Characterizing Jesus : a rhetorical analysis on the Fourth Gospel's use of Scripture in its presenation of Jesus.
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Myers, Alicia D.
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This dissertation explores how the Fourth Gospel's use of Scripture contributes to its characterization of Jesus. Utilizing literary-rhetorical criticism, it approaches the Gospel in its final form, paying particular attention to how Greco-Roman rhetoric can assist in understanding the ways in which Scripture is employed to support the presentation of Jesus. This study, therefore, crosses paths with three areas of current Johannine and New Testament scholarship: (1) literary-critical studies on the Fourth Gospel's characterization of Jesus; (2) studies on the presence (or absence) of Greco-Roman rhetoric in the Gospel; and (3) intertextual studies on John and the New Testament. This dissertation contributes to all three of these areas by expanding on how rhetorical practices affect ancient characterization, demonstrating further evidence in favor of the Gospel's use of rhetoric (particularly the practices of synkrisis, ekphrasis, and prosopopoiia), and, in so doing, offering a new way to use rhetoric to better understand the use of Scripture in the Fourth Gospel and the New Testament as a whole. The dissertation accomplishes these tasks in three parts. First, it examines ancient Mediterranean practices of narration and characterization in relationship to the Gospel, concluding with an analysis of the Johannine prologue. In the second and third parts, the study investigates explicit appeals to Scripture made both in and outside of Jesus' discourses to discover how they contribute to the Gospel's presentation of its protagonist. Through these analyses, this study contends that the pervasive presence of Scripture in quotations, allusions, and references to key figures and events is meant to act as corroborating evidence supporting the evangelist's presentation of Jesus. Offering clarification of Jesus' words and actions—as well as of those reacting to Jesus within the narrative—Scripture contextualizes Jesus by means of well-known, comparative examples. In this way, Scripture testifies on behalf of the Johannine Jesus, consistently reinforcing the evangelist's initial presentation of his protagonist in John 1:1-18 and, therefore, increasing the credibility of his bios for his Gospel audience, even as it confounds other characters in the narrative itself.