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Mary in St John's Gospel
Ever since the New Testament was completed, commentators have indulged in finding in it what is not in the texts. It is called eisegesis. Anne Lastman has exhibited this tendency in her "The mother of Jesus in St John's Gospel" ( AD2000, October 2014).
Her thesis is that Mary in this Gospel has a "pivotal role". In support, she cites the only two references to Mary in the Gospel: (1) at the marriage feast of Cana (John 2:1-12) and (2) when Mary stood at the foot of the cross and Jesus said to the beloved disciple, "Behold your mother."
At the marriage feast at Cana Mary said to Jesus, "They have no wine", and to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Mrs Lastman correctly points out that the first quotation does not constitute a demand but is a statement, merely drawing Jesus' attention to an embarrassing fact.
"Do whatever he tells you" does no more than advise the servants to have confidence in Jesus' capacity to fix the problem. Remember that at this stage Mary had no idea that Jesus could perform miracles.
So far it is difficult to find any evidence which supports the contention that she played a pivotal role in the Gospel story.
At the foot of the cross were three Marys (John 19:25-27), one being the mother of Jesus who did not speak.
Referring to her, Jesus said to the beloved disciple, "Behold your mother", which must mean, "Look after her as if she were your mother", and to his mother, "Woman, behold your son", which can be paraphrased as "Care for him as if he were your son ."
We lack any information on how Mary and the disciple thereafter treated each other. Are we supposed to think that Mary thus played a "pivotal role"?
St John's Gospel lacks any account of the birth and infancy of Jesus, so if we stick to the evidence contained in this Gospel we can conclude that his mother's role was not significant.
DR FRANK MOBBS
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 1 (February 2015), p. 16
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