John 7: Controversy


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Excerpt from my 2004 translation of John’s gospel, which begins at Start With John, along with a brief explanation of my interpretive approach.

My 2012 translation of John’s first epistle begins at John A.

My 2015 translation of John’s second epistle begins at John B.

My 2015 translation of John’s third epistle begins at John Γ.

My 2015 and 2017 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians begins at To The Thessalonians A.

My 2015 translation of Paul’s letter to The Romans begins at To the Romans.

My 2004 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Korinthians begins at And Now For Something Completely Different….

My 2004 translation of Mark’s gospel begins at Mark 1.

7 1 After these things Jesus was traveling about in Galilaia; he did not go to travel in Judea because the Judeans were seeking to kill him. 2 And then it was nearing the Celebration of Tents in Judea. 3 Then his brothers said to him, “Go over, up into Judea so that your disciples may see your marvelous work which you will do. 4 For no one carries on in secret who also seeks to be known publicly [εν παρρησια]. If you are [really] doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For his brothers didn’t believe in him either.

6 Jesus says to them, “It is not yet my time but your time is always imminent. 7 The world is not able to hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its ‘great miracles’ are trivial. 8 You go up to the celebration, but I am not [p66, p75, ψ(eap) have ουπω, ‘not yet’] going up to this celebration, because the time of my [political] appointment [καιρος] has not yet reached fulfillment.” [ο εμος καιρος ουπω πεπληρωται, lit.: ‘my appointed time has not yet come to fulfillment,’ is a packed little phrase, incorporating complex political memes. The term καιρος, which means both ‘season,’ and ‘webbing thrums,’ is a double entendre, implying both the Roman political ascendancy, which involved minimum ages at each of the levels of office, so that a politician could be promoted by election only at his ‘appointed time;’ the term also recalls the webbing thrums of the loom to which the threads of the warp were fastened, foreshadowing by what means Jesus’ ‘promotion’ would come about: crucifixion, i.e. his being ‘fastened’ to the cross. There is also an apocalyptic whisper in the notion of all time being drawn together like a piece of cloth: 1 Corinthians 7:29 “It is my opinion, brothers, that the measure of time [word play, καιρος also ‘webbing thrums of the cloth’] is being drawn close” [συστελλω, ‘to draw in, as a sail’ – that metaphorically all of history is being drawn in like a sail folding up…].] 9 He said these things while he was staying in Galilaia.

10 So his brothers went up to the celebration and then he himself went up, not openly but in secret.

11 The Judeans were searching for him at the celebration and saying, “Where is that guy?”

12 And many in the crowds were arguing about him; on the one hand they were saying, “He is true,” and others were saying, “No,” but he evaded the crowd. 13 No one dared to speak openly concerning him because they feared the Judeans.

14 Then, at the midpoint of the celebration, Jesus went up into the temple and was teaching. [He taught so well that] the Judeans were astounded, saying, “How does this guy know the (sacred) writings when he has not been educated?” 16 Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not of [or ‘about’] myself but of [or ‘about’] the one who sent me; 17 if anyone wishes to do his will [or ‘anyone who wishes to do his will] he will know whether the teaching is from god or whether I am speaking ‘of myself.’ [There is an interesting playfulness here with the genitive case, which can be interpreted in a couple of senses, i.e. ‘of myself’ as in ‘from or out of my own experience,’ or ‘of myself’ as in ‘about myself;’ the wonderful simplicity of the language allows John to load Jesus’ argument with irony…if Jesus is speaking neither from his own experience nor about himself, what is he talking about? I believe John is revealing and teaching how he sees the spirit speaking through Jesus, which is not an easy thing. This grammatical playfulness seems to permeate this story and give it character, while also revealing the genius of this story telling culture in a whisper of a double entendre.] 18 The one who speaks ‘of himself’ seeks glory [‘credit’] for himself; but the one who seeks the glory of [or ‘credit for’] the one who sent him, this one is true [i.e. does not speak ‘of himself’ but rather he speaks ‘of the spirit’], and unteaching [or ‘error’] is not in him.

19 Moses gave you the law, didn’t he? And yet not one of you acts lawfully [literally, ‘does the law’]. Why are you seeking to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have listened to a false accuser; who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I performed one miracle [on the Sabbath] and you are all shocked. 22 But this is why, for example, Moses gave you the circumcision – not that it was from Moses but rather from the tradition of the forefathers – and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath and this does not break the Law of Moses, why are you angry at me for healing a sick man on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge superficially [κατ’ οψιν, ‘according to sight’]; rather, out of necessity make a just judgement.” [And here is the point, the subtle distinction between the ‘outward show’ of the law and the ‘spirit’ of the law, amplified by the grammatical playfulness dancing through the story.]

25 Then some of the Jerusalemites were saying, “This isn’t the one we’re seeking to kill, is it? 26 And look, he speaks openly and they are saying nothing to him [or ‘about it’]; the leaders do not truly know whether he is the Messiah, do they? 27 Yet, we know where he comes from; and when the Messiah comes, we will not know where he is from.”

28 So Jesus shouted out in the temple, teaching and saying, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I’m from; but of myself I do not speak; rather, truly [I speak] of [and about] the one who sent me, the one whom you do not know; 29 I know him, for I am from him [‘by’ him, as in ‘sired by’ – παρ’ αυτου].”

30 So then they sought to apprehend him, but no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come [cf v 8, above; ουπω εληλυθει η ωρα αυτου, lit.: ‘his hour had not yet come,’ is a slightly different expression of the concept in v 8; it seems to be a way of defining both terms in their new context here, in the gospel, dialogizing them both and giving them new meaning, as is typical of the novelistic genre according to Bakhtin]. 31 Many of the crowd believed in him and they said, “Even the Messiah could not do greater miracles than this one does, could he?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd grumbling (and arguing) about these things, and they sent chief priests and Pharisees across to apprehend him. 33 Then Jesus said, “Yet a little more time I will be with you and then I’m going [up, ὑπάγω] to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me but you will not find me, and where I am you will not be able to come.” 35 The Judeans then said to each other, “Where is this one about to go that we will not find him? He is not about to go into the Hellenon diaspora and teach the Hellenas, is he? 36 What is this saying supposed to mean – “You will seek me but not find me, and where I’m going you cannot come?” [Dramatic irony again – we, the audience, know where he’s going. The irony is particularly heavy if you want to interpret Jesus as saying that he’s going to heaven. The cross is foreshadowed here but so also the ascension. Further, this entire leitmotif is created and amplified by the ironic playfulness of the double entendres littering the story, which awaken the reader to the novelistic dialogization that is taking place with the sacred and social memes resonant in their culture. This is how Jesus’ radical and uncustomary actions and message can ‘make sense’ in his sociocultural milieu and it is the genius of the novelistic genre.]

37 Then on the last day of the great celebration Jesus was standing and shouted out saying, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. 38 The one who believes in me, just as scripture says, rivers of eternal-life-water will flow from his inmost heart.” 39 He said this concerning the spirit which the believers in him were about to receive; for the spirit had not yet come, for Jesus was not yet glorified [i.e, raised from death and recognized as the Messiah – the word δοξα means ‘credit,’ to be given the proper credit, the proper ‘worldly’ recognition type of glory – that he was ‘glorified’ was that he was recognized to be the Messiah, which entailed the resurrection, witnesses of the resurrection and then the coming of the spirit of which we, the audience, are already aware. This statement bears out my argument that John is using this story to teach about the holy spirit].

40 Some people in the crowd, hearing this saying said, “This one is truly the Messiah,” but others were saying, “The Messiah isn’t supposed to come from Galilaias, is he? Doesn’t scripture say that from the seed of David and from the city where David was [Bethlehem] the Messiah will come?” [This is a huge question, echoed three times in this chapter, and not answered in this gospel, even though John is considered late. The leitmotif of searching and evasion and the question of Jessus’ identity are floating about like balloons in the crowd.] 43 And a schism was created among the members of the crowd because of him; 44 and some of them wished to apprehend him but no one laid a hand on him.

45 So the chief priests and Pharisees went back across [to Judea] and those ones [the Judeans] said to them, “Why did you not take him into custody?” 46 Those who had come across answered, “No one ever spoke as this man does.” 47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “You have not been deceived, have you? 48 None of the priests or Pharisees believed in him, did they? 49 This crowd [over there] does not know the law and is accursed.”

50 Nicodemos, the one who first came to him [to Jesus, ch. 3], was one of them and he says to them, 51 “Our law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” 52 They answered and said to him, “You’re not from Galilaias, are you? Search longingly and you will see that no prophets are raised up out of Galilaias.”

53 And each went to his own house,


@gamiliel on Instagram

This translation was taken from The Greek New Testament, Kurt Aland, et. al. eds., Third Edition (corrected), United Bible Societies, (in cooperation with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Münster/Westphalia, Printed in West Germany by Biblia-Druck GmbH Stuttgart),1983.

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