One cannot begin to understand ‘Jerusalem NOW’ without re-thinking ‘Jerusalem THEN’ and recalling last week’s observation of John Dominic Crossan that “Christianity began as a sect within Judaism” before becoming “a distinct religion,” with contentious debates erupting, something clearly exemplified in ‘The Gospel of John.’ But isolated from any historical context, its narratives lead to notions that it was ‘the Jews’ who were the ‘Christ killers,’ an assumption leading to a scapegoating of Jews throughout the history of a Christendom beginning in the 4th Century under Constantine.
So what’s the historical context for a better understanding of The Gospel of John? Whether it’s ‘history remembered’ or ‘memories historicized,’ the legendary stories of the Jewish people are rooted in two basic narratives: Exodus and Exile. The first is still remembered in Passover Seders. [cf Exodus 1-14] The second remembers a Babylonian exile described in 2 Kings 23 & 24; but it’s the story of a return from exile [cf Ezra & Nehemiah] and the restoration of a temple in Jerusalem marked by a spirituality of patriotic religious devotion [of Zionist proportions] that is the primary context for understanding the debates in The Gospel of John. Replace ‘the Jews’ with ‘the Zionists’ in its narratives and you’ll discover more authentic historical (and spiritual) dimensions.