2013 Regional Meeting - Summaries

Presenters' Summaries for the 2013 DC-Baltimore Regional Meeting

Michael A. Daise, College of William & Mary

"Quotations in Chiasm: Isaiah and Remembrance Formulae in the Fourth Gospel"


     Over the last century and a quarter quotations in John have enjoyed lavish attention. Since the 1990s, the questions traditionally attending them have been augmented, but my own project—from which this paper is excerpted—boasts no such daring. Drawn partly from a dissertation supervised by James Charlesworth, partly from a mémoire written under Marie-Émile Boismard, it revisits the conventional questions on John’s quotations, with a view to correcting or completing methodological lapses in prior exegesis.

     Two such lapses are engaged here, affecting six quotations. The first lapse concerns quotations that are meant to be read together but have been examined in isolation; the second involves quotations that for no warranted reason have been omitted from consideration; and the loci in question are John 1:23; 2:17; 12:13, 15-16; 12:38, 40. In this paper I will (1) introduce each quotation as part of a motific cluster with two others, (2) examine the literary structures and thematic resonances fashioned by these clusters and (3) draw the theological implications latent in those structures for the Fourth Gospel’s Book of Signs (chapters 1-12).

Two clusters of quotations

     Among the six quotations in question three are the only ones in John explicitly ascribed to Isaiah, three are the only ones introduced with ‘remembrance’ formulae. Regarding the first three, John 1:23 places a quotation of Isa 40:3 in the mouth of John the Baptist as an answer to a query from priests and Levites about his identity (John 1:19). John 12:38 and 12:40 cite Isa 53:1 and Isa 6:10, respectively, as commentary on the mass unbelief after Jesus’ public ministry (John 12:37). As for the second three quotations—introduced with ‘remembrance’ formulae—John 2:17 cites Ps 69(68):5 as a prophecy that is fulfilled by Jesus’ cleansing of the temple and recalled by his disciples. John 12:13 and 12:15 for their part rehearse Ps 118(117):25 and Zech 9:9, respectively, as prophecies remembered by the disciples as being articulated (Ps 118) and fulfilled (Zech 9) upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The ‘remembrance’ formulae in these last-named quotations do not explicitly associate the disciples’ recollection with the Spirit’s post-resurrection illumination (John 14:25-26), but their reference to such remembrance occurring after Jesus’ resurrection (John 2:22; 12:16) connotes as much.

     Exegesis of these six quotations has been erudite, but reductive and myopic. John 12:13 and 12:38 have been neglected; and the other four have been broached atomistically, with a view toward explaining their anomalies and deducing their significance for the passages in which they are placed. By virtue of the motific bonds they share, however, these quotations furnish contexts to each other that ought to remain intact in the exegetical process. That is, thematically each belongs to the other two that share its features, and no one of them should be sequestered from those other peers in the course of interpretation.

Inclusios and chiasm

     Making this tactical correction allows at least two advances in the study of these quotations. First, to be noted but not elaborated in this paper: it broadens the spectrum of options available to resolve exegetical problems. Second—and more to the point here—it brings into relief latent literary and theological features embodied in these references. Fundamentally the clusters form two inclusios to the Book of Signs (chapters 1-12) that embody themes attending Jesus’ public ministry in John. The first quotation ascribed to Isaiah appears in chapter 1, the first with a ‘remembrance’ formula appears in chapter 2 and the second two of both clusters occur in chapter 12. Inasmuch as components of an inclusio connect to convey theses that arch between them, the quotations in these split clusters do precisely that on John’s theology of the Praedicatio Domini. The Isaianic quotations encapsulate a story and commentary on the majority response to that ministry, not unlike the précis at John 1:11; and the ‘remembrance’ quotations (having in my judgment been reworked in the Fourth Gospel’s composition history) do the same on the disciples’ Spirit-given insight into Jesus’ fulfillment of scripture.

     More acutely, however, these two inclusios combine to form a chiasm between them. The Isaianic quotations are the first and last two in chapters 1-12; the ‘remembrance’ quotations are the second and second-to-last two in those same chapters—all, thus, forming an A—B—B/—A/ pattern within the Book of Signs. Inasmuch as chiasms bring the theses of their inner brackets into relief against those of their outer, this pattern in John renders the theme of the Isaianic quotations a foil to that of the ‘remembrance’ quotations. That is, against the summons to faith, ultimate unbelief and divinely-induced blindness of the Ioudaioi/kosmos to Jesus’ public ministry (the Isaianic quotations) is set the post-resurrection, Spirit-wrought insight of the disciples to that ministry (‘remembrance’ quotations). A theological dynamic spanning both sides of this chiasm is what Aquinas deemed the divine action necessary for ‘human assent to matters of faith’ (assensum hominis in ea quae sunt fidei). Since faith lifts humanity ‘above its nature’ (supra naturam suam), he argues, it cannot proceed from the mere ‘external inducement’ (exterius inducens) of miracles or persuasion, but requires ‘another internal cause’ (alia causa interior)…from some supernatural principle moving inwardly’ (ex supernaturali principio interius movente; Summa Theologica, IIa-IIæ, 6, Art. 1). The chiasm formed here dramatizes such a ‘principle’ by showing divine action, not only behind the unbelief of the masses (Isaianic quotations), but behind the ultimate belief of Jesus’ own disciples (‘remembrance’ quotations).


Fr. Thomas Lane, Mount St. Mary's Seminary

"The Gospels Show Christ Forming His Apostles to be Priests of the New Covenant"

Jesus is given many titles in the Gospels but never the title high priest, nor does Jesus ever describe himself as a priest. Jesus is of the tribe of Judah, not the priestly Levi tribe (Heb 7:14). It is only in the Letter to the Hebrews that Christ is explicitly defined as high priest. However the Gospels are not devoid of events and narratives implying the priesthood of Christ. The priests’ locus of service was the temple and when Jesus suggests the replacement of either the temple or its liturgy this has implications for the levitical priesthood and may be seen alluding to the priesthood of Jesus. John 17 is known as the high priestly prayer and could be said to have a tri-partite structure corresponding to the high priest’s prayers on Yom Kippur.

            The Gospels give attention to Christ calling the apostles, Simon and Andrew, James and John, and Matthew/Levi. The Fourth Gospel also relates the call of Philip and Nathanael. The reason for the attention to their calls becomes clear later.

            Jesus issues a second call to twelve disciples from the large number of disciples. The importance of Jesus’ action is portrayed by Mark using creation language, Jesus “created twelve.” (Mark 3:14) In the LXX the verb “create” is employed when referring to being conferred with an office in the midst of the people and for the people. In Luke Jesus spends all night in prayer before choosing the twelve (6:12). The implication is that the twelve have been chosen by Jesus in prayer with his Father. When it was day Jesus called his disciples and chose twelve of them and named them apostles (6:13). The twelve are introduced in Matt 10:1 for the first time when Jesus called the twelve to him. This appears as an answer to Jesus’ prayer immediately preceding in 10:38 asking the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to his harvest and may be the Matthean version of their calling from the disciples. The Fourth Gospel does not give a list of the twelve or an account of Jesus calling the twelve out of a larger assembly of disciples but yet implies that Jesus did call the twelve out of the disciples. The twelve, mentioned for the first time in John 6:67, are asked if they also want to leave Jesus like the others. It becomes clearer in 6:69 that the twelve have already been called by Jesus out of the larger number of disciples, “Did I not choose you twelve and one of you is an adversary?” (6:69)

            Each of the Synoptics tells us that the twelve apostles are sent out on what could be described as a tentative mission (Matt 10:5-15; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6). Their preaching and actions mimicked the preaching and actions of Jesus. Jesus began his preaching urging repentance (Mark 1:15) and they do likewise (Mark 6:12). In effect their ministry is an extension of the ministry of Jesus. The Jewish idea of an agent, shaliah, may be supposed here; the agent acted as the representative of the one who sent him and acted on his authority.

            Each of the Synoptics tells us the twelve were with Jesus at table during the Last Supper. The Fourth Gospel calls those present “disciples” but it can be deduced that the twelve are meant. In John 17:17 Christ prays that the disciples be sanctified in truth. The verb sanctify (ἁγιάζω) in the LXX almost exclusively refers to consecration of people or things to God. Jesus has been consecrated to the Father (John 10:36) and prays that the disciples be transformed for the new worship in spirit and truth. Following their consecration, the disciples’ mission is included in Christ’s prayer (17:18). The Father sent Christ into the world (10:36), and Christ sent the disciples into the world. The relationship between the Father and Jesus is now replicated in the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. The consecration of the disciples is to proceed from the self-consecration of Jesus (17:19), his self-sacrifice on Calvary. In Luke’s account of the Last Supper Christ gives the apostles the authority and command to offer the Eucharist, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19).

            During his resurrection appearance in John 20 Christ commissions the disciples sending them as the Father sent him (20:21). Jesus breathed on them in a creation-like action saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22).This is a bestowal of the Spirit on the apostles for the specific ministry of 20:23, granting them the authority to forgive sins.

            Before Christ’s Ascension in Matthew and Mark the eleven are commissioned to preach, teach, and baptize all nations (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:14-18). Instead in Luke Christ calls the large gathering of disciples to witness (24:48) suggesting that the eleven have a particular ministry.

            It seems clear Christ’s intention was to form the twelve to continue his ministry as his minsters of the New Covenant. In Acts and the New Testament Letters, the ministers of the New Covenant are not designated priests because the Jewish priesthood was still offering sacrifices in the temple; instead the Christian minsters are presbyters or overseers.

            We see two calls in the Gospels, the call to follow Jesus and the additional call which the twelve received. These two calls continue to be received today by those who receive the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.


Deborah Furlan Taylor, Independent Researcher

"Statue of a Great King: The Priority of Dan 2:31b-35"

At the heart of Daniel 2—the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a statue and his Jewish courtier’s interpretation of that dream—lies an earlier text that provides the historical genesis of the canonical tale. That core text is preserved in vv. 31-35, in (what is presented as) the king’s dream. Using methodological tools common in historical-critical analysis of the Gospels, I present a series of arguments for the literary priority of vv. 31-35 over the dream-interpretation of vv. 38-45.

            Identifying vv. 31–35 as an original, independent core allows us to recognize that it began neither as a dream nor as a historical review, but as a Jewish māšāl (figurative tale) about a single king, Antiochus III (r. 223–187 BCE), also known as “Antiochus the Great,” the father of the notorious Antiochus IV. Antiochus III, unlike any of his Seleucid ancestors, had proclaimed himself a living god and instituted a cult that would have involved erecting statues of the king, statues that would have looked like the one described in vv. 31–35.

            The original māšāl mocked Antiochus’ claims to divinity and predicted his downfall. After the Romans defeated Antiochus III in 190 BCE, the māšāl’s promise of a new dispensation gained a popular audience. Over time, however, the survival of the Seleucid dynasty created confusion and unease for those who had put their faith in the māšāl. Our canonical story was written to solve that problem. Whereas the original māšāl promised a new era in or near the lifetime of Antiochus III, the new interpretation promised a new era at the demise of the last Seleucid king—whoever and whenever that might be.

            Just as vv. 31–35 preserve a māšāl with a specific historical referent, vv. 48–49 preserve bits of information about its author, a real Daniel. Daniel was probably a Seleucid judge, whose office was in Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, with a jurisdiction that included the city of Babylon, about 40 miles away. As a relatively high-level Seleucid official, Daniel would have seen Antiochus up close when the king was in Mesopotamia, and he would have been privy to reliable reports of the king’s activities when the king was on campaign far from Mesopotamia.

            Antiochus’ actions after 204 BCE strongly suggest that he intended to reconstitute the entire territory of Alexander the Great under his sole control. His adoption of the epithet “the Great” and his institution of a cult of himself should be understood as deliberate self-representation as a new Alexander, especially aimed at the Greek populations he intended to conquer.

            Most if not all statues erected for this new cult would have been in the iconographic style of Alexander, a style in resurgence at the end of the third century BCE. The two hallmarks of that iconography—colossal size and graphic nudity—are precisely what we find in the description of the statue in Dan 2:31-35, unambiguous evidence that this story could not have originated before the Hellenistic era. No Babylonian or Persian king or god would have been depicted without the elaborate traditional clothing that marked their station.