Jesus as Kyrios in the Gospel of John: A Narrative, Text-Critical and Semantic Study

Author: Paul C.J. Riley

Riley, Paul C.J., 2017 Jesus as Kyrios in the Gospel of John: A Narrative, Text-Critical and Semantic Study , Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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Abstract

This thesis is an analysis of the use and significance of the term kyrios in the Gospel of John. By means of a sequential application of specific narrative-critical, text-critical and semantic categories, it presents an overarching narrative reading of the Gospel. For each section of the narrative, text-critically secure occurrences of kyrios form the basis of an analysis of narrative context, structure, character, point of view and irony. Following this is the analysis of textual variants related to kyrios. This order of operations ensures that initial narrative-critical conclusions inform the evaluation of authorial tendencies for the text-critical analysis. The resulting text-critically secure occurrences of kyrios are then analysed to determine their semantic range. The results of this analysis form the basis of concluding summaries which trace the sequential journey of the reader through the narrative. This thesis finds that there are fifty-one occurrences of kyrios in the earliest recoverable text of the Gospel of John. The semantic analysis of each occurrence utilises the semantic domains of Louw and Nida and the cognitive-semantic framework of Alan Cruse. The narrator consistently uses kyrios to acknowledge that Jesus is a supernatural being who exercises supernatural authority. Before the resurrection, John (the Baptist) is the only character who uses kyrios in this way. Until 20:18, all disciples who address Jesus as kyrios do so to acknowledge his authority over them. Others who address Jesus as kyrios communicate their respect for him. From 20:18, all characters who use kyrios acknowledge that Jesus is a supernatural being who exercises supernatural authority. This thesis demonstrates that the term kyrios functions as a thread within the unified narrative of the Gospel of John. Beginning with 1:23, the term is used to highlight the difference between the narrator’s and characters’ understanding of Jesus. This thread connects the narrator’s presentation of Jesus as the divine kyrios with the characters’ use of the vocative throughout chapters 1-15. The thread is not picked up throughout the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. It re-emerges, however, in the resurrection narratives, when the gap between the narrator and characters closes. From 20:18 onwards, characters use kyrios in unison with the narrator, as they acknowledge that Jesus is the divine kyrios. The thesis also finds that the term kyrios in the Gospel of John is connected to the prophecy of Isaiah and the concept of glory. In the Greek of both Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 40-55, kyrios is linked to glory. The Gospel of John calls on this testimony to demonstrate that seeing Jesus’ glory is acknowledging his divine identity. When the disciples testify in the first person that they have seen the kyrios, the reader considers Isaiah’s same testimony in the temple vision (Isa 6:1, 5). As Isaiah saw the kyrios revealing his glory, and the narrator informs the reader that this was Jesus’ glory (12:41), the disciples also see Jesus, the kyrios, revealing his glory.

Keywords: Biblical Studies, New Testament Studies, Gospel of John, Koine Greek, Kyrios, Jesus, Christology, Narrative Criticism, Textual Criticism, Semantic Analysis
Subject: Humanities thesis, Theology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Vicky Balabanski