Caldwell Academy, Greensboro, NC, USA
The resolution to the apparently synonymous usage of the φιλία/φιλέω and ἀγάπη/ἀγαπάω word clusters in the Gospel of John lies in the Aristotelian discourse about ‘friendship’, as the author of the Gospel sees it intersect with the Christ-event. The Gospel author coordinates the Hellenistic preference for φιλέω and Jewish-Christian preference for ἀγαπάω as the highest forms of love, yet revises Aristotelian φιλία by subsuming it under Christian ἀγάπη, by dissolving Aristotle’s view of unequal friendships and by reconfiguring divinization as the greatest good one should desire for a friend, against Aristotle’s own view. The two terms are rendered fully synonymous by the Gospel’s conclusion, but especially in light of the death and resurrection— the divinization of Jesus— and in the discourse between Peter and Jesus in John 21, thereby bringing together Athens and Jerusalem.
'His Blood on Us and on Our Children' (Mt. 27.25) is Modeled on Oedipus's Unwitting Kinship Oath to His Father in Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus
White Plains, NY, USA
Once one realizes that the people’s oath, 'His blood on us and on our children' (Mt. 27.25), is an oath of kinship with Jesus, that ironically accepts Jesus’ offer of his blood, it becomes apparent that the oaths of Pilate and the Jewish people have the same formulae as the oaths of Oedipus and the Theban people in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. Both narratives present a foreign tyrant interacting with a subject domestic community exchanging distinctive two-part oaths of complete non-involvement and complete involvement. These particular formulae are not found combined together anywhere else in ancient literature, though innuendo of incest by powerful politicians was common. And, classical allusions, particularly of Theban material, were highly fashionable as a relative safe haven for anti-imperial Roman political criticism. Contemporaneous with Matthew, Statius alludes to Caesar Domitian as Oedipus.
Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, WI, USA
This paper addresses two questions in connection with a Roman lady of around 57 CE who has been claimed to be an early Christian at various times. That she was one is ultimately unknowable given the very limited information we have from Tacitus. However, it is possible to ask how a person of her exalted rank might have heard about Christians and what exactly it meant to be a Christian in Rome at that time. The paper looks at not just how she might have heard about Christians but who she would have been likely to listen to, and what ‘Christian’ could have meant before councils and creeds and even the Gospels.
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada