xi + 173 pp.
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Judas and the Rhetoric of Comparison in the Fourth Gospel
Michael W. Martin
Why is Judas repeatedly contrasted in the Fourth Gospel with other characters, and why is he repeatedly depicted in these comparisons as the consummate defector? The answer to these questions, Martin argues, lies in the ancient rhetorical theory and practice of ‘syncrisis’, the formal, rhetorical comparison of persons or things.
Surveying the Graeco-Roman textbooks of composition that taught this device and the ancient authors who used it, Martin shows that syncrisis was often used to juxtapose ‘genera’ or ‘groups’ via their ‘outstanding’ or ‘extreme’ members. In such comparisons, a two-level drama unfolds, with the verdict of superiority being applicable both to the individuals being compared and to the groups they represent. The Johannine Judas, Martin argues, is featured in this manner of comparison over against Peter, and his portrayal in the Gospel as the consummate defector points, along with several other clues, to his identity as a representative of the schismatics who seceded from the Johannine community and who are described in 1, 2 and 3 John.
Michael W. Martin is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas.
2. Syncrisis in the Progymnasmata and the Mediterranean Milieu
3. Reading Johannine Syncrisis in its Mediterranean Milieu
4. Judas as a Representative of the Secessionists
[T]he genius of Martin’s argument lies in [its] broad contours… The notion that Judas represents the extant or emerging division between John and the antichrists is exceptionally insightful and carries a vast potential for understanding the dynamics of Johannine Christianity at the time the Fourth Gospel and 1, 2, and 3 John were written. If nothing else, Martin’s thesis raises important talking points for understanding how John reacted to conflict and, further, how John’s real-world experiences might be reflected in the narrative of his Gospel and in his larger theological outlook. Tom Thatcher, Review of Biblical Literature.