The King of Stories -- First Disciples, First Sign

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

The next several 'chapters' are relatively short, but also footnote heavy; so watch for indications where I've left notes in the comments that I thought would be unwieldy to mention within the narrative. Also, since some of the chapters are long enough that I'll want to break them into two parts, I'm taking the opportunity to consolidate some short chapters here.

First Disciples

The next day (says the Evangelist), John (the Baptist) again was standing with two of his disciples (one of whom remains unnamed); and seeing Jesus as He walked (passing nearby), he says: "Behold! The Lamb of God!"

Now the two disciples, hearing him say this, follow after Jesus.

Jesus, turning and having seen them as they follow, is saying to them: "What are you seeking?"

They answered Him, "Rabbi," which (says the Evangelist for his audience) means 'Didaskolos' (i.e. koine for Teacher), "where are you staying?"

He says to them, "Come and see."

They went and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him for the day. This (says the Evangelist) happened at about 10:00 in the morning. [See first comment below for a footnote here.]

One of the two who heard John (the Baptist) and followed Jesus (that day) was Andrew, brother of Simon. He first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him: "We have found the 'Messiah'!", which (says the Evangelist) means the 'Kristos' (i.e. koine for 'Anointed'.)

And he brought him to Jesus.

And looking at him, Jesus said, "You are Simon, the son of Jona; (but) you shall be called Kephas!" which (adds the Evangelist) means 'Petros'. (i.e. koine for Rock.)

[see second comment below for a footnote here]


The next morning (continues the Evangelist), Jesus is intending to go up into the Galilee region (to Cana). He found Philip; and Jesus says to him: "Follow Me." Now Philip (adds the Evangelist) was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. [see third comment below for a footnote here]

Philip finds Nathanael (who, as we are later told, comes from Cana--where Jesus happens to be going now), and says to him: "We have found the one written about by Moses the Lawgiver, and by the Prophets!--Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth."

But Nathanael said: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth!?" [see fourth comment below for a footnote here]

Philip says to him, "Come and see!"

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, He said: "Look here! Truly, an Israelite in whom there is no guile!"

Nathanael said to Him: "...where do you know me from?"

Answering, Jesus says to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

Nathanael answered, saying to Him: "Rabbi! You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

Jesus answered, "You are believing this (simply) because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree!? You shall see greater things than these!"

And He says to him:

"I promise, I promise, I tell you the truth: you shall see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man!"

[see fifth comment below for a footnote here]


First Sign

On the third day (says the Evangelist, meaning three days after leaving the Betharaba Ford), a wedding occurred in Cana of Galilee. [see sixth comment below for a footnote here]

The mother of Jesus was there; and Jesus was also invited to the wedding, and His disciples.

But the wine ran out; and so the mother of Jesus says to Him: "... ... They have no wine!"

Jesus says to her, "Woman, what am I going to do with you?! My time has not yet come."

His mother (however) says to the servants: "Whatever he says to you--do it!"

Now, there were six stone waterpots set nearby, in accord with the Jewish custom of purification (handwashing before the meal), each holding about twenty or thirty gallons apiece (literally 'two or three metretai').

Jesus tells them: "Fill the pots with water." And they fill them up to the brim.

Then Jesus tells them: "Now dip some out, and take it to the dining room chief." (i.e. the master of ceremonies for the wedding feast). And they took it to him.

Now, the chief tastes the water which had become wine, although he didn't know this had taken place--but the servants who had drawn the water knew (adds the Evangelist).

And the chief calls to the bridegroom, saying to him:

"Every man serves the good wine first, and then whenever the guests are drunk he brings out the inferior... but you have saved the finest wine for now!"

This first of the signs, Jesus does in Cana of Galilee (says the Evangelist); manifesting His glory.

And His disciples believed in Him.

[see seventh comment below for a footnote here]

John 1:35-51
John 2:1-11

[Next time: The Teacher of the People, and The Final Witness of the Forerunner]


Jason Pratt said…
.......[first footnote comment here]

In 1st c. Hebrew time reckoning, “for the day” could mean until any time after noon; there were several notions of ‘evening’, starting from the point where the sun begins descending after mid-day, until actual sunset--at which point the new day would be reckoned to have begun. (This, incidentally, leads to some interesting interpretations of Genesis 1!--which surely represents this idea, and would be considered the scriptural justification of it.)
Jason Pratt said…
.......[second footnote comment here]

The other storytellers imply that Andrew and Peter at least, if not the other disciple (probably intended to be the author, based on how GosJohn ends), did not join Jesus at this time, but only remained with Him for the day.

Keep in mind that at this point in the story, Andrew, Peter and whoever-that-unnamed-disciple-connected-with-them is, are still the disciples of John the Baptist, and so it isn't surprising they would go back to working with him for a while. Nothing the Evangelist says directly contradicts this, although neither does he offer direct support for supposing Andrew, Peter and/or John (Mark? the Apostle?) aren't with Jesus in the subsequent Johannine 'episodes'. Nevertheless, neither are they mentioned again until after a point in the story corresponding with when the Synoptics imply they joined up. Though the Scholar has some more particular information about when that finally happened than the Disciple or the Scholar do.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[third footnote comment here]

Bethsaida (i.e. ‘Huntingdon’, or next to a lake ‘Fisherton’), renamed as Julias by Herod to honor an Empress, is the name of a 1st century township on the eastern side of the Jordan River at the point where it enters Galilee Lake at the north. Western towns on the Galilee shores were generally Jewish and eastern towns were generally Gentile, although a healthy population of Jews lived in the eastern towns as well, of course. Bethsaida may have had elements on each side of the Jordan, as a 'fording' town. As it happens, there is another Bethsaida mentioned in the texts as well: the fish-port suburb, as we would call it, of Capernaum, where Peter is currently living and working when not traveling as a disciple of John the Baptist.

The recent story action, though--including the current scene--has taken place south of Galilee Lake, where the River Jordan continues running until it reaches the much larger Dead Sea, at which point it seeps into the sands or evaporates.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[fourth comment footnote here]

Nazareth should not be confused with modern Nazareth, though it would have been nearby the modern locale. Nazareth was founded as a watchstation between tribal borders during the Joshuan invasion of the region; originally it was known as Sarid or Tsareth (per Joshua 19 in the OT). By the 1st century, it was probably an unincorporated suburb of Sepphoris; its main claim to importance was as a gathering area for priests of local relationship to travel in a caravan to serve in the Temple four times a year (two courses plus the two Great Feasts). Around 135CE (per later Talmudic report), the town was refounded by descendents of this family of rabbis, due to this tradition. It’s possible, though not certain, that these were the Messianic Jews known as the Nazoreans, who seem to have regarded Jesus as the Messiah but not as divine. (Probably meaning they regarded Jesus as the preliminary Messiah, the Son of Joseph/Ephraim who was to die before the coming of the King Messiah, the Son of David--a concept that begins appearing among rabbis after the founding of Christianity, if not sooner.)
Jason Pratt said…
.......[fifth comment footnote here]

Thus, Nathanael--a fellow who is presented as being a bit of a comic figure, a little oversceptical and a little overcredulous, yet affectionately accepted by Jesus--becomes the first disciple to confess Jesus as Son of God; not Peter, who along with Andrew (per the Synoptics) did not join Jesus at this time, even after spending a day with Him. According to GosJohn, Philip and Nathanael (and perhaps that unnamed disciple connected to Peter and Andrew) are the first definitely known "followers" (or disciples) of Jesus.

Yet nothing ever really seems to come of this--no special use of it is made for apologetic purposes, or for establishing special authority among disciples later. Jesus says good things about Nathanael, but in a humorously affectionate way, not as though the eventual apostle will be the foundation of the Church or anything like that; and certainly the author doesn't present Nathanael as being more than a bit dull-witted if quite honest and forthright. (The point being that the Evangelist cannot be using this anecdote to try to 'compete' with 'Petrine' authority--he isn't setting himself or anyone else up as the cornerstone of the Church. If anything, he strongly hints that Jesus planned Peter's eventual authority from the very beginning, before Peter had even joined up as a disciple!)

Notably, at least one early 2nd century tradition reports that GosJohn is based on notes taken by John (the Apostle?) when, meeting together shortly after Jesus' departure, he interviewed the others in order to combine remembrances. GosJohn itself, as we actually have it, does not demonstrate such a structure--it reads more like an account intended to fill in details around presumed knowledge--but some of those details could easily have been derived from such a notesheet.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[sixth footnote comment here]

Cana was a town about 5-7 miles west of Galilee Lake, across the surrounding mountains; also 5-7 miles north of Nazareth. Betharaba ford, probably just north of the Dead Sea, on the road past Jericho from Jerusalem, is quite a hike from there; but not too strenuous for three or more strong young men who are used to traveling by foot in hilly terrain: about 45 miles straight overland, maybe 60ish miles on roads north up and then west from the Jordan. Going through Samaria to Cana would take longer, and would invite other problems; although Jesus does take the road through Samaria later.
Jason Pratt said…
.......[seventh footnote comment here]

GosJohn never mentions Jesus' mother by name; which could be in keeping with the claim that the 'beloved disciple' who later adopts Mary as his mother at Jesus' request, is the author or editor of this Gospel. He would (in that case) be following one ancient decorum standard, of not including one's own name in a biography which should be centered on someone else--a standard which could also include the names of close family members.

The apparently harsh rebuke given by Jesus to Mary here has caused some lamentable confusion; the literal phrase is 'what to Me and to you?', translated from a Hebrew idiom. It could mean 'What does this (their running out of wine) mean to us? My time has not yet come." I gather the idiom means something rather more personal, however, which is why English translations typically try something like "What am I to you?" or "What do I have to do with you?" or "What is it between you and Me?", with an exclamation force.

Given Jesus' obvious tender affections for His mother elsewhere in the story--especially in GosJohn--along with the fact that He does in fact do just what she is wishing (despite this not being in His original plans), I do not believe for a moment this is intended to be derogatory to Mary. I strongly suspect it was meant as a touch of wry humor or affectionate minor exasperation: more along the lines of the English idiom I've given above. Lord knows, my own mother can be a little pushy about when she wants her son to do something, whether to help someone else or to promote himself... But, accepting it in good humor is part of the service to the beloved.

And, there is something rather humorous about using washingpots as the vessels for making the best of the wine--theologically pertinent, too, fitting with all the many rich emphases on Jesus being the cleaning action of God, so to speak...
Rachel said…

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I actually started investigating universalism as I was reflecting on the doctrine of the Trinity. :) Anyway, thanks for all your input! I don't have a whole lot of theological training and I'm especially ignorant when it comes to exegetical issues so any help I can get in that area is invaluable.

Looking forward to investigating your blog a little more after I get through this round of papers.
Jason Pratt said…
Thanks for stopping by our blog, too! {g}

If you started investigating universalism as you were reflecting on the doctrine of the Trinity, I'd say you were on the right track. (That was how I finally arrived there, after years of what might be called hopeful suspicion. {s}) We have some contributors here who are hopefully suspicious, too (including an EOx contributor); and others who go with the typical doctrine (plus at least one solid annihilationist that I know of). But I think I'm the only convinced universalist in the bunch so far. That being said, I don't usually talk about it in the main posts, for purposes of ecumenical polity. (I do occasionally comment on it though.) That includes the KoS entries, which are intended to be a resource for all readers.

The theological underpinnings (per se--that series is about metaphysics, not scriptural exegesis) can be found starting around here, though.

{{I don't have a whole lot of theological training and I'm especially ignorant when it comes to exegetical issues so any help I can get in that area is invaluable.}}

I don't do much exegetical work here on the Cadre Journal, but I'm thinking of starting a separate journal for that purpose later this year. It's a massively huge topic.

I'd have to say based on your journal entries, though, that you're doing very well (and with good humor--I loved the dialogue with Jessie {g}) on theological studies. You have a real talent for it. I'd almost suggest going into the field professionally; but nursing is actually more important and there's a crying need for it. So if you're comfortable with the nursing (or better yet if you're called to that), keep at it.

(But keep at the theology, too. {g})

Rachel said…
Thanks so much for the encouragement! I really appreciate it.

Popular posts from this blog

How Many Children in Bethlehem Did Herod Kill?

Where did Jesus say "It is better to give than receive?"

The Bogus Gandhi Quote

Discussing Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Exodus 22:18 - Are Followers of God to Kill Witches?

Revamping and New Articles at the CADRE Site

A Botched Abortion Shows the Lies of Pro-Choice Proponents

Jewish writings and a change in the Temple at the time of the Death of Jesus

Tillich, part 2: What does it mean to say "God is Being Itself?"

The Folded Napkin Legend