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New Testament and Mission

Historical and Hermeneutical Perspectives

Johannes Nissen

This book brings together insights from two fields of study: biblical scholarship and missiology. The Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel is often seen as the biblical foundation for mission. The New Testament, however, reflects a variety of models for mission. Each model is examined with regard to historical meaning as well as hermeneutical significance. The final chapter focuses on three issues of great importance for the present situation: unity and diversity in mission, the gospel in relation to cultures, and Bible and dialogue models.

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5. Sent into the world: Mission and incarnation in the Fourth Gospel . 75

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5. Sent into the world: Mission and incarnation in the Fourth Gospel Introduetion The relation of the Fourth Gospel to mission remains a disputed subject among scholars. This dispute is closely related to the question for whom and for what purpose the Gospel was written. Was it addressed to those already converted in order to strengthen their faith in Jesus? Or was it addressed to non-believers in order to win them over to faith in Jesus? In the first case the Gospel would serve as a community document, in the second it would be more of a missionary document. The disagreement has arisen mainly from the discussion of one particular text, John 20:31.' More recently, it has been argued that the Gospel of John is not a mission document but an "in-house" product, mostly polemic and sectarian, from an isolated Christian community quite uninterested in mission to the outside world.2 In this interpretation the main focus is on ecclesiology — especially the relation between the community and the world — not on mission in the sense of winning new believers.3 However, in the Gospel of John mission is not just to be subsumed to ecclesiology; it has its weight of its own. "The Christological focus of the Fourth Gospel is the key to understanding its theology of mission, as it is for every other aspect of John's message".4 This point is underlined by the so-called "Sendungschristologie".5 Furthermore, the work of Jesus and his disciples is characterized as a mission...

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