The blind leading the blind

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This article is about the metaphor. For the painting by Pieter Bruegel based on the metaphor, see The Blind Leading the Blind.
The Blind Leading the Blind, Pieter van der Heyden after Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1561.

"The blind leading the blind" is a metaphor used in antiquity, notably by Jesus in the Matthew 15:13-14 and Luke 6:39-40, as well as in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas (Saying 34).[1]

In Matthew, Jesus responds to a question about the Pharisees saying:

He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides [of the blind]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

— Matthew 15:13-14, New International Version

The use in Luke has a different context:

He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."

— Luke 6:39-40, New International Version

A number of illustrations of the New Testament metaphor exist, the most famous being The Blind Leading the Blind by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The metaphor had proverbial status in antiquity[2] and a similar metaphor occurs in the Katha Upanishad: "Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gospel of Thomas: Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation.
  2. ^ Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans, 1997, ISBN 0-8028-2315-7, p. 278.
  3. ^ Juan Mascaró (tr), The Upanishads, Penguin Classics, 1965, ISBN 0-14-044163-8, p. 58.