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Re: Was Moses the Original Subject of John 1:6-8?

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  • kymhsm <khs@picknowl.com.au>
    Dear Frank,
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2003
      Dear Frank,

      <<<It nowhere states in 1:31-34 that Jesus was being baptized,
      much less that he was in the midst of water, when the Spirit
      descended upon him. So, how can you possibly relate it to Gen
      1:2--where the Spirit of God moves over the water?>>>

      Neither did I say that he was baptized. But he was! Are you
      saying that Jesus was not baptized?
      I do not think we do justice to the Scriptures if we ignore what
      was commonly understood by the apostles, whether or not John,
      in this case, chooses to mention it. I expect that Mark, at least,
      was written before John (indeed, Mark only, because I think that
      `Q' was John's leftovers – but that's another issue) and he tells
      us that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan (Mk 1:9) and
      that this as the time that he (the Baptist) saw the Spirit descend
      upon him. The fact that John has the Baptist speak of that event
      in 1:31-34 is sufficient (for me, anyway). And, wherever John was
      baptizing, there had to be water (3:23).

      <<<Too, I have a suspicion that a late editor of GJohn made the
      Baptist the subject of 6:8--with it being the case that the original
      subject was Moses. If so, then there originally was only one
      reference to the Baptist in the Prologue and 1:6-8 did not connect
      to 1:31- 4--at least not in the manner you propose.>>>

      You may suspect that `his name was John' is a later insert, but
      what evidence do you have? If there is no textual evidence for any
      variation, then you can theorize all you like, but to then build a
      theology on your assumption is, I would think, fairly dangerous.
      Unless there are grounds for reasonable doubt, the text as it is
      is what we have. As I have stated, my own work on the strucure
      of John, and of the Genesis structure in particular, make it quite
      appropriate – very clever, in fact - for John to be mentioned here.
      For these reasons I cannot comment much on the theology you
      drag out from the text as you suppose it should be.

      <<<In the first place, the mention of the testimony of John at this
      point is out of chronological order. The proper place for it,
      chronologically speaking, is after verse 14, when the Word
      becomes flesh--for John didn't begin his preaching until well
      after the birth of Jesus. Indeed, in verse 15, we have a
      testimonial by John that is in the proper chronological

      The Prologue of John is concerned less with the chronological
      order than it is with reflecting the passage from Genesis upon
      which this part of his gospel is built and the theology which it

      <<<In the second place, if 1:6-8 regards the Baptist, then the
      author of John wanted to stress that John was not the Light. This
      being so, the last thing you would expect him/her to do is to
      speak of the Baptist as a kind of light. Yet, this is exactly what
      (s)he does in 5:35!--where Jesus states, "He (i.e., the Baptist)
      was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice
      for a while in his light." (RSV) >>>

      John may have been `a burning and shining lamp', but he was
      not the light.

      <<<Finally, we know that, in the Prologue, Moses is
      down-graded in importance in comparison to Jesus Christ as
      the incarnate Logos--see 1:17. So, that the man sent from God
      is down-graded in importance in comparison to the Word is
      consistent with him being Moses. >>>

      The comparison of the down-grading of Moses (more a proper
      comparison than down-grading) of Moses with the one (the
      Baptist) who is not the light is interesting, but ultimately does not
      necessarily support your assumption that the one who was not
      the light was Moses. We all stand thus down-graded (cf. Phil

      <<<This might relate to the final thought, of 1:9-13, that those
      who received the Word were empowered or authorized by him to
      become children of God: in the sense of being born, not by
      corruptible parents, but by God. In this case, it relates how the
      Word empowered or authorized those who, like Moses, heeded
      him to become reborn in the soul alone by God, thereby
      becoming the children of God. >>>

      To speak of the re-birth (in the soul alone) of Moses and other
      Egyptian exiles is not supported by Scripture. In this very Gospel
      Jesus speaks of the need of re-birth to Nicodemus (3:3-8). It is
      re-birth by the Spirit "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that
      which is born of the Spirit is spirit". The Bible does not allow for
      any other rebirth. But still in John, that Spirit, by whom we are
      reborn, was not available to the OT saints as it was not to Jesus'
      disciples until after his ascension. `Now this he said about the
      Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet
      the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet
      glorified' (7:39).

      I think it better to build from the Scriptures as traditionally
      understood than on a foundation of an assumption about what
      might have been and Philo's interesting (perhaps even useful)
      but, in the end, less than enlightened understanding.


      Kym Smith
      South Australia
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