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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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Autenticitatea textului scripturistic In 7,1 în comentariul hrisostomic la Evanghelia după Ioan

The Authenticity of John 7,1 in the Chrysostomic Commentary to the Gospel according to John

Autor(i): Răzvan PERŞA


The present study aims to identify the patristic-origin text and incorporate it in the larger frame of biblical critical-textual research, by ascertaining the authenticity of Jn 7,1 in St John Chrysostom’s Commentary to the Gospel according to John through a comparison with other biblical readings. The article reconsiders the impor-tance of arguments put forth by textual criticism regarding Johannine style, discourse and theology as well as the influence of text on image, hermeneutics and arguments brought by St John Chrysostom from the perspective of partitive exegesis. This study proposes answers to several questions. If in his arguments a Holy Father did not employ a biblical text as close as possible to the autograph text, then what type of text did he use and to what extent can this text be deemed altered? Are the versions of a biblical text employed in patristic argumentation the origin of nuances, distinctions or even divergence among patristic commentaries? How much do particular biblical rea-dings bear on the Christological image outlined by the Holy Father in his writings?
To answer these questions, in the first part of the article I discuss the impor-tance of inter-sentence conjunctions, their use in the Gospels and particularly the fourth Gospel, in order to demonstrate their peculiarity and relevance in revealing stylistic differences; this argument is then used in internal textual criticism. With a view to proving the authenticity of scriptural text I resort to arguments provided by external criticism, as well as others taken from oldest Greek manuscripts of the Holy Scripture, from versions of the biblical text translated into vernaculars in early centu-ries and from the patristic evidence of accurate biblical quotations, corroborated with internal criticism evidence.
After relating verse 1 to the narative structure of the entire fragment and underscoring its importance in the narrative architecture of the thematic unit of chapters 7 and 8, I identify the first problem of textual criticism in the existence of two distinct readings «μετὰ ταῦτα» and «καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα», in an attempt to demon-strate the relevance of external and internal textual criticism. From the standpoint of external criticism, the above-mentioned readings must be deemed lectior difficilior, because important sources support both readings. Based on the evidence provided by external criticism, as well as the sources provided by biblical manuscripts, to which is added the evidence provided by thorough examination of inter-sentence conjunctions occurring in the fourth Gospel, corroborating theories already put forth according to which in John’s Gospel the conjunction καὶ has specific uses, different from the synoptic Gospels, I demonstrate that contrary to the text in the last Greek critical edition NA28 of 2012, the version «μετὰ ταῦτα» is much more closer to the Johannine style, discourse and occurence.
The following chapter addresses a much more complex issue of textual criti-cism, of much greater theological interest: the readings indicating Christ’s attitude when Jews attempt to kill Him. Textual criticism identifies two readings, the former: «οὐ γὰρ ἤθελεν» (for «He would not»), and the latter: «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» (for «He could not»). Although the second reading is supported by little evidence from external criticism, it deserves attention because of the theological challenge it poses. I present the arguments of external criticism, then the (almost unanimous) position of experts regarding the authenticity of the reading supported by less evidence. The term ἐξουσία, derived from the verb ἔξεστιν, occurs quite frequently in the Gospel of John; originally it indicated “ability to carry out an action”, and in a Christological sense it denotes absolute power, absolute freedom (a divine attribute designating the unconditional, absolute ability to act freely, an ability peculiar to God and stemming from His divinity). The two readings pose hermeneutical and doctrinal problems: according to the first version, Christ of His own accord decided not to travel through Judaea, although He could do that if He had wanted so; according to the second reading, Jesus could not walk across Judaea, even if He had wanted to. Asserting that Christ had no power or control on his own life contradicts not only the Gospels but also Christianity itself. Yet St John Chrysostom is the only patristic exegete to dedicate almost an entire homily to explaining the term ἐξουσία found in the frag-ment under scrutiny.
In the following chapter I emphasize the importance of biblical quotations in patristic writings and especially those of St John Chrysostom, then I investigate the manuscript Homilies or Commentary to the Gospel of John, analysing both the ma-nuscript groups or families, and the previous discussions produced by textual criticism on this work, and show that to St John Chrysostom the term ἐξουσία is essential, as it is the main term around which the entire commentary on the Johannine fragment is centered; moreover, a considerable part of Homily 48 is dedicated to the exegesis of this term. This reading, however, poses problems related to the Johannine style. From an exegetical perspective, this fragment contradicts the discoursive structure of the Johannine episode, because in the same chapter Jesus is present in Jerusalem, in the Temple, which implicitly shows He has the power to do so. St John Chrysostom transcends the contradiction in narrative structure by placing the problem at a doc-trinal level. In this fragment St John Chrysostom applies to Johannine text the met-hod of partitive exegesis, a method that determines the adherence of a text to the orthodoxia of the first ecumenical council. This method, named the exegesis of dual natures or partitive exegesis, separates or divides the major Christological biblical texts as denoting either Christ’s human acts or His divinity, according to the difficul-ty of the fragment examined. The quality of St John Chrysostom’s argumentation in partitive exegesis lies not in the fact that he regards the actions of Christ at different times as either wholly divine or wholly human, which would raise further problems concerning hypostatic union, but in the fact that the actions «ὡς Θεός» reveal Christ as the divine, intangible Logos while actions «ὡς ἄνθρωπος» reveal divine economy, thus maintaining the hypostatic union whose doctrine was systematized at Chalcedon.
The conclusion drawn from the Chrysostomic approach is that in partitive exe-gesis, a method applied as early as the third century, the phrase «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» does not designate any inability of Christ, but reveals His human nature and divine economy, indicating that the eternal Logos is both man and God. This argumentation places the reading «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» long before the advent of partitive exegesis, which could have explained the theological difficulty and would not have led to any alteration of the text. Therefore this reading must be employed as an argument of Johannine Christology, and is one of the most important Christological phrases in the fourth Gospel.
Any exegetic or hermeneutic approach must have in view authenticity and the possible versions on which a commentary is based, in order to reveal various or even divergent possibile interpretations due to the known readings. The image of Christ as outlined by a patristic commentary is greatly influenced by the source employed; consequently exegesis, as well as patristic and dogmatic research must take textual criticism into account and even use it.

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Pagini: 153-178