Description: The Gospel of John presents its readers, listeners, and interpreters with a serious problem: how can we reconcile the Gospelís exalted spirituality and deep knowledge of Judaism with its portrayal of the Jews as the children of the devil (John 8:44) who persecuted Christ and his followers? One widespread solution to this problem is the so-called ďexpulsion hypothesis.Ē According to this view, the Fourth Gospel was addressed to a Jewish group of believers in Christ that had been expelled from the synagogue due to their faith. The anti-Jewish elements express their natural resentment of how they had been treated; the Jewish elements of the Gospel, on the other hand, reflect the Jewishness of this group and also soften the force of the Gospelís anti-Jewish comments. In Cast out of the Covenant, Adele Reinhartz presents a detailed critique of the expulsion hypothesis on literary and historical grounds. She argues that, far from softening the Gospelís anti-Jewishness, the Gospelís Jewish elements in fact contribute to it. Focusing on the Gospelís persuasive language and intentions, Reinhartz shows that the Gospelís anti-Jewishness is evident not only in the Gospelís hostile comments about the Jews but also in its appropriation of Torah, Temple, and Covenant that were so central to first-century Jewish identity. Through its skillful use of rhetoric, the Gospel attempts to convince its audience that Godís favor had turned away from the Jews to the Gentiles; that there is a deep rift between the synagogue and those who confess Christ as Messiah; and that, in the Gospelís view, this rift was initiated in Jesusí own lifetime. The Fourth Gospel, Reinhartz argues, appropriates Jewishness at the same time as it repudiates Jews. In doing so, it also promotes a ďparting of the waysĒ between those who believe that Jesus is the messiah, the Son of God, and those who do not, that is, the Jews. This rhetorical program, she suggests, may have been used to promote outreach or even an organized mission to the Gentiles, following in the footsteps of Paul and his mid-first-century contemporaries.
Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Johannine Literature, John, Literature, Methods, Ideological Critique
Review by Andrew J. Byers
Citation: Andrew J. Byers, review of Adele Reinhartz, Cast Out of the Covenant: Jews and Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).
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