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John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:47 am
by darinhouston
This passage bears on Trinity theories, but also incarnation and hypostasis theories. I'm curious what thoughts folks have on this passage. Some suggest it must be figurative since (in some translations) Jesus also says the Son of Man "IS" in heaven (present perfect tense) and others suggest this may be John's own grammar and not that used by Jesus Himself. Also, others before Him had literally ascended into heaven (at least Moses, Enoch, Elijah?).

What does the context of his discussion with Nicodemus and the discussion of the Kingdom of God play? And the next passage about the serpent in the desert and the lifting up of Jesus on the cross leading into John 3:16 seems to flow naturally from this discussion and must have some contextual usefulness.

Re: John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:17 pm
by Paidion
The Greek word for the verb "ascended" in John 3:13 is in the perfect indicative active. No "present" about it.
To which passages do you refer, in your statement about the present perfect?

I fail to see any basis in John 3:13 for any of the "Trinity" theories.

Re: John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:30 pm
by darinhouston
I believe it is the concluding phrase not present in all translations and manuscripts: "which is in heaven."

Bruce Metzger has suggested that phrase was likely an interpretive embellishment representing later Christological developments in some of the manuscripts.

Re: John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:53 pm
by Paidion
Thank you Darin.
I think Bruce Metzger was right.

What surprised me was that of the 34 translations in my Online Bible program, NINE of them included the phrase "who is in heaven."
Those nine are TR, AV, Douay, Darby, Diaglot, EMTV, LO, NKJV, and YLT.

Re: John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:19 pm
by darinhouston
I found this in NET full translation notes. Looks like some folks think all of 13ff are the author's thoughts and not Jesus' words. I think their failure to mention the figurative (and not just mythical) aspect of, for example, Moses ascending and descending re: Torah is instructive. I've seen enough commentary to that effect that it bears mention.

The verb ascended is a perfect tense in Greek (ἀναβέβηκεν, anabebēken) which seems to look at a past, completed event. (This is not as much of a problem for those who take Jesus’ words to end at v. 12, and these words to be a comment by the author, looking back on Jesus’ ascension.) As a saying of Jesus, these words are a bit harder to explain. Note, however, the lexical similarities with 1:51: “ascending,” “descending,” and “son of man.” Here, though, the ascent and descent is accomplished by the Son himself, not the angels as in 1:51. There is no need to limit this saying to Jesus’ ascent following the resurrection, however; the point of the Jacob story (Gen 28), which seems to be the background for 1:51, is the freedom of communication and relationship between God and men (a major theme of John’s Gospel). This communication comes through the angels in Gen 28 (and John 1:51), but here (most appropriately) it comes directly through the Son of Man. Although Jesus could be referring to a prior ascent, after an appearance as the preincarnate Son of Man, more likely he is simply pointing out that no one from earth has ever gone up to heaven and come down again. The Son, who has come down from heaven, is the only one who has been ‘up’ there. In both Jewish intertestamental literature and later rabbinic accounts, Moses is portrayed as ascending to heaven to receive the Torah and descending to distribute it to men (e.g., Targum Ps 68:19.) In contrast to these Jewish legends, the Son is the only one who has ever made the ascent and descent.

John 3:13 tc Most witnesses, including a few very significant ones (A[*] Θ Ψ 050 ƒ1,13 M latt syc,p,h), have at the end of this verse “the one who is in heaven” (ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ho ōn en tō ouranō). A few others have variations on this phrase, such as “who was in heaven” (e syc), or “the one who is from heaven” (0141 sys). The witnesses normally considered the best, along with several others, lack the phrase in its entirety (P66,75 א B L T Ws 083 086 33 1241 co). On the one hand, if the reading ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ is authentic it may suggest that while Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus he spoke of himself as in heaven even while he was on earth. If that is the case, one could see why variations from this hard saying arose: “who was in heaven,” “the one who is from heaven,” and omission of the clause. At the same time, such a saying could be interpreted (though with difficulty) as part of the narrator’s comments rather than Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus, alleviating the problem. And if v. 13 was viewed in early times as the evangelist’s statement, “the one who is in heaven” could have crept into the text through a marginal note. Other internal evidence suggests that this saying may be authentic. The adjectival participle, ὁ ὤν, is used in the Fourth Gospel more than any other NT book (though the Apocalypse comes in a close second), and frequently with reference to Jesus (1:18; 6:46; 8:47). It may be looking back to the LXX of Exod 3:14 (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν). Especially since this exact construction is not necessary to communicate the location of the Son of Man, its presence in many witnesses here may suggest authenticity. Further, John uses the singular of οὐρανός (ouranos, “heaven”) in all 18 instances of the word in this Gospel, and all but twice with the article (only 1:32 and 6:58 are anarthrous, and even in the latter there is significant testimony to the article). At the same time, the witnesses that lack this clause are very weighty and must not be discounted. Generally speaking, if other factors are equal, the reading of such mss should be preferred. And internally, it could be argued that ὁ ὤν is the most concise way to speak of the Son of Man in heaven at that time (without the participle the point would be more ambiguous). Further, the articular singular οὐρανός is already used twice in this verse, thus sufficiently prompting scribes to add the same in the longer reading. This combination of factors suggests that ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ is not a genuine Johannism. Further intrinsic evidence against the longer reading relates to the evangelist’s purposes: If he intended v. 13 to be his own comments rather than Jesus’ statement, his switch back to Jesus’ words in v. 14 (for the lifting up of the Son of Man is still seen as in the future) seems inexplicable. The reading “who is in heaven” thus seems to be too hard. All things considered, as intriguing as the longer reading is, it seems almost surely to have been a marginal gloss added inadvertently to the text in the process of transmission. For an argument in favor of the longer reading, see David Alan Black, “The Text of John 3:13, ” GTJ 6 (1985): See the note on the title Son of Man in 1:51.

Re: John 3:13

Posted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:55 pm
by darinhouston
I found this reference in THE TEXT OF JOHN 3:13 by DAVID ALAN BLACK from the Grace Theological Journal 6.1 (1985) 49-66

to commentary by C.J. Wright, Jesus. The Revelation oj God (Londo~: Hodder and Stoughton. 1950) 73.

One could also point in this connection to 1:51, where the expression "Son of Man" is first used in John: "You shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." Commenting on this verse Wright says,

"This is a record, in pictorial and allegorical language, of the signal manifestations. to be witnessed by the disciples during the Ministry of Jesus, of the unique communion with God which he knew. The passage is expressive of that intercourse between heaven and earth which was manifest throughout the whole Ministry of Him who was truly man."

This is written by a Trinitarian but I think is on the right track. There is also a Proverb about "who has ascended and descended to heaven" or that sort of thing which is along with others that are clearly mean to be figurative. This does seem to be a hebraic way of talking not about destinations and locations but connections and affinity to God of a more spiritual manner.

Some commentaries also suggest that this is a reference to the Son of Man being at all times during Jesus' ministry simultaneously both omnipresent in heaven (in his divinity) and present on earth (in his humanity). But, at least in this passage, that doesn't make sense in reference to his title as Son of Man. If we can distinguish between Son of God (divinity) and Son of Man (his humanity), then it doesn't seem that you would reference the Son of Man as being in heaven but on earth. If anything, it would make more sense to reference himself (or if John wrote it, Jesus) as the Son of God being in heaven.