Jesus' Parables for Disciples
Most of the Synoptic Gospels use the term "the Jews" rarely, and usually in the phrase "King of the Jews." However, John's Gospel uses it 70 times. The adjective Ioudaios is literally, "Judean." While in our day, "Jews" generally refers to all those whose faith adheres to the Mosaic tradition, John seems to use it to describe Jews of the Judean area -- speaking from the perspective of a Galilean. While occasionally John uses the term in a positive sense (4:22), usually he uses the term to refer to the Jewish leaders from Judea who are hostile to Jesus.
In our ears, John's use of the term "the Jews" may sound even anti-Semitic, but it's not. John himself and Jesus his Lord were Jews. However, at the time John was writing his Gospel in the early 90s AD, there was a movement among the Jewish leaders, following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, to reconstitute the Sanhedrin at Jamnia.Around that time, a benediction was developed in Jamnia designed to force Jewish Christians out of the synagogues. The benediction, to be recited by all attendees, contained a curse of heretics, and in some cases, Christians in particular.
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In this context it is no wonder that John's use of the term "Jews" referred primarily to the Jewish leaders hostile to Jesus.
Present-day Yavne is south of Tel Aviv and north of Ashdod, about 4 miles inland.
Beasley-Murray, John, p. 20; Morris, John, pp. 130-131; Ioudaios, BDAG 478, 2c and d.
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