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Theological and biblical studies have historically developed hand in hand, and John’s distinctive Christology has long been at the center of that relationship. Within John the humanity and divinity of Jesus converge, as do the Son’s equality with — and subordination to — the Father. Likewise, embellished and existentialized appraisals of Jesus’ signs, present and futuristic eschatology, universalistic and particularistic soteriology, pro- and anti-Jewish sentiments, and apparent free-will and deterministic motifs pervade the Johannine text among other tensions as well. From the patristic era to the modern age, John’s christological tensions have intrigued and challenged theologians and exegetes alike. Indeed, the history of Christian theology would have been entirely different had it not been for the Fourth Gospel, and debates still rage among those attempting to address the great Johannine riddles along literary, historical, and theological lines. This can be seen in any overview of recent approaches to John’s Christology,1 but central to these investigations is the question of the character and epistemological origin of John’s christological tensions. Indeed, the fascinating thing about the Christology of the Fourth Gospel is not that it advances either aspect of the above polarities, but that it claims both.


Originally published in The Gospel of St. John and Christian Theology. Edited by Richard Bauckham and Carl Mosser (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007, pp. 311-45).

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