Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Problem Text for those who associate the Parousia with the destruction of Jerusalem?

'Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?"' (John 21:22-23)

  1. I believe the majority of scholars (though I am no expert on John), argue that the Gospel of John was written after the destruction of the Temple.
  2. If Bauckham is right then the author of John is a certain 'John the Elder' - a man who died after the destruction of the Temple.

If these points are correct, and admittedly point 2 may well not be, then it is hard for me to avoid the conclusion that the rumour that spread was not simply 'John would not die' as this is hardly even a possible inference from 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?' Rather, the rumour would likely be that John would live until the coming of the Lord, and would therefore 'not die'.

But John didn't live until the coming of the Lord – even though he had experienced the destruction of Jerusalem. Ergo, so this argument goes, the parousia should not be confused with the destruction of Jerusalem, at least in John.

Now in defence of the view that the parousia is to be directly associated with the destruction of Jerusalem view: Is it possible that Jesus wanted to simply indicate that John, unlike Peter, would not die before the destruction of Jerusalem and that this was misunderstood to mean John would not die at all (but be transported directly into heaven like Elijah and Enoch, perhaps)?

I don't know too much about John's Gospel, so your wisdom is appreciated. What do you think makes the most sense? Or is an entirely different explanation more likely?


At 1/07/2008 12:56 AM, Blogger Jaume said...

Of course this is all speculation, but here is my version of what could have happened:

1) The "Beloved Disciple" lived after the destruction of the Temple (as you suggest);

2) The BD died before what we know now as the Gospel of John was written (that would explain why it is necessary to state that Jesus did not say that he would live forever)

3) The Gospel of John as it is known today was written, or perhaps edited, by a disciple or a group of disciples of the BD (see John 21, 24), using texts or quotes left by their master.

At 1/07/2008 1:00 AM, Blogger graham old said...

Hi Chris,

I guess I would fall under 'those who associate the Parousia with the destruction of Jerusalem', though I wouldn't use quite that terminology.

I don't really see this as a problem text, at all. Thought the majority of scholars do see John as written after 70, I courageously disagree. ;-) I would follow Robinson in his reasons for holding this position. Nevertheless, I don't see the dating of John as conclusive, either way.

Your argument actually seems to support the idea of associating the parousia with Jerusalem: 'John didn't live until the coming of the Lord – even though he had experienced the destruction of Jerusalem.' The response from the AD 70 crew would be that if John experienced the destruction of Jerusalem, then he did live to see the return of Christ.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure that any of this is really pertinent. Not only do I think it's not possible to discuss the parousia in John without talking about Pentecost, but I'm not sure we should take Jesus' words so literally. Isn't he just saying, "Don't worry about him..."?

Or am I missing something?

At 1/07/2008 8:33 AM, Blogger Jim Deardorff said...

If you go back a couple verses, Peter seems to have been asking Jesus about the one who is betraying him. It seems to be that person who would not die. I believe a case can be made, therefore, that it was referring to Judas Iscariot, not the BD.

If so, there must have been some perplexing problem concerning Judas that the writer of John felt needed to be addressed, if only in veiled terms.

If one looks into the Talmud of Jmmanuel, one finds that Judas was not the betrayer, but rather an acquaintance of the disciples by the name of Juda, a Pharisee.

It's too bad that this Talmud (the earliest one) is off limits for scholarly discussion.

At 1/07/2008 8:35 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

thanks for your comments, guys. Helpful. I'll try to respond a bit more later.

I just wanted to add that I tend to the preterist view, at least in so far as it goes with the synoptics. Just so you know, I wasn't trying to mount a critique of preterism, or anything like preterism. It was simply an honest question.

Thanks again for your responses. I need to get back to work :-(

At 1/07/2008 11:07 PM, Blogger Glenn said...


Thanks for the question. I am fairly convinced that Ben Witherington has a strong case for the Gospel of John being compiled by someone named John, but that the "Beloved Disciple" was Lazarus. To me, when we stop assuming that the Beloved Disciple was John, things related to the whole Gospel start to make a little more sense when the author references the "BD" term.

Read Ben's post and it will make much more sense with what I'm saying.

Was Lazarus the Beloved Disciple?

It would become clear why the disciples were asking if "he" would live until the second coming (since Lazarus was already raised from the dead) and since he was "following (behind) them" [Jesus and the twelve] and not with them. In the Gospels, John was one of the 12, but in the Gospel of John, the BD is not clearly portrayed as one of the twelve, IMHO.

Hope that helps. Enjoy and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


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