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the Hour in 4G

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  • Marco V. Fabbri
    Tom, I thank you, too, for your patience and for your contributions. I appreciated your view of the meaning of the hour. As you know very well, C.H. Dodd s
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30 12:42 AM

      I thank you, too, for your patience and for your contributions.

      I appreciated your view of the meaning of the hour. As you know very well,
      C.H. Dodd's book "The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel" stresses the
      importance of John 13,1, that declares what the hour of Jesus consists of:
      "Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father".

      You quote from Brown, who says that he doubts that the hour has a structural
      function, and you disagree with him. I share your view. There are clear
      statements that the hour hasn't come in John 2,4; 7,30;

      However, I was uncertain what to do of the repeated statement that the hour
      has come. We do not find it only in 13,1, but also before that at 12,23.

      Moreover, in John 4,23; 5,25 Jesus says that "the hour is coming, and is now
      here." What does NUN = "now" mean? Some say that it means that the hour is
      imminent. Ok, the context requires that; but we still need to explain why
      the Evangelist refers to the hour at that point.

      You provided an aswer to this. I thank you very much for this insight.

      I will now examine them as markers at the end of portions.

      In fact, I am especially interested in understanding how a progress is
      marked as the story unfolds from John 5 to John 11. This can be difficult to
      grasp. Jesus makes signs, some or many believe in him, but then they turn
      their back to him. This happens various times. Is any progress stalled until
      the Hour comes? Or can we appreciate a progress?

      A change can be easily grasped in chapter 6. After the speech about the
      Bread of Life, and sepcifically after Jesus says that he will give his Flesh
      so that they eat it and his Blood so that they drink it, many disciples
      abandon him. The twelve remain. (As you note, John doesn't not use the word
      apostle to refer to a particular group; I add that he prefers to sepak of
      the twelve). So, it is clear that in chapter 6 something important happens,
      an happens only once. But what about chapter 5, and chapters 7 and the

      You provide to me an insight into this: the reader is encouraged to stop and
      think whenever the hour is mentioned. It remains true that the signs can't
      win to Jesus permanent disciples. They come to faith, but they don't remain
      faithful. It is possible that the Evangelist is preparing the reader for the
      change that is brought about by the coming of the hour when Jesus passes
      from this world. The reader become increasingly aware that signs are not the
      answer. They point to something, that still needs to be fully revealed.

      I would be interested in hearing more thought of yours about the hour.


      On 12/29/06, Tom Butler <pastor_t@...> wrote:
      > Marco,
      > Thank you for your eloquent and rapid reply to my
      > response to your list of reasons for asserting that
      > Jn. 21 was written by a redactor. Like you, I will
      > respond with a brief note, perhaps to be followed by a
      > more careful and systematic defense of my assertions
      > when time allows.
      > Thank you for clarifying your intention and
      > understanding of the role that source criticism plays
      > in the study of the Gospel of John. I appreciate your
      > watch analogy very much. It works well as a defense
      > against the fairly common assumption or practice that
      > disassembling the Fourth Gospel is a necessary first
      > step toward understanding it.
      > Your analogy of the watch gives rise in my mind to
      > the effort made by physicians to understand how the
      > human body works by studying cadavers. While being
      > able to describe the relationship between the organs
      > and pose theories about how each one functions,
      > physicians have long been frustrated in trying to
      > describe what it is that makes the whole organism
      > live.
      > I suspect much more will be learned as the study of
      > the human body continues into the future by those who
      > have developed ways to see the live organs
      > functioning, even down to the cellular level.
      > Studying the Gospel of John as a whole and living
      > document is much more satisfying than trying to reduce
      > it to a skeleton, then replacing its parts as their
      > function becomes clear or as a theory develops that
      > offers an explanation of why each part is where it is
      > in the body of the text as we have it.
      > A brief word of explanation is due regarding my
      > contention that multiple authors have contributed to
      > The Fourth Gospel. I am fascinated by Culpepper's
      > theory that the Gospel emerged as a work in progress
      > from a school. The most likely first century school,
      > in my opinion, from which such a product as the Fourth
      > Gospel could have emerged is a rabbinical school using
      > the Midrash method.
      > I begin from the assertion that the first generation
      > of Christians were almost entirely Jewish, and that
      > the first Christian theologians were most likely
      > trained in rabbinical schools, using the method most
      > popularly used to develop the ability of student
      > rabbis to expound upon the meaning of the Hebrew
      > Scriptures: the Midrash method, which I define simply
      > as the challenge of expounding on the meaning of
      > scripture by using the language of scripture.
      > The source material most often used in this method
      > is the Torah. I suspect, given that the Gospel is
      > written in Greek, that the Septuagint version of the
      > Torah was the primary source.
      > The challenge to the school would have been to
      > expound upon the meaning of the Jesus tradition using
      > the (Greek version) language of the Torah. That is
      > where the signs originate.
      > My burden of proof, as you have reminded me, is to
      > show that numerous different authors have contributed
      > to the content of the Fourth Gospel. I believe that
      > the "different hands" that can be identified in the
      > text are not necessarily the work of a final redactor,
      > but simply indicators that multiple authors
      > contributed to the document we now have. (In other
      > words, I am moving in a direction opposite to the one
      > being taken by those who are trying to identify the
      > hand of the redactor in order to "see" the "original"
      > text, assuming that this "original" text was a whole
      > organism before the redactor began tinkering with it.
      > My starting point is the assumption that the various
      > components of the text were separate units, originally
      > composed by different authors before being linked
      > together as one Gospel.)
      > The Jesus tradition was, at the end of the first and
      > beginning of the second century CE, both written and
      > oral. I can imagine that the Midrash reflections upon
      > that tradition began as oral commentaries (like oral
      > finals in a modern graduate school), but that they
      > were written as the community, under the inspired
      > leadership of the Beloved Disciple, recognized the
      > profound level of truth being revealed in them. These
      > written components would have been carefully guarded,
      > studied and used by the community of scholars as they
      > worked together to refine each component before
      > writing that edited component, tentatively, into the
      > body of the emerging text, a role most likely
      > carefully overseen by, if not actually composed by the
      > small number of key leaders of the community,
      > including the Beloved Disciple and an Elder of the
      > community. The emerging text then became the basic
      > tool used to train students in what we would now call
      > theological reflection.
      > The easiest place to begin to offer the proof for
      > this theory is with the Lazarus story, recognizing
      > that its inspiration most likely comes from the
      > parable told by Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke.
      > The Johannine Lazarus story, of course, is an
      > elaboration that goes far beyond the parable, while
      > still addressing the basic themes of death and
      > resurrection. In the Fourth Gospel this story plays a
      > pivotal role as a sort of denuement, making the
      > transition from the Book of Signs to the Book of
      > Glory.
      > You ask why there are no signs in the Book of
      > Glory. I believe there are signs in the Book of
      > Glory, but they are not as obviously placed as in the
      > Book of Signs. Essentially the Book of Signs is a
      > primer for the community, designed to train students
      > to find the signs, understand the context from which
      > they were taken (usually the Torah, but occasionally
      > from other parts of the Septuagint) and then apply
      > their meaning to the Johannine context in order to
      > offer a theological reflection on the meaning of that
      > part of the Jesus tradition.
      > The Book of Glory requires that the students have
      > already completed that basic course in expounding upon
      > the meaning of the tradition themselves, so that their
      > minds and souls can receive the reflections offered by
      > Jesus (according to the witness of the Beloved
      > Disciple?) to His own (followers) on the meaning of
      > His ministry and passion.
      > I have done some work on the use of the word "hour"
      > in the text of the Gospel. I believe that the 24
      > places where that word is used constitute markers at
      > the end of portions of the material where readers were
      > encouraged to contemplate the material they had just
      > read in order to discern the signs therein and
      > therefore to delve more deeply into the meaning of
      > what they had read. With some trepidation I find
      > myself disagreeing with Brown, who contends that there
      > is no reason to believe that the use of "hour" (ora)
      > is a component in the structure of the Gospel!
      > My study will be called "A Day with Jesus," because
      > I believe the 24 "hours" constitute one mystical day
      > in which those who seek to abide with Jesus may come
      > to know that Christ abides within them.
      > Well, I said I would be brief. Apparently my
      > intention to be brief has failed. Obviously defending
      > my thesis will require much more detail and scholarly
      > effort. I appreciate your challenge to bear the
      > burden of proof. A critical ear is an essential tool
      > to the shaping of any theory. Your time and attention
      > are extremely valuable to me. Thank you for offering
      > what you have offered so far. If you choose to
      > continue the dialogue, I pray that we will both grow
      > through the exchange, and that others may choose to
      > engage in the discussion with us.
      > Yours in Christ's service,
      > Tom Butler
      > --- "Marco V. Fabbri" <mv.fabbri@... <mv.fabbri%40gmail.com>> wrote:
      > > Tom,
      > >
      > > thank you for your reply. You promised it, and you
      > > kept your promise.
      > >
      > > I will write a short anwer, first, because there was
      > > some misunderstanding.
      > > I am not trying to divide the Gospel into a number
      > > of preexisting
      > > documents. I am just trying to understand the
      > > Gospel as we have it. There
      > > is no need to persuade me of the shortcomings of
      > > documentary theories,
      > > because I am already persuaded.
      > >
      > > When I teach John, I start by studying the Gospel as
      > > a whole, in order to
      > > find its structure. Only when I know the structure,
      > > I am able to recognize
      > > some part of the text as not belonging to the
      > > structure.
      > >
      > > The man that opens his watch and separates his
      > > components can learn
      > > something about how it works. However, if he wants
      > > the watch to work, he
      > > needs to know how to put the pieces together again.
      > > If he thinks that some
      > > pieces have no purpose, it doesn't mean that they
      > > haven't, but that he
      > > doesn't know what their purpose is. And if he is not
      > > prepared to learn that,
      > > his watch wont't ever work as it was meant to work,
      > > or it won't work at all.
      > >
      > > When I look at John 20,30-31, and notice that it
      > > speaks about signs, and
      > > look for the signs in the Gospel, and noticed that
      > > they are confined to John
      > > 2-12, I am not saying that the rest does not belong
      > > to the original Gospel.
      > > I am trying to understand the Gospel as it stands,
      > > and I as a legitimate
      > > question: why are there no "signs" in John 13-20?
      > > What is the function of
      > > those chapters? Here I accept the contributions from
      > > Dodd, who noticed the
      > > importance of the coming of the "hour" of Jesus, and
      > > from Brown, who
      > > recognizes the importance of "glory" in those
      > > chapters, and calls them "the
      > > book of glory".
      > >
      > > That being my stance, I think that whoever affirms
      > > that a part of the
      > > Gospel, whether it be a verse or a chapter, has been
      > > added later, he takes
      > > on himself the burden of proof. If he also maintains
      > > that the added part has
      > > been written by a different author, he takes on
      > > himself an additional burden
      > > of proof. This is why I took pains to prove a later
      > > origin of John 21. We
      > > can discuss my reasons, but I think that we agree
      > > that I need to prove my
      > > point. If I can't, then I have to admit that John 21
      > > is by the same hand as
      > > the rest of the Gospel, until somebody else can
      > > prove the point.
      > >
      > > As to the content of the reasons, you say that you
      > > refuted them. On my part,
      > > I don't agree, and I still think that the point is
      > > proved, as do the
      > > commentaries that you quote. But there are no
      > > discussions that are closed on
      > > the authority of anybody. Therefore, I wont' try to
      > > defend my option and
      > > pass judgement at the same time. Maybe I will engage
      > > in discussion later.
      > >
      > > Before that, I will raise a more general point. I
      > > think we agree that
      > > whoever affirms that different authors are at work
      > > has to prove that. If so,
      > > how can you assume that the Fourth Gospel is the
      > > work of a plurality of
      > > authors? It seems to me that you take on yourself a
      > > heavy burden of proof.
      > >
      > > Since the time I wrote the text you are answering
      > > to, I wrote on this same
      > > list that I don't believe that written texts in the
      > > antiquity were written
      > > by many people at the same time. There was no way
      > > that a text could be
      > > shared by many unless it was first written by one,
      > > then copied, then
      > > distributed, then read. And again, any intervention
      > > by others wouldn't be
      > > known unless it was copied by hand, then
      > > distributed, then read.
      > >
      > > Mind me, I don't deny that an author can draw from
      > > oral tradition, of from
      > > the decisions of a council, or whatever else. I
      > > maintain, however, that
      > > writing was a job that was done by one person at a
      > > time. This is why,
      > > whenever a scholar affirms joint authorship, he has
      > > to prove it. He can't
      > > assume it. So, I believe that I am right when I
      > > assume that John has been
      > > written by an individual, until the contrary is
      > > proven. I never read a proof
      > > that a group wrote the Gospel. I read some proofs
      > > that a different author
      > > wrote chapter 21, as is maintains by most modern
      > > scholars.
      > >
      > > Marco Fabbri
      > <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>

      Prof. Marco V. Fabbri
      Dipartimento di Sacra Scrittura
      Pontificia Università della Santa Croce
      Piazza S. Apollinare 49
      I-00186 Roma

      e-mail: mv.fabbri@...
      fax: ++39-06-68164400

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