Chapter 11 Christological Transformation of the Motif of “Living Water” (John 4; 7): Prophetic Messiah Expectations and Wisdom Tradition

In: Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism
Andrea Taschl-Erber
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“Living water” connects Jesus’s dialogue with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4) with his teaching in the temple at the festival of Sukkot (John 7). Referring to a multifaceted biblical imagery, the theme of water interweaves elements of well stories, including Moses traditions (especially the gift of water out from the rock in the desert, later parallelized with the gift of the Torah), eschatological hopes (the fountain coming forth from the temple, the outpouring of the spirit), and sapiental images (wisdom and teaching, or the Torah, as fountain of life). Providing the life-giving water, Jesus is presented on the one hand as the “prophet like Moses” depicted in Deut. 18. On the other hand, he acts in the role of Wisdom, who invites those who are thirsty to come. In John 4 as well as in John 7, the gift of the water of life is connected with messiah discourses. While alluding to popular expectations of “the prophet” and “the messiah,” the Fourth Gospel’s presentation of the Χριστός goes beyond. Integrating the Wisdom strand with the concept of the Logos into its Christology, Jesus is portrayed to be more than a/the prophet.

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