The Farewell Discourse Of The Evangelist John And Its Jewish Heritage -- By: Ernst Bammel

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 44:1 (NA 1993)
Article: The Farewell Discourse Of The Evangelist John And Its Jewish Heritage
Author: Ernst Bammel

The Farewell Discourse Of The Evangelist John And Its Jewish Heritage

Ernst Bammel


Consideration of the Gattung of the Jewish Farewell Speeches shows that the Johannine discourse (apart from 13:1ff) belongs to this genre, which exercised its influence on other parts of the Gospel as well. Materially it is different; the standing features of the Jewish speeches are reworked completely. This is indicated by eight points of comparison. The Farewell Discourses happened to be replaced very soon by the Christian genre of the Speeches of the resurrected Lord. Still, they stand out as a remarkable theological achievement accomplished within a very short span of time.


The farewell discourse is the most extended entity on its own in the gospels—containing more verses than even the Sermon on the Mount. It is also more unified than the Sermon on the Mount. It requires special consideration. It lends itself to comparison with formations in Jewish literature. The fact that Käsemann described it as ‘The Testament of Jesus’1 may give additional point to such a comparison, although it must be said that Käsemann himself, in spite of the title of his book, did not show an interest in this aspect.

The Testament is a common literary genre in Jewish literature. More than 20 pieces of this description have come down to us: some, perhaps many, have perished.2 They are marked by significant features. Special tribute is to be given to Stauffer, the man of genius, who was the first scholar to notice and to describe the Gattung and to characterise it.3 Additional contributions were made

by J. Becker,4 V. Nordheim,5 E. Cortes6 and R.W. Paschal.7

The Testament is in fact the most popular literary genre in the time of Jesus—so much so that writings which had a different scope came to be incorporated into this Gattung. The ‘Testament of Job’, for example, is nothing but a rehash of the biblical story, but it has been prefixed by the announcement of Job to his sons that, because his death is approaching, he wants to inform them about the events of his life and, accordingly, it has had appended to it the description of his death, the lifting up of his soul and the lay...

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