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Re: [John_Lit] A response to Raimo Hakola

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  • FMMCCOY
    ... From: Raimo Hakola Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 1:40 AM Subject: [John_Lit] A response to Frank McCoy ... In ... Dear Raimo:
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 12, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Raimo Hakola" <raimo.hakola@...>
      Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 1:40 AM
      Subject: [John_Lit] A response to Frank McCoy



      >
      > 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.
      >
      Dear Raimo:
      Jesus is the Logos, the Viceroy of God who
      ceaselessly works as God ceaselessly works and who, therefore, is not
      subject to the Sabbath commandment (5:17). So, when he works on the
      Sabbath, he does not break the Sabbath commandment because it is
      inapplicable to himself..
      It also is not certain that the carrying of the pallet by the man was an
      unquestionable violation of the Sabbath commandment in terms of Essene
      thought. CD (XI) prohibits the carrying of perfumes and
      of children "whilst going and coming on the Sabbath". These prohibitions
      would have been unnecesary if the Essenes had banned the carrying of
      anything on the Sabbath.
      Too, we need to take into consideration CD (VI), "The Stave is the
      Intepreter of the Law of whom Isaiah said, He makes a tool for His work
      (Isa. liv, 16); and the nobles of the people are those who come to dig the
      Well with the staves with which the Stave ordained that they should walk in
      all the age of wickedness--and without them they shall find nothing--until
      he comes who shall teach righteousness at the end of days." Here, we learn,
      the Essenes were to obey the rulings on how to properly interpret the Law
      made by the Teacher of Righteousness/Interpreter of the Law until the coming
      of a second Teacher of Righteousness/Interpreter of the Law--who would
      enact new rulings on how to properly interpret the Law. Perhaps, then,
      Jesus consciously acted as an Interpreter of the Law and, so, made his own
      judgments on how to interpret the Sabbath commandment. If so, then he had
      interpreted it in a manner that made things like healing and carrying a
      pallet permissible activities on the Sabbath. In this case, while such
      activities on the Sabbath were deemed to be unlawful by the Pharisees and
      the Sadducees, they would have been deemed to be lawful activities by Jesus
      and by the Johannine community.

      >
      > You also write, "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."

      I agree that some of the intended readers of John are Gentiles. For
      example, in 4:42, some Samaritans declare Jesus to be "the Savior of the
      world". As is pointed out by Craig R. Koester ("The
      Savior of the World", JBL, 109/4, 1990, pp. 665-680), this was a Gentile
      title for the emperor. Further, as is pointed out by G.W. Van Beek in the
      article "Samaria (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4, p.
      186)", the Samaritans had a temple at Sebaste that was destroyed by the Jews
      in the revolt of 66-70 CE and, when this temple was excavated, a large
      fragment of a
      marble statue of an emperor, probably Augustus, was found near the altar.
      Likely, then, the Samaritans, besides worshipping God, also practiced
      Emperor-worship. If so, then, in 4:42, we have some Samaritans coming to
      the realization that it is Jesus, rather than any Roman emperor, who is the
      true Savior of the world. Beyond that, I think that the purpose of 4:42 is
      to try to convince Gentiles that it is Jesus, rather than any Roman emperor,
      who is the true Savior of the world.
      However, your argument is based on the assumption that John was written
      for local consumption and this might be an unwarranted assumption. For
      example, let us look at 7:35, "Does this man intend to go to the Dispersion
      among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? (RSV)". Might not this be a clue
      that John was written inside Palestine in a strictly Jewish locale, but was
      designed to be read by Gentiles in the Diaspora?.
      Indeed, it is not difficult to find situations in which this might have
      taken place. For example, in History (Book 3, Sect. 5), Eusebius states
      that, after the execution of James (c. 62 CE), but before the flight of the
      Jerusalem Church to Pella (c. 65 CE?), "the remaining apostles, in constant
      danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea. But to teach their
      message they travelled into every land in the power of Christ, who had said
      to them: 'Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name.'" Here, we
      learn, there was an early Christian tradition that, in the early sixties,
      the surviving apostles were driven out of Judea because of persecution and
      went into the Diaspora to "make disciples of all the nations". Perhaps this
      is why Peter ended-up at Rome and was executed there c. 65 CE. In any
      event, if this tradition is valid, then John (or, to be more accurate, an
      early version of John without Chapter 21) might have been written at
      Jerusalem in the early sixties so that that the still surviving apostles
      would have a missionary text to help them to convert Gentiles in the
      Diaspora to Christianity.
      If this is the sitz em leben for John, then one can understand the
      hostile attitude towards "the Jews". The situation is one where the members
      of the Jerusalem Church are aliens in their own community, being persecuted
      and ridiculed by the others--all of whom are Jews. As a result, they can no
      longer identify themselves with their fellow Jews but, rather identify
      themselves as being a new class of people--the children of God (1:12-13).
      Further, they take "the Jews", as they persecute the children of God, to be
      the children of the Devil. This children of God-children of the Devil
      dualism is reminiscent of 1QS (The Community Rule), III, "Those born of
      truth spring from the fountain of light, but those born of injustice spring
      from a source of darkness." They have given up on trying to convert "the
      Jews". However, they know, there are Gentiles eager to hear about Jesus
      (12:20-21). So, now their hope is that they can convince many Gentiles in
      the Diaspora to become children of God and, thereby, join wiith themselves
      into one group
      (compare 11:52). The apostles are preparing to leave for the Diaspora and,
      within several years, the rest of the Jerusalem Church will be fleeing to
      the city of Pella. While it is romantic to accept the early Christian
      tradition that the rest of the Jerusalem Church fled to Pella because they
      miraculously knew not only that a Jewish revolt was coming, but that it
      would also lead to the sacking of Jerusalem, I think it more likely that
      they fled to this city in the Greek nation of the Decapolis so that they
      could live without persecution and so that they could, hopefully, convert
      some of the Gentiles there to Christianity.

      Regards,

      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN USA
    • jestaton@zoom.co.uk
      ... written ... For ... Dispersion ... clue ... but was ... might have ... states ... flight of the ... constant ... teach their ... had said ... Here, we ...
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 13, 2001
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        --- In johannine_literature@y..., "FMMCCOY" <FMMCCOY@e...> wrote:
        > However, your argument is based on the assumption that John was
        written
        > for local consumption and this might be an unwarranted assumption.
        For
        > example, let us look at 7:35, "Does this man intend to go to the
        Dispersion
        > among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? (RSV)". Might not this be a
        clue
        > that John was written inside Palestine in a strictly Jewish locale,
        but was
        > designed to be read by Gentiles in the Diaspora?.
        > Indeed, it is not difficult to find situations in which this
        might have
        > taken place. For example, in History (Book 3, Sect. 5), Eusebius
        states
        > that, after the execution of James (c. 62 CE), but before the
        flight of the
        > Jerusalem Church to Pella (c. 65 CE?), "the remaining apostles, in
        constant
        > danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea. But to
        teach their
        > message they travelled into every land in the power of Christ, who
        had said
        > to them: 'Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name.'"
        Here, we
        > learn, there was an early Christian tradition that, in the early
        sixties,
        > the surviving apostles were driven out of Judea because of
        persecution and
        > went into the Diaspora to "make disciples of all the nations".
        Perhaps this
        > is why Peter ended-up at Rome and was executed there c. 65 CE. In
        any
        > event, if this tradition is valid, then John (or, to be more
        accurate, an
        > early version of John without Chapter 21) might have been written at
        > Jerusalem in the early sixties so that that the still surviving
        apostles
        > would have a missionary text to help them to convert Gentiles in the
        > Diaspora to Christianity.
        > If this is the sitz em leben for John, then one can understand
        the
        > hostile attitude towards "the Jews". The situation is one where
        the members
        > of the Jerusalem Church are aliens in their own community, being
        persecuted
        > and ridiculed by the others--all of whom are Jews. As a result,
        they can no
        > longer identify themselves with their fellow Jews but, rather
        identify
        > themselves as being a new class of people--the children of God
        (1:12-13).
        > Further, they take "the Jews", as they persecute the children of
        God, to be
        > the children of the Devil. This children of God-children of the
        Devil
        > dualism is reminiscent of 1QS (The Community Rule), III, "Those
        born of
        > truth spring from the fountain of light, but those born of
        injustice spring
        > from a source of darkness." They have given up on trying to
        convert "the
        > Jews". However, they know, there are Gentiles eager to hear about
        Jesus
        > (12:20-21). So, now their hope is that they can convince many
        Gentiles in
        > the Diaspora to become children of God and, thereby, join wiith
        themselves
        > into one group
        > (compare 11:52). The apostles are preparing to leave for the
        Diaspora and,
        > within several years, the rest of the Jerusalem Church will be
        fleeing to
        > the city of Pella. While it is romantic to accept the early
        Christian
        > tradition that the rest of the Jerusalem Church fled to Pella
        because they
        > miraculously knew not only that a Jewish revolt was coming, but
        that it
        > would also lead to the sacking of Jerusalem, I think it more likely
        that
        > they fled to this city in the Greek nation of the Decapolis so that
        they
        > could live without persecution and so that they could, hopefully,
        convert
        > some of the Gentiles there to Christianity.

        Interesting thoughts on the Sitz im Leben of the Fourth Gospel, but
        overall I still lean to Hengel's view that the Fourth Gospel
        represents the fruit of decades of teaching and discussion between a
        teacher and a close group of disciples, possibly partly written up by
        the teacher (who did write the epistles), but finally redacted and
        published by a disciple after the original teacher's death. This
        would allow for the possibility that the scenario you suggest lies
        behind John's reference to the Jews. Even though the crisis was no
        longer a live one by the time the gospel was published, it may well
        have made such an impression that it was still referred to at the
        later date.

        Best Wishes

        JOHN E STATON
        jestaton@...
        www.jestaton.org
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