Quotes in John

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TylerMartin
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Joined: September 19th, 2014, 7:22 pm

Quotes in John

Post by TylerMartin » September 19th, 2014, 7:52 pm

I've been working my way through the gospel of John, and I've noticed a pattern.

Every once in a while in John's writing, someone will quote something either they or somebody else stated earlier in the gospel. Sometimes it's Jesus referring to his own teachings. Sometimes it's the crowds asking questions about Jesus' teachings. It appears in a variety of contexts.

For instance, here is John 1:30. John the Baptist sees Jesus, and is pointing his disciples to him.

οὗτός ἐστιν ὑπὲρ οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον· ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεται ἀνὴρ ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. (John 1:30, NA28)

He is repeating something he said earlier, in John 1:15:

οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον· ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. (John 1:15)

That's not the best example, because here we don't see the original quote. But look at Jesus' words to Nicodemus in John 3:3.

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3)

Then he quotes himself in John 3:7

μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι· δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν.

In John 4:17, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan Woman.

ἀπεκρίθη ἡ γυνὴ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· οὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι ἄνδρα οὐκ ἔχω·

For one more example, look at John 9:7. Jesus tells the blind man how to be healed.

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὕπαγε νίψαι εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ (ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος). ἀπῆλθεν οὖν καὶ ἐνίψατο καὶ ἦλθεν βλέπων. (John 9:7)

Later, when the blind man is recounting the story, he says:

ἀπεκρίθη ἐκεῖνος· ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ λεγόμενος Ἰησοῦς πηλὸν ἐποίησεν καὶ ἐπέχρισέν μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ εἶπέν μοι ὅτι ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν Σιλωὰμ καὶ νίψαι· ἀπελθὼν οὖν καὶ νιψάμενος ἀνέβλεψα. (John 9:11)

These are just a few quotes within quotes in John's gospel, but just about every time someone is quoted, there is a slight variation. Either the words are changed, words are added, the sentence order is rearranged, or it's just a paraphrase. This might not mean anything significant. If I had only seen it once or twice, I wouldn't have thought anything about it. But since it happens throughout the entire gospel, I thought it was worth taking note. What do you think is the significance of these not-so-direct quotes within quotes in John's gospel?
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Quotes in John

Post by Stephen Hughes » September 22nd, 2014, 3:17 am

TylerMartin wrote:What do you think is the significance of these not-so-direct quotes within quotes in John's gospel?
Welcome Tyler.

This issue of quotes in the narrative - not only these imbedded ones, is one that can be taken, understood and interpreted on quite a number of levels and to varying degrees of professional scholarship or personal impression without a single (simple) unified answer ever being arrived at. It is a question that basicly works towards a diversity of understandings rather than agreement. I, for my part, will try to look at it with you from a syntactic / didactic point of view - within the scope of my own interest.

From what you have said about your familiarity with the text, am I safe to assume that you are not a (complete at least) beginner? If that is true, then rather than giving an answer to your question, I will suggest another finger that you could look at on the same hand that you are looking at.

As you are considering the question of what you have described as
TylerMartin wrote:just about every time someone is quoted, there is a slight variation. Either the words are changed, words are added, the sentence order is rearranged, or it's just a paraphrase.
you might like to do extension to this and look at is the changes that occur when the language is changed between dialogue and narrative. For an example, let's consider the verses about the healing of the man blind from birth in John 9.
John 9:7 wrote:καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὕπαγε νίψαι εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ (ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος). ἀπῆλθεν οὖν καὶ ἐνίψατο καὶ ἦλθεν βλέπων.
John 9:11 wrote:ἀπεκρίθη ἐκεῖνος· ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ λεγόμενος Ἰησοῦς πηλὸν ἐποίησεν καὶ ἐπέχρισέν μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς καὶ εἶπέν μοι ὅτι ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν Σιλωὰμ καὶ νίψαι· ἀπελθὼν οὖν καὶ νιψάμενος ἀνέβλεψα.
The tenses, the syntactic relationship and perhaps the verb itself is changed. I'm sure you will be able to find many mroe examples of this as you read through. They will give you some context at least to consider the question that you are asking.

I think that after you have experienced the text for yourself, and gotten some of your own ideas and impressions together about what changes are taking place, it will be useful to consult a reference work to see a more systematic presentation of what you have seen. That is to say, that rather than jumping into the deep end first, see how things work on the more simple relationship between dialogue and narrative. That will simplify the question you are asking somewhat and give you a framework in which to more clearly pose your question.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: Quotes in John

Post by cwconrad » September 22nd, 2014, 5:28 am

This is an interesting observation, but it seems more a matter of the author's narrative style. I would question whether it really involves the Greek text of these passages as a Greek text; that is to say, the varied formulations might just have well been noted in any translation that is reasonably accurate. Our focus in this Forum is really on the Greek text as a Greek text.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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