Friday, February 26, 2010

The name of my John talk

The name of my talk on the Gospel of John for the Hidden God, Hidden Histories conference is: "What is hiding in the Gospel of John? Reconceptualizing Johannine Origins and the Roots of Gnosticism".

My "paper" has become so full and so detailed that it looks like it is going to become the basis of another book. I already have the title for it:

John Interrupted: What can the Gospel of John tell us about the origins of Christianity and Gnosticism?

The work I'm doing is from the ground up, straight back to the ancient sources. And all because one day, while preparing to deliver an undergraduate lecture on the Gospel of John, I stumbled upon a passage in Greek that is not translated accurately in any modern translation I have been able to find.

17 comments:

Jared said...

Well, this begs the question: which passage?!?

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I stumbled upon a passage in Greek that is not translated accurately in any modern translation I have been able to find.

My sense is that there are quite a few more of such passages than a lot of people realize. We just need to have more scholars with the boldness to bring them to our attention. I'm glad you're one of them.

April DeConick said...

Stephen, I sense that this is the case too, but it would require an immense amount of time and effort to ferret them out. The trouble is that the translations of the texts are part of the interpretative tradition, and the translations have become normal for us.

Jared, I can't reveal yet, but will once I have the paper firmly written and an abstract I can share. SOON. Another month.

Jared said...

April, I totally understand. It is not like I currently have enough time to look at it and work through it myself, whereas I might in a month (or so).

One thing I have noticed by teaching Literature Humanities at Columbia is the relative freedom of translation in other literatures that is just not the case in biblical translation.

pascal said...

April

This is exciting; I am more familiar with research on the early modern period and thus am reminded of Martin Wiggins' paper

'When did Marlowe Write Dido, Queen of Carthage?'

which won the Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for distinguished work on Christopher Marlowe:

'This essay disputes the traditional assumption that Dido, Queen of Carthage was Marlowe's first play. Little of the previous commentary on the issue has been grounded in the evidence, and scholars have tended to want to disbelieve one or other of the 1594 title page's direct statements about the play's origins. The essay demonstrates that the play was not written for academic performance at Cambridge, as is sometimes contended, and proposes that the likeliest interpretation of the evidence would place Dido after the Tamburlaine plays, and close to the composition of Doctor Faustus in 1588.'

There is an additional resonance in that Calvin Hoffman was convinced that Christopher Marlowe wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare...

http://res.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/59/241/521

R.Eagle said...

Revelation 2:17

Rev. Fr. Troy Pierce said...

John 8:31-35 has much of interest in this regard. Especially 8:32, which I have often said is the core of Gnosticism in a nutshell.

Bob MacDonald said...

I am willing to wait for the revelation in April.

PAULYR said...

R. Bultmann ('The Gospel of John,' Eng. tr. 1971)said,"the Johannine Prologue, or its source, speaks in the language of Gnostic mythology" (p. 28). W. Schmithals, writing the intro. to that volume, states, "John is directly dependent on Gnostic traditions..." (p. 9). There is definitely an affinity between John and gnostic ideas.

Pastor Bob said...

FWIW I find myself saying time and time again from the pulpit "this word (or passage) is translated wrong in the text I read from and this is what the translation should be." Granted some Greek words can't be translated into English with one word and require a whole sentence but still I keep finding wrong translations.

Scary, isn't it?

beowulf2k8 said...

The anonymous anti-Marcionite prologue to John says (link):

"The Gospel of John was revealed and given to the churches by John while still in the body, just as Papias of Hieropolis, the close disciple of John, related in the exoterics, that is, in the last five books. Indeed he wrote down the gospel, while John was dictating carefully. But the heretic Marcion, after being condemned by him because he was teaching 2 the opposite to him [John], was expelled by John. But he [Marcion] had brought writings or letters to him [John] from the brothers which were in Pontus."

At least that's if you follow the traditional punctuation. Robert Eisler in his book Enigma of the Fourth Gospel suggests that the full stop between John dictating and the reference to Marcion is wrong, and gives a translation something like what follows (this isn't his actual translation, but my reworking of the above translation based on Eisler's suggestion and my memory of Eisler's translation):

"The Gospel of John was revealed and given to the churches by John while still in the body, just as Papias of Hieropolis, the close disciple of John, related in the exoterics, that is, in the last five books. Indeed the one wrote down the gospel, while John was dictating carefully, was the heretic Marcion, who was later condemned by him because of his contrary opinions. He [Marcion] was expelled by John even though he had brought writings or letters to him [John] from the brothers which were in Pontus."

In any case, regardless which translation you follow of the prologue, the anti-Marcionite prologue clearly sees some connection real or perceived between the gospel of John and Marcion.

The prologue is either suggesting (as in the traditional translation) that John knew and condemned Marcion in person, in order to clear the fourth gospel of a contemporary charge of being Marcionite.

OR the prologue is trying to explain the Marcionisms found in John by saying that Marcion indeed had his hands on this gospel, being the unfaithful scribe used by John to write it!

beowulf2k8 said...

(subscribing)

James said...

I can see a clear connection between
John10:1-15 and the parable of the Sheep given in Enoch; The Author certainly borrowed heavily from Enoch's parable to counter any arguments from Marcion's Antithesis, placing the blame not on a 2nd creator god, but on the "seventy shepherds" that were charged with leading the "sheep".

Ed Jones said...

What can the Gospel Of John possibly tell us about the origins of the Jesus tradition which took place Within the period of 30 CE - 65 CE, pre-Christian and pre-Gospels, even aprtially pre-Paul?

beowulf2k8 said...

James, I see it quite the opposite. John 10 seems Marcionite to me. John 10:8 "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Moses and the prophets were thieves and robbers. (Yes I know the Catholics interpolated John with all sorts of pro-OT material. I can read. But the Marcionisms still shine through. The Catholic editor was not thorough enough to remove them all.)

James said...

Beowolf; The Parable in John 10 is almost a synopsis of the Parable in Enoch, where the seventy hired "shepherds" were stealing and destroying more than Enoch's god was comfortable with; In the Parable in John, Jesus said that they robbed and destroyed because they WERE hirelings. Marcion was probably not the first person, gentile or Jew, to see a problem with the Genesis and Numbers version of God, just the most famous, though I can see why people would pin the Authorship of John on Marcion, it is far too Jewish in it's scope, including bits and pieces from a bunch of Jewish writings.

beowulf2k8 said...

That Marcion himself was not a Jew who opposed Judaism is an assumption. There is no real evidence that he was a Gentile. Harnack made Marcion after his own image into a Martin Luther figure, but that doesn't mean he was.