Re: [John_Lit] Re: Allegorical Interpretation
- Maluflen@... wrote:
In a message dated 2/17/2004 6:46:46 AM Eastern Standard Time, matt_estrada@... writes:
> We have heard Jeffrey B. Gibson's opinion on the matter. Now I would be interested in hearing the opinion of others, as I know I cannot win everyone. The point that I am presently trying to establish is whether or not John intentionally alluded to Gen 41:55, I Kings 17:18 and Amos 8:11-12, attempting to communicate a "spiritual famine" having existed immediately prior to Jesus' Incarnation. I ask from others that you look objectively at the evidence that I have presented and give your opinion. Thank you.>>Matthew, I have read both your presentation and Jeffrey's response and am inclined to side with your position. Please allow me, however, to reassess my position after having had time to re-read the OT passages you cite as background for Jn 2, in Greek, of course, and the text of Jn 2, before making a final judgment on the matter. I suspect, even before reading the material, however, that I would be able to strengthen your case (on the basis of textual and linguistic data) beyond the arguments you already gave. I'll get back to you when I have had a chance to do the work. In the meantime, my initial impression of Jeffrey's response is that, though typical of the acquired mental toughness that comes from rigorous exegetical training, it is needlessly ungenerous, and certainly not a decisive rebuttal of your position. My experience has been, in general, that there are more, rather than fewer, Old Testament allusions in the Gospel stories than are generally recognized by scholars. Take,
for instance, the brilliant article in BZ, of only a few years ago, in which it was shown for the first time ever that Pilate's famous "ecce homo" (IDOU hO ANTHWPOS) in Jn 17 is an allusion to (indeed a citation of!) a text in 1 Sam.
Thank you, Leonard, for your response, your openness to new possibilities, and to your objectivity.
I have provided four "proofs" to support the interpretation that the Cana Miracle begins with a "famine situation", which is the first point that I had hoped to reach a consensus on:
1. The lack of wine twice repeated in Jn 2:3.
2. The phrase "Do whatever he tells you" borrowed from Gen 41:55, which is an OT text about a "famine situation" and a "savior".
3. The phrase "Woman, what between me and you?" borrowed from I Kings 17:15, which is another OT text about a "famine situation" and a "savior".
4. John�s allusions to Amos 8:11-12 and 9:13-15 which are texts about a "famine situation" and a time of abundance of wine afterwards.
I asked: How likely is it to be "coincidence" that these two phrases "what between me and you?" (I Kings 17:18) and "do whatever he tells you" (Gen 41:55) appear together (vss. 4 and 5 in Jn. 2) in such a small text in the NT when both are very similar to two OT phrases that come from different OT texts but share in common the same "famine" theme? Moreover, these 2 verses follow Jn 2:3 where John states twice that there is no more "wine". Isn�t it more likely that these two phrases were intentionally borrowed from these OT source materials to convey the "famine" theme in the Cana Miracle, especially in light of Amos 8:11-12 which also speaks of a "famine", and in light of Amos 9:13-15 which speaks of an abundance of wine as the sign for the end of the famine period? I have provided "evidence" which strongly suggest that John used Amos 8:11-12 as background for portraying Jesus as the Word (LOGOS) that was "searched for" (ZHTEITE) and "found" (EURHKAMEN) after 400 years of "famine
silence". Moreover, John, in his Cana Miracle and in keeping with the Amos story line, shows that Jesus is the one who provided an abundance of "new wine" to end "the famine period".
So far, Jeffrey B. Gibson and yourself have given your judgements. Others who have read these posts and have decided to maintain their silence, for whatever reason, hopefully will continue to consider the possibility that I am proposing of John having written an allegory.
Therefore, having attempted to establish this point- that there is a famine situation in the Cana Miracle, and that this famine situation refers to a famine for the Word of God, and that Jesus is the solution to this famine situation, we now proceed to our next point. We now need to show more precisely what John presents as the solution to this famine situation. What is the "new wine" which Jesus provides to His people?
Another source material that I believe John to have used in the crafting of his Cana Miracle story is to be found in the book of Joel (1:5, 10; 2:19, 24; 2:28-32; 3:18).
Joel begins his prophecy with a "wake-up" call to Israel. He states in Joel 1:5 and 1:10:
"Wake up, you drunkards (OI METHUONTES EX OINOU), and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine (OI PINONTES OINON EIS METHhN); wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips�. The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine (OINOS) is dried up, and oil fails."
Joel, like Amos, prophesies of a time when joy will be taken from the Israelites, which is symbolized in Joel by the wine that is taken from them (whereas in Amos it was depicted as a spiritual famine). The LXX words for "drunkards" are "OI METHUONTES EX OINOU" (literally meaning "the ones drunk from wine") and "OI PINONTES OINON EIS METHHN" ("the ones drinking wine to drunkenness"). Now in John 2:10 we read of the master of the banquet calling the bridegroom (Jesus) over and saying to Him,
"Everyone else sets out first the best wine (OINON), and when they get drunk (OTAN METHUSTHWSIN) they [set out] the lesser wine. But you have kept the best wine (OINON) until now (EWS ARTI)."
Joel first has the wine taken from the "drunkards" (OI METHUONTES EX OINOU) to symbolize the same period of time of "famine"/suffering that Amos was speaking of in Amos 8:11-12, and then has the promise of the abundance of the new wine (Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18), even as in Amos 9:11ff., to symbolize the outpouring of God�s Spirit.
So, too, does the master of the banquet commend Jesus (the bridegroom) for not serving the best wine first, but rather last, thus keeping the same order of events that Joel had prophesied would succeed. They first get drunk (OTAN METHUSTHWSIN, Jn 2:10), and then Jesus sets out the best wine after the [lesser] wine has run out ("has been snatched from your lips" Joel 1:5). The master of the banquet, in John, concludes his words by saying, "You have kept the best wine until now (EWS ARTI)", a phrase which in the ears of the Jews would have an eschatological ring to it given the proper context (the proper context for which we are arguing).
Joel, a chapter later, in 2:19 and 24, prophesied of a time when God would send the people of Israel new wine.
"The Lord will reply to them, �I am sending you grain, new wine (OINON) and oil, enough to satisfy you fully�. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will be overflowing with new wine (OINON) and oil�".
That Joel is speaking of a reversal of the earlier judgement he pronounced is clear when comparing Joel 1:4 with Joel 2:25, where he speaks in the earlier verse of the locust devouring the land and in the later verse of God "repaying" for the years the locusts have eaten. It is the same thing that we saw in Amos where Amos prophesied of a time of "famine", and then followed it up with a prophecy of a time of abundance, symbolizing the time of abundance with a new supply of wine (Amos 9:11ff).
We read again in Joel 3:18 words that are very similar to Amos 9:13 (in the LXX the same Greek word for wine is used here in Joel that we saw used in our Amos 9 text)- words that again speak of a time of abundant wine:
"In that day the mountains will drip new wine (GLUKASMON), and the hills will flow with milk�".
So what we have noted in Amos- that wine is being used as a sign of the end of the famine for the word of God and the arrival of the Messiah (per John) who is the Word of God- we also note it here in Joel.
This is especially striking once we realize that these two prophesies in Joel (Joel 2:19, 24 and 3:18) concerning the future blessing of an abundance of wine have sandwiched between them the famous passage of Joel 2:28-32, which speaks of the outpouring of God�s Spirit on all people:
"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days�. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
What is interesting to note about these verses that speak of an abundance of God�s Spirit being poured out on all people in the last days is that they are sandwiched between the two texts (Joel 2:19, 24 and 3:18) which also are prophecies of the end times, but instead of speaking about an abundance of God�s Spirit they are speaking of an abundance of wine. They form an inclusio around Joel 2:28-32. Now remembering what we have already studied- that in the Cana story John is stating, via allusion to our Genesis 41:55 and I Kings 17:15 texts, that there was a famine situation before the arrival of Jesus, and via allusion to our Amos 8:11-12 text that this famine situation was a famine for the Word of God, and via allusion to John 1:1 that Jesus is the Word of God, and via allusion to our Amos 9:13-15 text that this famine situation would be ended by an abundance of wine and the raising of David�s fallen tent, and in our Cana Story there is an abundance of wine as well as references to
Jesus� resurrection- then we can also deduce that these texts in Joel 2:19, 24 and 3:18 also played a role in John�s Cana story, but their purpose is to allude to John's symbolic meaning of "wine", which is "the Spirit".
That John used Joel 2:28-32 to interpret his use of Joel 2:19, 24 and 3:18 (the age of an abundance of wine) can be further substantiated when we look at Luke�s use of John 2 in Acts 2. That Luke knew and used John in the writing of the Book of Acts can be seen if we compare Acts 2 with our Cana miracle. In Acts 2 we read the story of the God�s Spirit being given to His disciples, just as Jesus is reported to have said it would occur in John's gospel:
"Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7; cf. Acts 1:4-5, 8).
In Acts 2, when the disciples received the outpouring of the Spirit via the death and resurrection of Christ, and when they began to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in other languages, Luke tells us that
"some made fun of them and said, �They have had too much wine (GLEUKOUS)�" (Acts 2:13).
Even though the word for "wine" (GLEUKOUS) that Luke uses is not the same word for "wine" (OINON) that John uses, one can see that Luke is word-playing on the same symbolic meaning of "wine" that John has employed in his Cana story. We are arguing that in John�s Cana miracle the word "wine" symbolizes God�s "Spirit". John conveys this symbolic meaning to his readers via his allusions to the prophecies found in Amos 8:11-12; 9:13-15; Joel 1:5; 2:19, 24, 28-29; and 3:18. In Amos 9:13 and Joel 3:18 the Greek word GLUKASMON for "wine" is used (the same Greek word Luke uses in Acts 2:13). In Amos 9:14 and Joel 1:5; 2:19, 24 the Greek word OINON for "wine" is used (the same Greek word John uses in the Cana story). Luke, in Acts 2, has the crowd mistake the disciples being filled with the Spirit with being drunk from wine. But then Luke has Peter preach a sermon based on Joel 2:28-32, which, as we have already noted, is one of the texts from which John was drawing to convey his symbolic
meaning of God�s "Spirit" for his use of "wine". Luke, understanding the symbolic meaning of the Cana miracle, and knowing the sources from which John was drawing to convey that meaning, "copied" John, and played with both the symbolic meaning of "wine" and the Joel 2 prophecy in the crafting his own story. Moreover, in Acts 2:5-11 Luke shows people from "every country" to be saved by Jesus (Acts 2:41,47), which is most likely an allusion to John�s use of the Joseph story in Jn.2:5 where John compares Jesus to Joseph who likewise saves people from "every nation" (For further defense that Luke knew and used John as a source for the writing of the Book of Acts, see C.K. Barret�s excellent chapter entitled "The Parallels between Acts and John" (pp.163-78) in Exploring the Gospel of John; In Honor of D.Moody Smith, edited by Alan Culpepper and C. Clifton Black).
Other "proofs" that support interpreting "wine" in the Cana Miracle as symbolic of the Holy Spirit will be offered later on when interpreting the wider context surrounding the Cana Miracle. I will state these proofs now without expounding upon them until later:
a) In Jn 1:26-34 John contrast John the Baptist�s baptism of "water"/"the Law and the Prophets" with Jesus� baptism of "the Holy Spirit".
b) In Jn 2:1-11 the "water"/"the Law and the Prophets" is changed into "wine"/the Holy Spirit.
c) In Jn 3:5 Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of "water"/"the Law and the Prophets" and "the Spirit" to enter into the Kingdom of God.
d) In John 4:4-15 John is again contrasting the "water"/"the Law and the Prophets" drawn from Jacob�s well (an OT patriarch) with the "living water"/"the Holy Spirit" which Jesus will provide (cf. Jn 7:37-38).
If we interpret consistently John�s symbolic meaning of the words "water", "wine", and "living water", then we will agree that "water" does mean "the Law and the Prophets" (as we shall see) and "wine" does mean the Holy Spirit. For John is consistently comparing and contrasting "water"/the Law and the Prophets to that of "the Spirit"/"wine"/"living water". We will see that John is placing "the Law and the Prophets" in their truly intended, God-given role, and that John is also exposing the misinterpretation and misapplication of "the Law and the Prophets" by "the Jews" (religious leaders in John�s day).
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- Roberta Allen <roberta.allen@...> wrote:
While we are on the subject of biblical allusions do you think it is
possible that 'revealed' his glory in 2.11 is an allusion to Jer.33.6.
The Greek word chosen occurs only once in the whole of the LXX
appropriately at Jer 33.6 in the section which details the new covenant
Behold I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and
reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security (shalom and emeth)
In a typical midrash key words are used to connect disparate verses from
the scriptures. When Elijah performs the final miracle for the woman she
says "I know the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth" 1 Kings 17.24.
The connection between Jer. 33.6 and the Elijah story is 'healing' and
perhaps more importantly what is revealed by it represented by the key
Even though I had not considered it before, after glancing over the text, I think it is possible. Besides the points you state above, I argue that John used Ex 2 as one of his source materials. In parallel # 9 I state:
9) Exodus 2:23-25 states: "During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." The "God remembering His covenant" motif that is found in our Exodus story is also implied in our John 2 Cana miracle story. After 400 years of silence, as prophesied by Amos in 8:11-12, we are told by the author of the gospel of John that the Word breaks the silence by becoming flesh. The people of Israel are again in bondage, both to the Romans and to Sin, and they are "staggering from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it", until God "hears their groaning and remembers His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob". It is then, and only then, that the Word
becomes flesh, that the hour has arrived for the Son of God to die on the cross and rise from the grave, and thus change the "water"/the time of the Law and the Prophets into "wine"/the time of the Holy Spirit so that all may be satisfied- that is, all who will believe in Him.
Since Jer 33 is a text that details the new covenant, and also has the "bride and bridegroom" imagery (Jer 33:11) as a sign of the messianic days, I think, as you state, that John also could have been alluding to this text in his "midrashic allegory".
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