Advertisement

John 8:31–59 from a Jewish Perspective

  • Adele Reinhartz
Chapter

Abstract

Rarely A week goes by that I do not face the question, ‘How did you end up in New Testament studies?’ Behind this query often lies the assumption that there is a contradiction between my area of study and my Jewish identity. Interestingly enough, this query comes more often from Jews than from non-Jews. The notion that being Jewish is incompatible with a professional interest in the New Testament reflects two profound and rarely articulated views held by many Jews. One is the perceived theological gulf between Judaism and Christianity. Related to this perception is a suspicion of the New Testament itself, perhaps fuelled by the fear, or the suspicion, that reading this set of texts may cause Jews to question or even to reject their Jewish identities. A second is the view that the New Testament is inimical not only to Jewish faith but also to the Jews as a people. Many Jews believe that the New Testament is in some way implicated in the roots and development of anti-Semitism and therefore helped to lay the groundwork for genocide.

Keywords

Jewish Identity Eternal Life Biblical Text Divine Attribute Loeb Classical Library 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    J.L. Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p.xviii. This statement appears also in the second edition of this book (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979), p.18.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for example, Danna Nolan Fewell and Gary A. Phillips, Bible and the Ethics of Reading (Semeia 77; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    For a study written in the middle of the Second World War of the medieval afterlife of the description of the Jews as children of the devil, see Joshua Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    See R. Alan Culpepper, The Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), pp.89–98.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Richard Bauckham, God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), p.6.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Sigfred Pedersen, in ‘Anti-Judaism in John’s Gospel: John 8’, in New Readings in John: Literary and Theological Perspectives from the Scandinavian Conference on the Fourth Gospel; Arhus 1997, eds. Johannes Nissen and Sigfred Pedersen (JSOTSup 182; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), p. 186, suggests that the reference to Abraham may also allude to God as creator and in this way bring the creation language of the Johannine prologue to bear on our reading of John 8.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    John Ashton in Understanding the Fourth Gospel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p.423 sees this statement as the Gospel’s effort to show that the Jews are liars.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    R.A. Brown, The Gospel According to John: I–XII (AB 29; Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966), p.355.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St. John, vol.2 (New York: Crossroad, 1982), p.207.Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    For an introduction to the scholarly debate regarding the nature of first century Jewish monotheism, see Bauckham, God Crucified and James D.G. Dunn, ‘Was Christianity a Monotheistic Faith from the Beginning?’ Scottish Journal of Theology 35 (1982): 303–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 26.
    For a discussion of the question of whether the Fourth Gospel is a missionary text or not see Adele Reinhartz, ‘Historical Critics and Narrative Texts: A Look at the Missionary Position in Johannine Scholarship’, in The Making of Proselytes: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Hellenistic World, ed. by Amy-Jill Levine (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2000 [forthcoming]).Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    As cited with some minor modifications in R. Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (New York: Ktav, 1903), pp.51, 83, 403, 406.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    See G.N. Stanton, ‘Aspects of Early Christian—Jewish Polemic and Apologetic’, New Testament Studies 31 (1985): 377–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adele Reinhartz

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations