Easter7B

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This page is part of the Lectionary series.


Lectionary

  • Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 and Psalm 1
  • 1John 5:9-13
  • John 17:6-19

Full texts are available at the RCL web site.[1]

These readings are from the RCL list and may vary slightly in denominational lectionaries.


Introduction

Acts

Each of the major Western lectionaries suggests this passage, doubtless in part because the narrative in Luke-Acts places these events just a few days before Pentecost.

The tradition that Judas needed to be replaced to maintain the Twelve as a unit is unique to Luke-Acts. Since it clashes with Paul's traditions in 1 Cor 15:3-8, where he speaks of Jesus appearing to Peter and then to the Twelve (rather than to the Eleven), this may be a special Lukan issue. It is worth noting that GJohn 20:24 also continues to speak of Jesus appearing to the Twelve, rather than the Eleven.

Luke seems to have had a special interest in demonstrating the good citizenship and the civil obedience of the Christian population early in the 2C. As noted in some previous weeks, Luke seems to highlight the unruly and disruptive behavior of Jews and pagans, while stressing the good order of Christian meetings and the willingness of Christians to accept the decisions of their leaders. this scene fits well with that Lukan concern for "good order" in the life of the community.


The Psalm

The Psalms are often overlooked in the preparations for Sunday worship, but they can also play a profound role in shaping and sustaining religious life.

The Psalms are the most significant book from the final section of the Jewish canon, the Writings. Luke seems to preserve a tradition that referred to that part of the Hebrew Bible simply as The Psalms:

Then he said to them, "These are my words
that I spoke to you while I was still with you--
that everything written about me
in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."
[Luke 24:44]

As the song book of the Second Temple, the Psalms drew on older liturgical traditions but also reflected on the terrible experiences of defeat and exile. Some of the psalms, at least, reflect an awareness of the Epic History that told the story of Israel's origins.

Indeed, the Psalms may be one of the earliest (and perhaps very few) biblical books to be consciously staking a claim to canonical status. Where writings such as those of Paul seem to be have occasional letters written with no sense of scriptural status, it can be argued that Psalm 1 is intended to be the introduction to the collection of psalms, and to be making the case that the person who meditates on the words in this scroll will have true wisdom.

Similarly, Psalm 119, with its careful acrostic pattern built around the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, reminds us that these are not "innocent" texts, but carefully composed productions.


1John

The series of readings from 1 John during the Easter season concludes with a passage that affirms the significance of Jesus as the one in whom God's life is to be found.


GJohn

The Jesus Database does not include this prayer/discourse in its inventory of historical Jesus items. That probably reflects the difficulty of working with Johannine discourses rather than an a priori decision to exclude inauthentic materials, since many items voted inauthentic by the Jesus Seminar or by individual scholars are still included in the database.

As noted in earlier weeks, the Johannine traditions about Jesus are so different from those found in the Synoptic Gospels, and so clearly reflect insights from sustained theological reflection on the meaning of Jesus, that most scholars discount them as significant historical data for our knowledge of Jesus. They tell us a great deal about the ways in which some Christians were developing their christology around the end of the 1C, but very little about the historical Jesus. Both kinds of knowledge are worth having for their own sake, there is nothing to be gained by confusing theological reflections with historical memories.

In this case, we have a portrait of Jesus at prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest. It is in every sense a classic scene, as the hero awaits his destiny and occupies himself with worthy concerns for others. As one would expect in GJohn, this Jesus is quietly in charge of everything happening around him and to him; a far cry from the anguished Jesus of the Synoptics.

Given what we know about divisions and tensions within the Johannine communities, it is fascinating to see how their deepest hopes for unity and common witness are retrojected onto the lips of Jesus.


The following pages are also relevant to this week's texts:

  • 1John - brief introduction to the letter
  • LukeActs - Luke-Acts as an early 2C document


Jesus Database

There are no pages in the Jesus Database relevant to this week's readings.