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John 9:38-39

Context
9:38 [He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 1  9:39 Jesus 2  said,] 3  “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, 4  and the ones who see may become blind.”

1 sn Assuming the authenticity of John 9:38-39a (see the tc note following the bracket in v. 39), the man’s response after Jesus’ statement of v. 37 is extremely significant: He worshiped Jesus. In the Johannine context the word would connote its full sense: This was something due God alone. Note also that Jesus did not prevent the man from doing this. The verb προσκυνέω (proskunew) is used in John 4:20-25 of worshiping God, and again with the same sense in 12:20. This would be the only place in John’s Gospel where anyone is said to have worshiped Jesus using this term. As such, it forms the climax of the story of the man born blind, but the uniqueness of the concept of worshiping Jesus at this point in John's narrative (which reaches its ultimate climax in the confession of Thomas in John 20:28) may suggest it is too early for such a response and it represents a later scribal addition.

2 tn Grk “And Jesus.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

3 tc ‡ Some early and important witnesses (Ì75 א* W b sams ac2 mf) lack the words, “He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him. Jesus said,” (vv. 38-39a). This is weighty evidence for the omission of these words. It is difficult to overstate the value of Ì75 here, since it is the only currently available papyrus ms extant for the text of John 9:38-39. Further, א is an important and early Alexandrian witness for the omission. The versional testimony and codex W also give strong support to the omission. Nearly all other mss, however, include these words. The omission may have been occasioned by parablepsis (both vv. 37 and 39 begin with “Jesus said to him”), though it is difficult to account for such an error across such a wide variety of witnesses. On the other hand, the longer reading appears to be motivated by liturgical concerns (so R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:375), since the verb προσκυνέω (proskunew, “I worship”) is used in John 4:20-25 of worshiping God, and again with the same sense in 12:20. If these words were authentic here, this would be the only place in John’s Gospel where Jesus is the explicit object of προσκυνέω. Even if these words are not authentic, such an omission would nevertheless hardly diminish John’s high Christology (cf. 1:1; 5:18-23; 14:6-10; 20:28), nor the implicit worship of him by Thomas (20:28). Nevertheless, a decision is difficult, and the included words may reflect a very early tradition about the blind man’s response to Jesus.

4 tn Or “that those who do not see may see.”



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