RESOURCES FOR THIS STUDY AND YOUR FUTURE STUDIES:
Anderson, Paul. N. The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John. (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011).
Brown, Raymond E. The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times. (Paulist Press, New York, 1979).
________________. The Gospel According to John I – XII. Volume 29 of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1966).
________________. The Gospel According to John XIII – XXI. Volume 29A of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman. (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1970).
Elowsky, Joel C. editor. John 1 – 10. Volume IVa of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden. (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2006).
__________________. John 11 – 21. Volume IVb of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden. (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2007).
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary Volume One. (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).
_______________ The Gospel of John: A Commentary Volume Two. (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).
Lewis, Scott M. The Gospel According to John and the Johannine Letters. Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series edited by Daniel Durkin O.S.B. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).
Maloney S.D.B., Francis J. The Gospel of John. Volume 4 of the Sacra Pagina series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J. (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1998).
Martyn, J. Louis. History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel. One of the Classics in the New Testament Library series whose editorial board is C. Clifton Black, John T. Carroll, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa. Third Edition. (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).
O’Day, Gail R. The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections. In Volume IX of the New Interpreter’s Bible whose editorial board is convened by Leander Kick. (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995).
Sloyan, Gerard. John. Part of the Interpretation series edited by Mays, Miller, Achtemeier.
(John Knox Press, Atlanta GA, 1988).
TEXT FOR LESSON SIX: CHAPTERS 9 AND 10
John Chapter 9
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world,
I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this,
he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).
So he went and washed,
and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
but others said,
“No, he just looks like him.”
So they said to him,
“(So) how were your eyes opened?”
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me,
‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him,
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the Sabbath.”
(But) others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
“He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Messiah, he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him,
“Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from,
yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said,
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,”
and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him,
“Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’
so your sin remains.
John Chapter 10
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him,
and the sheep hear his voice,
as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead,
and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down,
and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”
Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words.
Many of them said,
“He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?”
“These are not the words of one possessed;
surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
The feast of the Dedication was then taking place inJerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them,
“I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”
The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him.
Jesus answered them,
“I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”
Jesus answered them,
“Is it not written in your law,
‘I said, “You are gods”‘?
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works,
so that you may realize (and understand) that
the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
(Then) they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.
He went back across theJordanto the place where John first baptized,
ad there he remained.
Many came to him and said,
“John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.”
And many there began to believe in him.
VIDEO NOTES FOR LESSON SIX
Jesus demonstrates HOW he is the source of light and life by healing the man born blind.
Blindness in OT:
- Lev. 19:14: “You shall not curse the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind.”
- Deut. 27:18: “Cursed be he who misleads a blind man on his way!”
- Luke 4:18 quotes Isaiah – “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind.”
Physical healing / to sight a metaphor for spiritual healing / spiritual darkness
We cannot / should not say that physical suffering and ill health are a result of sin.
Priority of the law of love and compassion.
While overjoyed by the miracle the man and his parents are confronted by others preoccupied with the HOW, WHEN of it, even the possibility that it was all a scam of some sort and that he had not really ever been truly blind.
Concern about being thrown out of the synagogues evident in this text (read back into an earlier time).
At the end of the story Jesus goes to the blind man and reveals to him something even deeper – He is the Son of Man. V. 39: “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” This actually happens as people make judgments on Jesus, not Jesus on them. They judge themselves.
From this story we can know:
- Our God takes initiative.
- Our God wants to restore wholeness to us.
- Our God values persons over laws and regulations.
- Our God draws us into deeper faith, clearer vision.
Blind man’s conversion is gradual but deep, more is revealed to him as he accepts and opens himself. A model for conversion. A part of the RCIA readings for Scrutinies at the end of Lent.
In Chapter 10: “I am the gate for the sheep.” And “I am the good shepherd.”
Job of the shepherd included: finding and leading sheep to good pasture and water, protecting the sheep from predators, taking turns with other shepherds sleeping in the gateway to the night-time enclosure for the sheep to protect them even at night.
Numbers 27: 15-18:
“Then Moses said to the LORD,
“May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all humanity, set over the community someone
who will be their leader in battle and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the LORD’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
And the LORD replied to Moses: Take Joshua, son of Nun, a man of spirit, and lay your hand upon him.”
“We are challenged to remember that the shepherd we follow has a personal interest in each one of us.”
Feast of Dedication in the winter. Light the lights each night, rededication of the Temple after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it.
ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR LESSON SIX – CHAPTERS 9 AND 10
Chapter 9 The man born blind
O’Day p. 651: “When John 9 and 10 are read together (as they are meant to be – Peter), they can be seen as following the common Johannine pattern of event, dialogue, and discourse and more particularly, as paralleling the pattern of healing, dialogue, and discourse used in John 5.”
O’Day p. 651: good example of the ‘law of twos’ from Greek drama – no more than 2 characters are ‘on stage’ at the same time. Increases the sense of drama.
We are presumably still at the Feast of Tabernacles. The themes of light and water (Pool of Siloam) continue.
Man moves from physical blindness to physical sight to spiritual sight. The Pharisees have physical sight but are spiritually blind.
“The Jews” / “hoi Juidaoi” are present in the scene. It was only in the time of John’s community that the decision had been made to put Christians out of the synagogues for good (there had been conflicts earlier – see Acts / Paul). Hence, an event from the life of Jesus – with the conflict that arose then – is presented as a lens for the community of John to understand itself and the situation. The community = Jesus and the disciples. The blind man represents new catechumens drawn into a controversy not of their making. (This is not an allegory however – don’t take this to extremes.)
Lewis p. 53: “The Pharisees’ insistence that they do not know where Jesus is from is ironic, for that is the crux of the problem. Had they recognized his divine origin, they would have been open to his message.”
Chapter 9 and Beginning of Chapter 10: Conflict with the Pharisees / Good Shepherd
O’Day p. 656 John divides this conflict unit into 5 scenes:
- The blind man and the Pharisees
- The “Jews” and the man’s parents
- The man and the Pharisees / Jews
- Jesus and the man
- Jesus and the Pharisees
There is a strong biblical theme through the OT that God is the Good Shepherd of Israel while kings and others in history have been bad shepherds.
- Jeremiah 23:1 – 4
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture—oracle of the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing—oracle of the LORD.
- Ezekiel 34:22-24
I will save my flock so they can no longer be plundered; I will judge between one sheep and another. I will appoint one shepherd over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd. I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince in their midst. I, the LORD, have spoken.
- Zechariah 10:2,3
Deceitful dreams they have told,
empty comfort they have offered.
This is why they wandered like sheep,
wretched, for they have no shepherd.
My wrath is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders.
For the LORD of hosts attends to the flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like a splendid horse in battle.
- Jeremiah 31:10
Hear the word of the LORD, you nations,
proclaim it on distant coasts, and say:
The One who scattered Israel, now gathers them;
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
Moloney p. 309: “A pastoral practice exists in theNear East, which has no literary support, wherein the shepherd is the door. He lies down across the door-space and is thus both shepherd and door.” Moloney suggests that two distinct metaphors exists in the text – in one Jesus is the shepherd, in the other Jesus is the door / gate.
O’Day p. 657: “The most important work done on this passage is that of J. Louis Martyn, whose investigations into John 9 changed the shape and scope of Johannine scholarship. Through a careful and detailed exegetical analysis of 9:22, Martyn proposed that the agreement to put out of the synagogue those who confessed Jesus as the Messiah refers to the Benediction against Heretics that was introduced into the synagogue liturgy sometime after 70 C.E. and probably between 85 and 95 C.E.. On the basis of this benediction, Martyn concluded that the Fourth Gospel was written at the end of the first century C.E. in and to a community that was being expelled from the synagogue, and that this conflict with the synagogue decisively shaped the Johannine story of Jesus.”
Ruth Langer of Boston College says online:
“The text of the prayer itself was not static. By the medieval world, its body consistently had four elements: a curse of apostates that they would “loose (eschatological) hope”; a curse of minim (sectarians or heretics) that they would perish; a curse of Israel’s enemies that God would excise them; and a curse of the arrogant/insolent empire that God would uproot and otherwise destroy it. It concluded with a praise of God for breaking enemies and humbling the arrogant/insolent.”
Professor Lawrence Schiffman (online) says:
Since the term min can refer at different times to various forms of heresy that threatened Rabbinic Judaism in Talmudic times, it is essential to clarify who the minim of this benediction are. Palestinian texts of the Eighteen Benedictions from the Cairo Genizah present us with a text of the benediction which elucidates the identification of the minim:
For the apostates may there be no hope unless they return to Your Torah. As for the norim and the minim, may they perish immediately. Speedily may they be erased from the Book of Life, and may they not be registered among the righteous. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who subdues the wicked.
While other specimens of the Palestinian liturgy show slight variation, the no§rim, (usually translated “Christians”) and minim are included in the best texts of this benediction. Some may wish to debate whether the no§rim and minim here mentioned are to be taken as one group or two. Yet the fact remains that the no§rim were included with apostates and heretics in the Genizah documents.
Chapter 10 The Feast of Dedication
Moloney p. 312: “This relatively recent celebration was instituted to commemorate the rededication of theTempleafter Judas Maccabeus’ successful campaign to take possession ofJerusalemin 164 B.C.E.” Against Antiochus IV (Antiochus Epiphanes) who had desecrated the city and the temple and instituted many pagan practices, even offering sacrifices to Zeus on the altar.
One theme of the Feast of Dedication was a rejection of blasphemy and apostasy (falling away) since that was exactly what had happened in that time period.
This feast occurs three months after the Feast of Tabernacles, in the winter. (Hannukah today – lights of the rededicatedTemplemysteriously have enough oil until more is found.)
Jesus and the Father are one – there is no longer any need for aTempleat all.
FOR NEXT WEEK:
- Read and pray over John chapters 11 & 12.
- Read the commentary pages 57 to 67.
- Ponder and pray over the questions in the workbook for this unit. Which questions are most important to you?