restricted access 9. The Johannine Corpus
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271 Chapter 9 The Johannine Corpus The last group of New Testament texts to be examined in this study are the Gospel of John, the three epistles of John, and the book of Revelation. For long periods in the history of the church each of these five texts has been attributed to John, one of the Twelve. For the most part, the attribution to that apostle has been abandoned by modern scholarship. There are, however, sufficient similarities of vocabulary and ideology to affirm that the five texts have emanated from authors who had some relationship with one another. Because of these affinities and the traditional attribution of authorship, these texts can be gathered together under the rubric of the Johannine Corpus. They were written in the waning years of the first century CE. John The Gospel of John is quite different from the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the similar narratives known collectively as the Synoptic Gospels. One striking difference is that the account of Jesus’ “cleansing” of the temple, a prelude to the passion narrative in the Synoptic accounts,1 appears in John 2:14-22, toward the beginning of the evangelist’s story of Jesus. As such, the cleansing of the temple initiates a series of scenes in which traditional Jewish feasts are recast so that they point to Jesus. In the Johannine account, 1 Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46. See above, pp. 131–32.  272 Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy the core narrative of the cleansing of the temple, John 2:14-16, is expanded by discourse material that speaks about the resurrection of Jesus. A citation of Psalm 69:9, “It is zeal for your house that has consumed me,” which the disciples of Jesus are said to have remembered sometime later,2 enables the evangelist to attribute Jesus’ prophetic action to Jesus’ zeal for the Father’s house. As the evangelist describes Jesus’ action, he specifically mentions that Jesus poured out the coins (execheen to kerma) of the money changers, a detail that does not appear in the Synoptic accounts. The word “coins” does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament. In the Johannine story, “coins” refers to the shekels and half-shekels used to buy offerings and pay the temple tax and the imperial coinage received in exchange, but the term generally designated the hard cash used for regular purchases.3 The evangelist closes his account of what Jesus had done by portraying Jesus as saying that the temple should not be a marketplace, a trading mart.4 Jesus’ words may have prompted the evangelist to shy away from speaking about financial matters in the remainder of his story about Jesus. He has, for example, failed to mention Judas’s thirty pieces of silver or the fact that Joseph of Arimathea, who lent a tomb to Jesus, was a rich man. The New Testament’s fourth evangelist has, in fact, very little to say about wealth, wages, and the wealthy in his narrative. Wages This is not to say that the evangelist is totally oblivious to these matters. Speaking to his disciples about the already present eschaton, Jesus says, “The reaper is already receiving wages [misthon lambanei ] and is gathering fruit for eternal life.”5 That the reaper is already getting paid means that the harvest has begun. This illustrates the 2 Cf. John 2:17. 3 Cf. Spicq, “Kermatist∑s, kollybist∑s, trapezit∑s,” TLNT 2:313–18, esp. 313. 4 The Greek oikon emporiou takes the place of the “den of thieves” (sp∑laion l∑støn) found in Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; and Luke 19:46. 5 John 4:36a. The Johannine Corpus 273 realized eschatology of the fourth gospel, a fascinating topic the pursuit of which would take us far beyond our present inquiry.6 The reader of the NRSV’s account of the story of the feeding of the five thousand finds another reference to wages in Philip’s response to Jesus before the sign took place. Philip answered Jesus, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”7 The NRSV translators have taken a bit of literary license at this point in their work. The evangelist wrote diakosiøn d∑nariøn, “two hundred denarii,” the equivalent of two hundred days’ pay, but he didn’t really speak about wages (misthos) as such. Germane to our study is the...