There is good evidence that the Christian community where the Gospel of John was written practiced footwashing as a religious action. However, few scholars have studied the practice or meaning of the rite. This book undertakes the most comprehensive study so far of the practice of footwashing in the ancient world, unearthing many fascinating parallels to the early Christian act. John Thomas next studies the footwashing in John 13 with the tools of modern literary analysis, asking what the text was intended to mean to the readers implied by the Gospel. He then turns to a study of the actual readers in John’s community to reconstruct what they believed about it and how they carried it out, before concluding that the purpose of footwashing in the community was to act as a sign of the cleansing of post-conversion sin committed by a disciple after baptism.
John Christopher Thomas is Professor of New Testament at the Church of God Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee.