Thursday, November 28, 2013

John 1:14 and Temple Theology: Why the Resistance?

Lately, I've been asking myself why I'm so resistant to seeing temple theology in John 1:14. The claimed allusion is a viable possibility to me--but it's more of an inference (IMO) than a result of solid exegesis. Alford (et al) presents a strong historico-exegetical case for making a connection between 1:14 and the shekinah presence of YHWH. However, to jump from there to the idea that Christ is YHWH appears to be rather hasty or premature. There are also lines of evidence that suggest one should not think the Shekinah presence of God is at play in 1:14 of the Fourth Gospel.

A.T. Robertson certainly sees an allusion to the Shekinah in John 1:14:

"First aorist ingressive aorist active indicative of SKHNOW, old verb, to pitch one's tent or tabernacle (SKHNOS or SKHNH), in N.T. only here and [Revelation] 12:12; 13:6; 21:3. In Revelation it is used of God tabernacling with men and here of the Logos tabernacling, God's Shekinah glory here among us in the person of his Son."

And there are plenty of other recent studies affirming the same idea. On the other hand, Benny Thettayil refers to a number of studies that might refute the common interpretation of John 1:14. See his work In Spirit and Truth: An Exegetical Study of John 4:19-26 and a Theological Investigation of the Replacement Theme in the Fourth Gospel, pages 369ff. He evidently accepts the common understanding of the text but does review evidence to the contrary.

Temple theology could be present in 1:14. I just believe the evidence (at this time) cuts both ways.

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