Re: John 3:8

From: David Perkins (
Date: Fri Sep 12 1997 - 02:47:40 EDT

In regard to the use of PNEUMA in John 3:8, Rolf wrote:
>it seems to me that in the time of
>Jesus the word signalled more than one concept and that in John 3:8 Jesus
>used ONE word to signal TWO different concepts which in english can be
>glossed as "spirit" and "wind". In any case, this can not be excluded, and
>deserves to be studied. Any thoughts about this by others on the list?

By analogy to the usage of John elsewhere in his Gospel, the double-edged
use of PNEUMA can be established.

To say that Johannine style is characterized by irony (verbal and
dramatic) and ambiguity is a truism. He uses terms like "lifted up"
(hUPSOW) AND "glorified" (DOXAZW) to refer both to his death as
crucifixion and to his death as exaltation to the Father and as a
revelation of the Father. Thus, an event that normally would be thought
of as humiliation and shame is reframed as a means of exaltation and
glorification (revelation).

In the text at hand, the term ANWQEN is ambiguous. The Johannine Christ
intends it to refer to begetting "from above," while Nicodemus
understands it as "again."

Rolf comments that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and that the double-edged thrust
works with RUAX or with PNEUMA. However, for late-first-century readers,
probably for the most part Gentile, the issue can be resolved by appeal
to John's Greek text alone. Besides, one usually is less certain of
*ipsissimi verba* than in the Synoptics.

On the basis of the above qualities of Johannine style, one could assume
the dual reference of PNEUMA in John 3:8.

David Perkins

David W. Perkins
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
PO Box 2172/806 Concordia
Vidalia, LA 71373
318 336-7405

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