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Re: [John_Lit] Re: Tom Butler's theory on the BD [was 'Paraclete']

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  • Tom Butler
    ... contend that in Jn. 12: 1-8 Mary of Bethany was ordained to maintain the tradition of the death of Jesus, not that she was commissioned to anoint
    Message 1 of 120 , Oct 12, 2005
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      --- Q Bee <artforms@...> wrote:

      > >> (much clipped)
      > >> So, from the text of 4G, how do you reckon 'Mary
      > >> of Bethany' being commissioned and MM appearing >
      >> at the tomb?
      > >
      > > +Elaine,
      > > If I understand you correctly, your question
      > > assumes that Mary of Bethany was commissioned to >
      > anoint the body of Jesus in Jn. 12: 1-8. I > >
      contend that in Jn. 12: 1-8 Mary of Bethany was > >
      ordained to maintain the tradition of the death > >
      of Jesus, not that she was commissioned to anoint > >
      His body after His death.
      > >
      > Dear Tom,
      >
      > Regardless of being 'ordained to maintain the
      > tradition', the Mary who was at Bethany when Jesus >
      went there was given the responsibility of
      > anointing him for burial.

      How do you reach this conclusion?

      I'm guessing that you subscribe to the commonly
      accepted interpretation of John 12: 7 as reflected in
      the NRSV translation of that text, namely that Jesus
      is defending Mary's action in using expensive perfumed
      oil to anoint His feet by explaining that "she bought
      it so that she might keep it for the day of my
      burial."

      In other words, the translators of the NRSV are
      solving a translation problem by inserting language
      that reflects their understanding of what the text
      must, in their opinion, mean: that the oil Mary has
      used will be used to anoint His body when Jesus is
      buried.

      There are problems with this interpretation. First,
      the words, "She bought it..." are not a part of the
      extant Greek text. Without them, a literal
      translation would read, "Let her alone for the day of
      my burial has she kept it."

      The oil that Mary has used in anointing the feet of
      Jesus and then drying them with her hair is no longer
      in a container. It has been applied, not to the whole
      body of Jesus (which is at this point in the narrative
      still alive), but only to his feet. The ointment
      remains, not in a bottle, but on his feet and on her
      hair.

      I submit that remains of the ointment is its scent,
      which perhaps could be expected to go with Jesus to
      his burial and with Mary to the cross, where she
      stands, facing his feet, or, if your theory is
      correct, and Mary of Bethany is Mary Magdalene, the
      scent that is shared by Jesus and Mary goes with Mary
      to the tomb on the third day after his death and
      burial.

      While nothing more is written in the Fourth Gospel
      about this specific ointment, more is written about
      the scent of it. Jn. 12: 3 describes the anointing
      and observes, "the house was filled with the fragrance
      (odor, scent) of the perfume (ointment)."

      What is important for our consideration is not what
      happened to the ointment after the anointing, but
      what, first of all, did the anointing mean, and
      secondly, what does the observation about the scent of
      the ointment filling the house mean?

      As you know, I find great value in Houtman's article
      "On the Function of the Holy Incense (Ex XXX 3-8) and
      the Sacred Anointing Oil (Ex XXX 22-23)" in Vetus
      Testamentum,LII, vol. 4, (1992),pp. 463-464.

      Houtman suggests that the scent of the incense used in
      the Temple (the same scent used to anoint the
      furnishings and tools of the temple and the High
      Priest) served the purpose of forming "an atmospheric
      curtain which (would) protect the place of YHWH's
      revelation against possible bad exhalations and fumes,
      which are so pungent that they manage to penetrate the
      Holy Places."

      I believe the meaning of the anointing (both of the
      feet of Jesus, the head of Mary of Bethany and the
      atmosphere surrounding the disciples of Jesus when the
      anointing occurred) can be found in the Mosaic context
      of Ex. 30. Following the example of Moses, Mary is
      anointing the altar of the temple, which Jesus has
      offered to rebuild in three days if it should be
      destroyed (Jn. 2: 19, 21).

      By wiping his feet with her hair, Mary not only
      displays her devotion to her Lord, but is anointed
      herself. Her head is anointed with the same ointment
      (read: scent) as that which consecrates the feet of
      Jesus, her altar. This follows the pattern
      established in Ex. 30: 25-31 in which the same
      anointing oil used on the furnishings and utensils of
      the temple is used to consecrate the high priest and
      the chief priests.

      I submit that what Jesus instructs Judas (and the
      other disciples gathered in the house) to do is to
      allow Mary to keep the scent that identifies her with
      him. Specifically, her role, following his death,
      will be to keep the tradition of his death. She is to
      function among the disciples as a high priest, or in
      First Century terms, as a bishop, overseeing the
      community, seeing to it that the tradition is kept.

      The anointing story in Jn. 11: 55-12:8 consecrates the
      altar of the community's temple, the one set apart
      ("Leave her alone...") as the community's leader, and
      the sacred place (the house) where the community
      gathers to remember the tradition.

      One final point about the ointment. Attention is
      nearly always focused upon the fact that this
      particular oil was very expensive. (I have shown that
      its value is roughly twice the value of the sacrifices
      required for a woman of Mary's age to make a Nazirite
      vow.) More important, however, than its material
      value, is the fact that it is "pure" (pistikos). (See
      also Mk. 14: 3.) Bultmann (TDNT VI pp. 174-228, esp.
      p. 222f) points out that the literal meaning of this
      term is "faithful." This "faithful" (and costly)
      scent released by Mary's act of anointing, "filled the
      house," creating an atmosphere of faith to protect all
      who were present from the defiling scent of death, the
      anticipated consequence of Jesus' death.

      Yours in Christ's service,
      Tom Butler


      <DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=system color=#0000ff>Yours in Christ's service,</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>
      <DIV><STRONG><EM><FONT face=System color=#0000ff>Tom Butler</FONT></EM></STRONG></DIV>
    • Matthew Estrada
      I apologize for the last post. It was intended to be offline and personal. Please disregard. Thank you. Matthew Estrada wrote: Hello
      Message 120 of 120 , Dec 21, 2005
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        I apologize for the last post. It was intended to be offline and personal. Please disregard. Thank you.

        Matthew Estrada <matt_estrada@...> wrote: Hello Mark,

        I am wondering if you had a chance to read through my paper? I know it is a poorly written paper, but I also believe the findings are very exciting, and if they could be presented in a more scholarly manner, could have some significant consequences in our understanding of the genre of at least John, and perhaps the others as well. I do appreciate your interest in my thesis, and would very much appreciate your feedback (and any help you might be willing to offer in getting these ideas out). What I consider to be the starting point is our understanding of John's symbolic use of the word "water", particularly in the first four chapters of the gospel. I ground my interpretation of the word "water" in what I consider to be one of many of John's source materials in the composition of the Cana Miracle (it has been used as a source material for other pericopes as well in John's gospel), namely Exodus 2. In that text, Moses- the first and greatest of the Law and the prophets- is so named
        because he was "drawn from the water". Moses is thus identified with water. In the first chapter of John's gospel, John has the Baptist state 3 times that he came baptizing with "water" (using the Synoptics as his source material, in my opinion), thus identifying the last and greatest of the Law and the prophets also with "water". "Water" thus takes on the meaning, for John, "the Law and the Prophets", or "the Father's means of revelation". If we accept this, and then apply this meaning to John's usage of "water" in the first 4 chapters, we see that John is comparing/contrasting "the Law and the Prophets" with "the Holy Spirit", who is a consequence of Jesus' ministry. He does so NOT to put down the Law and the Prophets. To the contrary, John upholds the Law and the Prophets, and in fact shows how the Law and the Prophets support/give testimony to Jesus' identity as the messiah. He also shows how the Holy Spirit is the God-intended fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets and
        Jesus' ministry. What he does put down is "the Jews" interpretation and abuse of the Law and the Prophets. All of this really comes to light once one accepts John's meaning for "water" as the Law and the Prophets, and as a consequence, John's use of the Baptist as a personification of the Law and the Prophets.

        Sorry for going on so long, but there is so much there that I can go on for hours talking about how John uses his source materials to put together what I call an allegory. Again, I would really appreciate your careful reading of my paper, and then your comments, and any help you might offer. Sincerely, Matt Estrada

        "Matson, Mark (Academic)" wrote:
        Matthew:

        I am interested in your thesis. I would at least like to look at it, so
        please send it to me.

        I worry a little about the "Law" as a major counterpoint to Jesus as the
        word. It depends, though, on how you are using Law. It seems to me
        that "the Word" -- the conceptualization of Jesus -- bears some affinity
        to the concept of Torah. Certainly Torah and God's word are linked in
        various parts of the scripture. Even God's ten words in Exodus suggest
        something different that "law", but closer to the vital aspect of Jesus
        as God's agent.

        But if that linkage is correct, then what we have is closer to matthew's
        concept of Jesus coming to "fulfill" the law and the prophets. But in
        John's case, he "is" the Torah/Word, and he is witnessed by the
        prophets. (hence the witness theme that is so prevalent in John's
        gospel.) And certainly John the Baptist starts this whole theme of
        "witnessing" to Jesus as the word, as God's special agent.

        So I guess my concern is with your term "contrast and comparison" to the
        Law and the Prophets. It seems to me more positive than that. Or am I
        missing something? (of course all may be made clear if I read your
        paper).

        mark

        Mark A. Matson
        Academic Dean
        Milligan College
        http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm


        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
        > Matthew Estrada
        > Sent: Monday, November 14, 2005 1:48 PM
        > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: RE: [John_Lit] Prologue
        >
        >
        > Hi Diane and Mark,
        >
        > I agree with Mark in his statements that the prologue is a
        > creation of the Evangelist himself, having also depended on
        > Genesis and other source materials in his creation of it, and
        > that it is not a pre-existing Hellenistic poem. I have tried
        > presenting the idea of the prologue as being a contrast and
        > comparison of Jesus with "the Law and the Prophets". The
        > reason why the author would be doing this is because for his
        > audience, it was necessary to show not only how Jesus is
        > greater than the Law and the Prophets but also show how the
        > Law and the Prophets give testimony to Jesus as the messiah.
        > If he is successful in demonstrating this, then perhaps he
        > can win over those who are wondering whether or not Jesus
        > could be what he is being proclaimed as being- the Jewish Messiah.
        >
        > One does not have to read very far in the Prologue to see
        > this taking place. In the first few verses thea author takes
        > words and phrases that have previously been applied to the
        > Law BUT now applies them to Jesus. Jesus is the Light. Then
        > the author has the Baptist (the Law and the Prophets) stating
        > clearly that he is not the Light, but rather came to give
        > testimony to the true light, who is Jesus. Thus "the Law and
        > the Prophets" not only denies the honorary title for itself,
        > but also gives it to Jesus. The Baptist is playing his
        > correct role (as a witness to Jesus). Even as the Baptist
        > says in chapter 3- "He must become greater, and I less".
        >
        > Once one understands how the author uses his "water"
        > symbolism to represent "the Law and the Prophets" (he ties
        > both Moses and the Baptist to this "water" symbolism- the
        > first and greatest and last and greatest of the Law and the
        > Prophets), and in turn, how he uses the Baptist as a
        > personification of the Law and the prophets, one can more
        > easily see the importance of this theme. Once we realize that
        > John the Baptist is a personification of the Law and the
        > Prophets, and as such, gives "testimony" to Jesus, then can
        > we understand that what the author is trying to do is show
        > "the Jews" (the opposition group), and others, that the same
        > book of the Law and the prophets that they hold in high
        > veneration gives support to John's (and his group's) claim
        > that Jesus is indeed the messiah.
        >
        > It has been speculated that the reason why the Baptist is
        > introduced so early on in the prologue is because of a
        > division that existed between the historical disciples of the
        > historical Baptist and those of Jesus. In my opinion, this is
        > incorrect. The division that existed were between the
        > disciples of "the Law and the Prophets" (=the Baptist) and
        > Jesus' disciples, but John masterfully shows that this should
        > not be, as the Baptist himself (= "the Law and the Prophets)
        > gives testimony to Jesus, and willingly steps out of Jesus
        > way so that he may be received as the greater (Jn 3). As the
        > Baptist states, he is nothing more than the best friend of
        > the bridegroom.
        >
        > Mary Coloe will be presenting a nicely written paper on the
        > role of the Baptist in John's gospel in the upcoming SBL
        > meeting, but unfortunately, in my opinion, has not yet seen
        > the Baptist being portrayed as a personification of the Law
        > and the Prophets, which is a major key in understanding the gospel.
        >
        > If you are interested in reading my paper on this theory,
        > you can email me offlist and I will be glad to forward to you
        > the link. Sincerely, Matthew Estrada
        >
        > "Matson, Mark (Academic)" wrote:
        > Diane:
        >
        > Great question.
        >
        > My response to one part of your question, the "hellenistic
        > poem" is that John's "greekness" is I think way
        > over-emphasized. This poem/song simply shouts Hebrew thought.
        > It is in many ways a midrash based on both Genesis 1 and the
        > whole corpus of Wisdom theology (especially Prov. 8, and
        > Sirach 24 and Wisd. Of Solomon 7&8), in which God's creative
        > activity was already somewhat personalized in the form of
        > wisdom. This whole package is then presented and interpreted
        > in light of Jesus. So I don't think it is based on any
        > pre-existing Hellenistic poem.
        >
        > My own current thought (and I go back and forth on this) is
        > that this poem is the creation of the evangelist, and was
        > composed to interpret the gospel that follows. What is
        > noteworthy to me is the inherent narrative that is inscribed
        > in the poem -- a narrative that more or less describes the
        > structure of the gospel, and especially emphasizes the role
        > of the opposition to Jesus by his "own people," which is of
        > course the central plot feature in the gospel.
        >
        > I am not convinced that 6-9 and 12-13 are interpolations into
        > the poem. This idea presumes a "pure" poem that is more or
        > less removed from the historical narrative that has been
        > historicized. But perhaps that is exactly what the evengelist
        > wanted -- to produce asides that opened up already the
        > historical particularity of John B. and Jesus. It is
        > interesting that the theme of "witness" is brought in at this point.
        >
        > The question of the preexistence of the poem, and its
        > relationship to the rest of the gospel, depends a bit on how
        > you date John and how you see the evangelist's creative
        > ability in fashioning tradition into a coherent whole. I tend
        > to place John early, see the evangelist as quite creative and
        > capable as an author. (and btw, early does not necessarily
        > mean "more historical", though some parts are possible.)
        >
        > mark
        >
        > Mark A. Matson
        > Academic Dean
        > Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/personal.htm
        >
        >
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
        > > [mailto:johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
        > Diane Yoder
        > > Sent: Sunday, November 13, 2005 8:43 PM
        > > To: johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com
        > > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Re: List Protocol and Purpose
        > >
        > >
        > > Not to clog this list with unnecessary posts, but I am a
        > > graduate student in Historical Theology at the Toronto School
        > > of Theology / University of Toronto with literary historical
        > > interest in the book of John. I also do not contribute due to
        > > my understanding that this list is for professional scholars
        > > only. I don't mind that though; I have learned quite a lot.
        > > Thank you.
        > >
        > > I do have a question. From what conceptual foundation does
        > > the first eighteen verses of John come from? It sounds like a
        > > hymn--is there a Hellenistic poem that it is patterned after?
        > > What is the current thought regarding its origin? Are verses
        > > 6-9 and 12-13 actually part of the poem, or have these verses
        > > been redacted?
        > >
        > > best,
        > > Diane Yoder, MA scholar, Historical Theology
        > > Toronto School of Theology
        > > University of Toronto
        > >
        > > Tom Butler
        > wrote:
        > > Dear Jack Kilmon and J-Lit Members,
        > >
        > > Recently I received an off-list message suggesting
        > > that you, Jack, do not really exist. Since you have
        > contributed to the
        > > list and since you are identified as the "list owner" on
        > the web site,
        > > I was and am, naturally, confused by that message. No doubt someone
        > > is playing some sort of prank on me, for what reason I
        > > cannot imagine.
        > >
        > > It prompts me to press an inquirey that I
        > > inadvertently (honestly) sent first to the whole list,
        > > then directly to you regarding the participation of
        > > Elaine Bessett, who uses the pen name Q Bee. You
        > > replied that you had been "AOL from the list for a
        > > while" and that Elaine should just re-apply. I got
        > > from that the impression that you did not
        > > intentionally remove her from the list and that you
        > > would act upon her application to re-join the list.
        > > She tells me that she has re-applied, but has received
        > > no response.
        > >
        > > As I mentioned in my earlier message, after
        > > re-reading the protocol for the list, it seems clear
        > > that persons who violate the protocol will be warned
        > > and then removed if they fail to heed the warning.
        > > From private dialog with Elaine, I gather that she was
        > > not aware of being officially warned by the list owner
        > > (you) at any point. She has, however, been engaged in
        > > somewhat heated debates with several contributors to
        > > the list.
        > >
        > > Beyond these concerns, it troubles me that so few
        > > people contribute to this list. My understanding is
        > > that the list is an on-line tool of the Society of
        > > Biblical Literature, which includes many, if not most
        > > of the finest Johannine scholars in the world. So few
        > > engage in the discussions that I am left wondering
        > > whether I have mis-understood who it is with whom I am seeking to
        > > engage in dialog.
        > >
        > > I am using the list to air my own understanding and
        > > questions regarding the Fourth Gospel. I hope to
        > > contribute to the scholarly discussion of the text and
        > > to learn from those whose scholarship is more focused
        > > than my own or whose reading list is far longer or
        > > different from my own. I claim to be a scholar in the
        > > classic sense that I am a student of the text and of
        > > those who have demonstrated expertise in the study of
        > > it. I gather that my participation is welcomed by
        > > persons who often have a much better claim to being
        > > scholars than I do, largely because some of my
        > > questions are their questions, and some of my ideas
        > > relate to some of theirs, and they are willing to
        > > engage in dialog with me. When I offer one of the
        > > nuggets from my study and one, two or no replies are
        > > made, I wonder if I have stepped on hallowed ground or
        > violated some
        > > un-written rule.
        > >
        > > My understanding, based upon some of the
        > > presentations I heard when I attended the SBL
        > > Conference in Toronto 2(?) years ago, is that
        > > Johannine scholars world-wide are searching for new
        > > tools with which to study the gospel. That suggests an
        > > open-ness to new approaches, even un-tried approaches. That
        > > suggests to me that this list is a place where scholarly
        > > appraisals of new ideas can be expected. Am I wrong?
        > >
        > > If I'm not wrong, then why would someone offering
        > > new ideas be simply removed from the list? Is not
        > > fitting into established approaches a violation of the protocol
        > > resulting in removal from the list? If so, will I be next?
        > Will I just
        > > disappear like Elaine has?
        > >
        > > Yours in Christ's service,
        > > Dr. Tom Butler, Pastor
        > > Sparks United Methodist Church,
        > > Sparks, Nevada, USA
        > >
        > > Yours in Christ's service,
        > >
        > > Tom Butler
        > >
        > >
        > >
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        > Estrada
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