by Neil Godfrey
Last year I posted an amateurish discussion about puns in the Gospel of Mark. During my recent break from blogging I stumbled across a classical scholar’s discussion of puns in the Gospels in an online scholarly journal. The subject is far richer than I had ever imagined. There are possibly major implications for our understanding of both the ways in which the Gospels have been composed and also for what the authors and readers thought they were doing when writing and reading/listening to the narratives.
The discussion certainly gives modern readers a whole new insight into the possible significance of the name of Jesus — “the name above every other name” as the Philippian hymn informs us.
The author is classicist Professor John Moles of Newcastle University. The article is Jesus the Healer in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and Early Christianity [clicking the link will download the pdf article] in Histos. John Moles is definitely not a mythicist and my interest in the article is primarily the light it sheds on the nature of the Gospels. What sorts of documents are they, what led to their creation and how were they initially understood and received?
Imagine Gospel narratives that hang together through a web of puns on the name of Jesus criss-crossing with specific acts that he was performing and whose dramatic tension and resolution operate primarily through the readers’ awareness of these puns. (more…)