The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides

The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides

by Dennis MacDonald


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"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them." Dennis R. MacDonald offers a provocative explanation of those scandalous words of Christ from the Fourth Gospelan explanation that he argues would hardly have surprised some of the Gospel's early readers. John sounds themes that would have instantly been recognized as proper to the Greek god Dionysos (the Roman Bacchus), not least as he was depicted in Euripides's play The Bacchae. A divine figure, the offspring of a divine father and human mother, takes on flesh to live among mortals but is rejected by his own. He miraculously provides wine and offers it as a sacred gift to his devotees, women prominent among them, dies a violent deathand returns to life. Yet John takes his drama in a dramatically different direction: while Euripides's Dionysos exacts vengeance on the Theban throne, the Johannine Christ offers life to his followers. MacDonald employs mimesis criticism to argue that the earliest evangelist not only imitated Euripides but expected his readers to recognize Jesus as greater than Dionysos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506423456
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dennis R. MacDonald is John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Claremont School of Theology and the author of numerous books, including Mythologizing Jesus: From Jewish Teacher to Epic Hero (2015), The Gospels and Homer (2015), and Luke and Vergil (2014).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Abbreviations xi

Introduction xv

1 The Beginning of the Johannine Tradition 1

2 The Earliest Gospel Stratum and Euripides' Bacchae: An Intertextual Commentary 23

3 Rewriting the Gospel 125

4 The Final Gospel Stratum and a Johannine Corpus 137

Appendix 1 A Conjectural Reconstruction of the Dionysian Gospel 173

Appendix 2 Euripides' Bacchae 203

Appendix 3 The Sinful Woman (John 7:53-8:11) 219

Bibliography 223

Author Index 235

Ancient Sources Index 239

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