Item description for The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times by Raymond Edward Brown...
Overview This study in Johannine ecclesiology reconstructs the history of the Christain community in the first century - a community whose life from its inception to its last hour is reflected in the Gospel and Epistles of John. It was a community that struggled with the world, with the Jews, and with other Christians. Eventually the struggle spread to its own ranks. It was, in short, a community not unlike the Church today. This book offers a different view of the traditional Johannine eagle. In the Gospel, the eagle soars above the earth, but with talons bared for the fray. In the Epistles we discover the eaglets tearing at each other for possession of the nest.
Publishers Description The life, loves and hates of an individual church in New Testament times. Considers the life and writings of St. John.
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Studio: Paulist Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Dec 31, 1979
Publisher Paulist Press
ISBN 0809121743 ISBN13 9780809121748
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More About Raymond Edward Brown
Raymond E. Brown, S.S., was a Sulpician priest and Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, at the time of his death in August 1998. He was twice appointed a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, by Pope Paul VI in 1972 and by Pope John Paul II in 1996. A prolific author, he wrote several commentaries on the Johannine literature, including The Gospel and Epistles of John: A Concise Commentary (Liturgical Press) and The Gospel According to John (Anchor Bible Commentary, Doubleday). He wrote Reading the Gospels With the Church: From Christmas Through Easter (St. Anthony Messenger Press).
Raymond Edward Brown lived in the state of New York. Raymond Edward Brown was born in 1928 and died in 1998.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times?
A Remarkable Piece! Mar 26, 2008
Raymond E. Brown was perhaps the greatest Johannine scholar of the twenty-first century. In this book, Brown endeavored not only to reconstruct the history of Johannine community in the first century but also, by implication, attempted to give us an account on the formation of the Christian faith. He approached the matter predominantly from the perspectives of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles. I suggest that both the Gospels of John and Epistles of John, and Luke-Acts (perhaps Paul?) are necessary to reconstruct the origins of Christianity. So these documents are invaluable tools to help us discover how everything had started. At any rate, this notion is a matter of considerable discussion among New Testament scholars, so let's go back to Brown.
As I mentioned above, Brown's basic purpose in this volume is to find out how the Johannine community had emerged throughout its history. He did through a successful investigation of both the Gospel of John and Epistles of John. By the way, the hypothesis Brown employed in this work is questionable by many reputable Johannine scholars, but he has strong arguments.
INTRODUCTION: Problem and Method in Discerning Johannine Ecclesiology
The introduction deposits Brown's plan for the book. He hopes to study the history of the Johannine community by treading primarily the Gospel of John, then, John's Epistles on various different levels. By taking this approach, Brown assures us that both the story of Jesus and the Johannine community could be accessed and reconstructed. Brown's method here is parallel to that of Bultmann's and Wellhausen's; the latter contended that chiefly the four Gospels inform us about the Sitz im Leben of the church in which they were written, and only in secondary about the life of Jesus which prima facie they depict . By applying this principle, Brown approaches the matter by employing various reading levels and adopting four different phases:
1.Phase One, "the pre-Gospel era, involved the origins of the community, and its relation to mid-first century Judaism." The composition of the fourth Gospel occurred prior to the expulsion of Johannine Christians from the synagogues (John 9:22; 16:2). The basis of this incident related to what "they were claiming about Jesus" (22).
1.Phase Two, "involved the life-situation of the Johannine community at the time the Gospel was written." Brown maintains the traditional date for the writing of John, A.D. 90. However, he accentuates that the main writing of John took place during that year, not the final product. Another difficulty in the Gospel is the continuous presence and echo of (the) "Jews" ("Ioudaioi"). Brown also believes within the Johannine community there existed the insistence on a high Christology, "made all the more intense by the hard struggles with the `Jews.'"
2.Phase Three, involved "the life-situation in the now-divided Johannine communities at the time the Epistles were written" (A.D. 100?). Brown appeals to 1 John 2:19 to describe the trajic division occurred between the Gospel and the Epistles, which he explains in this term, " ... the struggle is between two groups of Johannine disciples who are interpreting the Gospel in opposite ways, in matter of christology, ethics, and pneumatology. The fears and pessimism of the author of the Epistles suggest that the secessionsts are having the greater numerical success ( I John 4:5), and the author is trying to bolster his adherents against further inroads of false teachers (2:27; II John 10-11). The author feels that it is "the last hour" ( 23; I John 2:18)." That was the BIG DEAL according to Brown!
3.Phase Four, "saw the dissolution of the two Johannine groups after the Epistles were written. The great departure happened between the secessionists and the conservation side of the Johannine community. So they disfellowshipped among themselves, and were no longer in community. According to Brown, it was the secessionists' initiation to divide because of their misuse of the Fourth Gospel. As a result, there arose publicly various sects or groups in the second century inclining toward, Docetism, Gnosticism, Cerinthianism, and Monanism.
PHASE ONE: Before the Gospel -Johannine Community Origins
Brown's argument is basic but profound. He contends that in the early period of the life of the church consisted of Jews whose belief could be labeled as both "low Christology" and "higher Christology." By "low Christology," "involves the application to Jesus of titles derived from OT or intertestamental expectations (e.g., Messiah, prophet, servant, lord, Son of God)--titles that do not in themselves imply divinity, whereas, "high Christology," "involves an appreciation of Jesus that moves him into the sphere of divinity, as expressed, for instance, in a more exalted use of Lord and Son of God, as well as the designation "God." In other words, some Jews highly regarded Jesus as divine, while others rejected his divine nature.
Brown sees both continuity and discontinuity of this notion transmitted in other Jewish churches associated with the apostles.
Concerning John the Baptist-
According to Brown, when the Gospel of John was written the Johannine community engaged in a furious contention with followers of John the Baptist claiming his Messianic status by rejecting Jesus. To fix the problem, Brown notes that the Fourth Gospel presents JBap's role in 1:20 "I am not the Messiah"; and in 3:28: "I am not the Messiah but am sent before him."
On the Role of the Beloved Disciple
The Beloved Disciple is a mysterious historical figure appearing only in the Gospel of John and was the hero of the Johannine community. At his death, he was idealized by the people of the community. The Fourth Gospel clearly identifies him as "the Disciple whom Jesus loved" (13:23-26; 19:25-27; 20:2-10). Nonetheless, Brown agrees that the Beloved Disciple was an "outsider to the group of best-known disciples" (34).
PHASE TWO: When the Gospel Was Written- Johannine Relations to Others
Brown describes the presence of various groups of in the Gospel. The world, the Jews, and the adherents of John the Baptist are categorized as "non-believers detectable in the Gospel." The latter were individuals who made no pretense of believing in Jesus. The Crypto-Christians (Christian Jews within the Synagogues, the Jewish Christian Churches of inadequate faith, and the Christians of apostolic churches are rightly known as "Christians detectable in the Gospel." These individuals expressed explicit faith in Jesus.
PHASE THREE: When the Epistles Were Written--Johannine Internal Struggles
Brown argues the Second and Third Letters of John were written by the same man, whose name was (or calls himself) "the presbyter." The evidence is that relatively the same doctrinal and moral issues are discussed in I and in II John and that "both II and III John are concerned with the acceptance of traveling teachers interlocks the Epistles and makes it likely that all three have come from the same phase of Johannine history."
Eventually Brown would discuss what he termed "The Intra-Johannine Schism." By referring to the secessionists, the group that deviated from the true Johannine Gospel, Brown insists that the secessionists who subscribed to the docetic theology, the denial the reality of Jesus' humanity, were not the main opponents as traditionally conceived. "The adversaries were not detectably outsiders to the Johannine community but the offspring of Johannine thought itself, justifying their positions by the Johannine Gospel and its implications," Brown argues (107). Various areas of theology were subject to dispute in the Johannine community, chiefly the main points of conflict were Christology, ethics, eschatology, and pneumatology. From an ethical point of view, it is important to note that the secessionists claimed, 1) intimacy with God and sinlessness, 2) that they gave no salfvific importance to ethical behavior, 3) that they were accused for not loving the brethren.
PHASE FOUR: After the Epistles -Johannine Dissolution
The "last hour" in the Johannine Epistles is a reference to the split between the conservative side in the Johannine community and the secessionists. As I previously noted above, the secessionists were no longer in communion with the more conservative side of the Johannine community. Brown remarks "the adherents of the author of I John in the early second century seem to have gradually merged with what Ignatius of Antioch calls " the church catholic," as exhibited by the growing acceptance of the Johannine Christology of the preexistence of the Word" (24).
Let's recast Brown main points:
Phase one is the Pre-Gospel era, which represents the origins of the Johannine community. It is also noteworthy during this period the Johannine community maintained a close relationship to mid-first century Judaism. In Phase two, Brown dealt with the life-situation of the Johannine community during the writing period of the Fourth Gospel. During this epoch, Jews who professed Jesus as Messiah-God were expelled from Jewish ssynagogues. In Phase three, we see a great division occured in the Johannine community among those who espoused various ideas about Jesus. Finally, the great dissolution occured in Phase four.
I close this review with a question on the historical reliability of John's Gosepl and would let Brown answer it:
Is John historically reliable?
Here's how Raymond Brown answered my question:
"There is a subtle mélange of history and theology in John. The Fourth Gospel is clearly less historical and more theological than the Synoptics in attributing all this Christology to the first few days of Jesus' ministry; yet the Fourth Gospel may be more factual historically in describing the first followers of Jesus as former disciples of JBap and in having them called in the Jordan valley rather than at the Lake of Galilee" (26).
The Definitive Treatment of a Difficult Topic Aug 31, 2006
It is rare indeed for a specialized monograph to still be the authority on its topic of choice after nearly thirty years. In the case of this book, "The Community of the Beloved Disciple," which stirred controversy at its publication and still does today, it is even more remarkable. Building on the seminal work of his associate, J. Louis Martyn, at Union Theological Seminary, Brown explicates a fully fleshed out historical and textual criticism of the Johannine Corpus. And what did Brown posit that still manages to raise such passions? He posits five persons named John plus an unnamed Beloved Disciple as responsible for the corpus instead of one solitary John the Apostle. For Brown, these persons named John were John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, John the Redactor, John the Presbyter, and John the Revelator. The only one that might not be important for the development of the Johannine corpus in Brown's read is the Apostle John.
Mainstream Reformed Protestant seminaries are still willing to to deal with only one John who was the Apostle and the Beloved Disciple and all else rolled into one. Generally, Conservative Catholics and Evangelical Protestants along with Fundamentalist Protestants all find Brown's work in this book anathema. Apostolic authority seems to be the rock upon which their textual acceptance is built in the case of the Johannine corpus. Therefore, against all odds and facts, they firmly reject Brown's well grounded historical analysis and textual criticism for what appear to be little more than dogmatic reasons. Upon the Reverend Father Brown's death recently, the Catholic Commonweal Magazine opined that American Catholicism had lost its greatest scholarly treasure. Few are willing to deny that Raymond E. Brown was one of the greatest if not the greatest of recent Johannine scholars. As well as this book, almost all his other far less controversial works are magisterial. In almost every other matter orthodox, in this case, Brown chose to depart from received orthodoxy based on the facts as he read them.
Anyone, deeply interested in the Johannine corpus must deal with this work. This is not a book for a beginner in Johannine or New Testament studies. However, considering the complexity of the material covered, the book is clearly understandable and very readable. Nothing here is surpassed or outmoded by later scholarship. Are there other ways to look at the Johannine corpus from a historical point of view? Certainly there are, but single author attribution is not one of them. The facts militate against such a reading. The work of Gunter Stemberger and others place the Johannine community in the Galilee/Syrian border area not in Ephesus. Unfortunately, most of that scholarship is not translated out of the German language. Can one avoid this controversy? Most assuredly, Leon Morris in his magnificent commentary on the Johannine corpus in the New International Biblical Commentary Series says nary a word about historical analysis. However, this work explains a great deal quite persuasively while still leaving intact a marvelous, faith affirming set of sacral documents for the reader's edification. I recommend this book most highly.
the best book on 4G Jun 20, 2006
The late Raymond Brown was the world's leading scholar of the Gospel of John. His analysis combines the best available evidence with a reasoned historical reconstruction. Father Brown was a Catholic and he is considered too conservative by many. As a protestant, I think the only time he lets his catholicism color his thinking is when he discusses the "sacramental" nature of 4G. Other than that, I believe his approach is that of the objective historian. His analysis is not perfect, but no one has done any better- yet.
Influential, but thankfully on the way out May 26, 2006
This work was Brown's most succinct development of his theories regarding the elusive Johannine community and how its development can allegedly be seen in the Fourth Gospel and Johannine epistles. In this work, Brown came to accept some key conclusions of his colleague at Union Seminary in NY, J. Louis Martyn, and retreated from many of the historical views of the Church, mostly for ill.
Brown believes that the Fourth Gospel and Letters were not designed to provide the reader with historically accurate information regarding the person of Jesus Christ or even necessarily his actual ministry activity. Instead, Brown thinks that the writings instead reflect the exclusivist (though not completely sectarian) and beleaguered condition of the community decades after the historical events of Jesus. For Brown, the Fourth Gospel in particular makes Jesus something of a spokesperson for the attitudes of the Johannine community decades later, so that Jesus becomes a pliable character that is made to fit the story the author(s) wants to tell. As a result, the Fourth Gospel is accurate only to the extent that it accurately portrays the attitudes of those who wrote it. It does not give us an accurate picture of Jesus himself, but only the Jesus of the author's own making.
On one level, Brown's scholarship is brilliant. And I for one am willing to give Brown the benefit of the doubt in some ways. I can believe that Brown was sincerely trying to rescue the Fourth Gospel in particular from the post-Holocaust garbage bin by relegating many of the hostile confrontations with 'the Jews' to the later attitudes of a community that eventually lost much of its identity anyway. By doing this, Brown was able to exempt the historical Jesus from anti-semitism by saying that the accounts in the Fourth Gospel were not historical to Jesus, and that Jesus himself never said what the Fourth Gospel says he said. This allowed Brown to say that the Fourth Gospel was still valuable, while taking much of the sting out of it and redeeming it from anti-semitic interpretation by relegating most of the Fourth Gospel to entirely situational material that is not normative on the church today.
The problem is that Brown's proposal is evidentially vacuous (as even he refreshingly hints at in the opening of the book) and methodologically flawed from start to finish. First, Brown's proposal is, as Carson once noted, a stack of inferences heaped on inferences. Brown's approach is essentially a structuralist approach, which seeks to develop a theory from entirely within the text with no external controls to govern whether there's any truth to what he's saying. Structuralism as a literary method of interpretation has been rightly discredited rather thoroughly for over 2 decades now, and this immediately dates Brown's work and makes it severely suspect. This is why Brown's approach is slowly on the way out in academic circles in favor of more synchronic approaches to interpretation.
The one external control Brown attempts to apply to his analysis is borrowed from Martyn's theory of the Twelfth Benediction. This is the late 1st C Jewish benediction that allegedly threw Jewish Christians out of the synagogue for confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Both Brown and Martyn believed this was a critical event in the history of the Johannine community and explains the hostility with 'the Jews' that we find in the Fourth Gospel. For Brown, we can find this tumultuous event in the Fourth Gospel because the writer(s) have imposed it back onto their narrative of Jesus. The problem is that the Twelfth Benediction never actually says what Brown claims. The 12th Benediction is just a rather generic condemnation of the Nazarenes (Christians) with no mention of putting anyone out of the synagogue. In order for Brown to use this external control to advance his theory, he has to make it say what it doesn't clearly say at all. Problematic to say the least.
In addition, his flawed structuralism allows him to develop a Bultmannian-like source theory without calling it a source theory. Instead of various literary sources being smashed together in the Fourth Gospel, Brown argues that differing streams of Johannine tradition were smashed together so that the Fourth Gospel reveals the development of the tradition that can be fairly easily identified. For Brown, this is the only way to explain how the Fourth Gospel can both repeatedly praise and condemn the world. But again, there are no external controls to govern his analysis, and his approach is severely deficient in recognizing the nuances with which the author utilizes the terminology he does. Instead of doing the hard work of syntactical and theological analysis, Brown opts instead to punt the difficulties of the Fourth Gospel to an untestable and unprovable source theory that presumes discontinuity as a methodological starting point rather than proving it evidentially. This results in a circular argument where unity of authorship is denied to make way for a source theory that conveniently denies unitary authorship. Such interlocking reconstructions that ignore the hard data in favor of softer inferences is methodologicaly deficient.
Lastly, this theory does violence to the text itself regarding such things as authorship and eyewitness testimony. The Fourth Gospel presents itself as an eyewitness and apostolic account, and Brown, who once agreed with this, offers us no reasons why we should now follow him in backing away from this constant thrust in the document. Instead, Brown now says that a writer, or group of writers decades later have put words in Jesus' mouth to make him say what they want him to say in order to deal with the later community's own problems and hardships. But of course, the Fourth Gospel itself never claims this of itself, and in fact, claims the opposite. This means that Jesus' prophecy in John 13 about a day when his followers will be put out of the synagogue is no longer a bonafide prophecy, but a later author's imposition back onto the narrative of an event that already happened, and then trying to pass it off as an authentic prophecy of Jesus to the beleaguered community it was written for. In order to believe something like this with absolutely no evidence to back it up is to bring a presumption of guilt to the text that is hermeneutically unwarranted and intellectually flawed.
In the end, to follow Brown is to reach a conclusion in which the historical Jesus is not really available to us in John's writings. We can know very little about Jesus himself from reading the Fourth Gospel. The best we can do is learn about the community who wrote the document and was the intended original audience of the document. This conveniently removes Jesus himself from the Gospel account, which allows us to do the very thing the author of the Fourth Gospel allegedly did - craft whatever kind of Jesus we want because that's the best we can do. It's a very American approach to spirituality, but in the end, it stands opposed to the Christian faith and the apostolic witness.
Recommended reading. Dec 5, 2005
This is an excellent introduction to the Gospel of John. I am not a fundamentalist yet do not always agree with the exegetical approach to scripture, yet enjoyed the appoach of Raymond Brown. I read it and still came out with my faith in Jesus, still ascribe to the creeds and know that miracles happen.