Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In, Out, and Regarding the Cosmos


Below is my rough translation and some notes regarding the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday. You will find the Greek text, followed by my translation in bold, and my notes in blue. I am still glazed over a bit by John's writing style and find it easier to examine the individual trees than to see the whole forest. I welcome your comments and contributions, particularly as you step back and consider this reading as a whole.

John 17:6-19 
6 Ἐφανέρωσά σου τὸ ὄνομα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς ἔδωκάς μοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. σοὶ ἦσαν κἀμοὶ αὐτοὺς ἔδωκας, καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετήρηκαν.
I made your name known to the persons whom you gave to me out of the world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 
Ἐφανέρωσά : AAI 1s, φανερόω, 1) to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown,   to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way
ἔδωκας : AAI 2s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
ἦσαν: IAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἔδωκας : AAI 2s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
τετήρηκαν:PerfAI 3p, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard
1. “I have made your name known …” Here are John’s references to God’s name: 
John 5.43, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.” 
John 10.25, “Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me;”
John 12.13, So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!’
John 12.28, Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’
There are three other references to God’s name in this prayer in John 17. Vv. 11 and 12 below, and John 17.26, “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
There are also a number of references to Jesus’ name throughout John. 
2. This verse says that Jesus “made known” God’s name. Many John scholars have written about John’s relationship with certain “Gnostic” groups in his day, both noting some affinities that John has with them and some ways that John seeks to distance himself from them. As the name implies, “Gnosticism” refers to special insight or “knowing” (γνωσις) that some groups claim to have about divine matters. 

7 νῦν ἔγνωκαν ὅτι πάντα ὅ σα δέδωκάς μοι παρὰ σοῦ εἰσιν:
Now they have come to know that all things which you have given to me are from you;  
ἔγνωκαν : PerfAI 3p, γινώσκω, 1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
δέδωκάς: PerfAI 2s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
εἰσιν: PAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
While it is a fairly common term, the word translated “to know” (γινώσκω) is the word from which the word “Gnostic” is transliterated into English. Here it is in the perfect tense, which would usually be translated “have known,” but it is in tension with the word “now.” So, I have made it “Now they have come to know.” The NRSV treats it like a simple present, “Now they know that …” I don’t know why they do that. 

8 ὅτι τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἔδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλαβον καὶ ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς ὅτι παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας.
because the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they received and they knew truly that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 
ἔδωκάς: AAI 2s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
δέδωκα: PerfAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
ἔλαβον : AAI 3p, λαμβάνω, 1) to take  1a) to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing  in order to use it  1a1) to take up a thing to be carried
ἔγνωσαν: AAI 3p, γινώσκω, 1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
ἐξῆλθον: AAI 1s, ἐξέρχομαι, 1) to go or come forth of  1a) with mention of the place out of which one goes, or the  point from which he departs
ἐπίστευσαν: AAI 3p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believed
ἀπέστειλας: AAI 2s, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed  2) to send away, dismiss  2a) to allow one to depart, that he may be in a state of  liberty  2b) to order one to depart, send off
The first word of this sentence, ὅτι, can mean either “that” or “because,” depending on how one reads the context. I am reading as “because,” and letting v.8 explain how it is that Jesus’ disciples have come to know that the things that Jesus offers are from God. 

9 ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτῶν ἐρωτῶ: οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου ἐρωτῶ ἀλλὰ περὶ ὧν δέδωκάς μοι, ὅτι σοί εἰσιν,
I ask in regard to them – not in regard to the world do I ask but for in regard to the ones whom you have given me – because they are yours, 
ἐρωτῶ: PAI 1s, ἐρωτάω, 1) to question  2) to ask  2a) to request, entreat, beg, beseech
δέδωκας : PerfAI 2s δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
εἰσιν: PAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. The word ἐρωτῶ is translated “pray” in some translations. The more common word for “pray,” as in Matt. 6:9, is προσεύχομαι. The primary common meaning of ἐρωτῶ is simply “to ask.” When that ‘asking’ is directed to God, it is often called “prayer,” even though there are other terms that carry the more technical sense of prayer. 
2. “Asking,” plays a key role in John’s gospel. According to TDNT, “There is a significant theological usage [of ‘asking’] in John, in whom almost half of the occurrences [in the NT] are found. ... According to Jn.16:23 part of the future salvation is that the disciples will not need to ask him anything further. In a theology where knowledge and perception are so central, asking can only imply imperfection. The only way to overcome this is by ultimate fellowship with Christ at the deepest level.” (v.2, p.683-4) 

10 καὶ τὰ ἐμὰ πάντα σά ἐστιν καὶ τὰ σὰ ἐμά, καὶ δεδόξασμαι ἐν αὐτοῖς.
And all that is mine is yours and all that is yours mine, and I have been glorified in them. 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
δεδόξασμαι : PerfPI 1s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate  3) to honor, do honor to, hold in honor

11 καὶ οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰσίν, κἀγὼ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι. Πάτερ ἅγιε, τήρησον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάς μοι, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς.
And I am no longer in the world, and they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name which you have given to me, in order that they may be one just as us.
εἰμὶ : PAI 1s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
εἰσιν: PAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἔρχομαι: PMI 1s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  1a) of persons  1a1) to come from one place to another, and used both of  persons arriving and of those returning
τήρησον : AAImpv 2s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard  1b) metaph. to keep
δέδωκας : PerfAI 2s δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
ὦσιν : PASubj 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. It seems weird for Jesus to be – according to the story – offering this prayer on the day of his last supper with the disciples, and yet saying in that prayer “I am no longer in the world.” Literary scholars sometimes speak of the ‘historical present,’ when a past event is narrated in the present tense. Here, we have something of a “future present,” when a future location is put into the mouth of someone who was ostensibly right there in the world while uttering this prayer about no longer being in the world. 
When we see this kind of layering of time sequences, we get a glimpse into how the NT gospels are self-consciously aware that they are literary works, set in the author’s own time and place, remembering and embracing events that are set in a past time and place. So, in this prayer, actual Jesus time would be one layer, the time of John’s narrative being written (perhaps 95 CE or later) is another. At the time of John’s gospel, Jesus was, in fact, no longer ‘in the world,’ but disciples were (not the 12, perhaps, but disciples nonetheless). 
However, the phrase “I am coming to you” is curiously different. One would think that those words are more appropriate to “Jesus time” and not “John’s writing time.” The ‘layers’ of time sequences seem to have been baked together, like a lasagna, and are not simple or easily differentiated. 
2. I did a quick phrase search on the Oremus Bible Browser and this was the only reference I could find to the title “holy father” in the Bible.

12 ὅτε ἤμην μετ' αὐτῶν ἐγὼ ἐτήρουν αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάς μοι, καὶ ἐφύλαξα, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀπώλετο εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ.
When I was with them I was keeping them in your name which you have given to me, and I was guarding them, and no one out of them was destroyed except the son of destruction, in order that the writing may be fulfilled. 
ἤμην: IMI 1s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἐτήρουν: IAI 1s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard  1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is  1c) to observe  1d) to reserve: to undergo something
δέδωκάς: PerfAI 2s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage  2a1) to bestow a gift
ἐφύλαξα: AAI 1s, φυλάσσω, 1) to guard   1a) to watch, keep watch   1b) to guard or watch, have an eye upon: lest he escape   1c) to guard a person (or thing) that he may remain safe  
ἀπώλετο: AMI 3s, ἀπόλλυμι, 1) to destroy  1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin  1b) render useless  1c) to kill
πληρωθῇ: APSubj 3s, πληρόω, 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full  1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally
1. “When I was with them …” Again, a ‘future present’ voice. If we are following the narrative strictly, the disciples are sitting right there. 
2. “None of them was destroyed except … [Judas].” This sure looks like a part of the early church’s struggle to name Judas and his action. Was it simply a human act of betrayal? Was it part of God’s plan, therefore predestined in some way? All four gospels seem to be struggling to describe Judas’ role theologically. And, with the ‘future present’ again, in the narrative Judas is not yet dead when Jesus is praying this prayer. 

13 νῦν δὲ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι, καὶ ταῦτα λαλῶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἵνα ἔχωσιν τὴν χαρὰν τὴν ἐμὴν πεπληρωμένην ἐν ἑαυτοῖς.
Yet now I am coming to you, and these things I am saying in the world in order that they may have my joy fulfilled in them.
ἔρχομαι: PMI 1s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  1a) of persons  1a1) to come from one place to another, and used both of  persons arriving and of those returning
λαλῶ: PAI 1s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak  2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech
ἔχωσιν: PASujb 3p, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have  (hold) possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating  emotions, etc.), to hold fast keep
πεπληρωμένην: PPPart, asf, πληρόω, 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full  1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally
This seems like an odd thing for Jesus to be telling God, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t God already know what Jesus is up to? We have to imagine that the writer is theologizing through the mouth of Jesus. This prayer just would not make sense as a “literal” rendering of something Jesus said at this point in the narrative.

14 ἐγὼ δέδωκα αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον σου, καὶ ὁ κόσμος ἐμίσησεν αὐτούς, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου καθὼς ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.
I have given to them your word, and the world hated them, but they are not out of the world just as I am not out of the world. 
δέδωκα: PerfAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage  2a1) to bestow a gift
ἐμίσησεν: AAI 3s, μισέω, 1) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest  2) to be hated, detested
εἰσὶν: PAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
εἰμὶ: PAI 1s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present

15 οὐκ ἐρωτῶ ἵνα ἄρῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἀλλ' ἵνα τηρήσῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ.
I ask not in order that you may take them out of the world but in order that you may keep them out of the evil. 
ἐρωτῶ: PAI 1s, ἐρωτάω, 1) to question  2) to ask  2a) to request, entreat, beg, beseech
ἄρῃς: AASubj 2s, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  1a) to raise from the ground, take up: stones  1b) to raise upwards, elevate, lift up: the hand
τηρήσῃς: AASubj 2s, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard  1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is
This verse emphasizes a distinction – perhaps important if John is involved in Gnostic controversies – between “the world” and “the evil.” (See below.) 

16 ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ εἰσὶν καθὼς ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.
They are not out of the world just as I am not out of the world. 
εἰσὶν: PAI 3p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
εἰμὶ: PAI 1s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
This is almost an exact repetition of v.14b above. 

17  ἁγίασον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ: ὁ λόγος ὁ σὸς ἀλήθειά ἐστιν.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 
ἁγίασον: AAImpv 2s, ἁγιάζω, 1) to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow  2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God  2a) consecrate things to God  2b) dedicate people to God  3) to purify  3a) to cleanse externally  3b) to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin  3c) to purify internally by renewing of the soul
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
The word “sanctify” (ἁγίασον) is the verbal form of the more common word “holy” (ἅγιος). It is the same word that is in “The Lord’s Prayer” in Mt.6:9 (ἁγιασθήτω), “May your name be hallowed.” 


COSMOS
There are several references to the “world” (κόσμος or ‘cosmos’) throughout this pericope. That is not unusual, because there are 78 uses of this term in John, compared to 15 times in the synoptics gospels (TDNT). At times, it seems that John is using the term spatially, to refer to all of creation – such as in v. 5 just before our pericope, when Jesus says, “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” At other times, it seems to refer to all of humanity, such as in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world …” It may be best not to try to find a “one size fits all” definition of κόσμος in John. Rather, we might let each occasion of the word be shaped by the sentence in which it is embedded. 


In our pericope, we encounter the phrase “out of the world” (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου) in v.6, then it is repeated in vv.14 (2x), 15, and 16 (2x). In vv.14 and 16, the phrase is used with a negative particle, meaning “not out of this world.” Twice, in v. 11, is the phrase “in the world” (ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ) and once, in v.9 is the phrase “on behalf of the world” (περὶ τοῦ κόσμου). 
Interestingly in vv.4-5, just before our pericope, there are references both to the world and to the earth: I glorified you on earth (γῆς- ges, the root of our word ‘geology’) by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 
In verse 6, Jesus is praying for his disciples (it appears) and refers to them as the ones whom God gave to him “out of the world.” I can think of several ways that we might hear it: 
1. We could hear the term “world” as a term of wonder in the way that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry uses “the world” in The Little Prince, when the fox says to the Prince, “You are unique in all the world to me…” If we do so, Jesus could be saying – with wonder – that “out of all the world, these are the ones whom you have given me.” 
2. We could hear it negatively, with “the world” as the place of empires and dangers and temptations, etc. In that sense, for God to give Jesus disciples “out of the world” might indicate that discipleship is liberation from those structures and destructive ways of being. This negative interpretation of “world” might make sense of v.14, that says that the world “hated” the disciples. 
3. In that same vein, Jesus says twice - in v.14 and v.16 - that neither he nor his disciples are “out of the world.”  That seems to be in direct contrast to the claim in v.6, that God had given him the disciples “out of the world.” The point could be in vv.14 and 16 that neither Jesus nor his disciples are ‘products’ of the world, that they do not reflect the values and cares of the world. 
4. Verse 15, however, seems to autocorrect the idea that the “world” is evil, by making a distinction between asking that the disciples be taken out of “the world” and asking that they be kept from “the evil.” 
5. In v.11, the reference to the world simply seems to be a location. Jesus is no longer in the world (see the note about ‘historical present’ above), but the disciples are still in the world. The world might or might not have negative connotations in this verse. 



1 comment:

  1. Mark, thanks for giving me two tidbits for thought: 'actual Jesus time'(not just in this passage but His whole life before and after human form) and whether/how discipleship is liberation from the world.

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