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RE: [John_Lit] Irony in John 8:33

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  • Thatcher, Tom
    Joe, Thanks for your interesting note. Before replying to your 6 scenarios, a more basic question. You said:
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 7, 2003
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      Joe,

      Thanks for your interesting note. Before replying to your 6 scenarios, a
      more basic question. You said:

      <<Let me summarize: These particular Judaeans who utter these words appear
      to have a different self-understanding from their co-religionists---they
      trace their ancestry to Abraham but apparently not through the experience of
      the Exodus.>>

      Could you explain this in a bit more detail? I'm trying to understand how
      you derive from their comment that they don't associate themselves with the
      Exodus experience. Take care.

      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: GustavSym@... [SMTP:GustavSym@...]
      Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2003 1:37 PM
      To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [John_Lit] Irony in John 8:33

      Greetings to All:


      An element of irony is generally understood in John 8:33.

      _sperma Abraam esmen kai oudeni dedouleukamen popote_

      ( we are the seed of Abraam, and never enslaved to anyone ).

      In a recent paper, I relegated to a footnote the evangelist's play
      with the
      possibilities of how this irony might work (leaving most of my
      observations
      in the form of questions). Let me summarize: These particular
      Judaeans who
      utter these words appear to have a different self-understanding from
      their
      co-religionists---they trace their ancestry to Abraham but
      apparently not
      through the experience of the Exodus.

      Some questions:

      1) does the evangelist know something about the demographics of the
      Judean
      community at large---that some members could trace their genealogies
      to the
      Exodus and some could not ( some current archeological data seem to
      support a
      smaller number of Israelites enslaved in Egypt than assumed by older
      data,
      and that there were Israelites who did not participate in the
      Exodus)?

      2) does the evangelist use this possible dichotomy to challenge the
      authority
      of some in the community and use this dichotomy metaphorically to
      retaliate
      against those who expelled the Johannine community from the
      Synagogue?

      3) does the evangelist play off participation in the Exodus as a
      formative
      and authenticating event, challenging the authenticity and
      authority of the
      antagonists of the Johannine Jesus and the Johannine community?

      4) what does it therefore mean for Judeans to say that they have
      been
      enslaved by no one?

      5) does this kind of strategy on the part of the
      evangelist/Johannine
      community backfire, and impugn his/their own authenticity and
      authority,
      discovering, as it might, a Judaean "straw man"? In other words,
      does putting
      such words on the lips of Judeans betray a vicious ignorance on the
      the part
      of the evangelist, whose goal is to vilify "the Jews."

      6) Luke and Matthew are proleptic in the matter of the link to
      Abraham. They
      both have John the Baptist anticipate an appeal to Abrahamic
      ancestry (Mt 3;
      Luke 3). Neither Matthew nor Luke, however, considers the denial of
      Israel's
      enslavement in Egypt. Is there anything to be gained from an
      analysis of this
      Synoptic prolepsis in relation to the Johannine offensive?

      Joe C.






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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    • GustavSym@aol.com
      In a message dated 4/7/2003 9:29:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Dear Tom: I read this passage through John 9:28 ( we are disciples of Moses ), where the
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 7, 2003
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        In a message dated 4/7/2003 9:29:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
        tom.thatcher@... writes:

        > ? I'm trying to understand how
        > you derive from their comment that they don't associate themselves with the
        > Exodus experience. Take care.
        >

        Dear Tom:

        I read this passage through John 9:28 ("we are disciples of Moses"), where
        the evangelist has other Judaeans strongly identifying with a Mosaic
        tradition. I find it remarkable, as many others have, that the evangelist
        would have some Judaeans deny any history of slavery ( "never enslaved by
        anyone"), accessing only the covenant with Abraham. Moreover, I read 8:33 as
        a particularly *historical* statement, depicting a self-understanding well
        beyond the immediate political situation, though even if the verse were read
        as referring to a non-historical(ly informed) present, it would retain its
        ironic flavor given the Roman occupation of Palestine during Jesus' ministry.
        In short, the evangelist denies these Judaeans a Mosaic tradition by leaving
        unsaid anything pertaining to Moses, and by placing a lack of historical
        participation in the Exodus---"never enslaved."

        Do you read the passage as something like, "We are Abraham's seed, and we
        *personally* have never been anyone's slave?" That would certainly disarm the
        irony, but is it consistent with the evangelist's overall demeanor?

        The irony of the passage seems to depend more on the absence of historical
        ownership of the Exodus (and historical identity) than with the following
        verses that speak of slavery to sin.

        Joe C.


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • John Lupia
        Jn 8:33 is the audience response to what Jesus just said to them. Certainly, they are not speaking for anyone but themselves. Their response clearly pertains
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 7, 2003
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          Jn 8:33 is the audience response to what Jesus just
          said to them. Certainly, they are not speaking for
          anyone but themselves. Their response clearly
          pertains to political slavery, whereas Jesus clarifies
          things by speaking of spiritual slavery to sin. It is
          clear in the text that their initial take on what
          Jesus said was mistakenly political in reference to
          the current situation with Roman governance of
          Palestine.

          All the best,
          John


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          John N. Lupia, III
          31 Norwich Drive
          Toms River, New Jersey 08757 USA
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          Email: jlupia2@...
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        • Steve Black
          Here is a link to what looks like an exciting conference in Scotland! The conference is entitled The Gospel of John and Christian Theology . Speaker include
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 29, 2003
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            Here is a link to what looks like an exciting conference in Scotland!

            The conference is entitled "The Gospel of John and Christian Theology".
            Speaker include Martin Hengel, J├╝rgen Moltmann, Rowan Williams,
            Richard Bauckham, Miroslav Volf, as well as others. The link to get
            more information is...
            http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/academic/divinity/john2003.html
            --
            Steve Black
            Vancouver School of Theology
            Vancouver, BC
            ---

            The lion and the calf shall lie down together
            but the calf won't get much sleep.
            -Woody Allen
          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
            Jeffrey Siker has an interesting article in the May issue of the RSN: http://www.sbl-site.org/Newsletter/05_2003/Siker.html I was fascinated by the
            Message 5 of 5 , May 5, 2003
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              Jeffrey Siker has an interesting article in the May
              issue of the RSN:

              http://www.sbl-site.org/Newsletter/05_2003/Siker.html

              I was fascinated by the increasingly thin line between
              religion and politics in an administration that holds
              Bible studies in the White House.

              Relevant to our Johannine Listserve is the following:

              <[I]n his September 11, 2002 speech commemorating the
              anniversary of the terrible events of what has simply
              come to be called 9/11, President Bush made what must
              be considered his most disturbing use of biblical
              imagery to date. Borrowing imagery from the prologue
              of John 1 the President concluded his speech with the
              following words: "This ideal of America is the hope of
              all mankind... That hope still lights our way. And the
              light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will
              not overcome it." In this paraphrase from John 1:4-5
              President Bush replaces the incarnate Word of God
              (Jesus) with America as the light of the world. In one
              simple step Bush moves from nationalism to idolatry,
              envisioning America as the Word made flesh, America as
              the one sent by God into the world. That such language
              suggesting the divinization of America can come from
              the lips of a sitting President, and one who claims
              the Lordship of Jesus at that, is nothing short of
              astonishing.>

              Living outside of the States, I miss out on all this
              good stuff.

              But is Siker correct about Bush's idolatry? What Bush
              said was:

              "This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind...
              That hope still lights our way. And the light shines
              in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome
              it."

              From this, Siker concludes:

              <In this paraphrase from John 1:4-5 President Bush
              replaces the incarnate Word of God (Jesus) with
              America as the light of the world. In one simple step
              Bush moves from nationalism to idolatry, envisioning
              America as the Word made flesh, America as the one
              sent by God into the world.>

              Has Bush committed idolatry? He actually says that
              "This ideal of America" rather than "America" in his
              paraphrase. Does anyone know the context of Bush's
              words? What is the "ideal" that he refers to in his
              speech? Is it just a another way of saying "America"?
              Or does he mean an ideal that guides America?

              Jeffery Hodges

              =====
              Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
              Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
              447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
              Yangsandong 411
              South Korea

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