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RE: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question

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  • Pete Phillips
    I ve been following this thread over the last couple of days and have become increasingly perplexed by it. Has anybody read the secondary material on all this
    Message 1 of 76 , Sep 12, 2000
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      I've been following this thread over the last couple of days and have
      become increasingly perplexed by it. Has anybody read the secondary
      material on all this lot? Colwell's article on anarthrous predicates,
      Harner's redefinition of Colwell's rule, Wallace's extended discussion in
      his Grammar beyond the basics, Blass-Debrunner-Funk. How about the
      comments by Bultmann, Brown and Barrett? There is ample reading for the
      most avid bookworm in this lot - all defining why the translation should be
      "God" rather than "a god" or "the god" or "divine". There is a whole load
      of semantic evidence for translating this as a simple pre-verbal
      qualitative anarthrous predicate - the decision to translate it as anything
      else is the theological spin!

      And if we start bringing in Proverbs 8 (and Sirach 24 by the way) then we
      also have to bring in all the other resonances - dabar adonai, Logos in
      Presocratic philosophy, Philo, Platonism, Stoicism...the Logos is an
      element of a good number of religious systems by the Augustan age. John
      may well have used it simply as to raise the interest level of his work -
      to get people to raise their eyebrows, as it were. Notice that the term is
      never used in the same way outside the Prologue - John is just using the
      lexeme to introduce Jesus, once he has done that he drops it - it carries
      too much unhelpful baggage with it.

      And if we talk about pre-existence, as Meg Davies says, (Rhetoric and
      Reference in the Fourth Gospel) - there can be no such thing. You cannot
      exist before you exist. Eternally existent would be better. The
      interesting question is whether you could say that Jesus is eternally
      existent. He fits the bill, according to NT theology, post-death - i.e.
      traditionally he lives on now and forever, but didn't Jesus come into
      existence, according to the nativity myth (no pejorative use intended),
      when the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary? So before this was the Logos. But
      then there's John 8 - Before Abraham was I am. No there is a rather
      interesting use of tenses and a clear indication of eternal existence. But
      this is off the point...

      Pete

      Peter Phillips
      New Testament Lecturer and Director of Studies,
      Cliff College,
      Calver,
      Hope Valley, Derbyshire, UK

      Tel: +44 1246 582321 x122
      Fax: +44 1246 583739




      -----Original Message-----
      From: Horace Jeffery Hodges [SMTP:jefferyhodges@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 03:20
      To: johannine_literature@egroups.com
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] A Grammatico-theological Question

      Thanks, Paul, for the grammatical clarifications. Now,
      on to other points.

      I asked:

      > > Does the term Logos, on the other hand, suggest
      > > eternal existence? Or does it imply a coming into
      > > existence at the moment of creation, when God
      > 'spoke'?

      You replied:

      > That depends greatly upon a number of things.
      > First, what do you
      > understand the Logos of John 1:1ff to be? Second,
      > do you see the
      > preexistence theme to be a uniquely Hebrew view of
      > preexistence, which
      > refers to God's foreknowledge of things to come
      > rather than the
      > western understanding of literally existing before.

      I suppose that I am more Western here, in the sense
      that you present it. However, I wonder if "Western"
      and "Hebrew" can be split so definitively. It seems to
      me that the rabbinical view that God created the world
      through the Torah gives the Torah a more significant
      pre-existence than those things of which God had
      foreknowledge.

      Also, the Judaism of the time of the writer of the
      fourth gospel was permeated by Hellenistic ideas, so I
      wonder how foreign a "Western" way of thinking was
      anyway.

      > Genesis says "In the beginning, God...". He,
      > therefore, predates
      > "existence". Anything God "thought", therefore,
      > would also predate
      > "existence". Certainly, He knew His plan for His
      > Son before the world
      > was created. In that sense, at least, Jesus Christ
      > preexisted the
      > world.

      I would prefer to say that God's existence was prior
      to the creation of the universe. God's thoughts would
      certainly also be prior to the creation, I agree. That
      still leaves open the question of whether the Son was
      prior to creation. I don't know that the answer to
      this is found in John's Gospel, however. It may be
      implicit, and I would be interested in hearing what
      people think on this.

      > > If the Hebrew-scripture background here is
      > speculation
      > > on the female figure Wisdom, then one would
      > suppose
      > > that the Logos came into existence at creation as
      > the
      > > first of God's creatures.
      >
      > > This was certainly a view that became significant
      > > in the early church.
      > > In my view, it was a corruption of the Hebrew view
      > > of preexistence by
      > > the Greek influx into the church. To the Jews,
      > > Wisdom was a concept,
      > > a manifestation of God, if you will, but not a
      > > being separate from
      > > God. To the Greeks, Wisdom was a heavenly being,
      > > existing somewhere
      > > between the earth and the God of all, who could
      > > not bear to interact
      > > directly with the creation.

      Actually, I was referring to Proverbs 8 or 9 (I don't
      have a Bible handy), which explicitly personifies
      Wisdom as a female figure who is the first of God's
      creation. The Wisdom of Solomon also seems to
      personify Wisdom -- though there is probably a Greek
      influence here (though surely not in Proverbs).

      Thanks again.

      Jeffery Hodges

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    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 9/18/2000 5:39:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time, antonio.jerez@privat.utfors.se writes: [Responding to Leonard, who wrote:] Antonio, no
      Message 76 of 76 , Sep 18, 2000
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        In a message dated 9/18/2000 5:39:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
        antonio.jerez@... writes:

        [Responding to Leonard, who wrote:]
        << > Antonio, no matter how highly elevated a creature is, no matter how
        "close"
        > to God a creature comes, he is still infinitely -- yes, infinitely
        inferior
        > to God. If this were the case for Jesus it would have been incumbent on
        the
        > NT authors to make this point perfectly clear. Now there are texts in
        which
        > they do not do so, and in fact many of them confound Jesus quite
        deliberately
        > and quite thoroughly with God. If it is true that Jesus is not God, either
        > these writers were terribly misled, or they are terribly misleading.

        The only problem is that Luke and the other synoptic writers did not
        have to contend with a 20th century highly orthodox chap from America
        who is so infatuated with trinitarianism that he has to force it on the texts
        at all price. Leonard, why don't you take a close look at Peter's speech
        in Acts 2:22-36 again and see if you find any support at all for your
        position.
        This is as close to Luke's and the early Jerusalem church's Christology as
        we will ever get, and Jesus is never called or likened to God. He is a MAN
        (v.22) SENT by God (v.22) to fullfill God's plan for humanity (v.23). God
        resurrected him (v24) and MADE him into LORD and MESSIAH (v. 36).

        How do you explain that somebody who is God (as you claim Jesus is) has
        to be made Lord and Messiah by God? >>

        Antonio, it seems you didn't read my post carefully enough (which makes me
        wonder how carefully you read the biblical texts that challenge your
        understanding). What I said was that "there are texts" in the NT in which
        Jesus is thoroughly confounded with God. This is quite compatible, logically,
        with the existence of other texts in which he is not (and was carefully
        formulated precisely so as to accommodate these). The Acts text you cite is
        clearly one such, and, in Chalcedonian terms, it could be said that it is
        simply talking about Jesus as man, under which formality he is of course
        thoroughly subordinated to, distinct from and inferior to God. My only point
        is that there are other texts in which the NT authors, or most of them,
        express a kind of fuzzy identity between Jesus and God. So the God-Man
        construct of the later patristic writers and church councils seems to me to
        do justice the whole of the biblical evidence about Jesus while you seem able
        to handle only one side of the paradox. Keep trying though! It is wonderful
        that you invest so much mental effort in the search.

        Leonard Maluf
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