1 Jn 2:7-8, Contradiction?

From: Paul S. Dixon (dixonps@juno.com)
Date: Thu Sep 25 1997 - 00:11:47 EDT

On Wed, 24 Sep 1997 21:12:23 -0400 Jonathan Robie
<jwrobie@mindspring.com> writes:
>At 05:26 PM 9/23/97 -0400, Jim Beale wrote:
>>On Sep 23, 5:08pm, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I don't want to beat this into the ground, but for the sake of
>1. My working definition of a contradiction is a set of statements
>that affirm both A and NOT A.
>2. Paradoxes are often expressed in this form.
>3. The meaning of a paradox generally cannot be derived by formal
>logical means.
>4. To me, 1 John 2:7-8 meet criteria 1-3, where A="I am writing you a
>new letter" and NOT A="I am not writing you a new letter".
>5. I do not believe that either paradox or contradiction indicate
>error, nor
>that formal logic is the only or best avenue to truth.

You would have a contradiction between 2:7 and 2:8 only if the ENTOLHN
KAINHN of 2:7 and the ENTOLHN KAINHN OF 2:8 were identical. Just because
they go by the same label does not mean they are the same.

I would like to suggest John means two different things by his double use
of KAINHN. According to BAG, KAINOS can have 3 meanings. But it is the
second and third meanings that are used by John in verses 7 and 8
respectively. According to BAG, #2 meaning is "in the sense of something
not previously present, unknown, strange ... also with the connotation of
of the marvelous or unheard-of." That this is the meaning in v. 7 is
evident for John say he does not write a new commandment, but an old
commandment which they had from the beginning.

The third meaning of KAINOS listed by BAG is, "in contrast to something
old, a. with no criticism of the old implied ... b. in the sense that
what is old has become obsolete, and should be replaced by what is new.
In such a case the new is, as a rule, superior in kind to the old." Is
this not exactly what John has in mind in v. 8 where he immediately adds,
hO ESTIN ALNQES EN AUTWi KAI EN hUMIN? The new here is superior to the
old because it is exemplied by the life of Christ, and because it is true
in the life of the saints, implying it is something can and is obeyed by
the children of God.

Does John contradict himself in 1 Jn 2:7-8? No, there is no
contradiction here, because his use of KAINOS differs in the two verses.

Paul Dixon

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