Re(2): [John_Lit] Order in John
- 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