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Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John

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  • panderso@georgefox.edu
    Thank you, David, for bringing up an important set of issues. Thank you also for reading beyond the discussions on this listserve; the broader views of
    Message 1 of 4 , May 10, 2000
      Thank you, David, for bringing up an important set of issues. Thank you
      also for reading beyond the discussions on this listserve; the broader
      views of Moloney, myself, and others cannot be represented fully within
      this medium alone.

      Yes, of course, the entire presentation of Jesus' ministry is crafted
      rhetorically, and I believe one can infer at least six sets of issues
      being addressed over the 60-year history of the Johannine movement:
      a) Jesus is the Messiah, not John the Baptist;
      b) corrective/supportive/augmentive dialogues with synoptic traditions
      (oral and/or written, esp. pre-Marcan and Marcan);
      c) dialogues with local Jewish leadership regarding the authority of Jesus
      and his mission;
      d) tensions with the local Roman presence, culminating with hardship under
      increased expectations of Emperor laud under Domitian;
      e) docetizing tendencies among Gentile Christians; and
      f) corrective responses to rising institutionalism in the late
      first-century church, probably experienced from the likes of Diotrephes
      and his kin.

      The miracles of Jesus are especially crafted to show Jesus in the
      typologies of Moses and Elijah (associations which JB hands over to Jesus
      clearly in John), and the Cana miracle would have fitted into that
      rhetorical set of interests. Proponnents of a signs source also make this
      clear (Fortna, Bultmann, Becker, etc.) although when I tested the
      stylistic, contextual, and theological evidence for the existence of
      non-Johannine material -- even on its own terms -- it came up terribly
      short (see chapters 3-7 of my book) of indicative, let alone convincing.
      Thus, I believe one must consider the tradition "Johannine" and largely
      unitive rather than disunitive in its origins.

      So yes, convincing hearers/readers that Jesus was sent from God (Deut. 18)
      was a central motivation in the presentation of Jesus' signs and the
      finalization of the first edition of John (20:30f.), but what I and a few
      others have been challenging is the facile assumption that because
      something is used rhetorically it had no root in historical event. That's
      not to say everything in John is historical; much of it betrays the
      crafting of the evangelist's work over and against what we think the
      historical Jesus probably said and did. What I think needs to be
      challenged seriously is the non-critical assumption that the Johannine
      tradition has no historical origin or merit, as evidenced, for instance,
      in the latest "findings" of the Jesus Seminar. A pink-riddled Thomas over
      a black-marbled John? Help! Over-reaching, and wrong-headed.

      Take the numeration of the first two signs at Cana, for instance. Do
      these markers reflect a numerative function of an earlier source (I think
      not, as no source existed), or do they represent the evangelist's interest
      in setting the record straight over and against Mark? Is the evangelist
      here clarifying that the first miracle of Jesus was not in the home of
      Simon Peter's Mother-in-law (for whatever reason), but that earlier signs
      had been performed in Galilee (and Jerusalem, as the Temple cleansing
      appears to be regarded as a "sign") over and against the Marcan rendering.
      Eusebius mentions an early tradition suggesting the interest of John in
      bringing out the earlier part of Jesus' ministry, which could be
      conjectural, or it may also be reflective of an apparent interest to
      support, correct, and augment (a better term than Windisch's, I believe)

      Thanks for your good questions and comments!


      Paul N. Anderson
      Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
      George Fox University
      Newberg, OR 97132
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