I’m blogging about chapter 13 of my book. The chapter talks about the good shepherd, but the puzzling part of the whole construct is that it does not start with the good shepherd. In fact, John 10.1 starts off with the bad shepherd. This is a strange way to start a discourse. Many people would consider this discourse a parable, but the problem with such consideration is that there are a lot of allegorical elements in the discourse. Jesus clearly identifies himself as the gate and the shepherd. The discourse has no story plot like a parable. So, we have just identified one problem of this discourse.
Another problem this discourse has is the continuation of the same theme on a different occasion which John connected seamlessly to a different occasion, the Feast of Dedication in John 10.22. Why is the Feast of Dedication, what we call Hanukkah, appear here other than giving us a timeframe for understanding when some of this was spoken. John 10 is clearly on a different occasion than just the Feast of Dedication (cf. John 9.14). The real problem is this. When did the story begin? Did it begin at John 10.1 or before? IF it begins before, what is the story addressing exactly?
One more problem challenges us in reading the Good Shepherd Discourse, in reading the Greek, we will find that wording of John 10.11, 15, 17, 18 parallel with 13.4, 12. This involves the wider scope of where this discourse fits with the entire Gospel.
How would we solve these issues? First, we must look at what the immediate context addresses. In fact, where the immediate context begins is important. Second, we must look at the role of the discourse not only in the immediate context but also wider scope. Then, we may consider what this discourse is really about. We shall find out that it is much more than a model for the pastorate office.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!