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Re: [John_Lit] The Sitz em Leben of the Johannine Epistles

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  • FMMCCOY
    ... From: Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 4:24 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A response to Raimo Hakola ... DEAR JOHN E STATON: What you
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 16, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <jestaton@...>
      Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 4:24 PM
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A response to Raimo Hakola
      >
      > 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.
      >
      DEAR JOHN E STATON:

      What you suggest is certainly possible, but I lean to not just an
      earlier dating for John, but for the epistles as well.
      In History (Book 4, Sect. 22), Eusebius thusly quotes Hegesippus, "When
      James the Righteous
      had suffered martyrdom like the Lord and for the same reason, Symeon the son
      his uncle Clopas was appointed bishop....But Thebuthis, because he had not
      been made bishop, began to seduce her (i.e., the Church) by means of the
      seven sects (to which he himself belonged) among the people. From these
      came Simon and his his Simonians, Cleobius and his Cleobienes, Dositheus and
      his Dositheans, Gorthaeus and his Gorathenes, and the Masbotheans."
      I'm unfamiliar with the Cleobienes, the Gorathenes, and the Masbotheans.
      I am, though, familiar with Simon Magus and Dositheus and their followers.
      Both were Samaritans. Both apparently were originally followers of John the
      Baptist. Both became active in the thirties. Both were proto-Gnostic in
      orientation. From this, I deduce that the rebellion by Thebuthis was
      probably proto-Gnostic in nature and probably was centered in Samaria rather
      than in Jerusalem, although he likely had some support within the Jerusalem
      Church itself. For example, the Hellenist deacon named Nicolaus, since he
      gave rise to the proto-Gnostic Nicolaitans, likely supported Thebuthis.
      .Once James the Just was executed and the remaining
      apostles fled Jerusalem, there would have been a great power vaccuum at the
      top of the Jerusalem Church Council and it could very well be that Symeon
      was a weak leader who failed to
      adequately fill this power vaccuum, making it possible for Thebuthis and his
      proto-Gnostic followers to successfully raise a rebellion against the
      Jerusalem Church Council and to secede from its authority. Hence, I would
      date the schism they created in the Jerusalem Church and its satellite
      sister churches, particularly in Samaria, to shortly after the remaining
      apostles fled Jerusalem, i.e., to c. 63 or 64 CE..
      I suggest you consider the possibility that it might be Thebuthis and his
      proto-Gnostic followers who are the unnamed people in the three Johannine
      epistles who seceded from the Johannine community and its sister churches.
      In this case, John the Elder was one of the top lieutenants of Symeon bar
      Clopas and was put in charge of handling this crisis.
      This can help us to understand why, in I John 2:18-19, those who seceded
      from the Johannine community and its sister churches are called antichrists.
      Simon Magus claimed to be the Standing One and to be, as such, the Christ.
      So, in the Clementine Homilies (Homily II, Chapt. XXII), Aquila states, "And
      sometimes intimating that he (i.e., Simon Magus) is the Christ, he styles
      himself the Standing One." Again, he claimed, his followers could, through
      proper instruction, realize their inherent capability to also become, in
      some meaningful sense, standing ones similar to himself. So, in The
      Refutation of All Heresies (Book VI, Chapt. XII), Hippolytus thusly
      relates Simon's teachings, "If, then, one receives proper instruction and
      teaching, and (where consequently) what is bitter will be altered into what
      is sweet,--that is the spears into pruning-hooks, and the swords into
      plough-shares,--there will not be chaff and wood begotten for fire, but
      mature fruit, fully formed, as I said, equal and similar to the unbegotten
      and indefinite power (i.e., the Standing One--the great power Simon claimed
      to be--compare Acts 8:9-10)....According to Simon, therefore, there exists
      that which is blessed and incorruptible in a latent condition in every
      one--(that is,) potentially, not actually; and this is he who stood, stands,
      and is to stand." Since the followers of Simon, through his teaching,
      supposedly became standing ones and, so, supposedly became christs, it is
      the case that they likely proclaimed themselves to be christs. In this
      case, one can see their opponents replying that, nay, you are, rather,
      antichrists. Possibly, then, the antichrists in I John 1:18-19 are a group
      of proto-Gnostics whose membership was largely composed of the Samaritan
      followers of Simon Magus.
      To conclude, the sitz em leben for the Johannine epistles might be
      Jerusalem and adjacent areas of Judea and Samaria c. 63-65
      CE--with those who seceded from the Johannine community (which, in this
      case, is the Jerusalem Chruch) and its sister churches being proto-Gnostics
      (particularly the Samaritan followers of Simon Magus) led by Thebuthis and
      with John the Elder being one of Symeon's top aides and his choice for being
      the one to handle this major crisis.

      Regards,

      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN 55109
    • jestaton@zoom.co.uk
      ... be ... this ... Gnostics ... Thebuthis and ... for being ... Interesting, but a few too many radical terms for me to accept very easily. The beauty of
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 18, 2001
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        --- In johannine_literature@y..., "FMMCCOY" <FMMCCOY@e...> wrote:
        > To conclude, the sitz em leben for the Johannine epistles might
        be
        > Jerusalem and adjacent areas of Judea and Samaria c. 63-65
        > CE--with those who seceded from the Johannine community (which, in
        this
        > case, is the Jerusalem Chruch) and its sister churches being proto-
        Gnostics
        > (particularly the Samaritan followers of Simon Magus) led by
        Thebuthis and
        > with John the Elder being one of Symeon's top aides and his choice
        for being
        > the one to handle this major crisis.

        Interesting, but a few too many radical terms for me to accept very
        easily. The beauty of Hengel's theory is that he accounts for the
        differences between the Gospel and the Epistles. The style of the
        Epistles is weaker because they are written by John the Elder
        himself, who appears from the smaller epistles to deal orally face to
        face rather than to communicate by writing. Perhaps he found writing
        hard and his style was difficult to understand. The style of the
        Gospel is stronger, because it has been revised many times in
        discussions with disciples, and finally redacted posthumously by a
        disciple. I am also wary of suggesting the appearance of Gnosticism
        so early, but there is certainly more than enough room for discussion.

        Best Wishes

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