Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Jews" in John's Gospel: Resources B

Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel. Eds. Reimund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt and Frederique Vandecasteele-Vanneuville. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001. xiii +322 pp. $.00 (paper).

Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel originated from a research program at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) to study the alleged anti-Judaism of the Gospel of John. At the research seminar in Leuven on Jan 17-18, 2000, 24 leading scholars in the fields of Johannine exegesis and Jewish-Christian dialogue met and some of the contributors rewrote their essays for the present volume. The complete set of essays from the seminar has already been published. This volume is the definitive collection on a central problem in the New Testament.

In the first essay "Wrestling with Johannine Anti-Judaism: A Hermeneutical Framework for the Analysis of the Current Debate" the editors structure the debate in the volume on five questions:

A) Is the Gospel of John anti-Jewish?
B)Who are "the Jews" in John?
C) How do we have to understand the presumed conflict between the Johannine community and "the Jews"?
D) Is John supersessionist?
E) What is the possible contribution of hermeneutics to reading John?

In regard to A), no one denies that anti-Judaism has found its way into the interpretation of John but did it originate at the level of the interpreter, the level of the text, or the level of the author? Those agreeing that John depicts the relationship between Jesus and "the Jews" in a negative way (B) sometimes limit, relativize, and even deny the anti-Judaism implied in it. Important here is how to understand John's frequent negative use of the term "the Jews." Jewish authorities? First-century Jews? Only those who do not believe in Jesus? All Jews of faith convictions? As part of an inner-Jewish conflict? C) John 9:22 is now understood as referring only to a local conflict between the Johannine community and their Jewish neighbors rather than as evidence of the full separation of Judaism and Christianity into separate religions. No longer is the entire Jewish religion seen as excommunicating all of Christianity by a formal decree and thus Judaism cannot be blamed for the rupture between Judaism and Christianity. Thus, explanations excusing John's comments on Jews and Judaism as a response to Jewish exclusion and hence safeguarding the gospel's status as an authoritative text are inadequate.

In summary: - anti-Judaism in the fourth gospel reaches to the core of the Christian message and is intrinsically oppressive rather than revelatory. They are not later redactions of the words of Jesus unacceptable from a Christian point of view. Nor can one excise them to save the healthy core of the message. However the hermeneutical solution proposed (E) is that scriptures themselves are not the only place or the end of divine revelation. The author of John was a sinful human being. Yet the gospel cannot be reduced to its anti-Jewish elements. It projects an alternative world of all-inclusive love and life that transcends its anti-Judaism and this world of the text rather than the world of the author is a witness to divine revelation.

Monday, May 13, 2019

"The Jews" in John's Gospel: Resources A

Essential reading on this topic is an article by Prof Adele Reinhartz, "Reflections on my journey with John, A Retrospective from Adele Reinhartz," in Ancient Jew Review, April 11, 2018. In she argues that

"John’s well-documented anti-Judaism is not peripheral but central to the Gospel’s theology and rhetorical program.  While I do not for a moment believe that John’s author(s) would have foreseen or applauded the history of Christian anti-Judaism, there is no doubt that they intended to foster suspicion of, distancing from, and even hatred of the ioudaioi. To be sure, John’s ioudaioi are not an ethnic or religious category but a rhetorical one."

"Jesus and the first disciples were ethnically ioudaioi, but not theologically so – this label is never used for the disciples and only once for Jesus (John 4:9).  Yet the fact that there existed, and continued to exist, real people who fit that label – whether we call them Jews or Judeans or by some other name – and who, by and large, did not go along with the Gospel’s views about God, Jesus, and humankind, means that John’s Gospel could be, and was, used to build a wall between Christ-confessors and ioudaioi that had real consequences for real Jews."

Her new book on this topic will be published this July:

Cast Out of the Covenant
Jews and Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John
ADELE REINHARTZ
The Gospel of John presents its readers, listeners, and interpreters with a serious problem: how can we reconcile the Gospel’s exalted spirituality and deep knowledge of Judaism with its portrayal of the Jews as the children of the devil (John 8:44) who persecuted Christ and his followers?

One widespread solution to this problem is the so-called “expulsion hypothesis.” According to this view, the Fourth Gospel was addressed to a Jewish group of believers in Christ that had been expelled from the synagogue due to their faith. The anti-Jewish elements express their natural resentment of how they had been treated; the Jewish elements of the Gospel, on the other hand, reflect the Jewishness of this group and also soften the force of the Gospel’s anti-Jewish comments.

In Cast out of the Covenant, Adele Reinhartz presents a detailed critique of the expulsion hypothesis on literary and historical grounds. She argues that, far from softening the Gospel’s anti-Jewishness, the Gospel’s Jewish elements in fact contribute to it. Focusing on the Gospel’s persuasive language and intentions, Reinhartz shows that the Gospel’s anti-Jewishness is evident not only in the Gospel’s hostile comments about the Jews but also in its appropriation of Torah, Temple, and Covenant that were so central to first-century Jewish identity. Through its skillful use of rhetoric, the Gospel attempts to convince its audience that God’s favor had turned away from the Jews to the Gentiles; that there is a deep rift between the synagogue and those who confess Christ as Messiah; and that, in the Gospel’s view, this rift was initiated in Jesus’ own lifetime. The Fourth Gospel, Reinhartz argues, appropriates Jewishness at the same time as it repudiates Jews. In doing so, it also promotes a “parting of the ways” between those who believe that Jesus is the messiah, the Son of God, and those who do not, that is, the Jews. This rhetorical program, she suggests, may have been used to promote outreach or even an organized mission to the Gentiles, following in the footsteps of Paul and his mid-first-century contemporaries.

Lexington Books / Fortress Academic
Pages: 248 • Trim: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-9787-0117-5 • Hardback • July 2018 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-9787-0118-2 • eBook • July 2018 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
Subjects: Religion / Biblical Studies / New Testament / General, Religion / Christian Theology / General, Religion / Christianity / History

Prof Joel Marcus has some very useful things to say about John's use of "the Jews" in the Gospel of John in his farewell lecture "Thoughts on the Parting of the Ways Between Judaism and Christianity" given this Spring 2019 at Duke University.

These thoughts are also related to a collection of essays: The Ways That Often Parted: Essays in Honor of Joel Marcus, Eds. Lori Baron, Jill Hicks-Keeton, and Matthew Theissen (SBL Press 2018) offering not "one coherent narrative," but "snapshots of how Jews and Christians (variously defined)" interacted, conflicted and collaborated in first and second century literature. The argument of these essays is that "Christianity's eventual distinction from Judaism was messy and multiform," occurring in different places at different times, in different ways and with different resources, histories, theologies and politics.












Monday, March 18, 2019

Effective Pauses in Teaching? Silence in the classroom

Pauses and silence in teaching to sustain reflective moments and thoughtful exchanges have always been part of my teaching in seminaries. Such moments seem to happen as a result of establishing respect for questions and dialogue. They won't happen if the class is not a safe space. When they happen is hard to predict.

A recent article by Steve Barclay, Education Consultant, makes the point that a pause after asking a question in the classroom before inviting students to respond seems to encourage reflection and deeper thought. A three second pause allows students to gather thoughts into speech. A five second pause after a response:

"allows the teacher to communicate that the student’s answer is important and she is taking time to consider it. Frequently during this pause a student may add to or change an answer now that he has heard it."

Research cited in the article indicates that:

  • Length of student responses increased 300%-500%
  • More inferences were supported by evidence
  • Incidences of speculative thinking increased
  • Number of questions asked and experiments proposed by students increased
  • Students to student exchanges increased
  • Failure of students to respond decreased
  • Disciplinary moves decreased as engagement increased
  • Variety of students participating voluntarily increased as did the number of unsolicited responses
  • Student confidence, as measured by fewer inflected responses, increased
  • Achievement improved on written measures of cognitive complexity
Charley Wesley's 2013 article in the CHE commends the sanctioning of silence in classrooms by pointing out its connotations:

"Silence in teaching has multiple meanings. It is both an opportunity for thought and a force that can bring the classroom to a grinding halt. It is a complex and interesting phenomenon that, properly managed, can enrich our classrooms."
This is exactly the same point made by Jane Brox in her recent book Silence: oppressive in once context (a prison) and liberating in others (a monastery).
Wesley observes that acknowledging and working through silence in classrooms at the beginning of a semester "is a strategy that helps to normalize its discomforting and sometimes stifling presence."

Friday, March 01, 2019

Spring class in Belfast Maine starting March 28th The Miriamic Procession


The Miriamic Procession


  • Thursday Afternoons Starting March 28th
  • 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Senior College at Belfast
  • University of ME Hutchinson Center
  • 80 Belmont Ave.
  • Belfast, ME 04915
  • info@belfastseniorcollege.org
Through examining some selected literary excerpts, this course will explore the evolution of Miriam/Mary/Maryam from ordinary woman to “chosen…above all women of creation.” The Miriamic tradition or procession is both auditory and visual. The sound starts with an unnamed sister raising a brother and moves to the glorious song of Miriam who sings the “Song of the Sea,” celebrating Israel’s deliverance from the powerful Egyptians with music and dance. Some scholars have suggested that Miriam was connected to a philosopher role, and the notion that she communicated with God is advanced through other texts from the Hebrew Bible.
The Miriamic procession continues in the New Testament from Mary, mother in the birth stories, through women disciples in Jesus’ ministry, to the women, especially Mary Magdalen at the empty tomb and at the resurrection. In the Ethiopian Christian Canon, the Weddase Mariam, consisting of seven prayers, one for each day of the week, is appended to the Psalter, and thus has almost canonical status.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, holds a singular exalted place in the Islam liturgy as well, as the only woman named in the Qu’ran, which refers to her seventy times, more often than in the New Testament, and especially identifies her as the greatest of all women.
Dr. Deirdre Good received her Doctor of Theology from the Harvard School of Divinity in 1983 and holds several other advanced degrees from seminaries and other universities.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

March 7 & 14 How to Read the Bible 5-6pm online sessions through the Diocese of Maine

Thanks to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, I am offering two online workshops on How to Read the Bible,  to interested participants on March 7 & 14th from 5-6pm.

To participate in the discussions, you must have a bible easily available to you. I will refer to it regularly and will encourage you to do so too. I will be specifically referring to The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Fifth Edition (2018). I recommend you acquire an annotated NRSV bible, not necessarily this one. I do not expect you to own these books but I want to alert you that I will be referring to David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Translation (2018) and the Jewish Annotated New Testament Second Edition (2017) eds. Amy Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Please email me for details: deirdregood@mac.com

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Lenten Adult Formation Series at Church of Our Redeemer in Lexington Massachusetts

Lenten Adult Formation Series

Recovering a Jewish Jesus
It has never been more important for us as followers of Jesus to understand our fundamental common heritage with Judaism, where and when we parted ways, and how we can live into our faith while honoring and recognizing our Jewish kindred.
This Lent we welcome three extraordinary teachers and guests to Redeemer:
  • Rabbi Howard Jaffe from Temple Isaiah on Sunday March 17 
  • Rabbi David Lerner from Temple Emunah on Sunday March 31
  • Canon Dr. Deirdre Good is a scholar, author and lay preacher in the Diocese of Maine. 
    She will preach on March 10 and lead Adult Forum on Sundays March 10, 24 
    and April 7.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Spring Semester Stevenson School for Ministry Online Courses

Interested in taking online courses at the SSM in Spring 2019?

Register here.

Courses start in the second week of February.
We use Zoom for interactive classroom learning and discussions. Our classes are recorded for future use and consultation. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Enneads, Plotinus ed. Lloyd Gerson (CUP 2019)

"What little we know about the life of Plotinus (ca. 204–270 CE) comes from the short memoir with which his disciple and literary executor Porphyry (ca. 234–305 CE) prefaced The Enneads—the complete edition of Plotinus’s writings that Porphyry collected and arranged. Because Plotinus was reluctant to speak of his early life, and because Porphyry came to know him when he was already fairly advanced in years, the picture we have is of a man already fully formed in personality and settled in his convictions. According to Porphyry, Plotinus attached small importance to his own biography. Just as he objected to having his likeness drawn or sculpted, because he was ashamed at finding himself caught in the shadowy meshes of a material body, so he also objected to dwelling on the trivial details of his individual existence as a mortal man.

But this edition of The Enneads comes as close to establishing an authoritative Plotinian idiom in English as we could reasonably hope. " David Bentley Hart's review of a new edition by Lloyd Gerson.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Choices and the Incarnation: Christmas 2018


Once a month, I volunteer at our local food pantry. For about two hours, 80 or more people stream through seven tables of foodstuffs to help feed their families for a month. In summer, we offer fresh vegetables. Before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, local supermarkets and national food distribution systems offer seasonal food including turkeys, hams, and occasional outliers, most recently 5 pound bags of white flour from Kansas. A volunteer accompanies each client through the room, pointing out options, packing seasonal offerings and their other selections in large heavy boxes, and helping them to their transportation. Everyone assisting is a volunteer, and the system is streamlined to make the best use of everyone’s time while giving recipients what choice is possible.

Last week, in the last distribution before Christmas, I tried to help a newcomer select food items. This person bent over each table, perhaps to see better, picked up and examined every single package, can, or food item carefully before deciding about it. All the volunteers tried one way and another to move the person along faster with no success. Seemingly oblivious to our increasing frustration, this person proceeded along at their own pace, causing other clients behind to stop and wait.


Was this deliberation mere pickiness? Genuine food sensitivities? Prudence and concern not to clutter life with unneeded items? Care that others not be deprived? Or was it simply one place, in a severely limited living situation that must offer very few options, where the act of choice could be exercised?


In our local well-stocked supermarket, no-one would bat an eyelid if we spent several hours scrutinizing every single item by proceeding slowly up and down each aisle. Indeed, staff are there to facilitate our choices, and they regularly inquire at the checkout if we have found everything we sought. Freedom of choice is held out as a virtue of our commerce and our lives. Freedom of choice is a bedrock this country was founded on. In every society, punishment is imposed by circumscribing personal freedom, with capital punishment being the complete loss of freedom.


Yet giving up freedom is exactly what we celebrate at Christmas. it is precisely divine freedom that God relinquishes in the incarnation by voluntarily taking on the constraints of human life in all its restrictions and finitude. And God’s omnipotence is shown here willingly and in humility, knowing what we do not: what the loss of divine freedom entails and exactly how fragile and vulnerable human life is.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Coming in December 2018: American Values, Religious Voices (U of Cincinnati Press)

American Values, Religious Voices

100 DAYS. 100 LETTERS

American Values, Religious Voices
13

Distributed for University of Cincinnati Press

176 pages | 40 illustrations | 8 x 8 | © 2018
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, many Americans questioned how to respond to the results and the deep divisions in our country exposed by the campaign.  Many people of faith turned to their religious communities for guidance and support.  Many looked for ways to take action.  In November 2016, biblical scholar Andrea L. Weiss and graphic designer Lisa M. Weinberger teamed up to create an innovative response: a national, nonpartisan campaign that used letters and social media to highlight core Ameican values connected to our diverse religious traditions.  American Values, Relgious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters is a collection of letters written by some of America's most accomplished and thoughtful scholars of religion during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.  While the letters are addressed to the president, vice president, and members of the 115th Congress and  Trump administration, they speak to a broad audience of Americans looking for wisdome and encouragement at this tumultuous time in our nation's history.  This unique volume assembles the 100 letters, plus four new supplemental essays and many of the graphic illustrations that enhanced the campaign.  Published near the midway point of the Trump presidency, this book showcases a wide range of ancient sacred texts that pertain to our most pressing contemporary issues.  At a time of great division in our country, this post-election project models how people of different backgrounds can listen to and learn from one another.  The letters offer insight and inspiration, reminding us of the enduring values that make our nation great.

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/A/bo41499136.html
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"The Jews" in John's Gospel: Resources B

Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel. Eds. Reimund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt and Frederique Vandecasteele-Vanneuville. Louisville: Westmin...