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  • One Thing I Know: How the Blind Man of John 9 Leads an Audience toward Belief by Britt Leslie
  • Ernst R. Wendland
Leslie, Britt. 2015. One Thing I Know: How the Blind Man of John 9 Leads an Audience toward Belief. Eugene: Pickwick. Softcover. ISBN 13: 978-149820970-0. Pp. 208. $27.00.

This book is the reformatted version of the author’s dissertation (PhD, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago), written under the direction of Prof. David Rhoads. Dr Britt currently serves as Adjunct Professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and as Adjunct Professor at South University’s online Doctor of Ministry Program. The book consists of an “Introduction” to the study, its “Conclusions” from the viewpoint of the original text’s likely “performance,” and four methodological chapters, each of which explores the story of Jesus’s healing of the man born blind (John 9) from distinct, but interrelated perspectives: linguistic patterns (2), narrative structure (3), social-science criticism (4), and the text’s ironic, occasionally humorous implications (5). These narrative strategies are shown to have a clearly defined rhetorical purpose—one that coincides with the larger aim of the Gospel of John, as stated in 20:31: “So that you may trust that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and through trusting you may have life in his name.”

Leslie advances a two-part thesis which his study seeks to validate, namely, that John 9 makes a theological assertion that “Jesus is the light of the world who brings life.” Furthermore, the author seeks to elicit the personal response of assent involving “a relationship of trust between the hearer of John’s Gospel and Jesus” (2). In his Introduction, Leslie surveys the scholarly insights of “previous investigations” in terms of their relevance to his own study: the purpose of John’s Gospel from a historical-critical perspective (3–5), a “sectarian” versus a “non-sectarian” understanding of the “Johannine Community” (6–9), narrative criticism (10–12), the “social world” that contextualises John’s Gospel (13–14), and “performance criticism” (14–15). He then outlines the “course of [his own] investigation” with reference to the aforementioned categories: narrative [End Page 228] structure, distinctive language, social science concerns, aspects of irony-wit-humour, and components of ancient performance (16–22), finally tying everything together neatly in a summary of the “course of [his] argument” (23). Leslie’s integrated goal is to “show the points at which information from all the disciplines intersect to form the rhetorical pull of the text,” with the more specific aim of identifying “clues from the text that indicate the author’s intention with respect to the performance of the episode” of John 9 (23).

In chapter two, Leslie analyses “the various patterns and structures in John 9” (25). In an introduction to this chapter, he draws attention to the prominent oral-aural character of the text, with the implication being that it would have been “read aloud by a performer (or ‘reader’) and heard by an audience” (25; original emphasis). Leslie employs the analysis of this chapter to demonstrate that the structural patterning of John 9 reinforces the author’s argument concerning who Jesus is, that as the divine Messiah he is most worthy of trust despite persecution, and that traditional, human understandings about sin and spiritual insight are mistaken (26). He first presents the colon-segmented text of John 9 (27–33) and his translation, which attempts “to preserve in English the patterns and word order of the Greek” (27).1 This text is demarcated into eight “scenes” that Leslie identifies in John 9, as outlined below (93):2

  1. I. Miracle of Healing (9:1–12)

    1. A. Need presented (1–5)–Scene 1

    2. B. Miracle (6–7)–Scene 2

    3. C. Aftermath of the miracle (8–12)–Scene 3

  2. II. Dialogues (9:13–41)

    1. A. Healed man and the Pharisees: interview 1 (13–17)–Scene 4

    2. B. “The Jews” and the healed man’s parents (18–23)–Scene 5 [End Page 229]

    3. C. The healed man and the Pharisees: interview 2 (24–34)–Scene 6

    4. D. Jesus and the healed man (35–38)–Scene 7

    5. E. Jesus and the...


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