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Re: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?

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  • fmmccoy
    ... From: Horace Jeffery Hodges To: Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 6:17 PM Subject:
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 1, 2003
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 6:17 PM
      Subject: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?


      > In John 2:7, the servants fill the jars to the brim
      > with water. Was this normal proceedure for large stone
      > jars used for ceremonial purification?
      >

      Dear Jeffery Hodges:

      I don't know the answer to your question.

      For me, though, the important point is that John stresses the filling of the
      stone jars to their brims. This is, ISTM, intentional. Why, then, does he
      stress that each jar (hudria) had been filled to its brim?

      The answer, I suggest, lies in secs. 136-152 of Philo's essay, The Posterity
      and Exile of Cain (Post).

      In Post (136-152), Philo likens the mind to a hudria and Wisdom,
      particularly as spoken to a pupil (mathetes), to water, stating, "Rebecca,
      it says, went down to the spring to fill her hudrian and came up again. For
      whence is it likely that a mind thirsting for sound sense should be filled
      save from the Wisdom of God, that never-failing spring, its descent to which
      is an ascent in accordance with some innate characteristic of a true learner
      (mathetou)? For the teaching of Virtue (i.e., Wisdom) awaits those who come
      down from empty self-conceir".

      Further, hudrias (minds) vary in their capacity for receiving the water
      (i.e., Wisdom) and the hudria of each pupil (mathetes) should be filled to
      its capacity. So, in Post (136-152), Philo states, "And so in His desire
      that we should enjoy benefit from the gifts which He bestows, God
      proportions the things which He gives to the strength of those who receive
      them. Rebecca is therefore to be commended for following the ordinances of
      the Father and letting down from a higher position the vessel which contains
      Wisdom, called the hudrian, on to her arm, and for holding out to the pupil
      (mathete) the teaching which he is able to receive. Asked for a little to
      drink she gives much, until she has filled the whole soul of the learner
      with draughts of speculation."

      So, I suggest, in the narrative of the wedding at Cana, each hudria
      symbolizes the mind of a mathete (disciple). The servants symbolize the
      teachers who speak Wisdom to their disciples. The water poured into each
      hudria, then, symbolizes the Wisdom, as speech, told by a teacher to a
      disciple. Because minds vary in their capacity for receiving Wisdom as
      speech, the hudrias at the wedding scene vary in their capacity for storing
      water. Because the mind of each disciple should be filled to its capacity
      with Wisdom as speech, each of the hudria at the wedding scene is filled to
      its brim with water.

      This explains why the water poured into the hudrias becomes wine--for when
      the spiritual water of Wisdom as speech enters into a soul, it acts as a
      spiritual wine, spiritually intoxicating the soul. As Philo states in Prob
      (13), "Wisdom is most divine and free-handed, she never closes her school of
      thought but always opens her doors to those who thirst for the sweet water
      of discourse, and pouring on them an unstinted stream of undiluted doctrine,
      persuades them to be drunken with the drunkeness which is soberness itself."

      The spiritual water of Wisdom as discourse that becomes a spiritual
      intoxicating wine in a soul can be poured out by the Logos as an offering of
      his very self. As Philo relates in Som II (245 & 249), "It is this Logos
      which one of Moses' company compared to a river, when he said in the Psalms
      'the river of God is full of water' (Ps. lxv. (lxiv.) 10); where surely it
      were senseless to suppose that the words can properly refer to any of the
      rivers of earth. No, he is representing the Divine Logos as full of the
      stream of Wisdom, with no part of it empty or devoid of itself....And when
      the happy soul holds out the sacred goblet of its own reason (i.e., mind),
      who is it that pours into it the holy cupfuls of true gladness but the
      Logos, the Cup-bearer of God and master of the feast, who is also none other
      than the draught which he pours--his own self free from all dilution, the
      delight, the sweetening, the exhilarion, the merriment, the ambrosian drug
      (to take for our own use the poet's terms) whose medicine gives joy and
      gladness?"

      This possibly relates to the wedding at Cana narrative, in which, it is
      declared, the bridegroom has saved the best wine for the last. In this
      case, the bridegroom symbolizes the Logos and the best wine he has saved for
      last is the Wisdom, as discourse, that is a part of his very self--the
      thought being that Jesus, as the incarnate Logos, has brought us the wine of
      Wisdom as discourse that is better than the previous inferior "wine" of .the
      Law (compare Mark 2:18-22, where Jesus implies that he is the Bridegroom and
      speaks about the old and new wine).

      Seen in this light, the wedding at Cana narrative contains allegorical
      elements and might even be an allegory. This raises questions about its
      historical reality. Is the narrative of the wedding purely an allegory
      without a historical basis? Or, is it a narrative of an actual historical
      event which has been so worded as to give it an inner allegorical meaning?

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109
    • adisciple2 <smosher0@lycos.com>
      Piet, I would affirm many of the connections you make concerning the water that prepares for, and then is replaced by, Jesus new gift. I might just add that
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 2, 2003
        Piet, I would affirm many of the connections you make concerning
        the water that prepares for, and then is replaced by, Jesus' "new
        gift."

        I might just add that the "new gift" could be consistently focused
        on the Spirit.

        Jn. 1:33 contrasts John's baptism with water and Jesus' baptism
        with the Spirit (no mention of fire in Jn.). Jesus' water is also
        present in the last passage you mention, where 7:37-39 points to the
        living water Jesus will offer after he is glorified.

        Living water is already the new gift Jesus offers in Jn. 4, yet when
        the woman asks for it Jesus does not (yet) give it. I think the
        living water here should also (as in 7:39) be seen as the Spirit,
        pointing in this context to the future day when true worshipers will
        worship in Spirit and truth.

        The new wine of Jn. 2 (regardless of links with fire and wine) could
        also be seen as the Spirit. If the "after two days" in 2:1 and Jesus'
        hour not yet coming point ahead to the future death and resurrection
        (after two days), then the turning water into wine could point to the
        living water/wine Jesus will give when his hour of glorification
        comes. After Jesus manifests his "glory" (in a proleptic way) through
        this sign/miracle, his disciples believe.

        Steve Mosher

        --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, <pi.veldhuizen@w...>
        wrote:
        > Jeffery asked:
        >
        > "In John 2:7, the servants fill the jars to the brim
        > with water. Was this normal procedure for large stone
        > jars used for ceremonial purification?"
        >
        > Although I do not know to what extent such jars used to be filled, I
        would
        > like to remark that an abundant supply of 'traditional' water is
        surely
        > "normal procedure" in John 1-7.
        > This supply is both in some sense praparatory to, and stands in
        opposition
        > to the new gift that Jesus is offering.
        >
        > In John 2 it is plenty of purification water in the jars - which
        seems to me
        > to symbolize fulfilment of the law "to the brim". It will not bring
        > salvation if it remains external, at the door - but brought inside
        and
        > touched by the word of Jesus it becomes a purifying power of another
        kind.
        > Wine is more like fire than like water..
        >
        > In John 3 there is plenty of water where John is baptizing - whereas
        no
        > water at all is mentioned when the mysterious baptismal practice of
        Jesus is
        > mentioned. The Baptist states the opposition: I am baptizing with
        water, he
        > will baptize with fire and spirit. The Baptist, the utter
        representant of
        > the Old Covenant, needs a full supply of water to prepare people for
        the
        > qualitative change that he himself cannot perform. In his last
        speech in
        > John, about the bridegroom, he himself is the one that, as it were,
        carries
        > the water into the wedding room where Jesus takes over to baptize
        with fire.
        >
        > In John 4 Jacob's Well presents a water supply sufficient for father
        Jacob,
        > all his sons and all his flock (verse 12). According to Jewish
        tradition,
        > Jacob's Well used to be filled to the brim every time when Jacob
        came to
        > draw water. Again, though not in the same way, this place of
        traditional
        > abundance is the starting point where Jesus takes over and offers
        his own
        > new gift instead.
        >
        > In John 5, Jesus comes to the pool of Bethesda and, not denying the
        actual
        > saving power of this abundant supply of water, touches the lame with
        his
        > word, offering his saving gift instead.
        >
        > In John 7, finally, Jesus appears at the Feast of Tabernacles, which
        > involved abundant outpouring of water by the priests in the temple
        court, at
        > the place where according to prophecy a river would spring forth at
        the day
        > of salvation and water all the land - and without bringing water
        Jesus
        > proclaims that faith in himself will make that river to flow out of
        your
        > inner self. And look - Jesus does not proclaim so at the beginning
        of the
        > feast, but at the end (7:37), when the feast is "filled to the
        brim".
        >
        > Is this to say that you cannot accuse the Johannine Jesus of not
        taking
        > tradition seriously? Or is it to say that Jesus'gift enters
        precisely there,
        > where the holy tradition is fulfilled to the brim - as its utter
        fulfillment
        > which fully acknowledges its weight before taking its place?
        >
        > Thank you, Jeffery, for this occasion to arrange some loose threads
        in my
        > mind!
        > Kind greetings and best wishes, let us fill this new year to the
        brim, and
        > may the word of Christ change all the water we'll carry into it,
        into wine!
        >
        > Piet van Veldhuizen
        > Rotterdam, Netherlands
        > pi.veldhuizen@w...
      • pi.veldhuizen@wxs.nl
        Hello Frank McCoy, None of us both answered Jeffery s question (is there a possibility at all to establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant,
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 2, 2003
          Hello Frank McCoy,

          None of us both answered Jeffery's question (is there a possibility at all
          to establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant, and what
          kind of rules would have applied to their use?) - but let me reflect shortly
          on your reaction.

          Of course, you would not be Frank McCoy if you had not sent in extensive
          Philo citations. As always, the parallels in use of words, concepts and
          images are interesting.
          But it is curious to see that your treatment of both authors does not urge
          you, once you have arrived at Philo, to return to John. As I read your
          contribution, you do not seem to acknowledge John's Gospel as an independent
          piece of literature. One remark in John is explained exhaustively by the
          thoughts, not of John, but of Philo.

          It is not to underestimate the possible, in any case complex, relationship
          between John and Philo - but a remark of John should be explained, at least
          initially, in the context of John's own thought as expressed in his own
          writings.

          I completely disagree with your proposition, for example, to explain the six
          vessels in John 2 as an image of disciples, just because in Philo's
          meditations on Genesis 24 disciples are vessels for scriptural instruction.
          That both John and Philo speak about "hydria" is just because both write in
          greek. In fact, John's line of thought will be far closer to Philo's at this
          point in John 4, where John himself is recurring to Genesis 24 motifs - but
          there it is their common source, not their interdependence, that accounts
          for their kinship of thought.

          In John 2, the six vessels seem to be something like the forms of law
          fulfillment, the six working days that have to be fulfilled, but that out of
          themselves will never produce a shabbath. But just here a considerable
          difference between Philo and John is, that John shows no need to pin images
          down to exact meanings in a rebus-like manner.

          A last difference: Philo is a commentary writer, John writes a story
          himself. That makes a big difference both in the way they use language and
          images, and in the exgegetical treatment they deserve.

          Kind regards,
          Piet van Veldhuizen
          pi.veldhuizen@...
        • fmmccoy
          ... From: To: Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 3:43 PM Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Filling to the
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 6, 2003
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: <pi.veldhuizen@...>
            To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 3:43 PM
            Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?


            > Hello Frank McCoy,
            >
            > None of us both answered Jeffery's question (is there a possibility at all
            > to establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant, and what
            > kind of rules would have applied to their use?) - but let me reflect
            shortly
            > on your reaction.
            >

            Dear Piet van Veldhuizen:

            I think we can establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant
            by the stone vessels. In Excavating Jesus (pp. 165-66), John Dominic
            Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed state, "Vessels made from that soft white
            limestone known geologically as chalk are one of the most characteristic
            finds at Jewish sites. They are called stone vessels, or sometimes Herodian
            stoneware, because of their appearance throughout the Jewish homeland
            beginning with Herod's rule. That, by the way, is an interesting fact.
            Once again, is a special concern for Jewish purity a covert anti-Herodian
            and anti-Roman statement? Be that as it may, these assemblages consist of
            forms for liquids such as bowls, cups, mugs, lids, basins, and large jars."

            They also state (p. 166), "They are found, notably, in large numbers at
            every site in Galilee with a substantial first-century C.E. layer."

            Finally, they state (p. 167), "Stone, however, was deemed impervios to
            ritual defilement, so that vessels made from it were always 'clean.'"

            From what they say, the large stone vessels at Cana have a religious
            significance in that, they indicate, the owners of the residence were
            concerned about ritual purity. They possibly might also have a political
            significance in that, they possibly indicate, the owners of the residence
            were anti-Herodian and/or anti-Roman.


            > Of course, you would not be Frank McCoy if you had not sent in extensive
            > Philo citations. As always, the parallels in use of words, concepts and
            > images are interesting.
            > But it is curious to see that your treatment of both authors does not urge
            > you, once you have arrived at Philo, to return to John. As I read your
            > contribution, you do not seem to acknowledge John's Gospel as an
            independent
            > piece of literature. One remark in John is explained exhaustively by the
            > thoughts, not of John, but of Philo.
            .
            I left off returning to John because I thought my post was getting pretty
            long. It was not my intent to imply that, I think, John's Gospel is not an
            independent piece of literature.

            At the present time, I think of Johannine thought and Philonic thought as
            two expressions of what might be described as a generic type of Alexandrian
            Jewish conceptual universe--with Philo's version of it heavily influenced by
            Hellenistic philosophy and with John's version of it heavily influenced by a
            Messianic/Apocalyptic type of Judaism typified in the Dead Sea scrolls and
            the preaching of John the Baptist. If so, then they are related, but
            independent, systems of thought.

            >> It is not to underestimate the possible, in any case complex,
            relationship
            > between John and Philo - but a remark of John should be explained, at
            least
            > initially, in the context of John's own thought as expressed in his own
            > writings.

            True, but when dealing with posts you are trying to keep as short as
            possible, this is sometimes impractical.

            > I completely disagree with your proposition, for example, to explain the
            six
            > vessels in John 2 as an image of disciples, just because in Philo's
            > meditations on Genesis 24 disciples are vessels for scriptural
            instruction.
            > That both John and Philo speak about "hydria" is just because both write
            in
            > greek. In fact, John's line of thought will be far closer to Philo's at
            this
            > point in John 4, where John himself is recurring to Genesis 24 motifs -
            but
            > there it is their common source, not their interdependence, that accounts
            > for their kinship of thought.

            Philo's meditation on Genesis 24 and the Johannine Cana wedding narrative
            share more than just the vessels. They also share the pouring of water into
            these vessels and the filling of these vessels to their full capacity.

            Too, in Genesis 24, it is Rebecca who pours the water, while in the
            Johannine Cana wedding narrative, the mother of Jesus orders the pouring of
            the water. Possibly, then, in the Johannine Cana wedding narrative, the
            mother of Jesus is likened to Rebecca as depicted in Genesis 24. I think,
            in particular of 24:16, "And the virgin was very beautiful in appearance,
            she was a virgin, a man had not known her".

            > In John 2, the six vessels seem to be something like the forms of law
            > fulfillment, the six working days that have to be fulfilled, but that out
            of
            > themselves will never produce a shabbath. But just here a considerable
            > difference between Philo and John is, that John shows no need to pin
            images
            > down to exact meanings in a rebus-like manner.
            >

            That these vessels were concerned with ritual purity lends support to this
            line of interpretation. Can this line of interpretaion, though, explain why
            the six vessels are of varying capacity and why each is filled to the brim
            with water?.

            > A last difference: Philo is a commentary writer, John writes a story
            > himself. That makes a big difference both in the way they use language and
            > images, and in the exgegetical treatment they deserve.

            Agreed!

            Regards,

            Frank McCoy
            1809 N. English Apt. 17
            Maplewood, MN USA 55109
          • Paul Anderson
            Thanks, Frank, excellent points here. Your observations make some interesting connections with John the Baptizer s ministry and the role of Jesus--standing on
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 7, 2003
              Thanks, Frank, excellent points here. Your observations make some interesting connections with John the Baptizer's ministry and the role of Jesus--standing on an anti-Herodian platform, but going further with the way of the Spirit.

              Paul Anderson

              -----Original Message-----
              From: fmmccoy [mailto:FMMCCOY@...]
              Sent: Monday, January 06, 2003 6:16 PM
              To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?



              ----- Original Message -----
              From: <pi.veldhuizen@...>
              To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 3:43 PM
              Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?


              > Hello Frank McCoy,
              >
              > None of us both answered Jeffery's question (is there a possibility at all
              > to establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant, and what
              > kind of rules would have applied to their use?) - but let me reflect
              shortly
              > on your reaction.
              >

              Dear Piet van Veldhuizen:

              I think we can establish in a historical sense what kind of vessels is meant
              by the stone vessels. In Excavating Jesus (pp. 165-66), John Dominic
              Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed state, "Vessels made from that soft white
              limestone known geologically as chalk are one of the most characteristic
              finds at Jewish sites. They are called stone vessels, or sometimes Herodian
              stoneware, because of their appearance throughout the Jewish homeland
              beginning with Herod's rule. That, by the way, is an interesting fact.
              Once again, is a special concern for Jewish purity a covert anti-Herodian
              and anti-Roman statement? Be that as it may, these assemblages consist of
              forms for liquids such as bowls, cups, mugs, lids, basins, and large jars."

              They also state (p. 166), "They are found, notably, in large numbers at
              every site in Galilee with a substantial first-century C.E. layer."

              Finally, they state (p. 167), "Stone, however, was deemed impervios to
              ritual defilement, so that vessels made from it were always 'clean.'"

              From what they say, the large stone vessels at Cana have a religious
              significance in that, they indicate, the owners of the residence were
              concerned about ritual purity. They possibly might also have a political
              significance in that, they possibly indicate, the owners of the residence
              were anti-Herodian and/or anti-Roman.


              > Of course, you would not be Frank McCoy if you had not sent in extensive
              > Philo citations. As always, the parallels in use of words, concepts and
              > images are interesting.
              > But it is curious to see that your treatment of both authors does not urge
              > you, once you have arrived at Philo, to return to John. As I read your
              > contribution, you do not seem to acknowledge John's Gospel as an
              independent
              > piece of literature. One remark in John is explained exhaustively by the
              > thoughts, not of John, but of Philo.
              .
              I left off returning to John because I thought my post was getting pretty
              long. It was not my intent to imply that, I think, John's Gospel is not an
              independent piece of literature.

              At the present time, I think of Johannine thought and Philonic thought as
              two expressions of what might be described as a generic type of Alexandrian
              Jewish conceptual universe--with Philo's version of it heavily influenced by
              Hellenistic philosophy and with John's version of it heavily influenced by a
              Messianic/Apocalyptic type of Judaism typified in the Dead Sea scrolls and
              the preaching of John the Baptist. If so, then they are related, but
              independent, systems of thought.

              >> It is not to underestimate the possible, in any case complex,
              relationship
              > between John and Philo - but a remark of John should be explained, at
              least
              > initially, in the context of John's own thought as expressed in his own
              > writings.

              True, but when dealing with posts you are trying to keep as short as
              possible, this is sometimes impractical.

              > I completely disagree with your proposition, for example, to explain the
              six
              > vessels in John 2 as an image of disciples, just because in Philo's
              > meditations on Genesis 24 disciples are vessels for scriptural
              instruction.
              > That both John and Philo speak about "hydria" is just because both write
              in
              > greek. In fact, John's line of thought will be far closer to Philo's at
              this
              > point in John 4, where John himself is recurring to Genesis 24 motifs -
              but
              > there it is their common source, not their interdependence, that accounts
              > for their kinship of thought.

              Philo's meditation on Genesis 24 and the Johannine Cana wedding narrative
              share more than just the vessels. They also share the pouring of water into
              these vessels and the filling of these vessels to their full capacity.

              Too, in Genesis 24, it is Rebecca who pours the water, while in the
              Johannine Cana wedding narrative, the mother of Jesus orders the pouring of
              the water. Possibly, then, in the Johannine Cana wedding narrative, the
              mother of Jesus is likened to Rebecca as depicted in Genesis 24. I think,
              in particular of 24:16, "And the virgin was very beautiful in appearance,
              she was a virgin, a man had not known her".

              > In John 2, the six vessels seem to be something like the forms of law
              > fulfillment, the six working days that have to be fulfilled, but that out
              of
              > themselves will never produce a shabbath. But just here a considerable
              > difference between Philo and John is, that John shows no need to pin
              images
              > down to exact meanings in a rebus-like manner.
              >

              That these vessels were concerned with ritual purity lends support to this
              line of interpretation. Can this line of interpretaion, though, explain why
              the six vessels are of varying capacity and why each is filled to the brim
              with water?.

              > A last difference: Philo is a commentary writer, John writes a story
              > himself. That makes a big difference both in the way they use language and
              > images, and in the exgegetical treatment they deserve.

              Agreed!

              Regards,

              Frank McCoy
              1809 N. English Apt. 17
              Maplewood, MN USA 55109










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