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RE: [John_Lit] Re: Question

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  • Victor Kalashnikov
    Dear Kym, Thank you for your response. Let me try to answer your arguments. ... The difference in the case of Lazarus is that the statement that Jesus loved
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 24, 2003
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      Dear Kym,

      Thank you for your response. Let me try to answer your arguments.

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: kymhsm <khs@...> [mailto:khs@...]
      > Sent: Monday, February 24, 2003 1:46 AM
      > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Question
      > Dear Victor,
      > In their message to Jesus, Lazarus is certainly described by his
      > sisters as "he whom you love" (11:3). This love was observed by
      > the witnesses to Lazarus' being raised to life (11:36). But Jesus'
      > relationship with Lazarus was not unique in the sense that it
      > seems it was with the Beloved Disciple. Jesus loved Lazarus as
      > he loved his sisters, Martha and Mary (11:5); he loved them as
      > he loved his disciples (13:1; 15:12).

      The difference in the case of Lazarus is that the statement that Jesus loved
      him is repeated three times. It is fair to count this repetition as an
      intentional emphasis. Moreover, it is significant that the statement is made
      by three different speakers (Mary, the author, and the crowd). It is as if
      the author is saying, "Look, Jesus' attitude toward Lazarus was special, and
      we have witnesses."

      > Unless we hold the idea that the Beloved Disciple is code for
      > someone whom the author of the Fourth Gospel, for whatever
      > reason, could not name (e.g. one of the Marys) ...

      It is easy to explain why the author is not named within the Lazarus
      hypothesis. Just imagine a declaration like, "Hey, I am Lazarus, the Beloved
      Disciple of the Lord, I wrote all this!" What would be your natural
      reaction? Mine would be, "I don't know if you are the 'beloved disciple',
      but you do have an attitude problem." My point is this: the author wanted to
      communicate that Jesus' attitude to him was special, but he did not want to
      sound presumptuous. This is why he avoided any direct statements regarding
      his identity, yet he gave the readers certain clues to figure it out by

      (The above argument is based on the assumption that Lazarus is a historical
      figure. But it is possible to rephrase it and apply to Lazarus as a literary
      figure as well.)

      > – even if true - could ever be finally resolved, there are some
      > factors which limit the group to whom the Beloved Disciple
      > belonged.
      > Firstly, he was present at the cross (19:26). This may have been
      > Lazarus but as that one took Jesus' mother to his own home,
      > tradition favours John the son of Zebedee.
      > Secondly, the Beloved Disciple was among the group that went
      > fishing in 21:2f – unless he appeared on the beach with Jesus,
      > but the failure of the author to mention that anyone was with
      > Jesus makes this unlikely. The group that went fishing consisted
      > of Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (i.e. James
      > and John) and two others of his disciples (21:2). Lazarus may
      > have been one of the `two others of his disciples' but on most
      > occasions in John `his..' or `the disciples' refer to those who
      > travelled with Jesus, particularly – though not exclusively - the
      > twelve (6:67,70,71; 20:24).

      In 1.35 "his disciples" refers to the disciples of John the Baptist. In
      19.38 we read of Joseph of Aremathea being a secret disciple, hence, it is
      not likely that he travelled with Jesus. Nicodemus might belong to the same
      category as Joseph. I suggest, then, that "the disciples" in John is
      somewhat broader than the group of those who travelled with Jesus. Lazarus
      can fit the category of "the disciples" quite naturally.

      > Thirdly, the Gospel of John was written by one who had
      > witnessed the events (21:24; cf 21:20-23). Depending on how
      > precise we want to be, Lazarus could not have witnessed the
      > discussions etc in 11:1-42. If Lazarus was based at Bethany and
      > did not travel with Jesus, then, according to 21:24, he could not
      > be the one who wrote the gospel and so could not be the
      > Beloved Disciple.

      On the other hand, the fact that Lazarus was based at Bethany can be a
      perfect explanation for why the gospel narrative is focused on the
      Jerusalem area, unlike the Synoptic gospels.

      Best regards,

      Victor M. Kalashnikov
      Odessa Theological Seminary, Ukraine
      Professor of NT Greek and Exegesis; editor
      E-mail: victor@...
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