SPEAKING THROUGH AMBIGUITY: MINOR CHARACTERS IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL

in Biblical Interpretation
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Abstract

This article challenges the assumption that minor characters in the Fourth Gospel represent individual traits or varying degrees of belief in Jesus. It begins with an overview of the standard "representative" approach to Johannine characterization. This includes a brief survey of the history of interpretation of particular characters, revealing little agreement among readers as to what each character typifies. The study then moves to a discussion of the minor characters. The author does not presuppose a unified narrative with each character neatly fulfilling a narrative function. Instead, the analysis leans in the direction of deconstruction and its assumption of persistent textual indeterminacy. In this light, the study argues that nearly all of the minor characters appear unstable and shifting, particularly in relation to Jesus. Instead of assuming a position on a spectrum of negative to positive faith responses, the minor characters move individually up and down such a spectrum. The article concludes with an exploration of how the minor characters, as a group, challenge the polarized world of the Gospel.

Biblical Interpretation

A Journal of Contemporary Approaches

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