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Re: [John_Lit] Re: "bridegroom" and "ARXITRIKLINOS"

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  • Matthew Estrada
    fmmccoy wrote: Dear Matthew Estrada: One question I raise above is not whether there occurred a historical event of Jesus turning water
    Message 1 of 26 , Mar 1, 2004
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      fmmccoy <FMMCCOY@...> wrote:

      Dear Matthew Estrada:

      One question I raise above is not whether there occurred a historical event
      of Jesus turning water into wine. This question I raise, rather, is whether
      the author of John knew of a Christian tradition about Jesus changing water
      into wine. These are two separate issues.
      I take it from your response that you do not think that John knew of a
      Christian tradition of Jesus changing water into wine. Is this correct?

      My response: Correct.

      Frank Mccoy wrote:
      Another question I raise above regards not what led you to this conclusion.
      This question, rather, regards what *historico-criticial considerations* led
      you to this conclusion. So, you are answering a generalized form of the
      question I raised rather than the specific question itself. Fair enough, I
      suppose.

      My response:
      I see no "evidence" that points me toward the conclusion that there ever was a "miracle" of this sort performed. All evidence leads me to the contrary. Having figured out what I believe "water" to signify (=the law and the prophets), and "knowing" from where John created his symbolism (thus literary considerations) led me to formulate what I believe to be "history" behind this story, as well as the rest of the gospel of John (and what many others have already concluded), namely, that John and his community was a community in strife with "the Jews" (the Pharisees) over whether or not Jesus was their messiah. John uses "their" (and his own community's) Scripture to show that Jesus is the promised messiah- that he meets all of its requirements, and more. He also shows how these "Scriptures" (via John the Baptist, who is a personification of these "Scriptures") testify both in favor of Jesus, and against "the Jews' " *deification* of those Scriptures. He places the law and the prophets
      in their *proper* role- to "testify" about Jesus. But John and his community's *methods* of interpreting these Scriptures were frowned upon by the religious leaders of his day. The Pharisees, who were the ruling party of his day, had *control* over the methods of interpretation, and now, for some new group to come in and begin interpreting the Scriptures contrary to *their* tradition, caused alot of friction (as you can imagine). It caused so much friction that John tells us that "the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue" (Jn 9:22). He states again, in Jn 12:42: "But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue...", and again in 16:2: "They will put you out of the synagogue...". When people not in a power position attempt to introduce new methods of interpretation contrary to the position of those in power, and without the approval from those in power,
      then I think we can imagine some of the consequences. Who knows, perhaps John was an intellectual who decided to "defend" the masses who had come to believe in Jesus as the Christ via their own new interpretation of the Scriptures, against the interpretation of the Scriptures that the Pharisees were insisting upon? Perhaps these masses were seeing "allusions" to Jesus in *all* of their Scriptures, and these *exegetical methods* were being shunned by those in power? Since there were not many "Christians" in powerful positions, perhaps this is why the symbolic meaning of John's Gospel (and perhaps of the Synoptics as well) was "lost" over time? In any case, Frank, I see no reason why to insist that the Cana story (and other parts of John's gospel) must be understood as having literally occurred. I see no justification whatsoever for believing that there ever was, or that John knew of, an actual event of Jesus turning physical water into physical wine. This has been, IMO, an erroneous
      presupposition of the Church's for a long time that will be not be easy to correct, but hopefully, it can be done.


      (Frank)
      The basic argument appears to be that there are oddities to the narrative
      that make it difficult to interpret on its literal level of meaning.
      Therefore, it must be an allegorical narrative that has meaning only on its
      allegorical level of meaning.

      My response:
      Not exactly. The argument is that these oddities that are present when trying to interpret the story on its literal level make perfect sense when one interprets them allegorically as I have suggested. Moreover, as Meier has also stated, I can provide "evidences" for almost every word and phrase in the Cana story (from what source John borrows them, and for what purpose). I can also show how this thesis of mine makes sense of passages outside of the Cana miracle. My thesis is comprehensive.

      (Frank)
      One problem is that the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the
      premise. It is but one of a number of possible conclusions that can be
      drawn from the premise.
      Another problem is that some of these apparent oddities perhaps are not
      oddities at all.
      For example, the final question:

      Why are the disciples shown to have "put their faith" in Jesus after his
      one miracle when in the Synoptic material they are shown to be "faithless"
      after many other miracles that Jesus performs?

      is an odditity only if one assumes the truthfulness of the theological
      premise that, properly understood, John harmonizes with the Synoptics.

      My response:
      Yes, Frank, you are right in that I do believe that John both knew and used the Synoptic material, and that his purpose was not to subvert their teachings. But these conclusions that I have made were not "assumed". One of the source materials that I believe to have "uncovered" in John's creation of the Cana Miracle and some of the stories surrounding it come from the Synoptics. Studying their relationship- how John uses that material- led me to these conclusions. Even as John uses OT texts and Pauline writings for some of his source material to shed light on the meaning of the Jesus events (death and resurrection), so, too, does he use the Synoptics. John, therefore, "harmonizes" with the Synoptics (as he does with the OT and Paul's writings), IMO, in that he views their purpose as the same as his- to give testimony to Jesus as the messiah.

      Frank wrote:
      Again, the question before it:

      Why does John state that Jesus' "glory" (DOXA) was revealed through this
      miracle when "glory" always refers to Jesus' hour of glorification (via his
      death and resurrection)?

      is based on a premise (i.e., that "glory" always refers to Jesus' hour of
      death and resurrection) that perhaps is false.

      For example, in 1:14, the "we" declare that they beheld the glory of the
      Logos incarnate in the flesh, the glory of a one of a kind from the
      Father. This suggests that, in the wedding feast at Cana narrative, the
      revealing of the "glory" of Jesus is the revealing of him being the Logos,
      the Son of God.

      My response:
      "Perhaps" John does allude to Philo in his use of the word "glory" in both 1:14 and 2:11. I would not put it past him. But even if he did, this does not exclude the meaning in these same verses that John gives it in other places (i.e. 7:39). That John can use words, giving them more than one meaning at the same time, has been acknowledged by many.

      (Frank)
      I grant that, in John, Jesus is portrayed as being a new and greater Moses.

      That there are many parallels between Ex 2 and Jn 2 does not necessitate
      that the author of John used Ex. 2 as a source in creating the wedding feast
      narrative. There are a number of missing premises that must be supplied to
      make this a necessary conclusion. Matt, what are these missing premises?

      (Matt)
      I would be glad to compare in much more detail than I have done before on
      this list the similarities that I have noted between
      John and Ex that shows, without doubt (in most people's minds), that John
      used Ex in the creation of his gospel, if you would like.

      (Frank)
      To what extent do you take GJohn to be the pure invention of its author,
      using OT and NT texts to create deliberate fictions on the literal level of
      meaning? Do you think that the whole gospel is nothing but a piece of
      fiction on its literal level?

      My response:
      I do believe that there are many "deliberate fictions" in both John and the Synoptics. The difficult task of separating "fiction" from "fact" should not cause one to give up on the whole endeavor (fear of "the slippery slope" paralyzes many and causes them to retreat back into their "safe" zone).

      ((Frank)
      First of all, in the last sentence, you assume that there are two
      alternatives: (1) the wedding feast narrative in John is to be interpreted
      literally or else (2) it is to be interpreted allegorically. It is this
      assumption that I questioned in my post to you--with me suggesting that
      perhaps the author of John intended the narrative of the wedding feast to be
      true on both its literal and postulated allegorical levels of meaning.
      Therefore, I am disappointed that you simply assume the truthfulness of this
      assumption rather than addressing my objection to it.

      My response: See above.

      Frank wrote:
      Second, I question whether, in John, "water" = "the Law and the Prophets".

      First of all, to the best of my knowledge, the phrase, "Law and the
      Prophets", does not occur in John.

      My response:
      But John does have Philip state in 1:45: "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote...".

      Frank wrote:
      So, you appear to be importing it from
      somewhere else. If so, then what is/are the source(s) you use for this
      phrase and how do you justify importing this phrase into John? Also, why
      do you think that the readers of John would know that "water" means this
      phrase in John, even though this phrase is apparently missing from John?

      My response:
      Two source materials: 1) the Synoptics (in Matthew 11:13, Matthew, in having Jesus comment on John the Baptist, says: "For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John". In Mark 6:20, John the Baptist is described as being a "righteous and holy" man (DIKAION KAI AGION). 2) These same two words Paul uses in Romans 7:12 in his description of the Law: "So then, the law is holy (AGIOS), and the commandment is holy (AGIA), righteous (DIKAIA) and good (AGATHh)." Paul also states, in Rom 3:21: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify (MARTUROUMENH)". This word "testify" is used over and over again in reference to John the Baptist's purpose. That John, the author of the gospel, made these connections, and "created" the symbolism of John the Baptist to be a personification of the Law and the Prophets, together with Moses, noting that both had previously been connected to "water" in some way (Moses name was
      given to him because he was "drawn from the water", and John the Baptist, in the Synoptics, baptized in water, thus John repeats 3 x that John came baptizing with water) is highly probable. Moreover, when one accepts this interpretation, then does it make sense why the Baptist is introduced so early on in the Prologue, even as Moses is- they both, together representing the law and the prophets, are giving testimony that Jesus is the messiah at the outset of the gospel. Moreover, this also explains the role of John the Baptist' "testimony" in John's gospel, the disciples of the Baptist' role over against "the Jews", the disciples of the Baptist coming over to Jesus, etc.. As difficult as it may be for some to accept all of this symbolism in John's gospel that I am pointing out, once done, the gospel makes so much more sense.

      Frank wrote:
      Second, I question whether Moses and John the Baptist symbolize the Law and
      the Prophets in John. Because of the close connection between Moses and the
      Law in 1:17, I will grant that Moses might symbolize, in some sense, the Law
      in John. However, since John the Baptist denies being either Elijah or the
      Prophet in 1:21, I think it fairly safe to conclude that he does *not*
      symbolize the prophets in John.

      My response:
      see above, in part. The reason the Baptist (personification of the Law and the Prophets) denies being either Elijah, the Prophet, and the Christ, is because these are all messianic figures that John reserves for Jesus. In doing so, he is taking away any "salvific" status from the Law and the Prophets.

      Frank wrote:
      (Matt, the bottom line is this: I think that if you could scale back your
      thesis, so that you allow for the possibility that the author of John is
      merely alluding to certain texts so as to help give the narrative of the
      wedding feast at Cana not only a literal level of meaning, but an additional
      allegorical level of meaning as well, rather than insisting that this person
      is using these texts to create a deliberately fictional narrative on its
      literal level, you might end up with a thesis that is more credible and that
      would be, IMO, more likely to be valid.

      My response:
      Frank, I do appreciate your input. However, to "compromise" my interpretation, saying that it is to be interpreted as both an historical event and on the allegorical level, would not be done in good conscience. As incredible as my thesis may sound, I believe it to be true.




      Matthew Estrada

      113 Laurel Court

      Peachtree City, Ga 30269


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    • fmmccoy
      ... From: Matthew Estrada To: Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 5:07 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit]
      Message 2 of 26 , Mar 2, 2004
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Matthew Estrada" <matt_estrada@...>
        To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 5:07 AM
        Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Re: "bridegroom" and "ARXITRIKLINOS"

        (snip)
        .
        > I see no "evidence" that points me toward the conclusion that there ever
        was a "miracle" of this sort performed. All evidence leads me to the
        contrary. Having figured out what I believe "water" to signify (=the law and
        the prophets), and "knowing" from where John created his symbolism (thus
        literary considerations) led me to formulate what I believe to be "history"
        behind this story, as well as the rest of the gospel of John (and what many
        others have already concluded), namely, that John and his community was a
        community in strife with "the Jews" (the Pharisees) over whether or not
        Jesus was their messiah. John uses "their" (and his own community's)
        Scripture to show that Jesus is the promised messiah- that he meets all of
        its requirements, and more.

        Dear Matthew Estrada:.

        As respects the formula "water = the law and the prophets", are there any
        exceptions to it in John, or are we to assume the validity of this formula
        whenever the underlying Greek word for "water" appears in John?

        Again, as respects your position that the "Jews" in John are "the
        Pharisees", are there any exceptions to this in John or is it the case that
        whenever the underlying Greek word normally translated as "Jews" (although,
        in at least some cases, it perhaps should be translated as "Judeans")
        appears in John, we are to automatically assume that Pharisees are meant?

        There were many awaited Messianic figures in first century CE Judaism. Of
        these many awaited Messianic figures, which one is the one that you speak of
        as "their messiah"?

        (Matt)
        He also shows how these "Scriptures" (via John the Baptist, who is a
        personification of these "Scriptures") testify both in favor of Jesus, and
        against "the Jews' " *deification* of those Scriptures.
        He places the law and the prophets in their *proper* role- to "testify"
        about Jesus.

        (Frank)
        What do you mean by "*deification* of those Scriptures"?

        (Matt)
        But John and his community's *methods* of interpreting these Scriptures were
        frowned upon by the religious leaders of his day. The Pharisees, who were
        the ruling party of his day, had *control* over the methods of
        interpretation, and now, for some new group to come in and begin
        interpreting the Scriptures contrary to *their* tradition, caused alot of
        friction (as you can imagine). It caused so much friction that John tells us
        that "the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the
        Christ would be put out of the synagogue" (Jn 9:22). He states again, in Jn
        12:42: "But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for
        fear they would be put out of the synagogue...", and again in 16:2: "They
        will put you out of the synagogue...". When people not in a power position
        attempt to introduce new methods of interpretation contrary to the position
        of those in power, and without the approval from those in power, then I
        think we can imagine some of the consequences.

        (Frank)
        Matt, the scenario you paint above goes far beyond what the weight of the
        evidence will bear, and, so, is unlikely to reflect the actual historical
        situation. In Wisdom's Friends (Westminster John Knox Press), Sharon H.
        Ringe states (pp. 20-21), "First, the date when the *Birkath haMinim* was
        revised to target especially Christians is unclear, and may well have been
        much later than the time of composition of the Gospel. Second, whether
        that liturgical expression actually carried with it a formal institutional
        or community ban is also a matter of debate, since the key word underlying
        the hypothesis, aposynagwgos, may convey a static condition indicating that
        one is separate from the synagogue, or it may have an active sense that
        indicates removal or motion away from the synagogue. Third, whether in the
        last quarter of the first century any central group within Judaism would
        have been viewed as having enought authority to effect such an act and to
        impose it upon Jews elsewhere is doubtful. A fourth problem is the set of
        unknowns surrounding the reference to the synagogue. What participation in
        the synagogue entailed for the community from which the Johannine Christians
        emerged is totally unkown, whether in terms of practices or activities or in
        terms of the theological orientation of Judaism that predominated."

        (snip)

        (Matt):
        > Yes, Frank, you are right in that I do believe that John both knew and
        used the Synoptic material, and that his purpose was not to subvert their
        teachings. But these conclusions that I have made were not "assumed". One of
        the source materials that I believe to have "uncovered" in John's creation
        of the Cana Miracle and some of the stories surrounding it come from the
        Synoptics. Studying their relationship- how John uses that material- led me
        to these conclusions. Even as John uses OT texts and Pauline writings for
        some of his source material to shed light on the meaning of the Jesus events
        (death and resurrection), so, too, does he use the Synoptics. John,
        therefore, "harmonizes" with the Synoptics (as he does with the OT and
        Paul's writings), IMO, in that he views their purpose as the same as his- to
        give testimony to Jesus as the messiah.

        (Frank)
        I grant that the author of John might have known of the Synoptic
        gospels and the Pauline writings. I think the evidence is too weak to make
        this thesis probable, but that it is enough to make it possible.

        However, it is quite another thing to maintain that the Synoptic gospels and
        the Pauline writings (along with the Jewish scriptures) were used, by the
        author of John, in constructing allegorical fictions, e.g., the narrative of
        the wedding feast at Cana.

        One problem is that, this means, the author of John and the intended readers
        of the gospel took the Synoptic gospels and the Pauline writings to be as
        authoritative as the Jewish scriptures. That is to say, this means, they
        believed the Synoptic gospels and the Pauline writings to be scriptural.
        However, none is quoted as scripture in John. This is an argument from
        silence, but I think it rather weighty nevertheless.

        Another problem is that there is no established symbol system employed in
        writing the hypothesised fictional allegorical narratives in John. Rather,
        the symbolism is drawn helter-skelter from the entire Jewish bible, from all
        the Synoptic gospels, and from all the Pauline writings. How can any
        intended reader possibly know how to recognize and decipher the hypothesised
        fictional allegorical narratives in John?

        Matt, as you might recall, I have suggested that the narrative of the
        wedding feast at Cana does have an allegorical level of meaning and that the
        "key" to "unlocking" this allegorical level of meaning is the symbol system
        used by Philo.

        This was an established symbol system in existence at the time of the
        writing of John and it would have been readily understood by the intended
        readers if, for example, John had been written for use as a missonary text
        in Alexandria, Egypt.

        Regards,

        Frank McCoy
        1809 N. English Apt. 15
        Maplewood, MN USA 55109
      • Matthew Estrada
        fmmccoy wrote: Dear Matthew Estrada:. As respects the formula water = the law and the prophets , are there any exceptions to it in
        Message 3 of 26 , Mar 6, 2004
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          fmmccoy <FMMCCOY@...> wrote:

          Dear Matthew Estrada:.

          As respects the formula "water = the law and the prophets", are there any
          exceptions to it in John, or are we to assume the validity of this formula
          whenever the underlying Greek word for "water" appears in John?

          My response:

          We know for sure of one exception- where John uses Jesus' living water in Jn 4 in contrast to Jacob's water from the well (=Law and the Prophets), but John spells out for us what the living water symbolizes in Jn 7:38 (=Holy Spirit), in contrast to the "dead" water in Jacob's well (OT patriarch). This interpretation of "living water" (=Holy Spirit) contrasted with "water" (=Law and Prophets) from Jacob's well is consistent with John 1-4 where "water" (=Law and Prophets; Jn 1:26, 31, 33; 3:3, 5) is compared/contrasted to "Spirit" (=wine in Jn 2:1-11; cf Jn 1:36; 3:5). The other "evidences" (both Moses and the Baptist connected to "water" and John having used Exodus as one of his major source materials, and a more perfect "sense" when reading the Baptist as a personification of the Law and the Prophets throughout John's gospel) that I have provided support this interpretation that "water" is to be interpreted as "the Law and the Prophets". I have also suggested that "water" is to be
          interpreted in this same way where it appears in I John 5:6-8. That this interpretation in all of these contexts makes sense out of those texts again supports this interpretation. It remains to be see whether this interpretation can be applied to other texts (i.e. Jn 5:7) in John, and/or whether or not this is a *must* for my interpretation to be correct. Just because we can't see YET how this same interpretation of the word "water" can apply to other texts in John (i.e. Jn 5:7) does not nullify my interpretation. It is a puzzle, Frank, and in putting together complicated puzzles, we often remain stumped at certain parts of the puzzle until we find a piece that clarifies more for us the picture.

          Frank wrote:

          Again, as respects your position that the "Jews" in John are "the
          Pharisees", are there any exceptions to this in John or is it the case that
          whenever the underlying Greek word normally translated as "Jews" (although,
          in at least some cases, it perhaps should be translated as "Judeans")
          appears in John, we are to automatically assume that Pharisees are meant?

          My response:

          No, Frank, my equation of the Pharisees with "the Jews" evidently was not correct. In Jn 1:19, 24 "the Jews" are the "sending" party, and the Pharisees are some of the one's sent by "the Jews". However, John does seem to cast them in the same role in his gospel. Even as both "the Jews" (2:18; 5:10f; 6:41f; 7:1f; 8:48; 9:22; 10:24; 19:2) and "the Pharisees" (4:1; 7:32, 45, 47; 8:3, 13; 9:13f; 12:42) are opposed to Jesus, by and large, so, too are there exceptions where both "the Pharisees" (i.e. Nicodemus) and "the Jews" (6:52; 8:31; 10:19; 11:45) believe. Moreover, both seem to have a hand in the threat to ban from the synagogue anyone who confesses Jesus as the Christ (9:22; 12:42). This may suggest that there were these two distinct groups in John's day who were, by and large, opposed to seeing Jesus as their messiah, and thus John is appealing to both groups (having some believe in each group), showing that they have a choice- to believe or not to believe.

          Frank wrote:

          There were many awaited Messianic figures in first century CE Judaism. Of
          these many awaited Messianic figures, which one is the one that you speak of
          as "their messiah"?

          My response:

          Although he Jewish beliefs in a messiah like Moses and in a Prophet like Moses were, in the beginning, two entirely distinct beliefs concerning two distinct eschatological figures, it seems that these two messianic figures may have coalesced to some degree in Jesus' day. The Jews believed in the coming of a messiah who would bring about a redemption similar to that wrought by Moses, and they also believed in the coming of a Prophet like Moses who apparently would be a forerunner of the Messiah (along with Elijah). It seems to me that John is giving to Jesus all three titles- the Christ, the Prophet, and the Elijah.


          Frank wrote:
          What do you mean by "*deification* of those Scriptures"?

          My response:

          Perhaps "deification" was not the best word to use. I used it to show what John was up against in attempting to supplant the prominence of "Moses" (=Torah) in the lives of the Jewish people. Allow me to quote Claude Chavasse in the first of his two articles entitled "Jesus: Christ and Moses- I & II":

          "We Christians can have no conception of the dominance of Moses over the Jewish mind. When every action at every moment of the day was performed in obedience or in disobedience to some precept attributed to him, and when the Torah with its five books, by far the most sacred part of the Canonical Scriptures, were regarded as coming from his pen or from his lips, his figure must have filled the spiritual horizon�.

          To be the second Moses was a far greater demand upon the obedience of Israel than to be that shadowy, dimly perceived figure, the Messiah. It meant the claim to dominate the entire life of his followers. Was not Moses he to whom �Yahweh spoke face to face as a man speaketh unto his friends�? What greater claim could any Jew make?

          �This claim, then, is undoubtedly a principal part of the earliest Christian teaching, and so far as we can see it is a part of our Lord�s view of his own office and work. Moses was the Deliverer of his people, their Shepherd, their Judge, their Lawgiver, their Mediator; and if he did not die for their sins he was ready and willing to do so, for he could pray, �Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written� [Ex.32:32]. Moreover, he established a covenant between the people and God [Deut.29:10-18]. He instituted the Passover, the prototype of our Eucharist; and the miracles of the Manna and the Smitten Rock speak clearly of him who should come" ("Jesus: Christ and Moses- II", Theology 54 [August 1954] pp.294-5).

          Frank, IMO, not until one sees John the Baptist as a personification of the Law and the Prophets, as John intended, will that person understand more fully the purpose of John's gospel. The Baptist is the voice of "Moses" (=the Law and the Prophets) who is telling "the Jews" his (the Law and the Prophets) true role. He subordinates himself (=the Law and the Prophets) to Jesus. This is why he is introduced so early on in the Prologue. This is why he is cast in the role of a "witness". This is why John portrays the disciples of the Baptist (true disciples of the Law and the Prophets vs "the Jews" and their misrepresentation of the Law and the Prophets) as listening to the Baptist' voice and then following Jesus.

          Frank wrote:
          Matt, the scenario you paint above goes far beyond what the weight of the
          evidence will bear, and, so, is unlikely to reflect the actual historical
          situation.

          My response:

          Whether or not the birkhat ha minim was in play during John's time or not, I do not know. But from John's own texts he tells us that there was friction between the religious leaders and the community that he was writing about (Jn 9:22; 12:42; 16:2). I cannot claim to know when the actual writing of John's gospel took place nor to what community he was alluding. Perhaps John's gospel was written in retrospect of what had already occurred? Perhaps it was written as these events were occurring? I do not know. But that John is suggesting that there was a Christian community in strife with "the Jews" and their misinterpretation of the Law and the Prophets, and that these "Jews" and "Pharisees" were prohibiting, according to John, for Jesus to be confessed as the Christ, seems to be clear. Moreover, that John uses the OT and Pauline and Synoptic materials to defend these Christians against the arguments of "the Jews" and "the Pharisees" also seems clear. I do not think this scenario that I
          have painted misses the mark.


          Frank wrote:
          I grant that the author of John might have known of the Synoptic
          gospels and the Pauline writings. I think the evidence is too weak to make
          this thesis probable, but that it is enough to make it possible.

          However, it is quite another thing to maintain that the Synoptic gospels and
          the Pauline writings (along with the Jewish scriptures) were used, by the
          author of John, in constructing allegorical fictions, e.g., the narrative of
          the wedding feast at Cana.

          My response:

          In my paper, I attempt to demonstrate John's dependence on the Synoptic material. What makes it so difficult to convince others of John's dependence on the Synoptic material is the manner in which John uses his source material. He mixes up one source material with a myriad of other source materials so that they are not easily identified. He does so to create his allegory. Almost every word and phrase in John comes from a specific source, and sometimes from more than one source. It is not an easy task trying to work through this "helter skelter", as you called it, but neither should we allow this to deter us from doing it.

          Frank wrote:

          One problem is that, this means, the author of John and the intended readers
          of the gospel took the Synoptic gospels and the Pauline writings to be as
          authoritative as the Jewish scriptures. That is to say, this means, they
          believed the Synoptic gospels and the Pauline writings to be scriptural.
          However, none is quoted as scripture in John. This is an argument from
          silence, but I think it rather weighty nevertheless.

          My response:

          Russell Shorto, in his book "Gospel Truth", and in commenting upon the Hebrew literary device sometimes referred to as midrash and pesher, states:

          "Raymond Brown and David Aune have pointed out the similarity between the miracles of the prophet Elisha in the books of Kings. Just like his illustrious predecessor, Mark�s Jesus heals a leper, raises a young man from the dead, and multiplies loaves to feed a crowd. To the pious, these parallels are an indication of divine logic. To critical scholars such as Geza Vermes of Oxford University, they betray an �obvious dependence� of Mark and the other evangelists on the Old Testament. In the later gospels, this reliance on older models is even more pronounced. In fact, Matthew and Luke, by creatively reworking Mark, are actually using Mark in the same way Mark uses sources from the Hebrew Scriptures" (pp. 24-25).

          I have only said what Shorto has said- that the gospel writers do betray both a literary and a thematic dependence (although sometimes not so obvious at first glance) on the Old Testament, as well as a dependence upon one another, and upon Pauline material, that undercuts any type of straightforward history telling.

          Frank wrote:

          Another problem is that there is no established symbol system employed in
          writing the hypothesised fictional allegorical narratives in John. Rather,
          the symbolism is drawn helter-skelter from the entire Jewish bible, from all
          the Synoptic gospels, and from all the Pauline writings. How can any
          intended reader possibly know how to recognize and decipher the hypothesised
          fictional allegorical narratives in John?

          My response:

          Maybe there is an established symbol system that has been lost? Who knows, Frank, perhaps the Synoptic authors also used the Baptist as a personification of the Law and the Prophets? We have to allow our imaginations to run free right now, and think outside of the box, in the exploration of this interpretation that I am suggesting in order to see where it might lead. I know this is not easy for most, as we think in the manner that we have been trained. But what if our trained thinking is not the same as how the gospel authors were trained to think?

          Frank wrote:


          Matt, as you might recall, I have suggested that the narrative of the
          wedding feast at Cana does have an allegorical level of meaning and that the
          "key" to "unlocking" this allegorical level of meaning is the symbol system
          used by Philo.

          This was an established symbol system in existence at the time of the
          writing of John and it would have been readily understood by the intended
          readers if, for example, John had been written for use as a missonary text
          in Alexandria, Egypt.

          My response:

          Yes, I know of your affinity in seeing John dependent upon Philo. However, since I believe John's gospel to be directed primarily to the Jewish people, and since the Jewish people held in highest esteem "the Law and the Prophets", and since it is in "the Law and the Prophets" where the Jews would turn to for their messianic beliefs, then I believe it makes more sense for John to have appealed to these Scriptures (vs Philo) in his defense of Jesus as the Christ (Jn 20:31).

          Frank, your questions are good ones, but they do not nullify my thesis. They only prod me (and hopefully others) on to a more critical explanation of this thesis. Thank you for your questions.







          Matthew Estrada

          113 Laurel Court

          Peachtree City, Ga 30269


          ---------------------------------
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        • fmmccoy
          ... From: Matthew Estrada To: Sent: Saturday, March 06, 2004 8:55 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit]
          Message 4 of 26 , Mar 11, 2004
          • 0 Attachment
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Matthew Estrada" <matt_estrada@...>
            To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Saturday, March 06, 2004 8:55 AM
            Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Re: "bridegroom" and "ARXITRIKLINOS"

            (snip)

            Frank wrote:

            Another problem is that there is no established symbol system employed in
            writing the hypothesised fictional allegorical narratives in John. Rather,
            the symbolism is drawn helter-skelter from the entire Jewish bible, from all
            the Synoptic gospels, and from all the Pauline writings. How can any
            intended reader possibly know how to recognize and decipher the hypothesised
            fictional allegorical narratives in John?

            My response:

            Maybe there is an established symbol system that has been lost? Who knows,
            Frank, perhaps the Synoptic authors also used the Baptist as a
            personification of the Law and the Prophets? We have to allow our
            imaginations to run free right now, and think outside of the box, in the
            exploration of this interpretation that I am suggesting in order to see
            where it might lead. I know this is not easy for most, as we think in the
            manner that we have been trained. But what if our trained thinking is not
            the same as how the gospel authors were trained to think?


            Dear Matthew Estrada:

            Certainly, there are times when we ought to let our imaginations run free
            and think outside of the box. By the same token, thought, there are, IMO,
            times when we ought to test the validity of the ideas we come up.

            As you envison it, the hypothesised process of the writing of fictional
            allegorical narratives in John is very complex and sophisticated, based on
            certain passages in the Jewish scriptures, the Synoptic gospels, and the
            Pauline corpus and employing a symbol system drawn from all these texts.

            Precisely because this hypothesised process is very complex and
            sophisticated, it is, if real, most likely to be the end product of a line
            of evolution from a much simpler process. For example, perhaps it evolved
            from an earlier process of writing fictional narratives based just on
            certain passages in the Jewish scriptures and employing a simple symbol
            system drawn from just these Jewish scriptures.

            I strongly suggest that you research the Synoptic gospels, particularly
            Mark, to see if they contain any evidence of a simpler and less complex
            predecessor to the hypothesised process of the writing of fictional
            allegorical narratives in John. It would be a test, not conclusive one way
            or the other by any means (for it lacks scientific rigor), but still
            important nevertheless, of the validity of the hypothesised process of the
            writing of fictional allegorical narratives in John.

            Regards,

            Frank McCoy
            1809 N. English Apt. 15
            Maplewood, MN USA 55109
          • Matthew Estrada
            fmmccoy wrote: Dear Matthew Estrada: Certainly, there are times when we ought to let our imaginations run free and think outside of the
            Message 5 of 26 , Mar 16, 2004
            • 0 Attachment
              fmmccoy <FMMCCOY@...> wrote:


              Dear Matthew Estrada:

              Certainly, there are times when we ought to let our imaginations run free
              and think outside of the box. By the same token, thought, there are, IMO,
              times when we ought to test the validity of the ideas we come up.

              As you envison it, the hypothesised process of the writing of fictional
              allegorical narratives in John is very complex and sophisticated, based on
              certain passages in the Jewish scriptures, the Synoptic gospels, and the
              Pauline corpus and employing a symbol system drawn from all these texts.

              Precisely because this hypothesised process is very complex and
              sophisticated, it is, if real, most likely to be the end product of a line
              of evolution from a much simpler process. For example, perhaps it evolved
              from an earlier process of writing fictional narratives based just on
              certain passages in the Jewish scriptures and employing a simple symbol
              system drawn from just these Jewish scriptures.

              I strongly suggest that you research the Synoptic gospels, particularly
              Mark, to see if they contain any evidence of a simpler and less complex
              predecessor to the hypothesised process of the writing of fictional
              allegorical narratives in John. It would be a test, not conclusive one way
              or the other by any means (for it lacks scientific rigor), but still
              important nevertheless, of the validity of the hypothesised process of the
              writing of fictional allegorical narratives in John.


              My response:

              Thanks, Frank, for this suggestion. I do have another example of a fictional allegorical narrative interpreted/created by Luke that I would be glad to send to you offlist, if you would like to read it.

              Just for the record, the following are some of my propositions for interpreting the Cana Miracle as a fictional allegory:

              1) The Cana Wedding Story is a symbolic story of Jesus- the Lamb- wedding the people of God via his death and resurrection.

              2) The Cana Wedding Story is a symbolic story of Jesus both uniting and transforming the dispensation of the Law and the Prophets into the dispensation of the Holy Spirit via his death and resurrection.

              3) The Cana Wedding Story symbolizes a spiritual famine for the Word of God now having been quenched via Jesus' death and resurrection.

              4) The phrase "What between me and you" is taken from the famine situation as described in I Kings 17.

              5) The phrase "Do whatever he tells you" is borrowed from the famine situation as described in Genesis 41 (vs 55).

              6) John alludes to the famine situation of the Word of God as described in Amos 8:11ff, and to its' quenching, as described in Amos 9:13ff, via his abundance of wine.

              7) The word "water" in Jn 1:26,31,33; 2:7,9; 3:5; 4:7,13,15; and 1 Jn 5:6,8 symbolizes "the Law and the Prophets" or "the Father's means of revelation".

              8) The word "wine" in Jn 2 symbolizes "the Holy Spirit", and as such, is being compared/contrasted to "the Law and the Prophets" even as John the author had done in Jn 1:33; 3:5; 4:13-14 and 1 Jn 5:6-8.

              9) The phrase "the third day" in Jn 2:1 alludes to Jesus' resurrection.

              10) The "mother of Jesus", also referred to as "woman", symbolizes the OT people of God, who gives birth to Jesus and believes in him.

              11) Both John the Baptist and Moses, having been identified with "water", are personifications of "the Law and the Prophets" in John's gospel. Thus when we read of the Baptist' testimony that Jesus is the Christ we are really reading of the testimony of "the Law and the Prophets".

              12) That "the Jews" in John's gospel are a specific group in John's day who misinterpret "the Law and the prophets" and refuse to see Jesus as the Christ.

              13) That the phrase "my hour" in Jn 2:4 refers to Jesus' hour of crucifixion and resurrection.

              14) That the phrase "his glory" in Jn 2:11 refers to Jesus' glorification on the cross and in his resurrection.

              15) That the "six, stone jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial cleansing" in Jn 2:6 symbolizes the "imperfect Law as administered by the Jews" as described in II Cor 3.

              16) That the filling of these jars with "water" symbolizes "time" passing before our eyes. When the jars are "filled to the brim", which can be translated "to the end of a period of time", then has the dispensation of "the Law and the prophets" come to an end, then has Jesus' hour come (cf Jn 2:4), then is the "water" transformed into "wine", and his "glory" revealed.

              17) That John uses as some of his source materials in the writing of the Cana miracle a conglomeration of the following: the creation story in Genesis 1-3, Ex 2:10-25; 4:30-31; Mk 2:13-22; Mt 9:9-17; 22:1-4; Lk 5:27-39, I Kings 17; Genesis 41; Amos 8:11-12; 9:13-15; Joel 1:5,10; 2:19,24, 28-32; 3:18; II Cor 3; Gal 4:4-6.

              18) That Luke, in Acts 2, reveals his knowledge of John's Cana Miracle Allegory, using, the same way John did, "wine" to symbolize "the Holy Spirit".

              I do not claim to have "proved" that my interpretation is the correct one. However, I do claim to provide a working hypothesis that may convince many that my interpretation is on the right track. Thanks, again, Frank, for seriously looking at my proposal.




              Matthew Estrada

              113 Laurel Court

              Peachtree City, Ga 30269

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