Re: [John_Lit] Re: Was Moses the Original Subject of John 1:6-8?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 11:20 PM
Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Was Moses the Original Subject of John 1:6-8?
(Frank McCoy Initial Statement)
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?
(Kym Smith Response)
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).
The key question isn't whether John 1:31-34 refers to a baptism of Jesus by
John. Rather, the key question is this: If 1:31-34 is an allusion to Gen
1:2, which declares that the Spirit was moving over water, then why, in John
1:31-34, does the author of John fail to mention that the Spirit was moving
over water when John saw it descending on Jesus? I don't see anything in
what you say above that answers this question.
(Frank Initial Statement)
<<<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
(Frank Reply to Response)
Oh, but the rebirth of Moses in the soul alone, as described by Philo, is
the rebirth by the Spirit described in 3:3-8.
Let us re-look at his statement in Exodus (Book II, 46), "But the calling
above of the prophet (i.e., Moses) is a second birth better than the first.
For the latter is mixed with a body and had corruptible parents, while the
former is an unmixed and simple soul of the sovereign, being changed from a
productive to an unproductive form, which has no mother but only a father,
who is (the Father) of them all."
Note that Philo refers to this rebirth in the soul alone of Moses as being
the calling above of Moses. This means that it is what he refers to as the
calling above of Moses in Plant (23-26), "For it accords with God's ways
that those who have received His down-breathing should be called up to Him.
For when trees are whirled up, roots and all, into the air by hurricanes and
tornadoes, and heavily laden ships of large tonnage are snatched up out of
mid-ocean, as though objects of very little weight, and lakes and rives are
borne aloft, and earth's hollows are left empty by the water as it is drawn
up by a tangle of violently eddying winds, it is strange if a light
substance like the mind is not rendered buoyant and raised to the utmost
height by the native force of the Divine Spirit, overcoming as it does in
its boundless might all powers that are here below....Accordingly Moses, the
keeper and guardian of the mysteries of the Existent One, will be called
above; for it is said in the Book of Leviticus, 'He called Moses up above'
(Lev. i. 1)."
As can be seen, this calling up above of Moses, which is his rebirth in the
soul alone, is accomplished by God through the Spirit. Therefore, ISTM, it
is one and same thing as the rebirth by the Spirit described in 3:3-8.
Certainly, the author of John did not think that the Spirit would be given
until after the death of Jesus. The question though is whether the author
of John thought that the Spirit never was given to any human being until
after the death of Jesus or whether (s)he thought there was a period, while
the Logos was incarnate in the flesh as Jesus, that the presence of the
Spirit was temporarily with-held from mankind. You incline to the first
viewpoint, I incline to the latter--but as far as I can tell, it's a
judgment call with no clear answer..
(Kym Initial Statement)
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.
The phrase "Scriptures as traditionally understood" meant something quite
different to a first century CE Pharisaic Jew who followed Gamaliel than
what it meant to a late nineteenth century CE Mormon and what it means to a
21st century Sunni Moslem who is a follower of Bin Laden.. Even the
definition of "Scriptures" is not the same for each of the three people!
So, one problem with the suggestion that "the Scriptures as traditionally
understood" can be used as a foundation upon which we can re-construct
Johannine thought is that there is no universally accepted
definition of what this phrase means.
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109