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Re: [John_Lit] Re: Acts 7 speech and 4G convergences?

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  • Bill Bullin
    Dear David Let me deal with the easier question of A. Q. Morton and J McLeman first. St Andrew s Press is, or at least was, the small publishing wing of the
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 16 4:31 AM
      Dear David

      Let me deal with the easier question of A. Q. Morton and J McLeman first.

      St Andrew's Press is, or at least was, the small publishing wing of the
      Church of Scotland; although not well known
      beyond Scotland's borders. The book is probably out of print now, (219 pp).
      I obtained my copy in a sale many years ago but the price I paid does not,
      in my view, reflect its real value. I will happily send you my copy on lone
      and if you have time you could perhaps do a little review for List readers;
      if it is considered worthy, perhaps somone somewhere might do a reprint.

      Now the harder question(s).

      > Could you say a little about what you mean by 'Wisdom Gospel'? Is
      > John a Wisdom Gospel in a way that the synoptics are not? And if so,
      > why? What makes his so wise? Also, what relationship, if any, does
      > 4G have to the the words and deeds of (I hesitate to say 'the
      > historical') Jesus? What process might 4G's tradition have gone
      > through in becoming wise?
      >
      First let me preface my comments by saying that I may be wrong. I admit I
      have been feeling my way in the dark, but I put these comments forward to
      be honed by better minds than mine, or else falsified. I will number my
      comments for ease of reference. I should also say that this is nothing to do
      with material like 'The Bible Code'" or uncritical theories of biblical
      inspiration by passing authorial intent. On the other hand I have no reason
      to think the Johannine evangelist was being 'untrue'
      which would make his commited emphasis on Johannine truth a bizarre parody.
      Out task is to try to understand the depths of his Truth which is no mean
      task, not to make him out to be a liar (1 John 2:4 etc).

      (1) What I am not saying is that the Fourth Gospel is "better" or "wiser"
      (in the common sense meaning of the word wise), but that it is significantly
      different from the Synoptics not merely in content but in literary style
      which cannot be seperated out from spiritual style and the spiritual mindset
      of the evangelist; all four Evangelists, it seems to me, would have
      considered that they wrote before 'an open heaven' and whoever their first
      human audiences were, their primary audience was the heavenly and divine
      one. I am using the word 'Wisdom' in a more technical sense and I am feeling
      my way towards a technical definition.
      To use a crude analogy it might help to explain what I mean by saying that
      it is as if the Synoptics were written in prose but the Fourth Gospel was
      written in poetry with some echoes of this found in, for example, the Sermon
      on the Mount.

      (2) This poetry is, it seems to me, very mathematical and Hebrew, rather
      like some classical music but it was readily adapted into Greek and
      resonates with some Pythagorean ideas which Pythagoras may have picked up
      from other Middle Eastern cultures during his reported travels. We are
      familiar with the concept of the literary chiasm but it seems to me that
      this might relate to the mathematical beauty of number chiasms for example
      LOGOS ~ 373. We find this poetic style in the Psalms and Proverbs but it
      becomes more sophisticated in the Higher Wisdom literature running in
      parallel with the tendency to personify Wisdom. To take up the musical
      analogy, William Wallace apparently composed his Creation Symphony using 258
      bars of music quite deliberately because 258 is three times 86 which is the
      gematria of Elohim. I suspect that the Fourth Evangelist was doing something
      very similar and that this would have had a huge appeal to certain
      audiences, most probably Greek speaking Jews who could think in Hebrew and
      Greek terms; not everyone would get everything but this did not matter,
      particularly if the Fourth Gospel was originally composed as a central
      source for evangelists and chatechists who were themselves taught.

      As well as poetic and mathematical, this Wisdom style is deeply symbolic,
      emphasising the yearning for cosmic re-harmony, or in Synoptic terms, the
      coming of the Kingdom of God; the re-unification of heaven and earth. In
      other words it is not merely about personal salvation but about the groaning
      and ultimate renewal of all creation. I suspect this style reflects one
      strand of Second Temple Judaism which, while not at all opposed to the
      Torah, read it much less legalistically and more idealistically: "be ye
      perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect". I suspect it might also relate
      to the calindrical disputes between different branches of Second Temple
      Judaism since the Enochian solar calendar is more harmonic, 52 weeks (twice
      the number of YHWH ~ 26, a year of two halves, a chiasm of seasons) of a
      perfect year of seven day weeks, and the Jubilee and Enochian literature
      seems highly concerned that cosmic order will be desrupted by the adoption
      of the luni-solar calendar. It may also relate to the Tabernacle / Temple
      imagery, the cubic holy of holies, the seven branched cadlestick sharing 22
      buds between seven branches (Pi), a Johannine theme.

      (3) This model, it seems to me, helps explain why the Evangelist limits
      himself in the way he does. Why no parables? They are a form of the Wisdom
      tradition but they are not strictly poetic; why the repeated use of certain
      key words ( Father, one, born, blindness, glory, name, sent etc.)? It is as
      if they are the heart beat of the all wise Father, 73 uses of 'the Father'.
      Instead our Evangelist chooses a few themes and weaves them around in a
      christological musical, mathematical, poetic epic seeking to re-inforce the
      message that Jesus was Wisdom Incarnate. In this sense I suppose we could
      liken the Fourth Gospel to a film and the evangelist to a film director. The
      narrative sections are less sophisticated as they move the plot forward
      while the speeches and dialogue are far more simple and yet sophisticated.
      It would be nice to demonstrate that the Prologue reflects the Shema through
      the use of 1118 letters and that it begins with an echo of Genesis 1:1 thus
      linking it to the very early 1 Cor 8:6 but, alas, the Prologue's letter
      count is hard to demonstrate.

      (4) As I have said, I do not believe this style is completly innovative. It
      seems to operate around certain key numbers and these appear to be linked to
      divine names and their numbers. As Bauckham demonstrates, square triangle
      and rectangular numbers held a certain fascination but 26 is central as it
      is the number of YHWH. It is worth asking when this Name first starts
      getting introduced into the Hebrew Bible, raising all kinds of critical
      issues. It also raised problems for the ancients who, without source
      critical tools, had to explain why Elohim rather than YHWH was present 'in
      the beginning'. 'Chokmah' proved to be fascinating because on a consecutive
      count of the Hebrew letters it yields 37 but on the method known to the
      Greek is yields 73. Seven and three were already special numbers in Near
      Eastern cultures as is reflected in for example the Epic of Gigamesh. New
      Testament christology with its emphasis of divine names seems to relate
      directly to this tradition and for this reason I do not think 'high
      christology' need mean 'late christology' in fact it may mean very early
      christology linked to messianic expectations prior to the public appearance
      of Jesus.

      (5) How we move from Johannine style and theology to the historical Jesus
      and the Jesus of the Synoptics is even less easy.
      There seems to be something of a superficial agreement that Jesus was
      somehow related to wisdom sayings either at one end of the continuum as a
      wandering Jewish Cynic or else as a self-discovering self-revealing person
      who identified himself with Wisdom incarnate. Personally I think anyone
      capable of writing such a sophisticated Gospel ( no pejorative comparative
      with the Synoptics intended), is unlikely to have been a Galilean fisherman,
      but might well have been a rich young ruler, or a 'John' also known as
      'Mark', or both. I think his role may have been at least comparable with
      that of St Paul and that his life might well have been in constant danger,
      requiring his actual identity to be concealed, particularly if he had some
      public status in pre- war Palestine. Personally I pitch myself somewhere
      between Ben Witherington III, and N.T. Wright and think what Crossan sees as
      Cynicism is actually a yet to be excavated Jewish-Greek Wisdom Mysticism. In
      christological terms I find myself operating in a dialogue between Larry
      Hurtado, Margaret Barker, Martin Hengel. I have postponed making up my mind
      on the synoptic problem between the Q hypothesis and Matthean priority but I
      think there is a 'ditch of missing history' between our New Testament
      documents and witnesses like Papias, Ignatius, Justin and Irenaeus that
      suggests to me a massive wipe out of available Christian testimony
      surrounding the two Jewish War and there aftermaths, eg an early and lost
      Jewish-Christian presence in Alexandria.

      (6) I suspect the pre-Christian tradition I refer to may relate to what some
      scholars describe as pre-Christian Gnosticism, and also to Jewish and
      Samaritan amulet and magical traditions and the Greek magical traditions
      and papyri in a much developed form. This would explain why the Fourth
      Gospel was found to be so attractive to the second century Gnostics and so
      difficult for emerging second century catholicism as attested in the
      development of the Christian canon.. Personally I would see the Fourth
      Gospel as the pinnacle of this tradition but this is a subjective matter.
      The Apocalypse of John is sometimes considered to be part of the Johannine
      literature despite its evident differences. Although I am not arguing for
      common authorship th4G and the Apocalypse do share a fascination with
      numbers. This is why I argue that wisdom and apocalyptic material should not
      be viewed as polar opposites: the Apocalyptic is merely Wisdom material in
      socio-spiritual crisis or kairos times. The true anthithesis of both seems
      to me to be an overly rigid legalism.

      (7) For a variety of personal reasons people often have a "favourite
      Gospel", and this choice may change with time and personal development.
      Those who find the Fourth Gospel most appealing may not simply be drawn to
      its content but also to its style, (incidentally, I have often been told
      that the Fourth Gospel has greater appeal in the Indian sub-continent so
      there may be both personal and cultural issues at work).

      I am conscious that this posting has been too long, once again taxing the
      moderator's patience, but I have tried to make a start at answering your
      penetrating questions whilst staying on topic. If you would like to borrow
      the Morton and McLeman book I will send it to you my snail mail if you can
      confirm your full institution address, (off-list).

      Bill Bullin (East Sussex, Private Student).
    • David Trapero
      Bill B. wrote: ... or wiser ... significantly ... style ... spiritual mindset ... I think we can all agree with the above statement. ; all four Evangelists,
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 19 10:14 AM
        Bill B. wrote:>
        > (1) What I am not saying is that the Fourth Gospel is "better"
        or "wiser"
        > (in the common sense meaning of the word wise), but that it is
        significantly
        > different from the Synoptics not merely in content but in literary
        style
        > which cannot be seperated out from spiritual style and the
        spiritual mindset
        > of the evangelist

        I think we can all agree with the above statement.

        ; all four Evangelists, it seems to me, would have
        > considered that they wrote before 'an open heaven' and whoever
        their first
        > human audiences were, their primary audience was the heavenly and
        divine
        > one.

        Bill, I love this idea. It inspires me. I want to believe it.
        Could you give me some examples/hints in the texts which support it?

        I am using the word 'Wisdom' in a more technical sense and I am
        feeling
        > my way towards a technical definition.
        > To use a crude analogy it might help to explain what I mean by
        saying that
        > it is as if the Synoptics were written in prose but the Fourth
        Gospel was
        > written in poetry with some echoes of this found in, for example,
        the Sermon
        > on the Mount.

        J. Jeremias and others have demonstrated that many/most of Jesus'
        synoptic sayings/teachings are Hebraic poetry. This is true whether
        in Greek or whether we reconstruct the original Aramaic.
        >
        > (2) This poetry is, it seems to me, very mathematical and Hebrew,
        rather
        > like some classical music but it was readily adapted into Greek and
        > resonates with some Pythagorean ideas which Pythagoras may have
        picked up
        > from other Middle Eastern cultures during his reported travels. We
        are
        > familiar with the concept of the literary chiasm but it seems to me
        that
        > this might relate to the mathematical beauty of number chiasms for
        example
        > LOGOS ~ 373. We find this poetic style in the Psalms and Proverbs
        but it
        > becomes more sophisticated in the Higher Wisdom literature running
        in
        > parallel with the tendency to personify Wisdom. To take up the
        musical
        > analogy, William Wallace apparently composed his Creation Symphony
        using 258
        > bars of music quite deliberately because 258 is three times 86
        which is the
        > gematria of Elohim. I suspect that the Fourth Evangelist was doing
        something
        > very similar and that this would have had a huge appeal to certain
        > audiences, most probably Greek speaking Jews who could think in
        Hebrew and
        > Greek terms; not everyone would get everything but this did not
        matter,
        > particularly if the Fourth Gospel was originally composed as a
        central
        > source for evangelists and chatechists who were themselves taught.

        When you say "not everyone would get everything" what does "get"
        mean? What would these numerical calculations do for the initiated?
        How would it change or enhance their lives? What difference would it
        make? Are we talking about something roughly equivalent to "speaking
        in tongues"? Is this an ecstatic experience? Does the contemplation
        of these numbers enable the intitiated to go deeper into a trance-
        like/meditative state? What is the function of the use of these
        numbers? And if they're optional, why go to all the trouble?
        >
        > As well as poetic and mathematical, this Wisdom style is deeply
        symbolic,
        > emphasising the yearning for cosmic re-harmony, or in Synoptic
        terms, the
        > coming of the Kingdom of God; the re-unification of heaven and
        earth. In
        > other words it is not merely about personal salvation but about the
        groaning
        > and ultimate renewal of all creation. I suspect this style reflects
        one
        > strand of Second Temple Judaism which, while not at all opposed to
        the
        > Torah, read it much less legalistically and more
        idealistically: "be ye
        > perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect". I suspect it might
        also relate
        > to the calindrical disputes between different branches of Second
        Temple
        > Judaism since the Enochian solar calendar is more harmonic, 52
        weeks (twice
        > the number of YHWH ~ 26, a year of two halves, a chiasm of seasons)
        of a
        > perfect year of seven day weeks, and the Jubilee and Enochian
        literature
        > seems highly concerned that cosmic order will be desrupted by the
        adoption
        > of the luni-solar calendar.

        Why do we find none of these concerns with dates and calenders and
        numbers in Acts? Or for that matter anywhere else in the NT (except
        of course Revelation)? Why even in 4G do we not find external
        reference to these issues of competing calenders of 52 weeks, etc.?

        It may also relate to the Tabernacle / Temple
        > imagery, the cubic holy of holies, the seven branched cadlestick
        sharing 22
        > buds between seven branches (Pi), a Johannine theme.
        >
        > (3) This model, it seems to me, helps explain why the Evangelist
        limits
        > himself in the way he does.

        That the evangelist limits himself is quite an understatement. It's
        as if he is doing optical laser surgery! IMHO he is fully aware of
        the ground that has been well covered by the synoptics and has no
        need to go over it again. In some ways he has a collection of
        material similar to what we refer to as Luke's Special Material.
        Imagine an entire Gospel composed of Johannine Special material,
        material generated during the second half of Jesus' ministry (except
        chapters 1-4), during brief solo trips to Jerusalem where he
        addressed crowds in Greek.

        Why no parables?

        Why no parables in John? Been there, done that. By the second year
        of his ministry, when Jesus returns to Jerusalem, the locals can
        quote his parables back to him verbatim! The parables are old news!
        John the B. is either languishing in prison or has just been executed
        (Jn.5:33-35), the twelve are on a missionary journey and the leaders
        of Judea have hardened in their resistence to this would-be Galilean
        prophet. In this context, Jesus tries a new tactic and begins
        addressing the festival crowds directly in Greek, speaking about
        Judgment and resurrection and his Father-Son relationship. This is
        new, a new tactic and a new phase in his ministry.

        They are a form of the Wisdom
        > tradition but they are not strictly poetic; why the repeated use of
        certain
        > key words ( Father, one, born, blindness, glory, name, sent etc.)?
        It is as
        > if they are the heart beat of the all wise Father, 73 uses of 'the
        Father'.

        And maybe this is the heartbeat of the Hellenist disciples which
        share with Jesus an appreciation for these words/themes/repetitions?
        I don't know about numbers but there does seem to be a lot of
        repetition in 4G... could this have something to do with ascending
        and descending and approaching the the chariot throne? My
        pentecostal friends use a lot of repetition when they pray as a kind
        of preparation for ecstatic experience.

        > Instead our Evangelist chooses a few themes and weaves them around
        in a
        > christological musical, mathematical, poetic epic seeking to re-
        inforce the
        > message that Jesus was Wisdom Incarnate. In this sense I suppose we
        could
        > liken the Fourth Gospel to a film and the evangelist to a film
        director.

        I see evidence of significant structural/editorial work in 4G. This
        would include cutting, pasting, rearranging, paraphrasing. The thing
        is seething with chiasms, chaisms within chiasms. They're everywhere!

        My question is, to use your film analogy, is the director shooting a
        movie or a documentary or an art film?

        My own take on 4G is that some of the discourses (6,15-17 in
        particular) are highly embellished/developed but that the author is
        working with tradition/sources that he is confident are reliable
        (have their basis in the life of Jesus, i.e. are not pious fiction).
        Everything has been homogonized to some extent but nothing has been
        created ex-nihilo. Historically, 4G has no apologies to make to the
        synoptics. They are on a level playing field. And, in some
        instances, 4G, kicks their bums!

        The
        > narrative sections are less sophisticated as they move the plot
        forward
        > while the speeches and dialogue are far more simple and yet
        sophisticated.

        I'd like to give credit to Jesus for this way of addressing the Greek
        speaking crowds during the feasts in Jerusalem. He is simultaneously
        modelling and describing his Father-Son relationship and giving an
        example to his followers of what it means to submit to the Father as
        a little child submits to his/her earthly father. It's the same
        Jesus, same theology, different teaching method under different
        circumstances and a vastly different audience.

        Kindly,

        David

        David Trapero M.Div.
        818 2nd St. PL NE #95
        Hickory, NC 28601
        Dtrap303@...
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