Re: [John_Lit] I John 1 and Christian Education
- In response to the mail by Fred Guyette:
I'm not sure that the sequence is connected with Christian Education
or growing knowledge; it seems more in line with the letter that John
is using evocative language to describe the joy of that which is
already known. Some authors (Kruse, for example) believe that the
style is that of 'epideictic rhetoric', pointing to phrases used by
the apostle which make it fall into this category, but I believe that
John knew no more about epideictic rhetoric than Arthur Scargill, the
leader of the miner's union, at the major rallies during the strike
of 1985. The miners knew exactly why they were there before they went
to the rallies. Of course, if you want to rally your troops, then you
use certain techniques, but John didn't need the Greek philosophers
to instruct him on this point.
Perhaps this letter was not meant to educate. Raymond Brown, for
example, seems to think that the apostle is self contradictory when
he comes to 1 John 3v6. I believe that he isn't self contradictory,
but if the desire had been to educate, then he wouldn't have left
such an apparent impasse in his letter in the way he did.
Despite the apparent consensus, I'm led to believe that 1 John was a
very early letter. There is an immediacy in the language in 1 John 1,
which would indicate that Christ in the flesh is something in his
recent memory, contrasted with the more scholarly and measured
treatment in the opening of the gospel. The tenses of the verbs also
seem to have moved from the immediate to the more distant past.
The basic premis of the 'sectarian' interpretation of 1 John is that
he was writing a letter essentially to a group of Johanine
Christians, weak believers, who were in danger of being led astray by
a bunch of nasty horrible secessionists with suspiciously gnostic
tendencies. This seems to be broadly the line taken by Raymond Brown,
Colin Kruse, Howard Marshall and probably many others.
A certain level of sophistication is required in reading this letter,
not only intellectual but also spiritual, to be able to see that
there are no contradictions. He's describing the same dichotomy, only
much less clearly, as the apostle Paul in Romans 7v14-25. It is,
therefore, difficult to believe that he's writing to weak believers
in danger of being led astray. In fact, the apparent contradictions
in this letter would certainly be more than enough to destroy the
faith of any weak believer in danger of being lead astray.
So, on the whole, I'm inclined against the 'sectarian' interpretation
and therefore I believe that the 'love' commandment is overly
restricted in such an approach.
John M. Noble
>Take the series of verbs in I John 1 and think about Christian Education, or
>growing in knowledge of Christ. It seems to me that "what was from the
>beginning" was long ago and perhaps far away, then the message came closer and
>was "heard," then later there was "beholding"and "touching," and
>then there is a
>kind of jump from "outer" knowledge to "inner" knowledge that issues in
>"testifying and proclaiming."
>I would like to use this "progression" in an essay, and I wonder if
>done so already. The more general theme is this word "know" and its related
>forms in I John -- if you know of books or articles that would help me get a
>better grasp on this, please post the citations in a message.
>And a related question: I have just read Pheme Perkins' essay Apocalyptic
>Sectarianism and Love Commands: The Johannine Epistles and Revelation in the
>book: The Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament (Louisville:
>Westminster/John Knox, 1992) p. 287-296). I admire the depth of her
>but I think she may restrict the scope of the love command too much in this
>"sectarian" interpretation of I John. Any thoughts on this?
>Erskine College and Seminary
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>>...It is, therefore, difficult to believe that he's writing to weakbelievers in danger of being led astray. In fact, the apparent
contradictions in this letter would certainly be more than enough to
destroy the faith of any weak believer in danger of being lead astray...
My take is that this was written on the occasion of the first rumblings
of antichrist. Ie: Paul said antichrist was active but not overt, even
in 35 AD!:
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now
letteth [supreses] will let [supress], until he [Roman opposition] be
taken out of the way.
Out of the Johannine community came those who deified Christ and
advocated worshipping him as God himself!
2 Thess 2:
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed,
the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or
that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God,
shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the
image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would
not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and
bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the
name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of
the beast: for it is the number of [invented by] a man; and his number
is Six hundred threescore and six [ie: a trinitarian number].
So 1 John is written saying:
"Jesus was a human. What lessons can we learn about God and the gospel
from the humanity of Jesus?"
Only he says "what we have seen and touched" - learned about the word of
life - from the flesh of Jesus.
- Dear Bill Ross,
I'm curious what leads you to conclude that the 1 Thessalonians and
Revelations pericopes you cite have the Johannine community as their
specific point of reference.
>>I'm curious what leads you to conclude that the 1 Thessalonians andRevelations pericopes you cite have the Johannine community as their
specific point of reference.
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that
antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we
know that it is the last time.
19 ***They went out from us***, but they were not of us; for if they
had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they
went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Antichristian views of Jesus were aberrations of John's high
Christology. 1 John acts as a corrective of those who went off the deep
end into the idea of Jesus being divine, rather than the locus of the
Word of God (the LOGOS). That is why John begins with affirming the very
concrete nature of Jesus, the forgiveness of sin and the believer also
being children of God:
1Jo 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in
the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
- Bill Ross wrote:
> <Eileen>I note with interest that this is not an answer to the question raised. Can you
> >>I'm curious what leads you to conclude that the 1 Thessalonians and
> Revelations pericopes you cite have the Johannine community as their
> specific point of reference.
> 1Jo 2:
> 18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that
> antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we
> know that it is the last time.
> 19 ***They went out from us***, but they were not of us; for if they
> had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they
> went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
> Antichristian views of Jesus were aberrations of John's high
> Christology. 1 John acts as a corrective of those who went off the deep
> end into the idea of Jesus being divine, rather than the locus of the
> Word of God (the LOGOS). That is why John begins with affirming the very
> concrete nature of Jesus, the forgiveness of sin and the believer also
> being children of God:
> 1Jo 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in
> the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
provide your reasons for assuming as you do that the "mystery of iniquity" is
not only the antichrist, but that it is the antichrist that the author of 1 John
has in view? What is your warrant for reading 1 John through Paul?
And a side note -- I believe it is general List policy that one should avoid
doing exegesis on the basis of an English translation of the texts you are
trying to unpack, especially the KJV. I'd be grateful, especially when you are
trying to make the case that a Pauline idea and a Johannine idea are one and the
same, that you argue on the basis of the Greek text.
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
Chicago, IL 60626