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RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community

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  • Matson, Mark (Academic)
    As an addendum to Bob MacDonald s note, let me add on additional book that raises questions about gospel communities: Bauckham s Gospels for All Christians
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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      As an addendum to Bob MacDonald's note, let me add on additional book
      that raises questions about gospel communities: Bauckham's "Gospels for
      All Christians" which argues that the gospels were aimed at general
      audiences and widely distributed.

      I am interested in this whole question of the Johannine community, and a
      bit of a skeptic. It seems to me that a significant distinction needs
      to be made between the idea of a community influencing the theological
      perspective of a gospel and the quite separate idea that a gospel is
      addressed to a particular community. The former idea is easier, in my
      mind, to accept than the latter. I can see certain elements of a unique
      perspective toward Jesus having arisen within a particular interpretive
      community, and these then being reflected in the gospel. That almost
      goes without saying in any writing -- an author invariably reflects a
      way of talking/thinking that has been formative in her/his background.
      Even if Gjohn was written by a disciple (possible, but I wouldn't want
      to stake too much on this), the way of processing the "Christ event"
      would have been influenced by countless hours/months of discussion that
      would be shaped by others in an interpretive community. But that is not
      the same as to say that the gospel was shaped in and FOR a particular
      community without regard to a possible wider audience.

      With respect to John, one has to ask what the rhetoric of the gospel is.
      Is it really just "insider" language that is meant to either (a)
      encourage already existing ideas, or (b) react against a false ideology
      (like the letters of John)? When I read John, I don't see either of
      these. I actually think that the tone of the rhetoric is more broad.
      That is to say that the author seems to be really trying to engender
      belief in Jesus as the Christ. Try as I may, Jn 20:30-31 just does not
      really seem to be suggesting that the gospel is written to "strengthen
      belief" (whether pisteuw is in the aorist or the present tense).
      Moreover, the whole approach of multiple signs, the increasing
      opposition to Jesus, and the various discourses of Jesus (often in
      reaction to signs or opposition) seem to tell a story which reveals
      Jesus in the course of the narrative as the Christ for new listeners.
      IT just does not have the feel of purely insider language. It feels to
      me more like a concerted effort to argue, within a Jewish context, that
      this man Jesus was really the Christ. I would welcome a further
      discussion about this.

      As a final note, I was just speaking with students last evening in the
      opening session of a course on the gospel of John. A comment was made
      that the 4th gospel was the best document to use in evangelism, which I
      guess is "common wisdom." But why would this be, even today, if the
      rhetoric was primarily aimed at "believers" as opposed to those who are
      outside the faith. In some sense does not its continued use as an
      evangelistic document perhaps betray its essential purpose?

      At any rate, I think this whole issue really warrants a fuller
      discussion. And I think John Noble for bringing that up.

      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean
      Milligan College
      http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


      > Bob MacDonald wrote:

      > I am intrigued by the deliberate tone of your criticism of
      > the Community concept. At least two books I have read
      > recently have severely critiqued this concept as circular reasoning.
      >
      > Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, Martin
      > Hengel The Origins of Mark, The Markan Community in Current
      > Debate, Dwight N. Peterson
      >
      > While there is a reality to the stimulus of community in
      > writing, nonetheless, there is no substitute for the writing
      > itself by a single mind based on whatever sources are
      > available and digested.
      >
    • Moloney, Francis J
      The question of the Johannine community is certainly up front again, and rightly so. I wish to share an experience. I once taught a course on the Gospel of
      Message 2 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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        The question of the Johannine community is certainly "up front" again, and rightly so.

        I wish to share an experience. I once taught a course on the Gospel of John to 120 African women. As I spoke energetically of light and darkness, acceptance or refusal of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God as the ONLY way to life, etc. ... they wondered about centuries of African peoples - their own parents and elders for many of them - to whom none of this made any sense. It was at that moment that I could see that one had to be at least somewhat "inside" to be touched by the Gospel of John. So I talked to them about Jesus ... but not the Johannine Jesus.

        For what it is worth.

        Francis J. Moloney, SDB



        -----Original Message-----
        From: Matson, Mark (Academic) [mailto:MAMatson@...]
        Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 10:47 AM
        To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


        As an addendum to Bob MacDonald's note, let me add on additional book
        that raises questions about gospel communities: Bauckham's "Gospels for
        All Christians" which argues that the gospels were aimed at general
        audiences and widely distributed.

        I am interested in this whole question of the Johannine community, and a
        bit of a skeptic. It seems to me that a significant distinction needs
        to be made between the idea of a community influencing the theological
        perspective of a gospel and the quite separate idea that a gospel is
        addressed to a particular community. The former idea is easier, in my
        mind, to accept than the latter. I can see certain elements of a unique
        perspective toward Jesus having arisen within a particular interpretive
        community, and these then being reflected in the gospel. That almost
        goes without saying in any writing -- an author invariably reflects a
        way of talking/thinking that has been formative in her/his background.
        Even if Gjohn was written by a disciple (possible, but I wouldn't want
        to stake too much on this), the way of processing the "Christ event"
        would have been influenced by countless hours/months of discussion that
        would be shaped by others in an interpretive community. But that is not
        the same as to say that the gospel was shaped in and FOR a particular
        community without regard to a possible wider audience.

        With respect to John, one has to ask what the rhetoric of the gospel is.
        Is it really just "insider" language that is meant to either (a)
        encourage already existing ideas, or (b) react against a false ideology
        (like the letters of John)? When I read John, I don't see either of
        these. I actually think that the tone of the rhetoric is more broad.
        That is to say that the author seems to be really trying to engender
        belief in Jesus as the Christ. Try as I may, Jn 20:30-31 just does not
        really seem to be suggesting that the gospel is written to "strengthen
        belief" (whether pisteuw is in the aorist or the present tense).
        Moreover, the whole approach of multiple signs, the increasing
        opposition to Jesus, and the various discourses of Jesus (often in
        reaction to signs or opposition) seem to tell a story which reveals
        Jesus in the course of the narrative as the Christ for new listeners.
        IT just does not have the feel of purely insider language. It feels to
        me more like a concerted effort to argue, within a Jewish context, that
        this man Jesus was really the Christ. I would welcome a further
        discussion about this.

        As a final note, I was just speaking with students last evening in the
        opening session of a course on the gospel of John. A comment was made
        that the 4th gospel was the best document to use in evangelism, which I
        guess is "common wisdom." But why would this be, even today, if the
        rhetoric was primarily aimed at "believers" as opposed to those who are
        outside the faith. In some sense does not its continued use as an
        evangelistic document perhaps betray its essential purpose?

        At any rate, I think this whole issue really warrants a fuller
        discussion. And I think John Noble for bringing that up.

        Mark A. Matson
        Academic Dean
        Milligan College
        http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


        > Bob MacDonald wrote:

        > I am intrigued by the deliberate tone of your criticism of
        > the Community concept. At least two books I have read
        > recently have severely critiqued this concept as circular reasoning.
        >
        > Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, Martin
        > Hengel The Origins of Mark, The Markan Community in Current
        > Debate, Dwight N. Peterson
        >
        > While there is a reality to the stimulus of community in
        > writing, nonetheless, there is no substitute for the writing
        > itself by a single mind based on whatever sources are
        > available and digested.
        >

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      • McGrath, James
        Hello everyone! A couple of quick points. First, to start with Mark s last question, I think one reason that John s Gospel is popular in evangelism is that it
        Message 3 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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          Hello everyone! A couple of quick points. First, to start with Mark's
          last question, I think one reason that John's Gospel is popular in
          evangelism is that it has an 'apologetic' thrust and/or aim. This does
          not mean, however, that its arguments would have necessarily been
          convincing or even intelligible to outsiders, although I happen to
          expect that they were to at least some extent. Think of contemporary
          apologists like Josh McDowell. Who reads his books? Mostly (probably
          almost exclusively) those who are already committed Christians. But they
          then recycle his arguments in their debates and discussions with others.
          I suspect exactly the same happened with John's Gospel, and it seems
          quite likely that John expected what he wrote to be put to this sort of
          use. The main readers would have been believers, but they would have
          echoed the dialogues between Jesus and 'the Jews' in their own
          evangelism and debates.

          In speaking about a 'Johannine Community', there are probably 'hard' and
          'soft' versions of this hypothesis. I am quite skeptical as to whether
          one can read John's Gospel as a thinly veiled history of the community.
          But I do think that anyone who has written will know that one writes
          having been shaped by particular communities and experiences. This
          doesn't mean that no one else will ever read your book, but certainly
          one can tell a lot about you by reading a book you wrote. In this sense,
          looking to reconstruct the author's context and intended readership
          seems a worthwhile enterprise. It may be a futile one, but still
          worthwhile!

          As a footnote, in discussing this once with Richard Bauckham, I remember
          him pointing out that he hardly ever writes with his own students in
          mind. If I were to write a textbook, I would certainly consciously shape
          the book according to my own classroom experiences. John may or may not
          have done this. But even if he intended his book to be a 'Gospel for all
          Christians', would it still not be quite likely that John would reflect
          his background and context even inadvertantly? Like a professor who is a
          post-fundamentalist talking about the Book of Revelation in class and
          finding that the type of interpretation espoused by Hal Lindsay is
          completely foreign to them. John may have written in response to issues
          that were not really the ones his readers or his opponents felt were
          most important. But those are questions we will probably never be able
          to answer!

          Sorry for being so long-winded, although those of you who read this far
          are presumably those who mind the least!

          James


          *****************************
          Dr. James F. McGrath
          Assistant Professor of Religion
          Butler University, Indianapolis
          http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/
          *****************************



          -----Original Message-----
          From: Matson, Mark (Academic) [mailto:MAMatson@...]
          Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 9:47 AM
          To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


          As an addendum to Bob MacDonald's note, let me add on additional book
          that raises questions about gospel communities: Bauckham's "Gospels for
          All Christians" which argues that the gospels were aimed at general
          audiences and widely distributed.

          I am interested in this whole question of the Johannine community, and a
          bit of a skeptic. It seems to me that a significant distinction needs
          to be made between the idea of a community influencing the theological
          perspective of a gospel and the quite separate idea that a gospel is
          addressed to a particular community. The former idea is easier, in my
          mind, to accept than the latter. I can see certain elements of a unique
          perspective toward Jesus having arisen within a particular interpretive
          community, and these then being reflected in the gospel. That almost
          goes without saying in any writing -- an author invariably reflects a
          way of talking/thinking that has been formative in her/his background.
          Even if Gjohn was written by a disciple (possible, but I wouldn't want
          to stake too much on this), the way of processing the "Christ event"
          would have been influenced by countless hours/months of discussion that
          would be shaped by others in an interpretive community. But that is not
          the same as to say that the gospel was shaped in and FOR a particular
          community without regard to a possible wider audience.

          With respect to John, one has to ask what the rhetoric of the gospel is.
          Is it really just "insider" language that is meant to either (a)
          encourage already existing ideas, or (b) react against a false ideology
          (like the letters of John)? When I read John, I don't see either of
          these. I actually think that the tone of the rhetoric is more broad.
          That is to say that the author seems to be really trying to engender
          belief in Jesus as the Christ. Try as I may, Jn 20:30-31 just does not
          really seem to be suggesting that the gospel is written to "strengthen
          belief" (whether pisteuw is in the aorist or the present tense).
          Moreover, the whole approach of multiple signs, the increasing
          opposition to Jesus, and the various discourses of Jesus (often in
          reaction to signs or opposition) seem to tell a story which reveals
          Jesus in the course of the narrative as the Christ for new listeners. IT
          just does not have the feel of purely insider language. It feels to me
          more like a concerted effort to argue, within a Jewish context, that
          this man Jesus was really the Christ. I would welcome a further
          discussion about this.

          As a final note, I was just speaking with students last evening in the
          opening session of a course on the gospel of John. A comment was made
          that the 4th gospel was the best document to use in evangelism, which I
          guess is "common wisdom." But why would this be, even today, if the
          rhetoric was primarily aimed at "believers" as opposed to those who are
          outside the faith. In some sense does not its continued use as an
          evangelistic document perhaps betray its essential purpose?

          At any rate, I think this whole issue really warrants a fuller
          discussion. And I think John Noble for bringing that up.

          Mark A. Matson
          Academic Dean
          Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
        • John Lupia
          ... Dear Fr. Francis: Your extistnsial experience gives the insight that Hellenistic culture is the idiom of the Gospel(s). Logically, this same insight
          Message 4 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            --- "Moloney, Francis J" <moloney@...> wrote:
            > The question of the Johannine community is certainly
            > "up front" again, and rightly so.
            >
            > I wish to share an experience. I once taught a
            > course on the Gospel of John to 120 African women.
            > As I spoke energetically of light and darkness,
            > acceptance or refusal of Jesus as the Christ and Son
            > of God as the ONLY way to life, etc. ... they
            > wondered about centuries of African peoples - their
            > own parents and elders for many of them - to whom
            > none of this made any sense. It was at that moment
            > that I could see that one had to be at least
            > somewhat "inside" to be touched by the Gospel of
            > John. So I talked to them about Jesus ... but not
            > the Johannine Jesus.
            >
            > For what it is worth.
            >
            > Francis J. Moloney, SDB
            >


            Dear Fr. Francis:

            Your extistnsial experience gives the insight that
            Hellenistic culture is the idiom of the Gospel(s).
            Logically, this same insight reflects one Church in a
            Hellenistic world for which it wrote four Gospels at
            various times to address specific issues in one
            coherent ecclesiastical language expressed uniquely by
            four authors selected by the bishops. The chronology
            of the Gospels can be discerned by looking at what
            each addresses via the specific language and
            rhetorical style to accomplish this.

            john

            =====
            John N. Lupia, III
            Toms River and Whiting, New Jersey 08757 and 08759 USA
            Phone: (732) 716-1857
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/
            God Bless America

            __________________________________
            Do you Yahoo!?
            Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software
            http://sitebuilder.yahoo.com
          • Paul Anderson
            Excellent points, James. While it is weak to put too hard a definition on what a community might have been like (most ones I know are permeable, even when
            Message 5 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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              Excellent points, James. While it is weak to put too hard a definition on what a community might have been like (most ones I know are permeable, even when they try not to be), this is not to say that a particular community was the audience. So I like Bauckham's approach--it takes further Kaesemann's good points about a leader influencing the center, even from the edge. What I'm also not convinced about is the degree to which the Johannine leadership was on the edge rather than closer to the center.

              Later,

              Paul Anderson

              -----Original Message-----
              From: McGrath, James [mailto:jfmcgrat@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 8:35 AM
              To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


              Hello everyone! A couple of quick points. First, to start with Mark's
              last question, I think one reason that John's Gospel is popular in
              evangelism is that it has an 'apologetic' thrust and/or aim. This does
              not mean, however, that its arguments would have necessarily been
              convincing or even intelligible to outsiders, although I happen to
              expect that they were to at least some extent. Think of contemporary
              apologists like Josh McDowell. Who reads his books? Mostly (probably
              almost exclusively) those who are already committed Christians. But they
              then recycle his arguments in their debates and discussions with others.
              I suspect exactly the same happened with John's Gospel, and it seems
              quite likely that John expected what he wrote to be put to this sort of
              use. The main readers would have been believers, but they would have
              echoed the dialogues between Jesus and 'the Jews' in their own
              evangelism and debates.

              In speaking about a 'Johannine Community', there are probably 'hard' and
              'soft' versions of this hypothesis. I am quite skeptical as to whether
              one can read John's Gospel as a thinly veiled history of the community.
              But I do think that anyone who has written will know that one writes
              having been shaped by particular communities and experiences. This
              doesn't mean that no one else will ever read your book, but certainly
              one can tell a lot about you by reading a book you wrote. In this sense,
              looking to reconstruct the author's context and intended readership
              seems a worthwhile enterprise. It may be a futile one, but still
              worthwhile!

              As a footnote, in discussing this once with Richard Bauckham, I remember
              him pointing out that he hardly ever writes with his own students in
              mind. If I were to write a textbook, I would certainly consciously shape
              the book according to my own classroom experiences. John may or may not
              have done this. But even if he intended his book to be a 'Gospel for all
              Christians', would it still not be quite likely that John would reflect
              his background and context even inadvertantly? Like a professor who is a
              post-fundamentalist talking about the Book of Revelation in class and
              finding that the type of interpretation espoused by Hal Lindsay is
              completely foreign to them. John may have written in response to issues
              that were not really the ones his readers or his opponents felt were
              most important. But those are questions we will probably never be able
              to answer!

              Sorry for being so long-winded, although those of you who read this far
              are presumably those who mind the least!

              James


              *****************************
              Dr. James F. McGrath
              Assistant Professor of Religion
              Butler University, Indianapolis
              http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/
              *****************************



              -----Original Message-----
              From: Matson, Mark (Academic) [mailto:MAMatson@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 9:47 AM
              To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


              As an addendum to Bob MacDonald's note, let me add on additional book
              that raises questions about gospel communities: Bauckham's "Gospels for
              All Christians" which argues that the gospels were aimed at general
              audiences and widely distributed.

              I am interested in this whole question of the Johannine community, and a
              bit of a skeptic. It seems to me that a significant distinction needs
              to be made between the idea of a community influencing the theological
              perspective of a gospel and the quite separate idea that a gospel is
              addressed to a particular community. The former idea is easier, in my
              mind, to accept than the latter. I can see certain elements of a unique
              perspective toward Jesus having arisen within a particular interpretive
              community, and these then being reflected in the gospel. That almost
              goes without saying in any writing -- an author invariably reflects a
              way of talking/thinking that has been formative in her/his background.
              Even if Gjohn was written by a disciple (possible, but I wouldn't want
              to stake too much on this), the way of processing the "Christ event"
              would have been influenced by countless hours/months of discussion that
              would be shaped by others in an interpretive community. But that is not
              the same as to say that the gospel was shaped in and FOR a particular
              community without regard to a possible wider audience.

              With respect to John, one has to ask what the rhetoric of the gospel is.
              Is it really just "insider" language that is meant to either (a)
              encourage already existing ideas, or (b) react against a false ideology
              (like the letters of John)? When I read John, I don't see either of
              these. I actually think that the tone of the rhetoric is more broad.
              That is to say that the author seems to be really trying to engender
              belief in Jesus as the Christ. Try as I may, Jn 20:30-31 just does not
              really seem to be suggesting that the gospel is written to "strengthen
              belief" (whether pisteuw is in the aorist or the present tense).
              Moreover, the whole approach of multiple signs, the increasing
              opposition to Jesus, and the various discourses of Jesus (often in
              reaction to signs or opposition) seem to tell a story which reveals
              Jesus in the course of the narrative as the Christ for new listeners. IT
              just does not have the feel of purely insider language. It feels to me
              more like a concerted effort to argue, within a Jewish context, that
              this man Jesus was really the Christ. I would welcome a further
              discussion about this.

              As a final note, I was just speaking with students last evening in the
              opening session of a course on the gospel of John. A comment was made
              that the 4th gospel was the best document to use in evangelism, which I
              guess is "common wisdom." But why would this be, even today, if the
              rhetoric was primarily aimed at "believers" as opposed to those who are
              outside the faith. In some sense does not its continued use as an
              evangelistic document perhaps betray its essential purpose?

              At any rate, I think this whole issue really warrants a fuller
              discussion. And I think John Noble for bringing that up.

              Mark A. Matson
              Academic Dean
              Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


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            • Big_Mart_98
              ... This encapsulates the Christian problem. Though Christos is a translation of Moshiach , it does not mean the same thing at all. The Christian Christ is
              Message 6 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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                > Dear Fr. Francis:
                >
                > Your extistnsial experience gives the insight that
                > Hellenistic culture is the idiom of the Gospel(s).
                > Logically, this same insight reflects one Church in a
                > Hellenistic world for which it wrote four Gospels at
                > various times to address specific issues in one
                > coherent ecclesiastical language expressed uniquely by
                > four authors selected by the bishops. The chronology
                > of the Gospels can be discerned by looking at what
                > each addresses via the specific language and
                > rhetorical style to accomplish this.
                >
                > john
                >
                This encapsulates the Christian problem. Though "Christos" is a
                translation of "Moshiach", it does not mean the same thing at all.
                The Christian Christ is Hellenistic and, I think, Neoplatonic, though
                I have reached the limit of my knowledge here. The Messiah, still
                expected, will be an ordinary man who gains the title for his
                achievements. The title was held by many Jewish leaders in the
                post-Alexandrine period, eg the Maccabees.

                Martin Edwards, BA(UEA), PGCE(Hull), RT(England and Wales). No
                current institution.
              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                ... Thanks, James for the comments. BTW, for those on the list, James has a really excellent book out there, John s Apologetic Christology in the SNTS
                Message 7 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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                  McGrath, James [mailto:jfmcgrat@...] wrote:
                  >
                  > Hello everyone! A couple of quick points. First, to start
                  > with Mark's last question, I think one reason that John's
                  > Gospel is popular in evangelism is that it has an
                  > 'apologetic' thrust and/or aim. This does not mean, however,
                  > that its arguments would have necessarily been convincing or
                  > even intelligible to outsiders, although I happen to expect
                  > that they were to at least some extent. Think of contemporary
                  > apologists like Josh McDowell. Who reads his books? Mostly
                  > (probably almost exclusively) those who are already committed
                  > Christians. But they then recycle his arguments in their
                  > debates and discussions with others. I suspect exactly the
                  > same happened with John's Gospel, and it seems quite likely
                  > that John expected what he wrote to be put to this sort of
                  > use. The main readers would have been believers, but they
                  > would have echoed the dialogues between Jesus and 'the Jews'
                  > in their own evangelism and debates.

                  Thanks, James for the comments. BTW, for those on the list, James has a
                  really excellent book out there, "John's Apologetic Christology" in the
                  SNTS Monographs (Cambridge). I think (as James knows) that this is
                  really a fine book.

                  But I wonder whether the apologetic nature of John's gospel necessarily
                  has to work "inside" the Johannine community. I think you make the
                  point in your book that much of the apologetic argumentation is with
                  "opponents" of the johannine way of conceiving of Jesus. Given that much
                  of that issue deals with Jesus' relationship with God, it seems
                  reasonable to assume that this might have taken place in a milieu where
                  the early church (Johannine or otherwise) is still in real dialogue with
                  Judaism -- before there was a distinctive difference. So such issues of
                  how Jesus could be a true agent of God, and at times be identified with
                  that God, are being struggled with. In this context, isn't the audience
                  almost by definition "not Johannine"? That is, the apologetic nature is
                  external and perhaps even "evangelistic".

                  I guess when I read your book I could see well how the major thrust even
                  allowed for a non-Johannine community audience as the main audience.
                  And I guess apologetics and evangelism aren't really at polar extremes.


                  Or am I misreading you?

                  > In speaking about a 'Johannine Community', there are probably
                  > 'hard' and 'soft' versions of this hypothesis. I am quite
                  > skeptical as to whether one can read John's Gospel as a
                  > thinly veiled history of the community. But I do think that
                  > anyone who has written will know that one writes having been
                  > shaped by particular communities and experiences. This
                  > doesn't mean that no one else will ever read your book, but
                  > certainly one can tell a lot about you by reading a book you
                  > wrote. In this sense, looking to reconstruct the author's
                  > context and intended readership seems a worthwhile
                  > enterprise. It may be a futile one, but still worthwhile!

                  Yes, I think this is much of my point in saying that an author is
                  undoubtedly influenced by the context within which he or she
                  lives/thinks. But that is a much different point than saying that the
                  author then writes TO that community and FOR it. I see these as very
                  different issues which are very often conflated in the discussion.

                  mark

                  Mark A. Matson
                  Academic Dean
                  Milligan College
                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                  ... Point well made. But I wonder, does this framework still demand a Johannine audience (e.g. the Johannine community), or rather an audience that was
                  Message 8 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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                    > Francis J. Moloney wrote:

                    > I wish to share an experience. I once taught a course on the
                    > Gospel of John to 120 African women. As I spoke
                    > energetically of light and darkness, acceptance or refusal of
                    > Jesus as the Christ and Son of God as the ONLY way to life,
                    > etc. ... they wondered about centuries of African peoples -
                    > their own parents and elders for many of them - to whom none
                    > of this made any sense. It was at that moment that I could
                    > see that one had to be at least somewhat "inside" to be
                    > touched by the Gospel of John. So I talked to them about
                    > Jesus ... but not the Johannine Jesus.

                    Point well made. But I wonder, does this framework still demand a
                    "Johannine" audience (e.g. the Johannine community), or rather an
                    audience that was dealing with similar issues. I guess I could easily
                    conceptualize here an audience that was Jewish and/or Jewish-Christian
                    (if indeed it is appropriate to yet speak of these distinctions at the
                    time this was written). In this perspective, such dualistic language
                    and exclusivist claims may well be part of the jockying with a group
                    that is external to the author's group, not internal. I think.

                    I can imagine myself speaking with a group of Republicans (do I betray
                    my own political leanings) and making emphatic statements in order to
                    make the point that socially responsible government is useful and
                    appropriate. I might even become hyperbolic at some points, claiming
                    almost a messianic virtue for Democrats (or some parabolic stand-in for
                    the democrats). But that doesn't mean I am addressing a Democratic
                    party rally... How would, in fact, the rhetoric between "inside" and
                    "outside" look like, especially if the rhetoric was functioning in the
                    form of narrative?

                    Again, I really would like help in clarifying this, since I really don't
                    "get" the community perspective of much of approaches to Gjohn.

                    mark

                    Mark A. Matson
                    Academic Dean
                    Milligan College
                    http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                  • McGrath, James
                    Mark, you make a good point with your Republican-Democrat illustration. I think what I take most of the softer versions of the Johannine community discussion
                    Message 9 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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                      Mark, you make a good point with your Republican-Democrat illustration.
                      I think what I take most of the 'softer' versions of the Johannine
                      community discussion to mean is that, since John presents Jesus in a
                      distinct way and focuses on making him answer the objections of 'the
                      Jews', similar debates must have been taking place between the Christian
                      community of which John was a part and other non-Christian Jews. His
                      'church' could still have been part of a synagogue, and needn't have
                      been isolated from other churches in other places, but it can still be
                      termed a Christian community. To use your illustration, by what you say
                      about Democrats in your speech, someone reading it 2,000 years later
                      will be able to work out (if they know anything about the late
                      20th/early 21st century) that you were writing in an American context
                      rather than say in Germany, or at least, if you were writing elsewhere,
                      you were connected to and interested in American politics.

                      I think sometimes there are debates about the notion of the Johannine
                      community because the terminology is used in different ways. The attempt
                      of Raymond Brown and others to reconstruct stages in the community's
                      history is based not only on the conviction that John wrote in a
                      particular setting (which is relatively obvious) but also that there are
                      compositional layers or indications of sources that may allow one to
                      trace trajectories and developments over time. But even if one is
                      skeptical of the latter, it still seems a convenient shorthand to speak
                      of the Johannine 'community' in the sense of the particular Christian
                      community that John was directly connected with when he wrote. At least,
                      that's the way I use it - on the rare occasions that I do use it - and
                      hopefully I haven't been misleading people by doing so!

                      Best wishes,

                      James


                      P.S. Thanks for advertising my book! :)



                      *****************************
                      Dr. James F. McGrath
                      Assistant Professor of Religion
                      Butler University, Indianapolis
                      http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/
                      *****************************



                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Matson, Mark (Academic) [mailto:MAMatson@...]
                      Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 2:58 PM
                      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


                      Point well made. But I wonder, does this framework still demand a
                      "Johannine" audience (e.g. the Johannine community), or rather an
                      audience that was dealing with similar issues. I guess I could easily
                      conceptualize here an audience that was Jewish and/or Jewish-Christian
                      (if indeed it is appropriate to yet speak of these distinctions at the
                      time this was written). In this perspective, such dualistic language
                      and exclusivist claims may well be part of the jockying with a group
                      that is external to the author's group, not internal. I think.

                      I can imagine myself speaking with a group of Republicans (do I betray
                      my own political leanings) and making emphatic statements in order to
                      make the point that socially responsible government is useful and
                      appropriate. I might even become hyperbolic at some points, claiming
                      almost a messianic virtue for Democrats (or some parabolic stand-in for
                      the democrats). But that doesn't mean I am addressing a Democratic
                      party rally... How would, in fact, the rhetoric between "inside" and
                      "outside" look like, especially if the rhetoric was functioning in the
                      form of narrative?

                      Again, I really would like help in clarifying this, since I really don't
                      "get" the community perspective of much of approaches to Gjohn.

                      mark

                      Mark A. Matson
                      Academic Dean
                      Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                    • Henry Sturcke
                      Mark, and all who have contributed to this thread I am enjoying this, one of the better threads since I joined the list. It s amazing how non-experts ask the
                      Message 10 of 13 , Aug 27, 2003
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                        Mark, and all who have contributed to this thread

                        I am enjoying this, one of the better threads since I joined the list. It's
                        amazing how non-experts ask the best questions sometimes, and help us all to
                        review our assumptions.

                        Re your point that apologetics and evangelism are not that far apart, it is
                        good to bear in mind that it is difficult for us to determine after the fact
                        whether an "apologetic" text functioned primarily in dialogue with other
                        groups "outside" or primarily as legitimation, that is to assure those
                        "inside" that there were possible answers to criticisms.

                        Henry

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Matson, Mark (Academic)" <MAMatson@...>
                        To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2003 9:29 PM
                        Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Johannine Community


                        >
                        > McGrath, James [mailto:jfmcgrat@...] wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Hello everyone! A couple of quick points. First, to start
                        > > with Mark's last question, I think one reason that John's
                        > > Gospel is popular in evangelism is that it has an
                        > > 'apologetic' thrust and/or aim. This does not mean, however,
                        > > that its arguments would have necessarily been convincing or
                        > > even intelligible to outsiders, although I happen to expect
                        > > that they were to at least some extent. Think of contemporary
                        > > apologists like Josh McDowell. Who reads his books? Mostly
                        > > (probably almost exclusively) those who are already committed
                        > > Christians. But they then recycle his arguments in their
                        > > debates and discussions with others. I suspect exactly the
                        > > same happened with John's Gospel, and it seems quite likely
                        > > that John expected what he wrote to be put to this sort of
                        > > use. The main readers would have been believers, but they
                        > > would have echoed the dialogues between Jesus and 'the Jews'
                        > > in their own evangelism and debates.
                        >
                        > Thanks, James for the comments. BTW, for those on the list, James has a
                        > really excellent book out there, "John's Apologetic Christology" in the
                        > SNTS Monographs (Cambridge). I think (as James knows) that this is
                        > really a fine book.
                        >
                        > But I wonder whether the apologetic nature of John's gospel necessarily
                        > has to work "inside" the Johannine community. I think you make the
                        > point in your book that much of the apologetic argumentation is with
                        > "opponents" of the johannine way of conceiving of Jesus. Given that much
                        > of that issue deals with Jesus' relationship with God, it seems
                        > reasonable to assume that this might have taken place in a milieu where
                        > the early church (Johannine or otherwise) is still in real dialogue with
                        > Judaism -- before there was a distinctive difference. So such issues of
                        > how Jesus could be a true agent of God, and at times be identified with
                        > that God, are being struggled with. In this context, isn't the audience
                        > almost by definition "not Johannine"? That is, the apologetic nature is
                        > external and perhaps even "evangelistic".
                        >
                        > I guess when I read your book I could see well how the major thrust even
                        > allowed for a non-Johannine community audience as the main audience.
                        > And I guess apologetics and evangelism aren't really at polar extremes.
                        >
                        >
                        > Or am I misreading you?
                        >
                        > > In speaking about a 'Johannine Community', there are probably
                        > > 'hard' and 'soft' versions of this hypothesis. I am quite
                        > > skeptical as to whether one can read John's Gospel as a
                        > > thinly veiled history of the community. But I do think that
                        > > anyone who has written will know that one writes having been
                        > > shaped by particular communities and experiences. This
                        > > doesn't mean that no one else will ever read your book, but
                        > > certainly one can tell a lot about you by reading a book you
                        > > wrote. In this sense, looking to reconstruct the author's
                        > > context and intended readership seems a worthwhile
                        > > enterprise. It may be a futile one, but still worthwhile!
                        >
                        > Yes, I think this is much of my point in saying that an author is
                        > undoubtedly influenced by the context within which he or she
                        > lives/thinks. But that is a much different point than saying that the
                        > author then writes TO that community and FOR it. I see these as very
                        > different issues which are very often conflated in the discussion.
                        >
                        > mark
                        >
                        > Mark A. Matson
                        > Academic Dean
                        > Milligan College
                        > http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                        >
                        >
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                      • Tobias Hägerland
                        As this is my first posting to this list, I take the opportunity to introduce myself as a PhD candidate working on a dissertation in the field of
                        Message 11 of 13 , Aug 28, 2003
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                          As this is my first posting to this list, I take the opportunity to
                          introduce myself as a PhD candidate working on a dissertation in the
                          field of Historical-Jesus research, but with a special interest in
                          John's Gospel, too.


                          --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, "McGrath, James"
                          <jfmcgrat@b...> wrote:

                          >
                          > I think sometimes there are debates about the notion of the
                          Johannine
                          > community because the terminology is used in different ways. The
                          attempt
                          > of Raymond Brown and others to reconstruct stages in the community's
                          > history is based not only on the conviction that John wrote in a
                          > particular setting (which is relatively obvious) but also that
                          there are
                          > compositional layers or indications of sources that may allow one to
                          > trace trajectories and developments over time. But even if one is
                          > skeptical of the latter, it still seems a convenient shorthand to
                          speak
                          > of the Johannine 'community' in the sense of the particular
                          Christian
                          > community that John was directly connected with when he wrote. At
                          least,
                          > that's the way I use it - on the rare occasions that I do use it -
                          and
                          > hopefully I haven't been misleading people by doing so!


                          I think this remark is very much to the point. The terminology is
                          confused, which has led to a lot of misunderstandings between
                          scholars but worse still, to the acceptance of fallacious
                          arguments. 'Community' is being employed to denote at least three
                          distinct phenomena:
                          1. A particular religious community, i.e. a church, congregation,
                          group of people participating in common worship in a particular
                          place. E.g. the community in Corinth to which Paul addresses his
                          letters.
                          2. A fellowship of multiple communities in sense (1) above, which
                          share common theological beliefs and uphold some form of 'communion'
                          despite the geographical distance. E.g. 2 John is supposed to be a
                          letter to one particular Johannine community (the Elect Lady) from a
                          prominent member of another such community (the Elect Sister). These
                          two communities would then be part of the larger 'Johannine
                          community'.
                          3. A group of believers who share common theological beliefs and who
                          purport to be the custodians of a special religious heritage, i.e. a
                          school, theological party or wing.

                          Now there are good reasons to posit the existence of a 'Johannine
                          community' in sense (3) above, something like the Johannine school
                          depicted by Alan Culpepper in his work mentioned earlier in this
                          thread. But one cannot conclude from this that there existed also an
                          entire particular church (congregation) which devoted itself to
                          Johannine Christianity alone, still less that there was a larger
                          Johannine movement of multiple churches finding themselves in some
                          opposition to 'apostolic Christians'.

                          Tobias Hägerland, M.Th.
                          Ph.D. Candidate
                          Göteborg University
                          Department of Religious Studies and Theology
                        • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                          ... Welcome Tobias. Let me push you a bit here. Doesn t Culpepper actually use the term school in a more specific sense, i.e. like a socratic school
                          Message 12 of 13 , Aug 28, 2003
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                            Tobias Hägerland wrote:

                            > 3. A group of believers who share common theological beliefs and who
                            > purport to be the custodians of a special religious heritage, i.e. a
                            > school, theological party or wing.
                            >
                            > Now there are good reasons to posit the existence of a 'Johannine
                            > community' in sense (3) above, something like the Johannine school
                            > depicted by Alan Culpepper in his work mentioned earlier in this
                            > thread. But one cannot conclude from this that there existed also an
                            > entire particular church (congregation) which devoted itself to
                            > Johannine Christianity alone, still less that there was a larger
                            > Johannine movement of multiple churches finding themselves in some
                            > opposition to 'apostolic Christians'.

                            Welcome Tobias. Let me push you a bit here. Doesn't Culpepper actually use the term "school" in a more specific sense, i.e. like a "socratic school" which shows a very close following of ideas? In other words for him this is not just a disparate group of people who share a common belief (ala "green party" enthusiasts who are sprinkled about in various places but who all share a similar perspective), is it? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Culpepper rather specifically suggesting a rather formal group that was tightly connected and passed on the teaching of the Johannine leader/teacher?

                            But for me the existence of such a group setting in which the gospel arose (though probably way more extreme than I would suggest) is not the real problem. I guess I can see, in fact, a possible separate social situation for the author of the 4th gospel, perhaps living in a group with somewhat different take on the Jesus event. What bothers me more is the jump from "influence" to "audience." When we posit that the "community" is the intended audience -- thus making this very circular and sectarian, where the gospel both reflects the community and it addressed to the community -- then I have a harder time since I can't fit it into what I see as the rhetorical aims of the gospel. For that I see a broader audience, embracing Jews who were not convinced about Jesus, and possibly even a broader group of Christians who did not share the full conviction (according to the authors) of who Jesus was and his relationship to God.


                            Mark A. Matson
                            Academic Dean
                            Milligan College
                            http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
                          • Tobias Hägerland
                            ... sense, i.e. like a socratic school which shows a very close following of ideas? In other words for him this is not just a disparate group of people who
                            Message 13 of 13 , Sep 1, 2003
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                              Mark Matson wrote:

                              >
                              > Doesn't Culpepper actually use the term "school" in a more specific
                              sense, i.e. like a "socratic school" which shows a very close
                              following of ideas? In other words for him this is not just a
                              disparate group of people who share a common belief (ala "green
                              party" enthusiasts who are sprinkled about in various places but who
                              all share a similar perspective), is it? Correct me if I'm wrong,
                              but wasn't Culpepper rather specifically suggesting a rather formal
                              group that was tightly connected and passed on the teaching of the
                              Johannine leader/teacher?
                              >

                              Your clarification is, of course, correct and conveys fully what I
                              was trying to say. To suggest that what united 'Johannine Christians'
                              was nothing more than some common theological/ideological
                              inclinations would be inappropriate and, I suppose, largely
                              anachronistic. Rather, I imagine something akin to the theological
                              parties referred to and denounced by St Paul in 1 Cor. 1.12:

                              'That is, that each one of you says: as for me, I belong to Paul; as
                              for me, I belong to Apollos; as for me, I belong to Cephas; as for
                              me, I belong to Christ.'

                              Note Paul's expression (although probably exaggerated for the sake of
                              rhetorical effect), 'each one of you'. Paul depicts and deplores a
                              situation where it is the predominant custom for Christians to pledge
                              allegiance to a 'school'. Such schools were evidently material
                              insofar as they claimed a special relationship to their founding
                              teacher, be it Paul or Christ.

                              The fact that there was apparently a 'school of Cephas' at Corinth
                              may enlighten us about two important aspects of such schools.

                              1. For all that we know, St Peter never visited the Corinithian
                              church, to found a particular school there or for any other reason.
                              The Petrine party at Corinth, therefore, was probably just a branch
                              of a more 'ecumenical' (in the original sense of the word) movement
                              devoted to preserving the teaching of Cephas. I suppose that its
                              members did not simply sympathize with Petrine ideas; these
                              Christians would rather view the apostle as their earthly leader. And
                              it would be most natural if there was also a local leader who
                              endeavoured to safeguard the Petrine heritage within the group at
                              Corinth.

                              2. Every Corinthian Christian, according to Paul, belonged to a
                              party; still, these parties were evidently able to co-exist with
                              others within one single particular church. Paul addresses
                              the 'Church of God at Corinth' and expects the letter to be read
                              aloud not only to those 'belonging to Paul' but also to
                              those 'belonging to Apollos, Cephas, and Christ'. Indeed the very
                              existence of such groupings is too much for Paul. But there is no
                              evidence that once there is a school with a single leader and a
                              distinct theology, there has also to be separate worshipping
                              communities who separate themselves totally from other Christians and
                              view the latter as antagonists. Quite the opposite. The Apollos party
                              at Corinth would not refuse to read/listen to a letter from the
                              founder-leader of the 'competing' Pauline school. Then why should we
                              suppose that Johannine Christians would reject and isolate themselves
                              from, e.g., the Synoptic Gospels?

                              Unfortunately, I do not have current access to Culpepper's work, and
                              I do not remember what he makes of 1 Cor. 1.12.

                              Tobias Hägerland, M.Th.
                              Ph.D. Candidate
                              Göteborg University
                              Department of Religious Studies and Theology
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