Craig S. Keener
Dying to live. 11:1–12:11
TO RAISE LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD, Jesus would have to go to Judea, the place of hostility, risking (and ultimately encountering) death (11:7–8, 14–16).7534 Lazarus was the «friend» of Jesus and the disciples (11: ll),7535 and therefore it was appropriate to die for him (15:13–15). Yet once Lazarus receives life, he must likewise share Jesus' death (12:10–11).
Raising Lazarus (11:1–44)
This climactic sign of Jesus' ministry joins the opening sign in framing Jesus' public ministry. The opening sign (2:1–11) recounts Jesus' benevolence at a wedding; the last involves it at a funera1. The joy of weddings and mourning of funerals could function as opposites in ancient literature.7536 While few of Jesus' signs in John's Gospel specifically parallel Moses' signs, his first and last signs мая be exceptions.7537 In both cases, the signs мая suggest contrasts: whereas Moses' first sign was transforming water to blood, Jesus benevolently transforms it into wine. Likewise, whereas the final plague against Egypt was the death of the firstborn sons, the climax of Jesus' signs is raising a dead brother-provider.
1. John's Account
Many are skeptical of pre-Johannine tradition in the narrative about Lazarus's raising, because the story seems too central to Jesus' ministry to have been unknown to the Synoptic writers and, if known, not mentioned by them. Some have even proposed that John composed the story by weaving together various elements of Lukan tradition.7538 To be sure, the story has much symbolic significance for the author of the Fourth Gospel;7539 proposed external corroborations for the story are weak.7540
Other scholars have responded that Mark tends to omit much of Jesus' Judean ministry anyway, partly due to a theological emphasis on Galilee.7541 Further, for the Synoptics Jesus' raisings of the dead were simply dramatic healings. Also, whereas John мая emphasize Lazarus's restoration to prefigure Jesus' resurrection, Mark мая not wish to risk diminishing the appearance of the uniqueness of Jesus' resurrection as an eschatological event.7542 It is even possible that Mark мая have suppressed the story to protect Lazarus and his sisters, who still lived near Jerusalem.7543 If the story was originally part of the passion narrative, one might expect protective anonymity, as in the case of some other disciples who figured prominently in it (e.g., Mark 14:51–52);7544but in this instance the story was well-known enough that drawing attention to it, even anonymously, could have caused trouble for the family (John 12:10–11). By contrast, if the story was not originally part of the passion narrative, Mark is no more obligated to report this event than the resuscitation at Nain (Luke 7:11–17; Q mentioned multiple raisings, Matt 11:5/Luke 7:22) or dramatic healings such as the centurion's servant (Matt 8:5–13/Luke 7:1–10). If the early passion narrative or, alternatively, Mark, suppressed or simply omitted the story, Matthew and Luke мая not have known of it or мая not have understood it as critical to the movement of the story in the way John does. John's community does seem to have already known of Mary's involvement in the final anointing of Jesus (see comment on 11:2).
A number of scholars have concluded that the story probably has a historical core.7545 As difficult as it is to distinguish tradition and redaction anywhere in this Gospel, including in this narrative,7546 Meier provides convincing evidence that the Lazarus story goes back to John's tradition, though it was originally a brief story unrelated to Jesus' passion. Hence he does not regard it as surprising that the Synoptics omit it.7547 By all critical approaches other than a philosophical predisposition against it, traditions indicate a popular belief that at least on some occasions Jesus raised the dead.7548 It мая be significant that third-century rabbis acknowledged these raisings but attributed them to necromancy;7549 they мая, however, well be responding to later Christian claims from the Gospels rather than to the traditions behind the Gospels. Although some ancients told resuscitation stories with a degree of skepticism, most of the ancient Mediterranean culture, including reports from the Hebrew Bible, accepted that raisings sometimes occurred.7550 They appear commonly enough in both Greek7551 and Jewish7552 sources, though the records follow the reported events by a much greater span of time than those in the Gospels.7553 Sorcerers might sometimes be thought to resuscitate corpses,7554 but (apart from lacking modern Western antisupernaturalist sentiments) such accounts have nothing in common with the Gospel reports: they include drilling holes to pour in hot blood, the moon's poison, the froth of dogs, and so forth.7555 They also worked at night when no one could see them,7556 for their works were considered impious and worthy of death.7557 If anything, John's account undercuts accusations of secretive, magical activity (cf. 18:20). The «resurrection» that became a familiar topic in ancient novels was most frequently only apparent resurrection from apparent death (so as not to strain credulity) and seems to have responded especially to the spread of the Christian story.7558
Whatever its origins, this story is critical for John's plot development. This is the longest single sign account in the Fourth Gospel, and, apart from the Passion Narrative, the longest narrative without a substantial discourse section. In John's schema «it is the climactic and most miraculous episode in the series of signs he presents.»7559 Whereas in Mark Jesus dies because he challenges the municipal aristocracy of Jerusalem by his prophetic act in the temple, in John Jesus dies most immediately because he has given life to a disciple (11:14–16, 50–52; 12:9–11).7560 That Jesus dies to give life fits, on a symbolic level, the very heart of John's soteriological message (3:16–17). Historically Jesus was already in trouble, even in the Fourth Gospel, which мая have left the significance of the miracle ambiguous enough for some other writers to omit it;7561 but its significance is unmistakable for John.7562
2. The Request (11:1–6)
In this account Jesus does his Father's will, recognizing what such obedience will cost him; as in previous narratives (e.g., 4:4), Jesus' movements follow divine necessity, and thereby provide a model for the believer (cf. 3:8, though it explicitly refers only to the origin and destination). In 7:1–10 others close to Jesus sought to persuade him to go to Jerusalem, but Jesus objects. In 11:1–16, Jesus announces that he is going in spite of his disciples' objection; the contrast between the narratives stems from the fact that in 7:1–10, Jesus' time had not yet come (7:6); now his «hour» is arriving.7563
Ancient writers sometimes assumed knowledge shared by their readers when recounting something commonly known; given the wide circulation of the Synoptics, undoubtedly the anointing at Bethany was such an incident (Mark 14:3, 9).7564 That Bethany is identified as the village of «Mary and her sister Martha» but that Lazarus's identity must be explained suggests that Mary and Martha are already known to the audience. Further, «Lazarus is wholly passive and silent,» making his sisters the main characters of this narrative and their faith the primary issue.7565 Martha (11:1,5:12:2) was an uncommon but sufficiently attested Jewish name in this period,7566 including in the Diaspora;7567 Eleazar is a more common Jewish name, sometimes occurring in transliteration in Greek7568 and sometimes occurring in an alternative Greek form, Lazarus (11:1).7569 Because Mary, Martha, and Eleazar (sometimes «Lazarus» in Greek) appear together among names in a burial cave in Bethany, some suspect that these мая be the friends of Jesus mentioned in this narrative.7570 John shows no clear knowledge of the story in Luke 10:38–42, which independently and earlier attests Mary and Martha as friends of Jesus in a village. lohn also writes about Mary's anointing of Jesus' feet (12:1–8) as if his audience already knows that a particular Mary anointed Jesus' feet (11:2), evidencing pre-Johannine tradition on this count even though that tradition is no longer extant outside this Gospe1.7571
Miracle stories often include messengers sent to request a miracle worker's coming.7572 It seems to have been customary to report to a rabbi if someone close to him, such as his teacher, was ill, so that the rabbi could visit him.7573 The message of Mary and Martha, however, is an implied request (11:3), as in 2:3; in both cases, Jesus fails to act immediately (2:4; 11:6). If Martha presses her request by her mention of «whatever» Jesus «asks» (11:22), she echoes Jesus' mother in 2:5.7574 Such polite forms of insistence would have been intelligible in an ancient Mediterranean milieu (see comment on 1:37–39). In John 2, Jesus does the sign secretly, so that only his disciples and the servants know (2:9, 11); in ch.ll, however, he does his sign even in front of those who will respond negatively (11:46)–because now his hour has come (2:4).
The purpose of Lazarus's sickness was not «for death» (προς θάνατον, 11:4; applied figuratvely in 1 John 5for spiritual death). Instead, the purpose of the sickness is to provide opportunity for God to manifest his glory (11:4; cf. 11:40),7575 as in 9:3; John's teaching that suffering can provide the opportunity for divine intervention foreshadows the significance of Jesus' own death and resurrection. Lazarus's sickness and raising also lead to and prefigure Jesus' death and resurrection.7576 Of course, in John's theology physical death could also bring God glory (12:23–24; 13:31; 21:19), just as Jesus' signs would (2:11). To the informed, repeated reader of this Gospel, the promise of Jesus' glorification through Lazarus's death constitutes a double entendre: Jesus is glorified because Lazarus's raising leads directly to Jesus' arrest and passion, by which he is «glorified» (12:23–24).
Given the urgency of the request for a miracle worker, Jesus' delaying could appear to dishonor the family and trivialize its suffering;7577 even if Lazarus would have died before his arrival, the family was counting on his rapid arriva1. Lest readers misunderstand the reason for Jesus' delay (11:6), John explicitly emphasizes Jesus' love for the family (11:5; cf. 11:36),7578 an emphasis that particularizes more general statements about divine love toward humanity or the disciples in the Gospel (3:16; 13:1, 34; 14:21). John's community, like other early Christian communities (cf. 1 Thess 4:13), not unlike Christian communities today, undoubtedly experienced untimely deaths and suffering that on the level of human understanding seemed to conflict with the assurance of God's love (cf. 11:21). Assurance that Jesus did care, that God did have long-range purposes in the suffering, even that Jesus joined in weeping with the bereaved as well as ultimately held power over life and death, would mean much to believers facing that universal human predicament of death, whether or not related to persecution (cf. 1 John 3:16; 2:10, 13). Jesus had been «remaining» in Perea (10:40) and now «remained» two additional days, as he had among the Samaritans (4:40), leaving to raise Lazarus on the third day.
Nevertheless, Jesus' delay (11:6) apparently did not prolong Lazarus's suffering. Bethany was only a single day's journey, so if Jesus delayed two days after receiving the message and arrived to find that Lazarus had been dead four days (11:39),7579 Lazarus мая have been dead by the time the messengers reached Jesus, dying shortly after they left to seek him.7580 That many members of John's audience would not know the area around Jerusalem suggests that this information is not central to John's point in the narrative; but the information is explicitly there is the text for anyone who did in fact remember Judean geography, which some of John's audience probably did (since some were probably Judeans who left Judea after the war with Rome, although on our dating these would be primarily the older nucleus rather than the majority of the community).
3. Going to Judea (11:7–16)
Jesus had had good reason to avoid Judea (cf. 7:1), where his life had been threatened recently (10:31, 39; 11:8). But now Jesus goes to Judea (11:7) at the Father's bidding, providing a model for disciples to walk in the light (11:9–10). The cost of such obedience мая be death (11:8), for followers as well as for Jesus (11:16). Not stumbling because one walked in daylight (11:9) was natural wisdom (cf. 9:4; 12:35; 1 John 2:10);7581 but the metaphor would also be transparent. Thus the scribes of the Qumran community claimed that the children of righteousness, ruled by the hand of the Prince of Lights, walk in the ways of light, whereas those ruled by the hand of the Angel of Darkness walk in the ways of darkness (1QS 3.20–21).7582 Another early Jewish writer could warn that passions blind onés soul, so that one moves in the day as if it were night (έν ημέρα ώς έν νυκτί πορεύεται, T. Jud. 18:6).7583 Jesus' metaphor in 11:10, that the light is not «in him,» refers to spiritual light, but мая play on an image borrowed from some ancient views of science, that light resided in the eye.7584 The «light of this world» here is metaphorical (cf. 9:4), but throughout the Gospel refers to Jesus and his mission (1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46); perhaps it applies in Jesus' case to light from the Father (cf. 1 John 1:5).
Lazarus was the «friend» of Jesus and the disciples (11:11), and therefore it was appropriate to die for him (15:13–15). That Jesus speaks of Lazarus being asleep (11:11) need not have confused the disciples. «Sleep» usually meant literal sleep,7585 but the sleep of death was a common usage in the LXX,7586 Jewish tomb inscriptions in Greek7587 and Latin,7588 and literature, both Jewish7589 and Gentile.7590 Indeed, because of their resemblance,7591 Sleep and Death were twin brothers in pagan myth (e.g., Homer Il. 14.231; Statius Thebaid 5.197–199). Yet often in literature recounting accurate revelations or prophecies, mortals could interpret a revelation too figuratively or vice versa;7592 this is the case with Jesus' words elsewhere in the gospel tradition (e.g., Mark 8:15–18) and regularly in John (e.g., 3:4; 6:52). The disciples, taking Jesus too literally (how would Jesus «awaken» Lazarus from death?), appeal to the common observation that sleep helps one recover (11:12).7593 That he «may recover» (11:12) employs terminology that in John usually indicates the world's «salvation» (3:17; 5:34; 10:9; 12:47); this language мая be significant, even if simply to indicate the inadequacy of their soteriology and the depth of their misunderstanding.7594 Jesus corrects their misunderstanding by speaking «plainly» (11:14; cf. 16:29; comment on 7:4): he was glad7595 that he was not there because the sign would deepen their faith (11:15; cf. 2:11; 11:45); the delay would not cause Lazarus's death (see above) but would intensify the public effect of the sign.7596
In v. 16 Thomas7597 ironically understands Jesus correctly: for Jesus to raise Lazarus will cost him his life, and Thomas and the other disciples should (though will not) follow him to the cross. The disciples recognized that Jesus had faced most of his opposition in Judea (11:7–8);7598 the recent stoning attempt to which they refer would be 10:31–32, with 8not far behind, both in Jerusalem. «Going» (11:7–8, 11, 15–16) is often associated with Jesus' death in the Farewell Discourse (13:3, 33, 36; 14:2–5, 28, 31; 16:5); he calls his disciples to follow (14:31). Thomas is thus more courageous than Jesus' brothers (cf. the second person imperative in 7:3), who did not believe in Jesus (7:5). This is surely a positive illustration; some ancient ethicists debated whether one should obey an order when it seems in the better interests of the order's giver not to do so,7599 but Thomas, like some heroic characters in other works,7600 is determined to follow.
But Thomas's determination proves ironic in this Gospel and for any readers familiar with the gospel tradition: despite Thomas's apparent willingness to suffer death for the sake of Jesus, Jesus will die alone.7601 Casual oaths were common in the period,7602 and widely known Jesus tradition elsewhere indicates that the sense of loyalty faded in the face of the horror of arrest and execution (Mark 14:20). Not only was Thomas among those who fled (16:31–32), but he would initially fail to believe the apostolic testimony about Jesus' resurrection (20:25).
4. Martha Meets the Life (11:17–27)
John points out Bethany's proximity to Jerusalem (11:18) to underline the risk of hostility Jesus was embracing to serve Lazarus (10:39; 11:8), but also to identify the many «Judeans» who came to visit Martha and Mary as the theological equivalent of Jerusalemites, who will again (7:43; 9:16; 10:19) be divided by Jesus' ministry (11:46–47). Bethany мая have been near the Mount of Olives (Luke 19:29; cf. Luke 24with Acts 1:12).7603
That many had come to console Martha and Mary (11:19) fits what we know of Judean custom. Because Lazarus has been in the tomb four days (11:17), the most intense mourning period of sitting shiva (i.e., seven days) remains in effect.7604 Palestinian Judaism required burial of the deceased on the day of death, but six days of mourning (for a total of seven) followed,7605 in which the bereaved family members would remain at home while others came to supply food and express sympathy.7606 Such intense mourning for at least a week after death is common to various traditional cultures.7607 (Probably it is so-called modern cultures, more lacking in grief rituals, that мая be less adapted to the needs of the human psyche.)7608 Probably a significant number of people in Bethany were visiting or had visited the family. More distant relatives might also offer special comfort to the closest relatives.7609 Anyone who passes a funeral procession should join it and share its lamentation.7610 Visiting the bereaved was an important aspect of piety.7611
Normally word would travel ahead of a famous teacher that he was arriving, and this could be the case here; people might know that Jesus had been invited (11:3).7612 Given the need for relative secrecy about his presence again in Judea, however, and the fact that those who had come to comfort the family seemed not to expect him (11:28, 30–31), Jesus мая have sent a disciple ahead as a messenger to notify Martha of his arrival, while he waited outside the village (as in 11:30). In any case, she hears of his arrival (11:20). Although it was expected that during mourning Martha should stay in the house and let Jesus come to her, she paid him great respect by going out to meet him (cf. 12:13),7613 though leaving Mary behind to continue mourning and receive visitors (11:20). Perhaps, too, she knew of the danger Jesus might be in if word spread that he was back in Judea; Jesus delays entering the village as long as possible (11:28, 30). In any case her going forth at such a time shows him special honor. But in the following context Jesus will demand more than such expressions of honor: he will demand faith.
The brief dialogue between Jesus and Martha that ensues (11:21–27) emphasizes for John's audience the symbolic import of the narrative:7614 Christology realizes eschatology, so that Jesus brings resurrection life in the present era. Occasionally in narratives people appear unable to speak because of grief (e.g., Josephus Ant. 6.337; cf. Mark 9:6), but Martha articulates a degree of faith in Jesus' power: his presence could have healed Lazarus (11:21; cf. 11:32). Jesus demands greater faith: he is present now; is his power limited even by death itself (11:23)?7615
When Martha indicates that she trusts that whatever he asks of God, God will give him (11:22), she is probably making an implied, oblique request as in 11(cf. 2:3, 5). Her expression of confidence in Jesus–that God would grant whatever he asked (11:22; cf. 3:35; 13:3)–thus would illustrate the sort of prayer God might hear in Jesus' name (16:24). While this could be a request for comfort, it is more likely a request that Jesus raise her brother. Some suggest that in 11she forgets the request, hence allowing Jesus to articulate more Johannine theology;7616 misunderstanding motifs are common in miracle stories,7617 and it is not unlike John to narrate one of this nature (5:7).
But it is no less possible that she is continuing her insistence by seeking clarification; from the standpoint of Johannine theology, confession in a future resurrection was correct (5:28–29; 6:39) even if not Jesus' point here.7618 The wording of Jesus' response in 11:25–26 would not necessarily resolve any ambiguity in his words for Martha; most Jews believed in the soul's life after death before the resurrection anyway.7619 But the wording of Jesus' response (Jesus as the life, 11:25–26; cf. 1:4; 6:48; 14:6; 1 John 1:2; 5:11–12, 20)7620 would encourage John's audience, who might not expect to customarily face immediate physical resuscitations but believed that they possessed eternal life in the present (3:16, 36).7621 Temporary resuscitations of mortals in history could be understood to prefigure the ultimate future resurrection (e.g., 4and comment),7622 so John could make explicit how Jesus' words to Martha applied to his own audience in his own generation.
Marthás confession (11:27) is as firm as Peter's (6:69); the confession of Christ, however, is not Peter's (6:69), but the Baptist's (3:28), Andrew's (1:41), the Samaritan woman's (4:25,29), perhaps a healed man's (9:22,35–38), and now Marthás (11:27). That Jesus was the one «coming into the world» (11:27) is Johannine christological language implying his incarnate status (e.g., 1:9, 27; 3:31), though we need not suppose that Martha understood this point (cf. 6:14; 12:13). Jesus offers private revelations of his identity to the Samaritan woman (4:25–26) and to Martha (11:25), and later reveals himself to Mary Magdalene (20:15–17) after Peter and the beloved disciple have departed (20:10). He seems to have favored women and/or those marginalized from the centers of structural power. Whether John, by the confessions of Martha and Peter, is intentionally balancing gender the way Luke seems to do7623 or (less likely) includes her confession without such considerations, her confession, the climactic confession preceding Jesus' passion, suggests a relatively high role for women's faith vis-à-vis the majority views of John's culture.7624
5. Mourning with Mary and Others (11:28–37)
Jesus continues to remain outside the village (11:28, 30), probably for safety (11:8),7625 to prolong his «hour» until its appointed moment at the Passover (11:46–47). Martha takes over receiving visitors at the house while Mary slips out to meet with Jesus. That Martha speaks «secretly» (11:28) likely indicates her wish to protect Jesus; his hour had not yet come (7:4, 6, 10). But visitors, naturally supposing that she was going to mourn at the tomb outside the boundaries of Bethany proper,7626 followed Mary and found themselves facing Jesus (11:31). Falling to the ground (11:32) was a way to entreat those in authority,7627 but also a way to worship God himself (1 Esd 9:47; Rev 4:10; Esth 3:2), which мая be significant on the Johannine level, in which the audience recognizes what Mary does not (20:28; see comment on 9:38).
Mary expresses her faith no less forcefully than Martha and in almost identical language (11:32; cf. 11:21). Although Martha is mentioned first in 11and comes first in 11:20, Mary is mentioned first in the opening reference to the two sisters (11:1), as if she is better known to the community (cf. also her role in Luke 10:39,42). Although sequence of names is not always significant,7628 it often was.7629 It мая be that Mary's role in the narrative is second not because it is secondary, but because it is climactic. Then again, Marthás faith seems fundamental to the development of the narrative (11:39–40); each plays a decisive role, Martha perhaps as the elder and leader, Mary perhaps as the more forward and perhaps emotionally closer to Jesus (as in Luke 10:38–42). The faith of both women (11:21, 32) contrasts with the weaker faith of their comforters (11:37).7630
Jesus' own spirit was grieved or troubled (11:33), as it would be by his own impending death (12:27; 13:21) but as he warned that his followers need not be (14:1,27).7631 Another term here depicts his emotion in the strongest possible terms; he was «moved» (έμβριμάομαι, 11:33, 38), an unusually strong term, usually denoting anger, agitation, and typically some physical expression accompanying it (cf. Mark 1:43; 14:5).7632 Scholars debate whether he is angry with Mary and Martha for lack of faith (11:32, 40), at the crowds for their unbelief (11:37), or at death itself. On the one hand, the term might be qualified by a parallel expression in 13(cf. 12:27; 14:1), suggesting that John figuratively stretches the sense to include emotional disturbance without anger per se; it мая stem from observing Mary's grief and wailing (11:33).7633 Some think that «anger» overstates the case, though «troubled» is too weak.7634
But 13may refer to a similar yet different emotion, and the term employed here does indicate anger when applied to humans.7635 If Jesus is angry, one мая think he is angry at sin, Satan, or death as a consequence of sin.7636 While that proposal мая be good theology (and мая also fit the experience of some subsequent healers and exorcists, and perhaps of Jesus as well, cf. Mark 1:25; 4:39; 9:25; Luke 4:39), it lacks direct support in this text. More likely, he is angry at the lack of faith on the part of those who should be exercising it,7637 as God was angry at Israel's unbelief despite his previous signs (e.g., Num 14:11) or Jesus was angry with the unbelief of disciples in Mark (e.g., Mark 4:40; cf. Mark 1:43; 3:5). In both cases (11:33, 38), it occurs immediately after statements that Jesus could have done something before Lazarus died (11:32,37)–perhaps implying disbelief that he could do something now. Jesus is not, however, angry with their grief itself; he seems emotionally moved more by Mary's tears (11:33) than by Marthás words, and responds by weeping himself (11:35).7638 In any case, Jesus' internal disturbance over others' pain emphasizes his humanity «and/or the passionate nature of his divinity.»7639 It reveals his character, which leads to his suffering on others' behalf (cf. 1:29; cf. Heb 4:15–5:8). By weeping, Jesus shows his solidarity with the mourners (11:35).
That Jesus asked where the burial site was (11:34) would have suggested to his hearers that he wanted to join in mourning at the burial site (cf. 11:31); their invitation to «Come and see» (11:34) is an invitation to join in the mourning.7640 Perhaps more significantly, his question, «Where have you laid him?» anticipates Mary Magdalenés question about where Jesus has been laid (20:15),7641 underlining the implicit contrast between Lazarus, who awaits Jesus to raise him, and Jesus whose body is already gone (as well as the contrast between Lazarus's burial by his family and Jesus' by two leaders of «the Jews» yet not the expected disciples).
Jesus' tears (11:35) would be considered pious as well as compassionate.7642 As noted above, Jewish people considered sharing in others' lamentation a religious duty. But showing lavish emotion at the appropriate time, especially grief over bereavement, was considered praiseworthy behavior throughout the ancient Mediterranean world7643 and could move an audience.7644 Ancient writers would describe a herós tears for others' pain as part of his praiseworthy behavior,7645 or the tears of those who loved and sacrificed themselves for others.7646 (Many philosophers and moralists, who counseled against the value of grief, proved to be the exception;7647 some others shared their perspective,7648 though this was probably more often a stereotypical counsel than a genuine expectation.7649 Brave heroes might also hold out against tears, refusing to be deterred from a mission.)7650 One might weep out of sympathy for others' grief, though not grieving for the situation itself (e.g., Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 2.21); thus Moses, initially not mourning over his own imminent death, was said to have been moved to tears by his people weeping so much over it (Josephus Ant. 4.321).7651 That this tradition about Moses was widely known is not likely; that it reflects broader feelings in the milieu about the heroic protagonist's tears is virtually certain. It is thus not surprising that those who have come to mourn with Mary recognize that Jesus cared deeply for Lazarus (11:36; cf. 11:5).
That John contrasts some «others» (11:37) with those who praised his love (11:38) suggests that the latter group, while perhaps recognizing his love, doubted his power to have changed the situation. Some scholars suspect that this is the reason for Jesus' possible «anger» in 11(see comment on 11:33).
6. The Miracle (11:38–44)
Lazarus's rescucitation prefigures Jesus' resurrection for the Fourth Gospel, and parallels of language between the two are more than fortuitous, such as the stone (11:38; 20:1), the essential role of a woman close to the deceased (11:39; 20:1–18), and the wrappings (11:44; 20:6–7). Nevertheless, the primary purpose of the parallels мая be to draw attention to the equally explicit contrasts between the two. In Lazarus's case, people must remove the stone (11:39), but Jesus' resurrection produces an immortal body following a different order of existence (cf. 1Cor 15:42–44; Phil 3:21); his resurrection мая leave the grave clothes untouched (20:5, 7) and allows him to enter closed rooms (20:19, 26).7652
Many private burials employed vertical shaft tombs, but this burial was in a cave, probably oriented horizontally (11:38).7653 The stone (11:38) would keep animals from the body.7654 Marthás objection about the stench (11:39) makes sense on natural human assumptions. Spices could cover the stench for a while,7655 but after four days the stench of decomposition would be intense.7656 Unlike ancient Egyptians, Jewish people did not embalm the dead to prevent decomposition7657 but in this period actually encouraged decomposition to allow for secondary burial a year later.7658 Yet Jesus challenges her to act in faith in his word, contrary to natural expectations. Although throughout the Gospel seeing signs often provokes the most basic level of faith, Jesus calls Martha, who already has confessed her faith (11:21–22, 27), to a deeper level of faith: if she believes, then she will see. Thus she would see God's glory (11:40) in Jesus' sign (2:11), like Israel in the exodus (Exod 16:7, 10). In this case, the glory was the divine purpose for which Lazarus had died: that Jesus might be glorified (11:4), ultimately by the cross (see comment on 1:14; 11:4).
The Gospel emphasizes Jesus' deity, which might be one reason that prayer preceded the miracles recorded to this point in only one case at most (cf. 6:11).7659 Nevertheless, Jesus' prayer (11:41–42) would not strike an ancient Jewish-Christian audience as too unexpected; prayers often appear in Israelite and early Jewish healing stories.7660 In earliest Christian literature public healings usually occurred by commands rather than by prayer (e.g., Mark 5:41; Acts 3:6), but prayer or a lifestyle of prayer often preceded such commands to be healed (Mark 9:29; Acts 3:1; 9:40; 28:8).7661 Lifting onés face toward heaven was a known posture for prayer (11:41; cf. 17:1),7662 and (especially given some charges that Jesus was a magician) many people in the ancient Mediterranean would have distrusted a silent prayer.7663
More important for our consideration is the specific function of this prayer in its Johannine context. Although the Fourth Gospel emphasizes Jesus' deity, it also underlines his obedience to the Father's will and offers significant prayers of Jesus to the Father. Jesus prays in 11:41–42 that the sign мая produce faith in his divine mission. Essentially he prays for the Father's glory (11:40), as he will soon offer prayers for the Father to be glorified by his own death and resurrection shortly to follow that prayer (12:27–28; 17:1–5). He expects the crowd to hear the prayer before God acts so that when God does act they мая understand why he acted (cf. 14:29). In the same way, God speaks to Jesus in 12for the sake of the crowds (12:30). John мая want his audience to understand how important it is to their Lord «that the world мая know» that Jesus is the Father's agent in part because, as he will soon inform them, they must share in that mission by their unity (17:23).
Jesus begins with thanks, as in the closest parallel to an earlier pre-miracle prayer in the Gospel (6:11). By emphasizing that the Father has heard him, Jesus reiterates his dependence on the Father, a frequent Johannine theme;7664 the Father «always» heard him because of his perfect obedience (8:29), a model for John's audience (14:12–15; 15:7). That signs provide an opportunity for faith (11:42)7665 is also a frequent Johannine motif (2:11), though this context illustrates the increased hostility invited by such signs from those who choose to continue in unbelief (11:45–47).
Jesus spoke loudly to Lazarus (11:43), presumably partly so the crowd could also hear (cf. 7:37; 11:42).7666 That he calls his name мая recall 10:3: Jesus calls his own sheep by name, and leads them forth;7667 that he raises him with his voice recalls 5:28–29, the future resurrection to which this points on a temporal, symbolic level (cf. 11:24–26).7668 Unlike in the Synoptics, there is no emphasis on Jesus touching the impure in John; even Lazarus is raised not by a touch (cf. Mark 5:41; Luke 7:14) but by a command.7669 John would, of course, agree with Mark's perspective that Jesus' signs sometimes challenge purity customs (2:6); but he illustrates the point differently.
Lazarus came forth in his graveclothes, a contrast with Jesus' greater resurrection that left such cloths behind (20:5, 7) made all the more obvious by the parallel description of Jesus' burial (19:40). Jewish sources frequently mention such shrouds for wrapping and binding the corpse.7670 To prevent premature distortion of tissue, those preparing the body would bind the cheeks to keep the mouth closed; they closed the body's orifices and sometimes placed the body on cold sand to inhibit swelling.7671 If our later sources approximate relevant conditions, as they probably would in this case, the head cloth was about one yard square.7672
Some commentators suggest that Jews wrapped corpses less tightly than Greeks did, which would have allowed Lazarus at least to shuffle out under his own power;7673 yet such an activity would demand an extraordinary amount of patience from the bystanders, especially once it became evident that he was emerging. That Lazarus could not have physically come out of the tomb by his own power when so wrapped (as most of John's audience should have known) merely contributes to John's portrayal of the sign's magnitude.7674 But, as noted above, the grave wrappings also contribute to an implicit contrast between Lazarus's restoration to die again and Jesus' resurrection to immortality. Jesus left his garments behind in the tomb, never to need them again.7675
Responses to the Raising (11:45–12:11)
Not surprisingly, most of those present recognized Jesus' power, but even some of the witnesses became Jesus' betrayers (11:45–46). The Judean elite, already opposed to Jesus (5:18; 8:59; 10:31, 39), now solidify a plan to kill him (11:47–53); Jesus withdraws and the crowds wonder if he will show himself during the Passover (11:54–57). But John also focuses on the consequences of Lazarus's raising for Lazarus and his family, probably paradigmatic in some way for the resurrection life experienced by believers (cf. 14:19). Mary lavishes her devotion on Jesus and provides a radical contrast with Judas (12:1–8); as the price of new life, Lazarus now faces the threat of death from the same people who want to kill Jesus (12:9–11).
1. Faith and Betrayal among Witnesses (11:45–46)
Many of the bystanders responded in faith (11:45; cf. 11:15,40); the language suggests that the majority did so.7676 (On the significance of such signs-faith, see comment on 2and related texts.) That John calls the bystanders «the Jews» indicates his continuing confidence that even among those who constitute the primary opposition (see introduction on «the Jews»), faith remains possible. Although it is not part of his purpose to emphasize it, John мая even share the earlier Christian optimism in an eschatological repentance of his Jewish people (Rom 11:26).7677
But the specter of rejection remains, for some of the bystanders took word to the authorities that Jesus was again in Judea and doing signs that were influencing others' opinions (John 11:46). In an analogous setting in the Fourth Gospel, a report about Jesus' signs directed toward the elite is intended not as witness (as in 7:46; 9:30–33) but as betrayal (5:15–16); given the equally immediate hostile response, such is probably in view here. New Testament miracle stories frequently include rejection, but nearly all other ancient miracle stories lack this element, although its converse, acclamation, is common.7678 The motif of rejection or persecution after miracles7679 undoubtedly stems from the ministry of Jesus and/or the experience of his earliest followers.
2. The Elite Plot Jesus' Death (11:47–53)
The plot of the leaders (11:47–53) fittingly follows the Lazarus narrative (11:1–44); Jesus is the resurrection and the life, but to give Lazarus life must set his own in danger (11:8, 16). In this epitome of Johannine irony, Jesus would die on behalf of others (11:50).7680
2A. Historical Plausibility
Mark also draws on a tradition in an earlier passion narrative in which leaders plot against Jesus (Mark 14:1–2), very likely in response to his demonstration and teaching in the temple earlier that week (Mark 11:15–18). In John, the demonstration in the temple opens Jesus' public ministry, framing it with the ethos of the passion week and the Jerusalem leaders' hostility. In John, the immediate precedent and provocation for the final plotting is Lazarus's resuscitation. Because this was Jesus' climactic sign before the cross, it suggests a rejection of his whole public ministry (1:11).7681
John's account of the plot (11:47–53) fits what we know of the period. Plotting seems to have characterized Jewish as well as Roman aristocratic politics in the first century; thus John of Gischalás allies «took counsel» with him how to undo Josephus (Josephus Life 236).7682 Jerusalem's leaders were desperate to prevent actions which would provoke the Romans (Josephus War 2.237); Josephus reports that later aristocratic priests and Pharisees desired peace and only feigned to go along with the populace to save their lives (Josephus Life 21–22). Josephus's report of Antipas's reason for mistrusting and executing John the Baptist fits the reasoning of these leaders.7683
Further, one would hardly expect Jesus' execution without the cooperation of a council of Jerusalem aristocrats (see comment on the Sanhedrin at the introduction to the Passion Narrative). Local municipal aristocracies normally brought persons to trial before the Romans;7684 indeed, the Roman legal system as a whole depended heavily on delatores, accusers.7685 Many are thus inclined to accept a substantial amount of prior tradition in this report.7686 Though John мая add the Pharisees to preserve the unity of opposition in his Gospel,7687 the spokesman for the opposition is Caiaphas the high priest (11:49), and the high priesthood is the part of the opposition first named (11:47). The Synoptics and Acts suggest that the most brutal opposition came especially from the Sadducean aristocracy.7688
Such considerations argue for early tradition, not necessarily historicity. A leak from the Jerusalem aristocracy is not at all implausible and happened on other occasions where the object of discussion had allies in the aristocracy (cf., e.g., Josephus Life 204).7689 If Joseph of Arimathea became an ally of the disciples at some point, his sharing of information with them is more probable than not. Although evidence suggests that the early Christians carefully guarded their traditions, one cannot be certain on purely historical grounds whether the tradition stems from sources like Joseph or from hearsay that a persecuted sect found believable without eyewitness verification.
2B. Caiaphas, High Priest «That Year» (11:49)
Caiaphas's7690 involvement with Jesus' trial makes historical sense.7691 That Caiaphas held power as long as he did (nineteen years) reinforces the suspicion one gets from other nonpriestly sources concerning the character of the high priesthood in this period: he was a skilled but probably often ruthless politician. He kept the public peace in a manner that satisfied both Rome and the populace, and in so doing preserved his own position.7692 He was well-to-do,7693 part of the most hellenized elite,7694 and hence had much at stake personally in keeping the peace. Yet it is reasonable to suppose that, even given the purest of concern for their peoplés welfare–on which their own rose or fell–the priestly aristocracy would regard unrest, hence the popularity of Jesus, as a threat.7695
The phrase «high priest for that year» (11:49; cf. 18:13) has produced considerable discussion. Greeks dated years by officials who held office in a particular year; chronological listings included lists of priests and priestesses as well as magistrates, victors in the games, and so forth.7696 Greeks usually changed priests annually, and in keeping with this custom, chief priests changed each year in Syria and Asia Minor.7697 Thus some suggest that John, writing in Asia Minor (or perhaps Syria), simply assumed that his local custom applied to pre-70 Jerusalem.7698 But it is not very likely that John, who reports so much tradition that presupposes a Palestinian Jewish context, would be unaware that high priests did not change annually. He knew the OT; his intimate knowledge of Jerusalem's pre-70 topography makes an ignorance of the more widely known longer-than-annual duration of high priests' offices unlikely.7699 Likewise it is possible, but not likely, that John simply accommodated the expectations of those familiar with local cults, for he has no apparent reason to mention an annual duration to conform practice with local custom. Further, even some (the minority of) Greek priesthoods were lifelong,7700 inviting Greeks to distinguish which were which.
More to the point, the Jerusalem high priest no longer held the office for life. Some have suggested that the text could allude «to a Roman insistence on an annual confirmation of the Jerusalem high priest,» though this is unattested elsewhere.7701 Others suggest that it simply means, «the (memorable) year in which Jesus was executed»; this seems the most common position.7702 This view takes the genitive temporally («in that year»), probably emphasizing especially εκείνου, «that.»7703 One мая compare «that day» (11:53),7704 John's words about Jesus' «hour» (e.g., 2:4; 7:30; 8:20) or «time» (7:6, 8), or John's mention of other special moments in revelation (e.g., 4:53). This view accounts for the emphatic, threefold mention of the priesthood «in that year» (11:49, 51; 18:18) better than do proposals that John simply made a mistake7705 or accommodated audience expectations here.
If, however, John can presuppose some knowledge of Jerusalem politics on the part of transplanted Judeans in his audience, he мая strike a note of irony: Rome could depose priests at will; deposed high priests like Caiaphas's father-in-law Annas could still meddle in the city's affairs (cf. 18:13); and only a high priest who cooperated well with Rome could rule so long. Perhaps John even cynically presents the high priest as a Greek-type caretaker, an honorary office, rather than a divine appointment; he recognized that the high priesthood was an honor no one should take to oneself (Heb 5:4). Thus, for example, whereas Egyptians had hereditary priesthoods, Romans allowed Greek temples in Egypt to perpetuate Greek customs, but these temples «had no clergy, only officiators and administrators, a laity that the métropolites selected from their own class, in annual rotation, to see to the physical upkeep and cultic requirements of the shrines.»7706 He also мая link this άρχιερεύς with the other αρχιερείς of which he is a part;7707 he acts on behalf of the whole corrupt group. John's complaint against the Jerusalem elite, which he believes executed Jesus and prevented a wider acceptance of the Jesus movement among his people, is political as well as religious.7708
2C. The Leaders' Reasoning (11:47–50)
The leaders fear that Jesus' signs (11:47) will produce faith among «all people» (11:48), ironically fulfilling the purpose of Jesus' coming into the world and John's witness (1:7–9), foreshadowing the Gentile mission (12:19–21). Their fear begins to come to pass in 12:18, where even Jerusalem's crowds begin to follow Jesus because of this sign (cf. also 12:11). (In John, unlike the Synoptics, the crowds do not later pass judgment against Jesus; the responsibility for persecution against Jewish Christians lay primarily at the feet of the nation's recognized leaders.) Ultimately, their very plan to have Jesus killed to prevent all from coming to him (11:48–50) will have the opposite result (12:32)–thereby confirming the widely recognized ancient view that even attempts to thwart fate (or God's plan) would simply help fulfill it.7709 The authorities' frantic question, «What are we doing?» (11:47) is answered in the parallel context in 12:19, when the Pharisees complain that «We are not doing good» (literally, profiting nothing) and that the world is finally going after him (12:19). In a sense, John offers the hostility of such leaders as the reason that the world did not more quickly embrace Jesus.7710
In a document addressing an audience after 70 C.E., the elités fear that the Romans would take away their place and nation if they did not execute Jesus (11:48) is a striking irony.7711 If John's audience felt like many other Jewish Christians, they probably viewed Jerusalem's destruction as the direct consequence of Jesus' execution (Matt 23:31–39)! Such irony fits earlier biblical models; thus, for example, the very matter that Egypt feared (Israel's freedom because of their strength–Exod 1:10) the Egyptians provoked by oppressing them (Exod 2:23–25). (The «nation» мая mean Judeás freedoms as a national entity in Syria-Palestine; the «place» мая refer to Jerusalem but probably refers to the temple.)7712
Caiaphas's claim that the priests «know nothing at all» (11:49) represents the epitome of Johannine irony, like the Pharisees' admission that they do nothing good (12:19). The informed readers of the Gospel by this point will read such statements on a much more literal level than their speakers in the story world intended them!7713 (On unintended truth, see comment on 11:51.) But Paul Duke мая be right to point out, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that while it is true that they know nothing (underlined by three negatives), the high priest goes on to show that he knows even less.7714
The high priest's claim that it is better for one to die for the people (11:50) is important enough to John to bear repetition; it is the chief declaration for which John remembers him (18:14). If the texts that report this claim do not simply develop a commonsense tenet based on a community perspective,7715 it might reflect a popular recognition in ancient Jewish ethics,7716 though the Tannaim clearly opposed it under some circumstances.7717 Using different wording, Josephus was willing to suffer more because the multitude of Galileans was so great (Josephus Life 212).7718 Josephus elsewhere assumes this principle of greater and lesser worth when he declares that Agrippa II admonished the crowds not to fight the numerous Romans and invite wholesale slaughter of their people for the sake of a single offender and a few who suffered unjustly (War 2.353, 399); if they do fight, the Romans will burn their city and destroy their nation (War 2.397). At least in the rabbinic stream of tradition, a guilty Israelite мая suffer to atone for his own sins as well as to keep Israel from being led astray.7719 Later rabbis continued to debate whether an innocent Israelite should be sacrificed for the rest of Israel, and the view that he should apparently prevailed in the Amoraic period.7720
Whether such views were current in the first century, however, Caiaphas's view, as portrayed in John, stems more from «expediency» than from moral principle.7721 At least sometimes Jerusalem aristocrats reasoned in this manner. For example, Jonathan's allies reportedly reason that four rulers from Jerusalem are better than one (Josephus); by contrast, the masses are unpersuaded, trusting Josephus (Josephus Life 278–279). «Expediency» was a standard tool of moral reasoning among Greek philosophers,7722 not surprising given the sort of education John's audience could expect such elite priests to have had. But ironically the priest is quite right: it is better for the people if Jesus dies (cf. 16:7); Jesus had to die «on behalf of» his sheep (υπέρ, 10:15; 11:51–52), the «scattered children of God» (10:16; 11:52).
2D. Unintended Truth (11:51–53)
John declares that the high priest inadvertently uttered truth that differed considerably from the message he intended as truth (11:51). Oracular utterances frequently proved notoriously ambiguous and misinterpreted until their fulfillment,7723 for instance, rulers sometimes understood prophecies as referring to the slaughter of enemies when it referred to their own defeat;7724 or a prophecy could be fulfilled by the very attempt to evade its fulfillment.7725 Ancients often believed that prophetic frenzy displaced the prophet's mind,7726 which is not the case here;7727 but a key parallel is the concept that one who prophesied was not responsible for, or the originator of, his or her words.
Josephus, who was a priest and claimed to be a prophet, regarded the Jewish priesthood as particularly prophetically endowed;7728 whether or not John regards the priesthood as prophetically endowed,7729 he believed that God could arrange for them to speak truth. Perhaps borrowing the Greek conception of ecstatic loss of control in prophecy,7730 the rabbis referred to prophecies unintended and unrecognized by the speaker.7731 Other early Jewish sources7732 and Gentile sources, such as (reportedly) the Egyptians,7733 recognized the possibility of unintended prophetic insights. The principle sometimes applied to truth prevailing through speakers' unintended double entendres, even without reference to prophecy. Thus hearers laughed when a speaker said one thing on a literal level in which they heard an unintended play on the accused's behavior; they claimed that truth had prevailed over the speaker's intention.7734
When Caiaphas speaks of the «people» (11:50;18:14),he refers to the Jewish people.7735 But whereas the «children of God» scattered abroad (11:52) could refer to Diaspora Jews,7736 especially if we thought of how Caiaphas would have meant the phrase had he been the one to use it here, the prophetic, hence divine, perspective must agree with the omniscient narrator, and in the context of the Fourth Gospel it refers to believers in Jesus (1:12; 3:3–5).7737 That they wouJd be «one» (11:52) reflects Jesus' mission for his followers (10:16; 17:22), after he delivers them from being «scattered» (10:12; 16:32). John might adapt the tenth petition of the Amidah for the regathering of the dispersed, applying it to believers, including Gentiles (cf. 12:20–23).7738
3. Danger during Passover Season (11:54–57)
Recognizing that the level of threat was no longer that of mob violence (8:59; 10:31, 39) but premeditated and planned violence (11:53), Jesus stopped the «public» ministry he had begun in 7:4–14 (11:54; see comment on παρρησία in 7:4).7739 God would protect Jesus until his hour (7:30; 8:20), but Jesus would also cooperate with his Father's plan to do so. In 11Jesus continued to «remain» (cf. 10:40; 11:6; 12:24) in the wilderness (cf. the new exodus theme in 1:23; 3:14; 6:39,49), again no longer walking in Judean territory because of his enemies (as in 7:1).
Some think that «Ephraim» (11:54) was in Samaritan territory, hence that Jesus took refuge there with his friends from Samaria (4:40).7740 This is possible, though probably only the former Palestinian Jewish Christians in the community would understand the geographical allusion.7741 That Jesus withdrew from «the Judeans» to find refuge in «Ephraim,» often a name for the northern kingdom in the biblical prophets (especially Hosea), мая have struck more of them.
That «the Jewish festival of Passover was near» (11:55) recalls the earlier Passovers in the Gospel, announced in almost identical words (2:13; 6:4). Both previous Passovers in the story became occasions for severe conflict (2:15–19; 6:66), and the earlier Gospel tradition reserves the paschal announcement for the passion week (Mark 14:1,12; Matt 26:18). Most significantly, however, the reader knows from previous depictions of feasts that Jesus goes to Jerusalem for such feasts (e.g., 2:13; 5:1; 7:2, 10; 10:22); unless Jesus goes secretly (7:10), he is about to return to the place where Judeans have been wishing to kill him (5:18; 7:1; 8:59; 10:31; 11:8,53). Even if one approached the Gospel unaware of the passion tradition (and most of John's original audience would not), one would recognize that, barring divine intervention (7:30; 8:20), his «hour» was soon at hand (12:23, 27; 13:1).
Many went to Jerusalem early to «purify themselves» before the festival (11:55; cf. 2:6; 3:25). Like other pilgrims, they probably joked and made merry on the way.7742 But Diaspora Jews in particular would want to arrive early to purify themselves ritually; many could do it nowhere else (cf. Acts 21:24, 26; 24:18).7743 Many, especially those with corpse impurity, would need to arrive at least a week early.7744 Jesus needed no further purification (cf. 10:36), but nevertheless is near Jerusalem several days before the festival (12:1).
Those who were seeking him in the temple (11:56) probably included these Jewish people from outside Jerusalem (11:55) who remembered hearing Jesus at earlier recent feasts (thus presumably they were mostly Galileans rather than distant foreigners, who could make pilgrimage only rarely); in contrast to the leaders mentioned in 11:57, they do not appear uniformly hostile to Jesus. They had good reason to wonder whether he would come to the feast (11:56); although it was considered pious behavior to come, they were also aware that the leaders wanted to kill Jesus (11:57; cf. 8:59; 10:31; 11:8). Thus John again builds suspense as his narrative begins to climax in Jesus' final coming to, and suffering in, Jerusalem.
4. Mary's Lavish Devotion (12:1–8)
Even though Jesus' passion overshadows the entire body of the Gospel from ch. 2 on, fully one-third of the Gospel specifically occurs during the week of Jesus' execution, mostly in or near Jerusalem. This reflects and further augments the sort of emphasis on the passion that one finds in Mark. In contrast to most modern biographies, some ancient biographies devoted an extensive proportion of their space to events immediately preceding and surrounding their protagonists' deaths.7745
R. Alan Culpepper points to structural parallels between John 12 and 13:
|Category||John 12||John 13|
|Time||Six days before Passover||Before Passover|
|Washing feet||Mary washed Jesus||Jesus washed disciples|
|Jesus' death||Day of my burial||Took off robe (implied)|
|Jesus' departure||You do not always have me||Hour to depart from the world|
As Culpepper notes, this repetition increases pathos.7746 The repetition also builds toward a climax, the discourse making Jesus' death and departure more explicit.
Most of ch. 12 is transitional, closing Jesus' public ministry and (with 11:45–57) leading into the Passion Narrative.7747
Mary's anointing at Bethany contrasts starkly with the preceding scene of calculated plans to have Jesus killed: «a supreme act of ignorant unbelief and a supreme act of intelligent faith.»7748 The smaller units (11:45–46, 54–57; 12:9–11) in this section underline the mixed response to Jesus; the two longest units, however, contrast the high priests (11:47–53) and Mary (12:1–8), while linking Judas with the attitude of the Judean elite (12:4–6).7749 After the leaders have plotted against Jesus' life (11:47–53), Mary lovingly anoints him for burial, Jesus is acclaimed king of Israel (12:13) as he will be at the cross (18:39; 19:3, 14–15, 19), and Jesus' brief discourse elaborates on his impending death (12:23–33), preparing the way for the Passion Narrative.7750
4A. The Tradition
Different versions of the anointing story occur in the four canonical gospels. The differences in the accounts of the anointing among the Gospels мая have arisen through oral traditions, which developed in different directions; different evangelists мая have mixed different strands of the tradition.7751 Similarities do, however, indicate common sources rather than free invention.7752 Origen improbably suggested three anointings to harmonize the accounts,7753 but conflations from two basic anointing stories (which represent either variants of one original incident or a second incident imitating the first) seem far more likely.
The particular mixture of different traits suggests that the various writers мая have conflated two different anointing stories, with Lukés story being the most distinctive (and characteristically Lukan). Moule, for instance, provides a basic summary comparison of some key elements:7754
|the leper||the leper||a Pharisee||–|
|a woman||a woman||a sinful woman||Mary|
|for burial||for burial||forgiveness||for burial|
As E. P. Sanders notes, «These stories probably rest on memories, though details have been exchanged and possibly confused.»7756 It would have been only natural that in the oral tradition some conflation between two anointing stories would occur; it would be equally natural that each evangelist, reporting only one incident, would employ the most suitable features of the anointings for his own account. Sanders thinks that John 12 мая represent a composite between Luke 7 and the accounts in Matt 26/Mark 14, or the traditions associated with them.7757
The two stories we propose would be either divergent traditions stemming from one event,7758 or a second event in which a second woman probably followed the example of the first. In view of the likely pre-Markan divergence (except in his programmatic scene at Nazareth, Luke rarely takes such liberties as to rewrite an entire Markan narrative from scratch, and the Johannine account probably confirms the independent antiquity of some of its details), and in view of what most often seems accurate preservation of tradition in the early period (though this pattern would not preclude exceptions transmitted in different circumstances), two distinct anointings eventually conflated in the tradition seem more likely.7759
John probably reflects accurate and independent tradition here, not mere reliance on the Synoptics.7760 The specific association of the tradition with Mary sister of Martha almost certainly predates its appearance in the Fourth Gospe1. We know of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38–42, and they appear to be known to John's audience as well (John 11:1). Further, the manner in which Mary's anointing was introduced in 11(see comment there) suggests that John's audience already knows a form of the tradition in which the person who anointed Jesus was Mary.
Because of the festival crowds (11:55),7761 many pilgrims found overnight accommodation in nearby villages such as Bethany, as here (12:1).7762 Some more well-to-do pilgrims мая have brought their own tents to camp in during Passover,7763 but many people showed traveling teachers hospitality in return for teaching,7764 and Lazarus's family had been close to Jesus even before Lazarus's raising (11:3). The Synoptics also report his lodging in Bethany (Mark 11:11–12; Matt 21:17), but claim that it was in the house of one Simon the leper (Mark 14:3; Matt 26:6). One can debate whether Lazarus was a former leper also named Simon (double names were not uncommon);7765 Simon was the father of Lazarus, Mary and Martha; «leper» was a nickname (on nicknames see comment on 1:42) or a former state that Jesus had healed; or other possibilities. In any case, John has not likely simply transferred an earlier story to Lazarus and his sisters; as we have noted, his audience already seems to know about Mary as the one who anointed Jesus (11:2). The original source of that tradition мая be inaccessible today, but is not simply a matter of John's theological interpretation.
4B. The Setting (12:1–2)
Six days before the Passover (12:1) Jerusalem would already be filling, both for purification (11:55) and for Diaspora Jews making pilgrimage who could neither calculate the exact time of their arrival nor risk arriving late. In John's story world (in which Passover begins Friday evening; see 18:28; 19:14), this timing apparently indicates Saturday evening after sundown, when Martha could serve at table.7766 Yet Mark strongly implies that the anointing occurred two days before Passover (Mark 14:1–3). Some think that John corrects Mark on the basis of independent tradition;7767 whether the difference involves a deliberate correction or not, it does emphasize the independence of the tradition. Mark мая have moved the anointing closer to Passover to clarify the connection or increase suspense, or to recount it after the fateful meeting of authorities, which he places two days before Passover (Mark 14:1–2) but which John places earlier (John 11:47–53). John мая wish to begin passion week with the anointing; having recounted Jesus' conflicts in Jerusalem as early as 2:14–18, he now must bring the passion to an end quickly once Jesus enters the holy city. It is also possible, in view of an early Christian tradition concerning the transfiguration (Mark 9:2; Matt 17:1), that John uses the six days to allude to the waiting period for the revelation of God's glory at Sinai (Exod 24:16); at the Passover Jesus would be «glorified» (12:23–24), and his disciples would behold his glory as Moses had (1:14).7768 Less likely (though reflecting the Pentateuch's most frequent use of «six days») it refers to the period of work preceding a Sabbath (cf. John 19:14,31,42). The six days might also allow a careful interpreter to note the transition to the next day (12:12) and thus to suggest that Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day the Passover lambs were set aside (Exod 12:3), four days before their offering (Exod 12:6); but the lack of explicit chronological indication at the time of Jesus' entrance, when it would be most helpful to convey this point, renders unlikely the suggestion that John sought to communicate this impression.
The meal setting is probably a banquet celebrating Lazarus's resuscitation,7769 but мая also foreshadow the implied meal setting of Jesus' pre-passion washing of his disciples' feet in ch. 13. Marthás «serving» (12:2) apparently reflects an activity for which Martha was known in the gospel tradition (Luke 10:40). Although the matter is unclear, it might also provide a model for, or a contrast with, the kind of humble service to which Jesus calls his followers (12:26, the Gospel's only other use of διακονέω).7770 The ultimate symbolic expression of service before the cross, however, is Jesus washing his disciples' feet (13:5, 14); the one disciple to carry this act out in this Gospel, even in advance of Jesus, is emphatically Mary (11:2; 12:3).
4C. The Anointing (12:3)
The measure of ointment here is a λίτρα, a Roman pound, close to twelve U.S. ounces or 324 grams.7771 To have expended all this on Jesus' feet is an act of lavish devotion (though it contrasts for its simplicity with the sacrifice of a genuinely rich man in 19:39). That such ointment would have been «costly,» as John emphasizes (12:3, 5), would have been obvious. A wealthy person might give perfume at a banquet, poetically boasting that it smells sweeter than love itself so that the recipient will want to consist entirely of nose.7772
The term for «myrrh» normally indicates a perfume or ointment of myrrh, whether as a dried powder or liquid, made «from the gummy resin that exudes from a low shrubby balsam tree which grows in west-central South Arabia and in northern Somaliland.»7773 But like Mark (Mark 14:3), John uses the term more generically.7774 «Nard» refers to spikenard, a fragrant oil from the root of the nard plant of the mountains of northern India.7775 In the Mediterranean world, eastern nard remained the fare of the well-to-do.7776
A countercultural Cynic might anoint his feet rather than his head, so he could better inhale the unguent;7777 people also anointed feet on some other occasions, rare as these reports are.7778 Normally, however, one anointed kings, guests, or others on their heads;7779 that Mary anoints Jesus' feet (12:3; cf. Luke 7:38, 44–46, 48) indicates an even greater respect for Jesus (cf. Luke 10:39); she takes the posture of a servant (1:27; 13:5). (One мая compare a later story in which one who wished to greatly honor R. Jonathan kissed his feet.)7780 That she also wipes Jesus' feet with her hair (12:3) reinforces this portrait of humble servitude; a woman's hair was her «glory» (1Cor 11:7) .7781 Commentators often observe that it would have violated the Palestinian Jewish custom that required women to keep their heads covered.7782 This custom obtained only for married women, however, and it is unclear that either Mary or Martha is married; given the nature of ancient sources, one would expect them to report if either was married, but we instead get the impression (though it is never explicit) that Mary and Martha live in their brother's home, and that if either had been married, they were not married now. They appear to be Lazarus's closest relatives (11:19–20), suggesting that all were unmarried (which might suggest their youth, and perhaps that Simon the leper in Mark 14was their deceased father); but John мая simply omit extraneous characters and information, so we cannot say for certain.
Whether Mary was single or married, however, to use her prized feminine hair (see above) to wipe Jesus' feet, when normally only servants even touched the master's feet (see comment on 1:27), indicates the depth of her humble submission to and affection for Jesus.7783 Banqueters were known to wipe excess water or oil on the head or hair of servants; Mary seeks this servant's role as an expression of devotion to Jesus.7784 And given the taboos of the very pious against even speaking with women,7785 and undoubtedly the suspicions of most people when too much cross-gender affection between nonrelatives appeared in public, her action would probably seem immoral to many bystanders if they were present.7786 That the fragrance of anointing «filled the house» might recall the biblical image of God's glory filling his house when it was consecrated (Exod 40:34–35; 1 Kgs 8:10–11; on Jesus' consecration as a new temple, cf. perhaps John 10:36).
4D. Judas's Protest (12:4–6)
That Judas was already intending to betray Jesus by this point (12:4; 13:2) in the story is not unlikely. In John's story world, the opposition to Jesus is clear by this point, the sides are drawn (11:8), and the price of following Jesus is becoming clear (11:16). Even Paul's passion narrative мая recall the act of betrayal (1Cor 11:23); nor is it a datum the early Christians are likely to have invented, shaming as it would be to Jesus in their cultural context.7787 That a betrayer was necessary suggests that it became difficult to locate Jesus when he was not teaching publicly.7788
That the ointment would have been expensive, perhaps an heirloom, beyond the means of most people, would have been obvious.7789 With Mark 14:5, John reports that the ointment's cost would have been nearly a year's wages for an average worker (12:5); it would be more than most women would inherit, and мая represent Mary's entire inheritance (though given the fact that it мая indicate a well-to-do Bethany family, it мая not). Mary's devotion makes sense against the backdrop of her brother's restoration (the cause is less obvious in Matthew and Mark). Tradition assumes that disciples were sometimes entrusted with a rabbís funds.7790
John's remark that Judas was not concerned for the poor (12:6) underlines Judas's evil character; he employs the same term for «unconcerned» here as he earlier employed for the hirelings who did not care for the shepherd's flock in 10:137791–a context in which false leaders of the flock also earn the title «thief» (10:1, 8, 10; 12:6). Whereas Mark contrasts the costly devotion of the woman (Mark 14:3–9) with Judas's betrayal for money (Mark 14:10–11) by narrating them in succession, John implies the same contrast simply by transferring the tradition's general distaste of bystanders for the woman's sacrifice (Mark 14:4–5; disciples in Matt 26:8–9) to Judas (John 12:5) and mentioning his plans for betrayal (12:4) and his past theft (12:6).7792 For Judas's retention of the money (12:6), which some apparently thought was going to the poor (13:29), see comment on 6:5; teachers sometimes assigned their disciples such roles (e.g., 4:8; Pesiq. Rah. 25:2). By the criterion of embarrassment, it is likely that Judas's role as treasurer stems from genuine historical tradition; appointing someone who misadministrated funds could be scandalous, all the more if the one who made the appointment were now claimed to be omniscient.7793
4E. Jesus' Response (12:7–8)
Jesus responds by defending Mary (12:7).7794 She мая have intended the anointing as a royal anointing,7795 which fits the following context (12:13–15). But Jesus is enthroned king of the Jews on the cross (19:19), so a royal anointing is inseparable from an anointing for burial, to which Jesus somehow relates her act (12:7; see below).7796 People used perfumes to suppress a stench, including for corpses,7797 and often anointed corpses.7798 When executed criminals were buried, they usually would have been denied anointing; thus the anointing takes place in advance, by anticipation, in Matthew and Mark (Matt 26:12; Mark 14:8);7799 John's wording is more ambiguous because of a further anointing in 19:39–40.7800 The mention of Jesus' impending burial fits the suspense suggested by the hostility of the chief priests in the immediate context (11:57; 12:10).
After explicitly noting that Judas's own concern was nothing so pious as care for the poor (12:6), John cites the same tradition which also appears in Mark (Mark 14:7): they will always have opportunity to serve the poor, but not always to serve Jesus while he is with them in the flesh (12:8). Jewish society did not imagine that it could eliminate poverty, but did stress its relief;7801 Jesus here alludes to Deut 15:11, which in context promises that God will supply the needs of all the people if they cared for the poor; but the poor would never depart from the land.7802 The context does not permit neglect of the poor, either in Deuteronomy or in John (13:29; cf. 1 John 3:17); but in the gospels which record the saying, the emphasis is on the priority of Jesus and/or the urgency of serving him while he remains with them, since he was soon to depart.
5. The Danger to Lazarus (12:9–11)
The narrative (12:10–11) rings with irony: Jesus went to Judea, risking his life to give life to Lazarus; now Lazarus's new life мая cost him his life. The paradigm for disciples could not be clearer: those who would follow Jesus must be prepared to die (12:25,27), for the world will hate them and wish to kill them (15:18; 16:2). But faith would not be decreased by such martyrdom-producing new life; the sign of Lazarus's new life brought others to faith (12:11; cf. 11:45,48).
* * *
He would also go to Lazarus, who was dead (11:14–15), which Thomas ironically misinterprets–yet inadvertently correctly applies–as lesus going to the realm of death and his disciples following him there (11:16).
Since «friend» applies to all disciples (15:15), there is no reason to find in the cognate «beloved» (11:3) an allusion to the «beloved» disciple (pace Nepper-Christensen, «Discipel,» and others; see our introduction, pp. 84–89) or to one of two such disciples in the Gospel (Vicent Cernuda, «Desvaido»).
There are other exodus parallels (e.g., 3:14), but paralleling the signs and plagues could work at best only at the level of general categories (contrast explicit parallels in Rev 8–9; 16): perhaps darkness for healing the blind (Exod 10:21–22; John 9:5), but then why does John mention darkness in 8and 12:35, 46 but mention only «night» in 9:4? Crop-destroying locusts (Exod 10:13–14) could oppose the bread of life, but its exodus background is really manna; likewise, Jesus heals (4:50–53; 5:8–9; 9:7) but the object is not boils (Exod 9:9–11).
Pearce, «Raising»; cf. the caution of Smith, John (1999), 217. A connection with Luke 10:38–39, while unlikely, is more plausible than the allusion to the parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:20; the figure in the parable–who is not raised–could as easily derive from the event later reported in John; both stories are quite different, as noted by Streeter, Gospels, 389); Eleazar was a common name (see below).
Nevertheless, even Gamble, «Philosophy,» 55, denies that the narrative is allegorical, emphasizing the realism of the narrative.
Smith, John (1999), 216–17, points to Jesus raising a young man in Bethany at his sisters' request in Secret Gospel of Mark; but this document is at worst spurious and at best post-Johannine (see Stanton, Gospel Truth, 93; Brown, Death, 297).
Harris, «Dead,» 312.
Michaels, Servant, 197–98.
Harris, «Dead,» 312.
See Theissen, Gospels, 186–88.
Blomberg, Reliability, cites Sabourin, Miracles; Latourelle, Miracles; Hunter, «John 1 l:41b-42»; Harris, «Dead»; Twelftree, Miracle Worker. Not surprisingly, some of these studies reflect an apologetic tendency; equally unsurprisingly, some of the most skeptical writers on the passage reflect a thoroughgoing skeptical tendency.
See rightly Harris, «Dead,» 311.
Meier, Marginal Jew, 2:798–832. On our view of authorship, which allows for the story to derive from an eyewitness account, the story has nevertheless been recast for its function in the whole Gospel narrative.
Meier, Marginal Jew, 2:773–873.
Stauffer, Jesus, 101, unconvincingly seeks to make Luke 16an early response to that charge.
Meier, Marginal Jew, 2:773. Some reports involve natural resuscitations (e.g., Valerius Maximus 1.8.12; 1.8.ext.l).
E.g., with Asclepius (Grant, Gods, 66; Aeschylus Agamemnon 1022–1024; Euripides Alc. 124–130; Pausanias 2.26.5; 2.27.4; Apollodorus 3.10.3), Empedocles (Diogenes Laertius 8.2.59), and many others (Apollodorus 2.5.12; 2.6.2; 3.3.1; 3.5.3; Bultmann, Tradition, 233–34; Blackburn, «ΑΝΔΡΕΣ,» 190, citing, e.g., Pliny Nat. 7.124; Apuleius Florida 19). Often deities proved unable to resuscitate the dead (Ovid Metam. 2.617–618; 4.247–249).
Fairly rarely in the rabbis (b. B. Qam. 117a; p. Seb. 9:1, §13,38d) and more frequently in Jewish (T. Ab. 18:11A; 14:6B) and Christian (Acts John 47, 52, 73–80; Acfs of Peter  28) religious fiction. Cf. 1 Kgs 17:17–24; 2 Kgs 4:18–37.
Cf., e.g., Harvey, History, 100, on the differences.
E.g., Ovid Amores 1.8.17–18. In a Latin novel, an Egyptian magician could reportedly resuscitate a corpse (Apuleius Metam. 2.28), although the person might not wish to leave Hades (Metam. 2.29; cf. 1Sam 28:15).
Lucan C.W 6.667–775.
Ovid Amores 1.8.13–14.
Heliodorus Aeth. 6.14–15.
See Bowersock, Fiction as History, 99–113, though he connects the spread of this motif too closely with early Christian influence.
Witherington, Women, 106; cf. Harris, «Dead,» 313.
See, e.g., Dodd, More Studies, 58.
Dunkerley, «Lazarus,» 326; Harris, «Dead,» 313.
Interestingly, later rabbis also relate Jesus' execution to his miracle-working, there called magic (b. Sanh. 43a), as Stauffer, Jesus, 103, points out; but the tradition is late and мая well be secondary on this point.
Meeks, Prophet-King, 59.
Xenophon Cyr. 7.2.15 assumes his audiencés knowledge of the common story of Croesus and the Delphic oracle (cf. Herodotus 1.46–48; Xenophon does this elsewhere, cf. Brownson, «Introduction,» x); 2 Chr 32seems to assume knowledge of the story preserved in 2 Kgs 20:12–21.
Grayston, Gospel, 89–90.
On a Jerusalem ossuary, see CJ/2:264, §1261; 2:265, §1263; 2:290, §1311. See also Sipre Deut. 281.1.2.
E.g., 072:19, §147; 2:20–22, §148; CI] 1:417, §566.
In various forms, see, e.g., CPJ 3:175.
E.g., CI] 2:139, §935; 2:140, §938. Lazarus also appears in Hebrew [CP] 3:183), but Λάζαρος explicitly translates אלעזו־, Eleazar, in CIJ2:123, §899 (undated, from Joppa in Palestine). Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 190–91, argues that «Lazarus» is a Galilean form because Galileans typically dropped the open-ing gutteral in Aramaic. By this period, however, the form was probably more widely distributed.
Yamauchi, Stones, 121; cf. Finegan, Archeology, 240. For a more contemporary excavation re-port of a Second Temple period tomb from Bethany, see Loffreda, «Tombe» (also including Byzantine data); the hospitium of Martha and Mary in Bethany is Byzantine (Taylor, «Cave»).
Witherington, Women, 104; Haenchen, John, 2:57. There is no need to see the verse as a later addition to the text (cf. 1:40); it мая point the reader forward to Jesus' passion (ODay, «John,» 685–86).
Theissen, Stories, 49, cites, e.g., Acts 9:36; h. Ber. 34b; Lucian Philops. 11; Philostratus Vit. Apol1. 4.10.
E.g., p. Hag. 2:1, §10.
For the parallel, see Barrett, John, 390; Witherington, Women, 106–7.
On God's revealing his glory here, see Holwerda, Spirit, 5.
E.g., Ellis, Genius, 9, 184.
So Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 195, noting that he also missed the funeral (though messengers would not have reached him in time to announce this).
Haenchen, John, 2:57.
Burial on the day of death was the Jewish custom (Watkins, John, 259; cf. 11:17, 39; Acts 5:6–10).
Barrett, John 391; Morris, «Jesus,» 42. The trip from the Jordan plain (10:40) to the hills around Bethany (11:1) would take longer than the downhill trip from Bethany to the plain; Bethany is nearly 2,700 feet above sea level, and the Jordan plain roughly 1,100 feet below it (LaSor, Knew, 51).
Haenchen, John, 2:58, cites the «narrow, stone-strewn paths» in much of Palestine, apart from Roman roads. Having depended heavily on flashlights for traversing such paths in the dark in rural Nigeria, I can testify to the difficulties where lighting was unavailable.
Outsiders to the community naturally walked in darkness, i.e., did evil (1QS 4.11). Tannaim could apply an expression such as «The fool walks in darkness» (Eccl 2:14) to the theologically foolish, e.g., those who did not consistently agree with one of the Pharisaic schools (f. cEd. 2:3).
See also comments on 1:4–5.
Brown, John, 1:423. Ancients debated whether light entered or came from the eye (cf. Aristotle On Sense and Sensible Objects 2, 438ab; Aulus Gellius 5:16; Diogenes Laertius 9.7.44; Plutarch T.T. 1.8.4, Mor. 626C; Jos. Men. 6:6/3; cf. Allison, «Eye»; perhaps Matt 6:22–23).
See Bernard, John, 2:378. Nevertheless, the claim that Lazarus was merely nearly dead (Bretherton, «Lazarus») violates the story line (11:39) and its theology (11:25).
E.g., Dan 12:2; 2Macc 12:45; most often in the phrase «slept with his fathers,» e.g., 1 Kgs 1:21; 2:10; 11:21,43; 1 Chr 17:11; 2 Chr 9:31; 16:13; 21:1; 26:2,23; 27:9; 28:27; 32:33; 33:20; 36:8.
Where it is one of the most frequent expressions: CIJ 1:8, §3; 1:12, §17; 1:17–19, §§16–20; 1:21, §24; 1:26, §35; 1:28, §37; 1:31, §44; 1:34, §50; 1:37, §55; 1:39, §§62–63; 1:41, §69; 1:56, §81; 1:59, §85; 1:60, §86; 1:62, §88; 1:63, §90; 1:65, §92; 1:66, §93; 1:67, §95; 1:70, §99; 1:71, §100; 1:72, §102; 1:73, §103; 1:74, §105; 1:75, §106; 1:76, §109; 1:78, §111; 1:81, §117; 1:84, §121; 1:90, §129; 1:92, §131; 1:92,§132; 1:95,§136; 1:96, §137; 1:97, §138; 1:102,§144; 1:103,§145; 1:104,§146; 1:105, §147; 1:107, §149; 1:109, §151; 1:110, §152; 1:111, §154; 1:113, §§156–157; 1:114, §159; 1:118–19, §167; 1:121–22, §169; 1:121, §171; 1:124, §172; 1:130, §180; 1:131, §§184–185; 1:135, §192; 1:195, §277; 1:202, §286.
CIJ 1:144–45, §206; 1:149, §210; 1:150, §212; 1:160, §224; 1:162, §228; 1:187–88, §265; 1:338, §458; 1:473, §658; 1:473, §659 (with Hebrew also); 1:473, §660. But some Latin inscriptions have this stereotypical phrase in Greek (CIJ 1:163, §229; 1:166, §222; 1:338, §459; 1:342–43, §464; 1:384, §523).
1 Th 4:13; Acts 7:60; Rev 14:13; Sir 30:17; Jub. 23:1; 36:18; 1 En. 89:38; Pss. So1. 2:31; L.A.B. 3:10; 4Ezra7:31–32;2Bar. 11:4;21:25; 36:11; T.Mos. 10:14; L.A.E.48:2; T.Dan 7:1; T. Iss. 7:9; T.Zeh. 10:6; Gen. Rah. 62:2.
E.g., Sophocles Oed. co1. 1578; Callimachus Epigrams 11, 18; Plutarch Apol1. 12, Mor. 107D; Propertius Eleg. 2.28.25; Diogenes Laertius 1.86; Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 3.6. See also in unrelated societies (Mbiti, Religions, 204–5).
Cf. also T.Reu. 3:1.
E.g., Chariton 5.5.5–6; for such an announcement that one was dead, Plutarch Cimon 18.7. An orator sometimes intended an audience to take his words the opposite of the way he put them (Cicero Or. Brut. 40.137), but this was irony, not deliberate obscurity.
Sleep allows respite from pain (Sophocles Track 988–991); conversely, loss of sleep can hasten death (Livy 40.56.9) or illness (Livy 22.2.11); one could be tortured to death by lack of sleep (Aulus Gellius 7.4.4; Cicero Pis. 19.43; Valerius Maximus 9.2.axf.l). Lack of sleep could stem from self-discipline (Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 9.64.2; Livy 23.18.12; Silius Italicus 9.4–5), devotion to Torah (Ps 119:55, 148; 1QS 6.7–8), or repentance (Jos. Asen. 18MSS); sickness (Hippocrates Regimen in Acute Diseases 1–2; Prorrhetic 1.135–136; love-sickness (Achilles Tatius 1.6; PGM 101.5–7), jealousy (Plutarch Themistocles 3.3–4), fear (Publilius Syrus 359; Plutarch Alex. 31.4; Silius Italicus 13.256–257), anxiety caused by vice (Plutarch Virt. 2, Mor. 100F), or other anxiety (Homer Il. 2.2–3; Aristophanes Lys. 27; Livy 40.56.9; Plutarch Cicero 35.3); mourning (Homer Il. 24.4–6); idleness during the day (m. Abot 3:4); or hardships (Arrian Ind. 34.7; Gen 31:40; perhaps 2Cor 11:27; Chariton 1.2.3).
In 11δοκέω (here the aorist έδοξαν) signifies misunderstanding, as it always does in John (5:39,45; 13:29; 16:2; 20:15), including in this context (11:31, 56).
Bernard, John, 2:380, suggests that Jesus'joy relates to fulfilling his mission (cf. 4:36; 15:11; 17:13).
Some later traditions suggest the retention of the soul for three days after death (until the soul sees the body begin to decompose; m. Yebam. 16:3; Gen. Rah. 100:7; Lev. Rah. 18:1; though cf. Dola, «Interpretacja»), as in Persian beliefs of uncertain date (Vendidad 19.28; Yasht 22.2ff., in Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 59), or required three days of purgatory before preparation to appear before God (3 En. 28:10; cf. Apoc. Zeph. 4:7); some commentators note such traditions here (Strachan, Gospel, 153). (Cf. three days of heavy lamentation, Apollonius of Rhodes 1.1059.) This belief is not widely attested in the early period (Michaels, John, 190), but in any case, after three days the body would not be identifiable due to decomposition (m. Yebam. 16:3).
The name appears in, e.g., CI] 2:74, §825 (194 C.E., Dura Europos).
Stauffer, Jesus, 172, thinks that Thomas has in view here Jerusalem's mass crucifixions over the past few centuries.
Aulus Gellius 1.13. Some ancient rulers reacted with such hostility to bad news that their servants withheld it from them (Plutarch Lucullus 25.1; cf. 2Sam 18:20–22, 29).
E.g., Apollonius of Rhodes 2.638–639; Cornelius Nepos 23 (Hannibal), 8.3.
See Duke, Irony, 59.
See Derrett, Audience, 68, citing Tob 8:20; 9:3; 10:7; Sir 18:22–23; 23:9–11 ; on casual oaths, cf. Keener, Matthew, 192–95, 549.
Josephus gives less than half the distance for Olivet (Ant. 20.169) that John gives for Bethany (Johnson, Acts, 33), but though both undoubtedly knew the place, it is unlikely that either measured the distance; and Luke 19just requires proximity.
The custom is ancient (Sir 22:12; Jdt 16:24; cf. L.A.E. 51:2; Apoc. Mos. 43:3). Later rabbis did not feel that the mourning period exempted one from most duties except tefillin (b. Ber. 11a), but popular custom мая not have taken this into account.
The seven days were probably originally related to the isolation period of corpse uncleanness (Num 19:13–20; Josephus Ant. 3.262); cf. also seven days of Roman mourning (for the emperor, Herodian 4.2.4; wealthy Romans kept the body for mourning seven days, Jeffers, World, 45).
E.g., Jeremias, Theology, 132; Sandmel, Judaism, 200–201. By the Amoraic period, rabbinic regulations were detailed (b. Ketub. 8b and sources in Sandmel, Judaism, 201); for reciting mourner's blessings in the synagogue, see, e.g., p. Môed Qat. 1:5, §5.
E.g., Mbiti, Religions, 197.
One ancient proverb opined that one experienced a personal death whenever one lost loved ones (Publilius Syrus 252); some also believed that one could die from mourning too hard (Jub. 34:15).
E.g., Jub. 36:22. Near relatives mourned deeply (Jub. 23:6).
Josephus Ag. Ap. 2.205.
Supporting this possibility, see Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 199, on gossip networks.
One would honor persons by meeting them and conducting them to their destination (e.g., 12:13; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 7.7.2; Chariton 4.7.6; Judg 4:18; 11:31,34; 1Sam 13:10; 16:4; 21:1; 25:32; cf. royal parousia contexts, e.g., 1 Thess 4:17; cf. 2Sam 19:25; Jdt 5:4; 7:15; Pesiq. Rab. 51:8). Certainly cities treated visiting dignitaries in this manner, and the same is probably true for visiting scholars among those who respected them (cf. Acts 28:15). Yet at least by later custom, one should not greet a mourner (p. Ber. 2:6, §3).
Dodd, Interpretation, 368.
Cf. Ellis, World, 71.
Haenchen, John, 2:61. Others regard her faith as inadequate; «any Pharisee could have said this» (Fenton, John, 122).
Theissen, Stones, 55, citing Philostratus Vit. Apol1. 4.45; 2 Kgs 5:5–7; Mark 5:39; cf. Acts 3:5.
One could also apply resurrection language figuratively to deliverance from danger, even when mentioning the grave (e.g., 4Q437 2 2.11; cf. Ps 9:13; 18:4–5).
Cf. similarly Koester, Symbolism, 109. On the soul's immortality, see, e.g., Sir 9:12; Josephus War 1.84; 2.154–155, 163; 7.341–348; Ant. 17.354; 18.14,18; Philo Abraham 258; Moses 2.288; T. Ab. 1:24–25A; 4:9; 9:8B; Ps.-Phoc. 108; Apoc. Mos. 13:6; 32:4; 33:2; Jos. Asen. 27:10; Wolfson, Philo, 395–413. For exceptions, see 1Macc 2:63; Josephus Ant. 18.16.
Malzoni, «La résurrection,» prefers the shorter reading «I am the resurrection» (following some Old Syriac witnesses); the textual tradition would more likely be expansive here, and the omission has significant and early geographic range. The longer reading is more widely attested from the beginning, however (cf. Metzger, Commentary, 234). In either case, «life» is implicit in «resurrection» and «lives.»
«Not die» makes «live» more emphatic (e.g., L.A.B. 23:10; see comment on 8:51), but it deals with the question of eternal life, not the question of Lazarus's physical raising central to the narrative itself (unless to say that Lazarus's physical state was irrelevant to his eternal life; cf. Gamble, «Philosophy,» 55; 1 Thess 4:13–14).
Such foreshadowing made sense in a Jewish framework, e.g., Pesiq. Rab Kah. 9:4. John elsewhere uses «tomb» only for that of Jesus (19:41–20:11) or the dead he will raise (5:28). Derrett, «Lazarus,» infers a connection, probably anachronistically, between Lazarus's resurrection and Moses bringing water from the rock (based on later Roman catacomb paintings). Pagans could also distinguish temporary resuscitations followed by death from perpetual life (Philostratus Hrk. 2.9–11, third century C.E.).
Cf. Maly, «Women»; Flanagan, «Women»; Tannehill, Luke, 132–39.
This is not to suggest that women's religious activities were not prominent in many circles (see, e.g., Abrahamsen, «Reliefs»; idem, «Women»; Kraemer, «Ecstatics»; idem, «Ecstasy»; idem, Maenads; Brooten, Leaders) but that in public discourse most ancient circles featured it less dominantly than men's in comparison to Luke and John, as a firsthand survey of the ancient sources will revea1. Fehribach, Bridegroom, 83–113, finds community types in Jesus' relationships with the various women in this Gospel, including here; yet this argument seems less plausible here than at some other points.
Brown, John, 1:425.
Gravesites were to be outside residential areas (cf. Heb 13:11–12; 4 Bar. 7:13; Wilkinson, Jerusalem, 146). For regularly visiting gravesites to mourn, see, e.g., Apol1. Κ. Tyre 30–31.
In miracle stories, see Theissen, Stories, 53 (citing, e.g., Tacitus Hist. 4.81).
E.g., Mek. Pisha 1.17–34.
It is especially significant when a wifés name appears before a husband's (MacMullen, «Women,» 209–10; Flory, «Women»).
See Barrett, John, 398.
Ταράσσω was idiomatic for human inner turmoil (e.g., when meeting an angel, Tob 12:16; Luke 1:12) and was regularly associated in this sense with πνεύμα, ψυχή, and καρδία, e.g., Gen 41:8; Ps 6[6LXX]; 38[37LXX]; 42[41LXX]; 55[54LXX]; 143[142LXX]; Prov 12:25; Isa 19:3; T. Ab. 13:6B; T. Dan 4:7; cf.2Sam 13LXX.Agoal of philosophy, by contrast, was to be άτάραχον (Epictetus Diatr. 2.5.2; 4.8.27; Diogenes Laertius 10.85; 10.144.17; cf. Τ.Dan 4:Ί; T. Job 36:3/4–5; απάθειας in Crates Ep. 34, to Metrocles).
Michaels, John, 191; often used, e.g., for «the snorting of horses» (Morris, «Jesus,» 48). Cf. έμβρίμημα in Lam 2LXX.
The term κλαίω (11:31,33) мая bear less than wholly negative connotations for a repeated reader, since joy follows such weeping in every other appearance of it in this Gospel (16:20; 20:11–16).
Marsh, John, 433.
E.g., Carson, John, 415; ÓDay, «John,» 690–91. Story, «Attitude,» suggests that Jesus «rebuked» himself; but see Lindars, «Rebuking.»
Evans, John, 121–22; Bruce, John, 246; Sloyan, John, 143; Whitacre, John, 289. It was understood that onés pain could become anger and lead to lashing out (Plutarch Cor. 21.1–2). Carson, John, 416, suggests Jesus is angry at perhaps sin and death as well as their unbelief.
Marsh, John, 433; Borchert, John, 359–60. Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 200, suggest «indignation» at Mary's public challenge in 11:32, questioning whether he has acted like «a true friend.» This would make sense, but can 11really be a challenge? I think it more likely intended praise that proves inadequate, since Jesus calls for higher faith.
Tears often moved authorities to action (e.g., Lysias Or. 32.10, §505; Cicero Sest. 11.26; Caesar Gallic W. 1.20). On male authorities being particularly moved by women's pleas in the ancient Mediterranean world, see Luke 18:2–5; 2Sam 14:1–21; 20:16–22; 1 Kgs 1:11–16; 2:17; Matt 20:20; P.Sakaon 36; Lysias Or. 32.11–18, §§506–511; perhaps Valerius Maximus 8.3; comment on 2:4.
Kysar, John, 181.
«Come and see» is a familiar invitation formula (see comment on 1:39) but, apart from Johannine style, probably bears no other relation to 1:39, 46 and 4:29.
See ÓDay, Word, 92.
Jesus presumably weeps in 11because he «shares the sadness of his friends and their neighbors» (Smith, John , 225). By ancient Mediterranean standards, mere tears were hardly wildly demonstrative (Virgil Aen. 11.148–150; cf. especially women, e.g., Homer Il. 18.30–31; Aeschylus Cho. 22–31, 423–428). Jewish mourners did not, however, participate in the more masochistic mourning rites of their pagan neighbors (e.g., Deut 14:1).
Malina, Windows, 24–25, citing Plutarch Caesar 5.2; 11.3; 41.1; 48.2; Cicero 47.2; Acts 20:37; Lightfoot, Gospel, 229, cites Juvenal Sat. 15.132–133. Cf. also 2 Kgs 8:11–12; Homer I1. 1.348–349, 413; Od. 4.113–119; 16.190–191; 23.231–232; Sophocles Ajax 819–820; Philostratus Hrk. 45.6. Note amplification in Josephus's hellenized accounts: Moses' prayer with tears for God's vindication against Korah (Josephus Ant. 4.51); David's prayers with tears during Absalom's revolt (Josephus Ant. 7.203; 2Sam 15:23, 30).
E.g., Livy 1.26.12; 23.8.4; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 9.10.1; for rhetoric, see, e.g., Lysias Or. 32.10, §505; Cicero Mi1. 38.105; Rosc. Amer. 9.24; Rab.post. 17.47; Gae1. 24.60; Sest. 11.26; Seneca Controv. 4.pref.6; Menander Rhetor 2.13, 423.30; Philostratus Vit. soph. 1.19.512; 2.1.561; 2.5.574; 2.9.582; 2.10.586; Acts 20:19. Narrators used tears to stir pathos (e.g., Xenophon Eph. 1.11); Polybius 2.56.7 complains about historians who sensationalize with tragic scenes of women's tears invented to arouse pathos; John мая deliberately evoke pathos here.
E.g., Appian R.H. 8.19.132; on Alexander of Macedon, Diodorus Siculus 17.69.4 (it was meant to praise him; cf. 17.69.9); Arrian Alex. 7.11.5; 7.12.3.
So the father and son in Diodorus Siculus 34/35.11.1.
Seneca Dia1. 11.4.1; Ep. Luci1. 116.1; Socratics Ep. 21; Plutarch Apol1. 33, Mor. 118E; Iamblichus V.P. 32.226; 33.234; Let. Aris. 268; T. Zeh. 10:1–2. Virtue supposedly protected from this malady (Epictetus Dmfr. 1.9.7; Let. Aris. 232). More reasonably, on limits, cf. Plutarch Conso1. 2, Mor. 608C; 4, Mor. 608F-609A; Pliny Ep. 2.1.10–11; 3.21.1–6; Syr. Men. 463–469; perhaps 1 Thess 4:13.
Sophocles Ajax 852; E1. 1171–1173; Theon Progymn. 8.55.
On stereotypes in condolence letters, see, e.g., Theon Progymn. 8.53; Dio Chrysostom Or. 30, On Charidemus passim; Lewis, Life, 89–81; Stowers, Letter Writing, 142–46. Funerary inscriptions and rhetoric contain stereotypical expressions of mourning (Demosthenes Or. 60, Funeral Speech 1–37; Greek Anth. 7.339–340, 389); time is sorrow's best healer in Diodorus Siculus 34/35.17.1.
Apollonius of Rhodes 1.292–305; Acts 21:13; cf. also the Roman attachment to duty (Ovid Fasti 4.845–848, though cf. 849–852; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 5.8.6; Appian R.H. 8.12.81–82,86).
Likewise of the archangel Michael, provoked by Abraham's tears (T. Ab. 3:9–10A; 3:9–10B); and of Abraham, provoked by Isaac's tears over his impending death (T. Ab. 5:9–10A); tears were apparently contagious (Josephus Ant. 7.202–203; Josephus himself is moved by others' tears in Life 205–210). Not weeping over a matter not requiring mourning (cf. 11:25–26) differs from mourning only when others are looking, hence seeking praise but meriting ridicule (Martial Epigr. 1.33).
Fenton, John, 124.
Brown, John, 1:426; Barrett, John, 401. For more detail on tombs of this period, see Meyers and Strange, Archeology, 94–103.
Lightfoot, Gospel, 229; Brown, John, 1:426.
Meyers and Strange, Archaeology, 97–98; for spices at funerals, see, e.g., Josephus Ant. 17.199; War 1.673; m. Ber. 8:6; Herodian 4.2.8.
Many felt the soul departed after three days and decomposition started (m. Yebam. 16:3); the fourth day thus underlines the miracle (Barkhuizen, «Lazarus»; cf. Whitacre, John, 283–84).
Brown, John, 1:426.
Cf, e.g., m. Sank 6:6; Móed Qat. 1:5; Pesah. 8:8; b. Sank 47b; p. Móed Qat. 1:5, §§4–5; Hachlili and Killebrew, «Necropolis,» 172. One year was also a traditional Greek period for mourning (Euripides Alc. 336; cf. 430–431; Roman women for a brother or father ten months, Plutarch Cor. 39.5; but cf. in unrelated cultures as well, e.g., Gelfand, «Disorders,» 160).
According to R. Johanan (third century C.E.), even God says prayers (b. Ber. 7a); but such a view was not likely widespread in the first century.
Theissen, Stories, 65, citing, e.g., 1 Kgs 17:21; b. Ber. 34b; Hag. 3a. Like speeches, prayers could be inserted into preexisting historical narratives even if the narrator had no access to the actual speech (1Macc 7:36–38). Opposition to petitionary prayer (cf. Van der Horst, «Maximus») must have been exceptiona1.
Healings in the setting of the believing community мая have differed from apostolic and prophetic healings in this respect (Jas 5:14).
Dowd, «Theology,» 322–23.
A corpse is resuscitated in 4 Bar. 7:19–20 «in order that they might believe» (ίνα πιστεύσωσιν). Other texts are more frivolous, e.g., raising a person one had earlier struck dead (Γ. Ab. 14:14A; b. B. Qam. 117a). Greco-Roman tradition also reported both speech (Xenophon Cyr. 6.3.10; Ps.-Callisthenes Alex. 2.21) and signs (Eunapius Lives 459) for the sake of bystanders.
For an emphasis on loud speech so the crowds could hear, see Josephus Ant. 4.40. One mortal's prayer could divinely constitute a sign to another (Homer Od. 20.111, 120).
Fenton, John, 125. One might compare the sort of story in which witches would seek to summon a corpse by name (but could accidentally procure someone else of the same name lying nearby; Apuleius Metam. 2.30), but John does not seek to evoke magic (magical texts usually designate which person of a particular parentage, e.g., PCM 36.82–83), nor is recuscitation the same as stealing a corpse.
Cf. also, e.g., McPolin, John, 161–62.
For the severity of corpse uncleanness, see Num 19:13–20; Josephus Ant. 3.262; 4QMMT Β lines 72–4. Some Greeks considered such corpse avoidance superstitious (Theophrastus Char. 16.9).
Safrai, «Home,» 777, citing m. Ki1. 9:4; Μα'αέ. S. 5:12; t. Ned. 2:7; Sem. 12:10. Amoraim also understood m. Naz. 9as requiring burials with limbs unbent (Safrai, «Home,» 780–81).
Safrai, «Home,» 773, citing m. Šabb. 23:5; Sem. 1.
Jeremias, Parables, 61 η. 51.
E.g., Beasley-Murray, John, 195.
«The skeptical question of how Lazarus got out of the tomb if his hands and feet were bound is really rather silly in an account which obviously presupposes the supernatural» (Brown, John, 1:427).
But not «all,» as rightly pointed out Brown, ibid., 1:438.
Cf. also Matt 23and comment in Keener, Matthew, 558–59; possibly also Rev 11:11–13 (Keener, Revelation, 296–97).
Theissen, Stories, 72. The skepticism of some that a report directly to Jesus' enemies would injure him (Bernard, John, 2:402, citing 5:15, which further weakens his case) ignores both the indications in the context that it is known that the authorities wish to arrest Jesus (11:8,16,20,28,30; cf. 7:13,25,44; 8:59; 10:31) and the contrast with the more receptive «Jews» of 11:45.
Outside the Gospels, see esp. Acts 4:2–3; 5:16–18; 6:8–11; 14:10–19; 16:18–19; 19:10–12,26–28.
Dodd, More Studies, 58.
Pancaro, Law, 119.
Cf. other corrupt leaders (from Josephus's perspective) in Josephus Life 216. Greek priesthoods also could engage in plots to deceive people politically (Plutarch Lysander 26.1–3, on some Delphic priests).
Vermes, Jesus the Jew, 50, citing Josephus Ant. 18.117–118. Thus, whether or not Caiaphas spoke these words, it was the establishment's attitude (Vermes, Jesus and Judaism, 12).
Brown notes the necessity of the Sanhedrin's conviction for execution in Josephus Ant. 14.167 (Brown, Death, 339); although this text reflects practice in the time of Herod the Great, Roman governors who had less reason to accommodate the people held less power than Herod and мая have accommodated custom (cf. 18:39). Less convincing would be Stauffer's use of later evidence for the necessity of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin sentencing false prophets (Jesus, 207–8).
E.g., Pliny Ep. 10.97; Herodian 7.3.2; Judge, Pattern, 71; cf. Harvey, History, 16; SherwinWhite, Society, 47.
E.g., Winter, Trial, 37.
Pharisees are elsewhere attested alongside high priests (see, e.g., Von Wahlde, «Terms,» 233), and undoubtedly, aristocratic Pharisees participated in the municipal aristocracy; but John consistently heightens their pre-70 role; see their presence with the aristocratic priests in 7:32; 11:57.
Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 286. Some Pharisaic opposition remains likely; Paul was a Pharisee (Phil 3:5) and persecuted Christians (Phil 3:6), though he acted in connection with the high priest (Acts 9:1–2); but other Pharisees, perhaps especially Hillelites, were more consistent with their general stance of tolerance (Acts 5:34–35).
Among other aristocracies, e.g., Cornelius Nepos 4 (Pausanias), 5.1; 14 (Datâmes), 5.3.
His Jewish name was Joseph, but his cognomen was Caiaphas, perhaps meaning «inquisitor» (Stauffer, Jesus, 122).
Winter, Trial, 39, doubts that Caiaphas was much involved with the tria1. But while Luke also knows of Caiaphas (Luke 3:2; Acts 4:6), only Matthew and John (Matt 26:3, 57; John 18:13–14, 24,28) connect him with Jesus' trial, which strongly suggests (in view of John's very likely independence from Matthew) independent traditions attesting Caiaphas's role. On Annas and Caiaphas in John, see Brown, Death, 404–11.
Stauffer, Jesus, 102. (Stauffer, p. 54, thinks that Caiaphas «held his peace» when Pilate introduced standards into Jerusalem; but Josephus Ant. 18.57–59 is unclear.)
See the very debated, so-called Caiaphas family tomb (Riesner, «Familiengrab»; Reich, «Inscriptions»; idem, «Name»; Evans, «Caiaphas Ossuary»). Even if it did not belong to Caiaphas himself, it probably belonged to aristocratic priests (see Horbury, «Ossuaries») and so illustrates the point; for health advantages of Jerusalem's upper class, cf. Zias, «Remains.»
On pagan features of the tomb (see note above), see Greenhut, «Tomb»; idem, «Cave.»
E.g., Case, Origins, 56; cf. Winter, Trial, 43. The aristocracy undoubtedly considered their method of silencing Jesus successful; Rome regarded Palestine as quiet during Tiberius's reign I Judge, Pattern, 23, citing Tacitus Hist. 5.9).
Aune, Environment, 85.
Grundmann, «Decision,» 304.
E.g., Sandmel, Judaism, 133, 476 n. 39.
Cf. also Schnackenburg, John, 2:348.
Mylonas, Eleusis, 230. Cf. also Caesar as Pontifex Maxim us, which appears in Greek as άρχιερεύς (P.Lond. 1912.14; Alexandria, 41 C.E.).
Grundmann, «Decision,» 304.
Westcott, John, vi; Strachan, Gospel, 157; MacGregor, John, 256; Hoskyns, Gospel, 411; Lightfoot, Gospel, 230; Reicke, Era, 148 n. 17; Grundmann, «Decision,» 304; ÓDay, «John,» 697, with Origen.
Schnackenburg, John, 2:348; Brown, John, 1:439–40, citing Blass, Debrunner, and Funk, Grammar, 99–100, §186.
Michaels, John, 196.
Implied, e.g., in Sandmel, Judaism, 133.
Lewis, Life, 90–91. Cf. BGU4.I: 199 (Sherk, Empire, 30, §14).
Such language was intelligible; cf., e.g., the chief of nine Athenian archons called the archon (Philo Abraham 10).
For political more than religious critique here, see Umoh, Plot to Kill Jesus (who notes that these political leaders' leadership model conflicts with the kind proposed in the Gospel).
E.g., Apollodorus 3.12.5; Babrius 136; Sophocles Oed. tyr. passim; 1 Kgs 22:30; Josephus Ant. 8.419. On fatés inescapability in a more general sense, Homer II. 1.5; Demosthenes Crown 289; Josephus War 6.84; Horsley, Documents, 4, §5, pp. 20–21; §6, p. 25; §9, pp. 33–34.
That they dare not «let» Jesus «alone» (11:48) and that Jesus commands the woman's critics to «let» her «alone» (12:7) might reflect a contrast of leadership styles (although αφίημι appears fourteen times in the Gospel).
See Duke, Irony, 26, on «irony of events» (citing Amos 5:19). This irony would be intelligible in ancient plausibility structures; e.g., some thought Socrates' execution the cause of Athens's (and Greecés) decline (Eunapius Lives 462).
For the temple, see 4:20; Acts 6:13–14; 7:7; Michaels, John, 196.
Ancients would readily grasp the double entendre; Cicero ridiculed a witness's claim to know nothing by taking it more generally (Plutarch Cicero 26.6).
Duke, Irony, 87–88. This is «dramatic irony» (pp. 23–24).
Employed at times in military strategies, e.g., Cornelius Nepos 15 (Epaminondas), 9.1; 1 Kgs 22:31; battles to eliminate potential tyrants (Cicero Phi1. 3.8.19; 8.5.15); or the punishment of offenders to deter corporate suffering (Apol1. Κ. Tyre 46; cf. 2Sam 20:21) or to establish deterrents lAeschines Timarchus 192–193,196).
E.g., Gen. Rab. 91:10. See further citations in Haenchen, John, 2:79; Falk, Jesus, 130–31 (improbably stressing that it was a Shammaite view); Smith, Parallels, 139. Cf. also Gk. Apoc. Ezra 1(συμφέρεί γαρ μίαν ψυχήν; God rejects the proposed substitution here, perhaps as polemic against Christian doctrine).
E.g., m. Ter. 8:12.
Willingness to suffer or die on behalf of others accorded with Greek conceptions of heroism (e.g., Euripides Iph. au1. 1394–1397,1420, 1553–1560; see comment on 15:13).
M. Sank 6:2; t. Ber. 6:17; Kip. 4:8–9; 'AbotR. Nat. 29; 39A; b. Ber. 60a, bar.; Sank 47b; Sebu. 13a; p. Sebu. 1:6, §5; Num. Rab. 8:5; Ecc1. Rab. 4:1, §1; hence posthumous stoning (b. Ber. 19a; p. Móed Qat. 3:1, §9; cf. Christian material in Sib. Or. 7.161–162) or suffering (Pesiq. Rab Kak 11:23). Cf. L.A.B. 25:6–7; 26:1; 27:15; on a corporate level, Jub. 30:14–17; 33:10–14; 41:26.
Schnackenburg, John, 2:349.
PlatoAlc. 1:115–127; Greater Hippias 295E; Aristotle Rhet. 1.7.1,1363b; Seneca Benef. 4.5.1; 4.21.6; 7.8.2; Epictetus Diatr. 1.2.5–7; 1.6.6; 1.6.33; 1.18.2; 1.22.1; 1.28.5; 2.7.4; 2.8.1; 3.21.15; 4.7.9; 4.8.17; Marcus Aurelius 6.27; 9.1.1; Phaedrus 3.17.13; Diogenes Laertius 7.1.98–99; 10.150.31; 10.152.37; Sextus Empiricus Eth. 2.22; Theon Progymn. 8.45; Sir 37:28; 1Cor 6:12.
Retrospect provided the appropriate perspective on purported oracles (e.g., Aeschylus Agamemnon 1112–1113; Sophocles Oed. tyr. 439; Track 1169–1173; Plutarch Alex. 37.1; Lycophron Alex. 1–15; Apollodorus 2.8.2; 3.5.7; 3.15.6; Statius Thebaid 1.495–496; Virgil Aen. 6.98–101; Dio Cassius 62.18.4; Arrian Alex. 7.26.2–3; Xenophon Eph. 1.6–7; Philostratus Hrk. 15.2–3, 5; Josephus War 1.80). Misplaced political agendas could be held to distort the interpretations of oracles (Plutarch Lysander 22.5–6); for poetic license, cf. Ovid Metam. 15.823–824.
E.g., Philip of Macedon (Diodorus Siculus 16.91.2–3); or the story of Croesus in Herodotus Hisf.1.46–48; 1.53.3; Maximus of Tyre Or. 5.2; Cyrus in Philostratus Hrk. 28.11–12; Hamilcar in Valerius Maximus 1.7.exf.8; cf. also Valerius Maximus 1.5.4; 1.8.10.
E.g., Sophocles Oed. tyr. 717–725, 744–745, 788–797; Valerius Maximus 1.8.10; 1 Kgs 22:30, 34.
E.g., Lucan C.W. 1.673–695; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 1.31.1; Pinero, «Inspiration»; other sources in Keener, Spirit, 21–26.
Cf. Burkhardt, «Inspirationslehre,» who doubts that Philós view of inspiration was ecstatic possession; but this thesis is open to question (cf. Keener, Spirit, 24–25).
See Blenkinsopp, «Prophecy»; Hill, Prophecy, 30; Aune, Prophecy, 138–44; Grundmann, «Decision,» 305. Cf. Num. Rah. 21:9; cf. also the idea of a hereditary prophetic gift in Arrian Alex. 2.3.3.
Michaels, ]ohn, 196, finds it doubtful, pointing out that those who had the gift (Josephus War 1.68–69; Ant. 11.327, 333–334; 13.299–300) were exceptiona1. Cf. Josephus Ant. 10.80; but one might rather attribute it more prominently to the Essenes (e.g., Josephus War 1.78–80; 2.159; Ant. 17.346), whose priestly connection is less evident in Josephus.
See Keener, Spirit, 24, and sources cited there.
'AbotR. Nat. 43, §118B (biblical examples); b. Sotah 12b (pagans). See further Aune, Prophecy, 139, following Billerbeck, Kommentar, 2:546. Grudem, Prophecy, 38, cites some later rabbinic references explaining biblical prophetesses as accurate predictors without divine authority.
Jdt 6(where προφήτευσας refers to truth spoken unwittingly).
Egyptians reportedly looked for unintended prophecies through children (Plutarch Isis 14, Mor. 356E); cf. also Xenophon Eph. 5.4; Augustine Confessions 8.12.
Aeschines Timarchus 84; cf. Pysche in Apuleius Metam. 5.6; Saul in 1Sam 14:39. An accurate societal critic could also be dubbed «oracular» in a figurative sense because he spoke truth (Seneca Controv. 1.pref.9).
E.g., Liv. Pro. 2(OTP 2:386)/Ieremiah 2 (ed. Schermann 81); Matt 2:4, 6; 4:16, 23; 13:15; 15:8; 21:23; 27:64; Acts 2:47.
So Robinson, «Destination,» 127.
Many commentators apply it to either Gentiles only (Hunter, John, 118) or (as we do) to both Jewish and Gentile Christians (Pancaro, «People,» 126–27,129). Freed, «Samaritan Influence,» 583, suggests that it refers to the Samaritans.
Grundmann, «Decision,» 308–10. The biblical theme of the scattering of God's people as judgment appears in early Jewish texts, e.g., 1 En. 89:75; T. Ash. 7(though followed by a Christian interpolation); 7:6.
Meeks, Prophet-King, 60.
Stauffer, Jesus, 104.
The reference is usually taken as genuine historical information (e.g., Dunn, «John,» 299); perhaps it was near a preexilic site with a similar name (2 Chr 13:19).
Sanders, Judaism, 128, comparing pilgrims to Bubastis in Herodotus.
Safrai, «Temple,» 876–77, citing, e.g., Josephus War 1.229. Michaels, John, 201, thinks those living among Gentiles would have to purify themselves as wel1.
DeSilva, Honor, 274–75; Sanders, Judaism, 134–35, thinks relevant in this connection Josephus War 6.290; Philo Spec. Laws 1.261. Cf. 2 Chr 30:17–20. For annual purifications among Greeks, see, e.g., Philostratus Hrk. 53.5.
Burridge, Gospels, 224–25, citing Tacitus Agricola (26 percent); Plutarch Agesilaus (37 percent); Cato Minor (17.3 percent); Philostratus Vita Apollonii (26.3 percent). John's passion and resurrection proper constitute only 15.7 percent.
Culpepper, John, 202–3.
Culpepper, Anatomy, 94.
Hoskyns, Gospel, 408.
Judas is, however, worse than the Judean elite; the moral reasoning of the latter мая be incorrect, but at least it involves moral reasoning, whereas Judas is portrayed as completely morally debased.
Dodd, More Studies, 58.
Dodd, Tradition, 172; cf. Mack, Myth, 200. Sanders, Figure, 127, suggests that «details have been exchanged and possibly confused.»
See Michaels, John, 202, on the correspondence in very rare words between 12and Mark 14:3. Otherwise, however, verbal agreements are not particularly close.
Origen Comm. Matt. 77; Wiles, Gospel, 16.
Moule, Mark, 112.
Calvin, John, 2(on John 12:2), harmonizes accounts by noting that ancients usually anointed the head, that those who anointed also the ankles indulged in excess luxury (following Pliny), and that Matthew, Mark, and John agree «that Mary did not anoint Christ sparingly.»
Sanders, Figure, 127.
Ibid., 126–27. In any case, he thinks it «evident that Jesus attracted women who were not 'followers,' but who admired him.»
E.g., Mack, Myth, 200. For a survey of views as of 1976, see esp. Hoist, «One Anointing.»
With Blomberg, Reliability, 176 (and numerous others, though it remains a minority position).
Cf. Coakley, «Anointing.»
Estimates range as high as 125,000, but today many think 10,000 more likely (Haenchen, John, 1:182, following Safrai, Pilgrimage, 71–75); yet would the estimate of 10,000 permit even the numerous Galileans who would make the journey? Josephus's guesses мая be unreliable, but the priests might have some estimate of the number of lambs required.
Freyne, Galilee, 181; Sanders, Judaism, 129. Bethany was walking distance from Jerusalem (11:18; Luke 24:50).
Sanders, Judaism, 129; see Josephus Ant. 17.213,217. People employed leather tents, but also linen tabernacula for shade and market stands (cf. Lampe, «Zeltmacher»).
Koenig, Hospitality, 17.
E.g., P.Oxy. 494.32; 1273.3, 49; Appian R.H. pref.13; Acts 1:23; see further documentation under John 14:22. Most early Jewish interpreters would understand the same for instances such as Jethro/Reuel/Hobab (Exod 2:18; 3; 4:18; 18:1–12; Num 10:29; Judg 4:11, though the term for male in-law мая include distinct persons).
Brown, John, 1:447, allowing but not endorsing the possibility that it мая represent the meal of the Habdalah service, which closed the Sabbath, though we know little about the Habdalah service in this period.
Howard, Gospel, 151.
Glasson, Moses, 72, who also compares (less persuasively) glory revealed on a seventh day in 2(where chronology is not mentioned) and possibly 7(which we believe мая be the eighth)
E.g., Bruce, John, 255. It мая have been a meal in Jesus' honor; for the significance of this and status issues of seating, see Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 207–8; and our comment on status and the foot washing in ch. 13.
It occurs sixteen times in the Synoptics, including in a saying quite consonant with John 12(Mark 10:45; Matt 20:28; Luke 22:26–27). Seven of its appearances are in Luke alone, including Luke 10:40; but it appears frequently enough elsewhere for one to doubt that John must simply reproduce Lukés style rather than earlier tradition here.
Beare, Matthew, 505, complains that such a quantity would not fit in a usual alabaster flask; but even if this is the case, John omits mention of such a flask (a common container; see Witherington, Women, 55) present in the Synoptic accounts (Matt 26:7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37), reinforcing our picture that John is independent of them here.
Catullus 13.9–14; by contrast, Seneca Ep. Luci1. 108.16 and others advocated avoiding perfumes (unguento), preferring no scent.
Brown, John, 1:448. Essentially the same population type lived on both sides of the Red Sea (Huntingford, «Axum,» 28; Rashidi, «Africans,» 22–23). On myrrh, see further Harrison, «Myrrh.»
Brown, John, 1:448.
Ibid., also commenting that the rare πιστικός мая translate overliteraly an Aramaic expression that can mean «genuine» nard or apply to «faith» (better than Hunter, John, 121).
E.g., Horace Carm. 2.11.16 (Assyriaque nardo).
Diogenes Laertius 6.2.39.
See Witherington, Women, 113, citing Athenaeus Deipn. 12.553 and Billerbeck, Kommentar, 1:427–28, 986. Bruns, «Jn 12:3,» cites the same Athenaeus reference and relates anointing to royalty byPolybius 26.1.12–14.
Exod 29:7; Lev 8:12; 21:10; 1Sam 10:1; 15:17; 26:11, 16; 2Sam 1:16; 2 Kgs 9:3, 6; Ps 23:5; Matt 6:17; Luke 7:46; also Polybius 26.1.13–14 (which stresses the lavishness and enjoyment). One might anoint a guest at table (b. Hu1. 94a); one would anoint the head first at a bath (b. Sabb. 41a; Sotah 1 lb; in Lachs, Commentary, 400).
P. Péah 1:1, §13.
Cf. Artemidorus Onir. 1.18; see Keener, Paul, 38–39.
Morris, John, 576–77; Witherington, Women, 55; on the eastern Mediterranean Jewish custom, see, e.g., m. Ketub. 7:6; Sotah 1:5; Sipre Num. 11.2.3; 'AbotR. Nat. 3; 17A; 14, §35B; cf. Jos. Asen. 15:1–2; 18:6; Belkin, Philo, 230; further sources in Keener, Paul, 19–69; idem, «Headcoverings.»
See Brant, «Husband Hunting,» for comments on how Mary within the story world might view Jesus (though this narrative, in contrast to that of the Samaritan woman, turns to pathos).
See Witherington, Women, 113, citing Petronius Sat. 27. Petronius likely assumes a more widespread custom, probably known to John's audience and plausibly to Mary as wel1.
See comment on 4:27.
Mack, Myth, 200–201. That ancient novelists often combined heroines' heroism with feminine modesty and decency (Wiersma, «Novel») мая increase the shock value here.
Abandonment was shameful (e.g., Cornelius Nepos 14 [Datâmes], 6.3) and hence fits the criterion of embarrassment; cf. Keener, Matthew, 642–43; Robbins, Jesus, 30. Still, ancients recognized the difficulty of trusting no one (Polybius 8.36.1–9).
Stauffer, Jesus, 112.
See Lachs, Commentary, 401.
Pesiq. Rah. 25(an apocryphal story about R. Tarfon and R. Akiba).
Brown, John, 1:448. Imputing motives to historical figures was a common practice, though it could draw criticism (Plutarch Malice of Herodotus 25, Mor. 861DE).
The contrast here between Mary and Judas is noted also by others, e.g., Blomberg, Poverty, 142.
Ancients recognized that some treasurers grew rich by abusing their office, embarrassing the official for whom they worked (Aeschines Timarchus 56); they respected statesmen who did not touch public revenues (Iamblichus V.P. 27.129). Wisdom warned against entrusting fiscal responsibilities to stingy or greedy persons (e.g., 4Q424 frg. 1, line 10; the issue remained among early Christians, e.g., Acts 6:1–3; 20:33; 1 Thess 2:5; 1Tim 3:3; Tit 1:7).
In Luke he defended the same Mary on different grounds in Luke 10:42; but Jesus also defends the woman in the other anointing accounts (Mark 14:6; Matt 26:10; Luke 7:40–50). For her continuing «memory» in the oral passion narrative (Mark 14:9), cf. analogous statements in Virgil Aen. 9.446–449; 11.846–847; Ovid Metam. 15.877–879.
Stauffer, Jesus, 107. On the historical level, affection would be a closer motive; but on the theological level, a royal anointing мая play a role.
Pace some interpreters, the anointing here (with perfume, not oil) does not relate to the later practice of extreme unction; see Brown, Essays, 101–2.
T. Job. 31:2; Herodian 4.2.8.
Homer Il. 18.351; 24.582; Virgil Aen. 6.219; Martial Epigr. 3.12; Apol1. Κ. Tyre 26; T. Ab. 20:11A; m. Šabb. 23:5; cf. further Safrai, «Home,» 776; Hagner, Matthew, 758.
Daube, «Gospels,» 342.
The further anointing in Mark 16is left unfulfilled. John мая have preserved the earlier form of the language in the tradition also found in Mark 14:8, but probably creates the ambiguity to allow for the later anointing.
Goodman, State, 39.
Later rabbis literalistically understood this to include the messianic era (Lachs, Commentary, 401, citing b. Sabb. 63a). Whitacre, John, 302, notes that some acts, such as burial (hence 12:7), were regarded as greater than charity (citing b. Sukkah 49b); but here Christology is centra1. That some things would «always be» also fits Greco-Roman rhetorical usage (Seneca Benef. 1.10.4).