Th e long-held critical judgment that the I-am sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel have no connection at all with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is based primarily on the inference that they are entirely missing from the Synoptics. As a result, John has been expunged from Jesus research, assuming its patent ahistoricity; yet critical analyses have largely overlooked Johannine- Synoptic similarities. While the Johannine presentation of Jesus’ I-am sayings is indeed distinctive and highly theological, it cannot be claimed that either the I-am convention of speech or its predicate metaphors and themes are absent from the Synoptics. Indeed, some absolute I-am sayings are present in Mark, and each of the nine terms used with the predicate nominative in John are also present in the Synoptics. Th erefore, it cannot be claimed that such terms, on the basis of the Synoptics alone, were never used by the historical Jesus or present within early traditional material. As a means of discerning a plausible understanding of how the Johannine presentation of the I-am sayings of Jesus may have emerged, cognitive-critical analysis poses a way forward. Within the developing memory of the Johannine tradition, earlier words of Jesus likely became crafted into the evangelist’s apologetic presentation of Jesus’ ministry as a means of convincing later audiences that he was indeed the Messiah/Christ.
Previously published in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, 2011, 9(2/3), pp. 139-206 Copyright of Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus is the property of Brill Academic Publishers http://www.brill.com/journal-study-historical-jesus