Re: John 2:8

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 16 1998 - 15:26:37 EDT

At 11:59 AM -0500 9/16/98, wrote:
>Jim West wrote:
>> >Mark QL Louderback wrote:
>> >> John 2:8--
>> >> Question: Where is the water being drawn from?
>> to which george responded:
>> >As usual, John is spare with words here. No one will accuse him of
>> >being epexegetical! Nor is water mentioned in this sentence.
>> But, george, it is mentioned in the preceding verse. In fact, there is
>> neither difficulty nor lack of clarity in this narrative. The purification
>> jars would have been filled at Jesus' order from the nearest well.
>Well, you see ~ that is a most reasonable inference ~ at least a
>nearby well ~ one would imagine ~ Yet on that point the text is silent
>~ I assume the silence has purpose ~ I do not know what that assumed
>purpose might be. To guess or infer either the source well or the
>assumed [by me] purpose seems to go beyond the text,

Why should you assume that the text purposely doesn't tell us the answers
to some of the questions we might ask of it? My immediate impulse is
apparently the very opposite of yours: I assume rather that the text
purposely tells us what its author felt was most important for us to know.
I don't think the author necessarily purposely omits what bears most
significantly on understanding his/her intent; rather I assume that what is
most important for us to take into consideration is made explicit by the
author; no doubt much else is taken for granted as not needing to be said:
the listener (reader-but of course this would first have been heard rather
than read silently) would surmise the essential background details of the

Now sometimes it would appear that the ancient listener to the story knew
things and assumed things about the setting that we don't know. Sometimes
that may have a bearing on our interpretation. But I still think that the
text normally tells us what we need to know to understand it, and what the
text doesn't say doesn't really need to concern us so far as understanding
the story.

I hope this doesn't encroach upon some fundamental hermeneutical theory; it
just seems common sense to me, albeit apparently at odds with what seems
common sense to George. I certainly don't want to open up a hermeneutical
can of worms here.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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