Monday, February 06, 2006

The Gospel of John and the Jews

In light of the previous post, I would like to pose the following (lengthy) question:

Does limiting the referent of the noun Ioudaioi ("Jews") in the Gospel of John to the Jewish authorities (so U. C. Von Wahlde) or Judeans (so M. Lowe, P. Tomson, J. Pilch) sufficiently reduce its anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish potential?

Any takers?

12 comments:

Michael F. Bird said...

Mark, best thing to say is that the type of polemics one finds in John is simply part and parcel of intra-Jewish group rhetoric. There's a quote (by Meeks I think, I wish I could find it) to the effect that: "when John is being the most anti-Jewish, he is being the most Jewish". See also Motyer, Steven. 1998. ‘Editorial: Is John’s Gospel Anti-Semitic?’ Them 23: 1-4. which I found helpful.

Mowens said...

Thanks for the comments, Michael. I have not read the context of the above quote, but if the author (whoever it is) is saying what I think he's saying, then I would fully agree. I really believe that settling the referent and meaning of the noun Ioudaios leaves unanswered two other critical issues: 1) the FG's Christology; 2) the historical situation the Evangelist is addressing. I may well put together a post on this when/if I finish this chapter.

Mowens said...

Michael,
The quote is from Meeks, "Am I a Jew? Johannine Christianity and Judaism," 172.

Michael F. Bird said...

Mark,
Thanks for finding this. It has always bugged way that I couldn't remember where it came from.

James Crossley said...

Mark, firstly just come across your blog then realised I should have known earlier.

What do you make of the argument that John uses the term Jews because through high Christology there has been a step beyond what Judaism taught and therefore the term 'Jews' is used to identify the Christian group over against Judaism?

Mowens said...

James,
I'm a nobody in the blogosphere, so its completely understandable you've only now become aware of my blog.
As to your question, I'm going to confess that I'm completely ignorant of this position. My research on the use of the noun "Jews" was primarily limited to literature that attempted to remove the possibility of anti-Jewish readings (eg. "Jews" = Judean, "Jews" = a symbol of the world).
That said, S. Pancaro wrote a couple of articles that argue the noun "Israel/Israelite" refers to Jewish-Christians. Did mean "Israel/Israelite" instead?
If not, could you please direct me to literature on this position? Blessings.

MO

James Crossley said...

I suspect my lack of knowledge about this blog was more to do with me being busy and not keeping up enough. Anyway, I was thinking about Maurice Casey's polemic Is John's Gospel True? (1996) where he argues the kind of argument I outlined. He also adds that 'Jews' is used effectively in the sense we might (esp. of religious Jews) and so it would be a strongly anti-Jewish view attributed to John's gospel.

Mowens said...

James,
Casey's work is one of those resources that is on my list of things to look at. For now, I can say that the noun certainly is used to describe the religious leaders (I think that is what you're suggesting by the phrase "religious Jews"). Also, depending on what you mean by "anti-Jewish," I would be inclined to agree. I hope to put together a post soon that will summarize my conclusions. Blessings.

MO

J. B. Hood said...

mark,

you ought to try to look into some of the arguments floating around that in the 1st century, ioudaioi = judeans, and not always Jews per se. Remind me to scrape out that biblio...(if you're interested)...I'm not saying this view is correct, or accounts for the use in Jn's gospel.

Mowens said...

Thanks for the visit Jason. I have incorporated Lowe's article into my analysis. It really is problematic, especially as one considers such phrases as "feast of the Jews." Somewhat related to this is the suggestion (primarily P. Tomson) that "Jews" is an "external name" used in social situations that involve non-Jewish individuals and "Israel/Israelite" is "inner-Jewish" speech used in social situations involving solely Jews. I would be glad to look at your bib if you can find it. That said, I plan on finishing this chapter REALLY soon. Blessings.


MO

BTW, consider yourself added to my blog-roll (for what its worth)

James Crossley said...

I think Casey would go further than just the Jewish leaders and say Jews as a whole who remain Jewish and do not convert to Christianity so that would raise some interesting questions. He does discuss the history of the discussion. But be warned, it is very polemical!!!

Richard Aberdeen said...

Here is a link to an article I believe accurately describes the phrase "the Jews" as used particularly in the New Testament John. Some scholars I think in error claim this to mean the general Jewish population, which apparently it does not, since the writer himself is a Jew and would not likely refer to "the Jews" as apparently being different than himself, if this phrase was referring to the general Jewish population.

The phrase "the Jews" in John probably refers to those who were strong adherents of the Pharisee, Sadducee and other sects, as opposed to the less devout common Jewish population.

http://www.cfi-interactive.co.uk/downloads/jew-in-newtestament.pdf?PHPSESSID=8dacb821f2a9c4b8c313f213f0e63f1a