Episco-Fact #180
March 19, 2020

FRANCISCO-FACT: There are places in this week's Gospel reading where [Judean] is inserted. What was there and why the insert?

The word that Judean replaces is Jew. We have also made this adjustment to readings during Holy Week and for the season of Easter. This is the judgment of the local clergy and is done so for a specific reason. The Gospel of John has been the Gospel most prominently used to justify anti-Semitism in Western Europe and the United States over the past sixteen, or so, centuries. Therefore, where the public readings of John highlight this breech and abuse of John's intentions, the decision has been made to use the translation of N.T. Wright, as delineated in his books, John For Everyone. His reading is consistent with the underlying Greek word, Joudaioi, from which the English word Jew comes.

Bp. Wright was wrestling with this very thing when he chose his translation. He did want to entirely obscure the historical tension in his translation, and thereby also expunge Christian sin in misusing this word. But he knew its connotations and looked for a substitute which both embodied the division happening between the followers of Jesus and those who would expel them from the synagogues. There was pain in that parting, and the Gospel of John contains that pain in its story, especially this one.

It is a part of our story now and we must endeavor never to let the differences of our two stories as the People of God bring us to the place where we persecute the people whose covenant with God comes through Moses.

As this church journeys through this time in our liturgical calendar, we should remember that God was opening his call to be his people, not shutting off the people of Second Temple Judaism.