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Re: [John_Lit] Johannine Literature: Discussion on Raimo Hakola's "Jesus' Jewishness in the Fourth Gospel: An Antidote"

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  • FMMCCOY
    Dear Professor Hakola and Other JL Listers: Near the end of your paper, you suggest that a process of supersessionism is going on in John, even though it not
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 4, 2001
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      Dear Professor Hakola and Other JL Listers:

      Near the end of your paper, you suggest that a process of supersessionism
      is going on in John, even though it not be full-blown. I'm not sure this is
      the case. Indeed, I wonder if what is going on in John is more a case of
      completing Judaism than of superseding Judaism--at least as respects Moses
      and the Law.
      I begin the argument in a most unlikely place--Philo's essay Vita. on the
      Therapeutae. Here, he declares (78), "For
      to these people the whole law book seems
      to resemble a living creature, with the literal ordinances for its body and
      for its soul the invisible mind (nous) laid up in its wording. Is is in
      this mind especially that the rational soul begins to contemplate the things
      akin to itself and looking through the words as through a mirror, beholds
      the marvellous beauties of the concepts, unfolds and removes the symbolic
      coverings and brings forth the thoughts". Here, the "invisible mind", which
      is "akin" to the rational soul, is the Logos--whom Philo, in Her (234),
      declares to be the pattern for human minds. Further, this Logos is present
      on an allegorical level of the Torah as a set of concepts that are "the
      thoughts". That is to say, this Logos is present on the allegorical level
      of the Torah as the speech of God as broken down into its individual
      utterances or logoi. So, in Mig (80), Philo declares, "'thoughts' are
      nothing else than God's logoi or speech."
      In essence, they believed, the Torah consists of two parts. The first
      part consists of the literal ordinances of Mosaic Law. The second part, to
      be found on an allegorical level of the Torah,
      consists of the Logos as the speech of God as broken-down into the logoi.
      The first is inferior, the second superior--the body as compared to the
      soul. So, they held, the literal ordinances of Mosaic Law are an inferior
      revelation compared to the revelation which consists of the Logos as speech
      and as broken down into the logoi.
      In Johannine thought, this Therapeutic concept of the two revelations is
      adopted, but with a radical spin. In particular, it is held, Moses only
      gave us the inferior revelation consisting of the literal ordinances of the
      Torah and it was the Logos incarnate in the flesh as Jesus who gave us the
      superior revelation consisting of the logoi.
      This point is illustrated in 1:14-17, "And the Logos became flesh and
      tabernacled among us....And of his Fulness we have all received, grace upon
      grace. For the Law was given through Moses, (but) the Grace and the Truth
      came through Jesus Christ."
      The Fulness within the Logos is the spiritual light that is the model for
      the visible light. So, in Som i (75), Philo declares, "the model or pattern
      (for the visible light) was the Logos which contained all His
      Fullness--light, in fact". This is the light of the Spirit-Sophia-Arete
      that fills the Logos, making her a part of his very self.
      From this Fulness comes "grace upon grace". That is to say, from this
      Fulness comes logos upon logos. So, in LA iii (162-163), Philo states,
      "You see that the soul is fed not with things of earth that decay but with
      such logoi as God shall have poured like rain out of that lofty and pure
      region of life to which the prophet has given the title of 'heaven'. To
      proceed. The people, and all that goes to make the soul, is to go out and
      gather and make a beginning of knowledge, not all at once but 'the days
      portion for a day.' For to begin with it will be unable to contain all at
      once the abundant wealth of the graces of God (Theou chariton)."
      Since the logoi are the graces, they are, together, the Grace. Further,
      since each is a truth, they are, together, the Truth. Hence, they are the
      Grace and the Truth that comes from the Logos. Further, they are a new and
      superior revelation given by the Logos incarnate in the flesh as Jesus--for
      (the inferior revelation of) the Law was given through Moses, (but the
      superior revelation of the logoi, who are) the Grace and the Truth came
      through Jesus Christ.
      So, in 1:14-17, we have the Therapeutic idea that there are two
      revelations: (1) an inferior one consisting of the ordinances of Mosaic
      Law, and (2) a superior one consisting of the logoi. However, while the
      Therapeutae held that both revelations come from Moses, the author of John
      holds that only the inferior revelation of the Law came from Moses and that
      the superior revelation of the logoi came from the Logos incarnate in the
      flesh as Jesus.
      The reason why the revelation of the logoi is the superior revelation
      is that they are life (6:63). In contrast, life is not to be found in the
      Torah, although "the Jews" seek it there (compare 5:39).
      This means that there was a fundamental incompatibility between the
      members of the Johannine community and "the Jews". For the first group, it
      is Jesus, rather than Moses, who has revealed to us the the means of eternal
      life. For the second group, it is Moses, rather than Jesus, who has
      revealed to us the means of eternal life. Even some Christians,
      particularly in Judea, belonged to this second group (Acts 15:1), so we have
      the situation where some of "the Jews" are Christians who, while they have
      been given the opportunity for salvation by heeding what Jesus has uttered,
      have refused to listen to him (8:31).
      In 9:28, I suggest, this incompatibility between the members of the
      Johannine community and "the Jews" is expressed in terms of incompatible
      discipleships. Either one believes that salvation was revealed by Moses, in
      which case you are a disciple of Moses, or else one believes that salvation
      was revealed by Jesus, in which case you are a disciple of Jesus.
      Having said this, it is, yet, the case that, for the Johannine community,
      Jesus does not supersede Moses nor do his words supersede the Law--for they
      neither abandoned loyalty to Moses nor did they abandon the observance of
      the Law.. So, they continued to
      revere Moses as a revealer and claimed that he speaks of Jesus in the
      Torah (5:39f)--and, indeed, according to Philo, Moses makes numerous
      references to the Logos in the Torah. Again, outside of false charges of
      blasphemy, the "Jews" do not accuse the followers of Jesus of being
      violators of the Law. Too, the Johannine Jesus, unlike the
      Markan Jesus, is faithful to the Torah. He does not eat with sinners, touch
      lepers, or declare all food to be clean.. He is falsely accused of
      blasphemy. He is correctly accused of healing on the Sabbath, but this is
      not a true violation of the Law because, as the Logos, the Son who is the
      Vice-roy of God the Father, he must work as God works and, so, the
      Sabbath commandment doesn't apply to him (5:16-17). The bottom line: in my
      opinion, Moses was a revered revealer in the Johannine community and his Law
      was carefully observed.
      I would like to make three more points. First, you are correct in noting
      that the Johannine Jesus does refer to the Law as "your Law". However,
      might it not simply mean "this is the Law you claim to follow" or something
      like that? If so, then it is not a denial that the Law applies to Jesus and
      his followers.
      Second, perhaps the basic point in 7:23 is that, if it is lawful to
      mutilate the body under certain circumstances on the Sabbath, then it
      certainly is lawful to make it whole on the Sabbath. If Justin gives us the
      proper "key" for unveiling the meaning of this passage, then why didn't the
      Johannine Jesus and
      his followers abandon the sabbath and circumcision ordinances
      and do things like going to work on the Sabbath and advising people to not
      circumcise their sons so that they can compete in athletic events without
      embarassment.?
      Third, since the members of the Johannine community didn't believe that
      one is saved by obeying the Law, I think that they continued to observe it
      for one or more other reasons. Perhaps, as Jews, they believed that Mosaic
      Law ought to be obeyed by themselves and by other Christian Jews because it
      is a part of the covenant between God and the Jews. In this case, they
      would have wanted other Christian Jews to continue observing the Law, but
      would have been open to the idea that Gentile Christians need not obey
      Mosaic Law. If so, they might have been the members of the the Jerusalem
      Church headed by James the
      Just--who was a zealous observer of the Law, and who tried to get
      other Jewish Christians to obey it (e.g., the incident at Antioch), but who
      decreed that Gentile Christians need not obey it. Also see Acts
      21:20-21--where, it is emphasised, there were thousands of Jewish Christians
      in Jerusalem who were zealous for the Law and revered Moses.and where Paul
      is rebuked by the Jerusalem Church Council only for his telling the Jews in
      the Diaspora to stop obeying the Law (noticably absent, in particular, is
      any rebuke of Paul for telling the Gentiles that they should not observe the
      Law).

      Regards,

      Frank McCoy
      Mpalewood, MN USA
    • Raimo Hakola
      Dear Frank, I respond here to some of your thoughts. I do not know enough about Philo, so I think I am not capable of saying anything of that part of your
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 5, 2001
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        Dear Frank,

        I respond here to some of your thoughts. I do not know enough about Philo, so I
        think I am not capable of saying anything of that part of your response. Your
        suggestion that there is a connection between some Johannine and Therapeutic
        ideas is surely an interesting one. But I confine myself here to what you say
        about John.
        Frank wrote:
        "Having said this, it is, yet, the case that, for the Johannine community,
        Jesus does not supersede Moses nor do his words supersede the Law-for they
        neither abandoned loyalty to Moses nor did they abandon the observance of the
        Law ... The bottom line: in my opinion, Moses was a revered revealer in the
        Johannine community and his Law was carefully observed."

        I interpret the position of the Mosaic law in the Johannine community very
        differently. Moses is indeed regarded as a witness for Jesus (John 5:39ff.), but
        there is also a sharp contrast between Jesus and Moses in the Gospel. In ch. 6,
        the manna given by Moses is contrasted with the true bread from heaven. Jesus
        associates manna with death and declares that only he himself as the heavenly
        bread can give life. This contrast between the gift of Moses and the gift of
        Jesus is very telling, because it is possible, as many scholars note, that the
        manna here symbolizes the Mosaic law. But even without this symbolism, Jesus'
        speech in ch. 6 makes clear that the position of Moses in the Johannine
        community was ambiguous: on the one hand, Moses stands as a witness for Jesus,
        but, on the other hand, it is made clear that the gift of Jesus supersedes that
        of Moses. I can't help thinking that we have here some starting points for the
        later development of Christian supersessionism. I also think that it is by no
        means self-evident that the Mosaic law was still observed in the Johannine
        community. As I tried to argue in my paper, the way the Johannine Jesus develops
        his argument in John 7:19-24 shows that the Johannine Christians saw a
        contradiction between circumcision on the eighth day and the sabbath and used
        this contradiction to undermine the claims of their opponents. This suggests for
        me that these basic commandments of Mosaic law were not observed anymore in the
        Johannine community. I think that this reading is supported by John 5:1-18 where
        Jesus is presented as the one who provokes deliberately a sabbath conflict in
        order to reveal his true identity. The carrying of the pallet would have been an
        obvious violation of the sabbath laws for most of the Jews, and I think that the
        evangelist is not ignorant of this. But the sabbath does not seem to be a legal
        question for the evangelist, and it has only a subsidiary significance as a part
        of the argument leading to the claim that Jesus is equal with God. Again, I
        think that this passage implies that the sabbath was not anymore observed by the
        writer and his community.
        Frank also wrote:
        "Third, since the members of the Johannine community didn't believe that one is
        saved by obeying the Law, I think that they continued to observe it for one or
        more other reasons. Perhaps, as Jews, they believed that Mosaic Law ought to be
        obeyed by themselves and by other Christian Jews because it is a part of the
        covenant between God and the Jews. In this case, they would have wanted other
        Christian Jews to continue observing the Law, but would have been open to the
        idea that Gentile Christians need not obey Mosaic Law."

        If this would have been the situation of the Johannine community, I would expect
        that there would be more discussion about the relevance of the law in the Gospel
        as was the case with Paul who struggled with the questions that you describe.
        But there is not that kind of legal discussion in John that we find in the
        synoptic tradition or in Paul (food laws, the keeping of the sabbath, the need
        to circumcise). I take this lack of interest in legal disputes as a sign that
        these issues were not anymore fundamental for the Johannine believers. All and
        all, I think that the Johannine Christians did not base their identity upon such
        things as the sabbath, circumcision or the revelation given by Moses, even
        though most of their fellow Jews did. The identity of the Johannine Christians
        was rather based on the new revelation given by Jesus, who was not only seen as
        the fulfillment of what Moses had written but also as the substitute of the old
        forms of Jewish faith.

        In this connection I also want to thank professor Adele Reinhartz for her
        encouraging comments on my paper. And thanks also JeffEry for you helpful
        comments!

        Regards
        Raimo

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        Raimo Hakola
        Department of Biblical Studies
        P.O. Box 33
        FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
        tel. +358 9 191 22518
        fax + 358 9 191 22106
      • FMMCCOY
        ... From: Raimo Hakola Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:40 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Johannine Literature: Discussion on Raimo
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 7, 2001
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Raimo Hakola" <raimo.hakola@...>
          Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:40 PM
          Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Johannine Literature: Discussion on Raimo Hakola's
          "Jesus' Jewishness in the Fourth Gospel: An Antidote"


          > I respond here to some of your thoughts. I do not know enough about Philo,
          so I
          > think I am not capable of saying anything of that part of your response.

          Dear Raimo:

          I strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with Philo's works and
          the Dead Sea scrolls, as they are primary sources on Judaism during the
          lifetimes of Jesus and the Apostles.
          Let me give you an example of where they are useful. In the Shabbath
          (7), the forty less one class of work is "taking out aught from one domain
          into another."
          We find that, at the time of Jesus, it was interpreted at least two
          different ways. In Mig (91), Philo states that, on the Sabbath, one cannot
          carry loads. He, then, took "domain" to mean "place", making any
          carrying/taking of
          something from one place to another work and, therefore, a forbidden
          activity on the Sabbath. However, in CD (aka The Damascus Document), XI, it
          is said, "No man shall take anything out of the house or bring anything in
          (on the Sabbath). And if he is in a booth, let him neither take anything
          out nor bring anything in (on the Sabbath)." Here, it is assumed, there are
          two domains--what is inside your residence and what is outside your
          residence. Consequently, you can carry/take things from one place to
          another on the Sabbath as long as you don't go in or out of your residence.
          Now, in John 5:1-18, there are a multitude of invalids near a pool.
          They are there hoping to get miraculously healed when the water is
          disturbed. Jesus comes and heals one of them and then tells him to take up
          his pallet and walk. It is the Sabbath. "The Jews" say that this violates
          the Sabbath commandment. Indeed, by Philo's standards, Jesus has told the
          man to violate the Sabbath commandment. However, by Essene
          standards, what Jesus told the man involves no work unless he takes the
          pallet into his residence. Interestingly, in CD, XI, it is also said that
          "No man shall willingly mingle on the Sabbath." As a result, according to
          Essene interpretation, now that the man is healed and free to go, he ought
          to walk away lest he violate the Sabbath commandment by willingly remaining
          with the multitude. Therefore, from the perspective of the Essenes, what
          Jesus told the man (i.e., to take up his pallet and walk) not only was
          lawful, but was designed to get the man to walk away from the multitude and,
          so, to save him from violating the Sabbath commandment!.


          Raimo, you also say, "I interpret the position of the Mosaic law in the
          Johannine community very differently. Moses is indeed regarded as a witness
          for Jesus (John 5:39ff.), but there is also a sharp contrast between Jesus
          and Moses in the Gospel. In ch. 6, the manna given by Moses is contrasted
          with the true bread from heaven. Jesus associates manna with death and
          declares that only he himself as the heavenly bread can give life. This
          contrast between the gift of Moses and the gift of Jesus is very telling,
          because it is possible, as many scholars note, that the manna here
          symbolizes the Mosaic law. But even without this symbolism, Jesus' speech in
          ch. 6 makes clear that the position of Moses in the Johannine
          community was ambiguous: on the one hand, Moses stands as a witness for
          Jesus, but, on the other hand, it is made clear that the gift of Jesus
          supersedes that of Moses. I can't help thinking that we have here some
          starting points
          for the later development of Christian supersessionism."
          In response, I suggest you read my post of 2:14, where I discuss
          the bread of life. On one level of understanding, it
          consists of the logoi. As such, it is the new revelation of the logoi
          revealed by Jesus as the incarnate Logos. As you point out, the manna given
          by Moses very well might represent the old revelation of the Law. One
          brings life (6:53), the other does not. Thus, the new revelation is
          superior to the old revelation because it alone can bring one eternal life.
          It does not follow from this that the new revelation replaces the old
          revelation. For example, the new revelation can be taken to be something
          that adds to old revelation so that, together, they constitute one big
          unified revelation that brings life.


          Raimo, you say, "I also think that it is by no means self-evident that
          the Mosaic law was still observed in the Johannine
          community. As I tried to argue in my paper, the way the Johannine Jesus
          develops his argument in John 7:19-24 shows that the Johannine Christians
          saw a contradiction between circumcision on the eighth day and the sabbath
          and used this contradiction to undermine the claims of their opponents. This
          suggests for me that these basic commandments of Mosaic law were not
          observed anymore in the Johannine community. I think that this reading is
          supported by John 5:1-18
          where Jesus is presented as the one who provokes deliberately a sabbath
          conflict in order to reveal his true identity. The carrying of the pallet
          would have been an obvious violation of the sabbath laws for most of the
          Jews, and I think
          that the evangelist is not ignorant of this. But the sabbath does not seem
          to be a legal question for the evangelist, and it has only a subsidiary
          significance as a part of the argument leading to the claim that Jesus is
          equal with God. Again, I think that this passage implies that the sabbath
          was not anymore observed by the writer and his community."
          In response, if you are correct and the members of the Johannine
          community did not observe the Sabbath commandment and, so, did not go to
          Sabbath services in synagogues, then why were they traumatized by being made
          exsynagogue? Also, if they didn't go to Sabbath services in synagogues,
          then why did the other Jews even bother to make them exsynagogue?
          Too, we must take into account Mig 93, where Philo states that "if we
          keep and and observe these (ordinances of the Law)", then "we shall not
          incur the censure of the many and the charges they are sure to bring against
          us." Here, we learn, even in the Diaspora, Jews who were flagrant
          lawbreakers could expect to be persecuted for just this reason by other
          Jews. Indeed, Paul was beaten many times, once almost to death, by other
          Jews and some Jews zealous for the Law tried to assassinate him--all because
          he preached against the observance of the Law! Too, judging by Mark 3:6,
          some Pharisees and "Herodians" plotted to assassinate Jesus because, in
          their opinion, he violated the Sabbath commandment. If, as you claim, the
          members of the Johannine community were Jews who were no longer observing
          the major commandments (e.g., the Sabbath, circumcision, and eating pork
          commandments), then why are there no indications in John that "the Jews" had
          beaten and even slain many of the members of the Johannine community for the
          reason that they were flagrant Law-breakers? This is all the stranger
          because, judging by 5:9-10, "the Jews" had people who, on the Sabbath,
          looked for any breaking of the Sabbath commandment by other Jews and whose
          job was to intimidate any such Law-breakers into obedience.
          In John 5:1-18 and John 7:19-23. I see the
          Johannine community and "the Jews" in conflict over nuances in interpreting
          the Sabbath commandment. One side claims that healing on the Sabbath is
          lawful, the other does not. The side which claims that healing on the
          Sabbath is lawful uses an argument to justify this stand that doesn't meet
          rabbinic standards, but it meets their own standards and that is why they
          use it. One side interprets "domain" in such a fashion as to forbid any
          carrying/taking on the Sabbath, while the other side interprets it in such a
          fashion as to permit a considerable
          degree of carrying/taking on the Sabbath..

          Raimo, finally, you write,. "But there is not that kind of legal
          discussion in John that we find in the synoptic tradition or in Paul (food
          laws, the keeping of the sabbath, the need to circumcise). I take this lack
          of interest in legal disputes as a sign
          that these issues were not anymore fundamental for the Johannine believers.
          All and all, I think that the Johannine Christians did not base their
          identity upon such things as the sabbath, circumcision or the revelation
          given by Moses, even though most of their fellow Jews did. The identity of
          the Johannine Christians was rather based on the new revelation given by
          Jesus, who was not only seen as the fulfillment of what Moses had written
          but also as the substitute of the old forms of Jewish faith."
          In response, I take the lack of agonizing or disuptation over the Law in
          John, with the one exception of how to interpret the Sabbath commandment, to
          reflect an underlying reality in which both the members of the Johannine
          community and "the Jews" are obedient to the Law and, outside of the
          Sabbath commandment, are in agreement on how to interpret it. Further,
          there are no Gentile Christians in the Johannine community to complicate
          matters. Hence, I see both the members of the Johannine community and "the
          Jews" as being ethnic Jews living in a Jewish town or city--most likely, I
          think, in Jerusalem..

          Regards,

          Frank McCoy
          Maplewood, MN USA
        • Raimo Hakola
          Dear Frank, Thanks for continuing our discussion. Here is my latest reaction: Frank wrote, However, in CD (aka The Damascus Document), XI, it is said, No man
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 8, 2001
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            Dear Frank,
            Thanks for continuing our discussion. Here is my latest reaction:

            Frank wrote,
            "However, in CD (aka The Damascus Document), XI, it is said, "No man shall
            take anything out of the house or bring anything in (on the Sabbath). And
            if he is in a booth, let him neither take anything out nor bring anything
            in (on the Sabbath)." Here, it is assumed, there are two domains--what is
            inside your residence and what is outside your residence. Consequently,
            you can carry/take things from one place to another on the Sabbath as long
            as you don't go in or out of your residence. ... Indeed, by Philo's
            standards, Jesus has told the man to violate the Sabbath commandment.
            However, by Essene standards, what Jesus told the man involves no work
            unless he takes the pallet into his residence."

            I do not think that your interpretation of the sabbath commandment in the
            Qumran community is right. I doubt whether there is a real difference
            between Philo and the Qumran community in the interpretation of this
            commandment. The view that one must not carry anything out of the house or
            bring anything in the house on the sabbath was not a characteristic of the
            Qumran community only. This prohibition appears already in Jer 17:19-27. In
            addition to CD and Philo, it also appears in the book of Jubilees (2:30;
            50:8) and in the Mishnah (m. Shabb. 7:3-9:7). The significance of this
            prohibition is evident also in the rabbinic practice of fusion of houses
            which made the observance of unpractical sabbath regulations easier. This
            practise, reflected in the Mishnah tractate Erubin, allowed all the houses
            in the alley or court to become one house, and so it became possible to
            carry things from one part of the fused house to another without violating
            the law expressed in Jer 17:19-27. This practice was developed probably
            already by the Pharisees, whereas the Sadducees did not agree with it (cf.
            m. Erub. 6:2). The Sadducees seem to have been stricter than the Pharisees
            in this question. Both groups shared in common, however, the view that one
            must not move an object from one domain to another on the sabbath. Even
            though different groups interpreted this prohibition in slightly different
            ways, they all agreed on this basic point based on Jer 17:19-27. In light
            of this, I think that every Jew would have thought that anyone who carries
            an object in public on the sabbath violates the sabbath. This is a clear
            case of breaking the sabbath, and so is what Jesus does in John 9 as he
            heals the blind man (v. 6). So I think that we cannot avoid the conclusion
            that Jesus deliberately breaks the sabbath in John.

            Frank also wrote:
            " I take the lack of agonizing or disuptation over the Law in John, with
            the one exception of how to interpret the Sabbath commandment, to reflect
            an underlying reality in which both the members of the Johannine community
            and "the Jews" are obedient to the Law and, outside of the Sabbath
            commandment, are in agreement on how to interpret it. Further, there are no
            Gentile Christians in the Johannine community to complicate matters. Hence,
            I see both the members of the Johannine community and "the Jews" as being
            ethnic Jews living in a Jewish town or city--most likely, I think, in
            Jerusalem."

            How do we know that there were no Gentile Christians in the Johannine
            community? I think that the way the narrator introduces different Jewish
            festivals (2:13; 6:4 etc), explains some Jewish beliefs and rituals (2:6;
            4:9; 18:28) and translates some common Hebrew and Aramaic terms (1:38, 41;
            19:13, 17) shows that at least some of his readers were not very
            well-versed in the religion of the Jews. This indicates that there probably
            were Gentiles (how many, we do not know) in the Johannine community.

            Regards
            Raimo

            Raimo Hakola

            Department of Biblical Studies
            P.O. Box 33
            00014 University of Helsinki

            tel. +358 9 191 22518
            fax +358 9 191 22106
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