Sophia and the Johannine Jesus
This thesis examines the relationship between the Jewish figure of Sophia and the Johannine Jesus, Recognising the problem of identifying the female Sophia with the male Jesus, we ask how the Fourth Evangelist has tackled it and what effect, if any, the solution may have had on the portrayal of women within the Gospel. Following an introductory chapter outlining the scope of the thesis, Chapter Two examines the context from which John has drawn on Sophia. Bearing in mind always the monotheistic character of Judaism, we discover the way in which traits of ANE Goddesses have influenced the development of Sophia as a figure within Jewish thought. We find that by the time of the writing of John's Gospel, on the one hand there was a highly developed picture of Sophia as a feminine expression of God active in Israel's history, while on the other hand there were efforts to repress her gender significance. Chapter Three examines the relationship between this female figure and John's picture of Jesus. The Logos of the Prologue, found to be influenced at almost every turn by Sophia speculation, proves to be a useful cover employed by the Fourth Evangelist to effect the switch of gender from Sophia to Jesus. Further study shows that all the main themes of the Prologue are worked out in detail in the body of the Gospel. Hardly a major Johannine theme remains untouched by some measure of Sophia's influence. This leads us to the conclusion that John has intentionally presented us with Jesus as Jesus Sophia Incarnate. Chapter Four examines the possibility of a connection between the discerned Sophia christology and the prominent role played by women in the Gospel. We find that all the stories concerning women appear at important christologlcal points in the Gospel. Further investigation shows that all the women demonstrate the essential characteristics of discipleship, in a way in which the traditional male disciples of the Synoptic tradition do not. The women are seen to function as paradigms of discipleship for the community to which the Gospel Is addressed. In addition, traces of influence from Sophia speculation are also to be found in the way in which the stories concerning women are told. Finally, some reflections are offered on the wider implications of the findings in chapters three and four, along with some suggestions for further research.