“In Order that You Might Believe” An Overview of My Thesis

Belief is a recognised focus of John’s Gospel, indicated both by the prevalence of πιστεύω and the stated purpose of the Gospel as written “in order that you might believe” (20:31). Scholarly attention has centred upon Jesus as the object of belief resulting in a primary focus upon propositional belief. This overlooks the complexity of the response to Jesus for which the Gospel calls. The intended response to Jesus involves not merely propositional belief, but related ideas such as knowing, loving, obeying, receiving, and abiding. These inter-related ideas convey the complexity of genuine belief, the belief that leads to life. A thorough analysis of the network of terms, in the context of narratives that convey the ideal response to Jesus, leads to a rich description of genuine belief as composed of cognitive, relational, ethical, ongoing, and public aspects. The complexity and pervasiveness of the presentation of belief demands to be accounted for.

The purpose of the complexity of the Johannine concept of belief is especially understood when the Gospel is read in its Graeco-Roman context. By exploring the religious repertoire of a plausible early audience of the Gospel, a picture can be established of the patterns of devotion that the audience may have brought to the text. In light of these patterns, it becomes evident that the author seeks to reshape such devotion to the gods into a form of believing that aligns with the identity of Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God. Christological motivations shape the Johannine concept of belief and necessitate presenting to the audience not only who to believe but also how to believe in order to have life. Reshaping the pattern of devotion of the audience requires a multi-faceted and pervasive presentation of belief, which informs the way the ideal audience is to respond to Jesus.

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