Re: [John_Lit] Elizabeth Danna: Characterization of the Greeks in John 12
- Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:
> [quoting me]"This indicates that they are either God-fearers orI doubt it, since these people are called hellhnes at 12:20. The usual NT
> full-fledged proselytes".
> [Jeffery asks]Are these the only alternatives? Couldn't they also be
> Greek-speaking Jews who had been born as Jews?
word for Greek-speaking Jews is hellhnistai. Thus I suspect that the
hellhnes mentioned at 7:35 are also Gentiles.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I will use this post to respond to both Richard
Anderson and Elizabeth Dana.
I. Response to Richard Anderson:
I asked: If the Greeks in John 12 were "full-fledged
proselytes", wouldn't they be considered Jews rather
than Gentiles anyway?
Richard Anderson wrote:
In Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, Schiffman writes:
"No doubt non-Jews would have been prohibited from
entering the temple since even proselytes were
forbidden entry into the middle Court until the fourth
generation (Temple Scroll 39:5-7). Indeed, in the End
of Days, non-Jews as well as proselytes were to be
excluded from the sanctuary described in Florigium (1-
The relevant portion is that "even proselytes were
forbidden entry into the middle Court until the fourth
generation (Temple Scroll 39:5-7)."
Richard, I have two questions:
1) Would this passage refer to the actual temple or
the idealized temple? The Qumran authors were far more
concerned with purity than other Jewish groups were.
2) Even if this reflects the practice at the acutal
temple, does this mean that the proselytes were
considered still Gentile? Or just not entirely pure?
Was there a distinction here between "religiously
Jewish" and "ethnically Jewish"?
I guess that these are more than two questions.
II. Response to Elizabeth Dana:
Concerning the identity of the hellhnes, I asked: Are
God-fearers or full-fledged proselytes the only
alternatives? Couldn't they also be Greek-speaking
Jews who had been born as Jews?
Elizabeth Dana wrote:
I doubt it, since these people are called hellhnes at
12:20. The usual NT word for Greek-speaking Jews is
hellhnistai. Thus I suspect that the hellhnes
mentioned at 7:35 are also Gentiles.
Elizabeth, you may well be correct, but I think that
your paper will be stronger if you provide an argument
in your paper to support your interpretation. I have
just checked Kittel, TDNT, Volume 2, pp. 101-102,
which seems to favor Hellenistic Jews as the group
intended by the word hellhnes but which also notes the
possibility that this term might refer to Gentile
Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
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- Piet van Veldhuizen wrote:
> In John 12 the presence of the "hour" seems not to be realized in a fullnessI see the story as open-ended because the narrator gives out signals (in Jesus'
> contact and disclosure, but rather seems to isolate Jesus from the people
> around him. The last part of 12,36 confirms this. Therefore I have some
> difficulty in reading the coming of the Greeks as an open-ended story in
> which we can "step in" - it seems rather to be open-ended because in this
> moment, nobody can pretend to be a follower of Jesus.
intense emotional response, in his statement that "the hour has come", and in
the placing of key discipleship teaching here) that something important is
happening here, but does not record how the Greeks respond. This suggests that
the reader is supposed to "fill in the blanks."
> Why did you not comment upon the role of Philip and Andrew in this pericope?I should explain that the paper as posted is what I gave at SBL. I had to
remove a lot of material from the (much longer) first draft to bring it within
the time restrictions. One of the sections removed concerned Philip and
Andrew. They act as mediators in the patron-client relationship between Jesus
and the Greeks. As you point out, this is the same role that they play in
chapter 6. Their characterisation is also similar in the two passages, with
Philip at a loss and turning to Andrew, who is slightly more resourceful. They
also serve as links between others and Jesus at 1:35-51. Thomas Brodie in his
commentary on the Gospel suggests that because of Philip's Greek name, his
association with the Greeks in Acts 8 and because in chapter 12 the Greeks come
to Jesus through him, Philip's call to discipleship is, in a sense, proleptic
of that of the Greeks. That said, one must admit that Philip's name has been
found among Jews, which may reduce the significance of the Greeks' coming to a
disciple of that name. And Philip can hardly be given more than a share of the
credit for bringing the Greeks to Jesus (if in fact they ever get to see him).
Nonetheless, although there are difficulties with Brodie's view, his is the
closest to a satisfactory one. Indeed, it also suggests an answer to the
question of why the implied author lays such stress on the fact the Philip is
from Galilee, which was referred to as "Galilee of the Gentiles" (though this
expression is not used in the Gospel). For it is among Galileans that Jesus
finds his first disciples, and it is Philip the Galilean whom a group of
Gentiles approach with a request to see Jesus.
> Finally, I think it is not all-important to know the ethnic and religiousMy point exactly.
> status of these Greeks. Essential is the kind of figure drawn by their
> appearance: at the moment that Jesus reaches the centre-point of his mission
> (Jerusalem, the "hour"), these Greeks evoke the wide world.
> Their appearance underlines, by contrast, the utter concentration on thisThe former view was argued by W.E. Moore ["Sir, We Wish to See Jesus. Was This
> centre-point in
> place and time. The question remains: are they presented as a threat to
> Jesus' concentration (the perspective of worldwide discipleship could have
> distracted him from this ultimate concentration), or are they rather by
> their appearance confirming the world-wide significance of Jesus' mission in
> that very hour of truth?
an Occasion of Temptation?" SJT 20 (1967) pp. 75-93]. Moore suggests that the
Greeks' offer tempted Jesus to leave Israel and go to the Diaspora, and thus to
avoid the painful and humiliating death which was the inevitable consequence of
his following God's plan that he stay in Israel. Ironically, going to the
Diaspora is exactly what "the Jews" think, wrongly, that Jesus intends to do at
7:35. But Jesus does not go to the Greeks; at 12:20ff., the Greeks come to
him. Of course, the implied reader knows that Jesus has gone to the Greeks, in
the ministry of his disciples. The main flaw in Moore's argument is that there
is no indication in the canonical Gospels that Jesus was so interested in
obtaining Greek disciples that he could have been drawn away from God's plan.
The disciples whom he seeks out are all Jews. Rather the Greeks represent the
Gentiles, now coming to Jesus just as official Jewish rejection of him is about
to become complete.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Elizabeth Danna,
In your research, did you come across any tendency to
link the Galilean Israelite community with one or any
of the 10 northern tribes?
I vaguely remember reading somewhere that some thought
the phrase "Son of Joseph" was not just a reference to
Jesus' biological ancestry, but a reference to his
link to the Tribe of Joseph.
Or was Galilee merely seen as extension of the
tribe of Judah?
- Maluflen@... wrote:
> Also, what do you think of the recentThis theory is new to me. How does Berger argue it? What textual evidence is
> arguments of Klaus Berger that Andrew is the beloved disciple in John?
- Dear Elizabeth Danna:
Until I read your paper, I hadn't given much thought to the request of
some Greeks to see Jesus. All I had was a vague idea that perhaps they are
mentioned because this gospel might have been directed at Gentiles.
Your make a good case for your idea that there was much more than just idle
curiousity behind the request, of the Greeks, to see Jesus.
After reading your paper, I decided to take a closer look at John
thing immediately puzzled me. That is, what Jesus says in verse 24 doesn't
seem to follow from what he says in verse 23.
In verse 23, Jesus declares that the "hour" has come for the Son of Man
to be "glorified". In verse 32, we learn, this is the time when he, this
Son of Man will be lifted up.
In verse 24, however, Jesus speaks about how, if a seed "dies" by being
buried in the earth, it will bear fruit. How does this relate to the
lifting up of the Son of Man? To say this is not self-evident is an
After thinking about this for a while, I have come up with an idea that
is radical in nature and, since I've just come up with it, is not well
thought out. This idea is that the Greeks were Therapeutae and that Jesus
was aware of this when he said 12:23-25.
It would appear that some of the Therapeutae were Greeks. So, while
speaking of the Therapeutae in Cont 21, Philo states, "This kind exists in
many places in the inhabited world, for perfect goodness must needs be
shared both by Hellada and Barbaron, but it abounds in Egypt." Indeed, this
statement perhaps even implies that most of the Therapeutae were
Greeks. This would strange, as this was a Jewish sect--unless, of course,
the Therapeutae did not demand that male Gentiles entering their sect be
Since some of the Therapeutae apparently were Greeks, it is, then,
possible that the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus had been Therapeutae.
Now, in Cont. 11-13, Philo states that the Therapeutae "desire the
the Existent....And those who set themselves to this service, not just
following custon nor on the advice and admonition of others but carried away
by a heaven-sent passion of love (herotos), remain rapt and possessed like
bachanals or corybants until they see the object of their yearning. Then
such is their longing for the deathless and blessed life that thinking their
mortal life already ended they abandon their property to their sons or
daughters or to other kinsfolk, thus voluntarily advancing the time of their
inheritance,...For it is right that those who have received ready to their
hand the wealth that has eyes to see should surrender the blind wealth to
those who are still blind in mind."
Here, we learn that, the Therapeutae believed, one who sees the vision
of God, becomes alive to life in an immortal sense and has,
thereby, become dead to life in a mortal sense and gained spiritual wealth
("the wealth that has eyes to see").
I suggest that Jesus has this Therapeutic belief in mind in 12:23-25.
At first glance, his opening statement that the "hour" has come for the
Son of Man to be glorified does not relate to this Therapeutic belief.
However, the situation might not be as it appears!
In LA ii, 81, Philo declares, if a person succeeds "in beholding in soul
the beauty of self-mastery, the serpent of Moses, and through beholding
this, beholds God Himself, he shall live." Here, Philo enunciates the
doctrine that if one looks at what is symbolized by the serpent of brass
(and which he took this to be self-mastery), one will, thereby, see God and
gain eternal life.
This Philionic doctrine might relate to 3:15--where, it is declared, just
as the serpent was lifted up, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. In this
case, the serpent of brass symbolizes the Son of Man and, so, Philo's
doctrine become a doctrine that if one looks upon the lifted up Son of Man,
one will see God and, so, will become alive to life in an immortal sense.
In this case, then, what Jesus says in verse 23 is a declaration that the
"hour" has come for the Son of Man to be lifted up so that whoever looks on
him will see God and, so, will become alive to life in an immortal sense.
In this case, verse 23 could be the beginning of an enunciation, by
Jesus, based on the Therapeutic doctrine that *if one sees the vision of God
and, so, becomes alive to life in an immortal sense*, then one will become
dead to life in a mortal sense and gain spiritual wealth.
If so, then the expectation is that verse 24 tells about how such a
person dies to life in a mortal sense and, in this process, gains spiritual
wealth. Indeed, cannot this verse, which relates how a seed which "dies"
bears fruit, be interpreted to mean that one who dies to life in a mortal
sense gains spiritual wealth?
The advantage of this line of speculation is that it gives us a plausible
meaning to the ensuing verse 25: which, in this case, can be thusly
paraphrased, "He who loves his life in a mortal sense loses it in an
immortal sense, and he who hates hates his life in a mortal sense will keep
his life in an immortal sense."
To summarize, underlying what Jesus says in verses 23-25 might be the
Therapeutic doctrine that one who sees the vision of God becomes alive to
life in an immortal sense and, thereby, becomes dead to life in a mortal
sense and gains spiritual wealth. In this case, it can be thusly
paraphrased, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be lifted up, so that,
by looking on him, people can see the vision of God and become alive to life
in an immortal sense. Those who will do so will die to life in a mortal
sense and gain spiritual wealth. He who loves his life in a
mortal sense will lose it in an immortal sense, while one who hates his life
in a mortal sense and, so, does not rest until he has seen the vision of
God, will keep it in an immortal sense."
Seen in this light, verse 24 naturally follows from verse 23, solving the
problem of why, at first glance, it does not appear to naturally follow from
Why, though, would Jesus make a statement based upon a Therapeutic
doctrine immediatley after being told that some Greeks wanted to see him?
Would not the most likely reason be that these Greeks were Therapeutae and
Jesus knew this?
In support of this idea that the Greeks had been Therapeutae and Jesus
knew this, Jesus' use of the *fruit* imagery in verse 24 might allude to
Leviticus 23:10-12: which relates that you shall bring "a sheaf, the first
*fruits* of your havest" to the priest on the morrow of the Sabbath for him
to lift up the sheaf to the Lord. This rite was performed during the
Passover-Unleavened Bread festival, although not necessarily on a Sunday
because the Pharisees did not take the word "Sabbath" literally. It is this
Passover-Unleavened Bread festival that the Greeks were in Jerusalem to
observe, so this rite was one of the things to be performed at the temple
during their stay in Jerusalem.
The key point about this rite is that it begins the 50 day countdown to
Pentecost. Further, as such, this rite was very important to the
Therapeutae, for, Philo declares in Cont. 64-65, they looked forward to the
fiftieth day--"the eve of the chief feast (i.e., Pentecost) which 50
(Pentekontas) takes for its own." As a result, that Jesus might allude to
this rite in verse 24, a rite that was very important to the Therapeutae, is
additional evidence that the Greeks who wanted to see him wereTherapeutae
and he knew this.
I'm sorry that I am presenting this idea half-baked, without time to
carefully think things through. However, you're only with us for a few more
days and I want to get your opinion on this idea while I still have a
chance. As a person who has done much research on John 12:20-36, do you
think that this idea that the Greeks are Therapeutae and that Jesus takes
this into consideration in what he says in verses 23-25 is worthy of further
research, or do you deem it too "off the wall" to merit serious
I think I found the answer to an earlier question
I made to you concerning the Jewish perception of
people from Galilee.
According to Strong, the Hebrew words that are
typically linked to the region of Samaria are:
#8111 - Shomerone and
#8115 - Shomrayin
The definition is surprisingly broad: "The region
of northern Palestine associated with the northern
kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel..." Thus it is
not necessarily restricted to JUST the region around
the city of Samaria.
To the Greek mind there may have been a distinction
between those who with ancestry in Galilee vs. Samaria.
But in the HEBREW-speaking mind, a non-Jewish Israelite
would be quite appropriately termed a Shomerone or
We know Jesus was referred to as a Galilean. And so
it would not be surprising for him, under a wider sense
of the word Samarian/Samaritan, to be referred to as
what we English speakers would call a Samaritan.
Wrapped up in this sense of the word would be the
implication that his ancestry was of the 10 Northern
tribes, not of the House of Judah.... namely that he
was a non-Jewish Israelite. Perhaps, then, it is no
coincidence that he uses the phrase "House of Israel"
--- In johannine_literature@y..., "George Brooks"
> Elizabeth Danna,
> In your research, did you come across any tendency to
> link the Galilean Israelite community with one or any
> of the 10 northern tribes?
> I vaguely remember reading somewhere that some thought
> the phrase "Son of Joseph" was not just a reference to
> Jesus' biological ancestry, but a reference to his
> link to the Tribe of Joseph.
> Or was Galilee merely seen as extension of the
> tribe of Judah?
> George Brooks