Raising of Lazarus and the Passion of Jesus in John 11 and 12

Author: Burke, Alexander J., Jr.
This study holds that the fourth evangelist adopted and combined various traditions in chapters 11 and 12 into a single, unified eschatological statement, separately and specially conceived, as a complex literary and theological hinge of John’s Gospel, a bridge between Christ’s ministry to the world and his ministry to his disciples. The extent and unity of this statement has been disguised by the tendency to apply to John a pericopean mentality suitable for the Synoptics but foreign to John. When John 11 and 12 are viewed as a single, eschatological statement, an analysis of its three dominant literary forms (plot structure, sign and dialogue structure, and narrative dramatic structure) can help establish that the passage of 10:40-12:50 constitutes a tightly-knit literary unity. John shapes Jesus’ final discourse, 12:44-50 primarily as the natural conclusion of his eschatological statement, and secondarily as a summary of chapters 1-12 because the insertion of 11 and 12 is itself designed as the climax and summary of chapters 1-12. This new interpretation gives the passage a tight and comprehensive fit with the whole of John’s Gospel.


“…combining literary and historical-critical methods in approaching a passage of unwieldy length and complexity, Dr. Burke succeeds in showing that a sensitive opportunism rather than monism of methods can succeed in making good theological sense out of John’s sinuous hall of mirrors. Especially supportive of Dr. Burke’s approach are the recurrent Synoptic convergences of John 12 ….I do believe that the narrative and theological integrity that Dr. Burke verifies in John 11-12, together with the dual dimension of reading he thinks was intended for these chapters, contributes considerably to our appreciation of the Fourth Evangelist’s method and strategies in paving the reader’s path to the Gospel’s climax.” - The Rev. Dr. Richard J. Dillon, Professor of New Testament, Fordham University

“Suggesting John 10:40-12:50 together as a bridge between the first and last parts of the Gospel is what is new about Burke’s book. Others have proposed these chapters as a bridge, but none as ably as Burke. It is the best defense that I have read of a thesis that is slowly gaining followers among Johannine scholars and helping considerably to solve the allied pivotal question of where the last part of the Gospel begins.” – Dr. Peter Ellis, Fordham University (ret.)

“…offers a noteworthy example of what can be gained when methods of literary analysis are used not to replace but to compliment the traditional canons of historical criticism….this study will surely guide an informed reader toward a better understanding of the form and function of this sequence of episodes that together make up a critical turning point in the narrative of the Fourth Gospel.” – The Rev. Dr. Dean P. Bechard, SJ, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Fordham University

“…a well-written and incisive study of a difficult section in John’s Gospel….I enjoyed reading this study, its mastery of current approaches and the literature concerning John’s Gospel and the clear, lucid style with which the argument is presented. I believe that future studies will be strongly influenced by this study of the major turning point in John’s Gospel…The strongest arguments for his new interpretation are the number of major problems solved and the number of new meanings uncovered.” – Sean P. Kealy, C. S. Sp., Duquesne University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
1. The Shaping of the Major Turning Point in John’s Gospel
2. Tradition and Composition I: The Raising of Lazarus
3. Tradition and Composition II: The Aftermath of the Raising of Lazarus
4. The Literary Structure of John 11 and 12
5. The Narrative Theology of John 11 and 12
6. Conclusion: Testing the Validity of a New Interpretation
Bibliography; Subject and author indices