Greek Court Ordering in John

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Charles Wilson
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Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:23 pm

Quick Note:

John 15: 14 - 17 (RSV)

[14] You are my friends if you do what I command you.
[15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
[17] This I command you, to love one another.

Ordering of the Greek Court:

1. Friends
2. Honored Friends
3. Guards of the Body
4. Kinsman

See Also: "The Banquet" where you take your place at the lower end of the table with your "Friends" and you wait for the Banquet Master to move you up to a higher Social Position where you will be "Honored" by your "Friends".

This also references Herod, who ordered his Court on the Greek Model, probably learned through Nicholas of Damascus.:

Josephus, War..., 1, 23, 5:

"Now do you keep those in their places whom Caesar hath joined, and their father hath appointed; and do not you pay undue or unequal respects to them, but to every one according to the prerogative of their births; for he that pays such respects unduly, will thereby not make him that is honored beyond what his age requires so joyful, as he will make him that is dishonored sorrowful. As for the kindred and friends that are to converse with them, I will appoint them to each of them, and will so constitute them, that they may be securities for their concord; as well knowing that the ill tempers of those with whom they converse will produce quarrels and contentions among them; but that if these with whom they converse be of good tempers, they will preserve their natural affections for one another. But still I desire that not these only, but all the captains of my army, have for the present their hopes placed on me alone; for I do not give away my kingdom to these my sons, but give them royal honors only..."

So to John15...

CW

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Baley
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Baley » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:52 am

Interesting. I remember a post on Vridar by Neil Godfrey on "The Pentateuch’s Debt to Greek Laws and Constitutions", something I had never considered. Do you know of any internet resources where I might read up on Greek court ordering?

Charles Wilson
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:30 am

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2199&p=109887&hilit ... of#p109887

A H M Jones, The Herods of Judaea:

"As he replaced the sacerdotal Sanhedrin by a secular council, so Herod built up to replace the old hereditary aristocracy a new aristocracy of service whose members should owe their rank and their wealth to him and to him alone. They were graded according to regular Hellenistic practice in progressive ranks of dignity, "the friends" being the lowest, then "the most honoured friends", then "the guards of the body", and finally "the kinsmen"; the last title, it may be noted, was like others purely honorific and implied no real relationship..."

Josephus, Antiquities..., 15, 9, 3:

"About this time it was that he sent five hundred chosen men out of the guards of his body as auxiliaries to Caesar, whom Aelius Gallus led to the Red Sea, and who were of great service to him there..."

Luke 14: 7 - 10 (RSV):

[7] Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,
[8] "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him;
[9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.
[10] But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

"But wait! There's more!" (If I can find it...)

CW
Last edited by Charles Wilson on Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:41 pm

From the ever politicized Wiki-P:
"Philoi
***
"Macedonia
In ancient Macedonia, philoi was a title to the royal friends, advisors of the king (basileus). They were the personal choice of the king and they might have come from anywhere in the Greek world. The title became common among the Hellenistic kingdoms. In the Seleucid Empire a number of ranks can be traced; Protoi Philoi, First Friends and Timomenoi Philoi, Honoured Friends organized in various orders. In inscriptions the phrase the King, his Friends and the army signifies their important role."

So, in terms of low hanging fruit, we have Friends and Honored Friends. Josephus is quoted above with "...Guards of his body..." and various "Kinsmen".

There are several books on Amazon, each with a breathtaking price tag.
The question remains: How much of this is inserted into the Greekie NT and how much is Rear-Guard action from the Country Peasants ("outhouse?...Anyone seen outhouse?")?

Does this take us a step closer to seeing that, If "Jesus" is asserting allegiance to the Greek Court Model, then the NT is in fact a Greek/Roman Document written to force this Type of Rule on Judea over and above the Rule of the King and Priesthood?

CW

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Baley
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Baley » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:44 am

Your references indicate that Greek court order was an institution for the elite in Hellenized countries, something I didn't know about. But is Jesus in Luke 14 talking about the same thing? I've seen places of honour at marriages, formal dinners and other events in different countries. As head of the family, my father used to sit at the head of our dinner table. I'm sure they didn't all adhere to Hellenistic court rules, despite the similarities.

Or would you argue that the marriage of the parable is not really a marriage but a stand-in for a greater ceremony in which the Priest-King plays the central part? I think that would be a stretch but the analogy with Hellenistic rulers and their court system would be more apparent.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:52 am

Thanx.

My position, not at all agreeable to the Majority Opinion on this Site, is that the NT illustrates the advantage of theft over honest toil. Faced with manufacturing a New Religion out of whole cloth or taking what was already there and rearranging it into a story for the Glory of Rome and the Flavians, the Romans chose to rearrange a Story probably found in the rubble of Jerusalem. It might have been authored by Nicholas of Damascus with help from Zakkai and others. Mucianus had something to do with the deification of Titus, one of the central points found in the NT.

There are Herod stories scattered all over the NT. The War between Herod and the Hasmoneans figures in, as does Jannaeus and Salome.

The "Banquet" is not the story of a "Real Marriage". It is a typical rewrite of a story found in Josephus. It gives evidence of the Hellenistic Court Ordering. "What is God's Form of Government?"

The Hellenistic Top-Down Ordering!!! Replace the King and Mishmarot High Priest Organization with the Greek Ideal!

1. [14] You are my friends if you do what I command you.

"Now do you keep those in their places whom Caesar hath joined, and their father hath appointed..."

2. [15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

"but to every one according to the prerogative of their births; for he that pays such respects unduly, will thereby not make him that is honored beyond what his age requires so joyful..."

3.[16] You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

"As for the kindred and friends that are to converse with them, I will appoint them to each of them, and will so constitute them, that they may be securities for their concord..."

4. [17] This I command you, to love one another.

"...they will preserve their natural affections for one another..."
***
I call this "Match 'em Up" and sometimes it works nicely.

If you want to see a different Construction of the NT, you could do a lot worse than look at Josephus and see what stories were changed.

CW
Last edited by Charles Wilson on Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:45 pm

There is something strange in the John 15: 15 Passage:

[15] No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

"...but to every one according to the prerogative of their births; for he that pays such respects unduly, will thereby not make him that is honored beyond what his age requires so joyful..."

The use of the word "Friends", a clue that this is indeed about the Greek Court Ordering, is in the John verse. It is not in the Josephus Passage which means that the rewrite into NT Form came from someone who knew the upcoming intended purpose of the NT Passage. It would seem more proper to have the Josephus sentence with the "Friends..." clue.

The NT was written by people who knew the purpose and method of the NT Construction.

CW

Stuart
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Stuart » Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:21 pm

This is one of my most favorite passages of all, John 15:11-17. The idea that Jesus is my friend, the God who relates to me as an equal being, or at least relates to me on equal terms, not as a mere servant or slave (i.e., Muslim), always has had great appeal to me conceptually since my youth. But I digress.

Interesting possible parallel you point out -- it could be the societal context that it was drawn from. Like a modern preachers sermon, this could simply mean the writer drew from local experience in Greek culture for example. But the you stretch it beyond what can reasonably be inferred; that the NT has an unusual concentration of subject matter in Greece and Asia Minor (Turkey today). To me this is merely another hint that this could be the locale where much of the NT was written, especially the Johannine and Pauline literature.

I think the actual answer to the lave and friend motif is more easily localized within Christian sectarian debates. The concept is the difference between a slave and free, which is how the Johannine sect contrasts itself to the Petrine sect (Jews as stand ins) as we see in John 8:31-35ff. The difference between fearing God and the love of God. The two concepts had not yet fused together when the gospel of John was first written, they were still defining points of differentiation between sects. The "Jewish" or Petrine Christians defined themselves as servants or slaves to Christ and to God. We see this reflected in the opening verse of the Catholic version of Paul (Romans 1:1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ) and in the calls for obedience. But we see an opposite suggestion in Galatians, especially clear in the Marcionite version of Galatians 4:22-31 and most clearly in 5:1ff. The context of a friend is somebody who is not a servant or slave of Christ but one who is free. In contrast the Petrine/Jewish Christians emphasized obedience and fear of God. Colossians 3:22 perhaps the best example of the call of slaves to be obedient to Christ and fear God.

In both the Abraham reference in Galatians and the one in John 8:35 the slave doe snot inherit. This is not just a theological point, but a political one, claiming to deny kinship with Christ to the God fearers -- those who ultimately won the political battle.

You don't need to look outside of Christian sectarian conflict to explain this.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

Charles Wilson
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Charles Wilson » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:49 pm

Stuart wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:21 pm
Interesting possible parallel you point out -- it could be the societal context that it was drawn from. Like a modern preachers sermon, this could simply mean the writer drew from local experience in Greek culture for example.
Thank you, Stewart.
You know that we argue from different Platforms - I look at Herod's times, you from Second Century Dynamics. Perhaps we could still find an area of agreement.
But the you stretch it beyond what can reasonably be inferred; that the NT has an unusual concentration of subject matter in Greece and Asia Minor (Turkey today). To me this is merely another hint that this could be the locale where much of the NT was written, especially the Johannine and Pauline literature.
Check for agreements here, T or F:
1. The Josephan Passage cited is correct: A H M Jones is quoting from the opaque verbiage (and maybe other places) of Josephus. However, the general thrust is correct. Herod Re-Ordered his Court along Hellenistic Lines of Friends, Honored Friends, Guards of the Body, Kinsmen.

2. If so, does the Section in John reflect this Josephan Passage? That is, did the writers of John place the Herodian Court Story into the mouth of Jesus to show - what? - that Jesus' government is a Top-Down government along Hellenistic Lines? To rewrite known Herodian Actions against the backdrop of the Culture Wars between Jerusalem and the Judean (and Galilean!) Believers who are in League with the Priesthood? What?

Whaddr'ya' t'ink?
I think the actual answer to the lave and friend motif is more easily localized within Christian sectarian debates.
Disagreement here, depending on the Cultural vs. the Political. The Hellenistic Court Ordering is reflected in the Roman Court and the end result is to be the acceptance of Rome. That's one reason I feel sure that this story is Herodian. Herod is Rome's stooge. He is to be supported until the Absorption of Judea is complete.

Side Story: The EPA orders the Birmingham, Al government to fix the Sewer System at a cost of $Billions$. The Financial People know that the B'ham Council is easily bribeable. For beads and trinkets in bribes, billions are diverted. The financial people know that the Council will be indicted and in a few short years and they'll be gone. The money, however, has already been siphoned off:

"Better to be Herod's pig than Herod's son."
"Store up your treasure in heaven..." That is, Rome. Same game as the Birmingham sewer scandal. Same result.
The concept is the difference between a slave and free, which is how the Johannine sect contrasts itself to the Petrine sect (Jews as stand ins) as we see in John 8:31-35ff. The difference between fearing God and the love of God. The two concepts had not yet fused together when the gospel of John was first written, they were still defining points of differentiation between sects. The "Jewish" or Petrine Christians defined themselves as servants or slaves to Christ and to God.
Yes! The emphasis, however, is from a possible Real Story in John to a Transvalued story later!
"You must be Born Again"
The Real Story (Well...as I see it...) is from ancient Sumer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ama-gi

Nicodemus is a Ruler of the Jews and he does not understand a Semitic Idiom! The "Jesus Character" is telling (a probably Roman) character that he should renounce the Romans and Herodians (Non-Transvalued!) and "Free Yourself"!

I need to comment on your analysis of the Pauline material but, in lieu of quoting the entirety of Ch. 8, which would be a good thing to look at, I add this with a Note [Continuing and extending your reference to John 8: 35]:

John 8: 39 - 44 (RSV):

[39] They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did,
[40] but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did.
[41] You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
[42] Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
[43] Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.
[44] You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Others may see this as a Unified Whole. I do not. I see Layers and that's before I look at Teeple to see how he frames it.
John 8: 39 - 40: This is an argument turned inside-out, turning an argument against the Roman Cultural Agenda into an argument against "the Jews" (as seen from one of John's authors...)

!!!!!!!!!!
[41] You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."

This isn't simply a Transvalued verse. It is TRANSPLANTED! "We were not born of fornication..."

This is a statement about NERO!!! "For God so loved the world..." that he gave Britannicus. Titus shared some of the poisoned dinner of Britannicus and ALMOST died. He did not perish and became Emperor - "Eternal Life".
"The Jews" could never call a Nero "Father", any more than they could place a statue of Caligula in the Temple.

Read verse 44 as describing Nero's bio-father:

[44] You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
!!!!!!!!!!

See also: "What shall I do to obtain Eternal Life?..." This is Archelaus falling at the feet of Caesar and the answer is dripping with cynicism and hatred. The story of Rulers obtaining "Eternal Life" is a thinly papered-over story and it is all over the NT.

There may be some Un-Transvalued material left over that rolls into your second century domain, Stuart. There is no doubt that the ink wasn't dry at the end of the second century.

I don't believe that it may be reduced completely to your insights or mine. I still think, however, that the John 15 material goes back to the Josephan - and probably Nicholas of Damascus - Material.

Thank you very much for your comments.

CW

Stuart
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Re: Greek Court Ordering in John

Post by Stuart » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:02 pm

I do agree that the NT source includes Josephus, but not at all for the reasons you think.

There was no deliberate plot in their usage, but rather that the writers of the NT --and I mean specifically the Gospels and Acts, which are after the letters for the most part-- had essentially zero knowledge of the Palestinian region. And equally they had no real information about the actual founders and their lives. So they drew names and places from these sources to fill in the blanks. And filing in the blanks and placing the leaders origins in Palestine was critical, since they drew their authority from a figure and a religion (Judaism) based there.

In truth the founders were largely anonymous, and I suggest not even Jewish ethnic, but disciples of earlier Jewish ascetics who had founded monastic like communities in the Greek speaking regions of the Mediterranean.

There is no logic in Flavian Rome creating a replacement religion. And even if so, why for the Jews? Why not a more dangerous foe such as the Germanic tribes? Further there is no record of such an undertaking. And why bother/ Sheer force crushed the Jews, raised Jerusalem to the ground, took away plunder and slaves, and placed a compliant governance in place of the rebels. Rebellions were common, occurring periodically all over the empire from captive peoples. The sale of slaves and plunder from crushed rebellions was a significant contributor to Rome's prosperity. The economics were not those we think of today for wealth generation.

Views of conspiracy or even those in which Christianity's principles were important personages (often disguised) are the result of inflated self importance. But these are far from the truth. Christianity's beginnings are the result of some offshoot in the sticks, far from the two places (Palestine and Rome) where it would have been shot down before it started, much like Joseph Smith in the nowhere of upstate New York created Mormonism. The founders of Christianity were similarly "nobodies." There is no need for any conspiracy, no need for close Palestinian connection, no need for important people of the day to be involved in some skunk works religious start up project.

We read important people into Acts from Josephus, not because they were, but because the writers of Acts and the Gospels borrowed characters from Josephus. It's literary fiction.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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