Re: Double meaning and imagery
- Dear Michael,
I´m very interested in your studies concerning the usage of words with
double meanings in the FG.
For some time I´m trying to come to grips with this important theme for
John´s theology and language.
I think your questions are focusing on one of the central issues, the
hermeneutic problem how to understand or even resolve the double meaning
language of John.
But in my opinion we must take two considerations into account:
1) the linguistic problem of the double meaning
2) the hermeneutic problem
To the first I suppose that it´s not possible to explain the double meaning
as a lexigraphical problem only, but we should see it within the framework
of figurative language in general. And there are at least two approaches in
contemporary exegesis: a) the metaphorical (cf. J. v. d. Watt, The Family of
the King. Dynamics of Metaphor in the Gospel according to John, Leiden
2000), that works with linguistic methods to identify a particular word/
phrase/ image as a metaphor
b) the symbolical approach (cf. C. Koester, Symbolism in the FG, Minneapolis
1995). The problem of a symbol is, that it works on convention of a certain
community of communication. Thus it is not always easy to determine wheter a
symbol is really a symbol, or not - especially for modern interpreter.
There a only a few attempts to unite these two approaches (e. g. S.
Hamid-Khani, Revelation and Concealment of Christ: A theological inquiry
into the elusive language of the FG, WUNT, Tübingen 2000, you know this most
recently monography in your issue, don´t you?)
On the other hand, you have to get clear what´s the function or
linguistically spoken the pragmatic of the enigmatic language. Here you
could discusse for example the so called "johanneische Sehweise" (mode of
Seeing) (Mussner), the sense of misunderstanding or the role of the spirit
An often overlooked key on this issue is the 'paroimia'
(parresia)-distinction made in John 16,25-29.
I´m looking forward to further exange.
University of Munich (Germany)
P.S. I hope for your indulgence with my mistakes in english, sorry!
- Greetings all.
For the record, I am a very interested layperson in NT
Studies, particularly Johannine research. Thanks to
all of those scholars who listen and share with those
of us who do not have the privilege of teaching.
I have, as of late, plotted my own understanding of
the 4G this way:
1) I am quite comfortable with the work of Dodd and
Robinson on the 4G's having a historical bedrock.
2) I have read most of the literature on the Semeia
source but still tend to see the Gospel as a whole.
Culpepper's work has been important to me here.
3) I tend to think that the Bultmannian hypothesis and
it's many variants has tended to be put into
perspective (and many unwarranted conclusions
appropriately jettisoned) by the discoveries at Qumran
as well as the work of Glasson, Brown, Martyn to
demonstrate the Jewish, indeed Palestinean (I would
even assert Jerusalem) background of the Gospel.
To respond to some thoughts on this thread:
1) I am not a linguist, although I do try to keep my
Greek in reasonably maintained condition. Is it not
possible that the Joh. community used double-entendres
as 'insider language?' That is, the insider language
functions parabolically for this community in a way
similar to the parables in the Synoptics.
One only sees the many words that have two
meanings/levels/??? when one sees that the Spirit is
poured out in the crucifixion (7.37-39, hypsao, the
blood and water, etc.) The cross in short poses a
similar problem in Jn as it does among the
Corinthians, thus establishing the need for a 'new'
The Spirit, as the interpreter of Jesus, takes 'that
which belongs to (the historical) Jesus' and in the
light of the event of the Resurrection of the
Crucified transforms our language and our
understanding. At least, this is what I see the
2) a list of words was requested. I have a 'working
list' that I am sure is incomplete but I will make
time to write it out for this thread.
3) Jesus had two groups of disciples, one Galilean
(reflected in the Synoptics) another in Jerusalem. One
or some of this group may have known Jesus prior to hs
baptism and was/were JTB's followers before Jesus had
The originary impulse for the 4G comes from an
eye-witness. This is of no little consequence. Who
this is will I think remain a mystery (Zebedean
authorship has, to me, been proven impossible),
nevertheless, the eye-witness claim is too cavalierly
(sp?) overlooked in 4G and historical research. This
eye-witness at some point emigrates to Ephesus with
it's large Jewish population where a community forms
around his/her 'apostleship.'
There seems to be ample evidence that early
christianity was not monolithic, so a tradition that
is in some ways similar to the synoptics (JTB, feeding
of 5,000, the Passion narrative) yet in others
significantly departs from them (chronology,
christology, etc) seems probable, indeed likely. If
Cullmann is correct one can go further and suggest a
solid historical trajectory from this community back
through the (so-called) Hellenists of Acts 6 which may
have (marginally?/centrally?) gone back to a group
around the eye-witness of the 4G. I still think we
need to recover from the Strauss-Schweitzer-Bultmann
school of thought in considering the 4G as a viable
way of telling Jesus' story. Neither the author nor
the (so called) redactors of this document seem to
suggest otherwise and their claim and consequent
authority, like Paul's, are derived from this
Well, I have many daughters so my computer time is
limited and now up. Peace to all,
Floral Park, NY
--- Mirjam und Ruben Zimmermann
> Dear Michael,__________________________________________________
> I�m very interested in your studies concerning the
> usage of words with
> double meanings in the FG.
> For some time I�m trying to come to grips with this
> important theme for
> John�s theology and language.
> I think your questions are focusing on one of the
> central issues, the
> hermeneutic problem how to understand or even
> resolve the double meaning
> language of John.
> But in my opinion we must take two considerations
> into account:
> 1) the linguistic problem of the double meaning
> 2) the hermeneutic problem
> To the first I suppose that it�s not possible to
> explain the double meaning
> as a lexigraphical problem only, but we should see
> it within the framework
> of figurative language in general. And there are at
> least two approaches in
> contemporary exegesis: a) the metaphorical (cf. J.
> v. d. Watt, The Family of
> the King. Dynamics of Metaphor in the Gospel
> according to John, Leiden
> 2000), that works with linguistic methods to
> identify a particular word/
> phrase/ image as a metaphor
> b) the symbolical approach (cf. C. Koester,
> Symbolism in the FG, Minneapolis
> 1995). The problem of a symbol is, that it works on
> convention of a certain
> community of communication. Thus it is not always
> easy to determine wheter a
> symbol is really a symbol, or not - especially for
> modern interpreter.
> There a only a few attempts to unite these two
> approaches (e. g. S.
> Hamid-Khani, Revelation and Concealment of Christ: A
> theological inquiry
> into the elusive language of the FG, WUNT, T�bingen
> 2000, you know this most
> recently monography in your issue, don�t you?)
> On the other hand, you have to get clear what�s the
> function or
> linguistically spoken the pragmatic of the enigmatic
> language. Here you
> could discusse for example the so called
> "johanneische Sehweise" (mode of
> Seeing) (Mussner), the sense of misunderstanding or
> the role of the spirit
> as interpreter.
> An often overlooked key on this issue is the
> (parresia)-distinction made in John 16,25-29.
> I�m looking forward to further exange.
> Ruben Zimmermann
> University of Munich (Germany)
> P.S. I hope for your indulgence with my mistakes in
> english, sorry!
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