Archives For Uncategorized
I had the idea for this video in 2006. I was driving home from teaching on the gospels when Delirious’ “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble” shuffled onto my I-Pod.
Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one
Did you feel the people tremble?
Did you hear the singers roar?
When the lost began to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one
And we can see that God you’re moving
A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord
Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice
This song, and particularly this performance, had always reminded me of Christ’s resurrection; the moment at which He triumphantly leads the captives out of Hades to stand before the gates of Heaven (Psalms 24). Years before, I attempted to write a screenplay with that image and this song as it finale. I shelved the idea, however, in frustration that such a movie would ever be made.
But as it so happened, that day, I had just finished exploring with my Canby Bible College students the way in which the Shawshank Redemption hinges on an allusion to Christ’s death and resurrection. As I listened to the song, images from a half dozen movies began to flicker in my mind.
I realized that while I may never make a movie about the glories of Christ’s resurrection, that movie has already been made. The wonders of our Lord are proclaimed in films time and time again. Surprisingly, though, for most Christians, it’s often in rated R films or movies that never explicitly speak His name.
Our Lord has triumphed not just over the grave, nor simply over those who have chosen to accept him. He has captured the hearts of all mankind. They simply fail to recognize it. He is the Longing of Man.
This Jesus in disguise – this Christ figured, who makes his appearance in so many movies – reminds me of how those two disciples in Luke 24 who didn’t recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus. While they are walking, the resurrected Jesus approaches them and asks them why they are downcast. They explain how he (Jesus) was crucified in Jerusalem and they were sad because they thought he might have been the messiah. But then Jesus explains to them the story of scripture and how the crucified messiah actually makes sense of the story. When at last their eyes are opened and Jesus disappears from their sight, they ask “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
I have the burning feeling often in watching great films. And I’m been surprised again and again by the presence of Jesus in these places I least suspect. When you watch a movie and feel that burning, perhaps it’s Jesus and his story that’s calling to you.
How can we deterimne with relative certainity that John wanted us to see in the piercing of Christ side and the flow of blood and water (John 19:34) as an allusion to the creation of Eve (Genesis 2:21-22)?
Richard Hays book Scriptural Echoes in the Letters of Paul offers what has become the standard for evaluating the likelihood of a biblical allusion. These seven criteria cause us to look outside our own biases to meet a level of objectivity that others can appreciate.
Here the seven criteria applied to our proposed allusion.
- Availability: was Genesis and specifically the creation account available to the author of John
- Volume: to what degree do “words, syntactical patterns, structure, and number of elements” correspond between Genesis 2:21-22 and John 19:34?
- Recurrence: To what extent is Genesis and more specifically the creation account used elsewhere in John?
- Thematic Coherence: Does the proposed reference to Genesis 2:21-22 enhance the themes developed in John?
- Historical Plausibility: Is it likely that John intended the reference and that his audience would have recognized it.
- History of Interpretation: Have other readers, both critical and pre-critical, recognized it?
- Satisfaction: does it make sense?
For this series I’m going to limit our discussion to two: Volume and Thematic Coherence. The fact that Genesis was available to John is beyond question and will be well established before this series is concluded.
As to why I’m not going to focus on the other criteria, seven may make Hay’s list feel complete but his inventory really boils down to Availability, Volume and Thematic Coherence. All the rest are really just degrees of these. For instance, examining recurrence (3), to what extent the creation account is used elsewhere in John, is just another way of demonstrating that Genesis was in the mind of John (1) and it was essential to his books thematic coherence (4). Exploring the allusion in the history interpretation (6) is just another way of showing how others saw the same verbal parallels (3) and matching of themes (4).
But John’s generic difference from Paul, the later of which Hays is specifically addressing, also requires us to make a slight extension to the list. The letters of Paul and the Gospel of John are clearly different in that Paul writes letters and John writes a story. John, therefore, is not limited in his allusions the way that Paul is limited to precise verbal similarities. Narrative allows the “evocation of other details – such as plot, characters and setting – by means of circumstantial correspondence.” Due to the availability and potential use of these other elements, allusions in narrative do not simply arise from the parallel use of exact words.
For instance, Jesus’ act of breathing on the disciples to receive the holy Spirit in John 20:22 is a well attested allusion to Genesis 2:7 – the creation of Adam. Jesus’ “breathing on” or “into” the disciples is clearly unique. The fact that Greek word is the exact one found in the LXX translation of Genesis is suggestive. But the allusion also coheres in that Jesus stands in place of God and the Holy Spirit the breath of life – characterization which are well established in the Gospel of John.
In my next post we’ll look at the verbal and circumstantial correspondence between John 19:34 and Genesis 2:21-22.