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  • Reid Lindner
    Gordon Fee s article, On the Inauthenticity of John 5:3b-4 (The Evangelical Quarterly 54:4 [Oct.-Dec. 1982]: 207-18), presents a number of arguments against
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 7, 2007
      Gordon Fee's article, "On the Inauthenticity of John 5:3b-4" (The
      Evangelical Quarterly 54:4 [Oct.-Dec. 1982]: 207-18), presents a
      number of arguments against Zane Hodges' defense of the passage in
      "The Angel at Bethesda--John 5:4" (Bibliotheca Sacra 136 [1979]:
      25-39). Fee's article may be viewed here: http://

      One of Fee's ten verbal arguments based on intrinsic probability has
      to do with the "enclosed genitive" in Jn 5.3b, THN TOU hUDATOS
      KINHSIN, found on page 212 of his article. "This use of an enclosed
      genitive," says Fee, "presents extraordinarily difficult problems for
      Johannine authenticity." Fee presents two reasons. The first is
      that "one of the marked characteristics of John's style is his
      frequent repetition, in close sequence, of identical words or
      phrases, but frequently with the second or following items appearing
      in word order variation." The second reason is that in John "there
      are some word-order invariables," one of which "is with genitive
      constructions where both nouns are definite (e.g. the eyes of the

      Fee continues, "It is as improbable for John to have written [THN TOU
      hUDATOS KINHSIN] as it would be for a proper Bostonian to say, 'I'm
      fixin' to go up town; y'all come with me, ya hear?' One may count on
      it: had John written 5:3b he would have said [THN TARACHN TOU
      hUDATOS]" (212).

      So Fee argues (1) that John would not have used the n. KINHSIS in Jn
      5.3b because his "invariable" style of repetition would have forced
      him to use TARACH there as he did in 5.4, also corresponding to the
      v. TARASSW in 5.7; and (2) that John invariably does not use an
      enclosed genitive where both nouns are definite.

      On point one (1), I find it hard to believe that a scholar of Fee's
      caliber would make such a claim that John could not have used a
      synonym in 5.3b (i.e. KINHSIN for TARACHN) when just such a thing
      appears elsewhere (cf. Jn 21 for three such examples in the space of
      three verses: BOSKE (21.15,17) with POIMAINE (21.16); ARNIA (21.15)
      with PROBATA (21.16,17); and FILEW (21.15,16,17) with AGAPAW (21.15,16).

      On point two (2), it appears that Jn 18.10 has a clear example of
      just the sort of thing that Fee says John "invariably" could not have
      written: TON TOU ARCIEREWS DOULON. Incredibly, the expression Fee
      argues against (THN TOU hUDATOS KINHSIN) in 5.3b actually fulfills
      his own qualification of Johannine repetition, "but frequently with
      the second or following items appearing in a word order
      variation" (212), in the expression in 5.4 (THN TARACHN TOU hUDATOS),
      allowing for the possibility that the composer could have used a
      synonym as he does elsewhere.

      Obviously Jn 5.3b-4 has much to overcome besides this if it is to be
      considered original. I am not arguing for its originality here, but
      rather against the use of such absolute language as Fee does here and
      elsewhere, which in the end considerably weakens, if not tarnishes,
      the presentation.

      Reid Lindner
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