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While Philip plays no special role in the Synoptics, he plays more of a central role in the Fourth Gospel. Aside from references to Peter and the Beloved Disciple, Philip is mentioned in John more often (a dozen times) than any of the other followers of Jesus - either male or female. Interestingly, he plays a connective role in the narrative, and in several ways. At the outset of the Gospel, during the calling narrative, Philip plays the role of an intermediary, connecting Nathanael with Jesus (John 1:43-48). At the beginning of the feeding narrative, Philip is asked by Jesus to feed the crowd (6:5-7), a request that correlates with his hailing from the nearby town, Bethsaida. At the end of Jesus' public ministry, Philip plays a pivotal role in connecting Greek seekers with Jesus, leading to Jesus' declaration that his hour is fulfilled (12:21-23). And, leading into the first of the final discourses, Philip asks Jesus to show the disciples the Father (14:8-9), whereupon Jesus invites all to a connection with God. As such, Philip provides a bridge between others and Jesus at pivotal points, playing a prominent ambassadorial role. This essay will suggest how that is so in terms of polyvalent characterological analysis, leading to interpretive considerations.


Originally published as a chapter by Paul Anderson in Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel, edited by Steven A. Hunt, D. Francois Tolmie & Ruben Zimmermann and published originally by Mohr Siebeck, 2013.

ISBN: 978-0-8028-7392-7