Re: John 5:26

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun May 09 1999 - 08:35:56 EDT

At 4:10 PM -0700 5/8/99, John Oaklands wrote:
>How is EDWKEN understood in John 5:26? Does this refer to the
>incarnation as of John 1:4 EN AUTWi ZWH HN or, as some have even
>suggested, to the resurrection? How does EDWKEN make sense in hte
>light of John 1:4? I even have trouble with the translation
>*granted*--does any one else?

There's more than one question here; I'm hoping I can leave aside the
hermeneutical one and concentrate on the grammatical one--it just may
possibly be that the hermeneutical question will fall into place when the
grammatical question is resolved.


My understanding is that ZWHN ECEIN EN hEAUTWi in the consecutive clause is
functioning as an articular infinitive (without the article), i.e. as a
substantive implicitly in the accusative and functioning, as a whole, as
the direct object of EDWKEN.

Now the question is "What does it mean 'to have life within oneself.' While
it COULD mean no more than "to be alive," yet that hardly seems worth
enunciating. Now the context in John 5 is the power of the Son of Man to be
the judge of humanity, and perhaps KRINW here means "condemn." In fact,
consider how 5:27 is parallel to 5:26


I would understand the phrases EXOUSIAN KRISIN POIEIN and ZWHN ECEIN EN
hEAUTWi as parallel to each other and to refer to the two kinds of
authority exercised by the Son of Man: to give new life and to condemn. The
new life comes to those who welcome and give heed to the Son of Man,
alternatively the condemnation comes to those reject the Son of Man and
fail to heed his commandment.

I think that ZWHN ECEIN EN hEAUTWi means "to have the power of making
alive." I don't want to go into a lengthy discourse on the theology of
John's gospel, which does not belong in this forum and would very likely
provoke considerable discussion in its own right; rather I simply call
attention to the passages elsewhere in John that seem to me consistent with
this way of understanding that phrase: Jn 1:10-12 and Jn 20:21-22 where the
risen Christ gives the Spirit to the assembled disciples as described in
the verb ENEFUSHSEN which deliberately echoes, I believe the LXX verb in
Genesis 2:7 describing the giving of life to Adam. Of course here Jesus,
with the gift of the Spirit, is simultaneously bestowing new life upon the
disciples AND empowering them to exercise judgment also (20:23).

To summarize, I don't think that EDWKEN ZWHN ECEIN refers to the
incarnation as such but rather to the power and authority to give new life:
that is a power and authority that the Father possesses and which he
bestowed (EDWKEN) on the Son.

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

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