JOHN 1:1-18 IS NOT A PROLOGUE!

(AND THIS IS NOT AN INTRODUCTION)1

[Like this essay, John has no actual ‘beginning’ or ‘end’. It is written “so that you may continue to believe” (pisteu/hte;2 20:31), implying that one has started and ain’t gonna stop! The hour is coming, indeed it has come... (16:32) The para/klhtoj3 is already with us (14:16b → 20:21-23), the Christ already resurrected (18:11b,33-38; 19:11), the ‘prologue’, like this ‘introduction’, already a conclusion (1:14) . . . . .]

Let the discussion ‘begin’. . . . .4

1 Derrida, J., Dissemination, pp.6-7.

∏* B º; NRSV takes pisteu&shte (“come to believe”; ∏í A C D). 2 â 3 I will retain the Greek rather than translate, and ask the reader to be aware that para&klhtoj has various “shades” of
meaning outlined in Kysar, R., John, the Maverick Gospel, pp.108-109 (also Brown, R. E., The Gospel According to John, pp.1136-7). 4 Why labour the point above? Simply because if the prologue is always already a conclusion, then Johannine theology makes a whole lot more sense! This is inclusive of pneumatology, and my contention throughout is that the motivation behind Johannine pneumatology lies (with)in para&klhtoj (14:15-17,26; 15:26-27; 16:7-11,13-14). The essay itself is set out as a series of e-mails by two fictional characters – the Beloved Disciple (BD) as representative of the Johannine community (JCom), and someone called Phillip (the Evangelist?) interested in publishing the Gospel. My own interjections are included in {italics} when deemed necessary. Part of my reason for adopting this (admittedly odd) structure is that through the structure I want to emphasise the interactive nature of the Johannine literature – I am, after all, a post-resurrection believer, and thus find myself in the same position as the JCom. (The existence of JCom is taken as read: c.f. Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple.)

66vid

From: phillip@doxapublishing.org To: beloved.d@community.ephesus.com5 Subject: para/klhtoj Hey guys! – how are you all? Just got round to proof-reading your new book. Great stuff – you’ve really gone to town with the source material!6 I especially liked the Lazarus story. It’s fresh, new, no-one’s ever heard it before (well, no-one outside of your little group), and it shows a different side to Christ. However, I was a little confused with this para/klhtoj thing, especially considering your previous work.7 What’s the motivation behind the unique terminology? Couldn’t you have just stuck with “Holy Spirit” [1:33; 20:22]? Yours, Phil P.S. “Love one another” [14:12-13] seems to be something your community really needs to hear at the moment! [c.f. 1 Jn. 3:11; 2 Jn. 5-9]

5 6 7

Brown, op. cit., pp.56,67; contra Stegemann, E. W. & W., The Jesus Movement, pp.226-7. Morris, L., The Gospel According to John, p.51. E.g. 1 Jn. 2:1. It seems clear that the epistles possess the theology of John in embryonic form (so Schnelle, U., The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p.457: contra Sproston, W. E., “Witnesses to what was a)p' a)rx~hj”, p.143 fn.13).

From: beloved.d@community.ephesus.com To: phillip@doxapublishing.org Subject: Re. para/klhtoj Good to hear from you, Phil. How’s the family? Sorry the book is confusing! It does contain difficult ideas. Let me briefly explain the concept of para/klhtoj. Recall that in 1 Jn. 2:1, Jesus is referred to as our para/klhtoj with the Father, our “Advocate” (NRSV). Well, chs.13-17 of the book are just a fleshing-out of this concept8 – in 14:16, the Holy Spirit is introduced as ‘another’ para/klhtoj, separate from the person of Christ.9 This has been variously interpreted by different readers as Jesus’ “other presence”10 [c.f. 7:38-39; 16:28; 20:22], “living presence”11 and his “successor”.12 {Stibbe also makes reference to the similarities between the para&klhtoj and NT prophecy.13 Among these are that para/klhtoj has a specific speech function (15:26), convicts of sin (16:8-11; c.f. 1 Cor. 14:24-5) and declares future things (14:13). It can be inferred from this that perhaps part of the Gospel’s pneumatological motivation was that prophecy played an important part in the community – see also 4:19,29; 6:14; 8:21-30.}

The para/klhtoj is also equated with the “Spirit of truth” (16:13) [c.f. 1 Jn. 4:6]. The source of this truth is found in vv.14-15 – the para/klhtoj teaches only what he hears from Jesus.14 As the epistles

8 9

Keener, C. S., The Gospel of John, p.972; Schnelle, op. cit., p.487,512. The para&klhtoj “continues and interprets the ministry of Jesus himself, and thus [is] appropriately called ‘another Paraclete.’” (Smith, D. M., The Theology of the Gospel of John, p.140, my emphasis) See also Levison, J. R., The Spirit in First Century Judaism, p.242.

10 Martin, R. P., New Testament Foundations Volume 1, p.286. 11 Kysar, op. cit., p.112. 12 Bultmann, R., The Gospel of John, p.567. 13 Stibbe, M. W. G., John as Storyteller, p.87. 14 Morris, op. cit., p.621; Beasley-Murray, G. R., John, p.283.

show, we have had problems in the past with false teachers [1 Jn. 4:1], so the motivation behind “Spirit of truth” is to obviate the need for teachers [1 Jn. 2:20,27; c.f. 1QS 4:23-24].15 {Of course, references to the Spirit in John are not limited to the word

para/klhtoj. By the time we read pare&dwken to_ pneu~ma in 19:30, we have
been sucked into the post-resurrection literary world of the JCom; willfully reading past the ‘obvious’ meaning. After all, what motivated the JCom motivates us – the delayed Parousia. . .

Attached is the prologue: we thought a summary of the book would help readers [c.f. esp. 1:1-2,12-14]. As an aside, do you have any suggestions for a possible book title?

Ei)rh&nh soi. [...] a)spa&zou tou_j fi&louj kat' o1noma [3 Jn. 15],
BD (on behalf of the community)

15 Brown, op. cit., p.138-44.

From: phillip@doxapublishing.org To: beloved.d@community.ephesus.com Subject: Post-resurrection Christ, realised eschatology and para/klhtoj Thanks for your prompt reply and helpful explanations. There was, however, something I noticed on re-reading that you didn’t mention: para/klhtoj acts as the spirit of Jesus in the post-resurrection believer.16 So, in your literature, it’s only when Jesus ascends to the Father [20:17] that the para/klhtoj becomes active in the lives of believers – even to the extent that we can be sent out only because Jesus has been glorified [20:21].17 (BTW, have you read Luke?) Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be a direct result of your realised eschatology. The delayed Parousia18 and persecution from oi( 'Ioudai=oi19 [c.f. 7:30,32,44; 8:39-59; 11:45-57] seem to be adequate reasons for this shift towards realised eschatology, and thus an ‘always-already’ para/klhtoj. {“...[I]f I do not go away, the para&klhtoj will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (16:7b; c.f. 15:26; 16:8,13) Because JCom have the

para&klhtoj, the realised Spirit, they have no motivation to want the type of
futurist eschatology found in (e.g.) 1 Thess. Would you?} Now, you don’t seem to be overly concerned as to when Jesus will be coming back. And why should you be? The spirit of Jesus, the para&klhtoj, is always already here. You don’t need any eyewitnesses; the para&klhtoj will testify on Christ’s behalf [15:26], will teach exactly what Jesus taught [16:12b; c.f. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-6 (esp. v.6)]. I appreciate that Jesus calls for eyewitness testimony in 15:27, but that does not preclude the para&klhtoj testifying through post-resurrection believers.20 The motivations behind “Spirit of truth” have already been discussed.
16 Kysar, op. cit., p.110. 17 Childs, B. S., The New Testament as Canon, p.139. 18 Fortna, R. T., The Fourth Gospel and its Predecessor, pp.284-5; contra Scholtissek, K, “Johannine Studies: A Survey of Recent Research with Special Regard to German Contributions”, p.238. 19 Brown, Community, pp.50-1. 20 There does appear to be a slight incoherency here – Jesus has not yet been glorified, so the disciples can’t do anything anyway. Is the point that, whether an eyewitness or not, you are dependant on the same para&klhtoj? Culpepper also makes the point that the authority of John is, in part, established on the reliability of the narrator (Anatomy of the Fourth

But what I’m wondering now is, if the para/klhtoj has nothing new to reveal, what does 16:13 mean when it talks about the “things that are to come”? Should it be read in the context of the remaining futurist elements to your eschatology (esp. 6:39-40,44, 54), so that ta_ e)rxo&mena a)naggelei= is “a reference to eschatological truths as yet unrevealed [by the para/klhtoj]”?21 And do you have time to mention any other pneumatological motivations? (On a text-critical note, I’m not too sure that making Peter seem like a really bad guy will go down too well. Is there anything you could do to rectify that?) Phil

Gospel, pp.43-9). 21 Ashton, J., Understanding the Fourth Gospel, p.424.

From: beloved.d@community.ephesus.com To: phillip@doxapublishing.org Subject: Our motivations Obviously, being Jewish exiles,22 we’re going to have been influenced in our pneumatological thought and thinking by Judaism,23 and those Gentile converts we accepted24 also had an impact on our pneumatology. So, there’s a definite motivation there to teach25 about the para/klhtoj within our own community, though obviously the scope is easily expanded to cover all post-resurrection believers. As far as ta_ e)rxo&mena a)naggelei= goes, we prefer to think of it in terms of the prophetic; i.e. the para/klhtoj revealing what we individually need to know about the future,26 rather than any great eschatological truths. We’ve heard a bit about this Luke guy, but couldn’t get hold of his book. And on the Peter front – there’s a couple of guys who quite like him, so we’ll get them to knock something up and add it to the end [ch.21]. I’ll get my testimony [21:24] down as well.27 Start the scribes going, and we’ll get the appendix to you ASAP.

{“The hour is coming, indeed it has come. . .”}

22 Tolmie speaks of “a scholarly consensus” (Jesus’ Farewell to the Disciples, p.3), of which JCom’s expulsion from the synagogues is part of. 23 E.g. Job 16:19-20a; Is. 42:1-9 LXX (pos.); Jub. 1:24; 1QS 3:6-7; 4Q287; 4Q434/6. C.f. Balfour, G., “Is John’s Gospel Antisemitic”, pp.265-9 for a detailed list of possible Jewish influences upon the Johannine concept of para&klhtoj. 24 Brown, Community, pp.55-8; Culpepper, op. cit., p.225. 25 Balfour, op. cit., p.269. 26 Ashton, op. cit., p.424. 27 Lincoln, A. T., “The Beloved Disciple as Eyewitness” argues that this is a literary device. In the context of Jesus (3:3132), para&klhtoj (15:26) and John the Baptist (1:32-34), I would agree (pp.7-10); however, in pneumatological terms the argument is partly invalidated. The para&klhtoj is our inner ‘eyewitness’ (14:26; 16:13), so what does it matter if the BD’s testimonial is purely literary?

Bibliography
Books Ashton, J., Understanding the Fourth Gospel, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1991. Beasley-Murray, G. R., John, Waco, Word, Incorporated, 1987. Brown, R. E., The Community of the Beloved Disciple, New York, Paulist Press, 1979. Brown, R. E., The Gospel According to John (2 vol.), London, Geoffrey Chapman Ltd., 1971. Bultmann, R., The Gospel of John (trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray), Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1971. Bultmann, R., Theology of the New Testament 2 (trans. K. Grobel), London, SCM Press, 1955. Casey, M., From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God, Cambridge, James Clarke & Co., 1991. Childs, B. S., The New Testament as Canon, Valley Forge, Trinity Press International, 1994. Culpepper, R. A., Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1983. Derrida, J., Dissemination (trans. B. Johnson), London, Continuum, 1981. Fortna, R. T., The Fourth Gospel and its Predecessor, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1988. Keener, C. S., The Gospel of John (2 vols.), Peabody, Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Kysar, R., John: The Maverick Gospel, Louisville, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993 (rev. edn.). Levison, J. R., The Spirit in First Century Judaism, Leiden, Brill, 1997. Martin, R. P., New Testament Foundations – Volume 1: The Four Gospels, Carlisle, Paternoster Press, 1985 (rev. edn.). Morris, L., The Gospel According to John, Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995 (rev. edn.). Porter, S. E. & Evans, C. E. (eds.), The Johannine Writings, Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1995. Schnelle, U., The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (trans. M. E. Boring), London, SCM Press, 1998. Smith, D. M., The Theology of the Gospel of John, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995. Sproston, W. E., “Witnesses to what was a)p' a)rx~hj: 1 John’s Contribution to our Knowledge of Tradition in the Fourth Gospel” in Porter & Evans (eds.) 1995: 138-60. Stegemann, E. W. & W., The Jesus Movement: A Social History of its First Century (trans. O. C. Dean, Jr.), Edinburgh, T&T Clark Ltd., 1999. Stibbe, M. W. G., John as Storyteller, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992. Tolmie, D. F., Jesus’ Farewell to the Disciples. John 13:1-17:26 in Narratological Perspective, Leiden, Brill, 1995.

Journals, etc. Balfour, G., “Is John’s Gospel Antisemitic? With Specific Reference to its Use of the Old Testament”, unpub. Ph.D. thesis, University of Nottingham, 1995. Hägerland, T., “John’s Gospel: A Two-Level Drama?”, JSNT 25.3 (2003) 309-22. Lincoln, A. T., “The Beloved Disciple as Eyewitness and the Fourth Gospel as Witness”, JSNT 85 (2002) 3-26. Scholtissek, K., “Johannine Studies: A Survey of Recent Research with Special Regard to German Contributions”, CR:BS 6 (1998) 227-59. Scholtissek, K., “Johannine Studies: A Survey of Recent Research with Special Regard to German Contributions II”, CR:BS 9 (2001) 277-305.

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

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