The New Testament as Second Temple Literature: John 21:25 as a Case Study


good afternoon the first part of this
session will be in English the second part will be in Hebrew and I’m going to
be very careful about the time because we really must end at 5:00 p.m. on the
dot or shortly before hands if that happens our first speaker will be
olivier thomas Vanel who is the associate professor of New Testaments
and deputy director of the occult bit bleak he’s head of the biblical and it’s
traditions digital research project launched by the
Ecole and Coco Vania with dr. Sergio share of a seminar a New Testament a
Second Temple liturgy that’s a seminar that’s been going on now for 10 years professor Vinod will speak to us on the
New Testament as Second Temple literature John 21:25 as a case study thank you very much for your invitation
on behalf of the director the ecology ecology francis jerusalem i want to say
how pleased and honored we are to be invited here and to participate in this
homage paid to professor floor sir I have fond memories of the ways my dear
brother master Jacques Dubois used to speak about David future of us one of
his great friends and inspirations in in Israel with my friend self who there are
several researchers at the Ecole b-big have been convening a pioneering MA
seminar at Hebrew University for more than 10 years now entitled New
Testaments as Jewish Second Temple literature it has persuaded me that many
passages of the Christian holy reads are not only not understood but simply not
read at all because of the ignorance of the Jewish context this paper will focus
on the very last verse of the fourth canonical Gospels John 21:25
here’s my translation now there are also many other things which Jesus did which
were every one of them to be written I suppose that even the world itself could
not contain the books that would be written
I repeat because everything will be on that verse there are also many other
things which Jesus did which were every one of them to be written I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the books that could be written this
last verse plainly states that an adequate account of all the deeds of
Jesus would turn into a book rather a library larger than the world let us try
and imagine if that postulated Jesus set of books is larger than the world
conversely the book would contain the world rather than the world contained
the book what an amazing image for our postmodern minds delighted in meta
literature it reminds us of stéphane mallarmé dream of Luke Oliver in which
everything that matters to mankind should result or utopia such as the
library of Babel or other labyrinth Icke bibliothek figments of bajas imagination
well I was sorry to discover that the history of existence is for this verse
that does not share my enthusiasm at all in 1980 for example and tension went as
far as dismissing the verse on aesthetics grounds after some redaction
critical remarks he writes quote the chapter and the gospel could not end
with verse 24 the author of chapter 21 who is the redactor of the whole gospel
at the same time has therefore taken the 20 30 31 as a model but he has
discredited this new conclusion by a grotesque exaggeration Jesus had done so
many things that there will be no room in the world for all the books were all
that it to be recorded in view of this authorial lapse and so on
grotesque exaggeration off of your labs this is the square value judgment which
dismisses the verse without even addressing its possible meaning or
meanings in the same vein we could cite the names of mayor Bernhardt vice Brahma
and Lama or even schnecken Borg who speaks of an affected sentence by an
ambitious writer so the first part of this paper will be a study in exegetical
teratology it will briefly list the strategy is implemented by many modern
executives to avoid consciously or not to comment on the meaning of that verse
the second part will propose to take it at face value in the overall Jewish
context of John in a third part which will be a conclusion we will suggest
that Jewish cosmological views and the relations between the world and the
world sheds light on that way of reading first part how not to comment on a verse
after such literary condemnations as those just mentioned contests
exaggeration authorial lapse and so on in order to his cues fourth gospel from
such authorial lapse commentators feel urged to put it at a distance from that
last verse let us survey the strategies and the
three headings first neutralised verse second relativize the meaning of the
verse room cultural introduction and third shifting the significance of the
verse in order to neutralize the verse the most radical ways simply
to cancel or dismiss it’s for sometimes after Tischendorf the omission of verse
25 by the scribe of codex sinaiticus and its subsequent addition was adduced as a
proof that verse 25 was not original and ought to be ignored yet as early as 1938
Bell and skids demonstrated that the correction and addition of verse 25 was
performed by the very same scribe at verse 24 and was better construed as the
correction of a mistake than the witness to another textual tradition
you’ll also try to bana lies the verse through philology back translation
through aramaic allows beautiful ads in 1981 to understand tone Cosmin horus i
in in an overly noetic manner if as in John 1219 cosmos is an equivalent to
coolie Alma everybody then George John 21:25 could simply mean nobody could
conceive of the books that ought to be written very banal a third way to
naturalize the verse is to diffuse its importance through redaction criticism and to dissociate its editor from the
author of john many scholars attempt to downplay its authority through
production criticism for them alleged lexical grammatical narrative tensions
in chapter 21 not to be child to the author of the gospel but only to its
editors these scholars devised various redaction critical scenarios in order to
identify the author of verse 25 and to determine whether it is from the same or
from a different hand as verse 24 and the rest of chapter 21 such title as a
human Daniel bombs essays of 2012 is eloquent in that
respect the original epilogue John 20:30 you won the secondary appendix John 21
123 and the editorial epilogues John 21 24 25 of John’s Gospel is eloquent in
this reduction history of the Constitution’s the semantics of verse 25
is hardly addressed and the variety of those we constitutions betrays their
frailty conversely H and Jackson’s 1999 careful
inventory of ancient conventions of self reference supplemented with Michel
Martin’s rhetorical findings in avenues and he has Kirsten burger 2004 study of
the motive oh my methinks among ancient historians allow us to relate this
obsession with reduction criticism to a questionable neglect of literary history
as a matter of fact there is no ancient precedent for a later editor or group of
editors using such formulas as a communal eye in the context of
authenticating the message of an original author or witness so that was
the first way to dispense with commenting on the verse just not
neutralize it in in this in this in these ways second
way you may relax by the meaning of the verse through cultural introduction
oftentimes the verse has been reduced to an ancient nice trick providing the
author with a perfect explanation for defending the reliability of the text
while at the same time excusing himself for the selectivity of the material by
using a well-known literary excuse the served for parallels to this verse has a
long history ever since vege time in the 18th century and scholars have collected
literally tens of passages in ancient literature that might be taken into
considerations in ancient orient literature they went as far a
the annals of toot Moses deferred to find a parallel to that verse which is
not really a parallel in the biblical intertext scriptures abound in
hyperbolic expressions and the occipital of John may allude more precisely for
its in Konya stick the a dimension to 1 Maccabees 922 from its apathetic turn to
Isaiah 64 for or say recedes the book of Sirach 4325 and quad this allusions
Xzibit to coalesce 12:12 in greco-roman literature Homer in the Iliad launched
the motif of ten mouths not being sufficient for telling what needs to be
told and was later on imitated by Virgil Peleus a loser Estevez and so on and so
forth statements on the inexhaustibility of the subject matter feature in Cicero
Quintus Katja squinty and V Toulouse particulars lively prophets and so on
closer to John’s context Hellenistic Judaism provides also with a series of
possible parallels in Philo there are at least four possible parallels and the
most illuminating parallel to offers is a saying attributed to johanan ben zakai
very well known parallel if all the heavens who apartments and all the trees
were pens and all the seas were ink that would not be enough to write down my
wisdom which I have learned for my teachers and yet I have tasted of the
wisdom of the wise only so much as a fly who dips into the ocean and takes away a
little of it beautiful sentence and the closest parallel to the last verse of of
John this motif is reenacted in several works of the rabbinic tradition
including avoid the rabbinate on leticia but the midrash happened Song of
Songs and Exodus and so on in late a mystical compositions if this thing was
done the world would not be able to bear it became a common way of saying
conclusion of this cultural East reduction or parallel Oh mania as some
would say understandably after such a long list of parallels the motive has
been labeled neither Greek nor Jewish but a common human exaggeration once
again yet John 21:25 resists its reduction to one more instance of common
human exaggeration the case of John 21:25
is all the more remarkable as here the motif is introduced with some emphasis
at very last verse of the of the fourth gospel and after the first ending in
John 20:30 which already had played with the motive that not everything has been
said and written down in brief the dialectics between book or narrative and
cosmos that features in 2125 deserved to be received and commented upon the third
way to dismiss the verse and not to comment on its content is shifting the
significance of the verse several commentators simply ignore its semantic
content the content of that hyperbole and focus on other issues possibly
raised by John’s ending I won’t go in details let me just list the strategies
and you have a few names for each of them like for the previous ones some
reduce it in a sort of ancient way reminiscent of origin or Gregory of
Nyssa to a general Apothic statement John 21:25 would simply mean that the
word of Scripture cannot fully contain the mystery of God quite banal and we
don’t see why this verse would have featured in that way other in
an equally ancient inspiration but a platonic one this time would make the
hyperbola were not so much on the richness of Jesus life and the poverty
of human language as on the richness of possible overall oral accounts and the
poverty of any written text or halogen writing and this may in some of these
commentators result in a tranquil affirmation of the poverty of the gospel
if not a plea to decolonize them because so many other things ought to be to be
said precisely the last sentence of john viewed from a little oriented
interpretation of the New Testament displays clear features of an editorial
note and no wonder that it features prominently in several studies devoted
to the canonical dynamics in the New Testament the two conclusions are used
to show that John’s Gospel participates in a competitive textual ization of the
Jesus tradition initiative devices have also been explored in this way to shift
the significance of the verse some focus on the anonymity as a literary strategy
whereby the Evangelist of the New Testament and like the Greek or Roman
historians by adopting the stylistic device of anonymity from Old Testament
history ography implied that they regarded themselves as comparatively
insignificant mediators of the subject matter that deserve the full attention
of the readers other scholars study the performativity of the last two verses of
John and canto of the met elliptical strategy Oh delights of the French
theory the met elliptical strategy as a way to have the Beloved Disciple present
both at the historical and narrative levels thus enacting what has just been
alluded to by Jesus about the beloved disciples lasting abode
till he come an abode through language and for that very language here we are
close to the Jewish meaning which I propose for this verse Jewish meaning so
a possible messianic meaning my second part at the literary level the last
verse of the gospel bring brings about a nice inclusion with the first one the
famous prologue as the prologue of John dealt with logos cosmos and witnessing
so it’s epilogue deals with witness cosmos and books this inclusion or
suggest that the Divine Design alluded alluded to in the first verses as
coalesced s’ not only into the socks of Jesus John 1:14 but also into the
narratives of his words and deeds and into the very books or book that tell
them verse the intertextual echoes of the prologue and the epilogue conjure up
a reflection about what the entire gospel is about the journey of the
divine design from the innermost God self to the fragile yet lasting words
written in the booklet the reader is about to close this amount to very high
messianic statements based on a series of functional equivalencies or metonymic
identifications first between the logos and Jesus it is at least suggested by
the prologue and ionically referred to several times in the gospel narratives
the synoptic tradition several loggia deal with his word in stronger than the
world heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away which
brings jesus’ book close to the one book larger and stronger than the world known
in second temple Judaism namely the Torah second between Jesus and the words
and works of Jesus in passages as John 2048 Jesus world’s become his
left nerd for Judgment Day his works are in fact the words performed by the
Father through him John 14:12 10 third an equivalence between the words of
Jesus and the world on about Jesus the general equivalence between a man and
his book has just been re-enacted in the last three copy of the gospel narrative
where Jesus identifies the permanence of the written text with the permanence of
his author and it was already functioning between the Torah and Moses
it goes beyond analogy in Johnson’s in John 5 45 47 it stated that the
scripture of Moses tells about Jesus himself the gospel also performs
specific equivalence between Jesus and the book that tells him through and
through the literal of John itself displays an embedded ironical pedagogy
of repetition as a way to literally obey obey and force the reader to obey to
Jesus’s command to abide in his words the best way to abide in the world is
that to repeat them and you have several very funny passages where the same words
are repeated twice or thrice in enjoy the equivalence between Jesus and the
book is also performed at the pragmatic level by sophisticated inboxing of
enunciated frames which I can’t describe obviously now eventually all the
previous equivalences result in a functional equivalence between logos and
gospel they amount to turning the Jesus event into a full-fledged
divine devar encompassing all together motive mental faculty design reasoning
wording performance effects Kwame saya Jesus is the crowning achievement
of all things God thought planned and created ultimately John witnesses to a
divine contamination of the human worlds by the divine world his booklet and up
virtually sharing in the privileges that only the Torah could have being larger
than the world indeed containing it because it encapsulates words of Jesus
the Word of God incarnate it’s worth noticing that these Christological
statements parallels a canonical empowers my third part and my conclusion
ontological supremacy of the world over the world already at work in late second
temple literature question mark this meta literary and messianic approach to
John 21:25 is attuned to the Jewish setting especially the Jewish cosmic
conception of the world language utterance text alphabet writing scold
books the world in the book several features of the Hebrew Bible and it’s
Christian supplement conjure up a conception of the world as stronger more
solid and stable than the world at the beginning of the book ever since Genesis
1 the world is into the world where everything is created through God’s
words by the end of the book later in revelation 6:14 the heaven itself is
compared to a call being rolled up apocalyptic literature develops Mystics
of the inspired text as larger than the world the Torah the book identified with
achma a wisdom of God incorporated in words belong and belonging to protect
its realities the scriptural features developed much later into full-fledged
organic stories about the alphabet the letters as is well known eventually
sages would state that God created heaven and earth by means of the
alphabets the most of you sweetness to the superiority of text of a nature
appear much later than the Gospel of John’s for sure even if some scholars
would still date Sepher Yetzirah at a very early date the mystical symbolism
of letters seems to derive from ancient Pythagorean theories of numbers and is
already present in angels creatures which sometimes feature an alphabetical
structure psalm 119 145 lamentations one two four moreover the identification of
Christ with language or logos even with the alphabet is attested in the joinin
tradition where phrases such as I am the Alpha and the Omega or I am the first
and the last used alternatively for God and Christ they refer to famous divine
Oracle’s from Isaiah 44 48 abyssal eyes by Jewish first century writers such as
Philo and Josephus the reflection of the alphabet is part of a larger reflection
and the product is realities apocryphal and rabbinical writings attribute
existence previous to creation to persons and things from in part of the
divine plan of human salvation of the world’s governance here again the most
explicit and famous texts appear much later than the Gospel according to John
yet this reflection seems to have been triggered by biblical text Julie listed
in the Talmud and already at work in the theological imagination of many
apocryphal books more precisely the pre-existence of a messiah seems to have
been deduced quite early from biblical passages such as mycar1 daniel 7:13
echoed in the stabilities of enoch ii Ezra’s before flourishing among the
rabbis and it is witnessed in texts of the New
Testament such as John eight 50:58 where before Abraham was I am
maybe alluding to the pre-existence of a messiah
in brief the meditation about creation and practiced entities may have already
started at the time of Jesus’s ministry and his followers Rick electors who try
to relate his death and resurrection to the mysteries of the heavenly world
already being explored by the secret edition on mass separation or master
bergna cava of contemporary Pato happiness circles may be alluded to in
Mishnah hagigah famous texts one an e-code generations later in the writings
of clement of alexandria conclusion maybe John 21:25 is one of the earliest
witnesses to these mystical speculations and maybe it is an embarrassing witness
for all those who want an early and clear separation of the ways between
Judaism and Christianity because it mobilizes these speculations to preach
Jesus Monsieur ship from a pragmatic point of
view John 21:25 makes use of a traditional messianic conception about
the relations between the messiah and the world to issue an ironic pedagogics
statements you know typically Joanna and recourse to double meaning the world
which could not contain the books is also the universe of those who keep to a
pre Masonic interpretation of the law and who cannot understand even less so
grasp jesus’s events far from an ethereal lapse in that slide
this is a most elaborated and inspired solution to the narrative problem of
closing a bridge not caused by human hands according to the to the prologue
but by God’s intervention John’s narrative starts with God’s Word
deciding to create the world then to enter into it and ends with he’s
shrinking down to the world’s compiled in a book somewhere within that world
yet potentially and functionally larger than the world the end of the gospel
states that the ongoing never-ending character of the disruption created by
the decent of Jesus from the father it offers a kind of closure or perhaps ante
closure that knows that Jesus story will never close it has been dubbed
beautifully an archive of excess timing and wonderful presentation we do have a
few minutes for questions or comments okay Malcolm and then yeah please well
thank you for this presentation that I think what I’m going to say doesn’t
disagree with it but maybe adds to it namely why did the author actually need
to add this ending at all and they think the reason for that is rather clear
because the Gospels are rich in the ends it was at the end of chapter 20 where he
says basically he says there he also says Jesus performed all sorts of others
other science but I’ve told you as many as you need to know because what I’ve
told you is enough for you to inherit life in his name so having said you know
I don’t need to tell you anything more and then he said then of course he adds
an extra chapter and the reason for this everyone has agreed I mean this is this
question of this statement of Jesus to Peter and his tell Jesus tells Peter
that you know if you’re going you’re going to come to the unpleasant end but
you have to obey me and Peter says what about this other chap with you know the
the Beloved Disciple and Jesus says and Jesus says well if he stays till I
return what what what businesses of yours but you just do what I say and
then the gospel emphasizes he didn’t say he won’t return and he’ll be here to
read but only it’s not your business you see so having ended the 20/20 saying
I don’t need to tell you anything more you just started telling you something
more so next question that maybe a reader’s go and say okay you’re starting
to tell us more things why’d you stop again I mean yeah yeah yeah all right
you got this telling if you changed your mind so why stop here so he hasn’t
further than saying okay I mean yeah I know that you know you’re not expecting
anger to tell you more things but you know it is really too difficult I mean I
couldn’t seal the whole world now the actual choice of his excuse without
writing I think can be explained in the way that you do it but his need to have
someone excuse I think comes from simply the the form of they you know he’s got
to explain why he’s changed his mind when before that not so I would suggest I I agree entirely with that kind of
interpretation which goes against precisely reduction or criticism and
which which goes in line with the new findings about coherence of the entire
ending ending of John and quite why not mine is very short according to
scientists when was the New Testament Testament canonized I mean we have to distinguish the dates
where formal decisions canonical decisions are made and the process
before that okay so starting as early as the second century bishop start
exchanging letters but what he is read in their communities and it ends up in
to sort of consensus that is then sanctioned during the the major consoles
of the what is it third fourth century but about really the official canon
canonization at least in the Catholic Church is as late as 1546 because the
because the churches didn’t care a canonizing I mean putting the Holy
Spirit into into a cage you know it’s a dog it has to fly but when the Reformers
would start to to read open the case of some of the books then the Catholic
Church would issue an official list but it’s very late and account with the same
Cardinals who did that to care in the first editions of the Bible that they
would issue after the decision to add some books to the tutor to non canonical
books to the to the Bible as if to show pragmatically you know we did that list
but the the Holy Spirit is still alive and kicking in in elsewhere so it’s a
very dialectical way this canonization process yeah thank you very much for that kind
of integral reading of that of the 21st chapter them I’ve got a question
regarding the to the connection of the two last verses actually 24 and 25
because we’ve got of course there who to sustain no matter test matter alone
Perry Teuton kind of collapses so you’ve got somebody who writes there yeah and
then we have Kyle Odom and then because we know that we and then there’s the OMI
there’s the I think what sense do you make of that your again I think that
literally historians have solved the question by by putting by adducing many
examples of that very same device of shift in the annunciation from a third
person to a first person as a device used by historians to sign so to say in
a humble way they’re writing so I really think that the former redaction
criticism based on these differences these shifts in enunciation were wrong
they were just ignoring literary history and my point was why would we do that
because we don’t want to address the proper meaning of the of those verses so
we have to find other ways to comment on them now I mean you you may have to read
under his Christian bag has the 20 pages paper just on that on the OMI and as a
rhetorical device to end a book historical book historical according to
toe those those times yeah thank you

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