Cornelis Bennema, «The Sword of the Messiah and the Concept of Liberation in the Fourth Gospel», Vol. 86 (2005) 35-58
This article elucidates the Johannine concept of Jesus’
"sword" as the means of liberation against a background of Palestinian messianic
apocalypticism. It is argued that the Johannine Jesus is depicted as a messiah
who liberates the world at large from the spiritual oppression of sin and the
devil by means of his Spirit-imbued word of truth. In addition, Jesus also
provides physical, social, religious and political liberation. Jesus’ programme
of holistic liberation is continued by his disciples through the transference of
his "sword" in the form of their Paraclete-imbued witness.
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The Sword of the Messiah 45
62,3 to the kings and the powerful (large landowners), the Enochic
community of the righteous (38,1) might have perceived itself as
persecuted (47,1-2) by the Romans and perhaps the impious Herodian
The main concern in the Similitudes is the fate of the righteous and
the wicked, as the opening of the first parable reveals (38,1-2) (30).
Hence, the Similitudes also depicts a sifting between the righteous and
the wicked: the righteous, i.e., those who reject this world and who
have faith in God and his messiah, will dwell in heaven and on a
transformed earth (e.g., 39,4-7; 41,2; 43,4; 45,3-5; 48,7; 51,5; 58,1-6;
60,6), but the wicked, i.e., those who have denied God and his
messiah, will be punished and go to Sheol (e.g., 38,2; 41,2; 45,1-2.6;
46,4-8; 48,10; 53,2-5; 54,1-10; 56,5-8; 60,6; 67,8-13; 69,27-28). The
Enochic community seems to be a narrower group than the entire
Jewish people, which is indicated by phrases such as â€œthe community
of the righteous/holyâ€ (38,1; 62,8) and â€œthe house(s) of his
congregationâ€ (46,8; 53,6), as well as by the collective terms â€œthe
righteous/chosen/holyâ€ which may point to a consciousness of
community (31). The Enochic community will be liberated from the
wicked, especially the kings and the mighty and rich landlords, i.e.,
the ruling/upper class, by a messianic figure who will neutralize
or annihilate their power and wealth (46,4-7; 48,8; 53,5; 62,1-13;
This messianic figure is called â€œSon of Manâ€, â€œElect Oneâ€ (cf. Isa
42,1), â€œRighteous Oneâ€ or â€œMessiahâ€ (33), is endowed with the Spirit of
wisdom, knowledge, might and righteousness (49,3; 62,2; cf. Isa
81-108 (Minneapolis 2001) 7, 63. Contra an early date (94-64 B.C.E.) (R.H.
CHARLES, â€œ1 Enochâ€, APOT [ed. R.H. CHARLES] [Oxford 1913] II, 171) and a late
date (70-135 C.E.) (M.A. KNIBB, â€œThe Date of the Parables of Enoch: A Critical
Reviewâ€, NTS 25  345-359). We used M.A. Knibbâ€™s translation, based on
the Ethiopic text (â€œ1 Enochâ€, The Apocryphal Old Testament [ed. H.F.D. SPARKS]
[Oxford 1984] 169-319).
(29) Cf. COLLINS, Imagination, 191; CHARLESWORTH, â€œMessianologyâ€, 40.
(30) Cf. MURPHY, World, 262; COLLINS, Imagination, 179-181.
(31) COLLINS, Imagination, 182, 191; ELLIOTT, Survivors, 496-500;
NICKELSBURG, 1 Enoch, 64.
(32) Cf. ELLIOTT, Survivors, 495-502; NICKELSBURG, 1 Enoch, 47, 63.
(33) These epithets refer to the same individual (J.C. VANDERKAM,
â€œRighteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man in 1 Enoch 37-71â€,
The Messiah. Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity [ed. J.H.
CHARLESWORTH] [Minneapolis 1992] 169-191; COLLINS, Imagination, 183-184).