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Re: [John_Lit] Johannine Community

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  • 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 1 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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