The Authority of J's Mother
- --- Frides Laméris wrote:
> I think the story of Jn 2:1-11 is an abreviated or condensedThanks, Frides, for giving me an opportunity to add a fourth item to
> version of things that have significance on many levels, but have
> their solid base in the facts of history.
the original list of three prima facie indicators that the Cana
story is not to be taken literally in the main. I'm not denying that
there may have been some historical incident serving as underpinning
to the story, but the "solid base" you speak of seems to me to be
extraordinarily slim - either because a lot of factual detail has
been left out by the author, or because there simply wasn't any
other factual basis to the story. That there may have been a wedding
in Cana attended by Jesus and his disciples seems plausible enough,
but almost nothing else rings true to my ear. Here I concentrate on
what would have been the fourth item on my original list, had I
thought of it at the time - the instructions of J's mother to the
How is it that J'is mother would have been in a position to order
the servants to "Do what he tells you"? What authority does she have
in this setting? The intro in 2.1-2 doesn't help much. In 2.1, we're
simply told that she was there. In 2.2, we read that both Jesus and
his disciples were invited. Or does that KAI mean that they were
ALSO invited (implying that his mother was invited as well), as some
translations have it? The problem with the latter reading is that
it implies that his mother had no authority over the servants. So is
it part of the "solid base" of this story that she was an integral
part of the wedding, rather than an invitee? Was she perhaps the
mother of the bride or groom? So that this would be the marriage of
one of J's siblings - so that the "six stone waterpots" might
represent his brothers and sisters - as suggested, perhaps, by the
sudden appearance of his brothers "after this" in 2.12? I'm open to
this interpretation, but it seems unlikely that the author would
have left out this important detail simply for the sake of making
the story shorter (how many words would it have taken, after all,
to say that it was, e.g., his sister's wedding?)
- 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