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The Johannine Epistles


And the same writer [Papias] uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.17)

“For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil: and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord for his own lusts, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, – this man is the first-born of Satan.” (Polycarp, To the Philippians; cf. 1 John 4:2-3; 5:6-8; 2 John 7)

  • “I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord.” (Irenaeus’s Letter to Florinus, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.20.6)

“What marvel is it then, if John so consistently mentions these particular points also in his Epistles, saying about himself, ‘What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things we have written to you?’… two of the above-mentioned (or, bearing the name of) John are counted (or, used) in the catholic [Church]” (Muratorian Canon, Lines 27-31, 68)

“And John, the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of ‘good-spped'” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.16.3 [citing 2 John 1:11; cf. 3.16.5 [citing 1 John 2:18-19, 21-22]; cf. 3.16.8 [citing 1 John 4:1-2/2 John 1:7-8; 1 John 5:1])

“John, too, manifestly teaches the differences of sins, in his larger Epistle, in these words…” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 2.15.66 [citing 1 John 5:16-17])

“Following the Gospel according to John, and in accordance with it, this [first] Epistle also contains the spiritual principle… The second Epistle of John, which is written to Virgins, is very simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by name Electa, and indicates the election of the holy Church.” (Clement of Alexandria, Adumbrationes on 1 and 2 John)

“He [John] has left also an epistle of very few lines; perhaps also a second and third; but not all consider them genuine, and together they do not contain hundred lines.” (Origen of Alexandria, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.10)

“But I cannot readily admit that he [the John who wrote Revelation] was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, by whom the Gospel of John and the Catholic Epistles were written” (Dionysius of Alexandria, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 7.25.7, notes the differences between the Johannine Gospel and Epistles from Revelation in terms of authorial self-identification, vocabulary, and style)

“But of the writings of John, not only his Gospel, but also the former of his epistles, has been accepted without dispute both now and in ancient times. But the other two are disputed… next in order the extant former epistle of John [is undisputed]… those that are called the second and third of John [are disputed], whether they belong to the evangelist or another person of the same name.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.24.17; 3.25.2)

“He [John the apostle whom Jesus most loved] wrote also one Epistle which begins as follows ‘that which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes and our hands handled concerning the word of life’ [1 John 1:1] which is esteemed of by all men who are interested in the church or in learning. The other two of which the first is ‘The elder to the elect lady and her children’ [2 John 1:1] and the other ‘The elder unto Gaius the beloved whom I love in the truth’ [3 John 1:1] are said to be the work of John the presbyter to the memory of whom another sepulchre is shown at Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist.” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 9)

  • “‘But whenever someone who had followed the presbyters came along, I [Papias] would carefully ask about the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter had said or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord, and which Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord say too’… It is also worth calling attention here to his listing the name of John twice, as he includes the first John with Peter and James and Matthew and the remaining apostles, clearly indicating the evangelist, but the other John, with separate wording, he places among the others outside the number of the apostles, and putting Aristion before him, he clearly calls him a presbyter… for it is likely that the second, unless someone should prefer the first, beheld the revelation that is circulated under the name of John.” (Papias of Hierapolis and extra commentary from Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.4-6)
  • “And these things are borne witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.33.4)


  • The Apostle John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” who leaned back against Jesus at the last supper (cf. John 13:23), published the Gospel and then the Epistles during his stay in Ephesus according to church tradition.
  • Some scholars identify the “elder” or “presbyter” in 2 John 1:1 and 3 John 1:1 with Papias’s “Elder John.” They note the parallels that Papias’s fragments have with the Johannine corpus including the seven “disciples” rather than “apostles” (cf. the order of the first four fits John 1:40-44 and 11:16, but the Gospel omits James, John, Matthew, and Aristion and the Elder John may not be in John 21:2), the Fourth Gospel’s excellent chronological and rhetorical arrangement, and the language of commandments given to the faith and in accordance with the truth.
  • Should πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) be translated as a title of an official ecclesiastical office (“presbyter”) or as an “elder” or “senior.” Note that this figure remains anonymous, though his identity was known to his addressees.
  • Does the “we” (an authoritative “I”, a “dissociative “we” connecting the author to like-minded colleagues, or an “associative we” connecting the author to the readers?) in 1 John 1:1-3 imply that the author was an eyewitness to the historical Jesus or was he just borrowing the language of the prologue to John’s Gospel to insist that they are guarding the communal tradition that was handed down from the beginning?
  • Do the similarities and differences (generic, vocabulary, style, themes) between the Johannine Epistles support or rule out common authorship? The same question can be applied to the sender of the Epistles and the evangelist behind John’s Gospel.


  • 1 John lacks any kind of epistolary features such as an address and may have been a tractate or sermon addressing a specific situation among a network of domestic congregations, while both 2 and 3 John conform to the epistolary format (length, sender, addressees, thanksgiving and blessings, body, conclusion, benediction).
  • ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ (eklektē kyria) or “To the elect lady” (2 John 1:1; it is less likely that ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ should be translated as a personal name such as the “lady Electra” or the “elect Kyria”): was this a prominent individual or a symbol for a church? Note the reference to the elect lady’s sister (biological sister or fellow church?) and children (biological children or faithful believers) in verses 1, 4, and 13.
  • 3 John 1:1 was addressed to a householder named Gaius.
  • Ephesus: supported by the church tradition about the Apostle John in Ephesus (cf. Irenaeus, Polycrates, the Acts of John) and its impact in Asia Minor (e.g. the Quartodeciman crisis), the positive reception of a Johannine epistle by Papias of Hierapolis and Polycarp of Smyrna, the existence of a Johannine “school” or network of congregations may explain the similarities and differences between the Gospels/Epistles/book of Revelation, and the cultural milieu may account for some of the features of Johannine literature (e.g. competition with local synagogues and other Graeco-Roman socio-religious formations, possible affinities of the opponents of 1 John with Cerinthus of Ephesus).
  • Alexandria: supported by the manuscript evidence from Egypt, the affinities of the Johannine Prologue (John 1:1-18; 1 John 1:1-3) with the theology of Philo of Alexandria on the Logos, the spiritualizing or allegorical hermeneutic, and the schism in 1 John as a precursor to the rival interpretations of John’s Gospel by proto-Orthodox and “Gnostic” (e.g. Valentinian) interpreters.
  • Syria: supported by the affinities of John’s Gospel with the Syriac Odes of Solomon and Ignatius of Antioch, including the possible affinities of the opponents of 1 John with the “docetists” who viewed Jesus as a phantom who only seemed or appeared (from the Greek δοκέω) to suffer (Ignatius, To the Smyreans 2.1).


  • Papias of Hierapolis seems to establish the terminus ad quem (“limit to which”) and his five-volume work Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord has been dated in the first quarter of the second century CE with an increasing majority dating it around 110 CE.
  • There is debate over whether the Epistles postdate an earlier version or final edition of John’s Gospel, even constituting an orthodox commentary on it (e.g. reasserting the incarnation and vicarious death of Jesus against those whose divine Christology devalued Jesus’s earthly existence in 1 John 2:1-2; 4:2-3, 10; 5:6-7; 2 John 1:7), or whether they predated the Gospel (e.g. more primitive features such as the prologue in 1 John 1:1-3 or the apocalyptic eschatology in 2:18, 28; 3:2; 4:17). See my bullet points on the date of John’s Gospel.


  • There has been a schism involving a dispute over Christology (1 John 2:22; 4:1-3; 5:1, 6, 10; 2 John 7) and ethics (1 John 1:8, 10; 2:9-11, 19; 3:8, 10, 17; 4:6, 20) and the author’s opponents are labelled as “anti-christs.”
    • Denying Jesus is the Christ or rejecting the Son (1 John 2:22-23; 4:3; 5:1): this would seem to apply to non-Christ believing Jews (cf. John 9:22; 12:42; 16:22) or non-Jews, but it may also be general polemic against fellow Christ-believers who disagree with the author’s particular conception of Christology.
    • Deny Jesus has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7): “Gnostic” or demiurgical theologians, Ignatius’s docetists, those who hold a “separationist Christology” where the human Jesus was possessed by a spiritual entity called “Christ” (e.g. Cerinthus), or those who devalued Jesus’s earthly life and vicarious death in favour of his status as heavenly revealer of the Father or dispenser of the Spirit?
    • Alternating accusations of perfectionism or breaking his commandments (1:6, 8; 2:4, 29; 3:4-10, 24; 5:2-3, 18; 2 John 1:6, 9): stock polemic about morally libertine behaviour or ties to the opponents devaluing of earthly existence including legal or moral codes due to their supposed direct communion with the Father and the indwelling Spirit.
    • The love command (1:7-11; 3:11-17, 23; 4:7-8, 20-21; 2 John 1:5-6; cf. John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17): the opponents have broken the unity of the Johannine network of believers.
  • 2 John encourages the elect lady and her children (see discussion of the referent above) to remain united in their obedience to the love command and avoid false teachers who threaten their unity; the itinerant false teachers are not to receive any greetings or hospitality in a household congregation (1:10-11).
  • In contrast to Gaius’s support and hospitality towards the “brothers [and sisters]” who served as itinerant ministers (3 John 1:5-8), Diotrephes has rejected the authority of the “elder” via his letter and missionaries and maligned him (1:9-10). It is uncertain whether the “elder/presbyter” or Diotrephes held an official church office, about who had the higher rank or more established reputation among the network of churches in the area, and whether their dispute was related to the schism in 1-2 John or to another personal, ecclesial, or theological matter.



Jesus and the Gospels: Online Bibliographies

Here are some bibliographies to accompany the unit Jesus and the Gospels:

My Book “The Beloved Apostle?”

My latest book The Beloved Apostle: The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist is now listed on the catalogue for Cascade Books. Here is the description of the contents:

Second-century Christians had a significant role in shaping the import of the literary sources that they inherited from the first century through their editorial revisions and the church traditions that they appended to them. Michael J. Kok critically investigates the supposed clues that encouraged select Christian intellectuals to infer that John, one of Jesus’ chosen twelve apostles, was the mysterious “disciple whom Jesus loved” and to ascribe the fourth canonical Gospel as well as four other New Testament books back to him. Kok outlines how the image of Saint John of Ephesus was constructed. Not all early Christians approved of the fourth canonical Gospel and some expressed strong reservations about its theology, preferring to link it with a heretical adversary rather than with an authoritative Christian founder figure. Discover how the moves made in the second century were crucial for determining whether this Gospel would be preserved at all for posterity, much less as part of the scriptural collection of the developing Orthodox Church.

Here are the endorsements for the book:

“In this compelling volume, Michael Kok enters a conversation fraught with centuries of complications—the identity of John’s beloved disciple. How did it happen that the beloved disciple became synonymous both with John, the son of Zebedee, and the author of the fourth gospel? Kok’s treatment carefully walks the reader through the various traditions, connecting them to the acceptance of John’s Gospel within early expressions of Christian orthodoxy. This is a substantive and worthwhile read!”

—Christopher W. Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Loyola University Chicago

“In The Beloved Apostle? Michael Kok does for the question of the authorship of the Gospel of John what he had previously done for Mark, namely offer an impressively even-handed treatment of both the traditions of the ancient church, and the internal evidence, neither uncritically embracing nor uncritically dismissing the traditional attribution to John the son of Zebedee. I only hope that Kok will go on to provide similar treatments for Matthew and Luke!”

—James McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University

If you are interested in learning more about who was the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in John 13-20, how he became remembered as the creative inspiration for the whole Fourth Gospel (John 21:24), how he became identified with the Apostle John, and why the question of whether the New Testament books were written by apostles or their close associates has mattered to so many ancient and modern readers, I hope you will pick up a copy of the book.

Update: if you are at the SBL/AAR conference, check out the Wipf and Stock Publishers’ booth in the book hall. If you are willing to take a picture displaying the book, you can email it to me and I can post it on this blog if you would like.

The Epistle of James


“Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother… when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised…. for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. (Galatians 1:18-19; 2:9, 12)

“… he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done…” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1)

“James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel… [after throwing James off the temple and stoning him] And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.” (Hegesippus, in Ecclesiastical History 2.23.4-6, 18)

“Listen also to James, the brother of the Lord, testifying in similar fashion when he says, ‘Whoever wants to be a friend of this world makes himself an enemy of God.'” (Origen, Commentary on the Epistle of Romans 4.2)

“To sum up briefly, he [Clement] has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, — I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the so-called Apocalypse of Peter” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.1; cf. Photius, Bibliotheca 109).

“Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.25.3)

“James, who is called the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just, the son of Joseph by another wife, as some think, but, as appears to me, the son of Mary sister of the mother of our Lord of whom John makes mention in his book, after our Lord’s passion at once ordained by the apostles bishop of Jerusalem, wrote a single epistle, which is reckoned among the seven Catholic Epistles and even this is claimed by some to have been published by some one else under his name, and gradually, as time went on, to have gained authority… The Gospel also which is called the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and which I have recently translated into Greek and Latin and which also Origen often makes use of, after the account of the resurrection of the Saviour says, but the Lord, after he had given his grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James (for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he drank the cup of the Lord until he should see him rising again from among those that sleep)” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 2)


  • James, the son of Zebedee, was martyred too early (ca. 41-44 CE) to be the author (Acts 12:2) and we have little information about other candidates (e.g. James the son of Alphaeus, James the father of Judas) besides Jesus’s brother. James does not elaborate on his familial relationship with Jesus either because of authorial modesty or because his reputation was so well-established that he needed no introduction.
  • The address to diaspora Jews (1:1) who meet in a synagogue (2:2), the influence of Jewish wisdom and Jesus traditions, the praise of the “perfect” or “royal” law (1:25; 2:8), the attack on antinomianism (2:8-26), and the rebuke of the rich who oppress their land tenants or labourers (5:1-5) fits a pre-70 Jewish writer from Judaea like James. The text does not address circumcision and kosher food since it presumes the authority of Torah and does not address would-be Gentile proselytes.
  • There are parallels with the letter containing the apostolic decree sent out under the authority of James (Acts 15:23-29; cf. 15:13-21).
  • The text exhibits a range of Greek vocabulary and Hellenistic tropes (e.g. rudder of a ship) and consults the Septuagint, but there are questions about the Greek literacy of the Galilean family members of Jesus. Some neutralize this point by arguing that James used an amanuensis or his preaching was recorded with editorial additions by a literate disciple.
  • There are issues surrounding the dating of the epistle based on its parallels with other literary texts (see below).
  • The external attestation of the text before Origen of Alexandria is not strong, so the text may have been slowly accepted as authoritative and there was some debate in the early church about its authorship.


  • Conjectured dates for the writing of the epistle have ranged from the mid-first to the mid-second century CE.
  • If written by James, the text has to date before his martyrdom around 62 CE. Some scholars (e.g. Daniel B. Wallace) date it even before the question of whether non-Jewish Jesus followers were required to Judaize was debated at the Jerusalem Council (ca. 49 CE).
  • In James 2:8-26, did the writer intend to combat the theology of the Apostle Paul (based on a second-hand report of his preaching or an epistle such as Romans?), of Paulinist’s who misinterpreted Paul’s teaching on justification by faith(fullness), or of Marcion of Sinope who divorced the Christian revelation from its Jewish roots based on an (edited?) version of Paul’s Epistles (cf. David R. Nienhuis)?
  • Is James in touch with oral traditions in a pre-Matthean form (see Mark Allan Powell’s “Parallels between James and the Sermon on the Mount“)?
  • Is there a literary relationship between James and 1 Peter, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas and, if so, what is the direction of influence? Or are the parallels based on shared traditions or a common cultural milieu? See the parallels between James and 1 Peter listed by Dale Allison and the analysis in The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers and The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers.
  • There is debate about the external attestation of the text before Origen (ca. 184-254 CE) and the earliest manuscript evidence from the third century CE is P20, P23, and P100.


“To the twelve tribes in the dispersion” (James 1:1)

  • A general Christian audience: note how 1 Peter addresses a predominantly non-Jewish, Christ-following audience with Israelite and exile imagery (1 Pet 1:1, 17; 2:9-11; 5:13).
  • A Jewish Christian audience: the authority of James, a straightforward reading of the epistolary address, the influence of Jesus’s ethical teachings, and the intra-Christian debate with Paulinism.
  • A non-Christian Jewish audience: some scholars even went as far to argue that the text was a synagogue homily that has been lightly Christianized in 1:1 and 2:1; the parousia (“coming”) of the kyrios (“Lord”) could be taken in reference to either God or Jesus (5:7; cf. 5:4, 7-9).


  • Primarily ethical exhortation rather than a systematic theological or Christological treatise.
  • A mere expression of belief (e.g. confession of the Shema or the oneness of God) is insufficient if it is not accompanied by action (2:14-26). The examples given are biblical (e.g. Abraham offering his son and Rahab protecting the spies) and practical (e.g. well-wishes to the poor without providing for their material needs).
  • Traditional wisdom and (eschatological) retribution theology: asking for wisdom (1:5; 3:13, 15, 17-18), obedience to the law (1:22-25; 2:10-13; 4:11), self-control over emotions (1:19-21), caring for the poor and showing non-partiality (1:17-18, 27; 2:1-6, 8-9, 15-16), taming the tongue (1:26; 3:1-12), avoiding envy and dissension (3:14-16; 4:1-2, 11-12; 5:9), having resolve without double-mindedness (1:5-8; 4:8; 5:12), and requesting prayer and healing (5:13-18). Innocent suffering in trials and temptations are acknowledged, including the biblical example of Job, but they have a character strengthening function (1:2-4, 12-16; 5:7-11).
  • Countercultural wisdom: prophetic denunciations of rich oppressors and the accumulation of wealth (1:9-11; 2:6-7; 4:3-4, 9-10, 13-16; 5:1-6).

“Jesus and the Gospels” Course

I have posted all my notes for the “Jesus and the Gospels” unit under the tab “My Courses.” Every one of these posts is open to revision as I learn more through reading, constructive feedback, or classroom comments. Over the next months, I will try to post lecture notes for my other main unit on the “Early New Testament Church” that covers the history of the early church according to the book of Acts, the New Testament Epistles and Apocalypse, and the process of canonization.

Christology and (Human, Angelic, Divine) Intermediary Agents: A Bibliography

*Note: this is a preliminary bibliography that will be continually revised and aims to assist you in your study of Christology and the human, angelic, and divine intermediary agents in Second Temple Judaism and the early Christ movement. Email any suggestions that could be added to the bibliography.


Barker, Margaret. The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God. London: SPCK, 1992.

Barker, Margaret. The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 1985.

Bates, Matthew. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament and Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Bauckham, Richard. God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008.

Bird, Michael F. Are You the One Who is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

Bird, Michael F. Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels. Downers Grove: IVP, 2012.

Bird, Michael F. Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christologies. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.

Boccaccini, Gabriele. Editor. Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Bockmuehl, Markus. This Jesus: Martyr, Lord, Messiah. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994.

Boring, M. Eugene. “Markan Christology: God Language for Jesus?” New Testament Studies 45 (1999): 451-71.

Bousset, Wilhelm. Kyrios Christos: A History of the Belief in Christ from the Beginnings of Christianity to Irenaeus. Translated by John E. Steely. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2013.

Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2004.

Brown, Raymond. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulinist, 1994.

Burkett, Delbert. The Son of Man Debate: A History and Evaluation. SNTSMS 107. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Capes, David B. Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992.

Casey, Maurice. From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God: The Origins and Development of New Testament Christology. Cambridge: James Clarke and Co, 1991.

Casey, Maurice. The Solution to the Son of Man Problem. LNTS 343; London: T&T Clark, 2007.

Charlesworth, J. H. Editor. The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

Chester, Andrew. Messiah and Exaltation: Jewish Messianic and Visionary Traditions and New Testament Christology. WUNT I.207. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

Collins, John J. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Collins, Adela, and Collins, John. King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Collins, Adela. “Mark and his Readers: The Son of God among Jews” Harvard Theological Review 92.4 (1999): 393-408.

Collins, Adela. “Mark and his Readers: The Son of God among Greeks and Romans.” Harvard Theological Review 93.2 (2000): 85-100.

Cotter, Wendy J. The Christ of the Miracle Stories: Portrait through Encounter. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.

Cullmann, Oscar. The Christology of the New Testament. Translated by Shirley Guthrie and Charles Hall. London: SCM, 1959.

Douglas, Sally. Early Church Understandings of Jesus as the Female Divine: The Scandal of the Scandal of Particularity. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016. 

Dunn, James. Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation. Second Edition. London: SCM, 1989.

Dunn, James. Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence. London: Westminster John Knox, 2010.

Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014.

Endo, Masanobu. Creation and Christology: A Study on the Johannine Prologue in the Light of Early Jewish Creation Accounts. WUNT II.149. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002.

Eskola, Timo. Messiah and the Throne. Jewish Merkbah Mysticism and Early Christian Exaltation Discourse. WUNT 2.142. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.

Fee, Gordon D. Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The One who is to Come. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Fletcher-Louis, Crispin. Jesus Monotheism Volume 1, Christological Origins: The Emerging Consensus and Beyond. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2015.

Fossum, Jarl E. The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1985.

Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ. Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Fuller, Reginald H. The Foundations of NT Christology. New York: Scribner, 1965.

Gathercole, Simon J. The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

Gaventa, Beverly R., and Hays, Richard B. Editors. Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Geddert, Timothy J. “The Implied Yhwh Christology of Mark’s Gospel: Mark’s Challenge to the Reader to ‘Connect the Dots.’” Bulletin for Biblical Research 25 (2015): 325-40.

Gieschen, Charles A. Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence. AGJU 42; Leiden: Brill, 1998.

Grindheim, Sigurd. God’s Equal: What can we Know about Jesus’ Self-Understanding in the Synoptic Gospels? LNTS 446. London: T&T Clark, 2011.

Hamerton-Kelly, R. G. Pre-Existence, Wisdom, and the Son of Man: A Study of the Idea of PreExistence in the New Testament. Society of New Testament Studies Monograph Series 21. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

Hannah, Darrell. Michael and Christ: Michael Traditions and Angel Christology in Early Christianity. WUNT 2.109. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999.

Harnack, Adolf. A History of Dogma, Volume 1. Translated by Neil Buchanan. New York: Dover, 1961.

Harvey, A. E. Jesus and the Constraints of History. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.

Hayman, Peter. “Monotheism—A Misused Word in Jewish Studies.” Journal of Jewish Studies 42 (1991): 1–15

Hays, Richard. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Heiser, Michael S. “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Literature.” PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin. 2004.

Hengel, Martin. The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion. London: SCM, 1976.

Henrichs-Tarasenkova, Nina. Luke’s Christology of Divine Identity. LNTS 542. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Hillar, Marian. From Logos to Trinity: The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian. Cambridge; New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Himmelfarb, Martha. Jewish Messiahs in a Christian Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017.

Holladay, Carl R. Theios aner in Hellenistic-Judaism: a critique of the use of this category in New Testament Christology. Missoula: Scholar’s Press, 1977.

Hooker, Morna. The Son of Man in Mark: A Study of the Background of the Term ‘Son of Man’ and Its Use in St. Mark’s Gospel. London: SPCK, 1967.

Horbury, William. Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ. London: SCM, 1998.

Hurtado, Larry W. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Hurtado, Larry W. One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. Third Edition. London; New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Johannson, Daniel. “Who Can Forgive Sins but God Alone?: Human and Angelic Agents, and Divine Forgiveness in Early Judaism.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33 (2011): 351-74.

Johannson, Daniel. “Kyrios in the Gospel of Mark.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33 (2010): 101-24.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology. New York: Crossroad, 1995.

Jonge, Marinus de. “The Use of the Word ‘Anointed’ in the Time of Jesus.” Novum Testamentum 8 (1966): 132-148.

Jonge, Marinus de. Christology in Context: The Earliest Christian Response to Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.

Juel, Donald. Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

Kaiser, Christopher B. Seeing the Lord’s Glory: Kyriocentric Visions and the Dilemma of Early Christology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014.

Keith, Chris and Roth, Dieter T. Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado. LNTS 58; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015.

Kingsbury, Jack Dean. The Christology of Mark’s Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.

Kirk, Daniel and Young, Stephen L. “I Will Set his Hand to the Sea: Psalm 88:26 (LXX) and Christology in Mark.” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 333–40.

Kirk, J. R. Daniel.  A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.

Klausner, Joseph. The Messianic Idea in Israel: From Its Beginning to the Completion of the Mishnah. New York: Macmillan Company, 1955.

Kok, Michael. “Marking a Difference: The Gospel of Mark and the “Early High Christology” Paradigm.” Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting 3 (2016):

Lee, Aquila H. I. From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus’ Self Consciousness and Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms. WUNT II.192. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Lee, Simon S. Jesus’ Transfiguration and the Believers’ Transformation: A Study of the Transfiguration and Its Development in Early Christian Writings. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

Litwa, M. David. IESUS DEUS: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014.

Loader, William. Jesus in John’s Gospel: Structures and Issues in Johannine Christology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.

Longenecker, Richard N. The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity. London: SCM, 1970.

Longenecker, Richard N. Editor. Contours of Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

MacDonald, Nathan. Deuteronomy and the Meaning of “Monotheism.” Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Marcus, Joel. The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark. London: T&T Clark International, 1992.

Marshall, I. Howard. The Origins of New Testament Christology. London: IVP, 1976.

Matera, Frank. New Testament Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

McDonough, Sean M. Christ as Creator: Origins of a New Testament Doctrine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

McGrath, James F. John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

McGrath, James F. The One True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Moule, C. F. D. The Origin of Christology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Meeks, Wayne A. The Prophet-King: Moses Traditions and the Johannine Christology. NovTSup 14. Leiden: Brill, 1967.

Moss, Candida. “The Transfiguration: An Exercise in Markan Accommodation.” Biblical Interpretation 12 (2004): 69-89.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. He That Cometh. The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism.  Oxford: Blackwell, 1956.

Müller, Mogens. The Expression ‘Son of Man’ and the Development of Christology: A History of Interpretation. London: Equinox, 2008.

Neusner, Jacob. Messiah in Context: Israel’s History and Destiny in Formative Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.

Neusner, J., Green, W. S., and Frerichs, E. Editors. Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Newman, Carey C., James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis. Editors. The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

Nickelsburg, George and John J. Collins, eds. Ideal Figures in Ancient Judaism. Chico: Scholars Press, 1980.

Novenson, Matthew V. Christ among the Messiahs: Christ Language in Paul and Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Novenson, Matthew V. The Grammar of Messianism: An Ancient Jewish Political Idiom and its Users. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

O’Collins, Gerald. Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 107. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Papandrea, James L. The Earliest Christologies: Five Images of Christ in the Postapostolic Age. Downers Grove: IVP, 2016.

Peppard, Michael. The Son of God in the Roman World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Porter, Stanley E. Editor. The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Powell, Mark Allan, and Bauer, David R. Editors. Who Do You Say That I Am? Essays on Christology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999.

Rainbow, Paul. “Jewish Monotheism as a Matrix for New Testament Christology: A Review Article.” Novum Testamentum 33 (1991): 78-91.

Rowe, C. Kavin. Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2006.

Rowland, Christopher. The Open Heaven. A Study of Apocalyptic Judaism and Christianity. New York: Crossroads, 1982.

Scholem, Gershom. The Messianic Idea and Other Essays.  New York: Schocken, 1971.

Segal, Alan F. Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism. Leiden: Brill, 1977.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. Angel Veneration and Christology: A Study in Early Judaism and in the Christology of the Apocalypse of John. WUNT 2.70. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. and North, Wendy E. S. Editors. Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism. JSNTSupp 263. London: T&T Clark, 2004.

Talbert, Charles H. The Development of Christology during the First Hundred Years: and Other Essays on Early Christian Christology. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 140. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Tilling, Chris. Paul’s Divine Christology. WUNT 323. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

Tuckett, Christopher M. Christology and the New Testament: Jesus and His Earliest Followers. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.

Vermes, Geza. Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea. London: Penguin, 2012.

Vermes, Geza. The Changing Faces of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2000.

Waddell, James. The Messiah: A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013.

Watts, Rikki E. Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Wink, Walter. The Human Being: The Enigma of the Son of Man. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.

 Witherington III, Ben. Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994.
Witherington III, Ben. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990.

Wright, N. T. Paul and the Faithfulness of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 4. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013.

Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

Zetterholm, Magnus. Editor. The Messiah in Early Judaism and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.

Other helpful bibliographies:

My Review of “Jesus the Eternal Son” for RBECS

My review of Michael F. Bird’s Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology (Eerdmans, 2017) has been posted at the online publication Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies. You can get a preview of Bird’s argument in his interviews for Eerdmans and the OnScript podcast and his post at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins blog. His own popular blog is entitled Euangelion (“Gospel”). I wanted to write this review not only to evaluate Bird’s well-argued case that what is typically labelled as “adoptionism” (i.e. the notion that Jesus was merely human and transformed into the divine Son at his baptism or his resurrection) does not surface until the late second century CE, but also to reflect on the valuable conversation between the historical study of what different individuals or groups believed about Jesus at different times and places with the theological study about what Christians who embrace the whole canon and creeds confess about Him.

Another Conference Paper on John of Patmos

Did I mention in the last post that I am writing a book about how the Apostle John came to be remembered as the author of the Fourth Gospel? Well, he also came to be remembered as the author of three New Testament Epistles and the book of Revelation. For another piece of the puzzle, I am planning to present the following paper at The Bible and Critical Theory Seminar in Perth, Australia if it gets accepted. I plan to go either way, so maybe some readers will be interested in checking out this conference too.

Competing Authorial Traditions about John of Patmos and the Mixed Patristic Reception of the Book of Revelation

As early as Justin Martyr, the Apostle John was understood to be the one who prophesied about Christ’s millennial reign before the final judgment (Dial. 81.4; cf. Rev 20:1-6). Dionysius of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea, on the other hand, distanced the John who recorded his visions on the island of Patmos from the prominent apostle of the same name (Eccl. Hist. 3.39.6; 7.25.7, 12). Finally, Gaius of Rome and some Alexandrian critics of the bishop Nepos independently attest to the charge that Revelation was forged by the arch-heretic Cerinthus (Eccl. Hist. 3.28.2-5; 7.25.2-3). These three distinct authorial traditions were partially based on whether the book of Revelation, with its obscure apocalyptic imagery and chiliastic theology, found a receptive or a hostile audience. I will explicate the claims and counterclaims about the legitimate authorship of Revelation in light of the theoretical discussion surrounding the ideological function of authorial claims.


Abstract for my SBL Paper

Update: I am no longer able to make it to this year’s SBL conference due to my upcoming big move in the new year, but the panel will arrange for someone to read my paper below if you are still interested in attending (and critiquing it since I am not there to defend it :D). If you are interested in learning more about this topic, my book The Beloved Apostle? The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist will be out soon.

The program book for the upcoming 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston is available online. Here is the information for the session I will be speaking at:

Inventing Christianity: Apostolic Fathers, Apologists, and Martyrs


4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Room: Room TBD – Clarendon (Third Level) – Sheraton Boston Hotel (SB)

Theme: Second-Century Reconstructions of the Past

Stephanie Cobb, University of Richmond, Presiding

Matthew R. Crawford, Australian Catholic University: Forbidden Angelic Knowledge in 1 Enoch and Tatian the Assyrian (30 min)

J. Christopher Edwards, St. Francis College: The Polemical Function of Jesus in the Epistle of Barnabas (30 min)

Michael J. Kok, The King’s University: The Patristic Reception of the “Elder John” (30 min)

Diane Lipsett, Salem College, Respondent (30 min)

Business Meeting (30 min)

Here is the abstract for my presentation at the upcoming Society of Biblical Literature Meeting in November:

The Patristic Reception of the ‘Elder John’

The Papian fragment cited in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 3.39.4 has caused major interpretative difficulties. Were Papias’s “elders” a special class of ecclesiastical presbyters who ranked beneath and were appointed by the apostles? Or did the “elders” stand in an appositional relationship to the “disciples of the Lord,” meaning that Papias was simply restating his goal to ascertain the elder’s (i.e. disciple’s) words or what they had said? The second question is whether the same John was mentioned twice, the first time as part of the seven disciples who had passed away and the second time as one of the two remaining disciples who were still alive in Papias’s time, or whether the disciple John and the elder John were two separate individuals. However one resolves these translation issues, this paper will explore the Patristic reception of Papias’s mysterious informant on the evangelists Mark and Matthew (H.E. 3.39.15-16). Although A. C. Perumalil (1980) and Richard Bauckham (2006, 2007) have argued via different routes that Irenaeus maintained the distinction between the apostle John and the elder John, Lorne Zelyck (2016) has reiterated that Irenaeus probably assumed that the apostle John inaugurated a line of apostolic succession in Asia Minor through the bishops Papias and Polycarp (A.H. 3.3.4; 5.33.4) and legitimated the fourth canonical Gospel by recourse to its apostolic origins (3.1.1). I would add that there is also no additional information to be gleaned about the “elder John” from Polycrates of Ephesus (Eusebius, H.E. 3.31.3; 5.24.2) or from the Muratorian Canon. Finally, Eusebius and Jerome may not have manufactured the second John since they had access to Papias’s five-volume treatise, but their biases are displayed when they assigned the book of Revelation or the Johannine epistles to this anonymous elder in order to downgrade their authoritative status (H.E. 3.39.2, 5-7; cf. 3.25.2, 4; 3.28.2-5; 3.39.13-15; 7.25.1-27; Jerome, De vir. il. 13). Thus, ideological agendas were at work in the translation of Papias’s sloppy phraseology.

Biblical Studies Carnival for Ocotober 2017

Doug Chaplin has posted the biblical studies carnival for October 2017. There is lots of helpful links on the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament (my post on 2 Peter made the cut), textual criticism, translation theory, and book reviews. Enjoy.