Monday, October 23, 2023

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. At the end of the document is my translation along with an introduction to the text.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Corinth to Lechaion Walking Paths

Lechaion and Corinth Roads

This summer I had the pleasure of working a couple weeks on an archaeological dig at the Lechaion Harbor Project directed by Paul Scotton and the Corinthian Ephorate. I took the opportunity to do a lot of hiking in the area. I previously reported on the routes Paul might have taken between Corinth and Cenchreae, the Corinthian harbor on the Saronic Gulf to the east. I also am persuaded that Paul probably had occasion to go through Corinth's Lechaion harbor to the north on the Gulf of Corinth. (I provide rationale for this claim in the document I've linked below.)

The document link below is a summary of the routes I investigated. There has been uncertainty about the routes between Corinth and Lechaion. The so-called Lechaion Street that visitors can walk in the Roman forum of Corinth does have evidence of a road that extends straight north toward the harbor. (Green line on graphic above) It ends up somewhat west of the harbor, however, so some have suggested another route further to the east that goes directly there. (Navy blue line on graphic) Because of swampy conditions, a route further to the west (purple) is also possible.

Realizing how much has likely changed over 2000 years, I can only make reasoned guesses, but here is what I think is most probable.

  • There were probably multiple routes between the two sites.
  • There are really only two 'indentations' or cuts in the ridge to get up to Corinth, so it is more likely that roads pass through them.
  • It makes good sense to me that the Lechaion Street route and its extension to the harbor was likely a prominent route. It runs straight on a north-south axis (which Romans liked) and goes through one of the cuts in the ridge passing by the Asklepion and the Waters / Baths of Aphrodite. (Romans would have enjoyed a water feature upon entering a city.)
If anyone is interested in walking any of the routes, I provide background to the area, suggestions for walking, and links to further information. The document is 18 pages long, but you may enjoy simply checking out my pictures at the end!