Re: Synonymy in John 21
Elegant variation in Jn21:15-17.
15a hote oun EristEsan legei tw simwn petrw o IC: simwn iwannou agapas
me pleon toutwn;
15b legei autw: nai, kurie, su oidas hoti philw se.
15c legei autw: boske ta arnia mou.
16a legei autw palin deuteron: simwn iwannou agapas me;
16b legei autw: vai, kurie, su oidas hoti philw se.
16c legei autw: poimaine ta probata mou.
17a legei autw to triton: simwn iwannou phileis me;
17b elupEthE ho petros hoti eipen autw to triton phileis me, kai legei
autw: kurie, panta su oidas, su ginwskeis hoti philw se.
17c legei autw [ho IC] boske ta probata mou.
I would expect elegant variation to occur within one speaker's words but not
between speakers. Thus it seems that the alteration between "feed my lambs"
[v15c], "tend my sheep" [v16c], and "feed my sheep" [v17c] is a good example
of elegant variation. Each of Jesus' responses is different, and so are
the questions. Perhaps there is some indication in Jesus' questions that
He is starting from a deeper kind of love ["more than these" v15a], but it
hard to read much out of it.
Peter's answer is almost consistently the same (except for the variation
between 'oidas' and 'ginwskeis' in v17c, due to its prior use in the
sentence). It seems odd that Peter's choice (according to the evangelist)
of a different word for love would be an elegant variation from Jesus'
question when (a) Peter does not vary his word for love, and (b) Peter
and Jesus coincide with 'philew' in v17. One possibility for the choice
of wording is to show that that Peter has become a rock in his consistent
declaration of his love for Jesus.
Another interesting part about Jn21:15-18 is an inverted parallelism
with another famous incident of Peter's saying something three times:
his denial of Jesus. In Jn13:37, Peter said he would lay down his life
for Jesus, but Jesus says he will deny Him three times before the cock
crows [v38] which he does [with elegant variation: Jn18:17 ("legei ekeinos
ouk eimi") 25 ("eipen ouk eimi") 27 (ErnEsato)]. In Jn21, Peter affirms
his love for Him three times, and then Jesus prophesies his matyrdom [v18].
Although I would dispute reading too much into the different terms for
love in Jn21, I do believe that the evangelist is quite deliberate in
his presentation. Therefore, I would disagree with the proposition that
Jn21 is merely an example of elegant variation.
Stephen Carlson : Poetry speaks of aspirations, : ICL, Inc.
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