Reply to Frank McCoy: Jn 19
- Dear Frank, you covered a great deal in your email, some of which is beyond
the scope of my own work, but I want to reply as best I can.
Frank. According to this line of thought, John 19:25-27 ought to be
interpreted in the light of Zech 6:12-13
Mary. Here I would agree, it's the line of argument I take. Zech 6:12 and
Isaiah 11:1 both influence the Johannine use of the title Jesus the
F. (which relates how the Branch (ZMH) will build the house or temple
of the Lord and be present with a priest)--with it further understood that
Zech 6:12-13, itself, ought to be interpreted in an Essenic fashion.
Mary. Here we differ. Zech 6 needs to be interpreted within its own
context and then within the context of its later use. Where it is used in
the DSS then read through that lens. But I would not transfer an 'Essenic'
lens to the Johannine text at all. If, as I think, John draws on Zechariah
& Isaiah in his Christology then it is a Johannine presentation of Jesus as
the NZR/ZMR of David.
Where I look to the DSS is to show that in first century judaism there
is a precedent for identifying the ZMR of Zechariah with the NZR of Isaiah
- that exegetical methods of this first century allowed this equivalence
of terms. So John is operating from the same exegetical milieu as the DSS
not that there is direct dependancy.
F. In this case, in 19:25-27, Jesus is the Essenes' Branch of David, the
BD is the Essenes' messianic priest and he is, as such, James the brother
of Jesus, and the mother of Jesus symbolizes the "temple" of the community
of the elect--the "temple", to use Christian phraseology, of the Church.
Mary. Here I would not agree with you that the Johannine text allows such
conclusions. There is no proven direct relationship between John and the
Also in my work I place more emphasis on the relationship formed between
the BD and the Mother rather than single out the Mother alone as symbol of
the new Temple/community.
F. WHAT, IN TERMS OF ESSENIC THOUGHT, ARE THE BRANCH, THE
TEMPLE, AND THE PRIEST IN ZECHARIAH 6:12-13?
Mary. These were not my questions though they would be appropriate to
study within the DSS.
F. APPLICATION TO JOHN 19:25-27
I propose the hypothesis that this suggested Essene-style
interpretation of the Branch, temple, and priest of Zech. 6:12-13 is
applicable to John 19:25-27.
Mary. Here again, this seems to imply direct influence across John and the
DSS. I do not think this has been proven. Rather, I speak of both groups
emerging from a similar Jewish milieu including exegetical methods.
My thesis was done without finding a DSS text to support my hypothesis but
at that time I argued from general rules of rabbinic exegesis that allowed
the substitution of equivalent terms. Only when the thesis was completed
and accepted did I discover a text from the DSS that actually showed this
substitution with Isaiah and Zechariah.
Dr. Mary Coloe
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
School of Theology