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THE SOCIOLOGY OF SECRECY

AND THE FOURTH GOSPEL


Jerome H. Neyrey
University of Notre Dame
Nov. 15, 1994

1.0 A Taste for Secrecy


1.1 Outright Secrecy
1.1.1 Hiding
1.1.2 Lying
1.1.3 Evasive Speech
1.1.4 Deception
1.2 "In the Know/NOT in the Know"
1.3 How Does One Get to Know?
1.3.1
Statement/Misunderstanding/Clarificat
ion (Maybe)
1.3.2 Revealers
1.3.3 Gossip Network
1.3.4 Asides and Footnotes
1.3.5 Forensic Examination of
Testimony
1.4 Why Are Some "NOT in the Know"?
1.5 Irony
1.6 Ambiguity
1.7 Who Knows Everything?
2.0 The Sociology of Secrecy
2.1 Secrecy Defined
2.2 The Secrecy Process
2.3 The Functions of Secrecy
2.3.1 Manifest and Latent Secrecy
2.3.2 Extra-group and Intra-group
Secrecy
2.4 Who Knows What? When?
2.4.1 Who Knows?
2.4.2 Who Knows What?
2.4.3 When Is It Known?
2.5 Secret Societies
3.0 The Fourth Gospel and the Sociology of Secrecy
3.1 Secrecy Process and John
3.1.1 Secrecy: Controlling Information
3.1.2 Entrusted Disclosure (+ gossip
network)
3.1.3 Espionage: Discovering Secrets
3.1.4 Evaluation of Espionage
3.2 Secrecy and Differentiation of Characters

3.2.1 Outsiders: "Not in the Know"


3.2.2 Insiders: "Not in the Know"
3.2.3 Insiders: Degrees of Being "In the
Know"
3.3 Secrecy and Scrutiny of Jesus' Words
3.4 Functions of Secrecy

1.0
A
Taste
for
Secrecy
Bultmann once remarked that in the Fourth Gospel Jesus reveals that he is the revealer,
but not much else (Bultmann ). Yet "information control" emerges as a central
phenomenon in this document and provides significant clues about the social dynamics
of the community for which it was written. "Information control" is a social-science
label which describes the process whereby secrets, private information, and the like are
shared with some, but not with others. "In no society do individuals treat all others with
complete candor" (Tefft 39).
Unlike the Synoptic gospels, John does not contain a commissioning by Jesus to his
disciples to "go make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you" (Matt 28:19). Information from and about Jesus, when it is spread, is
accomplished through a "gossip network" to select individuals (Neyrey 1994). And
although Jesus declares before one of his judges, "I have always taught in synagogues
and in the temple. . .I have said nothing in secret" (John 18:20), that hardly explains the
intricate patterns of double-meaning words, irony, lying, deception and
misunderstanding and actual hiding in the Fourth Gospel.
Sometimes information about Jesus is communicated "secretly" (lathra, 11:28). People
urge Jesus not to act in secrecy, but to act "publicly" (parrsia, 7:4) or to speak
"publicly" (10:24; Peterson 49-52), which urging he rejects (Giblin). When there is
ambiguity, Jesus occasionally speaks "publicly" to clear up misunderstandings (11:14;
16:25, 29). His speaking "publicly" is judged proof of his orthodoxy (7:13, 26; van
Unnik ).
Yet even when he speaks in public, more often than not people misunderstand his words.
In addition to the lexicon of double-meaning terms used by Jesus (Richard), we find a
repetitive pattern of "statement-misunderstanding-clarification." Jesus states something
which hearers invariably misunderstand, which prompts Jesus to speak clarifying words,
which may or may not be understood (Leroy). His "parables" are not understood, either
by the crowds (10:6) or by his disciples (16:25).
Data such as these invite a fuller investigation of the numerous and significant patterns
of "information control" in the Fourth Gospel. Once we start to pull back the veil, we
notice numerous instances of hiding-revealing, secrecy, ambiguity and even lying. The
following is an attempt to catalogue the primary and related instances of secrecy and
"information control" in the document.

1.1 Outright Secrecy


1.1.1 Hiding. On occasion, Jesus "hides himself." After revealing great revelations in
8:56 and 58, Jesus "hid himself" as his enemies took up stones to throw at him (8:59). A
strategic move, no doubt, but one fraught with ambiguity when compared with Jesus'
revelation to the crowd in 12:27-35 and his subsequent "hiding himself from them"
(12:36) when there was no death threat. He warned his audience, "The light is with you a
little longer. Walk while you have the light" (12:35). But the light does not last long, for
"when Jesus had said this, he departed and hid himself from them" (12:36b). Other
characters likewise "hide" themselves: Nicodemus comes secretly to Jesus at night to
avoid detection (3:2; 19:39; de Jonge ); others attracted to Jesus disguised their
affiliation (12:42; 19:38). Moreover, when Judas asks "Why is it that you will manifest
yourself to us and not to the world?" (14:22), his remark implies that Jesus is revealing
something to them, but hiding it from others. Besides examples of Jesus or
others hiding themselves (kryptein), the author implies that God also hides things from
the crowds (kalyptein, 12:38) and blinds them (12:40; book on Isa 6:9).
1.1.2 Lying. It does not bother us that Jesus accuses others of lying (8:44, 55), but what
of Jesus' own lies. Although Giblin ( ) has tried to soften the impact of the pattern in 7:19, Jesus appears to lie to his unbelieving brothers: "I am not going to this feast" (7:8).
Having said this, "He also went up. . .not publicly, but in private" (7:10). Lying in the
Bible should not startle us after the pioneering work of John Pilch (Listening). Those
who read the Johannine gospel and letters were quite familiar with accusations of lying
(1 John 2:21, 27; 4:1).
1.1.3 Evasive Speech. When the parents of the man born blind are interrogated, they
acknowledge that they "know" some things and "do not know" others (9:21). The author
interprets their speech as purposeful evasion: "His parents said this because they feared
the Jews" (9:22).
1.1.4 Deception. Jesus' enemies are convinced that he is a deceiver who intentionally
leads the people astray. While some hang on Jesus words, others are convinced that "he
is leading the people stray" (planai, 7:12). When the soldiers sent out to apprehend him
return with praise of his words, the Pharisees cite this as another example of deception:
"Are you led astray, you also?" (peplansthe, 7:47).
1.2 "In the Know/NOT in the Know." Throughout the Fourth Gospel, we are endlessly
told about people who do not know important information about Jesus, beginning with
the Baptizer (1:31, 33). There appears to be no particular stigma attached to people at the
beginning of stories who are "not in the know," provided that by the story's end they are
"in the know." But we frequently find people divided into polarities in terms of
"knowing" and "not knowing, a pattern which provides the readers with a criterion for
judging these narrative characters. For example, some "know" that Jesus is a sinner,
whereas others "do not know this" (9:24-25; see 2:9). Others claim to "know" where
Jesus comes from, but they are proved to be "not in the know" (7:27-28). After
examining the numerous instances of this semantic pattern, we find that it tends to

function in three ways: (1) insiders, who are "in the know," are separated from outsiders,
who are "not in the know"; (2) some claim to be "in the know," but their knowledge is
erroneous, thus proving them to be outsiders; (3) the information most highly valued is
accurate knowledge of whence Jesus comes and whither he goes (Neyrey Jn 3; other).
People regularly ask questions of Jesus. Those who question presumably are "not in the
know." Yet not all questions are answered, so that some remain "not in the know" (3:510; Neyrey III), while others get straight answers (1:19-23; 9:2-3; 13:23-26).
1.3 How Does One Get to Know? Put most simply, in the Fourth Gospel one needs to
be told or led to the truth. Just as all "power" is given from above (19:11), so too is
"knowledge." The narrative patterns describing how one gets to know are both numerous
and intricate.
1.1 Statement/Misunderstanding/Clarification (Maybe). Readers of the Fourth
Gospel are quickly introducted to the extremely repetitive pattern in the gospel of
"statement-misunderstanding-clarification" (Leroy; Neyrey Ideol).
STATEMEN MISUNDERSTAND
T
ING

CLARIFICATI
ON

3:3

3:4

3:5

3:5-8

3:9

3:10-12

4:7

4:9

4:10

4:10

4:11

4:12

4:32

4:33

4:34-38

6:35-40

6:41-42

6:43-48

6:51

6:52

6:53-58

8:21

8:22

8:23-30

8:31-21

8:33

8:34-37

8:38

8:39a

8:39b-40

8:41a

8:41b

8:42-47

8:51

8:52-53

8:54-55

8:56

8:57

8:58

11:23

11:24

11:25-26

12:27

12:29

12:30

13:27

13:29

13:31-35

14:4

14:5

14:6

14:7

14:8

14:9-11

16:25-28

16:29-30

16:31-32

Jesus states something, which invariably is misunderstood, after which he clarifies his
misunderstood remark. Sometimes the pattern indicates progressive revelation of secrets
and so results in the person once "not in the know" receiving a christophany (4:26) or
special information (11:13-15 & 25-26). But the converse also occurs: some
who misunderstand Jesus'statement never come "into the know" or never have their
questions answered, and so are confirmed as outsiders who are "not in the know" (3:310; 6:41-48; 8:21-30). Thus Jesus'clarifications may be either revelations or veils, but in
all cases they are vintage "information control."
1.2 Revealers. Although God remains directly "unknown" by all but Jesus, for "no one
has ever seen God" (1:18; 5:37; 6:46), nevertheless God reveals secrets to select people,
such as John the Baptizer (1:31 and 33) and Jesus (1:18; 3:32-34). They in turn
communicate this knowledge to select disciples.
Jesus is the revealer par excellence. He gives special "christophanies" of himself to
select people: the Samaritan woman (4:25-26), the man born blind (9:35-36), Mary
Magdalene (20:16-17), his "brethren" (20:19-21), Thomas (20:26-29), the disciples
fishing (21:4-7, 12), and Peter (21:15-19). Jesus, moreover, reveals the secret meaning of
events to the inner circle (9:2-3), identifies his traitor to his most intimate associate
(13:23-26), tells only his disciples about "his way" (14:4-6; Segovia article) and about
God (14:7-11). To Mary Magdalene Jesus reveals the ultimate secret which is to be
shared only with the inner circle, "my brethren," (20:17). Finally, we note that Jesus
makes a number of prophecies, but only to select disciples (13:38; 18:8-9); they may not
be understood at first (2:19) but eventually come to light (2:21-22; 12:12-16).
1.3 Gossip Network. Knowledge int he Fourth Gospel is always mediated to others and
thus controlled. Some come to know because they are "taught by God" (6:45); others are
enlightened by the "spirit of truth" (14:26; 16:13-14). Still others have Jesus as revealer
and catechist. Yet the Fourth Gospel contains a curious pattern, which in sociological
jargon may be labelled the "gossip network" (Neyrey Wrong). In a media-less world, the
ordinary means of information dissemination is oral communication (see 18:34). But we
should not imagine that every one tells all they know to everybody. Distinctive patterns
of communication can be discovered, such that only certain persons tell select others
some of what they know.
The beginning and ending of the Fourth Gospel illustrate the "gossip network" or the
controlled flow of information. At the beginning, one disciple tells another about Jesus
(1:35-51; Neyrey Revolt); the person informed is either a kin to or a village neighbor of
the informer. The information is not told to all in the marketplace. At the end of the story,
Mary Magdalene takes a specific word to select people, "Go to 'my brethren' and say to
them..." (20:17); later these "brethren" tell Thomas about Jesus (20:24). Within these
framing events, the Samaritan woman tells only her villagers about Jesus (4:28-30);
Martha and Mary tell Jesus about Lazarus (11:3); Martha tells Mary that Jesus summons
her (11;28); the Greeks who wish to see Jesus first tell Philip, who then tells Andrew,
who then leads them to Jesus (12:21-22). Mary Magdalene tells the disciples of the
empty tomb (20:2) and the Beloved Disciple tells Peter that the figure on the shore is

"the Lord" (21:7). Thus, whatever else we make of this pattern, information about Jesus
or from him is always channeled to others through a select and restricted network.
1.4 Asides and Footnotes. If characters in the gospel reveal information to others, the
readers (or hearers) are treated by the author to special information not known to the
narrative characters. Besides the translation of certain Semitic terms into Greek (1:38,
41, 42; 4:25; 5:2; 9:7; 19:13, 17; 20:16), we are given "footnotes" and "asides"
(O'Rourke). As Tenny has shown, some of these inform the reader of (1) times and
places (6:4; 7:2; 9:14; 10:22-23; 11:17), (2) customs (4:9; 19:40), (3) recollections of the
disciples (2:22; 12:16), (4) explanations of actions or situations (2:9; 4:2; 7:5, 39; 11:51;
12:6; 19:36-37; 21:19), (5) identification of persons (6:71; 7:50; 11:2; 18:10, 14, 40;
19:38-39), and (6) indications of what Jesus knows (2:24-25; 6:6; 13:1, 3). The narrator,
who ostensibly shares all of the above secrets, also gives special information about
himself to this select audience (1:14b; 19:35; 21:24-25); on one occasion he corrects a
popular error (21:22-23). Thus secrets are shared only with special people; information
is carefully controlled.
1.5 Forensic Examination of Testimony. The predominant literary-rhetorical form in
this gospel is indubitably the forensic trial, both in its Jewish and Roman forms. Trials of
Jesus or his disciples occur in chs 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 18-19 (Neyrey Revolt/Honor).
Two key elements of the trial are the judge's cognitio or examination of the accused and
the interrogation of witnesses (see also 1:19-27; Harvey). In both, people are seeking
information (i.e., the testimony of witnesses) or evaluating proofs (i.e., the probative
value of "signs" or "works"). As I have shown, on occasion the tables are turned and
Jesus becomes the judge instead of the accused (Neyrey: John 8); he sifts through the
testimony of would-be disciples to expose their lies (8:31ff, 44, 55). Nevertheless on the
narrative level, the typical mechanism for getting information seems to be the forensic
trial in all its permutations.
1.4 Why Are Some "NOT in the Know"? Why aren't some or most "in the know"?
Jesus and the author offer us a variety of reasons, which, while offensive to politically
correct ears, are not strange in a sectarian environment. We are told that some prefer the
darkness to the light (3:19-20). Moreover, although Jesus came into the world as its light
(1: ; Peterson 72-75), he also affirms that he came so "that those who do not see may see
and that those who see may become blind" (9:39). Thus some will not or cannot see (see
12:39-40); some, in fact, "are blinded" (Evans). In fact, no one can "know" Jesus "unless
it is granted him by the Father" (6:56), which disturbingly suggests that many of those
"not in the know" are not thus called and so have "knowledge" withheld from them
(6:45). Some, alas, are born of flesh and cannot know spirit things (3:6); if they cannot
even understand the "earthly" things Jesus says, how can they understand "heavenly"
things (3:12). They are "from below" and are "of this world," not "from above" and
"not of this world (8:24); they are, then, aliens to "the world of knowledge."
1.5 Irony. Paul Duke recently published an excellent study of irony in the Fourth
Gospel, from which we glean the following important points for this study. At the root of
the word "irony" is the term eirn, a person who slyly pretended to be less than he really

was. As Duke remarks, "The eirn wore a mask of goodwill which concealed enmity. He
was a grinning fox, a scoundrel not to be trusted" (Duke 8). Quintilian echoes the
tradition by identifying Socrates as the archetypal eirn: "He was called eirn because he
assumed the character of an ignorant man, and affected to be the admirer of other men's
wisdom" (Inst. Orat. IX.ii.46). Thus in one stream of the material, an "ironic" figure is a
deceiver. Information is being controlled.
When we turn to "dramatic irony," the staple of Greek tragedy, the issue of ignorance
and knowledge takes center stage. Dramatic Irony involves a situation in a play or
narrative in which the audience shares with the author knowledge of which a character is
ignorant: the character acts in a way grossly inappropriate to the actual circumstances or
expects the opposite of what fate holds in store, or says something that anticipates the
actual outcome, but not at all in the way he means it (Duke 12).
Thus all irony (1) is a double-layered or two-storied phenomenon, (2) which presents
some kind of opposition between the two levels, and (3) which contains an element of
unawareness or ignorance (Duke 13).
The third element most pertains to our examination of secrecy in the Fourth Gospel, for
it articulates the phenomenon we are examining, namely, some people are "in the know"
(author and readers), while most of the narrative characters are "not in the know." Duke's
classification of ironic remarks in the Fourth Gospel includes:
1. False Claims to Knowledge (6:42; 7:27, 41-42; 9:29)
2. False Assumptions (4:12; 7:15; 8:53, 57)
Accusations
- demon possession (7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20)
- other (8:41; 9:16, 24; 18:30)
3. Suggestions of belief (7:26, 47-48, 52; 9:27)
5. Unconscious prophecy and testmony (2:10; 7:3-4, 35-36; 8:22; 11:48, 49-50; 12:19).
Through the use of irony, the author controls information. The author knows more than
the characters in the narrative; he relaxes his control to let the readers join in his special
knowledge, whereas the "ignorant" narrative characters always have information
withheld from them. Thus irony directly serves the process of information control.
1.6 The Phenomenon of Ambiguity. Besides informing the readers about who knows
what, the Fourth Gospel also reminds us that a fundamental ambiguity permeates the
world of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus performs several remarkable healings; but since
they occur on the Sabbath (5:9-11; 9:14), they apparently violate the sabbath laws,

despite Jesus' rationalization for his behavior (7:21-23). In the face of this ambiguity,
Jesus demands that his critics not "judge according to appearances" (7:24; see 8:15).
Jesus remains ambiguous to the crowds. On many occasions we are told that they were
divided over him, some acclaiming him and others denouncing him (7:12-13, 27 and 31,
40-41; 9:16-17, 28-34; 10:19-21; 11:35; 12:29). He is not, however, ambiguous to some,
who think that they have unmasked his deception (7:32, 47-48).
Many people in the Fourth Gospel "think they know" (doke) something. The disciples,
who are insiders, "think" they know what Jesus means when he said "Lazarus is asleep"
(11:11-13); some "think" they know why Judas leaves the supper (13:29); Mary
Magdalene "thinks" that she sees a gardener beside the tomb (20:15). In each case these
people are mistaken by appearances. They might take Jesus' words too literally and miss
the secret inner meaning; it seems traditional that disciples not recognize the risen Jesus,
even though they look right at him. How important, then, is the report that one special
disciple sees through appearances and recognizes Jesus (21:7). On the other hand, Jesus
criticizes the way outsiders "think": they search the scriptures and "think" they are
finding life (5:39); they "think" that Moses will always be their advocate (5:45); they
"think" that by killing Jesus' disciples they will honor God (16:2). Appearances, then, are
deceiving; one cannot tell a book by its cover or persons by the clothes they wear.
In a world of ambiguity and appearances, we are urged to expect deception and
deceivers. This alerts us to the importance of strategies for unmasking deceivers and
unveiling deception. Enter spies! Begin sifting information! Interrogate witnesses!
1.7 Who Knows Everything? In a world where information is controlled, players (at
least readers/hearers) need clues about who knows what? Since information/knowledge
is the coin of the realm, players want to attach themselves to those "in the know." Jesus,
of course, stands out as the most knowledgeable person in the narrative.
No commentator can claim to explain the Fourth Gospel without some remarks on Jesus,
the logos who reveals. Since this material is presumably well known, it need not be
repeated here, except to give salience to certain aspects of Jesus "teacher" and "revealer."
To begin with, we note the rich and varied terminology used to describe Jesus' imparting
of information to others:
anaggel: 4:25 (16:15)
gnriz: 15:15; 17:26
deiknymi: 10:32; 14:8-9; 20:20
emphain: 14:21-22
exgeomai: 1:18

smain: 12:33; 18:32; 21:19


phanero: 2:11; 74; 9:3; 17:6; 21:1, 14
Moreover, Jesus controls who gets what information. To his disciples he manifests his
glory; to special insiders he predicts their future; to his inner circle he reveals God's
name; to his beloved intimate he imparts a secret; and to a close follower he shows his
hands and side. He may "tell" things to the world and to outsiders (eipon), but important
information is always controlled. Only select people receive special information and
knowledge.
Yet the Fourth Gospel insists that Jesus is both the most knowledgeable character in the
narrative and also a revealer. Although no one has seen God (1:18; 5:37; 6:46), Jesus
has. The world has not known God, but "I have known you" (17:25). We are told that
God has showed Jesus all that God does (5:19-20); God has taught him (8:28). One of
the key things that Jesus makes known is God's "name," "I AM" (Neyrey, Ideol). But he
controls who knows the "name"; not all, but only the inner circle of his disciples know it
or appreciate it (17:6, 12, 26).
One thing is certain: Jesus "knows all things" (16:30). He claims to be uniquely
knowledgeable because he comes "from above" (3:31-32) and is "not of this world"
(8:24). Hence he knows spiritual things, not fleshly one and he is privy to heavenly
things, not earthly ones. He knows, moreover, that he "came from God and was going to
God" (13:3); he knows "whence he came and whither he goes," the most important
knowledge in the gospel. Furthermore, he knows the identity of his betrayer (6:70-71;
13:18-19, 21 and 26-27). By his prophecies, he demonstrates that he even knows the
future.
This same Jesus, moreover, gives information to others, albeit in a controlled mode. He
has "made God known" (1:18b). To his disciples he has "given the words which you
gave me" (17:8, 14). People regularly ask him to "show us" something, perhaps "the
Father" (14:8-9) or a legitimating sign (2:18). Indeed he does "show" many things:
"works" to outsiders (10:32) or "his hands and his feet" to insiders (20:20). Yet
information is always controlled.
Not every one in fact accepts his testimony or agrees with his interpretation of events
and so becomes knowledgeable. As we saw above, the explanation may lie in the
metaphysics of the knower (from below, of the flesh, etc.) or in the realm of information
control (not taught by God, taught by confusing parables, informed by double-meaning
terms, prophecies not understood at first, etc.).
Jesus possesses a very potent form of knowledge: he can read hearts. He knows that
there is "no deceit" (dolos) in Nathanael (1:47) and that Peter "loves him" (21:15-17).
Yet because he can read hearts, he can detect secrets, deception, lying, plotting and the
like. Early in the gospel the narrator tells us that Jesus has this power and information;
the significant positioning of the remark socializes readers to its importance. Jesus did

not trust himself with people, "because he knew all men. . .he himself knew what was in
man" (2:24-25). Thus when he tells people with whom he is disputing:
I know that you do not have the love of God in you (5:42).
You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves (6:26).
Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe (6:64).
You do not know him [God] (7:28).
You know neither me nor my Father (8:19).
My words find no place in you (8:37).
Why do you not understand? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.
You are of your father the devil (8:43-44).

By reading their hearts, Jesus knows who are insiders or outsiders, or who feigns interest
or belief in him, or who is simply evil. In the sociology of witchcraft accusation
(Douglas/Neyrey, Paul), this type of special knowledge is expected in a cosmos of
ambiguity, secrecy and deception (John 8 and Neyrey Biblica).
We are informed by the narrator that Jesus knew all along who the "dropouts" were who
eventually left his company (6:64-65). Since he knows the hearts of all, he was not
surprised when "many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him"
(6:66). As we noted above, Jesus knew all along who his betrayer was. This
"foreknowledge," moreover, is passed on only to certain people and plays an important
social role. In a world where power, control and honor constitute the pivotal cultural
values, it matters greatly that the author presents Jesus as a figure in control of events.
He already knows the assaults upon his person, but he has "power to lay down my life
and power to take it back" (10:17-18). He knows both the "dropouts" and his traitor,
another demonstration of control. Furthermore, the audience of the gospel is given this
controlled information as well, so that it too may be "in the know" and not be shamed or
shocked by events (13:19; 14:27-31; 15:11; 16:1-4, 32-33). One disciple at least learns
from Jesus the traitor's identity (13:25-26); it remains unclear whether he passed on this
information to Peter (13:24). Thus "foreknowledge" of "dropout" and traitors may offset
the espionage against Jesus and his disciples. Knowledge of traitors, moreover, makes
certain people in the group very, very powerful.
Thus we see that Jesus is presented in the narrative as the figure who knows all things.
This contrasts him with all other characters, who either cannot know or in fact do not
know. Jesus is, moreover, a revealer. His dissemination of knowledge and information,
however, is carefully controlled; only a few of the narrative characters come to share in
his knowledge, whereas the author allows the insider audience to be fully informed. But
that only illustrates the critical point: information is always controlled.
2.0 The Sociology of Secrecy

The history of secrecy in antiquity has been described in Dvornik's The Origins of
Intelligence Services (1974). It examines the phenomenon of secrecy in the earliest
human records from the ancient near east, Egypt, Assyria-Babylon-Persia, Greece, Rome
and Byzantium. Indeed scholarly interest in "secrecy" has tended to focus on
governmental secrecy and intelligence services, with a corresponding development in the
genre of spying and espionage fiction. The leaking of secrets in governmental centers
has become an art, especially since the publication of the Pentagon Papers during the
Vietnam War. Alongside this can be found a library of literature on "privacy"
(McClellan; Young), a topic of particular interest in the USA.
Systematic analysis of "secrecy" is generally traced to Georg Simmel's publication of
"The Secret and the Secret Society" (1907; 1950). Recently Simmel's work has been
given new attention by sociologists who examine the phenomenon in cross-cultural
perspective (Hazelrigg 326-30; Tefft; Frizby ). Some biblical scholars have begun to tap
into this theory for purposes of biblical interpretation, notably John J. Pilch (1992;
1994). In surveying the literature on "secrecy," we are attempting to construct a model of
the "secrecy process," which will be cross-cultural and so applicable to the Fourth
Gospel.
2.1 Secrecy Defined. Tefft defines secrecy as "the mandatory or voluntary, but
calculated, concealment of information, activities, or relationships" (1980: 320). Tefft's
collaborators in his pioneering study agree that secrecy is a formal, conscious and
deliberate concealment of information.
Secrets, moreover, are "a social resource (or adaptive strategy) used by individuals,
groups, and organizations to attain certain ends" (Tefft 1980: 35). As a strategy, secrecy
may be employed aggressively against rivals or defensively against attackers (Tefft
1980: 36). Secrecy enables certain types of associations to avoid political persecution or
destruction; it allows other groups to maintain an exclusive monopoly on esoteric
knowledge. As an adaptive device, then, secrecy allows individuals and groups to attain
certain ends, such as control of one's environment and the prediction of others' actions
(Tefft 1980: 321).
2.2 The Secrecy Process. Tefft, who takes a broad view of the phenomenon of secrecy,
describes it as an adaptive device containing five interrelated processes: security (control
of information), entrusted disclosure, espionage, evaluation of spying, and post-hoc
security measures.
Tefft notes that all peoples engage in some form of secrecy or information control
(1980:39). Kees Boole makes the same claim: "Not only is there no religion without
secrecy, but there is no human existence without it" (1987:1). Families do not want their
squabbles, embarrassments, intimacies, private interactions or finances discussed outside
their houses; likewise with groups, organizations and governments. They all practice
some form of information control, whether they base it on the right to privacy, the nature
of interpersonal relations or the politics of business and administration. All engage in
some form of "security," that is, information control, and hence secrecy.

Within families, groups, organizations or governments, certain people are privy to what
is withheld from others. In fact, who knows what may serve as an index of status or
ranking within a group. But not everybody knows all things. Thus secrets are entrusted
to some, not others. The others may or may not know that there are secrets withheld
from them. Hence, we find within governments the use of degrees of classified
information, labels such as "for your eyes only," and the like. Nevertheless, there tends
to be an inner circle which is "in the know."
This immediately raises the issue of some sort of "security system" in terms of who can
or should be entrusted with secrets. It is a known fact that group members who develop
bonds of mutual loyalty pose less security risk than those of low morale. Nevertheless,
groups tend to develop security systems to secure their secrets, simply because not all
group members can be counted on to have highly developed bonds of mutual loyalty.
Such systems can include a number of steps in securing its secrets, such as: (a) required
loyalty tests for old and new members, (b) total obedience to the group at the expense of
other ties, (c) gradual revelation of secrets to members, and (d) imposition of strict
norms of silence (Simmel ).
Secrets invite snooping, espionage and disclosure. This may in part be due to fear that
secrets may be used to harm others (i.e., a planned coup) or to shut others out from
certain [unknown] benefits (i.e., technological formulae; discoveries). Thus it is deemed
a vital self interest to know what others are up to. There may also be a reaction of shame
to learn that one is excluded from the honor of being part of the inner circle. Whatever
the varied reasons, outsiders tend invariably to engage in some form of espionage to
learn the secrets of others.
By "espionage" we simply mean the "acquisition of information held secret by another
group or individual" (Tefft 1980:333). Spying, whether done by persons or technological
means, will entail a body of people who watch, scrutinize, lie in wait, trap, trick, etc.
others so as to learn their secrets. They may investigate records, interrogate associates,
plant informers and spies, or simply set up some form of intelligence service.
If espionage succeeds in gaining access to controlled information, an evaluation process
must take place. Is the new information of any value? is it a cover? a false lead? "Leaks"
of information may be intentional to distract those engage in espionage from more vital
secrets or to lull them into thinking that they have cracked the secret.
If individuals, groups, organizations or governments learn that their secrecy has been
breached, they are likely to engage in a post-hoc program to identify the spy, plug the
leak, bury the secret deeper, etc. New loyalty tests (even polygraph tests) may be
demanded. But the "secrecy process" is hardly over, for with the renewed interest in
keeping secrets, those who control information invite a new round of espionage and
evaluation, which may result, if successful, in new post-hoc programs to shore up
security. And so the cycle repeats itself again and again and again.
2.3 The Functions of Secrecy.

If secrecy is an adaptive strategy or a means to attain certain ends in the course of social
interaction (Tefft 35), then we might inquire about the various functions it can play. First,
let us distinguish manifest and latent secrecy (Tefft 46).
2.3.1 Manifest and Latent Secrecy. Manifest secrecy describes the formal and overt
function of certain societies or groups to hide ceremonies, rites, information, and the like
from the curious and perhaps dangerous eyes of others. In contrast, latent secrecy may
be practiced by groups as the additional and unintended consequences of certain
structural arrangements, such as covering up unintended actions.
2.3.2 Extra-group and Intra-group Secrecy. Our attention focuses primarily on the
specific functions of manifest secrecy. And here we distinguish the functions of extragroupsecrecy from intra-group secrecy (Brandt 125-27). Extra-group secrecy may be
practiced for aggressive or defensive purposes (Tefft 36). Aggressive secrecy, which
Tefft judges is best understood under the rubric of "conflict theory" (Tefft 49-63),
describes actions and strategy used by alienative secret groups to organize political
rebellion or provide secret leadership for revolutionary organizations. Groups subject to
coercion by more powerful groups deal with their antagonists by trying to equalize
power by hiding information or resources. Alternately, groups often
employ defensive secrecy strategy to protect themselves. Secret societies such as the
KKK, which are in close accord with the values of the dominant society, employ secrecy
to disguise illegal activities. Alienative groups, however, which are embattled minorities
within a larger hostile society, use secrecy to escape persecution or destruction (Tefft
324; Brandt 131). One sociologist suggests that "the more intense the conflict the greater
efforts to conceal information from antagonists" (Tefft 51). Thus extra-group secrecy is
employed in an atmosphere of fear or distrust (Erickson and Flynn 252-54).
Intra-group secrecy may be employed for a variety of purposes (Tefft 51-53). It may
prove significant for group formation, in that some groups form for the overt purpose of
engaging in covert actions, such as secret societies. Likewise, secrecy both sets up group
boundaries and, when defended, maintains them. Those "in the know" distinguish
themselves from those "not in the know"; and the very process of guarding this
distinction contributes to group cohesiveness. This is often called the "superiority
syndrome." Internal secrecy within groups, whereby only select members know certain
information, serves to control access to rank, status and political power. "Elders" or
"experts" regularly maintain their special position within groups by monopolizing
esoteric information even from other insiders, thus buttressing their own power and
status within the group (Brandt 130-34). Groups may employ internal secrecy or
information control among members simply as an efficient defensive mechanism to
protect the group; for the fewer people who share vital information, the safer the secret.
Finally bureaucracies are notorious for employing internal espionage against insiders to
garner information about shifting loyalties (Smith 1970: ; in tefft 330).
2.4 Who Knows What? When?

2.4.1 Who Knows? Elizabeth Brandt's study of secrecy in the Taos Pueblo offers
suggestive clues to the function of secrecy within a hierarchical group (125-34). As most
people have observed, information is restricted even within close-knit groups; not all
people know everything. If we attempt to plot out status and role within a
group, who knows something can often serve as an index of public standing. Those
"not in the know," even within the group, may be spouses brought in by exogamous
marriages, and so untrustworthy, or families and tribes who only recently associated with
the group. They represent persons of low status, who are not integrated into the social
networks within a village. We can contrast them with the few elites in the group, who are
privy to the group's secrets, and who stand atop the status hierarchy in the group and
control it in virtue of their monopoly of esoteric information. It often happens that only
those with complete information enjoy full political power within the group. Between
these two extremes we can observe a diversity of individuals in terms of the kinds of
knowledge they possess (Brandt 133; Hazelrigg 1969:324).
2.4.2 What Is Known? If persons can be ranked in terms of what they know, then we
should inquire more closely about what is known and what can be known? Brandt's
study of the kinds of knowledge available in the Taos Pueblo surfaces five that may be
group specific to the Pueblo: "(1) mystical; (2) theological; (3) liturgical; (4) dogma or
catechism; and (5) participatory" (127). Mystical knowledge refers to the private,
ineffable and non-verbal communication (i.e., the vision quest); it always remains secret.
"Theological" knowledge is a kind of "deep knowledge that penetrates below the
surface," thus providing mythical frameworks of interpretation or rationales for
perception and action; novelist Tony Hillerman has gained special access to this through
informers. "Liturgical" knowledge refers to the correct manner of conducting ceremonies
and rituals, i.e., dances and chants, or simply about "behavior" within the group.
"Dogma" refers to a superficial form of knowledge about the group; it involves a rote
form of learning and represents the official "received" views of the group (128).
"Participatory" knowledge represents for Brandt a miscellaneous category for the various
pieces of information that low level performers and spectators have (e.g., liturgical
participation in a language foreign to those attending). Certain people know more than
others, because information is controlled so that certain people know more than others.
Those most "in the know" with knowledge of the core myths and rituals rank highest.
Those with specialized knowledge of this or that item belong in the middle, while others
who know little or understand superficially are ranked lowest. This may be easily
verified by inquiring into the degrees of membership in various secret societies, such as
the Masons or the KKK (Gist 1938:354; 1940:55).
2.4.3 When Is It Known? In focus here are issues of recruitment, initiation, and
advancement within groups. It is a well known fact that special knowledge is reserved
for novices during initiation rituals (Burkert 260-64; Brandt 137-38; Laguerre 151-52).
Even among novices, there are grades of initiation and corresponding new knowledge, as
in the case of the cult of Mithra (Ulansey 6-8, 19) and the Greek Mystery Religions
(Burkert 276-78). Disciplina arcani

Ancients clearly understood that the life cycle of humans consisted of stages (see
Philo, Cher. 114) with various knowledges and behaviors appropriate to each stage
(Philo, L.A.III.159). Furthermore, ancient education itself consisted of graded mastery of
knowledged. Thus, people are ranked and classified in terms of their stage of life and its
appropriate knowledge (see 1 Cor 3:1-2).
Thus, when we investigate a group or sift through information about them in documents,
we may gain vital clues as to the roles and statuses of its members by attempting to
answer the questions: who know what and when?

3.0 John's Gospel and the Sociology of Secrecy


In the beginning of this study, we enumerated a number of patterns which regularly
appear in the Fourth Gospel concerning: (a) lying, deception and evasion, (b) hiding,
either oneself or information, (c) secret and public transmission of information, (d)
misunderstandings, ambiguity and double-meaning words, (e) people "in the know/not in
the know," and reasons for why people know/do not know what they know, (f) irony, and
(g) Jesus's perfect knowledge: knowledge of his foreknowledge and knowledge of
human hearts, all of which are secrets to all other people. This is prima facie evidence of
a systematic pattern of "information control" or secrecy. We briefly sketched the
sociology of secrecy, namely, the model of how secrecy works and what comprises it. It
remains for us to examine the Fourth Gospel more closely and in detail from that formal
perspective: the sociology of secrecy/information control.
3.1 Secrecy Process and the Fourth Gospel. In the sociology of secrecy, five stages of
a cyclical process were outlined (secrecy, espionage, counter-espionage, evaluation of
spying, post-factum damage control).
3.1 Secrecy: Controlling Information. We trust that the data presented in the first part
of this study amply indicates that "information control" or secrecy constitutes a major
formal theme in the Fourth Gospel.
3.2 Entrusted Disclosure. We take it as a given that information is regularly controlled
in the Fourth Gospel. Certain select persons are let into the secret and are entrusted with
the disclosure of the controlled information. For example, the premier witness to Jesus,
John the Baptizer, twice admits that "I did not know him" (1:31, 33); but he was
ultimately entrusted by God with very special information about Jesus: "He who sent me
. . . said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who
baptizes with the Holy Spirit'" (1:33).
Although the servants at the wedding at Cana know the secret of where the water-turnedinto-wine comes from (2:9), the disciples received "the manifestation of his glory"
(2:11). More significantly, the Samaritan woman is gradually entrusted with secrets
about Jesus. She begins the story as a character who was told "If only you knew . . . who

it is who said to you 'Give me to drink,' you would have asked him. . ." (4:10). As she is
entrusted with more secrets, she does ask "Give me this water" (4:15) and she receives
remarkable information (4:20-24), even a Christophany of Jesus as the Messiah (4:26).
The man born blind likewise receives a special epiphany by Jesus as well as an answer
to his question about "Who is he?" (9:36). Martha, who along with Mary and Lazarus are
"beloved disciples," receives very special information about Jesus as "the Resurrection
and the Life" (11:25).
Select disciples enjoy Jesus' special, private disclosure of secrets in chs 13-17, the Last
Discourse (Kurz etc.). A catalogue of the secrets entrusted includes: (1) the meaning of
the footwashing (13:12-17), (2) knowledge of the traitor (13:24-26), (3) information
about where Jesus is going (14:1-7), (4) identification of his replacement (Martyn), who
will disclose still more controlled information (14:26), (5) forecasts of future hard times
(15:18-19; 16:1-4, 31-33), (6) explanation of some of Jesus' statements which seem
ambiguous (16:16-22), and (7) a time when "figures," or information control, will no
longer be used (16:25-30).
Information is refused certain people during Jesus' arrest and trials. Annas is told nothing
(18:21), nor is Pilate (18:33-34; 19:9-10). After all, they are not insiders of being
entrusted with privileged information. Yet the disclosure of secrets continues after Jesus'
resurrection. Mary Magdalene receives both a Christophany at the empty tomb and a
remarkable secret, which she is commanded to entrust to Jesus' "brethren": "Go to my
brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and
your God'" (20:17). Finally Peter is given special information about the death he would
die so as to glorify God (21:18-19). Even a misunderstanding about the status of the
Beloved Disciple is clarified for them (21:21-23).
Thus we note a regular pattern in the Forth Gospel whereby select disciples of Jesus or
witnesses to him are entrusted with special information. They know secrets about his
identity which not only are unknown to others, but even withheld from them. Curiously,
up until his restoration in ch 21, Simon Peter never receives any of these entrusted
secrets, unlike his portrayal in the Synoptic tradition (Neyrey 1993:2Pet 1:16ff).
3.3 Espionage: Discovering Secrets. If secrecy is employed, it invariably provokes
espionage to unveil what is covered over. Since it seems clear that "information control"
and secrecy are a regular part of the narrative of the Fourth Gospel, we turn to the
process of espionage, namely, how people try to discover secrets.
As we begin this part of the investigation, we pause to add to the semantic world field
presented above linguistic data dealing with the phenomenon of espionage in the New
Testament.
Spy, Spying
- kataskopos/kataskopiaz (Heb 11:31; Gal 2:4)

- egkathimi (Luke 20:20)


- pareisaktos (Gal 2:4)
- katopteu/katopts
- skpiazomai/skopos/diaskopiazomai
2. Trap, Catch
- agreu (Mark 12:13)
Cleverness, Craftiness
- panourgos/panourgia
- dolos
3. Report, Betray, Act as Traitor
- paradidos/paradidmi
In addition, there are many terms for (a) questioning (eromai, exereein, exetaz,
anakrin, erta/dierta, pynthanomai), (2) investigating (exetaz, anazte, anakrin,
skope/diaskope, ereuna/diexereuna, akribo/diakribo, mikrologeomai), and (3)
inquire (exeta, zte, eromai, munthanomai, erta). We know of curious people
(philopeuths/philopeustos, lichnos, periergos) and busybodies (allotriepiskopos, 1 Peter
4:15) and gossips (phlyaros, 1 Tim 5:13). Furthermore, the ordinary semantic forms of
asking questions to get information should be included, whether this is done informally
or by a judicial body or by spies.
In his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar identifies a host of figures who function in his
extensive intelligence network. He employs "scouts" (exploratores), who faithfully
conduct recognizance of the enemy army. Information about the plans and movements of
the adversary is regularly reported to him by unnamed sources (rebus cognitis),
presumably spies, informants or sympathizers. In regard to espionage in the Fourth
Gospel, we do not find specific terms for "scouts," "informers," "spying" or
"entrapment" as we do in Luke 20:20 and Gal 2:4 (but see Mark 3:2 and Luke 6:7).
Nevertheless, Jesus is the object of intense scrutiny and investigation, the object of
which is to discover his secrets. People regularly "hear about" Jesus, either because of
the friendly spread of his reputation (4:46; 12:9, 12)) or through hostile reports about
him carried by informers and agents of his enemies (4:1; 11:46-47). His movements,
then, are carefully monitored.
In their search for information about Jesus, various people ask him questions directly or
ask questions about him from others. As Bruce Malina has argued, questions in an
honor-shame society are often challenging (NTW ); questions, then, while they seek

answers and information, are far from being neutral in intent. It is simply an interesting
fact that in the Fourth Gospel the term for asking questions (erta) occurs three time
more frequently than the combined instances of it in the Synoptics, an indication that
"asking questions" in this gospel is a significant feature.
Yet in addition to the obvious verb erta, the Fourth Gospel contains an elaborate series
of questions asked in some form of the interrogative ts, (dia) t and ps. For purposes of
analysis, let us systematically examine these questions.
Who are you (ts)? On three occasions, a formal inquiry by designated public officials is
held concerning Jesus. In the first instance, John the Baptizer is thoroughly investigated
by deputized agents of the Jerusalem elite concerning his own identity and his presumed
relationship to Jesus (1:19-22). Later the man cured of his paralysis is queried about
Jesus (5:12-13), as are the parents of the man born blind (9:21). Jesus himself is asked
specific questions about his identity: "Who are you?" (8:25) and "Whom do you make
yourself to be?" (8:53). Twice people ask him "Who is this Son of man?" -- once
positively (9:35) and once negatively (12:34). Finally in the gospel's last narrative, no
one asks him "Who are you?" (21:12), for they are all now in the know. To round out the
picture, we note how the Beloved Disciple seeks secret information from Jesus about the
traitor: "Who is it?" (13:24-25), the possession of which knowledge becomes a mark of
distinction later (21:20). Lastly, Jesus himself asks questions of those approaching him:
"Whom do you seek?" -- both of the mob who came to arrest him (18:4, 7) and more
positively of Mary Magdalene at the tomb (20:15).
What is this? What are you doing? Some people are asked "what they have to say about
so-and-so," either the Baptizer about himself (1:22) or the man born blind about Jesus
(9:17). Indeed, this information is garnered in a formal inquiry. Other "what?" questions
are asked, which are on the order of "What do you seek" (4:27), "What business is this of
yours?" (2:4; 21:22-23), a phrase which distances that person from Jesus' secret plans
and purposes. Others challenge Jesus' legitimation and demand "What sign do you give?
(2:18; 6:30). Still others ask "What are we to do?" in regard to Jesus, but not in a friendly
manner (6:28; 11:47). Facts about Jesus are requested, either how he healed (9:26) or
what crime he allegedly committed (18:29, 35). Finally, we learn of inquiry into his
words, "What does he mean?" -- by foe (7:36) and friend (16:17-18).
Why? What motive? Investigations often include inquiry into the reasons why something
is done. For example, if John the Baptizer is not the Christ or a prophet, "Why do you
baptize?" (1:25). Those sent to arrest Jesus are asked when they return emptyhanded
"Why did you not bring him?" (7:45). And the man born blind sarcastically asks the
Pharisees who keep inquiring about Jesus "Why do you want to hear it again? Do you
too want to become his disciples?" (9:27). Furthermore, people directly ask Jesus
"why?" questions: "Why cannot I follow you now?" (13:37) and "Why is it that you will
manifest yourself to us and not to the world" (14:22). Moreover, Jesus himself asks
friends and foes why they do what they do: "Why do you seek to kill me?" (7:19); "Why
don't you understand?" (8:43); "Why don't you believe?" (8:46); "Why do you strike
me?" (18:23); "Why are you weeping?" (20:15). See also 4:27 and 12:5.

Where? A disciple asks Jesus a pregnant question: "Where do you remain?" (1:38). This
disciple "came and saw" (1:39), "remained" with Jesus and presumably learned much
about him, but it was highly controlled information in a highly controlled context.
Whence? Whither? One of the recurring ironies of the Fourth Gospel is the claim by
some to know "whence" Jesus came. If people know all there is to know about a
neighbor, there can be no secrecy or threat about them (see Luke 13:25). But claims to
know "whence" Jesus comes are false, because Jesus' secret remains just that, a secret
(6:41-42; 7:27-28). Nor do people know "whither" he is going when he goes away,
perhaps to the Dispersion (7:35) or suicide (8:21-22). The select disciples, at least,
acknowledge that they do not know where he is going (14:5; 16:5). One figure only in
the gospel knows the secret: "I know whence I have come and whither I am going, but
you do not know whence I come or whither I am going" (8:14). Jesus, of course, knows
that he came down from heaven and is returning there (3:13; 6:62; 13:1), information
which he gradually shares with others (20:17).
How can this be? How can you say. . .? Other questions are asked which are introduced
by the adverb "how" (ps), which have to do with how much of Jesus' secret is
understood. Seven times, people who have listened to Jesus react in incomprehension to
his words:
3:4 "How can a man be born when he is old?"
3:9 "How can this be?"
6:42 "How does he say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
6:52 "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
8:33 "How is it that you say, 'You shall be made free'?"
12:34 "How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up?"
Clearly people who ask questions of this sort are not privy to the secret meanings of
Jesus' words.
On one occasion, we are told of intense scrutiny by the Pharisees concerning the manner
in which Jesus healed the blind man (9:10, 15, 19, 21, 26). The crowds likewise question
how Jesus came by his learning, since he is unlettered (7:15). Jesus himself contributes
to this pattern by commenting four times on the lack of understanding in his hearers:
3:12 "How can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
5:44 "How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the
glory that comes from the only God?"
5:47 "If you do not believe his [Moses'] writings, how will you believe my words?"

14:9 "How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?"


Not all who ask questions that begin with "How...?" are incorrigibly ignorant. The man
born blind asks the appropriate question: "How can a man who is a sinner do such
signs?" (9:16). And Thomas knows that he does not know when he says: "We do not
know where you are going; how can we know the way?" (14:5).
The author of the Fourth Gospel has cast the espionage process in the literary form of
forensic inquiry. After all, legal and forensic investigations exist precisely to ferret out
secrets, gather testimony, conduct investigations, and the like. On two of these
occasions, a formal inquiry is held by relevant officials concerning Jesus' behavior. The
person whom Jesus cured is interrogated in considerable ostensibly because Jesus healed
on the sabbath (5:10-13, 15; 9:13-17, 24-34). In other contexts, witnesses such as the
Baptizer are formally and thoroughly interrogated concerning Jesus (1:19-34; see 5:35);
A. E. Harvey commented on the explicit forensic character of the Baptizer as a martys,
that is, a forensic witness ( ). When on trial himself, Jesus tells his scrutinizers: "Ask
those who have heard me, they know what I said to them" (18:21).
Jesus himself is regularly engaged in controversy which our author has cast in the form
of a forensic trial (chs 5, 7, 8, 10, 18, 19). On each of these occasions his words as well
as his actions are investigated. Implied or secret meanings of his words are sought,
whether he commented "My Father is working still, and I am working" (5:16) or "You
seek me and you will not find me" (7:34) or "I am the light of the world" (8:12). On
occasion he is formally asked a question, which in the Synoptics is asked of him at his
official trial before the Sanhedrin: "If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" (10:24; see Matt
26:63; Mark 14:61).
We conclude that consistently throughout the Fourth Gospel, Jesus is the object of
espionage. His opponents systematically inquire about him, either by interrogating
witnesses, associates, or Jesus himself.
3.4 Evaluation of Espionage. It is one thing to engage in espionage to uncover
controlled information, and quite another thing to process what is discovered.
Information might be leaked on purpose, either to satisfy the curious at a low level of
inquiry or to mislead the investigators entirely. Disinformation always remains a
possibility, and so the espionage agents must sift their finding carefully and interrogators
must examine testimony with great care.
One way of examining how examiners examine their investigation might be to track
down in the Forth Gospel how questions are answered. If agents are send to garner
information, do they in fact get anything? Those sent to John the Baptizer receive clear
and full answers to their questions; after all, John's sole role is to "bear testimony" to
Jesus (1:19-34), a testimony which the narrator claims was acceptable to them (5:35).
Other interrogators receive misleading remarks, as in the case of the parents of the man
born blind. For defensive reasons, they do not want to have anything to do with Jesus,
and so disclaim all knowledge of him (9:18-23). On occasion, Jesus himself answers

questions in a manner which simply confounds the questioner or ignores the question
entirely. In response to Nicodemus' question about being "born anothen," Jesus talks
about "birth through water" and about "wind" (3:5-8 and see 9-12). Those who
investigate what Jesus meant by "Where I am going you cannot come" (7:34) at one time
think he means "to the Dispersion" (7:35) or suicide (8:22). Jesus gives them no answer
to their question, and they are left to themselves to discover his meaning. Other
questioners are summarily dismissed: "I told you, and you do not believe" (10:25). On
occasion, Jesus' answer is entirely missed by his interrogators. For example, when Jesus'
legitimation for his temple actions is demanded ("What sign do you show us..." 2:18), he
responds, "[You] destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it" (2:19). The
questioners totally ignore the first part, which exposes their own secrets
("You destroy this temple"), and fail to grasp the meaning of the second part ("...and in
three days I will raise it up"). The information controlled then by Jesus will be shared
with insiders later and is given immediately to the reader. Thus select few insiders know
Jesus' answer, while opponents and outsiders entirely miss his meaning.
Nevertheless, the investigators are repeatedly warned by Jesus that they will invariably
misunderstand anything he says. As we noted above, they are fleshly people of this earth,
and so they cannot understand spirit things of heaven (3:6, 12). They judge by
appearances (7:24; 8:15); they take things literally. Some investigators, moreover, start
out "blind" for they prejudge that because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he must be a
sinner (9:16). This colors all testimony that they receive and leaves them incapable of
understanding correctly (9:40-41). They begin their investigation convinced that "he is
leading the people astray" (7:12) and no amount of testimony will dissuade them (7:47).
In another vein, since only Jesus' sheep hear his voice, Pilate cannot understand Jesus'
testimony because he is not an insider (18:37-38; see 10:26-27).
We would introduce at this point the Johannine pattern of "seeking" and "finding," since
this too has to do with trying to discover secrets. In the Q source, Jesus states:
Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matt 7:7-8//Luke 11:9-10).
In their current gospel contexts, this "asking and seeking" seems to refer to petitionary
prayer particularly for resources such as good ("ask for bread . . . ask for a fish"). But we
should not peremptorily reject asking for information, wisdom, and knowledge.
The Fourth Gospel regularly reports that people are "seeking" something or someone.
Two disciples of the Baptizer "seek" to know where Jesus remains (1:39); and they learn
the answer. The disciples would like to know what Jesus was seeking from the Samaritan
woman (4:27), but do not ask and so they do not find out. Some people seek Jesus, not
because they desire his signs or words, but because they ate their fill of his bread (6:24,

26). Although "seeking" Jesus might be an act of discipleship and belief, there are people
who "seek to kill" him (7:1, 19-20, 25; 8:21, 37, 40; 11:8) or arrest him (18:4, 7-8). In
contrast, Mary Magdalene is "seeking" him for quite other reasons (20:15). All who
"seek" Jesus, then, are engaged in some form of information discovery, which may be
friendly or hostile. If hostile, it is part of an espionage pattern.
Yet at one level of the Jesus tradition, those who "seek" are promised that they will
"find." This term likewise becomes an important Johannine indicator. The disciples of
the Baptizer find the place where Jesus stays, and much more. In turn they "find"
relatives and neighbors (1:41, 43, 45) as they share this new information. On two
occasions, Jesus "finds" others, the crippled man (5:14) and the man born blind (9:35);
but his "finding" results in quite different sharing of information. The crippled man, who
was "not in the know" (5:13), does know Jesus and even talks about him to others (5:15),
but hardly in a way which indicates that he has learned a secret or become his disciple.
He knows only Jesus' name, not his identity or mission or significance. When, however,
the man born blind is "found," he too learns about Jesus and becomes a recipient of very
special information about "the Son of man" (9:35-38). He already appears to be quite "in
the know" about Jesus, which information is augmented in his encounter with Jesus.
Moreover, he has already spoken out boldly on Jesus' behalf, and so the reader takes him
as an insider, even an ideal model of discipleship. The crippled man indeed found Jesus,
but stands apart from any secrets or information shared, whereas the man born blind
receives both an epiphany of Jesus and a catechesis on "the Son of man."
Pilate presents another view of those who "find" out something. Three times he tells the
crowds that "I find no cause against this man" (18:38; 19:4, 6). While he may have
"found" Jesus innocent of the charges against him, Pilate has hardly "found" out the truth
about Jesus; after all, he cannot hear Jesus' voice, because he is not one of his sheep (see
18:37-38). Still others "find" Jesus after he seems to have disappeared (6:25). Thus
"finding" is not assured to all who "seek": some never find out, others find out very little,
while others find out very much. Information, then, remains tightly controlled, especially
against espionage agents.
By these patterns, the author of the Fourth Gospel labors to indicate just who are the
espionage agents spying on Jesus. Those who receive answers to their questions or who
begin to see and know beyond appearances or who seek and find are insiders and so
share the controlled information. But those who receive no answer to their questions, or
who receive rather double-meaning responses or who judge by appearances or who seek
in a hostile manner are clearly outsiders. Because of their wicked or inferior nature, they
cannot understand heavenly and spiritual things.
The espionage process, moreover, utterly fails. The secrets are never discovered. Even if
the investigative agents hear Jesus speak, they invariably misunderstand him. The
information which is being controlled, then, is never at risk, except for the traitor. But
then Jesus knew he was a traitor from the beginning (6:64, 70-71; 13:18, 21, 27).
3.5 Post-Factum Security Process

3.2 Secrecy and Differentiation of Characters. In the model of secrecy, we noted that
information is controlled in terms both of outsiders and insiders. In the Fourth Gospel,
we quickly observe a recurring pattern which separates the two groups, namely, insiders
who are "in the know" distinguished from outsiders "not in the know."
3.2.1 Outsiders: "Not in the Know." Our narrator employs a number of patterns to help
us recognize outsiders who are "not in the know." A number of times Jesus forthrightly
tells members of his audience that they are "not in the know," even though Jesus is
speaking to them:
1."You do not know" (3:10; 7:28; 8:14, 19, 43, 55)
2. "You do not hear/listen to my voice" (8:37, 47; 10:27; 18:37)
"You do not believe" (8:45; 10:25)
3. "You do not belong" (10:26).
On occasion, the author supplies that information (8:27; 10:6; 12:37;
Sometimes people claim to know something, which claim is challenged by Jesus: "So
you 'know' me, and you 'know where I come from'? But I have not come of my own
accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do 'not know" (7:28; see 8:52).
Furthermore, some of those who ask Jesus questions never get them answered, and so
they remain "not in the know"? Nicodemus, for example, asks a question of Jesus (3:4),
which Jesus answers in such as way as to reduce Nicodemus to ignorance: "How can this
be" (3:9). Jesus answers this second question with a question, which clearly declares that
Nicodemus is "not in the know": You, a teacher of Israel, and you do not understand
this?. . .if I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell
you heavenly things?" (3:10, 12). Other unanswered questions are: 7:35-36; 8:19, 22, 25,
53; 10:23. The interrogators of the man born blind ask questions and receive the same
answer, but refuse to accept it, thus positioning themselves as the figures whom Jesus
labels
the
truly
blind
(9:39-41).
In
the
pattern
of
"statement/misunderstanding/clarification," some people receive a final word from Jesus,
but it does not serve to clarify anything or enlighten them, but rather confirm them in
their "misunderstanding" (chs 3; 6:42/43-51, 52/53-58; 9).
In a number of ways either Jesus or the narrator indicate why these outsiders are "not in
the know." Some of Jesus' hearers are earthly people who can only know "earthly things"
(epigeia), but never "heavenly things" (epourania, 3:12). When they question Jesus
about the meaning of his words, he declares that they cannot know his meanings because
they are "from below" and "of this world," whereas he is "from above" and " not of this
world" (8:24). They "judge by appearances" (kat' opsin, 7:24) or "judge according to the
flesh" (kata tn sarka, 8:15). (Since only Jesus' "sheep hear his voice," those who do not
hear is voice are not his sheep (10:4-5, 26-27; 18:37). If "all shall be taught by God"
(6:45a) and "Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me"

(6:45b), then those who do not understand Jesus are presumably "not taught by God" and
have "not heard and learned from God." Some people, then, do not know because they
cannot know; others do not know, because they love darkness rather than light (3:19; see
3:2; 12:42; 19:38-39); still others do not know because they are kept in the dark.
3.2.2 Insiders: "Not in the Know." On occasion, the narrator tells us about characters
who are "not in the know" who are also in some sense insiders. The mother of Jesus at
the Cana wedding does not seem to know about Jesus' "hour" (2:4). She may be
functioning as a Johannine stereotype of blood relatives who appear to be insiders, but
are not -- at least, not yet. Some commentators consider Nicodemus to be an insider of
some sort. After all, he comes to Jesus, even if at night; he claims to know something:
"We know you are a teacher come from God"; he speaks on Jesus' behalf (7:51); and he
buries Jesus lavishly with spices (19:39). Yet for all that, he does not know much (3:4, 9,
12); he comes at night; and he thinks that Jesus is utterly and permanently dead. He too
may be a typical Johannine stereotype of a quasi-insider, one only very partially "in the
know."
Peter seems to be the character most ambiguously presented by the narrator. In the
Synoptics, he is chosen first, blessed with divine inspiration, and proclaimer of Jesus'
Messianic identity. Not so in the Fourth Gospel: he is called second, he never sayings
anything inspired or inspiring; in fact, Jesus tells him outright that "What I am doing you
do not know now, but afterwards you will understand" (13:7). Peter does not know the
identity of the traitor, and so asks a disciple truly "in the know" for this information
(13:24); but the narrative does not indicate that he was in fact told the secret. When Jesus
tells Judas "What you are going to do, do quickly," Peter appears to be like the others:
"No one at the table knew why he [Jesus] said this to him [Judas]" (13:28). They have
erroneous interpretations of Jesus' remarks to Judas (13:27-29).
3.2.3 Insiders: Degrees of Being "In the Know." The narrator makes a point of telling
us that various insiders know different things. I suggest that this also serves to rank the
persons in Jesus' circle.
(1) Certain persons are labelled as insiders by the very fact that they "come and see"
when invited. Whether Andrew and associate (1:39), Nathanael (1:46) or the men of
Samaria (4:29), they come to Jesus and know (1:41, 49; 4:42). We truly consider them
insiders, and even credit Nathanael with a high status than the traditional apostles by
virtue of his struggle to "come and see" and Jesus' special conversation with him.
(2) As important as these events are for indicating knowledgeable insiders, they are
surpassed in importance by the "statement-misunderstanding-clarification" that the
Samaritan woman and Martha experience. When the Samaritan woman begins her
conversation with Jesus, she is told "If only you knew..." (4:10); Jesus, who knows
hearts, indicates that she is "not in the know." But she progresses from asking questions
(4:9, 12) to perceiving acutely (4:19), to learning important information (4:20-24), and
finally to receiving a formal revelation (4:25-26; Neyrey 1994:). In addition to here
coming "into the know" when Jesus' "told her everything she ever did" (4:29, 39), she

becomes a conduit of information for others. Clearly, she is one of the Johannine
heroines, even a foil for the obtuse Nicodemus; she becomes a person very much "in the
know." Comparably, Martha experiences an enlightenment. Unlike the Samaritan woman
who began her conversation with Jesus "not in the know," Martha begins by knowing
two things: "I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you" (11:22) and "I
know that he [Lazarus] will rise again at the resurrection of the dead" (11:24). Yet just as
Jesus led the Samaritan woman through "statement" and "misunderstanding" and
"clarification," so he leads Martha to a marvelous revelation:
Statement: "Your brother will rise again" (11:23)
Misunderstanding:" I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (11:24)
Clarification: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even though he
die, yet shall he live" (11:25). And once "in the know," she too leads others to Jesus,
namely her sister Mary (11:28-29). Thus Martha begins knowing something, but ends
knowing very important information about Jesus; she also serves as a conduit of special
information. Because she begins the story as a "beloved disciple" (11:5) and receives so
important a revelation (11:25-27), she stand a notch higher than the Samaritan woman.
Even insiders, then, can be differentiated in terms of what they know.
(3) The man born blind presents another Johannine hero, and especially one who goes
from blindness to sight to insight. Blind from birth (9:2) and at first "not in the know"
(9:12, 25), he is transformed into a sighted person (9:7) who gains great insight. He
comes to know that Jesus is a prophet (9:17); and with others he proclaims, "We know
that God does not listen to sinners" (9:31); finally, he knows what others should know:
"If this man were not from God, he could do nothing" (9:33). His transformation,
moreover, continues when Jesus finds him and reveals himself to him (9:35-38). From
knowing nothing, he has progressed to knowing about Jesus and then to acknowledging
him. Jesus canonizes him with the remark: "For judgment I came into this world, that
those who do not see may see" (9:39). The blind man, precisely because he serves as the
narrative foil to the obtuse and unknowing Pharisees (9:39-41), is a type of Johannine
character, a hero who makes a bold public confession as well as a person supremely "in
the know."
In my estimation, he is portrayed as being more of an insider than the Samaritan woman
because of the following. He speaks on behalf of Jesus before hostile crowds and says
what he knows. Not only does he contrast with his Pharisaic investigators, he is
juxtaposed as well with his parents, who both do not know and are afraid to speak what
they know. "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now
sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes" (9:20-21). The author labels
his parents cowards when he comments: "His parents said this because they feared the
Jews" (9:22) who threatened excommunication to anyone who confessed Jesus to be the
Christ. He speaks boldly on behalf of Jesus, saying what he knows, even when it causes
his expulsion from the synagogue (9:34). Finally, he receives a Christophany, the central
focus of which is revelation of the "Son of man" (9:35), knowledge which Jesus alone

imparts (3:13; 8:28; 12:34) and which represents a more esoteric understanding of Jesus
than "Messiah." On the basis of what he comes to know, then, the man born blind
represents a still inner level of sophistication in the circle of the Johannine disciples. In
terms of social ranking within the Johannine group, he should probably be placed
alongside Martha because of the quality of his "knowledge" about Jesus.
When all the information about the inner circle of disciples is gathered, we find a
correlation between the standing of a disciple within the group and what he knows. For
example, in the inaugural appearance of Jesus in 1:35-51 the narrator tells of a series of
people who come "into the know," Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael. Let us list what
each knows:
Andrew: Where do you stay? (1:38-39)
We have found the Messiah (1:41)
Philip: We found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote (1:45)
Nathanael: Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.
Curiously, Peter never says anything about Jesus, so we do not know what he knows at
this point. Brown (196?) and others have noted that the knowledge encoded in the
Christological titles grows to the climactic response of Nathanael. Nathanael, moreover,
is canonized by Jesus as an "Israelite in whom there is no deceit" (1:47); the narrator
sees him as a heroic figure who went against his pervious knowledge and study of
Scripture to "come and see" for himself. He has the best lines, the juicier part in the
drama, and the climactic place in the process. On the narrative level, then, Nathanael is
"more in the know" than the others and so we judge him to enjoy a higher status among
the group than the others. This inaugural narrative, then, programs the reader to expect
certain things: (1) there is growth in knowledge about Jesus, which can be mapped by
progress in the titles ascribed to him by his disciples; (2) some disciples simply know
more; disciples "in the know" give their knowledge to others; and (4) disciples "in the
know" enjoy more status and prestige in the group than those "notin the know" or those
with lesser knowledge.
(4) If Nicodemus is to be considered an insider at all, his position among the disciples
must be relatively low. He came at night; he has "earthly" knowledge about Jesus; he
remains on the level of a question asker, not a revelation receiver; he never shares
whatever he knows with anyone. Nicodemus, then, may be a disciple, but one of very
limited knowledge and very low status.
(5) Peter provides an interesting test of this hypothesis. In the synoptic gospels, certain
details serve to indicate his "knowledge" and his high status: (1) Peter is called first and
given a new name; (2) he is privy to special revelations of Jesus, raisings from the dead,
transformations on high mountains, special information about tax paying, secrets about
the temple and the coming of the Son of man; (3) he is honored as the recipient of

directly heavenly revelation about Jesus' identity; and (4) he speaks on behalf of the
group.
The Fourth Gospel portrays Peter in quite a different light. He is called second, and not
by Jesus himself; his brother Andrew is "first in time" and "first in knowledge" (1:4041). Thus from the beginning, Peter does not enjoy very high social status within the
circle of disciples. When we compare Peter's remarks to Jesus at the crisis with the
"dropouts" (Matsunaga ) with the confession at Caesarea Philippi, Peter knows
something, but it is not the climactic insight described by the Synoptics, nor is it said to
be revealed from heaven.
Mark 8:28-29 John 6:
"Who do you say that I am?" "Do you also wish to go away?"
"You are the Christ." "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and come to
know, that you are the Holy One of God."

Yet Peter's remarks in the Fourth Gospel sound quite nondescript as important
information about Jesus or public confession of his identity. Although he speaks for all
the disciples, the reader does not automatically credit Peter with special status because of
the lackluster and low-density knowledge he has. Nathanael he is not!
The Johannine portrait of Peter becomes clearer in the Farewell Address. Four times the
reader is told that Peter is "not in the know":
13:7 (concerning the footwashing): "What I am doing you do not know now, but
afterwards you will know"
13:24 (concerning the traitor): "Simon Peter beckoned to him and said: 'Tell us who it is
of whom he speaks."
13:36 (concerning Jesus' departure): "Lord, where are you going?"
13:37 (concerning Peter's following): "Lord, why cannot I follow you now?"
Yes, he will know later; he will follow later (13:7, 36); but at this narrative point, he is
simply "not in the know." In the Synoptics this would not be so damaging a portrayal,
but in the Fourth Gospel he is contrasted with a figure who is marvelously "in the know,"
the Beloved Disciple. And so Peter's lack of information puts him lower on the status
ladder than the Beloved Disciples.
The comparison and contrast of Peter and the Beloved Disciple continues in the Fourth
Gospel (Neyrey ). At the gate of the high priest's palace, the Beloved Disciple is cast in
the role of the "shepherd," while Peter is the "sheep." The BD is "known" to the
gatekeeper and has her open the gate to let one of the sheep in. Furthermore, on the
morning of the resurrection, the two are again paired and compared. The Beloved
Disciple not only runs faster and arrives at the tomb first (20:4-5), but he not only "saw"

what Peter saw, he "saw and believed" (20:8), remarks which keep positioning him
above Peter in status. Finally, when the disciples are last described together, no body,
and certainly not Peter, recognizes Jesus on the shore, except the Beloved Disciple. He
shares what he knows with Peter: "That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the
Lord'" (21:7). Only at the very ending of what appears to be a final redaction of the
gospel do we find Peter ever coming "into the know," and even there the narrator does
not explicitly say that Peter understood Jesus. After Jesus ascribed to Peter the role and
status of "shepherd" for the group (21:15-17), Jesus reveals to Peter his future: "...when
you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you
where you do not wish to go" (21:18).
We must, however, examine carefully what is said and not said about Peter here. If
shepherd, then Peter should "lay down his life for the sheep," the hallmark of "good
shepherds" (10:11, 15). But that aspect of shepherd is absent here from Jesus' remarks.
The good shepherd, while a victim of predators, takes an active, bold and public role on
behalf of the sheep. Peter is only predicted as suffering a death. Moreover, the narrator
does not say whether Peter understood Jesus' remark, just as he did not indicate whether
Peter received his requested information about the traitor (13:24). The remark is cryptic;
like many of Jesus statements, it is controlled information which is not immediately
understandable. We the readers are "in the know" simply because the narrator shares
with us the secret: "This he said to show by what death he would glorify God" (21:19).
Thus there remains considerable ambiguity about Peter, even at the point that the
narrative seems to clarify his precise status in the group. Can we ever confidently say
that Peter is "in the know"? Is he ever "in the know" about important Christological
matters?
(6) Thus in every instance that the Beloved Disciple appears, he is closer to Jesus
physically; he has direct access to very important information; and he comes to insight
first among the disciples. He is, moreover, labelled "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He,
but not Peter, enjoys very high status, and the index of that status is the information he
knows (and shares).
(7) One other disciple deserves consideration in this mapping of the status of insiders.
The portrayal of Mary Magdalene on the morning of the resurrection indicates a person
who is transformed from a person painfully "not in the know" to someone who is both
well informed about great secrets and informs others. She begins the narrative "not in the
know":
20:2 "...we do not know where they have laid him"
20:13 "I do not know where they have laid him"
20:14 She did not know that it was Jesus
20:15 Supposing him to be the gardener..."Tell me where you have laid him"

Pained in her lack of information about Jesus and painfully ignorant of who speaks to
her ("supposing him to be the gardener"), Mary is transformed immediately into a
disciple supremely "in the know." Jesus calls her name, which serves as a revelation to
her which pulls back the veil of unknowing: "Mary. . .Rabbi" (20:16). But this
knowledge serves as a prelude to the great revelation of one of the most important
secrets in the gospel: "Go to my brethren and say to them 'I am ascending to my Father
and your Father, to my God and your God'" (20:17). As like other disciples "in the
know," she serves as a conduit of key Christological information to others, who are also
insiders (20:18).
In my scheme of things, Mary enjoys very high status within the Johannine group. She is
the first in time to see the Risen Lord; she is transformed into a person who is supremely
"in the know" with knowledge of the most important secrets about Jesus ("whither he
goes"); and she serves as an authorized conduit of this information to others. Neither
Andrew, Peter, Nathanael nor the man born blind are so portrayed. Her knowledge, then,
indicates a special status within the group.
In summary, I offer the following diagram which attempts to rank and locate the status of
the various disciples of Jesus in terms of two features: their own knowledge of Jesus and
the spread of this knowledge to others.
DISCIPLE
Nicodemus

Andrew, Philip,
Nathanael and
other traditional
disciples
Peter

KNOWLEDGE
knowledge: Jesus is a teacher
come from God

STATUS
ambiguous insider; very low status: (1) comes at
night; (2) earthly knowledge; (3) never leads
others to Jesus

knowledge: Jesus is Messiah... the genuine insiders; moderate status because the
one of whom Moses & the
Christological information is "low Christology";
prophets wrote...Son of God and conduits of information to others
King of Israel
knowledge: Jesus is the Holy One genuine insider; but of ambiguous status; very
of God
limited knowledge about Jesus; never serves as
conduit of information to others

Samaritan Woman knowledge: Jesus is greater than significant insider; transformed from "not in the
our father Jacob...a prophet...the know" to very much "in the know"; possesses
Messiah; receives a Christophany very important knowledge, especially a
Christophany; serves as conduit of information
to others
Man Born Blind

knowledge: Jesus is a
prophet...cannot be a sinner...must
be authorized by God...Son of
man

very high status as insider: transformed from


"blind" to "in the know"; receives a
Christophany; bold confession of Jesus in
public; conduit of information about Jesus to
others, even if others refuse it

Martha

knowledge: Jesus is the


Resurrection and the Life...the
Christ, the Son of God, he who is
coming into the world

still higher status: beloved disciple; led from


solid knowledge to still higher knowledge;
special Christophany; conduit of information to
others

knowledge: Rabbi...risen and


ascending Lord

still higher status: called by name; transformed


from "not in the know" to "in the know"; special
Christophany with very esoteric knowledge;
conduit of information to others

Mary Magdalene

Beloved Disciple

knowledge: identity of the traitor; highest status in the group: most beloved by
believes at the tomb; recognizes
Jesus and physically closest to him; always
Jesus on the shore
maximally "in the know"; conduit of
information to others

This chart clarifies certain things about the characterization of the disciples. First, not all
know the same thing; some know more than others; and some even know the most
esoteric of information, viz., "where" Jesus is going. Second, some receive special
Christophanies: Jesus "finds" them apart from others, thus a tte--tte ensues in which
he reveals special secrets to them, often in the form of "I am ..." announcements. Some
enjoy a second source of status in virtue of their public confession of Jesus. Finally,
genuine insiders all seem to serve as conduits of information to others, although some
have more important information to convey than others.
(8) Yet

Disciples (14-16)

*1, s-m-c: Sam (4) and Martha (11)


*2. blind man sees (9)
* come and see: came and saw (1:35ff; 4:27ff; 11: )
3. questions answered (9:2)
5. instruction of the disciples (14-16)
3. Peter comes to know; even revelation 21:18-19
7. Mary Magdalene (20) not in the know to greatly in the know
8. BD

3.3 Secrecy and Scrutiny of Jesus' Words

2.0 Secrecy: the Semantic Word Field. Increasingly New Testament students are
turning for information on key terms, not just to concordances or the Kittel TDNT, but to
works which present semantic word fields (Danker; Nida and Loew; Darton). Such an
approach reminds us that a single linguistic term may be repeated in a document, but
may also return in many synonyms; it may also be related to or imply other terms or
forms (all commands expect obedience; all questions expect answers). Moreover,
because language must be understood in terms of cultural systems (Malina), individual
terms may imply a "system" operating in the culture (i.e., sorcery accusation system;
patronage system, and the like). The following is an attempt to build a semantic word
field for "secrecy." Not all of the terms cited are found in the Fourth Gospel, but notice
of them serves to complete our view of secrecy and sensitizes us to the extent of the
secrecy system.
Hide, Hidden
- kalypt, kalymma
- krypt-kryptos
- lanthan
2. Reveal, Show, Open
- apokalypt-apokalypsis - phanero-phaneros
- deiknymi, endeiknymi - dlo
- phain - epiphain, epiphania
- anaggel - gnriz
- smain - chrematiz
- anoig - anaptyss
Private and Public
- lathra and en krypti/parrsia
3. True and False
- alths and althinos/pseudos and plastos
5. Lying, Liar, Lies
- pseudomi, pseduos, pseuts

- pseudo- apostolos, martys, prophtes, christus


3. Secrets
- mysterion, ainigma, paroimia, ta krypta
7. Deceiving, Deceiver, Deceit
- plana, plans - deleaz
- dolo, dolos - paralogizomai
- hypokrits, hypokrisis - apata
- methodeia - panourgia
- gos - kybeia
8. Appearances, Appear, Seem
- doke - kata sarka
- prophasis - prospoieomai
9. Silence
-siag
10. Interpret, Count (as), Reckon (as)
- exgeomai - logizomai
dealing with the phenomenon of espionage in the New Testament.
1. Spy, Spying
- kataskopos/kataskopiaz (Heb 11:31; Gal 2:4)
- egkathimi (Luke 20:20)
- pareisaktos (Gal 2:4)
- katopteu/katopts
- skpiazomai/skopos/diaskopiazomai

2. Trap, Catch
- agreu (Mark 12:13)
3. Cleverness, Craftiness
- panourgos/panourgia
- dolos
4. Report, Betray, Act as Traitor
- paradidos/paradidmi
In addition, there are many terms for (a) questioning (eromai, exereein, exetaz,
anakrin, erta/dierta, pynthanomai), (2) investigating (exetaz, anazte, anakrin,
skope/diaskope, ereuna/diexereuna, akribo/diakribo, mikrologeomai), and (3)
inquire (exeta, zte, eromai, munthanomai, erta). We know of curious people
(philopeuths/philopeustos, lichnos, periergos) and busybodies (allotriepiskopos, 1 Peter
4:15) and gossips (phlyaros, 1 Tim 5:13). Furthermore, the ordinary semantic forms of
asking questions to get information should be included, whether this is done informally
or by a judicial body or by spies.

Disciples (14-16)

*1, s-m-c: Sam (4) and Martha (11)


*2. blind man sees (9)
*3. come and see: came and saw (1:35ff; 4:27ff; 11: )
4. questions answered (9:2)
5. instruction of the disciples (14-16)
6. Peter comes to know; even revelation 21:18-19
7. Mary Magdalene (20) not in the know to greatly in the know
8. BD

6.3 Secrecy and Scrutiny of Jesus' Words

http://nd.edu/~jneyrey1/secrecy.html

"The Sociology of Secrecy and the Fourth Gospel."


In What Is John? Vol. II: Literary and Social Readings
of the Fourth Gospel, 79-109. F. Segovia, ed. Atlanta:
Scholars Press, 1998.