Interpretation of John Chapter 5
Interpreting a text implies understanding a text. The act of interpretation is exactly that, an act. This act of understanding is expression. The act of expression is an interpretation of the text. This notion of interpretation is distinguishable as hermeneutics because it brings into question the given notions about reality and our relation to it.
The most striking notion brought into question is the relation of self to the text and/or reality. Because expression and understanding are one, the text itself must be expressed if it is to be understood. The text is no longer other. In a very real way, the text and the self are no longer separated.
This idea of self merging with a text, or self merging with reality, is often seen as a foreign notion. It is commonly held that the individual stands apart from reality, and can gain an objective view of reality. In opposition to this, what is implied by the union of expression and understanding is we are creating reality as we live it. The self is not apart from reality, and we are not merely watching it unfold. We are reality and our thoughts and knowledge are a continuation of the laws of that reality. The organization of our thoughts is an organization of reality. We are slowly becoming cognizant that understanding is not merely to register, but to bestow upon reality an order that would be absent without being thought. We are creating through our thoughts. The universe is becoming aware of itself.
This notion gains distinction with the question of the relationship between mathematics and reality. If reality and self were separate, then the mathematical conceptions that are subjectively created should have no bearing on reality. This however is not the case. We find that supposedly subjective mathematics accurately predicts many behaviors that are supposedly objective.
We can now look at John chapter five in the hopes of understanding the text. The most important verse in chapter five is the miracle. When Jesus gives the command to “rise, take up thy bed, and walk”, and the lame man does so, we are witnessing the lame man gaining an understanding of his relationship to reality through his expression of walking. The lame man is healed and made whole because of his will. This is evidenced in verse six when asked, “Wilt though be made whole?” The lame man is made whole through a uniting of reality to self. When the lame man was not united to reality, he laid victim for thirty eight years.
In verse seven, the impotent man gives us the reason for his suffering. He tells us that “sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down into the pool.” His expression lacked understanding. It was a pseudo-expression. Because he continued to lie next to the pool in the hopes that some other thing would help, he never achieved what he sought.
The only way for the miracle to make sense is to realize what is required of the lame man for him to walk. What is required is expression in its fullest sense. It could be said the lame man was expressing when he was laying for thirty eight years, thus he was expressing an incompleteness. This incompleteness was not actually expression as understanding was not present. Expression as we are looking at it can never be incomplete.
Expression can never be incomplete because our expression is reality becoming aware of itself. In this way, hermeneutics is epistemology, or interpretation is knowledge. For the lame man to understand, he had to express. What he had to express was the active role that man must take in creation. This also implies a union between Christ, the son of God the creator, and man.
The question, “wilt thou be made whole”, gives us something to consider with the word will. The” will” appears at the same time as the “whole”. If we are engaged in creation, our will becomes manifest. Indeed, if we are expressing and hence creating, then we also have an understanding. This understanding is required if we wish to be made whole. To fully understand something is to have a wholeness of self. This is evident when we compare “wilt thou be made whole?” of Jesus with “sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down into the pool.”
Furthermore, when we compare the two quotes, an implicit contradiction in epistemological views becomes apparent. From the epistemology of the lame man, knowledge is derived from matter. Matter is where we start from. What we know is a set of beliefs that we have evidence for in a causal relationship. From the epistemology of Christ, knowledge is derived from consciousness. What one knows, is what one is. What John chapter five shows is, is that knowledge derived from matter is incomplete. It is not whole.
The relationship between wholeness and will is made clear through verse thirty. "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." It is important to understand that the self in which he speaks at the beginning of the verse, is the self that is derived from a material epistemology. The will of the Father is the will of a creator. Only because expression understands can judgment be just, and only through understanding can we seek not our own will, for if we continue to seek our own will, then we do not understand.
The notion of justice in relation to judgment needs to be explored. From a material epistemology, consciousness is secondary, or even inconsequential, and a field of possibilities lies before us waiting for one possibility to be chosen. From either epistemology, consciousness or matter, we know that justice requires a full understanding of what lies before us. Justice is to know. If we have a full and complete understanding, then only one choice remains. That one choice is our expression.
An everyday example of this would be a person drowning in a lake. If someone is present, there is only one choice, and this one choice is apparent. The bystander jumps into the lake and saves the person drowning. No one thinks about all the possibilities in an emergency, they simply do what is just.
In verse ten, we learn of an issue that the people of the times had with Jesus healing on the Sabbath day. “The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, it is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” Reading the scriptures from a material epistemology tells us that we know what the scriptures are saying through a causal connection. The command to keep the Sabbath holy by doing no work means to the accusers that the lame man cannot carry his bed, as carrying the bed would be considered work. This unfortunately perverts what the scriptures intended, as the holy thing to do would be for the lame mad to carry his bed; this act of expression is just.
If we start with matter, then our understanding owes something to matter. The material of the brain and its organization determines what will or will not be understood. In this sense, understanding is expression because by the act of understanding, we express ourselves. What we select and organize through material processes in the brain betrays something of the brain that is doing the organization.
If we start with consciousness, then our understanding owes something to the self. In this sense, consciousness determines what will or will not be understood. Consciousness holds a special relationship to matter. In order to understand the expression of the self, being must be present. Consciousness is the true self, and if consciousness wishes to understand, it must be.
Wholeness, will, and just-judgment are unified when we take consciousness to be the ground of being. The lame man was not whole because his self was disconnected to what was. He did not understand. His will was not that of the fathers because he did not will to be whole.
The issue of creation and its relation to freedom is a subtle one. Through creation, a new axiom is put in place. Liberation and imprisonment to the inherent order are present at one and the same time. Free will and our place under an omnipotent, omniscient creator are no longer differentiated, but through our act of creation we realize this seemingly paradoxical statement.
In verse sixteen the Jews confront Jesus about commanding the man to pick up his bed on the Sabbath. In verse seventeen the Jews are given a response, “…my father worketh hitherto, and I work.” What Christ means is that he is creating. The work that God does is that of creation. The Christian tradition uses the terminology, “wedded with Christ”, in order to allow the position of creator to be shared with man without diminishing the deity status of God. Creation did not stop with genesis, but is a continual process, as is witnessed throughout the Christian scriptures.
The danger of tarnishing the deity status of God through uniting Jesus the man with God is illustrated by verse eighteen. “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but said also that God was his father, making himself equal with God.” Only by realizing that man takes an active role in creating reality through expression does it begin to make sense that even though Jesus is accused of blasphemy he maintains his righteousness.
Verse nineteen gives another insight. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, the son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the father do: for what things he so ever he doeth, these also doeth the son likewise.” Only through understanding what justice must be done, can Jesus do what the Father does. When understanding is expressed, it is just. Again, Jesus is reiterating the notion that man is intricately bound with creation.
Verse twenty sheds light on what we can expect in the future from the act of creation. “For the father loveth the son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” The notion that man takes an active role in creation gains momentum with the text “sheweth him all things that himself doeth”. God is creator, and he is showing to his son what he does. That being create. What will come will be ever more works, as creation is a continual process which does not stop. We also know from this verse that creation is a marvelous process.
Verse twenty one strengthens the message by delivering in an uncompromising way. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so, the Son quickeneth whom he will.” Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. Consciousness is superior to matter, and the act of creation knows no boundary. To quicken is to vitalize. It is also important to consider the idea that the lame man was dead at the beginning of chapter five. The lame man is vitalized and reborn. The latter part of the verse, “…the Son quickeneth whom he will” is exquisitely written as the seemingly ambiguous meaning becomes meaningful when we realize the close connection between the Son and Father. In one sense, the Son quickeneth whom he will means that the Son obeys his own will, and in another sense, the Son quickeneth whom he will means that the Son obeys the will of the Father. Verse twenty shows the intricate relationship between the Son and Father and at the same time further articulates the idea that creation is life and man is not alive unless he is taking his part in the act of creation.
Verse twenty two states: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” and continues in verse twenty three, “That all men should honor the son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” The Father is the creator, and the Son is the judge. The Father and Son are united in creating through just-judgment, and man takes his place in creation by uniting with Christ. To honor Christ is to unite with him, and through uniting can an honoring of the Father and his creation occur. Man honors the Father through creating.
Verse twenty four says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Now we have the word belief creep in. The modern definition of belief is knowledge that we have evidence for. Belief in a religious context paints belief in a negative light as belief is thought to exist without evidence. But we know that this is not how the word is being used here. Belief is the absence of doubt. We have previously established epistemology as heuristics. The beliefs that we hold are not to be thought of as having no evidence, but instead are to be thought of as having the only incontrovertible evidence available, that evidence being the understanding self established through expression. We need no other evidence when we are engaged in the act of creation.
Verse twenty five: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God: and they that hear shall live.” To be dead is to not take part in creation. From this verse, we know that the hour now is when the dead shall live. We also learn that some of the dead do not hear, and therefore do not live. Again, the act of hearing implies something transient, on the cusp of creation, something fleeting. Creation is a continual process whose edge is inhabited by those who are quickenethed and create.
Verse twenty six: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” The Father is creator, and through his Son does he invite man to partake in creating. Verse twenty seven: “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man”.
Verse twenty eight: “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,” and verse twenty nine, “and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Those who are in the graves are confined by material. The grave is where the body lies, and being resurrected implies life. Life is intricately woven with creation. Evil and death are then a separation of self with creation, or a division of self from the Father, as we saw in verse twenty six, “…as the Father hath life in himself.”
Verse thirty one, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” The subtle nature of man creating reality becomes evident with this verse. The man who bears witness of himself sees himself as separate from reality, and does not truly understand reality. Only through subjecting himself to reality is he able to create it.
Verse thirty two, “There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.” A witness is someone that can give a first hand account of something that is seen. To be able to witness implies a directness to that which is being witnessed. He who bears witness of reality also bears witness of Jesus as Jesus and God the creator are one and the same.
Verse thirty three. “Ye sent unto John, and he bear witness unto the truth.” John is acknowledged to be a reliable witness by the Jews. John is a reliable witness because he understood reality by expressing it. And what John expressed was Jesus.
Verse thirty four, “But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye may be saved.” Because Christ is one with the Father, he is creator. The words that he expresses are creation. He does not need to receive understanding from without, because he is understanding. Christ and his expression is intended to save by giving understanding. The book of John uses many different words for understanding, including life and resurrection.
Verse thirty five, “He was a burning and shining light; and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” We know that John is a witness. We learn here that he is also a burning and shining light. Only through expression being understanding does it begin to make sense that John was at once a witness and a burning and shining light.
In verse thirty six: “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the father hath sent me.” The Christian tradition always seeks to maintain the deity status of Jesus. Only through Christ remaining God, does the gospel continue to work. In this verse we learn that Christ has greater witness than John. This is so because Christ is that which is being witnessed, or his understanding is his expression. The works that Christ does is the work of creation.
The Jews did not know their own scriptures, and as the beginning of the book of John tells us, the word is God. A lack of understanding led to a lack of knowing. For the Jews to know, they must understand. For the Jews to know, they must express. Knowing, understanding, and expressing are the same.
Jesus then, would seem to be endorsing a form of evidentialism. He is giving proof of his divinity, and as we the readers cannot be present to witness the miracles, we have the written word. Belief in the written word is not enough. An understanding must be present. For anything to be held valid, there must be no doubt. The one thing that cannot be doubted is one's own being. From where would one doubt one's own being? From where would one say, I am not? So, to have no doubt, one has to be that which is looked at, or oriented towards. The proof of anything and God must come from the be-ing. This be-ing not only proves, but dispels any pseudo-knowledge one might have held to be valid.
Thus, understanding requires something of us. My understanding required something of me. What I write requires something of the reader. If I write in a manner that would be accepted without being and requires nothing of the reader, then it would not be understanding. What is required? Being. Expression=Being. It is important to ask questions. It is also important to be cognizant of where the answer comes from. If it comes from a mental framework that we already have or from memory, then we are trespassing on dangerous ground because it is disconnected with what is. Our mental framework may or may not reflect what is. So, if we want to see what is, then we must be. If your answer to the "question" is not your being, then you do not see what is.
Ethics, or the study of right and wrong action is implicitly covered in John, chapter five. The idea of justice or seeing with wholeness implies an action that one must take in order to have just judgment. If one does not see right action, then one does not see wholeness. The absence of wholeness is wrong action and an absence of justice. If one does not see right action, then justice is not present as justice by definition in itself must be right action.The issue is thus: the comprehension of what the right action is without reducing ourselves to relativism or the idea that everything is equal and no judgment can be made on certain actions. When the condition of "just judgment" is present, this issue loses its strength as the presence of God and seeing wholeness dissolves the dilemma. It is impossible to commit wrong action when one is wedded to Christ, or when one's will and the will of the father are the same. The act of creation, once thought to be the domain of God himself, becomes the domain of the self, however the self is not the self and becomes something other than the self. The idea of me doing something to someone else is absurd. Understanding requires something of us, and that something is creation. How can we be indecisive when we create what is?
The ethical condemnation from the Jews comes from the act of theorizing or not seeing what is. The scriptures that had been passed down from antiquity were rendered invalid because they were subjected to a pre-existent thought structure. The writings, such as those written by Moses, were logically dissected and related to the pre-existent thought structure. The manner in which the texts were acted upon was not what was required by those texts. What is exceedingly disturbing is the notion that the thought structure by which everything is subjected to had nothing in common with what is. Salvation from this delusional reality or damnation is the promise that Jesus makes. Salvation is possible through the miracles as presented in the text in question, John chapter 5.
The act of expression is often accompanied by a sensation of hermeneutic legitimization. While this should not be held as an objective metric by which to attempt a classification, it can serve as a heuristic or guidepost so as to guide the acts of interpreter. While a distinction such as the sensation of hermeneutic legitimization may be helpful, the distinction should be disregarded if ever it becomes an impediment to interpretation.
The act of disregarding or critical thought is implicit in interpretation, but one must have a concern so as to not disregard the material of permanent terminology. The act of understanding simultaneously aligns with dogmas while deconstructing underlying misrepresentations. The transcendental signifier is an example of this, as the material of permanent terminology becomes explicit. Explicitness of metaphor becomes distinct through the act of expression whereby the revealing of the material of permanent terminology is accompanied by a sensation of hermeneutic legitimization.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Interpretation of John Chapter 5
Interpretation of John Chapter 5