Craig S. Keener
Conflict Over the Healing of a Blind Man. 9:1–10:21
This narrative demonstrates Jesus' claims in the previous context and chronologically follows directly on Jesus' departure from the temple on the last day of the festival (7:37; 8:59). It probably begins not far from the temple (cf. 9:7). This section opens with the healing of a blind man (9:1–7) and closes with the recognition that this miracle was not what one expected from a demon (10:21). The narrative between includes Pharisaic charges that Jesus' healing cannot be from God (9:16,22,24), a response from the formerly blind man that challenges the logic of their paradigm (9:25, 27, 31–33), and a response from Jesus, who reverses the charge and shows that it is his opponents who are not from God (9:40–10:18).7009 Jesus' claim in this section to be the good shepherd (10:11) implicitly advances his previous claim to deity (8:58).
Blindness and Sin (9:1–34)
Contrary to what the elite supposed (9:34), the man was not born blind due to a sin (9:2–3), nor was his healer a sinner (9:16, 24); by contrast, the elite themselves are sinful and spiritually blind (9:39–41). The true connection between blindness and sin links together the entire section 9:1–41. But because 9:40–41 begin the response to the Pharisees which is continued in 10:1–18 and 9:35–39 begins Jesus' defense of the healed man, we have limited the first section to the material directly related to the healing and responses to it (9:1–34). The following section (9:35–10:18) traces Jesus' own response to the varied responses to his act, especially the responses of the healed man and the Jerusalem elite. Moreover, the contrast between physical and spiritual blindness (dependence on Christ and opposition to him) of 9:39–41 is already implicit at the beginning of this section. Jesus became invisible in some sense to his enemies in 8:59, so they could not see him; but here Jesus cures a man physically blind and so despised by his enemies (9:2, 34). (Indeed, worldly evaluations of the reasons for blindness form an inclusio around Jesus' healing and the man's fidelity to him; 9:2, 34.) Epistemological terms («know») dominate the dialogue scenes and probably provide the metaphoric meaning of «sight» language also prominent in the chapter.7010
The blind man himself becomes a paradigm of growing discipleship; when he confesses Jesus openly, he moves from recognizing him as a «man» (9:11) to a «prophet» (9:17) and a man from God (9:33), and with Jesus' revelation recognizes him as «Son of Man» and «Lord» (9:35–37).7011 The end of this account contrasts starkly with the man healed in ch. 5 who did not proceed to become a disciple (5:1–16); for point-by-point contrasts with that account, see comments there. This man, like others who did the truth, would come to the light (3:19–21; cf. 9:3; 5:14).
1. Jesus Heals One Blind from Birth (9:1–7)
Blindness «from birth» was considered especially difficult,7012 though John mentions the duration of the malady (9:1; cf. 5:5) at least partly to lead into the disciples' question of who merited his birth in this state (9:2). Ancients generally believed that, under extraordinary circumstances, blind persons could be healed;7013 thus some contended that Isis both cured eye diseases and made blind,7014 and in a list of healings at Epidauros, the lame and blind appear in a summary (perhaps as the most dramatic cures).7015 The Jesus tradition multiply attests that Jesus healed some blind people;7016 there the opening of blind eyes, like the healing of the lame (5:9), reflects signs of the messianic era (Isa 35:5–6). Redaction critics often argue that, given Jesus' reputation for healing blindness and the pre-70 character of traditions like the pool of Siloam, the core account (9:1, 6–7) is authentic, the rest being Johannine theologizing on that story.7017 Most regard 9:22, along with 12and 16:2, as a reflection of the situation with which the Johannine community was struggling.7018 Whatever John's degree of adaptation here, he certainly seeks to be relevant to his audience. In contrast to the staging of the rest of the Gospel, Jesus is missing from twenty-seven of forty-seven verses; to merit such extended discussion without Jesus' presence, the circumstances of the story must be particularly relevant to the experience of John's audience.7019
1A. The Timing (9:1)
That Jesus «passed by» (9:1; cf. Matt 9:27) implies that he left the temple (8:59) by one of the roads leading from it; the pool of Siloam was near the temple and no break appears between chs. 8 and 9. The blind, or members of the families they would have otherwise supported, had to support themselves by begging for charity.7020 The location near the temple (8:59–9:1) therefore makes sense; temples with their broad colonnades provided natural places for begging.7021
In the story world it therefore remains the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:2, 37).7022 As here (9:1) and in the parallel passage in 5:1–14 (5:5), healing reports often emphasized the duration of the distress (e.g., Mark 5:25; Acts 3:2), heightening the significance of the healing.7023 That the man was also healed on the Sabbath (which some view as a Johannine addition to the original story to fit its Johannine context) becomes an issue only at 9:14, when the narrative begins to report the involvement of the Pharisees (9:13); one мая recall Johns similar stylistic practice in 5:9b-10.
1B. The Cause of Blindness (9:2–5)
Blindness was often associated with sin; in many cultures it is natural to associate another's affliction with a specific avoidable cause to prevent anxiety on the part of those who speculated about the causes (cf. Job 6:21).7024 Thus one source suggests that a person was struck blind because he failed to perform sacrifices properly,7025 though some thinkers did object that blindness could happen to anyone.7026 Jewish literature provides many examples of the connection;7027 one who saw a blind, lame, or otherwise seriously afflicted person should praise God as the righteous judge.7028
Ancients held that wrongdoing caused a variety of maladies. Thus the gods and Fate often sent punishment like (ϊσος) the crime;7029 Jewish sources, including both early sages and sectarian sources7030 as well as later rabbis,7031 recite the same principle. In many Greco-Roman sources, God or the gods punished with physical afflictions, including blindness;7032 in Jewish sources, sickness often stemmed from sin.7033 Thus a woman would die childless only because of her sin (J En. 98:5). The Testament of Job even supplies a possible sin (pride) committed by Job's sons that made them susceptible to death (T. Job 15:9/10).7034 Some Jewish teachers did, however, express skepticism that we could know the reasons the righteous suffered,7035 and argued that not all kinds of suffering derived from sin.7036 Like leprosy, blindness was a state compared with death;7037 like other disabled or generally defenseless persons,7038 however, a blind person received some special protection under law.7039
If sin lay directly behind the man s ailment, it could be attributed either to the parents or to a prenatal sin. Most would have accepted the proposal that blindness could derive from the parents' sin (cf. Exod 20:5);7040 some would even associate a birth defect or other malady with a sin of the mother during pregnancy.7041 Some people in antiquity also believed in significant prenatal activity;7042 it would thus not prove surprising that some could also suspect prenatal sin,7043 though the view was probably less dominant than is sometimes supposed.7044 But this passage rejects both alternatives posed.7045
The Pharisees (9:34), even more strongly than Jesus' misinformed disciples (9:2), attribute the man's ailment to sin. Yet John is clear that the man was born blind not because of sin (9:2–3; contrast the man in 5:14) but so that God's works should be revealed in him (9:3);7046 Jesus had now come to accomplish those works (9:4).7047 It is also possible to repunctuate the sentence so that, after it declares that neither sinned, it declares that Jesus had to work the Father's works that they might be revealed; in this case revealing God's works мая not constitute the cause of the man s blindness.7048 Such a reading would cohere adequately with Johannine theology and would be intelligible on ancient presuppositions,7049 but is less likely in view of the description of the purpose for Lazarus's sickness in 11:4. In Johns theology, people might not understand God's eternal purposes until they actually came to pass (cf. 2:22; 12:16; 13:7); in this case, the fulfillment that revealed the purpose arrived many years after the situation began.7050 This principle would have made sense to John's contemporaries; for example, many sages believed that God had allowed Israel to endure troubles in the past so that God might redeem them for his glory.7051
That Jesus speaks of the doers of God's works in the plural (9:4) could include the Father doing the works with him (14:10), but more likely it is an invitation to the disciples (14:12), hence to John's audience, to share in continuing Jesus' mission from the Father.7052 In either case, the works are plainly from the Father (cf. 5:20, 36; 10:25, 32, 37; 14:10–11; 15:24); believers' opponents could not accuse them of diverting God's glory. That one «must» perform Jesus' works during the light is Johannine language for divine necessity (3:7,14, 30; 4:4, 24; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). That people could not work after nightfall because it had grown dark was common knowledge (applicable to battles and other activities;7053 used as an image in 11:10; 12:35); obviously, modern lighting was not available. John applies this image figuratively, as he does light, darkness, and night elsewhere (e.g., 1:4–5; 3:2; 11:10; 12:35; 13:30); but whereas in 11:9–10 the emphasis lies on Jesus' obedience to the Father's timing, here it lies on Jesus' power as the light to impart sight to the blind, both literally (9:6–7) and figuratively (9:39–41). Jesus parabolically demonstrates that he is the light of the world (9:5; see comment on 1:4), alluding to his announcement earlier that day (8:12), by healing the blind.
1C. Spittle (9:6)
The use of spittle appears elsewhere in the Jesus tradition (Mark 7:33), including for healing blindness (Mark 8:23). Many ancient reports of cures mention the use of a curative drug,7054 even when Asclepius appeared to suppliants in his temple in dreams.7055 Spittle was sometimes used superstitiously, to avert an ill,7056 and sometimes associated with curative powers.7057 That Vespasian reportedly healed blindness with spittle (Tacitus Hist. 4.81; Suetonius Vesp. 7)7058 мая suggest that John contrasts Jesus with the Roman emperor (Vespasian's son Domitian was then reigning); the account seems to have circulated widely. More likely, however, the stories about both Vespasian and Jesus draw on purportedly curative properties of spittle more widely known.
Jewish tradition sometimes reports curing through spittle,7059 though Jewish custom probably borrowed it from the more widespread ancient custom.7060 Such usage would have rendered its symbolic effect more comprehensible. But far more importantly, by making clay of the spittle and applying it to eyes blind from birth, Jesus мая be recalling the creative act of Gen 2(cf. John 20:22).7061 This allusion would fit well the likely creation allusion in the healing in John 5 (see comment on 5:19–20).
Whatever the spittlés symbolic value, if the blind man knew the source of the mud he would not likely have thought it pleasant. Granted, later rabbis idealized the purity of those in the holy city, and a second-century rabbi thus deemed all spittle found there (except in the market area frequented by the unclean) ritually pure (m. Seqal 8:1).7062 But spittle could be impure if it came from one who was impure;7063 thus one touched by Gentile spittle had to immerse afterwards,7064 and later teachers claimed that a high priest touched by spittle had to be replaced so that a clean priest would be available on the Day of Atonement.7065 The shaming implied by spitting in Num 12could be understood as a cursing (Sipre Num. 106.1.1).7066
Whether John intends a symbolic double entendre in «anointing» is difficult to determine, but readers accustomed to his double entendres will likely find it plausible. The language of «anointing» (έπέχρισεν, 9:6, 11) мая suit symbolically or literally curative substances (cf. άλείφω in Mark 6:13; Jas 5:14, though this was a natural way to describe any application of oil–Matt 6:17; Luke 7:46; χρίω in Heb 1:9).7067 Yet it also appears in some early Christian texts as a depiction of the Spirit's empowerment for mission (χρίω in Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2Cor 1:21), not least in Johannine literature (χρίσμα in 1 John 2:20, 27).
1D. Siloam (9:7)
The command to «wash» мая be compared with various purification rituals in antiquity (see comment on 1:25–26,31), but for Johns biblically informed ideal audience it мая evoke the story of Naaman (2 Kgs 5:10–14), though this man is not a Gentile.7068 As with Naaman, the man is instructed to carry out an act which by itself would never have brought healing;7069 hence the significance of the pools title, «sent.»
Probably within Jerusalem's walls at this time,7070 the Pool of Siloam included masonry varying in height from 12 to 18 inches,7071 with four porches around the pool (cf. κολυμβήθρα similarly in 5:7).7072 If the blind man were near the outer wall of the temple (8:59–9:1), walking to Siloam and back could have slightly exceeded a legally acceptable Sabbath day's journey.7073 But because John does not clarify the location or the distance (even former Jerusalemites мая not have recalled this distance), and because it is not the basis for charging Jesus with a Sabbath violation (9:15–16; nor would an observer necessarily know how far the man was walking), it is probably not part of John's point here. The pool of Siloam was reputed to be especially effective for purification,7074 and many proselytes were reportedly immersed there;7075 even to this day some popularly call the pool «the mikveh of the high priest Ishmae1.»7076
Most importantly, the renowned ritual of water-drawing at the festival of Tabernacles drew water from the Pool of Siloam; because no clear break exists between chs. 7 and 8 on the one hand and 9:1–10:21, Jesus uses the water that at this festival would be deemed particularly holy.7077 Yet as the Pool of Bethesda could not heal (5:5–6), so neither can this water heal by itself, but only because Jesus has «sent» someone there. Because Jesus sends the man to this pool, it becomes clear that John does not oppose ritual waters (e.g., 2:6; 3:25) per se; it is just that the traditional rituals of his Jewish heritage are not efficacious apart from an encounter with Jesus.
John either revocalizes and modifies the term or adapts the etymology freely.7078 The matter is less the nature of «Siloam's» original etymology than the function of the wordplay in this context. Wordplays were common in the ancient Mediterranean world7079 and were already practiced in ancient Israel; «Judah's» name originally meant «praise» toward God (Gen 29:35) but in Jacob's blessing Judah's brothers praise Judah (Gen 49:8) in a context of other wordplays (e.g., 49:19).7080 Though ancients could recognize and criticize strained etymologies,7081 among Gentiles both appeals to etymologies7082 and arguments based on plays on words were common;7083 etymologies sometimes also functioned as part of the cryptic meaning of oracular utterances.7084 Jewish interpreters also reasoned from both etymologies and wordplays.7085 Interpreters sometimes even modified the text to make wordplays most effective.7086
Although miracle stories often include confirmation by astonished onlookers, Jesus is not present in 9:8–9 and they represent a new scene.7087 Although it was not inconceivable that someone could deceptively pretend to be needy,7088 a prior pretense by the blind man would not occur to his neighbors: he had been blind from birth, and Jesus' probably creative act in 9may well indicate that his eyes had been noticeably inactive. The «opening» of eyes was a natural expression for receiving sight (2 Kgs 6:20; Isa 35:5; 42:7; Matt 9:30; 20:33) or being able to see more clearly (Gen 21:19; Luke 24:31); it also applied to receiving spiritual vision (Gen 3:5, 7; Num 22:31; 2 Kgs 6:17; Ps 119:18; Acts 26:18; Eph 1:18), including by Israel (1 En. 89).7089
2. Initial Responses to the Sign (9:8–23)
The response of the healed man's Jerusalemite neighbors, like that of many Judeans in surrounding narratives, is mixed but includes a negative element (they brought him to the Pharisees, 9:13); the elite themselves prove divided (9:16), but the vocal and dominant element prove hostile to Jesus. The healed man's own parents lack courage to stand against the leadership's hostility.
2A. Responses of Neighbors (9:8–12)
The neighbors recognize the man as the one who used to beg (9:8). Certainly in Jerusalem a beggar could survive, though he would invariably remain poor and dependent. Although Greeks recognized both strangers and the poor as invitations from Zeus,7090 they emphasized charity far less than Judaism did. Jesus' Jewish contemporaries emphasized charity heavily, as even Gentiles recognized (Josephus Ag. Ap. 2.283);7091 sages declared that one should treat the poor as members of onés family (m. 'Abot 1:5). Even Greeks admonished beggars not to be too ashamed to beg, lest they remain poor;7092 but begging was viewed in any case as a wretched life.7093 One Cynic writing advocated practicing begging from statues to accustom oneself to being turned down!7094 Some Jews considered it better to die than to be forced to the disgrace of begging (Sir 40:28–30).7095
Because the man was healed near the temple and the Pool of Siloam, the «neighbors» (9:8) must be Jerusalemites, hence (in the broader context of the Gospel) мая be presumed more hostile than favorable toward Jesus if they know who he is. The healed man's neighbors recognize that, if this is the man they knew (9:9), he must have been healed somehow, for he had certainly been blind. This point underlines the credibility of the healing; even those without commitment to Jesus could recognize that a positive miracle had taken place. The confusion engendered by not understanding how the man was healed (9:9) reflects the broader division caused by Jesus' presence (9:16).
That people were divided in their response to Jesus (9:9, 16; 7:43; 10:19) represents one narrative way to emphasize his importance,7096 but also parallels the situation of John's day: clearly not all those in the synagogues openly opposed Jesus, but those among the dominant leadership who were willing to speak out (cf. 12:42–43) did. That the neighbors brought the healed man to the Pharisees, however (9:13), is not positive, and probably evokes judicial imagery (cf., e.g., Acts 5:21; 6:12; 9:2; 17:19; 18:12). The term has positive connotations in many contexts in the Fourth Gospel (1:42; 10:16), but when the elite are those to whom one is brought, the image is negative (7:45; 18:13,28; 19:4,13; cf. 8:3). That the neighbors trust the leaders to make the appropriate decision indicates that they will be easily led by them, rather than by the true shepherd (10:3–4,16). That the healed man does not know where Jesus is (9:12) not only parallels 5:12–13 at this point but also makes sense in the story world: the man has not actually seen Jesus yet (9:7).
2B. Debates among the Pharisees (9:13–17)
In this narrative the Sabbath first appears here (9:14; note the repetition in 5:9–10,16, 18);7097 though not strictly relevant to the man's healing, it is essential to the Pharisaic condemnation of the healing. John himself does not think that Jesus violates the Sabbath; rather, he employs Sabbath controversies as a stage on which to articulate his high Christology.7098 Sabbath violation is a necessary foundation for the charge that Jesus is not from God (9:16), which allows some to respond to Jesus' recent claims to be from God (8:42), not to have sinned (8:46), and to call on others to «keep» his word (8:51) when he does not in fact «keep» God's laws like the Sabbath (9:16). John's title «the one once blind» heightens for the reader the irony of his current interrogation.7099
A key term throughout the entire account of the blind man's healing is οΐδα, and the term is largely restricted in this account to the man's controversy with the authorities (9:12, 20–21, 24–25, 29–31). If this story is directly relevant to the experience of the Johannine community, as most scholars since Martyn have argued (see introduction; cf. also 12:42; 16:2), the text suggests that a primary issue of controversy was the matter of epistemology: the authorities make claims to knowledge about Jesus, namely that he is sinful (9:24), based on their interpretation of Torah (9:29). By contrast, the healed man appeals to his experience (9:25), which at this point is all he has; his attempt to offer an argument from biblical principles is rebuffed in any case (9:31).
As Culpepper points out, the interrogators who hold power in the situation diplay excessive confidence, making frequent assertions that contrast with the healed man's «pleas of ignorance.» This establishes «a classic contrast between a braggart (an alazon in Greek drama) and the ironist (an eiron). With delightful subtlety, the narrator shows us the man's insight and exposes the Pharisees' blindness.» Through most of the account the blind man does not know (9:12,25) or knows only what he sees (9:25); the Pharisees, who assert that Jesus is not from God (9:16), claim what they do know (9:24, 29).7100 This is comic relief at the Pharisees' expense; the blind man serves a function like Socrates in Platós dialogues, though less cognizant of the direction his dialogue will take. Philostratus (Vit. soph. 1.480–481), claims that philosophers (like diviners) start by admitting ignorance and pursuing knowledge, whereas sophists (like mantics) begin with confident assertions of knowledge. To the limited extent that this distinction holds, the interrogators start more like sophists (9:24, 29), whereas the man's knowledge emerges after reflection (9:31).
Most striking are the authorities' appeals to group knowledge («we know,» 9:24, 29) and the healed man's mistaken supposition that he could still speak as a member of their community (9:31). Rhetorical claims to group knowledge (οϊδαμεν) could be dishonest (Luke 20:21) or could represent affirmations of faith (e.g., Rom 2:2; 3:19; 7:14; 2Cor 5:1). Here they мая recall the first use of οϊδαμεν in the Gospel, when Nicodemus makes a moderate claim about Jesus' identity («We know that you are a teacher who has come from God,» 3:2) and Jesus countered that «we» (presumably himself and his Father) speak what «we know,» divine revelation from above (3:11). Being able to view these competing claims to knowledge from outside the narrative world, the latter claim rooted in heavenly revelation, would certainly encourage Johannine Christians. This is especially the case given admissions of inadequate knowledge (9:29) and claims to knowledge that the Gospel's narratives prove inadequate (6:42; 7:27).7101
Although this epistemological conflict surfaces most dramatically here, surrounding narratives provide its context. The previous encounters between Jesus and the authorities during this festival (chs. 7–8) offer sufficient perspective. Jesus knows his identity and knows the Father, whereas his opponents, despite their false claims and partial knowledge, do not (the use of οΐδα in 7:27–29; 8:14,19, 55); the rough synonym γινώσκω7102 functions in the same polemical fashion with challenges, condemnations, and responses (7:27, 49, 51; 8:27–28,32,43,52,55). The crucial significance of this conflict is resolved only in Jesus' following discourse (10:4–6, 14–15) and appended material (10:27, 38), which interpret the correct epistemology of Jesus and his followers in terms of the covenant knowledge of God and his people in the earlier biblical record (see comment there).7103
While various forms of discipline were practiced in this period, and one who grants a high degree of historical verity to John's narrative can argue that the healed man did in fact confront religious teachers or leaders in Jerusalem, no one can deny that John has framed the dialogue in his own language relevant for his own audience (see introduction on the genre and setting of this Gospel). Historically, local elders functioned as judges and leaders; of particular classes, priests probably filled this role most frequently.7104 Here, however, the Pharisees, likely more influential in Jerusalem, as here, than in Galilee (though Mark sometimes places them in the latter), fill this role (9:13); see discussion in the introduction. Historically, some Pharisees (of the school of Hillel) permitted prayer for the sick on the Sabbath.7105 If the more lenient Hillelites would have permitted prayer on the Sabbath,7106 the Shammaite school was probably dominant among Pharisees in Jesus' day,7107 though no longer in John's.7108 Yet most Pharisees probably would have opposed making a clay poultice on the Sabbath for someone not in danger of dying (9:14).7109 The procedure, more than the healing act itself, would have violated Jesus' contemporaries' views.7110 What functioned initially as a typical miracle story (for John, a «sign» with christological implications) now becomes a setting for theological conflict (9:14; cf. 5:9). In 9:15, the healed man retells the account of his healing slightly more briefly than he did for the crowds (9:11); this could be due to intimidation,7111 though it probably simply represents John's rhetorical abbreviation to avoid repeating all of what the reader already knows.
The leaders considered Jesus a «sinner» (9:16) for breaking their understanding of the Sabbath (9:14); they мая employ this term because Jesus had recently challenged them to find any genuine transgression (8:46), implying by their silence at that time that they could not.7112 The tone of their interrogation in 9may imply their skepticism that Jesus really «opened» the man's eyes in the literal sense or, for that matter, the spiritual sense.7113 The passage shows how much their agenda of opposing Jesus colors their interest in truth: evasively, they repeatedly ignore the testimony of the miracle itself. They begin with interest only in the Sabbath violation (9:16), ignore the healed man's own testimony (9:13–17);7114 and intimidate his parents, who already know the danger of disagreeing with what their inquisitors wish to hear (9:22). Their violation of what we know of traditional early Jewish principles concerning evidence suggests a bias so extreme it flouts any amount of evidence provided.7115 Some other radical ancient sages also noticed that dogmatic certainty was difficult to penetrate with reason (Epictetus Diatr. 1.5.1–2). The arrogance of many Pharisees in this Gospel does not fit what we know of Pharisaic or rabbinic ethics;7116 it does fit what we know of human nature.7117
That the Pharisees themselves were divided (9:16), however, reinforces a critical emphasis of this Gospel (cf. «the crowd» in 7:43; «the Jews» in 10:19; others in 12:29). Nicodemus and those for whom he spoke recognized that Jesus was not «able» to do his works unless God had sent him (3:2); some of similar persuasion now do not understand how a sinner would be «able» to do the kinds of signs Jesus does (9:16).7118
John is certain that despite any public display of unity, many of the elite had to know that Jesus really did come from God (12:42–43). The formerly blind man responds positively (cf. 1:21; 4:19; but inadequately–cf. 6:14; 7:40; cf. Matt 21:11) that Jesus is a prophet (9:17); but for this man, the affirmation allows him to be open to a higher Christology, a Christology which develops in the course of the narrative (9:35–38), from man (9:11) to prophet (9:17) to Son of Man (9:35–36). In this, his faith resembles that of the Samaritan woman (4:19, 29).
2C. Interrogating the Blind Mans Parents (9:18–23)
John probably uses έφώνησαν, «they called,» both as a scene change (cf. 9:24) and to signal the social power wielded by these leaders, who summoned and dismissed witnesses in the course of their legal investigation. It is not impossible, however, that John мая also imply a contrast between these interrogators and the good shepherd, who gently calls his own (10:3), just as their casting one out (9:34) мая contrast with the gentle way the shepherd leads forth his own (10:4). The testimony of relatives might be considered biased (see comment on 7:3–5), but at least the parents would be accurately positioned to verify whether their son was born blind.
That the parents had allowed their son to subsist by begging мая imply that the parents themselves were poor; to be put outside the synagogue community might have reduced whatever other income the father was able to procure.7119 We know something of the rabbinic tradition of excommunication by the second century C.E. (e.g., m. Móed Qat. 3:1–2)7120 and probably earlier (m. Tacan. 3:8); the practice as a community discipline must be pre-Christian (Ezra 10:8; various levels in 1QS 6.24–7.25).7121 Indisputably community disciplines occurred, such as the «forty» (or thirty-nine) stripes7122 of public beatings (based on Deut 25:2–3) attested in the first century (2Cor 11:24; Josephus Ant. 4.238, 248).7123 Without explaining how the miracle occurred, they could not deny the miracle; but in early Christian tradition this is usually a situation in which those unwilling to consider where signs point find themselves (11:46–48; 12:9–11; Acts 4:16).
Technically the parents did not «know» how their son was healed (sorcery was always a possibility; cf. comment on 7:20) and could offer only secondhand testimony; but their motives for concealing even that testimony make their confession more like a denial (cf. 18:17,25–26; he denies knowing Jesus in Mark 14:71), showing little support for their son.7124 In Johns epistemology, faith can come through testimony as well as (or better than) through sight (15:26–27; 20:29–31). Claiming that their son is «of age» means that he was at least thirteen,7125 though he could have been much older.7126 But given their own fear (9:22), their failure to support their sons evident testimony is not courageous. When intimidated by oppressive power structures, most people chose not to defend someone indicted by the authorities;7127 sometimes even parents might abandon a child to those in power due to fear.7128 To be sure, their son's blindness did not stem from their sin (9:3), but the narrative does not praise their fidelity to their son here; they refuse to confess the one who had vindicated them against shame (9:2). The Pharisees will attribute the sin either to them or to the man before birth (9:34; cf. 9:2), yet the parents fear to differ with them openly.
The repetition of their statement of 9in slightly different words in 9may be meant for clarification to prevent the reader losing the flow of the narrative after the narrator's aside in 9:22.7129 In any case, however, it underlines the point (as in the analogous case of repetition 13:10–11); here it reinforces their unwillingness to commit themselves. They resemble others who fear to contradict the authorities (7:13), especially lest they be dismissed from the synagogues (12:42), because they cared more for human honor (12:43). That 12:42–43 alludes to this passage in part мая be concluded from their unique joining of the key phrases «confess» (όμολογέω) and «become out-synagogued» (άπο-συνάγωγος with the aorist subjunctive of γίνομαι).
As argued in the introduction, the dilemma posed to the formerly blind man is equivalent to the dilemma being posed to most of John's audience; Johannine scholarship as a whole is therefore undoubtedly correct to see a challenge to the Johannine Christians through this character. Many members of John's audience, at least the younger members not from those Jewish-Christian families which мая have migrated from Palestine (possibly as long as two decades earlier), мая have faced the unbelief of their families (cf. comment on 7:5).
This paragraph also underlines the dogmatism of the elite which keeps them from hearing (or «seeing"–9:39–41) the truth, and the cost that believers pay in terms of their own families (see commenton 7:3–9). The Johannine Christians, perhaps in conflict with the established and wealthy leaders of synagogue communities in Roman Asia,7130 could not expect justice from Roman courts, within synagogues, and perhaps from family members. They had to recognize a principle applicable in most cultures, that the elite often command more respect by virtue of their powerful status than does the testimony of otherwise believable close associates.
3. Debating Jesus' Identity (9:24–34)
This scene is an interrogation of the healed man (9:23), but turns more into a legal debate. The Pharisees wish to guide the man's response (9:24,28–29), which violates the objectivity that was supposed to attend legal procedures.7131 The healed man in turn seems at first oblivious to the leaders' bias, but knows his experience and by the end of the discussion hopes to persuade them accordingly (9:30–33). Their predetermined commitment to expel from the synagogue anyone who affirms Jesus' positive character–despite the miracle–exposes their bias (9:22,34). This is the sort of description that a frustrated minority perspective, convinced of the absolute Tightness of its testimony, might offer concerning those they believe to be intentionally repressing their testimony.
3A. Is Jesus a Sinner? (9:24–25)
Unlike some in the Gospel who received prior explanation of Jesus' identity (e.g., 1:45; 4:29), the healed man has an experience but not yet an adequate interpretation for it (9:25). Feigned ignorance could function as a rhetorical device (άπορία);7132 whether or not the narrative characterizes the man as sophisticated enough to challenge his interrogators on this level, they would be sophisticated enough to infer it as one possible way to understand him. However we read the motives of characters in the story world, the narrative lays open a clear choice: either Jesus is a sinner (9:24), or Jesus is from God, and it is ultimately only the latter claim that matches the data (9:31–33). The man's interrogators are clear in the response they are looking for;7133 ancient prosecutors would grill witnesses harder if they were perceived as friendly to the accused.
The phrase «give glory to God» (9:24) can refer to praise,7134 but in a trial or interrogation context, can mean, «give glory to God by confessing your wrong» (Josh 7:19; 1 Esd 9:8).7135 Thus they мая be exhorting the man to admit that he is following a «misleader» (see comment on 7:12)–and exhorting him to glorify God by repenting. Again this is Johannine irony;7136 the man does not respond the way they intend, but he does glorify God by testifying of God's works through Jesus (9:25–33) and then suffering the penalty (9:34)–which was one way to glorify God in truth (12:23–24; 21:19). From the perspective of Johannine witness, any other response on the part of the healed man would have deferred to human glory rather than God's (12:42–43). He proves more courageous than his parents (9:20–22), an example which мая also summon Johannine Christians to courage (cf. 7:3–10; cf. Acts 4:20).
3B. Disciples of Moses? (9:26–28)
The healed man claims that he had answered their questions before (9:27; cf. 9:15, 19); their repeated question probably reflects traditional Jewish procedures for cross-examining witnesses (e.g., Sus 48–62; m. 'Abot 1:9; cf. Mark 14:56). The healed man, however, does naively hope that they are as impressed with his new experience as he himself is (9:27), a hope immediately shown vain by their ridicule (9:28). Some scholars would link their ridicule with the Birkath Ha-minim; the term λοιδορέω applies to reviling and abuse, which would be nearly as accurate as the more precise «malediction.» Nevertheless, the term (a Johannine hapax) has broader application in early Christianity (Acts 23:4; 1Cor 4:12), including to Jesus' sufferings (1Pet 2:23).7137 Like the possible hint in 7:49, this is at most a hint; John's environment (assuming the Birkath had by this point occurred and exercised noticeable effects even in Roman Asia) does not totally overtake the story, and the story world remains internally consistent and plausible.
The «you are» and «we are» of 9are both emphatic, each clause beginning with a pronoun (though the verbs would have sufficed), heightening the contrast.7138 The claim to be «disciples of Moses» probably echoes genuine Pharisaic tradition;7139 regardless of their immediate sources, later rabbis could speak of ultimately receiving tradition from Moses on Sinai.7140 Moses, «father of the prophets,» was also their teacher and master;7141 thus a later rabbi could claim that God told Jeremiah to attend to his teacher and his teachers teacher, Moses, who taught all the prophets.7142 The image probably circulated in the first century; speaking figuratively, Philo claims that he was initiated into the mysteries of Moses and became a student of Jeremiah (Cherubim 49). Likewise, he speaks of biblical psalmists and prophets as Moses' acquaintances (Confusion 39, 62);7143 Joshua (Ίησοϋς) was Moses' first pupil (φοιτητής, Virtues 66);7144 Solomon was one of the pupils (φοιτητών) of Moses (Prelim. Studies 177), and so are all the virtuous (Spec. Laws 1.345; 2.88).7145 One could also be a «disciple» of other links in the tradition from Moses, such as Ezra.7146
Yet their claim to be «disciples of Moses» (9:28) is ironically refuted by the rest of Johns Gospel (cf. 5:45–47), as is their trust in Moses (5:45). On a broader level, their claim to speak for all of Judaism is ironically undermined by John's ecclesiology elsewhere, including the ensuing discourse (10:3–5; cf. pp. 199–201, 214–28). Indeed, their very behavior in this context undermines their claim to be disciples of Moses, for Moses was meek (Num 12:3); the dominant Pharisaic tradition by Johns day was Hillelite, which emphasized the importance of mercifully drawing seekers near rather than thrusting them aside.7147 Thus Hillel himself reportedly declared that those who loved their fellows and drew them near to Torah were disciples (מתלמידיו) of Aaron (m. 'Abot 1:12). The expression «disciple of» a patriarchal figure would probably make sense in the Diaspora as wel1.7148
3C. Jesus Is from God (9:29–34)
In this section, the healed man responds to his interrogators who have already decided that Jesus is guilty. Far from being a sinner (9:24), Jesus is not a sinner (9:31), but from God (9:33), as the evidence plainly indicates (9:31–32). The interrogation, meant to force the man to deny Jesus, produces the opposite effect as he honestly considers his encounter with Jesus. As 3:19–21 predicted, some would flee from the light (like the healed man in 5who would not abandon his sin) while others would ultimately embrace it (as here).
The question of Jesus' origin is bantered back and forth in the Gospel; although the authorities never recognize that Jesus is «from above» or «from God» (his true origin), they do not hesistate to presume that they know where he is from when it is convenient (7:52), or where he is not from (7:42); now they admit that they do not know where he is from (9:29), ironically exposing, in good Johannine fashion, the ignorance behind their other claims.7149
Their denial confirms Jesus' claim that they do not know his origin (8:14; cf. 7:28).7150 Yet the claim not to know where Jesus is from (9:29) мая be a strong implied insult;7151 although it is not clear, it is possible that the interrogators мая be implying that they do not know or have not heard of Jesus' «father» of whom he often speaks, so that perhaps he is of illegitimate origins.7152 Less certainly but still possible, if later sources preserve early ideas here, a mamser, one illegitimately born, might be considered more prone to apostasy, and worthy of derogation of his birth.7153 Within the story world, «not knowing where he is from» might also constitute repudiation (Luke 13:25)7154 by implying that Jesus is of no reputation.
Yet the most important function of their denial, on the overall level of John's story, is to confirm their ignorance for John's reader, whose response is helped along by that of the healed man. Their charge appears to backfire against them; once he is aware that they do not know Jesus' place of origin, the healed man moves from a defensive to an offensive posture:7155 he provides here his longest answer (9:30–33), to which they respond by ridiculing his attempt to instruct them (9:34).
Many might have disputed the man's claim that no one born blind had ever been healed before (9:32);7156 pagan pilgrims to cult sanctuaries might hear stories like the later account in which Asclepius healed during the night a man with no eyes in his eye sockets.7157 But Palestinian Jewish tradition, while reporting healings of the blind on rare occasions (Tob 11:12–13), included no reports of healing of those born blind, and if any members of Johns probable Diaspora audience had heard stories to the contrary, they would nevertheless undoubtedly excuse the hyperbole.
Finally the blind man concludes that Jesus is not only not a sinner (9:31), but he, in contrast to his interrogators (9:30), knows exactly where Jesus is from: he is from God (9:33). If he were not from God, he could do nothing (9:33; cf. 3:2);7158 again, Johns informed audience might, after hearing the Gospel a few times, catch Johns irony. The Pharisees themselves could do no good (12:19); therefore they were not from God (9:33). At the same time, the Gospel here мая suggest an edifying principle of dependence on God (15:5).
The man reasons that Jesus cannot be a sinner, a Sabbath-breaker; he must be a doer of Gods will, that is, of the law.7159 Diaspora Judaism often praised those who were «pious» (θεοσεβής and related terms; 9:31);7160 the term could apply to Israelites,7161 and often was used also for Gentile sympathizers (e.g., Acts 10:2; 13:16; Josephus Ant. 20.195; synonym in T. Jos. 4:6), as has come to be widely recognized,7162 despite some earlier questions.7163 Various Jewish traditions also emphasized that God heard only the righteous;7164 at the least they had a special position of favor before God (e.g., Ps 34:10,15–18), a general principle most Jews and Christians would have affirmed. Even many exclusivist early Christians acknowledged that God noticed the good deeds of those who were not yet believers (Acts 10:4, 31, 35); John 3may also imply this, though it could well depict those in the process of becoming persevering believers, as in many of Johns narratives.
His accusers have now decided their case; they conclude that he himself must be a sinner (replying to 9:31), therefore unqualified to teach them; after all, he was born in sins, as his blindness proved (9:34). Ironically, however, Jesus, who knew the circumstances of his birth (like everything else–e.g., 2:23–25) and confirmed that knowledge by bringing healing, had already declared that the man's blindness did not derive from his sin or that of his parents (9:2–3), as the informed reader will recognize. No less ironically, the reader knows that these accusers themselves have not been born from God (3:3) and hence are born in sin as heirs of the devil (8:44) and destined to die in sin (8:21). Further, they reject as a mark of his ignorance his comment that if Jesus were not from God, he could not do these signs (9:33);7165 yet the attentive reader will recall that a teacher of Israel made precisely the same affirmation earlier (3:2). Again, in front of John's informed audience the man's accusers simply demonstrate their own ignorance.
Angrily the offended leaders «cast» the man «out» (9:34); whether the recurrence of the same term έκβάλλω in 10is intentional or coincidental, the contrast with Jesus' carefully shepherding his flock in and out of the fold seems ironic.7166 Ejecting the healed man from their presence мая not imply formal excommunication as we know it from the later sources,7167 but it surely fulfills the threat of 9:22; like much of John's audience, this man was forced to choose between loyalty to his healer and the claims of the community of which he had been a part.
True Shepherd, Sheep, and Thieves (9:35–10:18)
In this section, Jesus defends the healed man who was expelled from the synagogue for following him; he also indicts the Pharisees for their poor leadership among God's people. Thus Jesus fulfills the role of an «advocate» (14:16) and prosecutor (16:8–11), just as the Spirit continues to do in John's own day.
1. Jesus Reveals Himself to the Healed Man (9:35–38)
The man's loyalty to Jesus set him on the right road, but did not yet confirm him as a disciple. Nicodemus and some of his allies in the synagogue had recognized Jesus as a teacher from God (3:2), but he had not yet confessed him publicly. It is in 9:35–39 that the healed man moves to a more christologically adequate confession of Jesus' identity.7168
The Father seeks true worshipers (4:23), and Jesus, who does the Father's will (9:3–4), seeks this man out in 9:35;7169 parallel language in 1and 5strongly suggests that this description implies Jesus' intention. (That he «heard» that they had cast him out мая imply a secondhand report,7170 but also might imply having heard from the Father, as in 5:19–20 and 8:38.) But John deliberately contrasts this man whom Jesus finds (9:35) with the man he found in 5:14, who after being healed turned on Jesus rather than take responsibility for following his teaching. The two prospective disciples provide a negative and positive model, which together issue a challenge to progress to disciple-ship. The personal pronoun σύ in Jesus' inquiry in 9is emphatic: Do you believe? This emphasis suggests a contrast in the immediate context with the Pharisees;7171 but for Johns informed reader it мая also suggest a contrast with the healed man of 5:14–16, who after being healed failed to persevere to discipleship–and now awaited a worse fate than before (5:14; cf. 15:22, 24; 3:36).
The healed man still can reason only from his experience and lacks an adequate grid for interpretation (9:36); Jesus now supplies that grid (9:35–37). «Son of Man» by itself might hold ambiguous christological significance7172 (perhaps suggesting a historical core for these actual words), but its cumulative effect in the Gospel to this point suggests a fuller significance for the informed reader (1:51; 3:14; 5:27; 6:27; 8:28); an even greater weight мая rest on «believe» (9:35; see introduction, ch. 7). Jesus responds by revealing himself as he did to the Samaritan woman (4:26); to one who had been blind before their previous encounter, Jesus ironically announces, «I am the one you have now seen' (9:37).7173
The healed man responds with a heightened Christology as soon as the word makes a more adequate interpretation possible (9:38). Gentiles sometimes prostrated themselves before rulers,7174 and Jewish people apparently often followed suit;7175 even looking at another's feet instead of another's face showed respect for the other's higher status.7176 It could connote intense respect (e.g., Rev 3:9) or that one was begging or seeking mercy.7177 Thus the term by itself need not indicate worship of a deity; but in its broader Johannine context (4:20–24; 12:20–21), including John's Christology (1:1, 18; 20:28), it fits the Johannine portrait of Jesus' deity and invites John's own audience to worship Jesus.7178
2. Jesus Convicts the Pharisees (9:39–41)
In 9:39–41 John epitomizes and makes more explicit the guiding irony that dominates the whole of ch. 9.7179 John earlier affirms that Jesus did not come to judge the world (3:17; also 12:47); here (9:39) he claims that he came to bring about judgment (a characteristic messianic mission); the judgment here is to divide people into two groups, those who heed the light and those who reject it (also 3:19; cf. 1 John 2:11). One who presses far enough, however, will have the paradox resolved (12:44–49). John's words about spiritual blindness develop his dualism of light and darkness (see comment on 1:4–5).
Greek and Roman tradition could play on the irony of the spiritual sight of a blind seer like Tiresias;7180 one Greek philosopher allegedly blinded himself physically to make his mental contemplations more accurate.7181 But pagan sources more frequently viewed figurative blindness as a primarily intellectual than as a primarily moral fault,7182 and the Jewish tradition provides much more abundant source material for John's irony.7183 Isaiah the prophet offered the standard text about spiritual blindness adopted by John (Isa 6:9–10 in John 12:40), but the image was common in the biblical prophets (Isa 29:9; 42:18–19; 56:10; Jer 5:21; Ezek 12:2), the Jesus tradition (cf. Matt 13:14–15; 15:14; 23:16; Mark 4:12; 8:17–18; Luke 8:10; perhaps Luke 4:18; cf. Acts 28:26–27), and appears in other early Jewish sources.7184 John's irony sometimes turns on convicting the leaders from their mouths, but sometimes on paradox from Jesus' own.7185
The Pharisees sarcastically demand whether they, too, are blind (9:40).7186 Jesus responds (9:41) that their very claim to see makes them all the more responsible for the light that has come to them; if they refuse to believe, their sin remains (8:24; 15:24; 16:9); those satisfied with their own condition were the ones condemned to remain in it (cf. Rev 3:17).7187 Just as the Paraclete will later prosecute the world in defending the disciples (16:7–11), Jesus, who has entered the world for judgment (9:39), convicts the Pharisees.
The present context мая not be the first to have connected spiritual blindness (9:39–41) with the image of sheep (10:1–4). Many Jewish people мая have known the story in which blind sheep who could not follow their master were judged and hurled into the abyss of fire (1 En. 90:26–27); because their judgment follows that of the fallen angels and pagans, the scene probably refers to the final judgment and damnation of the sinners from Israe1.
3. The Shepherd and the Thieves (10:1–10)
The Pharisees have excluded the healed man from their synagogue community, as if they have the authority to decide who does and who does not belong to the covenant people (9:34).7188 In response, Jesus defends the healed man and convicts the Pharisees (9:39–41). In 10:1–18, which assumes the biblical image of sheep as God's people, he turns to the question of the true and false owners of the sheep, showing that he is the shepherd (probably a divine allusion from Ezek 34) and they the false shepherds of Ezek 34. Shepherds had to battle thieves, robbers and wolves for the sheep's safety; in this Gospel, Jesus' shepherdly defense of the blind man against his opponents, the «thieves,» would therefore eventuate in his death at their hands (10:15).
For the sake of treating material in greater detail in the commentary, we have divided 10:1–18 into a discussion on the shepherd and the thieves (true and false owners) in 10:1–10 and a discussion of the true shepherd's sacrifice (10:11–18, which briefly contrasts the owner with mere hirelings).
3A. The Shepherd/Door Parables
Jesus claims two titles in the predicative «I am» claims of this passage, «door» (10:7) and «good shepherd» (10:11,14). Some connect the parable of the good shepherd with Ha-nukkah (10:22),7189 but this proposed connection obscures the continuation of Jesus' words from the end of ch. 9, on the last day of the festival of Tabernacles (7:2, 37). Jesus is still addressing the Pharisees in the presence of the man born blind. In fact, in what is probably the final comment of this Tabernacles section (7:1–10:21) before the festival of Hanukkah (10:22), a reference to the man born blind (10:21) connects that context with 9:1–38.7190 Even those who regard 10:1–21 as a unit separate from ch. 9 sometimes recognize this discourse as at least partly a commentary on that narrative.7191
Some deny that John includes parables, because John's form for them differs from that in the Synoptics; but the meaning of parable was wider than any particular usage in the Synoptics,7192 and on formal grounds one cannot conclude John's allegories inauthentic.7193 Further, against some scholars, John's παροιμία (10:6) is virtually synonymous with παραβολή, and in the LXX both terms translate the same Hebrew term, masha1.7194 That term applies not only to full-fledged story parables but to any sort of comparison.7195 Schweizer thinks that John s analogies are closer to Platós comparisons of earthly shadows and heavenly reality than to Synoptic parables, seeing earthly shepherds as shadows of Jesus.7196 Yet John surely implies no metaphysical relationship between Jesus and earthly shepherds; they simply serve as analogies for Jesus as they served for God, Moses, or David in the biblical tradition. More likely, John s metaphors function in a manner analogous to Synoptic parables.7197
The parallels between the shepherd and vine parables7198 also underline the ecclesiological point of the parable. Some have argued that 10:1–5 provides an authentic, noneschatological core parable, followed by the evangelist's allegorical exposition.7199 The problem with this thesis is that it follows Jeremias's work on Synoptic parables, which regards allegorical expansions as secondary, an approach that, in view of considerable data from other early Jewish parables, should be regarded as demonstrably wrong.7200 Further, though it is not impossible that John мая redact earlier materials here,7201 10:1–18 does function as an essential unity, warning against thieves and false shepherds.7202 But the approach is correct to point out that 10:1–5 does fit what is known of «pastoral life in Palestine,»7203 and that, as in the Synoptic passages employing similar language, Jesus confronts the authorities with an opportunity «to fulfill their role as the watchmen of God's people.»7204 Further, Jesus also used shepherd images in his Synoptic parables (e.g., Mark 6:34; Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4–6).7205
Thus, like most of this Gospel, we lack sufficient external data to verify or falsify this passage from a strictly historical perspective; the stories do not appear in the Synoptics and the language is Johannine. The images employed, however, are certainly consistent with the Synoptic portrait of the historical Jesus (whether John received them as entire stories or wove together images from Jesus tradition or elsewhere). Jesus elsewhere spoke of wolves as false prophets (10:12; cf. Matt 7:15; cf. Matt 10:16; Luke 10:3) and the shepherd who cares sacrificially for his sheep (Matt 18/ Luke 15:4–5). Other images such as robbers (Mark 11:17; Luke 10:30) and gates (Matt 7:13–14; Luke 13:24–25) are frequent enough in other teachers' illustrations that the «coherence» is less significant.7206 «Knowing the Father» (10:14–15) resembles a passage in Q (Matt 11/ Luke 10:22). Historically, then, one finds here, at the least, verisimilitude of substance, albeit in Johannine idiom.
3B. The General Background of the Sheep and Shepherd Image (10:1–10)
Scholars have proposed various backgrounds for Jesus' teaching about the sheep. Some have argued for a gnostic,7207 especially Mandean, background.7208 As we argued in our introduction, however, a demonstrable Mandean background for anything in the Fourth Gospel is virtually impossible, since the earliest extant Mandean sources are over half a millennium later than the Fourth Gospe1. Indeed, the late Mandean «parallels» probably reflect some dependence on John here.7209 By contrast, Gods intimacy with his flock is clearly an OT image (e.g., Isa 40:11; Ezek 34:12–16), and where John goes beyond this he мая reflect the early Christian development of the intimacy theme (e.g., in Q, Matt ll:27/Luke 10:22).7210
While the OT background is paramount, John's audience would also think of what they knew of shepherds. Less informed members of his original audience, new to the Jewish and Christian conceptual realm, would have at least recognized various affective associations with the shepherd image. Some in the western Mediterranean would have recalled nostalgically «the idyllic life of» shepherds,7211 but a more widespread perception, especially among urban dwellers, was one of suspicion, since many perceived shepherds «as rough, unscrupulous characters, who pastured their animals on other peoplés land and pilfered wool, milk, and kids from the flock.»7212 Yet the nature of Jesus' comparisons in the passage will evoke especially the pictures of shepherd as «leader» rather than as unscrupulous.
Sheep had various uses. They were prized then as now especially for woo1.7213 At least in Egypt, sheepshearing occurred in января or февраля and, after sheep had grown another coat, in сентября. Although modern Westerners think of cheese from cows' milk, Greeks and Egyptians preferred cheese made of sheep's and goats' milk. The skins of dead sheep, pigs, and especially goats were used as leather, particularly for carrying liquids.7214
Despite the important shepherds in biblical times (Exod 3:1; 1Sam 16:11; cf. Amos 7:14),7215 by this period they represented a frequently despised profession,7216 as commentators point out.7217 Texts often portray them as rogues, sometimes even responsible for brigandage and murder7218 (though certainly not consistently enough to link them with the «thieves» here). Some Palestinian rabbis link them with Gentiles (t. B. Mesica 2:33); others treat shepherding as a dishonorable profession, like tax gathering.7219 Like field watchmen, shepherds were normally unable to join communal prayers of local communities.7220 Sanders мая be right to doubt that they were social outcasts7221 and is surely right that society depended on shepherds,7222 yet he too readily dismisses evidence for their low social status.7223 Throughout the rural empire, peasants were impoverished, and among the peasants there was but one class distinction: «Only the goatherds and shepherds constitute a separate and lower class.»7224
Still, it should be observed that it was the elite and their urban audience that would most despise shepherds; shepherds themselves undoubtedly held a higher opinion of their appropriate status. Thus the negative opinions of shepherds in Jewish literature generally stem from the rabbis, who represented an educated elite; most Roman lists of despised professions also originate from the elite.7225 Although elite opinions usually trickled down to the masses, this evidence мая suggest that those who looked down on shepherds were especially people with wealth and status. By any reckoning, this would have to include Jesus' opponents in this narrative.
As rulers of sheep,7226 shepherds provided a natural image, in metaphorical contexts, for rulers;7227 this was true in both Hellenistic7228 and Jewish7229 contexts. As early as Homer, «shepherd of the people,» clearly an equivalent for «ruler of the people,»7230 became a familiar label for both Greek7231 and Trojan7232 leaders and their allies, especially for Agamemnon, the leader of the Achaian host.7233 Later writers continued to exploit this image.7234 That those who were blind needed others to «lead» them (Matt 15:14; 23:16; Acts 13:11; Rom 2:19)7235 reinforces the importance of the shepherd leading his people in this context (9:39–41).
The reputed character of sheep naturally reinforced this image. Although most animal fables by the first century included an interpretation, animal fables from the start were often too obvious to require explanation;7236 this presupposes a cultural milieu where much was known about characteristics of animals. In his work On Animals (7.27), Aelian regards sheep as the most obedient of animals, submissive to others' rule, following the shepherd and his dogs and even goats; they also remain near the rest of the flock.7237 Sheep were considered gentle (placidumб Terence Adelphi 534–535).
3C. Biblical Source for the Sheep and Shepherd Image (10:1–10)
The typical obedience of sheep to their shepherd provided a natural image of Israel as God's sheep in Scripture,7238 an image that was continued in early Judaism.7239 As Robinson notes, «that Israel was intended by the sheep-fold needed no more explanation than the similar language of the 'housé or the Vineyard.'»7240 Some have compared the «fold» with the tabernacle7241 or, still less likely, the «seventh hall» of Jewish mysticism.7242 The semantic range of the term αυλή is simply too broad to require such connotations. In the Fourth Gospel it is also used of the high priest's courtyard, entry to which required being known to the doorkeeper (18:15)–but that commonality simply testifies to a general need to guard onés property from intruders, not to an intentional parallel on John's part. (The doorkeeper is probably simply one of the «props» for the story, though smaller folds would be unlikely to have a doorkeeper.)7243
Early Judaism also often continued the portrait of Moses as their shepherd.7244 For example, a few centuries after the Fourth Gospel was written a rabbi told a parable in which Moses had to rescue Israel, a lamb, from a wolf, Pharaoh.7245 David,7246 the prophets,7247 Ezra,7248 the leaders whom God appointed over Israel7249 (sometimes including important teachers7250 or officers),7251 and the messiah7252 also appear as shepherds.7253 But the chief shepherd of early Judaism, and especially of the OT, was God himself.7254 God acted like a shepherd for his people, carrying the young (Ps 28:9; Isa 40:11; 46:3–4) and leading his flock as in the first exodus.7255
Some of the language of this section borrows from Moses or David, but most of it points to God shepherding his flock, which fits a primary allusion to Ezek 34 (34:11–12)7256 and especially John's overall Christology (1:1,18; 20:28; see comment on 10:27–30 with Ps 95:7). The parallels are not so explicit as to reveal Jesus' identity to his opponents; but in the context of the whole Gospel, they certainly reaffirm his identity for the informed reader. Some other early Christians had used the shepherd image for Jesus (1Pet 5:4), sometimes recalling Moses (Heb 13:20) and perhaps God (1Pet 2with Isa 53:6–7); it is not unlikely that, in whatever sense, Jesus originally applied the image to himself (Mark 6:34; 14:27; cf. Matt 25:32; Luke 15:4).
3D. Thieves and Robbers (10:1, 5, 8, 10)
Thieves and robbers were common and could prove very costly to property owners.7257 Jewish law technically distinguished thieves from robbers; although definitions varied, most commonly the former broke into homes, the latter accosted wayfarers.7258 The ideas were closely enough associated, however, that when used metaphorically they could be linked as part of the same semantic domain.7259 With regard to assaulting a sheepfold, there would be little difference (10subsumes both titles under «thief»);7260 wolves in 10serve the same function, as a further image of those who seek the sheep for their own gain.7261
Thieves were so common in Egyptian villages7262 that the men had to appoint unpaid representatives from their number to guard their threshing floors at night.7263 Robbers became a severe danger in Egypt as well, resulting in harsh threats against them.7264 Papyri testify that toll charges often supported desert police, whose job was to protect caravans against bands of robbers.7265 Ancient Mediterranean laws generally demanded harsh punishment for thieves.7266 Indeed, if a villager caught a thief, he might enlist his fellow villagers to help him beat the man.7267
Different kinds of theft existed. A spiteful enemy might sneak onto property to hack at the vines,7268 or a jealous acquaintance might seek to steal an anima1.7269 Early Roman law reportedly even treated as theft the use of a borrowed animal for a purpose other than that for which one borrowed it.7270 Some Jewish teachers also considered those who cheated, deceived, or shortchanged their neighbors–what we would call «white-collar crime"–to be thieves.7271 Such theft occasionally included unethical seizure of sheep.7272 The more familiar image, however, remained that of roadway bandits (as «robbers») and those who would break in (as «thieves»), which would probably provide the primary image here.
Robbers endangered travelers,7273 sometimes murdered their victims,7274 and were generally feared and hated.7275 If they gathered disaffected recruits while passing through the countryside, they could attain large numbers, which it might take a small army to challenge.7276 Mediterranean sources cite the danger of robbers to shepherds at least as early as Homer.7277 Shepherds were often robbed or raided by mounted and sword-wielding rustlers, which was why many Mediterranean shepherds were ready for combat with their staffs and had vicious attack dogs.7278 Although their use in Israel was probably rarer (attestation like Job 30is relatively minimal), other Mediterranean sources typically depict the use of dogs in shepherding.7279 Their primary role was to guard the sheep.7280 When shepherds knew that a colleague had a useful dog, they sometimes wanted to keep their flocks near his.7281
Speakers could employ the titles «thieves» and «robbers» as insults.7282 Some applied the label of «robberies» or «plunder» figuratively to officials exploiting a province (a useful comparison for Jesus' application to the elite here).7283 The image was hardly friendly.7284 One Jewish sage declared that thieves, like liars, would inherit destruction (Sir 20:25).7285 Thus thieves in Tannaitic parables most often stand for pagan nations oppressing Israel;7286 that Jesus would apply the image to Israel's leaders would not commend him to their sympathies.
Some take John's «thieves and robbers» as false messiahs who «came before» Jesus,7287 usually revolutionary leaders,7288 which accords with one of Josephus's primary uses of ληστής (e.g., Josephus War 4.138). This use does not fit well the specific context in John, however.7289 John refers to Israels disobedient leaders,7290 in particular the Pharisees he has just been reproving.7291 Later in the book, ironically, these leaders will prefer a literal ληστής to Jesus (18:40); Judas, the son of destruction, is a «thief» (12:6).
3E. The Relationship of Shepherd and Sheep (10:3–6)
The formerly blind man had debated with the Pharisees not only about Jesus' identity but about epistemology, as evidenced by the frequent repetition of οΐδα (9:12, 20–21, 24–25, 29–31); the healed man knew what the Pharisees did not (9:25, 31). The healed man thus becomes paradigmatic for Jesus' sheep, who «know» him, that is, are in relation to him. It is significant that John employs in οΐδα 10:4–5, and its synonym (see introduction) γινώσκω in 10:6,14–15, 27.
Shepherds normally became very familiar with their sheep, which would usually not be difficult if the average flock size was about one hundred.7292 «Calling by name» (10:3) most of all indicates familiarity, and often a degree of affection.7293 An ancient goatherd like Daphnis knew his animals by name.7294 Conjoined with reports of more recent Palestinian custom, it seems likely that shepherds assigned names «according to shape, colour, and peculiarities, and the names given to the lamb or kid are still borne by the grown animal»; such names both provided a way to call the animal and indicated the shepherd's ownership.7295 Thus one family she-goat was called Chionê, «snowy (white).»7296 Shorter descriptive names were preferable so one could summon animals more quickly.7297 Shepherds probably generally counted their sheep,7298 certainly after an attack by wild animals.7299
Shepherd dogs heeded their masters' calls;7300 sheep and goats were also taught to «obey the voice» (φωνή πείθεσθαι) and respond to their shepherd's pipe.7301 Obedient animals might be led by voice and pipe without requiring physical suggestions from a staff.7302 A particularly diligent herdsman might train animals to respond to various instructions on a pipe, to rise, begin grazing, rest, or flee to the woods if a wolf were approaching.7303 A modern shepherd in this region could «lead over 200 sheep through a valley by walking slowly in front of them giving his ten-second call roughly every 40 seconds.»7304 Each morning, as a shepherd prepares to lead sheep to pasture, he offers «either a special call or a special tune that he plays on a small flute,» and if necessary, enters the court and repeats the cal1.7305 Granted, when a worker called the animals to the fold, a few goats might stubbornly refuse to come;7306 but the cooperation of most, especially sheep, was the rule.7307
Different shepherds might share the same fold for a night, but separating the sheep in the morning or at other times was not difficult. The sheep can distinguish the voice of their own shepherd from the voice of other shepherds.7308 Particular notes on the pipe were thought more suitable for cattle (strong), others for goats (shrill), and still others for sheep (gentle);7309 piping could also call out one person's sheep or goats while leaving another's behind.7310 As in this passage, Eastern shepherds often go before the sheep to lead them (10:4).7311
Shepherds provided an image of intimate concern for their sheep, both in ancient Israel (Ps 23:1; Ezek 34:2–6, 11–16) and in later times (e.g., CD 13.9; Mark 6:34). Calling «his own» sheep (10:3–4, 12) employs the image of shepherds who recognized their sheep (though outsiders might not distinguish them well) and sheep who recognized their shepherds, and conveys a thought of belonging and intimacy (cf. 1:11; 13:1).7312 Knowing the sheep by name (10:3) provides an apt figure for this intimacy (cf., e.g., 3 John 15), which is illustrated on a narrative level by the encounter in 20:16.
The image of knowing names communicates beyond the figurative image of sheep. Those who knew the names of their citizens or the people they addressed showed their concern thereby and more readily won their favor.7313 That God knew Moses by name (Exod 33:17) and hence revealed his glory to him (Exod 33:18–19; John 1:14–18) indicates the special relationship Moses had with God.7314 God calling by name can indicate omniscience and power (Isa 40:26; 45:3–4)7315 but also a special covenant relationship with his people (Isa 43:1; 62:2; cf. 65:15).7316 Yet these texts in the LXX employ καλέω with όνομα, whereas John employs φωνέω (10:3), possibly (though far from certainly) because of his other uses of that term (1:48; 11:28; 12:17; but cf., e.g., 9:18, 24; 18:33). John uses καλέω only twice,7317 but φωνέω twelve times, and φωνή fifteen times.
At the same time, John мая also adapt the phrase to recall the biblical conception of God's «voice» to his people, which was often equivalent to his covenant word to them through the law or prophets.7318 Israel especially heard Gods voice at Sinai (Deut 4:33, 36; 5:22–26; 18:16), as some early Jewish interpreters recognized (1QM 10.10–11).7319 In Scripture, God s voice was his message to his people through the law and/or prophets; thus Israel was to «hear,» that is, «hearken to» or «obey» God's voice (Exod 15:26; 19:5).7320 Jewish tradition commented less on the divine voice, except in terms of the heavenly bat qol and prophetic inspiration;7321 but for the most part God was held to speak only to the very righteous.7322 Illustrating this principle, we мая note that some rabbis even thought that only Moses could hear God's voice, despite its power.7323
The point is that God's true people hear Jesus because they recognize him as the shepherd; thus the very authorities who have excluded the healed man from the synagogue now prove excluded from the people of God.7324 John often emphasizes «hearing» Jesus7325 or the Father;7326 he speaks of hearing God s «voice» in terms of knowing and recognizing God (5:37), of recognizing Jesus' voice (10:3, 16, 27; 18:37; cf. 3:29), of being resurrected by his voice (5:25, 28) and of the mysterious voice of the Spirit (see comment on 3:8).
If John and Revelation stem from the same community (as we argued in the introduction), some in John's audience мая have believed they experienced that voice in physical visions or auditions (e.g., Rev 1:10, 12; 3:20; 4:1); in the total context of John's Gospel, however, the Spirit might reveal Jesus to all believers in ways not always so dramatic (cf. 16:13–15). In the Fourth Gospel, the community continues to hear Jesus through the word, the orally presented message of the enfleshed word (17:20), and the Spirit who reveals Jesus in that word (16:7–15).7327 Knowing Jesus' voice (10:4) also means knowing Jesus (10:14), a covenant relationship of intimacy no less serious than Jesus' relationship with the Father (10:15; cf. 10:30). The present tense of 5suggests that Jesus obeyed the Father by continuing revelation, and 10:14–15 suggests that the ideal relationship John envisions for believers is one in which they continually receive divine direction as they carry out God's wil1. Their experience of this life in the Spirit (16:13–15) distinguishes them from their adversaries but links them with the biblical prophets, undergirding their polemic.7328 The word of the Lord was not innate (5:38; 8:37),7329 but dwelled in the righteous community (15:7; 1 John 2:14, 24), as a sign of the new covenant (Jer 31:33).
Just as «hearing» Jesus connotes «heeding» him (given a frequent biblical connotation of «hear»), so knowing him (10:14) connotes «following» him (10:27), that is, obedience (1 John 2:3).7330 Temporary following, perhaps because one saw signs (6:2), is not what John means here, for it cannot yield life (8:21, 24); following means discipleship (1:37–38, 40, 43), implying a new kind of life (8:12) and following to the death (13:36), even as one of the sheep (21:19). The image of the lamb guiding and his people following also appears in Revelation 7:17; 14:4.
That the sheep would recognize and follow the shepherd but not a stranger (10:5; in this context, the thief [10:1]) fits the normal behavior of sheep.7331 Domestic animals like dogs were known to be more receptive to acquaintances than to strangers (Plato Rep. 2.376A). (Greeks could tell stories, however, of another learning an animal herder's pipe tunes and luring away the animals.)7332 Kenneth Bailey notes that when a family buys a new sheep from others, it remains unaccustomed to the new family's cal1. Thus when the new shepherd calls and other sheep leave the fold, it remains behind agitated and stays hungry until it can be trained. It does not respond to an unfamiliar voice.7333
On παροιμία in 10:6, see the introductory comment on the parablés genre above. Their misunderstanding (10:6, ουκ Εγνωσαν–they did not «know» his words), however, demonstrates that they cannot hear his message (8:43)–which in turn simply demonstrates that they are not his sheep (10:3–4). On John's misunderstanding motif, see comment on 3:4.
3F. The Fold and the Door (10:2–3, 7,9)
A first-century C.E. Roman writer compares a general guarding his troops with a shepherd who sleeps securely knowing that his flock is penned safely with iron bars, protected from the hungry wolves raging fruitlessly against the fortification.7334 Ancient Jewish sources provide less detail than we might like, but reports of Palestinian shepherds from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries мая well preserve longstanding pastoral practice. It is unlikely that all sheepfolds were the same; variation in rank and resources would naturally produce somewhat different arrangements. One could build enclosures for sheep in various ways; one could use a cave (1Sam 24:3),7335 a square hillside enclosure made of stone walls to keep out animals and winter wind, a roofed enclosure, or a temporary shelter using thorn-bushes for sides, or (as some think more likely here) «a yard in front of a house, surrounded by a stone wall which was probably topped with briars.»7336 Such a sheepfold might have only one door, guarded by a porter and providing entrance to both the sheep and the house,7337 or adjoining a house but with its own separate entrance.7338
Reasoning from some contemporary sheepfold customs in the same region, Bailey paints a vivid picture of what he thinks the sheepfold was like. Although 10may depict an entrance in a lower, thorn-topped enclosure in the open countryside, he thinks the enclosure here is a village family courtyard with walls over two meters high, because the thief must «climb» in (10:1).7339 The «door» (10:1–2) would then be «a heavy door in a stone wall» opening onto the village street, «used by both people and animals.»7340 Most village families own between three and ten sheep, which мая stay with other animals in their courtyard but мая enter the house in bad weather or winter.7341 A neighborhood boy or a couple of girls or a hired watchman often guards the sheep for an entire neighborhood. These shepherds who do not own the sheep remain outside the enclosure, but the doorkeeper knows their voices and admits them to get the sheep for pasture in the morning.7342 By contrast, in 10:7–9 the fold represents the sort of temporary summer shelters in open pasture, with unroofed walls of stones topped with briars. This sort of enclosure has no door or doorkeeper, so the shepherd sleeps across the opening, himself acting as the door.7343
This reconstruction is uncertain. It remains appealing (it would explain for instance, the introduction of wolves only in 10:12, with thieves in both places), and мая be correct. But it invites further exploration. Άναβαίνων in 10need not signify climbing a high wall (cf., e.g., Gen 38:12; 41:2; Mark 1:10). The distinction between the shepherd and the hirelings (10:11–12) мая also suggest that in this case the shepherd is also the owner of this flock rather than merely a watchman over several families' sheep (cf. 10:16).7344 We do know of more sizeable flocks than this, even in Jesus' parables (Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4). Bailey's insightful approach explains details in the text and the image some hearers of Jesus' message might have envisioned, but the text's details мая remain insufficient to confirm this approach with certainty.7345
In any case, those who wished to steal sheep had to come secretly or by force,7346 and thieves were known to enter through windows (Joel 2:9) or break through walls (Matt 6:19–20; cf. Exod 22:2).7347 Some have suggested an image (mentioned above), based on some later shepherds' practice, in which the sheepfold has no gate so the shepherd himself lies across the entrance. This would explain the mixed metaphor by which Jesus could be both shepherd and door later in the passage (10:9–11).7348 But it should also be admitted that neither Jesus nor most of his contemporaries scrupled about mixing metaphors.7349 The primary purpose of pens or folds was to protect the sheep from hostile animals or other intruders.7350 Wolves and human predators compared with them sometimes came stealthily at night,7351 and wolves sometimes penetrated the winter sheepfolds, unseen by shepherds and sheepdogs,7352 but often feared to enter them.7353 Similarly they might prove unable to penetrate them; when hungry, they might simply run around the enclosure, frightening the sheep, or vainly assault its stakes and doors.7354
In 10:7–9, Jesus returns to the door metaphor. But whereas in 10Jesus is or uses the door to the sheepfold, in 10he becomes the door to salvation (cf. 14:6; Matt 7:13–14; 25:10; Luke 13:24–25).7355 The figure might remain the same as in 10:1–5,7356 if the shepherd lies across the entrance (as some have argued; see above) or if the sheepfold represents the people of God also envisioned as the community of salvation. But as noted above, it was also not inappropriate to mix metaphors. This image could recall one of the most frequently mentioned «doors» in the law (about sixty times in the LXX, especially in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers): that of the tabernacle, the place of God's presence.7357 Elsewhere in Johannine literature an «open door» мая indicate access to God's presence and respond to exclusion from the synagogue (Rev 3:7–9), though the relevance of this parallel is mitigated by the fact that it is a specific usage of a more broadly applied phrase (1Cor 16:9; 2Cor 2:12; Col 4:3).7358 Heavenly portals as in some apocalyptic visionary texts (Rev 4:1; 11:19)7359 should also not be ruled out, though it is not likely anywhere close to the foreground of John's thought here.
Jesus would lead the sheep in and out ( 10:9), that is, through the door ( 10:7,9). People who were settled in the land would leave and return home for a day's work; the coming and going probably represent a Semitic way of expressing freedom of movement and saying «all the time» (Deut 28:6,19; 2 Kgs 19:27; Ps 121:8; CD 11.10) by contrasting opposites (cf. Deut 6:7).7360 But the sheep and shepherd image remains primary here, alluding especially to Num 27:16–17, where Moses prays for a successor (Joshua, Num 27:18) to come in and out and lead the people as a shepherd.7361 Neither the court of a village home nor the makeshift pens in the countryside would hold enough food for the sheep year-round; they would need to be led out to the pastures to graze.7362 This leading of the sheep was a fitting expression for one who would watch over them with their best interests at heart.7363 In 10he would likewise «drive» the flock from the fold for pasture; the expression in this text might (though need not) suggest a contrast with the harsh expulsion of the healed man from the Judean leaders' fold in 9(where έκβάλλω appears in a more typical sense). In the image, the «saving» of sheep by bringing them in and out (10:9) refers to safety from robbers (10:8–10), but the specific term points beyond that to the sort of salvation Jesus provides those who follow him,7364 the eschatological salvation God promised his own flock (Ezek 34:22; Zech 9:16).
He would also provide «pasture» (νομή, 10:9). In some parts of the ancient Mediterranean, shepherds and goatherds would begin grazing their animals just after dawn,7365 lead them to pools to drink around 10 a.m.,7366 get them to shade during the midday heat,7367 bring them again to the water and then pasture them further, allowing them to graze again in the fields until evening.7368 At evening a shepherd would gather the sheep into the fold,7369 whether permanent or makeshift. Although goats could fend for themselves, sheep depended on the shepherds to find them pasture. «Shepherds also had to provide shelter, medication, aid in lambing time, and provision for lameness and weariness. Without the shepherd the sheep were helpless.»7370
Where possible in the Mediterranean world, sheep might remain in the open all year, driven in spring to the uplands for summer grazing and in fall to the valleys for winter grazing;7371 but this was not always possible. In cooler regions, sheep remained in the pen or fold during the cold part of the year,7372 but went to the fields in warm weather.7373 In some years heavy winter snows could delay animal herders in leading their flocks to pasture in the spring.7374 Shepherds had to move flocks far from home for long periods during the dry summers.7375 Because of the topography of some regions or because only the more elevated pastures remained green during the dry summers, shepherds often grazed their flocks in the mountains7376 and became skilled mountaineers.7377
The Scriptures also portrayed Israel as the sheep of Gods pasture (Ps 74[73:1 LXX]; 79[78LXX]; 95[94LXX]; 100[99LXX]; Jer 23:1; Ezek 34:31), and God as their shepherd would lead them to pasture (Jer 23:3; 50:19; Ezek 34:14).7378
3G. The Shepherd and Thieves Contrasted (10:10)
In 10:8,10 Jesus develops the image of the thief from 10:1: unlike Jesus, the authorities who seek to gain possession of the sheep are not the true shepherd.7379 The contrast of v. 10 continues an earlier contrast, because the sheep heeded the shepherd but not the thieves (10:4–5, 8). Not only were the false leaders of Israel failing shepherds (Jer 23:1–2; Ezek 34:2); they were also thieves and robbers (Isa 1:23; Jer 2:26; 7:11), greedily exploiting God's people (Ezek 34:2–10). Although the worst of thieves one might envision wished to steal, kill, and destroy,7380 the specific verbal distinction between stealing and killing in 10may reflect Jewish legal language. Jewish law protected the lives of thieves who acted with intent merely to steal (Exod 22:3), but not if they broke in at night, when their intention could be presumed to kill (Exod 22:2).7381 Like wolves (10:12), robbers were enemies of the sheep, and sheep should know who had their best interest at heart (10:4–5);7382 in one ancient story a butcher and a shepherd vied for a sheep's attention, with predictable results (Maximus of Tyre Or. 19.2).
Jesus notes that the thieves have come only to work harm for the sheep (10:10); once they stole the sheep from the rightful owner, they sometimes would even kill the animals (cf. Exod 22:1, 4), and animal herders had good reason to fear this (e.g., Longus 2.22). By contrast, Jesus came to bring life to the sheep (10:10); the emphasis on «more abundant» life7383 makes clear that the text refers to eternal life, that is, the life of the coming age which, in John s theology, begins in the present with a divine birth (3:3–5; see comments on life in the introduction). John s words about Jesus coming to bring life, versus the Pharisees coming to kill (10:10), naturally leads into the following section where Jesus must die to save the sheep. Yet whereas one would expect him to point again to the Jerusalem elite as those who «kill» the shepherd, John prefers to emphasize Jesus' choice to offer himself rather than his enemies' choice to execute him (10:18; cf. comment on 13:26).
4. The True Shepherd's Sacrifice (10:11–18)
The contrast between the shepherd who cares for and brings life to the sheep and the thieves who come to destroy the sheep (10:10) leads into a discussion of how fully the good shepherd loves his sheep. In this section Jesus demonstrates his relationship with his sheep in terms of his death on their behalf. The «hirelings» (10:12–13) presumably represent the false shepherds of Israel (Jer 23:1–2; Ezek 34:10), hence might function as the allegorical equivalent (though certainly not with the same function in the story itself) of the thieves and robbers– those who care about their own office rather than about the sheep. Such people ultimately bring about only destruction (10:10); ch. 11 will provide a narrative contrast between the life-bringing Jesus (11:43–44) and the life-destroying Judean elite (12:10–11; cf. the irony in 11:48); that Jesus himself must die at their hands reinforces the graphic contrast (11:50–52).7384 The most significant role of the hirelings, however, whether they function allegorically or not, is their foil for Jesus' role: he is committed to the sheep because they belong to him, hence he is prepared to face death from the thieves, robbers, or wolves to protect the sheep.
A «good shepherd» (ποιμήν άγαθός) was one who cared for his sheep and would not harm them.7385 A trustworthy shepherd would nurse the sick sheep back to health.7386 Moreover, the life of a faithful shepherd would be difficult (cf. Gen 31:38–42), and would require facing predators on behalf of the sheep (cf. 1Sam 17:34–35).7387 Sometimes resisting thieves could lead to a shepherd's or cowherd's death.7388 (Wolves, as appear in 10:12, could also kill shepherds on occasion.)7389 But that this shepherd shows his love for the sheep in the ultimate sacrifice, by deliberately dying for them (10:11), bursts the bounds of the shepherd and sheep image.7390 The shepherd's willingness to lay down his life for the sheep (10:11) мая connect him with the lamb (1:29).7391 This motif of self-sacrifice would be intelligible in a Greek or Diaspora context; for instance, Iphigeneia was willing to die, at Artemis's bidding, to save Greece.7392 A good governor would accept danger to protect his charge.7393 In the context it is the thieves, robbers, and wolves which pose a danger to the flock, hence spell the death of the shepherd. This picture is a direct challenge to the Pharisees' hostility in this Gospe1.
4A. The Hireling (10:12–13)
The hireling (10:12) мая refer to Jesus' own ministers (21:15–17),7394 but in view of the biblical backdrop of the other images probably refers to the irresponsible shepherds of Israel (Ezek 34:10). As with tenant farmers, most shepherds in rural parts of the rural empire worked for others.7395 Even moderate-sized landholdings might employ hired hands.7396 Some modern Middle Eastern villagers will use a boy or two girls from a neighborhood family, but if none is available, the villagers мая hire a stranger, a «hireling,» to watch their sheep.7397
A good shepherd must protect his sheep. Sheep naturally fled from wolves as from «strangers» (10:5), but those charged with caring for the sheep were not supposed to flee (10:12). Careful shepherds might count the sheep twice a day to make certain that none was lost.7398 The strict owner of a flock could require a shepherd to repay any sheep found missing (Gen 31:38–39), and David apparently assumed that his protection of sheep against animals and bandits would be welcomed (1Sam 25:7,15–16). The clearest biblical allusion, however, is to God's care for the small of his flock and his requiring the losses from the hand of the wicked shepherds (Ezek 34:2–10).
It was understood that shepherds were not responsible for the actions of robbers.7399 But it was recognized that a μισθωτός, a hireling, acted for pay, not from loyalty or friendship; in classical rhetoric an aristocrat could apply the title contemptuously to challenge the appropriateness of another aristocrat's social rank.7400 It was also understood that the owner was more apt to notice something amiss than hired hands were.7401 One fictitious farmer's wife complains that the hireling was continually falling asleep, so that a wolf seized their best she-goat; she warns that, if her husband discovers what happened, the hireling will be beaten and the husband will go looking for the wolf.7402 One slave is compared to a wolf, having sold or killed some of the goats; he would be shackled once captured.7403 Ancient writers noted that physical prowess was a less important trait for ideal keepers of a flock than diligence and thrift to watch over onés property wel1.7404 Whereas a caring shepherd protects his flock, robbers, wolves and other factors would diminish a flock whose shepherd failed to care for them.7405 An undisciplined hireling might milk the ewes too much;7406 might damage a goat's horn in an act of anger;7407 such undershepherds if unmarried might even be suspected of copulating with sheep.7408 One writer warned that slaves, who had nothing invested in the master's property, rarely would protect it against robbers, and sometimes would steal from it themselves.7409 Another writer opines that although Cyrus ruled Persia like a shepherd who lovingly guards his flock against wolves, his successors «turned from good shepherds into wicked wolves, ravaging the flock and straying from the path of knowledge.»7410
Although wolves were less formidable than lions,7411 Mediterranean shepherds regarded wolves as the natural predators of sheep7412 and other animals.7413 Greek epic portrays bloodthirsty warriors as hungry wolves, often as a heroic image;7414 but could also employ the image negatively, as when Paris pursues Helen like a wolf stealing a heifer,7415 or as an analogy for an evil, conquering king,7416 or for greedy moneylenders.7417 Wolves were thought to be deceitful7418 and eager to plunder,7419 similar to thieves (10:10). The same image of wolf as predator of sheep appears in biblical and early Jewish tradition (Isa 11:6; 65:25; Matt 7:15; 10:16; Luke 10:3; Acts 20:29; 4 Ezra 5:18), sometimes representing Israel's enemies (Jer 5:6; Hab 1:8; 1 En. 89:55)7420 or Israel's evil leaders (Ezek 22:27; cf. Zeph 3:3).7421 The Jesus tradition and early Christianity applied the image to false prophets within (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29) and to opposition to the gospel without (Matt 10:16; Luke 10:3). The «wolf» simply carries forward and intensifies the evil associated with the sheeps' enemies, here the Pharisees.
Thieves and wolves are often listed together as enemies of onés animals,7422 and a keeper of animals who suspected a thief of stealing animals might find the «thief» to be a natural predator instead.7423 In a Greek novel, one goatherd complained that no wolf had successfully seized any goats, but that now the enemy (invaders) had taken the goats and would harm them.7424
Sheep were safer in a flock; once scattered, they became easier prey for attackers (Ezek 34:8); God had complained that Israels leaders had allowed his flock to be scattered7425 for lack of a genuinely concerned shepherd (Jer 23:1–2; Ezek 34:5–6; cf. Ezek 34:21; Zech 11:16–17).7426 God himself would gather and restore his scattered flock (Jer 23:3; Ezek 34:11–16; cf. John 16:32–33). Here the wolf seeks to «snatch» members of the flock (10:13), but Jesus promises that no wolf can snatch them from his or his Father's hand ( 10:28–29); a superhumanly empowered shepherd (contrast Gen 31:39), Jesus lost none of the flock the Father entrusted to him (6:39; 17:12; 18:9).
4B. The Shepherd's Relationship with the Sheep (10:14–15)
Jesus' sacrifice expresses his care for the sheep (10:11–13) as well as obedience to his Father (10:15,17). His «own» (τα έμά) are those sheep the Father has given him (17:9–10), those who are his own (τά ίδια) mentioned earlier in the passage who are intimate with him. The theme of his relationship with the sheep picks up the image from 10:3–5 (see comment there) and provides a pivotal statement of the theme of knowing God that pervades the Fourth Gospel (see introduction). The healed man came to know Jesus; his opponents admitted that they lacked knowledge of him (9:29; see comment on 9:13–17).
Background for the passage lies close at hand, given the likely assumption that John's ideal audience was biblically literate. God summoned Israel to «know» him in terms of recognizing him and acknowledging his authority.7427 When John speaks of «knowing» the shepherd's voice, one could hear this phrase merely in terms of recognition. But the Scriptures could also use «knowing» God as part of the covenant motif (Exod 6:7), especially with regard to the new covenant (Jer 24:7; 31:33–34). In the new covenant, such knowledge of God would stem from God's word in his peoplés hearts (Jer 31:33–34), and мая allude also to the language of covenant marital intimacy (Jer 31:32; Hos 5:4), a familiar image (e.g., Gen 4:1).7428 That Jesus' own (his sheep)7429 «know» him as the Father knows him and he knows the Father (10:14–15) indicates an intimacy that would exceed that of the biblical prophets.7430 Given the behavior and misunderstandings of the disciples on a narrative level (and Jesus' acknowledgement of it, e.g., 13:38), and its contrast with the perfect relationship in which Jesus walks with the Father, it is doubtful that John wishes us to understand this equation in a quantitative sense even after his resurrection (cf. 1Cor 13:9,12).
But if «know» is the language of covenant relationship, such as in marital intimacy, it мая imply that by virtue of the mutual indwelling of Jesus and believers (14:23; 15:4), believers shared the divine relationship.7431 Reciprocal knowledge of Jesus and his own is rooted in the reciprocal relationship of Jesus and the Father.7432 A new husband and wife мая not yet have explored the fulness of their intimacy, but they had established a covenant relationship within which such exploration is invited. The rest of the Gospel confirms that such intimacy is indeed meant to be characteristic of believers; they are actually in Gods presence continually ( 14:17) and can continually learn from the Spirit the intimate matters of Jesus' heart and character (14:26; 16:13–15).7433 Jesus' relationship with the Father–doing always what he sees the Father doing (5:19), doing always the things that please him (8:29), and their mutual love (3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 14:31; 15:9; 17:24, 26)–becomes a model for his followers' relationship with him. Such an emphasis also serves John's apologetic interests: if believers rather than their accusers held such an intimate relationship with God, they were clearly God's servants, persecuted like the biblical prophets (cf. Matt 5:12).
4C. Other Sheep and Jesus' Sacrifice (10:16–18)
Some have suggested that the «other sheep» (10:16) are the next generation of believers, who have not personally seen the historical Jesus (17:20). But the pregnant imagery for Israel in the context suggests a play on the issue of the people of God, as does the language of scattering (10:12; cf. 11:52) and gathering (10:16). That John uses the imagery of the people of God, however, does not solve all the passagés potential interpretive dilemmas; presumably the original audience мая have known what issues John was addressing, but reconstructing them at this distance is speculative.
Some suggest that John мая refer to the uniting of Ephraim and Judah under one shepherd in Ezek 37:22–24, and that therefore the «other sheep» are the Samaritan believers of 4:39–42.7434 In favor of such a suggestion is the clear mention of Samaritan believers in the Gospel, whereas fully Gentile believers мая be merely inferred (depending on how one interprets «Greeks» in 12and perhaps 7:35). Against such a suggestion is the fact that the other sheep мая not yet have heard Jesus' voice (10:16), in contrast to the Samaritans who had already received him (4:42); further, though the allusion to Ezek 37is probable here, it contextually includes the restoration of Diaspora Israelites to the land (Ezek 37:21).
One мая dispute whether the «other sheep» are Diaspora Jews, like much of John's probable audience,7435 or Gentiles,7436 which John's audience would have to know had joined Christian groups in large numbers. Some might adduce in favor of Diaspora Jews «Gods scattered children» in 11:52, since the high priest would have meant Diaspora Jews rather than Gentiles in 11:50; the high priest does prophesy that Jesus will die on others' «behalf» (11:50). But the high priests own intention is irrelevant to the deeper sense the narrator intends for his audience; clearly the high priest intends Jesus' vicarious death differently from how John intends his audience to hear it (11:51). Moreover, «scattered children of God» is the narrator's interpretation rather than the high priest's phrase in any case (11:52), and in this Gospel the term must refer to believers in Jesus (1:12).
Also possibly in favor of Diaspora Jews are the texts in the biblical prophets from which the image is drawn (Jer 23:1–8; 31:1–10; Ezek 34:5–6; 37:21–28).7437 But if John views Gentiles as spiritual proselytes to Israel (cf. 3:5) and challenges the sufficiency of ethnic descent from Abraham (8:34, 39), he might apply these same biblical images for the people of God to include Gentile converts. (In contrast to later Gentile Christian teachings about a new Israel replacing the old, however, John would think in terms of Gentiles being grafted into the covenant community through conversion to biblical Judaism; cf. Rom 11:16–24.) John's emphasis on a mission to the «world» broader than «the Jews» (1:10; 4:42; 12:32) probably also implies the inclusion of Gentile believers.7438 Most importantly, John implies the Gentile mission in 7and 12(see comment there).
If «other sheep» at least includes Gentile Christians, it is significant that they become part of the «flock,» which in the Hebrew Scriptures was the people of God (cf. Eph 2:15–19).7439 But it was already understood that when Gentiles converted to Judaism they became part of the Jewish people (e.g., Josephus Ag. Ap. 2.210). Jesus' death (10:15) is the prerequisite for the ingathering of Gentiles (10:16), which fits Johannine theology (12:20–24)7440 and might also serve an apologetic function, if it is necessary to explain why the Jesus tradition includes so little outreach to Gentiles. As in Jewish tradition about God and Israel, the «oneness» of the people in this Gospel (10:16; 11:52) mirrors (10:30, 38; 5:44; 17:3) and derives from (17:11, 21–23) the oneness of God and Jesus.7441 The Samaritans recognized that Jesus was «savior of the world» (4:42), which would have to include Gentiles.7442
John apparently declares that Jesus lays down his life7443 «in order that» he might take it again (10:17); on this reading the resurrection «is not a circumstance that follows the death of Jesus but the essential completion of the death of Jesus.»7444 The term tva could connote result rather than purpose here,7445 and appears in some unusual senses in John (e.g., 17:3); but given John's usual practice, it most likely connotes purpose here.7446 The cross is necessary in part as a precursor to the resurrection. It is also part of Jesus' obedient relationship with his Father (10:17–18; cf. 14:31; 15:10). Even more explicitly than in the Synoptics, in this Gospel Jesus' cross is his choice and not that of his enemies (10:15,17–18; 15:13; 19:30);he acts on behalf of his sheep (10:15),to save them (11:50; cf. 1:29).
Divided Response to Jesus (10:19–21)
On the division (10:19), see comment on 7:43; 9:16. The unity of the new flock (10:16) would come at the expense of division in the first-century synagogues (cf. Acts 13:42–50; 18:6–8; 19:8–9). Even to listen to Jesus was offensive to some (10:20), just as some of John's contemporaries probably felt that it was wrong to listen to the Jewish Christians.7447 Certainly some early second-century rabbis considered even listening to schismatics a dangerous exercise.7448 (On the charge of demonization, see comment on 7:20; 8:48.) Others, however, were impressed by the miracle (10:21) which had started the current debate (9:1–38). John closes this section by pointedly referring his audience back to the sign on which the following debate commented.
* * *
For examples of the rhetorical practice of reversing charges, see, e.g., Plato Apo1. 35D; Matt 12:24,45; comment on John 8:37–51.
On the relation between vision and epistemology in the chapter, see also Marconi, «Struttura di Gv 9,1–41»; for the language in general, see introduction, ch. 6.
Parsons, «Saying,» 179–80.
Sophocles Oed. co1. 151.
Witherington, Christology, 170–71, cites, e.g., Tob 11:10–14; SIG2 807.15–18; 1173.15–18; SIG3 1168.
Horsley, Documents, 1:15, §2.
Epid. inscr. 4 (Grant, Religions, 57).
Witherington, Christology, 170, citing Mark, John, and Q (the Matthean summary and uniquely Markan examples he cites do not add to these).
Meier, Marginal Jew, 2:694–96; on the symbolism, see, e.g., Riga, «Blind.» Painter, «John 9,» provides a more complex (hence less certain) reconstruction. Brodie, «Elisha,» makes too much of similarities between this miracle story and 2 Kgs 5; idem, Quest, makes too much of other canonical sources.
Martyn, Theology, 40; Pancaro, Law, 247–52. Martyn, Theology, 24ff., views John 9 as a drama.
Rensberger, Faith, 42.
E.g., p. Ketub. 11:3, §2 (the story concerns a Tanna but is probably Amoraic). Charity was also distributed locally (m. Peah 8:9).
E.g., Acts 3:2; Josephus Ag. Ap. 1.305; perhaps Acts 14:8–9, 13.
Hoskyns, Gospel, 352.
Theissen, Stories, 51–52; Lake and Cadbury, Commentary, 45 (on Acts 4:22).
See Mbiti, Religions, 272–75, on mystical scapegoating in traditional African societies. In Shona tradition, witchcraft can produce mental defects in fetuses (Gelfand, «Disorders,» 165); Navajo tradition also connects prenatal experiences with mental illness (Kaplan and Johnson, «Meaning,» 209).
Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 16.3.1. Tiresias's blindness was judgment from Hera (Ovid Metam. 3.335).
E.g., Plutarch Profit by Enemies 5, Mor. 88F.
E.g., b. Taan. 21a. See fully Davies and Allison, Matthew, 2:135. All deformities, including blindness, prevented entering the Qumran community (CD 15.14–15; 1QM 7.4–5; lQSa 2.4–9).
T. Ber. 6:3; b. Ber. 58b. The response was to be the same, however, for bad news to oneself (m. Ber. 9:2).
Diodorus Siculus 20.62.2; see also Demosthenes Against Zenothemis 6. The principle also applied to executions by rulers (e.g., Diodorus Siculus 20.101.3; Aulus Gellius 7.4.4) or heroes (Apollodorus 3.16.1; Epitome 1.2–3). Cf. sorcerer's death by sorcery in Kenyan Luo tradition (Whisson, «Disorders,» 289).
See m. Abot 2:6/7; Sipre Deut. 238.3.1; Abot R. Nat. 27, §56B; b. Abod. Zar. 17b, bar.; Ber. 5a; Sanh. 108b; p. Hag. 2:1, §3; Gen. Rab. 53:5; Targum Rishon to Esther 1:11; other sources in Bonsirven, Judaism, 110; cf. Sanders, Paul and Judaism, 125. A rabbi would not even face execution without having committed at least a minor transgression (Mek. Nez. 18.55ff.).
Homer Il. 6.139; Hierocles p. 48.22–49.9 from Stobaeus Ec1. 1.3.54 (Van der Horst, «Hierocles,» 157–58); Parthenius L.R. 29.2. Some, however, attributed such afflictions directly to human vice apart from the gods (Iamblichus V.P. 32.218).
Lachs, Commentary, 166 (citing b. Meg. 17b; Ned. 41a; Šabb. 55a); Brown, John, 1:371; see more extensively Abrahams, Studies, 1:108. One should not, however, overstate the case (as in Dibelius, Jesus, 112–13); the Johannine Jesus, too, recognized that sin sometimes caused affliction (5:14). Demons were also thought to cause some diseases (sources in Alexander, Possession, 32).
In a late source, Job himself suffered because he did not speak against wrongdoing (Exod. Rab. 1:9). Likewise the death of the concubine in Judg 19 is attributed to her earlier sin with an Amorite (L.A.B. 45:3); Dinah was raped because her father, Jacob, boasted (Gen. Rab. 79:8; 80:4). Even Elishás sickness (cf. 2 Kgs 13:14) was attributed to sins (b. Sanh. 107b).
M. Abot 4:15. In general, later Babylonian sources were more nuanced than Tannaitic and later Palestinian ones (Elman, «Suffering»).
Urbach, Sages, 1:443,446 (esp. t. B. Bat. 3concerning Jobs comforters). Pagans could also protest that their suffering was due to Fate rather than any evil they had done (Horsley, Documents, 4:30–31, §7, citing CIG 4.9668). Cf. John Chrysostom Hom. Jo. 38 (on John 5:14–21).
Gen. Rab. 71(fourth century). On suffering in general, see b. Bezah 32b, bar.
E.g., b. Sanh. 25b (citing a Tanna). Early Judaism treated the sick kindly (Abrahams, Studies, 109–12).
Cf. also Jdt 7:28. For punishment for parents' sins in pagan sources, see, e.g., Apollonius of Rhodes 2.475; Valerius Maximus 1.1.ext.3 (but some regarded such charges as specious, e.g., Phaedrus 1.1.12). See Brown, John, 1:371; Bligh, «Blind,» 131.
E.g., b. Ned. 20ab (a minority opinion); p. Hag. 2:1, §9; Lev. Rab. 15:5. The proposed causes are varied, but all share the common premise that the parents' sin at conception or during pregnancy affects the fetus.
E.g., Isis and Osiris copulated in the womb (Plutarch Isis 12, Mor. 356A).
Many commentators (e.g., Barrett, John, 356; Lightfoot, Gospel, 202).
But cf. also b. Sanh. 91b (sins from birth, not conception); perhaps Exod. Rab. 4refers to a decree at birth. Some later rabbis regarded the evil impulse as inborn (Abot R. Nat. 16A; Pesiq. Rab Kah. Sup. 3:2), as some Gentiles viewed wrongdoing as humanity's natural bent (e.g., Crates Ep. 12).
This rejection of alternatives constituted one recognized form of logic (in more developed form, it would resemble διλήμματον or προσαπόδοσις; see Anderson, Glossary, 36,105; cf. John 4:20–21).
On «God's works,» cf. comment on 6:28; Charlesworth, «Comparison,» 415, on 1QS 4.4. John 3also speaks of «manifesting works,» but the parallel is primarily one of idiom rather than of theology (cf. 1 John 3:8; Johannine literature employs φανερόω frequently: 1:31; 2:11; 7:4; 17:6; 21:1, 14; 1 John 1:2; 2:19, 28; 3:2, 5, 8; 4:9; Rev 3:18; 15:4); the idea in 2is closer.
Cf. Cullmann, Circle, 22.
E.g., Chrysippus contended that Providence did not make sickness but in making good had to allow the bad to be produced (Aulus Gellius 7.1.7–13).
Cf. perhaps how some could have interpreted the ancient saying that the wounder would heal (Speyer, «Derjenige»; Hos 6:1).
Sipre Deut. 306.30.2, 5, 6. God's mighty acts could be said to be predestined before creation (Gen. Rab. 5:5).
Martyn, Theology, 28. For the verb «working» with the noun «works,» see also 6:28; Philostratus Hrk. 17.6.
E.g., Homer Il. 2.387; 7.282; 8.529–530; 11.209; 14.259–261; Apollonius of Rhodes 4.1059; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 9.48.3; Arrian Alex. 1.19.2; Polybius 5.86.1–2; Caesar Alex. W. 1.11; Gallic W. 2.11; Apollodorus Epitome 4.2; Silius Italicus 5.678; 13.254–255; Philostratus Hrk. 58.4; their uncommonness made night attacks all the more devastating (Homer II. 10.100–101; Arrian Alex. 1.4.1); forced dismissal of the Senate (Cicero Earn. 1.2.3). Augustinés interpretation of «night» here as hell (Tract. Ev. Jo. 44.6) is fanciful (Whitacre, John, 238).
Including for the eyes (Tob 11:11–13; CIG 5980, in Deissmann, Light, 135–36; cf. commentaries on Rev 3:18). Proper use of eye salve could help (Epictetus Diatr. 2.21.20; 3.21.21), but use of the wrong substance could produce blindness instead (Diodorus Siculus 22.1.2; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 20.5.2–3; Appian R.H. 3.9.2).
Epid. inscr. 4, 9.
E.g., Theophrastus Char. 16.14. For magical uses, see esp. Bourgeois, «Spittle,» 8–11 (forwarded to me by Daniel Wallace).
Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 170, e.g., cite Pliny Nat. 27.75; 28.5,48,61,77; 29.12,32; 32.39; Boring et a1., Commentary, 284, cite SIG 1173 (138 C.E.; magical). On therapeutic uses, see further Galen N.F. 3.7.163 (for skin diseases); Bourgeois, «Spittle,» 11–16.
The report in Tacitus emphasizes Vespasian's medical caution (cf. Theissen, Stories, 93), but Tacitus tended toward rationalism and мая have modified a more dramatic propagandists Flavian tradition here; Tacitus also claims the eyewitnesses continued to attest the miracle in his day.
For binding a demon, Γ. So1. 7:3. Together Lachs, Commentary, 250 (on Mark 7:33), and Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 65, cite at least six rabbinic sources; Lachs, Commentary, 250, also notes a few sources (including t. Sanh. 12:10, also in Barrett, John, 358) that condemned the practice as magical (to which add b. Sebu. 15b); it functions medicinally in p. Šabb. 14:4, §3. For Jewish therapeutic connotations, see further Bourgeois, «Spittle,» 27–29 (she notes it is difficult to attest before the Mishnaic period, pp. 32–33; but our total evidence from that period is limited).
Drane, «Background,» 121; Barrett, John, 358; see especially the many citations in Bultmann, Tradition, 233; Aune, «Magic,» 1537; Yamauchi, «Magic,» 137–39. Spitting is used alongside a wide variety of other gestures (speaking into onés hand, stroking onés face, etc.) in PGM 3.420–423; in some traditional societies, spittle functions as a symbol of blessing and part of the prayer (Mbiti, Religions, 84). But apart from magic, Romans, Egyptians and rabbis attest spittiés use in treating eye diseases (Yamauchi, «Magic,» 139), which мая have led to its symbolic application in miracle stories (Theissen, Stories, 63).
With Hoskyns, Gospel, 354; Culpepper, John, 175.
Recited also in later tradition, e.g., b. Pesah. 19b.
E.g., b. Nid. 33b; 55b. Cf. Zoroastrian teaching; see Yamauchi, Persia, 451. Aelian 7.26 reports that human spittle kills animals; African sorcerers often use spittle in malevolent magic (Mbiti, Religions, 261).
Abot R. Nat. 19, §42B. In God's eyes the nations are like spittie (L.A.B. 7:3; 12:4; 4 Ezra 6:56; 2 Bar. 82:3–9), though this claim contextually emphasizes their inconsequence rather than their uncleanness).
Abot R. Nat. 35A.
Spitting was a means of Gentile shaming in Pesiq. Rab Kah. 10:8; Matt 27:30; it could function as an insult (Cicero Quint, fratr. 2.3.2; Musonius Rufus 10, p. 76.20; Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 1.18), a sign of disgust (Tibullus 1.2.96), or of rude manners (Xenophon Cyr. 8.1.42).
On anointing with oil, see texts cited in Keener, Matthew, 227–28.
Wilkinson, Jerusalem, 104–5; cf. Brodie, «Elisha.» For another example of healing on the condition of going to (and drinking) particular water, see Valerius Maximus 2.4.5; for water washing away an undesirable trait, cf. Ovid Metam. 11.139–143. Later Christians found a hint of baptism here (Ambrose Sacraments 3.15); but on the water motif, cf., e.g., comments on John 1:26; 3:5.
The narrative typifies the way prophets did things and does not demand detailed comparison of the two stories. Cf. the also apparently silly instructions that resulted in the healing of M. Julius Apellas in IG 4.955 (Grant, Religions, 58–59); Acts 8:26.
Despite the lack of clarity in Josephus (War 5.145, 252–253, 410); see Adan, «Siloam»; Cornfeld, Josephus, 333, on War 5.140; pace Finegan, Archeology, 114. It мая have been outside the walls of earlier Jerusalem (Shaheen, «Tunnel»); on the earlier development of the Gihon and Siloam water supply system, see Issar, «Evolution,» 131–33. Cf. a probably adjoining tower in Luke 13:4.
Bliss and Dickie, Excavations, 154.
Ibid., 156–57,191. On the baths, see pp. 225–28; a water line only 12 inches above the flooring (227) мая not fit a mikveh, but could this stem from standing water after the devastation of 70?
See Whitacre, John, 241, citing m. Erub. 4–5. The blind мая not have been permitted past the outer court; see 4QMMT B, lines 49–51; cf. Lev 21:18; but cf. m. Hui. 1:1.
T. Taan. 1:8, cited in p. Taan. 2:1, §8.
Jeremias, Jerusalem, 320.
Kotlar, «Mikveh,» 1543. Davies, Land, 315, believes that its water was also used in the ritual of the red heifer.
Davies, Land, 314–15; Ellis, World, 69; Bruns, Art, 27. Grigsby, «Siloam,» contends that Siloam's waters anticipate the salvific water of 19:34.
Brown, John, 1:373. John knows how to translate literally when the occasion demands (1:38, 41–42).
E.g., Euripides Bacch. 287, 292–293.
Cf. perhaps also Exod 2:10, where Pharaoh's daughter named him משה (a good enough Egyptian name) because she drew him (מישיתהו) from the water.
E.g., Diodorus Siculus 1.15.6; 3.64.6; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 1.31.4; Aulus Gellius 1.18; 3.19; against decorating speech with various wordplays, see Theophrastus in Dionysius of Halicarnassus Lysias 14. Nevertheless, fallacious etymologies were common (e.g., Hierocles Father-land 3.39.34, in Malherbe, Exhortation, 89; Plutarch Isis 2, Mor. 35IF; Marcus Aurelius 8.57).
E.g., Plato Cratylus 41 ID and passim; Livy 1.43.13; Aulus Gellius 1.25; 2.21; 3.18; 5.7; Apollodorus 1.7.2; 2.5.10; Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 1.15, 31. This continued despite the recognition that words changed in meaning over time (Aulus Gellius 4.9). For plays on peoplés names, see, e.g., Homer Od. 1.62; 5.340, 423; 16.145–147; 19.275, 407–409; Aelian Farmers 7 (Dercyllus to Opora) and 8 (Opora to Dercyllus); Alciphron Fishermen passim; Athenaeus Deipn. 9.380b; Phlm 10–11. Philós use (sometimes indicating weak knowledge of Hebrew; Hanson, «Etymologies») differed considerably from rabbinic etymologies (Grabbe, Etymology).
E.g., Demosthenes Ep. 3.28; Diogenes Laertius 6.2.55; 6.2.68; for discussion in the rhetorical handbooks, see Anderson, Glossary, 59–60 (cf. also 81–82). Some were intended for amusement (Suetonius Gaius 27).
E.g., Plutarch Alex. 24.5; 27.5.; 37.1.
Cf., e.g., Gen 21:31; Jub. 16:11,20; 18:18; 22:1; 27:19; 29:18; 44:1,8; CD 8.10–11; L.A.B. 2:1; b. Tamid 32a; p. Ros Has. 3:9, §§1–3.
E.g., lQpHab 12.1–10; see Lim, «Alteration.» Revocalizing the consonants was common (Sipre Deut. 357.5.11; see Jub. 26:30; Brownlee, «Jubilees,» 32); for later rabbis, multiple meanings for single referents were certainly not problematic (b. Ber. 55b; Pesiq. Rab. 14:6; 21:6).
Martyn, Theology, 24–25.
Abot R. Nat. 3A (R. Akiba).
See also the phrase in the eschatological vision of 1 En. 90:35.
Homer Od. 6.207–208; 14.57–58. For charity among Gentiles, see, e.g., Publilius Syrus 274; Cornelius Nepos 5 (Cimon), 4.1–2; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 12.1.7; cf. Hesiod Op. 354 (give to the generous); giving to beggars in Seneca Controv. 10.4.intro.
Jewish writers emphasized charity both before the first century (e.g., Prov 29:7; Ezek 16:49; Tob 1:3; 2:14; Sir 4:1–8; 17:22) and afterward (T. Job 9–12; 15:1; T. Iss. 3:8; Ps.-Phoc. 29; Jos. Asen. 10:11/12; CIJ 1:142, §203; cf. Did. 1.5; 2 Clem. 16.4); rabbis continued to elaborate the issue (e.g., m. Demai; t. B. Qam. 11:3; Demai 3:l6; Abot R. Nat. 3, 7A; 14, §33B; b. Taan.21a).
Hom. Od. 17.347, 578. Few, however, took this practice as far as the Cynics (see, e.g., Epictetus Diatr. 3.22.10; Diogenes Laertius 6.2.46, 56, 59; 10.119; cf. 2.82), often to others' disdain (Diogenes Laertius 10.119); for priests of Isis or Cybele, see, e.g., Babrius 141.1–6; Phaedrus 4.1.4–5; Valerius Maximus 7.3.8 (also often to others' disdain, Syr. Men. 262–277).
Seneca Controv. 10.4.4; Artemidorus Onir. 3.53.
Diogenes Ep. 11; Diogenes Laertius 6.2.49.
Cf. perhaps also the implied disgrace in Musonius Rufus 11, p. 80.19, 21. Merely pretending to be in need leads to judgment in Abot R. Nat. 3 A.
E.g., the same epideictic function in Chariton 5.4.1–2 (emphasizing Callirhoés beauty); Xenophon Eph. 1.2.
See comment on 5:9–10; also Thatcher, «Sabbath Trick.»
See Yee, Feasts, 46–47.
In apposition to the pronoun αυτόν earlier, this title functions as epitheton (similar to an-tonomasia; see Rhet. ad Herenn. 4.31.42; Anderson, Glossary, 23, 52–53; Rowe, «Style,» 128; Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 579–80).
Culpepper, John, 177. In the last case, the Pharisees do not know as much as they hope (9:29), as the man points out (9:30).
Interestingly, however, what «we [Jews] know» is correct when laid against the knowledge of the Samaritans (4:22), except for Samaritans who affirm Christ (4:42); preresurrection disciples also could admit inadequate knowledge (14:5; 16:30; 20:2; but cf. 21:24).
On their meaning, see «knowledge» in the introduction; I suspect οΐδα clusters in ch. 9 for solely stylistic reasons, either because the term was fresh on John's mind or because he wished to emphasize the continuity of the term in the debate.
For further comment, cf. introduction, ch. 6; also Keener, «Knowledge,» 34–40,94–98. Probably a rhetorically trained reader would have viewed this repetition of epistemological language as akin to diaphora, «the repeated use of the same word, which acquires added or different significance in the repetition» (Rowe, «Style,» 133–34; cf. Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 580).
In the second century B.C.E., cf., e.g., Jub. 31:15.
Many teachers probably permitted medicine if it had been prepared before the Sabbath (t. Šabb. 12:12) or the act was medically urgent (m. Ed. 2:5; Šabb. 22:6; Yoma 8:6; Lachs, Commentary, 199–200 adds Mek. Sab. 1.15–23 on Exod 31:13, which speaks of saving life on the Sabbath), which most of Jesus' healings were not (cf. Sanders, Jesus to Mishnah, 13; idem, Figure, 208).
Cf. Falk, Jesus, 149. Tradition reported that the Shammaites were usually stricter (e.g., b. Ber. 23b; Hu1. 104). Probably all Pharisees allowed what was necessary to preserve life (m. Yoma 8:6), but the blind man is not in danger of dying.
M. Šabb. 1:4; t. Šabb. 1:16; b. Besah 20a; majority opinion came to carry much weight among the sages (t. Ber. 4:15; b. Ber. 37a; p. Moed Qat. 3:1, §6; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 11:17; Gen. Rab. 79:6; Ecc1. Rab. 10:8, §1; Song Rab. 1:1, §5; cf. Essenes in josephus War 2.145).
Hillelites prevailed after 70 (see, e.g., m. Demai 3:1; t. Ed. 2:3; Neusner, Traditions, 1:339).
Stauffer, Jesus, 92, citing m. Šabb. 22(medical attention); Edersheim, 406, citing m. Šabb. 24(on kneading). The use of clay in slavery symbolism (b. Yebam. 46a) seems too remote for relevance here.
Michaels, John, 152. Kneading, including making clay, was forbidden (commentators follow Billerbeck, Kommentar, 2:530, in citing m. Šabb. 7:2); whether eyes might be anointed was debated but often opposed (commentators follow Billerbeck, Kommentar, 2:533–34, citing b. Abod. Zar. 28b); an Amora forbids using tasteless spit to treat eye scabs on the Sabbath (p. Šabb. 14:4, §3).
Whitacre, John, 242, comparing peasants «interrogated by the junta.» He might also abbreviate to avoid incriminating himself if going to Siloam or washing involved a Sabbath breach (9:11); but this is not clear.
Also Pancaro, Law, 51. On the severe meaning of «sinner,» probably in most of the gospel tradition, cf. Pss. So1. 2:34; 13:1; 14:6–7; Sib. Or. 3.304; Tg. Qoh. 6:6; Keener, Matthew, 294–96.
Bligh, «Blind,» 137.
Ellis, Genius, 162.
See Derrett, «Teach.»
Though cf. later rabbinic critiques of Pharisees with impure motives, e.g., m. Sotah 3:4; Abot R. Nat. 37A; 45, §124B; b. Sotah 22b, bar.; p. Sotah 5:5, §2.
Perhaps also ancient Mediterranean patterns of conflict and invective, in which the powerful expected others to be their allies or else might assume them to favor their opponents (cf. Marshall, Enmity, passim).
The πώς δύναται probably echoes the same narrative (3:4,9; cf. 6:52; 14:5). Dependence on character classifications (cf. Theophrastus Char.; cf. rhetorical characterization in Anderson, Glossary, 60–61) would render violations of stereotypes more disconcerting.
Edersheim, Life, 407.
Stauffer, Jesus, also refers to t. Sanh. 12:9; 13:4; L.A.B. 26(the latter conjoins curse and execution).
Morris, John, 488 n. 35.
Gentile courts typically administered far more blows, sometimes as many as one hundred (Plato Laws 9.881C; P.Ha1. 1.188–189; Petronius Sat. 28).
Continued by rabbis in the second century (m. Ki1. 8:3; Mak. 1:1–3; 3:1–11; Naz. 4:3; Pesah. 7:11; Tem. 1:1; t. Tern. 1:1; Sipra Qed. pq. 126.96.36.199; Sipre Deut. 286.4.1; 286.5.1) and later (b. B. Mesia 85b; 115b; Hag. 15a; Ker. 15a; Ketub. 33b; Pesah. 24ab; Yoma 77a; p. Besah 5:2, §11; Meg. 1:6, §2; Naz. 4:2, §1; Ter. 7:1; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 4:3; Gen. Rab. 7:2; Num. Rab. 5:4; 19:3,' 19; Deut. Rab. 2:18; Eccl Rab. 7:23, §4; Pesiq. Rab. 14:9; 22:6).
That their words in 9begin with οίδαμεν and end with οίδαμεν in 9suggests deliberate wording (though the sort of «circle» involved in a period, as in Anderson, Glossary, 69, is much more elaborate; cf. a very broad but not technical usage of anadiplosis); the repetition of the term at the end of two successive clauses in 9also suggests antistrophe, also called epiphora (see Rowe, «Style,» 131; Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 579; Lee, «Translations of OT,» 779; Black, «Oration at Olivet,» 86; Anderson, Glossary, 23, 54; idem, Rhetorical Theory, 163).
Marsh, John, 383, suggests that he мая not have been much older, but acknowledges that it is impossible to know for sure.
That both his parents remained alive suggests that he was probably not extremely old; to the limited extent that inscriptions can supply us an accurate picture, many adults probably did not have living fathers.
E.g., Plutarch Cicero 3.3–4 (and after Cicero alone defended the client, he himself fled).
E.g., Plutarch Cimon 6.4; this violated ideals of virtue (cf. e.g., Musonius Rufus 3, p. 40.32).
Structurally this мая also place 9at the center of an inclusio (prosapodosis; cf. Rowe, «Style,» 130, for use with clauses; Anderson, Glossary, 105), hence underlining its emphatic position.
See the introduction, pp. 194–227. We say «perhaps» because our knowledge of the conflict is predominantly Syro-Palestinian, and we have less knowledge of the status of synagogue communities in Smyrna and Philadelphia (where conflict was clearly occurring–Rev 2:9–10; 3:8–11) than in Sardis, where we know the synagogue was well situated socially (e.g., CIJ 2:16, §§750–751; Josephus Ant. 14.235,259; Kraabel, «Judaism,» 198–240; Hanfmann, Sardis, 168–90) but hear nothing of a synagogue conflict (Rev 3:2–4).
On the careful Pharisaic attention to objective legal procedures, see especially rules on examining witnesses (Sus 48–62; m. Abot 1:9; Sanh. 5:1–4; t. Sanh. 6:3,6; Sipre Deut. 93.2.1; 149.1.1–2; 189.1.3).
See Isocrates Peace 38; Antidosis 140, 310, 320, Or. 15; Cicero Or. Brut. 40.137; Fam. 2.4.1; Verr. 188.8.131.52; Att. 3.5; see further Anderson, Glossary, 24; Rowe, «Style,» 140–41; in Paul, see esp. Gal 4:20; cf. Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 581.
Their methods might strike readers as unjust yet not surprising. E.g., though we (and some ancients, e.g., Cicero Pro Sulla 28.78) recognize that such tactics bias evidence, many ancients were happy to interrogate slaves under torture (Lysias Murder of Eratosthenes 16; Or. 7.34, §111; Isaeus Estate of Ciron 10–12; Frg. 12, Against Hagnotheus 2; Aeschines False Embassy 126–128; Demosthenes Against Neaera 122; Against Pantaenetus 27; Against Olympiodorus 18–19; Against Timotheus 55–58; Against Conon 27; Rhet. Ad Herenn. 2.7.10; Cicero Pro Deiotaro 1.3; Mi1. 21.57; Tacitus Ann. 3.67; 4.29; 14.60; Appian C.W. 1.3.20; Chariton 1.5.1; Apuleius Metam. 10.28; Justinian Digest 48.18.1), or others (Seneca Controv. 9.6.intr.; Arrian Alex. 6.29.11; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 15:7). One accepted or rejected such evidence depending on whose side of the case one was arguing (Aristotle Rhet. 1.15.26, 1376b; Quintilian 5.4.1).
E.g., Isa 42:12; Jer 13:16; 1 En. 90:40; Jub. 25:11; 4 Macc 1:12; Luke 17:18; Rom 4:20; Rev 4:9; 14:7; 19:7; T. Ab. 6:8; 18:11A. Cf. Deut 32LXX: «give greatness to God» (as also Tob 12:6; Sir 39:15; Odes So1. 2:3).
Cf. also m. Sanh. 6:2; Ezra 10:11. Also Hoskyns, Gospel 356–57; Dodd, Interpretation, 81; Bligh, «Blind,» 140; Brown, John, 1:374; assumed in Lake and Cadbury, Commentary, 127, 140. Cf. perhaps Acts 12:23; Rev 11:13; 16:9. Early Judaism regarded sin as a widespread malady; to whatever extent standard Jewish prayers for forgiveness were uttered communally, they were at least at Qumran (4Q393; Falk, «Confession»). This is not an invitation to general confession, however, but an interrogation.
So also Lightfoot, Gospel, 203; Brown, John, 1:374.
The LXX applies it to quarreling (Exod 21:18; Prov 25:24), but 1 Peter's application to the Jesus tradition мая particularly reflect Israel's quarreling with Moses (Exod 17:2; Num 20:3; cf. Num 20:13; Deut 33:8). Closest to our passage, curiously, if any LXX passage is relevant, would be the Gentile abuse of Judas Maccabeus's soldiers (2Macc 12:14).
Especially given the greater potential flexibility in Greek sentence structure, ancient hearers were likely more sensitive than we are to lines starting similarly (cf. anaphora in Demetrius 5.268; Anderson, Glossary, 19; Rowe, «Style,» 131; Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 579; Lee, «Translations of OT,» 779), a pattern continued further with the repeated emphatic «we» opening 9:29.
Thus many commentators (e.g., Schnackenburg, John, 2:251), following Billerbeck, Kommentar, 2:535.
M. Abot 1:1; Ed. 8:7; Abot R. Nat. 25A; b. Qidd. 30a; Meg. 19b; Moed Qat. 3b; Naz. 56b; Pesah. 110b; Šabb. 108a; Ecc1. Rab. 1:10, §1; cf. perhaps 1Cor 11:23.
Abot R. Nat. I A. For Moses as the greatest prophet and teacher, see also T. Mos. 11:16. Moses saved his people (Josephus Ag. Ap. 2.157; Acts 7:35), making Jesus' superiority a useful literary strategy for John (3:17).
Philo likewise speaks of a nation who learned Moses' wisdom as his intimate acquaintances (Unchangeable 148) and of the virtous as acquaintances of the sacred word (Dreams 1.124). The term in all these instances is γνώριμος, which he seems to employ as «pupi1.»
Thus he imitated (μιμητής) him (Philo Virtues 66); future rulers could also look to Moses as their model (Virtues 70); cf. Joshua as Moses' disciple in Mek. Pisha 1.150–153; Abot R. Nat. 11, §28B; Baruch as Jeremiah's in CD 8.20; Mek. Pisha 1.150–153. This is often the language of discipleship.
Philo Spec. Laws 1.345 and 2.88 employ both φοιτηταί and γνώριμοι. One could fall from being a φοιτητής of Moses (Spec. Laws 2.256).
E.g., b. Sanh. 11a, bar.; Sotah 48b; Song Rab. 8:9, §3.
Cf. m. Abot 1:12; Abot R. Nat. 15A; 29, §61B; b. Šabb. 31a.
Cf. the rabbi and father of a synagogue in Rome who is a μαθητής σοφών (CIJ 1:372, §508); cf. the disciple of Torah ([ν]ομομαθης) from Via Appia (CIJ 1:79, §113; 1:136, §193).
So also Culpepper, Anatomy, 175. Cf. Mark 11:31–33; Luke 20:7. Changing charges during a trial could count as evidence that the accusers had invented them (Lysias Or. 7.2, §108); inconsistencies could be used to discredit testimony (Dionysius of Halicarnassus Lysias 15; Acts 24:11; Cicero Vat. 1.3; Plutarch Cicero 25.2). Using admissions of ignorance to expose a person as ignorant also would be quite intelligible (Plutarch Cicero 26.6).
So also Bultmann, John, 336.
This мая represent a formula of denial; cf. Mark 14:71; comments in Keener, Matthew, 254, 598, 654–55.
The accusation is more likely here than in 8(see comment there).
See, e.g., Stauffer, Jesus, 207–8.
Cf. Blomberg, Matthew, 371 η. 76, following Green, Matthew, 205; France, Matthew, 149. For a similar phrase in later rabbinic bans, cf. Carson, «Matthew,» 193.
Cf. Martyn, Theology, 34. Whitacre, John, 246–47, says he becomes explicit about what he really thinks; Culpepper, John, 177, even suggests he is taunting them (which is certainly how they take it, 9:34).
«From the [beginning of] the age» (9:32) might ironically recall Jesus' preexistence by means of his power to heal what no one else could (cf. 1:1–2; 17:24), but the link is at best a possibility.
Epid. inscr. 9, in Grant, Religions, 58.
This response sidesteps the question of demonic involvement in sorcery, which his interrogators presumably would have considered (see pp. 274–75); but John comments little on demons and addressed this charge against Jesus in earlier chapters (7:20; 8:48).
See Pancaro, Law, 376.
E.g., CIJ 1:365, §500; 2:14, §748; on the frequency of Roman Jewish names alluding to this virtue, see CIJ l:lxvii.
E.g., Abraham in T. Ab. 4:6A; Joseph in Jos. Asen. 4:7/9; Jewish elders from Palestine in Let. Aris. 179.
Citing notably the Aphrodisias inscriptions, Levinskaya, Diaspora Setting, 51–82; idem, «Aphrodisias»; Tannenbaum, «God-Fearers»; Van der Horst, «Aphrodisias»; Feldman, «Sympathizers»; idem, «God-Fearers.» Citing especially other sources, Lifshitz, «Sympathisants»; Gager, «Synagogues»; Horsley, Documents, 3, §17, p. 54; Finn, «God-Fearers»; Overman, «God-Fearers.»
Kraabel, «Disappearance»; idem, «Jews»; MacLennan and Kraabel, «God-Fearers.» The designation functioned in various ways (Murphy-ÓConnor, «God-Fearers»; cf. Wilcox, «God-Fearers»); for various perspectives on detail, cf., e.g., Cohen, «Respect»; Siegert, «Gottesfürchtige.»
E.g., Ps 66:18; Gen. Rab. 60:13; Exod. Rab. 22:3; cf. 1Pet 3:7,12; Iamblichus V.P. 11.54; Porphyry Marc. 24.374–375. Many commentators cite this principle here (Dodd, Interpretation, 81; Edersheim, 408). Abrahams, Studies, 2:40, citing 1 Kgs 8:41–43, argues that the rabbis would have to affirm that God heard some pagan prayers; in Studies, 1:61, he points to a sinner whom God heard for one act of piety (p. Taan. 1:2).
His denial that he could do nothing at all is an emphatic double negative and contrasts with that of the opponents who do «nothing» good and know «nothing» (11:49; 12:19).
It мая be only coincidental; έκβάλλω appears with sheep in the NT only in 2:15, which hardly provides a favorable model for 10:4. Still, this is an unusual term to apply to leading forth sheep, appearing nowhere with them in the LXX (Exod 2applies to the shepherds driving away the priest's daughters).
Cf. Brown, John, 1:375.
With, e.g., Allen, «Church,» 91.
With Lightfoot, Gospel, 203. Some also find echoes of Wisdom seeking out disciples (Wis 6:16; Blomberg, Reliability, 156).
These were common; see, e.g., 1Cor 1:11; 3 John 3; Euripides E1. 361–362; Demosthenes Ep. 5, to Heracleodorus 1; Seneca Ep. Luci1. 47.1; Diogenes Ep. 20; Apuleius Metam. 1.26; p. Hag. 2:1, §10.
Ellis, Genius, 163.
For ambiguity as a deliberate rhetorical device by sophists, see Anderson, Glossary, 81–82.
For the irony, see, e.g., Culpepper, John, 178. For the roundabout means of identifying himself, cf. Apol1. Κ. Tyre 24; contrast John 4:26.
Especially in the East, e.g., Valerius Maximus 7.3.ext.2; Chariton 5.2.2; often with connotations Jews would have avoided, Arrian Alex. 4.11.8; Cornelius Nepos 9 (Conon), 3.3; Greeks disliked it because they valued freedom (Plutarch Themistocles 27.3–4; Heliodorus Aeth. 7.19), Jews because they venerated only one God (Esth 3:2,5; Tg. Neof. 1 on Gen 19:1; Tg. Ps.-J. on Gen 26:35; though cf. Tg. Neof. 1 on Gen 18:2; 24:48; 33:3; 42:6; 43:26).
E.g., 3Macc 5:50. The Gentile family of Pentephres προσεκύνησαν before Joseph in Jos. Asen. 5:7/10, but Joseph recounts that he προσεκύνησα before Pentephris in T. Jos. 13:5. Perhaps this was less complete prostration than Eastern monarchs required (and to which Greeks also objected).
PGM 13.704–705, of the deity.
Josephus Life 138; Menander Rhetor 2.13,423.27; Herodian 7.5.4. One ancient Greek form of supplication involved clasping the knees of the person from whom one needed help (Homer il 1.427; Euripides Orest. 382).
Also Hoskyns, Gospel, 359; cf., e.g., T. Ab. 9:1–2; 18:10A. Cf. Rev 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:1, 16; 14:7; 15:4; 19:4; such worship was emphatically due only God and the Lamb–not angels (Rev 19:10; 22:8–9) or anyone else (e.g., Rev 19:20; 20:4).
See Duke, Irony, 124.
E.g., Sophocles Oed. tyr. 371, 375, 402–403, 419, 454, 747, 1266–1279; Ovid Metam. 3.336–338, 525; Apollodorus 3.6.7. Cf. Phineas in Apollonius of Rhodes 2.184; Apollodorus 1.9.21; M. Perperna in Valerius Maximus 8.13.5. Literal «blind guides» are better than ignoring the gods (Xenophon Mem. 1.3.4).
Democritus in Aulus Gellius 10.17.1.
E.g., Epictetus Diatr. 1.18; Plato Rep. 6.484BD; Catullus 64.207–209; Iamblichus V.P. 6.31; 32.228; inferior thoughts about the divine in Porphyry Marc. 18.307. The impious cannot judge piety, for the blind would call seeing blindness (Heraclitus Ep. 4). Platós Socrates claimed to expose the ignorance of those who claimed knowledge (Apology of Socrates in Bruns, Art, 45); less relevant would be philosophers' teaching on the deceitfulness of the senses (Plato Phaedo 83A; see comment on John 8:15–16). Greeks usually viewed «sin» in stark moral terms less than most of Judaism did (Euripides Hipp. 615; Aristotle N.E. 4.3.35, 1125a; Nock, «Vocabulary,» 137; Ferguson, Backgrounds, 118).
The language would surely be intelligible in a very hellenized Jewish framework (e.g., Philo Creation 53, 66).
1 En. 99:8; 4Q424 frg. 1, line 3; 4Q434 frg. 1, 2.3–4; Wis 2:21; Rom 1:21; Eph 4:18; T. Levi 13:7; Exod. Rab. 30:20. Rabbis also played parabolically on the contrast between seeing and blindness (p. Peaр 8:9, in Montefiore and Loewe, Anthology, 411).
For irony, see our introduction, pp. 214–28, under «The Jews»; for oxymoron, see Rowe, «Style,» 143 (citing Gregory Nazianzus Or. 28.30; Augustine Ep. 126.7); Porter, «Paul and Letters,» 582 (citing Rom 6:8).
See Martyn, Theology, 36.
Some other ancient Mediterranean thinkers recognized that those who were most offensive to reason (Lucian Runaways 4) or justice (b. Roš Haš. 16b) were those who claimed most to possess it.
That early Christians often recognized that this kind of abuse of power in the religious community was a potentially Christian as well as Pharisaic problem is clear in some elements of the gospel tradition (e.g., Matt 24:45–51), and it ultimately afflicted some Johannine communities (3 John 9–10).
Bruns, «Shepherd,» 386; Mary, «Shepherd,» 2658. Appold, Motif 247, wrongly doubts the fit between chs. 8 and 9 (hence also 10).
Ellis, Genius, 165–66, мая overstate the connection in finding a chiasmus in 9:39–10:21.
Lee, Narratives, 163.
See Keener, Matthew, 371–74.
Johnston, «Parables,» 37, on Fiebig. Even among Greeks and Romans, some writers used allegorical images less frequently than others (Dionysius of Halicarnassus Demosth. 5; Cicero Or. Brut. 24.81; 27.94).
Dodd, Tradition, 382–83; Ellis, Genius, 168. Α παροιμία is a proverb in Alciphron Fishermen 18 (Halictypus to Encymon), 1.15; John's are primarily riddles (Doh, «Paroimiai»); in rhetorical handbooks, see Anderson, Glossary, 91 (citing esp. Demetrius 156). Sages could use parables or riddles to explore God's mysteries (4Q300 frg. 1,2.1–4; 4Q301 frg. 1, line 2; 4Q302a); on the semantic range of mashal and its Greek translations, see, e.g., Keener, Matthew, 371–73.
For fuller discussion, see sources cited in Keener, Matthew, 371–72.
Kysar, «Metaphor,» 40.
E.g., ÓGrady, «Shepherd and Vine.»
Robinson, «Parable,» 234; Robinson, Studies, 68; Dodd, Tradition, 383; Dodd, More Studies, 31. In 10the door could represent Jesus'death (Meyer, «Note,» 233–34), whereas in 10Jesus himself is the door; but rabbis and eschatological teachers, including Jesus, were not always bound to the consistency of their images.
See Johnston, «Parables,» 601–2; Stern, Parables, 11; discussion in Keener, Matthew, 381–84, and the sources cited there; cf. also Brown, Essays, 321–33.
Some recognize both redaction and unity, e.g., Rodriguez Ruiz, «Discurso.»
Meyer, «Note,» 234, though he sees the issue as true and false messiahs; cf. Schenke, «Rätse1.»
Dodd, More Studies, 31; also Haenchen, John, 2:46.
Riesenfeld, Tradition, 167. Tooley, «Shepherd,» nevertheless doubts the authenticity of some of the shepherd sayings in the Jesus tradition.
This is not to limit even the wolf or shepherd images to the Jesus tradition (see comments below; also Keener, Matthew, 253,321–22,451–52; idem, «Shepherd,» 1091–93), but the cumulative selection of these motifs in a small body of teaching at least suggests coherence of imagery.
Fischer, «Christus,» argues that John begins with but modifies the gnostic message (summarized in Kysar, Evangelist, 125–26).
The most thorough argument for the good shepherd discoursés proto-Mandean origin was E. Schweizern 1939 dissertation under Bultmann (Schweizer, Herkunft), but its results proved too inconclusive (Meeks, Prophet-King, 311), and Schweizer himself came to doubt a pre-Christian redeemer myth (Yamauchi, Gnosticism, 26, 31).
Simonis, Hirtenrede, 320–22 (summarized in Kysar, Evangelist, 125); Odeberg, Gospel, 163.
Brown, John, 1:398.
Koester, Symbolism, 17, citing Virgil Ee1. 1.1–5.
Koester, Symbolism, 17.
E.g., Phaedrus 4.5.23–24.
Lewis, Life, 132.
Abel's shepherding appears positively in Josephus Ant. 1.53; Greeks portrayed Hesiod as a former shepherd, whether favorably or unfavorably (Callimachus Aetia 1.2.1; Musonius Rufus 11, p. 80.25–27; Maximus of Tyre Or. 38.2).
Thus the irony implied in Herodian 7.1.2; Paris of Troy was a poor shepherd (Ovid Her. 5.79; Valerius Flaccus 1.549), but only before his royal blood was discovered (Ovid Her. 16.51–52); for many shepherds near Troy, see Philostratus Hrk. 18.2–5; 22.3–4. Cf. Jeffers, World, 21.
Tooley, «Shepherd,» 23; Malina and Rohrbaugh, Commentary, 118.
E.g., Appian R.H. 1.2 (fragments); Livy 39.29.9; Xenophon Eph. 3.12 (cf. Anderson, «Xenophon,» 154 n. 17, citing also Achilles Tatius 3.9ff.; Heliodorus Aeth. 3.5ff.).
B. Sanh. 25b, though one rabbi notes that this is the case only in Palestine.
P. Ber. 4:7, §1.
But cf. MacMullen, Relations, 2, arguing that they were outcasts (citing Firmicus Maternus Mathesis 3.5.23; 4.13.7; Origen Cels. 1.23; and modern Lebanon).
Sanders, Judaism, 461–64; for their importance, cf. also MacMullen, Relations, 2, following Büchler, Conditions, 35. That people depended on them no more raises their status than a landowner's dependence on ass-drivers or a municipal aristocracy's dependence on rural peasants would.
Sanders, Judaism, 461–64. He cites Let. Aris. 112–113 and Philo Spec. Laws. 1.133, but both texts speak of the people as a whole, and both derive from Egypt, where Jewish shepherds are known in the Ptolemaic period (CPJ 1:15). He could also have cited an apologetic work that does not mind mentioning that Israelites were once shepherds (Josephus Ag. Ap. 1.91; cf. Gen 46:32; 47:3); but past and present shepherds appeared differently: without changing the general aristocratic view of shepherds, some imperial texts romantically idealized (and distorted) the rustic past of the republic (e.g., Virgil's Eclogues).
MacMullen, Relations, 15; see further pp. 1–2 (citing Marcus Aurelius Epistula ad Frontonem 35; Lucian Ignorant Book Collector 3). Epictetus Diatr. 2.9.3 uses sheep as a symbol of carnality.
See MacMullen, Relations, 120.
See, e.g., Artemidorus Onir. 2.12; cowherds as rulers of their cattle, Xenophon Cyr. 1.1.2.
Before the Israelite period, see especially the Sumerians; for Israel and the ancient Near East, see, e.g., Bruce, Time, 49; for Egypt, see Kügler, «König»; Manetho Aegyptiaca book 2, dynasties 15–17, frg. 43,45,47–49.
Anacharsis Ep. 7, to Tereus; Greek writers about Persian warrior-rulers, Aeschylus Persians 74–75; Xenophon Cyr. 8.2.14; applied to generals (Silius Italicus 7.123–127) and guiding philosophers (Eunapius Lives 464); shepherds could also view erotic love as a shepherd (Longus 3.12; 4.39). See further Koester, «Spectrum,» 14.
Thus Moses is both Israel's shepherd and its judge (L.A.B. 19:3,10).
Compare Homer Od. 4.291 (ruler) with 4.24 (shepherd). It could also apply to usurpers (4.532).
Homer Il. 4.296; 8.81; 10.73; 11.370, 842; 13.411; 16.2; 19.386; 23.389; Od. 17.109; 18.70; 24.456. The expression is sometimes equivalent to «captains of the people» (Il. 11.465).
Homer Il. 1.263; 5.144,513; 6.214; 10.406; 11.92; 13.600; 15.262; 20.110; 22.277.
Homer I1. 2.85, 243, 254; 4.413; 7.230; 10.3; 11.202; 19.35, 251; 24.654; Od. 3.156; 14.497; Xenophon Mem. 3.2.1. For Atreus, Homer Il. 2.105; for Menelaus, Homer Od. 4.24.
Hesiod Theog. 1000 (Jason); Maximus of Tyre Or. 19.2 (Socrates).
See further, e.g., Hesiod Astron. frg. 4; Sophocles Oed. tyr. 444; Oed. co1. 199–201; Ant. 989–990; Plutarch Bride 6, Mor. 139A.
Hesiod Op. 202–211. For earlier animal fables, see, e.g., Ahiqar 120–122 (saying 36); 118–120 (saying 35).
The obedience of sheep also appears elsewhere, e.g., Epictetus Diatr. 1.16.5. The «hearing» of sheep мая include an allusion to Ps 95(cf. Heb 3:7), but on a shepherd «leading» sheep, see also 2Sam 5and 1Chron 11(David); Ps 78(God); and Jer 50(the wicked leaders of Israel).
L.A.B. 23:12; 30:5; 1 En. 89:16–24; 4Q266 18 5.13; Sipre Deut. 15.1.1; Exod Rab. 24:3; Pesiq. Rab. 9:2; 26:1/2. (Sir 18:13; Philo Agriculture 50–53; and p. Ber. 2:7, §2 appear to be exceptions.) Early Christians applied the image to the church (Minear, Images, 84–87; Ladd, Theology 108); on the shepherd image in early Christianity, see Keener, «Shepherd,» 1091–93.
Robinson, Studies, 71. It is doubtful that the image is one of replacement (as apparently in Pancaro, Law, 301)–rather, one of the faithful covenant remnant (cf. Barrett, John, 369).
Bowman, Gospel, 200–1.
Odeberg, Gospel, 326; cf. the open door or gate in 1 En. 104:2; Rev 4:1.
For porters at doors in well-to-do homes, cf., e.g., Mark 13:34; Acts 12:13; Plutarch Cicero 15.1; 36.3; Seneca Ep. Luci1. 19.11; Treggiari, «Jobs,» 51; further the comment on 18:16–17.
E.g., Ps 77:20; Isa 63:11; 1 En. 89:35; L.A.B. 19:3, 10; Sipre Deut. 305.3.1; p. Sanh. 10:1, §9; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 2:8; Exod. Rab. 2:2; Tg. Ps.-J. on Gen 40(Moses, Aaron, and Miriam); possibly 1Q34 and 1Q34 bis, 3 2.8 (Wise, Scrolls, 186; fragmentary); see further Meeks, Prophet-King, 311–12 (esp. on Mek. Pisha 1 on Exod 12:1); Glasson, Moses, 95–96; Odeberg, Gospel, 315–17. R. Nehemiah understood Isa 63to mean that all Israelites became shepherds as Moses was (p. Sotah 5:4, §1). Moses' title мая relate to his occupation (Exod 3:1), but it is hard to suppose (with Enz, «Exodus,» 213) that the good shepherd of John 10 recalls Exod 3:1.
Exod. Rab. 5:20.
2Sam 5:2; 1 Chr 11:2; Ps 78:70–72; Ezek 34:23; 37:24; 4Q504 4.6–8; Gen. Rab. 59:5. The title also relates to his prior occupation (1Sam 16:15,34–37; Ps 78:70–71). Ellis, World, 70, stresses David as shepherd-king in the Hanukkah lection; but while this мая be relevant in 10:26, it is not relevant before 10:22.
Mek. Pisha 1.162–163 (Simeon ben Azzai).
4 Ezra 5:18.
Num 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Jer 3:15; Mek. Pisha 1.162–163; CD 19.8–9. The prophets also applied the title ironically to unjust leaders (Isa 56:11; Jer 22:22; 23:1–4; 25:34–36; Zech 10:3; 11:5, 15–17; 13:4–7); the shepherds were often responsible for the scattering of God's people (Jer 10:21; 50:6–7; Ezek 34:1–10).
E.g., the Teacher of Righteousness at Qumran (Painter, John, 42). Derrett, «Shepherd,» 26–28, argues that John uses «shepherd» as teacher; God is their owner, he claims, not their shepherd.
Thus the mebaqqer of Qumran, watching over his group of Essenes (CD 13.9).
Mic 5:4; Jer 23:1–6; Ezek 34:23; Pss. So1. 17:40; cf. Zech 13:7; Tg. Neof. 1 on Exod 12(as a new Moses); Longenecker, Christology, 48–49. Cook in Wise, Scrolls, 214, thinks 4Q165 frg. 1–2 мая apply to the Teacher of Righteousness.
In 1 En. 89:59–60,62–63, it is the seventy nations appointed to judge Israe1.
Ps 23:1–4; 28:9; 74:1–2; 77:20; 78:52; 79:13; 80:1; 100:3; Isa 40:11; Jer 13:17; 31:10; Ezek 34:11–17; Mic 7:14; Zech 9:16; 10:3; Sir 18:13; 4Q509 4.24 (possibly, but fragmentary); 1 En. 89:18; LA.B. 28:5; 30:5; Philo Agriculture 50–53; b. Hag. 3b; Pesah. 118a; Exod. Rab. 34:3; Lam. Rab. 1:17, §52; Pesiq. Rab. 3:2; see further Marmorstein, Names, 100–101. Many commentators recognize this image here (e.g., Bowman, Gospel, 200; Barrett, «Old Testament,» 163). Payne, «Claim,» finds allusions to Jesus' deity here and in other images for Jesus in his parables.
E.g., Columella Rust 1.7.1; P.Ry1. 125 (28–29 C.E.); P.Gur. 8 (210 B.C.E.).
T. B. Qam. 7:2; b. B. Qam. 114b; Gen. Rab. 54:3; Derrett, «Shepherd,» 41; also Rhet. Alex. 11, 1430b. 16–19. The robbers (λησταί, Lat. latrones) generally lived off the countryside and traveled in bands (MacMullen, Enemies, 255).
E.g., Xenophon Cyr. 1.6.27 (κλέπτην και άρπαγα).
With Ridderbos, John, 354.
Thieves and wolves summarized the greatest collective dangers to flocks (Tibullus 1.1.33–34).
See Lewis, Life, 77.
Ibid., 123; cf. Ruth 3:7. Cf. the allegedly Jewish robbers (ληισ[ται]) in the Ptolemaic vineyard in CPJ 1:157–58, §21.
E.g., P.Oxy. 1408.11–21 (210–214 C.E.).
Lewis, Life, 141.
Aulus Gellius 11.18; death in Xenophon Mem. 1.2.62 and Hamm. 21; those in collusion with them should receive the same penalty (Lysias Or. 29.11, §182). Even former thieves were permanently barred from speaking to public meetings (Seneca Controv. 10.6.intr.).
Alciphron Farmers 16 (Pithacnion to Eustachys), 3.19, par. 1–2; this remains common today in some African towns where I have stayed. Either the robber or the homeowner might be bound (Xenophon Anab. 6.1.8; Matt 12:29); a homeowner could kill a thief if he came at night or armed (Cicero Mi1. 3.9; Exod 22:2; Eshnunna 13; cf. Eshnunna 12).
E.g., Virgil Ee1. 3.10–11; for spiteful acts of «enemies,» see commentaries on Matt 13:25.
Virgil Ee1. 3.17–24.
Aulus Gellius 6.15.
T. B. Qam. 7:8; cf. 2 Bar. 22:4; cf. Luke 19with Exod 22:1.
P.Ry1. 114 (ca. 280 C.E.).
Phaedrus 4.23.16; 2Cor 11:26; m. Ber. 1:3; b. cAbod. Zar. 25b; Ber. lia; B. Qam. 116b; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 27:6; Gen. Rab. 75:3; Exod. Rab. 30:24; cf. sources in Friedländer, Life, 1:294–96; Hock, Context, 78 n. 19; Tannaitic sources in Goodman, State, 55. In ancient romances, robbers also carried off young women (Achilles Tatius 2.16.2; 2.18.5; 3.9.3).
E.g., Greek Anth. 7.310, 516, 581, 737; Xenophon Eph. 4.3; Gen. Rab. 80:2; 92:6.
E.g., Horace Ep. 1.2.32–33; Apuleius Metam. 8.17; 1 Esd 4:23–24; Sib. Or. 3.380; Josephus Ant. 14.159–160,415,421; 20.5,113,124; Life 105; Treat. Shem 6:1; 7:20; b. Sanh. 108a; Lev. Rab. 9:8. The poor мая have been less frequent targets (Dio Chrysostom Or. 7, Euboean Discourse, §§9–10).
omer Il. 3.10–11.
MacMullen, Relations, 2, and many sources cited in his notes; he compares the dogs with those outside many contemporary Anatolian villages, «able to tear a man in pieces.» They often targeted wolves (Longus 1.21), but dogs could prove faithful to their masters (Appian R.H. 11.10.64; Sei. Pap. 3:460–63 in 3 B.C.E.; Xenophon Mem. 2.3.9; Plutarch Themistocles 10.6; p. Ter. 8:7; cf. some tamed in Xenophon Eph. 4.6; 5.2; one surprisingly tame in Philostratus Hrk. 2.2).
E.g., Homer Od. 2.11; Longus 1.21.
E.g., Aristophanes Wasps 952; Virgil Georg. 3.406–408; Phaedrus 3.15.1; Babrius 93.3–11; Plutarch Demosthenes 23.4; Valerius Flaccus 1.158–159.
Xenophon Mem. 2.9.7; for flocks mingling, see, e.g., Luke 2:8; Polybius 12.4.11–12.
Against the masses (κλέπτοα και λωποδύτοα, Epictetus Diatr. 1.18.3, though he thinks them just misled; cf. ληστής in 1.18.5) or those who think they control the body (Epictetus Diatr. 2.19.28).
Cicero Phi1. 2.25.62 (rapinas); technically it was the duty of governors to suppress robbers (Plutarch Cicero 36.4).
The exception might be a use for someone deceptive and cunning (Xenophon Cyr. 1.6.27), which could be positive toward onés enemies (1.6.28). That Jesus is a «good thief» here (Derrett, «Shepherd»; cf. Matt 24:43) is highly unlikely; that the lack of identification of Jesus with the thief would make the parable early (Robinson, Studies, 72, who wrongly makes the tradition of Rev 3:3; 16late) is likewise unlikely.
Tg. Neof. on Gen 6:11, 13 later interpreted a major part of the violence that merited God's anger as robbery. Rhet. Alex. 1,1422b.5–8, portrays deceivers as «thieves» (κλέπτας) of understanding.
Johnston, «Parables,» 595.
Sanders, John, 249, citing Acts 5:36–37.
Cullmann, State, 22; Wood, «Interpreting,» 266. Shepherd, «Jews,» 100 applies it against both false christs and false teachers in genera1.
So, e.g., Quasten, «Shepherd,» 11.
Hunter, John, 102; Mary, «Shepherd,» 2660. Bruns, «Shepherd,» 387, applies it to the temple priesthood, wrongly citing the Hanukkah story before 10:22; Stauffer, Jesus, 93–94, wrongly applies the false-shepherds image to Pilate (also the wolf, 99). Bowman, Gospel, 199–200, applies it to Moses and to the rabbis who abused him; Valentinians applied to OT prophets (Hippolytus Haer. 6.30).
Odeberg, Gospel, 328; Quasten, «Shepherd,» 12,153,159–60; Jeremias, Parables, 167; Barrett, John, 367. Augustine Tr. Ev. Jo. 45.11.4 recontextualizes the image for false teachers leading people into heresy.
With Jeremias, Parables, 133; Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4. Three hundred was large (t. B. Qam. 6:20); cf. eighty in P.Hib. 33.16 (245 B.C.E.); 12 in P.Oxy. 245 (26 C.E.); a poor widow had one sheep (Babrius 51.1).
E.g., Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 9.10.1 (which also appeals to the named ones' desire for personal recognition).
Longus 4.26.4 (a novel), in Hock, «Novel,» 139. For calling sheep by name, Watkins, John, 232, cites Idyll 5.102–103; Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 10, attests that some modern shepherds in the region name their sheep whereas others do not but that shepherds can always distinguish their sheep individually.
Jeremias, Parables, 215 n. 37, following Dalman, Arbeit, 6:250–51. Brown, John, 1notes that Palestinian shepherds apparently often have «pet names for their favorite» sheep, such as «Long-ears» or «White-nose.» Haenchen, John, 2:46, doubts that sheep would each have their own names in a large flock; but in Palestine an average-sized flock was only about a hundred (Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4; Jeremias, Parables, 133), as noted above.
Alciphron Farmers 18 (Eunapê to Glaucê), 3.21, par. 1.
E.g., Xenophon Hunting?'.5 (though referring to hunting dogs who must act quickly). Most of his example names are two syllables, and most describe the animals' character or color.
Virgil Ee1. 3.34.
Pesiq. Rab Kah. 2:8.
Longus 1.21. Italian swine followed their pasturers' trumpet signals (Polybius 12.4.5).
Longus 1.22; Alciphron Farmers 9 (Pratinas to Epigonus), 3.12, esp. par. 2.
E.g., Longus 1.8, 27, 29–30.
Longus 4.15. His playing might also soothe them with peace (Ovid Tristia 4.1.11–12).
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 9, who watched this himself.
Aratus Phaen. 1104–1112 attributes their occasional reluctance to return to pens at evening to a coming storm.
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 9; Bernard, John, 2:350; Lenski, John, 712; Italian (though not Greek) swineherds also separated their swine this way (Polybius 12.4.11–12).
Longus 2.35. Pipes are often associated with shepherds (e.g., Sophocles Phi1. 213–214; Euripides Ale. 575–577; Ovid Metam. 2.680–681; Propertius Eleg. 4.1.24); also, though perhaps less often, ancient Israelite shepherds (Judg 5:16).
Longus 2.28 (though this is Pan, who was credited with teaching shepherds, over whom he watched, how to make reed pipes–Virgil Ee1. 2.32–33; and unlikely supernatural properties are sometimes connected with special ways of fluting–Aulus Gellius 4.13).
Hunter, John, 102; cf. Gen 46:32; Num 27:17; 2Sam 5:2; 1 Chr 11:2; Ps 80:1; Isa 40:11; Jer 50:6; Jdt 11:19. The goatherd «leads» (άξω) in Babrius 3.1–2 (though Jeffers, World, 21, notes that shepherds elsewhere often drive flocks from behind). Greek swineherds drive from behind, but Italian ones lead (Polybius 12.4.6).
John could, e.g., apply the language to family relations (1:41; 5:18; 19:27; cf. 16:32) or nationality (1:11; 4:44). John also speaks of the worlds «own.» But the term is no more frequent in John (.083 percent) than, say, in Acts (.078 percent) or Paul (around .895 percent), though far more than in the canonical LXX (e.g., .009 in Genesis), and is not part of his theological double entendre vocabulary.
Mortals in Greek epic sometimes recognized divine voices (Homer Il 2.182, 807), but the monotheistic biblical tradition, which John often cites, is a much closer context. Socrates regularly heard «the voice,» i.e., his δαιμόνιον (Socrates Ep. 1); Platonists expected to hear God's «voice» during contemplation of the perfect beyond the heavens, undistracted by sense knowledge (Maximus of Tyre Or. 11.10).
So when God calls stars in 1 En. 43(representing the righteous) and in 1 En. 69(probably literal stars). Because God leads the stars forth by number as well as calling them by name (Isa 40:26), this мая be a shepherd image (40:11). For humans, calling by name can connote great, albeit not omniscient, knowledge (Gen 2:19–20; 3:20); but on the level of Johannine Christology, see John 2:23–25.
Cf. God calling the righteous by name in 4Q521 2,4 2.5.
The term appears 140 times in the Greek NT, sometimes in theologically significant ways (esp. in Paul, e.g., Rom 8:30; 1Cor 1:9) but also frequently in nontheological senses (e.g., Acts 28:1; cf. God calling Abraham in death in T. Ab. 4:9B).
Thus «voice» here refers not to the «tone» as opposed to the «contents» (the word; Lenski, John, 753), but to covenant language (Betz, «φωνή,» 278).
Cf. Westcott, John, xcvii.
For the law, also Deut 13:4, 18; 15:5; 26:14, 17; 30:20; Judg 2:20; Jer 3:13, 25; 7:23, 28; 9:13; 11:4, 7; 26:13; 32:23; 44:23; Dan 9:11; for the prophetic word, e.g., 1Sam 15:19–22; Jer 18:10; 42:13; 43:4, 7; Dan 9:10; Hag 1:12. See also, e.g., Grant, Judaism, 60.
On prophetic inspiration in early Judaism, see Keener, Spirit, 10–26 and sources cited there; on the heavenly voice, see comment on 12:28.
Pesiq. Rab Kah. 16:4; Pesiq. Rab. 3:3. God's voice sounded gentle to Adam before his sin but harsh afterward (Pesiq. Rab Kah. 5:3; Pesiq. Rab. 15:3). God's voice sometimes appears as a surrogate for God (T. Ab. 14–16; 20:13A; Rev 1:12), which some have even regarded as hypostatic (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha and NT, 128–30; idem, «Voice»; but on Rev 1:12, cf. Exod 20:18).
Sipra VDDen. pq. 184.108.40.206; 220.127.116.11. On the magnitude of God's voice, see, e.g., Ps 29; Exod. Rab. 5:9; 29:9; Petuchowski, «Qol Adonai.»
Robinson, «Parable,» 235; Dschulnigg, «Hirt.» Käsemann, Testament, 40, opines that John regarded the church as «exclusively … the community under the Word,» those who embrace Jesus' message.
At least in 3:29; 5:24, 25, 28; 8:43; 12:47; 18:37; cf. 7:51; 18:21.
At least in 5:37; 6:45; 8:47, as Jesus hears the Father (5:30; 8:26, 40; 15:15; cf. 8:38) and the Spirit hears him (16:13). Hearing Jesus is hearing the Father (e.g., 14:24).
Cf. Philós acceptance of the Greek view that God speaks inside rather than to humans (Amir, «Philo»).
See Keener, «Pneumatology»; idem, «Knowledge.»
Cf. conceptions of innate law (Plutarch Uned. R. 3, Mor. 780C; Apuleius Metam. 3.8), the related idea of innate virtue (Philo Abraham 5–6), innate knowledge (Plato Phaedo 75CD, 76A; Cicero Topica 7.31), and innate knowledge of God (Cicero Leg. 1.22.58–59; Dio Chrysostom Or. 12, Olympic Discourse, §§27–28).
E.g., Hanson, Unity, 163.
Even in the forests of Corsica, grazing sheep would flee from strangers but gather when their shepherd signaled (Polybius 12.4.2–4).
Longus 1.27. Yet presumably in Johannine theology, even an impostor remains identifiable by his voice (Rev 13:11).
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 9.
Silius Italicus 7.126–130 (the fortified closed place appears in 7.127).
Herdsmen might also use caves in times of emergency, like heavy winter snows (Babrius 45.2–3).
Brown, John, 1:385; Garber, «Sheep,» 464; Whitacre, John, 257.
Unter, John, 102.
Day," John," 667.
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 6.
Cf. also Whitacre, John, 255. We base this on the textual contrast; in the culture itself, shepherds were frequently employed by others (MacMullen, Relations, 3; e.g., Polybius 9.17.6).
The Jerusalemite Pharisees Jesus addresses (9:40–10:4), and the probably urban first recipients of the Gospel (cf. Rev 1:4,11), мая have thought instead of the more common literary images of flocks (cf., e.g., Keener, Matthew, 452); perhaps Jerusalemites thought of temple flocks (see some commentators on Luke 2:8).
Sanders, John, 247.
Derrett, «Shepherd,» 28–29,45, examines the background in Exod 21–22.
E.g., Brown, John, 1:386; Mary, «Shepherd,» 2660; Garber, «Sheep,» 464.
E.g., Statius Thebaid 9.189–191.
Ovid Metam. 14.778; Statius Achilleid 1.704–708. So also thieves (Catullus 62.34–35; Lewis, Life, 123; Matt 24:43).
Apollonius of Rhodes 2.123–125; Babrius 113.2–4.
Babrius 132.1–4 (presumably the danger of being trapped inside with dogs and shepherds functioned as a deterrent).
E.g., Silius Italicus 7.129; Statius Thebaid 10.45–48; Ovid Ex Ponto 1.2.17–18.
Hegesippus claimed that James the Lord's brother called Jesus θύρα (Eusebius Hist. ecc1. 2.23.12–19); if this tradition is independent, it supports the antiquity of the christological title (see Carson, John, 389). Augustine rightly links 10:7–9 with 14and contends that Jesus is the only way to salvation (Tr. Ev. Jo. 47.3.3).
Meyer, "Note," 233.
Cf. Bowman, Gospel, 200–201, though he wrongly thinks John's fold recalls the tabernacle; Enz, «Exodus,» 213; Martin, «John 10,» 173.
The opportunity for suicide (Epictetus Diatr. 1.9.20; 1.25.21; 2.1.19; 3.8.6); other opportunity (Plutarch Reply to Colotes 3, Mor. 1108D; cf. 1QS 11.9); dreams of closed doors were inauspicious (Chariton 1.12.5).
E.g., 1 En. 14:15; 3Macc 6:18; Γ. Levi 2:6; cf. PGM 4.662–663; «parting» of the sky in Mark 1:10; Rev 19; Virgil Aen. 9.20–21.
With, e.g., Bruns, «Shepherd,» 388; too quickly dismissed by Bernard, John, 2:355. Tg. Neof. on Deut 33suggests that Moses would also go forth before his people, leading them in the future world. But the image applied to any shepherd/leader (1 Kgs 22:17; 2 Chr 18:16).
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 7, focuses on the village homés court and thinks animals would have to be led out to pasture even in winter.
Cf. Jesus' present leading in 16:13; future (as a shepherd) in Rev 7:17. In Aeschylus Eumenides 91, Apollo promises that Hermes will guide Orestes safely, like a shepherd (ποιμαίνων).
In John it does not always have its common technical early Christian sense (11:12; 12:27) but usually does (3:17; 5:34; 12:47; cf. John 4:22,42; 1 John 4:14).
Virgil Georg. 3.322–326.
Virgil Georg. 3.331–334; Longus 1.8.
Virgil Georg. 3.335–338.
Garber, «Sheep,» 463–64.
Cary and Haarhoff, Life, 110. Winter approaches as Jesus speaks these words in the story world (7:2; cf. 10:22–23), but this would probably exercise little influence on how John's audience imagines the pasturing.
Virgil Georg. 3.295–296 (in Italy); Apollonius of Rhodes 2.123–125.
Virgil Georg. 3.322–323.
Longus 3.3 (addressing Lesbos, farther north, but relevant in the Judean hills; shepherds and goatherds generally remained in the hills–Babrius 91.2; Matt 18:12); cf. Babrius 45.2–3.
Garber, «Sheep,» 464.
E.g., Babrius 91.2; Matt 18:12.
Diodorus Siculus 33.1.1. They knew the paths through the hills in hilly Thessaly (Livy 32.11.2).
Also Ps 23(22:2 LXX; noted also by Bowman, Gospel, 200) and Mic 2:12, though the LXX uses a different term. Arntz, «Hirt,» uses Ps 23 as a background for John 10:11–16 (with implications for church leadership).
On analogy with 8:44, one could imply that such thieves were children of the devil (cf. Jub. 11:11), but the popular interpretation of 10as applying directly to the devil ignores his absence from this context.
T. Ab. 10:5A (κλέπται, οί βουλόμενοι φόνον εργάζεσθαι και κλέψαι και θυσαι και άπολέσαι). Bandits killed a father and son in Diodorus Siculus 34/35.11.1.
A thief who breaks in with the intention to kill is to be executed, but one who kills a thief intending only to steal is himself executed (p. Sanh. 8:8, §1; cf. Exod 22:1–3).
Ancient moralists sometimes posed the dilemma between the flatterer who does not seek onés good but seems to, and the frank friend (esp. Plutarch Flatterer 1–37, Mor. 48E-74E).
Philosophers could speak of «good life» (τό εύ ζην), which was better than mere «life» (Epictetus Diatr. 1.4.31, following Plato Crito 48B). Jewish tradition could speak of those who do alms and righteousness being «filled with life» (πλησθήσονται ζωής, Tob 12:9).
We have elsewhere argued that, pace much twentieth-century scholarship, some sort of passion predictions by Jesus are historically likely (Keener, Matthew, 431–33, on Matt 16:21). But such anticipations of the passion are also important from a literary perspective; see Aristotle Poet. 15.10, 1454ab.
Anacharsis Ep. 7, to Tereus. John prefers καλός in this context (10:11, 14, 32–33; cf. 2:10), but his sense is not appreciably different from αγαθός (1:46; 5:29; 7:12, though all these could connote more moral virtue). Classical Greek distinguished the two (αγαθός more applying to moral goodness), but the distinction was rare in Koine (Thiselton, «Semantics,» 93); some texts employ them together (Let. Arts. 46). Barrett, John, 373, points out that Exod. Rab. 2:2 portrays David as a «good» (יפה) shepherd; but unless that text reflects wider tradition, it merely illustrates the broader principle here.
Alciphron Farmers 39 (Dryades to Melionê), 3.41, par. 1 (yielding more wool, par. 2); Ezek 34:4; Zech 11:16. A shepherd is held responsible for the health of his flock's members (Xenophon Oec. 3.10; Gen 31:38–39).
A skilled goatherd could protect all his goats from wolves (Longus 2.22); shepherds must care for sheep's safety (Xenophon Mem. 3.2.1; Statius Thebaid 4.368–369; Acts 20:28–29); so also herdsmen protecting cattle (Aeschylus Supp1. 352–353).
Virgil Aen. 11.811. Nevertheless, a lone wolf attacking people, especially if the latter were in a group, was unusual (Livy 21.46.2; 27.37.3) unless the wolf were unusually large (mythology in Ovid Metam. 11.366–375) or the humans were small and defenseless children (Babrius 16).
Shepherds might leave their flocks in terror (Apollonius of Rhodes 4.316–318; unclear whether these were undershepherds or owners).
Mary, «Shepherd,» 2662–65; cf. Rev 7:17.
Euripides Iph. au1. 1420 (σωσαί μ' Έλλάδ'). Scholars also might emphasize leaders' sacrificial concern for the community (a late Tanna cited in Exod. Rab. 27:9); for more examples of the Greek noble-death tradition, see esp. Neyrey, «Noble Shepherd»; comments on 12:25–26; 15:13–15.
Menander Rhetor 2.3,379.28–29 (comparing a governor with a helmsman). Thus also a deceased hero might guard his land against wolves (Philostratus Hrk. 4.3).
Painter, John, 42; Brown, Community, 78.
See MacMullen, Relations, 3.
Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 6.
Virgil Eel 3.34.
Exod 22:8–13; m. B. Qam. 6:1. Nevertheless, if one shepherd who was not the owner handed the flock to another shepherd (cf. Luke 2:8; 15:4; Bailey, Poet, 149), the first remained liable (t. B. Qam. 6:20).
Demosthenes Crown 51–52. Cf. Epictetus Diatr. 1.14.15. But for a good hireling (μίσθιον), who gives himself for his master's service, see Sir 7:20. Bowman, Gospel, 201, fancifully finds Johanan ben Zakkaís abandonment of Jerusalem in 10:12–13; but then what of the Jerusalemite Christians (Mark 13:14–16; Eusebius Hist. ecc1. 3.5.3)?
Phaedrus 2.8.27–28; cf. Statius Thebaid 9.189–191.
Alciphron Farmers 18 (Eunapê to Glaucê), 3.21, par. 1–3.
Alciphron Farmers 21 (Philopoemen to Moschion), 3.24, par. 1–3.
Columella Rust. 1.9.1.
So Themestios Speeches 1.9d-10d (317–388 C.E.).
Virgil Ee1. 3.3–6.
Babrius 3.5 (in this case a slave, risking trouble with the owner, 3.6–9).
Columella Rust. 1.7.7.
Maximus of Tyre Or. 6.7 (trans. Trapp), second century C.E.; cf. the analogous images of exploitive shepherds in Ezek 34:2–10.
E.g., Homer Il. 22.263; Aristophanes Wasps 952; Apollonius of Rhodes 2.123–124; Virgil Aen. 9.566; Ec1. 3.80; 5.60; 8.52; Ovid Metam. 1.232–237, 304, 505; 5.626–627; 6.527–528; Fasti 2.85–86,800; Phaedrus 1.1; Babrius 89; 93.3–11; 102.8; 105.1; 113.2–4; 132.1–4; Longus 1.11,21–22; Apollodorus Library 1.9.2; Statius Thebaid 10.42–48; Tibullus 1.1.33–34; 2.1.20; 2.5.88; Plutarch Demosthenes23.4; Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 1.2; 2.7. Lucan C.W. 7.826 portrays them as scavengers, but this is rare.
Virgil Ee1. 2.63; Georg. 1.130; Phaedrus 1.8; Babrius 53.1–2; 94; Longus 2.16, 22; 4.15; Aeschylus Supp1. 351; frg. 23 (Glaucus; in LCL 2:393); Pindar Pyth. 2.84; Alciphron Farmers 18 (Eunapê to Glaucê), 3.21, par. 1, 3; Callimachus Iambus 12.202.70; Apollodorus Library 2.5.6; Lycophron Alex. 102–103, 147; Philostratus Hrk. 33.14; endangering weak humans in Xenophon Agesilaus 1.22; p. Seqa1. 5:1.
Homer Il. 16.156–157, 352; 22.263; Virgil Aen. 9.566.
Lycophron Alex. 102–103.
Statius Thebaid 4.361–363.
Alciphron Farmers 5 (Agelarchides to Pytholaüs), 1.26, par. 3; cf. all the selfish in Musonius Rufus 14, p. 92.20–25. Talbert, John, 167, compares Philostratus Vit. Apol1. 8.22, where Apollonius guards his sheep from wolves, which represent worldly matters. «Wolves» are false teachers in Acts 20:29–30; John Chrystostom Hom. Jo. 23 (on John 2:1–22) calls the devil a predatory «wolf.»
Phaedrus 1.8.5–12; 1.10.9.
Phaedrus 1.16.5; Musonius Rufus 14, p. 92.21–22; cf. Paris as a «hungry» wolf in Lycophron Alex. 147.
Also Exod. Rab. 5:20; Lam. Rab. 1:17, §52.
Derrett, «Shepherd,» 43, argues that Jewish law did not punish a hired shepherd who fled from a robber or wolves, but did not excuse him from a single wolf, as here (m. B. Mesica 7:9,11; but cf. b. B. Mesica 93b.
Virgil Georg. 3.406–408 (which also lists roving «Spaniards» in a sense equivalent to «robbers»); Babrius 128.14. A slave who stole and killed goats is called a «wolf» (Alciphron Farmers 21 [Philopoemen to Moschion], 3.24, par. 1), since he has acted like one.
Scattering was also the language of divine judgment (Gen 11:4, 8–9; Lev 26:33; Deut 4:27; 28:64; 1 Kgs 14:15; Neh 1:8; Jer 9:16; 10:21; 13:24; 18:17; 24:9; 30:11; 50:17; Lam 4:16; Ezek 5:10, 12; 6:8; 12:14–15; 17:21; 20:34; 22:15; 36:19; Joel 3:2; Zech 7:14), but God would restore his dispersed people (Deut 30:3; Neh 1:9; Isa 27:13; Jer 23:3; 31:10; Ezek 11:16–17; 20:41; 28:25; Mic 2:12; Zech 10:9), in this Gospel through Jesus (11:52).
People without a leader, like sheep without a shepherd, were bound to scatter (John 16:32; Num 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Matt 9:36), leaving them easy prey for wolves (4 Ezra 5:18). In 1 En. 89:59–63, the shepherds are the pagan nations appointed to judge Israe1. Köstenberger, John, 122–23, helpfully emphasizes the contrast between good and worthless shepherds in Zech 11:16–17.
E.g., Exod 6:7; 16:6; 29:46; Deut 4:35; 29:6; Isa 1:3; 43:10; Jer 4:22; Ezek 7:27; 11:10, 12; 12:15–16, 20; 13:9, 14, 21, 23; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 37:6, 13–14; 39:22. The nations, too, were called to acknowledge God in this manner (e.g., Exod 5:2; 7:5, 17; 8:10, 22; 9:14, 29–30; 10:2; 14:4, 18; Isa 19:21; 37:20; 49:26; Ezek 21:5; 25:5, 7,11; 26:6; 28:22).
By contrast, Tg. Jer. 31euphemistically tones down «knowing the Lord» to «knowing the fear of the Lord.»
Cf. also 1:11, where his «own» are Israel in an ethnic sense.
For intimacy here, see also, e.g., ÓGrady, «Shepherd and Vine,» 87.
In view of the whole Gospel, this takes καθώς more strongly than even following the «pattern» (Painter, John, 100) of Jesus' relationship with his Father; neither is the text merely prescriptive («it is to reproduce the perfect permanent relationship between the Father and Himself,» Lightfoot, Gospel, 212).
Ridderbos, John, 361. Boring et a1., Commentary, 288, cites here the principle of like knows like (Aristotle Rhet. A 1371b; see comment on 3:6), arguing that 10is proverbial rather than mystical; but this is unlikely, since this Gospel emphasizes Jesus as the revealer.
In practice some мая walk closer to Jesus than others (e.g., 13:23), but the point here is the established covenant relationship, not how believers live it out. All God's presence and intimacy becomes available at conversion (14:5–7).
Bowman, «Studies»; Freed, «Samaritan Influence»; Scobie, «Origins,» 407.
Martyn, «Glimpses,» 174, suggesting they were «scattered» from their synagogues by the excommunication effected by the Birkath Ha-minim.
The most common view (e.g., Bernard, John, 2:361).
Robinson, «Destination,» 127–28.
Michaels, John, 169.
Cf. Pancaro, Law, 301, distinguishing flock and fold; idem, «Israel,» 404.
Cf. also Jeremias, Promise, 38.
We мая discount the relevance of Hansons application here of the restoration of cosmic unity in the gnostic primal man myth (Hanson, Unity, 162).
Clearly the modernist interpretation of the «other sheep» in terms of «religious pluralism» is not the point; as Bailey, «Shepherd Poems,» 17, points out, these sheep belong to, hear, and obey Christ (cf. also comment on 14:6).
Classical usage allows the sense that he was «pledging» his life as a ransom, but Johannine usage favors simply «laying down» (Plummer, Epistles, 84, on 1 John 3:16). Hunter, John, 105, thinks John employs these verbs in 10to make more intelligible the significance of 13:4.
Brown, John, 1:399, emphasizing the unity of Jesus' death, resurrection, and exaltation in this Gospe1.
Michaels, John, 169.
Some Tannaim, such as Ben Azzai, believed that if one died while engaged in fulfilling God's commandments, this suggested one would inherit paradise ('Abot R. Nat. 25A)–hence, by implication, the resurrection. But the emphasis on Jesus' special resurrection and special commandment (10:18) exceeds this.
Martyn, Theology, 90.
See introduction, p. 191; cf., e.g., 'Abot R. Nat. 2A; 2, §13 B; b. cAbod. Zar. 16b-17a, 27b; Justin Dia1. 35.