Re: telelestai

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue May 19 1998 - 19:26:37 EDT

At 6:49 PM -0400 5/19/98, John M. Moe wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> But one might question whether John's soteriology is fully in
>harmony with a notion
> of paying off a debt as a ransom; the image of Jesus as a Passover
> belongs to John's gospel, and to be sure, the death of Jesus on the
> is salvific, but the question whether JOHN's gospel conceives of that
> as paying a ransom is hard to find evidence WITHIN JOHN'S GOSPEL to
> support, in my opinion. We've got to be careful in responding to this
> as it will be difficult to stay away from hermeneutic assumptions
>when what
> we're really after is the precise sense and intent of TETELESTAI in
> 19.30.
>Dr. Conrad,
>Perhaps I should ask this off list because I think this probably goes
>beyond the parameters of B-Greek, but I was just wondering; In the
>light of what you say above, how do you take hUPER in the ironic
>"prophecy" of the high priest at John 11:50-51?

I don't think there's a question what the Greek of John 11:50f. means, but
I do think one is entitled to question whether the evangelist intends it to
be taken ironically in any sense of atonement. Personally I think that the
high priest means precisely that the death of Jesus protects the Jewish
people (TOU LAOU) from annihilation.

Let me make a point here that bears upon whether and how this issue should
be discussed. I have said how I think the verse should be understood; I
have also said that I don't think the literal meaning of the Greek text is
itself in doubt. Now let me add that I personally interpret this NOT as an
"ironic prophecy" because I personally think it proper to interpret John's
gospel from within the text of John's gospel: that's (one of) my own
hermeneutic principle(s). I concede, as I must, that many list members
feel, on the basis of THEIR OWN hermeneutic principles, that it is
perfectly proper to interpret any gospel in the light of all the other
gospels, or any NT document in the light of all the others. And so I can
well understand how and why many are ready to read this verse in John as an
ironic "prophecy"--BUT I think they do so because of their hermeneutic
principles and not because any prophetic implication is necessarily present
in the verse itself.

SO: if there are reasons based upon the text of John 11:50f. itself for
arguing that a ransom atonement doctrine is implied by it, that's one
thing. But I would not want to see a debate on hermeneutic principles on
this list--this is NOT the place for that.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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