[B-Greek] question about parakleitos

yancywsmith yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jun 6 15:00:59 EDT 2006


I have no quarrel with the gloss "advocate," although my guess is  
that term "advocate" in current English usage is a good bit narrower  
than the semantic range of PARAKLHTOS. What I am saying is that the  
precise meaning of PARAKLHTOS may in fact vary in John 14-16 (14:15– 
17.25–26; 15,26–27; 16,7–11; cf. C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According  
to St. John, Philadelphia 1978, 462–463), but that the sense added by  
ALLOS (“another”), implies that Jesus himself is a PARAKLHTOS. The  
evidence of Jesus' activity as a PARAKLHTOS is his concern to prepare  
his disciples for his absence in the long speech from 13:33-18:1. The  
Holy Spirit, promised as a Paraclete comes as his replacement or  
surrogate according to a consolatory commonplace in which a person,  
image, or portrait takes the place of and mediates the presence of  
the loved one for the bereaved.

One recurring figure in Greek literature is the appearance of a ghost  
or a spirit in a dream to console the bereaved, and Chrysostom, in  
his comments on this passage has to exert considerable rhetorical  
skill to ward off this interpretation in his Greek audience.  
Commenting on Jesus' promise to come to his followers in John  
14:18-21, he clarifies that Jesus does not come to his followers "as  
we might see the dead in a dream" (hWSPER TOUS NEKROUS hWRWMEN ONAR).  
Chrysostom further asserts that the post-mortem appearance of Jesus  
is not in the form of a FANTASMA. (Compare this to Euripides,  
Alcestis 355-56 "and perhaps you will console me by visiting me in my  
dreams. For even in sleep it is pleasant to see loved ones for  
however long we are permitted.") Of course John did not believe that  
Jesus was present to the believers as a mere dream or FANTASMA!  
Neither did Chrysostom. As Holloway argues, however,  Chrysostom’s  
sustained efforts at clarification suggest that the text evoked just  
such an image for both himself and his audience and that he felt the  
need to argue at some length against it. Scholars have long fretted  
over just how Jesus was going to be present in the community after  
his death and how that presence relates to the promise of the ALLOS  
PARAKLHTOS. But, if we imagine the Paraclete as mediating the  
presence of Jesus without being Jesus himself (in John's theology),  
then a solution is clear. Such a role was fulfilled in ancient  
contexts of bereavement by funerary portraiture and statuary, which  
were seen to mediate the presence of the loved one without actually  
being the loved one. So, the presence of the Spirit as PARAKLHTOS is  
consolatory, but also fulfills other roles—for example prophetic  
roles like advocate—that belonged to Jesus.

Yancy Smith
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Brite Divinity School
Texas Christian University

On Jun 6, 2006, at 1:00 PM, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:

> "Carl W. Conrad" wrote:
>> On Jun 6, 2006, at 10:52 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
>>> At Jn 14.25 where what the function of the PARAKLHTOS will be is
>>> stated, it speaks of teaching and reminding
>>>   It seems necessary to circumnavigate the barn in order to reach a
>>> conclusion that this has anything to do with consoling.
>> George, have you read the article to which Yancy referred? I have
>> not. But I would hesitate to rule out that sense of comforter --
>> especially inasmuch as (1) "comfort" is a common sense of PARAKALEW,
>> (2) some English versions have actually used the word, "comforter" to
>> translate PARAKLHTOS in the Johannine passages; (3) BDAG gives as a
>> basic sense, "‘one who is called to someone’s aid’ ... In the few
>> places where the word is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian
>> lit. as well it has for the most part a more general sense: one who
>> appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper" I think
>> that the entire article on PARAKLHTOS in BDAG is worth reading
>> carefully.
> One of the things that is overlooked in the "is comforter a good  
> translation
> of PARAKLHTOS" question  is that the English word originally did  
> not have
> the sense of "consolation" that it does now.  Rather,  given its  
> origin
> [= Of. confortere(s, -teor, transl. L. cons{omac}l{amac}tor, a common
> rendering since 7th c. of PARAKLHTOS = advocatus ‘advocate,  
> intercessor]
> it meant, as PARAKLHTOS does, an advocate.
> Yours,
> Jeffrey
> --
> Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
> 1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
> Chicago, Illinois
> e-mail jgibson000 at comcast.net
> ---
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