Re: John 1:5

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat May 09 1998 - 08:11:12 EDT

At 11:26 AM -0500 5/08/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>I think this is appropriate, so I'll post this final piece.

I was dismayed, upon downloading my mail after a day's absence, to find
more than two dozen messages with this subject-header, most of them from
the same two posters. This appears, like some of the ongoing banter (it's
been more that than real discussion, since reaching a consensus appears
totally hopeless) between George and myself over the senses, to be a
discussion basicly between two persons, and there does come a point where
this gets pretty boring for list-members to go on reading. This is a
judgment call, I think. Certainly list-members ought to bear in mind that
many (or some, at least) pay for their internet accounts by bandwidth, and
consider whether what they are exchanging is really likely to be of general
interest to the whole list; they ought also to be careful about retaining
only those portions of the earlier correspondence that are essential to
understanding the latest comment.

One other comment on the passage in question and the problems of its
interpretation. Edgar called attention in the note that I have snipped off
to the question of they way we approach the context of a passage.
Personally, I do think that John's gospel has something of the quality of a
"circular dictionary" --every part of it illuminates and makes intelligible
the part that you are looking at specifically. To some extent that's true
of other NT texts too, but it is especially true of the gospel of John,
which has always seemed to me to have the quality of a kaleidoscope always
turned toward the same LIGHT, but shifting the tesserae, the little colored
chips, with each turn, so that a different image is presented for that same
light to "shine through." I suppose that could be seen as a theological
comment on John's gospel, but in this instance I meant it only as a comment
on the literary style of the work.

What I really meant to say about this exchange, however, was that it seemed
to me that presuppositions brought by each to bear upon the interpretation
were far enough apart that a consensus about the meaning of the text in
question was just about impossible to reach. I guess it's always helpful in
conversation to clarify the assumptions if the dialogue is to be fruitful,
but sometimes the revelation of different assumptions demonstrates the
futility of further dialogue.

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