1986, Serial No. 00475

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.



Suggested Keywords:


Saint John




I don't necessarily insist that you read, but it's for reference as we go through this. We're going to run into these episodes of Jesus and a woman continually, there are four of them, plus the episode of the cross, and each time there's a resonance which kind of moves in the same direction. Now, that's what this is about. You can interpret the whole Gospel of John in terms of marriage, in terms of the symbol of marriage, and it's suggested actually that that's what John is up to, that that's maybe his deepest symbol, so we'll see as we go on. Notice that that mandolin that we were talking about represents itself a kind of marriage between the cross and the circle, which means between, as it were, the masculine drama of conflict which life is and which corresponds to the exodus in the Bible, and the feminine fullness which corresponds to the creation, which corresponds to Genesis, which is where John is going. So what we seem to do is make a movement of exodus, which is a movement of intensifying experience of death, actually, for Jesus as he moves towards that one definitive hour.


And then at that moment, the whole thing explodes into this fullness of the creation, that is hour, and a new creation precipitates. So we'll see if that's true as we go through. Now, I didn't have the gift of conciseness when I wrote this, unfortunately, so it goes on and on to five pages. I didn't have time to boil it down. It actually dovetails into what I gave you last week about the symbolism of woman in John's Gospel. Now, this morning I'd just like to recall the principal points in that, kind of the logic in that argument about the symbolism of woman, before we go on through the Gospel, because today we want to make some mileage, if we can. Okay, do you have those notes on the symbolism of woman in John's Gospel? Symbolism of woman in John's Gospel, it's three pages. Now, we said that...


Let's see, I want to get ahead of myself. Yeah, I pointed out Culpeper's treatment of John's symbolism, how he doesn't treat woman as a symbol, but it's a key symbol, and that the appearances of women in John's Gospel are very strategically placed, they're geometrically placed and theologically placed so that they build something, so that they lead to something, and that something is almost like the encounter of Jesus with one symbolic woman. We had the Cana episode last time, today I hope we'll get through the Samaritan woman episode and do well, and we'll see a consistent, very symbolic resonance in all of those things. And then finally, at the crossing of the Magdalene in the garden. Now, there are five woman passages there, and they're unusual and have a kind of similarity and a kind of difference from Jesus' encounters with men, which I point out in number eight here. There's a consistency, a curious interior mirroring effect between these episodes, so


that at the cross, the women also merge into one, just as at the cross everything concentrates to its center, and that is the issue of the resurrection, of the new creation. There's a dialectic between the women, that is, there's a similarity and a contrast at the same time between Mary and Magdalene, that is the mother of Jesus and Magdalene, both their roles and who they are, interpreting the mother of Jesus from a larger tradition, because John gives his very little about her. But for instance, the virginity of the mother of Jesus, as we see it in Luke in the Synoptics, this gives us a whole kind of background for interpreting the contrast between her and Magdalene, who in the Synoptics is the woman who had seven devils. I don't think that's in John. Similarly, the contrast between Mary of Bethany and the Samaritan woman. Mary of Bethany is, as it were, the insider, the intimate friend of Jesus. Jesus loved Martha and Mary, his sister, in Lazarus. The Samaritan woman was an utter stranger when he encountered her for the first time


at the well. The Mary, evidently, is a devout woman and evidently a virgin. The Samaritan woman has been married five times and she's living with somebody she's not married to. So there's all that deliberate contrast in there, which has a deeper symbolic rationale to it. In other words, it means something more than just symmetry. It's not just a literary device for its own sake, but there's a symbolic meaning underneath, which we'll try to get to as we go along. And then there's a kind of, as I said, cluster of symbols associated with women in John. Woman, wedding, banquet, water, wine, ointment, tears, service, and finally garden. And by service, I mean that the woman always has some ministerial role, almost always, like Mary. She furthers the progress of the thing. In other words, she has a part in the sign that takes place at Canaan. She just has a key role of a couple of words, pointing something out to Jesus and then pointing something out to the servants. So she kind of facilitates. Similarly, the Samaritan woman has a, give me some water, I need a drink.


Mary of Bethany, washing and anointing the feet of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, looking for the body of Jesus to take care of him. Okay, good. So there's this kind of circle of service orbiting around Jesus, together with the woman at the cross, who are just there, because that's where you can't be at that moment. And then the well. We're going to do the Samaritan episode today, but the well which suggests interiority. All these liquids that come up in these scenes, the nuptial theme and the theme of water or wine or ointment or tears or the well of living water, whatever it might be, all of that, see the symbolic density in the way that the symbols converge, even though it never explicitly comes out what John is saying in all this. He intends it to remain mysterious because somehow these things cannot be translated into circumscribed concepts. They're all windows into that one mystery. Further thesis. Woman in John's Gospel has a symbolic value which is related to fulfilment, glory and Sabbath. Now, last time I remember, Gerd brought up the question, was glory in John, does it


have a nuptial meaning? And I didn't answer the question adequately because it wasn't in my mind, but it has a directly nuptial meaning. In other words, glory for Jesus in John, I believe, is almost like the bride that he receives. In other words, this glorification is coming into its fullness as this double meaning of his own body being glorified, his completion, because Jesus is always incomplete while he's on earth. The word which comes in somehow is short of itself while it's on earth, and its coming into its fullness is symbolized by this receiving of the bride, by this marriage, which is the same as the glorification and which has two meanings. Jesus is glorified, but at the same time everything is drawn to him at that moment. So he, as it were, receives the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of bestowing it, which at the same time draws the whole creation to him, it weds the whole creation to him. He's at the center. So he is a bridegroom in a kind of complete sense because everything gathers around him. Bridegroom has center. And then the fullness can be symbolized by the fulfillment. That may sound vague, but I think there is, as I say, a difficulty in making it clear.


So fulfillment, glory, and Sabbath, if you look in the Jewish tradition, you find that there are three figures, three feminine figures, which kind of echo in our minds as we read John. One is Sophia, as we've seen already, okay, the wisdom figure, and we'll go into that a lot more because that's very important for John. The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, especially, extremely important. Chapter 7 through 9, and then also other points. Secondly, the Shekinah, which is the presence of God, the glory of God. It's synonymous with the glory of God. It has a long history, so the term tends to shift. But it's synonymous with the glory of God in that sense of a concrete, visible manifestation of God, the luminous cloud. The presence which was in the temple and then, remember, left the temple. And then when the Jews go into exile, the Shekinah goes into exile with them. Now, the Shekinah is a feminine personification of God once again. And it's seen in Jewish mysticism as kind of the bride of God, who becomes also the companion of mankind. It has this mysterious relationship with Israel. That's the second one.


So this is all in Jewish mysticism. If you read Gershom Sholem or this Raphael Patai, the Hebrew goddess, you'll see how kind of luxuriant the speculation on these things becomes. It's a poetic thing. And then the third thing is the Sabbath bride. Heschel has a beautiful book on the Sabbath, where he points out how the Sabbath was welcomed each week in the Jewish tradition as a woman, as a bride who comes. And it's connected always with light. Remember how the woman of the house lights the candles for the Sabbath? She's responsible for the light. And then the Sabbath bride who comes somehow as a fulfillment, so this day, this time mysteriously is bride. Well, that brings us directly into John, because this, as it were, glorification, which is the nuptial, which is the marriage of Jesus, the bridegroom, is the Sabbath, is itself the Sabbath. So in John, like wherever you encounter Sabbath, that can resonate sort of in your mind. And whenever you encounter this nuptial theme, that kind of glory thing, and the Sabbath


theme can resonate. The Sabbath will find, actually, fully, finally, only in that last episode, I believe, in John 20, where John breathes the Holy Spirit into the disciples, I believe that that's the moment that John intends everything to funnel into. Okay, so all of the symbolism funnels into the breathing of the Holy Spirit into the disciples, which is the new creation. So this whole nuptial thing actually goes into the ground at that point, it disappears, and it's all channeled into that one symbol of the breathing in, which is the recreation of the human person from the earth, remember, or the breathing of the Spirit of God into the earth, which is the new creation. It's the marriage of Spirit with earth, the marriage of Spirit with the creation in man, and that, I think, contains all of it for John. Just look at this for a minute. Yes. Yes. That's just a part of, kind of, the feminine connotation of the Sabbath, or to a point


of that. Jesus is the true servant, and Jesus says, I'm the Lord of the world. That's right. You've got two sides of it there, yeah. That's right, that's right. If anybody can buy that, I can never find anybody to say that he accepts that. I think that's true. What happens is, even at Cana, when Jesus gives the wine, he is the bridegroom and the wine, in a sense. The wine, it can only be himself. It can only be the wisdom, which is an interior thing afterwards, okay? Something poured into people, and that's why it's a feminine presence of Jesus. So he's the bride as well, has wisdom. Yes. That's right, yeah.


Very good, yeah. In John, that's in chapter 12. Remember what happens in John 13? First of all, just before then, is it before then or just after then, when Mary washes the feet of Jesus, anoints the feet of Jesus, Jesus then washes the feet of his disciples and assumes the feminine role that she had just performed for him, okay? So two things happen. First of all, it's a movement from Jesus' physical body to the body which is his disciples', all right? Secondly, it's a movement from the masculine to the feminine role. So this is the point of turning over in John's Gospel, chapter 12 and 13, where he, as it were, assumes a feminine role, and in all of those supper chapters, the supper discourse, the imagery is pretty much on that side. The image of indwelling, okay, that kind of companionship, the image of the vine, of oneness in being, and remember the psalm, you've got all three of those images in Psalm 128, something like that. Your wife like a vine in your house, and your son's growing up like olive shoots. It's all there in that psalm.


And then finally, the third image is the woman giving birth, okay? That's an image for Jesus now, as well as an image for the disciples. So the imagery itself turns feminine at that point, okay? And then something happens at the cross. We're going to that when we get to it, but you see how in John you have this intense use of imagery, and then at a certain point, the symbolism is all transcended in something that, where there's a crossover between even masculine and feminine, as well as a crossover between divine and human, okay? So he's really going far with his symbolism, and it's really very audacious. The mere fact that he identifies Jesus already, as Brown says, with the feminine wisdom of the wisdom books in the Old Testament, he's already gone pretty far, even though he calls him word, logos. Even though he calls him word, which is a masculine term, he calls him logos, okay? However, in each of these episodes, this is number 15, except perhaps the non-typical


cross scene, it's a question of some untimeliness, some anticipation, and the woman is involved in this. She may have to be admonished about it, but she brings something about ahead of its time. Now at Cana, that's obvious, okay? With the Samaritan woman, as we're going to see today, he does this complete verbal revelation of himself before its time, before he gives it to anybody else, and this is way out in Samaria. And then, similarly with Mary at Bethany, she anoints his feet, and he says, well, it's okay as long as she keeps it for my burial. But also the symbol, what she does is a symbol of the resurrection. The fragrance that fills the house, and so on. And then Magdalene says, don't hold on to me, because I haven't yet ascended to my father. So every time, woman is an anticipated form, as it were. He holds your son, and then pointing to the beloved disciple. And that isn't going to happen, of course, until afterwards, until after the spirit is


given. That relationship can only be welded, the symbolic relationship. Yes, yes. Okay, so I've gone into that at some length, this anticipation, because it gets us deeper into what's going on here. Sixteen, woman in John signifies anticipated fullness. But notice that woman is also emptiness. I mean, all these women are in some way needy, okay? There's the need for the wine. Mary doesn't need the wine, the mother of Jesus, but, you know, she went. And then there's an incompleteness that is in the women figures, too. I don't want to exaggerate this thing, because they are symbols. And for instance, the Samaritan woman, she's thirsty, right? She's run through five husbands, and she's still thirsty, as it were. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Mary and Bethany, right. So as we go through the individual episodes, we'll pick this up.


But this is to give you an idea of the unity of the whole thing. The blood and water from the side, yeah. So woman is, it's, the symbols are so packed together at certain points, like at the cross, that you don't know how to pick them apart. For instance, there's some kind of union that takes place between Jesus and his mother at that moment. He said, before my hour has not yet come. Now his hour has come. And he said, what have I to do with you? Now obviously, that has a slang meaning. It has a colloquial meaning for a Jew. But on the literal level, and John means it there, too, we're not united. We're not joined in the way that we will be, once my hour has come. We don't know exactly what happens at that hour, except that she receives a new son, and so on. And yet, woman is born at the same time, in the blood and water that flow from Jesus' side, the allusion to Genesis. So the symbols are so dense, so packed, that we have trouble extricating a separate meaning for each one. When we get to that scene, too, we'll look further. Does woman then represent for John the new creation? Yes and no.


Woman seems an anticipation of the new creation, which always has to pass through something and be fulfilled. And when it is fulfilled, then the symbol, woman in her symbolic role, disappears into the new creation. The connection with Sophia, and then the garden, the fountain, and those connections continually, the kind of affinity of certain symbols in John for one another. Woman and water, wine, ointment, and so on, oil. A final kind of theory about this, that just as, I think, from a Jungian point of view, that a woman is seen by man as a kind of projection of his own soul, or that upon which he projects his soul, that in which he sees his soul. So I would suggest that in John's Gospel, woman represents like a projection, a symbol


for that which is in Jesus and is to be given by Jesus. Whereas woman is an external symbol, as it were, of the soul, the interior person of man in psychology. So in John's Gospel, woman is an external representation, a symbolic representation of the interiority which Jesus is to confer, which is his indwelling spirit afterwards, okay? Spirit which is really fullness. Now, the trouble is that all the time the language is only half-language. We always get half a word. In other words, it's masculine language or it's feminine symbol. Jesus never speaks in feminine terms. And it's as if there's a mysterious unwritten law there that he can't, because of the way that he's incarnated, okay? So he's incarnated as a word, which is whole word and half-word at the same time. So it's for us to fill out the half-word. John is giving us hints all the time. And these women that Jesus runs into in John's Gospel are giving us the other half of that word, but in symbolic form because it can't be spoken, okay? And later it will be an interior reality once the spirit has been given.


Yeah, because we can't. We can't interpret that side. We're like blind men, you know? That's what we're waiting for. I hope that that kind of women theologians will come along, because they're not all that way. Some of them have a whole other way of thinking, a different kind of theology. She's that way. Yeah. That's right, that's right. Because man is, even using symbols, man is abstracting, right? It's an abstract application.


Whereas women tend to be much more concrete, and the living reality is what's important. That's right, that's right. It's not going to be one or the other. Okay, that's about it for this. That's right, that's right. Yeah, Mary Magdalene is at the empty tomb. Something happens there. The only liquid you can find there, too, is her tears. And Jesus says, woman, why are you weeping? Because the time for that is over, see? Because the time of the spirit has come. So the symbols have receded then. Yeah, it's true, it's true.


Yeah, I'm glad you brought up the tomb, because take it a little bit further. When the tomb becomes the hollow earth, the tomb becomes the earth itself as a vessel, okay? And you can see that somehow that empty tomb is like the shaft down which the earth has been opened into its ultimate materiality. And earth there is not just earth, but people, too. In other words, creation has been, as it were, drilled into its center by what has happened. So that now the spirit can be poured into it. The creation being the whole thing, but us also especially, because he breathes the spirit into us, okay? So you can read it on different levels. I'm glad you brought that up. Also the well in the Samaritan woman, too. She leaves the kind of finite vessel because she's discovered the well of living water. And the well standing in the background in that scene is kind of exerting pressure on the scene all the time, you know, the symbol of the well. This thing's gone. So woman symbolizes both the gift, that is the spirit, and spirit you can always read as wisdom in John, okay? It's not just kind of abstract Holy Spirit, but it's the presence of Jesus which is


speaking, the presence of the interior word which is wisdom. And then woman is also the receiver. So she has this complex, this double symbol. It describes what you were saying before about the fullness. Okay, I think something like that happens. Jesus doesn't think, he doesn't write about the moment of the birth of Jesus as Luke does, okay, in the infancy narrative. But what he does give us is something else. Let me start from here. In John 12, he says, the seed, the grain of wheat, if it remains alone, let's see, if


it doesn't fall into the ground, it remains alone. If it falls into the ground, then it brings forth much fruit. Remember Genesis, it's not good for men to be alone. It's not good for men to remain alone. Let me make a helpmate for it. So there is kind of the larger impregnation that has to take place, which is the seed of Jesus' own body, the seed of Jesus' self falling into the ground, which is the creation, which is the whole thing, okay? So that's the incarnation in a larger sense. Then it will bring forth much fruit, and that much fruit is the fullness, is the kind of creation moving out from the center. This diagram always helps me, because he says that up here actually, okay? So the seed has to fall into the ground, and then it moves outwards and fills the whole thing. That's the circle, as you see coming out. Then it's like also the breathing in the spirit. Same thing, yeah. Because it's then, because of what Jesus received, the breathing in the spirit. He breathes in the spirit, and then when he breathes it in, the spirit itself becomes a fountain within the person. So he breathes it into your interior, and then it becomes a center.


It is the source, and it is him there, okay? So he impregnates the creation with himself, bringing about the new creation. That sends you to Romans 9. There are a lot of places where you want to go to Saint Paul, kind of, and get that sidelight. Okay, so we can leave that and return to it sometime, if you want to bring up any questions at other times. We've already shot half our time. And that other one just goes on from here. The one about the nuptial symbolism, which is kind of garbled, but maybe I can do a better job on it later. Okay, let's, one remark about the Cana miracle. I ran across an article which is in part convincing by a man named Clark, who says that the signs


in John's Gospel conform to the plagues in the book of Exodus, believe it or not. Only, remember the ten plagues? Only. There's an intermediary, and that's the book of Wisdom, which has shrunk the ten plagues into seven, which become ambivalent signs. And this gets pretty fascinating, all right? It sounds complicated, but the book of Wisdom has taken Exodus, remember it recounts the whole Exodus thing in terms of wisdom, wisdom led them to the desert, wisdom protected them, all this, okay? And it turns those ten plagues into seven signs which are double-edged, in the sense that they cut one way for the Egyptians and they cut the other way for the Jews. In other words, for those who are believers in God, for those who are the true faithful, they have a positive effect, for the infidel, for the unbelievers, they have a disastrous effect, okay? So, for instance, plague on the Egyptians, first sign, undrinkable water from the Nile. Remember, Moses struck the Nile with his rod and turned the water into blood, so they


couldn't drink it, remember? And for Israel, he gave drinkable water in the desert from a rock. Now, evidently the book of Wisdom makes this connection, it's kind of hard to pick it up. Does that remind you of anything, John? Cana, he turns the water into wine, okay? Now, that one's very convincing, the next two are not convincing at all, and then the others get convincing again. So, what it may be is that John is using his seven signs also in this way, in other words, a double use of the signs, or a double, let me say, a double use of the seven days of creation. We've seen one use here, okay, which is you can call a kind of spherical use, because it moves out from the center. That's the new creation. But he may have this other use of the seven signs, which you could call linear. Now, if this is Genesis and creation, then the other one is Exodus, and not creation, but conflict, okay? The plot, once again, the drama of the Gospel, belief or unbelief.


See, the ambivalent signs, they cut both ways, and that save on one side and that condemn on the other side, those who don't believe in it. So, you'd have a linear progress along the axes of the Gospel, as it were, with these signs, and then this final, this movement outward at the end, with the new Genesis, the new creation, which is completely gratuitous, and in which everything is positive. There isn't that ambiguity anymore. I think that may be in there. We can see if it is as we go along. It's pretty fascinating. Do you want this article? I can make copies of it. I can run through quickly the signs that he has here, all right? Now, what he does is to see six signs. He skips the one, and so we have to do a little juggling with this afterwards if we want to fit it into our previous pattern, because he skips this. The central sign for Ellis is the walking on the water, remember? In the middle of John 6, he skips it. But what he does at the end, he says there are only six signs, therefore, and the seventh


sign is the actual Passover of Jesus. The seventh sign is the actual exodus event, the redemption of the people through the death and resurrection of Jesus. So, what does that do? It brings us back into the same center, into the crossing of the water, okay? So, actually, it works out very well in that sense. You've got six signs, but then the seventh sign is the sign, is the great sign, but the seventh sign then takes us into the center of archaism, takes us into the center here. Okay? And then it all explodes out from here in the new creation. I'll read you, just very briefly, his signs. The first one is the changing of the water into wine, which corresponds to the two water miracles in Exodus and Wisdom. Second is the cure of the royal official's son, which we ought to get to today, and he connects that with the two things of the animals, the quails and the frogs, and it doesn't work out well for me. The third one is the paralytic, and that doesn't work out either for me. But the fourth one, now it gets good, the multiplication of the loaves and the destructive creation,


that is the fire which burned up the food of the Egyptians, and the salvific creation, the manna that resisted the fire in Wisdom, because Wisdom has this thing about the elements changing their nation. So the destruction of the food of the Egyptians and the manna of the Jews. And then the cure of the man born blind, and the captivity in darkness, and the pillar of light in darkness. Now that's very accented in Exodus and Wisdom. And the raising of Lazarus, and the death of the firstborn. Remember the killing of the firstborn in Egypt? Pharaoh's son right down to the animals. Okay? So there it's pretty strong, just like we had a problem here with the second and the third days of creation. He's got a problem in the second and third days too, so I don't know what the source of it is. And then finally, the seventh sign, the great sign, the lifting up of Jesus in death and resurrection. And the drowning in the sea and the passing over through the sea, that's the classical


Christian baptismal symbol, remember? We'll meet that on the Easter vigil. So it's pretty strong, except for two. It's not bad. There's no perfection in these matters, but two are really bad. I mean, he has to stretch things pretty far to make it simple. Okay, now, just to recapitulate a little bit. I think that if this is true, then there are two schemes of the seven days of creation. One is an Exodus scheme of the seven days of creation, and it's linear. And the other is a Genesis scheme of the seven days of creation, which is, I would say, spherical, and which represents the birth of the new creation coming out from this center, which is established in the first series. All right, enough of that. Let's look at sequence number four, as we've numbered them, which is Nicodemus. It's John chapter two...


Chapter three, excuse me. Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews who comes to Jesus by night. So our light themes comes in here in a kind of ironic, kind of reverse way, but which corresponds to several other sequences. This is a reflect of a man born blind, and it's after this course in particular, the fourth day of creation. There's this frequent challenge to leap to a higher level, and it becomes very explicit here, where Jesus accuses Nicodemus of not... He's a teacher in Israel, but he doesn't know beans about the kingdom of God. And in fact, he's not going to learn it unless he becomes born again from water and the Holy Spirit. A conversion of consciousness and enlightenment is called for. If we look at Ellis' chiasm, he's got a pretty good continuity, actually, with the


centers of these various chiasms in the first half of the Gospel. The center here is, are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this. The thing that ties together all these centers is the movement from one level to another, from a lower level to a higher level. Just as in the prologue, the center was, to those who believed in him, believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God. So he moved up in every one of these, but the first nine, the center of the first nine comes out that way, which is convincing. So revelation as a revolution in consciousness. Jesus is a kind of a Zen Roshi here, kind of a Zen Rabbi. The exegetes will often tell you, well, Jesus couldn't have talked about water and the Holy Spirit. This is a posterior insertion from the experience of the Christian community. That needn't bother us, I don't think.


We don't have to read the Gospel that way. It's important to read that way at times, but that's not what we're up to. So what we're looking at is the total thing, the whole that John has put together, and trying to get the ring of it, as if you were listening to the resonance of a bell. It's not an analytical thing by which we try to find its sources. If we mention the sources, it's only to shed more light on the thing we're looking at. How can a man be born when he's old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Note the two levels, the insistence, the harping of Jesus on the difference between those two levels. How can this be? That's the classical question of the one who doesn't believe, and therefore is grappling to understand in the wrong way. Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this?


We speak of what we know, but you don't receive our testimony. And here it would seem that he's speaking to more than just Nicodemus, if there's some kind of other... Because Nicodemus is a friendly fellow, he's an interested seeker. What do they call them? What do the Jesuits call them? Convert classes? You know, they have those little classes for people who are entering maturity. In other words, he's not fighting Jesus, he's just groping to understand. If I have told you earthly things and you don't believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? That's a line that puzzles the Israelites, because what are these earthly things that Jesus is talking about? Unless it be simply the fact of rebirth, which we would see as a heavenly thing, because it's birthed from above. When he says you must be born anew, the Greek word is anathan, which has a double meaning intended by John once again. Again and from above. He must be born again, he must be born from above, and he says it all with one adverb.


No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Now, the replacement theme is very strong here, and I think, as it is throughout this first part, will continue. And the replacement here, I think, is the replacement of the teacher in Israel. It's the replacement of a knowledge, of the kind of knowledge of God that Nicodemus has and that he represents as an ignorant teacher in Israel, and the new kind of knowledge of God that's going to be given through the Holy Spirit. The fact of the rebirth, that symbol of rebirth, we could take it a lot further, because that cuts right into the center of what's happening. When we talk about new creation, we talk about rebirth, and there's a centering force there. Rebirth from within, obviously. So, there are two replacements, and this is typical. There's a replacement of the teacher in Israel and his teaching. Now, that's on the level of Jewish religion. There's also another replacement, or let me say penetration or illumination from within.


Birth, okay? You've got two teachings and you've got two births. The two teachings, the first teaching is a religious thing, religious institution, as it were. The first birth is a natural thing. So, something happens with religion and something happens with nature. Nature is not replaced, but within the surface, as it were, or within the obvious level of nature, something else appears, okay? A symbolic depth appears so that nature represents something else, which doesn't do away with it, but in some way integrates it, okay? So, throughout, if we took the trouble, I think we'd probably be able to find this kind of double reference, that there's a double... I don't want to say double replacement. One thing is replaced, but something else is penetrating and illuminating. Religion and nature. Each moving to that third level. Now, for the first time, we've seen that Jesus says he must be lifted up, the Son of Man must be lifted up. This has obviously a double meaning in John. The meaning of being crucified, which is presumed to have been obvious to people at that time.


I don't know if it really was. And secondly, glorification, okay? Now, there's a third thing that comes in here. The other places where you find this is chapter 8, 28, and chapter 12, where it becomes decisive, 32 and 34. That's where Jesus says, when I'm lifted up, then I will draw all things to myself. And there you see this geometry is coming back in again. Jesus is being lifted up, but he only becomes lifted up when the seed falls into the ground. But when he becomes lifted up, he becomes a center, so that everything is drawn to him. Now, here, the mention of the serpent, and I think this is the only time that the serpent is mentioned. It comes from Numbers 21, 9. Remember what happened? The Jews had misbehaved again, and so fiery serpents were sent among them, and they were dying from this. And so, God said to Moses, put a brazen serpent, a brass serpent, upon a pole and lift it up,


and whoever looks at that serpent will be saved, will be cured from his illness. So, the serpent heals the serpents. Now, something very strange and very deep is going on here. We can't follow that image of serpent way back into the book of Genesis, okay? In fact, into Genesis 3, at the beginning of the creation account. We don't have time to do that. We might get lost in it. But there's a book which sheds a lot of light on this. It's called Moses and the Fourth Gospel. It's by Glasson. He has a chapter here on the serpent in the wilderness. It seems that the serpent was lifted up. Now, there's a little linguistic thing which makes it hard to catch, but if you can go with it, it sheds a lot of light on the Gospel. The serpent was lifted up as a standard, and the word for standard is simeon, and simeon is sign in John. So, what we're getting here is that Jesus lifted up upon the cross becomes the sign,


all right, the sign. So, all of these signs of John, and the signs are not only the miracles, but also other things. There's a continual use of the word sign in here. All of these signs and the question of sign is going to culminate in that one sign of Jesus on the cross, which is at once cross and glorification. So, in some way, that's our synthetic and our culminating sign. I bring this in because it is going to converge with so many other things that we're going to say during our treatment of the Gospel. It's rather remarkable that the Hebrew word nesh means both standard and sign, or miracle, and the Greek word simeon has the same double connotation. It also means both standard, or something lifted up, and sign, or miracle. We've seen in the previous section... Okay. All right, where's this conclusion? As it's marked, there's no miracle in the Johannine Passion narrative.


This is not because the story of Jesus ceases to have the value of revelation. In fact, the death and resurrection are the supreme simeon, supreme sign. So, do you see how this converges with what I was just saying about those six signs, and then the culminating sign? But this sign actually is a sign. It's a figure for John. It's the figure of the cross, which comes back into these structures that he puts into his Gospel. This is also in St. Paul. I was just reflecting this morning. I should have been doing it during Mass. The Pauline passages in which you have the same figure. One of them I rendered this morning. It's Ephesians 3, 14 through 19. That Christ may be rooted in your heart, the center, that you may thus know the height and the depth and the length and the breadth, and so be filled with all the fullness of God. You see, get the same figure coming through? The cross and then the expansion from the center for the fullness. It's already in the Pauline traditions. There's a mysterious connection between Ephesians, by the way, and the Johannine tradition.


Did you have... It's like Mark's treatment of the identity of Jesus and John's treatment of the identity of Jesus. The kind of concealment or ironic presentation and the complete revelatory kind of lifting up presentation. Yes, that's right. It's only that we can't prove any lengths. I copied an article on Ephesus from the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. It was completely frustrating. All it tells you about is the physical characteristics in the history, the kind of Gentile history. That's right, the plot thickens.


Okay, so that's a very pregnant thing right there. It's open in the desert, but we don't have time to spend much more time on it. Just put a marker there and then bring it up later on. Let me see now. I think it's a unique sign in John, so I think it's all right to separate it out. I believe it is a sign. It certainly is a sign. And how we use the notion of seven in John I think has to be kind of flexible, because I think he's flexible, he plays with it. He's not completely consistent. And so you kind of have to loosen our grip on it and allow a couple of things to happen at the same time. So I see it as one of, as the central sign, okay, as the central sign which corresponds to the ultimate sign. Let me put it this way. It's the central sign completely unlike the others because it doesn't heal anybody, it


doesn't solve any difficulty really. It's the most completely ostentatious sign among Jesus' signs. It's the central sign geometrically here because I'm still thinking in that way. And as centre it brings the ultimate sign which is the Passover of Jesus, okay, the crossing of the sea, the baptismal thing in Christian traditional terms, but it's the death and resurrection of Jesus in John. Brings that into the centre of the Gospel, okay. So it unites that genuine sign, which is the culmination, the hour, with, as it were, the geometrical centre of the Gospel. So the key word in the answer is that it basically, among its aspects, is these elements of love. That's right, that's right. To keep that, to keep the Lord in everybody else. We have to, because John is infinitely suggestive, you know, and very hard to pin him down. In some, in some of the textures relating to your reading of this description, it's not an asymmetry, it's more of an asymmetry.


Well, John's got both. I think he intends a deliberate symmetry in these episodes, at the same time as an enormous asymmetry of nearly the size of a portion of the total. In other words, three quarters of the Gospel will be over here and one quarter over there somewhere. And then there's an asymmetry in the fact that you have a drama with a conclusion, okay? Now how does he get together a narrative which has a conclusion, a denouement, with a centred structure in which somehow, you know, everything has to move out of that centre? Well, that's what he's doing. The main part of this is that I don't think anyone can see that symmetry in the structure. I think it's actually the meaning of it. Yes, yes. It's like this woman who comes out of the back of these birds, you know, animals. There's one thing we probably see more of, yeah? Yeah. When they come into view, right? Yeah. And maybe it's coming through the front, like that one. Maybe we should. That's the thing, I know, it's a perfect analogy, because you saw, I think it's a


very good analogy, where if you can construct it, and do not accept it entirely, then you get the proper tool, as it were, to step back and see it, but then, what is it that's going to be extended out to the students, but it's a very subconscious and a very objective way of looking at it. And sometimes something is happening, but they don't understand that it's happening, it's a presence, just as happens in the psyche. That's what I was going to say, that it's a stepping back, I think, to the question of the conversion of consciousness. Yes, yes. You were saying, you know, that the conversion of consciousness, that there's a conversion of consciousness, and that the conversion of consciousness is something that we believe in, and we don't know. Oh yeah, sure. I think it's all the same thing, all right? In other words, the conversion of consciousness is belief.


It's belief. Oh, it is. Yeah, but belief in Jesus is immediate knowledge. I see. In another kind of knowledge. Because I was wondering, you know, in terms of, you know, is there a belief in where changes are born, or do you have faith in where they're seeded? That's right, that's right. And it's all centered in belief in him. Yeah, because it's opposite of what the world thinks. That's right, that's right. The power thing is not in the period. It comes evidently later on, when Jesus is in collision with that structure. And that really, you know, the way you brought it up, it makes it quite clear to me, and well, you also said that I've heard it before, that's what you were saying. That's right, that's right. Yeah, it's the same thing, exactly. Nicodemus and Jesus, or Nicodemus is knowledge, and knowledge of Jesus is talking about here, by like Paul saying, what was the Christ before I saw the way of God? Because of the surpassing knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because in that knowledge of Christ, there's a knowledge. That's Philippians, yeah. See, that offensive emotion should be still embraced.


Oh, yes, yes, definitely, sure. Yeah, so when I say transformation of consciousness, it's not simply that, it's everything else at the same time, but that's the angle from which Jesus is talking about here. Because it's knowledge of the heart. Knowledge of the heart, sure. So you didn't say it was the gift of the Holy Spirit, you know, but you keep it here from the Holy Spirit. That's why he says water and the Holy Spirit, that represents the gift. The mechanical, the physical aspect of the water, and then the purely gratuitous gift of the Holy Spirit, yeah. What was it that St. Thomas was before he saw the way of God? I don't know if you can see it, but I'm hoping I can, because it's so small. Yeah. Yeah, it looks like, before he saw the way of God. Yeah, so that was not exactly the same thing, but that's another thing about the kind of quantum leaps in consciousness. That is, St. Thomas already had a very deep Christian contemplative vision, okay?


He had a very deep Christ vision. And even there, you still can have a big leap to a higher level, okay? Which is beyond words, and which you can't write big books about. So that kind of thing happened. That's right. When you talk about a conversion experience, it isn't just a one-time thing, it's a series of explosive bursts that have a continuity. That's right. However, there's one fundamental movement, which Jesus is talking about here, okay? There's one fundamental turnover, which is inside every following. All of the other phases are part of that. There's nothing beyond that, in a sense, okay? There's nothing beyond moving from the world to Christ, for instance, or moving from the knowledge of the flesh to the knowledge of the Spirit. But you have all those different levels inside of that, which may seem like new quantum leaps. Yes. Yeah, it's like what St. Paul says when he says, we see darkly through a mirror here,


but then we're going to see fully. Somebody like Rahner will tell you, well, that's... Let me see. Well, he does admit a theological difference between those two. But that's a quantum leap within already the enlightened person, right? Because Paul's already deeply seen into the mystery of Christ. That's right. Now, for Nicodemus, he talks about a birth, but a birth is a death, too. Yes. Yeah, what he's really talking about is more in terms of hope than it is of anything else. In other words, with a knowledge goes a hope. So do you put your hope, do you trust in this kind of knowledge? Is your consciousness resting on this ground, or is it resting on this ground? So you change ground, but you still know what you knew before, but you know it from a different


ground, okay? And your reliance, your hope, your support, is somewhat else than it was before. You've moved from law to grace, from law to Christ. So you can use all that. Sure. As before. Yeah, and that's what he does when he integrates. He's still a rabbi. Anything else about that before we move on? Let me go a little further, just so I won't have all kinds of self-reproach, and see if we can do this little part, sequence number five, John 3, 22. And Ellis takes it into chapter four, verse three. And this concludes our part one, that is our first five sequences, as you said, by the lower member of that. All right. There's a movement to Judea.


Let me see. Yeah. Those movements are important in John, but it's hard to give them a precise significance. We always know that in moving to Galilee, moving outwards, Jesus seems to encounter greater faith. Moving inwards towards the center, he seems to encounter greater resistance. And yet he's moving towards the inevitable goal of his life, which has to be to, as it were, die into that resistance of Jerusalem. So the business of a... Now here we have the final word, the swan song of John the Baptist in John's Gospel. And remember that this is an inclusion, which ties together the whole first part, up to this point, with the John the Baptist section. Now they speculate that this place, Aenon near Salem, could have been up near Samaria. Discussion between John's disciple and a Jew over here from the curious way forward. And then John makes his final proclamation.


I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. That sends us back to chapter one, deliberate inclusion. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears and rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Hard for us not to recall at that point, the moment in St. Luke's Gospel, the visitation scene, when John leaps in the womb of Elizabeth. When Mary of Jesus comes. Therefore, this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease. So Jesus is the bridegroom. So here we have the culmination of the series of titles that John has given to Jesus. Let's look at those just for a second. First of all, there were the negative confessions in chapter one. John said, I am not the Christ, okay? I am not Elijah. I am not the prophet. Well, all of those in some way can be attributed to Jesus, but especially the Christ. Then the positive ones. He who comes after me, who stands among you or in you.


Whose sandal I am not worthy to lose. A man who ranks before me because he was before me. Remember, I am, he was before me, the one who is. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He on whom the Spirit descended as a dog. He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And the Son of God. This is the Son of God. Then in chapter three, he's the Christ. He's the one who has the bride, that is the bridegroom. And he's the one who must increase. Increase there, the Greek word, usually means growth, like a plant, like a tree. And that sends us to John 12. Mention of the seed and so on. Here I might recall those theastic centers in those several passages. I mentioned the one in the prologue. The one in sequence one was, Jesus changes Simon's name to Peter.


And we have a movement from one level to another. Second, water changed him to wine. These are the centers that Ellis' key has in his various... And this is one of the reasons why his argument is strong. Okay, when they're as strong as this. But everything goes haywire in the second half of the gospel. And we'll see if we find a reason for that. Third one, in the temple episode, destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. So, one, two, three. You see, each time raising to a higher level. Four, are you a teacher of Israel? You don't understand this. And five, he must increase but I must decrease. So, each time, the movement, and often the replacement theme. Now, Barrett says he doesn't... Who is it? Ellis says he doesn't find the replacement theme here, but it's John that's being replaced. The one who must decrease is being replaced by the one who must increase. I don't know. Maybe he's looking at it very narrowly, perhaps. So, the whole first part there, those five episodes, is all replacement. We're going to find a replacement continuum, but perhaps not as consistently as that.


Even with the Samaritan woman's horns there. And there's a symmetry with the final part, that is the top member there, where the replacement has... Everything else is succeeded by the hour of Jesus and by the body of Jesus. Now, about the bridegroom thing, those notes that I gave you on the nuptial theme, and John will have to survive for that, but I suggest that when you have time, that you read those over, and there may be some questions you want to bring up, and we can take it from there, rather than going through both of them. As I say, that's going to come up three or four times more as we go through the Gospel. This identification of Jesus as the bridegroom is kind of conclusive here, isn't it, for John the Baptist, as if the other titles were leading up to this. That's interesting, isn't it? And it suggests that our idea of the importance of the symbol of woman in John, and the importance of the nuptial theme, may be on target.


And that maybe what we are encountering here is the encounter of the creative word, Jesus, with the woman symbol. The woman symbol who represents the human person, who represents a new Israel, who represents the whole creation, and who also represents Sophia. But the Sophia we become when we become wedded to the word. In other words, the human wisdom, not human wisdom, but the wisdom that we become when we are joined in this allegory to the word of God, to the creative word of God. So we'll see if that works out as we go through. I think that's what's happening. And it only happens through the pouring of that word into us, through the pouring of the wine into us, through that interiority, and the engraving of John's. His engravings, too. Yes.


Yeah, yeah. And in that is shown his kind of transcendental boundaries, I think. That's right. That's right. Yes. I think John really gives us the only kind of strong pivot in the New Testament that I know of for overcoming it. The only one I think of right now. But it's very strong because of the way that he sees woman as fulfillment and the way that he sees Jesus as actually in his conclusive hour, in the way that he really wants to be, is becoming a feminine presence in some way, but moving over to that side. Is becoming a feminine presence? The identification within dwelling wisdom in the Book of Wisdom, chapters 7 through 9, and the way that Jesus takes that up, and the way that's deliberately taken up by John in his gospel. And then if you read John 14,


if any man loves me, he'll keep my word and I'll come and dwell with him. That's the bride talking, okay? It's much more like the bridegroom coming into the bridegroom's house than the bridegroom coming into the bride's house. And there's a lot of other things in there similar to that. Or take even the anointing of Jesus' feet by Mary. And the fragrance filled the whole house. What is that fragrance that fills the whole house? And it's administered by a feminine figure. It's wisdom once again, okay? But it's the feminine presence of wisdom, which is Jesus' own presence in the world and in each of us after his resurrection, okay? But there are a lot more of those things. We'll come to them. I think the imagery becomes predominantly feminine after Jesus enters the upper room of his disciples in chapter 13, his self-identifying imagery. It's as if he takes over, as it were, that symbolic cluster that woman has supplied through the first half of the Gospel, where there's four encounters, three encounters. Okay, that's enough for this morning, I guess.


Next time, then, we would do the episode of the Samaritan woman and one of the official son, and then hopefully also the, is it the paralytic? Yeah, in chapter five. So we'll try to go through chapters four and five at a time. Bear in mind that this Sunday's Gospel, third Sunday of Lent, is the Samaritan woman Gospel. My serious. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. This is a question really connected, in really detail with what you said. That if you read the Gospel of John and you had never heard of the synoptics, what sense would it make? What difference? Or what sense? It could very easily make a Gnostic sense to it. You could interpret it in the sense that the Gnostics did. I mean, what would, for instance, the teaching of Jesus be? What would be the whole point of Jesus?


Well, the point would be evident enough if you grasp the mystery of his union with us, okay? The mystery of that import. And the deification that takes place there. The trouble was it wouldn't be anchored enough. It wouldn't be anchored enough in the concrete and in existential human life and human problems. So the commandment of Jesus is only one commandment, love one another. I think it presupposes this. It really does. It's almost a commentary on the others. But it's a non-referring commentary. It doesn't point at the others. It's a completing commentary, just like a circle going around the others. Because you wouldn't know what is Jesus doing. It's insane. Well, actually, if you really want to do it, it's still possible to do that as an exercise. I found that to my chagrin when we took the group workshop a couple of years ago. And part of our little exercise was to read a little bit from the Greek New Testament and direct the people in the class. For me, this was the very first encounter with the New Testament period.


So it's actually possible to do that as an exercise. But just take a place like now, just study with your students the Gospel of John and see what they see. But what did they see? Nothing. No, no, I'm not saying. We took something from Acts. We took something from the Bible. That's a very attractive message. It would be very attractive to me. But the only trouble is it would leave me incomplete because I wouldn't have another concrete answer. Yeah. But you actually gave the other half the answer to that. Exactly. To make the question. On what condition could we make sense of the Gospel of John that a sense that would be in agreement with what we know from the Synoptics? And your answer was, you know this explicitly, by identifying with Jesus. That this is also something that concerns us, this divine reality that's in connection with God.


Okay, I certainly agree with that. All the implications have to be worked out with our own lives and with our own creativity. He gives you the basic one. He says the commandment is love and so on. And he dots the i's in his first letter because it has to, because it has to contribute to the Gospel. The basic commandment is there, but the trouble is it's left so unapplied, so undetailed that you can go off with it. If you're reading the Gnostic Gospel of truth, you get about the same impression as you would read in the Gospel of John without talking. The key would be to understand, for instance, this passage where the man whose eyes are opened says, I am the one. Yes. And so if we can identify in that sense with Jesus, if we are meant to identify, what he prays that they may be one, as your father and I are one. When this happens to us, when our eyes are open, then the whole thing makes sense in that condition. Then that's the key, that's what the end is talking about.


Without that illumination that he's talking about all the time, it can't... That is faith and conversion. Faith and conversion and a certain gift, a certain gift to understand it at the same time. Yes. Well, in John it has more the Gnostic and the understanding. That's right. But it is what the synoptics would call faith. See, part of the trouble is that in John everything is absorbed into Jesus. It's as if the whole point of... Two points. The first point is that Jesus is everything. Okay? That all of the symbols and everything just kind of are soaked into him, are absorbed into this, and he's left there like this one and this guy. Then that turns over into the interiority where he is in you. In other words, this presence, the same reality is in you at the centre of your personality. That turning point is really the opening of the eyes. Yes, yes. But then that's left unspecified. What you do with that is not spelled out, but it's spelled out in the synoptics. The Sermon on the Mount, all the commandments that you have and councils and other gospels,


the detailed application to life, all that morality is left out of you. It's presupposed. But he's got this magnificent central message here, the reality of the gift. I used to like way best the Gospel of John, if nothing compares. And then I came to the point where I can do anything with the Gospel of John. Why? And now I'm sort of itching my way back. Thank you. I wasn't saying I didn't like the Gospel of John. You read it somewhere? Yes. Did you read the whole thing yet?


Yeah, he's just funny. And that picture that he took of him with his left shoe up there. Yeah, right. This big, jowl, melancholy, Coleridgean romance. I'll never write a line like that. He writes books. I'll never write a line like that. Papers, papers, papers. But the guy has an excellent sense of humor. Pretty good grasp of what it's all about. Oh, yeah. Now he says it's the time to go into the humid place. Did you remember that? Because he was going to an interview. After all this preliminary stuff, he was going to now talk to these guys. The time has come to go into the humid place. There's some kind of literary allusion. I don't know where he got this. Yeah. I like those photographs, though. Especially the blue photograph. But also the Derrida photograph. Yes. He looks like a French priest.


Yeah. Isn't he? All of them are Jews. I didn't point that out. Even Miller. Yeah, I think so. Certainly Hartley, Blue, Derrida. I think Demare was a French Jew. I don't know. Vitrus. I haven't read most of them. OK, I'll do this. I'll do this.