The Targum Of Isaiah And The Johannine Literature -- By: John L. Ronning

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 69:2 (Fall 2007)
Article: The Targum Of Isaiah And The Johannine Literature
Author: John L. Ronning


The Targum Of Isaiah And The Johannine Literature

John L. Ronning

John Ronning lectures in Old Testament subjects as well as the Johannine literature and Biblical languages at the John Wycliffe Theological College (affiliated with North-West University) in greater Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also webmaster of .

I. Introduction

The purpose of this article is to show how the writings traditionally ascribed to the Apostle John seem to depend on a first-century precursor of our extant Isaiah Targum, which is part of Tar gum Jonathan of the Former and Latter prophets. Most importantly the results contribute to our understanding of John’s writings. Secondly they suggest that the potential of the Targums in general for illuminating the Johannine literature is under-exploited. The results could also be used to supplement arguments that have been made for the common authorship of these writings.

Translations from the Isaiah Targum given here are from Bruce Chilton’s translation which appears in the series “The Aramaic Bible.”1 Wherever I deviate from Chilton’s translation is noted in this article. Throughout, I have changed LORD to Lord (small caps) and have used the spelling “Shekinah” instead of “Shekhinah.” Italicized text is used in “The Aramaic Bible” series to indicate that the underlying Aramaic represents a change in meaning from, or an addition to, the Hebrew text.

II. First John 2:12-14 And Targum Isaiah 43:10, 25; 44:6; 48:12

In 1 John 2:12–13 John says, “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning” (this sentence is repeated in v. 14). Interpretive questions include (1) what is “his name,” and (2) to what does “the beginning” refer— the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, or the beginning as in Gen 1:1 and John 1:1?

With regard to the first question, A. E. Brooke says that “if any definite name is intended, it is probably the name Jesus Christ,”‘ though he also notes a general similarity to Ezek 20:8–9, where God says that in delaying judgment on Judah, “I acted for the sake of my name,” which would support the view that

“his name” is the Tetragrammaton.2 One could cit...

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