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Re: [John_Lit] John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-20 and GTh 77

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  • FMMCCOY
    There is a evidence of a complex relationship between John 1:1-18, Col 1:15-20, and GTh 77 which suggests that they were written at about the same time by a
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 4, 2001
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      There is a evidence of a complex relationship between John 1:1-18, Col
      1:15-20, and GTh 77 which suggests that they were written at about the same
      time by a single community .

      To begin with, I suggest that GTh 77 has this 3/3/2/2 hymnic-style pattern:

      I am the Light,
      The One which is upon them,
      All of them.

      I am the All,
      Has the All come out of me,
      And has the All split open to me.

      Split open a timber,
      I am there.

      Take up the stone,
      And you will fall upon me there.

      Note the characteristically Johannine "I am" to the first line in each of
      the two leading 3 verse stanzas, "I am the Light." (compare John 8:12, "I am
      the Light of the world.") and "I am the All." (The rather literal-style
      rendering of GTH 77 above is based on Michael Grondin's interlinear
      translation of GTh at http://www.geocities.com )


      Nor is this the only Johannine characteristic to GTh 77, for an identical
      3/3/2/2 pattern is found in John 1:1-5:

      In the Beginning was the Logos,
      And the Logos was with God,
      And the Logos was God.

      He was in the Beginning with God,
      All things through him came into being,
      And without him came into being not even one (thing) which has come into
      being.

      In him was Life,
      And the Life was the Light of men.

      And this Light shines in the Darkness,
      And the Darkness apprehends it not.

      So, not only are the two "I am" sayings in GTh 77 characteristically
      Johannine, but so is the 3/3/2/2 hymnic pattern.

      In my opinion, Col 1:15-20 is based upon a pre-Pauline hymn with this
      3/3/3/2/2/2 pattern:

      Who is (the) Image of God the invisible,
      First-born of all Creation,
      Because by him were created all things.

      The things in the heavens and the things upon the earth,
      The visible and the invisible,
      Whether thrones or lordships or principalities or powers.

      All things by him and for him have been created,
      And he is before all,
      And all things in him subsist.

      Who is the Beginning,
      That he might be holding in all things first place.

      Because in him was pleased all the fullness to dwell,
      And by him to reconcile all things to himself,

      Whether the things on the earth,
      Or the things in the heavens.

      In this case, there are three later Pauline phrases added to this original
      pre-Pauline hymn-like composition in Col 1:15-20, i.e., 1. "And he is the
      head of the body,
      the Church", 2. "Firstborn from among the dead", and 3. "Having made peace
      by the blood of his cross". (By Pauline, I mean the variety of Christianity
      espoused by Paul and his followers, so I do not think that these postulated
      additions necessarily came from Paul himself or that he necessarily wrote
      Colossians himself).

      If, as suggested, Col 1:15-20 (with the exception of three phrases) has a
      hymnic 3/3/3/2/2/2 pattern, then it is related to John 1:6-18, which (if
      1:15 be an aside added to the hymn-like compostion by the author of John)
      has a pattern that is a doubling of this, i.e., that is this 6/6/6/4/4/4
      pattern :

      There was a man sent from God his name John,
      He came for a witness,
      That he might witness concerning the Light,
      That all might believe through him.
      He was not the Light,
      But came to bear witness concerning the Light.

      The true Light that lightens every man was coming into the Cosmos,
      He was within the Cosmos,
      And the Cosmos came into being through him,
      And the Cosmos knew him not.
      To his own he came,
      And his own received him not.

      But as many as received him he gave to them authority to be children of God,
      To those who believe on his name.
      Who not of bloods,
      Not of the will of flesh,
      Not of the will of man,
      But of God were born.

      And the Logos became flesh and tabernacled among us.
      And we beheld his glory,
      A glory as of a one of a kind with a Father,
      Full of grace and truth.

      And of his Fullness we have all received,
      Grace upon grace.
      For the Law was given through Moses,
      And the Grace and the Truth through Christ Jesus.

      No one has seen God at any time,
      The one of a kind Son,
      Who is in the bosom of the Father,
      He has made Him known.

      The suggested aside by the author of John in John 1:15 reads, "John
      witnesses concerning him, and cried, saying, 'This was he of whom I said, He
      who after me comes has precedence of me, for he was before me.'" This
      breaks the rhythmic flow of the rest of John 1:6-18. Further, it needlessly
      re-hashes the point, made at the very beginning of John 1:6-18, that John
      witnessed concerning him.. Finally, it alludes to John 1:27.

      The bottom line: It might be that John 1:1-18 (with the exception of 1:15)
      is related to both GTh 77 and Col. 1:15-20 (with the exception of three
      Pauline phrases). In particular, both John 1:1-5 and GTh 77 appear to
      have a 3/3/2/2 pattern, while John 1:6-18 apparently has a 6/6/6/4/4/4
      pattern that is a doubling of what appears to be a 3/3/3/2/2/2 pattern in
      Col. 1:15-20.

      The three also appear to be inter-related in that, in each, Jesus appears to
      be be identified as being Philo's Logos--with a special emphasis on the role
      of the Logos in the Beginning..

      For example, in Philonic thought, the Cosmos came into existence through the
      Logos. So, in Sacr. 8, Philo speaks about "that Logos by which also the
      whole universe was formed.

      Similarly, in GTh 77, Jesus declares, "Has the All come out of me." Again,
      in Col 1:15-20, it is declared, "Because by him were created all things: the
      things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the
      invisible. Whether thrones or lordships or principalities or powers, all
      things by him and for him have been created." Finally, in John 1:1-18, it
      is declared, "He was in the Beginning with God, All things through him came
      into being, And without him came into being not even one (thing) which has
      come into being."

      Again, the Logos, as the Image of God, is the incorporeal Cosmos of which
      the corporeal Cosmos created through this Logos is a copy. So, in Op. 25,
      Philo declares, "The whole creation, this entire world perceived by our
      senses (seeing that it is greater than any human image) is a copy of the
      Divine Image. It is manifest that the archetypal seal also which we aver to
      be the world descried by the mind, would be the very Logos of God."

      Similarly, in GTh 77, Jesus says, "I am the (incorporeal?) All. Has the
      (corporeal?) All come out of me." Again, in I Col 1:15-20, it is said,
      "Who is (the) Image of God the invisible, (the incorporeal?) First-born of
      all Creation, because by him were created all things."

      Too, in Philonic thought, the Logos is the Light because he is filled with a
      Light that is the Fullness of God. So, in Som i, 75, Philo states, "For the
      model or pattern (of the visible light) was the Logos, which contained all
      His Fullness--light, in fact."

      Similarly, in GTh 77, Jesus states, "I am the Light, the One which is upon
      them (mankind?), all of them." Again, in John 1:1-18, it is said, "The true
      Light that lightens every man was coming into the Cosmos", and, "In him was
      Life, and the Life was the Light of men", and, "And of his Fullness we have
      all received." Finally, in Col. 1:1-15, it is said, "Because in him was
      pleased all the fullness to dwell."

      Again, in Philonic thought, the Logos is interwoven through the Cosmos,
      holding it together and keeping peace between the opposites. So, In Plant
      8-10, Philo states, ""The
      evelasting Logos of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the
      Whole. He it is, who extending himself from the midst to its utmost bounds
      and from its extremities to the midst again, keeps up though all its length
      Nature's unvanquished course, combining and compacting all its parts. For
      the Father Who begat Him constituted His Logos such a Bond of the Universe
      as none can break....The Divine Logos stations himself to keep these
      elements (i.e., fire, water, air, and earth) apart, like a Vocal between
      voiceless elements ofspeech, that the universe may send forth a harmony like
      a masterpiece of literature. He mediates between the opponents amidst their
      threatinings, and reconciles them by winning ways to peace and concord."

      Similarly, in GTh 77, Jesus states, "And has the All split open to me.
      Split open a timber, I am there. Take up the stone, and you will fall upon
      me there." Again, in Col 1:15-20, it is said, "And all things in him
      subsist.", and said, "And by him to reconcile all things to himself, whether
      the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens."

      Too, in Philonic thought, not only God but also His Logos can be called
      "God". So, in Som. i (228 & 230), Philo states, "Yet there can be no
      cowering fear for the man who relies on the hope of the divine comradeship,
      to whom are addressed the words, 'I am the God who appeared to thee in the
      place of God' (Gen. xxxi. 13)....Here it gives the title of 'God' to His
      chief Logos, not from any superstitious nicety in applying names, but with
      one aim before him, to use words to express facts."

      Similarly, in John 1:1-18, it is said, "In the Beginning was the Logos, and
      the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God."

      Also, in Philonic thought, the Logos is the First-born who has God as his
      Father, who is the chief of all of God's divine beings, and who is the
      Beginning. So, in Conf. 146, Philo exhorts one to "take his place under
      God's First-born, the Logos, who holds the eldership among the angels, their
      ruler as it were. And many names are his, for he is called, 'the
      Beginning',...".

      Similarly, in Col. 1:15-20, it is declared, "First-born of all Creation",
      and, "Who is the Beginning, that he might be holding in all things first
      place." Again, in John 1:1-18, it is said, "And we beheld his glory, a
      glory as of a one of a kind with a Father."

      To summarize: GTh 77, Col. 1:15-20 (with the exception of three Pauline
      phrases), and John 1:1-18 (with the exception of 1:15) appear to be
      hymn-like compositions. There appears to be a common 3/3/2/2 pattern to
      GTh 77 and John 1:1-5. There appears to be a 6/6/6/4/4/4 pattern to John
      1:6-18 which is a doubling of what appears to be a 3/3/3/2/2/2 pattern to
      Col 1:15-20. In each of these three, Jesus appears to be identified as
      being Philo's Logos. In each of the these three, there appears to be an
      emphasis on the role of the Logos in the creation of the Cosmos and on the
      Fullness/Light that fills him and makes him the Light.

      Because of these similarities, I suggest that the three hymn-like
      compositions upon which these three passages appear to be based were written
      at about the same time and in the same community. If (as is suggested by
      the one in Col 1:15-20) these compositions are pre-Pauline, they likely are
      very early, i.e., earlier that 50 CE. Also, if we are to take seriously
      this excerpt from the
      hymn-like composition in John 1:1-18, "*We* beheld his glory", then the
      members of this community had seen Jesus before his crucifixion and, so, had
      most likely either been located in Galilee or else Jerusalem..

      I suspect that this community consisted of the group, located in Jerusalem
      in the thirties,
      called the Hellenists in Acts 6:1. Judging by Acts 6:9, they were members
      of "the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it is called), and of the Cyrenians,
      and of the Alexandrians, and of those form Cilicia and Asia (RSV)". If so,
      then they included Jews from Philo's home town of Alexandria and Jews from
      the province of Asia--where, as far as I am aware, was located Collosae.

      If this suspicion is correct, then these hymn-like compositions were
      produced in Jerusalem, likely in the thirties, and then were propogated
      elsewhere (particularly into Alexandria and Asia (including Ephesus and
      Collosae?) and Cilicia) by the Hellenists. This would strengthen arguments
      that John (which contains one of these hymn-like compositions) was written
      in Ephesus or else in Jerusalem. It would also suggest that Thomas (which
      also contains one of these hymn-like compositions) was written at Jerusalem
      and/or in Cilicia and/or in Asia and/or at Alexandria.

      If this suspicion is correct, then we need to consider the possibility that
      the real Jesus of history claimed to be the incarnate Logos. I say this
      because, if these hymn-like compositions were written in the thirties at
      Jerusalem, where Jesus' disciples were staying, then their portrayal of
      Jesus being Philo's Logos likely reflects the belief of Jesus' disciples
      and, so, makes it likely that the real Jesus of history believed himself to
      be this Logos.

      I would appreciate your comments on the admittedly highly speculative ideas
      presented in this post.


      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN USA














      Michael Grondin


      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
      http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
    • James McGrath
      ... Frank, Couldn t this evidence be explained equally well by positing a tradition of influence over a perhaps relatively short, but also quite possibly long
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 4, 2001
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        --- FMMCCOY <FMMCCOY@...> wrote:
        > There is a evidence of a complex relationship
        > between John 1:1-18, Col
        > 1:15-20, and GTh 77 which suggests that they were
        > written at about the same
        > time by a single community .
        >
        Frank,

        Couldn't this evidence be explained equally well by
        positing a tradition of influence over a perhaps
        relatively short, but also quite possibly long time?
        My hunch would be that chronologically we'd be talking
        about something along the lines of:

        Col 1:15-20 -> John 1:1-18 -> GTh 77

        although the Jesus Seminar and its fans would surely
        put Thomas as the source of the others! :)

        I'm not suggesting a *direct* influence or knowledge
        by each of the other. However, it is clear that the
        early use of Wisdom language in reference to Christ
        that presumably significantly pre-dates Paul fed into
        various streams and traditions of Christian thought,
        including Paul's writings, Matthew's Gospel, the
        Johannine corpus, and Hebrews. (A useful book on the
        topic is Witherington's _Jesus the Sage_). Anyway, I
        don't think any of the elements mentioned requires a
        direct knowledge on the part of any of the authors in
        question of the writings of the others. My main point
        is that rather than showing similarity in their use of
        Wisdom language can be explained not only in terms of
        a common setting around the same time, but also in
        terms of a history of tradition carried on and
        applied, adapted and contextualized in many contexts
        and setting over a fairly lengthy period of time.

        Do you have any particular evidence that makes you
        think that the particular *way* each author uses this
        christological Wisdom tradition would indicate a
        similar context and a close temporal proximity between
        them?

        James McGrath






        __________________________________________________
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      • FMMCCOY
        ... From: James McGrath To: Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 8:08 PM Subject: [John_Lit]
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 7, 2001
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "James McGrath" <jamesfrankmcgrath@...>
          To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2001 8:08 PM
          Subject: [John_Lit] John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-20 and GTh 77


          >
          > --- FMMCCOY <FMMCCOY@...> wrote:
          > > There is a evidence of a complex relationship
          > > between John 1:1-18, Col
          > > 1:15-20, and GTh 77 which suggests that they were
          > > written at about the same
          > > time by a single community .
          > >
          > Frank,
          >
          > Couldn't this evidence be explained equally well by
          > positing a tradition of influence over a perhaps
          > relatively short, but also quite possibly long time?
          > My hunch would be that chronologically we'd be talking
          > about something along the lines of:
          >
          > Col 1:15-20 -> John 1:1-18 -> GTh 77
          >
          > although the Jesus Seminar and its fans would surely
          > put Thomas as the source of the others! :)
          >
          > I'm not suggesting a *direct* influence or knowledge
          > by each of the other. However, it is clear that the
          > early use of Wisdom language in reference to Christ
          > that presumably significantly pre-dates Paul fed into
          > various streams and traditions of Christian thought,
          > including Paul's writings, Matthew's Gospel, the
          > Johannine corpus, and Hebrews. (A useful book on the
          > topic is Witherington's _Jesus the Sage_). Anyway, I
          > don't think any of the elements mentioned requires a
          > direct knowledge on the part of any of the authors in
          > question of the writings of the others. My main point
          > is that rather than showing similarity in their use of
          > Wisdom language can be explained not only in terms of
          > a common setting around the same time, but also in
          > terms of a history of tradition carried on and
          > applied, adapted and contextualized in many contexts
          > and setting over a fairly lengthy period of time.
          >
          > Do you have any particular evidence that makes you
          > think that the particular *way* each author uses this
          > christological Wisdom tradition would indicate a
          > similar context and a close temporal proximity between
          > them?
          >


          Dear James McGrath and Other JL Listers:

          In my post, I presented evidence that, in the three postulated hymn-like
          compositions, the subject appears to be Philo's Logos. In your response
          above you speak of them having "Wisdom language" and belonging to a
          "christological Wisdom tradition".

          I will grant you that, in a broad and generic sense, the Wisdom tradition
          includes Philo's Logos: so that a Christology based on Philo's Logos is, in
          a broad and generic sense. couched in "Wisdom language" and can be said to
          belong to a "christological Wisdom tradition". However, by
          the same token Philo's Logos is not Wisdom (Sophia).

          The relationship between Philo's Logos and Wisdom (Sophia) is complex.
          Wisdom is within the Logos, a part of his very being. Conversely, the Logos
          is within Wisdom, a part of her very being. As a result, they share many
          attributes. For example, each is the Image of God, each is the One through
          whom the Cosmos has come into being, each is the One that is suffused
          throughout the Cosmos, and each is the Light.

          However, each has unique titles. Only the Logos has such titles as God,
          Lord, Son, Christ, and Melchizedek, while only Wisdom has such titles as
          Virtue (Arete), Knowledge (for which the underlying Greek word is Episteme
          in Philonic thought, but most often Gnosis in Christian Wisdom traditions),
          and Spirit (Pneuma)..

          Further, each has unique roles. For example, only the Logos has the role of
          being the spiritual High Priest and of being, as such, the Christ, while
          only Wisdom is the spiritual temple and/or tabernacle in which dwells God.

          Because Philo's Logos and Wisdom are two distinct beings, it is the case
          that we must divide the broad and generic "christological Wisdom tradition"
          into two sub-traditions: (1) a Jesus as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom
          sub-tradition, and (2) a Jesus as Wisdom christological Wisdom
          sub-tradition.

          An examination of the three postulated hymn-like compositions indicates that
          they belong to the Jesus as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom
          sub-tradition.

          In the postulated hymn-like composition underlying John 1:1-18, the subject
          is explicitly said to be the Logos. Also, the subject has the titles of God
          and Son and Christ and these are titles of the Logos but not titles of
          Wisdom. Conversely, the subject has none of the titles of Wisdom. The
          conclusion: It is a product of the Jesus as Philo's Logos christological
          Wisdom sub-tradition.

          In the postulated hymn-like composition underlying Col 1:15-20, the subject
          is said to be the Image of God and the Beginning. Both the Logos and Wisdom
          are the Image of God. However, as far as I know, only the Logos has the
          title of the Beginning. The conclusion: It is a product of the Jesus as
          Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition.

          In the postulated hymn-like composition in GTh 77, the subject has no
          explicit titles As a result, we cannot use title (s) to determine to which
          sub-tradition it belongs.

          The second three line stanza of it reads:

          I am the All,
          Has the All come out of me,
          And has the All split open to me.

          I interpret it this way:

          I am the (incorporeal) All,
          Has the (corporeal) All come out of me.
          And has the (corporeal) All split open to me.

          In this case, the subject of Gth 77 is Philo's Logos. This is because.
          while both the Logos and Wisdom are suffused through the Cosmos,
          interprenetrating it, only the Logos suffuses himself through the Cosmos
          through a process of splitting it open. So, in Heres 130-31, Philo states,
          He (i.e., Moses) wishes you to think of God who cannot be shewn, as severing
          through the Severer of all things, that is His Logos, the whole succession
          of things material and immaterial whose natures appear to be knitted
          together and united. That severing Logos whetted to an edge of utmost
          sharpness never ceases to divide. For when it has dealth with all sensible
          objects down to the atoms and what we call 'indivisibles,' it passes on from
          them to the realm of reason's observation and proceeds to divide it into a
          vast and infinite number of parts." Conversely, to the best of my
          knowledge, Wisdom is nowhere said to split open all things. The conclusion:
          GTh 77 belongs to the Jesus as Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition.

          (Note: I think it likely that the author of Hebrews knew about the above
          quote by Philo in which the Logos, like a sharp sword ("whetted to an edge
          of utmost sharpness"), divides and opens up all things--even the thoughts of
          human reason. See Hebrews 4:12-15, "For the Logos of God is living and
          efficient and sharper than every two-edged sword, even penetrating to the
          division both of psyche and pneuma, both of joints and marrow, and (is) a
          discerner of (the) thoughts and intents of (the) heart. And there is not a
          created thing unapparent before him: but all things (are) lnaked and laid
          bare to the eyes of him whom (is) our Logos. Having therefore a great High
          Priest (who) has passed though the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, we should
          hold fast the confession." It is noteworthy that, here, the author of
          Hebrews goes on to identify Jesus as being this Logos: who also is the
          spiritual High Priest and Son of God. Hence, Hebrews 4:12-15 belongs to
          the Jesus as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition.).

          To summarize: We can speak of a broad and generic christological Wisdom
          tradition. It, in turn, can be divided into two sub-traditions: (1) a Jesus
          as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition, and (2) a Jesus as
          Wisdom christological Wisdom sub-tradition. The three hymn-like
          compositions postulated to underly John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-20 and GTh 77
          belong to the Jesus as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition.

          This is an important point. For one thing, it demonstrates that there was
          an actual Jesus as Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition. For
          another thing, it means that these three postulated hymn-like compositions
          were *not* produced in the Jesus as Wisdom christological Wisdom
          sub-tradition.

          In the beginning of your post, you state:
          > Couldn't this evidence be explained equally well by
          > positing a tradition of influence over a perhaps
          > relatively short, but also quite possibly long time?
          > My hunch would be that chronologically we'd be talking
          > about something along the lines of:
          >
          > Col 1:15-20 -> John 1:1-18 -> GTh 77
          >
          > although the Jesus Seminar and its fans would surely
          > put Thomas as the source of the others! :)
          >

          You are absolutely correct. The evidence does not require that the three
          postulated hymn-like compositions were written in a short period of time by
          one community. It is the highly unusual combination of (1) a rigid
          structure (always x number of 3 verse units followed by an equal number of 2
          verse units or else x number of 2x3 verse units followed by an equal number
          of 2x2 verse units and with x always equal to 2 or else to 3) ) and (2) a
          rigid topic (always the topic is the Logos, particularly in his role as the
          One through whom the Cosmos came into being) that leads me to think that
          they most likely were produced in a short period of time in one
          community--possibly even by one individual. My judgment is that, if they
          had been written over a period of years in several Christian communities,
          then they probably would have had more variability in structure and in
          topic

          However, I could very well be wrong. For example, in the Theology of the
          New Testament (Part I. p. 175), Rudolph Bultmann thusly renders Eph. 5:14:

          Awake O sleeper,
          And rise from the dead,
          And Christ will give you light.

          As thusly rendered, it could very well be a three verse unit from a document
          belonging this class of hymn-like compositions. Note that its focus is on
          the need for one to be spiritually awakened.. Hence, it could very well be
          that this class of hymn-like compositions did have a greater variability in
          topic than I give it credit for. If so, then the probability greatly
          increases that they were composed over a period of years in several
          communities.

          If, as you suggest, they were produced over a period of years in different
          communities, then, as you point out, the question is raised as to the
          temporal order of their writing.

          In this case, as you suggest, the postulated hymn-like composition
          underlying Col 1:15-20 could very well be the first one. This is because,
          as tentatively re-constructed in my previous post, it lacks any
          identification of Jesus with the Logos and, so, might be pre-Christian.
          Conversely, in GTh 77 Jesus speaks as the Logos and, in John 1:1-18, Jesus
          is explicitly identified as being the Logos. Hence, these two definitely
          were produced in a Christian context.

          Regards,

          Frank McCoy
          Maplewood, MN USA
        • James McGrath
          Dear Frank, Thank you for your lengthy reply, which adds a lot of the details that I was missing regarding your viewpoint. Although you argue your case well, I
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 7, 2001
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            Dear Frank,

            Thank you for your lengthy reply, which adds a lot of
            the details that I was missing regarding your
            viewpoint. Although you argue your case well, I still
            have a few questions. First, given the way that
            certain authors during the first and even second
            century CE seem to use Word, Wisdom and Spirit almost
            interchangeably or in synonymous parallelism, would it
            not be quite plausible to suggest that these various
            writings are all discussing the same thing, albeit in
            slightly different terms and with slightly different
            approaches - namely the manner of God's 'interface'
            with creation? Why should we make a hard and fast
            distinction between Word and Wisdom on the basis of
            the 'titles' that are not used for both, rather than
            identifying them based on the many attributes they
            clearly share in common?

            >
            > Both the Logos and Wisdom
            > are the Image of God. However, as far as I know,
            > only the Logos has the
            > title of the Beginning. The conclusion: It is a
            > product of the Jesus as
            > Philo's Logos christological Wisdom sub-tradition.
            >

            Certainly in the rabbinic corpus, on the basis of the
            Scriptural references which state that:
            1) God created her (Wisdom) the beginning of his ways
            and
            2) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the
            earth
            the conclusion is reached that:
            3) God created through Wisdom
            There is an elaborate attempt to read Col.1:15-20 in
            this light, which I think may originally have been
            proposed by Burney (my library is currently in boxes
            in a ship somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, so I
            apologize for not double-checking!), but at any rate
            there is a discussion conveniently available in
            W.D.Davies' book, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism.

            However, I have no reason to dispute the possible
            influence of Philo on any of the passages in question,
            and certainly in the case of John a very strong case
            can be made indeed. However, in the case of Colossians
            I still think there is less in the specific content
            that requires us to posit Philo's influence.
            Nevertheless, the problem is precisely that there was
            so much Jewish speculation about the place where God
            and the created order meet, that it is always
            difficult to work out precisely who influenced whom,
            how much, and how directly.

            I apologize for replying so briefly and superficially
            to your detailed presentation of your viewpoint. I
            hope to have time to read your message more carefully
            and attentively over the coming days.

            Best wishes,

            James McGrath






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          • FMMCCOY
            ... From: James McGrath To: Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2001 10:41 AM Subject: [John_Lit]
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 9, 2001
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              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "James McGrath" <jamesfrankmcgrath@...>
              To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2001 10:41 AM
              Subject: [John_Lit] John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-20 and GTh 77


              > Dear Frank,
              >
              > Thank you for your lengthy reply, which adds a lot of
              > the details that I was missing regarding your
              > viewpoint. Although you argue your case well, I still
              > have a few questions. First, given the way that
              > certain authors during the first and even second
              > century CE seem to use Word, Wisdom and Spirit almost
              > interchangeably or in synonymous parallelism, would it
              > not be quite plausible to suggest that these various
              > writings are all discussing the same thing, albeit in
              > slightly different terms and with slightly different
              > approaches - namely the manner of God's 'interface'
              > with creation?
              >
              Dear James:

              I absolutely agree that, in many varieties of early Christianity, there was
              a tendency to use Word, Wisdom, Spirit (and, I would add, Christ)
              interchangeably or in synonymous parallelism. One can see this tendency (at
              least for Wisdom, Spirit, and Christ) already starting to develop in Paul's
              correspondence to the Corinthians, so it began by c. 55 CE and might even
              have begun earlier.

              However, I think it is an error in judgment to conclude, from this, that
              these various writings are all discussing the same thing. The Logos of a
              Stoic is not the Logos of Philo. The picture of Wisdom in the Wisdom of
              Solomon is not the same as the picture of Wisdom in Ecclesiasticus.

              For example, let us take this excerpt from a Nag Hammadi text, The Teaching
              of Silvanus (112-113), "It is Thou who hast given glory to Thy Word in order
              to save everyone, O Merciful God. (It is) he who has come from Thy mouth
              and has risen from Thy heart, the First-born, the Wisdom, the Prototype, the
              First Light. For he is a light from the power of God, and he is an
              emanation of the pure glory of the Almighty. He is the spotless mirror of
              the working of God, and he is the image of his goodness."

              Here, Jesus is being identified as being the Logos and as being, as such, a
              number of things: including Wisdom. Further, there is a clear influence of
              Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26 on the last part of this passage. Wisdom of
              Solomon 7:25-26 reads, "For she (i.e., Wisdom) is the breath of the power of
              God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty...For she
              is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the
              power
              of God,. and the image of His goodness."

              This evident influence of Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26 on Silvanus 112-113
              might be quite valuable for purposes of scholarly research, e.g., for a
              scholar trying to determine what texts were known to, and used by, the
              author of Silvanus and the members of his community. Again, it tells a
              scholar that the author of Silvanus was influenced by the concept of Wisdom
              to be found in the Wisdom of Solomon and, so, gives the scholar a "clue" as
              to what the author of Silvanus means when he declares that Jesus is, as the
              Logos, also "Wisdom"

              You continue:
              .
              Why should we make a hard and fast distinction between Word and Wisdom on
              the basis of the 'titles' that are not used for both, rather than
              identifying them based on the many attributes they
              clearly share in common?

              (My response)
              Because I was specifically referring to Philo's Logos in my two posts, I
              would like to change your question to this, "Why should we make a hard and
              fast distinction between Philo's Logos (Word) and Wisdom on the basis of the
              'titles' that are not used for both, rather than identifying them based on
              the many attributes they clearly share in common?"

              In my opinion, there are a number of reasons why such a hard and fast
              distinction should be made. For one thing, whenever one of the unique
              titles for Philo's Logos
              appears in an early Christian text, this tells us that there likely is
              Philonic influence on that early Christian text. This is also the case
              whenever a unique attribute of Philo's Logos appears in an early Christian
              text. Also, whenever a unique title or attribute for Philo's Logos is
              attributed to Jesus in an early Christian text, it is a "clue" that,
              possibly, Jesus is being identified in this text as being Philo's Logos.


              You also say:

              > Certainly in the rabbinic corpus, on the basis of the
              > Scriptural references which state that:
              > 1) God created her (Wisdom) the beginning of his ways
              > and
              > 2) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the
              > earth
              > the conclusion is reached that:
              > 3) God created through Wisdom
              > There is an elaborate attempt to read Col.1:15-20 in
              > this light, which I think may originally have been
              > proposed by Burney (my library is currently in boxes
              > in a ship somewhere in the Atlantic ocean, so I
              > apologize for not double-checking!), but at any rate
              > there is a discussion conveniently available in
              > W.D.Davies' book, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism.
              >
              > However, I have no reason to dispute the possible
              > influence of Philo on any of the passages in question,
              > and certainly in the case of John a very strong case
              > can be made indeed. However, in the case of Colossians
              > I still think there is less in the specific content
              > that requires us to posit Philo's influence.
              > Nevertheless, the problem is precisely that there was
              > so much Jewish speculation about the place where God
              > and the created order meet, that it is always
              > difficult to work out precisely who influenced whom,
              > how much, and how directly.
              >
              Thank you for the information that, in Rabbinic circles, there appears to
              have been an identification of Wisdom with the "beginning" of Gen. 1:1. I
              didn't know this.

              This means that I was incorrect in saying that the Beginning is a unique
              title of Philo's Logos. This, in turn, means that I was rash and, likely,
              wrong in stating that Jesus is Philo's Logos in the postulated hymn-like
              composition underlying Col. 1:15-20. So, you are correct in saying that
              it is not necessary to posit Philo's influence on Col. 1:15-20.

              This means that the postulated hymn-like composition underlying Col 1:15-20
              might differ from the other two postulated compositions (i.e., the one in
              John 1:1-18 (except v. 15) and the one in GTh 77) in two very important
              respects. First, as I pointed out in my last post, unlike them, it might be
              pre-Christian. Second, unlike with them, the subject of this postulated
              composition might not Philo's Logos.

              This raises the question of whether the invention of this class of hymn-like
              compositions, with their very rigid structures, was invented in a
              pre-Christian Hellenistic Jewish environment where there considerable
              speculation about Wisdom rather than in a Christian environment..
              .
              I want to thank you for discussing the ideas raised in my first post. From
              your responses, I see that I need to do more research, particularly on Col
              1:15-20, and that I need to formulate some new hypotheses and put them to
              the test. You've given me just the kind of input I was looking for. Thanks
              again.

              Regards,

              Frank McCoy
              Maplewood, MN USA
            • James McGrath
              Dear Frank, The development of christology is an area that particularly fascinates me. My PhD research was precisely on the origins and development of John s
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 10, 2001
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                Dear Frank,

                The development of christology is an area that
                particularly fascinates me. My PhD research was
                precisely on the origins and development of John's
                Christology and its links to and development of
                earlier ideas and traditions. Even after spending
                years on a topic, there is still so much left unsaid
                and so many questions left unanswered! My particular
                area of interest now relates to this topic - the
                question of early Jewish and Christian monotheism. It
                seems clear that, regardless of whether they would
                have understood themselves to have a common viewpoint
                or would have made sharp distinctions between their
                views, Jews like the first Christians accepted the
                possibility of something like the Logos or Wisdom
                bridging the gap between God and creation. The similar
                language that John and Philo use (with God...was God;
                neither uncreated...nor created) convinces me that
                there is at least a common underlying worldview at
                this point; I imagine the language of Wisdom as the
                beginning of creation, so that sometimes she appears
                to be part of the created order, while at other times
                it is clear that she predates creation, is part of the
                same world of ideas. This seems to me to be one
                characteristic of early Jewish (and Christian
                monotheism), and one reason why there was no conflict
                (even in John) over the possibility of there being
                such a thing as the Logos.

                As to whether these various authors would have
                understood themselves to all be speaking about the
                same thing, it is probably impossible to know. Some
                Christians would consider the Muslim God Allah to be
                the same monotheistic God as Jews and Christians
                worship although they would differ as to how he is to
                be conceived of and understood; others would say they
                are not the same. Muslims and Jews likewise differ on
                their view of Christians - some would say we worship
                the same God as them and just have some strange
                notions about the Trinity, others would say that the
                difference is so great that we are no longer
                worshipping the one true God of monotheism. It is very
                possible that such differences existed in the first
                century as well, and that Wisdom and Logos meant
                rather different things to different people, even
                within the same basic tradition.

                Thanks again for this stimulating line of thought and
                conversation!

                Looking forward to conversing more about this,

                James McGrath







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