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Prologue As Midrash Part III

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  • Tom Butler
    Diane, Mark and J-Lit Listers This is the third and final part of my response to Diane s post. Diane Yoder wrote: Addressing the Genesis/John issue, I find,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 22, 2005
      Diane, Mark and J-Lit Listers

      This is the third and final part of my response to
      Diane's post.

      Diane Yoder wrote:

      Addressing the Genesis/John issue, I find, from a
      literary perspective that the similarities are
      striking between Genesis 1 and John 1:

      (Quote clipped)

      "Night" and Light in Genesis become metaphors in
      John, suggesting transformation, with the creation of
      light in Genesis becoming the pre-existing, enduring
      Light which dwelled with God now incarnated in Jesus
      Christ. This "light" "dark" metaphor continues
      throughout John.

      Tom Butler responds:

      The theological meaning behind Genesis 1: 4, which I
      believe is elaborated in John 1: 5, is also worth

      IMO Gn. 1: 4 infers a different meaning for "separate"
      than most English speakers mean.

      We "separate" one thing from another by moving the two
      things apart or placing some sort of barrier between
      them. Gn. 1: 4 (LXX) describes God separating in the
      midst of the darkness and in the midst of the light.
      In 21st century language, God is the interface between
      the light and the darkness. Theologically, God is
      revealed in the interplay (interaction?) between light
      and darkness.

      The assertion in the Fourth Gospel that the light
      shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot
      overcome it is an elaboration on the theology of
      creation expressed in Genesis. It carries the
      symbolism one step further than does the Genesis
      passage. More than an interplay or interaction, the
      writer(s) of the Prolog see a conflict between light
      and darkness, and assert that the light is forever the
      victor in that conflict.

      Diane Yoder wrote:
      Again, a question for a Biblical studies scholar,
      well versed in Hebrew and Greek: What is the
      grammatical structure of John 1 and Genesis 1? Is it
      similar or different? Is the poem of the Prologue
      similar in structure and scansion to the way Genesis 1
      is set up? Genesis alternates in structure and
      scansion from prose to two line strophes to three line
      poems throughout. What about Genesis 1? Is it a poem
      in Hebrew? How could John have played with the
      language in order to get it to fit his agenda?

      Tom Butler replies,
      One might compare the Septuagint version of Genesis
      and the Greek text of the Fourth Gospel. Does anyone
      on this list know if this has already been done? If
      so, what observations and conclusions were made from
      such a study?

      Diane Yoder wrote:
      There seems to be some disagreement that the
      Prologue is related to Genesis at all--but
      thematically and from a literary analytical standpoint
      I would disagree. The author of John is concerned
      with "new beginnings" a new Genesis, if you will ...

      Tom Butler replies:

      I contend that the Gospel is written to describe a
      single (cosmic) day with Jesus (the first day [DAY
      ONE] of the new creation.) One clue to that theory is
      that the Greek word "ora" (hour) is used 24 times in
      the Gospel.

      I'm exploring the theory that this word is used as an
      internal marker for those who were the first intended
      readers of the gospel. This marker guides the
      reader's search for signs in the Gospel, reminding
      them to stop (at the end of each "hour") and search
      for the light (full meaning) of the signs woven into
      the text that has been read since the last "hour." The
      source from which these signs were drawn is the
      Septuagint, and their full meaning will be seen by
      those who recognize both the signs and their meanings
      in their original context.

      Diane Yoder wrote:
      John seems, after all, to be concerned with
      explaining the significance of Jesus. Would it not
      make sense for him to compare the "old" significance
      of the Word as pertaining to the creation story in the
      Hebrew Genesis to the "new" significance as embodied
      in Logos?

      Tom Butler responds:

      Exactly. There is more than a coincidence in this. I
      think the author(s)of the Gospel were "re-cycling" the
      sacred symbols and language of the Hebrew scriptures
      through the method called "midrash."

      <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>
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