tomb, my reply would have to
be much longer, since I have made an extensive exegesis of
Jn. 11, 12 and 13 that suggests otherwise.
> 3) It does not say that the BD "understood more fully what the
> meaning of Jesus' ministry was than Peter did.
That point is made in the way Jesus interacts with each of them.
I've already pointed out the contrast between 12: 7 and 13: 8.
In 12: 7 Jesus is responding to Judas, not Peter, but he is defending
the anointing ritual performed by Mary of Bethany. In 13: 8 Jesus
is clearly rebukes Peter for not submitting to the footwashing ritual
that Jesus is performing.
Consider also 21: 20-21 in contrast to 21: 22. Peter is presented
as concerned about what to do about the BD. There is something
about the BD that bothers Peter. Could it be that the ritual that
Jesus has just completed -Do you love me / Feed my sheep- gives
Peter a different status among the disciples than before, one that
may appear to be in conflict with the status that Jesus has previously
given to Mary of Bethany, the BD, in 12: 7? (Again, my exegesis
of 11: 55- 12: 8 is much longer than I'm presenting here.)
> 4) It does not say whether Peter and the BD were in the tomb
> at the same time.
No, it says in 20: 6 that Simon Peter went into the tomb, then in
20: 8 it says that the other disciple also went in. In 20: 10 both
of them are described as returning to their homes (NRSV). The
Greek is more vague than that. It simply says that the disciples
went off again (toward their own? toward the other disciples?)
(APHLQON OUN PALIN PROS AUTOUS OI MAQHTAI).
Again, the impression is that first Peter entered, then the BD
entered, then both of them left.
> 5) It does not say whether Peter and the BD discussed what
> they saw.
Agreed. I can't imagine them not talking about it with each other
and everyone else they encountered, especially other disciples,
but you are right. The text does not say that they discussed what
they saw with each other.
> What the text *does* say is that:
> 1) Peter and the BD ran together
> 2) The BD arrived at the tomb first and looked in
> 3) The BD went in to the tomb after Peter did
> 4) *After* entering the tomb, the BD "saw and believed"
The word *after* is not used. The belief of the BD is
reported after the reader is told that the BD saw the same
things that Peter saw. We do not know from the text when
that belief began.
> I'm not arguing that the BD *is* John, mind you, but I am
> curious to hear your response to the question - why is John
> never mentioned in the FG?
"John" IS mentioned prominently in the FG. John the Baptist.
> I'm not particularly attached to any of these theories, mind you,
> I'm simply offering what appear to me to be logical alternatives
> to your conclusion that the BD *must* have been a woman and
> the phrase "BD" was used to "conceal" or "hide" the identity of
> the BD for fear that the book would be rejected as heretical.
> There *are* other equally logical reasons for the use of the term
> BD, some of which make a good deal of sense.
Paul, I appreciate your efforts to articulate the kind of assumptions
that may well have been used when interpreting the Fourth Gospel
throughout Christian history. To advance a new idea, one must be
able to address such assumptions. I cannot claim to have disproved
those assumptions. I hope that I have offered replies that suggest
that the conclusions I have drawn from studying the text are at least
as logical and appropriate as those that other scholars have long
assumed were the correct ones.
Yours in Christ's service,