Halden: Reclaiming Johannine Theology


Halden has what appears to be the first in a new series of comments posted on his blog.

He points out that the voice of the Johannine community in the early church is rarely considered, especially when we think about questions of polity. Partly this is due to the fact that Paul’s thinking on these sorts of questions, and the methodology of church discipline, forms a large part of his writing and is pretty accessible to the modern reader.

John’s thinking and that of his community takes a bit more work to tease out.

Speaking of the lack of modern engagement with the Johannine corpus Halden writes:

“In particular this is problematic in light of the importance of the distinctive voice of the Johannine corpus in the witness of the NT as a whole. Lately I have been immersed in the Gospel and Epistles of John (First John is not an epistle however, but that’s another matter) and am becoming more and more convinced that these books of some of the most theologically intricate and subversive in the entire canon. The depth of Johannine sophistication, particularly in regard to issues of Christology, Trinitarian doctrine, and ecclesiology is consistently underestimated in the broad sweep of Christian theological reflection on the NT. Moreover, there is a fundamental and deeply theological and literary unity to the Johannine corpus (including Revelation) that is more intricate and intentional than perhaps any other discernible group of books in the NT.

Fortunately scholars like Raymond Brown, David Rensberger, and J. Louis Martyn have done a great job approaching the Johannine corpus from the point of view of sociological analysis, biblical theology, and exegesis. There is much to learn from these and other thinkers who have investigated deeply into Johannine theology, and the ecclesial roots of these writings in the ‘Johannine Community’, which, even if reconstructions such as Brown’s are a bit overconfident, do make clear a very different and very radical form of Christian community and life taking place alongside the Pauline and Petrine churches during the first and second century of the church’s existence.”

Read the full article here.

This is worth watching, especially for those of us in the Anglican community as we attempt to work out our own full understanding of ecclessiology.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...