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The Dionysian Gospel

The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides

Author: 
Dennis R. MacDonald (Author)
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Description

"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them." Dennis R. MacDonald offers a provocative explanation of those scandalous words of Christ from the Fourth Gospel—an explanation that he argues would hardly have surprised some of the Gospel's early readers. John sounds themes that would have instantly been recognized as proper to the Greek god Dionysos (the Roman Bacchus), not least as he was depicted in Euripides's play The Bacchae. A divine figure, the offspring of a divine father and human mother, takes on flesh to live among mortals but is rejected by his own. He miraculously provides wine and offers it as a sacred gift to his devotees, women prominent among them, dies a violent death—and returns to life. Yet John takes his drama in a dramatically different direction: while Euripides's Dionysos exacts vengeance on the Theban throne, the Johannine Christ offers life to his followers. MacDonald employs mimesis criticism to argue that the earliest evangelist not only imitated Euripides but expected his readers to recognize Jesus as greater than Dionysos.

 

ISBN: 
9781506423456
Price: 
$79.00
ISBN: 
9781506421667
Release date: 
April 1, 2017
Pages: 
268
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Contents

Introduction

1. The Beginning of the Johannine Tradition
2. The Earliest Gospel Stratum and Euripides’s Bacchae: An Intertextual Commentary
3. Rewriting the Gospel
4. The Final Gospel Stratum and a Johannine Corpus

Appendices
1. A Conjectural Reconstruction of the Dionysian Gospel
2. Euripides’s Bacchae
3. The Sinful Woman (John 7:53–8:11)

Bibliography
Index

Reviews

Reviewed in New Testament Abstracts 61.2 (2017)

Endorsements

MacDonald’s work is provocative, ambitious, erudite, and deeply engaged with current scholarship on the gospels.

"Ever since C. H. Dodd and Rudolf Bultmann, echoes of Dionysos have been posited on the intellectual horizon of the first Cana sign in the Fourth Gospel. Employing the model of rhetorical emulation or mimesis, MacDonald takes these suggestions to a new level, arguing that the author has engaged with the god of the Bacchae not only in John 2 but throughout, depicting Jesus as a god in human guise coming to his own. As ever, MacDonald’s work is provocative, ambitious, erudite, and deeply engaged with current scholarship on the gospels."

John S. Kloppenborg | University of Toronto

MacDonald brings his customary acumen to bear on the relationship between Dionysos and the life of Jesus, and the results are as exciting and impressive as ever.

"Dennis R. MacDonald has been in the forefront of scholars demonstrating connections between early Christian writings, including the New Testament, and classical Greek literature. In this exciting volume, MacDonald brings his customary acumen to bear on the relationship between Euripides’s representation of Dionysos and the life of Jesus recounted in the Gospel of John, and the results are as exciting and impressive as ever."

David Konstan | New York University