Re: [John_Lit] Re: Water symbolism in John's Gospel and I John 5:7-8
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2003 12:29 PM
Subject: [John_Lit] Re: Water symbolism in John's Gospel and I John 5:7-8
> Frank McCoy responded:
> > Dear Matthew Estrada:
> > When John's Cana Miracle narrative is taken to be an allegory, then
> it can
> > be largely interpreted in terms of Philonic thought and symbolism.
> My response:
> But why turn to Philonic thought and symbolism when John's symbolism
> and thought can be found in the more immediate mileu of the OT/NT?
The allegorical method was an ear-mark of Alexandrian Judaism and Philo was
its most illustrious supporter. This seems like the logical well to go to
for one planning to write a gospel containing allegories.
> Frank wrote:
> > In this case, on its allegorical level, it is revealed that the
> incident is
> > temporally out of place--with it apparently being the case that it,
> > temporally, belongs between 3:45 and 3:46.
> My response:
> You mean 4:45 and 4:46, for which I find no evidence to place it
> there, nor reason.
Yes, I meant 4:45 and 4:46--thanks for correcting my mistake.
(1) In 4:43-45, Jesus arrives in Galilee from Jerusalem in Judea by way of
(2) In 4:46-53, Jesus performs a healing miracle
(3) In 4:54, this miracle is said to be the second sign Jesus did after
returning to Galilee from Judea.
Something appears to be missing here between verses 45 and 46, i.e., an
account of the first sign Jesus did after returning to Galilee from Judea.
What can this be but the narrative of the miracle at Cana, the beginning of
the signs Jesus did in Galilee? If so, then this narrative is temporally
mis-placed and belongs between 4:45 and 4:46.
> Frank wrote:
> > THE THIRD DAY
> > According to John 2:1, the wedding takes place on the third day. In
> > Philonic thought, the third day symbolizes the third division of
> time, i.e.,
> > the future that merges into eternity. (the first division being the
> past and
> > the second division the present). So, in Mig (139), Philo
> states, "When
> > he (i.e., Abraham) has arrived 'on the third day at the place which
> God had
> > told him of (Gen. xxii. 3)', having passed the greater number of the
> > divisions of time, and already quitting them for the existence that
> > timeless,..".
> My response:
> To John's audience, the phrase "the third day" would more readily
> bring to memory the day of Jesus' resurrection. Again, I respectfully
> disagree with what you identify as John's source material.
Perhaps, if (1) the intended audience consisted of Christians rather than
non-Christians the Johannine community hoped to convert and if (2) the
Johannine community used the phraseology of Jesus rising on the third day.
Can you establish these two points?
> My response:
> Again, Frank, we differ since the source materials that we believe
> John to have used differ. The changing of the "water"/the Law and the
> Prophets/the Old Covenanta into "wine"/the Holy Spirit/the New
> Covenant occurs only via Jesus' death and resurrection, which takes
> place unnoticeably in the Cana miracle when the jars have
> been "filled" with "water". It is at this point that the "magic"
> occurs- the "water" being changed into "wine" (thus the phrase "the
> third day").
If 2:7 (when the jars get filled with water) is when the third day occurs,
then why is it said to be the third day in 2:1?
> My response:
> 4) In John 4, we have
> a well scene, which is a typical "wedding" scene in the OT. In my
> paper I show evidence that John has used Gen 24 (a text that you
> refer to above via Philo)as one of his source materials for the
> composition of the Samararitan woman story. John is contrasting Jesus
> with Abraham/Isaac by: 1) Abraham's (the father of Israel) statement
> to his servant, twice repeated, not to take a wife for his son Isaac
> (another of Israel's covenant forefathers- "the covenant of Abraham,
> Isaac, and Jacob") from the heathen nations vs. Jesus, God in the
> flesh, taking a hated Samaritan to be his wife; 2) Abraham's servant
> finds a "virgin" to be the wife of his master's son, but Jesus, God
> in the flesh, takes a wife to himself who has been married 5 times
> and is now living with a sixth; 3) Rebecca draws water for the
> servant and his animals, whereas the Samaritan says to Jesus, "You, a
> Jew, ask of me, a Samaritan for a cup of water"; and 4)Isaac is in
> the "fields" when he "looks up" and sees his "wife" approaching, vs
> Jesus, who says to his disciples, "Look up into the fields, they are
> ripe for harvest" as the Samaritan people come out to meet Jesus, and
> end up "believing"/marrying him.
The well scene in Gen 24 is precisely the part of that chapter that Philo
examines in the some of cited quotes from him in my previous post. In his
examination of the well scene, he employs the symbolism for a hudria as the
bodily vessel of a person containing that person's ruling faculty, for the
water from the well as the teachings that are of the very self of Sophia and
that become a type of wine within a human being, for Rebecca as a teacher,
and for the servant as a disciple. When this Philonic symbolism is applied
to 2:1-10, it becomes an allegory in which seven new disciples are taught
these teachings by the five disciples already recruited and taught by
Jesus. It explains why, in chapter 6, mention is made of the twelve
disciples, even though only five have been explicitly recruited to that
point in John--for these 7 new disciples plus the 5 veteran disciples equal
As you mention, the well scene in Gen 24 is the occasion for a betrothal.
In particular, it is the occasion for the betrothal of Rebecca--who, it is
made clear in LXX Gen 24, is a virgin and a relation of Abraham rather than
a daughter of the Caananites.
Compare Fuga (114),: where, while speaking on the Logos as the High Priest
of Lev. 21:10-15, Philo declares, "To him there is betrothed moreover a
*virgin of the hallowed people*, pure and undefiled and of ever inviolate
So, while Philo doesn't speak of Rebecca symbolizing a bride of the Logos,
she certainly fits the bill and one familiar with Philonic thought would
recognize this point. So, if such a person were to construct an allegory
using Philonic thought and symbolism that can be applied to the well scene
in Gen 24, one can understand why such a person might decide to make the
occasion of the allegory the wedding of the Logos as the Bridegroom with his
bridal virgin of the hallowed people.
BTW, I agree with you that much of the narrative regarding Jesus and the
Samaritan woman is written with Gen 24 in mind. However. we radically
differ on how to intepret this narrative in light of much of it being
written with Gen. 24 in mind..
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Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- fmmccoy wrote:
> Further, this phrase immediately follows this part of Gen 22:4 quoted byOh come on, Frank. It is petitio principii to assume, as you do, that what
> 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."
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 ofUm, no it doesn't. It has to do with the Platonic idea of distinctions between
> 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")"
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
> isSee above. And also -- to interpret it this way makes nonsense of the appeal to
> 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"
the biblical text and the interpretation he places upon it and of the larger
context preceding 139 which is discussing ethics.
>Sorry, but this is a shifting of the burden of proof. So I won't answer.
> >what on earth makes you think that John's readers, never mind
> > were familiar with The Migrations of Abraham?
> What makes you think they weren't familiar with On the Migration of Abraham?
> Doesn't there appear to be something anomalous about (5)? Why call it theIt's an idiom, as Barret and others note..
> third day when there already has been a third day?
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