May 15: Bonus John!!

Yes, it’s hard to stop exploring John or any of our rich biblical texts of resurrection.  Before we leave the Johannine resurrection cycle, a bonus reflection!

You may have noticed my predilection towards John, as most Anglicans are so disposed.  And for those curious about what Johannine material I avoided in our daily reflection, read on!  Specifically in John 20:30-31 and John 21:20-25.  What the hey?!  Well, so much right there!  Most scholars believe, as do I, that the original, older ending of the gospel was 20:30-31, which sure resembles a closing conclusive statement on the objective of the entire work.  This is either BD (the Beloved Disciple, remember?!) or his disciple finishing the gospel with a call to believe.  But the millennials will have their say, so the generation subsequent to those original apostolic eyewitnesses evidently added material which spoke to them powerfully about Jesus’ resurrection.  That additional material constitutes the bulk of John 21, diplomatically referred to as an Epilogue in most study bibles, a polite way of inferring later authorship!

This material is strikingly complex and multivariated.  Evidently a subsection of original apostolic eyewitnesses have perished by this point, as the count is 7 not 12.  John’s church has grown exponentially to 153 souls or thereabouts.  I strongly suspect the Johnannine eucharist included fish as well as bread and wine!  Any remaining tension between the larger community of Petrine house churches and John’s house churches have been reconciled by necessity, probably under intense persecution.  And, finally, in the crowning tell that John 21 comes from a later time, the millennial author must address an in-house  controversy (stay with me here please).  It seems the adoration, appreciation and respect the Johnannine church held for the Beloved Disciple reached such heights the rumor spread this disciple would not die before Jesus’ return.  This tells me his actual death was a cataclysmic blow to this church, potentially threatening the very faith of the community’s older members who held BD in such reverent esteem.  The younger evangelist-author must set this traumatic moment right for his or her church to continue forward in faith.  Thus, and please follow along in your bible, 21:20-22 captures the context in which this rumor began and the misunderstanding of what Jesus actually said.  21:23-24 is the millennial correction or re-framing of this event, and 21:24 is an homage to BD.  21:25 points to the rapid proliferation of gospel scrolls, texts and fragments circulating around the eastern Roman Empire in the late 1st century, so the “I” in 21:25 is not BD but his later millennial evangelist-apprentice.

Some scholars situate 21:25 contemporaneous with the Book of Revelations, and if so, this momentary self-disclosing conclusion are the final chronological words ever written in the New Testament.  These interpretive side trips for me constitute the lifeblood of my engagement with scripture.  As Jesus becomes more incarnate through my bible reading, reflection and study, His followers become more human.  This comforts me beyond measure, and I hope may comfort you also.  Thanks for reading!

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