Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, New Testament PhD

First Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Second Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Third Advisor

Jon Paulien


This investigation studied the use of the Greek term παροιμια in the Gospel of John. In chapter 1 modern and ancient writers who wrote about the παροιμια are reviewed as a background study. The discussions are mostly limited to the area of popular proverbs. The list of παροιμια in the period before the Fourth Gospel revealed that not only proverbial sayings but also idioms and maxims were included in the category of παροιμια. The use of the term in the Septuagint translation and in Philo's writings shifted from the earlier use of theterm because the former, in several places, translated the Hebrew words משׁל and חידה by παροιμια and the latter replaced three words αἲνιγμα, παραβολἠ, and διηγἠμα by παροιμἰα. This use provided an intermediate step toward the drastic shift in the term's meaning in the Fourth Gospel

In chapter 2 the use of the term in 16 :4b-33 and the problem of ἐν παροιμἰαις are probed. Βy investigating the use of ταῦτα it is shown that Jesus referred to the passage of vss. 5-24 by ταῦτα in 16:25. The crucial sayings of vss. 25, 29 are conditioned by the questions of the disciples. The questions were caused by the difficult sayings of Jesus, which can be identified with παροιμἰα. The difficult sayings are found in vss. 5 (10b), 16. They are not parables, proverbs, illustrations, or figures of speech. They are riddles. Features of the Johannine riddles which occur in chap. 16 were observed: short; expanded by the use of a parable; cause questions; Jesus centered; Jesus' sayings; and use of ambiguous words.

In chapter 3 the παροιμἰα of 10:1-5 was investigated to determine its literary form. Several possibilities were considered: parable, allegory, and riddle. 'Riddle' is the most appropriate English equivalent for παροιμἰα. Additional features of the Johannine riddles were observed: lengthy; cause of misunderstanding; and expansion by the use of proverbs.

In chapter 4 further Johannine riddles were located in light of the features observed in the previous chapters. These riddles culminate in the death of Jesus. Jesus is portrayed as a teacher of riddles in the Gospel.

The Johannine use of the term παροιμἰα shows a dramatic shift from its use in the classical and Hellenistic literature before the Gospel.

Subject Area

Bible. John -- Criticism, interpretation, etc


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