The Beloved Disciple and Implied Readers: A Socio-Narratological Approach
Biblical Theology Bulletin
The gaps in the narratives about the "disciple whom Jesus loved" suggest that he has a typological relationship with the implied readers of the canonical Fourth Gospel. (A) The investigation chiefly focuses on three gaps. (1) The beloved disciple is never named. (2) He is first mentioned (at least as beloved) in the farewell address. The link between the beloved disciple and the farewell address, which is directed to the time of the implied readers by Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-26, is evidence that the implied readers are meant to identify themselves with this ideal disciple. (3) The beloved disciple's knowledge of the betrayer does not affect the plot. (B) Later references to this disciple (as probably at John 18:15-16; as related to "the mother of Jesus" at 19:25-27; as witness in 19:33-37; as first to believe in Jesus' resurrection in 20:9-10; as first to recognize the risen Lord in 21:7; and as witness grounding the Gospel in 21:24) confirm the paradigmatic significance of this historical figure as the ideal disciple.