Retelling scripture: The rhetorical function on the Old Testament citations vis-a-vis the Jews in John 1:19-12:15


Sheridan, Ruth. (2010). Retelling scripture: The rhetorical function on the Old Testament citations vis-a-vis the Jews in John 1:19-12:15 [Thesis].
AuthorsSheridan, Ruth
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

This thesis claims that the rhetorical design of John's Gospel encourages an 'ideal' reader to construct a particular characterisation of the Jews in light of the OT citations in John 1:19-12:15. This claim builds upon the work of earlier scholars who noted that the OT citations in 1:19-12:15 were prefaced by a distinct 'formula' (...) which indicated a correlative rhetorical function of those citations - namely, that the content of the citations witnessed to Jesus in his public ministry before the Jews. In most of the OT citations found in 1:19-12:15, the Jews constitute the direct narrative audience (1:23; 6:31, 45; 10:34), or they are otherwise present in the scene (e.g. 2:17; 7:37-39; 12:15). The OT citations in John 1:19-12:15 aim to bring the Jews to faith in Jesus, and also the ideal reader of the narrative. The contention of this thesis is that, ironically, the Jews do not come to faith through the citations, but rather, become increasingly obdurate towards Jesus. The ideal reader succeeds in coming to faith in Jesus through a process of 'othering' the Jews by constructing them as negative characters in the context of the OT citations. It is argued that in the task of character construction, the reader relies upon direct and indirect means of character definition, as articulated in the narratological theory of Ewen/Rimmon-Kenan. It is shown that while direct means of character definition are relatively sparse in the pericopae under analysis, there is much indirect character presentation for the reader to construct a portrait of the Jews. This includes the response of the Jews to the content of the OT citations, indicated by their speech and actions.;However, the Jews are not only characterised by their response, but also by another aspect of what I have categorised as 'indirect presentation', namely, the ways in which the broader, allusive contexts of the OT citations function to characterise the Jews 'intertextually' particularly by signifying the OT 'glory' motif. This thesis therefore utilises aspects of intertextuality theory to argue that the reader interprets the Jews in view of the Gospel's 'retelling' of the biblical story. The function of the OT citations in John 1:19-12:15 and the presentation of the Jews within this context are primarily rhetorical and ideological, rather than being motivated only by historical contingencies or by Christological reflection.

KeywordsBible; Jews in the New Testament
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Final version
Publication dates20 Nov 2010
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