Jesus as victim : the dynamics of violence in the Gospel of John
This thesis explores a previously unrecognized theme within the Gospel of John. The theme is violence and its expression through the victimization of the narrative's protagonist, Jesus. It suggests that he is presented as being, as well as perceiving himself to be, a victim. This offers an understanding of the Johannine Jesus which counters the traditional model of a serene and omniscient figure who exercises sovereign control over his environment. The first section aims to situate the research methodologically, theologically and historically. Some of the presuppositions underlying the study are best understood in the context of liberation theology, and the way in which a liberator is seen to function within an oppressed community. Drawing on theories about the historical origin of the Gospel, reasons why victimization might be expected to be a prominent theme in John are also suggested. The main body of the thesis comprises targeted exegesis of passages which reveal Jesus experiencing violence and manifesting the behaviour of a victim. This section is subdivided into six chapters which work their way chronologically through the narrative. The first two explore the public ministry from different perspectives - physical and psychological - with the latter discussing the character of Jesus with insights afforded by the discipline of victimology. Subsequent chapters discuss the way in which Jesus approaches and encounters his death. In particular, the traditional picture of Jesus as the `glorious victor' on the cross is impugned; and figures from the Hebrew Bible are employed as hermeneutical tools for recognizing him as a victim. The final chapter discusses the difference in behaviour of the resurrected Jesus. It concludes that, freed from the threat of `the hour', he no longer perceives himself to be a victim. This enables him to attend to the needs of his disciples, empowering them to overcome areas of oppression in their own lives.