Narrative art and act in the Fourth Gospel : aspects of the Johannine point of view
This thesis assumes that the narrative form of the Fourth Gospel is important for understanding the Gospel's meaning. Narrative is a communicative transaction whereby meaning is transmitted from author to reader via the way the story is told. Meaning is also established by overt speech-acts, and the 'act' performed in the overall structuring of the story. It arises within a context of rule-governed speech behaviour which determines parameters and implications that inform understanding. The Gospel's narrative form meets with readers' conventional expectations about how it relates to ostensive historical reality. Factors internal and external help determine genre. Part one examines aspects of the Gospel's narrative art. The way in which the narrative situation varies over the course of the narrative is outlined. The implied author manipulates the narration to create a close association in the reader’s mind between the narrator and the beloved disciple. In John 3 the voice of the narrator merges with those of Jesus and John. These strategies have implications for the Gospel's theological meaning and the relationship of the implied author to the story world. Speech-act theory elucidates the narrative act by which the implied author conveys the Gospel's message and seeks to induce belief in the reader. Part two considers the Gospel's relationship to historical reference. Factors which influence a decision as to whether or not the Gospel is to be taken as fictional are examined, for example, whether aspects of the narration suggest fictional discourse and whether the speech-acts operate within a 'pretended' world. Descriptive categories for the Gospel as natural narrative and 'display text' are proposed, as is a flexible model of genre, which modulates the poles of 'fiction' and 'history'. An analysis of the Temple Cleansing pericope provides illustration of the Gospel’s status as an historically-based, theological display text.