May 6: Yes, You in the Back!

We now arrive to our final grouping of resurrection texts, and finally, to a scriptural neighborhood with which I am actually acquainted!  Whew!  Our final texts cohere under the broad umbrella of John, or using a more accurate descriptor, Johnannine, meaning they use the vocabulary, reflect the sophisticated and distinctive theology, and seem to belong to the church which produced the Fourth Gospel.  You may have noticed from our daily journey that each gospel, and indeed each letter in the New Testament, has an apostolic patron.  This does not infer that patron actually wrote or dictated the work, but rather the work has been claimed by or attached to an early authoritative source.  The premier apostolic patron is of course Peter, variously called also Simon or Cephas.  Mark, I and II Peter are Petrine in identity.  Matthew is logically Matthean, James is Jacobite (the Latinized translation of James), Luke-Acts and all of Paul are Pauline, and then there’s the student in the back of the class.  The one whose hand is waving wildly in the air when the teacher asks a question.  The one whose answers stump the class.

This one is John, and his church and churches populate not only the late 1st century west coast of Anatolia (today’s Turkey) but also our Anglican scriptural tradition.  Episcopalians, whether you knew it or not, are Johnannine to the core!  We are Incarnationists, we do Christmas pageants, we quote John throughout the Prayer Book, we like mystery, etc. etc. etc.  We belong here!  And here is the New Testament’s minority report, because John always sees Jesus and God’s activity differently.  More cosmically.  More incarnationally.  More binary in the bitter contentions by the late 1st century so overtly reflected throughout his gospel, letters and the Book of Revelation which is appended to the Johnannine corpus also.  Things were getting rough for the churches by then, which explains the acrimony and antipathy so blatant in the text.  Light/dark, belief/doubt, church/world, God/Satan, God/Rome or Caesar….you was either in or you was out of John’s church!  All the majestic I AM statements.  Jesus being God 24/7, 365 in John, rendering the need for the Transfiguration obsolete in the Fourth Gospel (it isn’t there because Jesus is transfigured all the time).  No render unto Caesar either here.  And the devastating statement from the Jewish leaders in John 19:15 enshrines for all time the traumatic conflict John’s church suffered with their Jewish contemporaries: We have no king but Caesar.  Dreadful to subsequent Christian anti-Semitism.

Everyone get comfortable with the kid in the back of the class.  His hand is gesticulating, his arm is raised, and he wants to answer the resurrection question now.  Here we go…..

  1. Take a moment today to read your study bible’s introduction to the Gospel of John and John’s three letters situated back a bit in your New Testament.  Or browse a few websites under searches for the Fourth Gospel, Johnannine or John’s Gospel.  Get a feel for why I said minority report.
  2. Browse the Gospel and Letters if you like.  Find a favorite, familiar Johnannine passage, like the Prologue (John 1:1-18), one of the I AM statements, or the many signs (John’s term for miracles) front-loaded in the gospel.
  3. Take a moment in John chapters 20 and 21 to browse coming attractions!  What significant particular and peculiar attribute of these two chapters strike you?  And what’s up with the throwdown between Peter and the Beloved Disciple?!  Stay tuned loyal readers!

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