Historical Cultural Context

Mediterranean Fathers and Sons

Though brought up from birth exclusively by the women, a Mediterranean boy at the age of puberty is brusquely shoved into the hierarchical and harsh world of the men. Here he learns obedience and manliness, commonly by being taught to stoically endure physical punishment.

John the evangelist portrays the relationship of Jesus and his heavenly Father in terms of an authentic and perfect Mediterranean relationship between father and son.

The heavenly Father loves Jesus (Jn 3:5), and Jesus knows his Father intimately (Jn 8:55; 10:15). Jesus was taught by his Father (Jn 8:22) and does the will of the Father (Jn 4:34; 6:38).

Uniquely in John’s Gospel, Jesus has received a command from his Father that concerns his death and resurrection: “I have power to lay [my life] down, and to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father” (Jn 10:18).

Jesus obeys this command unquestioningly, perfectly, stoically.

How are Jesus and the Father “one”? In power and activity, a perfectly intelligible conclusion that can be logically drawn from the ideal relationship they share as Father and Son from a Mediterranean cultural perspective.

Jesus does what the Father empowers him to do. Jesus can do what the Father does: safeguard the sheep of the flock.

John J. Pilch

John J. Pilch is a biblical scholar and facilitator of parish renewals.
Liturgical Press has published fourteen books by Pilch exploring the cultural world of the Bible

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson