Embracing vulnerability : a drama analysis of the Johannine prologue and crucifixion scenes

Van Deventer, Cornelia (2018-11)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The author of the Fourth Gospel introduces Jesus’ life as a display of glory (δόξα), communally witnessed (θεάομαι) by its audience (1:14). Moreover, the same author testifies of an experience of the divine (which was heard, seen with the eyes, looked upon, and touched with the hands – 1 Jn. 1:1), and which asks for a response from its audience (Jn. 20:30-31). Various scholars have speculated about the possible link between the Fourth Gospel and drama, arguing that its structure, characterisation, dialogue, plotline, and many other elements mimic the ancient Greek drama to strengthen its rhetorical impact on the audience. If such a connection is valid, there ought to be a methodological lens with which one could read the Fourth Gospel to explore and enhance its dramatic elements and their rhetorical impact. While the exegetic field of biblical performance criticism has done much to bring the performative and oral elements of biblical texts into the conversation, an attempt to formulate a methodology for a drama analysis of the text still needs to be made. Moreover, while the Johannine prologue identifies the protagonist as the one who will reveal God through the drama (1:18) and display his glory (1:14b), the narrator also describes his entrance into the earthly realm with the word σάρξ (flesh – 1:14a): a term denoting frailty and vulnerability. This peculiar marrying of σάρξ and δόξα seems to play itself out through the life of Jesus and climaxes at his death on a Roman cross. The Fourth Gospel was probably composed in a milieu where a glorious and divine display would have been marked by honour, power, strength, masculinity, health, resilience, control, and prosperity. Considering this, the use of σάρξ, how it plays into the plot and divine performance of the protagonist, and the effect thereof on a first-time hypothetical audience’s satisfaction and understanding of the drama, could make for a rhetorically powerful analysis. This study, therefore, sets out to read the Fourth Gospel’s prologue (as beginning) and crucifixion (as climax) through a drama lens in order to explore its point of view on vulnerability and the rhetorical effect thereof on a first-time hypothetical audience immersed in the first-century Mediterranean culture of honour, power, and dominance. The appropriation of biblical drama criticism holds the potential to illuminate the audience’s own journey of vulnerability with the performance, and to instil hope in various vulnerable audiences, including the Johannine community and contemporary communities, as it affirms that vulnerability is included in the good and abundant life (Jn. 10:10; 20:30-31) and that the glory of God is revealed in vulnerable vessels.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die skrywer van die Johannese Evangelie identifiseer Jesus se lewe as ‘n tentoonstelling van God se heerlikheid (δόξα), wat deur die gehoor op ‘n gesamentlike wyse besigtig word (θεάομαι – 1:14). Dieselfde skrywer getuig ook van ‘n ervaring van die Goddelike (wat gehoor is, met die oog gesien is, na gekyk is, en met hande aangeraak is – 1 Joh. 1:1), wat ‘n reaksie van die gehoor verlang (Joh. 20:30-31). Verskeie kenners het al gespekuleer oor die moontlike verband tussen die Vierde Evangelie en die drama, wat aan die Evangelie se struktuur, karakterisering, dialoog, storielyn, en verskeie ander elemente toegeskryf kan word. As so ‘n verband geldig is, behoort dit moontlik te wees om die Evangelie met ‘n drama-kritiese lens te lees. Waar die eksegetiese veld van bybelse voordragkritiek (biblical performance criticism) al soveel gedoen het om die voordrag-elemente en mondelinge dimensies van die teks as gespreksvennote te betrek, is die formulering van bybelse drama kritiek nog ‘n ongedane taak. Terwyl die proloog die protagonis identifiseer as die een wat God (1:18) en God se heerlikheid (1:14b) sal voordra, beskryf die verteller ook sy verskyning met die woord σάρξ (vlees – 1:14a): ‘n term wat na swakheid en broosheid verwys. Hierdie vreemde samevoeging van σάρξ en δόξα is konstant sigbaar in Jesus se lewe en bereik ‘n klimaks by sy dood aan ‘n Romeinse kruis. Die Johannese Evangelie is waarskynlik geskryf in ‘n milieu waar heerlikheid en Goddelikheid met eer, mag, krag, manlikheid, gesondheid, veerkragtigheid en voorspoed verbind is. Met dit in gedagte, blyk dit belowend om die gebruik van σάρξ, hoe dit in die storielyn en protagonis se optrede funksioneer, en die retoriese effek daarvan op ‘n eerste hipotetiese gehoor in die bogenoemde konteks te bestudeer. Hierdie studie beoog daarom om die Vierdie Evangelie se proloog (as begin) en kruisiging (as klimaks) deur ‘n drama lens te lees en daardeur die effek van die drama se perspektief op broosheid op ‘n hipotetiese gehoor in die eerste-eeuse Mediterreense konteks van eer, mag en oorheersing te verken. Die toepassing van bybelse drama kritiek blyk belowend te wees om die gehoor se eie brose reis deur middel van voordrag uit te lig. So ‘n verkenning beskik oor die potensiaal om hoop te skep tussen ‘n verskeidenheid gehore – insluitend the Johannese gemeenskap en kontemporêre gehore, omdat dit bevestig dat broosheid deel van die goeie en oorvloedige lewe is (Joh. 10:10; 20:30- 31) en dat die heerlikheid van God in kruike van broosheid bekend gemaak word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104912
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