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[John_Lit] Re: Symbolic or "ersatz"?

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    In a message dated 1/20/2000 11:14:34 AM Eastern Standard Time, Moloneyfj@aol.com writes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2000
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      In a message dated 1/20/2000 11:14:34 AM Eastern Standard Time,
      Moloneyfj@... writes:

      << Leonard Maluf raises the question of "historical versus symbolic" in the
      Fourth Gospel, via the examples of John 13:23 and 19:25-27, using the
      unfortunate word "ersatz."

      Frank, I empathize with your undoubtedly busy schedule at CU, but you do not
      appear to have read my post carefully. I used the term "ersatz" only as a
      modifier for "mother" and "son", under the presupposition (not shared by me)
      of this particular Johannine account being taken as "historical". Your reply
      seems to assume that I used the term with respect to the pericope as a whole
      (whatever it would mean in that context) and that I consider the account to
      be historical. What I wrote was the following:

      << If I understand it correctly, I am not sure I accept the logic here. Are
      saying that because of the strong physicality of the term usually translated
      "recline" it is unlikely that the BD is other than an historical person? If
      so, I'm not sure I agree. In a highly symbolic Gospel, concrete and physical
      language can certainly be used metaphorically, or symbolically, to express a
      more spiritual reality or relationship. At least this should remain a viable
      a priori option, I would think. The same applies to the entire scene in Jn
      19:25f, which takes its place within a series of physically described
      occurences, all with deeply symbolic and spiritual significations. Can one
      interpret Jn 19:25f alone as having the purely banal intent of supplying an
      ersatz mother to the son of Zebedee and an ersatz son to Mary? If you haven't
      done so already, you should look at I. de la Potterie, "Mary in the Mystery
      of the Covenant", Alba House, 1992, 211-235, for a well-argued alternative

      You write:

      << While one must always keep an eye on the "historical," if John 19:25-27 is
      genuine historical reminiscence of the Beloved Disciple and Jesus' Mother at
      the foot of the cross, then what do we make of the Synoptic passion
      narratives? >>

      I don't know whom you are arguing with here, but I am not among those who
      need to be convinced. I quite agree with what you write, and this was the
      precise point of my remarks.

      << I have read de la Potterie, and I was taught by him - a course at the
      Biblicum in 1971 on John 18-19! There are (at least) two stages in his
      career. The book on Mary reflects a later stage, where he takes positions
      which he rejected as impossible (for the sorts of reasons given above) in
      earlier teaching and research.>>

      I'm not sure everyone on the list gets the point of this remark, so I will
      clarify. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that de la Potterie
      used to take Jn 19:25f as a purely symbolic (theologically pregnant) scene,
      but that in his more recent books he has changed his mind and reads it as an
      historical account. I think this is partially true: i.e., in the sense that
      he now seems to refrain from making clear the difficulty of taking the
      account in a literal, historical sense. On the other hand, he has by no means
      abandoned the symbolic interpretation of the text. In this sense, your
      remark, I think, could give the wrong impression.


      Again, I never described the scene as "ersatz". Also, again, I agree fully
      with your perspective, and I don't think it differs substantially from what
      de la Potterie holds. Because he writes mostly for conservative circles these
      days, he is simply more circumspect than we need to be about apodictically
      denying the historicity of the event. I am grateful for people who are able
      to communicate with parts of Christ's seamless body that have not yet emerged
      from a certain degree of fundamentalism. At least these people are reading de
      la Potterie, and that can be a good start toward a more mature understanding,
      and ultimately toward more effective unity in the body of Christ.

      Leonard Maluf
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