“I revealed my mysteries to those who are mine”: Transmission and Interpretation of Jesus’ Words in some Johannine Writings (2nd-3rd century ce)

in Vigiliae Christianae
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Some early Christian writings deeply enrooted in a Johannine worldview and religious practice, and usually labeled “Gnostic”, cite or allude to words attributed to Jesus as authoritative utterances. The article attempts to shed light on the process of transmission and production of such Johannine or Johannine-like sayings of Jesus. It appears that such a process might predate the redaction of texts and surely continues irrespective of the written tradition of Jesus’ logoi, both “canonical” and “apocryphal”. Conclusions are finally drawn on the ideological matrix fostering the process, as well as on the socio-religious scenario which it presupposes.

“I revealed my mysteries to those who are mine”: Transmission and Interpretation of Jesus’ Words in some Johannine Writings (2nd-3rd century ce)

in Vigiliae Christianae




D. Tripaldi“Tra Alessandria e Roma: narrazione cosmogonica e forme comunitarie nell’Apocrifo di Giovanni,” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 28/1 (2011) 77-116 esp. 115-16. See also M. Tardieu Écrits gnostiques. Codex de Berlin (Paris 1984) 38-39 and 42-43 though not convincing in every detail of his reconstruction; G. Filoramo Il risveglio della gnosi ovvero diventare dio (Roma/Bari 1990) 141-69 discussing more generally the «elective affinities» between John and “Gnosticism”; J.-D. Dubois “La tradition johannique dans l’Apocryphe de Jean” Adamantius 18 (2012) 108-17. All in all then I fully concur with the late F. Bovon “The Emergence of Christianity” in Id. The Emergence of Christianity. Collected Studies 3 (Tübingen 2013) 1-16 that «the primitive Acts of John and the Apocryphon of John may be part of the sacred literature of the left wing of the Johannine movement» (7).


Junod and KaestliActa Johannis487-89. 632. 646. Our saying is probably also referred to in Evangelium Veritatis (nhc i3) 354-6 and the anonymous author of this early 2nd century work (Valentinus himself?) does seem to know 1 John (see 3024-31). On his part Lalleman “The Acts of John” 245-56 argues that the author of the Acts of John takes the same position as the Jesus followers opposed in the Johannine epistles and insists that his work «may have originated at the same time as the Johannine and Ignatian epistles or later in case aj’s spiritualizing type of Christology survived» (255). If Lalleman is right it is possible that Acts of John and 1 John have independent access to a common bulk of Jesus traditions. On the complex interplay between orality and literacy in cases such as this see S.E. Young Jesus Tradition in the Apostolic Fathers. Their Explicit Appeal to the Words of Jesus in Light of Orality Studies (Tübingen 2011) 103-106.


Similarly TheobaldHerrenworte506-11.


Cp. John 35-6 with P.Oxy. 108111-16 (verso) and comments by Pesce Le parole dimenticate 632.


Waldstein and WisseThe Apocryphon of John1. See also K. King Approaching the Variants of the Apocryphon of John in J.D. Turner and A. McGuire (eds) The Nag Hammadi Library After Fifty Years. Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration November 17-22 1995 (Leiden et al. 1997) 105-37 here 124-26 who adds that «there are no clear cases where the differences between ii and iv cannot be accounted for by scribal error or linguistic preferences indicating a close linear relationship between these two manuscripts» (126). Despite this growing consensus it suffices here to note that comparing the four diverging Coptic translations of aj 2219 U.-K. Plisch “The Right and the Left Penis. Remarks on Textual Problems in the Apocryphon of JohnAdamantius 18 (2012) 65-70 here 70 has come to the conclusion that at least at one point «the Greek versions must have varied from one another». For more doubts on Waldstein and Wisse’s reconstruction see H. Lundhaug “The Nag Hammadi Codices. Textual Fluidity in Coptic” in A. Bausi et al. (eds) Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction (Hamburg 2015) 419-23 here 421.


Some useful remarks in PesceLe parole dimenticate599.


See PesceLe parole dimenticate570-72. 574-75. 577. 581-82 and more recently M. Grosso “Trasmissione e ricezione della parabola del pescatore (Vangelo secondo Tommaso 81-3)” in M. Pesce and M. Rescio (eds) La trasmissione delle parole di Gesù nei primi tre secoli (Brescia 2011) 101-17 here 109-15 and Detti segreti 109-44.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 17 17 11
Full Text Views 60 60 48
PDF Downloads 6 6 4
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0