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John 8:33

Hefin J. Jones wrote: Focusing on the forest might take us out of b-greek.
That depends partly on which forest you focus on, but I do think we need to be careful. Here's a forest that interests me: my impression is that John is very careful in his use of antecedents and pronouns. Iver's interpretation seems to require a level of imprecision that I would expect in Mark but not in John, but this is purely my impression, based largely on the wonderfully precise and poetic use of reference in the first chapters of John and 1 John. I have not yet looked carefully at the passages Iver has brought up, I am going to take a look and see if I can find similar examples of imprecise use of antecedents in John. Can anyone think of such examples? Statistics: Posted by Jonathan Robie — March 14th, 2014, 9:39 am
 
Iver Larsen wrote: In v. 15 Jesus is teaching in the temple, and a mixed group is standing around him. v. 19 ends with "Why are you seeking to kill me?" V. 19 has to be directed to the hostile leaders, not the crowd. It is possible that v. 16-17 is directed to people in general, while v. 18 looks like a subtle rebuke of the Pharisees in front of the mixed crowd. Because the crowd is mixed, it is the content of the speech that shows us who the intended audience is more than explicit participant references. A speaker can address different sections of a crowd without explicating the addressees.
In 7.15 we are told that οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι reacted to Jesus' teaching with amazement. Most agree that οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι here (at least) means the Jewish leaders/authorities (I mean, not the people as a whole – leaving aside the question whether specifically Ἰουδαῖος = Judean). In v. 16 ἀπεκρίθη οὖν αὐτοῖς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς, which means, logically, Jesus replied τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις, to the authorities. As you rightly point out, v. 19 is directed to the authorities, and in fact John already told the reader in 7.1 that ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀποκτεῖναι. Now vv. 16-19 is all one speech, and while it is no doubt true that vv. 16-17 would be applicable to all of Jesus' audience, that is not how the text is presented by the author. I cannot see any reason why vv. 16-17 could not have been spoken to the authorities.
Iver Larsen wrote: v. 20 Someone in the crowd responds that no one is trying to kill him. Whether this is one of those leaders or not, I do not know. But it is certainly not a believer or disciple. v. 21-24 appears to be directed to the Jewish leaders more than the general crowd, even though it follows a shout by one in the crowd.
I don't see why you think only one person in the "crowd" is meant, as ὁ ὄχλος is surely a collective term. I agree that the speech in vv. 21-24 is directed to the Jewish leaders. The ἓν ἔργον (21), done on the Sabbath (23) evidently refers back to ch. 5 where Jesus got into trouble with οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι (5.18). So what of the interruption in v. 20? The general view seems to be that it is a genuine expression of surprise by festival goers who were unaware of the hostility of the Jewish leaders. But it could perhaps be an insincere comment by sympathizers of the leaders.
Iver Larsen wrote: In v. 28 Jesus spoke loudly, maybe to reach beyond the groups of Pharisees who surrounded him to the crowd in general, but whatever he said would be heard by both groups. In v. 30 "they" were seeking to seize him. Some translations clarify that "they" refer to the Jewish leaders. (CEV says "some of the people", but I consider that to be mistaken.)
I'm not convinced that ἔκραξεν is intended to tell the reader Jesus was trying to be heard by all, nor indeed that it is to focus primarily on how loud he spoke. John uses that verb also in 1.15, 7.37 and 12.44. At least 1.15 and 12.44 don't fit the interpretation "spoke loudly", and it's to be noted that all these are quite critical pronouncements. (Rom. 9.27 is another example: Ἠσαΐας δὲ κράζει ὑπὲρ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ.) Vv. 25-27 are not addressed to Jesus, nor is the speech of vv. 28-29 introduced as a reply. So I see no reason to suppose Jesus is here addressing the crowd in particular. I take it that he is still addressing the leaders, and so there is no difficulty in understanding ἐζήτουν οὖν αὐτὸν πιάσαι in v. 30 as expressing the desire of the leaders.
Iver Larsen wrote: v. 31 has the same contrast between the hostile leaders and many among the crowd who believed. As I said, this is a repeated theme in this gospel and the readers ought to have known this conflict by now, so the writer does not have to clarify all the time who "they" in this ongoing dispute refers to.
If I read you right, you mean to say that in v. 31 ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου δὲ πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν καὶ ἔλεγον should be read as two separate sentences, as some of the English versions do, and the subject of ἔλεγον is the hostile leaders? On second thoughts, maybe by “they” you are referring to ἐζήτουν in v. 30? That would make more sense. To return to John 8 I have to say I don’t see that anything you have said about John 7 encourages me to take ἀπεκρίθησαν in 8.33 as other than a reply from those Jesus had addressed in vv. 31-32. The difficulty you, and others before you, have found is more satisfactorily resolved by exploring what John means by πιστεύειν, as Hefin has suggested:
Hefin J. Jones wrote: I note that one of the earliest refs to faith in John is 2.23-25.
Statistics: Posted by Tony Pope — March 14th, 2014, 8:06 am
 
Iver Larsen wrote: This is what I mean by looking at the forest rather than the trees only.
Focussing on the forest might take us out of b-greek. When I think of this text from John 7-8 I note that one of the earliest refs to faith in John is 2.23-25. Statistics: Posted by Hefin J. Jones — March 14th, 2014, 12:44 am
Thanks, Tony, I appreciate your comments. But I still think that your interpretation is more unbelievable than mine. In the phrase "the Jews who believed", the word order suggests focus on belief, and in John's gospel that is the main theme. There is a repeated contrast between the unbelieving and unresponsive Jewish leaders/Pharisees and the common people. The hostile response in v. 33 is before any challenge from Jesus. What Jesus tells these believers is not a challenge but a promise, and I think John mentioned this for all later believers to hear. Jesus did challenge the Pharisees rather strongly. It is interesting to study how groups dialogue. I assume we agree that Jesus was surrounded by a group of Pharisaic leaders and a general crowd of people. A group would not respond in unison, but one would speak on behalf of the others, and it might be different people from the group responding at different times, but they would represent the sentiments of the group. The Pharisaic leaders was a fairly homogenuous group, but the crowd obviously less so. Chapter 7 is a good background to compare with. Thanks for mentioning that. One avenue of study is to look at participant reference in the Greek and in a dynamic English version like the NLT. Those who are interested can do that study. 7:11 The hostile Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus. v. 12 The crowds were divided. v. 13 but they were afraid of the hostile Jewish leaders, because if Jesus was arrested or killed, his followers would be in danger. In v. 15 Jesus is teaching in the temple, and a mixed group is standing around him. v. 19 ends with "Why are you seeking to kill me?" V. 19 has to be directed to the hostile leaders, not the crowd. It is possible that v. 16-17 is directed to people in general, while v. 18 looks like a subtle rebuke of the Pharisees in front of the mixed crowd. Because the crowd is mixed, it is the content of the speech that shows us who the intended audience is more than explicit participant references. A speaker can address different sections of a crowd without explicating the addressees. v. 20 Someone in the crowd responds that no one is trying to kill him. Whether this is one of those leaders or not, I do not know. But it is certainly not a believer or disciple. v. 21-24 appears to be directed to the Jewish leaders more than the general crowd, even though it follows a shout by one in the crowd. In v. 28 Jesus spoke loudly, maybe to reach beyond the groups of Pharisees who surrounded him to the crowd in general, but whatever he said would be heard by both groups. In v. 30 "they" were seeking to seize him. Some translations clarify that "they" refer to the Jewish leaders. (CEV says "some of the people", but I consider that to be mistaken.) v. 31 has the same contrast between the hostile leaders and many among the crowd who believed. As I said, this is a repeated theme in this gospel and the readers ought to have known this conflict by now, so the writer does not have to clarify all the time who "they" in this ongoing dispute refers to. v. 32 The Pharisees realized that many in the crowd believed in him, and this made them even more upset and eager to arrest him. The following verses continue the dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees. There is a lot of parallel structure in chapter 7 and 8. This is what I mean by looking at the forest rather than the trees only. Statistics: Posted by Iver Larsen — March 13th, 2014, 12:58 pm
 
Iver Larsen wrote: v. 30 marks a paragraph break where the author again makes a comment, this time not about the Pharisees, but some of the common people in the crowd. How Jesus knew that some had come to believe in him is not stated, but Jesus spoke to this group in v. 32-33. I take this as a parenthesis and intrusion in the ongoing dispute between Jesus and the hostile Pharisees. The response in v. 33 can hardly be from these believing Jews, unless as Meyer suggests they immediately stopped believing. I think it is more likely that the Pharisees heard what Jesus said to this other group and jumped back into their ongoing dispute with Jesus. They did not know that the words of Jesus were only directed towards the new believers as John mentions, so they jump at his words as if he had spoken to them. The rest of the chapter continues the dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees. They still have the chance to believe in him, but the hypothetical "If the Son were to set you free" requires them to believe first, and there is no indication that this happened. I cannot imagine that verses 34-38 are spoken to those who had believed.
Your reconstruction, Iver, leaves me unfortunately rather dissatisified. It strikes me as odd that John would not have signalled the changes that you propose in those who interacted with Jesus. In chapter 7 and in chapter 9 such changes seem to be clearly indicated, so if in chapter 8 there were common people from the crowd at one point and then Pharisees at another point, one would expect a clear indication of the change of participants. I go with those who understand "believed in him" (v. 30) to mean belief that Jesus is Messiah, as this had been essentially the question at issue in the previous context. But how deep that faith went, whether they were prepared to accept his idea of messiahship and his view of their spiritual condition, is then the challenge that Jesus presents them with. In my view Godet hits the nail on the head when he says that John gives the key to the passage by calling them "Jews who believed" (v. 31 τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους). On the one hand, they were disposed to believe he was the expected Messiah, but on the other hand their Judean roots were still strong and it was the latter that won out when challenged. Statistics: Posted by Tony Pope — March 13th, 2014, 6:41 am
 
Stirling Bartholomew wrote: In light of the history of the σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ which was common knowledge, the reply is nothing less than laughable.
Could you elaborate? Statistics: Posted by timothy_p_mcmahon — March 11th, 2014, 11:06 pm
the reply in verse 33 ἀπεκρίθησαν πρὸς αὐτόν· σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐσμεν καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε· πῶς σὺ λέγεις ὅτι ἐλεύθεροι γενήσεσθε; is an example of Johannine irony. In light of the history of the σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ which was common knowledge, the reply is nothing less than laughable. John is making Jesus verbal opponents in this discourse look silly. Statistics: Posted by Stirling Bartholomew — March 11th, 2014, 5:00 pm
Iver Larsen wrote:
When able commentators disagree we can hardly expect to find the text conclusive.
True! :D Interestingly, my co-worker (whose office is across that hall from mine) sent me an article on discourse analysis that uses John 8:12–59 as an illustration. After comparing your reply to that article, I asked my buddy, Jason, if Iver Larsen wrote the article he sent. He said, "yes!" Anyway, I enjoyed your article and it made a lot of sense. I guess verse 36 still has me scratching my head in light of what Alford wrote. It seems odd to me that Jesus would say the same thing to the antagonistic Pharisees in verse 36 that He said to the believing Jews in verse 33. I can see that this is a conditional (or hypothetical) statement in verse 36. That might explain why He uses "you" in a generic or hypothetical sense. I guess it would almost be like saying "and you too will be free indeed, if the Son should make you free." The fact that commentators disagree regarding "they" certainly demonstrates the ambiguity in our English translations. When considering things from a discourse analysis standpoint, it is quite possible that the Greek reader would indeed have a better understanding of what John was communicating than we have when reading our English translations. Thanks for the article. It does make one think and forces me to break our of my English paradigm. Bob Statistics: Posted by Bob Nyberg — March 11th, 2014, 12:24 pm
 
Bob Nyberg wrote: John 8:31-33 says: Ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους, Ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε, καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς. ἀπεκρίθησαν πρὸς αὐτόν... Commentaries seem to be split as to who ἀπεκρίθησαν refers to in verse 33. Some say that it refers back to the believing Jews in verse 31. Others say that it refers to a different group of antagonistic Pharisees who were opposing Jesus who are not the believing Jews of verse 31. I am wondering if there is anything definitive in the text that would determine who ἀπεκρίθησαν is referring to. I think that Alford makes a good point: "The answerers are the πεπιστευκότες, not some others among the hearers, as many Commentators (Lampe, Kuinoel, De Wette, Lücke, edn. 3) have maintained;—see, as a proof of this, ver. 36, addressed to these same persons." But I don't know that it is conclusive. Any thoughts? Bob
When able commentators disagree we can hardly expect to find the text conclusive. In my view, the interpretation depends largely on whether you look at the surrounding trees or the forest. However, there is also some discourse considerations. Unlike English, Greek narrative often refers to major participants by using pronouns rather than titles. So, who are the major participants in the discourse from 8:12-59? In v. 12 Jesus was introduced as speaking to a crowd of Jews in the Temple court of the women (v. 20), but within this crowd, the Pharisees were both vocal and hostile. In v. 13 these antagonistic Pharisees were introduced. Jesus responded to them in v. 14. In v. 19 the Pharisees opposed him again and Jesus responded. v. 20 is an author comment. In v. 21 Jesus resumed his dispute with the Pharisees (referred to by pronoun). In v. 22 the hostile Pharisees are referred to as ἰουδαῖοι. In v. 23 Jesus continues speaking to them. This back and forth dialogue continues, but an author comment intervenes in v. 27. Jesus continues speaking to the Pharisees in v. 28-29. v. 30 marks a paragraph break where the author again makes a comment, this time not about the Pharisees, but some of the common people in the crowd. How Jesus knew that some had come to believe in him is not stated, but Jesus spoke to this group in v. 32-33. I take this as a parenthesis and intrusion in the ongoing dispute between Jesus and the hostile Pharisees. The response in v. 33 can hardly be from these believing Jews, unless as Meyer suggests they immediately stopped believing. I think it is more likely that the Pharisees heard what Jesus said to this other group and jumped back into their ongoing dispute with Jesus. They did not know that the words of Jesus were only directed towards the new believers as John mentions, so they jump at his words as if he had spoken to them. The rest of the chapter continues the dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees. They still have the chance to believe in him, but the hypothetical "If the Son were to set you free" requires them to believe first, and there is no indication that this happened. I cannot imagine that verses 34-38 are spoken to those who had believed. Statistics: Posted by Iver Larsen — March 11th, 2014, 7:07 am
 
Bob Nyberg wrote: John 8:31-33 says: Ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους, Ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε, καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς. ἀπεκρίθησαν πρὸς αὐτόν... Commentaries seem to be split as to who ἀπεκρίθησαν refers to in verse 33. Some say that it refers back to the believing Jews in verse 31. Others say that it refers to a different group of antagonistic Pharisees who were opposing Jesus who are not the believing Jews of verse 31. I am wondering if there is anything definitive in the text that would determine who ἀπεκρίθησαν is referring to.
Verse 31 says quite clearly and emphatically who Jesus was speaking to, they are the people in view when verse 33 refers to "them": 31 Ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους· Ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε, 32 καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς. 33 ἀπεκρίθησαν πρὸς αὐτόν· Σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐσμεν καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε· πῶς σὺ λέγεις ὅτι Ἐλεύθεροι γενήσεσθε; 34 Ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν δοῦλός ἐστιν τῆς ἁμαρτίας· 35 ὁ δὲ δοῦλος οὐ μένει ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· [q]ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. 36 ἐὰν οὖν ὁ υἱὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃ, ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι ἔσεσθε. 37 οἶδα ὅτι σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐστε· ἀλλὰ ζητεῖτέ με ἀποκτεῖναι, ὅτι ὁ λόγος ὁ ἐμὸς οὐ χωρεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. 38 ἃ ἐγὼ ἑώρακα παρὰ τῷ [s]πατρὶ λαλῶ· καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν [t]ἃ ἠκούσατε παρὰ [u]τοῦ πατρὸς ποιεῖτε.[/quote] Is there a good reason to look for a different antecedent here?
Bob Nyberg wrote: I think that Alford makes a good point: "The answerers are the πεπιστευκότες, not some others among the hearers, as many Commentators (Lampe, Kuinoel, De Wette, Lücke, edn. 3) have maintained;—see, as a proof of this, ver. 36, addressed to these same persons." But I don't know that it is conclusive.
See if you find Meyer conclusive on this point: http://heml.mta.ca/lace/sidebysideview2/9447062 Statistics: Posted by Jonathan Robie — March 10th, 2014, 9:23 pm
John 8:31-33 says: Ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους, Ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε, καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς. ἀπεκρίθησαν πρὸς αὐτόν... Commentaries seem to be split as to who ἀπεκρίθησαν refers to in verse 33. Some say that it refers back to the believing Jews in verse 31. Others say that it refers to a different group of antagonistic Pharisees who were opposing Jesus who are not the believing Jews of verse 31. I am wondering if there is anything definitive in the text that would determine who ἀπεκρίθησαν is referring to. I think that Alford makes a good point: "The answerers are the πεπιστευκότες, not some others among the hearers, as many Commentators (Lampe, Kuinoel, De Wette, Lücke, edn. 3) have maintained;—see, as a proof of this, ver. 36, addressed to these same persons." But I don't know that it is conclusive. Any thoughts? Bob Statistics: Posted by Bob Nyberg — March 10th, 2014, 6:15 pm