Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Julian Hills

Second Advisor

Richard Edwards

Third Advisor

Carol L. Stockhausen

Fourth Advisor

Sharon Pace Jeansonne

Fifth Advisor

John J. Schmitt


Over the centuries a variety of structures have been proposed for the Gospel of John, and a variety of interpretations have been offered for individual stories found within the larger structure. These individual units have often been interpreted on the basis of their discrete characteristics without reference to their interaction with other stories in the gospel. This dissertation analyzes the structure of John's Gospel by noting a variety of linguistic characteristics, temporal indicators and narrative modes within the received text of the gospel. The convergence of a number of characteristics at certain points in the narrative, serve to indicate to the reader that the narrative is moving on to a new section. A fresh reading of the Fourth Gospel with these characteristics and section indicators in mind reveals that there are recurring motifs which are introduced and developed within the progression of the gospel narrative. The basic focus is the generation and nurturance of spiritual life. In the interest of explicating the basic theological message that spiritual life is engendered through hearing the Word of God, and believing the One whom the Father has sent, the evangelist employs a number of motifs and illustrations. Water plays a fundamental role in this explication. However, the dynamics of the water motif evolve and change throughout the gospel narrative. They do not offer a single paradigm for salvation. One unifying element among the episodes that mention water, is that functions regularly ascribed to water, such as birth, purification, baptism (witness), drinking (nurturance), and healing are, in this gospel, ascribed to the action of the Word, which engenders, nurtures, purifies, heals, loves and gives life to the dead. In this gospel, water seems to communicate the comparison between physical timing and spiritual timing. The two do not always coincide, and the evangelist uses a number of illustrations to demonstrate the difference between these two time frames.



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