Sunday, May 6, 2018

In, Out, and Regarding the Cosmos

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary remarks regarding John 17:6-19, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for the 7thweek of Easter. At the end of the translation I have some comments regarding the use of the term ‘world’ or ‘cosmos.’  I make the same argument, apart from the critical matters regarding translation, at http://www.politicaltheology.com/blog/the-politics-of-location-john-176-19/

6Ἐφανέρωσάσου τὸ ὄνομα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς ἔδωκάςμοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.
σοὶ ἦσανκἀμοὶ αὐτοὺς ἔδωκας, καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετήρηκαν
I made your name visible to the persons whom you gave to me out of the world. Yours they were 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. “your name” Here are references throughout John’s gospel 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.”
2. This verse says that Jesus “made visible” God’s name. The verb φανερόω (phan/ero) is related to our word “Epi/phany.” Many John scholars have written about John’s relationship with certain “Gnostic” groups in his day, noting both 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. 

νῦν ἔγνωκανὅτι πάντα ὅ σα δέδωκάςμοι 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 
1. While it was a fairly common term, the word translated “to know” (γινώσκω) is the word from which the word “Gnostic” is transliterated into English. 
2. Here γινώσκω 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 ….” 

ὅτι τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἔδωκάςμοι δέδωκααὐτοῖς, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλαβονκαὶ 
ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς ὅτι παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐπίστευσανὅτι σύ με 
ἀπέστειλας
because the sayings 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
1. 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. 
2. “the sayings”: The plural noun here (τὰῥήματα) is different from “the word” (τὸν λόγον) in v.6. 

ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτῶν ἐρωτῶ: οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμουἐρωτῶἀλλὰ περὶ ὧν δέδωκάς
μοι, ὅτι σοί εἰσιν
I ask in regard to them – not in regard to the worlddo 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 ἐρωτῶ] 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 ἐστινκαὶ τὰ σὰ ἐμά, καὶ δεδόξασμαιἐν 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 
1. Statements like this remind me that I am reading a narrative presentation of Jesus. While this is a “prayer” in the sense that Jesus is addressing God at a very critical hour, it is not as if someone had captured raw footage of this prayer on video, without Jesus knowing about it. It is the author’s construction, which is why it reads less as something Jesus might need to say to God and more like something that the audience needs to know about Jesus and God. 

11 καὶ οὐκέτι εἰμὶἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳεἰσίν, κἀγὼ πρὸς σὲ 
ἔρχομαι. Πάτερ ἅγιε, τήρησοναὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάςμοι, ἵνα ὦσινἓν 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 we.  
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. Akin to the comment I just made about v.10, this verse also reminds us that we are reading literature. 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). 
2. 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 easily differentiated. 
3. 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. 
4. It is quite awkward to end the sentence with “just as we.” The pronoun “we” is a 1stperson plural in the nominative case, because the verb ‘may be’ εἰμί can take a predicate that is in the nominative case (rather than the usual accusative case). 
5. “in order that they may be one as we”: Last week we looked at the role that ἵνα (in order that) played in Jn.15. Here, it shows that the purpose of the prayer, the reason Jesus asks God to keep the disciples in God’s name, is not so that when they die they will go to heaven, but so that they may be one as Jesus and God [are one]. Many people point to the phrase “that they may be one” as the central point of this prayer and I would agree. 

12 ὅτε ἤμηνμετ' αὐτῶν ἐγὼ ἐτήρουναὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάςμοι, καὶ ἐφύλαξα, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀπώλετοεἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ
When I was with them I was keeping them in your name whichyou have given to me, and I guarded 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. I am noticing that Young’s Literal Translation and the King James Version have the first phrase “While I was with them in the world.” What that suggests is that the manuscripts that were available for older translations contained this phrase, but earlier manuscripts that have been discovered since then do not. 
2. A more significant difference between these older translations and the newer ones is the pronoun which precedes “you have given me” (I have “which” in green.) In the manuscripts used by newer translations, that pronoun is ᾧ a dative singular neuter pronoun which is part of a construction that modifies “the name.” In the YLT and KJV translations, the pronominal phrase “that you have given me” modifies “them,” the disciples and not “the name.” I do not have my critical edition of the Greek NT handy, but this difference suggests the judgment that the older manuscripts (which the YLT and KJV) used have a plural pronoun instead of ᾧ. 
3. “When I was with them …” Again, a ‘future present’ voice. If we are following the narrative strictly, the disciples are sitting right there. 
4. “None of them was destroyed except … [Judas].” This sure looks like a part of the early church’s attempt to name Judas and his action. Was it simply a human act of betrayal? Was it part of God’s plan, predestined by the Scriptures in some way? All four gospels seem to be challenged to describe Judas’ role theologically. And, with the ‘future present’ again, in the narrative Judas is not yet dead (if that is what “destroyed” means) when Jesus is praying this prayer. 
5. “that the writing (Scripture) may be fulfilled.” The question for me is whether this implies that Judas’ descent into destruction is a fulfillment of Scripture or whether the reference is to the crucifixion that Judas’ betrayal leads to. 

13 νῦν δὲ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι, καὶ ταῦτα λαλῶἐν τῷ κόσμῳἵνα ἔχωσιντὴν χαρὰν τὴν ἐμὴν πεπληρωμένηνἐν 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: PASubj 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
1. Again, this first statement seems like an odd thing for Jesus to be telling God in a realtime prayer. And again we have to imagine that the writer is theologizing through the mouth of Jesus.  
2. Jesus makes reference to “my joy” in 15:11 as well: “These things I have spoken to you in order that my joy may be in you and your joy may be fulfilled.” I need to spend time on the relationship between “joy” and “fulfillment.” The pairing of those terms suggests something about the relative nature of joy, which takes us out of a ‘joy/sadness’ binary and into more of a spectrum. I wonder how that spectral view would look regarding all of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). 

14 ἐγὼ δέδωκααὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον σου, καὶ ὁ κόσμος ἐμίσησεναὐτούς, ὅτι οὐκεἰσὶνἐκ τοῦ κόσμουκαθὼς ἐγὼ οὐκεἰμὶἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.
I have given to them your word, and the world hated them, but they are not out of the worldjust 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 
1. This is the strongest expression of ‘the one whom God gave to Jesus’ v. ‘the world’ in this prayer. See my comments below for more. 

15 οὐκ ἐρωτῶ ἵνα ἄρῃςαὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμουἀλλ' ἵνα τηρήσῃςαὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ. 
I ask not in order that you may take them out of the worldbut 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
1. This verse emphasizes a distinction – perhaps important if John is involved in Gnostic controversies – between “out of the world” and “out of the evil.” (Again, see below.) 

16 ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκεἰσὶνκαθὼς ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶἐκ τοῦ κόσμου.
They are not out of the worldjust 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
1. This is almost an exact repetition of v.14b above. 

17  ἁγίασοναὐτοὺς 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
1. 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.” I have to wonder about the relationship between sanctifying the disciples and the repeated claim that the disciples are not “out of the world.” 

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 (κόσμον)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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