Jesus and the Breath of Life: An Exegesis of John 20:22 in Historical and Modern Interpretation an Obscure and Mysterious Text

Douglas W. Balzer


John 20:22 is an obscure and mysterious text where Jesus is represented as breathing upon his disciples in a manner that appears to resemble the insufflation of humanity by God, or the breathing of the "breath of life" in Adam's nostrils in Genesis 2:7. Through an exegetical study of Johannine text and the Greek term έμφυσάω in relationship with the LXX, Apocrypha and Qumran Scrolls, a direct correlation is established between the theology of John and the theology in the LXX. The relevant historical, Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, and modem interpretations are examined in order to discover what crucial issues are of the utmost importance for the interpretation of John 20:22. The conclusion of this exegetical study is that during its writing the author of the Gospel of John had in mind a creation motif and a new covenant theology born out of Genesis 2:7, which is represented through Jesus' action of breathing the "breath of life" into the disciples.