Cultural and Rhetorical Background"
Jerome H. Neyrey
@ Sept 30, 1999
(not to be cited or quoted
without author's explicit permission)
1.0 Introduction, State of the Question and Thesis(1)
Interpretation of the death of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel has proved fragmentary and elusive. Some interpreters contrast it with that of Paul,(2) while others focus on different motifs, such as glorification,(3) sacrificial references, (4) ascent and lifting up,(5) or cosmic war.(6) This article adds still another study of a select cultural motif, namely, the death of the "noble" shepherd in 10:11-18.
Some translate the adjective in 10:11 and 14 which describes the shepherd as "noble,"(7) "ideal,"(8) "model,"(9) "true"(10) or "good."(11) The Greek adjective is , not ; and these two words refer to quite different semantic domains,(12) although they were linked together in certain circumstances.(13) The opposite of is shame (), while the opposite of is evil (). is best understood in terms of the cultural value of honor and shame, which is not the same as the moral sphere of good and evil. The evangelist, moreover, labels the shepherd "noble" for two reasons, because (1) he lays down his life for the sheep(14) and (2) he knows his sheep (10:14). Commentators add one more reason from 10:17-18 which refers to the "voluntary" character of the death of the shepherd,(15) a traditional criterion of a "noble" death.
These exegetical insights, however, remain scattered and incomplete, and so invite a fuller consideration from several perspectives. We suggest that rightly belongs to the cultural world of honor and shame; it qualifies behavior generally recognized as noble or excellent, and so worthy of public praise. We propose to examine Greek rhetorical literature on "noble death" to discover the rich complex of terminology, reasons and motifs whereby the ancients labeled a death as "noble." Our hypothesis is that the labeling of the shepherd as "noble" reflects the rhetoric topos of "noble death" in the Hellenistic world. As a result, we shall come to see that 10:11-18 is not a sequence of miscellaneous remarks, but is structured like the topos on noble death found in Greek rhetoric.
2.0 An Honorable Death.
The argument that the shepherd dies a "noble death" begins with an analysis of Greek rhetoric on the topic. This consists of (1) anecdotal mention of "noble death" to establish that the concept truly existed in the culture of ancient Greece, (2) Athenian funeral orations celebrating the "noble death" of the city's fallen soldiers, (3) the criteria for praise in epideictic rhetoric, and (4) the rules for an encomium in the progymnasmata which instruct how to draw praise from death.(16)
2.1 Anecdotal Mention. Although the ancients praised success and victory above all, the hard experiences of a military society required that suitable honor be paid to those who died in battle for their city. Extant Athenian funeral orations provide ample data about the expression "noble death."(17) It may be considered "easy," "good," "noble" or "famous"; a life might "end well." 1. An Easy or Good Death (). Anecdotes about the deaths of public figures mention that so-and-so died a "good death" ()."(18) 2. Noble or Famous Death ( , , ). More commonly ancient authors qualified the verb "to die" with an adverb such as "nobly" or "honorably," often indicating why they judged a particular death "noble." For example, Isocrates urges soldiers faced with battle to act nobly, even if this means death: "Strive by all means to live in security, but if ever it falls to your lot to face the dangers of battle, seek to preserve your life, but with honour and not with disgrace; for death is the sentence of all mankind, but to die nobly ( ) is the special honour which nature has reserved for the good" (ad Dem. 43).(19) His perspective is that of a military society(20) in which courage to fight and die brings honor; in contrast, other actions are shameful, such as cowardly flight. The battle, moreover, was fought in defense of Athens, and so benefitted the city's inhabitants. At stake, then, are the issues of honor (and shame), which are being publicly reinforced by this funeral oration.(21) Isocrates once more provides an example of the third term being examined. "For we shall find that men of ambition (µ) and greatness of soul (µ) not only are desirous of praise for such things, but prefer a glorious death ( ) to life, zealously seeking glory rather than existence" (Evag. 3). This sparkles with terms celebrated in the rhetoric of praise and blame: those who "die nobly" are "lovers of honor" (µ) and "great souled" (µ); they seek "glory," which can be found even in death. In general, then, Greek orators describe as "noble" the death of soldiers in which courage is contrasted with cowardice and where death is declared honorable but flight shameful.(22) 3. Ending Well. Orators also labeled a death noble by declaring that it "ended well" ( ). Herodotus, for example, frequently speaks of warriors ending their lives well in combat or choosing battle rather than flight. He records how Croesus asked Solon if he knew of someone truly blest. Solon told him of a certain Tellus of Athens, whose crowning blessing was to die a noble death:
[h]e crowned his life with a most glorious death ( µ): for in a battle between the Athenians and their neighbours at Eleusis, he attacked and routed the enemy and most nobly died ( ); and the Athenians gave him public burial where he fell and paid him great honour (Hist. 1.30).
He "ended" his life in a superlative manner ("most glorious," "most nobly"), that is, as a warrior in the city's army where military prowess translated into honor and praise. His manly courage, moreover, benefitted Athens and led to posthumous honors, such as "public burial" and special forms of praise ("great honour").
This sample of terms for "noble death" yields some important points. 1. There was a popular understanding of a heroic or noble death. 2. The context in which death was called "noble" was generally a military one in which Athens' soldiers died in her defense. 3. The calculus of honor and shame (i.e., fight versus flight and death versus life) motivated heroes to die nobly; thus honor was their paramount motive and reward. 4. Comparisons were frequently made: (a) manly courage vs cowardice, (b) fight versus flight and (c) praise and glory versus disgrace and shame. 5. Deaths were noble because they benefitted others, generally Athens. 6. Noble deaths were celebrated with posthumous honors: graves built at public expense, annual commemorations in funeral speeches, fame in history and legend.
2.2 Funeral Orations and Noble Death. The ancients quibbled over who invented the funeral speech, the Greeks or the Romans.(23) But the overwhelming evidence from antiquity about the funeral speech ( ) comes from Greek orators living between 450-300 b.c.e. who delivered annual orations to honor the dead of Athens' various wars.(24) These authors explicitly state that the task of a funeral oration is to "enkomiaze"(25)
the dead and to "praise them."(26) Funeral orations, then, share the same formal aim as epideictic rhetoric, that is, honor and praise, the pivotal value of the ancient world.
All of the extant examples of Athenian funeral orations closely follow a regular pattern of topics which are the sources of praise, each of which is developed in a remarkably similar manner.(27) We mention this only to underscore the fact that praise and honor were pivotal values already in the times of Thucydides, Plato and Demosthenes, as well as in those of Menander Rhetor and Pseudo-Dionysius. Moreover the content of praise was even then remarkably constant, as evidenced by the stereotyped manner in which conventional sources of honor are developed. Men are praised for their ascribed honor: (1) origin in the land of Greece and descent from ancient and noble ancestors, and (2) nurture, education and training in the value codes of Athens. They are praised moreover for their achieved honor: (1) excellence of body, soul and fortune. (2) They might, moreover, be compared to famous heroes.(28) This same sequence of topics and their contents was eventually codified in the encomium genre found in progymnastic literature. Thus the conventionality of the criteria for honor and praise remained constant for many centuries,(29) including the common appreciation of what constituted a noble death.
Just as orators structured their funeral orations according to commonplace topics from a shared sense of what constituted a praiseworthy life, so also they praised the death of military heroes according to a common set of canons for a noble death. The data yield six major criteria. 1. The orators stress how the death of Athens' soldiers benefitted the city. Hyperides, for example, regularly touts the gift of freedom given Athens and Greece by its fallen soldiers: "Their courage in arms. . .reveals them as the authors of many benefits conferred upon their country and the rest of Greece" (Funeral Speech 9; see 15-16, 19, 20-22). Later he says that these soldiers "sacrificed their lives that others might live well" (Funeral Speech 26). Similar remarks are made by Thucydides, Plato and Demosthenes.(30) Indeed many of those who fell in defense of Athens were called "saviors." (31)
2. In a variation of the motif of benefit to others, orators argue that Athens' fallen heroes displayed exceptional justice toward the polis by their deaths. According to the ancients, justice is one of the four cardinal virtues, the one according to which duties are paid. Ps-Aristotle says: "To righteousness () it belongs to be ready to distribute according to desert, and to preserve ancestral customs and institutions and the established laws. . .and to keep agreements." To whom does one owe anything? "First among the claims of righteousness are our duties to the gods, then our duties to the spirits, then those to country and parents, then those to the departed" (Ps-Aristotle, Virtues and Vices, V.2-3).(32) The premier aspect of justice celebrated in the annual memorial for Athens' fallen soldiers was the duty they paid to the polis and its institutions. For example, many orators rehearsed the history of Athens, in particular its struggles to be free of tyranny and its willingness to fight to preserve the ancestral way of life. The fallen who died were duty-bound to be faithful to that political history at the cost of their lives. Demosthenes summarizes this succinctly: "The considerations that actuated these men one and all to choose to die nobly have now been enumerated: birth, education, habituation to high standards of conduct, and the underlying principles of our form of government in general" (Funeral Speech 27, italics added). Their death, then, is noble not only because it benefitted polis and family,(33) but because it demonstrated the virtue of justice as completely as possible.(34)
Since this material will be very important in our consideration of the Johannine shepherd, let us read another sample passage from Lysias.
Now in many ways it was natural to our ancestors. . .to fight the battles of justice ( ): for the very beginning of their life was just. . .They were the first and only people in that time to drive out the ruling classes. . . and establish a democracy; by sharing with each other the hopes of their perils they had freedom of soul in their civic life. For they deemed that it was the way of wild beasts to be held subject to one another by force, but the duty of men to delimit justice by law, to convince by reason, and to serve these two in act by submitting to the sovereignty of law and the instruction of reason (Funeral Oration 17-19).
Lysias indicates that current citizens are heirs of a political system based on justice and are accustomed to "fight the battles of justice." And it is their duty to protect this legacy. Hence this defense of fatherland even at the cost of one's life most fully exemplifies justice for them.(35) 3. Athens reveled in its political freedom and despised the world of slaves and the rule of tyrants. Its orators expressed this civic value in another criterion for a noble death, that is, its voluntary character.(36) The fallen soldiers were often said to "prefer noble death to a life of servitude" or to "choose" their death. This tradition of a voluntary death(37)
Indeed Nero is reported to have inquired whether Seneca himself, when faced with extreme royal displeasure, was preparing for a "voluntary death" (voluntariam mortem, Tacitus, Ann. 15.61). is found already in Plato's Menexenus, where the speaker's remarks contain most of the conventions of a noble death voluntarily undergone: "We, who might have ignobly lived choose (µ) rather to die nobly (k ) before we bring you and those after you to disgrace or before we shame you with our fathers and all our earlier forebearers" (Menexenus 246d). The basic issues are those of honor and shame, the pivotal values of the ancient world: honor = "die nobly"; shame = "disgrace." Honor, moreover, comes from voluntary death, that is, from choosing one way rather than another; thus those who perish in battle are not victims whose fate is decided by others, but courageous soldiers who take fate in their own hands.
Pericles' oration over the war dead contains two versions of this motif, one which celebrates the preference of death with honor to life with shame and another which emphasizes the choice made in taking up the fight. As regards the first expression Thucydides records:
[W]hen the moment of combat came, thinking it better to defend themselves and suffer death rather than to yield and save their lives, they fled, indeed, from the shameful word of dishonour, but with life and limb stood stoutly to their task, and in the brief instant ordained by fate, at the crowning moment not of fear but glory, they passed away (History 2.43.4, italics added).
Again, the value context is that of honor and shame: "shameful word of dishonor" versus "crowning moment of glory." The author claims that the fallen soldiers were formally "thinking" about the honor code of elite Athenians. That is, they appreciated the calculus of shame (i.e. flight, fear of dying, dishonor) and honor ("better to die than yield," "stood stoutly"). Hence their preference was clear: flight, saving one's life and fear are dishonorable and disgraceful, but fighting, faithfulness and death are glorious and honorable. (38)
The second aspect of the voluntary character of a noble death is the simple note by the orator in another place that the deceased formally chose their fate: ". . .deeming the punishment of the foe to be more desirable than these things (wealth, escape), and at the same time regarding such a hazard as the most glorious of all, they chose (). . ." (Thucydides, History 2.42.4; italics added). Their death, then, was voluntary; they did not die like slaves or captured troops whose lives are taken from them. They willingly chose their death.(39)
4. On occasion orators declare that, although a warrior died in battle, he died a noble death. In the logic of honor and glory, he can be said to be undefeated or to have conquered his foe by his dying. For example, Lycurgus writes of the war dead:
Unconquered ( ), they fell in the defense of freedom, and if I may use a paradox, they triumphed () in their death. . .neither can we say that they have been defeated whose spirits did not flinch at the aggressor's threat. . .since by the choosing of a noble death they are escaping slavery (Leocrates 48-49; italics added).
We hear in Lycurgus' speech the cultural horror of death, which means weakness, loss of control and finally "slavery," a shameful status. But a military death, in which manly courage is displayed ("did not flinch") and which was endured for the benefit of Athens ("defense of freedom"), means that in the world of honor and shame the fallen have "triumphed" and "have not been defeated."(40) Thus, this small excerpt from Lycurgus contains almost the complete inventory of reasons why a death is called "noble."(41)
5. On occasion funeral orations declare a death "noble" because of some uniqueness. Orators assert that "no one" else has ever been able to perform this deed and achieve this honor. In his funeral oration Hyperides articulates the uniqueness of those he praises in this manner: "Never before ( ) did men strive for a nobler cause, either against stronger adversaries or with fewer friends, convinced that valour gave strength and courage superiority as no mere numbers could" (Funeral Speech 19).(42) Uniqueness is argued in two ways. First, no one before them had a more noble cause for which to fight. Second, a series of comparisons dramatizes their excellence: they faced a foe stronger than has ever been faced and they advanced with fewer allies than anyone else. Their honor calculus tells them that valour () produces strength and courage () superiority.
6. A truly noble death was generally identified as such by the posthumous honors paid to the deceased. This esteem might be expressed by public celebration of the dead, such as games or monuments.(43) The very funeral orations which we are examining themselves serve to give glory to the dead first by giving a public evaluation of their worth and later by annual burnishing of their reputation.(44) Whether games, monuments, or annual funeral orations, the aim was to give a type of eternal glory to the dead. Hence, we frequently find the claim that those being celebrated are in one sense like the gods, because their glory too is now deathless and everlasting. Demosthenes sums it up tidily: "It is a proud privilege to behold them possessors of deathless () honours and a memorial of their valour erected by the State, and deemed deserving of sacrifices and games for all future time" (Funeral Oration 36).(45)
7. Immortality on occasion is said to be the aim and result of a noble death. The common meaning of this point typically finds expression in terms of the undying and immortal fame that is attached to the hero and his exploits. (46)
This survey of extant Athenian funeral orations yields the following points. 1. Their formal aim is praise and honor(47) of the fallen. Thus the various meanings of "noble death" must be understood in light of this pivotal value. 2. Noteworthy also is the utter conventionality of the topics from which praise is drawn. 3. Seven criteria for a noble death emerge from the speeches: a death is noble which (a) benefits others, (b) displays justice to the fatherland, (c) is voluntarily accepted, (d) proves that the fallen died unvanquished and undefeated, (e) is a unique death, (f) produces posthumous honors, and (g) leads to immortal fame and glory.
2.3 Amplification in the Rhetoric of Praise. Although Athens developed the genre of the funeral speech, Aristotle surprisingly had little specifically to say about a noble death. Yet in his exposition of epideictic rhetoric, he collected the arguments one might use to acknowledge someone's claims to honor and nobility, whether ascribed honor (origins and birth) or achieved honor (deeds popularly considered noble). Aristotle's catalogue of topics for amplifying praise bears striking resemblance to the items mentioned frequently in the funeral speeches we have been examining. Thus, we argue, Aristotle's general material on the amplification of praise directly reflects the specific remarks made by orators who eulogized and honored the dead. The funeral orators reflect the actual practice of calling a death noble according to the very criteria Aristotle identified later as criteria for developing praise of the living. The point is, the reasons for labeling a death or a life "noble" are both ancient, widespread and consistent.
Aristotle begins his discussion of the rhetoric of praise and blame with a focus on "virtue and vice": "Let us speak of virtue and vice ( ) and honorable and shameful ( ) ; for these are the points of reference for one praising and blaming ( )" (Rhet. 1.9.1). When discussing "virtue," Aristotle lists its subdivision: "justice, manly courage, self-control, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, and wisdom" (1.9.5), with a focus primarily on courage and justice. At this point, Aristotle catalogues attributes for evaluating actions to determine if they are "honorable" or noble. If we extrapolate from this, we have a precise list of criteria from a native informant on what constitutes a "noble life." The relevant part of Aristotle's analysis goes as follows:
16. And things for which the rewards are an honor are kala, especially those that bring honor rather than money; and whatever someone does, by choice, not for his own sake; 17. and things absolutely good and whatever someone has done for his country, overlooking his own interest. . .18. and whatever can belong to a person when dead more than when alive (for what belongs to a person in his lifetime has more of the quality of being to his own advantage); 19. and whatever works are done for the sake of others (for they have less of the self); and successes gained for others, but not for the self and for those who have conferred benefits (for that is just); and acts of kindness (for they are not directed to oneself); 20. and things that are the opposites of those of which people are shamed . . . 23. And those that give pleasure to others more than to oneself; thus, the just and justice are honorable. 24. . . . not to be defeated is characteristic of a brave man. 25. And victory and glory are among honorable things; for they are to be chosen even if they are fruitless, and they make clear a preeminence of virtue. And things that will be remembered [are honorable]; and the more so, the more [honorable]. And what follows a person when no longer alive (and glory does follow) and things extraordinary and things in the power of only one person are more honorable, for [they are] more memorable (Rhet. 1.9.16-25).
Let us summarize Aristotle's complex criteria according to which he labels an action honorable or praiseworthy. An action is honorable if :
(1) it benefits others (17, 19, 23), and is not done for self-interest (16, 17, 18)
(2) it is just or demonstrates justice (19, 23)
(3) it produces honor (16) and glory (25), or advances one's reputation (21), especially
after death (18), and causes one to be remembered (25).
(4) it was done voluntarily, by choice (16, 17, 25).
(5) it ended in victory; the actor was not defeated (24)
(6) it is unique to this particular person or distinctive of a special class of persons (25). (48)
(7) it yielded posthumous honors (25).
2.4 The Encomium: Death as a Source of Honor.
Students in the second level of education in the Greco-Roman world learned to compose a series of genres which equipped them to study rhetoric and so enter civic life. Their grammatical handbooks, called progymnasmata, codified various genres and their contents, with occasional examples for imitation. We focus on the rules for the encomium, which instructed students how to construct a speech of praise. As noted earlier, many funeral orations state that they are "enkomiazing" someone.
Only Hermogenes, of all the extant progymnastic authors of rules for an encomium, provides criteria for spelling out what might be praiseworthy about a death.(49)
Then, too, from the manner of his end, as that he died fighting for his fatherland, and, if there were anything extraordinary under that head, as in the case of Callimachus that even in death he stood. You will draw praise also from the one who slew him, as that Achilles died at the hands of the god Apollo. You will describe also what was done after his end, whether funeral games were ordained in his honor, as in the case of Patroclus (italics added).(50)
The perspective is that of warriors and war, which is the preserve of elites and heroes and the arena of honor and shame. Among the criteria for a noble death we find: (1) benefit ("fighting for the fatherland"), (2) uniqueness ("anything extraordinary"), and (3) posthumous honors ("games" and "oracle concerning his bones").(51) Most of the criteria for a noble death described by Hermogenes occurred in earlier Greek rhetorical literature. Hence, they reflect a common cultural consensus.
Theon's remarks below are not said specifically about a noble death; they are a composite instruction on the ways that an orator may "amplify" praise, that is, honor someone. This list is of great importance to us for several reasons. First, Theon's list closely resembles the reasons used in classical funeral orations to argue that a certain death was noble. Second his list attests to the conventionality and continuity of motifs from the time of Lysias and Isocrates to that of Theon. Of "noble" actions Theon says:
Noble () actions are those which we do for the sake of others, and not ourselves; and in behalf of what is noble, rather than on account of what is advantageous or pleasant; and on account of which most people also receive great benefits. . . Praiseworthy () actions are also those occurring in a timely manner, and if one acted alone (µ), or first (), or when no one () acted, or more than others, or with afew, or beyond one's age, or exceeding expectation, or with hard work, or what was done most easily and quickly (9.25-38, italics added).(52)
We note the concern to specify "praiseworthy" deeds: (1) actions "done for the sake of others" and "on account of which most people receive great benefits," (2) actions which are "noble," that is, virtuous, and not advantageous, and (3) unique actions which the actor did "alone or first" or in circumstances which point to leadership or excellence or precocious ability. Thus, the conventional criteria found in funeral orations about a "noble" death continue as the measure for praise of the living. Hence, materials found in epideictic rhetoric are also suitable for honoring a "noble" death.
2.6 Summary of Greek Rhetoric. From the sources examined, we find the following consistent criteria for a "noble" death. In most cases we read about males who were soldiers. A death is noble if: (1) it benefitted others; (2) it was either voluntarily accepted or chosen; (3) the deceased died unvanquished in death or not as a victim; (4) the manner of death manifested both courage and justice; (5) there was something unique about the death of this soldier; (6) death produced posthumous honors, such as glory, fame and renown; (7) the fallen enjoy a type of immortality in their praise and glory by the polis.
3.0 The Noble Death Tradition and the Greek Literature of Israel
Did the Greek tradition of noble death become part of the rhetorical world of Israelite literature written in Greek?(53) Did Jerusalem learn anything from Athens besides its alphabet? The books of Maccabees indicate that, in addition to the Greek language, Israel also adopted the cultural world of honor and shame and the tradition of praising a noble death for many of the same reasons as did the Greeks.(54)
In general, 1, 2 and 4 Maccabees illustrate the presence of the Greco-Roman understanding of a noble death in both their terminology and logic. The Maccabean literature frequently speaks of "dying nobly" ( )(55) or "ending nobly" ( ).(56) Death might also be "glorious" (µ )(57) or "honorable" (µ ).(58) They cite the same reasons as Greek rhetoric for declaring a death "noble." Death is noble if it benefits the nation or is suffered on its behalf or saves it.(59) For example, Eleazar, called Aravan, charged an elephant he thought was carrying the king and speared it; unfortunately the king was not aboard and the elephant crushed him as it fell. Nevertheless, the author says of him "So he gave up his life to save his people and to win for himself an everlasting name" (1 Macc 6:43-44).(60)
The voluntary character of a noble death is expressed in several ways.(61) It may be formally stated that the dying person chose or accepted death or willingly went to it. In regard to Eleazar's death, the author of 2 Maccabees twice states that "[he] welcoming death with honor rather than a life with pollutions, went to the rack of his own accord ()" (2 Macc 6:19); shortly he records Eleazar saying, "I will leave to the young a noble example(62) of how to die a good death nobly and willingly" (2 Macc 6:28). (63) The alternate expression of the voluntary character of a noble death consists of the calculus made by the dying person that noble death is preferable to a shameful escape. Consider 1 Maccabees: "It is better for us to die in battle than to see the misfortunes of our nature and of the sanctuary" (3:59; see 2 Macc 6:19).(64)
Dying unconquered or conquering in death is found abundantly in 4 Maccabees. Of the martyrs the author says, "By their endurance they conquered the tyrant" (1:11). Eleazar won a victory over his torturers: "Although his sacred life was consumed by tortures and racks, he conquered the besiegers with the shield of his devout reason" (7:4).(65)
The manner of death conforms to the canons of honor accepted by the audience and so elicits from both observers and hearers the essence of honor: acknowledgment, glory, fame, honor, an everlasting name, renown and the like. For example, 1 Maccabees says of Eleazar, "So he gave his life to save his people and to win for himself an everlasting name" (6:44). Similarly, when Judas faced the enemy he remarked: "If our time has come let us die bravely for our kindred and leave no cause to question our honor" (9:10).(66) Thus both Eleazar and Judas are credited with noble motives for dying, namely, benefit to others ("save his people" and "for our kindred") and quest for immortal honor ("everlasting name" and "unquestionable honor").
Noble deaths regularly contain mention of the virtue of those who died, both their courage and justice. Courage, the manly virtue of endurance of hardships, is often claimed both on behalf of the characters in the Maccabean literature. For example, Judas exhorted his army before battle with the remark, "If our time has come, let us die bravely ( ) for our kindred" (1 Macc 9:10). Similarly Eleazar eulogizes the Israelite law by claiming that "it trains us in courage () so that we endure any suffering willingly" (4 Macc 5:23).(67) But justice emerges as the paramount virtue which warrants our praise of Eleazar and the seven sons.(68) Inasmuch as justice refers to one's duty to God, family/fatherland, and ancestors, the story about the old man and the seven brothers regularly calls attention to the fact that they died explicitly in fulfilment of their duty to one of the three figures mentioned above. One author acknowledges the duty shown to God by death as evidence of the virtue of justice: "They by nobly dying fulfilled their service to God" (4 Macc 12:14).(69) Readers regularly hear in this literature that the martyrs' deaths are noble because they are endured for the sake of ancestral laws. Eleazar boasts that he will leave a noble example to others of how to die a good death "willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws" (2 Macc 6:28).(70) This refers of course to God, the author of the laws, but also to the fatherland or ethnos which collectively keeps those laws rather than Greek ones.(71) Judas' exhortation made his army ready "to die for their laws and their country" (2 Macc 8:21). Finally the Maccabean heroes fulfill their duty toward their kin: "Let us bravely die for our kindred" (1 Macc 9:10). All of the Maccabean literature, therefore, acknowledges two virtues in particular as constitutive of a noble death: (1) courage to die a painful death and (2) justice or loyalty to God, the laws of the ethnos, the ethnos itself and one's kindred.(72)
The Maccabean literature argues that not only did many Israelites know the Greek language (since the works were composed in Greek for a Greek-speaking Israelite audience), but that their authors learned as well the Greco-Roman canons of honor which earn public praise. The same criteria in Greek rhetoric for labeling a death "noble" occur in Israelite literature as well.(73) As we turn to John 10, we are aware that Greek-speaking audiences are quite likely to know and appreciate the value code of the dominant culture. What now of the death of the "noble shepherd?"
4.0 The Noble Death of Jesus
As we now examine now the death of Jesus informed by the rhetoric of "noble death," we focus on two passages in John, namely 10:11-18 and 11:46-53.
4.1 The Noble Shepherd (10:11-18) Because of the rich tradition about a "noble" death in the rhetoric of praise, we argue that the adjective qualifying the "shepherd" should also be translated as "noble" () and not simply "good." The author immediately tells us that the shepherd is labeled "noble" because of his death which benefits to the flock: "the 'noble' shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." We observed above that orators most frequently declared the death of fallen soldiers noble because it benefitted the polis. The same reason is cited here to specify why and how the shepherd is honorable, namely, he benefits his flock by laying down his life on their behalf. Compare the passage in John 10 with Hyperides' remark about the general and soldiers of Athens:
Jn 10:11 µ
Hyperides: E .(74) The Greek orator praises the soldiers who died in Athens' defense, and he cites the fact that they "died in battle for her" as the clearest proof of their benefaction to the homeland. John cites the same behavior of Jesus-the-shepherd ("lay down his life for his flock") as most beneficial to the flock and as the grounds for praise of the shepherd ("the noble shepherd"). The rhetoric of praise, especially that found in funeral orations, provides an adequate background to interpret culturally John's honor claim for the shepherd. There is no question but that the qualifying remark, "lay down his life," refers to death.(75)
Part of the argument that the shepherd is "noble" consists in the typical comparison found in funeral orations between heroes and cowards. In John, if the "noble" shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, by comparison the "hireling" flees when the wolf attacks. Like comparisons in the rhetoric of praise, two options are compared: (1) manly courage versus cowardice, (2) flight versus fight, (3) death versus life, and finally (4) honor/glory versus shame/disgrace. In this light we read the contrast between the hireling and the noble shepherd as follows. The noble shepherd displays courage, decides to fight the enemy and thus dies for the flock. Therefore, he receives the acknowledgment of being "noble" for his honorable deeds. In comparison, the hireling cowardly flees from the conflict; by choosing to save his life he earns only contempt and disgrace.(76) We argue that any audience in the world of the fourth evangelist would understand the implication of "courage" and "cowardice" in this comparison and thus honor the virtuous deed and cast shame on its opposite.
It is sometimes argued that the wolf stands for Satan or the Ruler of the World.(77) If accurate, we recall that in Hermogenes' rules for an encomium, he prescribed that honor may be drawn "from the one who slew him, as that Achilles died at the hands of the god Apollo."(78) The cosmic identification of Jesus' foe as "Ruler of the Word," then, serves as grounds for even greater praise of Jesus for he dies fighting the ultimate foe.(79) Similarly, the scene where the Jerusalem elite gathered in counsel to destroy Jesus leads to the same conclusion: the elites of Israel rallied together to kill him, a Galilean peasant. They may not be a "noble" foe, but their collective, powerful action against Jesus elevates their conflict between them and Jesus. The best battle the best.
In 10:14 the shepherd is once again declared "noble" because he "knows his own" [sheep]. We suggest that this phrase describes Jesus' just duty to his own, and so is an act of virtue. "Knowing" did not surface as a criterion for a noble death in the rhetoric of praise. But it was there in another guise. All "virtuous" actions are noble and worthy of praise, especially courage and justice. A prominent virtue of Athens' soldiers who fell in combat is courage (),(80) which we saw credited to Jesus in the comparison of shepherd with hireling. The shepherd, however, displays another mark of nobility, the virtue of justice (). Representing a long tradition, one progymnastic writer defined justice as the virtue whereby people honor their basic obligations. "The parts of justice () are piety (), fair dealing () and reverence (): piety toward the gods, fair dealing towards men, reverence toward the departed."(81) We suggest that in 10:11-18 the evangelist has two aspects of justice in view: piety to God and fair dealing toward the disciples/sheep.(82) Beginning with the latter, we note that the hireling has no duty to the sheep; they are not his, but belong to another. In no way is he obliged in justice to face the wolf on their behalf; the owner should, but not the hireling. In contrast, the shepherd proclaims that he "knows his sheep," that is, he owns them as his own and assumes responsibility for them. His sheep, moreover, "know" him, thus assuring the reader that duties are understood on both sides. "Knowing" has the sense of acknowledging, owning, feeling responsibility toward.(83) The sheep show their relationship to the shepherd by the fact that they "hear his voice, he calls them by name . . .and the sheep follow him because they know his voice" (10:3-4).(84) The duty in justice which the shepherd owes the sheep is then expressed in the declaration that "I lay down my life for my sheep" (10:15). Thus when Jesus the shepherd said that "I know mine and mine know me" (10:14), he declares his loyalty to the sheep and thus acknowledges his duty in justice to "his own."
The justice of the shepherd points in another direction, piety or to Jesus' Father who is God. Paralleling the remark made about the reciprocal "knowing" between shepherd and sheep, Jesus declares a similar relationship with the Father: "the Father knows me and I know the Father" (10:15). In addition to what we learned about "knowing" above, we are reminded of Bultmann's remark about the verb "to know," namely, that one of its basic meanings is "acknowledgment," as when the scriptures talk about "knowing God" or "knowing God's name."(85) Although "to know" forms an important part of the way John's gospel distinguishes insiders from outsiders and ranks those within in terms of what they know, this other meaning of "to know" has to do with social relationships which entail reciprocal duties. Some form no relationship with Jesus: they do not know him (1:10; 16:3; 17:25), whereas God, Jesus and his disciples "know" each other and so indicate intimate levels of loyalty and commitment (6:69; 10:38; 13:31; 17:3, 23). All of this aids in our appreciation of 10:15 as expressing a relationship in which duties are fulfilled, God and Jesus as well as Jesus and his disciples. This encodes what was meant by the virtue of justice. Thus two virtues, justice and courage, mark the behavior of the shepherd, just as they did for Athens' soldiers who died noble deaths. These virtues, moreover, are articulated in the context of the death of the noble shepherd, thus giving further warrant to the "noble" shepherd's death.
In 10:16 Jesus states that he has "other sheep, not of this fold" and so there will be "one flock and one shepherd."(86) This remark, too, becomes more accessible when seen in terms of "noble death." First, it surely benefits the sheep to be safely gathered into one, that is, into close association with the shepherd, who can pasture and protect them all. This represents another example of the duty of the shepherd, that is, his virtue of justice toward the sheep. Second, when or how is this achieved? Comparable remarks in 11:52; 12:23-24, and 32 indicate that Jesus' death occasions these benefits. Caiaphas' prophecy, we are told, really meant "that Jesus would die. . .not for the nation only, but to gather into one the scattered children of God" (11:52). Jesus' death, then, benefits the sheep currently around him and those "scattered." Similarly, in his exhortation to the Greeks whom Philip and Andrew brought to him, Jesus declares that when a seed dies and falls into the ground, it bears much fruit (12:23-24). Finally in an unmistakable reference to his death Jesus says: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself" (12:32). His death ("lifted up") benefits others by "drawing all to myself." Thus 10:16, especially when seen in relationship to similar remarks in chs 10-12, bears the reading of "noble" death because of benefits rendered and the display of the virtue of justice.
The Father's relationship to Jesus is further developed when we are told, "For this reason my Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again" (10:17). Examining this in the light of the rhetoric of noble death, we know that "love" was considered a part of justice in antiquity. Although modern commentators have tended to interpret this verse in light of romantic attachment, in the cultural world of the New Testament love basically referred to group bonds or group glue that held persons together, especially kinship groups.(87) The Father's "love" contains a strong element of approval, which suggests the pride of the Father in Jesus. Obedient sons, moreover, show justice to their fathers and so honor them. The reason for this "love" is the complex statement that Jesus both lays down his life and takes it back. We have already seen that a noble death warrants praise and honor, which should enlighten our understanding of "lay down my life" in this context. But the second part, "in order that I may take it again," seems utterly obscure and has no parallel in funeral oratory. No one in the history of humankind has ever come back from the dead. In fact we are called "mortals," i.e., those who die, to distinguish our status from that of God or the gods who are the "immortals." Is Jesus crossing a boundary line here? For a mere mortal to claim such would be ludicrous, and thus shameful (see John 8:52, 56-58). In fact such a claim would violate justice for it would be blasphemy toward God, not piety (see 10:33). How are Jesus' remarks just and so honorable? Jesus claims authorization from God for his speech and actions: "I have received this command from my Father" (10:18). A son who obeys his father honors him; he fulfills the basic justice which offspring owe their parents.
Looking more closely at 10:17-18, we recall how in epideictic rhetoric a death was labeled "noble" because it was voluntary. Both vv 17 and 18 affirm the voluntary nature of Jesus' death. For the third and fourth times, Jesus states that he lays down his own life.(88)
10:11 The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
10:15 I lay down my life for my sheep
10:17 The Father loves me because I lay down my life
10:18 I have power to lay it down
He may well declare that his death is God's will or that he goes as it was written of him and other such remarks. But the substance is the same: he chooses, he agrees, he "lays down his life willingly" (' µ).(89)
But 10:17-18 state more, for Jesus proudly declares "No one takes it from me." We saw above in the gloss on the "wolf" that Jesus confronts a very powerful foe. But this foe has no power over Jesus (14:30); in fact, as Jesus faces his death, he declares "I have overcome the world" (16:33). Thus the remarks in 10:17-18 assert two things: first, Jesus is no victim; he is not mastered by anyone (see 18:4-6).(90) Second, the cause of Jesus' death lies entirely in his own hands both to "lay it down" and "take it up." Thus it would be fair to say that he dies unvanquished and unconquered, which are marks of a noble death.
Finally, Jesus claims "power" () to lay down his life and to take it back. In light of the rhetoric of a noble death, the first half of this expresses for the fourth time that his death is voluntary, namely, "I lay it down." Voluntary deaths are always "noble." The claim to have "power," moreover, belongs to the world of praise and honor. People with "power" are, as we say, movers and shakers. They control their own destiny; they accomplish what they set out to do. This suggests, then, that Jesus stands very high on the scale of people who do difficult deeds and who are masters of their fate. Whence comes this power? "I have received this command () from my Father" (v 18b). At the very least, v 18 states that it is God's will that Jesus lay down his life, thus referring to his "obedient death."(91) Hence Jesus claims to be fulfilling the dutiful relationship between himself and the Father, a virtuous or just thing to do.
But the claim to have power "to take it [my life] again" does not register with anything in the Hebrew Bible or the Greek rhetoric of praise. This is nothing else but a claim to be equal to God, that is, to have one of the exclusive powers of God.(92) Jesus claims that even though he dies ("I lay down my life"), he will conquer the last enemy ("I take it back again").(93) This remark is but a claim until evidence is provided. But as a claim, it lays hold of the greatest power in the cosmos of which humans could conceive. If the claim is true, then great honor should be accorded Jesus, for he has what no one else (except God) has. Thus, his death is noble for two reasons: (a) he claims the greatest of all powers, namely, to conquer death and (b) his empowerment is unique: no one but his donor has or will have this power.
What, then, does consideration of
John 10:11-18 in the light of the rhetorical tradition of a noble death
tell us? There seems to be a close affinity on the following points:
|Rhetorical Tradition about "Noble Death"||John's Discourse on the Noble Shepherd|
|1. Death benefitted others, especially fellow citizens.||1. Death benefitted the sheep, who enjoy a special relationship with the shepherd.|
|2. Comparison between
flight, death/life, honor/shame
|2. Comparison between shepherd/hireling: courage/ cowardice, fight/flight, death/life, honor/shame|
|3. Manly courage displayed by soldiers who fight and die||3. Manly courage displayed by shepherd who battles wolf and dies|
|4. Deeds and death unique||4. Power over death and return to life unique to God and Jesus|
|5. Voluntary death is praised||5. Voluntary death repeatedly claimed: "I lay it down of my own accord"|
|6. Unconquered in death; victory in dying nobly||6. Not a victim: "No one takes it from me. . ." "I lay it down; I take it up again"|
|7. Justice and noble death: soldiers uphold the honor of their families and serve the interests of the fatherland: duties served = justice||7. Justice: the shepherd manifests loyalty to his sheep and his Father/God; he has a command from God: duties served = justice|
The presence of so many and such important motifs in one Johannine passage warrants comment. First, we trust that the similarities noted in the previous chart are correct. This amplification of the nobility of certain kinds of death is regularly found scattered throughout Greek rhetorical theory and praxis, but is clustered in John 10:11-18. This amplification of praise suggests that one of the formal strategies in the telling of John 10 is to claim and demonstrate the nobleness of Jesus precisely by his death.(94) .
4.2 John 11:45-53
The evangelist talks again about Jesus' death in 11:45-53, a passage which has received only cursory treatment in commentaries and articles.(95) Bringing our knowledge of the "noble death" tradition to bear, let us examine what is said of Jesus' demise. The narrative context describes a situation caused by Jesus' raising of Lazarus, which is an act of justice or loyalty to a "beloved" friend and which occasions a surge of his reputation and honor (11:45-46). Hence the Pharisees express envy of Jesus' success, because they understand that Jesus' honor means their corresponding loss of prestige (11:47-48).(96) Thus the situation is one of intense conflict, which the opponents magnify by claiming that unless Jesus is cut down to size a war with Rome will occur. While their envy provides no solution to the conflict, it makes salient the issue at stake: honor -- Jesus' or theirs.
After shaming them ("You know nothing. . .you do not understand") the high priest proclaimed, "It is expedient that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish" (11:50). The evangelist immediately tells us that this is a prophecy uttered unwittingly, so that the readership should examine it for important, ironic information.(97) First, the verb "expedient" indicates achieving profit or advantage.(98)
But as we saw above in Aristotle's exposition of grounds for praise, honorable actions are not done for one's own sake (Rhet. 1.9.16-17) and have "less of the self" (1.9.19) and are not for one's own advantage (1.9.18). Yet the implications of envy and the actions which follow this conference are indeed to the self advantage of the elite. Yet according to the irony of the scene, Jesus' death will yield a noble result which benefits others but not Jesus himself. In contrast to Caiaphas' remark to the Pharisees, profit or advantage truly comes when one man dies for the nation.As the death of Athenian soldiers benefitted their homeland, Jesus' death too will benefit the ethnos of Israel. It will be a noble death because as Aristotle said, "[that is noble] whatever someone has done for his country" (Rhet. 1.9.17) and "whatever works are done for the sake of others" (1.9.19). Third, actions are noble which benefit others, but nobler actions benefit many more. Hence the editorial comment in 11:52 boosts the effect of Jesus' death, thus calling for even greater honor: ". . .and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." The expansion of Caiaphas' prophecy echoes what Jesus said earlier in his role of noble shepherd about achieving "one flock and one shepherd" (10:16; see 12:32). As Raymond Brown has argued, we are touching here the evangelist's sense of a universal membership,(99) implying that Jesus' death benefits the whole world, which would make it unspeakably honorable.
5.0 Conclusions and Further Questions
5.1 What Have We Learned?
First, the data from funeral orations, epideictic rhetoric and encomiums attest to the existence of a clear topos on "noble death." The ancients indeed articulated the concept and provided the rationale for assessing a death as noble. Second, the extant literary tradition about "noble death" extends from Thucydides' record of Pericles' funeral speech, through Aristotle and to the school exercises called the progymnasmata which were taught at the time of the early church. This tradition, moreover, was remarkably constant and highly conventional. Third, the Johannine discourse about the shepherd contains a cluster of seven of the classical criteria for a noble death: 1) death which benefits the sheep, 2) comparison between shepherd/hireling, 3) manly courage displayed by the shepherd who battles the wolf , 4) uniqueness of power over death and return to life, 5) voluntary character of his death , 6) dying not as a victim, and 7) manifestation of shepherd's justice for his sheep and to his Father/God. Both the clustering(100) of so many classical criteria and their patently Hellenistic character persuade us that we should think of a Greco-Roman background to this material.
Fourth, how did the author of the Fourth Gospel come to know this material? We claim that for a person to write Greek as well as the author of the Fourth Gospel, he would have been trained in progymnastic exercises. The Johannine treatment of the "noble" shepherd would be plausible from the mastery of someone learning to write Greek through the medium of the progymnastic encomium.
Fifth, it is not our intention to assault the solid argument about the overwhelming Judean background to the Fourth Gospel.(101) Rather, we see no conflict in the assertion that in addition to the Johannine use of Israelite traditions we find overwhelming evidence of Hellenistic influence on a specific topic such as "noble death." For, the author would have learned to write Greek through the medium of progymnastic exercises, especially epideictic rhetoric as embodied in the encomium.
Sixth, one did not simply learn a genre, but also a code of values and a grammar of worth which was the formal aim of an encomium and epideictic rhetoric. One learned "honor and shame" in terms that would be appreciated by an audience who shared the same. The acclamation of a "noble death" serves to honor a deceased person. When we recall how Paul combated an assessment of the death of Jesus as "folly" and "scandal" (1 Cor 1:18-25) and how the author of Hebrews declared that Jesus "despised the shame of the cross" (12:2), John like other NT authors emphasizes the ironic honor and status elevation Jesus experienced through the cross. "Ought not the Christ suffer and so enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25).
5.2 Further Questions
Other passages in the Fourth Gospel seem to connect with John 10 and the noble death of the Shepherd. It is beyond the scope of this study to present a complete analysis of these, but let us briefly mention some. First, the exhortation in 15:13 declares: "Greater love has no one than this, than that one lay down one's life for one's friend." This paraenetic remark to the disciples echoes Jesus' noble death in 10:11 and 15, and thereby canonizes "laying down one's life for one's friends" as honorable. The comparative here ("greater" love) suggest that such behavior is the highest form of love, thus claiming for it uniqueness and thus maximum worth. A disciple's "laying down his life for his friends" models the death of the Noble Shepherd in these terms: 1) benefit for others, 2) uniqueness, 3) the virtue of justice, i.e., duty and devotion to one's own.(102)
In a series of remarks Jesus declares that in his death he will be glorified: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified" (12:23; see 13:31 and 17:1). It is generally agreed that "glory" in these remarks refers to a form of posthumous vindication by God (see Acts 2:23-24; 3:14-15; 4:10; 10:39-40) or to Jesus' enthronement with a status and role greater than he enjoyed on earth (see Acts 2:36; Phil 2:6-11).(103) In John the posthumous glory of Jesus is a direct grant of honor from God, which students of honor and shame call "ascribed honor." Nevertheless in the context of this study we consider it posthumous glory, not unlike that bestowed on soldiers who died a noble death.
We should compare the remarks about the Noble Shepherd in John 10 with what is said about other "shepherds" of the group. Peter boasts that he would "lay down my life for you" (13:37), an action which this gospel considers noble and associates with another shepherd, Jesus (10:11, 15). But Peter lacks sufficient courage and nobility.(104) Although Jesus shames him for his vain claim (13:38), yet the issue of nobility if not the role of shepherd remains accessible to him as Jesus says: "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards" (13:36). In contrast, the Beloved Disciple acts like a shepherd in 18:15-16 when he persuades the maid who kept the door to admit Peter.(105) This closely resembles the parable in 10:1-5 in which the shepherd enters by the door, the gatekeeper opens the door for him, his sheep hear his voice, and he either leads them in or out. The very fact that the Beloved Disciple and Peter enter the dwelling of Jesus' enemy, the high priest, tells us that this is a life-risking scene (i.e., "lay down my life"). But Peter's subsequent cowardice (18:17-18, 25-27) demonstrates his disqualification to be a noble shepherd at this time..
The gospel concludes with the investiture of Peter with the role of shepherd (21:15-17). In conjunction with this, Jesus predicts the death of Peter (v 18), by which he would "glorify" God (v 19). We ask again: what constitutes a worthy shepherd? Is Peter, who once failed in courage and loyalty toward Jesus, now a "noble" shepherd? The text would suggest that we now reappraise Peter as a person willing to lay down his life, either in imitation of Jesus or to benefit the flock in some way. His triple declaration that he "loves" Jesus qualifies him according to 15:13 as one whose "greater" love leads him to "lay down his life for his friend." "Love," we remember, is a part of justice. This much is clear: worthy shepherds are they who die in service of their flocks, thus highlighting a death which benefits others, is voluntarily accepted, and manifests justice toward a group in one's care. Thus, we have another "noble" shepherd in the Fourth Gospel.
Finally, the scene of Jesus' arrest in 18:1-11 contains many dramatizations of the criteria for a noble death. Throughout the episode, Jesus stands between his disciples and those who would apprehend him, that is, he boldly comes forward like a shepherd who positions himself between the flock and the wolf (18:4-7). Second, by coming forward (18:4) and taking control of the conversation (18:5), Jesus voluntarily enters into the process of his arrest. He is not captured, but allows himself to be taken. Like a good shepherd, he benefits his flock by commanding his captors, "Let these men go" (18:8). The evangelist interprets his remark as the fulfilment of a prophecy which means that the shepherd has benefitted the flock by preserving all of those so destined.(106) And at the end of the episode, when the disciples act to protect Jesus, he claims that their zeal is misplaced. Jesus' arrest and death are "the cup which the Father has given me" (18:11); that is, Jesus obeys the will of God here, voluntarily choosing to do this and in it to demonstrate justice by paying his duty to Father and God.(107) This scene, then, both contains many of the criteria for a noble death and seems to be a dramatization of the same materials claimed in John 10:11-18.
Therefore, in addition to the our
reading of John 10:11-18 and 11:45-52 in light of the rhetoric of a noble
death, other passages and themes in the gospel seem to contain either direct
references to the noble shepherd material or to illustrate one or another
of the criteria which serve to qualify a death as noble. In this sense,
"noble death" is not just another aspect of John's presentation of the
death of Jesus, as are sacrifice or departure. It might be said to emerge
as the dominant articulation of Jesus' death in the Fourth Gospel.
N O T E S
1. I am indebted to Ronald A. Piper for his thorough and excellent criticism of this study.This article has also benefitted from the constructive editorial advice of The Context Group at its 1999 meeting in Portland, Oregon.
2. Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (2 vols.; New York: Scribner, 1955) 2.52-53.
3. Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John. A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971) 632-33.
4. See B. Grigsby, "The Cross as an Expiatory Sacrifice in the Fourth Gospel," JSNT 13 (1982) 51-80; G. Carey, "The Lamb of God and Atonement Theories," TynBul 32 (1981) 97-122.
5. See Geofrey C. Nicholson, Death as Departure. The Johannine Descent-Ascent Schema (SBLDS 63; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983).
6. See Judith Kovacs, "'Now Shall the Ruler of This World Be Driven Out': Jesus' Death as Cosmic Battle in John 12:20-36," SBL 114 (1995) 227-47.
7. D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Mi: Eerdmans, 1991) 386.
8. Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII (Garden City: Doubleday, 1966) 386, 395-96; Barnabas Lindars, The Gospel of John (London: Oliphants, 1972) 361.
9. Brown, The Gospel According to John, 395-96.
10. See Bultmann, The Gospel of John, 364; George R. Beasley-Murray, John (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987) 170; and John Painter, The Quest for the Messiah, 2nd ed. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993) 349, 353.
11. As another instance of his body-desires vs mind-philosophy contrast, Philo distinguishes cattle-grazers and shepherds. The shepherd ( µ) makes an excellent leader, yet this line of inquiry is not useful here because Philo has nothing to say about the shepherd's death (Philo, Agr. 28-41).
12. See Aristotle, Rhet. 1.3.6. But the ancient rhetorical distinction between and is blurred by commentators. Some argue that expresses "the highest moral beauty" (Frédéric Godet, Commentaire sur L'Évangile de Saint Jean [Neuchatel: L.-A. Momnier, 1970] 3.89) or the perfection of living out the role of shepherd (J. H. Bernard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John [New York: Scribners, 1929] 2.357).
13. See Georg Bertram, "," TDNT 3.538-40, 544. See also Walter Dolan, "The Origin of ," AJP 94 (1973) 365-74.
14. Brown, The Gospel According to John, 395; Lindars, The Gospel of John, 361; Carson, The Gospel of John, 386.
15. See Leon Morris, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: 1971) 510; John Painter, The Quest for the Messiah, 356; Raymond Brown (The Gospel According to John) 399-400).
16. Other sources of information about "noble death" include: (1) the epitaph; see Richard Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1942) esp. 237-40; (2) the death of the philosopher-hero resisting the tyrant; see Herbert A. Musurillo, The Acts of the Pagan Martyrs (New York: Arno Press, 1979) 236-46; (3) the aretologies studied by Moses Hadas and Morton Smith in their Heroes and Gods. Spiritual Biographies in Antiquity (New York: Harper and Row. 1965); (4) Hellenistic and Roman exitus illustrium virorum (see A. Ronconi, "Exitus Illustrium Virorum," RAC 6 (1996) 1258-68, who is the primary source for Adela Y. Collins, "The Genre of the Passion Narrative," ST 47 (1993) 3-38; (5) and miscellaneous references such as can be found in the Rhetoric to Herennius 3.7.14 and Horace, The Art of Poetry 469.
17. Two books have recently been published whose titles include the phrase "noble death": David Seeley, The Noble Death. Graeco-Roman Martyrology and Paul's Concept of Salvation (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990) and Arthur J. Droge and James D. Tabor, A Noble Death. Suicide and Martyrdom among Christians and Jews in Antiquity (San Francisco: Harper, 1992). Both books employ the phrase "noble death" but do not tell their readers whence it comes. Droge and Tabor concern themselves with suicide, while Seeley focuses on vicarious expiation as the background for Paul's doctrine of salvation. In contrast, this study begins with the actual phrase "noble death" as it appears in Greek rhetoric, especially in the Athenian funeral orations.
18. See also Polybius 32.4.3; see Philo, Sac. 100 and Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 5.11.68.
19. Texts and translations come from the Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). Texts other than the Loeb edition will be noted when they appear.
20. Although Seeley (The Noble Death 15, 95-96, 107-9, 125-26) identifies "military setting" as one of the tags used by philosophers to give nobility to the struggle between mind and passions, he never investigates occasions when actual soldiers were celebrated for dying a "noble death."
21. Diodor of Sicily provides another example: describing a beseiged city, he commented on the reactions of the men there: "Others, as they heard the laments of their wives and helpless children, sought to die like men ( ) rather than see their children led into captivity" (14.52.1-2). The same thing could be said of Josephus' account of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. When Saul and his son realized that they were in a hopeless situation, they died nobly "throwing all their ardor into the fight" (Ant. 6.368); see also Josephus B.J. 7.380-383.
22. For other examples, see Lycurgus, Leocrates 48-49; Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.43-44; Plato, Menexenus 246d; Demosthenes, Funeral Speech 37; Aristotle, Virtues and Vices 4.4 and 6.5; Polybius, Histories 18.53.3; Dionysis of Halicarnassus 10.45.4-5 ; 2 Macc. 14:42; 6:28; 4 Macc 6:22 and 30; Plutarch, Alex. 64.5; Cato Min. 15.4; Otho 15.4, 6; Diodor of Sicily 14.52.1-2; Josephus, Ant. 6.368; B.J. 7.380-383; Aelius Aristides, Panathen. 132.10; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 6.4.38.
23. See Dionysius of Halicarnassus 5.17. Peter L. Schmidt ("Laudatio Funebris," Der Kleine Pauly [Stuttgart: Alfred Druckenmüller, 1969] 3.518 ) remarks that whereas the Greek funeral oration was a civic event, sponsored by the polis to support civic virtues, the Roman laudatio funebris was originally a family ceremony, which honored the dead members of a family for virtues other than military courage. The Roman funeral ceremony often consisted of the public wearing of the clay images of both the deceased and ancestors of the household; see Polybius, Hist. 6.53-54. Thus two different social institutions are in view (polis and family) and two different sets of social values are praised. On the Roman funeral oration, see Fredericus Vollmar, "Laudatio Funebrum Romanorum Historia et Reliquia Editio," Jahrbuch für Classische Philologie.Supp. 18 (1892) 445-528; Marcel Drury, " Laudatio Funebris et Rhétorique," Revue de Philologie et Littérateur Ser. 3 16 (1942) 105-14; and John M. McManamon, Funeral Oratory and the Cultural Ideas of Humanism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
24. Cicero states than an annual funeral oration was delivered in Athens: ". . .in that public oration which it was customary to deliver at Athens in an assembly in honour of those fallen in battle; which was so popular that it had to be read aloud every year, as you know, on that day" (Orator 44.151).
25. For example, Isocrates states that his difficult task is "to eulogize (µ) in prose the virtues of a man" (Evagoras 8; see 11). Hyperides too describes his task as µ (Funeral Speech 7-8, 15). Many centuries later, Menander Rhetor described the funeral speech as pure encomium: µ (II.419.2); see D.A. Russell and N.G. Wilson, Menander Rhetor (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981) 172. And Ps. Dionysius said: "In a word, the epitaphios is a praise of the departed. This being so, it is clear that it must be based on the same topics as encomia, viz. country, family, nature, upbringing, actions" (D.A. Russell and N. G. Wilson, Menander Rhetor, 374). See Theodore Burgess, Epideictic Literature (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1987) 146-57.
26. For example, Isocrates regards his speech as but part of the honor shown to the dead: "In gratitude we honored (µµ) them with the highest honors and set up their statues" (Evagoras 57). Praise is the formal aim of all the funeral speeches: Lycurgus (Leocrates 51) states that his speech aims to "pay the highest honors" to the fallen. Similarly, Lycius (Funeral Oration) talks of "glorifying and honoring" the dead (3); he says, "Their memory can never grow old, while their honour is every man's envy" (79). Demosthenes (Funeral Speech) is the most explicit in his grants of praise: "For knowing that among good men the acquisition of wealth and the enjoyment of the pleasures that go with living are scorned, and that their whole desire is for virtue and words of praise, the citizens were of the opinion that we ought to honour them with such eulogies as would most certainly secure them in death the glory they had won while living" (2).
27. On the Greek funeral oration, see Theodore Burgess, Epideictic Literature, 146-56; John E. Ziolkowski, Thucydides and the Tradition of Funeral Speeches at Athens (Salem, N.H.: The Ayer Company); Nicole Loraux, The Invention of Athens. The Funeral Oration in the Classical City (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986).
28. Despite its late date, the rules for a "funeral oration" by Ps-Dionysius explicitly list the formal categories of the encomium as the grounds for praise in the speech: "In a word, the epitaphios is a praise of the departed. This being so, it is clear that it must be based on the same topics as encomia, viz., country, family, nature upbringing, actions" (see D. A. Russell and Nigel Wilson, Menander Rhetor, 374-76). On these conventional topics, see Jerome H. Neyrey, "Josephus' Vita and the Encomium: A Native Model of Personality," Journal for the Study of Judaism 25,2 (1994): 177-206 and Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox 1998
29. Although John E. Ziolkowski (Thucydides and the Traditions of Funeral Speeches at Athens) argued that the funeral speeches in Thucydides' time did not enjoy common terminology, yet his chart of the fixed element of the rhetoric of praise (pp. 95-97) indicates that there is virtual agreement on the contents of speeches between him and myself.
30. Thucydides, History 2.42.3; Plato, Menexenus 237a, 242a-b, 246; Demosthenes, Oration 38 8, 23 and Funeral Speech # 60 8, 10, 29; see also Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 46.
31. Demosthenes, Oration # 37 8, 23. Iphigenia consoled her mother in a final speech where she catalogues the benefits to Hellas by her death: "The whole might of Hellas depends on me. Upon me depends the passage of the ships over the sea, and the overthrow of the Phrygians. With me it rests to prevent the barbarians from carrying our women off from happy Hellas in the future...All these things I shall achieve by my death, and my name, as the liberator of Hellas, shall be blessed. Indeed, it behooves me not to be too fond of life; you bore me for the common good of all the Hellenes, not for yourself alone" (Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis 1368 -).
32. Closer in time to the New Testament is Cicero's definition: "Duty is the feeling which renders kind offices and loving service to one's kin and country. Gratitude embraces the memory of friendships and of services rendered by another, and the desire to requite these benefits (Inv. 2.160-161).
33. One of the clearest examples of death resulting from duty to family is that of Antigone, who performed the sacred burial rites for her brother in violation of the decree of her uncle that the dead brother not be buried.
34. It goes without saying that courage () was equally honored, and a noble death is impossible without it. See Lycurgus, Against Leocrates 46; Demosthenes, Funeral Speech, 17; Isocrates, Evagoras, 65-66; Hyperides, Funeral Speech, 15-16.
35. Other Examples include: Lycurgus, Leocrates 50; Lysias, Funeral Oration 33, 61, 68, 70; Demosthenes, Funeral Speech 11, 18, 19, 23, 27, 36; Isocrates, Evagoras 8, 23, 35, 38, 42-44, 52, 66; Hyperides, Funeral Speech11, 16, 19, 24, 26.
36. It was also important that animals about to be sacrificed "give their consent"; for this purpose cold water and/or grain were suddenly thrown on the head and face of the animal so that it wagged its head from side to side, which motion was interpreted as voluntary consent to die. See Marcel Detienne, "Culinary Practices and the Spirit of Sacrifice," The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks (M. Detienne and -P Vernant, eds.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989) 9.
37. There is notable Roman evidence for the same topos. Seneca, for example, contrasts the ignoble and unfree death of gladiators with the noble death of a wise man who dies voluntarily: "From the men who hire out their strength for the arena, who eat and drink what they must pay for with their blood, security is taken that they will endure such trials even thought they be unwilling; from you, that you will endure them willingly and with alacrity (volens libensque). The gladiator may lower his weapon and test the pity of the people; but you will neither lower your weapon nor beg for life. You must die erect and unyielding (invictoque)" (Ep. 37.2-3).
38. Socrates recounts the conversation between Achilles and his mother, Thetis, on death: "He [Achilles] made light of danger in comparison with incurring dishonor when his goddess mother warned him, eager as he was, to kill Hector, in some such words as these, I fancy.'My son, if you avenge your comrade Patroclus' death and kill Hector, you will die yourself - Next after Hector is thy fate prepared.' When he heard this warning, he made light of his death and danger, being much more afraid of an ignoble life and of failing to avenge his friends. 'Let me die forthwith,' said he, 'when I have requited the villain, rather than remain here by the beaked ships to be mocked, a burden on the ground'" (Plato, Apology 28 c-d).
39. Isocrates, Evagoras # 9 3; See also Plato, Menexenus 246d; Demosthenes Oration # 37 1, 8, 26.
40. Centuries later Plutarch writes: "For the best thing is that a general should be victorious and keep his life, 'but if he must die,' he should conclude his life with valour (),' as Euripides says; for then he does not suffer death, but rather achieves it" (Pelopidas and Marcellus 3.2).
41. See Demosthenes, The Funeral Speech 19; # 18 192, 207-208.
42. Isocrates says in praise of Evagoras: "I would say that no one (), whether mortal, demigod, or immortal, will be found to have obtained his throne more nobly, more splendidly, or more piously" (Evagoras 39). Other instances of uniqueness include Hyperides, Funeral Speech 19; Lycurgus, Against Leocrates15; Demosthenes states in regard to the dead: "How, then, since the whole country unites in according them a public burial, and they alone (µ) receive the words of universal praise. . .how can we do otherwise than consider them blessed of fortune" (Funeral Oration 60, 33).
43. The Greek celebrations of posthumous honors was well known in antiquity, as Dionysius of Halicarnassus notes: "These writers [Greeks] have given accounts of funeral games, both gymnastic and equestrian, held in honour of famous men by their friends, as by Achilles for Patroclus and, before that, by Herakles for Pelops" (History 5.17.4). Isocrates lists the various posthumous honors that might be celebrated to honor Evagoras, adding that his own speech gives greater glory to the dead man: "When I saw you, Nicocles, honouring the tomb of your father, not only with numerous and beautiful offerings, but also with dances, music, and athletic contests, and furthermore, with races of horses and triremes. . ." (Evagoras 1).
44. This is illustrated by the following inscription. A public decree, both read aloud at the tomb of a certain Theophilos and subsequently carved in white marble honors the deceased by the public declaration of his worth: ". . .of very noble ancestral stock, having contributed all good -will towards his country, having lived his life as master of his family, providing many things for his country through his generalship and tenure as agoranomos and his embassies as far as Rome and Germany and Caesar, being amicable to the citizens and in concord with his wife Apphia, now it is resolved that Theophilos be honoured with a painted portrait and a gold bust and a marble statue" (New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity 2  58-60).
45. Ziolkowsky lists many examples of this motif of posthumous glory (Thucydides and the Tradition of Funeral Speeches at Athens, 126-28).
46. For example, see Josephus, Ant. 17.152-54.
47. The orators frequently stress that part of the honor of the fallen is the arousal of envy and emulation in those who hear the speech. Lysias most of all employs this rhetorical topic; for example, speaking of Athens' fallen heroes, he honors them: "Thus the struggles at the Peiraeus have earned for those men the envy of all mankind" (Funeral Oration 66; see also 68-73). See also Isocrates, Evagoras 6, 70; Hyperides, Funeral Speech 31-32; Demosthenes, Funeral Speech 60. On the relationship of envy and honor, see Anselm Hagedorn and Jerome Neyrey, "'It Was Out of Envy that They Handed Jesus Over' (Mark 15,10): The Anatomy of Envy and the Gospel of Mark," JSNT 69 (1998) esp. 15-38.
48.In regard to this point Aristotle has more to say. "A praiseworthy person is one who is. . .the only one or the first or one of a few or the one who most has done something; for all these things are honorable. And [praise can be taken] from the historical contexts. . . if a subject has often has success in the same way (for that is a great thing and would seem to result not from chance but from the person himself); and if incitements and honors have been invented and established because of him. . . and if he was the first one to receive an encomium, as in the case of Hippolochos; and [if for him], as for Hermodius and Agistogeiton, statues were set up in the marketplace" (Rhet. 1.9.38, italics added).
49. Theon mentions as one of the external qualities of a person, probably meaning by it an "easy death" free from illness or disease (James Butts, The "Progymnasmata" of Theon [unpublished dissertation: Claremont, 1994] 9.19). Herodotus' remark on an "easy death" is important: "[a blest man must be] free from deformity, sickness and all evil, and happy in his children and his comeliness" (1.32).
50. Charles S. Baldwin, Medieval Rhetoric and Poetic (New York: Macmillan Co., 1928) 32.
51. Quintilian instructs on what occurs "after death," viz., posthumous honors: "It is not always possible to deal with the time subsequent to our hero's death: this is due not merely to the fact that we sometimes praise him while still alive, but also that there are but few occasions when we have a chance to celebrate the award of divine honours, posthumous votes of thanks, or statues erected at the public expense" (Inst. Orat. 3.7.17).
52. Butts 1987: 468-71.
53. Both Seeley (The Noble Death, 83-112) and Droge and Tabor (A Noble Death, 53-84, 86-96) discuss the Maccabean literature, the latter with an eye to suicide and the former with focus on the background for Paul's soteriology. Neither bring to their task the rich data from Greek rhetoric, and so a new survey of 1, 2 and 4 Maccabees in warranted precisely on the fact that they are not only written in Greek but reflect Greek popular understanding of what constitutes a noble death.
54. The fullest treatment of the motif of noble death in 2 and 4 Maccabees is that of Jan Willem Van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours of the Jewish People (Leiden: Brill, 1997). In particular he examines the importance of "voluntary" death and death as benefit. He too appreciates the Judean dependence on motifs long ago made sacred in Greek literature (see especially pp. 140-50, 157-59, 213-25).
55. 2 Macc 6:28; see 1 Macc 4:35; 9:10; 2 Macc 6:28, 31; 4 Macc 6:30.
56. 2 Macc 7:5; see 4 Macc 6:22.
57. 4 Macc 10:1.
58. 4 Macc 10:15; on the translation of µ as "honorable," see K. C. Hanson, "'How Honorable! Hos Shameful!' A Cultural Analysis of Matthew's Makarisms and Reproaches," Semeia 68 (1994) 81-112.
59. Besides speaking about an effective death which benefits the people, van Henten argues persuasively that the author describes the death in 2 Macc 7:33-39 as benefitting the people because it is an atonement sacrifice (The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours, 140-56); and he notes the important Greco-Roman parallels in pp. 156-61.
60. Although many authors call attention to the sacrificial or atoning significance of the demise of Eleazar and the seven brothers (see also 17:22;), yet see Seeley, The Noble Death, 97-98.
61. For a more detailed examination of this, see van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours, pp. 58, 95-98.
62. On the martyrs as exemplary figures, see van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours, 210-43.
63. See also 2 Macc 7:14 and 29; 4 Macc 5:23.
64. See also 2 Macc 7:14; 4 Macc 9:1 and 4.
65. See also 4 Macc 7:14; 10:7; 11:20-21 and 18:22. The same thing is said of Jesus' death in Heb 2:14-15.
66. See also 2 Macc 7:5-6 and 29.
67. See also 2 Macc 6:28 and 31; the mother of the seven sons is praised for her display of "manliness," otherwise know as courage: 2 Macc 7:20-21; 4 Macc 1:8.
68. Time and again we are told that they suffer death "for the sake of virtue" (4 Macc 1:8; see 1:10), which must be justice.
69. See also 4 Macc 6:22 and 11:20-21.
70. 4 Macc 9:29 reads: "How sweet is any kind of death for the religion of our ancestors."
71. See also 2 Macc 8:21; 4 Macc 6:22 and 27-28; 9:1
72. Again, van Henten, The Maccabean Martyrs as Saviours, 270-88.
73. For example, Josephus, Ant. 17. 152-54.
74. Hyperides, Funeral Speech 16.
75. Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, 386-87. He notes also that the expression occurs also in 13:37; 15:13; 1 John 3:16.
76. The contents of John 10:1-17 contain other comparisons: true and false shepherds (10:1-5), as well as true provider of the sheep and "thieves and bandits" (10:8-10).
77. See Judith Kovacs, " 'Now Shall the Ruler of This World Be Driven Out': Jesus' Death as Cosmic Battle in John 12:20-36." She points to three clusters of material (12:20-36; 14:30-31; and 16:8-11), which indicate how the author of the Fourth Gospel elevated Jesus' death by seeing it as combat with the world's most powerful figure, thus giving increased significance to his death. A long tradition exists which identifies the wolf as Satan; vicious wolves, moreover, are often predicted as attacking the fold (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29-20; Did. 16:3; Ignatius Phil. 2:2; 2 Clement 5:2-4).
78. See Charles Baldwin, Medieval Rhetoric and Poetic, 32.
79. A comparable remark is made in Hebrews 2:14-15, that "through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." See Harold Attridge, Hebrews (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989) 92.
80. In the Athenian funeral speeches, all of the orators praise the courage of the fallen, both that of their ancestors and their own: Thucydides, Histories, 2.42; Isocrates, Evagoras, 29, 42-44; Plato, Menexenus, 237-246; Hyperides, Funeral Speech, 8-19; Demosthenes, Funeral Speech and Lysias .
81. Menander Rhetor I.361.17-25. Another ancient definition of justice is similar: "First among the claims of righteousness are our duties to the gods, then our duties to the spirits, then those to country and parents, then those to the departed; among these claims is piety (eusebeia), which is either a part of righteousness or a concomitant of it. Righteousness is also accompanied by holiness (hosiotês) and truth and loyalty (pistis) and hatred of wickedness" (Ps. Aristotle, Virtues and Vices, V.2-3, italics added). See also Cicero, Inv. 2.160-161.
82. John Ashton (The Understanding of the Fourth Gospel [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992] 328) makes the same point in terms of Israelite religious language: "The Father's 'knowing' the Son is in the old Testament and Judaic tradition of election, while knowing on the Son's part means acknowledgment: the Son accepts the Father's revelation and his will."
83. Commentators are of many minds on how to understand and translate "know" here; Brown (Gospel According to John, 396) wisely links 10:14 with the original parable in 10:3-5. Hence "knowledge" is not simply information or recognition, but acknowledging someone or accepting a relationship. In Brown's special note on "know" (p 514) he lists as illustration of the personal meaning of "know" texts which tell of the world or sinners not knowing the Father or Jesus: 1:10; 16:3; 17:25; 1 John 3:1, 6. "Not knowing" God or Jesus means not accepting them, acknowledging them, becoming their disciples. This posture refuses a personal relationship which is the basis of duty which is a key element of justice.
84. Apropos of the shepherd's just duty to the sheep by a noble death, one might also consider the way the shepherd demonstrates the same duty to the sheep by his noble life. He protects them in a sheepfold, leads them to pasture and to water. Thus he leads them out to pasture and water and leads them home; he loses none but the one destined to be lost. His virtuous life, then, parallels his virtuous death.
85. Rudolf Bultmann, "," TDNT (Grand Rapids: Wm. E. Eerdmans, 1964) I.698.
86. See Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, 396; Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to John. Vol. 2 (New York: Crossroads, 1982) 299.
87. John Pilch and Bruce Malina, editors, Handbook of Biblical Social Values (updated edition; Peabody, MA:Hendrickson, 1998) 127-28.
88. C. K. Barrett (The Gospel According to John. [2nd edition. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978] 374-75) made two useful observations on this phrase. First, it is peculiar to John and 1 John (10:11, 15, 17f; 13:37f; 15:13; 1 John 3:16); second, in John always carries the significance of death (in addition to the citations above, see 6:51; 18:14).
89. Scholars have called attention to the voluntary character of 10:17-18; but to my knowledge no one has suggested any Hellenistic parallels to this. Rather they refer to parallels in the Hebrew Scriptures such as David facing the bear and lion in 1 Sam 17:34-35. Thus Brown states: "The similarity [with Old Testament materials] suggests that we need not go outside the OT for the background of this particular aspect of the Johannine picture of the shepherd: it is a combination of elements from the OT descriptions of the shepherd and of the Suffering Servant" (Gospel According to John 398).
90. Helen C. Orchard (Courting Betrayal. Jesus as Victim in the Gospel of John. JSNTSup 161. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998) argues just the opposite in her study of the mounting violence against Jesus. While on the one hand one must agree with Orchard that the entire narrative in John describes incessant and increasing hostility to Jesus, on the other hand she brings to the discussion no mention whatsoever of the rhetoric of death in the ancient world. Where I talk of "noble" death which is articulated in a clear body of ancient rhetorical materials, Orchard speaks of the "victimization" of Jesus in terms of liberation theology and current anecdotes of political martyrs.
91. See Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, 398.
92. See Jerome H. Neyrey, An Ideology of Revolt. John's Christology in Social-Science Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988) 22-29 and 59-74.
93. The evangelist does not necessarily share the view of Death which Paul had. For Paul Death was the enslaving taskmaster who ruled all mortals before the coming of Jesus (Rom 5:14, 17) or the last enemy to be put under Christ's feet (1 Cor 15:26). Similarly, Heb 2:14-16 describes Death as the evil monarch who held all in slavery for fear of it. Both, however, envision some sort of combat between Jesus and Death.
94. Yet "shepherd" outside of the context of ruler carried with it base and shameful connotation. It is listed among the "despised trades" documented by Joachim Jeremias from mishnaic and talmudic texts (Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969] 303-12), On the double meaning of the term shepherd, see Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998) 179.
95. Most scholarship has focused on two issues: (1) the background to the prophesy of the high priest (Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John, 442-43; B. Lindars, The Gospel of John [London: Oliphants, 1972] 406-7) and (2) irony (Paul Duke, Irony in the Fourth Gospel [Atlanta: John Knox, 1985] 86-90).
96. Similar instances of envy of Jesus' success include John 3:25-30; see also Mark 9:38-41. On the topic of limited good, honor and envy, see Anselm Hagedorn and Jerome Neyrey, "'It Was Our of Envy that They Handed Jesus Over' (Mark 15.10): The Anatomy of Envy and the Gospel of Mark," JSNT 69 (1998) 15-65. Envy, moreover, is often an important element in Greek funeral orations; see Ziolkowsky, Thucydides and the Tradition of Funeral Speeches in Athens, 128.
97. Roger David Aus argues that the appropriate background for this narrative is the midrash describing the surrender of Jehoiakim and his son Jehoiachin and also of Sheba, the son of Bichri; he identifies six motifs in the midrash that correspond to John 11:46-53 - namely, 1) a gathering of the Great Sanhedrin, 2) the destruction of the temple, 3) rebellion and judgment, 4) one life for others, 5) "what shall we do?", 6) scattering ("The Death of One for All in John 11:45-54 in Light of Judaic Traditions," Barabbas and Esther and other Studies in the Judaic Illumination of Early Christianity [Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992] 29-63). His treatment of John 11:45-54 could not be more different than mine. It will be up to readers to see whether the rhetoric of noble death accounts for more items here and offers a more satisfying interpretation of this passage, especially in light of the noble death topos in John 10.
98. See Konrad Weiss, "µ," TDNT 9.69-78
99. Brown, The Gospel According to John, 442-43.
100. Some Athenian funeral orations contain clusters of the various motifs identified; the same is also true of Josephus, Wars 1.650 and 7.323-36; see also Rhetoric to Herennius 4.44.57.
101. See Hugo Odeberg, The Fourth Gospel (Uppsala: Almquist and Wicksell, 1929); Wayne A. Meeks, The Prophet-King (Leiden: Brill, 1967). I myself have argued this repeatedly in a series of articles: "Jacob Traditions and the Interpretation of John 4:10-26," CBQ 41 (1979): 419-37; "'I Said: You are God': Psalm 82:6 and John 10," JBL 108 (1989): 647-63; "Jesus the Judge: Forensic Process in John 8, 21-59," Bib 68 (1987): 509-41.
102. On the relationship of the parables of the shepherd and the vine, see John F. O"Grady, "Good Shepherd and the Vine and the Branches," BTB 8 (1978) 86-96. See also Martin Dibelius, Botschaft und Geschichte (Tübingen: Mohr, 1953) 1.204-10.
103. See G.B. Caird, " The Glory of God in the Fourth Gospel. An Exercise in Biblical Semantics," NTS 15 (1969) 265-77; Brown, The Gospel According to John, 470-71, 6-9-11; Barrett, The Gospel According to John, 450.
104. See my article "The Footwashing in John 13:6-11: Transformation Ritual or Ceremony?" in L. Michael White and Larry Yarborough, eds., The Social World of the First Christians (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995) 206-13.
105. See "The Footwashing in John 13:6-11," 210-11.
106. See John 6:39; 10:28 and 17:12.
107. An analysis of this passage in terms of honor and shame can be found in my article "Despising the Shame of the Cross: Honor and Shame in the Johannine Passion Narrative," Semeia 68 (1994) 119-20.
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