Re: [John_Lit] Re: Mary; the BD=Lazarus?
----- Original Message -----
From: "David Trapero" <Dtrap303@...>
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 8:55 AM
Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Mary; the BD=Lazarus?
> Agreed. The primary reason that Luke omits relevant information about
> the rise and fall of James the Just is as you say, his heroes are
> Peter and Paul and his focus is moving the reader towards his great
> climax in Rome (a climax which never materializes because I believe he
> was in the process of collecting notes for his third volume on the
> rise of the church in Rome but these notes and possibly Luke himself
> were destroyed in the persecution under Nero). He may also have had
> limited information about James or there may have been issues of
> church politics which motivated him. By and large, Luke seems to be a
> peacemaker and is rather conciliatory towards his subjects (contrast
> Luke with Paul's diatribe against Peter in Galations). I do not see
> deliberate deception or misinformation either by Luke or by Mark. I
> see no evidence of a cover up. There were tensions, rivalries and
> factions within primitive Christianity but there was a high level of
> integrity and honesty.
Well, I haven't claimed that Mark or Luke lied, only that they were not
totally forthright concerning James--with Luke, though, being a bit more
forthright than Mark.
Each gospel is pretty short, so each gospel author tells us only a small
part of the traditions concerning Jesus that author knew. So, we cannot
expect total forthrightness from them. What an author emphasises and he
fails to mention about what he knows, then, is due to selection criteria
used by that author.
What I suggest is that Mark had a negative attitude towards James, leading
Mark to mention the negative information that James had been an unbeliever
in Jesus at the time of Chapter 3, but to omit the positive he knew
Indeed, we don't have to look far to see why Mark might have had a negative
attitude towards James. For example, judging by Mark 7:19, Mark seems to
have thought that Jesus had voided the dietary ordinances of the Law.
However, judging by Paul's Galatian account of an incident at Antioch, James
seems to have thought that the dietary ordinances of the Law were still in
full force and effect, at least for Jews.
> What you've done is made me reconsider the possibility that James may
> have joined the apostolic circle, perhaps at the last minute and may
> have participated in the Last Supper. He would have had to have had a
> dramatic and sudden change of heart from his attitude in John 7:2-8
> (there is a six month window from this pericope until the Last
> Supper). There is no NT evidence for this but again there is very
> little about James in general. Still, there is an enormous leap from
> this possible, even plausable scenario to that James was the Beloved
Yes, while participation in the Last Supper is a necessary criteria for
being the BD, it is not a sufficient criteria for establishing the identity
of the BD. So, even if James had participated in the Last Supper, this, in
and of itself, does not mean that he is the BD. All that it does mean, in
and of itself, is that James is but one of a number of possible
candidates--among whom must also be counted John ben Zebedee.
Still, there are at least two other things regarding 13:23-25 which perhaps
favor the hypothesis that he is James.
First, according to13:23-25, at the Last Supper, Peter spoke to Jesus
through the BD. This inidicates that the BD had an even higher status than
the leader of the 12. Only one person had such a status in the movement
founded by Jesus: his brother, James the Just. Therefore, 13:23-25 perhaps
indicates that James the Just is the BD
Second, in Post 1172, dated 12-23-2000, Kevin O'Brien demonstrates a
literary relationship between 4:6 and 13:25, stating, "The word hOUTWS as a
demonstrative adverb of manner describing a physical movement appears on two
occasions only in the New Testament and they exclusively in the Fourth
(1) to demonstrate Jesus' posture of rest ("like this") in his sitting down
at Jacob's well (John 4.6);
(2) the B.D.'s own posture of rest ("like this") in his reclining on Jesus'
breast at the Last Supper (John 13.25)!!"
Note that each of these two verses mentions two people (1) 4:6 mentions
Jesus and Jacob, the original owner of the well and (2) 13:25 mentions Jesus
and ???, the BD. In view of the literary relationship betwen these two
verses, it is not difficult to determine, here, the apparent implied name of
the BD (signified by the "???")--it is, quite clearly, Jacob (James).
Yes, the absence of any NT information about James being converted before an
alleged appearance of the risen Jesus to him is a weakness to the
hypothesis of James being the BD.
However, by the same token, the possibility of an earlier conversion by
James is suggested by John 20:17-18, "Jesus says to her (i.e., Mary the
Magdalene), 'Stop touching me!-- for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them, I ascend to my Father and your Father
and my God and your God.' (Then) comes Mary Magdalene, announcing to the
disciples, 'I have seen the Lord', and these things he said to her."
Why, after Jesus tells her to speak to his brothers, does Mary Magdalene go
and speak to his disciples? One possibility is that, by "my brothers",
Jesus meant his disciples rather than his actual brothers.
Raymond E. Brown supports this hypothesis. So, in The Gospel According to
John (pp. 993-994) he states, "The use of the term 'brothers' for the
disciples is related to the idea expressed later in the sentence that now
Jesus' Father is their Father. There is a similar use of 'brothers' in xxi
23; also cf. the Matthean parallel (xxviii 9-10) where Jesus says to the
women who hold his feet, 'Don't be afraid; be on your way and tell my
*brothers* [Matt xxviii 7 refers to the disciples] to go to Galilee.'"
However, this supporting evidence is weak. It's not that "now Jesus' Father
is their Father", for the word "now" is not present in Jesus' proclamation.
Also, this entails the implausible necessity that is is only *now* that his
God is their God.
In 21:23, the reference is to "the brothers" rather than "the brothers of
me". So, its not an apples to apples comparison.
As for Matthew's equating Jesus' disciples with Jesus' brothers in 28:7-10,
he has already explicitly prepared his intended readers for this in 12:49,
"And stretching out his hand to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother
and my brothers!'" However, in John, there is no comparable explicit
preparation of the intended reader for equating Jesus' disciples with Jesus'
brothers in John 20:17-18.
Because of the weakness of the supporting evidence for this hypothsis, the
door is left open for another hypothesis, i.e., that the brothers of
Jesus had become disciples of Jesus and were with the
other disciples at the time of 20:17-18. Hence, in going to relate the
message to his brothers, Mary went to the group they were with (i.e., the
disciples) and announced it to the whole group rather than drawing the
brothers aside and privately speaking to them.
In this case, according to John, James was a disciple of Jesus even before
he was told about his brother allegedly rising from the dead.
> I think the question you must still answer is why Jesus' mother and
> brothers are not named in the Gospel of John and then jumping from
> that observation to the claim that James is the beloved disciple
> because only Jesus' brothers and mother are not named. There are much
> simpler, more common sense reasons why they would not be named. As I
> mentioned in recent post, there were so many women named Mary in the
> community/tradition that it became unwieldy. There was certainly
> universal knowledge that Jesus' mother's name was Mary so that John
> (especially if we see his as the last, latest Gospel) didn't need to
> refer to her by her name but simple as the mother of Jesus. Her
> status as Jesus' mother would be the key issue. And, if she were
> still under his care, still active in the community, the community to
> which the Gospel was written would not need to have their two pillars,
> named. It would have been superfulous.
Even though there were many Marys, and even though the name of Jesus' mother
was well-known, all three Synoptic gospel writers still specifically state
that she was named Mary
As for Luke, even though he has already named her in Luke, he goes ahead and
names her again in Acts 1:14 (RSV), "All these with one accord devoted
themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus,
and with his brothers."
So, even if John be the latest gospel, it truly is a mystery as to why she
is not named in John. The reason, I suspect, is that the author of John
maintains a writing convention of not naming the mother and brothers of
Jesus. In support of this hypothesis, the author of John does not name any
of the brothers of Jesus either--even though two of the three Synoptic
gospel writers do name them.
If this hypothesis is correct, then one likely reason why the BD isn't named
by the author John is because he is a brother of Jesus, i.e., James.
This is, admittedly, a weak line of reasoning. Still, I do not think it
should be totally discounted.
You make the point that if the mother of Jesus was still under the care of
the BD (who you identify as John), and still active in the community, then
the community to which John is addressed would not haved needed to know
This is a good point. However, I'm not sure that this point supports the
hypothesis that the BD is John bar Zebedee. For example, judging by Acts
1:14, cited above, the community in which the mother of Jesus had been
active had been located in Jerusalem and the BD, to whom had been entrusted
her care, had not been John bar Zebedee but, rather, one of the brothers of
> As far as the brothers go, they are referred to as a group, a unit,
> and in the second instance, negatively (kind of like Cinderella's evil
> step sisters). I believe that the pericope in Jn. 7:2-8 is included
> in this gospel precisely to put the brothers in their place, to put to
> rest false claims that were made about the brothers being disciples of
> Jesus' during his ministry. There are clearly in view in this gospel,
> rval leaders/communities, each vying for the position of true
> successor/interpreter of Jesus. Christianity was moving in several
> theological/geographical directions simultaneously. Who is the
> "rightful heir" of Jesus and his message? Is/was it Peter? Phillip?
> Thomas? The brothers of Jesus? Or, John ben Zebedee, the Beloved
> disciple/bossom buddy of Jesus? The Beloved Disciple is not referred
> to by name in this Gospel because it is written to a community where
> he is widely known and yes, beloved and needed no formal introduction.
> In fact, referring to oneself by one's nickname speaks of a certain
> level of comfort/intimacy between John and his audience.
> Additionally, having been a former disciple of John the baptist, John
> ben Zebedee refers to the baptist simply as John and never as the
> baptist. According to Acts, there was an established Ephesian
> community dedicated to John the baptist and his teachings. Even more
> reason for John, the Beloved Disciple to distinguish himself from his
> former teacher/mentor. There were other Johns as well: the elder,
> John Mark, the author of Revelation, etc. The place was crawling with
That the brothers of Jesus do not believe in Jesus in 7:2-8 is, possibly, no
more negative for James than is Peter's three-fold denial of belief in Jesus
in 18:17-27 for Peter.
Indeed, if James be the BD, then, for each of the two heroes of the
Johannine community, we have a fall followed by re-habilitation. For James,
it is a fall in 7:2-8 from his previous acceptance of Jesus in 2:12 and then
a later re-habilitation as the BD. For Peter, it is a fall in 18:17-27 from
his previous open proclamation of belief in Jesus in 6:68-69 and then a
later re-habilitation that reaches a climax in Chapter 21.
In this case, the analogy of Jesus' brothers with Cinderella's evil
step-sisters does not hold. However, it may be partially correct, for there
is considerable evidence (admittedly late and non-canonical) that the
brothers of Jesus had been his step-brothers.
Certainly, as you point out, Christianity was moving in diverse directions,
with rival communities choosing differing heroic figures. For the Johannine
community, the two heroes were the BD and Peter. There also was a heroine,
i.e., Mary Magdalene.
The importance of this triad of heroic figures to the Johannine community is
seen in 13:23-25, 19:25-27, and 20:1-10 (which are, excuding the later
appendix of Chapter 21, the three times that the BD is mentioned). In these
three passages, Peter is mentioned in two of them (i.e., in 13:23-25 and
20:1-10) and so is Mary Magdalene (i.e., in 19:25-27 and 20:1-10). So, for
these three passages, we have a sequence of two for 13:23-25 (BD +
Peter)/two for 19:25-27 (BD + Mary)/three for 20:1-10 (BD + Peter + Mary
Magdalene). Generically, this is an A/A/B pattern and it appears to be
deliberate because these three passages also generate another A/A/B pattern:
for Jesus loves the BD in the sense of AGAPAN in 13:23-25, in the sense of
AGAPAN in 19:26-27, and in the sense of FILEIN in 20:1-10.
Why were the BD, Peter, and Mary Magdalene the three heroic figures of the
Four clues might give us the answer:
1. in Acts 1:13-14, Luke divides the core group of the Jerusalem Church into
three categories of people who had come down from Galilee to Jerusalem
during Passion week and then decided to stay there: (1) the Twelve, minus
Judas, (2) the women, and (3) the Holy Family.
2. Peter was the head of the Twelve
3. Mary Magdalene appears to have been the most important of the women who
had come down from Galilee
4. James became the head of the Holy Family after the crucifixion of his
Together, these four clues indicate that there were three core foundations
groups for the Jerusalem Church and that the leader of the first core
foundation group was Peter and that the leader of the second core foundation
group was Mary Magdalene and that the leader of the third core foundation
group was James.
So, if the BD disciple be James, and if the Johannine community be the
Jerusalem Church, then we have an explanation as to why the three heroic
figures of the Johannine community were Peter, Mary Magdalene, and the BD.
We also have an explanation as to why, of these three, the most important
was the BD--for James had been the head of the Jerusalem Church.
Conversely, the hypothesis that the BD is John ben Zebedee and the Johannine
community is Ephesus has no ready explanation as to why the Johannine
community heroized Peter and Mary Magdalene--for neither person is connected
to Ephesus in the New Testament nor (to the best of my knowledge) in any
non-canonical early Christian tradition. So, that the Johannine community
heroized not just the BD, but Peter and Mary Magdalene as well, appears to
be contrary to this hypothesis.
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