Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

5709Re: Jn. 4:22

Expand Messages
  • Kevin Snapp
    Mar 24, 2009
      Whether or not the author of Luke/Acts thinks of Samaritans as Gentiles, the author of John considers them Israelites. At least one commentator (sorry, I don't remember who) pointed out that Jn. 4:35-36 alludes to the sabbatical year of Lev.25:1-7: "Do you not say, four months more then comes the harvest? But lift up your eyes and see the fields that are white for harvesting." We know from the beginning of ch. 4 that it was hot, i.e., summer, but there could be no harvesting until the new year began in the fall.

      In this context, Jesus' saying that "the reaper receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life" refers to Samaritan farmers, who instead of sowing and reaping their own fields, worked for Gentiles for pay, and by doing so "gathered fruit for eternal life" as reward for keeping the commandment. I don't think anyone has noticed the similarity to a rabbinic saying:

      "These are the things of which a man eats their fruits (income) in this world, while their source (principal) is kept for him in the world to come: honoring one's parents, deeds of kindness, and making peace between fellow men, while the study of the Torah surpasses them all." (BT Shab. 127a and elsewhere.) (In keeping the mitzvah of the sabbatical year, it is literally the "fruits" one does not eat, so Jesus reverses it.) John is subtly reminding Jewishly-knowledgeable readers that the Samaritans are Israelites who keep the Torah.

      As the Samaritans reap what others have sown, so shall Jesus' disciples. Those who "have sown" among the Samaritans for Jesus' disciples to "reap" include not only Moses, but also, John implies, John the Baptist and his disciples. Although its location is uncertain, probably "Aenon near Salim,"Jn. 3:23, was either in Samaria or on the Samaria-Galilee border. I understand the dispute "between John's disciples and a Jew" of 3:25 regarding "purification" as concerning whether Samaritans could be "purified" of their supposed hereditary taint, suspicion of mamzerut due to their differing halakhah or deficient observance with respect to divorce and/or levirate marriage. "Purification" was the term used in connection with mamzerim much later in the Talmud, when the rabbis sought to find a way around the unfairness of this biblically-mandated hereditary pariah caste.

      Although John acknowledges that in his death Jesus would "draw all men to him," John's Jesus is never depicted interacting with Gentiles in his ministry, in contrast to the Synoptics. John 4 is not a prototype of "outreach" to Gentiles; it is about reuniting the House of Israel. John was discreet about it because his (and Jesus') ties to the Samaritans (of which there is other evidence in John) were closer than John wished to acknowledge publicly.

      Just explaining the method in my madness, or the madness behind my method. From this perspective, for John's Jesus to dismiss Samaritan worship in a statement that doesn't withstand close logical scrutiny makes sense. I was not probing the limits of the Greek merely to torture it.

      Kevin Snapp
      Chicago, IL

      --- In johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com, "Ramsey Michaels" <profram@...> wrote:
      > To me the parallel with Acts 17:23 was illuminating: "That which [neuter pronoun] you ignorantly worship I make known to you."
      > A different word for worship to be sure, but it is language Paul uses in addressing Gentiles, telling tham that in fact they are worshipping the true God, but in ignorance. Something similar is going on here, I suspect, with the Samaritans being viewed as Gentiles, and in some sense representative of the Gentile world.
      > Best,
      > Ramsey Michaels
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Show all 17 messages in this topic