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
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.

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