Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Prof. Francis Moloney speaks on
“The Literary and Theological Role
of John 13-17 within the Johannine Narrative”



In the beginning, Fr. Andrzej Toczyski introduced prof. Francis Moloney, sdb, one of the best world- known biblical scholars and his lecture, “The literary and theological role of John 13-17 within the Johannine narrative”.

Prof. Moloney approached these five chapters of John’s Gospel with two different methods, with historical- critical and with the narrative criticism. From the point of view on the text itself it is a large discourse, although one can notice peculiar details in it. The passage Jn 13, 31-14, 31 is in fact a farewell discourse, similar to Paul’s farewell discourse in Miletus (Acts 20,17ff). Similarly in Jn 16, 4-33 are repeated the same issues, but why do we have two farewell discourses? It seems that the experience of the Johannine community, lived, told and re-told many times, was finally written in the Gospel alongside Jesus’ original farewell speech. Between those two farewell discourses in Jn 15, 1-12 Jesus talks about the necessity to abide in Him and in Jn 15, 18 he starts talking about the hatred. In the centre of these two frameworks we discover the key theme of love. “This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15, 12). The community behind the text is hidden in passages like Jn 16, 1-3, “They will put you out of the synagogues”. It is mentioned nowhere in the Greek literature besides in John’s Gospel, thus pointing out clearly a breakdown between the Synagogue and the Johannine community.

Now, we have to realize that those five chapters, Jn 13-17, form one quarter of the whole Gospel of John. It is a story, the narrative that was put together with some theological intention, as we read Jn 20, 30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs…But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jn 13 begins with love, ends with love and in the middle it introduces the theme of glory. Jn 17 begins with the glory, ends with glory and the theme of love. The whole narrative Jn 13-17 is revolving around the themes of glory and love. The key theme of love is in Jn 15,12-17: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” surrounded by the theme of abiding of the disciple in Jesus Christ (Jn 15, 1-10) and the theme of the hatred and persecution of Christians, which indicates the larger world of Johannine community (Jn 15,8-16,4).

The Gospel was written for those who had no physical experience of the Risen Christ and were regretting it. The glory of God in OT [kabod] is always associated with visible experienced realities: crossing the Red See, desert, fire… The Greek translation of kabod is [doxa], but it has many different meanings and John retained the original OT meaning. For him glory is manifested in love, but not in easy love, but in the love identified with the cross. The Cross is “lifted up” in exaltation, it is the highest point of self- gift for others. Jesus made God known by drawing people into this dynamic of the Cross, to love as Jesus loved, so the mission can continue. This is where love comes in; this is doxa, the glory of God.

Following discussion dealt with the questions about the Paraclete and his role as guide who makes things clearer for us, then about the importance of the Hour and its linking role in the Gospel. Then we discussed if there is the Eucharist in John’s Gospel or not and chiastic structure as an important part of the Hellenistic style of writing.

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