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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
    ... From: Raimo Hakola Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:40 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Johannine Literature: Discussion on Raimo
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 7, 2001
      ----- 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 2 of 4 , Mar 8, 2001
        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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