oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - John 19:38-20:31 : discipleship after the death of Jesus

Volume 15, Issue 03
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



Most commentaries see John 19:42 as the end of the description of Jesus' death and burial, and 20:1 as the beginning of his resurrection account. While this is true of the chronology in the life of Jesus, how does the narrative account of Jesus contribute to John's aim in 20:30-31? This article suggests that the narrative after the death of Jesus in 19:38-20:31 presents two patterns of discipleship: (a) those whose faith is based on seeing the resurrected Jesus, and (b) those who follow him even without having seen his resurrected body. A detailed investigation in the Johannine text of the responses of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, Peter, the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene, and Thomas to the death of Jesus shows that the passage in question is structured chiastically. John 19:38-42 is tied to John 20 and balances 20:30-31. The intent of this chiasm is to emphasise the fact that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are disciples par excellence. Their willingness to follow Jesus after his death, even when they did not have the chance to see him resurrected, is exactly the kind of faith called for by John in 20:30-31. The beloved disciple fits this mould to a lesser extent, whereas Thomas and Mary Magdalene do not.

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