Beloved Disciple as interpreter and author of scripture in the Gospel of John
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2022
Lindenlaub, Julia Danielle
This study explains the Gospel of John’s emphasis on its written medium as a literary text by proposing that the authoritative text of the Jewish scriptures is appropriated as model for the gospel’s likewise textual medium. To this end, it builds upon evidence for parallels between scripture and gospel in GJohn, especially as expressed through the gospel’s scriptural citations. Such motivation for Johannine preoccupation with the gospel’s “writtenness” has not yet been given due consideration in light of the Beloved Disciple’s representation therein as scriptural interpreter and purported gospel author. The present study therefore provides new evidence for positing parallels between scriptural text and gospel text in GJohn as motivation for stress on the gospel’s written medium. This is evinced by the gospel’s portrayal of the Beloved Disciple as an interpreter of scripture and an author of his own “scripture”: the gospel itself. The argument for this proposal unfolds across six chapters. Following an initial chapter introducing the method and aims of this study, two chapters present the Johannine scriptural citations attended by introductory formulae. The first of these treats citations introduced with a γεγραµµένον formula: 2:17, 6:31, 6:45, 10:34, and 12:15; the second covers those introduced with a πληρωθῇ formula: 12:38, 12:40, 13:18, 15:25, 19:24, 19:36, and 19:37. Through the γεγραµµένον-introduced citations, the disciples are presented as uniquely legitimized interpreters of scripture, in contrast to Jesus’ opponents and in continuity with Jesus’ own exemplary interpretation. With the πληρωθῇ-introduced citations, the Beloved Disciple alone emerges from among this group as an ideal disciple interpreter, who demonstrates his interpretation by quoting from scripture in his gospel composition. The next chapter then shows that the Beloved Disciple’s qualification for interpreting scripture and the qualification for composing scripture, applied to the prophet Isaiah, are both based on seeing Jesus’ glory revealed. In this way, the Beloved Disciple is able to interpret scripture and to compose a “scripture” of his own. The subsequent fifth chapter then describes the gospel’s resultant emphasis on its disciple authorship and the written medium of this disciple’s composition as the result of deliberate alignment of the gospel’s authorship and its textual medium with the Jewish scriptures. Understood in this way, “scriptural” authorship and a resultant “scriptural” textuality appear foregrounded in GJohn because both are patterned on the precedent of prior written scripture. The significance of these representations of authorship and textuality for staking the gospel’s unique authority claims is then verified through comparison with examples of its earliest readers and users: the editor responsible for GJohn 21 and two second-century texts, Epistula Apostolorum and Apocryphon of James. All three affirm that GJohn’s authority claims that are grounded in its authorship and textuality were emulated and adapted through its reception in subsequent early Christian literary culture. This study thus closes with a final chapter concluding that the Beloved Disciple is portrayed as both interpreter and author of scripture in the Gospel of John.