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Jesus, The Sabbath and Circumcision

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Chapter Summary

The story in John 5:1-18 gives us the opportunity to evaluate what kind of stand Jesus the Jew takes towards a central symbol of Jewishness, the Sabbath. In this chapter, the author suggests that the way the story is told in John 5:1-18 as well as contemporary Jewish Sabbath legislation show that the Jews in the story do not misunderstand Jesus' action. The narrator presents Jesus as deliberately provoking a clash over the Sabbath. The reference to two principal pillars of Jewish identity, the Sabbath and circumcision, could be taken at first glance as an attempt to show that Jesus' Sabbath action was not against the law if understood correctly. But closer scrutiny of the argumentation suggests that the Johannine Jesus is more interested in showing that the Jews habitually broke the law rather than defending his own action.

Keywords: circumcision; Jesus; Jewish identity; Johannine; John 5:1-18; Sabbath

10.1163/9789047407256_005
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