Note John’s comment “”Because of the miraculous signs (plural) Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in Him.” (John 2:23)
That is a strange comment. If this comment is based on John’s account of Jesus activities at the time of the Passover in the early part of John it is a strange one. All Jesus did was clean out the temple. But if John’s use of the temple cleansing segment here is clearly pointing to all that the other synoptics include in their version of Jesus’ activities in Jerusalem to the point where the crowds were yelling “Messiah Messiah” then it makes sense. John is skilfully using the well known stories to weave his point. This is hugely significant and all part of John’s purpose in placing this pericope at this point in his gospel. When the readers see the expected story in the wrong place then it draws attention to it and they wonder why it is there and investigate more fully.
Also it is all dependent on the practices of the Rabbis. The Rabbis were trained in the House of the Book (Beth Sepher), the House of Interpretation (Beth Talmud) and the House of Allusion (Beth Midrash). Under the House of the Book the student learned the book by rote until it was memorized. This means you have internalized the writings. Then in the House of Interpretation you were schooled in rightly handling the Word of God, knowing the interpretation of a passage and what all the great Rabbis said about it. In the House of Allusion you learned how to handle the subtle allusions made to portions of the Word by the use of interpretive storying. At any time, even in the Beth Sefer, the student was asked to recall a passage just from a one line reference or less. The student of the word had to know the word well.
Then under Beth Midrash the student was taught to pick up on the subtle allusions, like Jesus used when referring to a short segment from the Old Testament, which was often sandwiched between the two verses that were quoted. Doing that meant you were supposed to lift the whole section out and interpret the Word in the light of that whole segment. That is exactly what John is doing here with the Cleansing of the Temple passage which he has taken from the tradition but missed parts out in his bid to emphasize certain parts and the cast allusions to the other gospel writers and what they have said.
Wow that is powerful. No not two temple cleansings, only one. But John is saying some powerful things as a result of fitting it around his themes. Note too the strong theme of believe. Both stories are finished with “believe” segments which links them together. John 2:11 and 22-24. I hope now you are getting an idea of the way in which the Bible writers play with words and structure and order to make their point. Of course the Holy Spirit is behind it all inspiring them in what to write. In the closing segment of the chapter John is stressing his theme again. Remember the words “trust”, “believe” and “faith” all come from the same Greek root. You can do that yourself, you don’t need me to spell it out. Go dig deep on it.
There is much more we could do on this. We could spend the week or more on it but I will move on tomorrow.
Here’s a challenge: Can you spot the next connection coming to tomorrow? A Clue: we are crossing a chapter boundary so you know what to do.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin
If you're not living life on the edge, you're just taking up space! Ian