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The title of this book, John, Jesus, and the Renewal of Israel, indicates both its focus and its thesis. We offer a new reading of the Gospel of John as a story of Jesus’ mission in the historical context of early Roman Palestine. We will argue that the Gospel of John portrays Jesus engaged in a renewal of the people of Israel against the rulers of Israel, both the Jerusalem authorities and the Romans who placed them in power.
This book began in a conversation about the potential value of the Gospel of John as a source for the historical Jesus. We share a conviction that the relationships between John, the other Gospels, and the historical Jesus need to be rethought in the light of recent research. For some time interpreters have assumed that the Gospel of John sheds light on the history of Johannine Christianity and the development of early Christian theology but very little light on the historical Jesus. For access to the historical Jesus, interpreters focus mainly or exclusively on the Gospels as ancient texts. A more appropriate understanding of the Gospels and of how any of them can serve as sources for the historical Jesus will require a substantial reconsideration of many standard assumptions, analyses, and approaches that have guided New Testament studies – many more, in fact, than we could possibly address here. For this project, therefore, we have narrowed the focus to John’s portrayal of Jesus’ mission.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am happy to report that I have recently identified an unpublished Sahidic parchment codex fragment in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. In addition to being a copy of portions of John chapter 3, this manuscript, under the inventory number P.CtYBR inv. 4641, contains hermeneiai on both the hair and flesh sides. Thus, it is the first known example of a hermeneia manuscript of John where both the Johannine citation and hermeneiai are written solely in Coptic. The Yale fragment is significant, not least because only a handful of these enigmatic Johannine fragments are known to exist (see Metzger 1988; Porter 2007; Parker 2006). My edition of P.CtYBR. inv. 4641 is forthcoming in New Testament
Studies 60.2, and in that article I also discuss hermeneiamanuscripts more broadly. I shall upload the article to my website once it is published, but in the meantime, please feel free to read a short post about the manuscript fragment here:
On 4 October 2013, I made Professor Karlheinz Schüssler aware of this fragment, and he registered it in his Biblia Coptica with the call number "sa 972." Sadly, just days after our correspondence, Professor Schüssler died in a tragic car accident. Professor Siegfried Richter of Muenster has also been contacted about assigning this fragment a SMR number. If any of you should desire to see full images of the fragment, please let me know and I would be happy to send them along.
I trust you are well.
"Even in my own personal experience, the most outspoken opponents of universal healthcare have been self-proclaimed “born again Christians” who are quick to tell you that they read the Bible literally. Mind you, they don’t generally read the parts about caring for the poor and marginalized literally...Those who know me well will know that I am very sympathetic with Skinner's critique. Indeed, Christians generally cherry pick from the New Testament and have little rhyme or reason for which passages they take literally. Moreover, when I hear platitudes like "lower taxes" and "smaller government" I tend to think in these terms and these terms.
The Jesus I read about in the New Testament and more importantly, the one I attempt to follow in my own life, wants—I believe—to be taken seriously (and literally) on things like caring for the disenfranchised among us."
Formally introduced to English-speaking New Testament studies in 2005, social memory theory has quickly reached a position of prominence in New Testament scholarship. Many key questions in Gospels studies, especially with regard to the historical Jesus, the new historiography, and the transmission of the oral Jesus tradition, are now being answered in terms of this ‘memory approach.’ The lecture will assess the first decade of this interdisciplinary discussion.
“Jesus was executed. But the incredible story behind the lethal struggle between good and evil has not been fully told. Until now. At least, that is the goal of this book.” p. 4.
“Soon will come the Passover feast, bringing with it tens of thousands of Hebrew pilgrims from all around Herod’s kingdom, eager to pay good money to purchase those sheep for a sacrificial slaughter in the great Temple. In many ways, the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem is no different. They are being sacrificed for the good of Herod’s rule—which is the same as saying that they are being murdered in the name of the Roman Empire.” pp. 19-20
“With a dark beard covering the tip of his chin and a thin mustache wreathing his mouth, Antipas resembles a true villain.” p. 88
“Julia was a great beauty, which made it easier for her to indulge her base instincts.” p. 113
“Holy men such as the Pharisees have filled that void by strictly interpreting the laws of Moses. They gained respect from the Jewish people by adding hundreds of new commandments and prohibitions to Moses’ original list of ten, then passing them on through an oral history known as the Tradition of the Elders. Few ever question these laws, especially not the uneducated peasants of Galilee.” p. 157
“But Jesus would be a fool to ride a donkey into Jerusalem. That would be a death sentence. For while the prophets have been very specific about the way the king of the Jews would be born and live his life, they are just as clear about how he will die. He will be falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. He will be beaten. He will be spat upon. He will be stripped, and soldiers will throw dice to bid for his clothing. He will be crucified, with nails driven through his hands and feet—yet not a single one of his bones will be broken. And those who love him will look on in mourning, unable to do anything to stop the agony.” [fn. “In order, these prophecies are: Psalms 27:12 and 35:11; Micah 5:1; Isaiah 50:6; Psalms 22:18; Psalms 22:16; Zechariah 12:10, and Deuteronomy 21:33; Numbers 9:12; Psalms 34:20, and Exodus 12:46; and Zechariah 12:10."] p. 177
“In the village of Jericho, two blind men call out to Jesus, referring to him as ‘Lord, Son of David,’ a designation that could be applied only to the Christ.” p. 184
“Once again the group walks into Jerusalem and straight to the Temple. It has been three years since Jesus turned over the money changers’ tables, but now he plans to do it again. Only this time he has no whip, and he is no longer an unknown figure.” p. 192
“They are soon replaced by the Sadducees, a wealthy and more liberal Temple sect who count Caiaphas among their number.” pp. 204-205
“Under the teachings of the Pharisees, there are 613 religious statutes. Even though each carries a designation marking it as either great or little, the fact remains that each must be followed. Asking Jesus to select one is a clever way of pushing him into a corner, making him defend his choice. But Jesus does not choose from one of the established laws. Instead, he articulates a new one: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” [fn. “Taken from Deuteronomy 6:5, which immediately follow Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema and cornerstone of Judaism.”] p. 205