The blind leading the blind

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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.