March 18, 2005

smart like a bag of hammers

Okay. What's the other perjoratives kicking around in the back of my head? The elevator in that apartment building doesn't go all the way to the top. Playing poker with a pinochle deck.

I cannot get over the idea that John's (primary?) agenda is to show the folks who don't side with Jesus to be -- well -- a few bricks short of a load. I mean we're talking folks well trained in their religion, amongst the most educated of their day, genuinely concerned about their faith and the state of their nation, and seriously, their God. And John presents them consistently acting like they are intentionally slow -- just not getting it -- and maybe this is the real point -- rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Maybe they were really like that. After all I have to start with my own interpretive principles -- through the literal to the deeper levels. It has been nearly 2000 years after all. And after 2000 years of debate and theology and Christian culture and witch trials and Crusades and all the rest maybe all this stuff just seems so self-evident or at least old hat to us that we can't understand how these guys didn't get it.

But at the same time. John doesn't have to present them that way. The Synoptics don't especially do so. If anyone gets painted as dullard in the gospel of Mark its Peter and the Twelve disciples! So this tells me John is doing this for a reason.

Maybe he's feeling defensive. Maybe John and the faith he hold dear is under attack. So he presents the traditionalist Jewish stance as not only stupid but also and at the same time anti-spiritual.

Maybe its a dramatic technique. He needs somebody to be stupid so Jesus has an opportunity to explain himself. Explaining himself is something Matthew Mark and Luke don't let Jesus do so much.

And maybe John has the perspective of time. By the time this gospel was written the Romans had already gotten fed up with Judea and sacked the temple. The Jewish zealots had all died on Masada. Judaism needed (and found in Rabbinic Judaism btw) a different way of being Jewish -- and John is simply pointing out that Christianity offered that before all those things happened.


At 2:09 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

My take on this closely resembles David, but I start with what I imagine his readship is made up of. I imagine there were two factions: the judaizers and the gentiles-- a very rough categorization.

The "judaizers" may have seemed too powerful a group of schismatics to John. Maybe he had to belittle them since he felt they had done a lot of harm to his congregation.

Maybe just a half baked theory!

At 2:51 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:57 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Soryy - I'll try again :-).

I don't think John was so much saying that the religious leaders were dopes but that they didn't wish to be wrong. Perhaps Jesus' message, that he was the messiah, was not so much hard to understand as hard to credit, was unacceptable.

John was pointing out (maybe) that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to "think different" or to believe in him ... the religious leaders were well educated, as David pointed out, but what needed to take place was not putting together the pieces of the puzzle correctly but instead throwing away that puzzle they had in a death grip.


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