Richard Burridge: John Chapters 7-8

John 7:11-18. The Jerusalem crowds are split, some thinking Jesus is leading people astray which is a capital offence (Deuteronomy 13:1-11), later reflected in the Talmud (on Sanhedrin 43a). Jesus, outside the handing on tradition from rabbi to pupil, teaches alone on the authority of him who sent him.

John 7:19-31. Circumcision takes priority over the Sabbath even though it affects only one of 248 members of a man's body, therefore making a whole person well takes precedence. Jesus makes a Messianic claim to judge but as he is from Nazareth this, people think, cannot be so. The repeated pattern of claim, dispute, attempted arrest.

John 7:32-39. Jesus Speaks on the last day of Tabernacles, during which water was ceremonially processed daily from the Pool of Siloam in a golden flagon to the Temple, singing "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3) and Psalms 113-118; and then it was poured round the altar. Jesus proclaims he is the source of living water (cf Zechariah 14:8). As Jesus has claimed superiority to healing water, bread and Passover, he now claims the same superiority over the Feast of Tabernacles.

John 7:40-52. Forgetting Jonah, metropolitan Jerusalem did not think a prophet could come from Galilee.

John 7:53; 8:1-11. This story of the woman "taken in adultery", may be Lucan. Some say it interrupts the flow. As the adultery was blatant and public it must have been an entrapment of the woman, as the man is absent. A clash between Jewish law on stoning and the Roman monopoly of execution; Jesus can either deny Moses or all his own previous teaching.

John 8:12-20. Tabernacles continues: on the first night of the Festival four large, golden lamps were lit in the Court of Women (so that both sexes could be present), to recall the pillar of fire (Exodus 13.21), followed by dancing; Jesus in his second "I am" statement says he is the light of the world.

John 8:31-38. The appeal shifts from Moses to Abraham, the founder of the chosen people (Exodus 22:17-18) after whom they went into slavery many times; this brings to mind the distinction between Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 17:20-21); so "The son" moves from Isaac to Jesus.

John 8:39-47. Jesus says the wish to kill him conflicts with the claim of descent from Abraham. He is accused of illegitimacy, anticipating a story that he was born of Mary and a Roman soldier called Panthera. He again charges them as murderers and with being of the devil (Diabolos means slanderer). This charge was used as a pretext by Hitler against all Jews but Jesus distinguishes believers and non believers.

John 8:48-59. His opponents respond by calling him a Samaritan - illegitimate offspring of Jews and pagan oppressors (2 Kings 17:24-41) - and the stones intended for the adulterous woman are now for him.

Taken from:

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


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