Reinhartz, Adele. "The Jews of the Fourth Gospel." The Oxford Handbook of Johanine Studies. Oxford University Press, 2018, 121-137.
While John's Gospel takes place in territory considered Jewish, and almost all the characters are Jewish, yet Reinhartz observes that there is a distance created between Jesus and his followers, on the one hand, and "the Jews," on the other hand (Reinhartz 2018, 122). Reinhartz interprets this distancing as a rhetorical device on the part of the author, who wishes to persuade readers to adjust their view of Judaism.
Reinhartz categorizes uses of "ioudaios/ioudaioi" in John (Reinhartz 2018, 123). 17 of the instances are neutral, describing a people group. In 13 instances, Jews are pondering or questioning Jesus' claims among themselves. However, 29 times the usage signifies "hostility of the Jews towards Jesus and/or Jesus' hostility toward the Jews" (Reinhartz 2018, 123). While Jesus is referred to as a Jew on several occasions, and even as the "King of the Jews," he and the other characters distance him from the claim (Reinhartz 2018, 124). The one clearly positive use is in John 4:22 when Jesus says that "salvation is from the Jews."
Reinhartz observes the expressions of hostility stand out, not only due to their frequency, but also their settings in lengthy, tense encounters (Reinhartz 2018, 124). The use of "Pharisees" and "chief priests" as a frequent symonym for "Jews" places the group in a negative light as well. They are not positive examples in John (Reinhartz 2018, 125).
From a philosophical perspective, John's Gospel presents us with a dualistic world of light/dark, life/death, and belief/unbelief (Reinhartz 2018, 125). The positive element is always associated wit hJesus. Reinhartz sees this as part and parcel of the overall world of John and the cosmological conflict of good and evil (Reinhartz 2018, 126).
As a literary character, Reinhartz takes "the Jews" to serve as the villain in John's plot (Reinhartz 2018, 126). Since World War II, some scholarshiop has attempted to mitigate the negative attitude shown toward the Jews, observing that in many texts such references are only to a particular subgroup (Reinhartz 2018, 127). In John, that would be the group opposed to Jesus. Reinhartz is not clear as to whether the references in John are to the people as a whole or to a particular subgoup.
From a perspective of translation philosophy, Reinhartz admits the easiest solution is to quite literally gloss the word as "the Jews" (Reinhartz 2018, 128). However, some translators have tried to find a nuanced way of referring to the people, such as "Jesus' enemies" or "Judeans." These attempts, however, may still prove problematic.
Reinhartz observes that the Gospel does have a particular persuasive goal. Specifically, in 20:30-31 it is to persuade the reader to believe Jesus (Reinhartz 2018, 129). When the terminology "the Jews" is used in a neutral way, it may simply serve as a reminder of the context of Jesus' minmistry (Reinhartz 2018, 130). The places where it is used in a more hostile manner also point to context. The Jews who reject Jesus, one of them, do not receive his gifts. The reader should not emulate them. Jesus as the replacement of the Temple and the living Torah should be the object of worship (Reinhartz 2018, 131). Reinhartz entertains the possibility that John's Gospel was early read as Scripture to be used devotionally in church services. Here it would be taken much like the Torah. It would also suggest the Jews would take on an identity as described in the Gospel (Reinhartz 2018, 132).
Reinhartz continues to ask whether the Fourth Gospel is anti-Jewish in nature. Commentators have represented all parts of the spectrum from saying there is no negative bias to saying the bias is inescapable (Reinhartz 2018, 133). However, on the whole, the Gospel is not anti-Semitic in such a way as to inspire blanket anti-Jewish sentiment. Some Jewish characters believe Jesus, who was a Jew himself.