A retrospective and a prospective reading of Jn 1:1-18 using the method of biblical rhetorical analysis.
This study is an attempt to read the Prologue of the Gospel of John using the type of Rhetorical Analysis based on Semitic logic. This Semitic approach shows the chiastic construction of the Prologue demonstrating its centre to be anthropocentric rather than theocentric. Furthermore this Semitic logic makes it possible to identify the central term (pisteu,ousin) in the Prologue and also demonstrates the strategic placing of that term. Modern and post-modern literary approaches are employed to discover what the implied reader knows about the Prologue. The rationale in all this is that the more one engages with the implied reader, the more one gets to know about the text. The construction of the implied reader takes into account the worldview prominent in the first century CE biblical world. The aspects which deal with a retrospective reading of the text make it possible to enter into the Jewish biblical and socio-cultural matrix which has generated themes touched on by the Prologue. The aspects dealing with the prospective reading of the text demonstrate how the Prologue prepares the real reader to engage with the remainder of the Gospel of John. The research in Intertextuality has made it abundantly clear that in reading the Prologue the real reader actually engages with a multiplicity of texts and circumstances to such an extent that s/he is not merely reading Jn 1:1-18 but a vast network of information and codes known to the implied reader. The interpretations produced by such an engagement are both creative and original. For example, the association of the centre piece of the Prologue with the promise God made to Abraham is no mere inferential leap – it derives from literal and thematic intertextual engagements with the two testaments which comprise the Christian Bible. Some epistemological problems have surfaced with respect to the interactionism and relational dynamics associated with the reading process and these are pointed out in the thesis. It must be noted that far from hampering the work, these epistemological issues have actually pointed out new directions for further research. In this regard the General Conclusion to the thesis is relevant. Key terms: Johannine Prologue; the Gospel of John; Exegesis/Exegetical Method; Rhetorical Analysis; Semitic thinking; Intertextuality; Reader Response Criticism; Implied reader; Real reader; Jesus Christ; Moses; Jewish culture; John the Baptist; Qumran community; o` lo,goj; Incarnation; Wisdom traditions; Exodus; Glory of God.