''My Father's Name'': the significance and impetus of the Divine Name in the Fourth Gospel.
Coutts, Joshua John Field
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One of the distinctive features of the Fourth Gospel is the emphasis placed on the divine name (ὄνομα). The name occurs eight times (5.43; 10.25; 12.13, 28; 17.6, 11-12, 26), in key passages and in striking expressions such as “I have made known your name” (17.6) and “your name, which you gave me” (17.11). This thesis uses historical-critical methodology in a close reading of the Fourth Gospel to determine why John is so attracted to the name category. It is argued that, for John, the divine name was fundamentally an eschatological category with a built-in duality or “associative” significance, which he derives primarily from his reading of Isaiah. It is plausible that Isaiah was the primary impetus for John’s interest in the divine name, because name language is bound up with the “I am” expression and glory language in Isaiah— both of which more clearly underlie John’s “I am” sayings and glory motif. Furthermore, the significance of the name in Isaiah as the object of eschatological expectation (Isa 52.6), and as a concept by which God is associated with his Servant, attracted John to the name category as ideal for his nuanced presentation of Jesus. In John’s use of the name category, it is possible to distinguish the question of significance from that of referent, meaning, and function. This, in turn, facilitates a clear evaluation of possible catalysts for John’s name concept. It is demonstrated that a variety of Jewish and Christian background influences contributed to John’s name concept at the level of referent, meaning, and function. However, the eschatological and associative significance of the name in the Fourth Gospel is particularly indebted to the name concept in Isaiah. This is significant, in part, because Isaiah places such emphasis on the exclusivity of God. It may be that a zeal for God’s exclusivity had generated accusations against the community of believers known to John, that, by their allegiance to Jesus, they were guilty of blaspheming the name in particular. The name was, perhaps, a “flashpoint” for the community, and the text of Isaiah a key battle-ground for defining fidelity to God, and the identity of the people of God. By associating Jesus with the divine name, John legitimates the allegiance of believers to Jesus in the face of Jewish opposition, as well as comforts those who were troubled by the continued absence of Jesus, with the point that they were yet identified by the divine name (17.11), and that eschatological revelation of the name promised in Isaiah was extended to their own time as well (17.26b).