The Gospel of John : a Roman legal and rhetorical perspective
This thesis represents an experiment in which the Fourth Gospel is analysed for functional similarities with the precepts of the classical rhetorical handbooks and illuminated at points by reference to Roman law. After exploring the possibility of an Ephesian provenance, the feasibility of examining the Gospel against the backdrop of the classical forensic rhetoric that pervaded such a cosmopolitan milieu is argued in the introduction. Further, the use of legal themes and motifs within the Fourth Gospel are amongst features that make the Gospel a favourable subject for such an analysis. Functional correspondencesb etween the structure of the Gospel and that of ancient legal speeches are designated a primary interest. Subsequent chapters, analogous to structural elements of a legal speech, include examination of John 1: 1-15 as a prologue and 1: 16-18 as an ipsius causae statement of the case. The witness motif, signs, Scriptural allusions, and logical arguments in 1: 19- 12: 50 represent the type of evidence present in the probatio or proof portions of forensic orations. The farewell discourses (13-17) may be akin to a digression while the presentation of proof is resumed at the point of Jesus' arrest. Verses 20: 30-21: 25 conform to conventions for perorations. In addition, Roman laws and procedures involving women as witnesses and the distribution of inheritances illuminate various pericopes. The conclusion shows that there is some support for the hypothesis that the Gospel was crafted in a way that reflects the modes and structure of forensic argumentation in Greco-Roman culture. The implications of such a structure would be threefold: 1) the Gospel has been carefully and intentionally composed 2) the distinctiveness of the Fourth Gospel compared to the Synoptics may be due to similarities with forensic rhetoric 3) the Gospel may be read from the perspective of a Roman legal context.