Adverbial Jesus

John 1:43-51 – Second Sunday after Epiphany – for January 18, 2014

Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” (John 1:46)

Unleash the adverbs!
Unleash the adverbs!

Like the majority of Jesus’ disciples, Nathanael barely received a nod in the gospels. Unlike most of them, Nathanael delivered one of the most memorable questions about Jesus.

But first, another disciple named Philip—who could’ve been Nathanael’s co-worker or neighbor or third cousin or boyhood best friend or maybe even his sister’s husband’s brother’s boss—told Nathanael about a swell fellow named Jesus. Part of Philip’s explanation included Jesus’ hometown: Nazareth.

Nazareth? Nazareth!

According to the fourth Gospel, Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”

Hmmm?

No one knows how Philip knew Nathanael. Their relationship either didn’t matter or was a blank slate to the writer of John. Indeed, the ignorance about the disciples’ various relationships prior to following Jesus appears inconsequential to any of the gospels’ authors. It’s what comes after, right?

As with Nathanael and Philip’s relationship, John’s Gospel remained ambiguous about the tone of Nathanael’s query. In the sparse retelling of Jesus’ ministry chronicled in the four traditional gospels, the ancient and modern believers weren’t overloaded with clues about the emotional reactions of the disciples.

What did Nathanael really mean by his question? How tempting to add a singular word to verse 46. Continue reading →