Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Winter's Story

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments on John 10:22-30, the gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Easter. Your comments are always welcomed!

22 Ἐγένετο τότε τὰ ἐγκαίνια ἐν τοῖς Ἱεροσολύμοις: χειμὼν ἦν,
Then the festival of dedication in Jerusalem began; it was winter,
Ἐγένετο: AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. Apparently this is a festival of the consecration of the renovated Temple. See 2 Mac. 1: 9, 18; 10: 1; 1 Mac. 4:41, and Josephus’ Antiquities, 7:7. 6, 7
2. “It was winter” is a curious detail. It can snow in Jerusalem in the winter, but I saw this on an executive travel site: “Winter in Jerusalem, from November to February, brings the rainy season and temperatures of between 5 and 13 degrees Celsius (41 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit). Generally, the weather is likely to be very sunny all year round.”

 23 καὶ περιεπάτει ὁἸησοῦς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἐν τῇ στοᾷ τοῦ Σολομῶνος.
And Jesus walked in the temple in the portico of Solomon.
περιεπάτει: IAI 3s, περιπατέω, 1) to walk 
1. Some Bible history sites seem to me a little more devotional than historical. Still, it appears that “Solomon’s portico” is a portion of the first temple wall that Herod chose not to rebuild, but was still standing during the NT era. From what I can gather, the portico was built up on an “E” shaped foundation, because the landform was uneven, and provided a view overlooking the city.

 24 ἐκύκλωσαν οὖν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ, Εως πότε τὴν ψυχὴν ἡμῶν αἴρεις; εἰ σὺ εἶ  Χριστός, εἰπὲ ἡμῖν παρρησίᾳ.
Therefore the Judeans surrounded him and were saying to him, “How long will you keep our souls in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us outright.” 
ἐκύκλωσαν: AAI 3p, κυκλόω, 1) to go around, lead around  2) to surround, encircle, encompass  2a) of persons standing around  2b) of besiegers 
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
αἴρεις: PAI 2s, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  ... 3d) to take off or away what is attached to anything  3c) to remove  3d) to carry off, carry away with one  3e) to appropriate what is taken 
εἶ: PAI 2s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
εἰπὲ: AAImpv 2s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
1. The verb αἴρεις (keep in suspense) and the noun παρρησίᾳ (outright) seem to be in opposition in this very interesting comment from the Judeans.
2. Following Richard Horsley’s argument (although he is addressing Mark, which may be a different scenario), I translate Ἰουδαῖοι  as Judeans, rather than Jews. It reminds me that the tensions may be more fraternal, between competing strands of Judaism, than Christian v. Jewish, as it is often read.
3. This is a curious use of “souls” or “minds” (psyche/ ψυχὴν). I also am inclined to take the question at face value, that they were truly wondering and wanting some verification.

 25 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς  Ἰησοῦς, Εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ  οὐ πιστεύετε: τὰ ἔργα ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου ταῦτα μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ:
Jesus answered to them, “I told you and you do not believe; the works which I do in the name of my father these witness concerning me;
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer 
Εἶπον: AAI 1s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
πιστεύετε: PAI 2p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in 
ποιῶ: PAI 1s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
μαρτυρεῖ: PAI 3s, μαρτυρέω, 1) to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has  seen or heard or experienced something,
1. Jesus now puts the burden of belief back onto the Judeans. He has said it plainly enough and – in addition – his works which are done in God’s name are witnesses.
2. The issue has shifted slightly from ‘speaking outright’ to ‘believing what Jesus has said and what his works testify.’

26 ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς οὐ πιστεύετε, ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐκ τῶν προβάτων τῶν ἐμῶν.
but you do not believe, because you are not out of my sheep.
πιστεύετε: PAI 2p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in 
ἐστὲ: PAI 2p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
1. And now the issue shifts even more dramatically. It is not just a matter of Jesus telling outright or of Jesus telling while his works witness. It is a matter of believing based on whose one is – a sheep of this shepherd or of a different flock.
2. The conjunction is usually translated as “that” or “because.” Every translation I’ve seen goes with “because” here, which puts the Judeans’ unbelief as a result of their non-belonging. If we went with translating as “that,” it could read, “but you do not believe that you are from my sheep.” Possible, but not really fitting to the overall flow.

 27τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἐμὰ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούουσιν, κἀγὼ γινώσκω αὐτά, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσίν μοι,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,
ἀκούουσιν: PAI 3p, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf
γινώσκω: PAI 1s, γινώσκω, 1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel 
ἀκολουθοῦσίν: PAI 3p ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes,
1. The matter of belonging to a sheepfold is bi-directional. The shepherd knows the sheep, the sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow.

 28κἀγὼ δίδωμι αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ ἐκ τῆς χειρός μου.
and I give to them life of the ages, and they may not perish into the ages, and anyone will not snatch these ones out of my hand.
δίδωμι: PAI 1s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone 
ἀπόλωνται: AMSubj 3p, ἀπόλλυμι, 1) to destroy
ἁρπάσει: FAI 3s, ἁρπάζω, 1) to seize, carry off by force  2) to seize on, claim for one's self eagerly  3) to snatch out or away 
1. The verb “I give” is present tense, not future. “Perish” is also not in the future, it is an aorist middle subjunctive. The only verb that is in the future tense here is “will not snatch.” That is curious because we typically hear “life of the ages” and “perish” as future possibilities based on how well we preserve here and now. In this verse, “life of the ages” and “perish” are not future, but the “not-able-to-snatch” is.

 29  πατήρ μου  δέδωκέν μοι πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ πατρός.
My father who has given to me of all is great, and no one is able to snatch out of the father’s hand.
δέδωκέν: PerfAI 3s, δίδωμι, 1) to give 
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
δύναται: PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
ἁρπάζειν: PAInf, ἁρπάζω, 1) to seize, carry off by force  2) to seize on, claim for one's self eagerly  3) to snatch out or away 
1. There are some translating challenges in this verse. First, there is no direct object for for the verb “given.” Most translations supply one, usually “My father has given them to me.”
2. Second, the adjective μεῖζόν is in the nominative case. Typically, the nominative case signified the subject of the verb, but with the verb ‘to be’ (as we have here) it can be a predicate, called the ‘predicate nominative.’ Hence, “great” can be the object of the verb “is.” But, then there is the genitive “of all,” which fits better with a comparative word like “greatest” than “great.” The question would be, what does that genitive modify? “Great?” That is where most translations go. I am trying to leave other possibilities on the table, but nothing fits without difficulty.
3. The successive “hands”, mentioned in v.28 and v.29 are ‘my hand’ and ‘the father’s hand.’ Perhaps the comparative “great” is comparing Jesus’ hand and God’s hand.

 30ἐγὼ καὶ  πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν.
I and the father are one. 
ἐσμεν: PAI 1p, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
1. Like John’s prologue, where the Word ‘was’ and ‘was with’ God (‘was with,’ implying ‘was not the same as’), v.30 shows the identity between Jesus and God, while v.29 depends on the difference between Jesus and God. It reminds me of how some 19th/20th century philosophers call truth the ‘synthesis of identity and difference.’


So, after all of this, the question lingers ... "Why the note that it was winter?" 

11 comments:

  1. Mark -- Thank you for this...seriously...with a week of travel, sickness (both myself and congregants), and the Boston mess...your work is a God-send! Bless you for taking the time and energy to work through the text and post your notes. Much appreciation...and, I agree...the question still lingers.

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  2. Mark -- Thank you for this...seriously...with a week of travel, sickness (both myself and congregants), and the Boston mess...your work is a God-send! Bless you for taking the time and energy to work through the text and post your notes. Much appreciation...and, I agree...the question still lingers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, MC. The work is a joy in itself, but even moreso knowing that someone out there actually benefits from it!
    Thanks again for your kind words. May your weekend be a blessed end to a difficult week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have found a few comments on "winter" - one study Bible said this was to explain why Jesus sought shelter on the Porch. I found this fairly unsatisfactory. Another source (where ?) said that this word indicated the relative coldness in the relationship between Jesus and the Jewish authorities at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have found a few comments on "winter" - one study Bible said this was to explain why Jesus sought shelter on the Porch. I found this fairly unsatisfactory. Another source (where ?) said that this word indicated the relative coldness in the relationship between Jesus and the Jewish authorities at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you as always for your analysis. One quibble--according to all the sources I could find, Solomon's portico did not overlook the city proper but was on the east side of the Temple overlooking the Kidron Valley and toward the Mount of Olives (and, of course, Gethsemane.) Foreshadowing by 4G?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. My geography is ever suspect, so I welcome your quibbles. Blessings.

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  7. Re: the conjunction in verse 26, using "that" instead of "because" gives a nuance that helps explain the stumbling block to hearing and seeing him for who he is. I have wrestled with what appears to be an exclusivity of God's love in this passage that is inconsistent with the promise of grace. Using "that" names the barrier to their hearing/seeing Jesus for who he is. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Re: the conjunction in verse 26, using "that" instead of "because" gives a nuance that helps explain the stumbling block to hearing and seeing him for who he is. I have wrestled with what appears to be an exclusivity of God's love in this passage that is inconsistent with the promise of grace. Using "that" names the barrier to their hearing/seeing Jesus for who he is. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan. Blessings on your ministry.

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  9. There are indeed those who benefit. Today, as every Sunday, your interpretations played a big part in the Bible Study at the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life. The what????
    Yes, it's a group of us avatars who get together to discuss the gospel in a time before our Sunday service. https://slangcath.wordpress.com/about/

    ReplyDelete

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