Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Here's a comment on a post regarding the "son of" construction in John 1:47 (NLT). I haven't digested it much yet, so I'm throwing it on this blog in the meantime.
Blogger: Post a Comment: "I like what the NLT did here. This text has got to make strong connections to Jacob in order to be interpreted correctly.

Straylight notices there is something funny going on here, but then drops it. Straylight, in my opinion, you should keep pushing the oddness. There's a great deal of irony going on here.

I believe what is going on in this little narrative about Nathaniel is simply that John is presenting Nathanael as the cynic examplar. He is an 'Israelite with integrity' (ἀληθῶς Ἰσραηλίτης). When he is called that his response is, 'Ummmmmm...really? And how exactly do you know me?' That's the right response for a cynic. Note that Jesus uses the 'deceit' (δόλος) word, and that (I think) it occurs only once in LXX Genesis. This sets in the text a very strong connection to Jacob.

Jesus' response is humorous. He refers to a rather common practice--meditating under a fig tree. (See Morris on John). That would be a lot like today if we said, 'O! I saw you sitting on the porch.'

Nathanael's response is, 'Great! You have just gotta be the King. Really! That settles it for me!!!'

Jesus continues the humor (and irony) and says, "You believed rather easily! You'll see even greater things."

Then John does this little linguistic thing that is truly intriguing--he pauses the discussion by inserting the phrase "and then he said to him" (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ). Why the pause in what Jesus says? Because Jesus then gets very, very serious (note the AMEN, AMEN (ἀμὴν ἀμὴν) It was this linguistic pause that convinced me of the preceding irony. He makes a very, very strong allusion to Jacob. Again!

Only, this time it is when Jacob turns from his deceitful ways and worships God because God has revealed that He wants a relatonship with people. The ladder metaphor, and the messengers traveling back and forth on it, is the picture of a relationship between two different "countries". This is exactly what John is presenting in John chapter 1 as he presents the incarnate God.

One other bit of interesting information. Nathanael is presented as a cynic here at the beginning of the gospel and then is not mentioned again. Ummmmm...till the very end (21:2)

Interesting! Nathanael must have been convinced! Which is EXACTLY what John is attempting to do with the reader with the entire gospel (cf John 20:31--and note the similarity between 20:29 and 1:50!)

This is one very interestingly constructed text!"

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