A Study of the Johannine Symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) with Particular Reference to «Ofo» Symbol in Igbo, Nigeria

A Biblical Inculturation Approach

by Livinus Maduadichie (Author)
©2020 Thesis 512 Pages


The Johannine symbol of the good shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) is employed by the fourth evangelist from the Jewish cultural context, to communicate the Divine message of the redemption of humanity by Jesus Christ, who is the Symbol, the Son and the Revealer of the Johannine Father. This symbol is discussed here from the hermeneutical perspective in the context of Igbo in Nigeria, with particular reference to «Ofo», an Igbo ritual symbol. The symbol of the good shepherd depicts different meanings, depending on the exegetical approach of the interpreter, and among them is the depth of love which the Johannine Father has for the humanity. The «Ofo» similarly, symbolizes diverse values among which are, the virtue of truth, innocence, justice, power, emblem of unity, staff of authority and indestructibility of the individual or the group. Using the literary analysis of exegesis, the method of the intercultural hermeneutics, employed in the African method of biblical analysis, is applied in the discourse. With this method therefore, the findings from the analysis of the «Ofo» ritual symbol are used to read the results from the exegetical analysis of the symbol of the good shepherd because they have interface at the symbolic level. This feature enables the reader to grasp the message of the shepherd discourse of Jn 10:1-18.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Acknowledgment
  • Preface to the Series
  • Vorwort zur Reihe
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • General Introduction
  • The Background
  • The Motivation
  • Shepherding in Igbo Cultural Context
  • Methodological Approach
  • The Biblical Inculturation
  • Inculturation and Biblical Hermeneutics
  • Development of the Thesis
  • 1 The Study of Some Literary Devices
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Clarification of Terms: Literal and Non-Literal
  • 1.1.1 Literal Language
  • 1.1.2 Non-iteral (Figurative) Language
  • 1.2 The Study of Metaphor
  • 1.2.1 Definition of Metaphor
  • 1.2.2 Understanding the Dynamism of Metaphor
  • 1.2.3 Tenor and Vehicle
  • 1.2.4 Searches for the Understanding of Metaphorical Language: Theories of Metaphor
  • Metaphor as Substitution59
  • Metaphor as Deviation
  • The Thesis of the Theory
  • Resolving the Problem of Deviation: The Principle of Compatibility
  • Comparison View of Metaphor
  • Metaphor as Categorical Mistake
  • Interaction Theory of Metaphor
  • Metaphor as Resemblance
  • Dead Metaphor
  • Criticisms of Metaphor
  • The Negative Impact of Metaphor on Human Language
  • The Value of Metaphor
  • The Role of Metaphor as Constructive of Social and Organizational Reality
  • Conclusion
  • 1.3 Explorative Study of the Concept of Symbol
  • Introduction
  • 1.3.1 Investigation on the Meaning of the Concept of Symbol
  • The Etymological Meaning of the Term Symbol [Sumbolon (Σύμβολον)]
  • The Development of the Understanding of the Concept of Symbol
  • The Understanding in the ancient Period
  • The Later Development
  • Dictionary Perspective of the Concept of Symbol
  • Opinion of some Authors about the Concept of Symbol
  • Technical View of the Concept of Symbol
  • Psychologist View of Symbol
  • More Expositions on the Concept of the Symbol
  • Creation of Symbol: Imposition of Meaning on Object
  • The Symbol and Thought
  • Conclusion
  • 1.3.2 The Characteristics of a Symbol
  • Mysterious Nature of Symbol
  • Analogical Nature of Symbol
  • The Communicative Characteristic of a Symbol
  • The Ambiguous Character of a Symbol
  • The Perceptible Feature of a Symbol
  • An Inherent Power in the Symbol
  • The Symbol as the Property of a Group
  • Conclusion
  • 1.3.3 The Functions of a Symbol
  • The Role of a Symbol in Didactic Discourse
  • The Symbol and the Humans
  • The Symbol: An Aid to the Human Development
  • The Symbol as a Proof for the Humanity of the Human Animal
  • Symbol and Communication
  • The Symbol as a Means of Communication
  • The Emotive Use of the Symbol
  • The Demonstrative Use of a Symbol
  • The Symbol: An Instrument for the Expansion of a Message
  • The Symbol and the Society
  • The Symbol as a powerful Tool in the Hands of the Politicians and the Elites
  • The Symbol as the Projection of one’s Opinion in the Society
  • The Symbol as the Tool for a Social Change
  • The Symbol as an Instrument for the Social Unity
  • Conclusion
  • Evaluation
  • 2 The Concept of the Johannine Symbol
  • Introduction
  • 2.1 The Meaning of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.2 The Mystery and the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.3 The Operational Dynamism of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.4 The Need for the Use of the Symbol by the Johannine Author
  • 2.5 The Objection to the Symbolic Nature of the Johannine Gospel
  • 2.6 The Symbolic Nature of the Fourth Gospel
  • 2.6.1 The Argument from “I am” Sayings
  • 2.6.2 The Evidences from some Scholars
  • Conclusion
  • 2.7 The Johannine Σημεiον as Σύμβολον
  • 2.7.1 The Semantic Confusion of the Concept of Sign in Relation to the Johannine Σημεῖον
  • 2.7.2 The “Sign” as the Σημεῖον in Johannine Sense
  • The General Meaning of “Sign” as Σημεῖον
  • The Σημεῖον in the Johannine Writing
  • The Johannine Source of the Concept of Σημεῖον
  • The Phrase ‘Σημεῖα καὶ Τέρατα’ – [God’s] Signs and Wonders
  • The Johannine Sign as Johannine Symbol
  • Conclusion
  • 2.8 The Examination of the Source of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.8.1 The Sources of the Johannine Symbolism
  • The Old Testament Influence
  • Judaism as the Source of the Johannine Symbolism
  • Re-Interpretation of the Jewish Symbols
  • The Context of the Re-Interpretation
  • Beyond Jewish Belief
  • The Fourth Evangelist as a Revolutionary
  • Philosophical Tradition of the Time
  • The World of the Johannine Author
  • The Prevailing Imagery at the Period of the Composition of the Fourth Gospel
  • The Implication of the Re-Interpretation of the Symbols from Jewish Tradition
  • Conclusion
  • 2.9 The Types of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.9.1 The Basic Johannine Symbols
  • The Personal Symbols
  • The Impersonal Symbols
  • The Core Symbol
  • The Identification of the core Symbol
  • The Emergence of the core Symbols
  • The Core Symbol and the Reader
  • The Supporting Symbol
  • The Identification of the Supporting/Subordinate Symbols
  • The Role of the Impersonal Symbols
  • Conclusion
  • 2.10 The Purpose of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.10.1 Revelatory Role of the Johannine Symbol
  • 2.10.2 Resolution of the Seemingly Contradictions in the Gospel
  • 2.10.3 Symbol as Medium of Communication of the Transcendent
  • 2.10.4 The Unitive Role of the Johannine Symbol
  • Conclusion
  • Evaluation
  • 3 The Exegetical Study of the Symbol of the Good Shepherd as the Paradigm of Johannine Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel
  • Introduction
  • 3.1 The Interpretation of the Johannine Symbols
  • 3.1.1 The Need for the Interpretation
  • 3.1.2 Discernment of the Symbol in the Text
  • The Symbolic Statement
  • The Symbolic Action
  • 3.1.3 Problem of Interpreting the Johannine Symbol
  • The Problem of Multiple Meanings of the Symbol
  • Historical Problem
  • Ambiguous Feature of Symbols
  • 3.1.4 Gradual Development of the Interpretation of Johannine Symbol
  • 3.1.5 Guideline to authentic Interpretation of Johannine Symbol
  • Conclusion
  • 3.2 The Basic Elements for the Study of the Text, Jn 10:1–18
  • 3.2.1 Hypothesis about the Division of the Fourth Gospel
  • The Book of Signs
  • The Book of Glory
  • 3.2.2 The Location of the Text of our Study – Jn 10:1–18
  • 3.2.3 The Context of the Text
  • 3.2.4 The Structure of the Text
  • The Table of the Delineations of different Authors
  • Commentary on the Table (A) of Delineation
  • 3.2.5 The Structure of the Text of our Study
  • Commentary on the Structure of the Text of our Study in Table B
  • 3.2.6 The Literary Unity of the Text
  • 3.2.7 The Background of the Shepherd Discourse
  • The Old Testament Background
  • The Table of the verbal Parallels of the Texts of Jn 10 and Ezk. 34 (LXX)
  • Commentary on the verbal Parallels of the Texts of John 10 and Ezekiel 34
  • The Verbal Parallels of the Texts of Jn 10:1–9 and Num. 27:15–21 (LXX)
  • Commentary on the verbal Parallels of the Texts of Jn 10:1–9 and Num. 27:15–21 of Table D
  • The Extra Biblical Background of the Text of Jn 10
  • The Document of the Odes of Solomon
  • Conclusion
  • 3.3 The Thematic Development of the Narrative of the Sheep-Farming, Jn 10:1–5
  • 3.3.1 The Characterization of the Text155
  • 3.3.2 The Setting of the Sheepfold
  • 3.3.3 The dynamic Development in Verses 1–2: The First Contrast
  • 3.3.4 Primary Images of Thieves and Robbers in Jewish Understanding
  • 3.3.5 The dynamic Development in Verses 3–5: The Second Contrast
  • The Treatment of Verse 3
  • The Relationship between the Shepherd and the Sheep
  • The Treatment of Verses 4–5
  • 3.3.6 The Examination of the Johannine Concept of Παροιμία (Figure of Speech) Verse 6
  • The General Understanding and Application of the Concept of Παροιμία
  • Παροιμία in Johannine Context
  • Conclusion
  • Evaluation
  • 3.4 The Exegetical Examination of the Symbol of the Door (Jn 10:7–10)
  • Introduction
  • 3.4.1 Reading 10:7–10
  • 3.4.2 The Literary Unity of the Symbol of the Door in Verses 7–10
  • 3.4.3 The Treatment of Verse 7
  • The Opening Statement in Verse 7
  • The Symbolic Application of the Narrative of Sheep-Farming
  • The Literal Meaning of “ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων” (I am the Door of the sheep)
  • The Symbolic Meaning of Verse 7
  • The Variant in Verse 7
  • 3.4.4 The Identity of ‘those who came before me,’ in Verse 8
  • The Variant “πρὸ ἐμοῦ” in Verse 8
  • The Identity of ‘those who came before’ Jesus
  • 3.4.5 The Treatment of Verse 9: “I am the Door” [for the Sheep]
  • Literal Meaning of Verse 9
  • The Symbolic Interpretation of Verse 9
  • The Theme of Salvation in Verse 9
  • 3.4.6 Contrasting Jesus and the Thieves and Robbers (Verse 10)
  • The Contrast between the Thief and Jesus
  • Conclusion
  • 3.5 The Exegetical Treatment of the Symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11–18)
  • Introduction
  • 3.5.1 The Basic Concepts of Sheep and Shepherd
  • The Concept of Sheep (Πρóβατον)
  • The Concept of Shepherd (Ποιμήν)
  • 3.5.2 The Exegesis of Verses 11–13
  • Treatment of Verse 11
  • The Exegetical Examination of “I am the Good Shepherd,” Verse 11a
  • The Symbolic Feature of Verse 11a
  • The Feature of Good Shepherd and Sheep
  • Shepherding as Metaphor
  • Ό Καλός (The Good)
  • The Import of the definite Article Ό (THE) in the Good Shepherd
  • The Nuances of Ό ΚΑΛΌΣ (THE GOOD)
  • ΚΑΛΌΣ in the Context of OT and NT
  • The Significance of καλός in Shepherd Discourse
  • The Designation of Jesus as the Good Shepherd
  • The Good Shepherd lays down His Life for the Sheep, Verse 11b
  • The Climax of the Text
  • The Influence of OT on “…τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπέρ ….”480
  • The Role of τίθημι in the Text
  • The Verb τίθησιν
  • The Washing of the Feet of the Disciples: The τίθησιν Connection
  • The Tense of the Verb τίθησιν
  • Conclusion
  • 3.5.3 The Hireling: Verses 12–13
  • The hired Hand: His Reaction on Sighting the Wolf
  • The Consequence of the Reaction
  • The Hireling as Contrasting Figure
  • The Identity of the Hireling
  • Analysis about the Hireling
  • 3.5.4 The Treatment of the Mutual Knowledge, Verses 14–15
  • The Reciprocal Knowledge in Verses 14–15
  • The “Hearing” and “Knowing” of the Voice in John’s Theological Concept
  • The Source of the Johannine Idea of Knowledge
  • The Implication of the Mutual Knowledge in Relation to the Audience
  • The Import of καθώς in Verse 15
  • Conclusion
  • 3.5.5 The Identity of the “Other Sheep that do not belong to this Fold” (ἄλλα πρόβατα ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τῆς αὐλῆς), Verse 16
  • The Present Fold: The Fold of Israel
  • The Identification of the “Other Sheep” (ἄλλα πρόβατα) outside the Fold
  • Conclusion
  • 3.5.6 The Climax of the Shepherd Discourse: The Death and Resurrection in the Context of the Power of Jesus and the Command of the Father (vv. 17–18)
  • The Climax of the Shepherd Discourse
  • The Unity of vv. 17–18 with the Rest of the Pericope
  • The Literary Background of the Text of Verse 17–18
  • Jesus receives the Command (ἐντολή) from the Father
  • The Power (ἐξουσία) of Jesus
  • The Cross and the Crucifixion611 as the Choice of Jesus
  • The Resurrection of Jesus (Verse 18b)
  • The Post-Resurrection Identity of Jesus
  • Conclusion
  • 4 The Exegetical Analysis of the Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Introduction
  • 4.1 The Cultural Context of the Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • 4.1.1 The Geographical Location of Igboland
  • 4.1.2 The Igbo Language
  • 4.1.3 The Igbo Cultural Heritage
  • 4.1.4 The Concept of Worldview
  • 4.1.5 The Religious Attitude of the Igbo People
  • 4.1.6 The Traditional Igbo Cosmology: The Igbo Perception of Reality (Igbo Worldview)
  • The Need of Locating the Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Perception of Life in the Traditional Igbo Worldview
  • The Traditional Igbo Perception of Reality (Igbo Worldview)
  • Speculation on the Hierarchical Order of the Spiritual Beings
  • The Earth-Deity – (The Earth-Goddess)
  • The Earth-Mother as the Queen of the Underworld
  • Ancestors77 as Ambassadors/Intermediaries
  • Man: The Centre of the Cosmos
  • The Transcendence of the Divinity and the entire Supernatural Realm
  • The Traditional Igbo Perception of Reality as a Religious Cosmology
  • 4.1.7 The Religious Symbols
  • The General Notion of the Religious Symbol
  • The Symbolism in African/Igbo Traditional World
  • Some Igbo Ritual Symbols
  • Nzu
  • The Ikenga
  • Conclusion
  • 4.2 The Exegetical Analysis of the Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Introduction
  • 4.2.1 The Terminology of Ofo
  • Explanation of Ofo as a Plant/Tree
  • The Concept of Ofo as Plant/Tree
  • Origin of Ofo
  • The Features of Ofo
  • Examination of Ofo as Ritual Symbol
  • The Concept of Ofo as a Ritual Symbol
  • The Making of the cultic Ofo Symbol
  • The Invoking of Power into Ofo
  • 4.2.2 The Types of Ofo
  • Classifications of Ofo
  • Personal Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • The Hereditary Lineage Ofo
  • The Lineage Ofo250
  • Origin of Lineage Ofo
  • Inheriting of Lineage Ofo
  • The Power of the Lineage Ofo
  • Titular Ofo269
  • The Institutional and Professional Ofo274
  • Women and Ofo
  • 4.2.3 The Interpretation of  Ofo
  • Conceptual Meaning of   Ofo
  • The Symbolization Ability of the Traditional Igbo
  • Unifying Role of Ofo
  • Ofo as a Symbol of the Social Norms
  • Ofo: Symbol of Natural Bond of Unity
  • The Central Place of the Ofo in Igbo Traditional Religion
  • Ofo in the Traditional Wisdom Genre (Ofo Concept in the Formulation of Igbo Names)
  • Ofo as the Material Realization in the Ancestral Distribution of Power and Authority
  • 4.2.4 The Significance of Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Ofo as a Medium of Communication
  • Ofo as the Symbol of Ontological Relationship
  • The Example of the Traditional Morning Prayer
  • Ofo in the Offering of Sacrifice
  • Sealing of a Covenant with Ofo
  • Ofo in the Dispensation of Justice
  • Ofo in Decision-Making and its Implication
  • Announcing the Decision
  • Ofo and Swearing an Oath
  • Ofo as an Aid in Recovering a stolen Item
  • The Anthropomorphic Use of Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Magico-Religious Use of   Ofo
  • Conclusion
  • 5 The Reading of the Johannine Symbol of the Good Shepherd in the Context and Hermeneutical Perspective of Igbo with Particular Reference to Ofo: an Igbo Ritual Symbol
  • 5.1 The African Method of Intercultural Biblical Exegesis and the Inculturation Biblical Hermeneutics
  • Introduction
  • 5.1.1 Inculturation Theology
  • 5.1.2 A Brief History of African Theology
  • 5.1.3 Intercultural Biblical Exegesis and Inculturation Biblical Hermeneutics
  • 5.1.4 Imperative for African Hermeneutics
  • 5.1.5 The African and Western Approaches to Biblical Scholarship
  • 5.1.6 Critic of African Biblical Hermeneutics
  • 5.1.7 Caveat over the Application of the Method of Intercultural Exegesis
  • 5.1.8 The Objective of Discussion on the African Method of Exegesis: The Ofo Ritual Symbol Connection
  • 5.2 The Reading of the Symbol of the Door (Jn 10:7–10)
  • Introduction
  • 5.2.1 Salvation in Igbo Religious Thought
  • The Eternal Life for the Traditional Igbo: Ancestors and the Ancestral World
  • Death as the Gateway to Ancestorhood
  • Performing the Funeral Rites
  • The Eternal Life in Igbo Traditional Thought: Existence of Heaven (in the Underworld)
  • The African/Igbo Perception of Heaven (Ancestral/Spirit-World)
  • Salvation in African/Igbo Traditional Religion
  • 5.3 Reading of the Symbol of the Door (Jn 10:7–10) in the Context of Ofo
  • Introduction
  • 5.3.1 Jesus, the Symbol of the Door and the Symbol of Ofo as Means of Salvation
  • The Intersection of Christian and the Traditional Igbo Perspectives of Salvation
  • The Role of the Symbols of the Door and Ofo
  • The Theme of Healing
  • The Symbols of the Door and Ofo as Means of Salvation in Picture
  • The Tabulation of the Symbol of the Door as Means of Salvation in Relation to Ofo Symbol
  • The Summary of Table
  • The Explanation of the Table
  • Key to the Understanding of the Groups in the Table
  • Conclusion
  • 5.4 Reading of the Symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11–18) in the Context of Ofo
  • Introduction
  • 5.4.1 The Symbols of the Good Shepherd and Ofo Ritual Stick as Connecting Link to the Transcendental Sphere
  • 5.4.2 Ofo as Instrument of Hierophany
  • 5.4.3 Acquisition of the Knowledge of the Transcendence
  • 5.4.4 Common Belief in God
  • 5.4.5 The Theme of Natural Bond of Unity
  • 5.4.6 Instruments for the Communication of the Divine Message
  • 5.4.7 The Theme of Love
  • 5.4.8 Instruments of Revelation
  • 5.4.9 The Creation and Resolution of Conflicts
  • 5.4.10 Conceptualization, Codification and Integration of Values and Norms
  • 5.4.11 The Mediatory Role
  • 5.4.12 The Corollary of the Re-Interpretation of the Symbols
  • Conclusion
  • 5.5 The General Evaluation
  • Introduction
  • 5.5.1 Literary Devices
  • Metaphor
  • Symbol
  • 5.5.2 Method of Literary Criticism: Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics
  • 5.5.3 The Concept of Johannine Symbol
  • 5.5.4 The Identification of Johannine Symbol
  • 5.5.5 The Hypothesis of the Division of the Fourth Gospel
  • 5.5.6 The Cultural Background of the Shepherd Discourse of Jn 10
  • 5.5.7 The thematic Development of the Narrative of the Sheep-Farming (vv.1–5)
  • 5.5.8 The Development of Verses 1–5
  • 5.5.9 The Exegesis of Verses 11–18
  • The Symbolic Nature of the Shepherd Discourse
  • The Concepts of καλός and ἀγαθός in Johannine Context
  • The Place of the Verb τίθημι in Verse 11b
  • The Notion of the “Other Sheep” in Verse 16
  • The Highlight of Verses 17–18
  • The Johannine Perspective of Jesus’ Resurrection
  • 5.5.10 The Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • 5.5.11 Inculturating the Elements of the Cultural Values in Igbo Ecclesial Community
  • The Reality of Inculturation
  • Inculturation of Ofo Ritual Symbol
  • Anticipation of Conflict arising from the Inculturation
  • Imperative of early Catechesis
  • Bibliography
  • Tools

General Introduction

The Background

The study of the text of the Johannine symbol of the good shepherd (Jn 10:1–18) in the context and hermeneutical perspectives of Igbo with particular reference to Ofo ritual symbol is to enable the Christians of the Igbo cultural context to appropriately explore the rich message of the evangelist as he uses the pastoral image of the shepherd in communicating his message. The Johannine author exploits the symbol in his cultural context to communicate the eternal truth, which is the revelation of the identity of Jesus Christ and his salvific mission. He employs what is familiar to his audience to maximize the efficiency of his communication to them because in Johannine sense, the symbol which may be an image, a person or an event/action, has transcendental significance. It points beyond itself to the realities in the transcendental realm. Hence, a Johannine symbol is an instrument of revelation and communication. Similarly, the Ofo ritual symbol which has layers of meaning conceptualized into it by the progenitors of the traditional Igbo and handed it over to their descendants down to the present age, is one of the essential and dominant socio-religious symbols in Igbo cultural setting. It is a valuable instrument for the socio-religious events of the traditional Igbo. It is the symbol of the authority and power of the ancestors and serves as a unifying element of different levels of the Igbo traditional cosmology. The symbol which “adherents of African indigenous religion conceive ….. as tool used to communicate abstract ideas, values and inner religious experiences,”1 is employed by this work, to get the best out of the intended message of the fourth evangelist, for the people of the Igbo cultural extraction because, like the Johannine symbol, the Ofo ritual stick “points to the transcendental centre of all reality, and also makes present to the senses the supernatural beings which are part and parcel of that order”2 in the transcendental world. Therefore, Ofo is the instrument of revelation and communication of “the realities in the transcendental realm of supernatural beings which form part of the Igbo traditional cosmology. The primary referent of Ofo is the transcendental “Otherness.””3

In the history of the exegesis of the text of the Johannine good shepherd, scholars have interpreted it differently, depending on the goal the exegete wishes to achieve.4 ←29 | 30→Some, who approached the text synchronically, came out with the result that it is the response of Jesus to his opponents initiated in their polemics in Jn 9.5 The polemics which center on the cure of the man born blind by Jesus resulted in expelling the former from the Synagogue community (9:34b). This is consequent upon his (the man born blind) professing Jesus as Prophet (9:17d) and Lord (9:38) which is in contradistinction to the view and position of some Pharisees (9:16d) and the Jews (9:18–22) about Jesus. On the other hand, the scholars who approached this text diachronically understood it as underlying the problem befallen the Johannine community from the Jewish authorities at the developmental state of the early Church.6 It is further argued that the main thrust of the text is the absolute dependence of the flock (the followers of Jesus) on the person, voice and work of Jesus as the Good Shepherd,7 as others see the text as underlining the necessity of the leaders at various levels to carry out their responsibilities (for the welfare of the people) with selfless intent, if the text is read from the background of Ezekiel 34, while some others maintain that the evangelist wants to demonstrate the unfathomable love of God for his people (symbolized by the cure of the man born blind). Thus God reveals this love in his only Son, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep to pick it up again (10:17),8 and who is as well the Revelation of the ←30 | 31→Father. Undoubtedly, the results of these views are the product of the individuals’ or schools of thought’s approach and methodology to the study of the text.

The Motivation

The motivation that stimulated the interest to pursue the study of the text of the Johannine shepherd discourse is underlined by the desire to discover how the Christians of the Igbo cultural context can properly understand from their own cultural perspective and appropriate the rich message of this text encapsulated in the symbols of the door and the good shepherd employed by the Johannine author from his cultural setting. This is pertinent because the pastoral image constituting the framework (the cultural background) upon which the text is structured and its resultant interpretations does not relate to the cultural context of the Igbo people to enable them to gain richly from the message of the text.

Furthermore, besides the initial contact with the theme of symbol and symbolism in my earlier academic voyage where I developed keen interest in the theme, my study experience of the introductory course in the Johannine Gospel in the Catholic University Leuven – Belgium gave me some rudimentary insights in the rich symbolic feature of the gospel. This experience renewed my interest in deepening my knowledge in this area in order to be able to contribute to the global academic family about the theme of symbol in relation to its implications in practical life endeavour. The opportunity for the realization of this dream offered itself as I was considering various themes for my doctoral research.

It is believed that my addressing the problem of realizing my dream in this regard will have a three pronged result. Firstly, it will lead to the fulfillment of my desire and quest for and dream of broadening and deepening my knowledge about the symbol and its implications in academic and practical life. Secondly, the result of the research will allow the active and fruitful participation of the Christians of the Igbo cultural setting to appropriate the rich message of the Johannine author. Thirdly, it will be a step towards achieving a contribution to the growth of African theology. This will have a global implication because it is one of the challenges facing some of the groups in other cultural contexts of the globe. Each region in the globe is working to make the message of Christianity ever relevant in its context and circumstance.9

←31 | 32→

It then becomes necessary that the message of the text should be presented to the Igbo Christians in the context of the symbol they are familiar with. Not only that the familiarity of the symbol will play a critical role in their proper appreciation and subsequent appropriation of the message but it should also be the symbol that they hold very dear to their heart in their socio-religious life. In this respect, it is our conviction that the most dominant symbol in Igbo cultural setting, the Ofo ritual symbol, will play the desired and significant role in achieving this objective. The predicament of the Igbo Christians which can be viewed as a major hindrance towards an understanding of the message of the text in its present interpretations, reveals itself with the knowledge of the nature of shepherding in Igbo cultural context.

Shepherding in Igbo Cultural Context

The image of the shepherd/sheep motif similar to the OT (experience) which is linked to the shepherd discourse of John 10 as the background of the latter is virtually non-existent in Igbo cultural context. The cattle rearing in Igbo experience is only carried out by the Fulani herdsmen who belong to another ethnic group and cultural context and are predominantly Muslims of Northern Nigeria. The appearance of the cattle tenders is always visibly very dirty and scaring. It is nauseating.

The Igbo people are very enterprising.10 They can be found in all parts of the globe. Equally, they are the only ethnic group that can be found in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria.11 In spite of their outspread and spirit of enterprise, there has never been any known person from Igboland who aspires to be a cattle rearer in this form. For them, the cattle-rearing is not an enviable profession. It is perceived as a demeaning enterprise. It is abhorring and absolutely repudiated by the people. With this background knowledge and such abhorring experience of the image of shepherding in Igboland in relation to the Fulani herdsmen and their repulsive appearance, such a biblical text as “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10: 11, ←32 | 33→14), does not and cannot emotionally or rationally appeal or make any impact to the minds of the Igbo Christians in reading or listening to the text.

Outwardly, the shepherd text of John 10 has no immediate positive and interesting connection with the Igbo cultural and traditional life experience. So, when one reads the Johannine text of the good shepherd discourse from the perspective of historical critical method, one can hardly see its connection with the Igbo cultural setting. The Igbo Christians can hardly understand the import of the text since its traditional interpretation12 has no cultural link with the Igbo traditional and cultural experience.

However, the reading of the text of the Johannine good shepherd in the context of Ofo ritual symbol, elicits great and deeper curiosity. It draws the attention of the Christians of the Igbo extraction. It will have deeper meaning and impact on the Christians of the Igbo cultural context who also participate in the membership of the community of the followers of the Good Shepherd, because Ofo is an important and influential symbol which possesses similar symbolic features with the symbol of the good shepherd. Symbolically, the text can be easily related to the Ofo ritual symbol. The Ofo and the good shepherd as symbols point beyond themselves to the realities in the transcendental world. They simultaneously point to the revelation of the existence of God (Chukwu) and other transcendental realities besides other traditional and cultural values of the Igbo extraction. This discovery profoundly enhances the appreciation and the appropriation of the text by the Christians of the Igbo extraction.

Methodological Approach

The reading of the symbol of the good shepherd discourse in the context of the Ofo ritual symbol underlines interdisciplinary approach to this study. It should be noted that in a scientific work, it is hardly possible to employ only a single methodological framework in the analysis of a particular subject matter. Often, in the contextual, intercultural or interdisciplinary matters, other methods especially from different disciplines or contexts are employed to supplement what is lacking ←33 | 34→in the main method in order to enhance the result of the investigation. It is known as interdisciplinary or intercultural approach.

The concepts of contextual, inculturation, intercultural and interdisciplinary method suggest different meanings to different scholars and contexts. The scholars attempt to give them different treatments because of different approaches they employ in the pursuit of the objective they intend to achieve. However, in the context of our discussion, interdisciplinary studies as academic process denotes an attempt to articulate and make a synthesis of the expansive views as well as interconnections in the study and learning processes. This concept originates from the belief that the orthodox fields of learning do not have the ability to handle some necessary emerging problems if they use their own methods.13 Hence, it becomes expedient to employ the methods of other disciplines to achieve the underlying objective. The intercultural approach seems to be self-explanatory. It is the process of applying the methods from different cultural settings to address and resolve a problem that may be difficult to be treated from only a methodical framework from a cultural context.

Thus, these approaches (contextual, inculturation, intercultural or interdisciplinary) are employed to show the modelling of theoretical and methodical concepts of other orthodox fields of study in biblical interpretation and Christian theology with the view that they operate inter-dependently.14 This can be understood from the perspective of modern approach to contextual theology known as inculturation.15 Different scholars attempt to express the concept of inculturation with different notions such as adaptation, accommodation, indigenization, contextualization, 16 or intercultural approach.17 Although these concepts raise some terminological confusions among the scholars, the meaning of the terms seems to overlap with each other. Nonetheless, one cannot say that they are synonymous in ←34 | 35→their conceptual content nor can one affirm that they are compatible in their theological implications.18 What is fundamental is that the objectives of these terminologies aim at achieving similar purpose. However, the approach to the objective is deemed to be the underlying difference. Hence, the approach is an attempt to discuss the process of grafting the revealed message of Christianity in the values of a given cultural context. And in our case, it becomes intercultural since it is the biblical hermeneutics in the Igbo cultural context. Interdisciplinary method is also involved because the study of the literary devices becomes necessary for the examination of the concept of the symbol and the Johannine symbol. This will help in the hermeneutic approach of the text of the symbol of the Johannine good shepherd.

The Biblical Inculturation

In the context of the history of the biblical interpretation, intercultural method of exegesis is as old as the New Testament period19 because there have been applications of different methods which result in producing intelligible biblical interpretations. This method is employed in order to graft the message of salvation in the cultural values of the people in a given cultural context. In intercultural hermeneutics, no method is considered superior to the other,20 and none exhausts the exegetical demand of a given text. Each method21 has its own unique ←35 | 36→contribution to offer for a better, fruitful and meaningful interpretative analysis and understanding of a text.22 At best, these methods can be understood as playing complementary roles.

Then, in the composition of the fourth gospel, the Johannine author uses his own method of intercultural approach to communicate the message of revelation to his audience. He employs the symbols in his cultural context and interpreted them to reveal to his readers the identity of Jesus who is the Symbol and the Revealer of the Johannine Father: “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9b); “The Father and I are one” (10:30). These texts underline the same substantial and ontological identity of the Son and the Father.

In this connection, it is evidently clear that in OT, the revelation of God is achieved through the word (λόγος). In the life of the Hebrews, the existence of the word continues. It cannot be taken away, once it is spoken. It remains. The consequence of this belief is that once a blessing or a curse is pronounced, its effect remains. Hence, in OT understanding, the λόγος is the Law, the eternal truth (ἡ ἀλήθεια) which God reveals. Hence, in the composition of the Johannine gospel, the concept of λόγος is visibly introduced in the prologue which is a part of the hymn that the scholars discovered to have been originated from a pre-Christian hymn, composed by Jewish poets in praise of the Torah. The Johannine author appropriates this hymn composed in praise and honour of the Torah and transfers it to Christ because Jesus brings the Torah to eschatological completion.23 In the same vein, the Jewish temple is now to be understood from the perspective of the Person of Jesus for he is speaking of the temple of his body (cf. 2:21).

The Biblical inculturation method has been in practice down through the ages as has been expressed. Hence the Vatican II urges the missionaries to pay close attention to the cultural elements of the natives to use them to reveal the message of ←36 | 37→Jesus to them since there are many ties between the message of salvation and the human culture. God reveals Himself in various cultures according to the culture proper to each epoch.24 The degree of the success of the missionaries in their work of evangelization depends on how they handle and interact with the natives in their cultural context. The knowledge of the culture of the natives is a prerequisite towards a successful evangelization because it is in these cultural values that the revealed message has to be grafted for it to be fruitfully understood and appreciated. In further development of the discussion, it then becomes necessary to briefly explore the concept of inculturation and biblical hermeneutics.

Inculturation and Biblical Hermeneutics

It is Stephen Nweke Ezeanya who approaches the explication of the notion of inculturation from the homiletical25 perspective when he denotes the concept as a way of preaching the gospel through the employment of everything that is good, just and beautiful and loved by the people in the context of their traditional religion and culture. These cultural values are considered as good elements that are a preparation for the reception of the gospel.26 It is therefore in these good cultural values that the gospel message is grafted so that it (the gospel message) can become meaningful to the people and then, enables the message to be easily acceptable to the indigenous Christians. Hence, the concept is described as the procedure of working on the Christian Church to undergo the development and maturity on the native soil. Its objective is the establishment of a transforming dialogue of the Christian faith with the native culture.27 This process is described as a current mission approach to the evangelization.28 Therefore, our inclination to employ the concept of inculturation becomes adequate for the objective we intend to achieve. Nonetheless, in this referred context, Emefie Ikenga -Metuh observes ←37 | 38→that inculturation with its anthropological roots seems to suggest that only culture and cultural situations can inspire a contextual theology. But this is not true. There are spaces for other conditions and needs. Other situations such as hunger, poverty, disease, political and economic oppression are situations really suitable enough for theological inculturation.29 This aspect of theology is fundamentally based on the need in the contextual setting.30

Thus, the theory of inculturation (in relation to intercultural method of exegesis) is then referred to as a great intellectual effort in faith to arrive at a coherent and cogent hermeneutic of Christianity for any culture,31 aided by biblical hermeneutics. One can then understand inculturation as the making of the message of evangelization through homiletics, pedagogical and intellectual efforts to have deep root in a given cultural context. The cultural values of the people are employed as the medium in the transmission of the message of the gospel, without compromising the content of the revealed Christian truth. In our case, it is therefore demanded that not only that the total fidelity to the person of Christ, to the dynamic of his paschal mystery and to his love for the Church as revealed in the scriptures must not only be adhered to in the process of inculturating the required cultural values,32 but also an African/Igbo expression of the heritage33 must be maintained. This has to be done because the Christian message cannot be properly and fruitfully received in a cultural setting if separated from such cultural imperatives. The result is that when inculturation is properly achieved in Igbo cultural context, “a new cultural vitality which would once more integrate the Igbo society towards a more meaningful experience”34 is established.

It is indubitable that the evangelization is brought to the evangelized often clothed with the culture of the evangelizer. Therefore, in obedience to the directive of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, it is the responsibility of the indigenous Church to convert this foreign form of biblical inculturation into the form more closely corresponding to the culture of35 the indigenous people. This can ←38 | 39→be properly achieved when the indigenes undertake the process of inculturation because the task “requires an ‘insider’ to value the language, symbols and rituals of a given culture”36 in order to fruitfully and effectively work on the inculturation in the affected contexts. It will be disservice or hazardous to the Igbo Christians if the Igbo heritage of the oral narratives, myths and stories, the symbols and rituals, prayers and petitions are not inculturated. The consequence is that these inherited cultural values will naturally disappear.37 This is the glaring danger of a uninculturated Igbo Christianity.

However today, the process of inculturation is on-going and it is being consolidated. The texts of the rites of the traditional religion are beginning to appear in prints in the literary domain of the cultural context.38 Nonetheless, the pioneer authors like “Leopold Senghor in the 1930s and later Chinua Achabe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o in the 1950s and 60s” through their writings threw open the doors of the wealth and beauty of African cultures and tradition to a literary audience. In these written works, the reader encounters the cultural values embedded in the African/Igbo life-style.39

The work on inculturation is also in tandem with the demand of Pope Paul VI that the faith in Africa/Igbo should not be experienced as “a form of local folklore, exclusivist racism, egotistical tribalism, or arbitrary separation.”40 Rather, the Catholicism should be formulated in terms that suit the cultural context of a given locality. This achievement offers the Catholic Church the precious and original contribution from the African/Igbo soil.41 Therefore, the Church looks forward to the inculturated biblical interpretation in order that the understanding of the biblical text should be further deepened in various cultural contexts. This is possible because “every authentic culture is, in fact, in its own way the bearer of universal values established by God.”42 This is what this project intends to help to contribute ←39 | 40→through the reading of the text of the Johannine good shepherd discourse in the context of the Ofo ritual symbol.

Development of the Thesis

It is significant to observe that in the field of biblical hermeneutics, there is an increasing awareness that the scriptures are literatures. Consequently, the categories which are used to analyse the literary works such as figurative languages can also be applied in the biblical hermeneutics.43 Hence, the scholars who employ the method of literary criticism in the interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, use a set of communication theories which are widely acceptable to convey the message of the Johannine Gospel.44 In this regard, the theories about figurative language in biblical material are common in theological discussions because divine reality is communicated mainly by means of language, and specifically by means of literary device.45 In this regard, the literary devices have made critical contributions in modern literary criticism.46

In view of the basic purpose of this work, the concepts of metaphor and symbol are treated in chapter 1 to show their intrinsic relationship. This approach helps to provide the knowledge for the understanding of the Johannine concept of symbol. A metaphor is known as saying one thing and understanding it in another way while a symbol is understood as that which stands for something else. In this context, the target of this chapter is to study the concepts of metaphor and symbol as the result of their relationship in preparation for the discussion on the concept of Johannine symbol which provides a sustainable and reliable framework for the literary criticism of the text of the symbol of the Johannine good shepherd in chapter 3. The study of the literary devices here is critical to the application of the method of literary criticism in the exegetical analysis of the text of the symbol of the good shepherd discourse (Jn 10:1–18) because the figurative languages are related to the concept of Johannine symbol. The understanding of the concept of metaphor is related to the understanding of the concept of symbol, because symbolic statement arises from metaphorical expression. The concept of Johannine symbol is intrinsically related to the concept of symbol as a literary device because ←40 | 41→of their possession of some common characteristics. These literary devices are linked together and the knowledge of one helps to understand the other.

The thematic examination of the concept of the Johannine symbol in chapter 2 flows from the treatment of the concepts of symbol and metaphor in chapter 1. The aim is to underscore the uniqueness of the Johannine symbol which is rooted in its possession of the transcendental character. It functions as vehicle of revelation and communication of the transcendental reality in Johannine model. A Johannine symbol can be understood as an image, an action, a person or a discourse which possesses a transcendental significance.47 The Johannine symbol is employed by the author of the fourth gospel from the Jewish cultural context and re-interpreted to point beyond itself to Jesus who is the Symbol and the Revealer of the Father. Consequently, the Johannine symbol makes the transcendence available for human perception.48

In the interpretation of the Johannine symbol, just as the symbol as literary device points beyond itself to some other thing else, the Johannine symbol points beyond itself to the transcendental reality which is difficult to be achieved when ordinary or literal means is employed. The Johannine symbol as event is designated as sign (σημεῖον, cf. Jn 2:11) which is basically different from “sign” as a literary device.

Among the roles of the Johannine symbol is for the revelation of the identity of Jesus which the Johannine author expresses with the “I am Sayings” formula such as “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35, 41, 51). The knowledge of the characteristics of the figurative features of Johannine symbol helps the interpreter to appropriately approach its hermeneutics. In this regard, the shepherd discourse of Jn 10 is chosen as the paradigm for the study of the Johannine symbols.

The exegetical study of the text of the Johannine good shepherd discourse (Jn 10:1–18) in chapter 3 is to explore the exegetical meanings and implications of the symbol of the good shepherd. The first part of the chapter examines various aspects that help in the understanding and appreciation of the exegetical findings. These aspects include but are not limited to the sources that influence the formulation and the composition of the fourth gospel,49 the context of the text of the ←41 | 42→study,50 the literary unity of the text, its background, the characterization of the first part of the narrative of the sheep-farming, (vv. 1–5) as παροιμία51 and its dynamic development.

As regards the exegetical analysis proper, while verses 7–18 are characterized as the interpretation of the narrative of the sheep-farming (cf. vv. 1–5), verses 7–10 underlines Jesus as the symbol of the door. The implication is that Jesus is the only means of salvation for his followers. Then, the symbol of the good shepherd is treated in vv. 11–18 where the character of the Johannine good shepherd is exegetically shown that Jesus is the unique good shepherd.52 The concept of love between Jesus and the Father and also the disciples (followers of Jesus) is underlined here. The climax of the shepherd discourse is identified as the revelation ←42 | 43→of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the action which is willingly undertaken by the Johannine good shepherd.53

The examination of the text of the shepherd discourse exposes the meaning of the text. Considering its context and other aspects, the message may not be easily understood by the Christians of the Igbo extraction. It then requires a context where the text should be read to enable the Igbo Christians to gain from the rich content of the message of the text. This then necessitates the employment of and the discussion on the context and the exegetical analysis of the Ofo ritual symbol for the realization of this objective.

The message in chapter 3 is for all peoples. Yet, each has to appropriate it from its own cultural circumstance. Consequently, the Ofo ritual symbol which is to be treated in chapter 4, adequately fits into the contextual platform for the reception of the message of the Johannine good shepherd discourse by the Christians of the Igbo extraction because of the significance of the ritual symbol in the cultural context and its intersection with the concept of the Johannine symbol of the good shepherd which takes place and operates at the conceptual level.

The knowledge of certain traits in the cultural context of the Ofo ritual symbol plays a critical role in understanding the discussions on the analysis of the ritual stick for example, the character of the Igbo as being deeply religious. This is expressed in all their traditional, cultural and social life activities where the Ofo participates actively. The concept of Chukwu (the Supreme Being, God)54 who is the Creator and at the basis of all the religious and social activities did not come to Igboland with the advent of Christianity. Its (concept of Chukwu) understanding is the same as the concept of Christian God. In this cultural context, there is also the existence of minor gods and deities55 which are guardians of certain traditional values. Among them is Ala – the earth-goddess. She is the custodian of morality in ←43 | 44→Igbo tradition.56 This approach does not intend to examine the nature of the Igbo traditional religion, rather it is to mention how religion is pervasive in the Igbo socio-cultural life. The traditional Igbo perception and interpretation of reality in relation to the traditional cosmology is holistic and integrative.

The exegetical examination of the Ofo is developed in two main dimensions: the interpretation of the meaning of the ritual symbol mainly focuses on the analysis of the concept of Ofo as a cultic symbol and the examination of its significance emphasizes different contexts where the cultic symbol is employed. These approaches reveal the layers of meaning of the Ofo, thereby exposing the traditional Igbo, who share in man’s ontological feature as regards his ability to symbolize and conceptualize ideas and meanings, of possessing the native background knowledge of symbol. The meaning of Ofo is discovered in its participation in various socio-religious contexts in the Igbo traditional events. Therefore, the ritual symbol is interwoven with Igbo religious experience, and their cosmological understanding. Because religion is the framework upon which all aspects of life activities of the traditional Igbo are executed, Ofo plays significant role in the dynamics of Igbo social and cultural life.57 It is in the process of the involvement of the ritual symbol in these activities and events58 that the traditional Igbo worked layers of meanings into the Ofo ritual stick. Consequently, Ofo is designated as the symbol of authority and power, the image of the presence of the ancestors besides ←44 | 45→others. The Lineage Ofo is the most outstanding of all the other types59 of the ritual symbol because it belongs to the members of the kin-group and unites them (both the living and their ancestors).

The reading of the text of the Johannine good shepherd discourse in the context and hermeneutical perspectives of Igbo with particular reference to Ofo ritual symbol takes place in chapter 5. In this chapter, the message derived from the analysis of the Johannine text is related to its counterpart from the Ofo. The exegetical analysis of verses 7–10 implies that Jesus is the means of salvation for his followers. Whoever desires to be saved must live according to the principles meant for the followers of Jesus.

The understanding of salvation in Igbo traditional context is constitutive of their traditional religious belief and practice. They live their traditional life according to the moral norms conceptualized in the Ofo ritual symbol in order to achieve salvation at the end of their earthly journey. This is fully realized through the attainment of the ancestorhood in the spirit-world.

The reading of the text helps the Christians of the Igbo extraction to appropriate and appreciate the rich message of the Johannine text which include the revelation of God to those “from below” through the revelation of the identity of Jesus who is “from above” is the Symbol and the Revealer of the Father. Both symbols (the symbol of Ofo and the symbol of the Johannine good shepherd) are channels of communication with God (in prayer), norms for regulation and maintenance of social cohesion and stability which leads to social order and harmony in the community. As the Ofo codifies abstract notions of socio-religious values, the symbol of the good shepherd conceptualizes the facets of identity of Jesus as Messiah, the Son of Man and the Lord. The theme of unity and love, among others, exposed by the exegetical analysis of the symbol of the good shepherd through the desire of the Johannine Jesus to bring the “other sheep” to the sheepfold and the miraculous cure of the man born blind, correspond to the role of the Ofo as the symbol of unity and love experienced in the family and the demand that the Ofo should not be used to destroy a fellow villager.

The conceptualization and institutionalization of Jesus, the Good Shepherd in the Ofo in the ecclesial community of the Igbo cultural extraction are among the suggestions of this work to help to indigenize the gospel message of the Good Shepherd and evangelization in the cultural values of the native Christians for a genuine and authentic Christian life and practice in Igbo cultural context. It is an effort to bring the rich symbolisms of Ofo ritual symbol into the life and activities of the ecclesial community of the Christians of the Igbo extraction.

←45 | 46→←46 | 47→

1 Wellington O. Wotogbe-Weneka, “Water Symbolism in African Possession Cult of the Ikwere People of North-Eastern Niger Delta,” Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, 41/2 (2009) 46–55, 54.

2 Christopher I. Ejizu, Ofo: Igbo Ritual Symbol, (Enugu: Fourth Dimension, 1986) 119.

3 Ibid., 119–120.

4 K. E. Bailey, “The Shepherd Poems of John 10: Their Culture and Style,” The Near Eastern School of Theology Theological Review 14 (1993) 3–21; Ruben Zimmermann, Christologie der Bilder im Johannesevangelium, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 71, (Tübingen: Mohn Siebeck, 2004) III. Teil, 241–406; J. G. S. S. Thomson, “The Shepherd-Ruler Concept in the OT and its Application in the NT,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8 (1955) 406–418; J. P. Martin, “John 10, 1–10,” Interpretation, 32 (1978) 171–175; J. Quasten, “The Parable of the Good Shepherd: Jn 10:1–21,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 10 (1948) 1–12,151–169; J. Duncan M. Derret, “The Good Shepherd: St. John’s Use of Jewish Halakah and Haddagah,” Studia Theologica, 27 (1973) 25–50. (Also in Studies in the New Testament, London, 1978, II, 121–147); J. B. Souček, “The Good Shepherd and his Flock,” The Ecumenical Review, 9 (1956–57) 143–153, 144–148; D. M. Stanley, “I am the Good Shepherd,” Worship 35 (1960/61) 287–293; Rekha Chennattu, “The Good Shepherd (Jn 10): A Political Perspective,” Jnanadeepa: Pune Journal of Religious Studies 1 (1998) 93–105; Jerome Neyrey, “The “Noble Shepherd” in John 10: Cultural and Rhetorical Background,” Journal of the Biblical Literature 120/2 (2001) 267–291; Hartwig Thyen, “Johannes 10 im kontext des vierten Evangeliums,” The Shepherd Discourse of John 10 and Its Context: Studies by Members of the Johannine Writings Seminar, eds., Johannes Beutler and Robert Fortna, MSSNTS 67, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 116–134.

5 M. Sabbe, “John 10 and Its Relationship to the Synoptic Gospel,” The Shepherd Discourse of John 10 and Its Context: Studies by Members of the Johannine Writings Seminar, eds., Johannes Beutler and Robert Fortna, MSSNTS 67, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 75–93.

6 Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciples: The Life, Loves and Hates of an Individual Church in the New Testament Times (New York: Paulist, 1979) 40–43.

7 J. B. Souček, “The Good Shepherd and his Flock,” The Ecumenical Review, 9 (1956–57) 143–153, 144–148.

8 Livinus Okey Maduadichie, I am the Good Shepherd: An Exegetical Study of John 10:1–18, (Leuven: Unpublished Masters Theses, 2006) 88.

9 Luke Mbefo C.s.sp., [“Theology and African Heritage,” Bigard Theological Studies, 11/1 (January – June, 1991) 4–20, 12] observes that “today men of faith in Europe and North America are working on a formula to see how Christian faith has still meaning for a secularist society and how it is still capable of evoking allegiance in a culture that boasts of the death of God. While modern Africans are not shielded from the numbing winds of secularism (…) their main concern is to see how African heritage informs the universal theological heritage of Christianity. The recognition of “survivals” means that we cannot dismiss this heritage because of modernity. This task has come to be called inculturation, a task too old yet ever new. African theologians are challenged to do for the faith in Africa what their contemporaries are doing for the same Christian faith in other regions of the globe.”

10 Allysius Duru, “ http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/arts/article01//indexn2_html?pdate=280309&ptitle=Igbo” (http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/arts/article01//indexn2_html?pdate=280309&ptitle=Igb… 3/28/2009) notes that the Igbos “are very industrious, energetic, and enterprising people that speak Igbo language. They are basically skilled in merchandising, and indulge in agriculture and other economic activities. By the nature of their activities and interactions, there is a high level of socio-economic interaction among them and even beyond their boarders, hence such interactions can and most times give room for mutual and peaceful co-existence as well as mistrust and conflict.”

11 Nigeria has six geopolitical zones which include Southeast, Southwest, South-south, Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral.

12 The historical-critical method is mostly used in the exegetical analysis for the shepherd discourse of John 10. However, it is remarked that “no scientific method for the study of the Bible is fully adequate to comprehend the biblical texts in all their richness. For all its overall validity, the historical-critical method cannot claim to be totally sufficient in this respect. It necessarily has to leave aside many aspects of the writings which it studies. It is not surprising, then, that the present time other methods and approaches are proposed which serve to explore more profoundly other aspects worthy of attention.” [cf. “Method and Approaches for Interpretation: The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” Presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993 (as published in Origins, January 6, 1994)].

13 Bernard Ukwuegbu, Unpublished Address titled “Professor Hans-Jürgen Findeis and The Quest for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Biblical Exegesis,”: (An Address of Welcome delivered at the Formal Presentation of the Book “He is not far from anyone of us:A Festschrift in Honour of Prof Hans-Jürgen Findeis, June 26, 2015) 1–2.

14 Ibid.

15 Gabriel E. Ezewudo C.S.SP., “Christianity, African Traditional Religion and Colonialism: An Encounter,” The Nigerian Journal of Theology, 14 (2000) 55–75, 55.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (December)
Intercultural Hermeneutics Exegetical Analysis Igbo cultural context
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 512 pp., 28 tables.

Biographical notes

Livinus Maduadichie (Author)

Livinus Okey Maduadichie is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (B. Phil.), and a Bachelor’s degree in Theology (B. Th.) from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. From the Catholic University Leuven, Belgium, he obtained Master’s degree of Religious Studies, and Master’s degree of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion. He did his doctoral research in the New Testament Intercultural Exegesis at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany where he obtained Doctorate degree in Theology.


Title: A Study of the Johannine Symbol of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) with Particular Reference to «Ofo» Symbol in Igbo, Nigeria