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Water symbolism in John's Gospel and I John 5:7-8

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  • Matthew Estrada
    Hello Johannine Listers, I want to throw out for discussion the possibility of interpreting John s water symbolism as the Law and the Prophets , or God the
    Message 1 of 69 , Nov 16, 2003
      Hello Johannine Listers,

      I want to throw out for discussion the possibility of interpreting John's "water" symbolism as "the Law and the Prophets", or God the Father's means of revelation. I base this interpretation upon Moses' name being connected with water, and John the Baptist also being connected with water. Thus we have the first and the last of the Law and the Prophets connected to water, thus water would equal Moses, water would equal John the Baptist, water would equal the Law and the Prophets. If I can demonstrate that John does intend to connect both Moses and John the Baptist to his "water symbolism", thus making water represent the Law and the Prophets, then I would also like to attempt to demonstrate that John the Baptist, in John's Gospel, represents (alone) the Law and the Prophets, even as does Moses. If I can do this, then we have a good explanation as to why the Baptist is presented so early on in the Gospel (in the Prologue), as well as why he is seen mainly as a "witness", which is one
      of the purposes of the Law, according to Paul. John, the author, therefore, would not be seen as presenting an historical relato of the actions of the Baptists, but rather how the Law and the Prophets give testimony/support to the interpretation of Jesus as the Christ.

      Andrew Lincoln, in the paper that he will be presenting in the upcoming SBL here in Atlanta this next week, seems to use both the Cana Miracle and John the Baptist as presented in the Fourth Gospel as examples to demonstrate the unlikeliness of historical reporting in John's Gospel. Even though I agree with what might be construed as his conclusion- that John's Gospel should not be used as a primary source for the historical Jesus (although he exercises more caution in this regard than I do), I disagree with the manner in which he uses the material (as I would with just about everyone else).

      I believe that it can be shown that John has created an allegory. If you are interested in reading a lengthy paper that I wrote on these subjects, you can visit Joe Gagne's website "The Johannine Literature Home Page for Research" and go to the link "Unpublished Works by Author" to find my paper. To be sure, there is much to critique, as I am no scholar. But, I believe that you will also find my interpretation and methodology extremely interesting on John 1-4, if you can wade through to the end.

      Matthew Estrada

      113 Laurel Court

      Peachtree City, Ga 30269

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    • Jeffrey B. Gibson
      ... Oh come on, Frank. It is petitio principii to assume, as you do, that what Philo was allegedly up to in his use of (a somewhat different) portion of
      Message 69 of 69 , Jan 4, 2004
        fmmccoy wrote:

        > Further, this phrase immediately follows this part of Gen 22:4 quoted by
        > So, it is Philo's interpretation of something in this quote.
        > Further, it cannot be his interpretation of the phrase, "at the place
        > (TOPON) which God had told him of"--for Philo interpreted this place to be
        > the Logos. See Som i (65-66), "'He came to the place (TOPON) of which God
        > had told him; and lifting up his eyes he saw the place (TOPON) from afar.'
        > Tell me, pray, did he who had come to the place see it from afar? Nay, it
        > would seem that one and the same word is used of two different things: one
        > of these is a divine Logos, the other God Who was before the Logos. One who
        > has come from abroad under Sophia's guidance arrives at the former place,
        > thus attaining in the divine Logos the sum and consummation of service."

        Oh come on, Frank. It is petitio principii to assume, as you do, that what
        Philo was allegedly up to in his use of (a somewhat different) portion of Gen.
        22:4 in On Dreams is the key to understanding what he was up to when he uses Gen
        22:4 in Migration or that the key to the terms he uses Migration is to be found
        in their use in On Dreams. This never allows for variance in Philo. More
        importantly, it takes no account of how the Rabbinic technique Philo employs in
        both texts -- midrashic appeal to a biblical text as a warrant for some truth he
        has derived from elsewhere -- was never employed as you think it was, with there
        meaning that was drawn by a particular Rabbi from one biblical text always being
        the same one he drew from that same text when employed within a different
        context or argument. Besides that, was not On Dreams written **after**
        Migration? Why do you expect that the meaning that Philo draws in On Dreams from
        a different portion of Gen 22:4 than is drawn upon in Migrations, to support a
        point that is entirely different from the one he is trying to make in Migration
        with the Genesis quotation, is the meaning that the terms of that quote have in

        Have you actually looked at what the purpose of Migration is? Of On Dreams?

        > By elimination, then, Philo's comment, "having passed the greater number of
        > the divisions of time and already quitting them for the the existence that
        > is timeless (which means, "having passed the first two of the three
        > divisions of time (i.e., the past and the present) and entering into the
        > third division of the future that merges into timeless eternity")"

        Um, no it doesn't. It has to do with the Platonic idea of distinctions between
        appearance and reality, and how the true seeker of wisdom will not allow himself
        to be guided by appearance, rather than chronological divisions of past present
        and future.

        > is
        > his.interpretation of this phrase, "TH hMERA TH TRITH". Hence, in the
        > context of Mig (139), Philo allegorically interprets this phrase to mean "on
        > the third "day" of the future"

        See above. And also -- to interpret it this way makes nonsense of the appeal to
        the biblical text and the interpretation he places upon it and of the larger
        context preceding 139 which is discussing ethics.

        > >what on earth makes you think that John's readers, never mind
        > John,
        > > were familiar with The Migrations of Abraham?
        > What makes you think they weren't familiar with On the Migration of Abraham?

        Sorry, but this is a shifting of the burden of proof. So I won't answer.

        > Doesn't there appear to be something anomalous about (5)? Why call it the
        > third day when there already has been a third day?

        It's an idiom, as Barret and others note..

        But knowing that yo won't trust me on what I say above, let me suggest that you
        run your interpretation of Migrations 139 by David Satran, at the Department of
        Comparative Religion at Hebrew University? He is the fellow who has been
        commissioned by the editorial board of the Brill Philo of Alexandria Commentary
        Series (see http://www.nd.edu/~philojud/38.htm) to write the commentary on

        I'd be curious to know not only if he thinks your interpretation of the
        expression in question is correct, but whether he agrees with you that at Jn 2
        John was drawing upon a(n alleged) meaning of TH hHMERAS TH TRITHS that
        **only** Philo gave to it.

        He may be contacted at: satran@...



        Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

        1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
        Chicago, IL 60626

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