J. Duncan - M. Derrett, «Jewish Law and Johaninne Vocabulary: a)lhqh&j at Jn 5,31-32; 7,18; 8,13. 17.», Vol. 17 (2004) 89-98
The backgrounds of Jn 6 and 7-8 having been missed, a)lhqh&j is still rendered “true”, whereas it means “legitimate” both in (e4du+t (testimony) and in s# eli+hu+t (agency).
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92 J. Duncan M. Derrett
2. The Solution: (A) Agency.
Jews supplied capitalists for much of the East. Agency was ubiquitous.
The Heb. for â€œprincipalâ€ (Ger. Mandant) is ha-Å¡Ã´lÄ“ah, or ha-meÅ¡alÄ“ah
or simply ha-â€˜Ã´seh Å¡alÃ®ah (Mishnah, Gitt. VI.3). Å LH is in Greek Ï€á½³Î¼Ï€ÎµÎ¹
or á¼€Ï€Î¿ÏƒÏ„á½³Î»Î»ÎµÎ¹Î½, which are equivalents (5,24.37.38) and both very com-
mon in John. The agent is Å¡alÃ®ah or Å¡alÃ»ah, in Greek á¼€Ï€á½¹ÏƒÏ„Î¿Î»Î¿Ï‚. His
authority or â€œpowerâ€ is reÅ¡Ã»t (á¼Î¾Î¿Ï…Ïƒá½·Î±). To his appointment no witness
was required. Personal meetings were normal (Num 12,8; Mt 25,14; Lk
19,13; Jn 8,26.28; 15,15). Though documents figured largely, emphasis
was still on the spoken word (â€œmouthâ€). The law of agency (no stranger
to us)13 was basically common-sense though characteristically fastidious.
Jews sent agents for an infinite range of purposes, to divorce wives, to buy
land, or to serve meat to guests. The agent is â€œlike his principalâ€ (13,20);
he represents him (5,46; 10,25). The words of the agent are the words
of the principal, provided he keeps within his instructions14. The agent
is presumed to consult the reputation of his principal15, and each party
must uphold the credit of the other16. If the agent exceeds the â€œwordsâ€
of his principal his transaction is â€œvoidâ€ (bÄtÄ“l).17 Even if the transac-
tion might have been advantageous to the principal the law insists on its
Naturally the third party (Z) should enquire whether Y buys or sells
on his own initiative or on his own behalf (á¼€Ï†á¾¿ á¼‘Î±Ï…Ï„Î¿á¿¦). Normally agents
disclose that they act as agents and not principals, especially when they
are pledging anotherâ€™s credit at long range. If Y does not disclose (hodÃ®â€™a)
that he is an agent (á¼Î½ Ï„á¿· á½€Î½á½¹Î¼Î±Ï„Î¹ 5,43)18 the transaction is legally valid
(Heb. qayyÄm) but at his personal risk, and he must settle with X19. Con-
fidence in one is confidence in the other (14,1); respect for the agent is
respect for his principal (5,23). They are presumed to have joint opinions,
actions (8,l6.l8) and interests (10,30;14,10-11.20). If the agent is successful
J.D.M. Derrett, Law in the New Testament (London 1970) Index, â€œAgency, agentsâ€.
Derrett, Law, Index, â€œAgency, agentsâ€. 14 Jn 3,32; 12,50. Bab. Talm., Qidd. 4lb; Ket.
99b. Cf Mishnah, Meâ€›Ã®l. VI.1,4. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah. Code XII. IV. i, 1 (qayyÄmÃ®n).
The laws of Moses are also qayyÄym (Bab. Talm., Å ab. 30a). Maimonidesâ€™ Code is an au-
thoritative guide to Law and practice: volumes III and V of the fine Yale Judaica Series
provide us with splendid translations of the portions we require. As for the Hebrew original
I use that printed in Jerusalem at the MÃ´sad ha-Rav QÃ»q, 1956.
Jn 8,49. Like a dutiful son? Note the vocabulary of Targums Gen 32,7.
Jn 5,23; 8,50.54; 13,31; 17,1. Principal and agent know each other: 10,18.
Maimonides, Code XII.IV.i, 4 (â€˜avar â€˜al divrÄyw). For the word bÄtÄ“l see J.D.M. Derrett,
Studies in the New Testament I (Leiden 1977) 48-75 at pp. 57-61.
Maimonides, Code XII.IV.i, 4 (Bab. Talm., Ket. 98b).
Maimonides, Code XII.IV.ii, 4.