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6 thoughts on “Learning from ‘Doubting’ Thomas video”
I was very interested to see the follow-up to yesterday’s video and to compare the video version with the text version. Obviously the text version gives you more opportunity to look up the links and study rather than just listen.
It was a pity about the sound glitches but for your early forays into this medium this is good going.
I’m intrigued by the interpretation of verse 23. I’m not familiar with Jo-Ann Bryant’s Paideia commentary but I’m struggling to accept the translation ‘Whosoever’s sins you forgive they are forgiven; and whosever you keep, they are kept.’ [Did you intend the second ‘whosever’ sic to be ‘whosoever’?] In this context κρατέω takes an accusative object. I don’t think grammatically the second τινων can support that translation. Grammatically it is far more likely that τὰς ἁμαρτίας is understood in the second clause. I may throw that one at a language group I’m part of but for me the Greek text doesn’t support your argument. There are idiomatic examples of κρατέω with a genitive object (e.g. Mt 9.25) but this isn’t one of them and neither is Rev 2.1.
Obviously this kind of discussion would be less likely to take place if we just had the video version.
Thanks Ian. You make an interesting link between the side of Jesus and the side of the temple in Ezekiel, from where the river of life flows. Do you see a connection with the side of Adam, from here Eve is taken?
I don’t think I have heard that proposed anywhere; I am not aware that the text of the Fourth Gospel makes a connection of that kind with the Genesis creation narrative…
Yes, although John makes great play (below) of pleura with its resonances, the John 7 prophecy involves koilia (belly). The former is ‘side’ whereas the latter is centrally-located.
The intertextuality here is knotty in the extreme, involving at least Gen-Exo-Ezk-Zech-Rev-John.
On the one hand – koilia:
The scriptural source in John 7.38 has never been perfectly clear; what is clear is
(a) that it is either non-unitary or paraphrased or both;
(b) that John begins his citation/paraphrase from a very precise point, meaning that what precedes is not included (a complexity that is thankfully made no more complex by the punctuation controversy).
Revelation as a whole manifests a great deal of scripture-splicing, because John’s purview there is the whole of scripture and its fulfilment, and therefore he will naturally take a special delight in seeing how different scriptures ”fit together”. It’s perhaps for similar reasons we again see splicing for the cited scripture in John 7, thus:
(1) Rivers plural issuing from a central point or omphalos – Gen 2.10 (& see Sirach 24.30-1)
(2) ‘Living water’ going out from Jerusalem [i.e. from a central point] – Zech 14.8
(3) *River* of water of life – Rev 22.1, which itself derives most closely from…
(4) River flowing from temple [i.e. from a central point] – Ezk 47.1, cf. pege ‘fountain’ from thence Joel 3[alternatively ‘4’].18
(5) Revelation also assigns ‘rivers’ plural to the third portion of creation (Gen 1.9-13; Rev 8.10, 16.4), which is where we find ourselves here in John (chs 6-7: creational section no.3), with this minor ‘I AM’ saying (I AM the Rock, effectively) finding its twin sign in the miraculous Dry Land of 6.21.
(6) Which brings us to Exo 17.6, the gushing forth of waters from the rock.
Is it more that John would have felt he’d failed if he missed any one of these OT contexts out of his wording?
(7) All of which still fails to account for the key word ‘koilia’. All the more key in that John felt he had to include it even despite its absence from the OT contexts, and (further) despite its doubtful relevance to water. But it does have one relevance to water, as in waters breaking. And that is (in John) the only other place the word appears (3.4), as Nicodemus’s reference to birth from the womb (koilia) suggests to Jesus ‘born of water and the Spirit’. In no other context do waters in fact gush from the belly. Birth and creation themes. I doubt any translations are brave enough to render ‘womb’ here though. This does also partly bring us back to ‘omphalos’ since the navel is also a birth-sign. There are fascinating articles about where the ancients envisaged the centre (omphalos) of the earth to be. (See bibliography of Soggin’s OT Intro chapter on genres of myth, legend, folktale, fable and so forth.)
On the other hand, pleura:
Pleura (and piercing thereof, and reaching inside that part of body) is key vocab/thematic link between Gen 2.21-2 [Eve] and John 20.25,27 in the same way that the even more distictive enephusesen (and Spirit and new birth) is between Gen 2.7 and John 20.22. More than that, they are part of a sequence: ‘finishing’ (19.30) of Jesus’s imitative ‘works of God’; rest; allusion to creation of Adam; allusion to creation of Eve. It is not Adam and Eve themselves that are in view so much as specifically their origins, their *creation*.
Although most of Gen 2-4 is somewhere in John (a bit like one of those ‘find 50 hidden pictures’ games), the more crucial stuff (the creational pattern after Gen 1, which would otherwise be an odd absentee from the allusions) is seen only by taking a bird’s eye view, at which point it looms larger than the other. Survey of scholarship in Siliezar 2015.
So the main John allusion (at 7.38) to Ezk 47.1 is a koilia thing whereas John’s interest in the Adam/Eve piercing comes more in ch20 and is, by contrast, a pleura thing. Does 7.38 therefore *not* prophesy the water and blood piercing? I wouldn’t say that at all (Zech 12.10, 13.6; Zech. 13.1): it is more a case that John very much wishes to make the most of both the koilia idea and the pleura idea. 19.30 teasingly says ‘he handed over the Spirit’ directly before the blood and water flow. It would be hard to say that John does not believe Jesus is already glorified (7.39) from the time of the Cross if not earlier (17.2); at any rate the main referent of 7.39 is Easter Day evening which postdates the Johannine Ascension (Isa 6 glorification language everywhere here).
(In favour of Gen 2.10 being in the mix in John 7.38, it is fundamental to its predecessor Rev 22.1 – tree of life and removal of curse being other Eden themes in context – which imitates it in having the river[s] issuing from the most central point of all.)
Brilliant. I’ve just been doing a little thought for the day on my churches Facebook pages on Sundays so this is really helpful in lifting the text off the page whilst giving it context.