Sunday, October 02, 2005

What becomes a legend most?

Dr. White doesn’t need any help defending his own position, but I had to laugh at one pseudo-Reformed quasi-Catholic’s claim that Jeremiah 31:34 was quoted in John 6:45


Dr. Owen doesn’t need any help defending his own position, but I had to laugh at one Baptist scholar’s claim that Jeremiah 31:34 was not alluded to or quoted in John 6:45–I believe his exact words were:

…there is barely a verbal parallel to Jeremiah 31:34 (which Owen presented in his first article without even noting that this is a far stretch), but the connection to Isaiah is clear.

The problem for such an opinion is the fact that both the New American Standard Bible and the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland text to the Greek New Testament list Jeremiah 31:34 in their cross references to John 6:45. Leon Morris cites the reference to Jeremiah 31:34 as a possible alternative to Isaiah 54:13 in his commentary on John 6:45 and even suggests that both texts may be in mind for John in this passage (Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John, Revised. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1995, pg. 329, note 118).

One can call it “barely a verbal parallel” or a “far stretch” if you like, but the fact remains that Dr. Owen did not make up the parallel out of thin air as it seems our good Baptist doctor would have us believe nor is there any reason to believe that such an allusion by John is somehow suspect.

It seems here at least in this case that entire committees of international scholars agree with Dr. Owen. If I remember correctly, at one time our Baptist scholar was on the translation committee that produced the New American Standard Bible. How odd to find him in disagreement with what we find in the cross references of the New American Standard Bible translation.


Kevin Johnson is trying to create a legend. Legends are created by the cumulative impact of subtle distortions and half-truths if they are allowed to pile up unchecked.

i)”Quotation” and “allusion” are not synonymous.

ii) This is what the following commentators on John say:

“The quotation comes from Isa 54:13,” F. F. Bruce.

“Jesus next directs the assembly’s attention to a second Scriptural text (v.45a)—Isaiah 54:13,” C. Blomberg.

“Although not cited verbatim, the reference is apparently to the statement in Is. 54:13,” H. Ridderbos.

“This is a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:13,” D. A. Carson.

“A paraphrase of Isa 54:13; cf. Jer 31:34,” Kostenberger.

“The Isaiah passages seems the more likely source,” L. Morris.

“Kai…theou Is 54:13 (1 Thes 4:9),” The Greek New Testament, 4th rev. ed., B. Aland, K. Aland, J. Karavidopoulos, C. Martini, & B. Metzger, eds.

“From Isa 54:12f. John gives a sufficiently exact paraphrase and is probably dependent on the LXX: he does not use didaktos elsewhere. For the thought cf. Also Jer 31:33f; this is particularly interesting in view of the use of helkein just before (31:3, see on v44), but it would be unwise to lay much stress on this coincidence,” C. K. Barrett.

“Jesus claims the fulfillment of the promise that God’s people in the time of restoration would learn from God (Is 54:13; cf. 1 Thes 4:9). Like some rabbis John may blend the Greek and Hebrew texts, but a free quotation from the LXX is also possible; the Father’s witness should therefore be sufficient to bring those who are truly the remnant of God’s people to Jesus (Jn 6:45). Like other midrashic interpreters, Jesus is explaining the text from the Torah proper in light of a text from the prophets; indeed, allusions to the larger context of Isa 54-55 seem to be presupposed in the rest of the discourse,” C. Keener.

iii) Notice that not one authority has John quoting Jer 31:34. Barrett notes a conceptual parallel with Jer 31, but regards the verbal link as coincidental.

Kostenberger says it’s a paraphrase of Isa 54, and only mentions Jer 31 for purposes of comparison.

Note that both Keener and The Greek New Testament give 1 Thes 4:9 as a cross-reference. By Kevin’s logic, Jesus is quoting St. Paul!

Keener regards the Isaian background as pervasive.

iv) Remember that Dr. Owen built his specific case on the specific content of Jer 31:33-34.


1. Who is meant by “all that the Father gives me”? Does this only refer to the elect who are predestined to glory? Or might it include them, as well as a larger circle? It would seem that it would include a larger circle, for it includes all those who “come” to Christ. We are told in verse 45 who these people are who come to Christ: “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father.” That would appear to include the entire Church, all those who enter into the covenant. This is confirmed by John’s citation of Jeremiah 31:34 in this same verse: “They shall all be taught of God.” The word “all” in its context in Jeremiah clearly refers to everyone in the covenant. It is equivalent to “the house of Israel” in 31:33, and includes “the least of them to the greatest” (v. 34). This is simply a figure of speech for the entire nation, the people of God, the Church as a whole.


Johnson should have stopped writing after his initial sentence. Dr. Owen is, indeed, better off without muddy-handed little helpers like Johnson.


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