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Workshop on Numismatics and the NT

May 3, 2018

I cross-post a summary of what must have been a highly stimulating workshop on the contributions of Roman-era numismatics to NT lexicography:  here.

I was particularly interested in the discussion of the connotation of the reference to Jesus’ disciples as his “friends” in John 15:14.  One of my recent PhD students, Mark Zhakevich, defended a very similar view of the matter:  that the “friends” in this text are “royal friends” of Jesus, not his buddies.

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  1. Really intriguing.

  2. Thanks Larry for the crosspost. Out of interest does Zhakevich have intention to publish his work?

  3. Malcolm Horlock permalink

    I have no problem with understanding John 19. 12 as a technical term, but surely the context of John 15. 14 argues against it being taken that way there. The verse immediately before says, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’ – which last word can hardly be understood to refer to ‘political’ or ‘royal’ friendship.

    • Malcolm: The one calling people “friends” in the passage is Jesus, not the disciples. And note v. 14: “you are my friends if you do what I command you”. Rather suggests a hierarchical relationship, yes?

      • Malcolm Horlock permalink


        It was of course also ‘Jesus, not the disciples’ who said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’, John 15. 13, and who spoke of Lazarus as ‘our friend’ (ο φιλος ημων, John 11. 11). Presumably with no suggestion in either place of ‘political’ or ‘royal’ friendship.
        I know it comes from a different Gospel, but it was Jesus who also addressed His disciples. ‘I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body’, Luke 12. 4, again with no hint that I can see of any ‘royal’ friendship.
        The word ‘command’ itself certainly requires some form of hierarchical structure, but I see no reason to see this as feeding back into the word ‘friends’. In the context, obedience to His commandments characterizes Jesus’ disciples, John 15. 10, 12. In John 15. 13-15 the contrast is struck between ‘friends’ and ‘servants (douloi, slaves – who are simply instructed what to do)’. The revelation by Jesus of the Father’s will involves the relation of friendship.

      • Hierarchical friendship, albeit not of Roman coinage, seems well-attested in the Jewish Scriptures, e.g., friendship of God, of the King and of the personified Wisdom. Abraham and Moses are both friends of God, and both are commended for keeping His commandments.

        In the Wisdom of Solomon, it is written that friendship with Wisdom, which comes from instruction, obtains friendship with God (Wisdom 7:14,25-27). Given that Jesus is the Word in the Gospel of John, and the context of John 15 is the relationship between the Father, Jesus and the disciples, it seems particularly relevant to Jesus’ saying, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

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