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Re: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a Postulated Hymn-like Composition to the Word

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  • Ramsey Michaels
    Tom: I have been moving in the same direction as your proposal on John 1:15. My interest in this text began in 1981 with my article in the Metzger Festschrift,
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 24, 2003
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      Tom:

      I have been moving in the same direction as your proposal on John 1:15. My
      interest in this text began in 1981 with my article in the Metzger
      Festschrift, "Origen and the Text of John 1:15."

      I believe the traditional saying in 1:15 is indeed the reason why the author
      prefixed his Gospel with vv 1-5, to flesh out the assertion that Jesus
      indeed preceded John. This will be reflected in the commentary for Eerdmans
      I have been working on lo these many years. The unusual feature of my
      approach is that I do not look at vv 1-18 as "Prolog," but rather at vv 1-5
      as Preface or Introduction.

      As for the rest of your hypothesis, about 1:15 as a riddle and about the
      three verbs, I find that very interesting, but will have to think more about
      it. I'm eager to see just how you will develop it.

      Ramsey Michaels


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Thatcher, Tom" <tom.thatcher@...>
      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:31 PM
      Subject: RE: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a Postulated Hymn-like
      Composition to the Word


      > Paul et. al.,
      >
      > Further to Paul's point, let me observe that the whole Prologue is
      > structured around three verbs in the Greek text--en (past tense of eimi;
      > "was"); forms of ginomai ("became"); and forms of erchomai ("came")--sorry
      > about the lack of Greek fonts here. The dominance of these three verbs in
      > the architecture of the passage is obvious even with a casual skim down
      the
      > page. I think that that the juxtaposition of these three verbs has
      > significant theological implications in this passage, but for now let me
      > limit my remarks to the tradition-history question.
      >
      > Very notably, all three of these verbs appear together in the Baptist's
      > statement at 1:15 about "the one coming behind me," which involves several
      > significant Christological implications--including Jesus' pre-existence
      and
      > his relationship to the Baptizer. To thicken the plot a little, 1:15 is
      > cast in the form a traditional speech unit, the riddle. Some of you are
      > aware of my obsession with riddles in the Johannine sayings, but that
      > statement is a riddle by any definition any folklorist would use. "The
      one
      > coming behind me became ahead of me because he was before me" is just
      > nonsense when the terms are taken in the literal, spatial sense--you can't
      > be "behind" and "ahead of" someone at the same time, so the statement must
      > resolve itself at a deeper level.
      >
      > My conclusion--and please don't steal this idea, because I'm gradually
      > working up an article on it: the whole Prologue was spun out of the
      riddle
      > at 1:15. In other words, it makes more sense to me that the verbal
      > structure of the Prologue was derived from the three verbs in this
      > traditional saying, than to argue that someone crafted the Prologue and
      then
      > boiled it down to an obtuse remark that is put on the lips of the Baptist.
      > Specifically, I'd see the whole thing as a midrashic commentary on that
      > traditional saying, combining elements of Genesis 1 and the Exodus story.
      >
      > What do you think? Any opinion, Paul?
      >
      > Respectfully,
      > --tom
      >
      > Tom Thatcher
      > Cincinnati Bible Seminary
      > 2700 Glenway Ave.
      > Cincinnati, Oh 45204
      > (513) 244-8172
      > tom.thatcher@... <mailto:tom.thatcher@...>
      > "the truth will set you free"
      >
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Paul Anderson [SMTP:panderso@...]
      > Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 2:12 PM
      > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: RE: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a
      > Postulated Hymn-like Composition to the Word
      >
      > Excellent points, Ramsey; I've been wondering lately about the
      > possibility of the poetic sections of the Prologue being expansions on the
      > Baptist's testimony and memory.
      >
      > Paul Anderson
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Ramsey Michaels [mailto:profram@...]
      > Sent: Friday, January 24, 2003 6:30 AM
      > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a Postulated
      > Hymn-like Composition to the Word
      >
      >
      > The question of whether the so-called "Prolog" is poetry is an
      > important
      > one. When it is read as poetry, the sections that are patently
      > prose, such
      > as vv 6-8 and 15 are viewed as "interpolations" and sometimes
      > virtually
      > dismissed. But if it is prose, then they are not interpolations, and
      > the
      > whole thing reads differently.
      >
      > For example, verse 6 looks very much like the narrative beginning to
      > the
      > Gospel, a beginning not unlike the beginning of Mark. This goes
      > against the
      > conventional wisdom that verse 19 is the narrative beginning. If the
      > narrative begins at verse 6 and not verse 19, then the real "prolog"
      > (or
      > preface, or introduction, call it what you will) consists of vv
      > 1-5, not vv
      > 1-18.
      >
      > In short, perhaps the search for poetry or a hymnic source behind
      > the text
      > as we have it has skewed our reading of the existing text. Perhaps
      > what
      > conventional wisdom has regarded as "interpolations" are actually
      > the key to
      > understanding the whole.
      >
      > Ramsey Michaels
      >
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "Peter Phillips" <p.m.phillips@...>
      > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2003 12:55 PM
      > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a Postulated
      > Hymn-like
      > Composition to the Word
      >
      >
      > > Frank,
      > > You tread on well worn territory here. There are so many versions
      > of the
      > > possible hymn structure of the Prologue. But here are just two
      > questions
      > as
      > > a first toss of the coin, but I hope to have a fuller look at it
      > > tomorrow...:
      > >
      > > What Greek metre is this if it is a hymn?
      > > If there is no metre it is prose and so is not a hymn!
      > >
      > > When does anti in v.17 ever mean upon - anti = instead of or in
      > place of.
      > >
      > > Pete Phillips
      > > Cliff College
      > > Sheffield, UK
      > >
      > > ----- Original Message -----
      > > From: "fmmccoy" <FMMCCOY@...>
      > > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
      > > Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2003 4:55 PM
      > > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A Proposed Re-construction of a Postulated
      > Hymn-like
      > > Composition to the Word
      > >
      > >
      > > > INTRODUCTION
      > > >
      > > > It has long been recognized that much of John 1:1-18 is likely
      > based on
      > > > hymn-like composition to the Word. This is the proposed
      > re-construction
      > > of
      > > > it as given by R.A. Brown in The Gospel According to John (Vol.
      > 1, pp.
      > > 3-4):
      > > >
      > > > First Strophe
      > > > 1 In the beginning was the Word;
      > > > the Word was in God's presence,
      > > > and the Word was God.
      > > > 2 He was present with God in the beginning.
      > > >
      > > > Second Strophe
      > > > 3 Through him all things came into being,
      > > > and apart from him not a thing came to be.
      > > > 4 That which had come to be in him was life,
      > > > and this life was the light of men.
      > > > 5 The light shines on in the darkness,
      > > > for the darkness did not overcome it.
      > > >
      > > > Third Strophe
      > > > 10 He was in the world,
      > > > and the world was made by him;
      > > > yet the world did not recognize him.
      > > > 11 To his own he came;
      > > > yet his own people did not accept him.
      > > > 12 But all those who did accept him
      > > > he empowered to become God's children.
      > > >
      > > > Fourth Strophe
      > > > 14 And the Word became flesh
      > > > and made his dwelling among us.
      > > > And we have seen his glory,
      > > > the glory of an only Son coming from the Father,
      > > > filled with enduring love.
      > > > 16 And of his fullness
      > > > we have all had a share--
      > > > love in place of love.
      > > >
      > > > I suggest that the following changes be made to this proposed
      > > > re-construction by Brown:
      > > > 1. The addition of verse nine. As R.A. Brown notes (Ibid., p.
      > 9), some
      > > have
      > > > taken it to be a part of the original composition and give it
      > this
      > > > structure:
      > > > He was the real light
      > > > that gives light to every man;
      > > > he was coming into the world.
      > > > 2. The addition of verse 17
      > > > 3. The division of the composition into three sections, each
      > consisting
      > of
      > > > ten lines and each containing two strophes of three lines each
      > and two
      > > > strophes of two lines each:
      > > > a. The Word at the Beginning of Time and Space
      > > > b. The Pre-incarnational Activity of the Word in the World
      > > > c. The Word becomes Flesh.
      > > >
      > > > THE PROPOSED RE-CONSTRUCTION IN THE GREEK
      > > >
      > > > Section A The Word at the Beginning of Time and Space
      > > >
      > > > En Arche en ho Logos,
      > > > Kai ho Logos en pros ton Theon,
      > > > Kai Theos en ho Logos.
      > > >
      > > > Houtos en en Arche pros ton Theon,
      > > > Panta di autou egenato,
      > > > Kai chwris autou egeneto oude hen.
      > > >
      > > > Ho gegonen en autw Zwe en,
      > > > Kai he Zwe en to Phws ton anthrowpwn.
      > > >
      > > > Kai to Phws en te Skotia phainei,
      > > > Kai he Skotia auto ou katalaben.
      > > >
      > > > Section B The Pre-incarnational Activity of the Word
      > > >
      > > > En to Phws to alethinon
      > > > ho phwtizei panta anthrwpon erchoumenon
      > > > eis ton kosmon,
      > > >
      > > > En tou kosmw en,
      > > > Kai ho kosmos di qutou egeneto,
      > > > Kai ho kosmos autou ouk egnw,
      > > >
      > > > Eis to idia elthen
      > > > Kai oi idioi ou parelabon.
      > > >
      > > > Hosoi de elabon auton edwken
      > > > Autois ezousian tekna Theou genesthai.
      > > >
      > > > Section C The Word Becomes Flesh
      > > >
      > > > Kai ho Logos sarz egeneto
      > > > Kai eskenwsen en hemin,
      > > > Kai etheasametha ten dozan autou,
      > > >
      > > > Dozan hws monogenous para Patros,
      > > > Pleres Charitos kai Aletheias.
      > > >
      > > > Hoti ek to plerowmatos auto
      > > > hemeis pantes elabomen,
      > > > Kai charin anti charitos,
      > > >
      > > > Hoti ho Nomos dia Mwusews edothe,
      > > > He Charis kai he Aletheia dia Hisou Christou egeneto.
      > > >
      > > > Note that, in the third section, where the Word becomes flesh,
      > the
      > strophe
      > >
      > > > pattern changes from the previous 3/3/2/2 to 3/2/3/2.
      > > >
      > > > THE PROPOSED RE-CONSTRUCTION IN TRANSLATION
      > > >
      > > > Here is the proposed re-constuction of the postulated hymn-like
      > > composition
      > > > in a rough English translation:
      > > >
      > > > Section A The Word in the Beginning of Time and Space
      > > >
      > > > In the Beginning was the Word,
      > > > And the Word was with God,
      > > > And the Word was God.
      > > >
      > > > He was in the Beginning with God,
      > > > Everything though him came into being,
      > > > And without him came into being no thing.
      > > >
      > > > That which came into being In him was Life,
      > > > And the Life was the Light of mankind.
      > > >
      > > > And the Light shines in the Darkness,
      > > > And the Darkness did not overcome it.
      > > >
      > > > Section B The Pre-incarnational Activity of the Word in the
      > World
      > > >
      > > > The true Light
      > > > That enlightens mankind
      > > > Was coming into the World.
      > > >
      > > > He was within the World,
      > > > And the World came into being through him,
      > > > And the World 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,
      > > >
      > > > Section C The Word becomes 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.
      > > >
      > > > And of his Fullness
      > > > We have all received,
      > > > Grace upon grace:
      > > >
      > > > For the Law was given through Moses,
      > > > And the Grace and the Truth came through Christ Jesus.
      > > >
      > > > How does the proposed re-construction of the postulated
      > hymn-like
      > > > composition look to you? Do you recommend any changes to it?
      > Also, do
      > > you
      > > > recommend any changes in the English translation of it?
      > > >
      > > > Frank McCoy
      > > > 1809 N. English Apt. 17
      > > > Maplewood, MN USA 55109
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
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