Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Last week we did John 6. Nothing magical. Jim says transubstantiation can't be found in it.

I had Brown's "revised" Intro to the Gospel of John, published, well, posthumously, with me on Saturday morning, so I read through its many introductions. And this quote struck me:
sincere confessional commitment to a theological position is perfectly consonant with a stubborn refusal to make a biblical text say more than its author meant it to say.
Right. This is quoted in a tribute book by Donahue (which I think I have on my Amazon Wish List) as well as in a book by M. Eugene Boring on how the Disciples (of Christ) interpret the Bible. And I think this was where Dr. Hutton may have been coming from too.

I don't have Brown's original Anchor Bible volume so I can't compare the revisions. I imagine it's mostly Fr. Moloney putting down what he thinks Brown would say thirty-five years after the original.

But just now, as the kids were on the playground (yes, it was 60 degrees and sunny this afternoon, global warming), I read Barclay which Jim recommended and I don't disdain. And I was surprised to see Barclay trot out that tired Jesuit explain-away interpretation of John 6:1-13:
(c) There may be another and very lovely explanation. It is scarcely to be thought that the crowd left on a nine-mile expedition without making any preparations at all. If there were pilgrims with them, they would certainly possess supplies for the way. But it may be that they would not produce what they had, for they selfishly - and very humanly - wished to keep it all for themselves. It may then be that Jesus, with that rare smile of his, produced the little store that he and his disciples had; with sunny faith he thanked God for it and shared it out. Moved by his example, everyone who had anything did the same; and in the end there was enough, and more than enough, for all.
Kind of the Stone Soup version. Yeah, ok, if rationalism demands it. But I did like Barclay's second alternative:
(b) It may be that this was really a sacramental meal. In the rest of the chapter, the language of Jesus is exactly that of the Last Supper, when he speaks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. It could be that at this meal it was but a morsel, like the sacrament, that each person received; and that the thrill and wonder of the presence of Jesus and the reality of God turned the sacramental crumb into something which richly nourished their hearts and souls - as happens at every communion service to this day.
I suppose after such a confession as that, Barclay had to completely backpedal. Take away with the left what is given with the right.

We meet every week in December, except Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. So he hopes to get to through Lazarus, halfway.

Oh, a couple more things from Barclay:
Ameth is spelt with three Hebrew letters - aleph, which is the first letter of the alphabet, min the middle letter, and tau the last. The truth of God is the beginning, the middle and the end of life.
And this curious anecdote:
There is a tale of an old German schoolmaster who, when he entered his class of boys in the morning, used to remove his cap and bow ceremoniously to them. One asked him why he did this. His answer was: "You never know what one of these boys may some day become." He was right - one of them was the founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther.

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