THE TRUE MEANING OF JN 9, 3-4
J. DUNCAN M. DERRET
In Jn 9:5 the relative negative coupled with an ellipsis before á¼µÎ½Î± reveal
that Jesus did not deny hereditary sin or reincarnation in a specific â€œtest
In this case I do not turn to the Jewish background to explain a dif-
ficult passage, but to points of Greek syntax, to a superstition which John
knew, and to an early Buddhist adaptation of the Johannine passage.
Why did the disciples raise the question why a man was blind from birth,
and what does JesÃºsâ€™ answer really mean?
The words are so punctuated:
á¼€Ï€ÎµÎºÏá½·Î¸Î· á¼¸Î·ÏƒÎ¿á¿¦Ï‚, Î¿á½”Ï„Îµ Î¿á½—Ï„Î¿Ï‚ á¼¥Î¼Î±ÏÏ„ÎµÎ½ Î¿á½”Ï„Îµ Î¿á¼± Î³Î¿Î½Îµá¿–Ï‚ Î±á½Ï„Î¿á¿¦, á¼€Î»Î»á¾¿
Ï†Î±Î½ÎµÏÏ‰Î¸á¿‡ Ï„á½° á¼”ÏÎ³Î± Ï„Î¿á¿¦ Î¸ÎµÎ¿á¿¦ á¼Î½ Î±á½Ï„á¿·. á¼¡Î¼á¾¶Ï‚ Î´Îµá¿– á¼ÏÎ³á½±Î¶ÎµÏƒÎ¸Î±Î¹ Ï„á½° á¼”ÏÎ³Î± Ï„Î¿á¿¦
Ï€á½³ÂµÏˆÎ±Î½Ï„á½¹Ï‚ Î¼Îµ á¼•Ï‰Ï‚ á¼¡Î¼á½³ÏÎ± á¼ÏƒÏ„á½·Î½...
All agree, and I too used to agree, that Jesus denied that the Man Born
Blind owed his congenital blindness to any sin on the part of his parents,
or any sin of his own in a previous life. On the contrary his blindness
was evidence of the divine providence, whose programme has two parts:
(1) divine miracles include cures even of congenital diseases, and (2) by
enlightening that man. physically - with its consequences - Jesus will pro-
vide, at one remove, for the enlightening of others after his own miracles
cease. Ps 146,8 and Is 35,5 are not terminated by Mt 11,5.
The manâ€™s previous history has been summed up in the Phariseesâ€™
words (9,34b), â€œthou wast entirely born in sinâ€. His condition at birth was
contaminated by some sin. His testimony was inadmissible by Jewish law
on account of his way of life (9,8)1. Yet he sees Christ (9,37), converses
with him (which the Pharisees did not), and believes (9,38) and worships
Jesus. The incident, says Jesus, is a crisis-incident. Those unconditioned
by worldly sight are capable of truly seeing; those who rely on worldly
sight are to be redefined as â€œblindâ€.
J.D.M. Derrett, â€œâ€˜Dost thou teach us? (Jn 9,34c)â€™â€, Downside Review 117 (1998) 183-
FilologÃa Neotestamentaria - Vol. XVI - 2003, pp. 103-106
Facultad de FilosofÃa y Letras - Universidad de CÃ³rdoba (EspaÃ±a)