Anatoly Alexeev

Midrash in the New Testament: John vs. Synoptikoi

Anatoly Alexeev (2017) "Midrash in the New Testament: John vs. Synoptikoi ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2017, vol. 52, pp. 11-35 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201752.11-35


This paper deals with prefaces to the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. From the point of view of their genre, the fi rst two are the midrash, i.e. an interpretation based on written sources and the oral tradition of Judaism. Their aim is to relate the knowledge about Jesus that was obtained from Mark to the conception of the Messiah, in accordance with which these two Evangelists interpret the borrowed data. The historical and biographical design of both prefaces refl ects the cultural environment of the Hellenistic epoch, whereas their content and literary form are a traditional response to exclusively theological inquiries. John, in turn, draws not only on Mark but also on certain other sources or on his personal experience and goes beyond the conception of the Messiah, evaluating Jesus as a messenger (shaliah) of God or God Himself (drawing no diff erence between the one who sends and the one who is sent is characteristic of ancient cultural traditions). With all its signifi cance, the conception of the Messiah off ered only limited opportunities for the interpretation of the fi gure of the historical Jesus in the light of religious gnoseology (which was given much importance by the Evangelist John), as well as in the light of soteriology, as it came to be evident later, in the period of the second rebellion and acknowledging Simon bar Kokhba as the Messiah. The preface to the gospel of John aims to explain the meaning of Creation and the corresponding anthropology, which was necessary for the formation of the new concept of personal God, and, furthermore, gives an outline of the main issues of the entire gospel. Another way of development of the early Christian thought from messiology to theology was liturgical practice and corresponding word usage. In the fi nal part of the paper, the author points to the inadequacy of the term “Christology” for the circle of problems that make up the base of the Christian theology.


midrash, gospel, preface, prologue, epitome, messiah, messenger, biography, Christology, theology, historism


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Information about the author

Anatoly Alexeev

Academic Degree: Doctor of sciences* in Philology;
ORCID: 0000-0003-0243-8703;
Email: alexeev.anatoly@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.