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Re: [John_Lit] Two Potential Threads

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  • Bill Bullin
    ... there s hardly any harm if someone wishes the group a Happy Easter (which any group member can simply ignore, if he or she wishes), - unless, of course,
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 15, 2004
      > Considering the prominence of Jesus' resurrection in John's Gospel,
      there's hardly any harm if someone wishes the group a "Happy Easter" (which
      any group member can simply ignore, if he or she wishes), - unless, of
      course, people really wanted to discuss the Johannine concept of
      resurrection, in contrast to the Synoptics, or whatever.
      > Peace to one and all (in the sense of John 20:19, of course)!
      > Felix

      As a simple Christian, trying to do my best with New Testament studies,
      theology, philosophy, global politics and spirituality-poetry all in the
      real world, may I be permitted to confess that this has been one of the most
      miserable and bitter Easter's for me yet; Iraq, Palestine / Israel, rising
      organised racism in Britain and Islamaphobia, hostages threatened. We had a
      dozen international students to our home Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian, African
      and I was the cook. Although I could not face church myself, I drove a van
      of the Christian students to a variety of Easter churches services,
      Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc. (quite a crucified body) before then we
      ate, and then I drove the Christian ones to see Mel Gibson's Passion
      (released in our town on Good Friday); declining to participate, (yet) I
      asked them to tell me later if I should see the film and if it led from
      passion to compassion or merely anger, guilt and anti-semetism.

      My seven acts of defiant, audacious worship were to: (1) pray to 'The Most
      Merciful" for mercy on the Japanese hostages, (2) to drive to and from
      numerous church services but to attend none, to listen to a young Tibetan
      woman talk about Tibetan young men who talk of becoming suicide bombers to
      liberate their land from the Chinese and talk to her about the Dali Lama,
      Gandhi and Jesus;(3) to turn my back on Mel Gibson in favour of the washing
      up; (4) to walk past our local school with a rubbish bag picking up crisp
      packets and empty coke cans, (6) to stick a daffodil in a vinegar bottle sat
      on the following pile of books: Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman
      Empire; Rubenstein and Roth, Approaches to Auschwitz; Martin Gilbert, The
      Holocaust; Robert Ellsberg, Gandhi on Christinaity; Albert Luthuli, Let My
      People Go; Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters; Kenneth Kaunda, On Violence;
      Sheila Cassidy, Audacity to Believe; Tatsuichiro Akizuki, Nagasaki 1945;
      Palden Gyatso, Fire Under the Snow; Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and
      the Last Man; Robin Cook, the Point of Departure; Naim Ateek, Justice and
      Only Justice; (7) to thank "The Most Merciful" for sparing the Japanese

      My Johannine points are these:

      (1) Can we really do justice to an engagement with the Johannine literature
      purely 'scientifically' and 'positivistically' whilst ignoring our
      historical context and the Johannine historical context (which I personally
      date, rather controvertially, around the time of the siege of Jerusalem but
      written from the relative safety of Alexandria rather than in the 85-100
      period)? We live on a pin-prick of a planet that exists like a mere breath
      in the vast aeons of time and space. If it is claimed that the Johannine
      Jesus died not merely to save my white skin, nor my nation, nor my
      generation, nor my planet but the entire Cosmos which he had first
      participated in creating, do I believe that the time into which I was born,
      the body I was born with, the colour of my skin, my country of birth, the
      parents I was born too, and the name I was given were mere accidents of
      birth? (a) yes; (b) I don't know; (c) I believe I was destined, my birth was
      written in the very stars of heaven; (d) I have been abandoned to my fate by
      a blind atomic clock maker; (e), I believe a loving Parent created me and
      all other relationships flow from this; (f) something else.

      Just over a year ago I was returning home by train from an anti-war
      demonstration in London. A young man stood up in the coach as we were
      travelling and he began to fume about the anti-war demonstrators. Most
      people tried to ignore him, my anti war placard did not provide me with this
      option. He goose-stepped about demanding to know people's views and claiming
      that our country was being ruined by immigration; he was very frightening
      and intimidating, it was as if he had been trained to frighten and
      intimidate, he was frightening women and children including my nine year old
      son; he frightened me but the most frightening thing was that I couldn't
      think how best to deal with him; I suppose I could have punched his lights
      out, after all I was twice his age but that would have hardly been
      compatible with my banner would it? He called me "filthy scum" in front of
      the carrage and my family. From nowhere I asked him the question: "Do you
      believe that the colour of your skin and the country you were born in and
      the parents you were born to was an accident of birth?" He looked at me as
      if he would have killed me if he had a knife in his pocket; I though he we
      was going to spit in my face but instead he just sat down. Hmmm.

      For me this kind of experience drives me back to the Johannine Jesus for
      answers to real questions; so this is my second question:

      (2) Did the Johannine Jesus or the Evangelist view 'the Father' in
      anthropomorphic terms or in some other way, can God be moral and Parental
      without being anthropomorphic, cf. Immanuel Kant: "Two things fill the mind
      with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more
      steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above an the moral law
      within", cited by Helmut Thielicke, Man in God's World, James Clarke,
      (1967), 22; and in conjunction with this, is it pertinent that the Fourth
      Evangelist uses the term 'the Father' 73 times (73 gematria of Hb. CHOKMAH,
      the statistic is cited by James Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, (1985), 44.
      Dunn provides the following statistical table:

      'Father' Mark: x 3; Q x 4; Luke x 4; Matthew x 31; John 100 (10 squared).

      'The Father' Mark 1; Q x 1; Luke x 2; Matthew x 1; John x 73 (Wisdom?).

      To cite Thielicke again:

      "This is also what Paul is driving at in those enigmatic phrases in which he
      speaks of the world as being created "through" Jesus Christ. What he means
      is that God is never an impersonal first cause in the process of cosmology,
      but that from the first moment of his creative action he was creating
      towards the "thou" to whom he willed to be related as a father and whom he
      desired to walk before him as his child. "Jesus Christ in the creation"
      points mysteriously to this original relationship of father and child,to
      this will to fellowship in God, which determined his actions from the very
      first moment and which is stillthe very first goal of salvation and the end
      of history", p.30.

      If the Fourth Gospel refers to 'Father' exactly 100 times, is it a mere
      coincidence that the First Epistle is compose of exactly 100 sentences; if
      not, which came first, the chicken or the egg, (I apologise for this Easter
      celebration type digression).

      Correction: In an earlier posting I referred to I Cor. using the term 'all
      things' (PANTA) 26 times. In fact there are only 25 examples, but three
      additional variants giving 28 times in total, 28 being the seventh triangle
      number, a perfect number and, incidentally, the number of times the
      Apocalypse of John refers to the Lamb (see very recent posting); I apologise
      for my mistake. Presumably the equivelent Hebrew term would be KOL (Kap,
      Lamed, by gematria 20 and 30, rather like the Essene cycle of Jubilee years
      each of exactly 364 days each, and linked to the coming of the Messiah and
      Messianic expectations). Incidentally has anyone heard of a theory that the
      Hebrews originally had seven month years, each of 50 days, with two
      additional festival weeks giving 52 weeks or 364 days in total?

      Bill Bullin (Private Student, East Sussex, England).
    • Mike Grondin
      ... Seems to me, Bill, that there s various types of engagement with textual material. The particular type of engagement that we re ... um ... engaged in
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 15, 2004
        --- Bill Bullin wrote:
        > (1) Can we really do justice to an engagement with the Johannine
        > literature purely 'scientifically' and 'positivistically' whilst
        > ignoring our historical context and the Johannine historical
        > context ...

        Seems to me, Bill, that there's various types of "engagement" with
        textual material. The particular type of engagement that we're ...
        um ... engaged in here, is of course a scholarly and intellectual
        one - which means (in answer to your question) that for our purposes
        the Johannine historical context is highly relevant, but our own
        historical context mostly not (in the way I think you meant that).
        Our own context is in the background, of course - no getting around
        that - and our commentary is inevitably self-interested, but we're
        not here to trade life experiences, interesting as they may be.
        If one feels that a scholarly engagement with these texts is too
        limited, it's easy enough to find alternative venues where other
        kinds of engagement are welcomed.

        Mike Grondin
        Mt. Clemens, MI
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