Friday, November 20, 2020

Professor Kobel rejects my interpretation of the vinegar in John's Gospel

In Dining with John, pages 372-373, Professor Kobel presents the following:

On the cross, . . . [Jesus] requests the sour wine and takes it for himself. Knowing that all is finished, and in order to fulfill scripture, Jesus expresses his thirst. This time, on the verge of death, Jesus needs the drink for himself, and drinks like a corporeal human being.

Some commentators appear to be uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus was thirsty at this climactic moment. Hodges suggests that the sour wine functions as a poison and that Jesus, by drinking the oxos [vinegar], synecdochically takes upon himself the sin of the world.[Footnote 777] This explanation, however, is not convincing, for the Gospel claims that crucifixion – not poison – is the cause of Jesus' death.

[Footnote 777: This is the overarching hypothesis in Hodges’ dissertation. The argument runs that Jesus as a heavenly creature is poisoned by consuming an earthly substance – somewhat analogous to Gnostic revealers. Hodges claims this on the grounds of the narrative sequence in John 19:28-30 and because of the reference to Scripture. As many others do, Hodges identifies the Scripture as Ps 69:22. According to his disputable interpretation (drawing on Semitic parallels), the vinegar mentioned there is poison. Hodges, “Food as Synecdoche in John’s Gospel and Gnostic Texts.” See also Jeffery Horace Hodges, ‘Ethical’ Dualism of Food in the Gospel of John (1999); available from; Internet; accessed 02.09.11; Jeffery Horace Hodges, Gift-Giving Across the Sacred-Profane Divide: A Maussian Analysis of Heavenly Versus Earthly Food in Gnosticism and John’s Gospel (1999); available from; Internet; accessed 02.09.11.] [Pages 372-373.]

Such - embedded in my views - is Kobel's argument against me. Briefly put, the crucifixion, not the vinegar, killed Jesus. I think that's a false dichotomy. I would say, in full agreement, that the fourth evangelist believes that the crucifixion killed Jesus. But the crucifixion was a process, the culminating act of which was the acceptance of the vinegar.


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