Patronage and clientelism in the fourth gospel01 July 2015
Patronage and clientelism as a social-scientific model is used in this article to read the fourth gospel. It is the contention of the article that this model affords the reader fresh vistas of meaning that otherwise would have remained unexplored. It is a reading amongst other readings and does not make pretensions to illuminate every segment of the fourth gospel. Rather, it selectively looks at areas where reading against the backdrop of a patron-client model illuminates the text. This reading sheds light on the greatest gift Jesus came to give, the gift of life as a beneficium, and affirms that the signs that Jesus performed are commendationes. Jesus brokers the blessings of the kingdom to those who believe in him on behalf of the father who is the ultimate patron. Jesus also challenges popular notions of patronage by performing acts reserved for slaves by, for example, washing the feet of his disciples.