Re: John 20:23
- --- In email@example.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...>
> NRS John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiventhem; if
> you retain the sins of any, they are retained."I think the closest parallel to the expression in Jn 20.23 is
> So what the heck does this mean?
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, M.Th.
Department of Religious Studies and Theology