RE: [John_Lit] Irony in John 8:33
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
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.
Cincinnati Bible Seminary
2700 Glenway Ave.
Cincinnati, Oh 45204
"the truth will set you free"
From: GustavSym@... [SMTP:GustavSym@...]
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2003 1:37 PM
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
possibilities of how this irony might work (leaving most of my
in the form of questions). Let me summarize: These particular
utter these words appear to have a different self-understanding from
co-religionists---they trace their ancestry to Abraham but
through the experience of the Exodus.
1) does the evangelist know something about the demographics of the
community at large---that some members could trace their genealogies
Exodus and some could not ( some current archeological data seem to
smaller number of Israelites enslaved in Egypt than assumed by older
and that there were Israelites who did not participate in the
2) does the evangelist use this possible dichotomy to challenge the
of some in the community and use this dichotomy metaphorically to
against those who expelled the Johannine community from the
3) does the evangelist play off participation in the Exodus as a
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
enslaved by no one?
5) does this kind of strategy on the part of the
community backfire, and impugn his/their own authenticity and
discovering, as it might, a Judaean "straw man"? In other words,
such words on the lips of Judeans betray a vicious ignorance on the
of the evangelist, whose goal is to vilify "the Jews."
6) Luke and Matthew are proleptic in the matter of the link to
both have John the Baptist anticipate an appeal to Abrahamic
ancestry (Mt 3;
Luke 3). Neither Matthew nor Luke, however, considers the denial of
enslavement in Egypt. Is there anything to be gained from an
analysis of this
Synoptic prolepsis in relation to the Johannine offensive?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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- In a message dated 4/7/2003 9:29:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> ? I'm trying to understand howDear Tom:
> you derive from their comment that they don't associate themselves with the
> Exodus experience. Take care.
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.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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
All the best,
John N. Lupia, III
31 Norwich Drive
Toms River, New Jersey 08757 USA
Phone: (732) 341-8689
Editor, Roman Catholic News
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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, Jürgen Moltmann, Rowan Williams,
Richard Bauckham, Miroslav Volf, as well as others. The link to get
more information is...
Vancouver School of Theology
The lion and the calf shall lie down together
but the calf won't get much sleep.
- Jeffrey Siker has an interesting article in the May
issue of the RSN:
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
Living outside of the States, I miss out on all this
But is Siker correct about Bush's idolatry? What Bush
"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
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?
Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
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