Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
There are at least seventy-two characters in the Fourth Gospel. Given its statement of purpose in 20:30-31, which suggests that it is for the sake of narrating miracles to produce faith, this observation is of interest. According to traditional counting there are seven miracles in John. Nonetheless, much of the Gospel is the retelling not of miracles but of conversations and other encounters between Jesus and a wide variety of characters, many of whom are not directly tied to these miracles. Given the number and variety of characters in John, questions arise: What function do characters as characters serve in the Fourth Gospel? Why include these particular characters? What do they contribute to John’s work? My goal in this study will be to examine one specific set of characters—those who make a confession of faith—and seek to understand the reason for their presence in the Gospel. Through this group of characters, I intend to show that these Johannine figures exist to articulate a specific theological and confessional proclamation. “Confessing characters,” as I will call them, manifest John’s understanding of spiritual transformation. Mary Magdalene will act as my principal test case (others will include Nathanael, the Samaritan Woman, the Man Born Blind, and Thomas). My hypothesis is that Mary Magdalene's narrative in 20:11-18, and the pericopes of other confessing characters, depict what John expresses in the Prologue, Jesus’ dialogues, the narrator’s interjections, and John the Baptist’s teachings concerning spiritual transformation. In other words, these characters’ stories portray what is merely stated elsewhere in the Gospel.