A Love Supreme: A History of Johannine Tradition

By Allen Dwight Callahan | Go to book overview

FIVE
Love in extremis

The Farewell Discourses (13:1–17:27)

The intimate dinner party in Jerusalem that serves as the venue for Jesus' farewell to his disciples is not a celebration of the Passover. Here as throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus does not celebrate any of the feasts of the Jerusalem cult. The Gospel never depicts him or any of his disciples as offering sacrifices, and he attends festivals only to take advantage of the populous audience that they afford him. The festivals are markers of narrative time and moments of conflict.

Nor is this meal the inauguration of the Eucharist. There is no upper room. There are no words of institution. Here the bread is not Jesus' body. The wine is not his blood.

Jesus commands his disciples to wash each other's feet. This humble act of love is dirty work. Foot washing is a service customarily rendered by a slave. But the Gospel of John avoids the language of slavery to describe discipleship, and Jesus explicitly rejects slavery as a metaphor. All the proverbial sayings about slaves in the Gospel of John are pejorative. [The slave does not remain in the house forever, but the son does] (8:35); [The slave does not know what his master does] (15:15); [The slave is not greater than his master] (15:20). Jesus is not an obedient slave; he is an obedient son. His followers are not his slaves; they are his [little children.]

Jesus calls what he does [an example,] a hypodeigma, something demonstrated to be imitated. This is the imitado Christi of I John 2:6 in the mouth of Jesus. With the emulation of his demonstration, Jesus claims, comes beatitude. This blessedness comes not on the basis of what one knows, but what one does.

The phrases [lean upon the bosom] in 13:25 and [Satan entered into him]

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A Love Supreme: A History of Johannine Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue 1
  • One - Root Conflict 6
  • Two - Disciples of the Beloved Community 15
  • Three - The Spiritual Qospel 50
  • Four - In Those Parts 56
  • Five Love in Extremis - The Farewell Discourses (13:1–17:27) 77
  • Six - A King of Shreds and Patches 85
  • Seven - Epilogues 94
  • Abbreviations 101
  • Notes 105
  • Bibliography 115
  • Index of Ancient Sources 121
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