Skip to: Site Menu | Main content

Anti-Semitism and Religious Violence as Flawed Interpretations of the Gospel of John

Yes, John’s narrative carries a good deal of religious invective—a factor of heated debates with religious leaders in Jerusalem and/or a diaspora setting—but one must go against the clearly counter-violent presentation of Jesus in John to embrace any form of religious violence. Therefore, resorting to violence cannot be supported by an exegetically faithful reading of the Gospel of John. It goes directly against the Johannine stance against violence, corroborated also by the clear teachings of Jesus in the Synoptics.

See Also: John and Judaism: A Contested Relationship in Context (SBL Press, 2017)

“Glimpses of Jesus Through the Johannine Lens—An Introduction and Overview of John, Jesus, and History, Volume 3”

The Community That Raymond Brown Left Behind: Reflections on the Johannine Dialectical Situation

Addressing the Johannine Riddles—A New Introduction

The John, Jesus, and History Project? New Glimpses of Jesus and a Bi-Optic Hypothesis

By Paul N. Anderson
George Fox University
October 2017

Click here for article.

Comments (1)

To my mind the sheer bitterness of some of the Johannine Jesus' comments on the Ioudaioi is underplayed here. One wonders whether those who were his followers were still his followers at the end of that angry dialogue. Can this fail to represent a distinctly hostile judgement of the Johannine Christians, at least those of the time when John's Gospel went through it second edition, on those who claimed
that they were both Jews and
followers of Jesus? There is also the
way John's Jesus and John refer with such a great sense of externality to 'your law', Ioudaioi etc.. Much seems to depend on making this a Galilean sense of externality vs. Judaeans but it is very hard to give 'Ioudaioi' this sense consistently, as is accepted. This leads us to a polyvalent reading - but can we avoid accepting that one of the valences refers to the religion that we call Second Temple Judaism?
The extreme centrality of the Temple in this religion makes it difficult to understand how there could be a Galilean sensibility self-consciously contrasting with the Judaean one but clearly within the same religious framework? The whole idea of Second Temple religion was that it is in Judaea that God is known: to frame one's religion as external to Judaean ways is to challenge that whole idea.
Which leads to the fact that Jesus is nowhere shown as doing what Second Temple religion most required, i.e. participating as a 'layman' in the priest-led sacrifices.
His zeal for the Temple is expressed in violent acts, prophecies of its destruction and relocation of its sacredness to his own body. Was he then Jewish in the religious sense?
The famous riddling style of Jesus' speech makes it comparatively hard to see whether he accepts or merely seems to accept the Samaritan woman's attribution of Jewish status to him. That salvation will come from among those of Jewish religion can be understood in more than one way: it recognises the positive role of Judaeans and their religion in providing the setting for salvation to come but does not rule out their being left behind when salvation for the whole world is offered.
I don't think that there is any call for religious violence as a duty but the 'cleansing' of the Temple is a symbolic act announcing God's displeasure and thus much worse to come. Jesus creates risks of stampede, panic and disorder and does use a potentially lethal weapon.
#1 - Martin Hughes - 10/23/2017 - 10:47

Use the form below to submit a new comment. Comments are moderated
and logged, and may be edited. You must provide your full name.
Inappropriate material will not be posted. Please do not post inappropriate web sites, they will be deleted.

E-mail (Will not appear online)