Place and significance of creation imagery in the Gospel of John
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Sosa Siliezar, Carlos Raúl
Siliezar, Carlos Raúl Sosa
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This thesis investigates the presence and significance of creation imagery in the Gospel of John. This is an issue that Johannine scholars have been discussing for nearly a century, since Edwin Hoskyns’ 1920 article “Genesis I–III and St John’s Gospel,” but it is still by no means a settled question. Many scholars continue to insist that John employs creation imagery in this Gospel by making numerous subtle allusions to Genesis 1–3. Others find this imagery in what they consider to be the creation-like structure of the text or parts of it. By contrast, this thesis argues that John has intentionally included only a limited number of instances of creation imagery and that he has positioned them carefully to highlight their significance. The thesis establishes the actual instances of creation imagery in the Gospel, demonstrating that a number of allusions that scholars have suggested to Genesis 1–3 are actually questionable. It contends that John has included direct references to the creation of the world specifically in 1:10; 17:5; and 17:24; and that only in 1:1–5; 5:17, 20, 36; 6:19; 9:3–4, 6; 17:4; and 20:22 has he also drawn on and creatively deployed terms and images stemming from Genesis 1–2 and other creation discourses found in the Old Testament. Although John uses these limited instances of creation imagery in varying contexts, this thesis argues that they function collectively in a threefold way that is consonant with John’s overall argument. First, John uses them to portray Jesus in close relationship with his Father, existing apart from and prior to the created order. This relationship authorizes his participation in divine activities. Second, John uses creation imagery to assert the primal and universal significance of Jesus and the message about him, and to privilege him over other important figures in the story of Israel. Third, John uses creation imagery to link past reality with present and future reality, portraying Jesus as the agent of creation whom the reader should regard as the primal agent of revelation and salvation. The thesis concludes by underscoring how these findings may inform our understanding of John’s Christology and Johannine dualism.