The Human Truth Foundation

A Critical Look at John Chapter 9 (A Rewrite of Mark's Story of the Blind Man)

By Vexen Crabtree 2017

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Included as holy:

Protestant Bibles
Title: John
Section: Gospels

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Next: Acts

Catholic Bible
Title: John
Section: Gospels

Prev: Luke
Next: Acts

Eastern Orthodox Bibles
Title: John
Section: Gospels

Prev: Luke
Next: Acts

Rejected by:
Jewish Tanakh

Chapters in John:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21
Total verses: 879


1. Book Summary

#christianity #john #religion #the_bible #the_gospels

The Gospel of John was written around 120CE1,2,3. The text is anonymous4 and definitely not written by the apostle called John5 nor by any eyewitness5, although the early Christian church promoted this as such6. We do know that the author was from Ephesus (in Asia Minor). The oldest surviving fragment of John is from 125CE. The earliest versions did not contain the final chapter, which describes Jesus Christ appearing to his disciples after rising from the dead.

It is significantly different from the other gospels in style and theology7. The Gospel of John is an interpretation of events in Jesus life8 that the author had heard about, but, with no real parables9 and instead, some plays on words and figurative, symbolic and abstract speech8. The other three gospels have Jesus speak tersely, in witty sayings, but 'John quotes lengthy speeches in fluent Greek' and is clearly not replicating the words of Jesus himself10. Miracles and events that were only ever seen by John are suspect (no-one else wrote about them!)8. It is best to consider the Gospel of John to be imaginative fiction or spiritual encouragement, but not strictly factual nor historical7.

2. Chapter Summary

BibleSummary.Info: Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees called the man and threw him out. Jesus said, "I came that the blind may see.".11

Vexen Crabtree: An anachronistic rewrite of Mark's story of the healed blind man.

The Gospel of John chapter 9 contains a rewrite of Mark 8:22-26, wherein a blind man is healed by Jesus. But John adds many details that were clearly invented much later, rather than being true recordings of a historical event. It contradicts Mark (a more trustworthy gospel) in several of those details, but worse than that, it contains anachronistic elements that show us that the text was not created until several decades later than the time you'd otherwise assume. When the healed man professes faith in Jesus, he is excommunicated from the synagogue by the Jews, however, such routine excommunications of Jesus-believers did not begin until decades later than the time of Jesus. The Pharisees even view Jesus as the founder of a rival religion, which is a ridiculous anachronism suitable only for a time several decades later when this was apparent fact. Likewise, because when John was writing (over 100 years later), everyone already knew that Jesus was the messiah, so the concept of this being a secret is forgotten in John 9:35-39. John is widely regarded as an untrustworthy gospel, and it is not wise to base theological or historical arguments on its text.12

John's story of the nameless man born blind (9:1-41) is very likely a fictive, theological expansion of Mark 8:22-26, especially as it repeats the magical healing technique. He also 'sends' the man off, to wash in Siloam's pool this time, not out of the city. The story, though excellently written, is vitiated with anachronism. Besides having Jesus throw the messianic secret to the wind (9:35-37), since it is no more a secret in the evangelist's day, the author also has the newly sighted man excommunicated from the synagogue on account of his faith in Jesus (verse 34), something his parents fear as well (verse 22) in light of the general excommunication that had been decreed. But such witch-hunts all transpired decades later [and] the Pharisees in John 9 even view Jesus as the founder of a rival religion (verse 28, cf. 1:17), a development much too late for the lifetime of Jesus.

"Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?" by Robert M. Price (2003)12

3. John chapter 9 has 41 verses


John 9:1-12 - Healing by Mixing Spit and Mud Into His Eyes

KJVYLTNotes
1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.And passing by, he saw a man blind from birth,

John 9:1-41: See The Gospel According to Saint John: 3. An Untrustworthy Gospel

John 9:1-41 commented on above: 2. Chapter Summary

2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?and his disciples asked him, saying, `Rabbi, who did sin, this one or his parents, that he should be born blind?'
3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.Jesus answered, `Neither did this one sin nor his parents, but that the works of God may be manifested in him;
4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.it behoveth me to be working the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night doth come, when no one is able to work: --
5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.when I am in the world, I am a light of the world.'
6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,These things saying, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and rubbed the clay on the eyes of the blind man, and said to him,
7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.`Go away, wash at the pool of Siloam,' which is, interpreted, Sent. He went away, therefore, and did wash, and came seeing;
8The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?the neighbours, therefore, and those seeing him before, that he was blind, said, `Is not this he who is sitting and begging?'
9Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.others said -- `This is he;' and others -- `He is like to him;' he himself said, -- `I am `he'.'
10Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?They said, therefore, to him, `How were thine eyes opened?'
11He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.he answered and said, `A man called Jesus made clay, and rubbed my eyes, and said to me, Go away to the pool of Siloam, and wash; and having gone away and having washed, I received sight;'
12Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.they said, therefore, to him, `Where is that one?' he saith, `I have not known.'

John 9:13-34 - The Pharisees Excommunicate the Healed Man

KJVYLTNotes
13They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.They bring him to the Pharisees who once `was' blind,
14And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.and it was a sabbath when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
15Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.Again, therefore, the Pharisees also were asking him how he received sight, and he said to them, `Clay he did put upon my eyes, and I did wash -- and I see.'
16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.Of the Pharisees, therefore, certain said, `This man is not from God, because the sabbath he doth not keep;' others said, `How is a man -- a sinful one -- able to do such signs?' and there was a division among them.
17They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.They said to the blind man again, `Thou -- what dost thou say of him -- that he opened thine eyes?'
18But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.and he said -- `He is a prophet.' The Jews, therefore, did not believe concerning him that he was blind and did receive sight, till that they called the parents of him who received sight,
19And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?and they asked them, saying, `Is your son, of whom ye say that he was born blind? how then now doth he see?'
20His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:His parents answered them and said, `We have known that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
21But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.and how he now seeth, we have not known; or who opened his eyes, we have not known; himself is of age, ask him; he himself shall speak concerning himself.'
22These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.These things said his parents, because they were afraid of the Jews, for already had the Jews agreed together, that if any one may confess him -- Christ, he may be put out of the synagogue;
23Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.because of this his parents said -- `He is of age, ask him.'
24Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.They called, therefore, a second time the man who was blind, and they said to him, `Give glory to God, we have known that this man is a sinner;'
25He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.he answered, therefore, and said, `If he be a sinner -- I have not known, one thing I have known, that, being blind, now I see.'
26Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?And they said to him again, `What did he to thee? how did he open thine eyes?'
27He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?He answered them, `I told you already, and ye did not hear; why again do ye wish to hear? do ye also wish to become his disciples?'
28Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.They reviled him, therefore, and said, `Thou art his disciple, and we are Moses' disciples;
29We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.we have known that God hath spoken to Moses, but this one -- we have not known whence he is.'
30The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.The man answered and said to them, `Why, in this is a wonderful thing, that ye have not known whence he is, and he opened my eyes!
31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.and we have known that God doth not hear sinners, but, if any one may be a worshipper of God, and may do His will, him He doth hear;
32Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.from the age it was not heard, that any one did open eyes of one who hath been born blind;
33If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.if this one were not from God, he were not able to do anything.'
34They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.They answered and said to him, `In sins thou wast born altogether, and thou dost teach us!' and they cast him forth without.

John 9:35-41 - Theological Commentary on Vision and Blindness

KJVYLTNotes
35Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?Jesus heard that they cast him forth without, and having found him, he said to him, `Dost thou believe in the Son of God?'

John 9:35-39: The Gospel According to Saint John: 3. An Untrustworthy Gospel

John 9:35-39 commented on above: 2. Chapter Summary

John 9:35-37 commentary above: 2. Chapter Summary

36He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?he answered and said, `Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?'
37And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.And Jesus said to him, `Thou hast both seen him, and he who is speaking with thee is he;'
38And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.and he said, `I believe, sir,' and bowed before him.
39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.And Jesus said, `For judgment I to this world did come, that those not seeing may see, and those seeing may become blind.'
40And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?And those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and they said to him, `Are we also blind?'
41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.Jesus said to them, `If ye were blind, ye were not having had sin, but now ye say -- We see, therefore doth your sin remain.

Current edition: 2017 Nov 06
http://www.holybooks.info/john_9.html
Parent page: The Gospel According to Saint John

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

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The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.

Ehrman, Bart
(2003) Lost Christianities. Hardback book. Published by Oxford University Press, New York, USA.
(2011) Forged. Hardback book. Subtitled: "Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are". Published by HarperCollins, New York, USA.

Freke, Timothy & Gandy, Peter
(1999) The Jesus Mysteries. Paperback book. 2000 edition. Published by Thorsons, London, UK. Book Review.

Price, Robert M.
(2003) Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?. Published by Prometheus Books, NY, USA.

Roberts, Jenny
(1997) Bible Facts. Hardback book. Originally published 1990. Current version published by Grange Books, London.

Wilson, A.N.
(1993) Jesus. Paperback book. Originally published in UK in 1992. Current version published by Flamingo Press, Harper Collins, Fulham Palace Road, London, UK.

Footnotes

  1. Freke & Gandy (1999) chapter 7 "The Missing Man" p191.^
  2. Roberts (1997) p58 says 90-110CE.^
  3. Price (2003) chapter 1 digital location 425 says that even conservatives, who prefer earlier dates, have allowed a date of ~100CE.^
  4. Ehrman (2003) chapter 11 "The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-orthodox New Testament" p235.^
  5. Freke & Gandy (1999) chapter 7 "The Missing Man" p193.^
  6. Ehrman (2011) p227-228 points out that the Gospel of John is not a forgery, but was falsely attributed to apostle John by later Christians.^
  7. Wilson (1993) p48.^
  8. Roberts (1997) p58.^
  9. Price (2003) chapter 1 digital location 445.^
  10. Freke & Gandy (1999) chapter 7 "The Missing Man" p179.^
  11. www.biblesummary.info was host to a daily Twitter tweet from its author, each of which summarizes a chapter from the Bible. Accessed 2014 Feb.^
  12. Price (2003) digital location 2402.^

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