John 18-20 and the garden traditions: A literary and theological reading

Sinkko, Anneli. (2003). John 18-20 and the garden traditions: A literary and theological reading MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Sinkko, Anneli.
Thesis Title John 18-20 and the garden traditions: A literary and theological reading
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2003
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Rick Strelan
Total pages 151
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subjects L
440204 Christian Theology (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
780199 Other
Formatted abstract
John is the only evangelist who situates his passion story in a garden. Jesus is arrested in the garden of Kidron [18:12], he is crucified and dies in a garden [19:41], he is buried in a garden [19:41], and Mary, seeing the risen Jesus in a garden presumes him to be the gardener [20:15]. Noting the prominence of the garden in John 18-20, I identify this segment as the garden narrative. I contend that in the garden narrative the evangelist displays motifs and interactions that can be located in Jewish-Christian literature pertaining to the Garden of Eden. I am designating this type of trajectory as garden traditions.

In the thesis, I first compare the Garden of Eden with the Johannine garden of Kidron. There are some Jewish traditions that speak of the Garden of Eden as a holy place and a temple guarded by intermediaries and gates [Gen 3:24; Jub. 3:12; 4:26]. The Joharmine vocabulary [18:2] implies a concept of holiness in the garden of Kidron: Jesus is the divine presence in this garden [18:5,6]. The Gospel portrays Jesus as the temple [2:21], the gate [10:7], and one who shares a unique relationship with God [10:37; 14:10,11; 17:21]. I also demonstrate that the interactions between the main characters in the Garden of Eden tradition in Genesis, namely God, Adam, and the antagonist [Gen 2:16; 3:1-7, 12-13], find their Johannine counterparts in the conflict between light and darkness and between Jesus and the ruler of this world [John 18:2- 3,10-12]. This struggle intensifies in the events that take place in the garden of Kidron. The relationship between God and humankind disintegrated in both the Garden of Eden and in the garden of Kidron.

Secondly, I compare Jesus with Adam. The Johannine garden narrative presents Jesus both as a human being and as a king [18:37; 19:5,13,19-21]; similarly the Jewish garden traditions not only speak of Adam's humanhumanity but also elevate him as a ruler [Gen 1:28; 2:7; 4Q504-6; 2 En. 30:12]. Next, because Adam, according to some garden traditions, was buried in the garden [Jub. 3:29; L. A. E. 45:2], I compare his death and burial with the Joharmine Jesus, who also died and was buried in a garden [John 19:41,42]. While Adam received the breath of life in the Garden of Eden [Gen 2:7], Jesus gave up the breath of life, also in a garden [John 19:30].

Thirdly, all garden traditions and the Gospels present angels at the burial site [Matt 28:2; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Apoc. Mos. 38:3b; 40:2; Gos. Pet 9:36; 10:38]. Consequently, I discuss the functions of the angels pertaining to the resurrection event. The persona of the gardener [John 20:15b] in the Johannine garden of the tomb leads to a discussion of God, Jesus, and Adam as gardeners. The relationship between God and humankind was broken in the Garden of Eden [Gen 3:14-19], but it is restored in the Johannine garden in the meeting between Mary and the risen Jesus [John 20:16]. The recognition scene [20:16] with naming and counternaming, manifests who Jesus is and who Mary is. This personal interaction reveals a reversal of the broken relationship between humanity and God. While Adam left the Garden in shame [Gen 3:23,24], Mary departed in joy [John 20:18].

And finally, for John the cross in the garden is a place where Jesus, by choosing to obey his Father, laid down his life thus bringing glory to his Father. The Garden of Eden, on the other hand, is a place of disobedience. Adam in the Garden chose disobedience and so forfeited the right to live. Jesus' finished work in the garden offers eternal life, while Adam's deed in the Garden of Eden brings a loss of inmiortality. Thus the cross in the Joharmine garden is a sign of obedience, new life, and renewed relationship. In later Christian literature the cross in a garden is the new Tree of Life [Haer. V, 17:4; Ca. Tr. Fol 7b, col 1].

I demonstrate that John 18-20, the garden narrative belongs in the stream of literary traditions pertaining to the Garden of Eden found in both Jewish and Christian literature. Further, I explain that the relationship between God and humankind, which broke down in a garden, is, according to John, also restored in a garden.
Keyword Gardens in the Bible
Bible. N.T. John -- Criticism, interpretation, etc

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:10:17 EST