Richard Burridge: John Chapters 9-10

John 9:1-5. The healing of the blind man must be seen in the context of the previous topic of light: "blind" is used 13 times, "eyes" 10 and "see" 11. The man receives sight and grows into faith. Some commentators (Genesis 25:22) thought that a foetus could sin.

John 9:6-12. Links to Chapter 5. Making clay linked with Adam and saliva is linked with the Emperor Vespasian's cure of a blind man (Tacitus: Histories iv.81).

John 9:13-23. (Contrary to what Vermes says - KC), Jewish law forbade anointing eyes and using saliva on the Sabbath.

John 9:24-34. The blind man is accused of lying (cf Achan in Joshua 7). The blind man and his interrogators continue to diverge.

John 9:35-41. Jesus, the good shepherd, finds the man cast out by religious leaders and rejected by his parents. The last sign ends with faith more perfect than any of its predecessors.

John 10:1-7. This Chapter sums up the previous nine which have all concerned who Jesus is. Images of sheep and shepherds are common (Ezekiel 34; 23:1; 100:3); the door (Psalm 118:19-20). Robbers do not use doors; sheep know the shepherd’s voice after years of following.

John 10:7-18. David was a good shepherd (2 Samuel 5:2; Psalm 78:71) but erred (2 Samuel 12:1-7) in taking Bathsheba evoking Nathan's sharp and touching story of the lamb. "I am the good (Kalos comprises beauty and loveliness) shepherd"; he "calls" (ec-clesia) sheep. Compare this with the behaviour of the authorities in Chapter 9.

John 10:19-30. Two sides have been emerging and the crisis comes at Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, commemorating the re-dedication of the Temple in 164 BC after the Maccabean victory (1 Maccabees 4:36-59; 2 Maccabees 10:1-8) over the Graeco-Syrians who had desecrated it with an altar where pigs were sacrificed. The feast celebrates zealous leadership; Jesus contrasts the bad leaders with the good shepherd.

John 10:30-42. The climax is "The Father and I are one". The neuter pronoun Hen means "a unity" as opposed to the masculine pronoun heis meaning "one and the same" which sparked controversy in the 3rd and 4th Centuries. The Book of Signs ends where it began, at the banks of the Jordan. Water is never very far away.

Taken from:

Burridge, Richard: John: The People's Bible Commentary, The Bible Reading Fellowship, revised 2008, ISBN 978 1 84101 570 5.

KC VII/08

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