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History, the Temple and John

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  • Roberta Allen
    Dear all Having spent the last few years studying John s Gospel and just completed a book on it I feel reasonably confident I can contribute to this this
    Message 1 of 7 , May 6, 2000
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      Dear all

      Having spent the last few years studying John's Gospel and just
      completed a book on it I feel reasonably confident I can contribute to
      this this discussion.

      Firstly, it is quite apparent that the 'historical' question will not go
      away and must be addressed. However, I decided to approach it from a
      slightly different angle and began by trying to understand how ancient
      writers understood history writing. We tend to define 'history' by our
      modern understanding and do not take into consideration the ancient
      writer's perspective. The differences between the ancient and modern are
      such that we might as well be talking a different language. For some
      people in the period history was more akin to anthropology and for
      others it was almost exclusively political propaganda. The 'history' in
      John's gospel is much nearer to these types than to our 'factual'
      understanding of history. This does not mean that the author was unaware
      or not interested in facts or 'truth'.

      Having made this statement I now turn to the 'Temple' problem in John.
      It is difficult to convey in an e-mail what has taken 300 pages to
      properly express but I will attempt to.

      Chapters 2 - 4 appear to be a narrative of the beginning of Jesus'
      ministry. The section includes several incidents which are not recorded
      in the synoptic gospels and one which is, the temple incident, which is
      widely agreed to be in the wrong place. Ancient readers were just as
      astute as modern ones and it seems quite possible that they too may have
      noticed something amiss. The positioning of the Temple incident as the
      second 'event' recorded in Jesus' ministry must be seen as analogous to
      'John's' position in the Prologue. It is in the wrong place for a reason
      and it thus functions as a key or clue to understanding.

      Chs. 2-4 are a unit and in what at first sight appears to be a
      collection of independent episodes we find a rich, complex and above all
      mysterious theme. There are several threads present in the unit but the
      main purpose this author had in writing was to express his understanding
      of the Christ event, Jesus' hour, and this is the overall theme of this
      collection of stories. But the main theme is cleverly hidden under the
      surface. The author perhaps chose to present it in such a manner to
      express the mysterious quality of the event he is portraying. The
      stories cannot be fully understood until one has read the whole gospel
      and therefore the tension is maintained to end and if and when the
      reader finally discovers the deeper meaning the revelation is supreme.
      It is a superb masterpiece of writing.

      Many scholars have noted how some events in the first chapters are
      echoed in the last. Jesus' mother appears only at the wedding and the
      cross. Nicodemus assists in the burial. The Samaritan story opens at the
      sixth hour, the hour that judgment was passed on Jesus 19.14; Jesus is
      thirsty 4.7, 19.28. The first appearance Jesus made was to a woman and
      it is to the Samaritan woman Jesus first declares "I am he". She runs
      off to tell the villagers and the disciples make their appearance.

      Obviously I can make a better case in 300 pages but basically what I am
      saying is that in a somewhat esoteric way the temple incident in the
      gospel is in fact in exactly the same position immediately prior to
      Jesus' death as it is in the synoptics.
      --
      Roberta Allen
    • Mary Coloe
      Roberta I was interested in your comments on the Temple and the historicity of the Temple scene in John. It was hard to follow the line of your argument in the
      Message 2 of 7 , May 7, 2000
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        Roberta I was interested in your comments on the Temple and the historicity
        of the Temple scene in John. It was hard to follow the line of your
        argument in the brief email but it sounded as if you were reading the
        themes of the hour back into chapters 2-4. Where exactly do you see the
        Temple theme present in 'the hour'? i ask this as one who has also just
        completed my doctorate on the symbolism of the Temple in John which will be
        published March next year with Liturgical Press. My onw study led me to
        understand the placing of this Temple scene in john where it is because it
        announces a major hermeneutical key for understanding the identity of Jesus
        in the gospel - namely- as the New Temple of God. Also, what is the title
        of your book please?

        For those interested in the historical/narrative issue raised in recent
        discussions could I direct you to a very fine article by Brendan Byrne in
        the latest Pacifica. "Gospel Narratives and the Jesus of History: Where
        should Christology begin?" After raising some of the problems of the
        search for thehistorical Jesus and arguing for the place of the text as the
        basis for theology Byrne then suggests 7 principles for theological
        interpretation of the scriptures. I found this a wecome balance to recent
        questions on this list.



        Dr.Mary Coloe pbvm
        School of Theology
        Australian Catholic University
        Locked Bag 4115
        FITZROY VIC 3065

        M.Coloe@...
        (613) 9953 3137

        http://www.acu.edu.au/theology/coloe.htm
      • Maluflen@aol.com
        In a message dated 5/7/2000 3:11:49 AM Eastern Daylight Time, mcoloe@netspace.net.au writes:
        Message 3 of 7 , May 7, 2000
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          In a message dated 5/7/2000 3:11:49 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
          mcoloe@... writes:

          << Roberta I was interested in your comments on the Temple and the historicity
          of the Temple scene in John. It was hard to follow the line of your
          argument in the brief email but it sounded as if you were reading the
          themes of the hour back into chapters 2-4. Where exactly do you see the
          Temple theme present in 'the hour'? i ask this as one who has also just
          completed my doctorate on the symbolism of the Temple in John which will be
          published March next year with Liturgical Press. My onw study led me to
          understand the placing of this Temple scene in john where it is because it
          announces a major hermeneutical key for understanding the identity of Jesus
          in the gospel - namely- as the New Temple of God. Also, what is the title
          of your book please?>>

          This sounds very intelligent and reasonable to me. I continue to be surprised
          at those who assume that John's chronology need have an
          historical-chronological agenda attached to it. I am delighted that your
          thesis is being published. I think your approach is right on target, even
          though I am open to hearing arguments on the other side.

          << For those interested in the historical/narrative issue raised in recent
          discussions could I direct you to a very fine article by Brendan Byrne in
          the latest Pacifica. "Gospel Narratives and the Jesus of History: Where
          should Christology begin?" After raising some of the problems of the
          search for thehistorical Jesus and arguing for the place of the text as the
          basis for theology Byrne then suggests 7 principles for theological
          interpretation of the scriptures. I found this a wecome balance to recent
          questions on this list.>>

          Thanks for this bibliography too. Byrne is brilliant too. I have recently
          been reading his commentary on Romans, and had the joy of meeting with him
          when he was in Boston last semester.

          Leonard Maluf
        • Roberta Allen
          ... I would just like to make it clear that I am not advocating the historicity of the Temple scene in John. I am merely pointing out that John 2 - 4 may be
          Message 4 of 7 , May 8, 2000
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            > I continue to be surprised
            >at those who assume that John's chronology need have an
            >historical-chronological agenda attached to it.

            I would just like to make it clear that I am not advocating the
            'historicity' of the Temple scene in John. I am merely pointing out that
            John 2 - 4 may be the authors interpretation of the meaning of the
            passion, or 'hour' of Christ. In other words the story line of 2 -4
            refer to the escatalogical significance of the passion and not to the
            actual beginning of the ministry. It is even possible that taking the
            modern understanding of 'historical' there was no temple cleansing at
            all as recorded either in the synoptics or John. It is far more
            important to discover the meaning of the events portrayed than to worry
            about what actually happened and when. Having said this, however, I am
            still very interested in the historical background to Christianity and
            believe that there is much 'historical' information contained in the
            Gospels but not the sort of information people usually associate with
            them.

            However, I see no reason why those who wish to pursue 'historical' or
            'chronological' studies should not do so. There is plenty of room in
            this world for different approaches and John's Gospel is such that it
            welcomes all. What I continue to be surprised at is that scholars
            continue bicker so much over approaches, diachronic or synchronic or
            whatever. It is almost as if there is a belief that he who shouts the
            loudest against his opposition will win which IMO demonstrates
            insecurity rather than wisdom.

            --
            Roberta Allen
          • Jeffrey L. Staley
            ... Mary, I am also interested in the topic of temple in John. Do you deal in any way with the significance of Jesus saying the Father and I are one, and
            Message 5 of 7 , May 12, 2000
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              Mary Coloe wrote:

              > My own study led me to
              > understand the placing of this Temple scene in john where it is because it
              > announces a major hermeneutical key for understanding the identity of Jesus
              > in the gospel - namely- as the New Temple of God. Also, what is the title
              > of your book please?
              >

              Mary, I am also interested in the topic of "temple" in John. Do you deal in any way with the significance of Jesus saying "the Father
              and I are one," and "I am in the Father and the Father is in me," "in the Temple?" I dealt with this a little in my dissertation "The
              Print's First Kiss." Interestingly, the only two physical places Jesus ever says he was "in" is "in synagogues and temple" (18:20). Not
              surprisingly, Jesus speaks the controversial language of eating his flesh and drinking his blood "in the Capernaum synagogue."

              I wonder, too, about the miracle in John 5. Do you think the lame man carries his pallet into the Temple (5:14)? Is this why Jesus says
              "Don't keep on sinning?" I have thought so. Perhaps he thinks Jesus' Sabbath healing gives him the right to flaunt his healing by
              carrying his mat through the temple. It is curious that Jesus "finds him in the Temple."

              Jeff
            • Mary Coloe
              Jeff Staley asked ... Yes Jeff I do treat this saying particularly its context within the Feast of the Dedication/Consecration of the Temple and because of
              Message 6 of 7 , May 14, 2000
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                Jeff Staley asked
                >Mary, I am also interested in the topic of "temple" in John. Do you deal
                >in any way with the significance of Jesus saying "the Father
                >and I are one," and "I am in the Father and the Father is in me," "in the
                >Temple?" I dealt with this a little in my dissertation "The
                >Print's First Kiss." Interestingly, the only two physical places Jesus
                >ever says he was "in" is "in synagogues and temple" (18:20). Not
                >surprisingly, Jesus speaks the controversial language of eating his flesh
                >and drinking his blood "in the Capernaum synagogue."

                Yes Jeff I do treat this saying particularly its context within the Feast
                of the Dedication/Consecration of the Temple and because of Jesus unique
                union with the Father he is now the consecrated and sent one 10:36. My
                study examined in some detail the Feasts of Tabernacles and Dedication in
                terms of the symbolism of the feasts and shwoing Jesus as the one bringing
                to perfection the function of the Temple festicals.
                >
                >I wonder, too, about the miracle in John 5. Do you think the lame man
                >carries his pallet into the Temple (5:14)? Is this why Jesus says
                >"Don't keep on sinning?" I have thought so. Perhaps he thinks Jesus'
                >Sabbath healing gives him the right to flaunt his healing by
                >carrying his mat through the temple. It is curious that Jesus "finds him
                >in the Temple."
                Good questions Jeff. I did not do an analysis of John 5, but concentrated
                on the Temple Festivals.
                >
                >Jeff
                >
                >
                >
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                Dr.Mary Coloe pbvm
                School of Theology
                Australian Catholic University
                Locked Bag 4115
                FITZROY VIC 3065

                M.Coloe@...
                (613) 9953 3137

                http://www.acu.edu.au/theology/coloe.htm
              • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                Mary, I hope that I get a chance to read your work some day. I am currently (sigh, very slowly these days) working on an article looking at Jesus as the Holy
                Message 7 of 7 , May 14, 2000
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                  Mary,

                  I hope that I get a chance to read your work some day.
                  I am currently (sigh, very slowly these days) working
                  on an article looking at Jesus as the Holy One of God
                  in Mark in terms of Temple-Christology. Also, my
                  doctoral dissertation treated the 'symbolism' of food
                  in John. It's "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and
                  Gnosticism", which I wrote in History at U. C.
                  Berkeley and handed in in 1995, and it's available on
                  microfilm from University Microfilms International,
                  Ann Arbor, Michigan. It might complement some of your
                  own work--though it needs more work itself.

                  Jeffery Hodges

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