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Re: [John_Lit] Presuppositions and the Fourth Gospel (was: Mysticism and Johannine Studies.

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  • Matthew Estrada
    Hello Frides and Elaine (and others), I tend to date the fourth gospel later- written sometime after the Synoptics- but not excluding the possibility that the
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 27, 2004
      Hello Frides and Elaine (and others),

      I tend to date the fourth gospel later- written sometime after the Synoptics- but not excluding the possibility that the author was an eyewitness. However, the possibility of the author being an eyewitness does not necessitate that he recorded literal-historical events. My own opinion is that he created stories based on Jesus' life and teachings to communicate his own, and his community's, christian beliefs, and in contrast to the beliefs of "the Jews" who rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

      In John 3, Nicodemus (which comes from two greek words- nikos and demos= conqueror of the people), comes to Jesus "at night" (symbolizing his, and the Jews, own spiritual darkness). After seeing Jesus perform miracles, he asks about "the kingdom of God" (the Jews conception of "the kingdom of God"- the Jews ruling over the nations). How do we know Nicodemus was asking about "the kingdom of God"? We know this from Jesus' response. Twice Jesus states, "You cannot see the kingdom of God...", "You cannot enter the kingdom of God...". Jesus states you must be "born again" to enter "the kingdom of God". The word "born" alludes back to Jn 1:12, where John tells his readers that those who believe in Jesus (not those who are born of natural descent or of human decision or of a husband's will) are "born of God". The Egyptian meaning of Moses' name means "is born". Thus John is telling "Nicodemus" (who is symbolic of the Jews) that to "enter the kingdom of God" one must be "born" not of "water"
      only, but of "water and the Spirit". To understand John's meaning, one must understand his "water" symbolism. As I argue in my paper, "water" in John stands for "the Law and the Prophets", of whom Moses was the first and the greatest. John uses both Moses and John the Baptist as symbols/personifications of the Law and the Prophets, and ties both to his "water" symbolism. Thus John has Jesus telling the Jews/Nicodemus that it is not enough to be "born" (=meaning of Moses' name) of "water"/the Law and the Prophets. They must also be "born" of the Spirit, of which Jesus is the giver (Jn 1:33). How is one born of the Spirit? By believing in Jesus. Thus John is again telling the Jews that it is not enough to believe in the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets testify that Jesus is the Messiah. Therefore, to enter into the kingdom of God, they must receive Jesus as their Messiah.

      You can read my paper on Joe Gagne's website at the following link:

      Q Bee <artforms@...> wrote:
      On 7/26/04 11:41 AM, "Frides Lam�ris" wrote:

      > Frides
      > In order to weigh Stanfords arguments I would need to know (more)
      > about the presuppositions with which he approaches Gospel of John.
      > I generally follow J.A.T. Robinsons approach, already started in his
      > his famous 1957 Oxford paper 'The New Look on the Fourth Gospel',
      > and continued in his 'Priority of John' (1984).
      >> It seems highly unlikely that the story is a literal retelling of an
      > actual event, but the author's devise to drive home a point.
      > Frides
      > You are following Stanford here, or this is your own opinion?
      > Also behind this seemingly innocent statement there may ly a whole
      > world of (pre)suppositions.
      Dear Frides,

      After several pages of discourse on the subtleties and nuance of the fine
      Greek of the original, Sanford adds this statement (regarding Nicodemus'
      question 'Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born again?':

      We cannot be sure whether Nicodemus actually asked this question of
      Jesus or if our author put it into his mouth as an artistic devise.
      In either case, the question gives Jesus an opportunity to expand
      upon the meaning of being born again:"
      (Mystical Christianity - A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John)

      So, after carefully crafting the nuances of Greek and demonstrating how,
      essentially it is a play on the Greek word 'anothen', Sanford covers his
      options by writing in a disclaimer. (Typical academic failsafe system)

      We are forced to ask the questions, 'Was Jesus speaking Greek?' or possibly,
      'Is Aramaic so closely aligned to Greek that the same word would
      transliterate with this nuance?'.

      > If this gospel is written by a close ally of Jesus, and contains material
      > dating from very early stages of Jesus' public performance, on the basis
      > of memory, it can't be excluded that at least parts of the material (incl.
      > conversations) may come historically (very) close to the original wording.
      I agree that it is highly likely that the 'story' is based on something that
      Jesus taught. How this is later set into a context that is taught to Greek
      speaking people leave much room for speculation.

      > A lot of opinions may be related to dating matters of this gospel.
      > I would go for a possibly very early date of this gospel (following
      > A.F.J. Klijn : that once we accept that there is no reference in this gospel
      > to the actual destruction of Jerusalem (in 70), there is no material in this
      > gospel that enforces a late date, so we can theoretically move back
      > as much as we want or dare.
      I would also tend to agree on a possible early dating of the gospel.

      Even if the material presented is an author's devise this does not preclude
      the possibility that the author was a close associate and eye witness. One
      who has reached a certain level of understanding of the scope of Jesus'
      teaching through long personal association might also grasp the importance
      of making word play a part of the structure of the material. It is not
      beyond the scope of possibilities that the author would seek to tantalize
      the minds of their potential audience through such devices. This writer is
      obviously a mystical thinker capable of coaxing out mechanisms that unlock
      doors to higher spirituality.



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