Does John posit then and there on the text as an afterthought? I read a book years ago that overlaid place and time on a sermon in an effort to make it more palatable. Bits of narrative breaks in: He sipped his tea, he smiled, etc. Awful.
John may seem a bit like that. Or like the Gospel of Thomas — a discourse set outside of place and time.
Or maybe John makes place and time a private matter, available to the book’s characters but not to its readers.
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said, ‘Here is an Israelite worthy of the name; there is nothing false in him.’
Nathanael asked him, ‘How is it you know me?’
Jesus replied, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip spoke to you.’
‘Rabbi,’ said Nathanael, ‘you are the Son of God; you are king of Israel.’
Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe this because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that.’ (John 1:47-50, REB)
What happened then and there, under the fig tree? I can read the text, but I can’t intrude. I am not Nathaniel. I am not Jesus. I can’t relate. Not enough to matter.
Funny to hear L. share from her book this morning: Claim your own I-am-ness.
My kind of story.