Re. Know in John 6 (oikamen vs egnwkamen)
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 11:43:35 +0000

To the List,

Still on on the study of John 6:60-71, It has turned into a possible
three message series. I am seeking to crystallize my understanding
of Peter's response to Jesus questions as to whether the 12 would
leave him also. Peter's words are very expressive, involving the
prefect tense to communicate the permanence of their commitment in
contrast to the "many."

In studying John's work from time to time it appears to me that word
selection is very deliberate on his part. Here in this passage we
have an instance, it seems, where the choice seems to be significant.

In John 6:42 as a prelude to their departure the "many" complain
about Christ's claim to be the Bread of Life on the grounds that they
"know" (OIDA) of his origin, his father was Joseph and his father and mother
they knew. In other words they could not buy into his claim to
a heavenly origin based upon their knowing his physical origin. In
Peter's profession later he makes the profound statement in the perfect
tense that they "knew" (GINWSKW) that Jesus was the Holy One of God.

I remember in the back of my mind an assertion that the difference
between the synonyms was that GINWSKW referred to knowledge gained
by experience and OIDA to knowledge of a more intuitive nature, the
later being used often of God's own knowledge. A cursory
investigation seems to link GINWSKW with sensory perception. Little
Kittle remarks that OIDA is more or less similar to GINWSKW. Is
there a distinction that John seems to deliberately exploit in this
passage? That is, does Peter say, in effect, that they have learned
by their association with Christ and his teaching what the "many"
could not know in the intuitive sense based upon their
over whelmingly materialistic perspective (see the passage for
evidence of this perspective)?

This may be very important because John again plays with the same
two words (among other striking use of synonyms, and not just those
for "love") in chapter 21, where Peter's reply to Christ's question,
"Do you really and truly love me...?" is that the Lord knows (OIDA)
that he loves him very much. Peter stops short of a profession of
love which matches the question. Later when Christ then matches
Peter's own confession by a third question, with biting sorrow,
Peter tells him that he "knows" (OIDA) all things, but has
discovered (GINWSKW) by experience that his love is not of that
calibre! (A very loose rendering to be sure.)

If this turns out to be an accurate statement of the facts then this
simply adds to the overall "flavour" of the passage, which contrasts the
inability of the crowds to get beyond their material perceptions of
Christ so as to accept and understand his deity. This of course is John's
overall purpose, to portray the deity of Christ.

Is this truly significant or is this fishing?

Paul F. Evans
Thunder Swamp P. H. Church
North Carolina
(Endeavouring to make use of NT Greek in a real live ministry!)