Adesola Akala, St John’s College, Durham University, ‘Gazing on Glory and Rereading Moses: Intertextual Intersections in John 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 in Light of the Exodus Narrative’
Hovering over the Christological landscape of the New Testament are spectres of Old Testament characters who are strategically summoned at crucial junctures to persuade readers about the validity of Christ, his mission, and ministers. The exegetical summoning of Moses in John 1:14-18 to establish the divinity and uniqueness of Christ parallels Paul’s intriguing invocation of Moses in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 where the apostle battles to authenticate his calling and ministry. Interestingly, these two passages converge at the point of beholding the glory of Christ (John 1:14; 2 Cor 3:18). To understand why and how John and Paul intertextually intersect at Sinai, I will explain their shared theology of divine self-disclosure which is centred in Christ and experienced through the act of ‘seeing’. An analysis of the complementary and contrasting elements in the exegetical rereading and reconfiguring of Moses, Law, and glory in these two passages reveals a common aim. The respective representations of Christ in the Johannine and Pauline writings jointly beckon readers to transcend the earthly, human limitations of knowledge, gaze upon hitherto unseen glory and thereby, be transformed.
Session 2: Joint with Synoptic Gospels Group
Book Review Panel: Simon Gathercole, The Gospel and the Gospels: Christian Proclamation and Early Jesus Books.
Respondents: Judith Lieu, University of Cambridge, and Matthew Novenson, University of Edinburgh
Elizabeth Clayton, University of Cambridge, ‘Abiding in an Absent Jesus: Love, Eschatology, and Presence in the Johannine Writings’
The theme of ‘abiding’ is one of particular importance to the Johannine corpus, and this paper how the theme of abiding sits alongside that of Jesus’ departure and absence (Jn 8:21; 14:28; 20:17), and examine if there is a tension between these themes by exploring how 1 John reads the Gospel. Jesus’ presence and absence have significant implications: abiding in his presence has ethical effects (Jn 15:10; 1 Jn 4:15-16), and his presence/absence have eschatological dimensions (Jn 14:2-3; 1 Jn 2:28). Building on the relationship between 1 John and the Gospel developed most recently by Andrew Byers, I will ask how 1 John makes sense of the Gospel’s portrayal of Jesus’ presence and absence and their implications, with particular focus on how divine presence/absence informs the community’s ethical and eschatological outlooks. This method offers another avenue for exploring the ways in which 1 John interprets the Gospel, and contributes to the developing understanding of Gospel reading and reception in early Christian communities.
Anna Budhi-Thornton, University of Manchester, ‘Multiple Masculinities and the Messiah: The Subversive and Complex Manliness of the Johannine Jesus’
Studies surrounding the perceived masculinity of Jesus as depicted in the New Testament is an ever-growing field producing valuable analyses of what constituted ‘manliness’ and how this impacts interpretation. Scholars such as Conway have produced findings identifying specific themes and attributes within each of the individual Gospels, highlighting the value of the inclusion of gender and masculinity in analysis of the Gospel texts. Where studies such as Conway’s are limited to the use of one perspective of ancient masculinity, there would be a greater benefit in an expansion of contexts, comparing a variety of surrounding ideals of masculinity with the Johannine Jesus. Considering this, in this paper I suggest that the Johannine author’s presentation of Jesus’ masculinity is complex and subversive in nature. Through comparing various models of manliness taken from ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources to the Jesus of the Johannine text, I will demonstrate how this Jesus challenges masculine standards while also embodying them.
Edward Wong, University of Edinburgh, ‘Editorial Stress and Trauma in the Gospel of John: A Psycholinguistic and Quantitative Text Assessment Approach’
The Gospel of John often presents ‘the Jews’ as a source of stress and trauma for Jesus and his followers, but could the very act of narrating about them be a stress-inducing compositional process? Recent studies show that narratives from traumatic contexts across genres and cultures share specific linguistic markers and word-frequency patterns associated with trauma symptomology; in particular, through the excessive use of first-person singular pronouns (e.g. I, my, mine), negative emotion-related words (e.g. hate, kill, fear), and cognitive processing words (e.g. know, because, why) as indices of self-focused attention, negative emotionality, and reflective thinking, respectively. In dialogue with the work of Martyn and Reinhartz, this paper explores the links between the Gospel’s language and the editorial impact of perceived trauma stemming from Jewish-Christian tensions. Using quantitative psycholinguistic analysis to identify trauma-related word frequency characteristics in the Gospel, I show that pericopae involving the narrative presence of ‘the Jews’ predict a statistically significant increase in trauma-related linguistic features compared to pericopae without them. My analysis suggests that the anti-Jewish rhetoric in the Gospel can be seen, in part, as both pathological and cathartic responses to early Jewish-Christian disputes.