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Re: [John_Lit] Numerical aspects in GJ (was:oral..)

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  • Bill Bullin
    Frides Lameris wrote to Bill Bullin ... (A) Thanks for your message Frides, I have been following up Peter s references to Schedl and Labuschagne. I can see
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2004
      Frides Lameris wrote to Bill Bullin
      > As P. Hofrichter mentioned to you, Claus Schedl has
      > written some good books on these things.
      > I read parts of his 'Bauplaene des Wortes', very interesting
      > indeed.
      (A) Thanks for your message Frides,
      I have been following up Peter's references to Schedl and Labuschagne.
      I can see lots of references to Jesus and the Qu'ran but not the New
      Testament and Qumran.
      I have had more luck with Labuschagne. He has an excellent paper in English:
      Did the writers of the Bible use numbers as a way of structuring their
      texts. He paints in some important background information
      and tackles the all important issue of developing a critical tool that cuts
      a line between
      logothechnical analysis and the kind of numerology and speculation which
      merely amounts to isogesis.

      >In Holland we have a theologian who is very much
      > into numbers in classical and NT writings:J. Smit Sibinga.
      > In one of the last issues of New Testament Studies or
      > Novum Testamentum there is an article from him
      > on numerical structures in a specific chapter of John.
      > I can recommend very much the doctoral dissertation of one
      > of his students, M.J.J. Mencken,
      >'Numerical literary techniques in John', Leiden, 1985.
      > It has (also) a very useful and elaborated introduction to the subject.

      B) I think I have acknowledged the work of both Smit Sibinga and Menken in
      my earlier posts.
      I may have mis spelt the latter surname but I am dependent on hand written
      notes at present.
      They are both extremely valuable. As you say Men(c)ken's introduction is
      particularly valuable
      and I would heartily recommend it to other Johannine students.
      He is the source of the word count in respect of John 17
      although I think he missed a trick when he failed to notice
      that six vocative Pater's equate to ABBA (1+2+2+1=6).

      If Labuschagne helps draw a firm line between the critical tool of
      'logotechnical analysis'
      and mere 'numerology' or reading into the text things that were not written
      in, then Men(c)ken
      emphasises the potential value in relation to (a) textual criticism and (b)
      literary criticism,
      with the important proviso that it is taken as one tool among many and
      should not be used and relied upon in isolation.

      > I think these things may even be helpful in order to establish
      > the original text of the NT (textual criticism).

      (C) From what I have read so far, Labuschagne's strength may lie in the
      detail of his work
      rather than in his wider theorisation and his strong anti-theistic
      theological perspective.
      Clearly we do not know enough about the formulation of the Hebrew text.

      You will see from my postings that I place great store in the suggestion
      there was a bifurcation in the wisdom traditions between those who viewed
      wisdom as strictly Torah
      and those who viewed Wisdom 37 / 73 as both Torah and, Wisdom, the Great
      (messianic) Angel, the very DaBaR (26) of YH** (26); the LOGOS (373), to put
      it in strongly Hellenist terms.

      I also find Gabriele Boccaccini's thesis very persuasive,
      namely that there was a 'parting of the ways' between Qumran Essenism and
      its mother,
      Enochian [Essene] Judaism Beyond the Essene Hypothesis.
      My working hypothesis is that Jewish Hellenists, the Alexandrian
      Therapeuta, and the Samaritans
      were somehow linked or in touch or had overlapping perspectives and that,
      together with the Samaritans, they were united by a renewed vision of
      related to the expected messenger of Malachi.

      The main distinction in the early church would have been between these
      groups and the
      Torah centred Pharisees and the Jerusalem Temple-centred Sadducees.
      Christians would have been drawn from both sides of this divide leading to
      'unity and diversity'.
      Paul and possibly other Pharisees appear to have switched perspectives in
      conjunction with their conversion.
      Possibly both John the baptist and Jesus were of Enochian rather than Qumran
      Essene background
      hence the kind of itinerant ministry and ready hospitality Jesus found in
      various places.
      However we view his incarnation, resurrection and divinity, we cannot
      possibly deny the 'Jesus of history'
      an experience of socio-cultural formation, enculturation without denying him
      his humanity.
      That he may have visited the Therapeuta of Alexandria is purely speculative.
      That Egypt may have hosted a 'High priesthood in exile' from the middle of
      the c.2nd. BCE
      is another possibility. Again it would be too simplistic to identify an
      Enochian / Pharisee divide
      within the roots of primitive Christianity itself, giving an inevitability
      to the rise of Roman and Greek Orthodoxy
      on the one hand and an emerging Protestantism on the other. I should however
      be very interested to discover the answer to this calindrical question:

      Is there any evidence that would deny my personal hypothesis that Enochian
      calendar of 364 days and exactly 52 weeks,
      as opposed to the Jerusalem Temple luni-solar calendar, celebrated its New
      Year and Day of Atonement in the Spring and Passover in the Autumn? If there
      is not, Jesus may have been the ultimate Passover sacrifice for some but the
      ultimate Atonement sacrifice for others (e.g. Epistle to the Hebrews). This
      could help explain the priestly, anti-Jerusalem Temple, non Passover account
      of the last supper we find in 4G). We do know that there was a change from a
      Spring to an Autumn New Year around the time of the exile. It might also
      explain the Johannine 'the Jews' if others referred to themselves as

      >It may take some time before these things are more broadly
      > accepted. Everyone studies according to his likings. A friend
      > of mine, who was a student of Smit Sibinga, told me he had the
      > tendency to fall asleep during the exposition of all his NT
      > counting procedures. P.S. I agree with you that all this is > 'but steeped
      > Jewish Higher Wisdom Mysticism', >.
      > When scrutinized, it is all there, and there is actually
      > nothing really mystical in or about it!

      (D) Yes, I appreciate that word counts may induce sleep however well they
      are presented!

      From my own perspective I take encouragment from three sources:

      (1) The sociological theories of scientific development alluded to in
      previous postings,
      important too to Johannine students who choose not flow with the consensual
      (2) The creative tension between Q and non-Q Synoptic theorists.
      (3) The rather atonishing results that logotechnical analysis can yield,
      when taken in conjunction with other well established critical disciplines.

      Without wishing to drift 'off message', my own research began with a
      problem-solving approach to the origins of the Lord's Prayer, the Synoptic
      debate, and a re-consideration of the famous Latin Rotas~Sator word Square,
      the results of which I am still struggling to write up. It led me to
      consider the work
      of Gershom Scholem, Hugo Odeberg, the liturgical texts in the Dead Sea
      Scrolls and, what Martin Hengel
      has called the New History of Traditions School, as well as recent trends in
      New Testament christology.
      In short I think it strongly supports the position that this Square is
      indeed very early and Jewish-Christian,
      linked to merkavah mysticism, and could well be linked with the Shema and
      the 'benediction against the minim';
      hence my interest in John 17 and the Johannine Prologue. (I think MINIM is a
      clever pun on the Aramaic for 'believers', the Hebrew word for 'kind' (as in
      'of another kind', hence 'heretic') and a reference to those who taught that
      Jesus was the LOGOS: MINIM and 373; what do they have in common)?

      Amongst the other fruits of my investigations, I believe I can now
      demonstrate the exciting basis
      of the Jewish and Samaritan creation myth of the 'great seal' (cf. Prayer
      of Manasseh 3)
      with which the deep was sealed at creation through the Name YH**. I have
      written it up
      in the form of a modern day Similitude and could post it to anyone
      as an attachment since it is not strictly Johannine.

      Final point, when I use the word 'mystical' I use it primarily in the sense
      of research into the history
      of Jewish Mysticism in the second Temple period, following Chris Rowland's
      ground breaking work
      in 'The Open Heaven'. I use the term 'myth' entirely non pejoratively, and
      I simply point out that, at least in English usage,
      mysticism seems a very useful word to describe the kind of material we find
      in crucial parts of the New Testament: John 1:51; 12:41; and of course the
      resurrection narratives: I am struggling for a word that falls between
      'spooky' and 'spiritual'.

      Thanks once again for your message.

      Bill Bullin (Private Student, East Sussex, England).

      "To every proverb there is an equal and opposite proverb and the truth lies
      in the resolutin of the paradox".
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