Interpretation 1

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  Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002

John 1

    To understand John and Christ, one must follow carefully John's structure and argument. The argument is tightly structured from chapter to chapter. In this work, I am borrowing heavily from from my work on Jesus of Nazareth, but moving from the figure of Jesus to the figure of Christ. In chapter one, the following points are made:

  1. Christ is God in action, creating, revealing, redeeming, the agent of creation, the personal word of God. Jesus is divine light coming into a world primarily existing in darkness; Jesus not only is light in contrast to darkness but is the author of life itself.

  2.  For John, the words "In the beginning" are most likely a conscious allusion to the opening words of Genesis--"In the beginning." Other concepts which occur prominently in Gen 1 are also found in John's prologue: "life" (1:4) "light" (1:4) and "darkness" (1:5). Gen 1 describes the first (physical) creation; John 1describes the new (spiritual) creation. But this is not to play off a false dichotomy between "physical" and "spiritual"; the first creation was both physical and spiritual. The new creation is really a re-creation, of the spiritual (first) but also the physical. (In spite of the common understanding of John's `spiritual' emphasis, the "physical" re-creation should not be overlooked; this occurs in John 2 with the changing of water into wine, in John 11 with the resurrection of Lazarus, and the emphasis of John 20-21 on the aftermath of Jesus' own resurrection.) NET Bible/index.htm

  3. In John clearly, Christ  is Jesus, the Galilean who embodies God’s kingdom and a new Judaism focused upon John the Baptist’s repentance and baptism, but the change demanded is now internal and spiritual; life, light, God himself, indwells within the human being who has recognized and confessed that God’s kingdom is spiritual and not physical; nonetheless, those focused on the kingdom will become enactors of the Word.

  4. Becoming children of God is a spiritual process: God intervenes.  The birth process is not the decision of a husband, not the result of sexual desire, not the will of parents, but an opening of a barren womb (humans existentially incapable of generating spiritual life), the giving of God’s gracious gift of spiritual re-birth. Nicodemus illustrates human inability to reason through to spiritual enlightenment.  The theme, though, is an old one: God creates and sustains life. Remember Eve: “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (4.1).

  5. The struggle between the Old and the New in John, between Jews and Christians, is  a continuing pattern of justice and grace running concurrently through history. The law [and the demand for justice]17 "was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (7).

  6. John serves as precursor to Christianity, as is born out in  the following: 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.'31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."32 And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." Here, note the contrast of two baptisms: one physical, tied to repentance, change of heart, and connected to the older tradition of purification; the other, spiritual, a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  7. John's testimony is that Jesus is  “the Word become flesh,” the Word “taking up residence among us,” grace and truth come from the Father, the one who comes after John but is greater, the eternally existent one, the fullness of God’s gift, the culmination of the law through Moses, Jesus Christ himself God, the one and only dwelling in the presence of God who makes God known. This is the Christ of Christianity. John links Jesus to the Hebrew tradition of Moses and the law, a climactic revealing of God’s just commands at Sinai. Jesus embodies this law tabernacled in the flesh; no clean break exists between the Old and the New, but rather, the New becomes the fulfillment and completion of the Old.  In Jesus, the roles of prophet, priest, and king rest fulfilled in one embodiment. John as the culminating prophet points to Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy and law. John’s testimony is unmitigating: Jesus is the Son of God.

  8. Jesus calling his disciples is a Galilean walking among common humanity, and his disciples recognize him as the fulfillment of the prophesied messiah; that he is not a political messiah in the expected sense will be clear by the end of John.  Two of John’s disciples follow.  Brother finds brother with the proclamation, “We have found the Messiah. In Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, Jesus calls to Philip, “Follow me.” Philip in turn finds Nathanael, telling him “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote. Part of the charisma for those standing before Jesus is the penetrating gaze into the heart and soul of the person, a knowledge of what the person is.

  9. Already present in John is the Christian understanding of the messiah. That Nathanael is an Israelite without guile suggests, as Oxford annotated points out, "No deceit, no qualities of Jacob before he became Israel" (Genesis 27.35; Genesis 32.28).  I find intriguing, too, Nathanael’s question: "46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Jonah, son of Ammitai and reluctant prophet to the Ninevites, comes from Nazareth. Elsewhere in a work on Jonah, I have argued that Jonah pictures the redemptive work of God universally. In that way, the Old Testament frequently creates prototypes of the redemptive work of Jesus in the New Testament.

These points are argued more fully in the following sections.

Eternal, Personal, Divine Agent of Creation

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God;3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of aGod.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'")16 And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.

1.1–18:  The Prologue.    1–2:  The Word (Greek “logos”) of God is more than speech; it is God in action, creating (Genesis 1.3; Psalm 33.6), revealing (Amos 3.7–8), redeeming (Psalm 107.19–20). Jesus is this Word (John 1.14). He was eternal (in the beginning; compare Genesis 1.1); personal (with God); divine (was God). Was, not “became” (contrast John 1.14).   3:  He was sole agent of creation (Genesis 1.1; Proverbs 8.27–30; Colossians 1.16–17; Hebrews 1.2).   4:  Apart from him both physical (Colossians 1.17) and spiritual life would recede into nothingness (John 5.39–40; John 8.12).   5:  Darkness is total evil in conflict with God; it cannot overcome.    (from Oxford Annotated)

Oxford correctly places emphasis on Jesus as God in action, creating, revealing, redeeming, the agent of creation, the personal word of God. Jesus is divine light coming into a world primarily existing in darkness; Jesus not only is light in contrast to darkness but is the author of life itself.

 For John, the words "In the beginning" are most likely a conscious allusion to the opening words of Genesis--"In the beginning." Other concepts which occur prominently in Gen 1 are also found in John's prologue: "life" (1:4) "light" (1:4) and "darkness" (1:5). Gen 1 describes the first (physical) creation; John 1describes the new (spiritual) creation. But this is not to play off a false dichotomy between "physical" and "spiritual"; the first creation was both physical and spiritual. The new creation is really a re-creation, of the spiritual (first) but also the physical. (In spite of the common understanding of John's `spiritual' emphasis, the "physical" re-creation should not be overlooked; this occurs in John 2 with the changing of water into wine, in John 11 with the resurrection of Lazarus, and the emphasis of John 20-21 on the aftermath of Jesus' own resurrection.) NET Bible/index.htm

While John clearly is influenced by Hellenistic thought, Alfred Edersheim correctly points out that John “strikes the pen through Alexandrianism,” and he does this by making God substance.  Importantly, too, John clearly sees a beginning and creation, not the eternal forms of Greek thought.

It is the true Light which shineth, of which the full meridian-blaze lies on the Hellenist and the Hellenic world. There is Alexandrine form of thought not only in the whole conception, but in the Logos, and in His presentation as the Light, the Life, and the Wellspring of the world.   But these forms are filled in the fourth Gospel with quite other substance.  God is not afar off, uncognisable by man, without properties, without name.  He is the Father.

In John clearly, Jesus, the Galilean, embodies God’s kingdom and a new Judaism focused upon John the Baptist’s repentance and baptism, but the change demanded is now internal and spiritual; life, light, God himself, indwells within the human being who has recognized and confessed that God’s kingdom is spiritual and not physical; nonetheless, those focused on the kingdom will become enactors of the Word. They will become agents effecting God’s kingdom, and that effecting will impact and change the physical world. As Edersheim points out, one has to remember that this hope of the kingdom of God is a hope resurrected, that “the root of Jesse” is buried under generations of disappointment—Egyptian, Syrian, Greek and Roman, the Maccabees, the Herodian kingdom, and Pharisaism. Jesus himself must be viewed as the new priest, unlike priests of old, who not only enters into the Holy of Holies but invites all after him to follow.

11      But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John as theologian packs complex truths into minimal words, as the above passage illustrates. All who believe must become children; believing is active faith, as insisted upon by Luke.  The Net Bible Commentary also points to exactly this interpretation:

  1:12) On the use of the pisteuvw + eij" (pisteuw + ei") construction in John: the verb pisteuvw occurs 98 times in John (compared to 11 times in Matthew, 14 times in Mark (including the longer ending), and 9 times in Luke). One of the unsolved mysteries is why the corresponding noun form pivsti" (pistis) is never used at all. Many have held the noun was in use in some pre-Gnostic sects and this rendered it suspect for John. It might also be that for John, faith was an activity, something that men do.

Life--A Johannine Inquiry," ExpTim 64 [1952/53]: 50-52). John uses pisteuvw in 4 major ways: (1) of believing facts, reports, etc., 12 times; (2) of believing people (or the scriptures), 19 times; (3) of believing "in" Christ" (pisteuvw + eij" + acc.), 36 times; (4) used absolutely without any person or object specified, 30 times (the one remaining passage is 2:24, where Jesus refused to "trust" himself to certain individuals). Of these, the most significant is the use of pisteuvw with eij" + accusative. It is not unlike the Pauline ejn Cristw'/ (en Cristw) formula. Some have argued that this points to a Hebrew (more likely Aramaic) original behind the Fourth Gospel. But it probably indicates something else, as C. H. Dodd observed: "pisteuvein with the dative so inevitably connoted simple credence, in the sense of an intellectual judgment, that the moral element of personal trust or reliance inherent in the Hebrew or Aramaic phrase--an element integral to the primitive Christian conception of faith in Christ--needed to be otherwise expressed" (The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 183).

12      Likewise, becoming children of God is a spiritual process: God intervenes.  The birth process is not the decision of a husband, not the result of sexual desire, not the will of parents, but an opening of a barren womb (humans existentially incapable of generating spiritual life), the giving of God’s gracious gift of spiritual re-birth.  This verse already anticipates Nicodemus and human inability to reason through to spiritual enlightenment.  The theme, though, is an old one: God creates and sustains life. Remember Eve: “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (4.1).

Sadly, ironically, the world fails to recognize its own salvation:

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.

One recognizes a familiar pattern:  a covenanted people, a rebellion and turning away in subsequent generations, a steady and sure justice and destiny, and always, a remnant remaining faithful to revelation and grace received. This pattern is clear throughout the Old Testament.  The reader may recall that Jacob’s first love was Rachel but recall, also, he was reminded that the giving of the younger before the first-born was not done; Jacob had to do justice with the first-born Leah before he was to have Rachel.  Again and again, though, the pattern is overturned: Rachel is remembered, and her womb is opened. That the womb is opened signals the intervention of the Divine: this happens for Sarah, for Samuel’s mother, for Elizabeth, and for Mary.  It is through Leah’s son Judah that eventually Jesus and the New Kingdom are to come.  One wonders if, perhaps, the struggle between Jews and Christians is not a continuing pattern of justice and grace running concurrently through history.  Neither race, then, should be smug in thinking its own superiority.

  John links Jesus to Moses and the Law:

17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No."22 They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know,27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."28 This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John deflects attention from himself to Jesus when asked whether he himself is Elijah; the Net Bible unfolds the complexities of the question:

 "I am not the Christ." A 3rd century work, the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions (1.54 and 1.60 in the Latin text; the statement is not as clear in the Syriac version) records that John's followers proclaimed him to be the Messiah. There is no clear evidence that they did so in the 1st century, however--but Luke 3:15 indicates some wondered. Concerning the Christ, the term cristov" (cristos) was originally an adjective ("anointed"), developing in LXX into a substantive ("an anointed one"), then developing still further into a technical generic term ("the anointed one"). In the intertestamental period it developed further into a technical term referring to the hoped-for anointed one, that is, a specific individual. In the NT the development starts there (technical-specific), is so used in the Gospels, and then develops in Paul to mean virtually Jesus' last name. 56tn (1:21) Grk "What then?" (an idiom) 57sn (1:21) According to the 1st century rabbinic interpretation of 2 Kgs 2:11, Elijah was still alive. In Mal 4:5 it is said that Elijah would be the precursor of Messiah. How does one reconcile John the Baptist's denial here ("I am not") with Jesus' statements in Matt 11:14 (see also Mark 9:13 and Matt 17:12) that John the Baptist was Elijah? Some have attempted to remove the difficulty by a reconstruction of the text in the Gospel of John which makes the Baptist say that he was Elijah. However, external support for such emendations is lacking. According to Gregory the Great, John was not Elijah, but exercised toward Jesus the function of Elijah by preparing his way. But this avoids the real difficulty, since in John's Gospel the question of the Jewish authorities to the Baptist concerns precisely his function.

Attention now falls solidly upon Jesus:

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.'31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."32 And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him.33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."

 1.6–8:  John (the Baptist), climaxing the Old Testament prophets, was sent (commissioned by God, Malachi 3.1) to point to Jesus (John 1.19–34).   9:  True light is real, underived light, contrasted not with false light, but with those such as John, who was but a lamp (John 5.35).   11:  His own people, the Jews.  

1.14–17:  God’s glory dwelt (“tabernacled”) in the flesh (human nature) of Jesus, as did his grace (redeeming love) and truth (faithfulness to his promises). These are available to all, exhaustless (grace upon grace), a fulfillment of the law of Moses.   18:  Close to the Father’s heart, complete communion (John 1.1–2). On seeing and knowing God, see John 14.9.   (Oxford Annotated Bible)

John's linking Jesus to the Hebrew tradition of Moses and the law climatically reveals God’s just commands at Sinai. Jesus embodies this law tabernacled in the flesh; no clean break exists between the Old and the New, but rather, the New becomes the fulfillment and completion of the Old.  In Jesus, the roles of prophet, priest, and king rest fulfilled in one embodiment. John as the culminating prophet points to Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy and law. John’s testimony is unmitigating: Jesus is the Son of God.

    In the Old Testament, exclusivity has its role in mission and source as first-born; in the New Testament, inclusivity is the nature and destiny of the second-born:

 Among the outward means by which the religion of Israel was preserved, one of the most important was the centralisation and localisation of its worship in Jerusalem. If to some the ordinances of the Old Testament may in this respect seem narrow and exclusive, it is at least doubtful, whether without such a provision Monotheism itself could have continued as a creed or a worship. In view of the state of the ancient world, and of the tendencies of Israel during the earlier stages of their history, the strictest isolation was necessary in order to preserve the religion of the Old Testament from that mixture with foreign elements which would speedily have proved fatal to its existence. And if one source of that danger had ceased after the seventy years' exile in babylonia, the dispersion of the greater part of the nation among those manners and civilisation would necessarily influence them, rendered the continuance of this separation of as great importance as before. In this respect, even traditionalism had its mission and use, as a hedge around the Law to render its infringement or modification impossible. (Edersheim, Chapter One)

Jesus, Paul, and Christianity introduce a new universalism and new Judaism (some would say, paganism):

 Wherever a Roman, a Greek, or an Asiatic might wander, he could take his gods with him, or find rites kindred to his own. It was far otherwise with the Jew. He had only one Temple, that in Jerusalem; only one God, Him Who had once throned there between the Cherubim, and Who was still King over Zion. That Temple was the only place where a God-appointed, pure priesthood could offer acceptable sacrifices, whether for forgiveness of sin, or for fellowship with God. Here, in the impenetrable gloom of the innermost sanctuary, which the High-Priest alone might enter once a year for most solemn expiation, had stood the Ark, the leader of the people into the Land of Promise, and the footstool on which the Schechinah had rested. From that golden altar rose the cloud in incense, symbol of Israel's accepted prayers; that seven-branched candlestick shed its perpetual light, indicative of the brightness of God's Covenant Presence; on that table, as it were before the face of Jehovah, was laid, week by week,

 'the Bread of the Face,' [1 Such is the literal meaning of what is translated by 'shewbread.'] a constant sacrificial meal which Israel offered unto God, and wherewith God in turn fed His chosen priesthood. On the great blood-sprinkled altar of sacrifice smoked the daily and festive burnt-offerings, brought by all Israel, and for all Israel, wherever scattered; while the vast courts of the Temple were thronged not only by native Palestinians, but literally by 'Jews out of every nation under heaven.' Around this Temple gathered the sacred memories of the past; to it clung the yet brighter hopes of the future. The history of Israel and all their prospects were intertwined with their religion; so that it may be said that without their religion they had no history, and without their history no religion. Thus, history, patriotism, religion, and hope alike pointed to Jerusalem and the Temple as the centre of Israel's unity. (Edersheim, Chapter One)

Still, one recalls a latent universalism  in Old Testament prophets such as Jeremiah, who emphasized the dwelling place of God as being within the human heart.

            John, like Luke, first identifies Jesus as the Word become flesh, fully God and fully human; afterward, in John, emphasis is upon Jesus of Nazareth, but always, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Son of God, the Word become flesh, fully God. That John and those who come to John should be concerned about identity is understandable.  Removed from John’s era, it becomes easy for today’s reader to render singular a complex set of Messianic expectations among the Jews:

54sn (1:19) "Who are you?" No uniform Jewish expectation of a single eschatological figure existed in the 1st century. A majority expected the Messiah. But some pseudepigraphic books describe God's intervention without mentioning the anointed Davidic king; in parts of 1 Enoch, for example, the figure of the Son of Man, not the Messiah, embodies the expectations of the author. Essenes at Qumran seem to have expected three figures: a prophet, a priestly messiah, and a royal messiah. In baptizing, John the Baptist was performing an eschatological action. It also seems to have been part of his proclamation (John 1:23, 26-27). Crowds were beginning to follow him. He was operating in an area not too far from the Essene center on the Dead Sea. No wonder the authorities were curious about who he was. (Net Bible).

John de-emphasizes his own identity and focuses his testimony completely upon answering Jesus' identity::

1:14 Now34 the Word became flesh35 and took up residence36 among us. We37 saw his glory--the glory of the one and only,38 full of grace

and truth, who came from the Father. 1:15 John39 testified40 about him and cried out,41 "This one was the one about whom I said, `He who

comes after me is greater than I am,42 because he existed before me.'" 1:16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after

another.43 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but44 grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 1:18 No one has ever seen

God. The only one,45 himself God, who is in the presence46 of the Father, has made God47 known.48 (Net Bible)

Jesus is “the Word become flesh,” the Word “taking up residence among us,” grace and truth come from the Father, the one who comes after John but is greater, the eternally existent one, the fullness of God’s gift, the culmination of the law through Moses, Jesus Christ himself God, the one and only dwelling in the presence of God who makes God known:

38tn (1:14) Or "of the unique one." Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant., 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham's only son, but was one-of-a-kind

because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (tevkna qeou', tekna qeou), Jesus is God's Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18). Net Bible Notes

Having identified Jesus as God’s unfolding will that all should be saved,  “the next day,” Jesus begins forming an inner circle of disciples who will commit to effecting God’s kingdom.

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"

48 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"50 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these."51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

  Through simple faith, the heavens open and the angels of God are seen ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.  This, of course, fulfills Jacob’s ancient dream in Genesis 28.12. What Jacob saw in vision now becomes reality.  Interestingly, although Nathaniel addresses Jesus as "Son of God," Jesus identifies himself as "Son of Man," a title conveying his humanity and humility. According to the Fourfold Gospel, Jesus calls himself the "Son of Man" eighty times (http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/TheFourfoldGospel/ ).

    Jesus calling his disciples is a Galilean walking among common humanity; two of John’s disciples follow.  Brother finds brother with the proclamation, “We have found the Messiah. In Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, Jesus calls to Philip, “Follow me.” Philip in turn finds Nathanael, telling him “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote. Part of the charisma for those standing before Jesus is the penetrating gaze into the heart and soul of the person, a knowledge of what the person is:

."47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"

48 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"50 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.

Nathanael, an Israelite without guile, suggests, as Oxford annotated points out No deceit, no qualities of Jacob before he became Israel (Genesis 27.35; Genesis 32.28).  I find intriguing, too, Nathanael’s question: "46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Jonah, son of Ammitai and reluctant prophet to the Ninevites, comes from Nazareth. Elsewhere in a work on Jonah, I have argued that Jonah pictures the redemptive work of God universally. In that way, the Old Testament frequently creates prototypes of the redemptive work of Jesus in the New Testament.