In Aposynagōgos and the Historical Jesus in John I survey a range of issues relevant to the historical study of the Johannine expulsion passages (John 9:22, 12:42, 16:2). I evaluate the long-standing supposition that it is implausible that any of Jesus’ followers could have experienced expulsion from the synagogue during his lifetime, and that as such the passages in question should be read as a two-level drama, one level ostensibly telling the story of Jesus and the other actually telling the story of the Johannine community (which is said either to have experienced expulsion under the Birkat ha-Minim, or to have experienced no expulsion at all but rather be engaged purely in identity-building). Against both I argue that such an experience of expulsion is quite plausible during the late 20s or early 30s, when Jesus was active.
I build my argument on the basis of both hermeneutical and empirical critique and investigation. On the hermeneutical side, aided by the critical-realism developed by philosopher Bernard Lonergan and introduced into New Testament studies by Ben F. Meyer, I conclude that there is no warrant for reading the aposynagōgos passages on two distinct levels. On the empirical side, aided by recent advances in our knowledge of the synagogue through the contributions of such scholars as Donald Binder, Lee Levine, and Anders Runesson (the latter of whom supervised the dissertation of which this monograph is a revised edition), I conclude first that the Birkat ha-Minim is of no relevance to the interpretation of these passages, and second that whilst there is no evidence for formal mechanisms of expulsions in the 20s and 30s there could well have been sufficient informal pressure such that Jesus’ followers found themselves effectively prohibited from synagogue participation.