Help with a Slight Temptation about the Words of Christ Quoted by the Apostle John

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Greetings pilgrims,

In my post several weeks ago about the words of John vs Jesus in John 3:16-21 I asked, "Are they the Words of Christ, or the Words of John?" I thought and still do think that they are the words of John. Others thought they were the Words of Christ. And still, others said that it mattered not since either way they are the Word of God.

I understand that even as all Scripture is God-breathed it nevertheless contains much of the vocabulary and personality of the author, yet it is very much the Word of God. I am also well aware of the modern heresy that says the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are creations of John. I do not believe this for a minute. Yet in John's gospel the words and phrases of Jesus sound so different to me than Jesus' words in the synoptic Gospels.

But I find I have developed a slight temptation to buy into this heresy to some degree. Just how much of an author's personality can enter into quotations of Jesus? I believe this is a small and passing temptation, but any help you can give me would be appreciated. This is no emergency. It just has to do with thoughts that pop into the back of my mind now and then that may not even be my thoughts. I'm sure you know whose thoughts they may be.

Thanks so much,

Ed
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Freshman
Just how much of an author's personality can enter into quotations of Jesus?
This is your main question yes? I guess it depends on how you use the word "enter". Is John distorting the words of Christ at all? Well of course not. These are the words God inspired. So I don't really worry much about how different it sounds in comparison to the synoptics. I suppose that is why it isn't much of a temptation for me personally.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
In most places, Jesus' words recorded by the gospel writers are not word-for-word the actual words Jesus spoke. The gospel writers recorded all but a few of these words in Greek, and in most cases Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic.

So at the very least, there is translation happening. This in itself can account for some of the difference in style between the synoptics and John, as the translator is different and each translator will have his own style. It seems we are not meant to have a record of Jesus' precise words in their original language (except in a few instances), perhaps for the very reason that we should avoid "red-lettering" them in our minds.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
It seems we are not meant to have a record of Jesus' precise words in their original language (except in a few instances)
The Muslims have it all over us. :)
Thanks for your help. I have been in Jonh 14-16 for weeks and the nagging little voice is getting harder and harder to hear.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
Greetings pilgrims,

In my post several weeks ago about the words of John vs Jesus in John 3:16-21 I asked, "Are they the Words of Christ, or the Words of John?" I thought and still do think that they are the words of John. Others thought they were the Words of Christ. And still, others said that it mattered not since either way they are the Word of God.

I understand that even as all Scripture is God-breathed it nevertheless contains much of the vocabulary and personality of the author, yet it is very much the Word of God. I am also well aware of the modern heresy that says the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are creations of John. I do not believe this for a minute. Yet in John's gospel the words and phrases of Jesus sound so different to me than Jesus' words in the synoptic Gospels.

But I find I have developed a slight temptation to buy into this heresy to some degree. Just how much of an author's personality can enter into quotations of Jesus? I believe this is a small and passing temptation, but any help you can give me would be appreciated. This is no emergency. It just has to do with thoughts that pop into the back of my mind now and then that may not even be my thoughts. I'm sure you know whose thoughts they may be.

Thanks so much,

Ed
I’ve struggled a bit with this too from time to time because John sounds so much like John and not like the way our Lord talks in the Synoptics. My personal “solution” and the resulting peace comes from the knowledge that the Lord intended both the words and the personal style, knowing from the beginning what the end-product would sound like. He chose John to express His truth, each word and phrase being what He purposed him to record. (I’m not referring to the dictation theory though) I don’t know if this is any help to you but it’s what I bring to mind whenever those niggling little thoughts try to intrude.:)
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I'm the oldest of nine. Sometimes there was a memorable event that many of us siblings enjoy retelling. In retelling the stories, we may even quote someone, though we don't quote verbatim, nor can we since we don't have a recording of the event or someone who wrote down the exact wording. In retelling something in our own experience, we don't hold ourselves to a standard of verbatim recall. Many times verbatim recall won't even capture the nonverbal parts of the event that are necessary to understand an event and its meaning.

My point being this: any author of scripture, under divine inspiration, can capture the meaning of another's words without necessitating verbatim recitation. I would expect that the authors' personalities would come through even when quoting someone else.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I was thinking about this just now in relation to the obvious differences between John’s gospel and the other three, and came across these thoughts from Arthur Pink. You may already have read him on John or have taken into account what he has to say on it. But it strikes me that if Pink is correct, then John is possibly using an exalted form of dialogue/conversation as a literary device...? not sure that would be the right way of stating it but you probably get the idea. Anyway, I’d never come across Pink’s ideas and found it interesting, and intend to read his whole treatment of it. Here’s a link to an excerpt that touches on the subject; by clicking on the title when you get there, you can access the full commentary, I believe. Interested to know if you find that this relates to your question.

https://biblehub.com/library/pink/why_four_gospels/i_things_omitted_from_johns.htm
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I was thinking about this just now in relation to the obvious differences between John’s gospel and the other three, and came across these thoughts from Arthur Pink. You may already have read him on John or have taken into account what he has to say on it. But it strikes me that if Pink is correct, then John is possibly using an exalted form of dialogue/conversation as a literary device...? not sure that would be the right way of stating it but you probably get the idea. Anyway, I’d never come across Pink’s ideas and found it interesting, and intend to read his whole treatment of it. Here’s a link to an excerpt that touches on the subject; by clicking on the title when you get there, you can access the full commentary, I believe. Interested to know if you find that this relates to your question.
Thanks for your comments and the link. I have all Pink's works, but if I read John, it was 30± years ago. I read the chapter you pointed to and found it, in usual Pink style, enlightening.
hanks
Ed
 
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