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Incarnation and Covenant in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel (John 1:1-18)


Wilson Paroschi

This study deals with the structural and exegetical relationship between pre-existence and incarnation in the dynamics of John‘s Prologue (John 1:1-18). It discusses the point in the narrative at which the shift from the pre-existent Logos to the incarnate Christ takes place and, therefore, the perspective from which the individual parts of the passage (vss. 1-5; vss. 6-13; vss. 14-18) should be interpreted. By making a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the text and evaluating all contrasting views on the subject, the book shows the essential chronological order of the narrative, whose climax (vss. 14-18) is not the announcement of the incarnation proper, but rather a profound theological reflection on the significance of that event based on the covenantal traditions of the exodus story and later prophetic expectations.


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The Hymn Hypothesis An issue that still divides Johannine scholarship is whether the Prologue is an integral part of the Gospel or an existing hymnic composition that was adapted by the evangelist and placed at the beginning of his book to introduce it. Rea- sons can be advanced for both views. This appendix discusses the evidence against the unity and the integrity of John 1:1-18, and the hypothesis that has traditionally been thought appropriate to explain that evidence. Evidence and Hypothesis The idea that John's Prologue was initially a hymn to Christ, into which secon- dary material was inserted to make it a fitting introduction to the Gospel, rests on several textual and stylistic considerations. The Baptist Passages Probably the main evidence that the Prologue was not originally the work of the evangelist is that vss. 6-8 and especially 15, which deal with John the Baptist, look more like later accretions,' for they seem to have a different style and to in- terrupt the flow of thought. There are also shifts in subject (vss. 14, 16: "we"; vs. 15: "John") and tense (vss. 14, 16: aorist; vs. 15: present). It has even been suggested that these verses were mechanically transplanted from before 1:19, 'There is an almost universal consensus on this (see Painter, "Christology and the His- tory of the Johannine Community," 461). Schmithals refers to this consensus as "unanimous and obvious" (Johannesevangelium und Johannesesbriefe, 264). Haenchen even ascribes these verses to a misunderstanding of the original...

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