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Author Topic: Regina's Exegetical Analysis of the New Testament  (Read 1609 times)

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Online Regina MinxTopic starter

Regina's Exegetical Analysis of the New Testament
« on: November 05, 2019, 10:12:18 AM »
Give us Barabbas

Wait.

Who the hell is Barabbas?






Exegesis is a fancy-pants term for reading a text, usually a religious text, and attempting to critically interpret the meaning of the work. It’s “Bible study” but what is studied about the Bible is its literary and rhetorical composition. It’s not taking for granted the truth of the accounts, but the meaning the author is attempting to convey through the use of relevant cultural references, language, and literary techniques. Essentially, it involves the analysis of the stories and texts through the eyes of the literary critic or folklorist examining any other piece of ancient mythology.

Before I go on, I do want to take a moment to discuss what I mean when I say that something is a myth. There are countless definitions of myth across many different fields and I don’t mean to give a prescriptivist usage of the term here. What I will do is discuss how I shall use the term and then demonstrate why I feel that the certain narrative episodes in the New Testament align with that usage. In the simplest terms possible, I use the term myth to describe stories that are improbable in the events if they are meant to be taken seriously as truthful accounts of things that happened, yet contain a high amount of symbolic meaning, suggesting that an allegorical understanding of the text is what is intended by the author. And often, when based on an existing story or narrative structure, anything changed about the story is the point the author is trying to convey. With that said, I want to give an example of this kind of reading, this exegesis, from the Gospel of Mark. Along the way, I hope to show why I consider it to be a highly sophisticated and deeply meaningful piece of mythmaking.

In Mark 15:6-15, we read:

Quote
Now at the feast he used to release unto them one prisoner, whom they asked of him. And there was one called Barabbas, lying bound with them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder. And the multitude went up and began to ask him to do as he was wont to do unto them. And Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he perceived that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate again answered and said unto them, What then shall I do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. And Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out exceedingly, Crucify him. And Pilate, wishing to content the multitude, released unto them Barabbas, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

As a historical account, this is ludicrous. If you understand nothing else of Roman history, you should know that there is no Roman magistrate who would have ever let a murderous rebel go. As a matter of fact, there is no Roman ceremony such as Mark describes. Robert Merrit found something similar in ancient Babylonian royal cult. He describes a ceremony in which the king would be ritually ‘punished’ in the place of a pardoned prisoner, the king taking on the sins of the kingdom and symbolically freeing the land from sin. A key difference between this Babylonian ceremony and what Mark described for Pilate, though, is that the king himself would be the one selecting which prisoner receives the pardon, and thus is very unlikely that the king or magistrate would free a murderous insurrectionist. In addition, this was a ritual performed as part of religious ceremony in the role of a Babylonian god-king, so it can’t really be analogous to what Pilate is supposed to have done in his mere capacity as a governor.

But we’re going very far afield if we look at ancient Babylonian religious rituals that have no meaning in a Roman context because there’s another ritual, much closer to home, that can explain the allegorical meaning of Mark’s ahistorical account. The Jewish ritual of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur was an annual Levitical religious ritual performed at the Temple in Jerusalem, commanded under Torah law. It was an atonement sacrifice, procuring a general forgiveness of sins for the Jews. Two goats were chosen and lots were cast. Based on the outcome of the lots, one of the goats was chosen to carry the sins of Israel. It was driven into the wilderness. The other was the sacrificial atonement, its blood sprinkled on the altar to atone for the sins that the Jews had ritually rejected by driving away the first goat. This is, incidentally, the root of the notion of a scapegoat, an animal ritually burdened with the sins of others and then driven away. What Mark is doing is merging Yom Kippur with the other high holy day in the Jewish calendar, Passover, by by having Jesus be the Yom Kippur sacrifice performed during Passover.

Barabbas is an interesting name. It comes from the Aramaic meaning “Son of the Father,” and we also know that Jesus is frequently called the Son of the Father in the Gospels. So in the scene in Mark, we have two men called “Son of the Father.” Even more interesting, Barabbas originally had or acquired through manuscript tradition the name “Jesus Barabbas.” Thus we really had (very improbably) two men named “Jesus Son of the Father”...exactly the same name, in other words. An important part of the Yom Kippur ritual is to select goats that were as identical as possible...for human beings in a literary or oral tradition, how much more alike could two men be than to have literally the same name or appellation? And in Jesus and Barabbas, Mark depicts one man who represents and thus in a sense "contains" the sins of Israel (rebellion and murder) and is released into the wild mob. The other one is sacrificed so his blood may secure a larger atonement of sin, not just saving Israel for a single year, but everyone everywhere for all time. In this story, Mark is thus telling us in the form of a parable, to reject the sins of the Jews and embrace instead the eternal salvation of atonement offered in Christ.

As history, this event is improbable. As myth this makes perfect sense because of the symbolism and imagery of the Yom Kippur ritual. By my earlier definition of myth as a historically improbable event with symbolic meaning conveyed through relevant contextual memes, this story qualifies as a mythic invention by Mark. This is not a wild theory, by the way, that I’m spinning in the aether. The third-century Christian scholar Origen makes explicit the connection between Barabbas and the Yom Kippur ritual:

Quote
Then all the people cried out to release Barabbas but to hand Jesus over to be killed. Behold you have a he-goat who was sent "living into the wilderness," bearing with him the sins of the people who cried out and said, "Crucify, crucify." Therefore the former is a he-goat sent "living into the wilderness" and the latter is the he-goat which was offered to God as an offering to atone for sins and he made a true atonement for those people who believed in him.

In addition, the non-canonical Gospel of Barnabas again reinforces the aspects of allegorical meaning in Mark’s account:

Quote
Take two goats of goodly aspect, and similar to each other, and offer them. And let the priest take one as a burnt-offering for sins. And what should they do with the other? “Accursed,” says He, “is the one.” Mark how the type of Jesus now comes out. “And all of you spit upon it, and pierce it, and encircle its head with scarlet wool, and thus let it be driven into the wilderness.” And when all this has been done, he who bears the goat brings it into the desert, and takes the wool off from it, and places that upon a shrub which is called Rachia, of which also we are accustomed to eat the fruits when we find them in the field. Of this kind of shrub alone the fruits are sweet. Why then, again, is this? Give good heed. [You see] “one upon the altar, and the other accursed;” and why [do you behold] the one that is accursed crowned? Because they shall see Him then in that day having a scarlet robe about his body down to his feet; and they shall say, Is not this He whom we once despised, and pierced, and mocked, and crucified? Truly this is He who then declared Himself to be the Son of God. For how like is He to Him! With a view to this, [He required] the goats to be of goodly aspect, and similar, that, when they see Him then coming, they may be amazed by the likeness of the goat. Behold, then, the type of Jesus who was to suffer. But why is it that they place the wool in the midst of thorns? It is a type of Jesus set before the view of the Church. [They place the wool among thorns], that any one who wishes to bear it away may find it necessary to suffer much, because the thorn is formidable, and thus obtain it only as the result of suffering. Thus also, says He, “Those who wish to behold Me, and lay hold of My kingdom, must through tribulation and suffering obtain Me.”

In Mark’s story, the Jews treat Jesus exactly the same way they treat the Yom Kippur scapegoat (Jesus is not the scapegoat in the symbolic story, he is the sacrificial goat). They (through the Romans they browbeat into killing him) beat him, they spit on him, they ironically dress him in royal colors and put a crown on his head before piercing him. Yet Barabbas is actually the scapegoat in this story, not Jesus.  In the story, the Jews have not correctly discerned who the actual scapegoat is and who the actual sacrificial offering is. What Mark has changed (the Jews embrace the scapegoat instead of shunning him) is precisely the point he is trying to make. Of the four Gospel authors, Mark’s break with Temple cult and formal Judaism is the most explicit and pronounced. And in this story, he has thus created an allegory for Jewish blindness to what Jesus represents, the Jews choosing their sins over their salvation.

Not only does Mark have a preference for ironic reversal of expectations (“the least shall be first”) into which this story fits perfectly, but this is hugely symbolic of the choice the Jews had between two kinds of messiahs during the era of Roman annexation of Judea: one who brought military revolution and who would ultimately be defeated and one who brings spiritual victory whose death eliminated the need for military revolution in the first place. According to Daniel ben Ezra "Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah as God wants him to be, while Jesus Barabbas is the Messiah as the people want him to be." By not letting the choice fall to a lottery (and thus to God), "the people usurp the role of God on Yom Kippur in choosing between the two."

Thus on almost every level, this is a mythic construction. And a brilliant one. Mark is a genius writer, conveying everything he wants to say about the Gospel and how it is accepted and rejected through relevant cultural symbolism. As far as literary construction goes, it’s among the best I’ve ever read.

Online Regina MinxTopic starter

Re: Regina's Exegetical Analysis of the New Testament
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 09:51:36 PM »


The Adoration of the Who Now?

In my last post, I discussed the definition of myth I was going to be using when discussing the New Testament. I want to repeat it now that I shall use the word to refer to straightforward accounts of events that purportedly happened which are implausible as history, yet contain a high amount of symbolic meaning, suggesting that an allegorical understanding of the text is what is intended by the author. And often, when based on an existing story or narrative structure, anything changed about the story is the point the author is trying to convey.

With that said, let’s look at the first of the Gospels as they’re presented in most Bibles, the Gospel According to Matthew. And as we are now at that point on the calendar between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany, what better portion of Matthew to analyze than the Nativity?

Quote
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’"

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

Now, the basis on which I want to discuss this story is not the miraculous behavior of the star or the prophetic dreams inspired by God that the text presents. I want to look at the Magi.

According to Matthew, they came looking for the King of the Jews because they saw a star in the east (some translations will use ‘as it rose’ instead of ‘in the east’). Now, it’s important to understand what the Magi actually are. The Magi are not a sect of Jews, but Zoroastrians from Persia (modern-day Iran). In Zoroastrianism, the Magi are a caste of priests with their own belief system that predates Judaism. Furthermore, the Persians under the Parthian Empire had their own king and their own belief in a savior figure not really analogous to the Jewish messiah. So the first thing that you will undoubtedly ask is why these Zoroastrian priests care about the birth of a Jewish king who may or may not be the messiah. It is Herod in the story that connects the King of the Jews to the messiah. Zoroastrians at the time also did not practice astrology, so their presence in Matthew is a little odd and rests on some cross-linguistic errors.

The founder of Zoroastrianism is named Zarathustra in Persian, but in Greek and Latin, he was called Zoroaster. The latter part of his name is the Greek word ἀστήρ (astḗr), which literally means ‘star’. You can see now why some people would associate the followers of the man with aster in his name as being practicers of astrology. There was also a confusion by Western sources calling Zoroaster a Babylonian, and the development of astrology has it begin in Babylon before being transmitted to the ancient Greeks. Because of such confusion, Matthew or his source were using broad Greco-Roman caricatures of Zoroastrians instead of an accurate historical account.

The initial probability of the story reading as history is already sketchy. But let’s ignore the prior probability of the Magi's visit and accept for the sake of argument that a number of Magi made the trip to Palestine to worship the King of the Jews. What would the consequences of such a trip have been? This visit should have and would have been noteworthy. It might not seem like much to us, thousands of years later, but the Magi were not just your local parish priest. These people were part of a religious caste that had significant authority on the religious affairs of the Parthian Empire. Strabo, a writer in the first century BC, wrote that the council of Magi would pick the king of the Parthians when a new one succeeded the old. Even further back than that, Herodotus said that the Magi had led an overthrow of the government and attempted to install their own king back in the 6th century BC. Other authors from the past considered the Magi a little less than kings, including Julius Caesar himself!

So now imagine that you have a people coming from the group that declares kings in Persia all the way to a land that was a client state of Rome, the most powerful rivals to the Persians, and declare that a random toddler is the King of the Jews. These Magi not only giving Herod the middle finger; they are challenging the authority of Caesar Augustus himself, who was Herod’s patron and who gave Herod a favorable treaty as a Roman client king because of Herod’s support of him during the civil war against Marc Antony. This is not an idle act of religious tourism but a declaration of war by the most powerful rival to Rome after the fall of Carthage. Rome could no more have ignored this than the United States could have ignored the Soviet Union installing a governor on the island of Puerto Rico during the height of the Cold War.

An incident very much like this did actually happen during the reign of Nero concerning the territory of Armenia. Like Judea, Armenia was a buffer region between Rome and Parthia, both nations had a vested interest in Armenia being ruled by a monarch friendly to them. When the Parthians appointed a new ruler to this region undesirable to the Romans, Emperor Nero sent in the troops; this lead to a long war. Decades earlier, there was a significant diplomatic showdown over the same region and as to who was to appoint its ruler. It didn’t lead to a war in that instance due to some heavy negotiation and compromise, but both incidents made it into several histories of the era, including the Jewish historian Josephus.

So if something like this happened in 6 BC concerning Israel, the Roman response should have been to send, if not mere angry words, soldiers to Judea, and all of Jerusalem should have been afraid that their country was going to be the site of a powderkeg incident between Rome and Parthia. None of our histories of the period record this as having happened, though. Not in Josephus, not in Tacitus, not in Suetonius. Not even in the other Gospel that records the birth of Jesus (Luke). The fact that no source independent of Matthew mentions this story is inexplicable if it really happened, but this silence is exactly what is expected if it never happened. In Bayesian terms, there is a very low prior probability that the Magi would visit Judea and declare a baby King of the Jews, and a very low consequent probability of the evidence if that event happened (not one reference to it even in a friendly source?). I have to conclude that the nativity of Matthew didn’t really happen.

OK, so why did Matthew write that it did? What could his allegorical or symbolic meaning have been? Unlike the Yom Kippy symbolism present in Mark’s Barabbas story, there are several potential meanings that you could read into Matthew. They are unclear and not altogether convincing, but just because we do not know Matthew’s symbolic intent doesn’t mean he didn’t have one. I will present two, but note the third, involving Matthews's use of Old Testament scripture, is the most prevalent among scholars of the New Testament.

There was one historical journey of Magi in the year 66 AD, but they visited Emperor Nero in Rome. This was the same year as Haley’s Comet, btw. But to make a long story short, an eastern potentate came to receive kingship from Nero, and the new king and his entourage of Magi returned to their homeland via another route. This is very similar to Matthew’s account of the Magi going home due to warnings by God, but this parallel between Nero and Matthew is too weak to explain why Matthew used or invented the Adoration story and based it on something that happened to Nero decades earlier.

A hypothesis put forward first David Strauss all the way back in 1835 brings up one of the most important Roman myths of the era, the Aeneid by Virgil. In the Aeneid, the last surviving Trojans following the war against the Greeks pray for a sign to shepherd them to a new homeland. Suddenly then a blazing shooting star appears and moves in the sky, becoming their guide. The star is Venus as the morning star, helping her son Aeneas find Italy. Considering that the Star of Bethlehem was also supposed to have been a morning star, this creates an interesting parallel between the two similar events. A morning star, one that miraculously guides its followers while in the sky, leads to a new king/kingdom in the West. Virgil predates Matthew considerably and was insanely popular at the time, so the parallels would have been recognizable to the intended audience just as if I had a character in a piece of fiction I wrote today show up with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.

There is also the notable reversal between the stories: while in Virgil the star guides Aeneas and leads to him found a great nation in Italy, in Matthew the star leads the Magi to find the chosen King of the Jews, who they wish to worship, rather than receive worship and praise as the founder of a kingdom would. The reversal is then filled with meaning: the Messiah is the power to follow, even over the the Romans and their puppet king. As I stated before, when a common trope is deliberately altered by the author of a myth, the change they make is usually precisely the point they were trying to make.

I don’t like Matthew all that much. He’s a tight redaction of Mark, but where Mark had some brilliant structure and symbolism, Matthew is drier, his structure dense and more convoluted, and he has a singular agenda across the whole of his Gospel. That is, Matthew wrote from the school of early Christianity that held that you had to be a Torah-observant Jew before you could be a Christian, and his Jesus is just Moses 2.0 with little of interest to him. That’s why it took me so long after Mark, which is my favorite of the four Gospels, to discuss Matthew. Next up is Luke, the “historian.”
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 11:11:01 PM by Regina Minx »

Online Regina MinxTopic starter

Re: Regina's Exegetical Analysis of the New Testament
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2020, 08:30:51 AM »



The Story of Jesus’ Boyfriend

I admit that the title of this post is deliberately provocative, but I hope you’ll stay with me for the read. My original intent was to discuss the four canonical Gospels in order, but real-world events inspired me to skip Luke for the time being and discuss the Gospel of John. For those that don’t know, the public outcry was raised against Netflix a month or two ago for their special The First Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus brings a boyfriend home. A high judge in Brazil ordered Netflix to take down the special, and it was a big huge mess.

Well, the connection between this current event and my studies of the New Testament comes from the Gospel of John. John is the toughest Gospel, despite having one particular verse (3:16) quite possibly the best-known piece of scripture in the western world. Whereas we can look at the post-Judaic material in Mark, the Torah-adherence impulses of Matthew or the conciliatory tone that Luke undertakes, John’s focus is more esoteric and a deep understanding of Jewish angelology and Greco-Roman metaphysics is needed to make progress in John. In discussing John, for instance, we have to make headway with the phrase “In ancient philosophy, the word logos was used to describe the principle of cosmic reason. John bridged this pagan concept with the Jewish Principle of Wisdom, God's companion and intimate helper in creation.” John is also the last Gospel written, dating to as late as the middle of the second century, and shows evidence of massive editorial revisions and at least two authors...

But Regina, you ask, you hypothetical audience member you, what does this...ummm...stuff have to do with Jesus’ Boyfriend. Is your title just a lie??? No! Calm down. I’m getting there, I’m getting there. See, in addition to John’s highly abstracted Christology, it was John that gave us the so-called ‘Beloved Disciple’ who is supposedly a witness to everything John relates about Jesus (John 21:24 and 19:35; then cross-reference that with 19:25-27 and 20:2-8).

So what does John say about the Beloved Disciple? And why call him Beloved? John mentions him quite a bit. It was the BD that reclined with Jesus and rested his head on Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper, and who asks Jesus who will betray him. On the cross, Jesus commands the BD to take care of his mother Mary as if he was her own son and she his own mother. When Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb, she goes to tell Peter and the BD, and the two of them run towards the tomb to verify that it is empty. What do the other disciples say about the BD, and what else does the BD do? Well, there are two other really key and interesting facts I’d like to draw your attention to. The first is that the other disciples asked Jesus if the Beloved Disciple would ever die. Interesting. When Peter and the Beloved Disciple went to the empty tomb, it was the Beloved Disciple who saw Jesus’ discarded shroud and face handkerchief, and based on what he saw was the first to believe and understand that Jesus had risen from the dead.

It is very strange little details like this that have lead scholars for many years now to conclude that the Beloved Disciple is not unknown. John has taken very great pains to allude that the Beloved Disciple is Lazarus.

There is a named person in the Gospel of John described as Jesus’ beloved, and that is Lazarus in John 11. After he is introduced, we see him reclining with Jesus at supper the next day (John 12). So when we hear that the Beloved Disciple is reclining with Jesus at the Last Supper as well, the allusion should be obvious. Likewise every other appearance of the Beloved Disciple; at the crucifixion, the empty tomb, the resurrection. Now does the disciples’ question about whether or not the BD would ever die make sense? Why else would they speculate about whether or not one of their own was immortal unless that person, alone among all of them, had already been dead? Now do you see why the Beloved Disciple knew and understood the meaning of the shroud and face covering, and why he immediately came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Because he himself had cast aside his own funerary shroud. It was Lazarus. Lazarus, who was “‘the one whom Jesus loved’, the one who reclined with Jesus at meals, who people thought might live forever, who first recognized that Jesus had risen from the dead when he recognized burial clothes discarded, a thing that had happened to him also. It was Lazarus that John subtly identifies as his source. Lazarus told the author of John everything contained in the Gospel, just one step removed from an eyewitness account.

But that brings us to the mythological component of John. Because this Lazarus never existed, much less been John’s source for anything. And John was not just credulously repeating what he’d heard or read in another source, because John invented him.

This is already clear from the fact that no one before John ever mentions Lazarus or Jesus raising him from the dead (except for Luke but I’m going to come to that in a minute). John assigns incredible importance to that resurrection, by the way. So integral to the plot in John is the resurrection of Lazarus that according to John the Jews plotted to kill Jesus because of the raising of Lazarus, which was converting so many to Jesus. This is not a reason known to any previous Gospel, but if the raising of Lazarus was so famous and so effective at winning over believers that it was the very reason the Jews arranged to kill Jesus, those prior Gospels cannot possibly have not known of it. And as there was no Lazarus nor resurrection of the same prior to John, it is far more likely that John invented the story to suit his own emphasis on the ‘signs’ fixation that he had and was advancing through his Gospel.

Remember how I said that Luke mentions Lazarus and that was the one exception to none of the other Gospels knowing anything about this man that Jesus loved? Well...he does. And he doesn’t. See, the only other mention of any Lazarus in the Gospels is a fictional Lazarus in a parable told by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31. A parable is, by definition, a made up story used to convey an allegorical meaning. A myth, in other words.

In this parable from Luke, a rich man dies and goes to hell. He looks up into heaven and sees a dead beggar he once knew by the name of Lazarus, resting “on the bosom of Abraham.” The rich man begs Abraham to let Lazarus rise from the dead and warn the rich man’s still-living brothers how they can avoid going to hell too. The parable ends with Abraham refusing, because ‘if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’.

So in Luke’s parable Lazarus does not rise from the dead, and even if he did it wouldn’t convince anyone, so it wasn’t going to happen. But look what happens in John. He completely reverses the message of Luke’s parable by actually having Jesus raise a real person named Lazarus from the dead, and this raising actually convinces people to be saved, which Luke’s parable said wouldn’t happen. The rich man in Luke imagined Lazarus going to people and convincing them, just as the rejected request in Luke’s parable imagined Lazarus going to people and convincing them, and John cites Lazarus as a witness to the crucifiction and resurrection specifically to convince people. John has thus transvalued Luke’s parable, taken a fictional character and said that he is real and that he is John’s source for his story. He did so in order to argue against Luke. And this also gives further evidence to the notion that Lazarus really is the Beloved Disciple when you analyze the things said about the BD against Luke’s parable of the beggar Lazarus.

When we see the BD reclining ‘on Jesus’ bosom’ we should be reminded that the Lazarus in Luke’s parable was ‘on Abraham’s bosom’. Lazarus has been pulled from Luke’s fiction into John’s history, and he does what Luke said would be no use. He goes around telling people, eventually by extension the reader of John, that this is all true ‘in order that you may be saved’,  which was the exact thing the rich man asked Abraham for. John reverses Luke’s parable in another way: Abraham was asked but refused to raise Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus was asked, he did so. Jesus is acting in the place of Abraham, deciding who rises from the dead.

Fabricating sources like this was commonplace in ancient mythography: an entire chapter is dedicated to the subject in one of my college textbooks. If you feel the need to check it out, look at the chapter ‘Bogus Citations.’

So go back to my first definition of myth. A myth is a story, improbable as history, steeped in symbolic or allegorical meaning. When based on an existing story or narrative structure, anything changed about the story is the point the author is trying to convey. I hope I’ve managed to illustrate why the Beloved Disciple in John, Jesus’ first boyfriend before Netflix came along, is a mythic element in the Gospel, and what John was trying to convey.