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Re: [XTalk] Seeing is believing? [John 20-21]

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  • Jan Sammer
    From: Robert M Schacht ... Mary and her female companions (the use of the first person plural in 20:2 betrays the presence of several
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2000
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      From: Robert M Schacht <bobschacht@...>
      >
      >
      > John 20-21 describe three appearances of the risen Jesus-- at least, that
      > is what we are told in 21:14. The first appearances took place in
      > Jerusalem. The first was to Mary Magdalene in the garden.
      >
      > The final appearance of Jesus occurs in the epilogue. This event
      > happens by the "Sea of Tiberias" -- that is, in Galilee. The writer of
      > the
      > epilogue (who may or may not have been the same writer) tells us:
      > "This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after
      > he
      > was raised from the dead" (21:14). By some counts, this is actually the
      > fourth appearance, unless the appearance to Mary didn't "count".

      Mary and her female companions (the use of the first person plural in 20:2
      betrays the presence of several women) are not counted among the disciples
      in any of the gospels. It's not so much that the appearance to Mary and the
      women didn't "count"--it was not strictly speaking an appearance to the
      *disciples*. This may seem like a minor, almost pedantic distinction, but
      there are indications that 21:14 is formulated to specifically exclude the
      appearance to the women. The reason for this hair-splitting distinction is
      that the appearances to the disciples in Galilee constituted a separate,
      older tradition, while the appearance to the women was introduced at a later
      stage. The incorporation of this later tradition was not an easy task and
      some of the sutures are still visible. The awkward way that Peter's witness
      (20:2-10) is inserted in the body of chapter 20 testifies to an effort to
      preserve Peter's primacy by letting him be the first to see evidence of the
      resurrection, while sending him home before he has a chance to actually see
      the resurrected Jesus. The three Galilean appearances to the disciples were
      evidently a part of a fixed tradition at this point. It is in order that the
      number of the appearances to the *disciples* should not be increased beyond
      that warranted by the early tradition that John and the other disciple are
      sent home early in 20:10. The early tradition had also credited Peter with
      being the first to see the resurrected Jesus. When the episode of the
      appearances to the women was introduced, a compromise was chosen, allowing
      Peter a certain degree of primacy but not enough to threaten the established
      liturgical tradition of the number of appearances to the disciples.

      > In each of these accounts words are important -- although neither "logos"
      > nor "rhema" are used. The first appearance ends with Mary announcing
      > ["aggello" -- only occurrence in NT] to the disciples, "I *have seen* the
      > Lord" and then telling them what Jesus had told to her (20:18).

      Mary is not cited directly, but in the third person, in the perfect tense,
      reporting to the disciples: "hoti hewraka ton kyrion...".

      > The second appearance results in the disciples telling Thomas, "We have
      > *seen* the Lord" (20:25) -- (the same words that Mary had used).

      "hewrakamen ton kyrion"--direct quotation this time, perfect tense.

      The same
      > word is used by Jesus to Thomas in v. 29: "Have you believed because you
      > *have seen* me?"

      "hoti hewrakas me..." perfect tense

      >This suggests that believing involves more than just seeing
      > the risen Lord. Each of these verbs is in the perfect tense, which
      > implies a
      > past action with continuing effect in the present. They saw something in
      > the past and that seeing continues to affect their lives.
      >
      > (I am indebted to Brian Stoffregen for these observations.)
      >
      > My question: is this word usage ("have seen" in the perfect tense)
      > noteworthy?

      The perfect does have the connotation of viewing the past from the context
      of the present, of explaining the present state based on some events in the
      past. In a sense it is a present tense and not a past tense at all. So yes,
      I would say that the use of the perfect is significant.

      Jan Sammer
      Interpres
      Prague-Czech Republic
      sammer@...
      www.interpres.cz
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