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Re: [John_Lit] Are There Two Hymns in John 1:1-18?

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  • FMMCCOY
    INTRODUCTION It has long been recognized that there is a hymn-like quality to most (if not all) of John 1:1-18. In this post, it will be suggested that John
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14, 2001
      INTRODUCTION

      It has long been recognized that there is a hymn-like quality to most (if
      not all) of John 1:1-18. In this post, it will be suggested that John
      1:1-18 contains two hymns. This suggestion is based on a modified version
      of the hypothesis I proposed in a July 4 post--which original hypothesis had
      a major weakness pointed out by James McGrath.

      A HYPOTHESIS

      I propose this hypothesis: There were a number of early Christian hymns
      having a structure of x number of 3 verse stanzas followed by an equal
      number of 2 verse stanzas or else x number of 2x3 verse stanzas followed by
      an equal number of 2x2 verse stanzas and with x always equal to 2 or else to
      3. Each of these hypothesised early Christian hymns, then, must have a
      3/3/2/2, or a 3/3/3/2/2/2, or a 6/6/4/4, or a 6/6/6/4/4/4 pattern.

      In support of this hypothesis, there is evidence of an early Christian hym
      following a 3/3/2/2 pattern, of two early Christian hymns following a
      3/3/3/2/2/2 pattern, and of an early Christian hymn following a
      6/6/6/4/4/4 pattern.

      A 3/3/2/2 HYMN
      .
      GTh 77-- a 3/3/2/2 hymn uttered by Jesus as a pre-existent
      Wisdom-type figure that appears to be Philo's Logos Each 3 verse stanza is
      an "I am" saying and each 2 verse stanza regards where you can find him.

      Stanza 1 The First "I am" Declaration
      I am the Light,
      The One which is upon them,
      All of them.

      Stanza 2 The Second "I am" Declaration
      I am the All,
      Has the All come out of me,
      And has the All split open to me.

      Stanza 3 The First Where to Find Me Declaration
      Split open a timber,
      I am there.

      Stanza 4 The Second Where to Find Me Declaration
      Take up the stone,
      And you will fall upon me there.

      A 3/3/3/2/2/2 HYMN.

      Hymn 2 Second Apocalypse of James 56 a 3/3/3/2/2/2 hymn in which Jesus
      speaks to James the Just Each 3 verse stanza regards something that will be
      done for the sake of James. Each 2 verse stanza regards James clothing
      himself and/or stripping.himself

      Stanza 1 The First Thing That Will be Done for Your Sake
      For your sake
      They will be told [these (things)],
      And will come to rest.

      Stanza 2 The Second Thing That Will be Done for Your Sake
      For your sake
      They will reign
      [And will] become Kings.

      Stanza 3 The Third Thing That Will be Done for Your Sake
      For your sake
      They will have pity
      On whomever they pity.

      Stanza 4 You are the First to Cloth Yourself
      For just as you are first,
      Having clothed yourself.

      Stanza 5 You Will be First to Strip Yourself
      You also are the first
      Who will strip himself.

      Stanza 6 Yet, in Stripping, You Will Become Clothed
      And you shall become as you were
      Before you were stripped.

      A SECOND 3/3/3/2/2/2 HYMN

      Hymn 3 Philippians 2:5b-11: a 3/3/3/2/2/2 hymn in which Jesus is a
      pre-existent Wisdom-type figure, possibly Philo's :Logos Each 3 verse
      stanza relates to the humbling of the pre-existent Jesus, culminating in his
      death. Each 2 verse stanza relates to his subsequent exultation.

      Stanza 1: He Empties Himself
      Who in the form of God subsisting,
      Esteemed it not robbery to be equal with God,
      But emptied himself.

      Stanza 2 Now Emptied, He is Incarnate on Earth as One Like a Man
      Having taken a bondman's form,
      Having become in (the) likeness of men,
      And in figure having been found as a man.

      Stanza 3 Now Like a Man, He Obeys God by Tasting Death
      He humbled himself,
      Having become obedient unto death,
      Even death of (the) cross.

      Stanza 4 For His Obedience Unto Death, He is Exalted by God
      Wherefore also God highly exalted him,
      And granted him a name which is above every name.

      Stanza 5 Now Exalted by God, Every Knee Should Bow to Him
      That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      Of (beings) in heaven and on earth and under the earth.

      Stanza 6 As Every Knee Should Bow to Him, Every Tongue Should Call Him Lord
      And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      To the glory of God the Father.

      A 6/6/6/4/4/4 HYMN
      :
      Hymn 4 Col 1:15-20: a 6/6/6/4/4/4 hymn in which Jesus is a pre-existent
      Wisdom-type figure, possibly Philo's Logos. (Modified from my July 4 post
      because I have learned that it is not necessary to assume three
      interpolations in it. Rather, all one needs to assume is one possible
      interpolation. The bracketed phrase (i.e., "[the Church]") is this one
      suspected interpolation by the author of Colossians.)

      Stanza 1 All things were created by him
      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,

      Stanza 2 A description of the all things created by him
      The visible
      And the invisible,
      Whether thrones
      Or lordships
      Or principalities
      Or authorities.

      Stanza 3 His Superiority to All Things Created by Him
      All things by him
      And for him
      Have been created.
      And he is before all,
      And all things in him subsist.
      And he is the head of the body [the Church]

      Stanza 4 He is First in all things
      Who is the Beginning,
      The First-born from the dead,
      That he might be holding
      In all things first place.

      Stanza 5 He is the Reconciler of All Things
      Because in him was pleased
      All the fulness to dwell,
      And by him to reconcile
      All things to himself,

      Stanza 6 He is the Bringer of Peace to All Things
      Having made peace
      By the blood of his cross
      Whether the things on the earth,
      Or the things in the heavens.

      TWO POSSIBLE STANZAS THAT MIGHT BE EXCERPTS FROM LONGER HYMNS

      1. Timothy 3:16 A 6 verse stanza possibly from a 6/6/4/4 or 6/6/6/4/4/4 hymn
      on Jesus as a divine being who might have the title of God and who might be
      Philo's Logos

      Who (or: God) was manifested in the flesh,
      Was justified within (the) Spirit,
      Was seen by angels,
      Was proclaimed among (the) Gentiles,
      Was believed on in (the) Cosmos,
      Was received in glory.


      2 Eph. 5:14 a 3 verse stanza that might come from a 3/3/2/2 or 3/3/3/2/2/2
      hymn:

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

      WHAT OF JOHN 1:1-18?

      If, as appears, there actually were early Christian hymns conforming to the
      hypothesis, might not, then, one or more of them possibly be present in
      John 1:1-18? Indeed, as we shall now see, it appears that there is a
      3/3/2/2 hymn in John 1:1-5 and a 6/6/6/4/4/4 hymn in John 1:6-14 & 16-18.

      A 3/3/2/2 HYMN IN JOHN 1:1-5

      Hymn 5 John 1:1-5 a 3/3/2/2 hymn about a pre-existing Wisdom-type figure who
      appears to be Philo's Logos Each 3 verse stanza regards the Logos in the
      Beginning. Each 2 verse stanza regards the Life/Light.

      Stanza 1 The First Declaration of the Existence of the Logos in the
      Beginning
      In the Beginning was the Logos,
      And the Logos was with God,
      And the Logos was God.

      Stanza 2 The Second Declaration of the Existence of the Logos in the
      Beginning
      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.

      Stanza 3 The First Declaration on the Life/Light
      In him was Life,
      And the Life was the Light of men.

      Stanza 4 The Second Declaration on the Life/Light
      And this Light shines in the Darkness,
      And the Darkness apprehends it not.

      A 6/6/6/4/4/4 HYMN IN JOHN 1:6-14 & 16-18

      Hymn 6 John 1:6-14 & 16-18 A 6/6/6/4/4/4 hymn in which Jesus apparently is
      Philo's Logos The 6 verse stanzas regard the announcing, the coming, and
      the receiving (and non-receiving!) of the Light. The 4 verse stanzas regard
      this Logos and us.

      Stanza 1 The Coming of the Witness for the Light
      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.

      Stanza 2 The Coming of the Light
      The true Light that enlightens mankind 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.

      Stanza 3 What Happened to Those Who Received the Light
      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.

      Stanza 4 The Logos Appeared to Us in the Flesh
      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.

      Stanza 5 What The Logos Gave Us is Superior to What Moses Gave Us
      And of his Fulness we have all received,
      Grace upon grace.
      For the Law was given through Moses,
      And the Grace and the Truth came through Christ Jesus.

      Stanza 6 The Logos is the Revealer of God to Us
      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.

      TWO IMPLICATIONS REGARDING JOHN 1:1-18

      If the above is correct, then John 1:1-18, outside of verse 15, consists of
      two separate early Christian hymns: one in 1:1-5 and the other in 1:6-14 &
      16-18. In both, Jesus is the Logos. In the first hymn, the Light is
      something inside him. In the second, he is the Light.

      If the above is correct, then John 1:18 contains two examples of a category
      of early Christian hymns that are also to be found in GTh 77, 2nd Apoc.
      James 56, Colossians 1:15-20. and Philippians 2:5b-11

      THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SECOND IMPLICATION

      If the second implication is correct, then the other hymns in this category
      of early Christian hymns, as they are related to the two hymns in John
      1:1-18, might help us to solve some of the mysteries of John 1:1-18. What
      follows is one example.

      DOES JOHN 1:9-11 REFER TO THE INCARNATION OF THE LOGOS IN THE FLESH?

      John 1:9-11 is the second stanza of the second hymn in 1:1-18 and it reads:

      The true Light that enlightens mankind 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.

      There is debate over whether this regards the incarnation of the Logos in
      the flesh--which is not explicitly said to take place until John 1:14.

      I am inclined to think that this stanza does not regard .the incarnation of
      the Logos in the flesh. I do so because there might be some linkage between
      it and the hymn, attributed to Jesus, in GTh 77:

      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.

      First of all, both John 1:9-11 and GTh 77 begin with Jesus being the Light
      of all mankind. Second , in both, it is said
      that the Cosmos/All came forth from him. These two common features suggests
      that these two passages are related. Third, the rest of GTh 77 deals with
      how Jesus permeates the Cosmos. If, as suggested, John 1:9-11 and GTh 77
      are related, then this makes it most likely that the rest of John 1:9-11
      regards how, as the pre-existent Logos, Jesus entered into and permeated the
      Cosmos and, thereby, even spiritually entered into the minds of "his own":
      who, however, rejected him.

      In this regard, there is a Q tradition statement, found in Luke 13:34, where
      Jesus states, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those
      who have been sent to her. How often would I have gathered your children
      in the way a hen (gathers) her brood under (her) wings, and you would not!"
      Here, I suggest, Jesus speaks as a pre-existing Wisdom figure for whom
      the people of Jerusalem are "his own". This could be Wisdom. This also
      could be Philo's Logos, who is Melchizedek--the King of Salem, i.e.,
      Jerusalem. Further, Jesus speaks about how, in his pre-incarnational
      existence, he spiritually tried to help them, but they rejected him.
      Therefore, I think it likely that, in the last two lines of John 1:9-11:

      To his own he came,
      And his own received him not.

      there is an allusion to this Q tradition saying. If so, then, in 1:9-11,
      "his own" are the people of Jerusalem: whom he tried to spiritually help in
      his pre-incarnational existence, but who rejected him.

      In any event, as this example shows, the other hymns in this class of early
      Christian hymns might be helpful to us in interpreting John 1:1-18. In this
      example, one of these hymns, i.e., GTh 77, lends support to the idea that
      John 1:9-11 refers to the pre-incarnational activity of the Logos in the
      Cosmos rather than to the incarnation of the Logos in the flesh.

      THE UN-PAULINE NATURE OF THE HYMNS

      The six hymns and two hymn fragments discussed in this post are not
      Pauline. Above all, in one of them, it is James the Just: who is the most
      authoritative apostle. As for Paul, he isn't even mentioned in any of
      them. Again, in them, there is no indication that Jesus' death atoned for
      the sins of mankind or that it voided the Law of Moses. Rather, it enabled
      him to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to himself. Too, in them,
      there is no indication that the last days are at hand or that Jesus will
      ever be returning to earth. As for Jesus, he is a pre-existent and Cosmic
      Wisdom-type figure: most likely, I think, Philo's Logos. One's salvation is
      described as being one's rising from death unto life and as being one's
      rebirth by God. Possibly, the reference is to one's baptism, but this is
      not certain. I can easily envison these hymns being produced by by the
      Hellenists in Jerusalem: who I think were from the synagogue there that
      included Jews from Alexandria and Asia and Cilicia.

      Frank McCoy
      Maplewood, MN USA
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