Joseph Codsi <joseph5@...
It is perfectly all right to assume that "John knew and used the Synoptics".
But when you imply that he was in full agreement with the infancy gospels
(specifically with their allegation that David was Jesus' ancestor and that
Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem), you run into a wall. The text (John
7:40-42) resists your assumption. Had John known for a fact that Jesus was
born in Bethlehem (not in Nazareth as it was commonly believed), he would
have had no problem answering the objection that is raised in verse 42. All
he would have had to say is state the facts as they are reported in the
infancy gospels. The fact that he left the objection unanswered, in the
context of a strict theological debate, proves (in my part of the world)
that he had a serious problem with the veracity of the infancy gospels.
I disagree with your's and Mike's interpretation of John's reason for not outright stating that Jesus was born in Bethlehem for several reasons.
First, as I earlier said, I am of the position that John knew and used the Synoptics. This, therefore, would lead me to the conclusion that he knew of the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke. You have no problem with this point.
Second, John's purpose in the writing of his gospel was to show the Jewish people, via the Scriptures, that Jesus is their promised Messiah. Thus we read, for example, in Jn 5:39-40, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." Over and over again John shows that Scripture "testifies" in Jesus' favor. Why, then, would he allude to Micah 5:2, which is a Scripture stating that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, if he thought otherwise or disagreed with the Synoptic version? No, you misread John, in my opinion. The reason why he alludes to Micah 5:2, in my opinion, is because he not only knew of this tradition but believed it himself.
Third, in Jn 7:52 John has "the Jews" state to Nicodemus: "Are you from Galilee, too. Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee." What do you think more likely? That John is actually showing "the Jews" to be correct in their argument against Jesus? Or, that John is using irony, once again, showing "the Jews" to be mistaken in this assumption of theirs that Jesus was from Galilee?
Fourth, in my opinion, the reason why John does not outright state that Jesus was born in Bethlehem was not because he did not know of this tradition nor because he did not agree with this tradition. Rather, he was showing Moses to be a type of Jesus, and thus showing Jesus to be the new but greater Moses as foretold in Deut 18:18. Even as Moses' identity was mistaken by Jethro's daughters in that they took him to be an Egyptian, so, too, is Jesus' identity mistaken by the people in that they took him to be a Galilean. Please see especially points 4 and 5 below amongst the many parallels that I have discovered between the Cana Miracle and Ex 2 (note: in my paper I point out many other places where John borrowed from Ex when composing his gospel).
What follows is a list of similarities in words, phrases, and themes that I have discovered between John 2:1-11 and Exodus 2:11-25.
1) Both passages contain the "rescue" motif. Our Exodus 2:11-25 text has three rescue scenes, with Moses as the hero in each one. He first rescues an Hebrew from an Egyptian. He then rescues two Hebrew brothers from each other. And finally, he rescues the seven shepherdesses from the bad shepherds who would have kept them from watering their flocks. These three rescue scenes serve as an introduction to the one great rescue scene that Moses is about to be involved in- rescuing the Israelites from their slavery. In our John 2:1-11 text, we encounter Jesus as hero/redeemer, rescuing His people from a spiritual famine and providing them with God�s Spirit, and in doing so, He rescues all who would believe in Him from their slavery to sin.
2) According to Exodus 12:40, the Israelites lived in Egypt some 430 years, and then their "redeemer" Moses came to them and led them out of their slavery. So, too, were there some 430 years (more or less) of "silence" that separated the last of the prophets (Nehemiah) from the time of the arrival of the new redeemer Jesus who would lead all who believe in Him out of their slavery to sin.
3) In our rescue scene in Exodus 2:16, we are told that the seven daughters of Jethro came to "draw" water. The Greek word used is "HNTLOUN", from the Greek infinitive ANTLEIN, which is the same Greek word used by the author of John in John 2:6, ANTLHSATE. If you read the commentaries on this verse in John, you will note, almost without exception, that the scholars comment upon the strangeness of this verb "to draw" used here by John in this context. Why? Because, they say, this word ANTLEW is almost always used in the context of a well-scene (drawing water from a well), and there is no well-scene in John 2. This is the "intertextual flag" that MacDonald was referring to when he stated that "Ancient authors frequently included unusual details to alert readers to the presence of their models�" ("Mimesis and Intertextuality in Antiquity and Christianity", p.2). Indeed, it was this "red flag" that drew my attention to seek out its source, which eventually led me to my discovery of
reading the Cana miracle as an allegory (and not just the Cana miracle but much of John). The same Greek word for "to draw" is used in Exodus 2:17 and 19.
4) After Moses rescues the seven daughters, and draws water for them to water their flocks, the daughters return home to their father and are asked why they have returned home so early. Their answer is that "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds." We have, therefore, the "mistaken identity" motif in our Exodus story. Moses was no Egyptian. He was an Israelite. But they mistook him for an Egyptian most likely because of his clothing and mannerisms that he learned while growing up in Pharaoh�s household. So, too, in our John story do we have the "mistaken identity" motif. In John 1:45, Philip tells Nathaniel,
"We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Philip is mistaken on two counts. First, he believes Jesus is from Nazareth, and evidently has no clue that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as the Synoptics proclaim in accordance with the prophecy found in Micah 5:2. Secondly, he believes Jesus to be the son of Joseph, and has no clue that that Jesus was born of a virgin, as the Synoptics proclaim, and therefore born of God. Nathaniel responds to Philip, in John 1:47, by exclaiming,
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
In John 6:42 we read of "the Jews" grumbling against Jesus because of Jesus� statement,
"I am the bread that came down from heaven" (6:41).
There, we read,
"They said, �Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, �I came down from heaven�?"
They believe him to be of human descent.
In John 7:52 we read the Pharisees� response to Nicodemus� defense of Jesus when they state,
"Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee."
In John 7:27 we hear the people saying,
"But we know where this man is from (POTHEN ESTIN); when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from (POTHEN ESTIN)."
And in John 9:29 we hear the Pharisees confess,
"We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don�t even know where he comes from (OUK OIDAMEN POTHEN ESTIN)."
They know, and yet they do not know where Jesus comes from. They think he is from Nazareth of Galilee, and still they confess that they do not know where He comes from. Many of the scholars themselves believe that the author of the gospel of John was not aware of the tradition found in the Synoptics that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Why? Because he does not plainly state that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in his gospel. This serves as one proof for them that the gospel author was not aware of the Synoptic tradition, or that he disagreed with it. However, as I am arguing here, the reason why the author of John does not mention that Jesus was born in Bethlehem is because he was comparing Jesus to Moses. Like Moses, whose identity was mistaken by the seven daughters of Jethro, and was taken to be an Egyptian when he was really a Hebrew, so too does the author of John show the people to have mistaken the identity of Jesus. They did not realize that he was born in Bethlehem, in accordance
with the Scriptures (contra Jn. 7:52), nor did they realize that Jesus was God in the flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit. That John knew of Jesus� birth in Bethlehem is clear from his statement which he places in the lips of those who wonder about Jesus� messiahship:
"Still others asked, �How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David�s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?�" (Jn. 7:43).
He would not be alluding to Micah 5:2 were he not sure that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, for he earlier stated, in Jn. 5:39:
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me�".
John was intent on showing the Scriptures to testify in favor of Jesus being the Messiah. Thus for him to raise an OT text that spoke against this possibility would be inconsistent.
Moreover, the author of John�s gospel has Jesus say, in John 8:14,
"Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going (OTI OIDA POTHEN HLTHON KAI POU UPAGW). But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going (DE OUK OIDATE POTHEN ERXOMAI H POU UPAGW)."
5) When the seven daughters tell their father that they were "rescued" by an Egyptian, and that this Egyptian "drew" water for them and watered the flocks, Jethro responds with, "And where is he? (KAI POU ESTIN)". When Jesus tells the servants to "draw" some of the water out of the jars that has now been changed to wine and take it to the master of the banquet, we are told that the master of the banquet "did not know from where it came" (KAI OUK HDEI POTHEN ESTIN). Again, the "mistaken identity" motif, coupled with the phrase KAI POU ESTIN, links John 2:1-11 with Exodus 2:11-25.
6) After Jethro asks, "Where is he (KAI POU ESTIN)? Why did you leave him?", he states, "Invite (KALESATE) him to have something to eat" (Exodus 2:20). The verb "to invite" (KALEW) is the same verb that John employs in John 2:2: "Jesus was invited (EKLHTHh) and His disciples to the wedding".
7) In verse 21 of Exodus 2 we are told that "Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage (GUNAIKA)." In John 2:1 we read,
"On the third day there was a wedding (GAMOS) in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus was invited and His disciples to the wedding (GAMOS)."
So even though the same word for "wedding" is not used in both stories (GUNAIKA means "wife"), both our Cana story and our Exodus story contain the "wedding" motif. We should also note that Jesus addresses his mother as GUNAI ("woman"), which would mean, in continuing with the parallel between Exodus 2 and John 2, that even as Moses took Zipporah to be his "wife" (GUNAIKA), so, too, does Jesus take his mother (who symbolizes the OT church) to be his "wife" (GUNAI). See Revelation 12.
8) The wedding in John 2 takes place in Cana (KANA) of Galilee. This Greek word KANA means, according to Gerhard Kittel�s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. III, p. 596), "a basket woven from reeds", which should recall to our minds Exodus 2:3:
"But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds (EIS TO ELOS) along the bank of the Nile."
Again, though the Greek words in the LXX are different, taken together with all of the other parallels that are between these two texts, we can assume the allusion again to the birth story of Moses.
9) Exodus 2:23-25 states: "During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." The "God remembering His covenant" motif that is found in our Exodus story is also implied in our John 2 Cana miracle story. After 400 years of silence, as prophesied by Amos in 8:11-12, we are told by the author of the gospel of John that the Word breaks the silence by becoming flesh. The people of Israel are again in bondage, both to the Romans and to Sin, and they are "staggering from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it", until God "hears their groaning and remembers His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob". It is then, and only then, that the Word
becomes flesh, that the hour has arrived for the Son of God to die on the cross and rise from the grave, and thus change the water into wine so that all may be satisfied- that is, all who will believe in Him!
10) Lastly, having asked why else John might mimic Exodus 2:11-25 in the creation of John 2:1-11, I happened upon what I consider to be my most important discovery- the symbolic meaning of "water" for the author of John. In Exodus 2:10 we read:
"When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh�s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, �I drew him out of the water� (EK TOU UDATOS AUTON ANEILOMHN)."
Moses was named Moses because he was "drawn from the water". Even though the verb "to draw" in the Greek is not the same verb in Exodus 2:10 that is used in John 2:8 (although the Greek verb for "to draw" used in Ex.2: 16, 17, and 19 are the same as that used in John 2:8), we can still demonstrate that the author of the Gospel of John had Exodus 2:10 in mind when creating the symbolic meaning of his use of the word "water". The name "Moses" sounds like the Hebrew word meaning, "to draw out". Scholars have already noted the wordplay in Exodus on Moses� name. Even as the name "Moses" was given to him on account of him being "drawn from the water", so, too, does God use Moses to "draw from the water" the Israelites, and save them in their escape from the Red Sea when fleeing from the Egyptians. The Egyptians, unlike the Israelites, are drowned in the water. And even as the name "Moses" comes from the Egyptian verb meaning "to be born", so too does God use Moses to bring about the birth
of the Israelite nation. But what the scholars have not noted before, to my knowledge, is that Moses himself, in this verse in Exodus 2:10, is connected with "water". Moses = water because he was "drawn from the water". How can we be sure that John expected his readers to pick up on the equation of Moses with "water"? We will return to offer more proofs later, but first I would like to present the last source material that I have found the author of the Cana miracle story to have used in the composition of this story.
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