Saturday, March 18, 2023



Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, clergy can roam across the internet in search of sermon material; you'll find, to be fair, all kinds of errant nonsense. For example, Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well was an exercise in non-exclusionary feminist, anti-racist ethical imperative. Choke that down if you can.

Still, Harvard (Satan's Vatican) & Co. absurdity aside, you'll find an occasional gleam of ruby or diamond in the dust. I liked this, on Christ's famous statement in John 9, "I am the light of the world."

ὅταν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ὦ, φῶς εἰμι τοῦ κόσμου.

Hotan en to kosmo o, phos eimi tou kosmou

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world

A more literal translation of this short verse would be more Yoda-like: “As long as in the world I am, light I am of the world.” Although I use the phrase “I am” twice in the translation, Jesus does not use the formulaic ego eimi at all in this verse. Instead he uses the present subjunctive for “I am”: ὦ (o); and then the present indicative εἰμι (eimi), without the first person pronoun ἐγώ (ego). [I just saw some graffiti today that read, “Your ego is not your amigo”]. So here, Jesus is being ego-less (:

Jesus includes the “ego” when he first identifies as the Light of the World in chapter 8 verse 12, a statement which, as I suggested in a John-in-July post, was intended to reference Isaiah 9:1-2 in response to the Pharisees’ insistence that “no prophet is to arise from Galilee” (7:52). According to Isaiah 9, “God will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” Jesus says, “You know that light Isaiah talked about in the context of Galilee? I am that light. I am the Light of the World (Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου).

So why does Jesus identify again as the Light of the World in this context, after likely quoting a Jewish proverb? Moreover, how does this serve as an answer or response to the question of suffering?

Johannine scholar Herman C. Waetjen writes, “According to Philo of Alexandria, the ‘light of the world’ is the light of the first day of creation, and it is an image of the divine Logos who makes itself intelligible by means of interpretation.’”[1] One does not have to agree with Waetjen’s argument that the Fourth Gospel was written in Alexandria to accept that Philo’s ideas were clearly in the air that the Fourth Evangelist breathed. On the first day of creation, the Word (Logos) of God proceeded from God and produced light: “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (1:3). For Philo, the light and the Logos become one and the same. So by calling himself the Light of the World, Jesus is saying that he is the light of the first day of creation, a manifestation of the Logos of God.


... the light and the Logos become one and the same. So by calling himself the Light of the World, Jesus is saying that he is the light of the first day of creation, a manifestation of the Logos of God.

Daniel Deforest London, you may very well be a Girardian, TECite heretic and for all I know lost in Ivy League heterodoxy, but that was beautifully put. Thanks.

Turn to the Light and utterly reject the works of darkness.

ἐν ἀρχῇ,



LL said...

Light expells darkness.

Anonymous said...

While roaming the internet I found this, LSP, the photo itself is priceless!
Poor, poor dog indeed!
Let there be light in the darkness, Amen!

Adrienne said...

Full confession: I need to print that out and spend some time with it to fully understand. I'm a dope (to be fair, I just ate two apple fritters (it is Laetare Sunday, after all), so I'm sure my insulin levels are sky high. I've graduated to 36 - 45 hour fasts, and dumping two fritters in must be like a land mine exploding in my body. :-)

Old NFO said...

Well said, and we should always go toward the light.

Anonymous said...

Except that Jesus spoke Aramaic, while John wrote in Greek, so the translation issue is not that germane.

LSP said...

Always, LL. Walk in the light.

LSP said...

Oh my, Anon! Photo's definitely priceless, poor little pup.

Mundabor's value.

LSP said...

Well done on the fasting, Adrienne, I've found it useful myself. And, to be fair, there's quite a lot going on in the light quote.

Take away? Philo's pure exegesis. That's what I think and I'm sticking to it.

LSP said...

We sure should, NFO, not always easy, eh?

LSP said...

Good point, Anon. But surely accuracy of translation is entirely germane. I'd hesitate to ascribe error to the beloved disciple.