2963RE: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?
- Jan 2, 2003Hello Frank McCoy,
None of us both answered Jeffery's question (is there a possibility at all
to establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant, and what
kind of rules would have applied to their use?) - but let me reflect shortly
on your reaction.
Of course, you would not be Frank McCoy if you had not sent in extensive
Philo citations. As always, the parallels in use of words, concepts and
images are interesting.
But it is curious to see that your treatment of both authors does not urge
you, once you have arrived at Philo, to return to John. As I read your
contribution, you do not seem to acknowledge John's Gospel as an independent
piece of literature. One remark in John is explained exhaustively by the
thoughts, not of John, but of Philo.
It is not to underestimate the possible, in any case complex, relationship
between John and Philo - but a remark of John should be explained, at least
initially, in the context of John's own thought as expressed in his own
I completely disagree with your proposition, for example, to explain the six
vessels in John 2 as an image of disciples, just because in Philo's
meditations on Genesis 24 disciples are vessels for scriptural instruction.
That both John and Philo speak about "hydria" is just because both write in
greek. In fact, John's line of thought will be far closer to Philo's at this
point in John 4, where John himself is recurring to Genesis 24 motifs - but
there it is their common source, not their interdependence, that accounts
for their kinship of thought.
In John 2, the six vessels seem to be something like the forms of law
fulfillment, the six working days that have to be fulfilled, but that out of
themselves will never produce a shabbath. But just here a considerable
difference between Philo and John is, that John shows no need to pin images
down to exact meanings in a rebus-like manner.
A last difference: Philo is a commentary writer, John writes a story
himself. That makes a big difference both in the way they use language and
images, and in the exgegetical treatment they deserve.
Piet van Veldhuizen
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