In previous posts I’ve discussed how a literary-historical approach to John can yield interesting results. Other methods of analysis are available as well. Here I discuss another one that I have not yet explained, but should be understandable simply from the following extract from my textbook. I call this other method, simply, the “thematic” approach. Here is what I say about it, in relation to the Gospel of John.


The Gospel of John from a Thematic Perspective

Whereas the literary-historical approach to the Gospels focuses on the conventions of the biographical genre, and so determines how a book portrays its main character through the unfolding of the plot as he interacts with those around him, the thematic approach isolates prominent themes at key points of the narrative, and traces their presence throughout, more or less overlooking questions of plot and character interaction. If we were to examine John from a strictly thematic point of view, we might look at some of the salient motifs established at the outset of its narratives (since biographies set up the character of their protagonist at the beginning) — in this case, in the Prologue — and in some of the speeches of the main character (since the speeches of ancient historical and biographical works were the composition of the authors themselves, and so reveal, in particular, their overarching concerns).


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