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2586[XTalk] Re: Who was apocalyptic?

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  • Antonio Jerez
    Oct 4, 1999
      Mahlon Smith wrote:
      > > Among canonical gospels there is also no sudden climactic divine
      > > intervention in John.
      > >
      > Antonio Jerez replied:
      > > Is that really so? What about verses like John 5.28? Sounds like
      > > a climatic divine intervention at the End Time to me and many
      > > others. In this scenario John is just as apocalyptic as his Christian
      > > brethren Mark, Matthew, Luke and Paul. The Lazarus resurrection
      > > scene in GJohn only underscores the future expectations the Johannines
      > > held.

      > Your objection, Antonio, only shows that as in your defense of
      > "allegory," you are using "apocalyptic" in a sense that disregard the
      > standard definition of the term.

      Before you accuse me of disregarding the standard definition
      of the term "allegory" maybe you can give me an example
      of my disregarding.

      > I don't want to get into a pedantic
      > argument over semantics, but "apocalyptic" is an adjectival derivative
      > of "apocalypse" which means basicly "revelation." "Apocalyptic"
      > unfortunately has come to be used ambiguously as either referring to a
      > genre of visionary literature (e.g. Daniel & 1 Enoch, the latter of
      > which has little to do with any climactic intervention at the end of
      > history) or to material akin to the contents of the last book of the NT.
      > Daniel is "apocalyptic" in both senses. The Gospel of John is not.

      OK, OK I agree with you that if we want to be pedantic the term
      "apocalypse" should probably be reserved for litterature that deals
      with heavenly revelations. J. J Collins defines it as: "a genre of
      revelatory literature, mediated by an angel or heavenly being, which
      is concerned with a transcendent eschatology which has a personal as
      well as cosmic dimension. But the simple fact is that there is no standard
      definition of "apocalyptic". It should be obvious that I'm using the word
      in the sense that most normal folks take it (having Revelation in the back
      of their minds) - as revelations about the Last Days. But since Mahlon
      wants to be pedantic let's call the verses in John "cosmically eschatological"
      (ideas about a supermiraculous intervention of God in the Last Days).

      >The fact that there are references to a future resurrection in John 5:28
      > & 11:23-24 does not make that work "apocalyptic," since the doctrine of
      > resurrection is older than & existed independently of the type of
      > literature generally classified as "apocalyptic" (Dan, Rev, etc.). Is
      > Isaiah an "apocalyptic" work simply because Isa 26:19 affirms: "Your
      > dead will live, their bodies will rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake
      > and sing for joy"? This assurance of revival is quite independent of any
      > vision of cosmic crisis.

      Your assertion that the verses in Isa 26:19 deal with a literal resurrection
      of the dead is highly debatable. A renowned expert on apocalypticism
      like John J Collins has this to say about the passage: "The destruction of
      deat here is seen in the context of the earthly restoration of Jerusalem. The
      resurrection of the individual is not envisaged. In 26:19 the language of
      resurrection is used but this is most probable a metaphor for the restauration
      and the revival of the Jewish people, analogous to the vision of the dry bones
      in Ezekiel 37.".
      But that said it is hardly a coincidence that Isaiah 24-27 is normally called
      "The Apocalypse of Isaiah" in OT exegetical circles. Are you going to accuse
      them too of misusing the word "Apocalypse"?

      >The same can be said for references to
      > resurrection in GJohn or the Mishah. Were all Pharisees "apocalyptic"
      > simply because they defended the idea of a resurrection against
      > Sadducean skeptics? On what basis? Where's the evidence that they got
      > this notion from apocalyptic works like Daniel?

      Yes, given my folksy use of the word "apocalyptic" I would
      definitely call all the Pharisees who adhered to the idea about a
      general resurrection and a Last Judgement "apocalyptic". And
      the simple fact, which you appear to have forgotten, is that the
      standard view among experts on Jewish apocalypticism is that
      Daniel is the first book in the Tanakh which unequivocally promotes
      the idea about a general resurrection. It may of course be possible
      that the people who wrote Daniel got the idea from some other

      > That is why I prefer to use the terms "eschatology" & "eschatological"
      > to refer to the type of end-time expectations in GJohn & rabbinic
      > literature, reserving "apocalyptic" for passages that reflect the
      > influence of the graphic visionary scenarios mapped out in Dan & Rev &
      > Mark 13.

      But your only real objection to me calling John 5:19-30 "apocalyptic"
      appears to be that the author of John does not spell out his "apocalyptic"
      visions in such length and detail as Mark does in chapter 13 or Revelation
      does throughout the whole book. The length of the "apocalyptic" visions
      are hardly what makes a passage "apocalyptic", what matters must surely
      be the CONTENTS of the text. And since John mentions both the general
      resurrection (5:25, 28) and the Last Judgement (5:27) I have no qualms
      whatsoever about calling this passage "apocalyptic. It is just as "apocalyptic"
      as anything we might find in Mark or Matthew. And I have no qualms about
      calling the author of GJohn a Jewish "apocalypticist", despite him preferring
      to focus most of the gospel on realized eschatology.

      >John does have an "eschatology" despite his general lack of
      > imagery akin to that found in Dan & Rev. But as Dodd long ago pointed
      > out, John minimizes future expectations by using the mystical "I am"
      > affirmations to affirm the present reality of salvation. Acc to John,
      > those who believe in "the Son" have *already* been "saved" & likewise
      > those who don't have *already* been judged (John 3:18). Thus any future
      > judgment is not going to change the verdict. Likewise, with the raising
      > of Lazarus. In fact, Lazarus' "resurrection" is a decidedly
      > anti-apocalyptic interpretation of normal Jewish ideas of the conditions
      > of resurrection. John 5:28 anticipates this. There is not mention of
      > end-time catastrophe is this verse, only the promise the those in the
      > tombs will here the voice of the SofM. That promise is probably based on
      > Ezek 37 where the prophet's word revives the dead. Thus Lazarus responds
      > to the earthly J. He does not have to wait for the end of history. And,
      > as I said before, there is not the slightest hint of cosmic catastrophe
      > in GJohn. So the only way to maintain that John is "just as apocalyptic"
      > as the synoptics is to totally ignore all the differences between them.

      Well Mahlon, we obviously read the relevant verses in GJohn in very
      different ways. I wouldn't say that a verse like 5:29 does not envision
      an endtime catastrophe. I don't think that those who are destined to
      be judged because of their wickedness would agree with you that their
      unfortunate end is not catastrophic.
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