Lectionary Year B
March 26, 2000
John 2:13-22

Step II: Disposition


(JFC) We have here a rather matter of fact account of an event and a conversation questioning and justifying it. This record describes almost objectively Jesus' actions, speech and exclamations on this occasion. It further reports the Jews' wondering why he does what he does and/or who he is to do so. The dialogue between them gets on toward being heated. Then we get an editorial explanation of what he meant and how the disciples recall and believe after his resurrection, some years later.

(FS) Genre is a narrative, with what Paul D. Duke, in "Irony in the Fourth Gospel," describes as particularly Johannine twists: Irony: Jesus has come to his own, and they do not receive him-- 1:11 Metaphor: "temple" - is there a word play here, with two different greek words being used for temple?

(FS) Johannine technique of misunderstanding: ambiguity due to an action or saying of Jesus; confusion -- Jesus or narrator explains. (Duke, p. 145)

(CU) It seems to be a "conflict story" with an ulterior motive, namely, a prediction of the passion/resurrection, or maybe to show Jesus' idenity as temple authority.

(CU) If you include vs. 23-25, and put it together with the preceeding story, is it a "sign story?"

(CU) I see the story in two parts:
A. vs. 13-17: Temple clearing is remembered by the diciples with the point: Jesus is consumed with zeal for God's house.
B. vs. 18-22: Temple clearing leads to conflict with the Jews; Jesus teaches about his death and resurrection. The disciples remember (again) and believe.
(CU) vvs. 23-25 could be a part 3, and maybe the point of the whole pericope: People believe because of such signs. Therefore it seems reasonable to include vs. 23-25 as part of the pericope.

(DR) Genre: Perhaps this could be called "confrontation," or a passage of "dramatic flair."


(JFC)When translating this story I began to notice what early learnings I bring to it. Now, I have to begin to think more fairly as the text itself allows and requires. Okay, so is Jesus angry? How vehemently does he express his passion? Is his action justified from God's vantage point? Does Jesus have an understanding of customs that admit commerce in the Temple area? Does he hurt the animals and/or any of the people there? What do we understand by the term "en to ihero? Does it refer to the sanctuary and/or what other parts of the Temple area? Is verse 21's explanation accurate?

This passage begins and ends with brief context setters, a season of the year, Passover, and a result the disciples derive from the dialogue between Jesus and the (other) Jews. It describes the environment Jesus discovers upon arriving there. Next it says that Jesus began driving out the commercial interests. Soon thereafter, he speaks to command the dove sellers (only?) to get lost & he explains what he perceives their business does to the Temple, which he calls "ton oikon tou patros mou". His statement prompts the disciples to recall Psalm 69:9. Then the Jews question his right/authority to do what he did. Jesus responds stating that he'll rebuild the temple if it gets destroyed. The Jews counter with a literal interpretation of his statement. Then the Gospel explains what Jesus seems to have meant by referring to the Temple.

(DR) Dispositional Observations:

1. Were the money changers and those selling sacrifical animals Jews or Gentiles or a mixture of both?

2. Why the difference between John and the synoptics regarding the number of times Jesus went to Jerusalem? John has Jesus going to Jerusalem on at least three differnet Passovers (possibly on even more occasions), whereas the synoptics have Jesus entering Jerusalem only at the end of his ministry.

3. Why does John have this story at the beginning of his gospel while the synoptics include at at the end of their stories? Were there perhaps two different occasions where Jesus "cleansed" the Temple?

(FS) Could John have engaged in some creative theological editing, subordinating chronology to pointing to Jesus as Messiah from the outset of this gospel?

(BH) Is Jesus trying to reform corrupt practices surrounding Temple worship/sacrifice or is he trying to create something new?

CU: Everytime I read John I am struck by how different Jesus is in this gospel:
He knows everything beforehand.
He has a set purpose from which he will not be distracted.
His identity and authority are clear from the beginning.
The antogonism between Jesus and the Jews is clear from the beginning.
(CU) This story in chapter 2, together with all the action around Jewish festivals in John's gospel, seems to say: Jesus is the Temple now. He supercedes Judaism and Jewish festivals and sacrifices. The cleansing of the temple only serves as a platform for Jesus to say, "I am what really counts."

(CU) John the Baptist already pointed to Jesus, "There goes the Lamb of God." (1:29) and the wedding at Cana has Jesus transforming water that is kept in jars for jewish purification.

(CU) In the synoptics, the cleansing of the temple serves to bring Jesus into conflict with the religious leaders and provide motivation to kill him as a kind of "last resort." In John, however, Jesus is making his case from the very beginning, i.e. "I am the Temple of God"

(CU) Again, with the Samaritan woman, Jesus makes the case: "True worship is in spirit and in truth (ch.4). Can the point be: "Out with the old, in with the new?"

(CU)[what was jesus angry about?] He seems to have been leveling his charge against the whole enterprise. Perhaps it is not be unlike Martin Luther railing against the sale of indulgences at the time of the Reformation, i.e. access to God and mercy is not for sale.

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