May 11 2014 Gospel lection John 10:1-10; Comments on the Greek text


Jn 10:1 Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων[A] ἀλλαχόθεν ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶν καὶ λῃστής· Amen, amen, I tell you, the one who does not enter through the gate into the courtyard of the sheep, but who goes up from another place—that one is a thief and a bandit.
Jn 10:2 ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστιν τῶν προβάτων. But the one entering through the gate is [the] shepherd of the sheep.
Jn 10:3 τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς[B] αὐτοῦ ἀκούει καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα φωνεῖ κατ’ ὄνομα[C] καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά. To this one the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice and he calls [his] own sheep by name and leads them out.
Jn 10:4 ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πάντα ἐκβάλῃ[D], ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασιν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· When he has driven out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.
Jn 10:5 ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ[E] ἀκολουθήσουσιν ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν. But they will surely not follow another, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of others.
Jn 10:6 ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς.[F] Jesus told this saying to them, but they didn’t know what it was that he was saying to them.
Jn 10:7 Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα[G] τῶν προβάτων. Then again Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I tell you, I am the gate of the sheep.
Jn 10:8 πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον [πρὸ ἐμοῦ[H]] κλέπται εἰσὶν καὶ λῃσταί· ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἤκουσαν[I] αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. All who came before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep did not listen to them.
Jn 10:9 ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι’ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ σωθήσεται καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει. I am the door; through me, if anyone enters [he or she] will be saved, and will go in and come out and find pasture.
Jn 10:10 ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. The thief doesn’t come except to kill and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have [it] in abundance.

[A] More literally, “ascends,” recalling the recurring emphasis on John on Jesus as the one who “descends” from God, rather than ascending to God (cf. John 3:13; 6:33, 38, 41f., 50f., 58).  Metaphorically and in an expanded meaning, this “thief” who “ascends” from another place may refer to a revealer who does not “ascend” from the cross, in the way that Jesus would do, but pursues a self-preserving and enhancing path.  That’s why such a one is a thief.

[B]Remember that ἀκούω takes its object either in the accusative or in the genitive case.  When it takes the accusative, it speaks of “hearing about” in a more general way.  When it takes the genitive, it speaks of “hearing from” in a more direct way.  That’s what we see here.

[C] One of the most powerful images in Scripture is this sense of being called “by name” by God.

[D] A surprisingly strong verb—the same verb used when Jesus “drives out” demons.  Perhaps an allusion to the expulsion from the synagogue mentioned elsewhere in John (9:22, 12:42, 16:2)

[E] One would expect the aorist subjunctive after this οὐ μὴ construction, signifying emphatic future denial, and some MSS have this reading, but the more difficult reading (and thus the more likely original) is the future indicative—somewhat grammatically incorrect.

[F] Reinforcing the sense that there are multiple layers of meaning here, as I’ve tried to suggest in some of these notes.

[G] Now Jesus not only enters through the gate, but he is the gate!  Interesting morphing of the image.

[H] It is unclear whether “before me” was included in the original manuscript.  Was it deleted because it seemed to disparage all Old Testament revelation, or was it added to clarify an ambiguous sentence without it?  Hard to say—either solution is problematic.

[I] Or “the sheep did not hear them.”  Is the difference that they failed to speak comprehensibly to the sheep, or that the sheep refused to listen?  Hmm . . . .