August 14th, 2005


Theological Notebook/Personal: More Reading on the Prologue to John and the Cookout

I'm doing the happy dance of having found a couple of books in the library that are great sources for my research on the Prologue to the Gospel of John. Strange as it may seem, it's a very new area of research to be reading John in the context of Jewish mysticism, even if it seems obvious that that is its contexts. Sure, I can admit that that's a lot easier a judgment to make after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, but Johannine research really was poisoned for the bulk of the 20th century and thoroughly distracted by the liberal Protestant programmes of trying to strip early Christianity of its Christianity with the mistaken belief that this would make modernity more interested in Christianity. Right.

So we had all these decades of trying to read John solely in a Hellenistic context, which is obviously only part of the story, or even more bizarrely, in a Gnostic context, because it's taken these decades to convince the scholars of this sort that the ancients knew what they were talking about when they kept describing Gnosticism as these later, random outgrowths from Christianity. But the wild projections seem to be dying down (except, perhaps, on cable television) and some really focused and well-supported and well-argued work is finally being done in looking at the Jewish context. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised since the de-Christianizing scholarly programme in the 20th century was coming out of Germany (where Jewish studies clearly weren't a priority in the culture), but it seems so obvious in any reading of the New Testament documents, that I find it amazing that this is all such new ground.

So, it looks like a couple of real prizes here in 'Mysticism' in the Gospel of John: An Inquiry into Its Background by Jey J. Kanagaraj, and Word and Glory: On the Exegetical and Theological Background of John's Prologue by Craig A. Evans. Unfortunately, they're published by one of these European presses that is now issuing what I assume to be a limited number of each title, likely just about the number for the academic libraries that have to buy the things, and are selling them for $120-$150 each. That's what these were on Amazon, so no quick copies for me to mark up. I'm realizing that since this is new to biblical studies, likely little has been done to incorporating any of this into theology proper: I wonder what might come of it down the road by reading in this direction now.

And all this after a helluva fun night out at Dan and Amy's, taking advantage of their new patio, grilling kebabs and sweet corn, and talking with them, Mike and Donna, the newly-married Crip and Lisa, and Bob Foster, who was swinging through town. I talked with Amy more than I ever had before, which was fun in just enjoying how different they are and yet make such a tight couple, and she started feeding me sherry after the wine with dinner until I was swaying just sitting in my chair, but which definitely enhanced the fun. But for some reason, I can't remember what any of us talked about.