Jewishness of John

Last week I argued that the Gospel of John was not written by gentiles. This week I will focus on three Jewish aspects of that Gospel. These can be summarized:

(1) christology(2) knowledge of Jerusalem(3) language: use of Memra and sons of light These are not the only Hebraic aspects to John but they are enough for now.

High christology

High christology such as that of John has been seen as late developing and genitle rather than Jewish.Judaism of the first century was diverse and the Christology of John demonstrates affinities with other movements such as essenes.These would be movements within Judaism. First century Judasim tolerated many different views of Messiah."There was a broad spectrum of views tolerated within mainstream Judaism at the time, including the Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots. Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls add the Essenes into the mix. And even Hebrew Christians were still allowed to sit in the synagogues in the early decades of the newly-founded faith."[1] A summary of John's high Christology:"in the Gospel of John, Jesus has descended from heaven, has been sent by the Father, is one with the Father, and is the only begotten of the Father. This Johannine portrayal of Jesus as the divine Son of God is thought to have been possible only in later Christian thought."[2] "Jewish works of the Parables of Enoch, 4 Ezra 13 (and 2 Baruch). In these Jewish texts we read of a messianic figure whois preexistentjudges the wickedis the Servant of the Lordis seated on the Lord of Spirit’s throneBut let’s read Boyarin’s own words."[3] Scholars have traditionally tended to see high Christology as Christianized and non Jewish, but a paradigm shift is underway which understands John's Jesus as Jewish and historical."Yet the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has exposed certain similarities between the Gospel of John and some form of early Judaism in Palestine."[4] see list at b0ttom for Johns high christology as it relates to Jewish expectations of Messiah,

Godfrey summarizes:

Thus, on the question of Jesus as the Messiah, Johannine scholarship finds itself in an interesting place not unlike that of Pauline scholarship. Johannine scholars, since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, have recognized the Palestinian Jewish nature of the Gospel of John, but by and large, they have understood John’s Christology as a corrected, theologized, or Christianized version of Jewish messianology.[5]
Knowledge of Jerusalem

For centuries the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (John chapter five) was thought to be fictional and symbolic. But archaeological excavations have proven the pool to exit  thus proving John to contain deep historical knowledge of Jerusalem.There are other archeological examples (such as Pool of Siloam) showing the author of John new Jerisalem before the Roman destruction in 70.[6] 


the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls beginning at Qumran in 1947 has forced scholars to revisit the Jewishness of the Gospel of John. Language in John once thought to be the result of Hellenistic influences has been shown to originate in the Holy Land after all.

For instance, the “sons of light” (John 12:36) and the idea of “walking in the light” (John 12:35) have parallels in Qumran literature (1QS 1:9 and 1QS 3:20, respectively). The scrolls, therefore, reveal Jewish, not Greek, influence on the Evangelist.[7]
Anther such example is the term "memra." Memra is an aremaic word meaning "word." John's use of logos (as in the prolog "in the beginning was the word or logos) was not Greek but Hebrew. The Jews translated their word memra as logos when they spoke Greek and they used that word to refer to the presence of God or God himself and in place of using God's name. The Greek looks could never be a man. That would be liking saying reasons aman. The Johanine use of logos is  a Hebraic use not a Greek, it corresponds to Memra.[8] The Greeks never understood logos as a man.

"In a recent lecture in Jerusalem, Dr. James H. Charlesworth – professor of New Testament language and literature, and editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at Princeton Theological Seminary – claimed that this paradigm shift goes beyond the question of dating the Gospel of John and investigating the life setting of Jesus. The new archaeological finds also have triggered a shift in thinking about the Jewishness of the Gospel of John and its perceived anti-Semitic and anti-Judaic polemic."

List by Neil Godfrey: "If you are a bit rusty on the Gospel of John here is a list of “primary texts that serve as important links to Jewish messianic expectation in the Gospel of John”:

• John the Baptist’s denial that he is the Christ, Elijah, or “the prophet” (John 1:19-21; cf. 3:28)

• Andrew’s declaration to Peter: “We have found the μεσσίαν” (1:41)

• Philip’s declaration to Nathanael: “We have found the one of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote” (1:45)

• Nathanael’s exclamation “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel” (1:49)

• Jesus’s statement to the Samaritan woman that the one speaking with her is the μεσσίας (4:25)

• the crowd’s claim that Jesus was the prophet who was to come into the world and their subsequent attempt to make him king (6:14-15)

• the crowd’s claim that when the Christ comes no one will know where he is from (7:27)

• the expectation by the crowd that the Christ will do signs (7:31; cf. 10:41)

• the crowd’s question about whether Jesus was the prophet or the Christ

• and whether the Christ was David’s descendant and would come from Bethlehem (7:40-44; cf. 7:52; 9:17)

• that those who believe Jesus to be the Christ will be thrown out from the synagogue (9:22; cf. 12:42; 16:2)

• Martha’s exclamation: “I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who comes into the world” (11:27)

• John’s account of the triumphal entry when the Passover crowd proclaims “Hosanna, blessed is the one coming in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” (cf. Ps. 118:25-26) and the citation of Zech. 9:9 as reason for Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem (12:13-15)

• the crowd’s expectation that the Christ will remain forever (12:34)

• the Gospel as witness to Jesus’s signs so that readers may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:30-31)

< and additionally, the two references to Jesus as “Jesus Christ” (Ίησοΰ Χρίστου, 1:17; Ίησουν Χριστόν, 17:3)

all sources accessed 2/15/21

[1]John Black, "The Book of John and 'the Jews,'Second Temple Period." ICEJ (April 9,2013) Feb 11,2021.

[2]Neil Godfry quoting Benjamin E. Reynolds and Gabriele Boccaccini, "The Gospel of John as a source for Jewish Messianism? (Part 1)." Vridar(02-23-2019) [accessed feb 12, 2021]

[3]___________,"The Gospel of John as a source for Jewish Messianism?" part 2,%20since%20the%20discovery%20of%20the%20Dead,never%20referenced%20as%20an%20example%20of%20this%20expectation.

[4] Godfey Op cit

[5]Neil Godfrey, op cit (Part 2) (2019-02-24),%20since%20the%20discovery%20of%20the%20Dead,never%20referenced%20as%20an%20example%20of%20this%20expectation. [accessed feb 12, 2021]

[6] John Black, "Jersalem Find validating the Gospel of John," (March 2013)

[7]John Black op cit

[8] Kaufmann Kohler, "MEMRA (= "Ma'amar" or "Dibbur," "Logos"):"Jewish Encylopdathe unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia (2002-2011,

[9]John Black,"The Book of John and 'the Jews,'Second Temple Period." op cit\

[10]Godfrey part 1 op cit


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