Re: 2:7-8 and Contradictions?

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Tue Sep 23 1997 - 15:54:35 EDT

On Sep 23, 1:48pm, Jonathan Robie wrote:

> At 12:43 PM 9/23/97 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> >Anyhow, could you, Jonathan, state (or restate) a little more precisely
> >what you mean by this? Do you, for example, mean that there are
> >legitimate and real contradictions in John's epistle? If so, does this
> >mean that John can be found saying on the one hand, A is true, and on the
> >other hand, not A is true? This is generally what is meant by
> >contradiction. If so, then I certainly see no contradiction between 2:7
> >and 2:8.
> I'm not quite sure which one of us is playing the straight man here, Paul,
> but I'll bite: is John writing a new commandment or not? According to 2:7
> and 2:8, the answer is yes and no. On the literal level, I consider this a
> contradiction. Of course, John is using this contradiction skilfully to make
> a point...

I don't think it is a real contradiction. The command is old in one
sense and new in another, and we are supposed to think about the
sense in which it is old (i.e., from the Law of Moses) and the sense
in which it is new (i.e., it has been written on the heart; compare
Heb 8:10).

Whether or not one agrees with my take on the various senses in which
the concepts are to be understood, it cannot be denied that there *are*
various senses in which a command can be "new" and in which it can be
"old." Something can easily be old in one sense and new in another.
I think there are clues given in the context to help us out here.

One never wittingly uses a contradiction to make a point other than
that he is confused. But this is usually an unwitting use. How can
a contradiction be used skillfully when it is the epitome of blunder?
Is there light in darkness, truth in falsehood? Is John's word "Yes
and No"?

> [...] I do think that one can understand John better by appreciating
> the contradictions to see what they point to.

Ack. Contradictions don't point to _any_thing_. A contradiction is
an example of non-being; it is something that cannot possibly exist,
therefore it couldn't possibly *do* anything, least of all point.

Jim Beale

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