Tuesday, February 17, 2015

NT: John 13-16

Before I speed through the next few chapters of John, a few comments. First, I’ve been reading Richard Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus” (”OHJ”) on and off since the holidays (mostly “off”). When I picked it back up, I entered the chapter(s) where he starts to evaluate the Gospels in detail, starting with Mark, then Matthew, Luke and John. OHJ is very well worth having as a resource to refer to if you’re reading the Gospels, because of the copious information available on how the Gospels were written, and how they relate to other literature from that period. Add that to your Gospel Parallels for an enhanced reading experience! Another nice reading (and viewing) aid is PBS Frontline’s “From Jesus to Christ” series, particularly the section “What Are the Gospels?”, which discusses the gospels with various historians and commentators.

Back to the Gospel According to John. This next handful of chapters is almost entirely different from the Synoptics, and contains many memorable and poetic passages.

In Chapter 13 we get another indication that Jesus knows what’s coming down the pike - i.e. His crucifixion:

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

The first 30 verses are similar to passages in some of the other Gospels, but note that the feet-washing episode is not found in Mark, the earliest Gospel that we have. Jesus foretells his betrayal, and predicts Peter’s denial of him - both familiar themes.

38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

The “verily, verilies” are a prominent feature of Jesus’ patois in John, but apparently no other author. This *appears* to be a literary affectation that was introduced in the King James Bible, which drew upon William Tyndale’s 1500's translation of Greek and Hebrew sources. I read it on the Internetz, so it must be true!

Chapter 14 brings us more good news:

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

In Chapter 15, we get still more memorable sayings, but today, this following passage jumps out at me. Jesus is essentially saying “You’re my friend only if you do what I say. Really, you’re not a slave - you’re my friends! Trust me!” Kinda sinister, dontcha think?

14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

By Chapter 16, the disciples are convinced that Jesus knows everything, which - I gotta tell you - doesn’t speak well of the disciples. They seem kinda stupid.

30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

In John, the Passion Narrative is quite a bit more drawn-out and involved due to these three last, utterly unique chapters. They’re good reading, but it’s hard to believe that an author writing 60-70 years after Jesus died would have so much dramatic detail.

In my next installment, we’ll see how John treats the crucifixion and resurrection.

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