Tuesday, January 23, 2007

R&E Newsweekly: Turkey's Christian Roots

On Sunday evening Jan 19th, PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly reported on Turkey's Christian Roots. A reporter for R&E, Kim Lawton, interviewed Allen Callahan, from the Society of Biblical Studies. He is also an interim chaplain at Brown University and since 2003, Professor of New Testament at the Seminário Teológico Batista de Nordeste in Bahia, Brazil.

The interview includes images from Ephesus, Hierapolis, and archaelogical material from Turkey. Topics covered include the tradition that Mary spent her last days in Ephesus on account of the scene in John 19 where Jesus from the cross says to his mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then he says to the beloved disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour, John reports, the disciple took her to his house. Allen Callahan renders the scene thus:-

Jesus says from the cross, "Mother, behold your son," then turns to the beloved disciple and says, "Son, behold your mother." He entrusts his mother to the care of the beloved disciple, this disciple whom he loves.

Actually, Jesus never calls his mother, "Mother!" in the gospel of John. And he never addresses the BD as "Son!" in John 19 from his mother's (or anyone else's) perspective. In fact the whole question of the gender of the BD has been a topic of Sandra Schneider's scholarship on John. Callahan's retelling of the scene is a classic misremembering of the last dialogue of Jesus from the cross according to John's gospel. Why Jesus calls his mother and other women "Woman!" in Cana (chap 2; chap 4--the Samaritan woman; chap 20--Mariam of Magdala) is another investigation. But the point of this post is to commend the PBS website and the topic of Turkey's Christian past.

1 comment:

Simon Barrow said...

Thanks for drawing attention to the PBS on Turkey's Christian heritage, Deirdre. This is incredibly important, since the continuing argument over Turkey's accession to the EC - a not unproblematic venture which could nevertheless play an important role in challenging the confrontational tactics being employed by both neocons and Islamists - is widely portrayed as a choice beween Muslim and Christian civilizations, when it is, of course, much more complex than that. Thankfully Pope Benedict seems to have softened, perhaps reversed, his anti stance on this since discussions in Ankara. Human rights remains a significant problem, but one better addressed by drawing Turkey into a framework of law than by exclusion, it seems to me.