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Re: [XTalk] John 1:49-51

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  • Frank McCoy
    ... Yes, GJohn is not a history book, nor, IMO, is it intended to be. I view the Beloved Disciple as being James the Just (after all, the Johannine Jesus
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2002
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      --- Antonio Jerez <antonio.jerez@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Personally I find it a lot easier to find out which
      > gospel sayings were definitely NOT
      > spoken by the historical Jesus. A long list could be
      > made. Just to give you some examples
      > I could mention John 1:50-51, the whole of the
      > wedding in Cana scene, the whole scene with the
      > samaritan woman in chapter 4, chap 8:12-57,
      > 10:22-39, 12:27-36, 16:1-4, 17:1-24.

      Yes, GJohn is not a history book, nor, IMO, is it
      intended to be. I view the Beloved Disciple as being
      James the Just (after all, the Johannine Jesus
      declares the BD to be the son of his mother and
      declares his mother to also be the mother of the BD!).
      Further, I take the appendix (Chapt. 21) to have been
      written in Jerusalem c. 65 CE while the Johannine
      community there was still traumatized by the recent
      martyrdoms of James the Just and Peter. Further,
      GJohn switches back and forth between straightforward
      historical narratives and fictional historical
      narratives which are, in reality, expositions on such
      topics as important events in the history of the
      Jerusalem Church and Christology.

      The declaration that the BD has written these things
      means, ISTM, that GJohn claims James as its ultimate
      author. Most of the actual writing, I think, was done
      by someone who could speak for James--presumably, the
      one who had been his right hand man before his
      execution. The likeliest candidate is the pillar
      named John--who I think was more likely to be John
      Mark than to be John bar Zebedee. Still, some of
      GJohn might have been written by James himself.

      Your first example, John 1:50-51 (or, more fully,
      1:49-51) is an example of a passage which might have
      been written by James, In this case.it is a part of a
      fictional historical narrative section, written by
      James, in which he is expounding on what he believes
      to be the true nature of his brother.

      1:49-51 reads, "Answered Nathanael and says to him,
      'Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of
      Israel!' Answered Jesus and said to him, 'Because I
      said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, believe
      you?' And he says to him, 'Amen. Amen. Henceforth, you
      (plural) shall see the heaven opened and the angels of
      God descending on the Son of Man."

      Here, upon learning that Jesus saw him under the fig
      tree, Nathanael declares, "You are the Son of God!"
      In 1:49-51, then, Jesus is a Son of God who sees.

      This is our first clue that James might be the author
      of 1:49-51: for, in The Second Apocalypse of James
      (46), James is pictured as stating, "The Lord who is
      present [came] as a son who sees".

      How could James have come up with this notion that
      Jesus is a Son of God who sees?

      A clue is found in The Confusion of Tongues (146-147),
      where Philo states, "But if there be any as yet unfit
      to be called a Son of God, let him press to take his
      place under God's First-born (Son), the Logos, who
      holds the eldership among the angels, their ruler as
      it were. And many names are his, for he is called, the
      Beginning, and the Name of God, and His Logos, and the
      Man After the Image, and He That Sees, that is Israel.
      And therefore I was moved a few pages above to praise
      the virtues of those who say that 'We are all sons of
      one man (i.e., Israel)' (Gen. xlii. 11). For if we are
      not yet become fit to be thought sons of God yet we
      may be sons of His invisible image, the most holy
      Logos. For the Logos is the eldest-born Image of God."

      The way I read this, Philo is saying that the Logos is
      a Son of God who rules the angels. Further, one of
      the titles of the Logos is Israel = He Who Sees.
      Having made this identification of this Son of God as
      being Israel = He Who Sees, Philo then allegorically
      interprets Genesis 42:11 to mean, "We are all sons of
      one Man, whose name is Israel = He That Sees". That
      is to say, he allegorically interprets Genesis 42:11
      as being a statement made by those who are sons of the
      Logos--the Man who is Israel = He Who Sees.

      Then, after identifying Jesus as being the Son of God
      who sees (i.e., as being the Logos: the Son of God who
      is He That Sees), Nathanael tells him, "You are the
      King of Israel!"

      This idea that the Logos, as the Son of God, will
      become a King of Israel does not come from Philo.
      Rather, I suggest, it comes from a certain way of
      interpreting 4Q174, "'I will establish the throne of
      his kingdom [for ever] (2 Sam. vii, 12). [I will be]
      his father and he shall be my son (2 Sam. vii, 14).'
      He is the Branch of David who shall arise with the
      Interpreter of the Law [to rule] in Zion [at the end]
      of time. As it is written, 'I will raise up the tent
      of David that is fallen (Amos ix, 11)."

      In particular, I think, the author of 1:49-51
      interpreted "[I will be] his father and he shall be my
      son" to mean that the Branch of David, the legitimate
      heir to David's throne (and, so, the true King of
      Israel), will be Philo's Son of God, the Logos,
      incarnate in the flesh as a descendent of David (Note:
      the translation of 4Q174 is by Geza Vermes).

      That the author of 1:49-51 might have understood that
      Philo's Son of God, the Logos, became incarnate in the
      flesh as the Branch of David, the true King of Israel,
      on the basis of a passage from 4Q174 means that James
      might be this author of 1:49-51: for there is evidence
      he was aware of this passage's assertion that the tent
      of David in Amos 9:11 is the Branch of David.

      So, in Acts 15:16-18, James is pictured as stating,
      "'After these things I will return and will build
      again the tent (skenen) of David which is fallen; and
      the ruins of it I will build again, and will set it
      up, so that the remnant of men may seek out the Lord,
      and all the nations upon whom has been called my Name
      upon them' says the Lord who does all these things."


      I think that this is genuine and that this is the
      basic line of James' thought My brother is the
      fulfiller of 4Q174. He is the tent that has fallen.
      That is to say, he has, as the Branch of David, been
      executed. However, he has built again by the Lord.
      That is to say, he has been resurrected from the dead
      by God. He has been set up by the Lord. That is, he
      has been restored to his pre-incarnational glory in
      heaven by God. This has been done so that the
      righteous remnant of Israel and the Gentiles can be
      saved.

      Since all this has made it possible for the Gentiles
      to be saved without having to observe the Law, this
      enables James, in the ensuing Acts 15:19-21, to decree
      that Gentiles need not obey the Law except for a few
      provisions

      In 1:49-51, after Nathanael identifies Jesus as being
      the King of Israel (i.e., the Branch of David), Jesus
      tells him, "Henceforth, you (plural) shall see the
      heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and
      descending on the Son of Man." In 1:49-51, then, it
      is assumed that the Branch of David and the Son of Man
      are the same person, i.e., Jesus.

      That this assumption is present in 1:49-51 is another
      clue that its author is James.

      In The History of the Church (Book 2, Sect. 23),
      Eusebius thusly quotes Hegesippus, "He (i.e., James)
      replied as loudly as he could: 'Why do you question me
      about the Son of Man? I tell you, He is sitting in
      heaven at the right hand of the Great Power, and He
      will come on the clouds of heaven.' Many were
      convinced, and gloried in James' testimony, crying,
      'Hosanna to the Son of David!'"

      Here, upon James proclaiming his brother to be the Son
      of Man, the people respond by proclaiming him to be
      the Son of David, i.e., the Branch of David. The
      implication: James preached that the Son of Man and
      the Branch of David are the same person and that this
      person is Jesus.

      How could James have come up with his idea that the
      Son of Man and the Branch of David are the same
      person?

      I suggest that he could have done so by linking the
      first part of the passage from 4Q174 ("I will
      establish the throne of his (i.e., the Branch of
      David's) kingdom [for ever]") with Daniel 7:14 ("His
      (i.e., the Son of Man's) dominion is an everlasting
      dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom
      shall not be destroyed."), thereby equating the Branch
      of David with the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14.





      In support of this suggestion, James, as quoted by
      Hegesippus, does, in referring to Jesus as the Son of
      Man, allude to Daniel 7:13.

      We are now ready to interpret Jesus' statement to
      Nathanael, "Henceforth, you (plural) shall see the
      heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and
      descending on the Son of Man." It's meaning is this:
      "The day is coming when everyone will see me, the
      Branch of David = the Son of Man, returning to earth
      in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14 to eternally rule, as
      the angels, whom I rule as that Son of God who is He
      That Sees (i.e., whom I rule as the Logos), ascend and
      descend on me in homage and loving adoration."

      In conclusion, there are links between thought and
      ideas attributed to James in early Christian
      literature and what is said in 1:49-51. Therefore,
      this passage appears to reflect his thinking and might
      even have been written by him. If so, then James
      viewed his brother as having been Philo's Logos
      incarnate in the flesh as the Essenes' Branch of
      David. As such, he also believed his brother to be
      the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14. In this case. it is
      a passage from a Dead Sea scroll that was of vital
      importance in enabling James to link the three figures
      of the Logos, Branch of David, and Son of Man to his
      brother.

      The illustrates what I deem to be a very important
      point. That is, even what is deemed to be fictional
      in the gospels can be useful to us in our search fof
      the historical Jesus. In the case of John 1:49-51,
      what appears to be a fictional passage might give us
      the Christology of Jesus' own brother and the leader
      of the Jerusalem Church. And, if it might give us the
      Christology of Jesus' own brother, then, surely, it
      might even give us the self-conceptualization of the
      historical Jesus.

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109




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