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[XTalk] Re: Who was apocalyptic?

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  • Ron Price
    Jack Kilmon wrote: I ve recently made a detailed study of the origin of John s
    Message 1 of 19 , Oct 1, 1999
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      Jack Kilmon wrote:
      << I think John changes eschatalogical horses in the middle of the
      stream. >>

      I've recently made a detailed study of the origin of John's gospel.
      (But haven't succeeded in publishing it!)
      One of my conclusions is that John the 'Evangelist' (i.e. the author
      of the first edition) advocated a realized eschatology, whereas the
      'Redactor' (i.e. the editor of the second edition) advocated 'ordinary'
      eschatology.
      The resulting mixture of viewpoints within the gospel as we have it,
      is naturally giving rise to the diverse opinions on John being expressed
      on the list.

      Ron Price

      ron.price@...

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK
    • Mahlon H. Smith
      ... 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
      Message 2 of 19 , Oct 4, 1999
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        I 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. 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.

        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. 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?

        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. 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.

        Shalom!


        Mahlon



        --

        *********************

        Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
        Associate Professor
        Department of Religion
        Rutgers University
        New Brunswick NJ

        Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
      • Antonio Jerez
        ... Before you accuse me of disregarding the standard definition of the term allegory maybe you can give me an example of my disregarding. ... OK, OK I agree
        Message 3 of 19 , Oct 4, 1999
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          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
          quarters.

          > 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.
        • Paul Miller
          Mahlon wrote: So the only way to maintain that John is just as apocalyptic as the synoptics is to totally ignore all the differences between
          Message 4 of 19 , Oct 4, 1999
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            Mahlon wrote:
            So the only way to maintain that John is "just as apocalyptic"
            as the synoptics is to totally ignore all the differences between
            them.-----------------------------------------------------

            I usually agree with Antonio, here Mahlon is correct in my view. Our
            earliest material Mark, Q, M, and L show Jesus as an apocalypticist. There
            is a little fragment of this tradition in John 5:28-29. But for the most
            part later material seems to show a reaction to a failed eschatology such as
            we find in John and later in a big way in GThomas.
            Jesus was a apocalypticist when he was baptised by JB at the start of his
            ministry and the early church was as well after his ministry 1Thess.
            4:13-18, 1Cor. 15:51-57. What does this say about what came between?


            Paul Miller
          • William Arnal
            ... Well, it seems to me that Mahlon here is reading this text in terms of its Johannine context. There is definitely some older and traditional futuristic
            Message 5 of 19 , Oct 4, 1999
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              At 09:07 PM 10/4/99 +0200, Antonio Jerez wrote:

              >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.

              Well, it seems to me that Mahlon here is reading this text in terms of its
              Johannine context. There is definitely some older and traditional futuristic
              notion lurking BEHIND the text (esp 5:27-29), but John has incorporated this
              older language into a larger block of speech which redirects this material
              toward his more specific concerns. This is most obvious in v.25: "the time
              is coming" (more traditional usage) "and is NOW HERE" (Johannine usage)
              "when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God," etc. In the Lazarus
              story we have a very clear indication that John is congnizant of a theory of
              the general resurrection of the dead at some future point (leaving aside
              whether or not to call this "apocalyptic"), and sees the need to correct
              this. As is standard Johannine usage, in this instance Jesus says something
              (11:23 -- Lazarus will rise again), his interlocutors MISUNDERSTAND him
              (v.24: Martha says, Sure, he'll rise on the last day), and this gives Jesus
              the opportunity to "correct" their views, in this case with an "I am"
              statement. In general, my impression is that John deploys traditional
              future-oriented language because he is aware that others hold to these
              views, but suggests that a greater or higher understanding of them will see
              such expectations already realized in the present.

              Bill
              __________________________________
              William Arnal wea1@...
              Religion/Classics check out my web page, at:
              New York University http://pages.nyu.edu/~wea1/
            • Antonio Jerez
              ... I don t think so. And neither are you. ... I don t read the text and the context at all as the author of GJohn correcting or contradicting an earlier
              Message 6 of 19 , Oct 5, 1999
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                Bill Arnal wrote:

                > At 09:07 PM 10/4/99 +0200, Antonio Jerez wrote:
                >
                > >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.

                Bill Arnal:
                > Well, it seems to me that Mahlon here is reading this text in terms of its
                > Johannine context.

                I don't think so. And neither are you.

                > There is definitely some older and traditional futuristic
                > notion lurking BEHIND the text (esp 5:27-29), but John has incorporated this
                > older language into a larger block of speech which redirects this material
                > toward his more specific concerns. This is most obvious in v.25: "the time
                > is coming" (more traditional usage) "and is NOW HERE" (Johannine usage)
                > "when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God," etc. In the Lazarus
                > story we have a very clear indication that John is congnizant of a theory of
                > the general resurrection of the dead at some future point (leaving aside
                > whether or not to call this "apocalyptic"), and sees the need to correct
                > this.

                I don't read the text and the context at all as the author of GJohn correcting
                or contradicting an earlier eschatological notion. In what way is the author
                saying that there isn't going to be a future general resurrection? Let's take
                a look first at verse v.25 that you mentioned: "Truly I assure you that he who
                listens to my message and believes Him who has sent me will have eternal life...
                Truly I assure you the hour IS COMING -AND IT IS HERE - when the dead will
                hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live."
                Notice the words I have put in bold script. "The hour is coming"
                appears to be a reference to the future general resurrection. "And it is here"
                points forward to the raising of Lazarus. He is the one who will hear the voice
                of the Son of God here and now. Verse 24 even point forward to Marthas belief in
                Jesus as the Messiah in verses 11:25-27.
                I short - your reading of the author correcting other Christians who believe in
                a future resurrection has no grounding whatsoever in the text. The author is
                not correcting but COMPLEMENTING.

                >As is standard Johannine usage, in this instance Jesus says something
                > (11:23 -- Lazarus will rise again), his interlocutors MISUNDERSTAND him
                > (v.24: Martha says, Sure, he'll rise on the last day), and this gives Jesus
                > the opportunity to "correct" their views, in this case with an "I am"
                > statement. In general, my impression is that John deploys traditional
                > future-oriented language because he is aware that others hold to these
                > views, but suggests that a greater or higher understanding of them will see
                > such expectations already realized in the present.

                Again you are reading things into the text that are not actually there. Jesus
                does not tell Martha that there isn't going to be a future general resurrection.
                The only thing Jesus "corrects", and quite promptly, is Marthas misunderstanding
                of his words in v.23, "Your brother will rise again". Martha naturally believes that
                this refers to the general resurrection. Whereby Jesus promptly shows her that
                his Father has already given him the necessary powers to raise the dead already
                in the here and now. The author is not correcting a faulty view about the general
                resurrection - just complementing it again.

                Best wishes

                Antonio Jerez
                Göteborg, Sweden
              • Antonio Jerez
                ... Paul, I think you are actually agreeing with Mahlon based on a faulty summary by Mahlon of what my actual position is. I have never claimed that the GJohn
                Message 7 of 19 , Oct 5, 1999
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                  > Mahlon Smith wrote:
                  > So the only way to maintain that John is "just as apocalyptic"
                  > as the synoptics is to totally ignore all the differences between
                  > them.-----------------------------------------------------

                  Paul Miller replied:
                  > I usually agree with Antonio, here Mahlon is correct in my view. Our
                  > earliest material Mark, Q, M, and L show Jesus as an apocalypticist. There
                  > is a little fragment of this tradition in John 5:28-29. But for the most
                  > part later material seems to show a reaction to a failed eschatology such as
                  > we find in John and later in a big way in GThomas.

                  Paul,
                  I think you are actually agreeing with Mahlon based on a faulty
                  summary by Mahlon of what my actual position is. I have never
                  claimed that the GJohn is as thoroughly apocalyptic TROUGHOUT
                  the whole gospel as the synoptics. I have just claimed that in the
                  particular passage in question i GJohn the author shows himself
                  to be just as "apocalyptic" as folks like Paul and Matthew. He shares
                  their beliefs about the the ultimate Eschaton and no amount of realized
                  eschatology in his gospel can wash away that.

                  Best wishes

                  Antonio Jerez
                  Göteborg, Göteborg
                • William Arnal
                  ... believes that ... Compare the form of the dialogue with Nicodemus in ch.3, and other similar exchanges. Bill __________________________________ William
                  Message 8 of 19 , Oct 5, 1999
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                    At 08:14 PM 10/5/99 +0200, Antonio Jerez wrote:

                    >Again you are reading things into the text that are not actually there. Jesus
                    >does not tell Martha that there isn't going to be a future general
                    >resurrection.
                    >The only thing Jesus "corrects", and quite promptly, is Marthas
                    >misunderstanding
                    >of his words in v.23, "Your brother will rise again". Martha naturally
                    believes >that
                    >this refers to the general resurrection. Whereby Jesus promptly shows her that
                    >his Father has already given him the necessary powers to raise the dead already
                    >in the here and now. The author is not correcting a faulty view about the
                    >general
                    >resurrection - just complementing it again.

                    Compare the form of the dialogue with Nicodemus in ch.3, and other similar
                    exchanges.

                    Bill
                    __________________________________
                    William Arnal wea1@...
                    Religion/Classics check out my web page, at:
                    New York University http://pages.nyu.edu/~wea1/
                  • Antonio Jerez
                    ... Take a look again at the CONTENT of the passage instead. Besides, almost any passage in GJohn is written in dialogue form. Best wishes Antonio Jerez
                    Message 9 of 19 , Oct 7, 1999
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                      Bill Arnal wrote:

                      > At 08:14 PM 10/5/99 +0200, Antonio Jerez wrote:
                      >
                      > >Again you are reading things into the text that are not actually there. Jesus
                      > >does not tell Martha that there isn't going to be a future general
                      > >resurrection.
                      > >The only thing Jesus "corrects", and quite promptly, is Marthas
                      > >misunderstanding
                      > >of his words in v.23, "Your brother will rise again". Martha naturally
                      > believes >that
                      > >this refers to the general resurrection. Whereby Jesus promptly shows her that
                      > >his Father has already given him the necessary powers to raise the dead already
                      > >in the here and now. The author is not correcting a faulty view about the
                      > >general
                      > >resurrection - just complementing it again.

                      Bill:
                      > Compare the form of the dialogue with Nicodemus in ch.3, and other similar
                      > exchanges.

                      Take a look again at the CONTENT of the passage instead. Besides, almost
                      any passage in GJohn is written in dialogue form.

                      Best wishes

                      Antonio Jerez
                      Göteborg, Sweden
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