John the Elder and Jerusalem

I have finished reading Richard Bauckham’s tome Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and I guess it truly deserves various accolades it got. Among many things that he wrote, Bauckham argued for authorship of John the Elder or John of Ephesus for the Gospel of John and in fact the whole Johannine corpus. I guess not many of us is familiar with John the Elder, but perhaps some of us have heard about argument for authorship of John the Elder for the Revelation of John. And for 2 and 3 John: “The elder to the elect lady and her children.” (2 Joh 1) “The elder to the beloved Gaius.” (3 Joh 1)

One of the characteristics of John the Elder, Bauckham argued, is that he resided in Jerusalem in his early life, at least until Jesus was raised and exalted. Then he moved to Ephesus in his later life, probably until 90s AD or so when he wrote his Gospel. I am not sure whether Bauckham mentioned this or not, but it explained why we had a lot of narratives which was set in Jerusalem in the Gospel of John. And not so much in Galilee, the focus of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke). It’s basically because he was not the eyewitness himself for the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, and since eyewitness testimony is an important criteria for trustworthiness, to report such events which were recorded in the Synoptics would actually reduce the trustworthiness of his Gospel. And hence it explains the stark difference between the Synoptics and the Gospel of John. The Synoptics were based on the testimony of the Twelve who followed Jesus everywhere, while the Gospel of John was based on the testimony of John the Elder who resided in Jerusalem.

Another thing which also fascinated me about Bauckham’s book is how he presented his argument about the authorship. The author of the Gospel of John presented his authorship gradually and only ‘revealed’ his identity at the very end of his Gospel. And Bauckham basically followed this approach when he presented his argument. You would read in suspense, trying to guess who the author is, and you would only get the answer at the very end (well, almost) of his book. We witness an example of good scholarship combined with superb literary style, and we know that our testimony is true.

7 thoughts on “John the Elder and Jerusalem

  1. s&y

    Gimana dia jelasin the disciple whom he loved di gospel of John? Emang John presbyter ada di waktu murid2 makan2 ama Yesus di pinggir pantai?

    Reply
    1. septian Post author

      Bauckham argued that Joh 1.35 formed an inclusio (a literary framing device) with Joh 21.2. They ‘framed’ the identity of the author of the Gospel.

      Joh 1.35: “The next day again John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples.”

      Joh 21.2: “Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.”

      From the names in Joh 21.2, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (John and James) figured in the Gospel and this group of names is particular to this Gospel (e.g., particularity of Thomas and Nathanael, esp. Nathanael who did not figure in the Synoptics). So again we are left with ‘two others of his disciples.’ He argued that these two corresponded in Joh 1.35 and Joh 21.2. He argued as well that the author of the Gospel was one of the ‘two [other] of his disciples.’ One of them was identified as Andrew (Joh 1.40), but interestingly the author never identified the other one.

      When Peter turned and saw ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ following him, why must he be John of Zebedee and not one of ‘two others of his disciples’? Regarding ‘the disciples whom Jesus loved’, we need to remember that the Gospel never told his identity explicitly. We only knew that it was authored by ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ And the anonymity would be consistent throughout the Gospel if indeed the author is one of ‘two others of his disciples.’

      Reply
  2. s&y

    hmm, ada yang argue itu john presbiter ama john apostle itu sama … hmm lagi, itu Gospel ama surat2 John kan vocab2nya sama, jadi logis kalo di tarik autornya sama, kalo gitu si Bauckham juga seret semua surat yang ngarang si presbiter itu donk?

    trus kalo emang bener si presbiter, jadi orang yang di bawah salib yang ama Maria jadi si presbiter juga? puzzlenya jadi rada bolong ga sih kalo ambil view autor John itu John lain selain apostle

    Reply
      1. septian Post author

        knp jd bolong klo yg di bawah salib si presbiter? i guess the point of the story is jesus entrusted his mother to the only male disciple that was there (the other male disciples pretty much ran away, so much for courage as a masculine virtue).

        mengenai yg argue klo john presbiter sama john apostle itu sama, actually bauckham also explained why it was so. secara timeline, basically ada trajektori dimana di awal abad ke-2, kedua figur ini masih dipisahkan, namun mulai akhir abad ke-2 keduanya sudah diidentifikasikan menjadi satu. salah satu alasannya adalah untuk membela otoritas apostolik injil2, karena itu ada pergeseran dari menyebut ‘john the disciple’ (yang mungkin merujuk kepada john the elder atau john the son of zebedee) kepada ‘john the apostle’ sehingga apostolisitasnya menjadi eksplisit. sejak saat itu tentunya menjadi sulit untuk membedakannya. sama dengan tendensi untuk mengidentifikasikan mary of bethany dengan mary magdalene (yang mungkin memang satu figur, namun mungkin juga dua figur yang berbeda).

        sebuah perikop dari papias (early 2nd century) mungkin mengindikasikan dengan jelas bahwa john the elder dengan john son of zebedee ini dua figur yang berbeda:

        “If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,–what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord’s disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.”

        John yang pertama disebutkan setelah James, yang mungkin jelas merujuk kepada dua anak Zebedeus James dan John. Sementara John yang kedua disebut sebagai the presbyter John. Daftar nama Papias ini juga menunjukkan dependensinya terhadap Injil Yohanes, karena tidak biasanya daftar nama ‘rasul’ dimulai dengan Andreas. Biasanya dimulai dengan Petrus. Di Injil manakah Andreas muncul lebih dahulu daripada Petrus? Injil Yohanes (Yoh 1.40).

        Kemudian, Papias membedakan antara 7 figur yg pertama (dari Dua Belas rasul) dengan 2 figur yg kedua. Kedua angka ini memiliki makna simbolik. 7 itu komplit sementara 2 itu cukup. Dalam arti, kesaksian mereka komplit dan cukup pada saat yang bersamaan. dependensi dengan Injil Yohanes juga ditunjukkan dengan nama-nama tersebut: Andreas mendahului Petrus, Filipus yang juga muncul sangat early di Injil Yohanes (Yoh 1.43), Tomas yang prominent di Injil Yohanes. (Sementara Petrus, Yakobus dan Yohanes secara tradisional memang inner circle nya Yesus, dan Papias membutuhkan satu nama lagi dari Dua Belas Rasul untuk menjadikan total nama di daftar pertamanya menjadi tujuh, dan Matius dipilih karena ada satu Injil pula yang diasosiasikan dengannya, jadi dapat memperkuat argumennya bahwa kesaksian mereka dapat dipercaya).

        Reply

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