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Re: [John_Lit] New topics worth discussing?

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  • Matthew Estrada
    Paul,   Here is an excerpt from my paper attempting to illustrate how the author of the Fourth gospel has used the Synoptic material. If interested, you can
    Message 1 of 24 , Aug 28, 2010
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      Paul,
       
      Here is an excerpt from my paper attempting to illustrate how the author of the
      Fourth gospel has used the Synoptic material. If interested, you can read my
      paper in full at http://estradablog.wordpress.com/.
       
       
      C)      Now comparing these Synoptic texts with certain texts throughout John
      1-3, we discover the following parallels which indicate John’s use of, mimesis
      of, and transformation of, at
             least one of the gospels:
       
      1)       In Mark 2:13 we read,
       
              “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake”.
       
             Mark says “Once again…”. When did Jesus first go out beside the lake? If
      we go back to Mark 1:14-18 we read,
       
      “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good
      news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent
      and believe the good news!’
      As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew
      casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus
      said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and
      followed Him.”
       
       In John 3:22-23 we read,
       
       “After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside,
      where He spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at
      Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly
      coming to be baptized (This was before John was put in prison)”.
       
      So we note that John replaced Mark’s “After John was put in prison” with his own
      “This was before John was put in prison”, and John has Jesus in a place where
      there “was plenty of water” in place of Mark’s Jesus who “went out beside the
      lake”. Why does John change Mark’s “lake” into his own “plenty of water”? To
      answer this, one needs to understand what the word “water” symbolizes in the
      Gospel of John. Without providing proof right now (but the proof will be
      provided later), the word “water” symbolizes “the Law and the prophets”. When
      John states that there was “plenty of water”, he is telling us that the
      teachings concerning the Law and the Prophets were everywhere, and that many
      people were coming to hear the teachings of the Law and the Prophets. When was
      this? John says it was before John the Baptist (who is symbolic of the Law and
      the Prophets) was put in prison, which most likely means before the Law and the
      Prophets were “imprisoned” by the Pharisees and their strict interpretation of
      it. For as we are later told in John’s Gospel, “the Jews” (the Pharisees)
      prohibited reading Jesus as messiah into any of the messianic texts found within
      the OT (Jn 7:13, 40-52; 9:22; 12:42; 16:2). This, I will argue, is the
      “imprisonment of John the Baptist/the Law and the Prophets” (we will later
      return to this).
       
      Knowing that Jesus never baptized (as John tells us clearly in John 4:2), and
      knowing (although you, the reader, have to assume this for now) that the word
      “water” symbolizes “the Law and the Prophets”, we can now interpret the word
      “baptize” to mean “to teach” or “to disciple”.  For in Mk 2:13 we read:
       
      “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and He
      began to teach them. As He walked along, He saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at
      the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and
      followed him.
        While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and
      ‘sinners’ were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who
      followed Him.”
       
       John once again changes Mark’s wording. Where Mark has “to teach them”, John
      has “baptizing/baptized”. Why does he do this? John does this to disguise the
      symbolic meaning of his story in a seemingly historical story. Therefore, these
      verses in John 3:22-23 are really saying something to this effect:
       
      “After this, Jesus and His disciples (the NT Church) went out into the Judean
      countryside, where He (the Church) spent some time with them, and baptized
      (taught/discipled). Now John (the Law and the Prophets) also was baptizing
      (teaching/making disciples) at Aenon near Salim, because their was plenty of
      water (the teachings on Law and the Prophets = water, were bountiful/plenty),
      and people were constantly coming to be baptized (coming to be
      taught/discipled). (This was before John [the Law and the Prophets] was put in
      prison [by “the Jews”/the Pharisees and their strict interpretation of the Law
      and the Prophets in their prohibitions of any messianic interpretations that
      would see Jesus as the Christ])”.
       
       
      2)       In our Markan text the discussion begins between Jesus’ disciples and
      “the teachers of the law who were Pharisees” over the matter of Jesus’
      associating with ‘sinners’. In John 3:22-30, we read of John’s disciples who
      first have a discussion with “a certain Jew(s) over the matter of ceremonial
      washing”. The reason why John, the author, has introduced the disciples of John
      the Baptist as first having a discussion with “the Jews”, is to emphasize the
      difference in teachings on the Law between the true disciples of the Baptist
      (who stands for the Law) and the disciples of “the Jews” (or Pharisees/religious
      leaders during that time period) who have misconstrued the teachings of the Law
      and the Prophets for their own gain. John, the author, can then have the Baptist
      (who stands for the Law) give testimony to his disciples concerning Jesus’ true
      identity against the testimony of “the Jews” (the Pharisees/religious leaders
      who misinterpret the Law). Therefore, John 3:25 is really saying:
       
      “An argument developed between some of John’s disciples (disciples of the Law
      and the Prophets) and a certain Jew (“the Jews” and the Pharisees who would
      misinterpret the Law and the Prophets and not see Jesus as the Christ as
      foretold in the OT) over the matter of ceremonial washing (“the Jews” trying to
      divert the attention away from Jesus that he is drawing from those who interpret
      correctly the Old Testament to the meaningless rituals of the Law when viewed
      outside of Jesus as their fulfillment).”
       
      3)       In Mark 2:13 we read: “A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach
      them”. In Mark 2:14, after Jesus commands Matthew to follow him, we read “and
      Levi got up and followed him”. In Mark 2:15 we read“many tax collectors and
      ‘sinners’ were eating with him [Jesus] and his disciples, for there were many
      who followed him”. In our John 3:26-30 passage, the disciples of the Baptist
      come to John the Baptist and tell him that “everyone is going to him” (to Jesus)
      for “baptism” instead of coming to the Baptist for “baptism”. So in both
      gospels, people are coming to Jesus, which brings about a discussion between two
      groups (in Mark, the discussion first takes place between Jesus’ disciples and
      the Pharisees, and then between Jesus and the Pharisees, and then between “some
      people” [disciples of the Baptist, according to Matthew] and Jesus; whereas in
      John the discussion first begins between John’s disciples and a ‘certain
      Jew(s)’, then between John’s disciples and John the Baptist. Here we can see how
      John has conflated Mark and Matthew’s versions into one. But instead of using
      the words “he began to teach them” and “there were many who followed him” (as is
      found in Mark and Matthew), John uses the symbolic words “baptize” and “everyone
      is going to him” to be “baptized”. Why does John exchange the words “teach” for
      “baptize”, and “many who followed him” with “going to him [Jesus] for baptism”?
      He does so for the purpose of continuing his use of the encoded word “water”,
      which is the key to understanding these first four chapters in John as an
      allegory. Therefore, John 3:26 is really saying:
       
      “They (the disciples of John the Baptist/the disciples of the Law and the
      Prophets) came to John (the Law and the Prophets) and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that
      man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan- the one you testified
      about- well, he is baptizing (teaching/discipling), and everyone is going to him
      (instead of coming to you/the Law and the Prophets to be discipled, as was
      before, everyone now is going to Jesus/NT Church to be taught/discipled).”

       
      4)        In Mark, the Pharisees, seeing that many people are “following Jesus”,
      ask the disciples of Jesus why their teacher associates with ‘sinners’. Jesus
      then responds by saying, “It is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick.
      I have not come to call the ‘righteous’, but the sinners.”  In John, it is the
      disciples of the Baptist who, after seeing that many people are “following
      Jesus” instead of following their leader the Baptist, go to John the Baptist,
      who gives support to Jesus’ ministry by testifying to his own disciples that he
      (the Law and the Prophets) must become less, and Jesus must become greater.
       
      5)       John continues, and emphasizes even more, the distinction that already
      exists in the Synoptic accounts above between the three groups: John the Baptist
      (Jn 1:6-8, 15, 19-34; 3:23-24) and his disciples (Jn 1:35, 42; 3:25), the
      religious leaders of Judaism and their disciples (1:19-24; 3:25), and Jesus and
      His disciples (2:2, 11-12; 3:22).
       
      6)       Moreover, John, again, even more than the Synoptic accounts, does not
      place John the Baptist in opposition to Jesus, but rather has him functioning as
      a witness to Jesus (1:7-8, 15, 19-36; 3:27-36; 5:33-36). There is again
      continuity and a break between John the Baptist (who stands for the Law and the
      Prophets) and Jesus. John also, like the Synoptic accounts, places both the
      Baptist and Jesus in opposition to the religious leaders of Judaism who refuse
      to see the truth.
       
      7)       John, like the Synoptic parallels, identifies Jesus as the bridegroom
      (Jn. 2:9-10; 3:29).
       
      8)       John, in the Cana miracle story, has Jesus provide the “new wine” (Jn.
      2:1-12), even as in our Synoptic parallels Jesus is the “new wine”. Even though
      in our parallel sources in the Synoptic gospels Jesus is the “new wine” (whereas
      in our Cana miracle in John Jesus provides the “new wine”), when we understand
      correctly the “new wine” in the Cana miracle as symbolizing the Holy Spirit,
      then this difference between John and the Synoptics disappears, as Jesus and the
      Holy Spirit are One (II Corinthians 3:18).
       
      Too many parallels exists between our Synoptic parallel stories and John to
      think that John was not drawing from, and transforming, them as source material,
      in the creation of his own gospel. That he uses the genre of mimesis, as well as
      allegory, in the process of creating new material to proclaim Jesus as Messiah
      is, in part, the reason for some of the differences between his gospel material
      and the Synoptic material. That he draws from many other sources and intertwines
      these other source materials with the Synoptic material to create his allegory
      is another reason for these differences. John was not attempting to write an
      historical account of events in the life of Jesus. His purpose was to
      demonstrate the incorrectness of the position of the Jewish leaders who refused
      to see Jesus as the Messiah, as well as to demonstrate the correctness of the
      position of those who viewed Jesus as the Messiah, and to support those who held
      the position of Jesus as the Messiah by showing that the Law and the Prophets
      also testify in favor of Jesus as the Christ.
       Matt Estrada




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