Moses as a character in the Fourth Gospel : a study of ancient reading techniques

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As was the case with the other Gospels, the portrayal of Jesus is established at the very outset of the narrative, by the introductory passage known as the Johannine Prologue This prologue, however, is quite unlike anything we have seen in our study of the Gospels to this stage. John the Baptist testified to this Word vv. When the Word became a human being, his name was Jesus Christ v. Up to this point, that is, through the first eighteen verses of the book, the ancient reader may not have realized that he or she was reading an introduction to a biography.

But beginning with , the book takes on a biographical tone that continues to the very end.

What should one make of the Prologue, then, from the literary-historical perspective of ancient Greco-Roman biography? Generate PDF. For me, an introduction to these five critical methods has been the highpoint of my reading in your New Testament textbook thus far I have read about half the book and it has been very helpful to review these methods in this series of posts. Hi, I have noticed it is very frequent for a scholar to mention the Johannine community whenever the topic is the Gospel of John, of course.

What is so special about this community? Who were this people that seem to be an entity of its own? Thanks a lot. Good question. I think in part it is because so much more work has been done on the Johannine community because more materials are available for doing so multiple sources behind the fourth Gospel; the Johannine epistles; and so on and because the socio-historical method arose in relation to them.

But the logic seems to be that this must have been a disciple close to Jesus. The three closest were Peter, John, and James. That leaves John. In this way the Biblical Commission hopes to advance the dialogue between Christians and Jews with clarity and in a spirit of mutual esteem and affection. It is above all by virtue of its historical origin that the Christian community discovers its links with the Jewish people.

Indeed, the person in whom it puts its faith, Jesus of Nazareth, is himself a son of this people.

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In the beginning, the apostolic preaching was addressed only to the Jews and proselytes, pagans associated with the Jewish community cf. Ac Christianity, then, came to birth in the bosom of first century Judaism. A perennial manifestation of this link to their beginnings is the acceptance by Christians of the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people as the Word of God addressed to themselves as well. Indeed, the Church has accepted as inspired by God all the writings contained in the Hebrew Bible as well as those in the Greek Bible. Its scope has been extended, since the end of the second century, to include other Jewish writings in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

The message announced that God intended to establish a new covenant. The Christian faith sees this promise fulfilled in the mystery of Christ Jesus with the institution of the Eucharist cf. The New Testament writings were never presented as something entirely new. On the contrary, they attest their rootedness in the long religious experience of the people of Israel, an experience recorded in diverse forms in the sacred books which comprise the Jewish Scriptures. The New Testament recognises their divine authority. This recognition manifests itself in different ways, with different degrees of explicitness.

Implicit recognition of authority. Beginning from the less explicit, which nevertheless is revealing, we notice that the same language is used. The Greek of the New Testament is closely dependent on the Greek of the Septuagint, in grammatical turns of phrase which were influenced by the Hebrew, or in the vocabulary, of a religious nature in particular.

Without a knowledge of Septuagint Greek, it is impossible to ascertain the exact meaning of many important New Testament terms. This linguistic relationship extends to numerous expressions borrowed by the New Testament from the Jewish Scriptures, giving rise to frequent reminiscences and implicit quotations, that is, entire phrases found in the New Testament without any indication of origin.

These reminiscences are numerous, but their identification often gives rise to discussion. To take an obvious example: although the Book of Revelation contains no explicit quotations from the Jewish Bible, it is a whole tissue of reminiscences and allusions.

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The text is so steeped in the Old Testament that it is difficult to distinguish what is an allusion to it and what is not. What is true of the Book of Revelation is true also — although to a lesser degree — of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters. This recognition of authority takes different forms depending on the case.

This gegraptai carries considerable weight. It can also happen that a biblical text is not definitive and must give way to a new dispensation; in that case, the New Testament uses the Greek aorist tense, placing it in the past.

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In his doctrinal arguments, the apostle Paul constantly relies on his people's Scriptures. To the arguments from Scripture he attributes an incontestable value. The New Testament recognises the definitive value of arguments based on the Jewish Scriptures. This conviction is frequently evident. Two texts are particularly significant for this subject, since they speak of divine inspiration. These two texts not only affirm the authority of the Jewish Scriptures; they reveal the basis for this authority as divine inspiration. A twofold conviction is apparent in other texts: on the one hand, what is written in the Jewish Scriptures must of necessity be fulfilled because it reveals the plan of God which cannot fail to be accomplished; on the other hand, the life, death and resurrection of Christ are fully in accord with the Scriptures.

The Gospel of Luke (KJV) read by Alexander Scourby

Necessity of fulfilling the Scriptures. This is what Matthew often expresses in the infancy narrative, later on in Jesus' public life 16 and for the whole passion Mt Luke does not use this expression but John has recourse to it almost as often as Matthew does.


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It is clearly understood that these events would be meaningless if they did not correspond to what the Scriptures say. It would not be a question there of the realisation of God's plan.

Conformity to the Scriptures. Other texts affirm that the whole mystery of Christ is in conformity with the Jewish Scriptures. The Christian faith, then, is not based solely on events, but on the conformity of these events to the revelation contained in the Jewish Scriptures. The New Testament shows by these declarations that it is indissolubly linked to the Jewish Scriptures.


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  5. Some disputed points that need to be kept in mind may be mentioned here. This theological affirmation is characteristic of Matthew and his community. It is in tension with other sayings of the Lord which relativises the Sabbath obvervance Mt ,12 and ritual purity Mt In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appropriates a saying of Isaiah Lk ; Is to define his mission as he begins his ministry.

    In the Acts of the Apostles, the kerygmatic discourses of the Church leaders — Peter, Paul and Barnabas, James — place the events of the Passion, Resurrection, Pentecost and the missionary outreach of the Church in perfect continuity with the Jewish Scriptures. Although it never explicitly affirms the authority of the Jewish Scriptures, the Letter to the Hebrews clearly shows that it recognises this authority by repeatedly quoting texts to ground its teaching and exhortations.

    It contains numerous affirmations of conformity to prophetic revelation, but also affirmations of conformity that include aspects of non-conformity as well. This was already the case in the Pauline Letters. In the Letters to Galatians and Romans, the apostle argues from the Law to prove that faith in Christ has put an end to the Law's regime.

    He shows that the Law as revelation predicted its own end as an institution necessary for salvation. In a similar way, the Letter to the Hebrews shows that the mystery of Christ fulfils the prophecies and what was prefigured in the Jewish Scriptures, but, at the same time, affirms non-conformity to the ancient institutions: the glorified Christ is at one and the same time in conformity with the words of Ps :1,4, and in non-conformity with the levitical priesthood cf.

    Heb , The basic affirmation remains the same.

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    The writings of the New Testament acknowledge that the Jewish Scriptures have a permanent value as divine revelation. They have a positive outlook towards them and regard them as the foundation on which they themselves rest. Consequently, the Church has always held that the Jewish Scriptures form an integral part of the Christian Bible. In many religions there exists a tension between Scripture and Tradition. This is true of Oriental Religions Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. The written texts can never express the Tradition in an exhaustive manner.

    They have to be completed by additions and interpretations which are eventually written down but are subject to certain limitations. This phenomenon can be seen in Christianity as well as in Judaism, with developments that are partly similar and partly different. A common trait is that both share a significant part of the same canon of Scripture. Scripture and Tradition in the Old Testament and Judaism.

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    Tradition gives birth to Scripture. The origin of Old Testament texts and the history of the formation of the canon have been the subject of important works in the last few years. A certain consensus has been reached according to which by the end of the first century of our era, the long process of the formation of the Hebrew Bible was practically completed. To determine the origin of the individual books is often a difficult task.

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