In John 12 Jesus is talking with a crowd and then he disappears. Then the narrator provides an explanation for why "the Jews" could not believe in Jesus. However after it ends, Jesus is talking again. But weren't we just told that he left? I'll quote from NRSV.

Chapter 12 35-44 (NRSV)
35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, 40

“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. 42 Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

44 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.

NLT translates the beginning of verse 44

Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἔκραξεν καὶ εἶπεν·


Jesus shouted to the crowds,

I can not find any manuscript support for this in NA28 or NA27, so I have a feeling this is an apologetic skewing of the text.

It also seems that there are no manuscripts omitting the narrator's theological monologue (which would seem to be the easiest solution to the "Where is Jesus problem").

The narrator's theology is also a bit confusing, on one hand he is claiming that this crowd could not believe in Jesus because God had blinded them. And then he turns it right around and admits that many did believe in him despite being blinded! It seems as if He really wanted to employ the Isaiah quote here even though it creates problems in the text.

Could this be a seam in the text just is the closing in John 7:53 to make way for the Pericope Adulterae? So far my thinking is that John 12:36b-44 is an insert that occurred before our manuscript tradition begins. Does this line of thinking have any merit? Does anyone have any resources that could help? Thanks

  • There are no textual variants worth mentioning, you might look at this: "Finally, at 12:44, Jesus launches into a final discourse before the dinner ..." from John and the Synoptics: A Case Study of Gospel Parallels in John 12 & 13, David D. M. King. May 5, 2016 at 19:31

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure what you mean by there being no "manuscript support" for verse 44 in either NA28 or NA27. It is in NA27 and the apparatus of The Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament (11th ed.) identifies no variants whatsoever for this verse.

Regarding the interpretation, we are not to understand that those who were blinded became blind contrary to their own volition. This is explained in Theophylact's commentary on this particular passage:

When you hear that God hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, do not imagine that God makes some men good and others evil. Perish the thought! "Blindness" refers to a man's complete rejection of God. When a man has not entirely given himself over to evil, God is still with him and there is hope for his repentance. But once he is completely filled with wickedness, God abandons him because he has deliberately and persistently chosen evil [Ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive - Isaiah 6:9 LXX]. Having rejected the divine light, such a man becomes blind and walks in the darkness of sin.

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John (tr. from the Greek by Chrysostom Press, 2007), pp.204-205


The Where is Jesus Problem

This isn't a textual problem. The fact that Christ appears-disappears-reappears supports the text because the text consistently makes it clear that he was being pursued and had to hide to save his life. Where he was hiding is not part of John's testimony because it's not what the story is about. When Christ appears all of a sudden, there may be a gap of time taking place that isn't made clear because it isn't the point. That he was hiding is the point. What's amazing is that the text itself and the logistics of the text (how its written) are doing the exact same thing. That's when the writing is powerful. To see this as a "problem" is to miss the truth of what is being shown. A good writer prays for this kind of quality and John probably did this by default.

It also seems there are no manuscripts omitting the narrator's theological monologue (which would seem to be the easiest solution to the "Where is Jesus Problem").

Aah. Yes. Well. That's the beauty of it all. That they didn't "omit." The fact that the bible isn't sanitized, that it doesn't tell a single point of view, that it confuses us, that it's filled with conflict, that it doesn't always fit, that it contradicts itself -this is precisely what helps to make it an authentic document. In a court of law, where there is more than one suspect in a crime, the suspects are purposely kept apart so there is no collusion. The reason collusion never works in court is that it always agrees with itself. Too good to be true isn't true. Honest people contradict themselves; they say things that surprise us; they tell too much or not enough; they move in and out of the past, present and future; and they show up all of a sudden. Messy is authentic.

The narrator's theology is also a bit confusing, on one hand he is claiming this crowd could not believe in Jesus because God had blinded them. And then he turns it right around and admits that many did believe in him despite being blinded!

The part of John 12 that deals with those who lacked faith refers to the feast -not the beginning, with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But it's subtle so it's easy to miss.

"On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."
(John 12:12-13, KJV)

These are the believers. We know this because they are recognizing YHWH. And they are doing so publicly, when it was dangerous to do so.

"The people that were with him when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record." (John 12:17, KJV)

Those that bare record are acknowledging their faith. He mentions those that lack faith but he never mentions who they are. He never says that everyone was blinded. At the feast were the people that witnessed his encounter with Lazarus, some Greeks, and Pharisees that did and didn't believe. John sits on the donkey at John 12:15. It's a pivotal point in time. He knows he's being pursued, he knows his time is short, and he knows he's going to die. He sits on the donkey as a testament that he is the messiah. It's not a coincidence that after he sits on the colt, he soon says:

"The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." (John 12:23, KJV)

"Now is the judgement of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out."
(John 12:31, KJV)

In John 12, Christ is not reprimanding people for having faith, then losing faith, and he's not reprimanding them for blind faith. He's weeding out the faithful from the unfaithful, because he knows the time has come.

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