Strome lewende water : 'n interpretasie van Johannes 7:37-39 met verwysing na die huttefees, vir die konteks van wit Suid-Afrikaners in die 21e eeu

Vavruch, Shani Elsje (2006-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Ancient Studies. Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


This thesis explores the invitation and promise extended by Jesus in John 7:37-39 from the Jewish perspective against the background of the water libation ceremony that takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles, with the aim of offering an enriched interpretation of the text for Christian believers. Traditionally the words of Jesus in verses 37 and 38 are interpreted according to verse 39 as a reference to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit after Jesus has been glorified. Such an interpretation does not take into account the Jewish background against which the text is set. The work gives a broad overview of the unique contents and message of the Gospel of John. The genre of the gospel is discussed, the author and the origin of the work are considered, as are the world of the author and the first readers, the composition of the text, the language and language usage and the purpose of the work. A consideration of the interpretations of John 7:37-39 given by other commentators is offered in detail. Questions resulting from the text are discussed, such as which day is meant by the phrase “the last and greatest day of the feast” in verse 37, and, who is meant to be the source of the living water promised by Jesus in verse 38: Jesus himself or the believer. The historical background of the Feast of Tabernacles is explored. The institution of the feast as a harvest festival as well as the connection of the feast with the exodus from Egypt and the re-institution of the Law after the Exile are considered. The elements of the feast as expressed in the text of the Old Testament are discussed and references to the feast in the texts of the Old and New Testaments are supplied. The symbolism of water in the Old and New Testament is studied. Water is used as a symbolic expression of God’s power in the creation narrative and in God’s presence in nature. In the Old Testament water is also used as evidence of God’s blessing but when water is withheld it is seen as a symbol of God’s judgement. My own interpretation of John 7:37-39 first considers the text as a narrative against the larger background of the Gospel of John, and second uses a socio-historical perspective of the passage with a consideration of the location of Jesus’ invitation against the backdrop of the events of the feast. The situation of the ‘new’ South Africa after 1994 is described and the general feeling of pessimism amongst white South Africans is explored in the light of reports in the media and letters to newspaper editors. A parallel is drawn with the situation of the Jewish festival goers in John 7:37-39 to suggest that Jesus’ promise can also be applied to white South Africans to generate a positive feeling and a new identity. The conclusion is reached that the new life of blessing as promised by the text should not stop with the receivers but should flow through them to be a blessing to others.

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