1 Jn 3:9, 1 Jn 1:6-10, Bultmann

From: Paul S. Dixon (dixonps@juno.com)
Date: Fri Sep 12 1997 - 13:47:10 EDT

On Thu, 11 Sep 1997 15:01:22 -0500 "Carl W. Conrad"
<cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu> writes:

Did some snipping and retitled the thread.

>Yes, I do think that Paul's opened up a can of worms here. The only
>sense in which I would really be willing to accept his notion of a sharp

>line between what children of darkness do and what WE as believers do in
>Jn 1:6-10 would have to be in the same manner as I accept both Romans 7
>and Romans 8 as a description of a believer's existence simultaneously
>flesh and spirit. I really don't believe that half the verses in 1 Jn
>are talking about what others rather than ourselves are doing. So yes,
>what about 1 Jn 3:9 and the apparent paradox?
>In checking through resources I have at hand, I find one discussion of
>the "paradox" of these two passages:
>In his Hermeneia commentary Bultmann resolves this "contradiction"
>between 1 Jn 3:9 and the understanding of 1:6-10 that I argued this
>"The resolution of the contradiction lies in the fact that the MENEIN
>('abiding') of the SPORA ('seed') is understood as the gift of God's
>AGAPH ('love', 3:1), which remains for the believer a possibility not to
>lost, so that he can always call upon that gift, even though he in fact
>sins. OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN ('he is not able to sin') is therefore to
>understood as the possibility of not sinning, which the believer has
received as
>the unforfeitable gift of God's love, a possibility that is always to be
>realized, as v 10 immediately indicates. The gift of a possibility
>always includes a demand, and thus the demand itself can be understood
as a
>gift. Consequently, v 9 can speak one-sidedly of a gift." (Fortress
>1973, p. 53).

You say that OU DUNATAI hAMAPTANEIN ('he is not able to sin') "is
therefore to be understood as the possibility of not sinning." Huh? How
do we get from "not able to sin" to "the possibility of not sinning"?
There does seem to be a mighty big chasm here, and I don't see the
bridge. How did you get there?
I do hope you will address this.

>I do think that James is right here about these present tenses: that
>customary or habitual action may not be the point of the present
>subjunctives so much as persistence, continuing on (to sin, to walk in
>darkness)--whether or not one really wants to and intends to do so.

But, James now seems to agree that the present tenses in 3:6-10 are
customary/habitual (as do many of the modern translations, and
A.T.Robertson who gives both occurrences of hAMAPTANW in 3:6 and 3:8 as
examples of the customary present [p 880]). Besides, 3:6b, PAS hO
to rule out the possibility that somebody could walk in darkness (in the
sense of 1:6) and still be a child of God.
>Let's leave that door open in both directions, Paul.
>Carl W. Conrad

Are we getting back to one of our presuppositional differences here,
Carl, i.e, that we can hold simultaneously to interpretations of
scripture that seem to contradict each other?

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