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Exegeting the Jews

In Brill, Gospel of John, Michael G. AZAR, Patristic exegesis, Simeon Burke on July 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

2017.07.15 | Michael G. Azar, Exegeting the Jews: The Early Reception of the Johannine “Jews”. The Bible in Ancient Christianity 10. Leiden: Brill, 2016. ISBN: 9789004308893

Reviewed by Simeon Burke, University of Edinburgh.

Following the Second World War, and particularly since the 1960s, scholars have simplistically described two millennia of Christian use of the “Johannine Jews” as “anti-Jewish”. This is the central claim of Michael Azar’s published Fordham doctoral thesis, Exegeting the Jews. Against this scholarly consensus, Azar enlists a trio of patristic authors – Origen, John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria – each of whom applied John’s narrative of Jesus and the Johannine Jews in ways that do not easily conform to the categories and conclusions of the last fifty years of scholarship. The apparent hostility exhibited by the Fourth Gospel toward “the Jews” “did not function for Origen, Chrysostom and Cyril primarily as grounds for anti-Judaic sentiment, but rather as a scriptural resource for the spiritual formation and delineation of their Christian communities” (51). In other words, it was not “anti-Judaism” that fuelled their exegesis of the “Johannine Jews” but internal Christian concerns related to reading practices, ethics and orthodoxy.  Read the rest of this entry »