Like Father, Like Son -- By: Helen S. Friend

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 22:0 (NA 1990)
Article: Like Father, Like Son
Author: Helen S. Friend


Like Father, Like Son

Helen S. Friend

Mrs. Friend has an M.A. from OSU in philosophy and is currently an M.A. student in biblical studies at ATS.

A discussion of the concept of agency in Halakah and John

This paper proposes to examine the concept of agency in the halakic materials of the Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud and its relationship to the concept of agency in the Gospel According to Saint John. First, some general introductory material on the Gospel will be reviewed. Following the discussion on agency is a brief evaluation of whether Rabbinic material can be used to determine what first-century Jewish practices and concepts concerning agency were.

Introduction To The Gospel

There have been many hypotheses about the test of the Gospel of John and its source, purpose, and destination. One concerns the relationship between John and the Synoptic Gospels. The view that the evangelist was familiar with the Synoptic tradition and was literarily dependent on it has allowed many scholars to infer that the purpose of his Gospel was to complete, surpass, or replace the Synoptics (see Schnackenburg, I, pp. 26-43 for a summary). It cannot be proved whether or not John was acquainted with one of more of the Synoptic Gospels. There is a growing consensus that John was directly dependent on neither the Gospels (excepting Barrett’s view of Mark as a source, p. 45) nor their written sources (Robinson, p. 1). His contact with the Synoptics is explained by the common oral tradition that existed before or contemporaneous with the synoptic tradition. Although Barrett (p. 45) says, “anyone who after an interval of nineteen centuries feels himself in a position to distinguish nicely between ‘Mark’ and ‘something much like Mark,’ is at liberty to do so.”

The Gospel of John is clearly based on a tradition of the words and works of Jesus, since in it is given historical information about Jesus that is not found in any other Gospel. Additional information given includes: (a) that Jesus, like John the Baptist, had a baptizing ministry; (b) that Jesus went to Jerusalem more than one time; and (c) that the Jewish authorities opposed Jesus throughout his ministry, not just at the end.

The independent tradition of John, together with the author’s theological concerns, provides a base from which to view Christological elements as growing with significant differences from those expressed in the Synoptics. First, in John, in contrast to the Synoptics, Jesus performs miracles to reveal who he is, and his teaching is explicitly Christological. Second, the synoptic Jesus is conspicuously ‘historical,’ while the Johannine Jesus is considered both in his humanity and divinity (Cullmann, Johann...

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