Friday, October 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

J. Ramsey Michaels, in his new, splendid commentary on John's Gospel (NICNT) makes the following remarks concerning John 19.15:

On the positive side, Pilate’s question, “Shall I crucify your king?”juxtaposes for the reader crucifixion and kingship, allowing two seemingly incompatible notions to illumine and interpret each other. Jesus will indeed reign as king in this Gospel — of the Jews, and of all people — not from a throne but from a cross, for his violent and shameful death will reveal once and forever his eternal kingship. But on the negative side, deliberately or not, Pilate’s question forces from the Jewish priests a pledge of allegiance to Rome: “We have no king except Caesar!” (v. 15b). It is the final irony. Not content with rejecting Jesus, “the Jews” reject their own Jewishness. Any discussion of the so-called anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism of the Gospel of John must take account of the fact that in the eyes of the Gospel writer those who crucify Jesus are no longer “Jews” in any meaningful way, but loyal subjects of Rome who acknowledge “no king except Caesar” — in that sense Romans! Their bold words, “We are Abraham’s seed, and have never been in slavery to anyone” (8:33), now ring more hollow than ever. In denying Jesus they have denied as well any hope of a messianic king, and beyond that even the kingship of their God, the God of Israel. While not as hurtful or anti-Semitic in its long-range effects, “no king except Caesar” in John’s Gospel is in its way no less disturbing than Matthew’s “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25), for it presents a Judaism that — momentarily at least
— denies its very existence. (944)


Marcus Maher said...

Thanks for that snippet. Where would you rank Michaels' work among other John commentaries?

Matthew D. Montonini said...

Hello, Marcus.

I would rate Michaels' work at the very top. He is the very best when it comes to dealing with literary matters.

He is a master at narrative criticism (story, character, plot, etc.)and I have never read a commentary that is more interesting.

I have a suprise lined up concerning this volume, and I believe it will be posted sometime next week.