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John 10:1-21: Parable or Mashal?

John 10:1-21: Parable or Mashal?

Excerpt
I prefer, however, not to use the parabolic categories associated with Synoptic studies but rather to employ the more Semitic designation of mashal. A mashal, or symbolic illustration, is a figurative text that can interweave as few or as many tangents and implications as are considered necessary by the writer or storyteller. Since the Hebrew term māšāl has considerable breadth of meaning, I believe such breadth adheres in the New Testament to such Greek terms as parabolē (“parable,” which is not used in this Gospel) and paroimia (“image” or “figure,” see 10:6). Both of the meshalim (chaps. 1015) in John include tangential arguments and references, but in the shepherd mashal the tangents are more developed than in the vine text. Yet it is important to note that despite the tangents here, the main direction of the mashal remains constant. The messianic figure here is Jesus who cares for his sheep like God does. But the enemies are identified with the uncaring leaders of Jesus’ day. They are like the leaders in the prophetic portrait of Ezekiel 34 who were rejected by God because of their unfaithfulness in leading God’s people. More
Borchert, Gerald L. John 1–11. Vol. 25A. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996. Print. The New American Commentary.
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