Chapter 8 Divine Kingship and Jesus’s Identity in Johannine Messianism

In: Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism
Marida Nicolaci
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Divine kingship would have continued to be crucial in Judaism throughout the history and hope of the first century C.E., particularly during the Jewish revolts (66–70) and last (132–135). My contention, thus, is fourfold. First: this political and religious context makes its whole influence felt in the Fourth Gospel. John’s Gospel, thus, has not dissolved the Jewish quest about the Messiah in its Christology which is, instead, a dialectic and critical response to the Johannine community’s Jewish context with its hope of deliverance and dramatic history. Second: a comparative review of several Jewish sources shows that the so-called “high Christology” of the Fourth Gospel can be explained, indeed, as a wholly Jewish form of messianism in which the dividing line is constituted not by the Johannine Messiah’s transcendent qualities but by the attribution of these qualities to Jesus. Third: beginning with Jesus as the concrete predicate of the abstract or ideal figure of Messiah, the narrator shows what kind of kingship the God of Israel exercises through him in the world. The true nature of God’s glory—identity and sovereignty—is, in fact, fully revealed in the wholly human story of the Sent one. Fourth: the Johannine “high-Christology” or the proclamation of Jesus as Kyrios and Theos (see John 1:1–18; 20:28), thus, is nothing more than a possible way of structuring a wholly and in-depth Jewish discourse about God’s relational identity in light of kingship (theology), man (anthropology), and salvation (soteriology).

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