A disciple of Jesus calls him "Lord and God" (20:28; see 1:1-2), while his enemies charge that Jesus "makes himself equal to God" (5:18) and "makes himself God" (10:34). What is the scope of these remarks about Jesus? What content goes into the confession of Jesus as "Lord and God" and what is meant by claiming that Jesus is "equal to God"? In what ways is Jesus properly called "god"?(1)
Investigation of the Johannine high christology(2) should be done in two ways. First, traditional critical approaches such as literary analysis and history of religions comparisons can answer in part the question of what it means in this gospel to call Jesus "Lord and God." The confession, moreover, can and should be seen in the light of the social and cultural situation in which it developed and was articulated. This second approach invites the use of a different questions and methods, in this case the social sciences, in particular the work of anthropologist Mary Douglas, to assess how such a confession functions as an ideology replicating the cultural stance of the confessing group.(3) Both approaches will be employed in this study to investigate the scope of the high christological confession and its ideological implications.
A. Jesus at the Appearing Deity
The gospel absolutely maintains that "no one has ever seen God" (1:18; 6:46)--except the Son, of course. Nor has anyone ever ascended the heaven to see God or receive revelations (3:13)--except the Son. The Israelites neither saw God's shape nor heard his voice (5:37). No, neither Abraham, nor Moses, nor Elijah, nor any of Israel's prophets or visionaries has ever seen God. But since Scripture says that "God" appeared to them, what are we to think about the theophanies in the Bible? John's gospel argues in several places that the appearing deity was not God (whom no one has ever seen) but Jesus.(4)
Abraham, for example, saw Jesus' day (8:56). As has been shown,(5) this refers to an experience of Abraham during his life on earth, such as the theophany at the Covenant of the Pieces (Gen 15) or his reception of the three heavenly visitors (Gen 18).(6) Although Abraham is credited with prophetic visions of the future, John's text is not referring to a vision of Jesus-who-is-to-come-as-the-Messiah, for the text continues with the extra-ordinary claim that Jesus was not a mere future figure revealed to Abraham but rather a contemporary of Abraham, nay an eternal divine figure: "before Abraham came into being, I AM" (8:58). Although the Johannine text insists that Abraham did not see God, he had theophanies nonetheless. Abraham then saw Jesus in his visions as the appearing deity, as the one who bears the name of God, "I AM."
Likewise in John 12:41 it is stated that Isaiah "saw his glory." Although Isaiah prophesied about future events (see Sirach 48:24-25), it is commonly argued that John's text refers to a time in the prophet's life when he saw his glory, viz. the vision in the temple (Isa 6). Isaiah did not see God; but since the theophany was genuine, he must have seen the heavenly Jesus, the glory of God, the true Shekinah who pitched his tent there.
A similar argument might be made apropos of 1:51. Jesus promises his disciples that they will see a heavenly vision; they will look into heaven, even to the throne of God, and view the Son of Man there with angels ascending and descending upon him. This verse clearly alludes to Jacob's vision in Gen 28:12, suggesting that the disciples will see what Jacob saw: a vision of an appearing, heavenly figure. Jacob never saw God, although he had a genuine theophany; like Abraham and Isaiah he saw Jesus, the heavenly figure. In one sense the promise is never literally fulfilled in John's gospel; there is no theophany of ascending/descending angels. But Thomas, for example, received an apparition of the risen Jesus and acknowledges that figure to be Kyrios and Theos. Therefore Abraham, Jacob and Isaiah saw the appearing Jesus in their theophanies; and just such christophanies will be granted to the church.(7)
The author of the Fourth Gospel was not the first to engage in this type of exegesis of the Scriptures. Justin Martyr, for example, employed it in his Dialogue with Trypho, when he argued with his Jewish opponent that it was Jesus who appeared to the Patriarchs. After systematically demonstrating that Jesus appeared to Abraham (Dial. 56, 59), to Moses (Dial. 56, 59, 60, 120), and to Jacob (Dial. 58, 60, 86, 126), Justin summarized his claim to have shown that
. . . neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all and of Christ, but (saw) him who was according to his will his Son, being God, and the Angel because he ministered to his will (Dial. 127).
The structure of Justin's argument, moreover, is like that of John: 1) no one has ever seen God, 2) therefore the Patriarchs, who received genuine theophanies according to the Scriptures, saw Jesus, c) who is properly called God.
For completely other reasons, Philo likewise argues that the theophanies in the Hebrew Scriptures were not visions of God (material persons cannot see the immaterial God). Therefore, they were revelations of God's Logos or of a Power of God. In Gen 17:1, for example, Abraham did not see God but only a Power of God (Mut. 15, 17). Despite his request to God to "show me Thyself" (Ex 33:13 LXX), Moses saw only "the back of God," which is one of "the powers that keep guard around you" (Sp. Leg. I. 45-46). In Gen 28:12, Jacob saw one of the powers of God (Somn. I. 70). But in another theophany (Gen 31:13), Jacob is told that the appearing figure is not God but "god who appeared to you in place of God" (Somn. I. 228). Are there two gods? No, Philo can distinguish between no theos and theos:
Accordingly the holy word in the present instance has indicated Him who is truly God by means of the article saying "I am the God" (Gen 31:13) while it omits the article when mentioning him who is improperly so called, saying "Who appeared to you in one place" not "of the God," but simply "of God" (Somn. I.229).
The point is, no theos never appears in theophanies according to Philo, for no one can see God.
The appearing figure is theos, one of God's powers, even the Logos, who is "improperly called god."(8)
In summary, John considers Jesus as a heavenly, eternal figure in virtue of the fact that Jesus was active throughout Israel's history, functioning as the one who gave theophanies(9) to Israel's patriarchs and prophets.
B. Jesus is "Equal to God"
In chapter 5 Jesus worked a miracle on the Sabbath (5:1-5), which led to a charge that he had "violated the Sabbath" (5:16), which charge prompted an apologetic defense of his action and his person (5:30-47). At a later time in the history of the Johannine community, a new controversy between church and synagogue developed over the high christology of the Johannine group, viz. its confession of Jesus as a divine, heavenly figure. This later controversy is reflected in 5:17-29, where a new charge is brought against Jesus ("he makes himself equal to God," 5:18), which charge prompts a new apology (5:19-29).
As the following synopsis shows, the new charge in 5:18 is not simply a doublet of the old charge in 5:16. The prosecution(10) by the Jews is heightened ("they sought to kill him") and a new and more cogent reason for this is offered ("he makes himself equal to God").
Old Charge (5:16) New Charge (5:18)
sinful action: blasphemy:
violation of Sabbath he makes himself
equal to God
Old Apology (5:30-47) New Apology (5:19-29)
series of witnesses, careful explanation
testifying to Jesus' of how Jesus truly is
obedience & sinlessness "equal to God"
The key to understanding the new apology (5:19-29) is to deal critically with the new charge. Part of it is erroneous and must be rejected ("he makes himself"), but part of it is true ("equal to God") which requires defense and careful explanation.
As regards the charge "he makes himself," in 5:19 Jesus disowns acting independently of God, much less contrary to God's law, for "of himself the Son can do nothing." Rather he does "what he sees the Father doing," which does not mean that he spies on God and steals heavenly secrets (cf. Prometheus). On the contrary, "the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he does" (5:20). Thus the charge is untrue that Jesus arrogantly assumes power or status (". . . making himself"); for as the defense argues, God loves the Son and God shows the Son what he does. That is, God makes him equal. But as regards the second part of the charge, Jesus' equality with God is clearly maintained: "what the Father does, the Son does likewise" (5:19b) and the Father shows him "all that he himself does" (5:20a).
In 5:21-29, the gospel again denies the first part of the charge, while affirming the second. First it is argued that Jesus has not arrogated to himself any power, for whatever powers he enjoys have been given him by God:
5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment tot he Son.
5:26 As the Father has life in himself, so he has given the Son also to have life in himself.
5:27 . . . and has given him authority to execute judgment.
Again, it is not true that Jesus "makes himself" anything.
Second, 5:21-29 indicate quite clearly in what sense Jesus is "equal to God," viz., Jesus has God's full eschatologial power:
1. make alive: As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son makes alive whom he wills (5:21);
2. judgment: The Father has given all judgment to the Son (5:22);
3. honor: . . . that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father (5:23);
4. dear hear & live: The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live (5:25);
5. life in himself: As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself (5:26);
6. judgment: . . . and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man (5:27);
7. dead raised & judged: All in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (5:28-29).
Since Jesus enjoys the same honor as God, the same authority, and the same extraordinary powers, he is undeniably "equal to God." And this equality with God is not Jesus' vainglorious self-extension; rather it is God's will that he be so recognized and honored.
In summary, the claim that Jesus "makes himself" anything is rejected. God loves him, shows him all he does. God gave him al judgment, to have life in himself, to exercise power to raise the dead and judge them. And God wills that he be honored equally with him. Contrary to the charge in 5:18, the proper statement should be "God makes him equal to Himself." Equality with God, however, is emphatically maintained by showing how Jesus has God's two basic powers, creative and judgmental power.
5:19-29 attributes to Jesus two different powers.(11) Raising the dead, judging, and having life in oneself refer to God's eschatological power. If the eschatological character of the power ascribed to Jesus in 5:21-29 is clear, what can be said of the power credited to him in 5:19-20? It would not seem to refer to either executive leadership or eschatological power. I suggest that 5:19-20 refers to God's grant to creative power to Jesus.
In 5:17 Jesus claimed that "my Father is working still and I am working." That statement functions as an apology for not resting on the Sabbath; it implies that God did not stop creating on the seventh day but continued working.(12) Apropos of the healing in 5:1-9, Jesus defends himself by claiming two things: a) God continues to work on the Sabbath, hence Jesus is imitating God's continued creative work by his healing on the Sabbath, and b) God shows him all that he does, empowering him for works of creation and providence. And all of God's deeds of creation/providence Jesus does likewise. The gospel has already attributed all creation to the Logos (1:1-3) and we should see 5:1-9 and 17-20 as the continuation of that theme. Jesus has God's full creative power, just as he has God's complete eschatological power.
What is the significance of insisting that Jesus has God's two powers? Jewish discussions of God focused on God's two measures (middoth) of kindness and justice (see Ex 34:6-8).(13) All theology dealt with God's operations in the world, these two measures encompassing all of God's actions in the world. The same is true of Hellenistic theology, where the deity is fundamentally described in terms of his providence (kindness/justice) which is manifested by creation/maintenance of the world and by justice.(14) Philo expresses this most clearly in his exposition of God's two powers: dynamis poietik and dynamis basilik.(15) Through the dynamis poietik God "creates and operates the world" (Q. Gen. IV.2); and by the dynamis basilik is described in terms of "goodness, mercy, beneficence," as well as creation; alternately the dynamis basilik is "authority, legislation, punishment," as well as governance. The same dual aspect of God's total powers may also be found in Rom 4:17 where Abraham's great faith was belief in God who a) called being out of non-being (creative power) and b) made the dead alive (eschatological power).(16) Creation and eschatology, then, describe all of God's actions. John's gospel, moreover, reflects just this tradition of God's two basic powers in 5:19-29 when it attributes creative (5:19-20) and eschatological (5:21-29) power to Jesus.(17)
In Philo and the Rabbis, moreover, the two powers of God are associated respectively with God's two names.(18) For Philo, the beneficent, creative power (dynamis poietik) is called Theos (the equivalent of Elohim in the LXX) and the royal, punishing power (dynamis basilik) is called Kyrios (the equivalent of the tetragrammaton in the LXX). For example, in explaining the Cherubim (Exod 25:18), Philo identifies the two powers of the Deity and names them accordingly:
I should myself say that they (the Cherubim) are allegorically representations of the two most August and highest potencies (dynameis) of Him that is, the creative and the kingly. His creative potency is called God (Theos), because through it He placed and made and ordered this universe, and the kingly is called Lord (Kyrios), being that with which He governs what has come into being and rules it steadfastly with justice (Mos. II.99).(19)
The Rabbis likewise associated the two powers with God's two names, although for them the creative power was linked with the tetragrammaton and judgment with Elohim.(20) But the tradition is clear that God's two powers are linked respectively with God's two names. Is this true in John?
In the gospel prologue, where Jesus is credited with creative power, he is called Theos (1:1-3). Chapter 5 also deals with Jesus' creative "working," in which context Jesus is alleged to be "equal to God" (ison t the, 5:18). Theos, then, is the appropriate name for Jesus when he exercises creative power. Kyrios, however, is much more difficult to deal with; for while Jesus is often acclaimed Kyrios in John, this title is constantly open to the minimalist interpretation of "sir" or "master." There is, however, one climactic confession in the gospel in which Jesus is acclaimed "My Lord (Kyrios) and my God (Theos)" (20:28). Surely at this point Kyrios should be treated as a cultic title, its full force acclaiming Jesus as a divine figure.(21) But what is intended by acclaiming Jesus as Kyriois after his resurrection? Is his exercise of a certain power implied and acknowledged?
Creative power is not only claimed but demonstrated (1:1-18; 5:1-9, 19-20) and so Jesus is rightly called Theos. Eschatological power is initially only claimed in 5:18, 21-29, and its demonstration remains the task of the rest of the gospel, especially the next several chapters. As is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, a sentence or statement is frequently made which serves as the text, topic or agenda of subsequent discussion. 5:18, 21-29 is just such a topic statement.(22) As the following chart shows, the seven items contained in 5:18-29 are formally explained and treated in chs 8, 10 and 11.(23)
Eschatological Power John 8 John 10 John 11
1. equal to God
"he makes himself 8:24b, 10:30, 11:25a
equal to God" 8:28,58 10:33,38
2. make alive
"as the Father raises ------ 10:28 11:38-44
the dead and gives them
life, so the Son makes
alive whom he wills"
"The Father has given 8:21-30 10:26 ------
all judgment to the
Son . . . authority 8:31-59 ------ ------
to execute judgment
"all may honor the Son the name: 10:31 ------
even as they the Father" "I AM" 10:39
5. dead hear & live
"The dead will hear the 8:51 (10:3-4) 11:43-44
voice of the Son of God,
& those who hear will live"
6. life in himself
"As the Father has life 8:24, 10:17-18 11:25a
in himself, so he has 28, 58 10:34-36
given the Son also to
have life in himself"
7. dead raised and judged
"All who are in the tombs ------ ------ 11:25
will hear his voice & come
forth . . . to a resurrection of
life (or) to judgment"
What was claimed in 5:21-29, then, is formally discussed and even demonstrated, the greatest demonstration surely being Jesus' self-resurrection, his proof that he "has life in himself." It is after this demonstration that the evangelist records that the title Kyrios is properly given to Jesus, "My Lord and my God" (20:28), indicating that by then Jesus has demonstrated that he has God's eschatological power and may be called by the name associated with that power, Kyrios.
From this investigation to Chapter 5, we draw the following conclusions:
1) Jesus is properly called "equal to God," because
2) he has God's two basic powers (creative/eschatological);
3) he is properly called Theos in virtue of having God's creative power, and Kyrios in virtue of God's executive or eschatological power.
4) Jesus does not falsely "makes himiself" anything, for
5) God gave him these powers and so wants Jesus to be honored even as God is honored.
C. Jesus Eternal and Imperishable
It has often been remarked that according to 17:6 and 11-12, "the name" which God gave Jesus is not "God" or "Lord," but "I AM."(24) When we turn to 8:24, 28 and 58, where Jesus manifests that name, we must continue to ask what is understood by this name, "I AM." It is a commonplace of Johannine scholarship to indicate that "I AM" reflects the usage of LXX Isaiah, indicating that it is a condensed version of the name manifested to Moses at the burning bush in Exod 3:14.(25) As important as this observation is, we continue to ask haw "I AM" was popularly interpreted in contemporary Jewish materials such as LXX, Philo, and the targums? First, the LXX interpreted the name of God in Exod 3:14 to mean "the Existent One," already understanding that name in reference to a divine mode of being:
Exod 3:14 (MT) Exod 3:14 (LXX)
God said to Moses: God said to Moses:
"I AM WHO I AM." "I AM THE EXISTENT ONE"
(ego eimi ho on)
And he said: And he said:
"Say this to the "Say this to the
children of Israel: Children of Israel:
'I AM 'THE EXISTENT ONE(no on)
has sent me to you.'" Has sent me to you.'"
Secondly, Philo repeats the LXX interpretation of "I AM" as "the Existent One," always drawing a distinction between God's genuine existence and that of creatures which exist in semblance only.(26) Yet as Martin Hengel(27) has observed, a genuine Hellenistic influence is already introduced into the interpretation of the sacred name, in which non-contingent being is contrasted with contingent being, and eternal with termporal existence.
Tgs. Yer. I, II and Neof., moreover, all interpret the "I AM" of Exod 3:14 in ways which bring out a sense of God's past and future eternity, as the following chart indicates:(28)
Tg. Yer. I Tg. Yer. II Tg. Neof.
And the Lord And the Memra of And the Lord
said to Moses: the Lord said to said to Moses:
"He who spoke & "He who said to the "I AM WHO I AM"
the world was; who world, 'Be!' and
spoke and all things it was; and who
were." Shall yet say to it
'Be!' and it will be."
And he said: And he said: And he said:
"Say this to the "Say this to the "Say this to the
children of Israel: children of Israel: children of Israel:
'I AM has sent me 'I AM HE WHO IS & 'He who spoke &
to you." WHO WILL BE has sent the world was
me to you.'" from the beginning & shall
say again to it "Be!" & it
shall be'--he has sent me to
A cursory examination of these texts suggests two lines of interpretation. All of the targums undestand "I AM" to refer to a special quality of God's being, viz., God's past and future eternity. And they all link the special name with God's actions or powers: creation in the past and eschatological new creation in the future. And so, the "I AM" of Exod 3:14 was popularly understood to contain remarks about God's two powers as well as God's eternity both past and future.
Stepping aside from Jewish sources, considerable light can be shed on this material from comparable discussions about the nature of a true deity in Graeco-Roman literature. For example, Sextus Empiricus records the popular idea about god as "eternal (aidion) and imperishable (aphtharton) and perfect in happiness."(29) Diogenes Laertius, in reporting Stoic doctrine about god, notes that the deity must be "everlasting (aidion) and the artificer of each thing throughout the whole extent of matter." Later he remarks that as the deity is a principle, it belongs to principles to be "without generation (agentous) or destruction (aphthartous).(30) Occasionally we find formal discussions of the attributes of a true deity by which they are compared and contratted with heroic mortals who were apotheosized at their death,(31) which discussions have a direct bearing on the point of this inquiry. Examples of this discussion may be found in Plutarch,(32) although the clearest illustration of this topos comes from Diodosus of Sicily:
As regards the gods, men of ancient times have handed down to later generations two different conceptions: Certain of the gods, they say, are eternal and imperishable (aidious kai aphthartous) . . . for each of these genesis and duration are from everlasting to everlasting. But the other gods, we are told, were terrestrial beings who attained immortal honors and fame because of their benefactions to mankind, such as Heracles, Dionysus, Aristaeus, and the others who were like them.(33)
From this rapid survey of Graeco-Roman god talk, certain patterns emerge: (1) a true deity must be genuinely eternal, without beginning (aidios) or end (aphthartos); (2) a true deity, then, becomes responsible for creation, (3) but will survive the necessary corruption of all finite creation.
There are definite points of contact between the notion of God in the targums to Exod 3:14 and popular discussions of true deity in Graeco-Roman literature. True deity must be: (a) eternal in past (aidios) and imperishable in the future (aphthartos); and (b) uncreated creator who is different in being from created, perishable beings. This is what it means to be a true deity for Jew and Greek alike.
This range of material, I am suggesting, has a direct bearing on the meaning of "I AM" in John 8:24, 28 and 58. First, in 8:28, "I AM" is linked with survival of death: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, you will know that I AM." Death (being "lifted up") is not the last word for Jesus; in fact his death will be a revelation precisely that he is "I AM," a death-overcoming figure whose future existence is unlimited and incorruptible. And in 8:58, "I AM" is linked both with eternal existence in the past and with imperishable existence in the future. Concerning the latter focus, a contrast is made between Jesus and Abraham, a point that has occupied the discussion in 8:51-58. First, it is asked if Jesus is "greater than our father Abraham who died" (8:53), a remark in response to Jesus' claim that those who keep his word "never die." Jesus is contrasted with Abraham who died and with the prophets who died; and so, being "greater than . . ." implies that if Jesus were indeed greater than Israel's patriarchs and prophets, his greatness will lie in not dying. Second, Jesus goes on to describe how, in fact, he is greater than Abraham, indicating that he existed already prior to Abraham and that his mode of being is different from that of Abraham, for he is (eimi) whereas Abraham came into being (ginesthai). 8:58, then, suggests that Jesus is both ancient, even eternal, in the past and eternal and imperishable in the future. It hints that Jesus is uncreated (eimi) in contrast to beings who are created (ginesthai). Together, the "I AM" statements in 8:28 and 58 reflect the content given to God's name in the Jewish understandings of Exod 3:14, as well as the substance of the discussions about true deity in Hellenistic literature, i.e. eternal and ungenerated existence in the past, imperishable existence in the future--such is the nature of Israel's God and any true deity.
This discussion of the content of "I AM" correlates with other aspects of the high christology in the Fourth Gospel.
1) "I AM" of course, is the name of he appearing deity in the Scriptures. Inasmuch as Jesus is proclaimed as having appeared to patriarchs and prophets, he was also truly functioning as "I AM."
2) Jesus has God's two powers, creative and eschatological. Inasmuch as he "was" in the beginning,(34) he was not created but is the creator of all in virtue of God's creative power. He is truly eternal-in-the-past. And inasmuch as he has "life in himself" (5:26; 10:17-18), he is imperishable in virtue of the fullness of eschatological power which he enjoys. He is truly eternal-in-the-future.
The content of "I AM" in John 8, then, meshes integrally with the other aspects of Jesus' "equality with God" according to the exposition of the Fourth Gospel.
D. Apologetic Aspects of the High-Christological Confession
This exalted confession was indisputably controversial, which probably led the community to explain it in more apologetic terms.
1) Johannine Christians are monotheists: this gospel does not claim that Jesus is Yahweh or that he replaces God. Jesus himself would seem to be endorsing monotheism, echoing the Shema (Deut 6:4-5), when he addresses Israel's deity, "This is eternal life, that they know Thee, the only true God . . ." (17:3). Yet the Johannine community is also calling Jesus "god."
2) Jesus is not blaspheming when he claims to be "equal to God." It is God who "makes him" what he is: a) God commissioned him to reveal his name; b) God gave him his two powers; and c) God sent him into the world as his apostle and agent, equal to himself.(35)
3) Jesus is not a rival of Yahweh, a pretender to the throne. All that he says and does is done in obedience to the will of Him who sent (see 5:23; 7:16-18; 8:38; 17:4).
4) Jesus is not a recent invention of Christian imagination; he is not a new figure in cosmic or national history. He was face to face with God in the beginning, before anything was created. Although in glory, he was continuously active in Israel's salvation history: he created the cosmos, and he gave theophanies to Israel's patriarchs.(36) Therefore his current appearance in our midst is continuous with his past activity.
The exalted confession of Jesus, then, was born in controversy and came to maturity as a point of conflict. It was never a neutral dogma, but served continually as a formal boundary line distinguishing elite, Johannine christians from synagogue members and certain apostolic christians as well (see 8:24).
The quest for the content of the high christological confession has been done thus far in an a-historical mode, without regard for the history, culture and social location of the community which so formulated it. It is the purpose of this second part of the essay to sketch the Sitz im Leben of the author and investigate how this confession functioned for him as an ideology.(37)
A. Jesus, the Docetic Alien
Two powerful voices have contributed greatly to this enterprise, Ernst Käsemann(38) described the high christology the Gospel of John as "naive docetism," pointing out by this label the radical depreciation of things earthly, fleshly and material. Although many have criticized Käsemann's use of the term "docetism," as well as his contention that the whole gospel displays this perspective,(39) he forced us to look at some hard data in the text whose point of view celebrates things heavenly over earthly and things spiritual over material or fleshly.
In an essay which marked his entry into the world of social science analysis of the New Testament, Wayne Meeks argued that the high christology contained an ideology which reflects a state of alienation from both the synagogue and from certain Christian groups as well.(40) Jesus is radically the man from heaven, from another world; he is out of place here below where he meets only hostility, rejection and excommunication. He looks back nostalgically to the glory which he had with God before the creation of the world, a glory he is eager to reassume (17:5, 13:1-3). The high christology, then, comes to express the identity of the alien one who is truly of heaven, from above and of another world.(41)
B. Christology Replicates Cosmology
These two studies urge us to reconsider the Johannine group which confesses Jesus as "Lord and God" as a group excommunicated from the synagogue and in revolt against certain apostolic churches.(42) The ideological implications of the high christology in the Fourth Gospel become clearer when we examine two passages where the gospel's christology replicates its cosmology, 6:62-63 and 8:23-24. In 6:63 the sweeping statement is made: "The spirit gives life, the flesh is of no avail." The verse belongs to a passage containing reactions to the Bread of Life Discourse, reactions first of unbelief and apostasy by former followers of Jesus (6:60-61), and then Jesus' reactions to them (6:62-64). They found his bread "stale," and dropped out of his group. Jesus responds to this defection with a remark that describes him primarily as a heavenly, not earthly figure: "What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?" (6:62).(43) Jesus, then, is a spiritual or heavenly figure from another world who meets only alienation and rejection from those of this material or fleshly world (see 3:6, 12). He goes on to make an unqualified value assertion which has a bearing on the christology of the gospel: "The spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail" (6:63). Whatever is of this world (earth, flesh, matter) is "of no avail." 6:62-62, then, makes several redundant statements. 6:62 suggests that in the face of alienation and rejection here on earth, Jesus all the more affirms his otherness, viz., that he is truly and primarily "not of this world," but is a heavenly figure who is out of place here below. 6:63 begins to connect christology and cosmology: Jesus draws a radical boundary line which distinguishes the cosmos into two spheres, spirit vs. flesh. All value is found in "spirit," the heavenly world where Jesus originally was, whereas "flesh," the place of exile of Jesus and his followers, is completely valueless, "of no avail." Life, moreover, is no longer attached to Jesus' flesh (6:53) so to anything earthly or material; rather "my word" is spirit and life. As has been shown, this "word" is none other than the christological confession of the Johannine church, in particular the view in 6:62 of Jesus as a uniquely heavenly figure.(44) As the cosmos is dichotomized into a world of value (heaven) and a world of no value (earth), so christology reflects this value structure, celebrating "spirit" and Jesus' heavenly otherness, while devaluing bread, flesh, and all things earthly or material. Christology reflects cosmology.
In 8:23-24, christology is again linked with cosmology. Like 6:62-63, 8:23-24 is addressed to followers of Jesus, at least seeming followers (see 8:30). In the context, Jesus establishes a new criterion for determining who is a genuine follower. "Unless you believe that 'I AM,' you will die in your sins." This criterion stands in stark contrast to other criteria for authentic membership, criteria which had to do with material, fleshly rites (see 3:3,5 and 6:53). We noted, moreover, that "I AM" is a coded phrase containing the high christological confession of Jesus both as appearing deity and as eternal, imperishable deity. According to 8:24, this spiritual confession alone is lifegiving.
This confession-criterion, moreover, is articulated vis-a-vis a cosmology similar to that expressed in 6:63.
You are from below; I am from above;
you are of this world; I am not of this world (8:23).
Christology replicates cosmology: as "I AM," Jesus is not of this world, nor is he "from below." What is "from below" and "of this world" is sinful, hopelessly obtuse, and under the control of the Evil One.(45) Those who confess Jesus as "I AM" belong to his world; they have spirit and life, whereas those who do not confess him as such are "from below," a realm which has no value whatsoever in it.
6:62-63 and 8:23-24, therefore, are redundant passages which convey the same basic message. 1. Both are addressed to would-be or pseudo disciples, who have inadequate faith.(46) 2. Both emphasize that Jesus is primarily, even exclusively, a heavenly figure who is of another world, definitely "not of this world." 3. Both imply that the christological emphasis on Jesus' being from above and not of this world is in harmony with a larger perception of the cosmos divided into dichotomous realms: heaven/earth, spirit/flesh, from above/from below, and not of this world/of this world. 4. Both function as new criteria for authentic membership, criteria which radically surpass all other requirement, especially material rites (see 3:3,5; 6:53). 5. Value is found only on the side of heaven, spirit, and "from above"; what is "from below, fleshly and earthly is absolutely valueless, "of no avail." It is in this sense that I am arguing that the high christology is an ideology: it replicates cosmology even as cosmology shapes it.
C. Cosmology and Social World
Students of the Fourth Gospel are no strangers to Johannine dualistic patterns(47) but let us focus in more closely on the patterns of redundant dichotomies which contrast spirit/flesh, heaven/earth, etc., for these patterns are indications of the cosmology and social world which is reflected in the christology of the group.
1. Spirit vs. Flesh
3:6 what is born of flesh is flesh;
what is born of spirit is spirit
6:63 the spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail
7:24) do not judge according to the flesh
8:15) " " "
2. Spirit vs. Matter
2:21 physical temple vs. risen body
4:21-24 worship God in spirit and truth
3. Heaven vs. Earth
3:12 if you do not believe earthly things,
how can I tell you heavenly things
4. Heavenly World vs. This World
8:23 you are of this world, I am not of this world
7:7 ) hatred of this world for Jesus because
15:18-19 ) he is not of this world
5. From Above vs. From Below
8:23 you are from below, I am from above
6:62-63 epitomizes a persistent cosmological perspective in the gospel, but one which takes the old dualisms one step further. Only what is spirit, heavenly, "from above" and "not of this world" has any value; the flesh and all that is earthly, material, "from below" and "of this world" is "of no avail." Johannine dualistic remarks did not suddenly appear with the emergence of the high christology. Although they have always been part of the community's way of contrasting true with false, "in" with "out," holy with sinful, that is, functioning as boundary markers between the Johannine community and all others, they did not always deny value to things fleshly, earthly and material. For example, Christian rites and cultic objects are superior to those of the synagogue; only those who practice Christian initiation rites can truly enter God's kingdom (3:3,5).(48) 6:62-63, however, takes the argument one step further by devaluing absolutely everything earthly, fleshly and material, including (superior) Christian rites and sacraments. But does this new, radical perspective extend to the christological confession of the group as well?
The pattern of redundant dichotomies is no mere literary nicety but a value statement, an ideology. As such, it functions as a clue to the posture of revolt against synagogue and apostolic churches by some of the Johannine christians, a revolt which is so comprehensive in its scope that much of what formerly characterized the Johannine group is now "of no avail," which includes attitudes to the cross, leadership, sacraments etc. 6:62-63 is, in fact, an ideology, a condensed code of values of the Johannine group. As such, it affects the way everything in the cosmos comes to be perceived and evaluated, a process we shall briefly observe in regard to only four topics, but which extends across the board to other elements and topics discussed by this group (e.g. spirit, freedom, sin, ethics, etc.).
Cross & Death. Although at one point the death of Jesus on the cross was seen in sacrificial terms, both as the fulfillment of prophecies and as the replacement of synagogue passover objects (19:26-27),(49) that perpective was replaced by a later view of Jesus' death as his exodus from this alien land, as his exaltation (3:14) or return to the glory which he had with God before the creation of the world (17:5; 13:1-3). His death, moreover, becomes a formal demonstration of his eschatological power to lay down his life and take it again (10:17-18). The new perspective on Jesus' death, then, replicates the stance found in the redundant dichotomies that Jesus is really "from above" and "not of this world," for it serves to accentuate his alienation, his heavenliness, even his equality with God.
Leadership. 1 Jn 1:1-4 clearly values leadership based on eyewitness criteria, even physical experience of Jesus" "what we saw, heard, and touched." But this text clearly contrasts the type of leadership which the author values with another type which he considers false (see 4:1-3; 2 Jn 7). In the Fourth Gospel, we find a comparable contrast between two leaders, Peter and the Beloved Disciple, which is a contrast between two types of leadership. Peter, the traditional leader whose role is ascribed to him by the earthly Jesus, is always being put in "second place": 1) he is evangelized second (1:41); in that sequence Nathanael has the best lines (1:50), lines which are traditionally reserved for Peter (cf. Mk. 8:29); 2) he denies Jesus (13:36-38; 18:25-27), thus showing cowardice which is condemned in the gospel (9:22; 12:42); 3) he lacks critical information (13:24), which was not the case in the synoptics(50); 4) in the race to Jesus' tomb he comes in second (20:4) and remains unbelieving there (20:6-10). In contrast, the Beloved Disciple, a leader who demonstrates his leadership by achievement rather than by ascription, is always first, smarter, courageous: 1) he knows the traitor (13:25-26); 2) he follows Jesus, both at his arrest (18:15) and to the cross (19:25-27); 3) he arrives first at the tomb and believes (20:8). On the basis of performance, this charismatic figure is superior to the appointed apostle. And on the level of symbolic characters in John's gospel,(51) the Beloved Disciple illustrates once more the dichotomy of values encoded in 6:63. Spirit is superior to flesh, for the achieved leadership of the Beloved Disciple rests on spiritual performance rather than on the fleshly tradition of Peter, the eyewitness who was given an ascribed role by the earthly Jesus.(52) The spiritual Jesus makes the spiritual disciple the head of the community (19:25-27), especially since the fleshly leader has fallen away. The perspective of 6:62-63 and 8:23-24 extends even to the value given to types of leadership.
Sacraments. It was affirmed in an earlier stage of the Johannine experience that "Unless one is born anothen" (3:3,5) and "Unless one eats the flesh of the Son of Man and drinks his blood" (6:53), one has no life and no entrance into God's kingdom. But with the phenomenon of dropouts (6:61-65),(53) all such sacamental or earthly rituals of entrance and membership rapidly lose their value. It cannot be that those who now walk away, who were born of water and the spirit and who at the bread of life, really entered the kingdom of God and truly received eternal life. The experience of these dropouts calls into question the efficiacy of those material rites, for Jesus declares: "The flesh is of no avail" (6:63). In 8:23-24, all fleshly rites are replaced by a new demand, "Unless you believe that I AM," a demand which makes spiritual criteria (the revelation of Jesus as a heavenly figure) superior to all material criteria. The dualism in 6:63, which proclaims the superiority of spirit over matter, also insists on the superiority of Jesus' heavenly identity over his earthly deeds.
World. At one poiont, "this world" is the object of God's benevolent mission (3:16-17; 12:47). Jesus appears glad to "come int the world" (6:32; 11:27), for he gives his flesh for the life of this world (6:51), as well as he is its light (8:12, 9:5; 12:46). Yet this world did not receive him (1:9-10), surely an understatement as Jesus goes on to emphasize how this world positively hated him (7:7), a hatred springing precisely from the fact that he is not of the world (15:18-19). And so the gospel begins to tell us that Jesus came for the world's judgment (9:36, 8:21-29), a judgment which will be continued by the Spirit (16:8-11).(54) In this vein, we come to learn that Jesus (who is equal to God) is "not of this world" or "from below," but is radically alien in this world of flesh and demons (12:31; 14:30; 16:11), as are his disciples (17:14, 16). Heaven (which is "not of this world") is clearly superior to earth and "from above," to "from below."
These brief summaries of cross, leadership, sacraments and world indicate how the redundant dichotomies noted above pervade the value system of the Fourth Gospel. They are the concrete expressions of the superiority of things spiritual and heavenly over things earthly and material. Yet they are evidence as well of the cultural and social context in which the confession of Jesus as "Lord and God" was articulated. That confession, I maintain, reflects the redundant dichotomies by which the cosmos is perceived, even as it replicates the perspective and value encoded in them. The spirit is what gives life; the flesh is of no avail. As Meeks would say, the high christology symbolizes the alienation of Jesus and his followers from synagogue and church alike; or as Käsemann would say, Jesus appears ina docetic mode as "God walking on the face of the earth."(55) All value, then, is put in heaven, not on earth, in spirit, not in matter. This gospel, moreover, does not merely proclaim Jesus as "equal to God" and as "Lord and God"; it positively exalts him as a unique heavenly figure who is out of place here below because he is "not of this world" (6:63; 8:23). Whatever good can be said of Jesus comes to be lodged in the perception that he is radically not from below, that he is superior to "this world," as heaven is to earth and spirit is to flesh. The high christological confession, then, must be seen also in its social and cultural context as an expression of ideology.
D. Dualism Christology
We are all indebted to Raymond Brown for pointing out in regard to 1 Jn 4:1-3 and 5:6-8 the interrelated character of the high christology with other key issues in the group's cosmology.(56) As Brown noted, the assertion that Jesus "did not come in the flesh" is not a denial of his flesh but a rejection of any value given to it, a denial of value that would extend to his cross, to apostolic leadership, to sacraments, etc.(57) In short, the assertion that there is no value in his flesh (1 Jn 4:1-3; 2 Jn 7) is what I am arguing is encoded in the programmatic value statement in Jn 6:63. Confession of Jesus' heavenliness and divinity, then, is a value statement, an ideological position.
What value and what ideology, however, are encoded in the proclamation of spirit over matter and heaven over earth? In a seminal essay, Mary Douglas warned that the anthropologist can never assume that the chosen symbols of differentiation are arbitrary inasmuch as they are used to discriminate contended positions, they are likely to express something of the social situation.(58) If a social group emphatically distinguishes itself from others on the basis of spirit vs. flesh or heaven vs. earth, we are advised to pay close attention to these redundant dichotomies as important clues to the cultural location of the group being studied.
In Douglas' investigation, "the relationship of spirit to matter or mind to body (can) be interpreted as exchanges of condensed statements about the relation of society to the individual.(59) Body, flesh and matter represent society; mind and spirit represent the individual. The gist of her theory may be succinctly stated:
To insist on the superiority of spiritual over material elements is to insist on the liberties of the individual and to imply a political program for freeing him from social constraints. In the contrary view to declare that spirit works through matter, that spiritual values are made effective through material acts, that body and mind are separate but intimately united, all this emphasis on the necessary mingling of spirit and matter implies that the individual is by nature subordinate to society and finds his freedom within its forms.(60)
Douglas sees that a movement to exalt spirit over matter will necessarily lead one "to adopt the philosophical attitude which, following durkheim's insight, is appropriate to detachment from or revolt against the established social forms."(61) Furthermore, Douglas notes, "anyone whose social position is one of withdrawal from the dominant form of social control will tend to see himself in relation to society in terms of a spirit/flesh dichotomy."
Douglas' remarks do not suffer from the anachronisms of describing the Johannine group as a sect (Meeks) or as naive docetism (Käsemann). They represent a cross-cultural perspective, which in connection with her basic modeling of cultures, can serve as a model which can be tested, and refined if needed. Her remarks about revolt/conformity and spirit/matter may be summarized apropos of the high christology of the Fourth Gospel.
Weak Social Control Strong Social Control
(the Johannine group) (the apostolic churches)
1. identity: 1. identity:
individualistic(62) group, dyadic
2. ritual activity: 2. ritual activity:
ecstatic forms ritualistic forms
3. symbol: 3. symbol:
spirit vs. matter spirit in/with matter
heaven vs. earth heaven and earth joined
4. christology: 4. christology:
descending, heavenly the human Jesus
figure who is "equal who is prophet
to God," "Lord & God" king, Messiah;
but who is alien in even the Word who
a hostile world becomes flesh
5. strategy: 5. strategy:
A discussion of the genesis and the process which ultimately led to the articulation of the Johannine high christology lies beyond the scope of this study.(63) What we have come to know are the social circumstances of the group which confessed that confession: it was a group excommunicated from the synagogue (9:22; 12:42; 16:1-2) and from which former members dropped out (6:61-65). There is even evidence of tension within the group, as certain members are considered to have inadequate faith. This group saw itself not just in conflict with the synagogue and certain apostolic churches but in revolt against them; in short, it perceived itself as "out of place" in this hopelessly obtuse, hostile world. Yet this is precisely the group which exalts in confessing the heavenliness of Jesus, who was hated by this world but who is incomparably superior to all that is here below. This Jesus is none other than the divine Jesus, who is equal to God and who is rightly acknowledged as Lord and God. The heavenliness of Jesus comes to embody and replicate the redundant dualisms we have seen to be characteristic of the perspective of the Johannine community. Christology replicates cosmology.
In the statement that "the spirit gives life," value is put primarily on the confession of Jesus as heavenly and divine (6:62; 8:24). The correlative value statement, "the flesh is of no avail," can only lead to a revolt against all that is fleshly, viz., more traditional notions of Jesus' death on the cross, apostolic leadership, sacraments, and the like. The Johannine community may be described accurately in Douglas' categories as a group (1) in high revolt against attitudes and things which it formerly valued (i.e. rites such as 3:3,5; 6:53), (2) strongly individualistic, not brooking social control either from synagogue or apostolic chuches, (3) favoring ecstatic forms over ritualistic modes of expression, and (4) expressing itself in redundant dichotomous patterns of spirit over matter. It is within this context that the confession of Jesus as "equal to God" and as "Lord and God" should finally be interpreted, as it replicates once more the cosmological, dichotomous perspective of a group in revolt.
We can now spell out in detail the content of the high christological confession of the Johannine community: (1) Jesus is truly and fully "equal to God" because he has God's two basic and comprehensive powers, creative and eschatological. (2) Jesus is correctly called "God" because he exercises creative power, and "Lord" because he has full eschatological power. (3) Jesus validly bears the name "I AM," that is, the name of the appearing deity of the Scriptures. (4) As "I AM," Jesus shares the two attributes of a genuine deity, for he is eternal-in-the-past and imperishable-in-the-future. (5) God demands, moreover, that Jesus receive honor equal to that accorded God himself. (6) Jesus, moreover, is a unique and heavenly figure: he is face to face with God (1:1-2), is in the bosom of God (1:18) and sits on God's throne (1:51).
Yet this confession developed and came to maturity as the creed of a group distinguishing itself from synagogue and church, even in revolt against the obtuseness and hostility found in these groups. The confession itself became a distinguishing criterion (8:24) which separated authentic Johannine christians from all other people, a distinguishing perception according to which the world itself was divided into two spheres, heaven/earth and spirit/flesh. All value and life is found only in what is heavenly or spirit, whereas what is earthly and fleshly "is of no avail" whatever. The high christological confession replicates this perspective and becomes the chief expression of this ideology of revolt.
1. This paper contains a precis of a monograph which I am completing on the high christology of the Fourth Gospel. Because of its intent to give a broad overview of the contents of the confession in 1:1-2; 5:17; 20:28 etc., it cannot engage in extended exegesis of texts, for which readers must turn to the standard commentaries.
2. This essay is building on the distinction made by J. Louis Martyn, "Glimpses into the History of the Johannine Community," L'Evangile de Jean: Sources, rédaction, et théologie (ed. M. de Jonge, BETL 44; Gembloux: Duculot, 1977) 149-175.
3. See Mary Douglas, "Social Preconditions of Enthusiasm and Heterodoxy," Forms of Symbolic Action (Proceedings of the 1969 Annual Spring Meeting of the American Ethnological Society, ed. Robert Spenser; Seattle: U of Washington Press, 1969) 69-80 which material is also found in her Natural Symbols (New York: Pantheon, 1982) 156-67; and more recently Lucien Richard, "Anthropology and Theology: The Emergence of Incarnational Faith According to Mary Douglas," Eglise et Théologie 15 (1984) 131-54.
4. For a full exegetical exposition of this argument, see my article "The Jacob Allusions in John 1:51," CBQ44 (1982) 589-94.
5. See Nils Dahl, "The Johannine Church and History," Jesus in the Memory of the Early Church (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1976) 108-109.
6. In a recent article, L. Urban and P. Henry ("'Before Abraham Was I AM,' Does Philo Explain John 8:56-58?" Studia Philonica 6 [1979-80] 166-193) argued on the basis of 8:56 ("Abraham rejoiced") for Gen 17 and the theophany to Abraham concerning the birth of Isaac. But the issue in Gen 18 of Abraham's hospitality to the heavenly visitor (see John 8:38) seems equally likely.
7. One should probably include in this discussion the claims that when one sees Jesus one sees God (see 14:9) or the assertion that Jesus alone sees God and makes God known (1:18).
8. Once again, my article "Jacob Allusions in John 1:51," 592-93.
9. In the next section we will discuss the name "I AM," which has been the traditional scriptural name of the appearing diety (see Exod 3:14); inasmuch as Jesus bears this name and manifests it, the very presence of "I AM" as a sobriquet for Jesus reinforces the present argument that he functions as the appearing deity of Israel's past.
10. See A.E. Harvey, Jesus on Trial (Atlanta: John Knox, 1976) 50-51.
11. C. H. Dodd (The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel [Cambridge: University Press, 1968] 322-23) argued that two powers are alluded to, but he described them inaccurately as zoopiein and krinein; comparably, R. Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St. John (New York: Crossroad, 1982) II.106. These studies should need to be corrected in the light of the present discussion of God's two powers, creative and eschatological.
12. See Philo Cher. 88-89; Leg. All. I.5; Gen. R. 11.10 and Ex. R. 30.6.
13. See A. Marmorstein, The Old Rabbinic Doctrine of God (New York: KTAV, 1969) 41-53; E. E. Urbach, The Sages (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975) 448-61.
14. This, of course, resembles the doctrine of God's providence as this is discussed in Graeco-Roman philosophy; see my dissertation, "The Form and Background of the Polemic in 2 Peter" (unpublished, Yale University, 1977) 179-208.
15. See Leg. All. II.68; Cher. 27-28; Sac. 59; Plant. 86-87; Heres 166; Fuga 95, 100; Somn. I.159-163; Abr. 124-125; Mos. II.99; Leg. 4 & 6; Q. Ex. II.62, 64-66, 68. See also Harry Wolfson, Philo (Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1948) I.218-225 and Erwin R. Goodenough, By Light, Light (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1935) 24-29.
16. See Halvor Moxnes, Theology in Conflict: Studies in Paul's Understanding of God in Romans (Supp NT 53; Leiden: Brill, 1980) 231-82.
17. It should be noted that whereas Philo and the rabbis speak of God's "executive" power (dynamis basilik), John has already broadened this category to include eschatological issues, such as ressurection, judgment and "having life in himself," and so the second power of God is perceived as eschatological power.
18. The study by Alan Segal and Nils Dahl ("Philo and the Rabbis on the Names of God," JSJ 9  1-28) presents a contemporary discussion of this material; see also A. Marmorstein, "Philo and the Names of God," JQR 22 (1931-32) 295-306.
19. For other places in Philo where the two powers of God are called by God's two names respectively, see Plant. 86-87, Abr. 124-125, Somn. I.160, 163 and Q. Ex. II.62.
20. For a summary of the differences between Philo and the Rabbis, see Segal and Dahl, "Philo and the Rabbis on the Names of God," 1-3.
21. See Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 695.
22. See my article "John III--A Debate oves Johannine Epistemology and Christology," NT 23 (1981) 115-117.
23. It would be interesting to include the remarks in the Bread of Life Discourse in this discussion; there are three strange statements in that discourse which seem to be saying something more than that Jesus' bread gives life. In 6:39, 44 & 54 Jesus claims that he will "raise up on the last day" those who eat his Bread of Life, which might be further evidence of a new and special claim to have eschatological power, such as was made in 5:28-29.
24. See R. E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (AB 29A; Garden City: Doubleday, 1970) 756.
25. For a survey of the issues and evidence, see Philip Harner, The "I AM" of the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970); see also R. E. Brown, The Gospel According John, 533-38 and R. Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St. John (New York: Crossroad, 1982) 79-89.
26. See Det. 160; Mut. 11; Somn. I.230-31; Mos. I.66, 74-76; see also Harry Wolfson, Philo, 210.
27. I am presupposing a background for the LXX understanding of God's name like Hengel's "The 'Interpretatio Graeca' of Judaism" in his Judaism and Hellenism Volume One (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974) 255-67; on this issue, see also Morton Smith, "The Image of God, Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism with Especial Reference to Goodenough's Work on Jewish Symbols," BJRL 40 (1957-58) 473-512.
28. I am indebted here for the collection of these texts, their translation and interpretation to Martin McNamara, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (AnB 27; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1966) 97-112.
29. Against the Physicians I.46.
30. Diogenes Laertius, Zeno VII.134; see comparable discussions in Cicero, De Natura Deorum I.x.25 and xxiv.68.
31. See Charles H. Talbert, What is Gospel? (Philadelphia: Fortresss, 1977) 25-52.
32. On the Malice of Herodotus 857D and Pelopidas 16.
33. Library of History VI.1.2; see also I.12.10-13.1.
34. It is probably revelant to include here the references to Jesus "being before John" in 1:15 & 30.
35. See Peder Borgen,"God's Agent in the Fourth Gospel," Religions in Antiquity (ed. Jacob Neusner; Leiden: Brill, 1968) 137-47.
36. For comparable assertions of Jesus' activity in Israel's past history, see 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Peter 1:14 and Jude 5.
37. I have tried to keep this investigation of the high christology sufficiently free of competing discussions of the history and development of the Johannine community. A survey of these models of development may be found in Raymond E. Brown, "Recent Reconstructions of Johannine Community History," The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist Press, 1979) 171-82; my own initial attempt at sorting out the stages of development may be found in Christ is Community (Wilmington, Del: Glazier, 1985) 142-83.
38. The Testament of Jesus: A Study of the Gospel of John in the Light of Chapter 17 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968).
39. See the review of Käsemann by Wayne Meeks in USQR 24 (1969) 414-20; see also Günther Bornkamm, "Zur Interpretation des Johannesevangeliums," EvT 28 (1968) 8-25.
40. "The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism," JBL 91 (1972) 44-72.
41. Meeks' remark ("Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism," 70) is appropriate here: "One of the primary functions of the book (the Fourth Gospel), therefore, must have been to provide a reinforcement for the community's social identity, which appears to have been largely negative. It provides a symbolic universe which gave religious legitimacy, a theodicy, to the groups's actual isolation from the larger society."
42. See Raymond E. Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, 81-88.
43. This echoes an earlier remark in 3:13 that "no one has ever ascended to heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man"; as Meeks has pointed out, this describes Jesus as a person "out of place" in this world.
44. See Kikuo Matsunaga, "Is John's Gospel Anti-Sacramental?--A New Solution in the Light of the Evangelist's Milieu," NTS 27 (1980-81) 518.
45. See 12:31; 13:2, 27; 14:30 and 16:11.
46. The phrase "christians of inadequate faith" was coined by Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, 73-81.
47. A convenient summary of recent discussion of these patterns may be found in Robert Kysar, The Fourth Evangelist and His Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1975), 131-137.
48. I have described this as a strategy of "replacement" first in "Jacob Traditions and the Interpretation of John 4:10-26," CBQ 41 (1979) 419-37, esp. 436-37 and Christ is Community, 151-58.
49. See, for example, J. Massingberd Ford, "Mingled Blood' from the Side of Christ (John XIX.34)," NTS 15 (1968/69) 337-338.
50. For example, Peter is given special epiphanies (Mk (5:37-43; 9:2-8; 13:3-37 and 14:33-42), special revelations (Mt 16:17; 17:24-27), special instruction (Lk 12:41-48); see also 2 Peter 1:16-21.
51. See R. F. Collins, "Representative Figures in the Fourth Gospel" Downside Review 94 (1976) 126-32.
52. In this regard, see David Hawkin, "The Function of the Beloved Disciple in the Johannine Redaction," LTP 33 (1977) 135-50.
53. Truly fresh ground has been broken on the question of sacraments in the Fourth Gospel by Kikuo Matsunaga, "Is John's Gospel Anti-Sacramental?--A New Solution in the Light of the Evangelist's Milieu, cited above.
54. See D. A. Carson, "The Function of the Paraclete in John 16:7-11," JBL 98 (1979) 547-66.
55. The Testament of Jesus, 75.
56. The Epistles of John (AB 30; Garden City: Doubleday, 1982) 73-79; see my Christ is Community, 189-92.
57. See Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, 109-44.
58. "Social Preconditions of Enthusiasm and Heterodoxy," 70.
59. Ibid., 69.
60. Ibid., 69.
61. Ibid., 70.
62. It is frequently noted that John has "no ecclesiology," a theological statement which reflects an anthropological sense of weak social organization and social control.
63. Some very interesting suggestions are offered along this line by Wayne Meeks, "The Man From Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism," 70-71.
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