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Re: John 20:23

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  • Tobias Hägerland
    ... them; if ... I think the closest parallel to the expression in Jn 20.23 is probably Sir. 28.1 according to Rahlfs text: tas hamartias autou diatêrôn
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 22, 2004
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      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...>
      > NRS John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven
      them; if
      > you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
      > So what the heck does this mean?

      I think the closest parallel to the expression in Jn 20.23 is
      probably Sir. 28.1 according to Rahlfs' text: tas hamartias autou
      diatêrôn diatêrêsei (RSV "he will firmly establish his sins").

      Could diatêrein in Sirach be equal to kratein in John? The simple
      têrein once renders the Hebrew QWM hif'îl in Rahlfs' Septuagint (1
      Kingdoms 15.11 LXX = 1 Sam. 15.11 MT); likewise kratein is employed
      for QWM hif'îl once (Prov. 30.4). But this is an extremely weak

      I heard Sandra M. Schneiders propose a different interpretation of Jn
      20.23 during last year's Raymond E. Brown conference on the Gospel of
      John. Hopefully, I both got her right at that time and do now
      remember her argument correctly.

      Sr Schneiders claimed that there is no evidence for the construction
      hamartiôn kratein in Greek literature unaffected by the Gospel of
      John (and I think she is correct on that matter). She also pointed
      out that there is no explicit mention of 'sins' in 20.23b.
      Schneider's suggestion was that the customary understanding of 20.23b
      as saying, in effect, 'an tinôn kratête tôn hamartiôn kekratêntai' is
      a misreading. Rather, tinôn is not a qualifier of a supplanted tôn
      hamartiôn but the object of kratête. Thus, 20.23b should be
      translated simply: 'if you hold fast any, they are held fast'. And
      to 'hold fast' means to preserve within the community, within God's
      love, or the like (actually I do not recall her exact wording).

      Interesting as this suggestion seems to me, it has not convinced me.
      The parallel relationship between Jn 20.23 and Mt. 16.19 is hardly
      coincidental, and in the latter passage the two members of the
      construction are opposite to each other in meaning. Also, it appears
      strange to have kratein and aphienai as synonyms (see Song 3.4 LXX,
      where the two are clearly antonyms).

      /Tobias Hägerland

      Tobias Hägerland, M.Th.
      Ph.D. Candidate
      Göteborg University
      Department of Religious Studies and Theology
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