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Mary Of Bethany And Mary Of Magdala-two Female Characters In The Johannine Passion Narrative: A Feminist, Narrative-Critical Reader-Response*

  • Ingrid Rosa Kitzberger (a1)


The focus of this investigation is on two female characters in John's Gospel, Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala. Key are the development and unfolding of these characters within the passion narrative and their relation to other female and male characters. According to Culpepper,‘… one of the most interesting elements of any story is the cast of characters’, and: ‘Much of the power of the Fourth Gospel comes from its vivid characterizations and their effects upon the reader.’ Nevertheless, not much attention has been paid so far to characterization in John (and to characterization in general), and female characters have been even more neglected and treated like stepdaughters. This holds true also for female characters in the Gospel of Mark, which has been the focus of interest in narrative-critical studies.



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* Paper presented at the SNTS meeting in Chicago, August 1993, in the seminar ‘Hermeneutics and the Biblical Text’ (chaired by Bernard C. Lategan and James M. Voelz). I am indebted to Elisabeth Struthers Malbon (Blacksburg, Va.) for her response paper, and—besides all the responses from seminar members—esp. to Detlev Dormeyer (Münster), Bas van Iersel (Nijmegen), Wilhelm Wuellner (Berkeley, Ca.) and Francis Watson (London) for their critical comments. Without Bas van Iersel's encouragement, however, this paper might never have been presented to readers other than the first readers.

1 For ‘the legitimacy of treating the people described in a historical writing as characters’, see Culpepper, R. Alan, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel. A Study in Literary Design (Foundations and Facets: New Testament; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983) 105. Dormeyer points to the double function of proper names as historical persons and characters, in: Detlev Dormeyer, Das Neue Testament im Rahmen der antiken Literaturgeschichte. Eine Einführung(Die Altertumswissenschaft; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1993) 59–60. For an analysis of the historical basis of John's narrative, in discussing Culpepper's work, see Eugen Ruckstuhl, ‘Jesus und der geschichtliche Mutterboden im vierten Evangelium’, in: Hubert Frankemölle/ Karl Kertelge, ed., Vom Urchristentum zu Jesus (Freiburg i. Br.: Herder, 1989) 256–86.

2 Culpepper, , Anatomy, 7.

3 According to Powell it is ‘the process through which the implied author provides the implied reader with what is necessary to reconstruct a character from the narrative’ (Mark Allan Powell, What Is Narrative Criticism? (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990) 52).

4 Cf. Culpepper, , Anatomy, 115. But see J. A. du Rand, ‘The Characterization of Jesus as Depicted in the Narrative of the Fourth Gospel’, Neotest. 19 (1985) 18–36; Jeffrey L. Staley, ‘Stumbling in the Dark, Reaching for the Light: Reading Character in John 5 and 9’, Semeia 53 (1991) (‘The Fourth Gospel from a Literary Perspective’) 55–80; see also J. A. du Rand, ‘Plot and Point of View in the Gospel of John’, in: J. H. Petzer/P. J. Hartin, ed., A South African Perspective on the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1986) 149–69, where he deals also, though only briefly, with characters (cf. 154–6). See now also Semeia 63 (1993) on ‘Characterization in Biblical Literature’, ed. Elisabeth Struthers Malbon and Adele Berlin, esp. David R. Beck, ‘The Narrative Function of Anonymity in Fourth Gospel Characterization’, 143–58; and Marianne Meye Thompson, ‘“God's Voice You Have Never Heard, God's Form You Have Never Seen”: The Characterization of God in the Gospel of John’, 177–204.

5 Even Culpepper (Anatomy) is far from having done justice to them. He categorizes the Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene as ‘minor characters’ and spends only one page or two pages on them respectively (cf. 132–44). Though du Rand's topic (‘Plot and Point of View’) is not characters, it nevertheless is surprising that he, for example, does not even mention Mary Magdalene when dealing with the resurrection of Jesus ‘as narrated within the framework of the appearances’ (cf. 167). - Positive exceptions are (though their approaches are not narrative-critical): Raymond E. Brown, ‘Roles of Women in the Fourth Gospel’, TS 36 (1975) 688–99, and Sandra M. Schneiders, ‘Women in the Fourth Gospel and the Role of Women in the Contemporary Church, BTB 12 (1982) 35–45. Turid Karlsen Seim's excellent investigation shows some narrative-critical elements despite her introductory remark that her description of the women is ‘not… dependent on any specific terminology or methodological frame of reference’ —‘Roles of Women in the Gospel of John’, in: Lars Hartman/Birger Olsson, ed., Aspects of the Johannine Literature (CB.NT 18; Upsala: University, 1987) 56–73, 56. Cf. also Martinus C. Boer, ‘John 4:27 -Women (and Men) in the Gospel and Community of John’, in: George J. Brooke, ed., Women in the Biblical Tradition (Studies in Women and Religion 31; Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1992) 208–30. For a narrative-critical evaluation see now also the ingenious commentary by Sjef van Tilborg, Imaginative Love in John (Biblical Interpretation Series 2; Leiden: Brill, 1993), esp. ch. 4 on ‘Loving Women’.

6 An exception is Elisabeth Struthers Malbon, ‘Fallible Followers: Women and Men in the Gospel of Mark’, Semeia 28 (1983) 2948; ‘Disciples/Crowds/Whoever: Markan Characters and Readers’, NT 28 (1986) 104–30. Surprisingly, investigations into the characters of the disciples in the Gospels have taken for granted that the term refers to men only. Cf. e.g. Robert C. Tannehill, ‘The Disciples in Mark: The Function of a Narrative Role’, JR 57 (1977) 386–405; Hans-Josef Klauck, ‘Die erzählerische Rolle der Jünger im Markusevangelium. Eine narrative Analyse’, NT 24 (1982) 1–26; Joanna Dewey, ‘Point of View and the Disciples in Mark’, SBL.SP 21 (1982) 97–106. But if we take the androcentric-inclusive language fully into account, we need to look afresh at this topic in narrative-critical analysis.

7 Seymour, Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1978) 107–38.

8 Cf. David, Rhoads, ‘Narrative Criticism and the Gospel of Mark’, JAAR 50 (1982) 411–34. Culpepper (Anatomy) restricts the applicability of this concept regarding the Gospel of John (cf. 102). I will show, however, that ‘Chatman's program’ has also value for those characters in the Gospel who appear only briefly, as the female characters do. —A plot-centred approach to characters in Mark is advocated by Robert C. Tannehill, ‘The Gospel of Mark as Narrative Christology’, Semeia 16 (1979) 57–95, esp. 58. In contrast Rhoads (‘Narrative Criticism’, 417), who decides for an open approach also to Mark.

9 Müller, Wolfgang G., ‘Interfigurality. A Study on the Interdependence of Literary Figures’, in: Heinrich E. Plett, ed., Intertextuality (Research in Text Theory 15; Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1991) 101–21.

10 Müller, , ‘Interfigurality’, 117, cf. 114.

11 Müller, , ‘Interfigurality’, 101.

12 Müller, , ‘Interfigurality’, 101. That, nevertheless, such relations have found little attention so far in intertextual theory and criticism, may be due to two main reasons, Müller presumes. One is the suspicion generally felt towards character-oriented studies, the other is the absence of a critical term for this aspect of intertextuality. Therefore, Müller looks ‘… at character as a strictly structural and functional textual element’ and coins ‘… the neologism interfigurality’ (101–2), ‘because without it important aspects and problems of intertextuality would not come into view’ (102). - Due to my ‘open view of character’ I use Müller's term ‘interfigurality’ but do not follow his look at ‘character as a strictly structural and functional textual element’.

13 Cf. also Thyen's investigation into John 11; 12: Hartwig Thyen, ‘Die Erzahlungen von den bethanischen Geschwistern (Joh 11,1–12,19) als “Palimpsest” über synoptischen Texten’, in: F. Van Segbroek, ed., The Four Gospels 1992. Festschrift Frans Neirynck, 3 (BEThL 100; Leuven: Peeters, 1992) 2021–50. In spite of some similarities, however, my approach and its ‘results’ are quite different, and unlike Thyen I do not draw the conclusion that John used no other sources than the Synoptic Gospels. However, historical judgements are not within the range of my approach.

14 If, however, one believes that only the author of John but not his audience knew the Synoptic Gospels, as some of my colleagues did in response to my SNTS-seminar paper, the reading process would differ from those readings presented here.

15 If we take for granted that the real author of the Gospel of John was a man, then consequently the implied author's and the narrator's point of view are male points of view. See also van Tilborg, Imaginative Love, 170, and Alice Bach, ‘Signs of the Flesh: Observations on Characterization in the Bible’, Semeia 63 (1993) 6179, 64. - For a distinction between the implied author and the narrator in John, cf. Culpepper, Anatomy, 16 (following Wayne C. Booth). This distinction is necessary in spite of the fact that: ‘In John, the narrator is undramatized and serves as the voice of the implied author.’

16 For the influence of the narrator on his/her readers generally (without raising questions of gender issues) cf. Culpepper, Anatomy, 4. Also Rhoads, ‘Narrative Criticism’, 421, and Powell, Narrative Criticism, 53–4.

17 Rhoads, , ‘Narrative Criticism’, 421.

18 McKnight, Edgar V., Post-Modern Use of the Bible. The Emergence of Reader-Oriented Criticism (Nashville: Abingdon, 2nd ed., 1990) 256; cf. 254–62 (‘Actualizing the Reader of Biblical Texts’). According to Robert M. Fowler (‘Irony and the Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark’, Proceedings: Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society 1 [1981] 26–36) this ‘incongruity’ is ‘the essence of irony’ (29). For the different relationships between narrator and reader, and narrator and characters, see also Rhoads, ‘Narrative Criticism’, 420 (following Norman Petersen, ‘“Point of View” in Mark's Narrative’, Semeia 12 [1978] 97–121). For point of view in/on a gospel see further Stephen D. Moore, Literary Criticism and the Gospels. The Theoretical Challenge (New Haven/London: Yale University, 1989) 25–40; for the narrator and point of view in John, cf. Culpepper, Anatomy, 13–40.

19 Rhoads, , ‘Narrative Criticism’, 421. Rhoads follows Uspensky's analysis of point of view in narrative and his distinction of four planes; besides those already mentioned, there are the ideological and the phraseological plane—cf. Boris Uspensky, Poetics of Composition (Berkeley: University of California, 1973). These planes of point of view are also underlying the studies of du Rand (‘Plot and Point of View in the Gospel of John’) and Petersen (‘“Point of View” in Mark's Narrative’).

20 Cf. Rhoads, , ‘Narrative Criticism’, 414. John Darr, On Character Building: The Reader and the Rhetoric of Characterization in Luke-Acts (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1992). See now also Fred W. Burnett, ‘Characterization and Reader Construction of Characters in the Gospels’, Semeia 63 (1993) 1–28.

21 Cf. Culpepper, , Anatomy, 6: ‘Characters are fashioned by what the narrator says about them, particularly, when introducing them …’.

22 This, unfortunately, has not been done by Culpepper (Anatomy), esp. in dealing with the ‘minor characters’, among them the Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene, cf. 132–44. See also Moore's critique, Literary Criticism, 93–5. Robert M. Fowler (Let the Reader Understand. Reader-Response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991]) points out that focus has been placed on the story level of the narrative, while neglecting the discourse level or the rhetoric (cf. 2). But to my opinion he draws the wrong conclusion by shifting emphasis from the story to the discourse and by considering‘… the discourse as opposed to the story of the Gospel narrative’ (4). The solution to the problem is not ‘either—or’, but narrative criticism and reader-response criticism belong together and form an ideal couple. A combination of both approaches also underlies Staley's analysis of Johannine characters (‘Stumbling in the Dark’, cf. esp. 54); cf. also Powell, Narrative Criticism, 16–21, esp. 21.

23 Cf. Wolfgang, Iser, ‘The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach’, in: Jane P. Tompkins, ed., Reader-Response Criticism. From Formalism to Post-Structuralism (Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University, 1980) 5069, passim, esp. 54. Cf. also Fowler, Let the Reader Understand, 1–5 (‘The Reading Experience’); also Stanley Fish's ‘method of analysis which takes the reader, as an actively mediating presence, fully into account…’ (‘Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics’, NLH 2 (1970) 123–62, 123). See also Moore, Literary Criticism, part two on ‘Gospel Criticism as Reading’ (71–170).

24 Cf. Fowler, , Let the Reader Understand, 3; also McKnight, Post-Modern Use, 217–72 on ‘The Role of the Reader’, esp. reading as ‘Progressive Actualization’ and ‘Multiple Actualizations’ (235–41); Detlev Dormeyer, Der Sinn des Leidens Jesu: Historisch-kritische und textpragmatische Analysen zur Markuspassion (SBS 96; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1979) 107–9. Wayne C. Booth (The Rhetoric of Fiction [Chicago: University, 2nd ed., 1983\) distinguishes between two techniques of characterization, telling and showing (cf. 3–20); the latter one demands harder work on the part of the reader, cf. Powell, Narrative Criticism, 52–3. Cf. also Bar-Efrat's categories of direct and indirect shaping of characters, the latter again calls forth the reader's active participation—Shimon Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible (BiLiSe 17; Sheffield: Academic, 1989) 47–92, esp. 64.

25 Cf. Iser, , ‘The Reading Process’, 55: ‘…literary texts are full of unexpected twists and turns, and frustrations of expectations… Indeed, it is through inevitable omissions that a story gains its dynamism. Thus, whenever the flow is interrupted and we are led off in unexpected directions, the opportunity is given to us to bring into play our own faculty for establishing connections—for filling in the gaps left by the text itself’; ‘…one text is potentially capable of several different realizations, and no reading can ever exhaust the full potential, for each individual reader will fill in the gaps in his own way, whereby excluding the various other possibilities’. Cf. also McKnight, Post-Modern Use, 223–41 (esp. on ambiguity, poetic omission, paratactic thinking, temporal and logical discontinuity, progressive actualization and multiple actualizations). Cf. Dormeyer, Sinn, 11–12. Also Robert Alter, The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989) on ‘Multiple Readings and the Bog of Indeterminacy’ (206–38).

26 Cf. McKnight, , Post-Modern Use, 241: ‘The meaning of a text is inexhaustible, because no context can provide all the keys to all of its possibilities.’ See also Francis Watson, ed., The Open Text (London: SCM, 1993).

27 This has been the focus of the seminar ‘The Role of the Reader in the Interpretation of the New Testament’ (since 1993 ‘Hermeneutics and the Biblical Text’) at the SNTS-meetings of the past years. Cf. also Bernard C. Lategan's introduction to Scriptura S 9 (1991) on ‘Issues in Contextual Hermeneutics’.

28 The imagination of such a reader remains hypothetical, of course, for it cannot be proved whether a woman in the Johannine community really read the texts as I do here. I am well aware that the imagined female first reader is a construct and has much of a self-portrait. Naturally that is so because of the hermeneutical situation, as Elisabeth Struthers Malbon expressed it in her response: ‘Although we can inform ourselves (and others) about the possible or even probable situations and presuppositions of readers other than our own, our readings remain our own. We must claim them as such.’ ‘Imagination’ has to be distinguished from ‘historical reconstruction’, which belongs within the historical-critical paradigm and is, therefore, not at issue here. This imagination of a female first reader might be considered ‘a reading strategy’, as Edgar McKnight interpreted my approach in the discussion following the presentation of my paper.

29 Cf. McKnight, , Post-Modern Use, 254–63 on ‘Actualizing the Reader of Biblical Texts’. Cf. also Fish, ‘Affective Stylistics’, 160–1 (talking about his method): ‘… it is a method which processes its own user, who is also its only instrument. It is self-sharpening and what it sharpens is you. In short, it does not organize materials, but transforms minds.’ Cf. also James M. Voelz, ‘Multiple Signs and Double Texts: Elements of Intertextuality’, in: S. Draisma, ed., Intertextuality in Biblical Writings. Essays in Honour of B. van Iersel (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1989) 27–34, 33: ‘It is… the text of the life-experience of the interpreter which is being interpreted in each “application”’.

30 In my own feminist approach I have been very much inspired by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's pioneer works: In Memory of Her. A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (New York: Crossroads, 1983); Bread Not Stone. The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation (Boston: Beacon, 1984), and But She Said. Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (Boston: Beacon, 1993).

31 For the difference see Iser, ‘The Reading Process’, 55–6.

32 Norman, Petersen, Literary Criticism for New Testament Critics (New Testament Series; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978) 4950; cf. also Rhoads, ‘Narrative Criticism’, 415; Culpepper, Anatomy, 53–75.

33 Cf. Dormeyer's distinction of different types of readers or reader-attitudes, which are naive reader, critical reader (in my terminology: informed reader) and critical researcher: Detlev Dormeyer, ‘The Implicit and Explicit Readers and the Genre of Philippians 3:2–4:3,8–9: Response to the Commentary of Wolfgang Schenk’, Semeia 48 (1989) 149–59, 156; these levels are constructed according to Roman Ingarden, Gegenstand und Aufgaben der Literaturwissenschaft. Aufsätze und Diskussionsbeiträge (1937–1964) (ed. R. Fieguth; Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1976) 17–22.

34 Cf. Culpepper, (Anatomy) on ‘John's Readers’ (211–23), where he deals with ‘…the gospel's depiction of its authorial audience or intended reader’. The starting point is the question: ‘What does the narratee know, and when does he or she know it?’ This question is focused on five areas: persons (or characters), places, languages, Judaism, and events (cf. 212–23). According to Culpepper, Lazarus must be introduced, Martha and Mary are known to the reader. But Culpepper does not answer the question where the knowledge of these persons, and also of events, comes from (cf. 212).

35 Cf. Maurits, Sabbe, ‘The Anointing of Jesus in John 12,1–8 and Its Synoptic Parallels’, in: F. van Segbroeck, ed., The Four Gospels, 2051–82. Sabbe's approach is historical-critical and he concentrates on the author's use of sources; he believes in direct dependence of John on the Synoptics. —See also my ‘Love and Footwashing. John 13.1–20 and Luke 7.36–50 Read Intertextually’ (Paper presented at the SNTS meeting in Madrid, 1992, in the seminar ‘The Role of the Reader in the Interpretation of the New Testament’), Biblical Interpretation 2 (1994) 190–206. Despite a widely used explanation I do not consider 11.2 a prolepsis referring to 12.1–8. The aorist of the verbs is one reason against it, the other is the fact that the two acts described here are not identical with what is narrated in 12.1–8.

36 Cf. Brown, , ‘Roles of Women’, 694:‘… Martha and Mary…seem to have been better known than Lazarus’.

37 Cf. Segovia, Fernando F., Love Relationships in the Johannine Tradition. Agape/Agapan in I John and the Fourth Gospel (SBL.DS 59; Chico: Scholars, 1982). There is no real difference between the use of ‘philein’ (cf. 11.3) and ‘agapan’ (cf. 11.5) in John's Gospel. Cf. also van Tilborg, Imaginative Love, esp. 230–8.

38 Later on, in 13.1, the narrator's comment that Jesus loved ‘his own’ to the end is proved by his footwashing.

39 Cf. Brown, , ‘Roles of Women’, 693.

40 Cf. Iser, , ‘The Reading Process’, 54: ‘Whatever we have read sinks into our memory and is foreshortened. It may later be evoked again and set against a different background with the result that the reader is enabled to develop hitherto unforeseeable connections… The new background brings to light new aspects of what we have committed to memory; conversely these, in turn, shed their light on the new background…’

41 Cf. Culpepper, , Anatomy, 140–1. But he gives no reason why he considers them to be disciples. According to Brown (‘Roles of Women’) Martha, Mary and Mary Magdalene are ‘intimate disciples of Jesus’ (694).

42 Cf. Wuellner, (‘Lazarus Story’) believes that ‘at least half of which [the funeral party] must have been women’ (119).

43 Cf. Culpepper, (Anatomy) who points out that there ‘… are more references to Jesus' emotions in John 11 than in any other chapter, and at this point they become particularly intense’ (110). Otherwise, Jesus is characterized as distant and aloof in John's Gospel (109–10) and ‘demonstrably less emotional than in the synoptic gospels’ (11).

44 Wuellner, (‘Lazarus Story’) has pointed to this open end, and calls it‘… a startling “gap” which the reader is to fill, or rather not to fill… The unfinished task of untying Lazarus becomes the reader's task of untying the text… This challenge to readers to untie this text is not only unfinished; due to the rhetoric of the narration of faith, it is an unfinishable task’ (119–20). Wuellner refers to R. Young, ed., Untying the Text: A Post-Structuralist Reader (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981). —Meanwhile, a narrative-critical reading of the Lazarus-story (including characterization) has been presented by Mark W. G. Stibbe, who—not knowing of my more or less simultaneous presentation—complained about the neglect of this story in literary analysis (‘A Tomb with a View: John 11.1–44 in Narrative-Critical Perspective’, NTS 40 [1994] 38–54. But see Wuellner, ‘Lazarus Story’, and ‘Rhetorical Criticism and its Theory in Culture-Critical Perspective: The Narrative Rhetoric of John 11’, in: P. J. Martin/J. H. Petzer, ed., Text and Interpretation. New Approaches in the Criticism of the New Testament [NTTS 15; Leiden: Brill, 1991] 171–85).

45 Of course the reader could have recollected this story already in 11.1–2 (the consecutive reading would have been different then) but I consider it more likely that she does so only now due to the text-signal ‘meal’.

46 Cf. Culpepper, , Anatomy, 2732 (on the retrospective point of view). According to Culpepper, the mention of Judas' betrayal belongs to the ‘internal prolepses’, which ‘… have an important role in building dramatic intensity’ (63).

47 Cf. Culpepper, , Anatomy, 63. When later on the reader learns of Jesus' burial (cf. 19.38–42), she will remember this scene in Bethany. And she will link Nicodemus—and also Joseph of Arimathea—to Mary. Both spend an unusual amount of ointment or spices on Jesus: Mary spends one pound of nard oil worth three hundred denarii, the men spend about a hundred pounds' weight of myrrh and aloe (v. 39). But, unlike the scene in Bethany, none accuses the men because of their ‘waste’. Joseph of Arimathea is referred to as ‘a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews’ (v. 38), whereas Mary, Martha and Lazarus do not conceal their relationship to Jesus. They really belong to ‘his own’, i.e. his disciples, as our reader will have learned by the time she reaches ch. 19, because Jesus loved ‘his own’ to the end (cf. 13.1), and he loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus (cf. 11.5).

48 But see Culpepper, , Anatomy, 216: ‘It would be precarious to infer any prior knowledge of the women at the cross on the basis of the references to “Mary the wife of Clopas” and “Mary Magdalene” (19.25), but the reader may have heard their names before.’

49 In sharp contrast Culpepper considers Mary's question a further proof of her unenlightenment on this Easter-morning (cf. Anatomy, 144).

50 Culpepper, (Anatomy) did not notice this significant connection between ch. 10 and 20, when he comments: ‘Witnessing each of the key moments of the passion story gives her no advantage or insight… When she recognizes Jesus it is not through seeing the risen Lord, but through hearing his words… Neither the empty tomb nor the vision of Jesus lifted the veil for Mary Magdalene, only the words of Jesus’ (144). But see Brown, ‘Roles of Women’, 694.

51 Similarly Brown, , ‘Roles of Women’, 694–5.

52 Culpepper, (Anatomy) remarks on this scene: ‘In fact, although touching and physical contact with Jesus are important in the synoptic gospels, there is none of this in John. The only time the word ‘to touch’… is used is in 20.17 — “Don't touch me!”’ (11).

53 Culpepper, (Anatomy) considers this verse as ‘the locus classicus’ of the difficulty in defining the prolepses; it belongs to the ‘mixed prolepses’ whose ‘…function is to tie the experience of the intended readers… to the final events in the ministry of Jesus …’, they ‘link Jesus to the church’ (63–4).

54 Brown, (‘Roles of Women’) mentions the Samaritan's missionary function (cf. 691–2) and Mary Magdalene's ‘quasi-apostolic role’ (692). Cf. also Culpepper, Anatomy, 137: She ‘becomes a missionary… is given an apostolic role’ and ‘is a model of the female disciple’.

55 Cf. Rashkow, Ilona N., ‘In Our Image We Create Him, Male and Female We Create Them: The E/Affect of Biblical Characterization’, Semeia 63 (1993) 105–13, esp. 107–9,112.

56 Cf. the title of Wuellner's article (‘Lazarus Story’).

57 Cf. Schiissler, Fiorenza, Bread Not Stone.

58 Brown, (‘Roles of Women’) notes that John ‘…reports that tradition through the optic of his own times, so that he tells something about the role of women in his own community’ (698, n. 4), in which ‘women and men are already on an equal level’ (699).

59 Cf. Karlsen, Seim, ‘Roles of Women’, 57: ‘…The roles of women genuinely coincide[s] with an explicit interest of the Gospel of John itself, very visible on its textual surface’.

60 Cf. Wolfgang, Iser, Der implizite Leser (UTB 163; München: Fink, 1972); Hannelore Link, Rezeptionsforschung. Eine Einführung in Methoden und Probleme (Urban-Taschenbücher 215, R 80; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2nd ed., 1980) 41–3. For the problems connected with this concept cf. Wilhelm Wuellner, ‘Is There an Encoded Reader Fallacy?’, Semeia 48 (1989) 41–54, esp. 43.

61 Cf. Bach, (‘Signs of the Flesh’) names the ‘crucial ambiguity for the feminist reader’, which ’revolves around the narrator's providing one version of how female characters behave within the situations in which they have been placed, and another imagined version that might be provided by the female figure—if one could reconstruct her story’ (69). Cf. Rashkow, ‘In Our Image’, 109: ‘In Bach's reading, there is an adversial relationship between narrator and narratee unless the reader and story-teller share either theological, gender, or political codes.’ According to van Tilborg (Imaginative Love) the patriarchal oikos—mentality is absent from the Johannine stories of women (cf. 170–1).

62 Interfigurality has to be distinguished clearly from harmonization of the Gospels. While the latter composes a portrait of a character by combining information from different sources and valuing them equally, interfigurality denotes the transformation and re-definition of an earlier tradition, the ‘outcome’ of this process has priority over other traditions.


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