October 3rd, 1995, Serial No. 00285

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New Testament Class

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There's a lot of things I'd like to do, but we're going to talk about the whole of John's Gospel, and the first letter of John, and the final conclusion, and all of that. Obviously things are going to get squeezed out. Let's talk about John's Gospel first, and if anybody wants to carry that further, well, we can do it somehow, in another way. And I'm afraid it may be confusing what I'll throw at you, but ask questions when something's not clear or possible, and I'll try to clarify. The time of writing of John's Gospel is generally given nowadays between 90 and 110 A.D., and 90 seems to be more favored. It's the last of the four Gospels to be written, evidently. The place of writing, the author, is a great, what do you call it, great confusion and a complicated discussion about the authorship of John. And I'm not going to touch it at all. There are probably several people involved. The usual view now is that it comes from, at least that there's a Johannine community,


and it comes from that. There's a unity in the style and the thought of the Gospel which indicates strongly that there's one person at the middle of this, that there's a single author. This is often true in the New Testament writings. You may not know who the author is, but it's pretty evident that there's one personality and one inspiration pulling the work together, and so it is with John's Gospel. The conception, somehow, a unified conception can only come through one person, even if several people elaborate at different stages. You can't do that with a committee. John is a kind of wisdom poem, and what I mean by that is partly that the way in which John communicates knowledge is largely elusive, largely symbolic, largely implicit, inferential, oblique, eccentric, elliptical, whatever you want to call it, but it's often not direct. In a sense it's more direct, but it's not on the normal, rational, nor the merely historical


level. But secondly, and there's a kind of rhythmic quality. Read the prologue of John and there's a rhythm in it. It's like a hymnic quality, a musical quality, and it's as if you're kind of walking around in a circle, chanting or something like that, around an invisible center. And much of John's Gospel is that way, it seems to be circular. Things are repeated and you move around, there's a kind of ritual character to it, a kind of ritual rhythm to it. It's far from being straightforward, linear history, as is obvious. And it's unified. Every part, I believe, relates to the center of it now, and we have to ask ourselves what the center is. But actually that's not hard to find. If you read the prologue, the center of John's Gospel is given to you, the central perspective from which you are to read it. And the prologue seems very different from the narrative of the Gospel, in a way. And the things that are primary in the prologue are not even mentioned in the Gospel like


the Word. But so much the more, I think that means that you have to read the Gospel through the prologue, which is what we're going to try to do. Let's talk about the prologue. The prologue is unique in the New Testament, certainly, even though there are other texts that approach it. And the texts that approach it in some way usually have a hymnic quality to them. They usually sound a little bit like a hymn. The whole of John's prologue is obviously not a hymn, because you've got some little stretches in there by John the Baptist that are like a monkey wrench in the works. They break the rhythm of it in some way, and seem an intrusion of narrative into a poetic text, or into a circular or rhythmic text. They interrupt the dance in some way. But part of it, they say that part of it probably pre-existed John's Gospel as a hymn. My belief is that it's a baptismal hymn, or a baptismal text. The structure of the prologue, do you have this handout, H8, with all of the diagrams


on it? Look at the third page of that. On the left side of the third page, you'll find a diagram, a very trying diagram. Do you have it? We don't have it. We don't see it on the prologue. Oh. And I don't think I have it here, so I can give it to you later, but I don't have it here. So if you can look on with somebody. If you can sit next to somebody, then I can look on. Even though the print is kind of fine. Now, what we've done there is to, once again, since I'm not up in session, but we've diagrammed John's prologue. John moves up, moves up this way. You might say here that it has, once again, five parts. So this is part one down here.


Then you go over here and this is part two, which is, it's not moving this way in the diagram. It's moving down. Part one is moving up. Part two, we're not going to go this way, but the verses are written going down. You can cut them some way. Part three is in the middle. Part four is over here. Part five is at the top. Now, as I say, the two parts about John the Baptist are symmetrical. One is above the center in part four, or part five. The other is below the center in part one. And I think they are somewhat intrusions in the text, but it doesn't matter. It's difficult to read the central column there because it's upside down, if you'll notice. The reason for that is we're moving up. And if we want to find the symmetries, the actual chiastic symmetries here, we need to


line it up this way, so that actually the beginning is at the bottom and the end is at the top. But now we're able to see those parallels. We haven't been able to do that on the horizontal part, part two and part four. Now, we'll talk about the center for a moment. They used to believe that the center of this was verse 14, because that's the theological heavyweight for Western theology. Eastern theology, too, is that one. And the word became flesh and lived among us. That's a dogmatic statement. In fact, that is like the kingpin of traditional theology, the belief in the Incarnation. Consequently, that would be put at the center. But scholars nowadays are more inclined to put the center earlier on and to find it in – especially because of the chiastic parallels that they find, that is these hinged symmetries between one part and another – to put the center in verse 14. I think I got this from Culpepper, who wrote a widely recognized paper on the structure


of John Sprolak. The center at verse 12, and that makes a different kind of sense. That's not a dogmatic, objective sense. This is an experiential sense. Suppose that what this is about is baptism, and suppose that verse 12 is the actual baptismal experience, the actual baptismal event. But to those who received him, who believed in his name and gave the power to become children of God. Suppose that becoming a child of God is the actual baptismal event. It is the baptismal event, in some way. And suppose that that corresponds to the center of John's Gospel. Now, we've seen the influence of baptism on Mark's Gospel, but I think John's form is a much more centered form. Mark sort of has the conclusion at the end. We talked about the center of Mark's Gospel. We read a puzzle about exactly what it is. It's the long word of the cross section between the two healings of the blind man. But to precisely fix the center of Mark's Gospel is not so easy. I think it fits together in John more conclusively.


It kind of falls together with a click in John's Gospel. The center of the Gospel, and then here the center of the prologue, and the correspondence between the two. They're about baptism. To become a child of God is the baptismal event, the baptismal experience. It comes through faith and through receiving Jesus. The thing that corresponds to it in the Gospel, I believe, is the sea crossing, where Jesus is coming across the water, remember? After the multiplication of the bread in John chapter 6, verses 16 through 21. He sends them off in the boat. They're rowing. Jesus is walking on the water. They're frightened. He said, do not be afraid. I am. And then they want to take him into the boat. They wanted to receive him into the boat. The Greek verb is not quite the same. So it's symbolic. The center of John's Gospel, the sea crossing, is symbolic both of the Exodus sea crossing and of the first day of creation, remember, when the Spirit hovered over the waters.


And God said, let there be light. Just as Jesus says, I am. And they want to take him into the boat. So that's symbolic also of baptism and therefore of birth. Remember the words at the baptism of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. You are my beloved Son and I am well pleased. You gave the power to become the children of God. So I believe that's the baptismal experience. And the whole thing is about that in some way. And the whole of John's Gospel, I believe, is centered in that baptismal experience. So it's not basically a linear narrative. It's a commemoration of that which is transcendent, of that which comes into the world and somehow takes you back to the beginning and starts everything all over again. It's an attempt to put into form, to put into some kind of visible, repeatable, readable form that which is overwhelming. That which comes in and becomes the biggest mountain of all. Which is this experience that the disciples have had. That John has had, the Johannine community has had the experience of baptism.


Which somehow becomes the center of the world. And so the only way to do it ultimately, graphically or visually, is for the centered text. Which is what is happening here. There's this enormous centering tendency that you find in sacred text and in sacred architecture as well. When there's been a transcendent experience. When there's been some kind of overwhelming experience. Something out of the ordinary. How do you commemorate that? Well, build a, make a pile. Find a mountain, find the biggest mountain. Find a tree, find the tallest tree. Find something that is naturally centered. And that protrudes out of the two-dimensional surface. And that's what the gospel writers are attempting to do in their own way. So part of it is linear, part of it is a history. But you've got the second level on which it's a centered thing. And the centering and the symmetry around the centering is the language of that second level. I don't like to say transcendence because that's usually opposed to eminence. And what we're talking about here is both transcendence and eminence. It's the language of the ultimate, of the absolute, of the I am.


Of that which comes into your life and becomes the middle of your life. That which comes in and becomes the principal thing, becomes the dominant thing. That which comes in and becomes the rule. Becomes A, Z, and the whole alphabet for you. Which revolutionizes your life. So that's what they're talking about. Now if you look at verse 13 there, it's also in the box in the middle. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. Why are there four terms there? It seems rather boring. It seems like some kind of Semitic wearisome talk or something. But actually I think it's pointing out the four-dimensional quality of the whole thing. The four-dimensional form. That is the four arms. Here we have another mandala text in which you're given a central. The central is the baptismal experience. And then you have these four dimensions. And they're pointed to in a very simple way by those four terms. Blood, will of the flesh, will of man, God. And then the God direction is the upward direction, is the vertical direction.


As we have it drawn here. You could also do it upside down. Descend instead of ascend. And the same thing is true, I believe, of the gospel. So the quaternary form, or the mandala form, or the cruciform of the prologue is repeated in the gospel. Now, what do these four limbs mean here? Remember that the prologue is a guide to reading the gospel. So don't expect everything in the prologue to be explained within the prologue. I believe it goes like this. At the bottom you have the first creation. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him nothing was created. It's a statement of the first creation. Now remember that, what's the beginning of John's prologue? In the beginning. In the beginning was the Word. In the beginning is the first words of the book of Genesis, right? It's the first words of the first creation kind of Genesis. So he's deliberately taking you back to the first creation. Very emphatically, he's undermining it.


That most wonderful word is NRK, in the beginning. And that beginning somehow is a unity beginning, an all-inclusive beginning. It's not just a beginning in time. It's the metaphysical beginning, which is the divine beginning, which is God and which is the Word. But at the bottom you have the first creation, and at the top you have the new creation. And that's what John is about. That's what John's gospel is about, is the new creation. Now what characterizes the new creation? Let's read from verse... First you have the John the Baptist thing, which, as I say, is a kind of intrusion. And then you have verses 16 up. From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses before the law you had creation. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. Is God the only Son who is in the Father's bosom who has made him known? Another interpretation of that word, exegesis, exegesis, exegesis, excuse me.


The usual one is that he has made him known. Another one is that he has opened the way by a good French Jehovah's Scholar. What's happening up there on the top? What's the difference between the first creation and the new creation? It's got something about this fullness. It's got something to do with grace. It's got something to do with grace and truth. It's got something to do with not seeing God, but another kind of relationship with God, which is expressed by being in the bosom of the Father. What does the baptismal thing do? It makes you a child of God. What is it to be a child of God? It's to be Christ. It's to be Jesus. It's to be the only Son. It's to be the only child of God. There's only one. And that's the one who is in the bosom of the Father. So the new creation is being created inside God, which is being generated by God. The new creation is not creation. It's generation. It's to be begotten by God. That's what the first letter of John is so full of, of being begotten by God. Now that's to go back to the real beginning.


See, the real beginning is even before the beginning of creation. The real beginning, beginning, beginning is the Father who generates, and generates in the beginning, and is the beginning. And there in the beginning too is the Word. In the beginning was the Word. In the beginning was the Word. So you're taken from creation to generation. New creation is a unitive creation, which means that you're created, recreated inside God. What was created, we picture it outside God, is brought inside God, and that's the new creation. The first creation, as it were, was a separation. And the creation account tends to be all separations. The light is separated from the darkness, and the heavens are separated, and the water is separated from the dry land and all of that. It's by separation. The second creation is by union, by integration, by this unitive taking and entering and bringing in of the human person into God. And that, I believe, is the drama, the thing that's happening in the whole of John's Gospel,


is that new creation, which is a unitive new creation, which means it's the oneness, it's the union, which is the newness. The union is the newness. And the union is in the Son, is in the one Son, is in the Word, who is Jesus. And we're taken into Him, we become one with Him, and in becoming one with Him, we're one with God, we're in God, that language, in God, we're in Him. Now that's the vertical axis here, okay? You might call it the metaphysical axis, the axis of being. But it's also an axis that in some way takes place in time. And yet, it takes place in time, not just A to B, but it's always overlapping. That is, there's this transformation that's going on all the time of new creation by which the old creation flung out there becomes a new creation by being brought into God, by accepting God and entering into God, the unitive new creation. Now what do you have on the horizontal line? I think here what you've got is the outside and the inside.


And that's what we usually have in these figures for the New Testament. On one side we have like Galilee, remember, the outsiders, and the Gentiles on one side, on the right side we've been putting it. On the other side we have the inside, the insiders. That's Judea, that's Jerusalem, it's the Jews, it's especially the officials of the Jews, the high priests, and the scribes, and the Pharisees, and so on, all those guys. Those are the insiders. On the other side is the outsiders, the Galileans, the Gentiles, and a lot of messed up people often over on the right side. And the whole world actually is waiting outside the door on the right side usually. And the left side, the insiders, is usually ironic in that Jerusalem is where Jesus is rejected and so on. So there's a reversal taking place over on the left side, and the outsiders are being brought in and the insiders are being thrown out. There's a dynamic happening continually in these figures in the New Testament. Now what do we have here? Over on the right side, the true light which enlightens everyone is coming into the world.


He was in the world and the world came into being through him, but the world didn't know him. He came into those who were his own and they didn't accept him. So here you've got the insiders who become outside over on the right. What you've got is the outer darkness here. It's as if the people who do not accept him become part of the world which does not know him on the right side. On the right side is darkness. What's on the left side? And the word became flesh and lived among us. And we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. It's the light on the left side. Now what is that light? That light, I believe, is the baptismal light. That's the illumination. That's the photosmos of baptism. Those who didn't believe remain in the darkness on the outside, with a world which does not know the light out of which it was made and which has come into it. Those who believe and who receive him and who are baptized are illuminated in their baptism. And the whole thing depends on that baptismal experience. And that's what you have on the left, is the overflow or the emanation of the center, of verse 12 of the center.


12 and 13 are born of God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Now we usually think of that outside of ourselves in Jesus, but suppose that that's happening in us. Suppose that here it's really intended to be a commentary on the baptismal event, by which the word becomes flesh in us, because we are Jesus at that point, because we're Christ. And we've seen his glory, the glory of the Father's only Son. Do you remember what that recalls? The glory of the Father's only Son. It recalls the transfiguration, doesn't it? Remember? Where Jesus is explicitly, clearly glorified. He's seen in glory with Moses and Elijah. But what is the transfiguration connected to? The transfiguration is connected to the baptism. Remember the words of the baptism once again. You are my beloved Son, and you are in one place. And at the transfiguration, it's, this is my beloved Son, listen to him. My only begotten, whatever the language is in the given gospel. That's not in John. But surrounding that baptismal event, in which somehow is the event of the transfiguration,


is this light of the glory of God, and these words, and this idea of being a child of God. Glory as of the Father's only Son. That's still the radiance of the baptismal event, the radiance of the baptismal experience. And I think that's what it's about, is the light of the baptismal experience. Contrasting with the darkness over on the other side of the world which does not know him, and the people who do not know him, even though they're his own people. And the same thing is going on, and I believe in basically the same shape in John's gospel. Even though there's sometimes some uncertainty about the poles, because there's this irony about these poles. They seem to move back and forth on the horizontal level. Not on the vertical level. That always seems to work the same. Okay. Notice the unitive continuity in this. You've got a series of terms, all of which express this unitive participation that we're talking about. And first of all, the Word. And without him, not one thing came into being.


He contains everything. He is God, John is saying. And in this Word, which is God, is everything. And everything comes out of him, as it were, and yet somehow remains in him. The unity, the integrity of all things is found only in him. What has come into being? In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. Now the sequence there is a little puzzling to me. I'm not sure I can reason it out between life and light and so on. But these are the unitive terms. There's one life, there's one light, there's one Word for all people. The light shines on the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. And then the part about John. And then you go over to the right side, verse 9. The true light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world. Sounds like that light is enlightening everybody before he comes into the world. Before he comes in as Jesus, he's already the light that's in the world. And it's enlightening everybody somehow from within.


He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. This is an astonishing kind of distance from the Jesus that we see in the Gospels, isn't it? To say that he was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world didn't know him. What that does to the figure of Jesus, let's say the Jesus of Mark, is enormous. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. So the unitive term there is the light. And that light is also the world, is also the word, excuse me. The unitive term in verse 12, 12 received him, believed in his name. That name has a unitive reference to it, a unitive resonance to it too. Children of God, and born of God, those are the unitive terms. There's an axis that runs through all of it. Because to be born of God is born as the one child, the one son. The word became flesh, word again. Lived among us, we have seen his glory. Glory as of a father's only son.


Why? Because we are the father's only son. We are the one child. The unitive term at that point gathers us into itself. The unitive light, the unitive word gathers us unitively into itself. And then you go up, verse 15, we skip because that's the John the Baptist. From his fullness, okay, the fullness. There's a pleroma in the Pelagos, I remember. I think so. We have all received grace upon grace. The law, the partial and structured law, differentiated law, the intermediate law, the mediating law came through Moses. Grace and truth are the final terms. Grace and truth are the final unitive terms. You've got about 30 different words to describe this one thing which is happening which is a breaking through of God into the world, into the human person through baptism in the unitive way so that somehow you are divine. These words that we hardly dare to speak.


No one has ever seen God. Seeing God is not what it's about ultimately. You see Jesus if you see God. To see, to see with the eyes, to see with the imagination, that's just an intermediate thing as the law is. No doubt we shall always see God but see God in some manifest form but not see God as the source. To know God as the source, to see God as the source is to arise consciously and unitively from God, to be begotten consciously by God, to be in that relationship and that's what the new creation is, beginning with the human person. So grace and truth are the unitive terms there. And to be finally in the Father's bosom and to have God made known to you that happens by your being brought into the Father's bosom. The Father's bosom is what we call an anatomical expression or a spatial expression, another one for this one unitive reality of being one with God, whatever that means. So the same key is the key


to the prologue and then to the gospel itself. Now it's relatively simple in the prologue, it's all compressed here and the narrative parts, as I say, seem like they hardly belong there, seem like an interruption or a pause in this unitive continuity. Whereas in the gospel what you've got is narrative. Then with the discourses of Jesus which tend to often to establish this unitive reality in the middle of the narrative. Now we get to the gospel and our time is half way gone already but let me say something about the structure of the gospel. You have in page two of that H8, you have two diagrams which both relate to the structure of John's gospel. And the reason why I have to go through it is because it's very much bound up with this unitive content of John, the unitive message of John that we're talking about. The structural thing and the unitive thing are just two aspects of the same


composition. Now the one on the left the last one I gave you, this one is just a magnification, a bigger version of the one on the right because that's too small whether I do anything with it. The one on the left is Peter Ellis' structure, he has a structure for John's gospel which I've taken care of trying to build a product for John's gospel. Basically it works like this you'll see he's got five parts, the five boxes here are five parts of John's gospel and they go simply like this 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 it's a horseshoe, alright? Start here with this is not the product they're going to have the product is not part of this it corresponds to the whole thing take out the prologue start with 1, 19 where John the Baptist is there


with George and you can set up the gospel in this way part 1 which reflects part 5 those two have all kinds of parallels between them. Part 2 relates to part 4 part 3 doesn't have any parallel, it's all by itself it's the center. And notice what part 3 is, it's very short it's only about five verses it's between the multiplication of the bread and Jesus' bread of life discourse in John chapter 6 you've got the c-cross in it we were talking about, ok? Now that, Ellis says, is the center, I believe he gets this actually from a Jesuit Gerhard, who seems to have disappeared he was at Porter when Ellis was teaching there, and he did this in his dissertation Ellis picked it up and made it more popular because the genius would come I've never heard it more So you see if you look


at the parallel episodes here, he calls them sequences S-E-Q you can see certain obvious parallels maybe the most obvious ones may be between sequence 2 here the second one, and sequence 20 two episodes Jesus and woman Mary and Jesus, that is his mother and Jesus at Cana and then Mary Magdalene and Jesus at the tomb in the garden but then if you look down between 2 and 4 you'll find sequence 6 and sequence 16 are not in the same relative position but the Samaritan woman and Jesus, and then the women Mary and Martha and Bethany together with Jesus, ok? So something's going on there in parallel form. In fact you wonder there couldn't be a 4-fold relationship not only 2-fold, but 4-fold between these Jesus woman episodes so we'll follow that up The titles here are all negotiable because you can put any kind of title you want on these passages. You have to look at the passages themselves to see


the relationship to see the actual parallel in the content Sequence 1 is at the Jordan Now you remember what that's about it's Jesus choosing and inviting his first disciples but behind that whole episode is the baptism of Jesus which doesn't appear in John's Gospel. You've got John the Baptist there and the calling of the first disciples and the end of that 151, chapter 1 verse 51, remember it is Jesus' words to Nathanael do you what does he say do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree, you shall see greater things than this, you shall see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the south bank now what's that about it's about Jacob, remember remember the connection of Jacob with the baptism of Jesus that we found in Mark in the Synoptic Gospel and the ascending of Jesus from the water and the descending of the Spirit


by Jesus' baptism in Mark's Gospel that's about the baptismal experience and I believe that the greater things in these are not just the baptism of Jesus that's already gone but the baptism of the individual, of Nathanael for instance, the one who wasn't the last one, who goes along with Thomas so it's the baptism of us, it's the baptism of the believer the one who was finally brought in that is the greater things, which is the same as to see the glory as of the only begotten Son in the Torah however, what Ellis has done is kept chapter 21 in the final part, in the final sequence here of the Gospel I don't think it's that way so I'm going to make another scripture and take that out let me try to find a couple more convincing parallels where's the passion here? 19


sequence 19 and it goes along with sequence 3, which is Jesus in the temple now, do you remember what happens when Jesus cleanses the temple in John's Gospel? he's challenged of course and what does he say? he says, destroy this temple and in three days I'll build it up again and John said that he said that to the temple of his body and his disciples didn't understand what he was talking about but he said that to the temple of his body destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again now that's paralleled by the passion of Jesus, by the destruction of that temple, of Jesus' body and then the resurrection is the building up of a new temple of Jesus' body so there's a good parallel there also when you reflect that what was the temple after all? the temple was the place where the sacrificial animals were killed in great numbers so something is being terminated and something new is happening with the passion of Jesus what's being terminated? the interminable sequences of sacrifices are concluded by the one sacrifice


which is the passion of Jesus now if you interpret the temple, it's not the only way you can interpret the temple if you interpret it in that way it makes perfect sense that that would be the parallel to the passion of Jesus, the whole issue of the temple and remember that the temple itself is going to be destroyed which has happened before in the gospels John has written ok now, the one on the right looks fiercely complicated it's derived from this but if you have five parts you have a certain kind of personality disorder, you're going to have a big temptation to do this in a different way how? by putting the middle part in the center of the other four parts and if you don't resist that, you could end up with something like this now, if you we've done something like this we've marked up the numbers you take this diagram


and read it this way this is part one moving up this way then you have to move in this way for part two this is one this is two this is part three same as the other this is part four moving up this way and finally this is part five moving upwards so your progression goes like this then you go over here then across then up like this seems a little strange but in order to keep to keep one linear sequence while you're having a different kind of geometrical arrangement to bring together the linearity of the actual narrative together with the geometry you have to do something like that something weird because it's weird to move from


here to here and go across this way but what we've done is simply to rotate this horizontal axis ordinarily you might structure the whole graph this way if you're going upward so you have one two, three, the center four, five what we've done is simply take this part and rotate so instead of that instead of this side we've got this we get used to that for a while now the point of this is that if you do this you start to notice also I pushed around some of the section boundaries sequence boundaries there if you do this you start to notice other symmetries which become very strong, which become very complex we've kept the same center just to, and we've kept the same


I'm sorry this is a conflict the little numbers in the circle are the numbers of the of the sequences as you come out from the center and there are 21 of them but I've excluded chapter 21 so that's the chapter at the lake, remember when they go out and they have to catch a fish and Jesus is on the shore he says go, he's not on your side then they come to shore and they find that he's got a fire, remember and Peter hauls in some of the fish, 153 fish there are, and then they have breakfast and then Jesus challenges Peter, remember, and then he says follow me, and that's the question of Peter and the beloved disciple, remain here and follow me. Now that seems to me to be a new, what do you call it a new mold, a new style which breaks the symmetry of the gospel up through chapter 20 we've separated that and left it out of the diagram as we have it over here and to the chapter 20


now what I want to point out is the symmetry and some of our because we deliberately take the question and set it up as labor as we can but if you modify these section boundaries a little bit what you get actually is a seven days of creation moving out from the center, that's the reason for pulling on this at all that you notice that there's a progression there's a series of symmetries a kind of a series of layers or levels here moving out from the center and that they're related to one another in some way the tip off really is that the moment they move out this way are the days of creation so you've got a center circle and then you've got six more rings center circle is the first day of creation in Genesis, Genesis chapter 1


second one is the first ring on 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 look at number 6 we notice that those four Jesus woman episodes seem to be asking to relate to one another the similarity of having man and woman in those four episodes and Ellis having already found the two relationships, the two symmetries the two pairs what if you line all four of them well if you line them with a little elasticity you find that that corresponds to the sixth day of creation the sixth day of creation in Genesis is the creation of what of the land animal and of humanity of man and woman male and female he created them in his image he made them male and female he created them on the sixth day of creation that's so strong that it lends one to carry the insanity further and then figure out the other days of creation which is what it's been done in if you do that


and if you line up these I won't carry through and try to explain what corresponds to what of each day of creation the correspondence is with the actual days of creation in Genesis are not all that convincing that one is, the first one is a couple of others are but they're not uniformly convincing rarely is a scheme like that worked out perfectly but I believe that it's in there the first day of creation that corresponds to the sea crossing and corresponds to Jesus walking upon the water and to saying to the disciples do not be afraid I am I believe that corresponds as Ellis said in the church I'm going to call that a new age of understanding walking across the sea the crossing as it were from the outside to the inside of the inside to the outside really John wants it in the center and it represents the event of baptism or the event of the new birth the crossing over from the old creation to the new creation


the crossing over from the outside in some way to the inside of course it's an exodus but you have the going from the inside to the outside one can't be ironic with the inside a negative inside out of Egypt on the first level of symbolism it is the exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea the liberation let's say from slavery on the second level of symbolism it is the first day of creation the first moment of creation remember the first words of Zola in the beginning what follows in the beginning in Genesis there is the chaos the chaos is reflected in the water in the sea as often in the Old Testament and then there is something hovering over the water which is the spirit remember and God says let there be light and Jesus doesn't say let there be light he says I am and I believe what that is it's not the creation of a new life it's a manifestation of the uncreated life which is the word


which is the light that's talked about in the prologue that central part of the prologue verse 12 he gave the power to become the children of God is surrounded on one side by this light which has come into the world it was not seen, not known on the other side by the glory of God the glory of God is only of the Son and at center of that baptismal event is the experience of life I might like the words of Jesus in some way to be closer to life or in some way to to fit in, to dovetail better with that idea of the first day of creation event, but they don't that's what we've heard so the baptismal moment interpreted as new creation and as birth and as primarily as creation and as the creation of a manifestation of life, a manifestation of this unit of life in the world that's what he meant and somehow that influences every other episode I believe in the Gospel I think they all that it were


are built upon that you'll see that light beam coming out explicitly when it's coming and the baptismal beam reflected many times wherever there's mention of water, John but also the light and the water both reflect that too and then you move on with the other days of creation the first day of creation, the baptismal day of creation, in John's Gospel I believe the second day, which you see is the bread sign, the bread list, that's the Eucharistic day of creation this really gets terminal, it really gets pathological you might have the seven sacraments the seven sacraments that have worked around for the 12th century or something like that there's also an accidental parable let me point out a couple of other synergies here the one on the second day between the bread sign and the bread discourse, that's no surprise because he sets up that way but the baptismal the baptismal moment


of the crossing of the sea is right in the middle of the bread matter there in John take a look at Roman numeral number 5 let's look at the fifth day of the new creation on the bottom you've got Jesus cleansing the temple remember we looked at that in Alice's structure, and we find that he paralleled the trial and death of Jesus with a sequence 19 and that's good, seems pretty convincing look what you have on the other two episodes or sections here, which are number 13 and 14 13 is the royal official sin, remember that one? his son is at the point of death I don't think he's already died, but he's at the point of death and then look at Lazarus when it corresponds on the other side Lazarus is four days dead so this is about death and life this is about death and life but here, it's as


the fruits, as it were, of the passion and death of Jesus which is the bringing back to life here you have two episodes, two symbols two symbolic narratives of the participated resurrection of Jesus or you can say the passion of Jesus experienced in human death but what's more important is the resurrection of the fruits and one is kind of suggestive of the pagan world that's the royal official son, Basilikos is his Greek title the other one is suggestive of the Jew, of the good Jew remember Lazarus in Luke who is the poor man lying outside the rich man's cave you can puzzle about why that name Lazarus should be used in these two instances, but Lazarus I believe is a good Jew, he's the brother of Mary and Martha, he lives in Bethlehem, which is real close to Jerusalem, so he's in the heart that kind of thing


so I don't want to carry this much further, but compare 20 and 21, that's the 7th day, ok? Now what you have in chapter 1 of John's Gospel from 19 to 51 as I said, is against the background of the baptism of Jesus, and John the Baptist is there, and I believe that basically it's intended to be interpreted in a baptismal cave and at that point is predicted, remember, that John it says that John baptizes with water, but there's one who comes after me, he's going to baptize with the Holy Spirit? That's what happens up in 21, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It's as if the baptism with water of John still is caught within the limits of the first creation of the world. But the baptism, which the Holy Spirit with Jesus brings, initiates the new creation and the disciples break through to that, only at the end only in the outermost ring here


on the 7th day, when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into John the Baptist, and alone, and said receive the Holy Spirit, the sin he shall forgive you are forgiven. Remember the 7th day in Genesis, God's rest God's rest after the after the Passion, after the great work of the Passion, and after the 6th day, too, the 6th day which is the pre-creation of the human person in the resurrection the appearance of Jesus immaculate in the wedding feast of Cana we can talk forever about those four Jesus one, two, three, he forgives his father, and then you have the God's rest, which is the final thing at least in this figure and God's rest is the beginning of the Holy Spirit, and there they are on the Lord's day in a room and Jesus comes and gives them the Spirit now that was the due for the creation symbolism from Genesis remember when Adam was created by breathing the breath of life into him


in Genesis 2 that's what that is, it's an explicit new creation symbolism and Jesus breathed the Spirit into the disciples on the resurrection day what he's doing is bringing about the new creation of the one new humanity the new unitive creation of the one humanity, of the one man, the one Adam as it were, the one human person which is himself by giving his own spirit to the disciples, to the twelve disciples, however many there are gathered in the room it's not twelve but they symbolize the twelve tribes and all of humanity any questions about this? I'm sorry to shoot it at you I'm confused on the fifth day in the spring what do Jesus' trial and death and the royal


official's son and all the things in the fifth day have to do with the fifth day of creation and what happened on the fifth day the fifth day of creation is the creation of life and it's the first living creatures which are the fish and the birds actually, but I think what John has done is used it for the issue of life so you have the ironic appearance of life in first of all the destruction of the temple of Jesus' body but remember that the temple is the place of animal sacrifice I think what John has done actually is put all animal life into the fifth day or all life into the fifth day and put humanity and humanity for him means man and woman, the whole nuptial symbolism into the sixth day so you see the emphasis has changed not totally but somewhat it's shifted, and the fifth day therefore is the day of life and death but particularly the day of well, the day of life and death so the animal sacrifices are


supplanted as it were by the one sacrificial death of Jesus and here you have these two human deaths, death as it were among the pagans and the basilicos after all that royal official son reflects what at the Exodus time reflects the remember the firstborn of Pharaoh who was slain in the final plague at the time of Exodus and you find frequently I think in the Gospels that the signs of Jesus the great healings and signs of Jesus are reversals of the plagues in Egypt okay in other words the action of God this time is not seen as a destructive action but a life giving action no matter who it's bestowed upon so the issue in all four of those is life with a lot of death as the background of it and death as the necessary door as it were to this restoration of life but then we see that the life that is restored here it's human life symbolically but it's much more than human life the life that is restored now or it is given now is this unitive life


in which is the life of God okay and that comes out on the sixth and seventh day because that nuptial imagery of the sixth day is loaded with the symbolism of the new unity of God and man new unity of God and humanity all of that marriage symbolism of those four episodes of Jesus and a woman really has that in the background and then that becomes explicit on the seventh day when the spirit is breathed into the disciples actually and then there's the thing about Thomas in the seventh day too which is very interesting Thomas the twin the twin who is somehow two and who is a twin also of Nathanael in chapter one because of the parallelism the two are very similar, look at those two sometimes just for fun Nathanael and Thomas and what they cry out Nathanael cries out you are the king of Israel you are, does he say the son of God? way at the end of chapter one and Thomas who cries out my Lord and my God


and is invited to stretch out his hand and put it into Jesus' side and do you remember in Genesis chapter three when Adam and Eve had been thrown out of the garden and God says to himself or says to somebody there, he says well lest man reach out his hand and take from the tree of life lest man reach out his hand and take the fruit of the tree of life and eat and live forever so what is happening there with Thomas I believe actually with his final closure of the paradise imagery is that he's invited to reach out his hand and take from the tree of life symbolically speaking, Jesus is the tree of life there once again it's the unitive imagery of the one thing that comes into the world and is participated, is given is broken, is distributed to all by the giving of the Holy Spirit and then by the opening as it were of his side to Thomas to reach out


which symbolically is the opening of paradise again because paradise was closed to the first man but what is paradise? Paradise is the unitive place. Paradise is the place where everything comes together at the center as it were and is one in God now Thomas is the twin the twin he's the double one remember how he was the one, they always called Thomas the doubter he's the one who had the problem he'd say well let's go and die with him or I won't believe until I see the holes in his hands until I put my hand into his thigh I won't believe. But that moment he believes with both feet he cries out my Lord and my God the double one has become the single one at that point the Syrians love to interpret those things in those terms the single one they have a whole language for that I think we talked about this so Thomas is putting his hands in Jesus' womb is the same as him reaching out and touching the fruit that's the way I understand it


Thomas reaching out, we don't know that he did he was invited to, Jesus invites him to, we don't know lots of painters of course have done that Thomas reaching out let's say as we imagine it, and putting his hand through the womb into Jesus' thigh is the human person entering again into paradise stretching out his hand and taking the fruit of life from the tree of life to live forever. But what is the fruit of life? what is the fruit of the tree of life? that's in chapter 6 too in that great bread of life discourse Jesus says I am the bread of life the bread of life is the tree of life it's the same thing and if you eat of this fruit you'll live forever but what is that life that lives forever? that's the single life, the one life, the divine life the only life that is eternal and the life in which all things are one that may seem like stretching things a bit but I'm compressing a lot in that so I think Thomas and his doubleness is intended as a final underlining of the unitive


nature of what's happening here another place is where the beloved disciple enters into the tomb in John 20 you've got about four different scenes in John 20, that's the final resurrection, before John 21 four different scenes and each one of them has a unitive character to it remember where the beloved disciple goes down into the tomb after Peter does and he sees the grave clothes and he believes now what I think is happening there, the grave clothes and especially the cloth that was over the face of Jesus has been rolled up and set there and the face cloth especially has been rolled up and set aside I think what that is, is the removal of the veil and I think that that too corresponds to the baptismal experience remember how we found in Mark that the baptismal father and the tomb of Jesus are taken to be the same thing as in Romans 6 so when he steps in and sees the cloth


set apart first of all, remember one clothing came into being and there's a lot of symbolism in the Old Testament clothing came into being when man and woman were cast out cast out of paradise cast out of the unitive place so to see the cloth there set aside means that Jesus doesn't need them anymore means that the the wrappings that people had to have when they were cast out of paradise have been laid aside are not necessary anymore so that Jesus entered into the unitive place where he's now in a unitive state but that's also what paradise is the veil has been taken away as the veil was taken away, remember Paul says in the face of Moses when somebody believes in the Lord that's where the veil is taken away it's the taking away of that intermediary whether you look at it from the side of Paul, the veil of Moses whether you look at it from the side of the clothing that we had when we were thrown out of paradise


it's an entering into that unitive place so when he sees and believes I believe that's the same as the baptismal flame once again the beloved disciple is the one in whom that reaches its finality um okay what I would have liked to have done had we had longer was to go through John's gospel and pick out the places where this one core theme are found and the core theme I think in John's gospel is unitive participation in God we talked about the four gospels as presenting the four dimensions as it were of the Christian the Christian reality the center of reality is one and what happens as we go from Mark up to John is that what's implicit becomes explicit what we're telling about may seem to be far from explicit because there's a lot of symbolic subtlety to it nevertheless, it's coming


what's dark here is light here the unitive participation which is just into that and is found in the baptismal experience down here, it reflects back upon Mark's gospel it's come out into the opening as if the gospel is just loaded with it, from beginning to end of John's gospel and starting with the prologue you've got nothing but this teaching of the unitive participation coming from the one who calls himself I am, who says I am um where you find it especially in most concentrated form besides the prologue is in, and most explicit form is in the supper discourse of Jesus chapters 14 through 17 if you read through that and find all the places where Jesus is talking about your being one in some way, united with him and with God in the theme of indwelling, okay if anybody loves me, he'll keep my words and I'll come to him and be with him and I'll come and dwell in him and the Father will come and dwell in him, those words to dwell in, menein, in and to be in are very important


as well as in 1 John or I am the vine and you are the branches okay or when he prays in John 17 that they may be one as we are one I and you and you and me that they may be one so the chapter the chapters of the supper discourse 14 through 17 are the final, what would you call it unitive, explicit unitive message of John's gospel, the rest is symbolism as we've been talking about in the resurrection episodes in John 20 now what do you have in the Synoptic Gospels for the supper, you have a short account of the supper and in Mark, I looked at it this morning you've got two things, you've got the betrayal and you've got the institution of the Eucharist okay, the body and blood, the bread and the wine and the two are fitted together by that idea of handing over betrayal is handing over and what Jesus does is hand the Eucharist over at that point but that's, it's a largely Eucharistic text and it's a very small text in John, how many chapters do you have dealing with the supper, 13, 14, 15


16, 17, you've got five chapters and he doesn't at all mention the Eucharistic institution he doesn't say anything about the Eucharist which is incredible in such a long supper discourse what it is, is a Eucharist of wisdom, is a Eucharist of this unitive reality itself what he's trying to give you is the heart of the Eucharist the core of the Eucharist, the spiritual divine reality, which the Eucharist ultimately symbolizes so that's what he gives you preceded by the baptismal recollection of the Colossians chapter 13 so if you want to find this unitive participation in John, read those read the supper discourse in that way, 14 through 17 I also wanted to talk about the first letter of John which I asked you to read last time, you have a handout which gives you Malatesta's proposed structure for that which is very interesting because it's in three parts first part, basically God is life third part, God is love


the central part, you are children of God, begotten by God there's a Trinitarian form in that structure and it's on the level of John's prologue in its transparent unitive language all the way through some of those things sound like the Upanishads God is life, God is love you have to but when it says that, when it says God is love it means you are one with God in so far as you love when it says God is life it means you are life you are one with God, you are God in so far as you live in that life which is God and then in the middle you are begotten by God so I won't belabor that now, we don't have time but I think that's the most unitive extended text in the whole New Testament, and so it forms a good conclusion of what we've been saying about the unitive participation in the New Testament, that's where it's fullest it's like full daylight in the first letter of John the first letter of John and the Gospel go right together


the first letter is supposed to have been written after the Gospel and probably not by the same person, but it depends on the Gospel there's a lot in the first letter that evidently can't be understood unless you are familiar with what you've got in the Gospel, by the way to recall, once again, our four Gospels and the shape that we're proposing is in the New Testament for the expression of this one mystery we said there's our fundamental principle of interpretation for the Christ event is that it's a new unity in diversity in other words, it's a new simplicity which concentrates everything that happens in this one thing, which is Jesus himself and within that one thing, the one that pulls everything together into that is the oneness of God it's like the what do you call it it's like the gravitational attraction in one of those black holes that draws everything into itself, an extremely powerful gravitational attraction, which doesn't destroy things, but brings them into their fullness in itself


and so that they're one with all the others but that expresses itself like an artwork does by embracing the maximum diversity the maximum plurality so you've got the inward movement and the outward movement the inward movement to the core which is being in God the outward movement to all the Gentiles to the whole cosmos in some way and then we've got our four expressions the mark, the breakthrough, the explosion the eruption of this into the world the tearing open of the heaven, the breaking open of the earth, the tomb and so on, the tearing of the veil and the baptismal experience and John the thing brought completely into the light the lamp is on its lampstand so that this light of unity of participation which is Christ himself somehow illuminates the whole narrative of the gospel and transforms it and Matthew you've got this from the perspective of wisdom wisdom and of a life of wisdom, a life of


moral living based on the law of love the central commandment of love, the new commandment which pulls your whole life together into unity and in a participation in the wisdom of Christ in doing worship that is the whole thing pulled into the energy of the Holy Spirit that is the oneness is the very reality of experience and participation of that divine energy which is the Holy Spirit so beyond this is the basic mystery of Christianity itself, which is the three persons the three persons who are not a kind of solitary shining triangle, but somehow grow the cosmos, the creation, humanity and therefore ourselves and even our bodies even matter into their work, into that communion once again recall the icon of the Trinity by Luther the table, the three figures and the open front which is waiting for you to enter into the communion that's the paradigm well you said it's glamourful in the eastern churches


especially about their idea of human participation in the life of the Trinity and the 14th chapter of John is a really important text for commentary in the Orthodox churches, because they look at it as communion is not just with, in Christ but it's like to get kind of pulled into the inner life of the Trinity it's kind of like one in us we're in them everybody's in drawing each other it's been very hard for western theology to keep open to that kind of concept because we became so differentiating, so dualistic and analytical in our thinking that we can no longer conceive of a union like that a communion like that the east cherishes that and defends it I think against western analysis against the more Aristotelian way of thinking but we really have to recover it because it's the heart of the New Testament Koinonia okay, thank you very much Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit


As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end Amen