As I read through Sunday’s Gospel lesson again this morning, I was struck by how Jesus first addresses his disciples in the story. He calls out to them from the shore and says, “Children, you have no fish have you?” I don’t know why, but I found that really odd. Why did Jesus call them children?
So, I opened up Bible works and found that many translators have found it odd as well. Here’s a smattering of different versions of John 21.5:
- NRSV – Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”
- NLT – He called out, “Friends, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
- NIV – He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
- KJV – Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
- CEV – Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?” “No!” they answered.
So, despite the admonition of a rather condescending commenter over at Christian Century last week, I decided to look at the Greek. The word John uses is
Which is transliterated as “paidaion” which is pronounced “pahee-dee’-on“. Its definition in the Barclay-Newman Lexicon is, “1) a young child, a little boy, a little girl 1a) infants 1b) children, little ones 1c) an infant 1c1) of a (male) child just recently born 1d) of a more advanced child; of a mature child; 1e) metaph. children (like children) in intellect.”
So it seems as though children is the correct translation, but what got me, and what brings about the nerd alert, is how close this word “paidaion” is to a “Padawan,” the Star Wars term that, according to Wookieepedia, means “a Force-sensitive adolescent who had begun one-on-one instruction with a Jedi Knight or Master outside of the Jedi academy. Having passed the Initiate Trials and ascended in rank from an Initiate, Padawans were given more responsibilities within the Jedi Order but were subject to the demands of their master.”
Coincidence? The Force? You decide. But first, compare the traditional dress of a Padawan with depictions of Jesus and his disciples on the beach.
End Nerd Alert.