SBL 2001

Abstracts of Papers
to be presented to the
Johannine Literature Section
Denver, CO - November 17-20, 2001

FIRST SESSION: Intertextuality
(Co-Sponsored by the Johannine Literature Section and the Synoptic Gospels Section)

Shawn Kelley, Daemen College
Intertextuality and the Gospels: An Introduction

Biblical critics have long posited that the Gospels are textual dependent upon each other. This analysis has been carried out, primarily, within the context of source criticism. This session is designed to see if the established question of textual Gospel relationships can be reconfigured with the help of narrative criticism and postmodernism. This paper, which is designed to introduce the problem, will proceed through four interrelated topics. (i) I will begin by defining intertextuality and by differentiating between it and other forms of textual relationships (i.e. sources, allusions). (ii) I will then examine and evaluate the various theories of literary dependency assumed by Gospel source critics (i.e. Matthew/Luke rewriting Mark, Mark rewriting Matthew/Mark, etc.). My focus shall be on the ideological, theoretical and aesthetic assumptions behind particular theories of textual relationship, rather than on the particulars of each source-critical paradigm. (iii) I will then explore the ways that intertextuality has been taken up by biblical critics. While biblical studies of intertextuality have been theoretically sophisticated and thought provoking, those essays that take up the Gospels tend (with some notable exceptions) to explore the relationship between the Gospels and the Hebrew Bible rather than the textual relationship between the Gospels themselves. My focus, therefore, will be on identifying and exploring the model of reading implicit in these essays and in seeing if this model is applicable to the question of Gospel intertextuality. (iv) In the final part of the essay I will seek to open a dialogue between the source-critical approach (which tends to lack proper theoretical grounding) and the theoretical problem of intertextuality (which has, for the most part, not yet focused precisely on the question Gospel relations). 

Paul Anderson, George Fox University
Mark, John, and Answerability -- Aspects of Interfluentiality Between the Second and Fourth Gospels
[CLICK HERE for the FULL TEXT in HTML format

As the bioptic gospels, John and Mark offer the reader strikingly different presentations of Jesus, and this is no accident. Their relationship, however, should neither be construed as source-derivative nor independent; rather, the evidence lends itself to a more extensive theory of intertextuality. Traces of "interfluentiality" abound during the early (oral) stages of their respective traditions, and the first edition of John appears to augment, correct, and complement particular aspects of the Markan Gospel. Here Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of answerability informs a more adequate understanding of John as a polyphonic "answering" of the Markan text. In that sense, answerability is not only experienced by the reader of gospel narratives; it also can be inferred between them.

Mark A. Matson, Milligan College
Intertextuality and the Relationship Between John and the Synoptics
[CLICK HERE for the FULL TEXT in PDF format]

The study of gospel relationships has often focused on explicit citations or verbal agreements between the gospels. The recent growth in questions of intertextuality, however, may broaden the perspective for an examination of the relationship between the gospels, and may help us appreciate the interpretive perspectives of the various evangelists. Frequently, source studies of gospel relationships have tended to look only for areas of agreement between two texts. The model is that later authors "used" previous texts, absorbing units of text, adding additional material, and making slight editorial modifications. But is this model perhaps too constraining and unrealistic?

Intertextuality suggests that all authors write from a perspective of pre-existing "texts" - written and unwritten. An author engages a wide variety of pre-existing themes, ideas, structures, and draws both on already known texts and accounts, as well as interpretations of those texts. Authors rarely simply take over previous "texts"; there is frequently a more dynamic use of these intertexts. Some are adopted by imitation, some are modified, some provide background understanding, while other texts are rejected or influence the final gospel account by means of opposition. Such a view of the intersection of prior texts, written and unwritten, is dialogical. This concept of dialogue is richer than standard source criticism, and involves the literary design of the composition.

Using two somewhat similar narrative units in John and Luke, the Anointing of Jesus and the Trial before Pilate, I would like to explore how Luke might have created his gospel, born from the dialogue between the previous texts of John and Mark. This more dynamic concept of intertextual dialogue is suggestive for a study of a wide range of gospel relationships and gospel interpretation.

Ingrid Rosa Kitzberger, Jesuit School of Theology/GTU Berkeley
Characterization at the Crossroads

This paper focuses on Johannine characterization as a testcase for the relationship between John and the Synoptics. Starting from a reader response approach the concept of interfigurality (W.G.Müller) is applied. It will be suggested that Johannine characters are meant to be linked to Synoptic characters and thus to be enriched by new dimensions. As a consequence, the Synoptic characters will also be viewed in a different light, due to "reversing the hermeneutical flow" (L.J. Kreitzer). Concentrating on Nicodemus' interfigural relation to Synoptic women, it will be demonstrated how gender boundaries are transcended in John.

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Jaime A. Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology
The Word(s) of The Word in the Fourth Gospel

The text of the Fourth Gospel places special emphasis on Jesus' words (variously designated as logoV, logoi, rhma, entolh, lalia, tauta, lelalhka).  This paper addresses two issues:  1)  the status of Jesus' word(s) vis-à-vis Scripture and 2)  the relationship between the author's presentation of Jesus' word(s) and the social situation of the Johannine community.  Through subtle and less-than-subtle means, the author empties Scripture of its usual authority and instead transfers that functional authority to the words of Jesus.  Language usually reserved for scripture, such as mimnhskomai, plhrow, telew, threw, and pisteuw, now applies to Jesus' own word(s).  By executing such a transferral of authority from Scripture to Jesus' word(s), the author of the Fourth Gospel may have turned necessity into advantage for his Jewish sectarian community.

A.J. Droge, University of California, San Diego
Sabbath Work

The paper offers a new reading of the cryptic pronouncement at John 5:17, and explores its implications for the interpretation of the Fourth Gospel.

Elizabeth J. Danna, Independent Scholar, Burlington, Ontario
Pilate in the Gospel of John 

This paper concerns the characterisation of the Johannine Pilate.  I suggest that the Johannine emphasis on the Roman trial over the Jewish one may be connected to the theme of krisiV which runs through this Gospel.  I argue that for this reason the emphasis throughout the Roman trial narrative is on the choice which Pilate must make.  I also argue that if the implied author has not let "the Jews" off the hook with regard to responsibility for the death of Jesus, he has not let Pilate off the hook either.  Pilate has the authority to prevent the execution of a man whom he knows is innocent of the charges brought against him.  But he is too afraid of the Jewish leaders, and of Caesar, to simply drop the charges, and not sufficiently perceptive or clever to get around them by more oblique means.  Nonetheless, the picture is not entirely dark, and Pilate's actions after the trial, in the incident of the titulus and the granting of Jesus' body for honourable burial, may be said to lend an ambiguity to his characterisation.

Two cultural scripts are in evidence in these passages; they are considerations of honour and shame and patron-client relationships.  It is the latter which dominates in these passages, and which explains Pilate's weakness and cowardice.  For the terms of his patron-client contract with Caesar will not allow him to drop the charges against a man who might be seen to be a rival to Caesar.  It is considerations of honour and shame which motivate Pilate's final actions as he seeks vengeance for his humiliation by "the Jews."  Pilate may be said to illustrate the negative side of the theme of krisiV which runs through the Gospel of John.

Beth M. Sheppard, Southwestern College, KS
Behold Your Son: John 19:26-27 and Guardian Relationships in the Roman World

The nature of the relationship that Jesus establishes between Mary and the Beloved Disciple in John 19:26-27 has been the subject of some debate, although there is an emerging consensus.  It is one in which symbolizing interpretations are downplayed and emphasis falls upon Jesus providing for the care of his mother in his last hour.  Implicit in this interpretation are assumptions concerning the role of women in familial relationships as well as the ages of both the Beloved Disciple and Jesus' mother respectively.  Generally, the Beloved Disciple is viewed as an adult while Mary is approaching old age.  In this paper an experiment will be undertaken.  Essentially there will be two foci.  First, what happens if the Beloved Disciple is understood to be a teenager?  Second, how might early Roman readers, steeped in a culture of Roman law, understand the relationship that is established at the foot of the cross?  During the course of this experiment, the possibility of a younger witness within Jesus' circle of disciples will be posited and a variety of Roman guardian relationships will be examined including adoption, testamentary adoption, relationships with alumni and impuberes, and the various forms of tutela. The ability of women to assume guardianship roles and the ownership of property by minors, especially in light of John 19:27, will also be explored.  The end result of this experiment will show that on the grounds of the legal precedents in Roman family law, there is no bar against the possibility that Roman readers may have understood that Mary was to serve as the caretaker of the Beloved Disciple.

Daniel Boyarin, University of California at Berkeley
The Ioudaioi in John and the Prehistory of "Judaism" 

My basic premise is that Lou Martyn's hypothesis has been thoroughly discredited (I will present briefly the evidence for this statement). I will argue that there is no evidence in John for the so-called "parting of the ways." We need to read "Ioudaioi" in the text as Yahudim, that is the descendants of the group that is defined in Ezra as the returnees from Babylon and the "Holy Seed," or the only authentic and privileged Jews, as opposed to Samaritans and other local Israelites who did not go to Babylon and did not, therefore, participate in the religious revival and changes there. Ioudaioi is, therefore, neither a "geographical" term, nor a "religious" one (in terms of the dichotomy of Max Weber accepted in effect by Shaye Cohen) but a third term, neither contiguous with the whole People of Israel, nor merely locative, but rather the citizens of what is, sociologically, a sect.  We have further evidence for this as a name for the sect in the DSS.  This accounts for the various referents of Ioudaioi within the FG, as well as explaining the animus against them without assuming an anachronous "Christian" identity on the part of the Evangelist. As for the aposynagogos, this must be understood simply as having been thrown out of synagogues, not "The Synagogue," an institution which never existed.

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Susan Burnett, Snow College
Holistic Narrative Theory and the Feast Plus Miracle at Cana

I propose a paper in which a holistic theory of narrative is employed to explain why the story of the miracle at the wedding at Cana is a conscious reworking of the two variations of the same story found in Matthew 9 and Mark 9.  I will show that the three stories of the same feast have much in common, although the location of Ephesus, which put the writer in contact with Phrygian and Greek forms of worship of Meter, alerted the writer of John's gospel to the need to identify Jesus' mother as being present, while the writers of Matthew and Mark subsume her identity by the word "sinner."  Finally, by using a holistic theory of narrative, I will show that, as far as this episode goes, the writer of the Gospel of John is writing in such a way as to attempt to heal by means of story the stories anger and recrimination found in the earlier gospels.

Benedict Thomas Viviano, University of Fribourg, 
John's Use of Matthew: Beyond Tweaking

Readers of John's gospel are struck by how he takes a saying from Matthew and contradicts it: "You are the light of the world" becomes "I am the light of the world;" "John the Baptist is Elijah" becomes "I am not Elijah."  This phenomenon and its exploration rest on two presuppositions: (1) John had a direct knowledge of Matthew's gospel; (2) John felt free to criticize, to disagree with Matthew.  At first the relationship between Matthew and John seems one of Johannine polemic, rejection, teasing, "tweaking."  Upon further examination this view is born out only in part.  Sometimes John simply takes a different but not hostile approach (e.g., on the transfiguration), and sometimes he takes over a Jesus-Luke-Matthew theme such as discipleship and deepens it in a way that the predecessor evangelists would probably have found acceptable.  In such cases progress replaces polemic.  The paper will examine ten cases of John's putative use of Matthew.  The paper is intended as both a study in intertextuality and in the early rejection history of Matthew, as well as a contribution to early Christian social history.

Panel Review of Tom Thatcher and Robert Fortna, eds., Jesus in Johannine Tradition: New Directions (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001).


Thomas Thatcher, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Introduction (5 minutes)
Paula Fredriksen, Boston University, Panelist (10 minutes)
Robert Kysar, Candler School of Theology, Panelist (10 minutes)
Greg Riley, Claremont School of Theology, Panelist (10 minutes)
Robert Fortna, Vassar College, Respondent (5 mintues)

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