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Re: [XTalk] Re: John 3:3-21

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  • Frank McCoy
    ... Dear Bill Arnold: PART I VERSES 3-9 What is attributed to Jesus in John 3:3-9 appears to reflect Philonic thought rather than Pharisaic thought. Indeed,
    Message 1 of 97 , Mar 22, 2002
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      --- Bill Arnold <barnold_pb@...> wrote:
      > Hi, Bible Scholars and Students,
      >
      > Jan Sammer writes, "This is too wide a topic to go
      > into in this connection,
      > but it appears that Jesus expected to become the
      > Messiah upon his own
      > resurrection. This is not as odd as it may at first
      > appear since the
      > resurrection of the dead in the coming world age was
      > a cornerstone of
      > mainstream Pharisaic beliefs. This resurrection is
      > the second birth,
      > not of woman, characteristic of the Kingdom. This
      > idea in my opinion
      > goes back to the historical Jesus and was only
      > imperfectly
      > understood by the evangelists."
      >
      > Would anyone care to comment of the relationship, if
      > any, between Pharisaic
      > beliefs and the dialogue between the Pharisee
      > Nicodemus and Jesus, KJV,
      > John, C 3, Vs. 1-21, particularly, Vs. 3-7,
      >
      > 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily,
      > I say unto thee, Except
      > a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
      > God."
      >
      > 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born
      > when he is old? can he
      > enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be
      > born?"
      >
      > 5 Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
      > Except a man be born of
      > water and _of_ the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
      > kingdom of God."
      >
      > 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and
      > that which is born of the
      > Spirit is sprit."
      >
      > 7 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
      > again."
      >


      Dear Bill Arnold:

      PART I VERSES 3-9

      What is attributed to Jesus in John 3:3-9 appears to
      reflect Philonic
      thought rather than Pharisaic thought. Indeed, ISTM,
      what we have, in
      Nicodemus, is an example of a Pharisee unsuccessfully
      trying to understand
      an element of Philonic thought that is alien to
      Pharisaic thought.

      Let us look at verse 3, "Jesus answered and said unto
      him, 'Verily,
      verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,
      he cannot see the
      kingdom of God.'"

      What does it mean to be born again?

      Well, in terms of Philo's teachings, "to be born
      again" means "to be called
      above".

      In Exodus (Book II, 46), regarding Exodus 24:16 ("And
      the glory of God came
      down upon the mount Sina, and the cloud covered it six
      days; and the Lord
      called Moses on the seventh day out of the midst of
      the cloud."), Philo asks
      the question, "Why is the mountain covered with a
      cloud for six days, and
      Moses called above on the seventh day?", and gives, as
      a part of his answer,
      "But the calling above of the prophet is a second
      birth better than the
      first. For the latter is mixed with a body and had
      corruptible parents,
      while the former is an unmixed and simple soul of the
      sovereign, being
      changed from a productive to an unproductive form,
      which has no mother but
      only a father, who is (the Father) of all."

      Here, Philo speaks of how the calling above of Moses
      was his second birth--a
      birth in which his sole parent was God.

      Further, it was a rebirth in the soul alone.

      Finally, it involved Moses' entry into the cloud.
      That is to say, it
      involved Moses' entry into Wisdom--for, in Philonic
      thought, this cloud, in
      which resides God, is Wisdom.

      So, in Exodus (Book II, 23), Philo states, "This is
      said in reference to the
      dissolution and rapture of the most perfect and
      prophetic mind, for which it
      is fitting and lawful to enter the dark cloud and to
      dwell in the forecourt
      of the palace of the Father."

      This dark cloud, as it is the palace of God and has a
      forecourt, is the
      Wisdom, as the heavenly tabernacle/temple, where
      dwells God. So, in Cong
      (116), Philo states, "And further on he will
      speak of God's dwelling place, the skenen
      (tent/tabernacle), as being 'ten curtains' (Ex. xxvi.
      1), for to the structure which includes the whole of
      Wisdom the perfect number ten belongs, and Wisdom is
      the court and palace of the All-ruler, the sole
      Monarch, the Soveregn Lord."

      So, to summarize, according to Philo, the calling
      above of a person is the
      second birth of this person. It is a birth in the
      soul alone. One's sole
      parent in it is God. In it, one's soul is called up
      above into the Wisdom
      that is the palace and residence of God as the All
      Ruler, sole Monarch, and
      sovereign Lord.

      This readily relates to 3:3--in which, it is declared,
      one must be reborn
      before one can see the Kingdom of God. This rebirth,
      I suggest, is one's
      calling above. As such, it is a rebirth in the soul
      alone and one's sole
      parent in it is God. In it, one's soul, even though
      it (in one sense)
      remains in the body, yet, (in another sense) has been
      called above into
      Wisdom as the heavenly tablernacle/temple. As this
      heavenly
      tabernacle/temple, this Wisdom is the Kingdom of God
      in its strictest sense,
      i.e., in the sense of being the realm in which God,
      the All Ruler,
      permanently resides. Therefore, as a consequence of
      this rebirth, one "sees"
      the Kingdom of God.

      Next, let us turn to verse 4, "Nicodemus saith unto
      him, 'How can a man be
      born when he is old? can he enter the second time into
      his mother's womb,
      and be born?'"

      Here, Nicodemus is perceptive enough to realize that
      Jesus is not referring
      to one's bodily resurrection at the End. However, he
      fails to perceive that
      what Jesus is talking about is a second birth in the
      soul alone and in which
      one's sole parent is God. This is because such a
      notion is alien to
      Pharisaic thought. So, he comes to the erroneous
      conclusion that Jesus must
      be referring to a second birth of oneself by one's
      mother!

      Next, let us turn to verses 5-7: 5, "Jesus answered,
      'Verily, verily, I say
      unto thee, Except a man be born of water and _of_ the
      Spirit, he cannot
      enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of
      the flesh is flesh;
      and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7
      Marvel not that I said
      unto thee, Ye must be born again.'"

      There is an inherent tension between verses 5 and 6 in
      that verse 5 states
      that rebirth is through water and Spirit, while verse
      6 seems to assume that
      rebirth is solely through the Spirit.

      Some think that "of water and" is a late addition to
      verse 5. This is
      possible, although I think it unlikely because it is
      found in all existing
      copies of John.

      What I suggest is that "of water and Spirit" contains
      two references to one
      and the same thing. In this case, it means this, "of
      the spiritual water
      that is the Spirit" just as the phrase "the Lord and
      Father (James 3:11)"
      apparently means, "the Lord who is the Father".

      Indeed, the idea that the Spirit is a type of
      spiritual water was widespread
      in Judaism at the time of Jesus.

      For example, according to both the Markan and Q
      traditions, John the Baptist
      spoke of a Coming One who will baptize with the
      Spirit--the implication
      being that the Spirit is the superior spiritual analog
      to the physical water
      with which John baptized those who came to him.

      Again, in Essenic thought, the Spirit was deemed to be
      a spiritual water.
      So, in their The Community Rule, it is said, "He
      (i.e., God) will cleanse
      him of all wicked deeds with the spirit of holiness;
      like purifying waters
      He will shed upon him the spirit of truth (to cleanse
      him) of all
      abomination and injustice. And he shall be plunged
      into the spirit of
      purification,...".

      Too, in Philonic thought, the Spirit was deemed to be
      the Wisdom and to be,
      as such, a spiritual water. So, in Deus (2-3), Philo
      states, "It is after
      that Spirit (has gone) that the angels or messengers
      (of falsehood) go into
      the 'daughters of men'. For while the soul is
      illumined by the bright and
      pure rays of Wisdom, through which the sage sees God
      and His potencies, none
      of the messengers of falsehood has access to the
      (human) reason, but all are
      barred from passing the bounds *which the lustral
      water has consecrated."*
      (my emphasis).

      If, as suggested, the phrase "of water and the Spirit"
      means "the spiritual
      water that is the Spirit", then the strong tension
      between verses 5 and 6
      disappear: for, in this case, both of them relate that
      one's rebirth is
      accomplished (by God) through the Spirit.

      Indeed, according to Philo, God accomplishes the
      calling above (i.e., second
      birth) through the Spirit. So, in Plant. (23-26),
      Philo states, "This is
      why those who crave for Wisdom and Knowledge
      (Episteme) with insatiable
      persistence are said in the Sacred Oracles to have
      been called upwards; for
      it accords with God's ways that those who have
      received His down-breathing
      should be called up to Him. For when trees are whirled
      up, roots and all,
      into the air by hurricanes and tornadoes, and heavily
      laden ships of large
      tonnage are snatched up out of mid-ocean, as though
      objects of very little
      weight, and lakes and rivers are borne aloft, and
      earth's hollows are left
      empty by the water as it is drqwn up by a tangle of
      violently eddying winds,
      it is strange if a light substance like the mind is
      not rendered buoyant and
      raised to the utmost height by the native force of the
      Divine Spirit,
      overcoming as it does in its boundless might all
      powers that are here below.
      Above all is it strange if this is not so with the
      mind of the genuine
      philosopher. Such an one suffers from no weight of
      downward pressure
      towards the objects dear to the body and to earth.
      From these he has ever
      made an earnest effort to sever and estrange himself.
      So he is borne upward
      insatiably enamoured of all holy happy natures that
      dwell on high.
      Accordingly Moses, the keeper and guardian of the
      mysteries of the Existent
      One, will be one called above; for it is said in the
      Book of Leviticus, 'He
      called Moses up above' (Lev. i. 1). One called above
      will Bezeleel also be,
      held worthy of a place in the second rank. For him
      also does God call up
      above for the construction and overseeing of the
      sacred works (Exod. xxxi. 2
      ff.)."

      I think we are now in a position to interpret verses
      5-7: 5, "Jesus
      answered, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
      man be born of water
      and _of_ the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom
      of God. 6 That which
      is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born
      of the Spirit is spiri
      t. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
      again.'"

      There are two types of birth. The first is when you
      are born in a bodily
      sense of your mother. The second is when you are
      reborn in the soul by God
      through the Spirit that is a spiritual water. This
      second is the superior
      birth, for it enables one's soul to enter into Wisdom,
      i.e., the Kingdom of
      God.

      Once entered into Wisdom, the soul can then go on
      spiritual journeys that
      are completely unknowable to those souls still
      completely earthbound. This
      is why it is added in verse 8, "The wind blows where
      it wills, and you hear
      the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes
      or whither it goes; so
      it is with evey one that is born of the Spirit." Like
      the wind that comes
      from where we know not and goes to where we know not,
      the reborn soul goes
      on spiritual journeys through Wisdom that are
      unbeknowst to those souls
      still completely earthbound.

      All of this is alien to Pharisaic thought so,
      naturally, it leaves Nicodemus
      completely baffled: which is why he asks in verse 9,
      "How can this be?"

      PART II JOHN 3:10-21

      Let us look at John 3:10-11, where Jesus tells
      Nicodumus, "Are you a teacher
      of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly,
      truly, I say to you,
      we speak what we know, and bear witness to what we
      have seen, but you
      (plural) do not receive our testimony."

      As can be seen, this passage begins with Jesus as an
      individual speaking to
      Nicodumus as an individual. However, it ends with
      Jesus speaking on behalf
      of others (the "we") to a group ("you" in a plural
      sense).

      What I suggest is that we have, here, a shift in the
      identity of Jesus. In
      the beginning of this passage, he is himself. However,
      by the end of it he
      symbolicaly represents James the Just as the head of
      the Jerusalem Church
      Council (the "we").

      What I suggest is that we have, here, a shift in the
      identity of Nicodumus.
      In the beginning of this passage, he is himself as a
      teacher of Israel.
      However, by the end of it he symbolically represents
      all the teachers of
      Israel.

      As a result, I suggest, 3:10-11 ends with James the
      Just, acting in his
      role as the head of the Jerusalem Church Council,
      telling Nicodemus that he
      and the other teachers of Israel do not receive (i.e.,
      understand and
      accept) what is taught by the Jerusalem Church
      Council.

      The speech by Jesus to Nicodemus continues,
      uninterrupted, until 3:21. I
      suggest that, in this continuation of the speech,
      "Jesus" continues to
      symbolically represent James the Just.

      If so, then it is James the Just who proclaims, to us,
      the majestic words
      of 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his
      only begotten Son,
      that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
      have everlasting life
      (KJV)."

      Of course, it is widely recognized that, at some point
      in the monologue
      found in 3:10-21, the speaker ceases to be Jesus. It
      is most commonly
      thought that the switch occurs either in verse 13 or
      else in verse 16. It is
      also most commonly thought that, after the switch, the
      speaker is the author
      of John.

      What I am suggesting is that the switch occurs right
      away, in verses 10-11
      and that, after the switch, the speaker is James. That
      there is no evident
      "seam" in either verse 13 or verse 16 lends support to
      the idea that the
      switch takes place earlier than either verse.

      Too, note that, in 3:13-15, "Jesus" states, "No one
      has ascended into
      heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of
      Man. And as Moses
      lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the
      Son of Man be lifted
      up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life
      (RSV)."

      As far as I know, neither of these two doctrines are
      ascribed to Jesus in
      any of the other gospels. Therefore, I suggest, they
      are two doctrines
      formulated in a post-crucifixion sitz im leben. This
      lends support to the
      idea that "Jesus" becomes James in 3:10-11 and that
      this continues to be the
      case through 3:21. In this case, these two doctrines
      were formulated by
      the Jerusalem Church Council headed by James--thereby
      explaining why they
      are nowhere else attributed to Jesus.

      (Note: The first doctrine might be incorrectly
      rendered in the RSV. In The
      Johannine Son of Man (pp. 54-55), Francis J. Moloney
      states, "A more
      satisfactory solution is suggested by Bernard.
      Westcott and Lagrange. Jesus
      does not say that *he* has ascended, but that no one
      (oydeis) has
      ascended....The first part of John 3,13, then, is a
      denial of the
      possiblility of any human agent for the revelation of
      the things from above.
      To act as a revealer a human would have to ascend to
      heaven to learn these
      things. This possibility, in accordance with orthodox
      tradition, is denied.
      There is one exception to this--the Son of Man. The
      point made is not that
      the Son of Man has ascended (which he has done, and
      this is duly noted by an
      early commentator who adds: 'he who is in heaven') but
      that he descended."
      Even as rendered this way, the first doctrine is not
      attributed to Jesus in
      any of the other gospels. In particular, in none of
      them does he speak of
      the Son of Man as having descended from heaven in the
      person of himself.
      So, even as rendered this way, the first doctrine
      appears to be a
      post-crucifixion creation and, so, might have been
      formulated and preached
      by the Jerusalem Church Council.)

      Also, in support of the idea that, in 3:10-21, "Jesus"
      becomes James, it is
      noteworthy that there are several other passages in
      John where this appears
      to be the case. One of these is 10:1-5

      Let us look at the Second Apocalypse of James (55),
      where Jesus tells James,
      "And those who wish to enter, and those who seek to
      walk in the way that is
      before the door, open the good door through you. And
      they follow you; they
      enter [and you] escort them inside, and give a reward
      to each one who is
      ready for it. For you are not the redeemer nor a
      helper of strangers. You
      are an illuminator and a redeemer of those who (are)
      mine, and now of those
      who (are) yours."

      This directly relates to John 10:1-5, where Jesus
      states, "Amen. Amen. I
      say to you, he that enters in not by the door into the
      fold of the sheep,
      but climbs up elsewhere, he is a thief and a robber;
      but he that enters in
      by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the
      door-keeper opens, and
      the sheep hear his voice, and his own sheep he calls
      by name, and leads them
      out. And when his own sheep he puts forth, he goes
      before them; and the
      sheep follow him, because they know his voice. But a
      stranger in no way
      should they follow, but will flee from him, because
      they know not the voice
      of strangers."

      Obviously, the author of the Second Apocalypse of
      James understood that,
      in 10:1-5, Jesus symbolically represents James:
      thereby making it a
      declaration, by James, that he, rather than being a
      thief and a robber, is
      the shepherd of the sheep--these sheep being his in
      the sense that they are
      the sheep of Jesus entrusted to his care.

      Further, there is good reason to believe that, in
      fact, James should be
      understood to be the true speaker in 10:1-5. That is,
      in this case, we can
      readily determine the nature of the door and the
      identity of the strangers
      who are thieves and robbers. So, in The History of the
      Church (Book 2,
      Sect. 23), Eusebius thusly quotes Hegesippus,
      "Representatives of the seven
      popular sects described by me asked him (i.e., James)
      what was meant by 'the
      door of Jesus', and he replied that Jesus was the
      Saviour." Thus, if James
      be the true speaker in 10:1-5, then, in this passage,
      the door is Jesus in
      his role as the Saviour and the strangers (who are
      thieves and robbers) are
      the non-Christian Jewish religious leaders.

      Indeed, in line with this, in 10:7-8, Jesus (now
      speaking as himself)
      declares himself to be the door of the sheep and
      speaks of the Jewish
      religious leaders before himself as being thieves and
      robbers, "Amen. Amen.
      I say to you, that I am the door of the sheep. All
      whoever came before me
      are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear
      them."

      Regards,

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





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    • Frank McCoy
      ... Dear Bill Arnold: PART I VERSES 3-9 What is attributed to Jesus in John 3:3-9 appears to reflect Philonic thought rather than Pharisaic thought. Indeed,
      Message 97 of 97 , Mar 22, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        --- Bill Arnold <barnold_pb@...> wrote:
        > Hi, Bible Scholars and Students,
        >
        > Jan Sammer writes, "This is too wide a topic to go
        > into in this connection,
        > but it appears that Jesus expected to become the
        > Messiah upon his own
        > resurrection. This is not as odd as it may at first
        > appear since the
        > resurrection of the dead in the coming world age was
        > a cornerstone of
        > mainstream Pharisaic beliefs. This resurrection is
        > the second birth,
        > not of woman, characteristic of the Kingdom. This
        > idea in my opinion
        > goes back to the historical Jesus and was only
        > imperfectly
        > understood by the evangelists."
        >
        > Would anyone care to comment of the relationship, if
        > any, between Pharisaic
        > beliefs and the dialogue between the Pharisee
        > Nicodemus and Jesus, KJV,
        > John, C 3, Vs. 1-21, particularly, Vs. 3-7,
        >
        > 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily,
        > I say unto thee, Except
        > a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
        > God."
        >
        > 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born
        > when he is old? can he
        > enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be
        > born?"
        >
        > 5 Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
        > Except a man be born of
        > water and _of_ the Spirit, he cannot enter into the
        > kingdom of God."
        >
        > 6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and
        > that which is born of the
        > Spirit is sprit."
        >
        > 7 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
        > again."
        >


        Dear Bill Arnold:

        PART I VERSES 3-9

        What is attributed to Jesus in John 3:3-9 appears to
        reflect Philonic
        thought rather than Pharisaic thought. Indeed, ISTM,
        what we have, in
        Nicodemus, is an example of a Pharisee unsuccessfully
        trying to understand
        an element of Philonic thought that is alien to
        Pharisaic thought.

        Let us look at verse 3, "Jesus answered and said unto
        him, 'Verily,
        verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,
        he cannot see the
        kingdom of God.'"

        What does it mean to be born again?

        Well, in terms of Philo's teachings, "to be born
        again" means "to be called
        above".

        In Exodus (Book II, 46), regarding Exodus 24:16 ("And
        the glory of God came
        down upon the mount Sina, and the cloud covered it six
        days; and the Lord
        called Moses on the seventh day out of the midst of
        the cloud."), Philo asks
        the question, "Why is the mountain covered with a
        cloud for six days, and
        Moses called above on the seventh day?", and gives, as
        a part of his answer,
        "But the calling above of the prophet is a second
        birth better than the
        first. For the latter is mixed with a body and had
        corruptible parents,
        while the former is an unmixed and simple soul of the
        sovereign, being
        changed from a productive to an unproductive form,
        which has no mother but
        only a father, who is (the Father) of all."

        Here, Philo speaks of how the calling above of Moses
        was his second birth--a
        birth in which his sole parent was God.

        Further, it was a rebirth in the soul alone.

        Finally, it involved Moses' entry into the cloud.
        That is to say, it
        involved Moses' entry into Wisdom--for, in Philonic
        thought, this cloud, in
        which resides God, is Wisdom.

        So, in Exodus (Book II, 23), Philo states, "This is
        said in reference to the
        dissolution and rapture of the most perfect and
        prophetic mind, for which it
        is fitting and lawful to enter the dark cloud and to
        dwell in the forecourt
        of the palace of the Father."

        This dark cloud, as it is the palace of God and has a
        forecourt, is the
        Wisdom, as the heavenly tabernacle/temple, where
        dwells God. So, in Cong
        (116), Philo states, "And further on he will
        speak of God's dwelling place, the skenen
        (tent/tabernacle), as being 'ten curtains' (Ex. xxvi.
        1), for to the structure which includes the whole of
        Wisdom the perfect number ten belongs, and Wisdom is
        the court and palace of the All-ruler, the sole
        Monarch, the Soveregn Lord."

        So, to summarize, according to Philo, the calling
        above of a person is the
        second birth of this person. It is a birth in the
        soul alone. One's sole
        parent in it is God. In it, one's soul is called up
        above into the Wisdom
        that is the palace and residence of God as the All
        Ruler, sole Monarch, and
        sovereign Lord.

        This readily relates to 3:3--in which, it is declared,
        one must be reborn
        before one can see the Kingdom of God. This rebirth,
        I suggest, is one's
        calling above. As such, it is a rebirth in the soul
        alone and one's sole
        parent in it is God. In it, one's soul, even though
        it (in one sense)
        remains in the body, yet, (in another sense) has been
        called above into
        Wisdom as the heavenly tablernacle/temple. As this
        heavenly
        tabernacle/temple, this Wisdom is the Kingdom of God
        in its strictest sense,
        i.e., in the sense of being the realm in which God,
        the All Ruler,
        permanently resides. Therefore, as a consequence of
        this rebirth, one "sees"
        the Kingdom of God.

        Next, let us turn to verse 4, "Nicodemus saith unto
        him, 'How can a man be
        born when he is old? can he enter the second time into
        his mother's womb,
        and be born?'"

        Here, Nicodemus is perceptive enough to realize that
        Jesus is not referring
        to one's bodily resurrection at the End. However, he
        fails to perceive that
        what Jesus is talking about is a second birth in the
        soul alone and in which
        one's sole parent is God. This is because such a
        notion is alien to
        Pharisaic thought. So, he comes to the erroneous
        conclusion that Jesus must
        be referring to a second birth of oneself by one's
        mother!

        Next, let us turn to verses 5-7: 5, "Jesus answered,
        'Verily, verily, I say
        unto thee, Except a man be born of water and _of_ the
        Spirit, he cannot
        enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of
        the flesh is flesh;
        and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7
        Marvel not that I said
        unto thee, Ye must be born again.'"

        There is an inherent tension between verses 5 and 6 in
        that verse 5 states
        that rebirth is through water and Spirit, while verse
        6 seems to assume that
        rebirth is solely through the Spirit.

        Some think that "of water and" is a late addition to
        verse 5. This is
        possible, although I think it unlikely because it is
        found in all existing
        copies of John.

        What I suggest is that "of water and Spirit" contains
        two references to one
        and the same thing. In this case, it means this, "of
        the spiritual water
        that is the Spirit" just as the phrase "the Lord and
        Father (James 3:11)"
        apparently means, "the Lord who is the Father".

        Indeed, the idea that the Spirit is a type of
        spiritual water was widespread
        in Judaism at the time of Jesus.

        For example, according to both the Markan and Q
        traditions, John the Baptist
        spoke of a Coming One who will baptize with the
        Spirit--the implication
        being that the Spirit is the superior spiritual analog
        to the physical water
        with which John baptized those who came to him.

        Again, in Essenic thought, the Spirit was deemed to be
        a spiritual water.
        So, in their The Community Rule, it is said, "He
        (i.e., God) will cleanse
        him of all wicked deeds with the spirit of holiness;
        like purifying waters
        He will shed upon him the spirit of truth (to cleanse
        him) of all
        abomination and injustice. And he shall be plunged
        into the spirit of
        purification,...".

        Too, in Philonic thought, the Spirit was deemed to be
        the Wisdom and to be,
        as such, a spiritual water. So, in Deus (2-3), Philo
        states, "It is after
        that Spirit (has gone) that the angels or messengers
        (of falsehood) go into
        the 'daughters of men'. For while the soul is
        illumined by the bright and
        pure rays of Wisdom, through which the sage sees God
        and His potencies, none
        of the messengers of falsehood has access to the
        (human) reason, but all are
        barred from passing the bounds *which the lustral
        water has consecrated."*
        (my emphasis).

        If, as suggested, the phrase "of water and the Spirit"
        means "the spiritual
        water that is the Spirit", then the strong tension
        between verses 5 and 6
        disappear: for, in this case, both of them relate that
        one's rebirth is
        accomplished (by God) through the Spirit.

        Indeed, according to Philo, God accomplishes the
        calling above (i.e., second
        birth) through the Spirit. So, in Plant. (23-26),
        Philo states, "This is
        why those who crave for Wisdom and Knowledge
        (Episteme) with insatiable
        persistence are said in the Sacred Oracles to have
        been called upwards; for
        it accords with God's ways that those who have
        received His down-breathing
        should be called up to Him. For when trees are whirled
        up, roots and all,
        into the air by hurricanes and tornadoes, and heavily
        laden ships of large
        tonnage are snatched up out of mid-ocean, as though
        objects of very little
        weight, and lakes and rivers are borne aloft, and
        earth's hollows are left
        empty by the water as it is drqwn up by a tangle of
        violently eddying winds,
        it is strange if a light substance like the mind is
        not rendered buoyant and
        raised to the utmost height by the native force of the
        Divine Spirit,
        overcoming as it does in its boundless might all
        powers that are here below.
        Above all is it strange if this is not so with the
        mind of the genuine
        philosopher. Such an one suffers from no weight of
        downward pressure
        towards the objects dear to the body and to earth.
        From these he has ever
        made an earnest effort to sever and estrange himself.
        So he is borne upward
        insatiably enamoured of all holy happy natures that
        dwell on high.
        Accordingly Moses, the keeper and guardian of the
        mysteries of the Existent
        One, will be one called above; for it is said in the
        Book of Leviticus, 'He
        called Moses up above' (Lev. i. 1). One called above
        will Bezeleel also be,
        held worthy of a place in the second rank. For him
        also does God call up
        above for the construction and overseeing of the
        sacred works (Exod. xxxi. 2
        ff.)."

        I think we are now in a position to interpret verses
        5-7: 5, "Jesus
        answered, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a
        man be born of water
        and _of_ the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom
        of God. 6 That which
        is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born
        of the Spirit is spiri
        t. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
        again.'"

        There are two types of birth. The first is when you
        are born in a bodily
        sense of your mother. The second is when you are
        reborn in the soul by God
        through the Spirit that is a spiritual water. This
        second is the superior
        birth, for it enables one's soul to enter into Wisdom,
        i.e., the Kingdom of
        God.

        Once entered into Wisdom, the soul can then go on
        spiritual journeys that
        are completely unknowable to those souls still
        completely earthbound. This
        is why it is added in verse 8, "The wind blows where
        it wills, and you hear
        the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes
        or whither it goes; so
        it is with evey one that is born of the Spirit." Like
        the wind that comes
        from where we know not and goes to where we know not,
        the reborn soul goes
        on spiritual journeys through Wisdom that are
        unbeknowst to those souls
        still completely earthbound.

        All of this is alien to Pharisaic thought so,
        naturally, it leaves Nicodemus
        completely baffled: which is why he asks in verse 9,
        "How can this be?"

        PART II JOHN 3:10-21

        Let us look at John 3:10-11, where Jesus tells
        Nicodumus, "Are you a teacher
        of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly,
        truly, I say to you,
        we speak what we know, and bear witness to what we
        have seen, but you
        (plural) do not receive our testimony."

        As can be seen, this passage begins with Jesus as an
        individual speaking to
        Nicodumus as an individual. However, it ends with
        Jesus speaking on behalf
        of others (the "we") to a group ("you" in a plural
        sense).

        What I suggest is that we have, here, a shift in the
        identity of Jesus. In
        the beginning of this passage, he is himself. However,
        by the end of it he
        symbolicaly represents James the Just as the head of
        the Jerusalem Church
        Council (the "we").

        What I suggest is that we have, here, a shift in the
        identity of Nicodumus.
        In the beginning of this passage, he is himself as a
        teacher of Israel.
        However, by the end of it he symbolically represents
        all the teachers of
        Israel.

        As a result, I suggest, 3:10-11 ends with James the
        Just, acting in his
        role as the head of the Jerusalem Church Council,
        telling Nicodemus that he
        and the other teachers of Israel do not receive (i.e.,
        understand and
        accept) what is taught by the Jerusalem Church
        Council.

        The speech by Jesus to Nicodemus continues,
        uninterrupted, until 3:21. I
        suggest that, in this continuation of the speech,
        "Jesus" continues to
        symbolically represent James the Just.

        If so, then it is James the Just who proclaims, to us,
        the majestic words
        of 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his
        only begotten Son,
        that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
        have everlasting life
        (KJV)."

        Of course, it is widely recognized that, at some point
        in the monologue
        found in 3:10-21, the speaker ceases to be Jesus. It
        is most commonly
        thought that the switch occurs either in verse 13 or
        else in verse 16. It is
        also most commonly thought that, after the switch, the
        speaker is the author
        of John.

        What I am suggesting is that the switch occurs right
        away, in verses 10-11
        and that, after the switch, the speaker is James. That
        there is no evident
        "seam" in either verse 13 or verse 16 lends support to
        the idea that the
        switch takes place earlier than either verse.

        Too, note that, in 3:13-15, "Jesus" states, "No one
        has ascended into
        heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of
        Man. And as Moses
        lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the
        Son of Man be lifted
        up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life
        (RSV)."

        As far as I know, neither of these two doctrines are
        ascribed to Jesus in
        any of the other gospels. Therefore, I suggest, they
        are two doctrines
        formulated in a post-crucifixion sitz im leben. This
        lends support to the
        idea that "Jesus" becomes James in 3:10-11 and that
        this continues to be the
        case through 3:21. In this case, these two doctrines
        were formulated by
        the Jerusalem Church Council headed by James--thereby
        explaining why they
        are nowhere else attributed to Jesus.

        (Note: The first doctrine might be incorrectly
        rendered in the RSV. In The
        Johannine Son of Man (pp. 54-55), Francis J. Moloney
        states, "A more
        satisfactory solution is suggested by Bernard.
        Westcott and Lagrange. Jesus
        does not say that *he* has ascended, but that no one
        (oydeis) has
        ascended....The first part of John 3,13, then, is a
        denial of the
        possiblility of any human agent for the revelation of
        the things from above.
        To act as a revealer a human would have to ascend to
        heaven to learn these
        things. This possibility, in accordance with orthodox
        tradition, is denied.
        There is one exception to this--the Son of Man. The
        point made is not that
        the Son of Man has ascended (which he has done, and
        this is duly noted by an
        early commentator who adds: 'he who is in heaven') but
        that he descended."
        Even as rendered this way, the first doctrine is not
        attributed to Jesus in
        any of the other gospels. In particular, in none of
        them does he speak of
        the Son of Man as having descended from heaven in the
        person of himself.
        So, even as rendered this way, the first doctrine
        appears to be a
        post-crucifixion creation and, so, might have been
        formulated and preached
        by the Jerusalem Church Council.)

        Also, in support of the idea that, in 3:10-21, "Jesus"
        becomes James, it is
        noteworthy that there are several other passages in
        John where this appears
        to be the case. One of these is 10:1-5

        Let us look at the Second Apocalypse of James (55),
        where Jesus tells James,
        "And those who wish to enter, and those who seek to
        walk in the way that is
        before the door, open the good door through you. And
        they follow you; they
        enter [and you] escort them inside, and give a reward
        to each one who is
        ready for it. For you are not the redeemer nor a
        helper of strangers. You
        are an illuminator and a redeemer of those who (are)
        mine, and now of those
        who (are) yours."

        This directly relates to John 10:1-5, where Jesus
        states, "Amen. Amen. I
        say to you, he that enters in not by the door into the
        fold of the sheep,
        but climbs up elsewhere, he is a thief and a robber;
        but he that enters in
        by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the
        door-keeper opens, and
        the sheep hear his voice, and his own sheep he calls
        by name, and leads them
        out. And when his own sheep he puts forth, he goes
        before them; and the
        sheep follow him, because they know his voice. But a
        stranger in no way
        should they follow, but will flee from him, because
        they know not the voice
        of strangers."

        Obviously, the author of the Second Apocalypse of
        James understood that,
        in 10:1-5, Jesus symbolically represents James:
        thereby making it a
        declaration, by James, that he, rather than being a
        thief and a robber, is
        the shepherd of the sheep--these sheep being his in
        the sense that they are
        the sheep of Jesus entrusted to his care.

        Further, there is good reason to believe that, in
        fact, James should be
        understood to be the true speaker in 10:1-5. That is,
        in this case, we can
        readily determine the nature of the door and the
        identity of the strangers
        who are thieves and robbers. So, in The History of the
        Church (Book 2,
        Sect. 23), Eusebius thusly quotes Hegesippus,
        "Representatives of the seven
        popular sects described by me asked him (i.e., James)
        what was meant by 'the
        door of Jesus', and he replied that Jesus was the
        Saviour." Thus, if James
        be the true speaker in 10:1-5, then, in this passage,
        the door is Jesus in
        his role as the Saviour and the strangers (who are
        thieves and robbers) are
        the non-Christian Jewish religious leaders.

        Indeed, in line with this, in 10:7-8, Jesus (now
        speaking as himself)
        declares himself to be the door of the sheep and
        speaks of the Jewish
        religious leaders before himself as being thieves and
        robbers, "Amen. Amen.
        I say to you, that I am the door of the sheep. All
        whoever came before me
        are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear
        them."

        Regards,

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





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