Review of: J. B. Jordan, Jesus at Belshazzar's Feast
Biblical Horizons issue No. 82 (Feb. 1996)
Biblical Horizons (www.biblicalhorizons.com) is a website run by a group of Protestant Christians who take a strong apparently fundamentalist or evangelical stance. Their founder and director is James B. Jordan.
Mr. Jordan appears to be a prolific author of books and articles, writing since the early 80's. His books seem very popular with American evangelicals and fundamentalists. Two of his more recent titles are Through New Eyes (2000), and Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One (1999).
This group holds to a form of Biblical Inerrancy called Biblical Absolutism, whereby the Bible is not only obviously inerrant and presumably divinely inspired and providentially preserved, but also that it holds the highest authority, including its chronology and extending even to its interpretation (such as the literal "six-day creation" etc.).
The beliefs of this group are given in more detail here:
Biblical Horizons Mission Statement <-- Click here.
Of interest to us, is Jordan's strong stance on the authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera (John 8:1-11). According to Jordan,
"...modern lower criticism has provided no good reason for removing it [John 8:1-11] ; thus, we should presume it authentic unless we are overwhelmed with strong evidence that it is not."
After making an examination of the verses, applying also his own interpretation and assumptions, Jordan pronounces the verses authentic:
"The story of the woman taken in adultery is thoroughly connected to the Biblical theology both of the Bible as a whole and of John's gospel in particular. It flows seamlessly out of what precedes it in John, and flows seamlessly into what follows it. If this story did not belong in John's gospel, there would be clear discordant notes present. Quite the opposite is the case. The more the pericope is studied, the more obvious it becomes that it is authentic."
So it is important for us to see just how Jordan arrives at this conclusion, and what assumptions went into his analysis. If any of his ideas are erroneous, or impossible to substantiate, then we must also ask if this weakens his argument for authenticity in any significant way.
Secondly, we naturally will want to examine a popular fundamentalist view on the verses for its own sake. There may be several important insights in this setting that would be overlooked by other commentators.
Copyright © 1996 Biblical Horizons
Jesus at Belshazzar's Feast
Being an Explanatory Disquisition on an Aspect of
the Story of the Woman Taken in Adultery
by James B. Jordan
And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger drew on the ground.
( John 8:6).
The story of the woman taken in adultery ( John 7:53-8:11) has been part of the canonical Christian Bible from its earliest times, and modern lower criticism has provided no good reason for removing it; thus, we should presume it authentic unless we are overwhelmed with strong evidence that it is not. 1
The following discussion shows that the story fits perfectly with the theology of John's gospel, which provides strong confirmation of its canonicity. 2
Jesus' Writing on the Ground
The question of why Jesus wrote on the ground is an important aspect of the story. 3
Some have suggested that marking in the dust should be related to the dust drunk by the woman suspected of adultery in Numbers ch. 5, but that will not do, because in this case the woman was already known to be guilty. 4
Others have tried to come up with what Jesus might have actually written, but since the text does not tell us, it cannot be important to know for certain what He wrote. Rather, we have to ask why He wrote (v. 8) or drew (v. 6) on the ground. 5
The clue lies in the statement that He wrote with His finger, which points to the previous two times God so wrote. The Ten Words were written with the finger of God, as was the phrase "mene mene tekel upharsin" at Belshazzar's feast (Ex. 31:18; Dan. 5:5). 6
Connection to Previous Context (John 7)
John 8:2 tells us that Jesus was in the Temple courts when the woman was brought before Him. The day before Jesus had also taught in the Temple ( John 7:14-53). Several aspects of the previous day's discussion lead into John 8.
For one thing, Jesus compared Himself to Moses as lawgiver (7:16-19), and some of those in the multitude recognized Him as the promised Second Moses (7:40). Thus, for Jesus to write with His own finger in the ground (= stone floor) carries forward the theme that He is not only a Second Moses, but Yahweh Incarnate. 7
Also, when the Pharisees considered arresting Jesus at the end of John 7, Nicodemus objected:
"Our law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" (7:51).
This leads directly into the John 8, as an instance of a true judge sitting in judgment. The Pharisees plotted to judge Jesus without Biblical due process, but Jesus used due process to judge them. 8
The Temple Setting
The Temple context is, however, more specific also. Mount Sinai was the archetype of the Tabernacle and Temple complexes. The Law given within the cloud was enshrined in the Holy of Holies, the Tabernacle being a symbolic cloud. The altar in front of the Tabernacle and Temple symbolized the mountain itself, and was anticipated by the altar built at the foot of Mount Sinai. The people gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai were, thus, gathered in the courts of the Tabernacle/Temple.
Recall now that the people committed spiritual adultery with the golden calf while they were gathered in the courts of God's house, at the foot of the Sinai Temple. On that occasion ( Exodus 32), an Inspection of Jealousy was conducted, as the people were forced to drink water in which were mixed the calf and the law of God (compare Numbers 5). On that occasion, then, the people were condemned in the courts of the Temple for committing spiritual adultery. 9
The Pharisees wanted Jesus to condemn the sinful woman in the courts of the Temple, but instead Jesus condemned them for adultery. Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin among you be first to throw a stone at her"; after which they all departed one by one.
We might assume that Jesus was accusing them all of actual sexual infidelity, and that each of them was guilty of it. If any of the men had actually been sexually chaste, he might have cast a stone. This interpretation does not do justice to the passage, however. 10
Temple Court versus Civil Court
Remember that the setting is the Temple. If this had been a civil law court setting, in the "gates of the city," then it would have been conducted as a civil proceeding. In that case, Jesus would have replied, "Man, who made Me a judge over you?" as He did in another case (Lk. 12:14). Jesus would simply have refused to act as a civil judge.
In the Temple, however, Jesus was a teacher and in that sense a judge. But since this was a religious rather than a civil context, Jesus rightly pointed to the fact that only God can pass a true judgment in the Temple, because only God is without sin. Any sin – any sin at all – disqualifies us from passing ultimate judgments, Temple judgments as it were.
Jesus reminded the Pharisees of this, and each of them, one at a time, became aware that he was not sinless and perfect, and therefore unworthy to remain. They all left, but Jesus did not leave! Jesus remained behind, because he was indeed without sin. Jesus was able to pass judgment, and He did so. Jesus is the Man who is entitled to sit in the Temple (8:2).
To sum up this point: John 8:1-11 does not comment on judgments that must be administered by human civil courts. Rather, the locus of the discussion is the ultimate judgments that come from God's Temple. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" does not apply in civil society, but it does apply to the Last Judgment. 11
The Temple Typology in Daniel
The Temple location also points us back to Daniel 5. Belshazzar's feast took place in the Temple. This is clear from both the larger and the immediate contexts. 12
As regards the former, Daniel 1 begins by telling us that the implements of the Temple were taken to Babylon. Just as the Ark was taken to Philistia in 1 Samuel 4-6, and there defeated the Philistines, so the Temple implements make war on Babylon in Daniel 1-5.
In Daniel 1, the youths (implements) emerge victorious over Babylonian foods.
In Daniel 2, the stone cut without hands (altar of God; Ex. 20:25) defeats the apostate statue of humanity.
In Daniel 3, the entire setting is of an outdoor temple, with an obelisk (temple), a fiery furnace (altar), and an orchestra (Levites).
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar is defeated through conversion.
The Golden Lampstand from the Temple
And so we are not surprised when, in the immediate context, Daniel 5:1-5 tells us that the Temple implements were used in Belshazzar's feast, and that the Lampstand was present. This creates a Temple environment, which judges Belshazzar.
Notice that it is God's Lampstand that casts the shadow of the Hand on the wall:
Suddenly the fingers of a man's hand emerged and began writing opposite the Lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the palm of the hand that did the writing.
Now, in the Tabernacle and Temple, the lamps were positioned on the front of the Lampstand (Ex. 25:37), which was designed as a symbolic watcher (almond) tree. The Watcher Lampstand watches over the twelve-loaved Table of Facebread. The configuration represents God and His priests watching over Israel.
In Daniel 5, the thought is that the Watcher Lampstand is watching over Babylon, and has judged it. They have been weighted in the balance and found wanting; their kingdom will be taken from them and given to others (Dan. 5:25-28). 13
'Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin'
In John 8, Jesus' finger writes on the ground in plain view of the Pharisees. Because of their unrighteousness, they are weighed in the balance and found wanting, and their kingdom will be taken from them. Now, in John 8:1-11, the Lampstand is not mentioned, but it is mentioned immediately in verse 12: 14
Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying,
"I am the light of the world."
Notice the "again" and the "therefore," both of which connect this discourse with what precedes.
Jesus' self-presentation as the Lampstand of the world continues without a break until 10:21, to wit:
1. As Lampstand, Jesus judges the wicked but forgives sinners (8:1-11). 15
2. As Lampstand, Jesus is the Light of truth and glory (8:12-59).
3. As Lampstand, Jesus makes the blind to see (ch. 9).
4. As Watcher Lampstand, Jesus is the Good Shepherd (10:1-21).
Jesus' Message on the Ground
Thus, just as the Lampstand cast a hand on the wall in Daniel 5, so Jesus as Lampstand puts His hand on the ground in John 8. If we may hazard a guess as to what Jesus wrote, the most obvious would be:
'mene mene tekel upharsin' 16
As I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, lower criticism (a legitimate Christian enterprise) has not provided good reasons to reject this passage from John 8, even though the Alexandrian-type texts do not have it.
Perhaps, though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The story of the woman taken in adultery is thoroughly connected to the Biblical theology both of the Bible as a whole and of John's gospel in particular. 17
It flows seamlessly out of what precedes it in John, and flows seamlessly into what follows it. 18
If this story did not belong in John's gospel, there would be clear discordant notes present. 19 Quite the opposite is the case. The more the pericope is studied, the more obvious it becomes that it is authentic.
- J. B. Jordan, (1996)
Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:
1. In this Mr. Jordan is certainly correct. The rejection of these verses has been based on 19th century German criticism, which has historically mishandled the textual evidence. Besides being over-skeptical of Christian textual tradition, specific biases in favour of "the oldest" manuscripts misled early critics on a number of fronts. These errors in methodology and result continue to this day.
2. Jordan's apologetic concerns and purpose are openly stated. This makes his commentary here a "textual-critical" one more than an interpretational one. His case now must be examined in detail, both for potential biases, and also possible methodological flaws.
3. This view is in direct contradiction to some other modern commentators, such as Gail O'Day. She rejects any attempt to discover what Jesus wrote, and believes that the writing (v. 8:6,8) is merely and expression of non-engagement or reluctance on Jesus' part to give assent to the accusers' agenda.
However O'Day's analysis is inadequate on a number of fronts. The act of writing was clearly important to the narrator, and has several obvious literary and apologetic functions, such as chiastically framing the important pronouncement of Jesus, and documenting Jesus' literacy (John the Evangelist shows a concern for Jesus' education and credibility for instance in Jn 7:15).
Some commentators may be frustrated at the difficulty in establishing with any certainty what Jesus wrote, but this cannot detract from its prominence and importance to the passage as a whole. It cannot simply be ignored. Jesus' writing on the ground needs adequate discussion, just as does every other feature of this passage.
4. Here Jordan's logic is severely flawed. He makes the common presumption that the woman is guilty of adultery, and specifically of the instance of adultery she is accused of by her captors.
Yet there is no legal or ethical justification for this presumption of guilt. There has been no trial, only a summary statement of an allegation, which has yet to be backed up by credible eyewitnesses.
In fact, Jesus in verse 8:11 seems to treat her as "guilty" of some serious impropriety ("Go, and sin no more."), but the specifics of her crime(s) are not given. Jesus' parting attitude is the only evidence we will be given concerning her.
But at the moment where Jesus writes on the ground, no trial, testimony, or judgement has yet been made. The reader's presumption of guilt based upon later statements cannot be active or relevant to the interpretation of Jesus' writing at this critical point in the story.
Certainly, one aspect of meaning is what the reader is expected or intended to understand at the first reading of the story. Jordan wants to rule out a reference to Numbers 5, because he prefers connecting Jesus' writing to Daniel's hand of God writing on the wall.
But there is no justification here for ruling out a priori an alternate connection that may be intended. It is equally possible that the author (John the Evangelist) intends the reader to make the connection to both passages (Numbers & Daniel) simultaneously.
5. Jordan's truism shouldn't be confused with a denial of the necessity or refusal to seek out what Jesus actually wrote.
We can agree that since we obviously cannot know for certain what Jesus wrote, it cannot be important to know for certain. But it does not then follow that we should not seek probable solutions.
There may be multiple reasons for the text failing to provide the content of Jesus' writing. Here are a few:
(1) John has likely used an eyewitness account, probably that of the woman herself, or someone present that day, such as a disciple. (a) At an estimated 5% literacy rate for Palestine in Jesus' day, it is quite plausible that the eyewitness was illiterate, and could not read what Jesus wrote. (b) It may also be possible that what Jesus wrote was only intended for those accusers standing right over Him. (c) The eyewitness may simply have not been in a position to view the writing.
(2) It may have been Jesus' (or John's) intent to reveal the message to only some parties. He may have intended the message to be transmitted orally to an inner circle of disciples (see for instance Mark 4:10-12 etc. for precedents).
(3) It may be a literary device. (a) It may either be part of the 'form' of the passage, with the two writings acting as 'brackets' around Jesus' important saying, or (b) it may function as a narrative or plot aid, explaining the motivation and attitudes of the characters.
(4) It may be a teaching-device. John's Gospel is a sophisticated literary work, using drama, foreshadow, irony, double-meaning, climactic structure, and many other devices. John often leaves critically important questions "blank", forcing the reader to do the work in making the connection, or drawing the conclusion. It would be perfectly typical if John was here being deliberately oblique.
In each of these cases, it still makes perfect sense to seek plausible solutions for what Jesus may have wrote or what John may have intended us to think He wrote.
This kind of conjectural research falls squarely under normal Christian exegesis.
6. An awful lot seems to hang upon a convincing connection to Daniel, and in particular the famous "writing on the wall" by the hand of God.
This connection is initially made via a single short phrase in the text: "But Jesus bent down and wrote with the finger (Greek: τω δακτυλω ) on the ground." (Jn 8:6b). (The expression also occurs in some MSS in verse 8:8, but the support is weak: von Soden's Ia group.)
It should be understood that the Jesus' writing on the ground is not in dispute textually as part of the verses: But the phrase of critical importance to Jordan IS in dispute in verse 8:8.
Without the phrase appearing at least once in the passage, the connection to Daniel's vision of a hand with FINGERS writing on the wall becomes much weaker.
Then the differences between Daniel and John 8:1-11 become more significant, perhaps more significant than any surface similarities.
The other place that Jordan mentions, the writing by God directly upon the Tablets of Moses, is even less easily linked to our text.
The original story in Exodus (Exod. 20:1-24:7) does not mention God actually writing, but rather God speaking the instructions, with Moses writing them down (Exod. 20:1, 24:4).
Jordan is referring to the later version found in Exodus 32:15-19, 34:1-28, and recounted in Deuteronomy 9:8-10:5.
In particular, this story differs in some details from that presented in Deuteronomy (For instance, Moses himself writes on the 2nd set of tablets: Exod. 34:27-28. Compare this with Deut. 10:1-4!).
Although God Himself writes on the 1st set of tablets (both versions) in OT both books, The actual expression "finger of God" is only found in the Deuteronomy text (Deut. 9:10).
The Daniel text does not explicitly mention the "finger of God", but rather the "fingers of a man's hand", and the Babylonian king Belshazzar saw "the part of the hand that wrote". (Dan. 5:5). In fact, the hand was not "God's personal hand", but rather a part of a man's hand "sent from God" (Dan. 5:24).
Thus the "connection" at the O.T. end is as fuzzy as the "connection" at the Jn 8:6,8 end of things. The connection to Daniel is not the "finger of God" exactly, but rather simply "the finger".
7. As we noted in the previous footnote, Daniel doesn't say God wrote with His own finger, but rather with the fingers of part of a man's hand (Dan. 5:5), and the fingers were rather "sent by God" (Dan. 5:24).
Even if it were the case that God wrote with His own hand, (it would apply better to the Ten Commandments instance, see Deut. 9:10) the simple act of writing by Jesus on the ground can hardly by itself "carry forward the theme that He (Jesus) is Yahweh."
Jordan fails to develop this claim convincingly. Its not enough to point to Jesus writing on the ground, apparently ignoring a group of legalists pestering Him, and say that this is "evidence that Jesus is God Incarnate". Whether or not Jesus is God Incarnate, Jordan will have to do a lot better than this, to convince others that this passage is legitimate support for this particular Christian doctrine.
This appears to be another typical case of "preaching to the choir". Ordinary Christians may nod their head in agreement with Jordan, but honest inquirers are going to think both Jordan and his supporters are "seeing elephants in clouds" here. It often happens in Christian apologetics that defenders of the faith fail to even convincingly expound the faith using Holy Scripture, let alone "defend the faith" to fair-minded agnostics or God seeking students.
8. "The Pharisees plotted to judge Jesus without Biblical due process, but Jesus used due process to judge them."
This is a grand theme, deserving a cogent defence and bolstered by a full arsenal of evidence. Unfortunately, Jordan does nothing to develop this theme, particularly the specific claim concerning Jesus using "due process".
Here of all places the circumstance demands a full and proper treatment of the Torah, and the pressing legal questions swirling around this incident.
9. This is an incredible and exciting claim - that literally, or even typologically a "Test for Adultery" under The Jealousy Law of Numbers 5 was actually conducted in the time of Moses for the whole people, over the Calf Incident.
The Jealousy Law referred to (Numbers 5), was however only normally enacted in the case of jealous and suspicious husband, who had no witnesses at all to an alleged adultery committed by his wife.
Under this law, the husband presented the accused wife to the (high) priest in the temple, to undergo an 'ordeal', a ritual test probably designed to frighten the woman into a confession, or else poison her.
The Jealousy Law is not really a proper match to the situation of the Golden Calf, where there were plenty of witnesses, and no real dispute concerning what had basically transpired.
Also, there the main crime was Idolatry. Although later prophets allegorized and typologized Idolatry as a kind of "adultery", personifying Israel as a harlot etc. and Yahweh as her 'husband', this remains firmly in the realm of metaphor. Many aspects of the Yahweh/Israel relationship do NOT correspond to the husband/wife case (e.g., Jeremiah 3:1 !) either spiritually or LEGALLY.
The actual date of the enactment of this law is unknown, but it may be prior to the 1st Temple Period, since it mentions (only) the Tabernacle (Heb. משכן "Mishkan"), and the priest ('cohen') 12 times. This means the law would not have existed, at least in the form it now has, until just after the time of Moses (the pre-temple period).
Chronologically however, the Calf Incident was understood to have occurred before this section of Numbers was even written.
Perhaps most fatal of all to Jordan's thesis here concerning the Calf Incident is the fact that Moses immediately orders the Levites to attack the crowd with swords, and 3,000 Israelites are slain in one day (Exod. 32:26-29)
This is done without any trial, any testimony of witnesses, or even an inquiry, and certainly without anything resembling a "Guilt Ritual" or some enactment of the "Jealousy Law"...
10. Jordan boldly asserts that Jesus condemned the woman's accusers of adultery. He is certainly right that Jesus' pronouncement and its peculiar phraseology does far more than simply insist on the legal requirement for witnesses.
And Jordan rightly warns of taking this statement too literally.
But even with these insights, Jordan falls very short of adequately explaining Jesus' speech here, both its legal basis, and even its intended meaning. The 1st pronouncement of Jesus remains as much an enigma as does His writing in the earth.
11. Here now Jordan departs from historical analysis and engages in some unsupported speculation which might most kindly be classed as "wishful thinking".
"Civil" versus "Religious"?
His idea here of "civil" versus "religious" is attractive, and here is being applied as an apologetic tool to help "explain" the problem of why Jesus in other settings declined to act as a "judge", while here in John 8:1-11 He appears to have reluctantly accepted the role.
"...only God can pass a true judgment in the Temple, because only God is without sin." ( - Jordan)
But Jordan's thesis here flies in the face of the historical facts. The Israelites DID pass judgements of this nature in the Temple, and their judges had full authority to judge cases of adultery and punish them.
The accusers here were obviously utterly convinced they had the God-given authority to arrest, try, and punish this adulteress, at least initially.
The true distinction here doesn't really appear to be "civil" versus "religious" at all, but rather, "civil" versus "criminal" might be a more appropriate division of categories.
If Jordan had pulled out some judgements, rulings, or religious opinions from the Jewish Talmud in support of his idea here (or some other historical source), it might have gained the needed credibility to sustain his purpose in preventing the suggestion that Jesus has either ignored or altered the Law of Moses here.
As it stands, other scholars such as Gail O'Day would simply point out that Jordan's open agenda of "anti-antinomianism" has been artificially brought into the text, the same way Calvin did so 400 years earlier.
Fear of Antinomianism
Neither Calvin nor Jordan are here really commenting on John 8:1-11, but rather are expounding a doctrine "characterized by a fear of antinomianism":
'Calvin's commentary on this text clearly reveals what is at stake in this misreading:
"It is not related that Christ simply absolved the woman, but that he let her go free. And this is not surprising, for He did not wish to undertake anything that did not belong to his office. Those who deduce from this that adultery should not be punished by death must, on the same reasoning, admit that inheritances should not be divided, since Christ refused to arbitrate between two brothers. Indeed every crime will be exempt from penalties of law if the punishment of adultery is remitted, for the door will then be thrown open to every kind of treachery..." ( - Calvin)
Calvin then reinforces why adultery should be punished, including the threat that property will be passed to an illegitimate child, and the "chief evil is that the woman disgraces the husband..."
Calvin precludes finding grace in this text:
"Yet the Popish theology is that in this passage Christ has brought in the law of grace, by which adulterers may be freed from punishment...Why is this, but that they may pollute with unbridled lust nearly every marriage bed with impunity? This is the result of that diabolical celibacy..."
Calvin concludes that "although Christ remits men's sins, He does not subvert the social order or abolish legal sentences and punishments."
I have quoted Calvin at length because he provides an excellent example of the power of vested interests to reshape a text.
What actually occurs in John 7:53-8:11 is secondary to what Calvin will allow to take place. ...
The possibility that in John 7:53-8:11 Jesus subverts the social status quo, particularly with regard to a woman's sexuality, is too dangerous for these interpreters. The need to depict Jesus as the maintainer of the social order (and it seems, to protect Jesus from himself) results in interpretation that reshapes the text. "
- Gail O'Day, John 7:53-8:11: A Study in Misreading, JBL 111/4 (1992) pp. 631-640
O'Day would obviously dismiss expositors like Jordan as panicky and fearful patriarchical men who
"serve...a need to rescue Jesus from himself." The explanation is simple: "If one can discover a biblical precedent or external rationale for what Jesus does...then Jesus' actions become less dangerous and objectionable." (- O'Day, ibid.)
On this count, we have to agree with O'Day. Jordan has not provided any evidence or even a plausible account of the Torah and/or the legal issues surrounding this text, and his effort in this direction is clearly designed to serve his concern regarding the text's potential for "antinomianism".
Like Calvin, he has brought his own agenda to the table, and for the moment has stopped interpreting and commenting upon John 8:1-11 in order to sell the reader an "anti-antinomianism" package in line with his theological beliefs.
No real investigation of O.T. Law or Jewish legal procedures has taken place, and no explanation of this passage in historical terms has been presented.
12. Again "saying it don't make it so." If Jordan wants to link John 8:1-11 strongly to the text of Daniel, he is the one who must do so. A vague reference to the location of Jesus in the Temple and an even vaguer link to the Temple Minorah (The festival of Booths/Lights?) just isn't enough.
On that basis, every time Jesus is in the Temple speaking, we should interpret the passage in the 'light' of Daniel. But this naive approach would often neglect other more potent and relevant Holy Scripture that could shed real light on this or that incident in the Temple.
The critical question is, has Jordan got the right O.T. passage, that will convincingly and powerfully expound John 8:1-11? And so far, his answer seems to be meandering away entirely from what actually is taking place in this incident.
13. Jordan describes the Temple Lampstand (Menorah) as a "symbolic watcher (almond) tree".
That it is symbolic seems intrinsic to it. That it has "almond buds" carved on it, and has the schematic construction of a "tree" is undeniable. The idea of "Watcher" or "Watchman" however (found in various KJV O.T. verses), is not so obviously connected to the Menorah.
Normally, the word and expression "Watcher/Watchman" has no apparent connection at all to the Temple Menorah, but always seems to refer to a literal person, either the guard or observer on the wall of a fortified city, or metaphorically to a prophet, or herald who is supposed to warn the people of danger.
This is the kind of connection that really requires some historical documentation, and convincing illustration from the O.T.
In particular, the text in Daniel seems to focus on the HAND, not the "Lampstand", which seems to be just an incidental prop. If the Lampstand was in fact lit up, there might have been a "shadow" cast by the disembodied hand, if it was a solid object.
But all this seems highly speculative, since Daniel gives no obvious indication of the importance of the Lampstand or its shadow, or its function. This speculation borders on superstition and seems to stretch the texts in an unnatural way.
14. "Now, in John 8:1-11, the Lampstand is not mentioned, but it is mentioned immediately in verse 12: "
Again Jordan seems bent on stretching things. The Lampstand is not mentioned in verse 12 either! Jesus is certainly the Light of the World, and presumably, the Menorah is somewhere nearby in the Inner Temple. But Jesus is probably not physically near it, preaching in the Court of the Women or the Treasury.
And the time of day is morning. The broad daylight of the Sun is the Dominating Light in this setting, burning and bleaching the whole roofless Temple Area.
This the Middle East after all. The background then is not the Menorah, but the Sun. The connection to the Menorah is an obscure and easily overlooked connection, inherently weak next to the "Greater Light to rule the Day" overhead (Genesis 1:16)
15. "1. As Lampstand, Jesus judges the wicked but forgives sinners"
Again, how and why? Is this the function of the Lampstand? Here Jordan loses us entirely. What scriptural basis can be found for such a teaching? We seem to be floating in a theological world where anything goes.
16. Like most expositors, Jordan doesn't resist at least hazarding a guess as to what Jesus wrote. But the basis for his choice seems weak, although not entirely implausible.
Jordan should still consider other equally attractive possibilities however, like:
"Should we treat our sister as a common harlot?!" (Genesis 34:31!)
'And at dawn she fell down dead at the door, where her Lord was.' (Judges 19:26)
'For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt: I am darkened; outrage has taken hold of me.' (Jeremiah 8:21)
These are just a few of the hair-raising pearls of Holy Scripture that might compete for the prize of an honourable placement alongside John 8:1-11.
17. We agree with Jordan here, but find his exposition weaker than some others we have seen regarding the connectedness of the passage to John. The reader could consult with profit either:
J. P. Heil on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.
or our page on internal evidence here:
Internal Evidence on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.
18. Again an excellent theme, which however, Jordan fails to fully develop. We are looking forward to more from him on this.
19. This is a complimentary question which deserves a full exploration, unfortunately, no one has yet done so that we know of!