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Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John. (Shorter Notices).

BEFRIENDING THE BELOVED DISCIPLE: A JEWISH READING OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN. By Adele Reinhartz. New York: Continuum, 2001. Pp. 206. $24.95.

Reinhartz's sensitive and engaging study of the Fourth Gospel unfolds as four distinctive readings: (1) a Compliant Reading that views the Fourth Evangelist as a mentor who offers her a gift (the Christian gospel); (2) a Resistant Reading that sees the Evangelist as an opponent who criticizes Judaism; (3) a Sympathetic Reading that sees the Evangelist as a colleague whose attempt to connect his present to the past offers parallels to Jewish experience and worship; (4) an Engaged Reading that views the Evangelist as Other. R. concludes that she, a Jew, can never accept the Evangelist's gift and recognizes that he will never accept her rejection of it.

This small but complex book cannot be assessed adequately in a brief review. One comment will have to suffice. Throughout, R. sees the Evangelist's position as anti-Jewish (especially at 8: 44). She considers the pleas of Robert Kysar and Gail O'Day to view the Fourth Gospel in the context of intramural Jewish conflict and therefore not as anti-Jewish, but in the end she is not persuaded. She holds that the Evangelist's repeated references to "the Jews" were intended not only to create distance "but also hatred" (78).

For the sake of argument, let us say that the Evangelist intended to create hatred (which I doubt very much). How would R. understand the polemic found in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a few of the Pseudepigrapha? Or, for that matter, the vitriolic found in the Prophets? Does this polemic constitute anti-Judaism, or rather an angry denunciation of fellow Jews who in the writers' eyes are rebellious and sinful? Surely the latter, for the polemicists are themselves Jews. But so was the Fourth Evangelist, recently excluded from the synagogue and fighting back with the Jewish Scriptures and exegetical traditions. It is in the subsequent Gentile interpretation and ugly misuse of this polemical, angry writing that the Fourth Gospel emerges as anti-Jewish. In the end, this aspect of R.'s reading is anachronistic. I would like to see her explore an Estranged Jewish Reading of the Fourth Gospel and compare it to the polemics of other Jews who find themselves estranged from mainstream Jewish life.
Trinity Western University, British
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Author:Evans, Craig A.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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