John's Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology

John's Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology

John's Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology

John's Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology

Synopsis

James McGrath offers a convincing explanation of how and why John arrived at a christological portrait of Jesus that is so different from that of other New Testament authors, and yet at the same time clearly has its roots in earlier tradition. McGrath suggests that as the author of the Fourth Gospel sought to defend his beliefs about Jesus against the objections brought by opponents, he developed and drew out further implications from the beliefs he inherited. The book studies this process using insights from the field of sociology.

Excerpt

Having studied John's Gospel over several years, I was glad when a recent visit to the us included an invitation to teach a freshman class on the subject. I had had surprisingly little opportunity to do so since completing the research presented in this book. My usual theme — that of John's apologetic portrait of Jesus — was, however, met by a perplexed look from one student. Raising her hand, she asked, 'What makes you think John is being apologetic?'

It took me a few moments to realize that the 'technical' meaning of the term 'apologetic' is unfamiliar to many in our day and age. I should perhaps therefore explain that the title of this book, John's Apologetic Christology, does not use the term in its modern sense, as if John were 'apologizing' for his beliefs concerning Jesus. Rather, the argument of the present work is that John's defence (the other meaning of 'apologetic') of certain christological beliefs led to their development and the unique configuration of christological motifs known as Johannine Christology. It would be a pity indeed if a merely verbal confusion were to obscure this book's main theme from the outset!

The book is a revised version of my 1998 University of Durham Ph. D. dissertation. While a Ph. D. thesis is by definition the work of a single individual, I doubt whether any student has ever successfully completed such a course of study without the support of many people, the endless list of 'without whoms'. Here I have attempted to thank in particular some of the key friends, encouragers and supporters who have made the completion of this work possible, representatives of a much larger number of individuals who provided advice, support and encouragement at many points throughout this project.

In relation to the academic side of this work, I wish to thank above all Prof. James Dunn for his supervision, providing helpful guidance and insightful criticisms throughout my period of re-

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