SBL 2015

Sessions and Papers related to Johannine Literature
presented at the
Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature
Atlanta, GA - November 21-25, 2015

[For the latest updates, see the official SBL website.]

Program of the Johannine Literature Section

S21-332 (Joint Session): Johannine Literature; Mark
11/21/2015, 4:00 to 6:30 PM
Theme: A Comparison of Johannine and Markan Characterization

Christopher Skinner, Mount Olive College, Presiding

  • Susan Miller, University of Glasgow
    The Characterization of Women in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John (30 min)
    • Abstract: John’s Gospel and Mark’s Gospel both include narratives which feature independent, faithful women who meet Jesus and who are among his itinerant group of disciples. The methods of characterisation of the women in the two gospels, however, have some distinctive features. Mark’s Gospel contains brief conversations between women and Jesus in which women are characterised by one saying. The faith and determination of the woman with the haemorrhage is conveyed by her inner thoughts, “If I touch his clothes, I will be healed” (5:28). The Syrophoenician woman is characterised by her clever response to Jesus, “Yes Lord but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (7:29). On the other hand John’s Gospel contains extended conversations between women and Jesus which characterise the women. John does not focus on a single saying. Instead, he traces the development in the women’s characters in the course of their conversations with Jesus. Jesus takes the initiative and he guides the women from their material needs to their spiritual desire for a relationship with God. Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, and she comes to recognise her desire for “living water”. Martha mourns the death of her brother but Jesus reveals that he is the resurrection and the life before he heals Lazarus. The positive portrayal of women in both gospels raises the question of whether the evangelists’ characterization of women shows any indication that they are concerned about gender. In Mark, women are compared positively to the male disciples. Jesus teaches his disciples to serve others but the male disciples do not serve anyone whereas the women are described as serving (1:31; 15:40-41). The male disciples flee at the arrest of Jesus and women are the only witnesses to the death of Jesus. Women discover the empty tomb but at the end of the gospel they also fail in their discipleship since they are afraid to pass on the news of the resurrection. John also shows some awareness of gender issues in his characterization of women. In John 4:27 the disciples are amazed to find Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman. Their reaction suggests that Jesus breaks social conventions by talking to this woman. Mary Magdalene may be compared to the Beloved Disciple who is portrayed as an ideal disciple. Mary is the first person to recognise the risen Jesus but the Beloved Disciple believed when he saw the empty tomb. Mark and John, however, do not use the term “disciple” of women. In Mark’s Gospel, women are described in terms of discipleship since they have “followed” and “served” Jesus (15:41) but they are not sent out on mission by Jesus. In John’s Gospel Mary Magdalene addresses Jesus as her “teacher” and she recognises Jesus when he calls her by her name. In both gospels there is a tension between the technical use of the term “disciple” to refer primarily to the male disciples who followed Jesus and the characterization of women as models of discipleship.
  • Adesola Akala, University of Durham
    Symbolic Conversations and Characterizations: A Comparison and Contrast of the Samaritan Woman in John 4:1-42 with the Syrophoenician Woman in Mark 5:25-30 (30 min)
    • Abstract: A close examination of the narrative portrayals of the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42 and the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 5:25-30 reveal symmetric and diametric characterizations that advance the narrative and theological strategies of the gospel writers. The aim of this presentation is to show how the gospels of John and Mark accomplish a similar narrative strategy by using the conversations these two women have with Jesus. Using principles of symbol theory, this paper explores the significance of the symbolic characterizations of the two similar yet dissimilar women. The Samaritan woman, intentionally sought out by Jesus, is initially reserved but eventually engages in a theological conversation laden with symbolism that leads to Christological self-revelation, thus opening the door for the inclusion of the Samaritans in the Messianic mission. On the other hand, the Syrophonecian woman intentionally seeks Jesus out but is initially rejected; she argues with him and overturns his symbolic terminology to receive her request, thus opening the door for Gentile inclusion in the Jewish Messianic blessings. Both women are symbolically positioned in their geographical locations and engage in symbolic conversations that contain similar themes such as water/bread/food, personal rejection/reception, family/relational crisis, and ethnic exclusivity/inclusivity. Although the two narratives vary in length, plot, socio-historical context, and setting, a close reading of both texts reveals a common underlying purpose. As sociocultural outcasts on many levels, the vivid characterizations of these two women create suspense and defy hearer-reader expectations. As symbols of individual and communal inclusion the Samaritan woman and the Syrophonecian woman respectively enhance the narrative plots and theological agendas of the gospels of John and Mark.
  • Daniel Frayer-Griggs, Duquesne University
    Finding Lazarus in a Demoniac's Tomb (30 min)
    • Abstract: The Johannine narrative concerning the raising of Lazarus (11:17-44) exhibits a number of rarely observed lexical and conceptual links to Mark’s story of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). Both Lazarus and the demoniac are found in or among tombs; both of the afflicted, at one time or another, have their hands and feet restrained; both narratives contain references to “a loud voice”; both have Jesus issue the command to “come out”; and both events elicit mixed responses where some are inspired to belief while others reject Jesus. At the same time, there are such obvious differences between the two narratives that they cannot be understood as variants of the same story. This paper analyzes the aforementioned similarities (and others), deems them too numerous to be mere coincidence, and proposes a source-critical thesis that accounts for both the similarities and differences between these texts.
  • Tyler Smith, Yale University
    Cognition and Character Building: Constructing the Mind of Jesus in Mark and John (30 min)
    • Abstract: The degree to which individual characters understand the revelatory words of the Johannine Jesus and respond with belief are widely recognized as hallmarks of characterization in the Fourth Gospel. While excellent work has been done on characters' (mis)understanding and (un)belief in John, that work is largely concerned with whether or not these characters represent "types" of response to Jesus. This paper attempts to offer a broader case for the centrality of represented cognition in characterization, with respect both to characters' cognitive abilities and dispositions and also to the content of their thinking, feeling, understanding, and believing. Readers construct characters by using textual and contextual cues to theorize what characters know and how their knowledge changes over time. Such a perspective is helpful whether one advocates a uniform or an eclectic approach to character studies, and lends nuance to several active sites of interest for Johannine characterization: gender, for example, but also social status, genre, the use of ancient rhetorical topoi, and the construction of the Jewish other. As several scholars have pointed out, the Johannine prologue gives readers a cognitive advantage over secondary and tertiary characters in the narrative. What has received less attention is the reader's relationship to the mind constructed for Jesus. Unlike others in the Fourth Gospel, the Johannine Jesus apparently possesses superhuman cognitive abilities by virtue of his unique relationship with the Father. These abilities, and the knowledge contingent on them, are brought into sharper relief when viewed alongside the parallel narrative and character in the Gospel of Mark. Leaving open the question of whether or not John "knew" Mark, this paper will leverage parallels the Second Gospel provides to cast light on John's construction of Jesus' mind, attending particularly to his special knowledge of the future and the inner lives of other persons in the narrative.
  • Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Respondent (15 min)
  • Discussion (15 min)

S23-126: Johannine Literature
11/23/2015, 9:00 to 11:30 AM
Urban Von Wahlde, Loyola University of Chicago, Presiding

  • Ronald Charles, St. Francis Xavier University
    Aseneth, the Samaritan Woman, and the Trope of Travel (30 min)
    • Abstract: Women play an important role in conquest strategies both in the ancient and in the modern world. This paper will illustrate that reality through the stories of Aseneth and the Samaritan Woman. I will argue that through the trope of travel these ancient women are made to be the mouthpiece of particular theological agendas. In Joseph and Aseneth the mythical uniqueness of Israel is reinforced through the conversion of Aseneth. Her conversion, it can be proposed, has implications that go beyond the individual. She is “a prototype and representative of a whole company of proselytes.” In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4:4-42), the nameless Samaritan Woman is confronted with the savior of the world (4:42), who told her everything she ever did. Through proselyting her neighbors she opens up her whole village to Jesus’ grand theological discourse.
  • Lori Baron, Duke University
    The Shema in John and Jewish Restoration Eschatology (30 min)
    • Abstract: This paper is drawn from a section of my dissertation on the Shema in John's Gospel. The Fourth Evangelist does not only portray Jesus' equality with God in terms of the Shema (e.g. 10:30), he also draws upon interpretations of the Shema in the OT prophets (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah) to characterize the Johannine community as eschatological Israel restored. The prophets envision Israel regathered as a unity under the one God; John uses similar language and themes to demonstrate that Jesus' disciples now fulfill that role. This is a rhetorical move that effectively reverses the socio-historical situation of the Johannine community, which has been excluded from Jewish communal life in its particular locale. Johannine believers in Jesus are portrayed as God's restored people, while the Johannine "Jews" are "cast out" from the eschatological covenant community. The paper concludes by exploring the anti-Jewish potential of this reading.
  • Elizabeth Schrader, General Theological Seminary
    Was Martha of Bethany Added to the Fourth Gospel in the Second Century? (30 min)
    • Abstract: This paper is an expansion of a study presented in March at the Mid-Atlantic Regional SBL conference, where I examined the text transmission of the figure of Martha of Bethany throughout the Fourth Gospel in over one hundred of the oldest extant Greek and Latin witnesses. The starting point for this study is sustained instability around Martha’s presentation in Papyrus 66 - arguably our most ancient extant witness of John 11 and 12. In this continuation of that study, I suggest that the Lukan figure of Martha was not present in a predecessor textform of the Fourth Gospel that circulated in the second century. The most striking textual variants around Martha will be reviewed, particularly P66's transcription of John 11:1-5. This presentation will address several redaction-critical analyses of John 11 which have already suggested there was only one sister in an earlier version of the Lazarus story, as well as nonbiblical second- and early third-century witnesses displaying further inconsistency around Martha’s presentation in the Fourth Gospel. In conclusion, this study explores how Martha’s presence (or absence) necessarily affects exegesis of the Lazarus episode, particularly in our understanding of the figure of Mary of Bethany.
  • Seungwoo Shim, Brite Divinity School (TCU)
    Reading Gender Ideology in the Johannine Shepherd Discourse (John 10:1-21) (30 min)
    • Abstract: This paper investigates the Shepherd discourse in John (John 10:1-21) from the perspective of ancient Greco-Roman gender ideology. In particular, by employing the Greco-Roman gender notion of masculinity, the paper focuses on how John underscores Jesus’ superior masculinity in the Shepherd discourse. Jesus’ self identification as shepherd and Jesus’ heroic death contain several masculine virtues such as activity, strength, self-defense, self-control, piety, and courage. Through the image of shepherd John portrays Jesus as a strong warrior, like King David in the Jewish tradition, who fights against the enemy to save his flock. As such, it shows Jesus’ superior competence to defend his flocks from outside attacks, not to mention his courage. In the description of Jesus’ foretelling of his death, John also underscores Jesus’ self control, activity, piety, and courage. John especially places Jesus’ death within the category of the voluntary death of a hero. By doing so, John emphasizes that Jesus’ death is for the benefit of others and the result of his obedience to God’s will. Together with Jesus’ own statement on his close relationship with his father, i.e., God, Jesus’ obedience to God’s will shows his piety. Moreover, Jesus was well aware of his death in advance, and fully controlled the process of his death. In this regard, Jesus plays active role in his death. Moreover, the paper examines John’s emphasis on Jesus’ superior masculinity in relation to the situation of Johannine community. In the milieu of the first century Greco-Roman culture, Jesus’ death on the cross might have damaged seriously the fame of Jesus as a man. Therefore, John seems to defend and to restore Jesus’ masculinity by highlighting Jesus’ masculine virtues, by contrasting Jesus’ masculine behaviors with unmanly behaviors of others, such as Pharisees and Jewish rulers. In addition, the emphasis of Jesus’ masculinity carries an anti-imperial implication. The Roman imperial ideology utilizes gender as a tool to represent, not only the superiority of Roman power and Roman imperial rulers but also a hierarchal relationship between Rome and the subjugated nations. John’s claim of Jesus’ superior masculinity, however, can challenge these imperial claims, since it opposes to the feminization of the conquered, and furthermore articulates the voice of surpassing masculinity of the colonized.
  • Hugo Mendez, Yale University
    Revisiting the Origins and Underlying Genre of John 21 (30 min)
    • Abstract: According to Alan Culpepper, “the list of those who have recently argued for the unity of John 21 with the rest of the gospel” has grown to such a length, that one could conclude that this position “is becoming the dominant view, displacing the once-dominant view that John 21 is a later appendix” (2006:369; see, e.g., Ruckstuhl and Dschulnigg 1991; Breck 1992; Bauckham 2007; Thyen 2005). In this presentation, I will defend the former consensus, introducing the peculiar light/”day” imagery of 21.4 as new evidence of the chapter’s afterthought positioning and distinct underlying genre. Extending the solar “light of the world” motif of 8.12, the Fourth Gospel casts the presence of Jesus in the world as the world’s “day” in 9.5 and 11.9–10, and his departure from the world as its “night” in 9.4. In keeping with this framework, the second half of the gospel is characterized by an “explosion” of darkness/”night” imagery, drawing attention to the broader problem of Jesus’ impending absence (Culpepper 1983: 192). Whereas Brown (1970) and Carson (1991) see the resurrection as a resolution of this “night,” however, I will note that the gospel’s use of darkness imagery only intensifies in ch. 20. The disciples visit the empty tomb at an hour when it is “still dark” (20.1), and Jesus appears to his disciples in “the evening” (20.19). This intensification suits the fact that the resurrection and ascension of Jesus fully participate in the departure motif (cf. 3.13; 6.61–62; 20.17). Even the partial resolution of the absence of Jesus through the coming of the Paraclete (20.21–22) does not eliminate this darkness, since the “epistemological crisis” brought about Jesus’ absence persists for the world (Martyn 1968): “yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me… in that day, you will know that I am… in you” (14.19– 20). This consistent and patterned use of darkness is, however, disrupted in ch. 21. Not only does this final chapter unexpectedly reintroduce light imagery, it superimposes it upon Jesus’ physical presence with the disciples (21.3–4)—a pattern seen neither in chs. 13–20, or the scene’s nearest analogue in 6.16–21. The final chapter of the gospel is, then, a self-contained and catechetical illustration of the alignment between darkness, futility, and the spiritual absence of Jesus, over and against light, “the works of God,” and the spiritual presence of Jesus—one that integrates certain features of parable into a narrative framework.

S23-224: Johannine Literature
11/23/2015, 1:00 to 3:30 PM
Theme: Characterization and Genre

Kasper B. Larsen, Aarhus Universitet, Presiding

  • Characterization:
  • Mitchell Alexander Esswein, Princeton Theological Seminary
    The New Isaac: The Characterization of Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Patriarch Isaac (30 min)
    • Abstract: Nils Dal (“The Atonement: An Adequate Reward for the Akedah?” in Jesus the Christ, 1991, 137–151) argues that the ‘Aqedah served as a strong foundation for understanding Christ’s sacrifice in Rom 8:32 and other New Testament texts. In this paper, I argue that various themes found in Second Temple texts concerning Isaac’s near-sacrifice have their parallel in the Fourth Gospel. Within this developed tradition surrounding Isaac, he became a willing sacrifice (Jth 8:26–27; 4 Macc 13:12; 16:20; Ps. Philo, Biblical Antiquities 32:2–3; Josephus, Ant. 1:232). Jesus, too, announces routinely how he alone has the authority to hand over his life (John 2:21-22; 3:14-15; 18:21-30; 10:11-21; 12:7; 12:27-36). The atoning sacrifice of Christ had already been noted in the Apostolic period, “…He was in His own person about to offer the vessel of His Spirit a sacrifice for our sins, that the type also which was given in Isaac who was offered upon the alter should be fulfilled” (Barn. 7.3). This is logical since an Isaac typology is the only means by which an adequate theology of atonement could arise within Christianity. The Suffering Servant of Deutero-Isaiah could serve as a backdrop, but this figure also developed associations with Isaac. The only legend in Jewish literature that has a father sacrifice an only son is Abraham and Isaac, which is similar to how John describes the Father’s sending of his only Son into the world (John 1:14, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:9–10). Lastly, both Isaac (Jub. 17:15–18:19; Palestinian Targum on Exod 12) and Jesus’ (John 13:1; 19:14) Passions both occur during Passover, which is 14 Nisan. The connections between Jesus and Isaac are considerable, and I will systematically lay out these associations in order to reveal that John’s theology of atonement is partially dependent upon an Isaac typology.
  • Mary L. Coloe, Yarra Theological Union
    The Identity and Significance of the Hellenes John 12:12-43 (30 min)
    • Abstract: Using Narrative Critical methods I will argue that the "Hellenes" in John 12 are Gentiles, not Greek-speaking Jews. I will give strong consideration to the narrative context particularly the OT citations in this passage from Zephaniah and Zechariah. These citations correct the crowd’s acclamation that Jesus is the King of Israel and extend Jesus’ significance to the entire cosmos. The cosmic dimension engages Jesus in a final struggle with ‘the ruler of this world’ which will draw all things/people (panta/s) to him.
  • Genre:
  • Lindsey M. Trozzo, Baylor University (Institution) and Texas Christian University (Employer)
    Genre and Moral Utility: A Rhetorical Approach to Johannine Ethics in light of Genre Participation (30 min)
    • Abstract: Genre analysis is often seen as a foundational “first step” on which every other aspect of interpretation depends. Generic categories imply certain purposes, presenting norms and building expectations that guide audience expectation, influencing them to hear or read the text within a certain interpretive schema. Thus, genre is central to the discursive process of communication that takes place in the dynamic relationship among author, text, and audience. This presentation will consider how the Fourth Gospel’s participation in various genres and literary forms sheds light on Johannine ethics. First, a comparative examination of Plutarch’s Lives will demonstrate that biographical narratives, though not straightforward ethical commentaries, nonetheless deliver complex and implicit moralism that rhetorically engages the audience. I will argue that what has sometimes been interpreted as a lack of ethics in the Fourth Gospel is actually an example of implicit moral utility that is enlivened in the rhetorical exchange between the text and the audience. Second, analysis of the Fourth Gospel’s incorporation of the topics utilized in encomia from the rhetorical tradition will demonstrate the link between Johannine Christology and Johannine ethics—that just as Jesus’ unity with his Father was determinative for his pursuits and deeds, the pursuits and deeds of Johannine Jesus-followers should flow from their share in unity with God. Finally, exploration of the similarities between the Aeneid’s two narrative levels and the Fourth Gospel’s “two-level drama” will illustrate how this particular form of narrative draws the audience into a formative story about their past as a way of teaching them “identity making” for a new era in the life of the community. As we will see, the Fourth Gospel’s participation in the formal bios genre, its incorporation of encomiastic topics, and its two-level narrative presentation all work together to uncover the otherwise elusive Johannine ethics.
  • Jason J. Ripley, Saint Olaf College
    'Bend It Like Socrates': Genre Bending and Jesus' Death in the Gospel of John (30 min)
    • Abstract: This paper employs genre analysis to explore the question of the distinctiveness of John’s triumphant portrayal of Jesus’ death in John. Harold Attridge’s programmatic essay “Genre Bending in the Fourth Gospel” has opened exciting new approaches to familiar problems in the Gospel of John. While many passages in the main body of the narrative have been explored through the lens of genre criticism, the passion narrative has received less attention. Understanding genre as involving content, form, and social function, I will argue that John’s unique portrait of Jesus’ death is in part a result of John’s blending of genres. I contend that the Evangelist combines content from the rhetoric of noble death and adapts the form of a “Death of Socrates” type-scene to transform Jesus’ ostensibly shameful death at the hands of Rome into a heroic act of faithful, non-violent resistance to tyranny. Regarding the content of the genre, I apply Jerome Neyrey’s synthesis (in “The ‘Noble Shepherd’ in John 10: Cultural and Rhetorical Background”) of Greek funeral orations with Aristotle’s guidelines for epideictic oratory to the whole of John’s Gospel, demonstrating John’s uptake of the issues central to the rhetoric of noble death. Moreover, building on the arguments of Gregory Sterling (“Mors philosophi: The Death of Jesus in Luke”) and on the notions of genre prototypes discussed by Carol Newsom (“Spying Out the Land: A Report from Genology”), I construct a constellation of features associated with the narrations of the death of Socrates (with a particular focus on aspects that are taken up by later authors in the portrayal of subsequent heroic deaths, such as the Roman republican Cato and the Maccabean martyrs), applying them to John’s portrayal of Jesus’ death. Details especially evocative of Socrates are John’s emphasis on Jesus’ divine sign indicating the nature and course of his impending death (John 12:27-33), Jesus’ comforting of his disciples in the Farewell Discourses, his resolve in the face of death and his resistance toward attempts to escape his execution (18:1-11), his participation in the process of his own death in the form of carrying his cross by himself (19:17), the emphasis on the unjustness of his death (18:28-32, 38), his dialogical interrogation of Pilate and insistence on testifying to the truth despite the consequences (18:33-38), and finally Jesus’ making of arrangements for his family in the midst of his death (19:25-27). Lastly, in terms of social function, by “bending” the genre of Socrates’ noble death around the crucifixion of Jesus, the author also engages other Jewish and Roman utilizations of the type-scene in a way that highlights Jesus’ way of the cross as the divinely authorized path of resistance to unjust imperial pressures. Taken together, this genre analysis sheds new light on the content, form, and social implications of John’s distinctive portrayal of Jesus’ death.
  • Jill Hicks-Keeton, University of Oklahoma
    Seeing and Believing: The Genre of Anagnorisis and the Johannine Signs (30 min)
    • Abstract: This paper offers a fresh analysis of the literary function of Jesus’ signs in the gospel of John by reading them in conversation with the anagnorisis microgenre found frequently in ancient narratives and in light of the gospel’s rhetorical goal of cultivating belief through signs (20:30-31). Arguing against the common notion in Johannine scholarship that the gospel disparages belief based on signs, I show that scholarly paradigms that devise hierarchies of belief-types inaccurately impose a classificatory system that is foreign to the genre of anagnorisis and its grammar in antiquity. In the gospel of John, I argue, signs receive affirmation, and seeing signs is a legitimate and welcome means of recognizing Jesus and of believing. Taking seriously the Johannine connection between anagnorisis and belief thus offers a more accurate paradigm for understanding the function of the signs in the gospel’s final form.

S23-333: Johannine Literature
11/23/2015, 4:00 to 6:30 PM
Presentation and discussion of Kasper Bro Larsen (ed.), The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.

Jo-Ann A. Brant, Goshen College, Presiding

  • Kasper B. Larsen, Aarhus Universitet
    Genre Criticism and the Gospel of John: Status and Goals (20 min)
    • Abstract: In the last decades, Johannine scholarship has witnessed an increasing interest in historical genres and genre theory as a means to analyze the Fourth Gospel in its ancient literary environment. This interest stands in contrast to main currents in 20th century form criticism, which by-passed John’s Gospel while focusing on the Synoptic Gospels. The present paper reviews highlights and trends in recent research history, presents the volume The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), and suggests some new directions in the study of John and genre.
  • Harold Attridge, Yale University
    The Fourth Gospel: Genre Matters? (20 min)
    • Abstract: This paper will explore the significance of the generic affiliations of the fourth gospel in the light of the ways in which ancient Greek and Roman authors played with the conventions of genre in defining the place of their own work in the literary landscape of the time. Like his classical contemporaries, the author of the Fourth Gospel positions his work within an array of literary types, while distinguishing his approach as a dramatic narrative from that of other gospel writers inclined to pursue a more "historicist" approach to the story of Jesus.
  • Colleen Conway, Seton Hall University
    John, Gender, and Genre: Revisiting the Woman Question after Masculinity Studies (20 min)
    • Abstract: The paper brings gender construction into conversation with genre for the interpretation of the Gospel of John. I argue that considering gender in John alongside ancient biographies leads (again) to such a strong picture of a manly/divine Jesus that it raises again the question of what purpose the female characters serve in the narrative. On the other hand, when we consider the Gospel in light of other ancient genres a more complex picture of gender dynamics emerges. Because both Greek drama and the Greek novels feature women in prominent roles, paying attention to how gender functions in these genres presents new possibilities for reading the role of women in John.
  • Jörg Frey, Universität Zürich
    Miracle Stories, Semeia Narratives, and the Gospel as a Significant Story: Genre Bending and Epistemology in John (20 min)
    • Abstract: As is well-known, John labels his miracle stories 'semeia'. Although it is difficult or even questionable to define a genre 'miracle story', we can observe that John's 'semeia narratives' are not simply tales of past events but deliberately narrated in a manner that points readers to other elements in John's story, esp. the passion and resurrection story, to various symbolic dimensions, and in general to an understanding of the episodes in the light of the entire Jesus story, or in the post-Easter retrospective. From that point of view, they can be characterized as a revelation of his glory, of his true Christological identity, and of his life-giving power. These interpretive links are embedded into the narratives or added in lengthy discourses or dialogues. They all contribute to a reading of the Johannine miracle stories in steady consideration of their Christological and soteriological significance, not merely as episodes of the time and ministry of the earthly Jesus. From John 20:30-1, the question raises whether the term 'semeia' only refers to the miracle stories in John 2-11 or whether other narratives such as the resurrection stories, are also included. A brief look at other Johannine narratives, e.g. the entry in Jerusalem or the footwashing, can show that they are also designed as significant stories that point to the whole of Jesus' ministry or its salvific and ethical meaning. This fits into John's epistemology that urges readers to perceive the whole of Jesus' ministry in the light of its final soteriological meaning, or in the perspective of the post-Easter insights. The semeia narratives as significant narratives are part of the literary strategy that shapes the gospel in its entirety.
  • Tom Thatcher, Cincinnati Christian University, Respondent (30 min)
  • Discussion (30 min)

Papers related to Johannine Literature in Other Program Units:

S21-331: Intertextuality in the New Testament
Theme: Intertextuality and the Gospel of John
Erik Waaler, NLA Høgskolen, Presiding

  • Sheldon Steen, Florida State University
    Him Whom My Soul Loves: Song 3:1-5 as Narrative Framework for John's Resurrection Account (20 min)
  • Andrew Byers, St John's College, University of Durham
    Jesus Prays the Shema as Ezekiel’s Prophesied King: A Reassessment of Johannine Oneness (20 min)
  • Chan Sok Park, College of Wooster
    The Sapiential Traditions in the Fourth Gospel: Johannine Jesus as an Imitable Wisdom Incarnate (20 min)
  • Paul Korchin, Briar Cliff University
    Pontius Pilate as Anti-Moses in the Gospel of John (20 min)

S21-110: Bible and Popular Culture

  • Eric M. Vanden Eykel, Ferrum College
    Spear Wounds and Sleigh Bells: Believing and Seeing in the Gospel of John and The Polar Express

S21-126: Ideological Criticism

  • Peter N. McLellan, Drew University
    Growing Sideways on Gerizim: Refusing Logos and Imagining Otherwise in John 4

S22-145: Social Scientific Criticism of the New Testament

  • Douglas E. Oakman, Pacific Lutheran University
    The Political Meaning of a Cipher — John 21:11

S22-225: Jesus Traditions, Gospels, and Negotiating the Roman Imperial World

  • Gilberto A. Ruiz, Loyola University New Orleans
    What Is Pilate So Afraid of in John 19:8?

S22-336: Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior

  • Michael Clark, University of Birmingham
    Constructing a Stemma for Nicetas of Heraclea’s Johannine Catena

P23-143: Society for Pentecostal Studies

  • Blaine Charette, Northwest University (Washington)
    The Whence and Whither of Those Born of the Spirit: John 3:8 and the Correlation between Son of God and Children of God

S23-301: Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies

  • Laura C. S. Holmes, Seattle Pacific University
    Questioning the Status Quo: Freedom to Debate in the Gospel of John

S23-332: Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Sacred Texts

  • Erica L. Martin, Seattle University
    “Other-ing” Jesus: The Dregs of Anti-Judaism (25 min)

S24-139: Reading, Theory, and the Bible

  • Stephen D. Moore, The Theological School, Drew University
    What a Sometimes Inanimate Divine Animal Has to Teach Us about Being Human: New Materialism, Other Posthumanisms, and the Johannine Jesus

See also the sessions of the John, Jesus, and History Group

Johannine Literature Section

Program Unit Description: Our mission is to address issues and concerns having to do with the analysis and interpretation of the Johannine literature--a major component of the Christian Scriptures, encompassing for our purposes the Gospel of John and the three Johannine letters. The section has historically been committed to highlighting new voices and issues in the field.

Call for Papers: Our 2015 Annual Meeting sessions will include an open session, for which papers on all topics related to the Johannine Gospel and letters will be considered, and sessions on the Genre of the Gospel of John and Characterization in the Gospel of John. The discussion of Characterization is a continuation of a discussion begin at the 2014 Annual Meeting. Papers that consider comparison of Mark and John's approach to characterization are especially welcome.

Steering Committee Co-Chairs:
Prof. Alicia D. Myers, Campbell University Divinity School
Prof. Jo-Ann Brant, Goshen College

(For more info, see the SBL website.)


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