Re: [John_Lit] Re: James and Clopas
> Dear Frank:a
> There is an assumption being made as you consider a male pronoun as key to
> the argument. In every known language when the identity and/or gender of
> person is not known the default pronoun is 'he'. To make the defaultDear Elaine
> pronoun the basis for speculation, even to the extent of a person not
> present in the scene, is far reaching unless you can show a pattern where
> this occurs in other ways it is used in the same gospel.
Your first general statement seems reasonable but in your second statement
you appear to jump to the assumption that a default pronoun *is* being used
rather than that the writer uses 'he' because s/he actually means 'he' and
not the default pronoun. In other words it seems reasonable to argue that a
default pronoun might be being used but it seems unwarranted to argue that
it is being used. The question seems open. It is one thing to argue that the
was anonymous to the readers of John but quite another to argue that this
was anonymous to either the writer, or the redactor.
In this case we must look elsewhere for further illumination; to internal
and external evidence.
You place considerable weight on the reliability of c.2nd source material
which in my view is no less likely to be a Gnostic pious invention in the
presence of the document and in the absence or reliable oral testimony, than
the orthodox idea that the BD was John the Apostle or one of several other
male disciples. In my mind the question remains open in the absence of
With regard to internal evidence, if John 18:15-16 refers to the BD and not
to a further un-named disciple,
it is intriguing because of its implications. How might this disciple be
'known to the High Priest', a
statement emphasised by the writer through repetition?
Was there: (a) a familial connection (I think some argue for Mary, the
sister of Martha and Lazarus on this basis);
(b) to do with trade in salt fish;
(c) to do with priestly office and function;
(d) to do with social status;
(e) due to an illicit relationship; or
(f) something else?
The disciple is able to either instruct or persuade the woman gate keeper
If this disciple was able to instruct it would imply social or functional or
familial status and such status would have afforded a man some protection at
the cross. If it was a matter of bribery or persuasion, we still have the
problem of why the gatekeeper nevertheless quizzes Peter, either
or else dutifully; I don't think we are meant to take it as sarcasm.
On the whole I am not persuaded that the connection was
one of trade, the High Priest would have been a person of massive social
status and priveledge and would not have known the household fish merchant
directly. If the disciple was known through a former illicit relationship
this might well literally open doors and gates, particularly at night.
If it was about social status or familial relationship or priestly office
this has implications for
the footwashing episode linked with 'first and least' type status issues.
One other possibility is that the BD was the Royal (basilikos) official's
(beloved) son / huios or servant / paidon / pais, (John 4:46-54), perhaps
with a Capernaum link, if not a home there (vs.46). Presumably a Royal
and his family would normally live either within the Royal Court in
Jerusalem or in a large household within easy reach of the Court, (perhaps
with an upper room).
In this case the Official and his son may have been in the Galilean border
business or family affairs when the boy had fallen ill. Perhaps too the
official was Herod's steward, Chuza (Lk. 8:3; 24:10), the husband of Joanna,
a woman present at the tomb. Potentially too there is a powerful historical
rather than simply a theological link between John 4:50 and 20:29. If
Chuza's Jerusalem residence had been used as the location of the last
and his son was the BD, it would also explain why the identity of the BD was
concealed and how this person found himself almost 'centre stage' at the
supper. The Capenaeum connection might explain why a Jerusalemite BD was
fishing with Galilean disciples, presuming John 21 contains both history and
theological symbolism and that it does not relate to a pre-Easter account.
What seems to be missing in such an identification is a priestly theological
interest but this after all might be the work of the chief editior,
redactor. Arguments in support of identifying the BD as John Mark or
alternatively as Chuza and Joannna' son have much in common despite evident
differences. I still favour the former but surely the question is a little
more open as is the question of whether or not a default pronoun is actually
being used as distinct from the thoretical possibility that it may have
Why would the High Priest have known Mary Magdalene and why would the woman
gatekeeper have responded to her request and yet have challenged Peter?
Bill Bullin (Private Student, East Sussex).
'It is the historian's function, not to make us clever for next time, but to
make us wise for ever'.
I'm enjoying catching up on this string of e-mail exchanges in which you
are engaged. You are asking some interesting questions about the Fourth Gospel,
and you have some interesting theories about how to answer those questions. I
believe that such an approach is what gives life to the serious study of the
Bible and in particular to the study of the Fourth Gospel.
I subscribe to the theory that may offer an explanation for
the similarities between the writings of Paul, the synoptic Gospels and the
Fourth Gospel. That theory is that a community of scholars formed during the
first century soon after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. These world
class scholars of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially of the Torah, were also
Jewish Christians. I suspect that such a community of scholars was busily at
work recording the passion narrative and then building a larger narrative that
was intended to maintain all of the wisdom of the more ancient Scriptures, while
recounting the lessons and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Other scholars who
visited that community engaged in discussion about their work as the community
members struggled to produce a "Christian" Torah for use alongside
the Septuagint source for the Scriptures they used regularly for worship. These
discussions among scholars could well have influenced the thinking both of the
residential scholars and those who visited the community, thus ideas, language,
use of sacred symbols that were being discussed may have appeared in documents
that were "published" long before the "finished" Gospel (even the earliest
versions of it) was "published."
I think this theory or something like it could be used to explain the
similarities in the use of symbolic language, the depth of
theological reflection and even terms or phrases that appear in documents
that appear to modern scholars to have come from different eras in history
and/or different areas of the known world.
From: Matthew Miller <logosmadeflesh@...>
Sent: Fri, August 13, 2010 8:04:24 AM
Subject: Re: [John_Lit] John and Paul
I find Ephesians and the rest of the prison epistles are particularly
striking in their comparisons to John and it's theology. One can instantly
think of the way in which John, Ephesians and Colossians each describe
Christ's role in creation. But there are other parallels as well. For
"Therefore it says, When he ascended on high, he led captive, a host of
captives, and He gave gifts to men." Now this expression, "He ascended,"
what does it mean except that He also descended into the lower parts of the
"No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son
While the later verse can also be an allusion to Proverbs 30:4, there is a
similarity between Ephesians 4:9 and John 3:13 which is unique in the New
Again this isn't the only comparison one could find within these letters.
While some of these parallels could simply be chalked up to a common first
century mileu, It's certainly interesting that tradition places John within
this city, giving him at least access to this particular letter.
Canby Bible College
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