Sunday, May 21, 2017

Glory and Giving That All May Be One

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding John 17:1-11, the lectionary gospel reading for the seventh Sunday of Easter.

Two verbs stand out prominently in this text: δοξάζω “glorify” and δίδωμι “give.”
δοξάζω appears 5 times in this chapter. When Jesus prays, “Father … glorify thy son,” we are
δίδωμι appears 17 times in this chapter. Sometimes it refers to the authority or glory that God has given to Jesus, several times to the persons whom God has given to Jesus, as well as to the name, the glory, the word, etc. that Jesus has given to them.  

I will carry both of these terms around with me as I rest in this text throughout the week. Your comments are very welcomed. 

As noted before, if you have time to waste on your hands, you can visit a sermon from my archives on the Acts 1:1-11 text here and a sermon on both Acts and John here. Both of these sermons are highly contextualized in their moment, which reminds me why posting sermons from archives is probably not the best gift to the world. But, alas, it's all I have. 

1 Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν 
οὐρανὸν εἶπεν, Πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν  ὥρα: δόξασόν σου τὸν υἱόν, ἵνα  υἱὸς 
δοξάσῃ σέ, 
Jesus spoke these things, and having lifted his eyes into the heaven said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, in order that the son may glorify you,
ἐλάλησεν: AAI 3s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak  
ἐπάρας: AAPart nsm, ἐπαίρω, 1) to lift up, raise up, raise on high  
ἐλήλυθεν: PerfAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  … of persons arriving and returning 
δόξασόν: AAImpv 2s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate 
δοξάσῃ: AASubj 3s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate 
1. The word glory/glorify will recur throughout the text in the verbal (δοξάζω) or nominal form (δόξῃ). Of note, it is not a general prayer for ongoing glorification, but is specific to the hour that has come and – with the verbs in the aorist tense – has a one-time ‘on this occasion’ feel. John uses the verb 18 times outside of our text. The complete list is located at the bottom of this post.

2 καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός, ἵνα πᾶν  δέδωκας αὐτῷ 
δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 
Just as you gave to him authority of all flesh, in order that all whom you have given him he may give eons-long life.
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  
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
δώσῃ : AASubj 3s, δίδωμι, 1) to give  2) to give something to someone  2a) of one's own accord to give one something, to his advantage
1. Most refined translations say “over all flesh.” There is no preposition; it is implied in the genitive case of the words “all flesh.” I typically translate genitives as “of” and will leave it here in this rough translation to show that it is an implied word that shows the interpreter’s perspective of how authority works.
2.The second phrase is awkward because there are two objects of the verb “give” – ‘all’ and ‘ages-long life.’
3. I have revised my translation of ζωὴν αἰώνιον from “ages-long” to “eons-long life,” in order to stay as close to the actual Greek term αἰών (eon) as possible. Typically, the phrase is translated “eternal life,” although Youngs’s Literal Translation uses “life age-during.”  
I don’t know why this phrase intrigues me so. I think sometimes we treat it as if it is about time – as we know it – that just keeps on ticking and ticking. But, time –as we know it – corrupts. That is why “aging” refers not only to the passage of moments, but the wearing and tearing of things. If we think of “eternal” as time – as we know it – just with lots and lots more seconds, hours, millennia, and eons tacked on to it, nothing physical would last, so we posit “spiritual” entities.
I think the phrase ζωὴν αἰώνιον is an attempt to point to a different kind of existence, one that is not bound by time but beyond time, where synchronicity, simultaneity, process, past, present, future, and duration all are fluid or else all one. Paul Tillich spoke of “eternal” as primarily a spatial and not a temporal word, pointing to the ‘depth’ of time, with vertical imagery rather than a horizontal line imagery. I think he was right about that, which allows us to think more promisingly about how even our temporal moments can be “eternal” in meaning and significance.
I’ll stop now.

3 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν  αἰώνιος ζωή, ἵνα γινώσκωσιν σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν 
καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν. 
Yet this is the eons-long life, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent.
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
γινώσκωσιν : PASubj 3p, γινώσκω 1. know -est,-eth,-ing; knew, -est to perceive, observe, obtain a knowledge of or insight into.
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  
1. Just an observation: Verses 1 began with the phrase, “Jesus spoke these things,” but every reference Jesus makes to himself is in the 3rd person, not the 1st person voice. It’s like when Bob Dole used to talk about Bob Dole as if he were someone else. Actually, it’s like the narrator ascribing to Jesus things that s/he wants to say about Jesus.
2. Likewise, v.3 particularly is not a “prayer,” even if it is addressing God in the 2nd person voice. It is an explanation that surely Jesus has no need to offer to God. My point is that while we are reading what is commonly called “Jesus’ prayer,” it is much more than that. The narrator is very deliberately speaking to the audience, as evidenced by this clarification in v.3 that has no place in a prayer from Jesus to God.
3. And what an explanation it is! The phrase αἰώνιος ζωή is a key to John’s gospel, appearing 17 times with this as the last. The definition offered in this verse has nothing to do with time. Eons-long life = knowing God and Jesus Christ. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard or preached a sermon that describes “eternal life” as simply this.

4 ἐγώ σε ἐδόξασα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὸ ἔργον τελειώσας  δέδωκάς μοι ἵνα 
ποιήσω: 
I glorified you on the earth, having completed the work which you have given to me in order that I would do;
ἐδόξασα: AAI 1s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate 
τελειώσας : AAPart nsm, τελειόω, 1) to make perfect, complete  1a) to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end 
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
ποιήσω: AASubj 1s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
1. It is curious that this pre-crucifixion prayer refers to Jesus having completed the work God gave him to do, rather than saying, “I’m almost done.” Again, this seems to be the guise of an ‘in-time’ prayer for Jesus, but is rather the narrator speaking to the community about Jesus.

5 καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ, πάτερ, παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ  εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν 
κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί. 
And now you glorify me, Father, with yourself in the glory which I had with you before the world was.  
δόξασόν: AAImpv 2s, δοξάζω, 1) to think, suppose, be of opinion  2) to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate 
εἶχον : AAI 1s, 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, to have or comprise or  involve, to regard or consider or hold as 
εἶναι : PAInf, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. Here was my previous comment from 2014:
I’m at a loss for how to negotiate this verse. There are two things that are perplexing me. One is the τοῦ in the phrase, πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον – a genitive singular article, which is substantive since it is not followed by a genitive noun. I have a feeling that it is supposed to cast the rest of the sentence in some direction, but I don’t know what. The second is the present active infinitive εἶναι, which most translations treat as an indicative verb. I keep hoping for an illuminating connection between the naked substantive article and this curious infinitive, but I can’t even invent one. “Translation Fail.”
Then, Caleb Yoder responded with this:
You were wondering what to do with verse 5 (προ του τον κοσμον ειναι). I don't have a Greek grammar handy to cite, but I believe infinitives can have definite articles. So του belongs to the infinitive ειναι. It is genitive because it is governed by the preposition προ and "world" is accusative because it is the subject of the infinitive. Literally "before the world to be" or "before the world's being." In normal English, "before the world was/existed." The "with you" at the end probably goes with "that I had." "...the glory that I had with/alongside you before the world was."
I am grateful for this explanation and have revised my translation accordingly.
Thanks, Caleb.

6  Ἐφανέρωσά σου τὸ ὄνομα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς ἔδωκάς μοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. 
σοὶ ἦσαν κἀμοὶ αὐτοὺς ἔδωκας, καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετήρηκαν. 
I showed your name to the persons whom you gave to me out of the world. They were from you and to me you gave them, and they have attended to 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  
τετήρηκαν:PerfAI 3p, τηρέω, 1) to attend to carefully, take care of  1a) to guard
1. As I stated last week, with reference to John 14:15 and 21, I translate τηρέω as “attended to,” partly because I think it is a significant word philosophically. (It’s a Kantian thing, prompted by Kant’s phrase of “every act of attention” – aufmerkung or ‘marking out’ in German – which I think is a primordial moment in both pure and practical reason.) To “attend to” Jesus’ commands or word is about devoting one’s attention and energy toward them.

7 νῦν ἔγνωκαν ὅτι πάντα ὅ σα δέδωκάς μοι παρὰ σοῦ εἰσιν:
Now they have come to know that all which you have given to me is 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. Some Greek texts have ἔδωκάς (aorist, “gave”) instead of δέδωκάς (Perfect).

8 ὅτι τὰ ῥήματα  ἔδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλαβον καὶ 
ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς ὅτι παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν ὅτι σύ με 
ἀπέστειλας. 
Because the words which you gave to me I have given to them, and they received and came to know truly that I came out 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   
ἐπίστευσαν: AAI 3p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in
ἀπέστειλας: AAI 2s, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed 
1. I think vv. 7 and 8 are elaborations of what Jesus means in v.6, that Jesus has showed God’s name to the ones God gave him, and they attended to it.

9 ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτῶν ἐρωτῶ: οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου ἐρωτῶ ἀλλὰ περὶ ὧν δέδωκάς 
μοι, ὅτι σοί εἰσιν, 
I ask concerning them – not concerning the world do I ask but concerning 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

10 καὶ τὰ ἐμὰ πάντα σά ἐστιν καὶ τὰ σὰ ἐμά, καὶ δεδόξασμαι ἐν αὐτοῖς. 
And all mine is yours and yours is 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. While I am a little perplexed by the “mine” and “yours” references – with no clear (to me) antecedent of “my what” or “your what,” at least the principle of identity here is quite familiar – one sees Jesus, one sees God, and visa-versa; Jesus is glorified, God is glorified, and visa-versa; what belongs to Jesus, belongs to God, and visa-versa.

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  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, attend to 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
εἰσίν: 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. The phrase “I am no longer in the world” is a real, real problem for people who want to treat the Scriptures as if they are actual day-by-day accounts of what was actually said in each moment. Narratively, Jesus is right there, in the world, praying this prayer after washing feet, giving commands, and instructing the disciples. The ‘Narrative Jesus’ might protest, “I’m not dead yet!” The ‘Praying Jesus’ is dead, raised, and gone again – no longer in the world – as John’s community would experience him.

2. Now the identity of being ‘one’ that Jesus has been asserting over and over regarding himself and God is brought to a new place. His prayer is that those whom God has given to him out of the world might have that same kind of identity.

3 comments:

  1. You were wondering what to do with verse 5 (προ του τον κοσμον ειναι). I don't have a Greek grammar handy to cite, but I believe infinitives can have definite articles. So του belongs to the infinitive ειναι. It is genitive because it it is governed by the preposition προ and "world" is accusative because it is the subject of the infinitive. Literally "before the world to be" or "before the world's being." In normal English, "before the world was/existed." The "with you" at the end probably goes with "that I had." "...the glory that I had with/alongside you before the world was."

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  2. This sounds exactly right, Caleb. Thanks for getting me out of the logjam.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sometimes we say someone is living in the 'stone age' or the 'dark ages' - Aion could relate to Kosmos (although time and space are also different) as being the mode of living and thinking vs. chronological time itself.

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