Jesus and his 'works' : the Johannine sayings in historical perspective
The thesis examines those sayings attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel in which he is represented as speaking about his 'works', 'work' or 'working'. The 'historical perspective' in which they are seen refers primarily to their relationship with the historical Jesus and their use in the patristic era. As far as their relationship with the historical Jesus is concerned, the thesis affirms that these sayings express motifs which can be traced back to the time of his ministry and that some of them may well stand in a particularly close relationship with his original words. As part of the argument, traditional objections to finding 'authentic' sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel are discussed, and a new model for 'authenticity' is offered, which recognises the complexity of the concept and finds support from the manner in which the author of the Fourth Gospel handles his Old Testament quotations. Suggestions are made in the textual studies as to the ways in which the author may have moulded the traditions at his disposal. aAs far as the patristic use of these sayings is concerned, the thesis illustrates the variety of ways in which they were understood and in particular shows how they were used to support the doctrine of the deity of Christ and his unity in nature and being with the Father. Thus the Fourth Gospel is shown to be at a mid-point in a trajectory of understanding of Jesus as a 'doer of the works of God' in that it both transmits material which has a foundation in the ministry of the historical Jesus and also provides a launching pad for the more developed doctrine of the patristic era.