(Fwd) Re. Know in John 6 (oikamen vs egnwkamen)

Thu, 10 Oct 1996 09:51:48 +0000

To the List,

Some time ago I posted to the list on a study of John 6:60-71. This
is a re-run since there was no response to the second time I posted
on a different matter arising from the text. What was originally a
simple sermon turned into a 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 his word
selection is very deliberate. 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.
Lawrence Richards writes that, "A number of words are used to express
the Greek concept. Ginosko and oida are the basic terms. Each
indicates knowing and understanding. Each emphasizes the organization
of one's perceptions so as to grasp the true nature of an issue,
concept, or thing. In Greek thought, knowledge comes through the
senses, and that which is known can be verified by observation." I
can find no one who addresses this with a degree of depth and I can
find little convincing confirmation of what I vaguely remember from a
Greek class 14 years ago! Most of the writers get sidelined
by the issues of knowlege from a classical perspective or from the 2nd
century Gnostic angle.

Is there in fact a significant distinction in the words themselves
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) that Christ was naturally and could only be the son of
Mary and Joseph?

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.) Earlier, in chapter 37:7 he has
used the word;'s side by side.

Vine's explanation is confusing and seems to give no real reason as
to why he adopts the conclusions he has reached. Abott-Smith says
that GINWSKW has more to do with realisation, emphasising perception
and OIDA a process of mental reflection. This seems to confirm what
I vaguely remember. But it troubles me that in the passage above it
is the absence of such mental reflection that causes the crowd to
dismiss the claims of Jesus? A possible explanation could be that
John is underscoring the faulty apprehension of the crowds because
in spite of reflection they fail to get beyond their material
perceptions of Christ and to accept and understand his deity.
However, this goes far beyond the text it seems to me.

Is this truly significant or is it fishing? If there is no real
distinction between the two synonyms, how do they in fact relate to
one another?

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