THE JOHANNINE WRITINGS
Dennis L. Stamps
The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, England
The relationship of the Johannine writings—the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation—to the classical Graeco-Roman rhetorical tradition is a complex matter. First, any attempt to reconstruct the authorship and historical setting (or more specifically the rhetorical situation)1 of each of these writings is problematic. Secondly, the rela tionship among the four texts is unclear, both historically and literarily. Thirdly, the wide diversity of text-type or genre including a Gospel, three epistles, and a Christian apocalypse complicates any rhetorical assessment.
In the discussion which follows, the first section will examine the provenance for this set of writings, including matters of authorship, place of writing, and order of writing. The next three sections will assess the rhetorical nature of the Gospel of John, the three epistles of John, and then the book of Revelation, specifically investigating aspects of Graeco-Roman rhetoric related to arrangement, invention, and style. The final section will offer some concluding critical remarks on the rhetorical nature of the Johannine writings.
1 For a definition and discussion of the rhetorical situation, see L. Bitzer, “The
Rhetorical Situation”, Philosophy and Rhetoric 1 (1968), p. 6; G. A. Kennedy, New Tes
tament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill: University of North Caro
lina Press, 1984), pp. 34–36; D. L. Stamps, “Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation:
The Entextualization of the Situation in New Testament Epistles”, in S. E. Porter
and T. H. Olbricht (eds.), Rhetoric and the New Testament' Essays from the 1992 Heidelberg
Conference (JSNTSup, 90; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993), pp. 193–210.