The author of the Fourth Gospel delivers the true divine identity and significance of Jesus throughout the entire narrative. He aims at guiding his readers through the narrative of the Gospel with the purpose that they will “see” (meet) Jesus, confess him as Christ, and receive eternal life. John actually planned that the text of the Gospel should actively change people. Furthermore, the Gospel of John has wide spectrum of the reader. This means that John opens his message to the all the generations who are no longer in a position to see Jesus physically. Nobody reading this text should or could stay the same, since he or she will be confronted with the protagonist of the text, namely Jesus. By accepting this message, that person will receive life; by rejecting the message, a person will perish. This truth is rehearsed over and again in the narrative for every reader to see. The text of the Gospel thus becomes the “presence of Jesus” among the readers. This functional purpose of the Gospel accounts for the first farewell discourse in John 13:31-14:31. In response to previous scholarship that understands the Johannine farewell discourses solely as a testament, the present study convinces that the discourses interface with classical literature, specifically the following literary styles: Greek tragedy, consolation literature, and the literary symposium tradition. The multiplicity of the generic associations of the discourses sheds new light on the nature of Jesus’ departure as well as his continuing presence in spite of that departure. No longer designed to evoke only the themes of departure and absence, the testament of Jesus in John emphasises instead Jesus’ abiding presence. While the material from Greek tragedy will only further emphasise the theme of departure, the material from classical consolation literature and the literary symposium tradition will accentuate the theme of continuing presence. John has thereby transcended the usual expectations of the testament. Thus the physically absent Jesus becomes present through his first farewell discourse: the reader is confronted with a dynamic portrait of Jesus and this confrontation results in an acceptance of Jesus as Christ, as well as the receiving of eternal life. According to the first farewell discourse, eschatological promise, knowing and seeing the Father, glory, love, pastoral ministry, deeds, prayer, Paraclete, remembering, faith, peace and joy, and the words of Jesus all serve as the replacement of the physical Jesus. Therefore, the first farewell discourse does not indicate the separation of Jesus from his disciples but rather the permanent presence of the risen Jesus in and among them. This is their basis for perseverance, in other words, the foundation of their spreading the gospel messages to non-believers, even though they were in a difficult place. the gospel of John, John 13:31-14-31, the purpose of John’s gospel, the presence of Jesus, the recipient of the Fourth Gospel, the farewell discourse(s), Biblical hermeneutics, glory, eschatological promise, the Paraclete, mutual love, peace and joy
Thesis (PhD (New Testament Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.