Devils and Deviants. Jason L. Merritt
Devils and Deviants takes up the question of the impact of religious schism on the composition of 1 and 2 John. After decades attempting to reconstruct the beliefs of the schismatics referenced briefly in 1 John, Johannine scholars have largely rejected the notion that such a reconstruction can in fact be accomplished. In addition, there has been a notable move by some to interpret 1 and 2 John non-polemically, arguing that the schism has little or no bearing on the composition of these epistles and our ability to interpret them. In this volume, Merritt turns to the anthropology and sociology of religious schism to reconstruct the processes by which groups separate themselves from one another. He then applies that model as a heuristic device in reading 1 and 2 John, arguing in the process that, while the beliefs of the schismatics cannot be reconstructed with any accuracy, the schism has indeed had a profound impact on the Johannine community and 1 and 2 John.