Library

 

Jesus

 

Bible

 

Church  Authority

 

Mary

 

Moral  Issues

 

Pro-Life

 

Sacraments

 

Saints

 

Misc.

 

 

 

    

 

DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

 

 
Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary

Why  153  Fish  in  John  21:11  ?

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion 

 

John’s Purpose

Why does John want to allude to Greek wisdom?

Wikipedia
“Greek mathematicians lived in cities spread over the entire Eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to North Africa, but were united by culture and language.…
One of the most important characteristics of the Pythagorean order was that it maintained that the pursuit of philosophical and mathematical studies was a moral basis for the conduct of life. Indeed, the words philosophy (love of wisdom) and mathematics (that which is learned) are said to have been coined by Pythagoras.”
Wikipedia Source
 

Pastoral Objective

1 Corinthians 1:22-24
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  NAB

Above all else the Greeks esteemed wisdom.  The Greeks rejected the Gospel as foolishness because it seemed to contradict their natural wisdom.  And without the gift of faith, the idea of Jesus who is God, Who dies on a cross is hard to accept from a worldly point of view.  So, St. John as a pastor wants correct this impasse, this seemingly logical contradiction between natural wisdom and the wisdom Jesus came to reveal.

So, John uses the analogy of “153 fish” to represent all wisdom.

The Greeks will recognize “153 fish” to symbolize first and foremost Archimedes’ work on π, but in a secondary way all Greek Wisdom including the Pythagoreans and Euclid.

This is demonstrated by the facts already seen in  Archimedes, and Calculating the Size of the Fish

In the analogy, the Apostles have no fish until Jesus appears.  Jesus is the source (and master) of the 153 fish.  Jesus could command Peter to bring him some fish because Jesus is the rightful owner, and the source of all the fish which represents wisdom. The Greeks had thought that their own wisdom precluded them from accepting the message of Jesus which appeared as a contradiction to their wisdom. They saw the Gospel as foolishness.  But, according to John’s analogy, the net contains all the fish.  It contains both the wisdom that comes from Jesus as well as the natural wisdom of the Greeks. 

Because there is no inconsistency or conflict between these two wisdoms the same one net which contains them both does not tear.

John 21:11
“ … and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”

John was not just communicator, he was also an Evangelist, par excellence.  He recognized the spiritual needs of the heart.

By having 153 fish swim into the net, Jesus was enabling John to use his skills as an evangelist.  John, being the ultimate evangelist, knew how to meet his prospective converts where they were at and to acknowledge the natural strengths, their natural wisdom, and to build on that.  Compare how St. Paul built on the partial truths of the pagans in Acts 17:23. 


John’s Gentle Unexplained Metaphor

So, why does John not explain his meaning for 153 fish ?
Since John gives no reason, we can safely conclude John knew that no explanation was required by his readers.  So, we can reasonably conclude that none of the Fathers’ explanations could have been John’s intended meaning.  John must have known the context of time and place would have been sufficient to make his meaning clear.  And therefore, no explanation need be given.  And so, unlike the Father’s explanations, none was given by John.

John went to the very heart of
who and what the Greeks are and to how they identified themselves.  For a proud person it can be hard to hear blunt statements like, “You are wrong!” 

And so, there was another pastoral reason why John does not make the meaning of 153 fish explicit.

John lived with the Greeks and he knew that the Greeks held their natural wisdom in the highest esteem and that they even identified themselves by it.  He knew about the problem St. Paul recounted above in his letter to the Corinthians.  John knew the Greeks needed to accept that their wisdom had its foundation in Jesus Christ.  The Greeks had mistakenly thought that their logic precluded the possibility of the Christian Gospel as being true. They valued their wisdom about natural things, but denied Jesus had any role in it.  They were guilty of the sin of pride.

“Humility is the mother of all virtues," but the sin of pride puts roadblocks into one's journey towards God.  A humble person will accept correction, but a proud man looks down on those who correct him and enjoys dismissing corrective words without any serious examination.

John was not just a communicator.  He was a pastor. He would have know that most overly proud people will reject correction without serious consideration of ideas that contradict or diminish the false value they place in themselves.  A better way to get such a person to examine an idea is to get them to think that a particular idea is their own. One way to plant such an idea into another person's head is by using a gentle metaphor.

So, as a pastor, John wants to be as gentle as possible when pointing out to the Greeks that their wisdom was faulty.  This is why John uses a subtle and gentle metaphor of 153 fish.  And this explains why John does not explain his meaning.  He knows his idea that Jesus is the source of  all 153 fish, and therefore the source of all wisdom, will surely be perceived by the Greeks.  And he does not want to rub the Greeks noses' in the fact that their wisdom, their logic, was faulty in initially rejecting the Gospel.

A Proof ?

Saint John lived with the Greeks.  So, he had to know about their misperception that their wisdom was in compatible with the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.  And as a pastor he must have wanted to do something about it.  The best pastoral approach would have been to use a gentle metaphor.  Using “153 fish” to suggest to the Greeks that their own natural wisdom had its source in Jesus Christ would have been a brilliant idea.  Therefore, guided by the Holy Spirit John must have done so.

 

So, by gentle analogy John shows that not only does Jesus not contradict natural wisdom, He is the source of all wisdom.

Father Bob Stine’s answer is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that makes all the other pieces fit together.  It answers all the questions without leaving any loose ends, unlike all the other proposed answers that really do not fit and could not be John’s primary message. 

St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory, and St. Cyril all offer ideas which are good theology, and which are plausible secondary meanings.     However, their ideas were all different and their is no real evidence that any of their ideas would have been obvious to Johns readers.

Therefore, we can safely conclude that neither St. Jeromes, nor St. Augustine’s nor St. Gregory’s nor St. Cyrils idea could have been Johns primary intention.  Read more details on St. Jerome’s and Fathers.


John sometimes refers to Jesus with the simple term  “Lord.” 
(Greek “kyrios” Strong’s number 2962.) 

Here, in these passages after the catch of the 153 fish (John 21:7, 12) John adds the definite article “the” 
(Greek  “ho”  Strong’s number 3588.) 
John says in 21:7 “It is the Lord!” 
This was the Hebrew way of referring to “Yahweh.”  Whenever the Jews would read the Divine Name they would never actually pronounce “Yahweh.”   The Jews would simply pronounce “the Lord.”  John is implying here in a strong way that Jesus is not just another Greek god.  Rather, Jesus is the One True God, the only God, and therefore the source of all wisdom.

Fr. Bob’s explanation shows what “153 fish” really means.  John lived with the Greeks in Ephesus.  He had first-hand knowledge of their mistaken notion that the Gospel was in contradiction to their wisdom. 

It is very hard to imagine John not wanting to address and correct the problem the Greeks had.

 

 
 
 

Continue ...
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea


 

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion

Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

NEW   Cool  Catholic  Graphics


See  Articles  at

JESUS     BIBLE     CHURCH   AUTHORITY

  MARY     MORAL  ISSUES     PRO-LIFE

  SACRAMENTS       SAINTS       MISC.


HOME  - DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

www.DefendingTheBride.com