Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dr. Esther Kobel's summary of my dissertation:

Pasted below is the passage in her book (2011) wherein Esther Kobel summarizes my doctoral thesis (an expansion on what I posted yesterday). Her book is titled Dining with John: Communal Meals and Identity Formation in the Fourth Gospel in its Historical and Cultural Context, Leiden: Brill 2011:

The challenge of considering all Johannine passages containing meal scenes and food issues has been met by Jefferey H. Hodges (sic., Horace Jeffery Hodges) in a doctoral thesis entitled Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts.[Footnote 169] Hodges explores the ingesting images in various religious traditions including Gnosticism. To date, this is the most comprehensive study of Johannine food imagery and its symbolic interpretation. Hodges suggests that basically all food passages explored are to be understood as eucharistic. Hodges also identifies a synecdochical use of food in the Gospel of John, according to which food signifies and is part of the heavenly as well as earthly realms. This dualism related to food is then compared to dualisms in Gnostic texts and texts of late-antiquity Judaism and Early Christianity. Although there are obvious parallels between John's food-related dualism, and the respective dualism found in Gnostic texts, Hodges affirms that the latter significantly differ from the former. The Johannine understanding presupposes an ethical [Page 96] dualism: a righteous God and a world that has grown sinful. The Gnostic texts, however, presuppose the dualism to be ontological: a perfect spiritual realm, versus the evil, material world. Thus, Hodges suggests, there is a different meaning to Jesus' avoidance of food different from the abstention revealed in Gnostic texts. Drawing on his investigation into early Jewish traditions, Hodges suggests that vinegar symbolizes the corrupted world. By accepting the earthly vinegar at the crucifixion, Jesus synecdochically consumes the entire world, and thereby eliminates its sinfulness. The fact that this happens willingly points to an irreconcilable difference when compared with Gnostic thinking. Johannine uses of food, Hodges argues, derive not from Gnosticism (despite the obvious parallels) but from Jewish traditions.

[Footnote 169: Jeffery Horace Hodges, "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts," (Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, 1996).]

This is a pretty good summary, and Professor Kobel has since learned to spell my real name, so it's really now damn near perfect. Perfection awaits only her total agreement with me.


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