Monday, October 25, 2021

John 8.31-36 Translations and notes (Reformation Sunday)

The Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives
John 8.31-36 is the text designated for Reformation Sunday. The incident takes place while Jesus is in Jerusalem and teaching on the Temple Mount.

The passage actually starts at 8.12 when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” But this causes controversy with the Pharisees whether he is testifying about himself and whether it’s true. This leads into a discussion about who Jesus’ father is, and then Jesus says “I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jewish authorities speculate that this means he plans to commit suicide. Jesus says that they are clueless. That’s why they will die in their sins, unless they believe, Jesus says, that “I am.” They now ask Jesus who he is, and Jesus says, “When you lift up the Son of Humanity, then you will know that I am.” It’s reported that this exchange caused many people to believe in him. 

Things only get worse following the exchange in 8.31-36 and ends in 8.59 with people picking up stones to stone Jesus.

It's helpful to keep in mind that John is a 2-level story:

  • The story of what happened in Jesus' life
  • The story of what has been happening in the Johannine community whose experiences parallel Jesus’ experiences

I.e., the Gospel of John is a meditation on the life of Jesus that reflects the experiences of the Johannine community. It is a community that understands themselves in faithful continuity with Jesus. 

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.

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