I am grateful to the editors of Ancient Jew Review for the opportunity to reflect on my long engagement with the Gospel of John. The invitation comes at an appropriate moment: I have just submitted a book manuscript on John, called Cast Out of the Covenant: Jews and Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John, which will be published by Lexington/Fortress Press later this year. This book concludes what is very likely my last major project on the Fourth Gospel. While I already have made commitments to several conference papers and articles on John, I do not plan another sustained book-length study. In effect, having long had a conflicted relationship with the “Beloved Disciple,” – since my doctoral research in the late 1970s -- it is time to break up. For this reason, it seems like the right time to reflect on my relationship with the “other man” in my life (as my husband refers to “John”).
Why break up now after such a long time? Two reasons. First, I do not have anything “big” left to say about John. This is not to say that I have solved all of the problems posed by this Gospel. On the contrary, the questions remain numerous and serious enough for many more generations of scholars to tackle. It is just that I have exhausted the questions that feel pressing to me. Second, I have had enough of John’s hostility towards Jews. As my forthcoming book details, I am now convinced that John’s well-documented anti-Judaism is not peripheral but central to the Gospel’s theology and rhetorical program. While I do not for a moment believe that John’s author(s) would have foreseen or applauded the history of Christian anti-Judaism, there is no doubt that they intended to foster suspicion of, distancing from, and even hatred of the ioudaioi. To be sure, John’s ioudaioi are not an ethnic or religious category but a rhetorical one. Jesus and the first disciples were ethnically ioudaioi, but not theologically so – this label is never used for the disciples and only once for Jesus (John 4:9). Yet the fact that there existed, and continued to exist, real people who fit that label – whether we call them Jews or Judeans or by some other name – and who, by and large, did not go along with the Gospel’s views about God, Jesus, and humankind, means that John’s Gospel could be, and was, used to build a wall between Christ-confessors and ioudaioi that had real consequences for real Jews.
None of this was on my mind when I began my doctoral research on the Gospel of John in 1979. I was intrigued by its allusive use of language, and its narrative patterning. Not having studied this Gospel in a serious way before, I focused my research on understanding the role of the signs narratives – John’s miracle stories - as they related to the purpose of the Gospel as stated in 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” In my forthcoming book, I have come full circle back to this passage, not, this time, with a focus on the signs stories, but with an emphasis on the Gospel as a rhetorical – persuasive – document.
After completing my dissertation, I moved on to other projects. The first was a study of the extended metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep in John 10. In The Word in the World, I pursued a hunch that I had had since I began my studies on John: that the “good shepherd” metaphor drew on and referred to the “harrowing of Hell” – the idea that in the time between his burial and the discovery of the empty tomb, Jesus descended to the netherworld to preach to the dead. I still like that idea, although it received almost no comment whatsoever from the “Johannine community” of scholars.
That community decided – rightly – that the main contribution of that first book was the narrative framework that it lay out for the Fourth Gospel. I argued that the Gospel was not a two-level narrative, as J. L. Martyn and many others proposed, but rather a three-level narrative. The first level was what I called the “historical” tale, the story of a historical individual – Jesus – set in a specific time and place, early first-century Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Whether this tale is factual, in whole or in part, is a matter of some debate, but it is presented as “true” both factually and spiritually by the Gospel itself. The second level I called the ecclesiological tale. This corresponded to J. L. Martyn’s “second level” drama of the Johannine community. Although I was already becoming skeptical about the details of Martyn’s analysis, I accepted the idea that the Gospel indirectly does tell us something about an existing community within which and for which it was written. The third narrative level I called the cosmological tale. This tale focuses on the relationship between God and the world (kosmos in Greek) and provides the larger framework for the other two tales. The tale is evident throughout but most prominently in the Prologue (John 1:1-18), in the Farewell Discourses (chapter 14-16) and Jesus’ prayer in John 17, in which the cosmological dimension comes to the fore.
This three-level approach proved a useful structure for my next book on the Gospel of John, Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John (2001). By this point, about 20 years after I had begun my serious engagement with the Fourth Gospel, my interests had begun to settle on the “Jewish question.” This book explicitly focused on my struggle, as a Jewish Johannine scholar, with some of the Gospel’s anti-Jewish elements. I posited that as readers, we situate ourselves in particular ways vis-à-vis the Gospel: as compliant, resistant, sympathetic, or engaged. I experimented with reading the Gospel from each of these four perspectives, on each of the three narrative levels that I had identified in my earlier work. In one sense, this approach was artificial; in most cases, people combine two or more of these positions, or vacillate among them. But teasing them apart made it possible to look at the interaction between text and readers a bit more clearly.
The frame of friendship – or befriending – that I adopted in this book owed much to Wayne Booth’s The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, which first came to my attention in a lecture given by Carol Newsom at the 1995 annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. The premise of Booth’s book is that in reading a novel or other narrative work, we inevitably enter into a relationship with the implied author – the image of the author that we construct from the book itself. In espousing an “ethics of fiction,” Booth urges us to consider the ethical quality of our relationships with the implied authors whose company we keep as we are reading. This involves not so much an aesthetic judgment – is a work good or bad? – but an ethical one: are we our best selves as we follow the story and worldview of this or that implied author?
This approach to the Gospel left me in a quandary. From a 21st-century perspective, the implied author of the Fourth Gospel, or John, as I have come to think of him, does not necessarily bring out the best in its readers. Although he presents an exalted vision of life and faith, he is also dogmatic, dismissive of those who disagree with him, and incapable of seeing things from a perspective different from his own. Those who read this Gospel in a compliant way risk absorbing its negative assessment of the Jews and all others who do not believe its claims about Jesus as messiah and Son of God. On the other hand, if we situate him within a first-century context, we might cut him some slack as someone who is attempting to convey his sincere convictions to an audience that may or may not be receptive. As a scholar, I might be able to explain his arrogance as insecurity, and his narrowness of vision as single-minded conviction. As a Jew who is neither persuaded by nor receptive to John’s overall message, I am put off by his stance even as I attempt to understand it.
It is now more than sixteen years since that attempt to “befriend the Beloved Disciple.” In the interim, I have indulged my curiosity through various projects. In the field of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, I studied the history and reception history of the high priest Caiaphas, including the Gospels, historiography, art, literature, film and drama. My service teaching on biblical movies resulted in several books on Bible and film, involving a lengthy, engrossing, and ongoing process of self-education in film studies. For the past four years or so I have been immersing myself in French-language films made in Quebec, with particular focus on the tension between religion and secularism that is a factor not only in cinema but also in Quebec society. This topic demonstrates the ways in which research interests can stem not only from personal identity factors such as gender, religious affiliation, and so on, but from geographical location: I doubt that it would have occurred to me to study these films had I not moved in 2005 to work at a bilingual French-English university in downtown Ottawa, within walking distance of the border between Ontario and Quebec.
At the same time as I worked on these other projects, however, I continued to think, read, and write about the Gospel of John. I clearly wasn’t done with this Gospel just yet. In particular, I continued to ponder the hypothesis that had become all but axiomatic, at least in North American Johannine scholarship: that the Gospel was written within and for an existing “Johannine community” of Jewish Christ-confessors who had been expelled from the synagogue on account of their confession of Jesus as the Messiah. J.L. Martyn’s book History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel articulated this hypothesis most persuasively. Although not all scholars accepted all of its details, Martyn’s overall theory was endorsed by R. E. Brown, D. Moody Smith, and numerous other scholars, and embraced as “gospel truth” in New Testament introductory textbooks and specialized studies alike.
Initially I too was persuaded. Martyn’s book was refreshing and exciting; it brought to life an ancient community, its desires, its aspirations, and its traumas. But over time, and even before Befriending was published, I had become less and less convinced by the hypothesis, on historical, literary, and ethical grounds. And I had become concerned that the field had by and large closed off other avenues of exploration. In 2006 I decided it was not enough to keep repeating my critique of the expulsion hypothesis; it was time to try my hand at an alternative reading of the Gospel.
This task turned out to be far more difficult than I had initially supposed, involving several dead ends, and some years off to work on other, less frustrating projects. The breakthrough came when I was finally prepared to rethink not only Martyn’s assumptions but also my own presuppositions regarding the nature of this Gospel and to broaden the hypotheses that I myself was willing to consider. In doing so, I had to let go of some of my previous conclusions. In particular, I revised my earlier perspective on the Gospel as a three-level narrative. It is clear to me now that the Gospel has only two levels: the historical (i.e., the story of Jesus) and the cosmological. The ecclesiological level is a scholarly construct that is absent from the Gospel itself. There is no clear internal nor external evidence that the Gospel is addressing a Johannine community that already exists; rather, I argue, it is attempting, rhetorically, to create a new community, of those who hear this gospel and believe what it has to say about the role of Jesus in the cosmological relationship between God and the world.
Second, I had to re-examine the consensus view, which I had formerly accepted, that the Gospel intended to strengthen the faith of those who already believed. I now began to consider the possibility that the Gospel, as a powerful rhetorical document, may have been intended to persuade those who were not yet believers. Furthermore, I had to let go of the idea that the primary intended audience was Jewish; it now seemed to me just as likely that the audience was Gentile. Finally, whereas I had agreed with the majority of scholars that the Gospel was both profoundly Jewish at the same time as it included many anti-Jewish statements, I now believe that even the Jewish elements of the Gospel are mobilized rhetorically for anti-Jewish purposes. In effect, the Gospel constructs a rhetorical “parting of the ways” between Christ-confessors and the ioudaioi – Jews who, in John’s view, should have believed but did not. The relationship between this rhetorical “parting” and the historical processes by which Christ-confessors became “Christians” who saw themselves as separate from and opposed to Jews remains murky. But it strikes me as significant that a late first century Gospel already promoted the view that Christ-confessors and ioudaioi were mutually exclusive categories.
Whether any of my fellow John scholars are persuaded by any of the above remains to be seen. For my part, I am satisfied that I have said what I can, and want, to say about this Gospel. Aside from my growing discomfort with John’s anti-Jewish language, I have gained much from my longstanding relationship with this Gospel, including a community of scholars whom I value and respect. Even as I am eager to turn to other texts and other projects, I know I will continue to think, speak and write about this Gospel, as occasion arises.
 For its longstanding support of this and, indeed, most of my academic work over many years, I express my sincere gratitude to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, as well as the McMaster University (1987-2002), Wilfrid Laurier University (2002-2005), and the University of Ottawa (2005 to the present).
 Adele Reinhartz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John (New York: Continuum, 2001).
 There is an enormous amount of literature on the meaning and correct translation of this term. For a succinct and readable survey, see Adele Reinhartz, “The Vanishing Jews of Antiquity,” Marginalia Review of Books, June 24, 2014, http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/vanishing-jews-antiquity-adele-reinhartz/ and the Forum that grew from that article: “Jew and Judean: A Forum on Politics and Historiography in the Translation of Ancient Texts,” The Marginalia Review of Books, accessed August 26, 2014, http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/jew-judean-forum/. See also Malcolm F. Lowe, “Who Were the 'Ioudaioi?",” Novum Testamentum 18, no. 2 (1976): 101–30; Urban C Von Wahlde, “The Johannine Jews: A Critical Survey,” New Testament Studies 28, no. 01 (1982); Urban C. Von Wahlde, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John: Fifteen Years of Research (1983-1998),” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 76 (2000): 30–55; Steve Mason, “Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period 38 (2007): 457–512; “Jew and Judean.”
 I did not publish my dissertation as such but I wrote two articles based on my doctoral research. Adele Reinhartz, “Great Expectations: A Reader-Oriented Approach to Johannine Christology and Eschatology,” Literature Theology Literature and Theology 3, no. 1 (1989): 61–76; A Reinhartz, “Jesus as Prophet: Predictive Prolepses in the Fourth Gospel,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 11, no. 36 (1989): 3–16.
 Adele Reinhartz, The Word in the World: The Cosmological Tale in the Fourth Gospel (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1992).
 In contrast to some of my colleagues, I remain agnostic on the question of whether John preserves materials that shed light on the historical Jesus. For the opposing view, see, for example, the essays in Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just, and Tom Thatcher, John, Jesus, and History (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Lit, 2007).
 J. Louis Martyn, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel, 3rd edition (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003). The first two editions came out in 1969 and 1978.
 Adele Reinhartz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John (New York: Continuum, 2001). In between, I enjoyed a foray into the role of anonymous characters in biblical narrative from Genesis through 2 Kings, a complex but very enjoyable project that resulted in a book entitled Why Ask My Name?: Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).
 Wayne C Booth and University of California Press, The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2014; originally 1988). Carol Newsom’s 1995 Craigie Lecture at the CSBS annual meeting was entitled, “The Book of Job and the Remaking of the Moral Imagination.” See also Carol A. Newsom, “Re-Considering Job,” Currents in Research 5, no. 2 (February 1, 2007): 155–82, https://doi.org/10.1177/1476993X06073806.
 Adele Reinhartz, Caiaphas the High Priest (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011).
 Adele Reinhartz, Scripture on the Silver Screen (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003); Adele Reinhartz, Jesus of Hollywood (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Adele Reinhartz, Bible and Cinema: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2013).
 Raymond Edward Brown and Francis J Moloney, An Introduction to the Gospel of John (New York: Doubleday, 2003); Raymond Edward Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist Press, 1979); D. Moody Smith, John among the Gospels (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2001); Bart D Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 6th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).
 On the rhetorical power of Martyn’s book, see Adele Reinhartz, “Story and History: John, Judaism, and the Historical Imagination,” in John and Judaism: A Contested Relationship in Context, ed. R. Alan Culpepper and Paul N Anderson (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2017), 113–26, http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=5102780.
 Adele Reinhartz, “The Johannine Community and Its Jewish Neighbors: A Reappraisal,” in What Is John? (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1998), 111–38.
Adele Reinhartz, PhD (McMaster University, 1983) is Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, in Canada. She has also held a number of visiting positions, including Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, and most recently, at the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. Adele is also the General Editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature (2012-18). Her main areas of research are New Testament, early Jewish-Christian relations, and the Bible and Film. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John (Continuum, 2001), Jesus of Hollywood (Oxford, 2007), Caiaphas the High Priest (University of South Carolina Press, 2011; Fortress 2012) and Bible and Cinema: An Introduction (Routledge, 2013). Her forthcoming book is entitled Cast Out of the Covenant: Jews and Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John (Lexington/Fortress, 2018). Adele was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2005 and to the American Academy of Jewish Research in 2014.
You can visit her website at www.adelereinhartz.com