Friday, June 22, 2007

The Messiah in John's Gospel

Late at night I have taken to watching two or three chapters from the Gospel of John Movie. Most enjoyable, and what I have noticed again and again is the importance of the is-he-or-isn't-the-Messiah motif that runs throughout. The big question of John is not: is Jesus God? But, is he the Messiah and what kind of Messiah is this?

In thinking over things, I have discovered that the studies that I have found the most helpful for wrestling with John's Gospel were ALL written by Australians (no surprises there):

Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: studies in the theology of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989).
John W. Pryor, John, evangelist of the covenant people: the narrative & themes of the fourth Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1992).
John Painter, The quest for the Messiah: the history, literature, and theology of the Johannine community (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993).
Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John (SP; Collegville, MN: Liturgical, 1998).


Mowens said...

Hey Mike,
Are you familiar with D. Carson's articles on John 20:31? Maybe the director read those two (?) articles:-)


minternational said...

Hi Mike,

I think I agree wholeheartedly with you on this and, for example, would see 19:7 as being explicated in 19:12 (where Son of God' is paralleled with 'King').

Just wondering, though, your thoughts on 5:18 and the Jews' understanding that to be called Son of God was to be equal with God. That doesn't feel like a divinity issue to me but I can't see in what way the thought of equality with God links to a messianic claim.

Brant Pitre said...

Hi Minternational (Hey Mike, this is for you too if you're interested),
Check out 11QMelchizedek among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It not only depicts the coming "Messiah" as an eschatological Melchizedek figure, but also refers to him as "God" (Hb. elohim) several times (see Martinez and Tigchelaar's edition for Hebrew and English). This implies some kind of connection already in the Scrolls between messiahship and divinity. (I don't know why these connections haven't gotten more press in Johannine scholarship than they do. Pretty intriguing stuff.)
This connection stem from the ancient Jewish belief in the preexistence of the Messiah (cf. 1 Enoch 62; Talmud and midrash) or directly from Ps 110's mysterious statements about the Melchizedekian priest king being "begotten before the Daystar."

Geoff Hudson said...

The Gospel of John was originally an autobiographical writing of the prophet. A clue to the purpose of the writing is Jn.7:39 - 'By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.' Clearly this is an inserted comment to conceal the fact that the prophet had been proclaiming the Spirit, not promoting himself. Thus in 38, he did not say "whoever believes in me", but "whoever obeys the Spirit".

The prophet was at 'The Feast' (7:37), that is the Feast of Tabernacles when they built booths and slept out under the stars waiting for the Spirit of the Lord to come.

Dave Lynch said...

The question

But, is he the Messiah and what kind of Messiah is this? appears to be a valid question even today.
The events that should occur when Messiah appears (swords into plowshares etc) do not appear to have happened.
The conclusions could be that... 1.Jesus was not Messiah, or
2.These are future events (which inserts a current period of 2000 years of violent waiting) or
3.That Messiah is working through a Kingdom unrecognised by brutal secular and religious fundamentalists.