Johnson Thomaskutty at SBL/AAR 2015

Posted: November 27, 2015 in General

AARSBL 2015_Main Banner_0Center for Missiological Research [CMR] of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, gave a new turn in my life as it sponsored my trip to the SBL/AAR at Atlanta, Georgia. As a Global Research Institute [GRI] scholar at Fuller, I found my trip rewarding. The SBL/AAR was held from 21 to 24 November, 2015. I express my sincere thanks to Prof. Amos Yong [Director of CMR] and Johnny Ching for the arrangements and support. I was benefitted out of the annual meeting in the following way.

On the first day, I had a very hectic schedule. My schedule started with the “International Cooperation Initiative Forum Meeting” at 9.30 AM and finished with “Scholar Leaders International Dinner” at 9.00 PM, i.e., with Evan Hunter of SLI and scholars from the Asian context. It was nice attending “John, Jesus, and History” presentations by Graham Twelftree, Tom Thatcher, Jan G. van der Watt, Andrew T. Lincoln, Mark Goodacre, and Catrin Haf Williams. During the sessions on “Comparison of Johannine and Markan Characterization,” I attended five papers including the one by Elizabeth Struthers Malbon. The day was pleasant with face-to-face interactions with scholar friends like Nijay Gupta, Darrell Bock, Ben Witherington, Jo-Ann Brant, Christopher Skinner, Francois Tolmie, Francis X. Clooney, John Christopher Thomas, Iain Torrance, Brian Small, and others.

On the second day, I was privileged to interact with John Dominic Crossan, Kasper Bro Larsen, Jesudas Athyal, Ekaputra Tupamahu, Erik Eynikel, John Byron, Paul N. Anderson, Alan Culpepper, Bill Heroman, Craig Koester, Mike Licona, and many others. Attending the Nordic Reception in the evening provided me opportunities to discuss with some of the key figures like Ismo Dunderberg.

On the third day, I attended three Johannine Forums: [1] Johannine Literature (9.00-11.30 AM); [2] Johannine Characterization and Genre (1.00-3.30 PM); and [3] The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic (4.00-6.30 PM). It was interesting to attend the session by Finny Abraham [GTU, Berkeley] in the academic category of “Ritual in the Biblical World: Social Scientific Criticism of the New Testament.” Moreover, it was good to hear the presentations of Urban von Wahlde, Mary Coloe, Kasper Bro Larsen, Harold Attridge, Colleen Conway, Jo-Ann Brant, and Tom Thatcher. Also had wonderful moments with James Charlesworth, Michael Gorman, Tatsiong Benny Liew, Douglas Estes, John J. Thatamanil, Jayakiran Sebastian, Peter Williams, Mary Coloe, Sandra Schneiders, Lidija Novakovic, Sung Uk Lim, Olugbemiro Temba, Bill Heroman, Joshua Muthalali, and others.

The session on reviewing the new book “The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic” was significant for me in three ways: [1] I attended “The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic” Conference in Aarhus University, Denmark, and presented a gist of my dissertation; [2] This conference connected me with a good number of John and genre specialists; and [3] This book makes a mention about my work on dialogue (Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12;50. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015).

There were several recognition scenes (anagnōrises) at SBL/AAR as many to whom I am connected through social media [Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia, WordPress, etc.] really appeared just in front of me and we had moments of interaction. I was happy to see the way my book was exhibited in the Book Exhibition Hall (i.e., at the Brill stall). Thanks friends for your love, appreciation, and encouragements. I look forward for SBL/AAR 2016 in San Antonio.

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary, CA]


The Peter Rhea and Ellen Jones Endowed New Testament Lectures at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia, were inaugurated in 2009 with lectures presented by James D.G. Dunn. The second lecture series occurred in 2010 with lectures presented by D. Moody Smith. This year, the Jones lectures were being offered at John and Judaism: A Symposium, hosted by Mercer University, during the period of 18-20 November 2015. The following lines are quoted from the Conference Booklet:

The relationship be John and Judaism is multi-layered and variously interpreted, yet it is crucial for understanding the Gospel, and continues to have ramifications for the relationship between Jews and Christians today. This conference will give particular attention to the relationship between the Gospel of John and its Jewish context late in the first century, during the period that has been characterized as “the parting of the ways,” and to Christian responses in recent decades to the Gospel’s anti-Jewish rhetoric.

The conference was started with the keynote address of Jan G. van der Watt, Professor of New Testament and Source Texts of Early Christianity, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Holland. His lecture was circumscribed around the central question, “Is Jesus the King of Israel?” Another key lecture was entitled “Evidence of Conflict with the Synagogue in the ‘Johannine’ Writings” (by Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada). The overall schedule of the lectures was divided into three main categories as follows:

First, “John as a Source for Understanding Judaism.” There were one lecture and two short papers in this section: [1] Main Paper: “The Gospel of John as a Source for First-Century Judaism” (by Craig R. Koester, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN); [2] Short Paper I: “John, Judaism, and ‘Searching the Scriptures’” (by Catrin H. Williams, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, Wales); and [3] Short Paper II: “John, Jews and Philosophy” (by Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT).

Second, “Reappraising John’s Relationship to Judaism and Jewish Christianity.” There were one lecture and three short papers in this section: [1] Main Paper: “Story and History: John, Judaism, and the Historical Imagination” (by Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa, Canada); [2] Short Paper I: “Johannine Christian and Baptist Sectarians within Late First-Century Judaism” (by Joel Marcus, Duke University, Durham, NC); [3] Short Paper II: “Tensions in Matthean and Johannine Soteriology Viewed in their Jewish Context” (by William R.G. Loader, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia); and [4] Short Paper III: “Matthew and John: Reflections of Early Christianity in Relation to Judaism” (R. Alan Culpepper, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University).

Third, “Reading John as Jews and Christians.” There were one lecture and three short papers in this section: [1] Main Paper: “Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel Fifteen Years after the Leuven Colloquium” (by Reimund Bieringer, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium); [2] Short Paper I: “Aspects of the ‘Parting of the Ways’ in Ephesus: From Paul to John and Further on” (by Jörg Frey, University of Zürich, Switzerland); [3] Short Paper II: “Antisemitism and Religious Violence as Flawed Interpretations of John” (by Paul N. Anderson, George Fox University, Newberg, OR); and [4] Short Paper III: “The Place of John in Christian-Jewish Relations Fifty Years after Nostra Aetate” (by Noam E. Marans, Director, Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, American Jewish Committee, New York).

Alan Culpepper (McAfee School, Mercer, GA), Benjamin Reynolds (Tyndale University College, Toronto, Canada), Jaime Clark-Soles (Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX), and Peter Rhea Jones (McAfee School, Mercer, Atlanta) chaired the sessions. One of the significant things was that all the presentations were followed by Q & A sessions. The involvement of Vernon K. Robbins (Emory University, Atlanta, GA), Urban Von Wahlde (Loyola University Chicago), and others during the Q & A session needs to be specially mentioned. The conference was highly organized and I believe that it will introduce a new way forward to Jewish-Christian dialogue based on John’s Gospel. But, at the same time, whether John’s Gospel is “pro-Jewish” or it is “anti-Jewish” can only be determined on the basis of the stance an interpreter takes in the process of her/his reading of the text. This fact was reflective through the various vantage points adopted by the presenters. Above all, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference as it is instrumental in contributing new ideas in my ongoing struggle with the Johannine text.

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, California)

Seow, Leong-RJM

This evening [i.e., 12 November 2015, 5 PM], Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Fuller organized a Guest Lecture at Geneva Room. On the occasion, one of the leading figures in the field of Hebrew Bible, Prof. Choon-Leong Seow [Distinguished Professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School], was the speaker. He was formerly serving as professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey. Prof. Seow’s paper was on an interesting topic, entitled “The Book of Job in Its Ancient Near Eastern Milieu.” Special appreciation goes to Prof. Christopher B. Hays [D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, School of Theology, Fuller, Pasadena] for this important initiative.

In his lecture, Prof. Seow arrayed several parallelisms between The Book of Job and the ANE Literature. One of the striking points to me was about the usage of dialogue genre in both the traditions. In my recent book, I made the following similar observations:

The religious traditions of both the Ancient Near Eastern and the Greco-Roman contexts are rich in having dialogue as a literary genre. In the east, dialogue dates back to the Sumero-Babylonian dialogues and disputations (preserved in copies from the early second millennium BCE). In the Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic, conversations develop within the larger dialogue framework of Gilgamesh and Ishtar. Similarly, the living together of the divine pantheon under the supreme triad, Enlil, Enki, and An, and other gods surrounding them, makes the Mesopotamian creation myths confrontational and dialogical. The creation myth of the Enuma Elish develops as a series of verbal disputations among those figures making up the Babylonian divine pantheon. The dispute is primarily between the younger-generation gods and the primordial gods. The dialogue is one of the important means through which the confrontation is reported in this document. The Ugaritic texts of the Canaanite tradition contain various episodes of the Baal cycle. In Baal’s battle with the sea, implicit and multi-level war dialogues develop, especially among El, Baal, and Yam. Another array of dialogues develops among El, Baal, Athirat, Anat, and Kothar before the construction of a palace for Baal. The brief survey above of the Sumero-Babylonian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Greek, and Roman religious traditions serves to confirm that dialogue and interactions among the deities themselves and between the pantheon and the human world were part and parcel of the affairs of the ancient world (Thomaskutty, 2015: 27-29).

In a sub-section entitled “Old Testament Traditions” I had made the following observations about the Book of Job:

The Book of Job has this pattern at a distinct level. The ‘happy ending’ pattern of the Book of Job finds parallels with the materials from Mesopotamia and Egypt (cf. Clines, 1989). Majercik (1992: 186; cf. De Regt, 2007: 119, 162) points out that, “Among the OT writings, the Book of Job is the chief example of a literary work in dialogue form, but a type of dialogue that is influenced by literary precedents in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.” This feature of the text provides dramatic appeal to the portrayal of Job’s story (Thomaskutty, 2015: 34-36).

Prof. Seow’s literary and narrative analysis of the Book of Job in relation to the ANE traditions throws light on to a well developed literary genre called dialogue. In the analysis, he also made it poignant that though there are parallelisms between Job and ANE Literature, at certain points and levels the said biblical text distanced itself from other literary works. Keeping that into mind I argue that: “The Johannine dialogues show striking similarities with the dialogues of the OT. As in the case of the OT dialogues, the Johannine dialogues maintain an ‘inner-negotiation’ and ‘outer-confrontation’ pattern. Though we identify similarities between the dialogues of the OT and the Gospel of John, John employs the pattern in his own terms to comfort the ‘believing insiders’ and to address the ‘unbelieving outsiders’” (p.36). From the above observation one can notice the following things: first, dialogue was a common literary genre found in ANE Literature, The Book of Job, and The Gospel of John; second, though Job had influences from the ANE Literature, it has its own unique features in implementing the dialogue genre; and third, John, similarly, has ample number of parallelisms with the dialogues of ANE Literature and The Book of Job. But the Fourth Evangelist maintained dialogue as a literary genre in his own idiom. Thanking you Dr. Seow and Dr. Chris.


Thomaskutty, Johnson., 2015. Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12:50. Leiden/Boston: E.J. Brill.

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller, Pasadena, California]


There was another significant time of presenting my paper during the Center for Missiological Research [CMR] Colloquium, on 11 November 2015, at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA. Prof. Amos Yong, Director of CMR and Professor of Theology and Mission, was graciously chairing the session. The introductory lines of the paper are herewith:

[[The paper attempts to investigate how the narrator of the Fourth Gospel captures the socio-religious realities of the First Century CE through his narrative lens. The rhetoric of John is reflection of reality. In that sense it is a mimesis. In a context in which emerging Christian communities were denied religious freedom and were widely persecuted, the Johannine community members realized that their very existence was at risk. The community was undergoing persecution from the hands of both the Jewish religio-political authorities as well as from the Empire of Rome. Johannine community’s antilanguage and its antisocial outlook placed it well over against the Jewish and Roman power structures. While the narrator employs dualism as a major narrative means to decipher the realities, the from above ideology of Jesus is in constant conflict with the from below ideology of the Jews. In this way, two ideologies are brought into a sharp conflict (cf. Petersen, 1993). Through the usage of conflict and characterization as a major narrative devise, the narrator adds vigor and flavor to the narrative dynamics of the story and its discourse in order to turn it out as a dramatic masterpiece (cf. Chatman, 1978). This situation persuades the reader to pose the following questions: How does the narrator of John’s Gospel exemplify religious freedom and persecution both in explicit and implicit terms? How does the narrator convert the message from the Sitz-im-leben Jesu to the Sitz-im-leben kirche? How does the narrator employ the narrative techniques of mimesis and diegesis? How can the Johannine community realities be used as a paradigm in the contemporary Indian context where religious freedom and conversion remain as prima factors? The task of the paper is threefold: first, identify the Johannine tenets of narration to decipher the socio-religious realities; second, investigate how religious freedom and persecution are used as elements that the narrator propels to foreground the contextual realities; and third, understand the relevance of the topic in the present day Indian context where Ghar Wapsi and other anti-conversion activities are widely practiced.]]

Tobias Schuckert’s Missiological reflection of the paper is herewith:

[[Thomaskutty uses the Gospel of John as a framework to understand and interpret the struggle of the church in India. He uses three circles, the Sitz im Leben of the Indian church with the Sitz im Leben Jesu and the Sitz im Leben of the Johannite church to come to his conclusions (Thomaskutty 2015, 13). Thomaskutty’s passage may function to launch the conversation about how local churches can identify themselves with certain books in the New Testament.

Thomaskutty’s study resonates with van Engen’s framework of missiological research (1996, 23) that looks at the faith community (the church in India), the biblical text (the gospel of John), and the missional context (the Indian society). However, in Thomaskutty’s passage, the emphasis is strongly on the biblical text, his interpretation of the gospel of John. Therefore, following van Engen (1996), it would be fascinating to see how the Indian church would follow and interpret some of Thomaskutty’s statements. Has the gospel of John a greater impact on Indian Christans as other biblical books? Do Indian Christians identify themselves with the Gospel of John?


Thomaskutty, Johnson. 2015. Religious Freedom and Conversion in India Today-Reading John’s Gospel as a Jewish-Christian Conflict Narrative. In CMR Colloquium, November 11, 2015. Pasadena, CA.

VanEngen, Charles Edward. 1996. Mission on the Way : Issues in Mission Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.]]

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller, Pasadena, California]

31agjWj4PbL__SX334_BO1,204,203,200_On November 9 at 7:00 PM, Archives Bookshop and Fuller Theological Seminary partnered to host an evening with Prof. Marianne Meye Thompson in celebration of the release of her new commentary on the Gospel of John, ‘John: A Commentary’ (Westminster John Knox, 2015). This special evening was special with a talk by Prof. Thompson, a brief Question and Answer session, and a book-signing. Archives Bookshop sold copies of the commentary at a special, discounted event-price. In his introductory speech Prof. Joel B. Green introduced Marianne with the following words: “Marianne is a scholar who teaches to write rather than writes to teach,” “she is a woman of the church,” and “she is a slow, powerful, reflective, and theological writer.” In her speech, Marianne made it clear that she signed a contract with Westminster John Knox Press on 13th October 1997. She also told: “I was always interested in John because it is a unique gospel and because it goes on its own.” In my reference of the commentary to grasp a bit more about Thomas, I realized that she has done something significant by taking into consideration the feelings of both the church and the academia. As Joel B. Green rightly put it the commentary came through slow and steady plans and processes. Marianne Meye Thompson is George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She has devoted many years of focused study to the Gospel of John and is widely regarded as one of its most significant contemporary interpreters. The event was held in Travis Auditorium, which is located on campus at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Psychology in Pasadena, California. I was really inspired by the way the whole program was conducted and I congratulate Dr. Marianne for this great contribution to the Johannine scholarship.

Read a brief description from below:

[[Almost from the earliest days of the church, John’s distinctive presentation of Jesus has provoked discussion about its place among the other Gospels. One cannot help but see the differences from the Synoptics and wonder about the origins and character of John. In this new volume in the New Testament Library series, Marianne Meye Thompson explores the ministry and significance of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the Gospel of John, paying special attention to the social, cultural, and historical contexts that produced it. John’s Gospel, Thompson posits, is the product of a social-cultural world whose language, commitments, and contours must be investigated in order to read John’s narrative well. In doing so, Thompson studies the narrative, structure, central themes, and theological and rhetorical arguments found in the Fourth Gospel. Thompson’s expert commentary unpacks and illuminates John’s unique witness to Jesus—who he was, what he did, and what that means.


“In this exceptional commentary, Thompson wears her deep scholarship lightly. We are given a clear and fresh vision of John’s portrayal of Jesus and its enduring significance for today. Here is real insight.” —Walter Moberly, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation, Durham University

“Without neglecting the cultural contexts of this most ‘spiritual’ Gospel, Thompson demonstrates the depth of the Gospel’s scriptural roots and, in conversation with interpreters ancient and modern, the breadth and height of its theological claims. This expert engagement with the Gospel narrative is a much-needed contribution to its contemporary interpretation. It will now be my go-to commentary on John.” —Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University

“Thompson has written a richly rewarding theological commentary that reads the Fourth Gospel first and foremost as a story of Jesus. No one is better qualified today to write such a commentary, and Thompson’s work does not disappoint. Both pastor and scholar will be greatly rewarded by giving this work their attention.”  —Nijay K. Gupta, George Fox Evangelical Seminary

“Both the specialist and the less informed student will find here a careful and faithful reading that traces the actual contours of the narrative while not ignoring historical considerations, literary context, patristic traditions, and contemporary scholarly debate. Professor Thompson’s main concern is to ‘illumine the witness’ of the evangelist and so to train the lens thoroughly on that witness’s ‘understanding of Jesus—who he was, what he did, and what that means.’ This she does, with grace and erudition.” —Edith M. Humphrey, William F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary]]

See the links:

 Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller, Pasadena, California]

John Goldingay and the New Testament

Posted: November 3, 2015 in General

profile-goldingayToday [on 3rd November 2015, Tuesday, 8.00 AM] I had a face-to-face interaction with renowned Old Testament scholar Prof. John Goldingay at Fuller Seminary’s refectory over breakfast. My interest was on his new title Do we need the New Testament? Letting the Old Testament Speak for Itself (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015). He begins this important work in a rhetorical way of expressing his views: “Yes, of course, we do need the New Testament, but why? Why is the Old Testament not enough? By asking that question, I am reversing the one Christians ask under their breath, the question whether we need the Old Testament, or whether the New Testament isn’t enough” (p. 7). In another place he says: “Yes, of course, we need the New Testament Scriptures, but they don’t supersede the earlier Scriptures. We need the First Testament for an understanding of the story of God’s working out his purpose, for its theology, for its spirituality, for its hope, for its understanding of mission, for its understanding of salvation and for its ethics” (p. 32). In the concluding remarks he further states that:

In the course of telling his story and working out its implications, the New Testament does make some affirmations that supplement what people could know from the First Testament. One is the fact that Sheol is not the end for humanity. At the end, all humanity is going to be raised from death in order to enjoy resurrection life or to go to hell. Thus people in the First Testament “did not receive what was promised. God had planned something better for us, so that they would not be brought to completion without us” (Heb 11:39-40). Paul pushes the argument further in connection with affirming that all God’s people will be raised or will meet the Lord together (1 Thess 4:13-18). We do not go to heaven when we die; the entire people of God will reach completion together. Alongside this truth is the way the New Testament assumes the existence of Satan. While the First Testament presupposes the existence of an embodiment of resistance to God, the New Testament puts more emphasis on this motif (p. 178).

The book has nine major sections excluding the introduction and conclusion. They are as follows: [1] Do We Need the New Testament? [2] Why Is Jesus Important? [3] Was the Holy Spirit Present in First Testament Times? [4] The Grand Narrative and the Middle Narratives in the First Testament and the New Testament; [5] Hoe People Have Mis(?)read Hebrews; [6] The Costly Loss of First Testament Spirituality; [7] Memory and Israel’s Faith, Hope and Life; [8] Moses (and Jesus and Paul) for Your Hardness of Hearts; and [9] Theological Interpretation: Don’t Be Christ-Centered, Don’t Be Trinitarian, Don’t Be Constrained by the Rule of Faith. This new title is a good initiative to see the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament in a new way. While, on the one hand, it affirms the special identity and theology of the OT, on the other hand, it emphasizes the further supplementation of the Old Testament aspects in the New Testament. A good way to look forward.

Thanks to Prof. John Goldingay for his precious time as well as his new book as a free gift to me. Read more about John Goldingay below:

untitled[[John Goldingay (BA [University of Oxford], PhD [University of Nottingham], DD [Archbishop of Canterbury at Lamberth]) is the David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament in the School of Theology and has been at Fuller since 1997. Before coming to Fuller, Goldingay was principal and a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at St John’s Theological College in Nottingham, England. He studied theology at Oxford and was ordained and worked in a church in London. Goldingay’s most recent publications include the 17-volume Old Testament For Everyone series (Westminster John Knox/SPCK (2010–15), which provides clear, concise comment on all the Old Testament Scriptures, and The Theology of the Book of Isaiah (InterVarsity Press, 2014). His book Do We Need the New Testament? Letting the Old Testament Speak for Itself comes out in 2015 (InterVarsity Press). He is the author of a three-volume Old Testament Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2003–2009). His other recent books include Key Questions about Christian Faith: Old Testament Answers (Baker, 2010) and Key Questions about Biblical Interpretation: Old Testament Answers (Baker, 2011). He has also written commentaries on Daniel, Isaiah, and Psalms. He holds membership in the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society for Old Testament Study, and serves on the Task Force on Biblical Interpretation in the Anglican Communion and the editorial board for the Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies.]]

For more details about Prof. John Goldingay, go here:

Order his book here:

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller, California]

Fuller%20Seminary%20Dean%20of%20the%20School%20of%20Theology%20Joel%20Green%20Speaking%20300x300Fuller Theological Seminary is also known through some of the renowned New Testament scholars. Joel B. Green is one among them. I admire his commentary on Luke as a classic in that field. It was introduced to me while I was a Masters student in Princeton. One of my favorite Gospel dictionaries, i.e., Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels [First Edition], was edited by him. Today I received a copy of the second edition of DJG as a free gift from him. With regard to my research project Prof. Green attuned my attention toward two things: first, keen observation to the oral traditions concerning Didymus Judas Thomas; and second, the necessity to use the Social Memory Theory. Now, I have to consult Chris Keith, Anthony Le Donne, and Alan Kirk for that very purpose. Dr. Green, I loved your friendly attitude, encouraging words, and intellectual engagement. It was indeed an excellent morning.

[[Joel B. Green (BS [Texas Tech University]; MTh [Perkins School of Theology]; PhD [University of Aberdeen]) was named dean of the School of Theology as of July 1, 2014, and has been associate dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies since 2008 and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller since 2007. Prior to coming to Fuller, he served for ten years at Asbury Theological Seminary as professor of New Testament Interpretation, as dean of the School of Theology, and as provost. Green has written or edited more than 40 books, including six that have won awards: Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (2nd ed., 2013), Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (2011), In Search of the Soul: Four Views of the Mind-Body Problem (with Stuart Palmer, 2005), Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology (with Paul J. Achtemeier and Marianne Meye Thompson, 2001), The Gospel of Luke (1997), and Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (with Scot McKnight, 1992). Among his most recent publications are Why Salvation? (2013), The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts (with Lee Martin McDonald, 2013), Ears That Hear: Explorations in Theological Interpretation of the Bible (2013), Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture (with David F. Watson, 2012), Practicing Theological Interpretation: Engaging Biblical Texts for Faith and Formation (2011), Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: The Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts (2nd ed., with Mark D. Baker, 2011), the Two Horizons New Testament Commentary on 1 Peter (2007), Seized by Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture (2007), and Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (2008). He is also general editor the Common English Bible Study Bible (2013), which Christian Retailing magazine awarded “Best Devotional or Study Bible of 2014.” He has written scores of essays and reviews. He is the editor of the New International Commentary on the New Testament and co-editor of both the Two Horizons New Testament Commentary and Studies in Theological Interpretation. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Theological Interpretation and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Theology and Science and Science & Christian Belief. Green has been elected to membership in both Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS) and the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR). Green has 12 years of pastoral ministry, and is currently Teaching Pastor at La Cañada United Methodist Church.]]

For more details about Joel B. Green, go here:

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

[GRI Writing Scholar @ Fuller, Pasadena, California]

profile-downs-davidDr. David J. Downs serves me as my academic dialogue partner vis-à-vis my research project at Fuller Seminary. This involves an informal conversation over lunch once a month during my stay here. David Downs has written about ‘Thomasine Christianity’ as it relates to the presentation of almsgiving in the Gospel of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas. Moreover, he is always happy to make connections with colleagues from around the world. His family has lived and worked in Tanzania for half the year since 2009, so he is interested in theological education outside of the US. Through my interaction with David Downs, I see another chance of extending my vision in theological education, i.e., a dialogue between the Eastern and the Western New Testament scholarship. Again, thanks to Prof. Amos Yong [CMR Director] for this fantastic arrangement.

[[David Downs joined the Fuller faculty in 2007. Prior to coming to Fuller, he was a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey and a visiting assistant professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. His research has focused on Pauline theology, economic issues in the New Testament and early Christian literature, and the Apostolic Fathers. His dissertation, The Offering of the Gentiles: Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem in Its Chronological, Cultural, and Cultic Contexts, was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2008. In 2013, Downs and Matthew L. Skinner edited The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). Downs has also published articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Horizons in Biblical Theology, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal of Early Christian Studies, Journal of Theological Interpretation, and New Testament Studies. He has contributed articles to Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Reception, The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (2d. ed.), The Background of the New Testament, The New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume Commentary, The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, and The Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. In 2011, Downs and his wife, Jen, a doctor of infectious diseases and a clinical medical researcher, were awarded a Lilly Theological Scholars Collaborative Research Grant for a cross-disciplinary project entitled, “New Creation Is Everything: Christian Identity, Male Circumcision, and HIV/AIDS in Northwest Tanzania.” Part of this research was published in the British Medical Journal Open. The Downses spend several months a year living in Mwanza, Tanzania, where David regularly teaches at P.A.G. Bible College. Downs is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the North American Patristics Society.]]

See links below:



Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller Theological Seminary, California]

MarianneThompsonIt was nice having a wonderful conversation with a world-class Johannine scholar here at Payton Hall, Room # 215, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Prof. Marianne Meye Thompson’s suggestion to develop arguments (concerning Didymus Judas Thomas) from explicit level to implicit level is significant to reckon with. She considers the aspect of seeing, especially in relation to Thomas, as an important area to explore further in the Gospel of John. Thank you Marianne for your valuable time.

[[Marianne Meye Thompson, the George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, joined the School of Theology faculty in 1985. Thompson has been instrumental in developing advanced-level interdisciplinary courses that integrate biblical interpretation with other disciplines of the theological curriculum. She is author of 1–3 John (IVP New Testament Commentary, 2011), A Commentary on Colossians and Philemon (The Two Horizons Commentary, 2005), The God of the Gospel of John (2001), and The Promise of the Father (2000), and co-author of Introducing the New Testament (2001). She has also published numerous articles and reviews in scholarly journals. She has just finished her new commentary on the Gospel of John in The New Testament Library series (2015). A member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, Thompson has participated in various projects at the Center of Theological Inquiry (in Princeton, NJ), including “The Scripture Project” and “The Identity of Jesus,” as well as consultations on “Children in the Scriptures,” sponsored by the Valparaiso Project on Childhood Studies, Theology, and Ethics, and “Teaching the Bible in the 21st Century,” at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning. Adept at communicating Christian biblical scholarship to a popular audience, she was featured on the PBS series Genesis. Thompson has served on various editorial boards, including Theology Today and New Testament Studies. Thompson is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her courses include New Testament 1 and 2, Exegetical Method and Practice, Greek Exegesis courses, Life of Jesus, Contemporary Quests of the Historical Jesus, and Johannine Theology.]]

See links below:



Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

[GRI Writing Scholar, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California]

st.thomasAs I begin to explore deep into the person and work of one of the most significant, but most neglected and demeaned, personalities in Christian history and interpretation, I have many questions to deal with and many existing answers to accept/counter with. It is my earnest desire that I may make a good progress in this important endeavor. Thanks to all those who have already inspired me to take up this important challenge and to all those who stand firm with me to see the successful completion of the task. The following are some of my preliminary questions:

[Didymus Judas Thomas is one of the most misunderstood characters from the beginning of the New Testament history and interpretation. The nickname ascribed to Thomas (as “doubting Thomas”) is mostly accepted as a synonymn for ‘doubt,’ ‘unbelief,’ and ‘lack of devotion.’ The general tendency of studying the character from the New Testament, Apocrypha, and historical traditions, idependently from one another, led the interpretors away from a broader understanding of the character. The dychotomy of studying the character of Thomas independently from within the limits of canonical, apocryphal, and historical disciplines created a lot of gaps within the area of Thomas studies. This situation persuades us to look at the Thomas literature comprehensively to understand the character from a broader perspective. The current study is intended to address the following questions: Whether Thomas was merely ‘doubting Thomas’ or was he ‘genuine Thomas’? Did we understand Thomas comprehensively by bridging the New Testament, apocrypha, and historical traditions together? Or did we understand him only through disciplinary perspectives? How can an interdisciplinary perspective will help us to understand the character comprehensively? How was Thomas connected to the Eastern Christianity and how does the Thomas literature support/not support this connectivity? Can we understand the Thomas traditions related to Judea, Syria, and India with the help of canonical, extra canonical, and traditio-historical documents? These questions have to be adequately dealt with in the process of exploring the Thomas literature. The task of the study is threefold: investigate the development of the Thomas literature right from the beginning, understand the peculiar approaches and methodologies of interpreting Thomas documents, and analyze the Thomas literature integratively to understand the character and his mission involvements.]

Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

[GRI Writing Scholar @ Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, California, USA]

The Gospel According to John in the Christian New Testament Bible

The Gospel According to John in the Christian New Testament Bible

During the current academic year [2015-2016], I had another opportunity to organize a Johannine Seminar at the Master of Theology [MTh] level. At the initial ten sessions we discussed seven of the Johannine commentaries in nutshell, i.e., of Rudolf Bultmann, Rudolf Schnackenburg, Raymond E. Brown, Andreas Köstenberger, Francis Moloney, D.A. Carson, and Leon Morris. Moreover, at the New Testament Departmental level we discussed “The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John” [Paul N. Anderson; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011]. Anderson’s monograph enabled us to focus on the historical, theological, and literary riddles of the Fourth Gospel. The book suggested several solutions for some of the problems with which the Johannine students grapple with. I used some of the sessions to present the following articles for discussion: [1] “Dialogical Nature of John’s Prologue,” Union Biblical Seminary Journal, Vol. 8.2-9.1 (Sep., 2013-Mar., 2015): pp. 1-17; [2] “Reading John’s Gospel to the Nepali Context,” Nepali Theological Journal (ACTS College, South Korea, 2015); [3] “Glo[b/c]alization and Mission[s]: Reading John’s Gospel,” New Life Theological Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jan.-June, 2015): pp. 56-77; and [4] “Dialogue as a Literary Genre in the Book of Signs” (an Unpublished Paper). The publication of my dissertation entitled “The Nature and Function of Dialogue in the Book of Signs (John 1:19-12:50)” [Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 2014] and its revised edition in monograph form entitled “Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12:50” [Leiden/Boston: E.J. Brill, 2015] further added flavor to our discussions.

Students of our class presented the following topics as seminar papers: [1] The Thought-World of Johannine Literature; [2] The Similarities and Differences between Synoptics and John’s Gospel; [3] Johannine Community Aspects; [4] Johannine Eschatology; [5] Johannine Christology; [6] Johannine Soteriology; [7] The Nature and Function of Signs in John; [8] The “I AM” Sayings in John; [9] Dualism in John; [10] The Role and Function of ‘Paraclete’ in John; [11] Women in John; [12] The Use of Old Testament in the Fourth Gospel; [13] Metaphor in the Gospel of John; and [14] The Use of John by Indian Christian Theologians. These topics were discussed extensively by taking into serious consideration the Dalit, tribal, feminist, and ecological issues and other related socio-political and religio-cultural concerns both at the Indian and at the global levels. These were occasions for us to see the Johannine ideas from a gnomic perspective rather than merely looking at it descriptively.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

AcademiaSome friends requested me a summary of my Ph.D Dissertation (that was defended on 19th June 2014 @ Radboud University Nijmegen, Holland). Herewith I publish the English version of the ‘Summary.’ My Promoter was Prof. Jan G. van der Watt.

[[The primary aim of this dissertation is to analyze and identify the nature and function of dialogue in the Book of Signs (John 1:19-12:50). Though the Gospel of John is extensively studied, a comprehensive treatment of its dialogue, i.e., within the framework of narratives and in relation to monologues and other literary genres, has not been adequately explored by scholars. This specific context necessitates a genre analysis of John’s dialogue. Questions such as ‘how does John use the literary genre called dialogue?’ ‘what is the central idea that governs the dialogue?’ ‘what type of information is conveyed through them?’ ‘how are they structured?’ ‘what are their peculiar literary characteristics?’ and ‘what is their theological/rhetorical function?’ are extensively treated and evaluated within the present study. Moreover, other hypothetical questions like ‘how are the self-revelatory aspects conveyed through the dialogues?’ ‘what are the ways exchanges/episodes function within the narrative framework?’ ‘how do the content, form, and function contribute to the semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic levels?’  ‘how are dialogues involved in expressing the aspects of the Johannine community?’ and ‘how is Johannine dialogue related to or different from other dialogues of the time?’ are also treated here. In this study, our focus is on the Book of Signs in which the reader identifies a great deal of dialogue in comparison to the latter half of the gospel. The layers such as the dialogue among the characters of the story and the dialogue between the narrator and the reader have a significant place and are closely examined. Through this study, the hermeneutical interests and insights of the dialogue and its interpretative significance are brought to the forefront.

In Part One, the following things are outlined. First, it introduces the rationale, aim, and task of the dissertation, where the primary questions of the thesis, as mentioned above, are introduced. Second, it attempts to review some of the works related to dialogue by scholars such as Bultmann, Strachan, Dodd, Brown, and others. The review is designed to show that the previous studies either lack breadth or depth. Third, the methodological aspects of the research are stated with an intention of filling the gaps that are obvious in the previous works. Fourth, the use of dialogue as a literary genre before and during the time of John (i.e., religious and philosophical, and OT and Synoptic traditions) is brought to the fore in order to state that dialogue was a well-established genre in John’s thought-world. A proposed definition of dialogue in John and the plan of the research bring to a close Part One of the study.

In Part Two, the Book of Signs (1:19-12:50) is analyzed genre-critically. The use of a problem-oriented approach in order to discern the nature and function of dialogue provides extensive results. In the analysis, we are able to show that the first half of the gospel is divided into thirteen episodes (i.e., 1:19-2:11; 2:13-22; 3:1-21; 3:22-36; 4:1-42; 4:43-54; 5:1-47; 6:1-71; 7:1-52/8:12-59; 9:1-10:21; 10:22-42; 11:1-54; and 11:55-12:50) and those episodes are composed of several exchanges and sub-exchanges. The genre-theories of David Hellholm and David Aune are applied to the Johannine text in order to show the development of dialogue in relation to other literary genres within the narrative framework of the gospel. The elaboration of settings at the beginning of each episode provides dramatic appeal to the storyline. The content, form, and function analysis of the utterance, exchange, and episode units provide us with the important details concerning the semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic levels of the dialogue. While at the micro-level the utterance and exchange dynamics are explained, at the meso-level we assess how the utterance and exchange units contribute to the development of the individual episodes. In our analysis, we also identify the way episodes are stitched together to present the story with suspense and surprise. Along with other aspects, the attempt of the narrator to engage the reader, through the medium of character-dialogue, is made conspicuous in the analysis of the text.

In Part Three, first of all, we go one step further to see the development of the dialogue at the macro-level of the Book of Signs. While Part Two focuses on the description of the dialogues, here we discuss the classification of the dialogue(s) at the micro- and meso-levels. This further helps us to come to an understanding of the dialogue at the macro-level (i.e., within the extended framework of 1:19-12:50). We discuss the exchange and episode development and some of the significant features of Johannine dialogue at the outset. Then, we examine the signs and ‘I am’ sayings in relation to the subject matter, the genre elements such as content, form, and function, the Johannine community aspects, and the contribution of the dialogue at the macro-level of the Book of Signs. The discussion is conducted with the help of several literary critical tools and with the help of classical (i.e., ANE and the Greco-Roman world) sources. As a result, the study helps us to identify the distinctive features of dialogue in the Book of Signs. Part Three also contains the concluding remarks, where we pinpoint the significant features or insights that are the results of this study. The aspects such as the characterisation, point of view, plot structure, dramatic aspects, thematic development, and theological contribution are discussed in summary fashion at this point. Following the concluding remarks, suggestions for further study are offered. The study as a whole confirms that the questions raised at the beginning are adequately addressed.]]

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

10294225_1433156870275451_4308208658960534357_nSome friends requested me a summary of my Ph.D Dissertation (that was defended on 19th June 2014 @ Radboud University Nijmegen, Holland). Herewith I publish the Dutch version of the ‘Summary’ (or the ‘Samenvatting’). This is a translation from English to Dutch by Prof. Gerrit Steunebrink (Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen). My Promoter was Prof. Jan G. van der Watt.

[[Het hoofddoel van deze dissertatie is het analyseren en identificeren van de eigen aard  en functie van de dialoog in het eerste deel van het evangelie volgens Johannes, het Boek der Tekenen genaamd (1:1-12:50). Ook al is het evangelie van Johannes uigebreid bestudeerd, toch hebben wetenschappers nog te weinig de mogelijkheden verkend een omvattende behandeling te geven van dialoogvormen binnen de context van verhalen en in relatie tot monologen en andere literaire genres. Deze specifieke context dwingt tot  een analyse van van de dialoog als genre.  Daarom worden in deze dissertatie uitgebreid vragen behandeld en geëvalueerd als: ‘Hoe gebruikt Johannes het literaire genre van de dialoog?’ ‘Welke is de centrale idee die de dialoog beheerst?’ ‘Welk soort informatie wordt door dialogen overgedragen?’ ‘Hoe zijn zij gestructureerd?’ ‘Welke zijn hun typische literaire kenmerken?’ en ‘Wat is hun theologische/rethorische functie?’ Daarnaast worden andere hypothetische vragen behandeld als: ‘Hoe worden aspecten van zelfopenbaring van Jezus overgedragen door de dialogen?’ ‘Op welke wijze functioneren de gebeurtenissen binnen het narratieve raamwerk?’ ‘Welke bijdrage leveren inhoud, vorm en functie ervan op semantisch, syntactisch en pragmatisch niveau?’ ‘Hoe zijn de dialogen betrokken in het tot uitdrukking brengen van bepaalde aspecten van de Johanneïsche gemeenschap?’ en ‘Hoe is de Johanneïsche dialoog verbonden met of verschillend van andere dialogen van die tijd?’ In deze studie concentreren we ons op het Boek der Tekenen waarin de lezer een groot stuk van de dialoog bepaalt vergeleken met de tweede helft van het evangelie. Niveaus daarin als de dialoog tussen de karakters van het verhaal en de dialoog tussen verteller en lezer hebben een significante plaats en worden nauwgezet onderzocht. Door deze studie worden het hermeneutische belang en de interpretatieve betekenis van de dialoog naar voren gehaald.

In deel Een worden de volgende zaken geschetst. Allereerst introduceert deel I the beweegreden, het doel en de taak van de dissertatie daar waar de primaire vragen van de thesis, zoals boven vermeld, ingeleid worden. Ten tweede probeert het sommige van de werken te bespreken, verbonden met de dialoog, van auteurs als Bultmann, Strachan, Dodd, Brown en anderen. De opzet van de bespreking is te laten zien dat de vroegere studies breedte dan wel diepte missen. Ten derde worden de methodische aspecten van het onderzoek precies omschreven met de bedoeling leemten op te vullen die duidelijke aanwezig zijn in  de vroegere werken. Ten vierde wordt het gebruik van de dialoog als een literair genre vóór en in de tijd van Johannes (d.w.z. in religieuze en filosofische, oudtestamentische en synoptische tradities) naar voren gehaald om vast te stellen dat de dialoog een goed geëtableerd genre was in de denkwereld van Johannes. Een voorstel tot definitie van de dialoog in Johannes en een plan van onderzoek sluiten deel I van de studie af.

In deel Twee worden de tekstgedeelten (1:19-12.50) kritisch geanalyseerd betreffende het literaire genre. Het gebruik van een probleemgerichte benadering om de eigen aard en functie van de dialoog te ontdekken levert uitgebreide resultaten. Met onze analyse zijn we in staat te laten zien dat de eerste helft van het evangelie is onderverdeeld in dertien episodes (deze zijn: 1:19-2:11; 2:13-22; 3:1-21; 3:22-36; 4:1-42; 4:43-54; 5:1-47; 6:1-71; 7:1-52/8:12-59; 9:1-10:21; 10:22-42; 11:1-54; en 11:55-12:50) Deze episodes zijn weer samengesteld uit verschillende scènes en sub scènes. De genretheorieën van David Hellholm en David Aune worden toegepast op de tekst van Johannes om de ontwikkeling te laten zien van de dialoog in relatie tot andere literaire genres binnen het narratieve raamwerk van het evangelie. De uitwerking van de ‘setting’ aan het begin van iedere episode geeft dramatische aantrekkingskracht aan de verhaallijn. De inhoud-, vorm- en functieanalyse van eenheden bestaande uit ‘uiting-scène-episode’ (‘utterance-slot-episode’) leveren ons belangrijke details betreffende de semantische, syntactische en pragmatische niveaus van de dialoog. Terwijl op microniveau de dynamiek van scène en episode verklaard wordt, stellen we op mesoniveau vast hoe eenheden van ‘uiting’ en ‘scène’ (‘utterance’ en ‘slot’) bijdragen tot de ontwikkeling van de individuele, afzonderlijke episodes. In onze analyse bepalen we ook specifiek de manier waarop episodes aan elkaar gestikt worden om een verhaal te presenteren met spanning en verrassing. Tesamen met andere aspecten wordt de poging van de verteller om de lezer te mee te nemen door middel van karakter dialoog als opvallend naar voren gehaald.

In deel Drie gaan we allereerst een stap verder om de ontwikkeling te zien van de dialoog op het macro-niveau van het Boek der Tekenen. Terwijl deel Twee geconcentreerd was op de beschrijving van de dialogen, bediscussiëren we hier de classificatie van de dialoog(-ogen) op micro- en macroniveau.  Dit helpt ons verder te komen in het begrip van de dialoog op macroniveau (d.w.z. het brede raamwerk van 1:19-12:50). We bediscussiëren de ontwikkeling van scène en episode en van meet af aan sommige significante kenmerken van de Johanneïsche dialoog. Dan onderzoeken we de tekenen en de ‘Ik ben’ uitspraken in relatie tot het onderwerp, elementen van het genre zoals inhoud, vorm en functie, aspecten van de Johanneïsche gemeenschap en de bijdrage van de dialoog op het macroniveau van het Boek der Tekenen. De discussie wordt gevoerd met verschillende soorten literairkritisch gereedschap en met behulp van klassieke bronnen (d.w.z. de oude culturen van het Nabije Oosten en de Grieks-Romeinse wereld.) Het resultaat is dat de studie ons helpt de verschillende kenmerken van de dialoog in het Boek der Tekenen te identificeren. Deel Drie bevat ook de concluderende opmerkingen, waar in we de significante kenmerken of inzichten die volgen uit deze studie nauwkeurig aanwijzen. Aspecten als karakterisering, gezichtspunt, structuur van het plot, dramatische aspecten en de theologische bijdragen worden op dit punt samenvattend bediscussiëerd. Volgend op de concluderende opmerkingen worden suggesties voor verder onderzoek aangeboden. Uit deze studie als een geheel  blijkt dan dat de vragen die aan het begin gesteld werden, adequaat behandeld zijn.]]

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

72003 (1)Herewith I publish the “Foreword” of Prof. R. Alan Culpepper to my book entitled “Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12:50” [Biblical Interpretation Series, Vol. 136; Leiden/Boston, E.J. Brill, 2015]. The book will be released by Brill in August 2015.

[[Typically the narrative sections of the Gospel of John have received more attention than the dialogue and discourse sections.  This division of the Gospel into narrative and discourse can be traced at least to Rudolf Bultmann’s magisterial commentary in which he attributed the narrative sections to the semeia-source and a pre-Johannine passion narrative, and the discourse material to the Offenbarungsreden (revelatory discourse source).[1]  His theory of a semeia-source has been more widely accepted than his proposal that the Johannine discourses derived from a pre-Johannine source that was not connected with the signs until the fourth evangelist composed the Gospel using these sources.

For refinements of the theory of a source for the Johannine signs material, one can now consult the monographs by Robert T. Fortna and the commentary by Urban C. von Wahlde.[2] C.H. Dodd found a much more integral connection between the Johannine signs and discourses, observing that the first two signs (2:1-12 and 4:43-54), like the synoptic miracle stories, are not followed by discourses.[3]  Then, the signs in chapters 5, 6, and 9 are followed by discourses that develop themes related to the foregoing sign.  With the raising of Lazarus and the death of Jesus, the discourses precede the sign and prepare the reader to understand their significance.

With the emergence of narrative criticism and rhetorical analysis, the functions of the Johannine discourses began to attract the attention of Johannine scholars.  Not surprisingly, the longest discourse section, the Farewell Discourse in John 13-17 was the first to be studied as an integral unit within the Gospel. Fernando Segovia mined the resources of ancient rhetoric for interpreting the functions of the farewell discourse within the narrative in which it is embedded,[4] and D. F. Tolmie applied narrative criticism to this non-narrative section of the Fourth Gospel.[5]

Johnson Thomaskutty has now written a comprehensive, exegetical analysis of the dialogues in the first half of the Gospel, the Book of Signs, that is synchronic (focused on the text of the gospel narrative and the functions of the dialogues within the narrative) rather diachronic. Taking what he describes as a “multivalent” approach, Thomaskutty describes the setting, form, content, and function of each of the dialogues in John 1:19-12:50.  He is also concerned with the functions of these dialogues at both the intradiegetic level (dialogue among the characters within the story) and the metadiegetic level (dialogue between the author/narrator and the reader of the story).[6] At the micro-level, he discusses the dynamics of the individual utterances of the interlocutors and their role, alongside the narrative, within the exchange units. At the meso-level, he analyzes how the exchange units work in relation to one another and how they form the episodes. Finally, at the macro-level, he describes the holistic features of dialogue in the Book of Signs, which is considered as a single literary unit.

Thomaskutty’s descriptions of the various forms of the dialogues in the Book of Signs offer a critical vantage point from which their functions in advancing the plot the narrative can readily be seen.  Among the formal structures he finds are:  question-response-command format, request-rebuke-response format, double meaning-misunderstanding-clarification format, challenge and riposte dialogues, pedagogical dialogues, and report and defense dialogues.

The breadth of this volume’s analyses can be seen, for example, in the four levels of dialogue that Thomaskutty observes in his discussion of John 6:1-15:

first, dialogues between Jesus and his disciples (one explicit, vv. 5b-10a; and one implicit, v. 12), which reveal the identity of Jesus; second, a community dialogue (v. 14), which makes the reader aware of the impact of Jesus’ words and deeds outside the circle; third, the inter-textual dialogue, which confirms the fulfillment aspects; and fourth, the narrator and reader dialogue, which marks an ever-continuing impact of Jesus’ story in the life of the reader. (p.215)

This layered approach yields a richly detailed analysis of the dialogues in the Book of Signs. The macro-level reflections in the last chapter take note of the role of the dialogues as they interact with other literary elements, such as monologues, signs, the “I am” sayings, metaphors, and dramatic elements in the Gospel narrative.

Thomaskutty’s extensive research, eclectic methodology, expanded focus on the functions of dialogue in multiple narrative relationships, and his sheer industry and attention to detail will establish this volume as an important resource for the ongoing study of the role of dialogue within the Fourth Gospel.

End Notes:

[1] Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, The Johannine Monograph Series (1971 rpt.; Eugene, Ore.:  Wipf & Stock, 2014).

[2] Robert T. Fortna, The Gospel of Signs (SNTSMS 11; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970; idem, The Fourth Gospel and Its Predecessor: From Narrative Source to Present Gospel (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1988). Urban C. von Wahlde, The Gospel and Letters of John (3 vols.; Eerdmans Critical Commentary; Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2010).

[3] C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1953), 363.

[4] Fernando F. Segovia, The Farewell of the Word (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1991).

[5] D. F. Tolmie, Jesus’ Farewell to the Disciples:  John 13:1-17:26 in Narratological Perspective (BINS 12; Leiden:  E. J. Brill, 1995).

[6] These terms were introduced by Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (trans. Jane E. Lewin; Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 1980), 228-34.]]

R. Alan Culpepper

McAfee School of Theology

Mercer University

For more details about the book, go here.

For the preview of the book, go here.


This blog will outline the outcome of the Nepali Christian Theology Academic Forum (NCTAF) held on 12th September 2014 at Nepal Ebenezer Bible College (NEBC). The participants who attended the forum are NEBC students, alumni, faculty from NEBC and other Bible colleges. The forum was opened with an introduction by Rev. Ram Kumar Budhathoki (Principal, NEBC).

Questions Raised Prior to the Forum

The questions that were raised before the form are as follows– How do we contextualize Gospel in Nepali context? Is there a way? Is there any methodology to contextualize? What are the dangers involved in contextualization of the gospel? What is the role of the church, missions and theological academia in contextualizing the gospel? What is Nepal Christian theology? Will this help the church to communicate the gospel to the pluralistic society of Nepal in a more winsome manner? What are the roles of a believer, teacher, and a pastor in contextualizing the Gospel? Is there any set paradigm/s to contextualize the Gospel?  These questions were subsequently addressed by the presenters in their respective papers.

Review of Papers:

(1) “Towards A ‘Nepal’ Christian Theology: A Proposal,” Yeshwanth B. V., Academic Dean, NEBC

The article mainly focuses on the methodology. The author addressed the questions like how do we contextualize the Gospel without losing its Christian essence? He proposed “contextualization: A biblically-based method.” This method is primarily based on a ‘grammatico-historical’ exegetical method coupled with a social analysis. Besides this, he also proposes the sources of doing NCT. He outlines very briefly the sources as Scripture, tradition, reason and experience while Scripture plays an authoritative and primary source which regulates other sources. He also defines NCT as “a systematic, contextual articulation of Christian faith in the pluralistic society of Nepal that explains Christian faith to the church (didactic), proclaims the same to the larger society (kerygma), and defends the same against the objections from non-Christians (apologia). He also remarks that NCT should not be overtly provincial but also universal.

(2) “Reading John’s Gospel in Nepali Context,” Johnson Thomaskutty, UBS, Pune, India

This article mainly focuses on the interpretative framework for the gospel in a globalized Nepali context. The author tried to explore the ‘gnomic significance’ of John’s gospel–by which the message intended for the Johannine community can be applied to the Nepali community. In order to do this, he proposed the interpretative framework of John’s gospel to address the contemporary realities of Nepal, to synthesis speech-action between mission and evangelism, and to fill the gaps between Johannine community of first century AD and Nepali communities of twenty-first century AD. With this mind, the author elucidates John’s gospel–by which he brings out some affinities between John’s context and Nepali context in terms of discipleship, persecution, mission, the role of women, speech-action paradigm for mission from ‘I AM’ sayings of Jesus, rhetoric signs, importance of ‘Paracletos‘  in missions, dialogical approach in church ministry, the characters in John’s gospel which has close affinity with people and circumstances in Nepali context, the individual, public and private aspects of ministry, and ‘Newness’ in our approaches, and lastly our concern towards dalits (marginalized people). Basing on this, author proposes Johannine mission model for a “dynamic Nepalization” for the present context of Nepal.

(3) “Theological Development in Nepali Context: A Historical Perspective,” Ram Kumar Budhathoki, Principal, NEBC

The article outlines the historical development of contextualization that contributed towards theological maturity in Nepali context. The author very vividly outlines the above as follows. Firstly, Catholic mission (before 1950’s), during which theological development was basically characterized as social reform and contextualization was in a very primitive stage. Secondly, emergence of indigenous church movements (1950-1960), during which the theological development can be characterized with the ‘cultural sensitivity’ that was recognized and contextualization was not given much attention and the church faced persecution during this time. Thirdly, period of persecution (1960-1990), during this period theological development was rapid and maturing and contextualization was seriously considered though not fully realized. Fourthly, the present scenario (1990- ), with the surge of church growth and theological institution as democracy was established in Nepal, theological development is at its peak and this period has been witnessing the actualization of contextualization.

With this outline in mind, the author makes some suggestions regarding the future of the theological development. Firstly, he suggests that the curricula in theological colleges needs to revised and relevant to the Nepali context. Secondly, a partnership was suggested among the theological institutions to publish a theological journal for Nepali church. Thirdly, forums on regular basis to be conducted. Fourthly, envisioning a center for research. Fifthly, developing faculty to teach higher degrees in theology. Finally, the author recommends the church and theological institutions to join hands in contextualizing the gospel in Nepali context.

(4) “Nepali Christian Theology: A Missiological Perspective,” Norbu Tamang, Visiting Faculty, NEBC

The article focuses on the role of missions in reaching Nepalese in Nepal and beyond. The author proposes a ‘contextualized’ methods in missions in Nepali context. Firstly, he clarifies the terminology — mission/s. Secondly, he outlines different contextual methods in our missions. They are namely intercession, sending, going, and planting and nurturing churches. Thirdly, he briefly explains the role of missions in contextualizing the gospel in Nepal. Fourthly, he bring our five contextual methods in missions namely top-bottom approach–in which the opinion makers and leaders are reached out first; tent-making approach–in which a missionary can contribute through his/her professional expertise besides evangelism; welcome approach–in which non-Nepalese in Nepal are welcomed and reached out; people group approach–in which particular communities were considered and reached out with gospel; Scriptural motivation for missionary work.

(5) “Nepali Christian Theology: A Shared Task of Ecclesia and Academia,” David Rai, Visiting Faculty, NEBC

The article focuses on the ‘shared’ task of the Nepali church and theological institutions in contextualizing the gospel in Nepal. The author lays the socio-cultral contexts of the theological educational system in Nepal. Subsequently he describes the role of the church in theological education in terms of educating the congregation and realizing its vital role in society, and partnering with bible colleges and institutions for theological education. He also describes the role of theological colleges in theological education in terms of educating and shaping theologians for the churches. Keeping this in mind, the author presents the positive and negative sides of the ‘shared’ task. The positive aspect is the increased interest in the theological education among the pastors and leader and hence they send the students the bible colleges. The negative aspect is the disappointment expressed by many pastors over the theological graduates for creating splits in the church. Then the author makes some suggestions for a relevant theological education that should be shared between the church and theological institution. He recommends a ‘partnership, mutual-dependance, and mutual-respect’ between the church and theological colleges. Only the contextualization can rightly actualized and perpetuated in Nepal.

The Outcome: Responses

The closing discussion was moderated by Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty. He presented the following questions. They are (1) How do you understand the aspects of contextualization of gospel in Nepal? (2) How do we continue this forum (future of NCTAF)? (3) How Bible can be placed in the process of contextualization? (4) How are you going to apply the insights drawn from the forum in your life, ministry, and theological engagements? (5) Is there a need for Nepali curriculum and journal?

Most of the respondents recognized the primacy of the Scriptures in the process of contextualization. Nevertheless, the risks of contextualization has also been recognized. In this pretext, some respondents expressed the need for a translation of the Bible into Nepali that is relevant and comprehensible to the Nepali readers and terminological clarifications in Nepali translations. Besides these, many expressed the need for such forums for the development of  Nepali theological academic on par with global theological academia. The host institution, i.e., NEBC strongly felt the need to a theological journal to further the task of contextualization in Nepal.

Also read here:


A Group Defending Academic Freedom and Denouncing Any Boycott of Israeli Scholars
Chairman: James H. Charlesworth [Princeton] July 2014

At the outset, allow me to share a personal anecdote. When I was teaching in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as Lady Davis Professor, a Palestinian blew himself up in the cafeteria, killing Israelis. Subsequently, Palestinian students were not boycotted. I observed them being treated with respect, and relaxing with Israelis, as they have been for decades. 

Manifesto of Scholars and Professionals Defending Academic Freedom and Denouncing Any Boycott of Israeli Scholars.

We affirm:
1) The academy is a universally revered setting in which humans may ask all questions and search for answers using methodologies established by former and contemporary scholars.

2) Too many scholars have expressed hate against Israeli scholars and even boycotted colleagues in Israeli Universities. In April 2013, the Association for Asian American Studies was the first group in the United States to support an academic boycott of Israel. In December 2013, the American Studies Association also endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities. The announced reason was alleged human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians.

3) To boycott a highly sophisticated, open and democratic academic community such as found in the exceptional universities in Israel and not to criticize other institutions that masquerade indoctrination for education, seems to be stained by a streak of anti-Semitism. Why do those who boycott Israeli scholars not also boycott Syrian scholars, since Arabs in Syria have murdered thousands of Christians and other Arabs? Why is there no boycott of Palestinian scholars, since Palestinian suicide bombers have killed so many civilians, notably children and women?

4) Biblical scholars can master the meaning of our sacred texts, especially the Hebrew Scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls, by spending time in “the Holy Land,” and discussing shared commitments and visions with Jews teaching in some of the most sophisticated universities in the world. Scientists can benefit from the research advanced in the Weitzman Institute and the Technion; and all of us benefit from the astounding Israeli inventions when we use iPhones, computers, and health care. To boycott all Israeli scholars is to defame the many Jews who have won Nobel Prizes.

5) Some of us are members of the American Association of University Professors and are proud of its condemnation of boycotts; they are a violation of academic freedom. We should never forget history and the condemnation or boycott of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). We join voices in exposing and criticizing those who reject and boycott Israeli scholars. We are a group of scholars and professionals who defend academic freedom and stand against the Anti-Israel scholars boycott.

We join this group because we endorse the above statement:

Israelis obviously support this manifesto and are included by definition.

Gary A. Anderson [Notre Dame, IND]
Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology
Notre Dame University

Professor Dr. Rami Arav [NE]
Department of Religion
Director, Bethsaida Excavation
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Harold W. Attridge [CT]
Sterling Professor of Divinity
Yale Divinity School
New Haven, CT

Lee Biondi [Santa Barbara, CA]
Biondi Rare Books & Manuscripts
Advisory Board, Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins
Ancient Manuscript Appraiser

Gabriele Boccaccini [MI]
Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins/New Testament
Department of Near Eastern Studies / Frankel Center for Judaic Studies
Ann Arbor, University of Michigan

Professor Dr. Peder Borgen [Norway]
Professor Emeritus of New Testament
Past President of Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters
Trondheim/Lilleström, Norway

Shaye J.D. Cohen [MA]
Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy
Chair, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University

Daniel L. Dintzer [Los Angeles, CA]

Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso [Canada]
Professor, Department of Religion
Concordia University

Casey Elledge [MN]
Associate Professor and Advisor, Religion and Pre-Law
Gustavus Adolphus College

David A. Fiensy, Ph.D. [KY]
Dean, Graduate School
Kentucky Christian University
Grayson, KY

Steven Fine [NY]
Dr. Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History,
Yeshiva University
New York

John W. Fischer [Cincinnati, OH]
Former counsel to Lane Theological Seminary,
now merged with McCormick Theological Seminary

Peter W. Flint, Ph.D. [Canada]
Canada Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Studies
Director, Dead Sea Scrolls Institute
Professor of Religious Studies
Trinity Western University
Langley, BC

Prof. Florentina Badalanova Geller [Germany]
Topoi Excellence Cluster
Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Dr. Markham J. Geller [Germany]
Professor für Wissensgeschichte
Topoi Excellence Cluster
Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Charlotte Hempel [England]
Reader in Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism
University of Birmingham, UK

Shalom E. Holtz [NY]
Associate Professor of Bible
Chair, The Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies
Yeshiva University

George Jochnowitz [NY]
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the
College of Staten Island, CUNY

James F. Joyner III [SC]
Certified Public Accountant
Financial Valuation Analyst
Editorial Assistant for the FJCO

Sergio La Porta [CA]
Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies
California State University, Fresno

Bernard M. Levinson [MN]
Berman Family Chair of Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible
Professor of Classical & Near Eastern Studies and of Law
University of Minnesota

Professor Hermann Lichtenberger [Germany]
Institutum Judaicum [Tübingen]

Jodi Magness [NC]
Kenan Distinguished Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Prof. Lee Martin McDonald [AZ]
Professor and President emeritus of Acadia Seminary
Leading authority on canon

George A. Makrauer [FL]
CEO, Comad Management Group
Senior Management and Strategic Planning Advisor
Advisory Board, Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins

Martin McNamara [Dublin, Ireland]
Emeritus Professor of Sacred Scripture
Director of the “Aramaic Bible Project”

Carol Meyers [NC]
Mary Grace Wilson Professor
Duke University

Eric Meyers [NC]
Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Jewish Studies
Duke University

Professor Eric Noffke [Italy]
Assistant in New Testament, Facoltà Valdese di Teologia

Prof. Dr. Gerbern S. Oegema [Canada]
Professor of Biblical Studies
Faculty of Religious Studies
McGill University

David I. Owen [NY]
Bernard and Jane Schapiro Professor of
Ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Emeritus
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Prof Gary A Rendsburg [NJ]
Distinguished Professor
Laurie Chair in Jewish History
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, N.J.

Jan Roskovec, Th.D. {CZ}
Lecturer in the New Testament at Protestant Theological Faculty
Director of the Center for Biblical Studies
Charles University

John C. Reeves [NC]
Blumenthal Professor of Judaic Studies
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

James A. Sanders [Los Angeles, CA]
Professor Emeritus,
Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University
President Emeritus, Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center

Lawrence H. Schiffman [NY]
Yeshiva University and NYU

Martin Schwartz [CA]
Professor Emeritus
Near Eastern Studies
University of California

Professor Dr. Harmon L. Smith [NC]
Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology
Duke University
Durham, NC

Jonathan Stone, DSc FAA [Sydney, Australia]
Professor of Retinal and Cerebral Neurobiology
Executive Director, Bosch Institute
University of Sydney F13

James Riley Strange [AL]
Associate Professor of Religion
Director, Shikhin Excavation Project
Samford University
Birmingham, AL

Prof. Dr. Loren Stuckenbruck [Germany]
Chair, New Testament and Second Temple Judaism
Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Prof. James D. Tabor, Chairman [NC]
Ancient Judaism & Early Christianity
Department of Religious Studies
UNC Charlotte

Dr. Abraham Terian [NY]
Emeritus Professor of Armenian Patristics and Theology
St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, New Rochelle, NY

Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty [India]
New Testament Studies
Editor, UBS Journal
Union Biblical Seminary
Maharashtra, India

Jeffrey H. Tigay [PA]
Emeritus Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
University of Pennsylvania

Benyamim Tsedaka [Samaritan, Israel]
Head of A.B. – Institute of Samaritan Studies – Holon, Israel
Editor of A.B. – The Samaritan News Magazine

Eugene Ulrich [IN]
J. A. O’Brien Professor of Hebrew Bible, emeritus
University of Notre Dame

Marcello Del Verme [Naples, Italy]
Former Professor of Early Christianity and History of Religions
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
Sez. storico-religiosa

Theo Maarten van Lint [England]
Calouste Gulbenkian Professor of Armenian Studies
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Prof. Pieter W. van der Horst [The Netherlands]
Professor Emeritus of Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity
Utrecht University

Linda Wall [NC]
Excavator at Hatzor
Advisory Board, Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins
Distinguished Breeder:
Buckskin Mare Grand Champion 2011.
Reserve Champion 2012

Robert N. Wolfe, M.D., F.C.C.P.
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
University of California, Los Angeles

Prof. Miroslaw S. Wrobel [Poland]
Director and Editor of the Polish Aramaic Project

Theo Maarten van Lint [Oxford, UK]
Calouste Gulbenkian Professor of Armenian Studies
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

Prof. Dr. Constantin Zuckerman [Paris, France]
Ecole pratique des hautes études,
En Sorbonne, 17 rue de la Sorbonne

Union Biblical Seminary Faculty Seminar

Date and Time:

3.00 PM, Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Dialogue as a Literary Genre in the Book of Signs


Johnson Thomaskutty
Nepali Christian Theology Academic Forum
Nepal Ebenezar Bible College, Jorpati, Kathmandu, Nepal
12 September 2014


  • Welcome Address (Ram Kumar Budhathoki)
  • Towards a Nepali Christian Theology: A Proposal (Yashwanth B. V)
  • Reading John’s Gospel into the Nepali Context (Johnson Thomaskutty, UBS, Pune, India)
  • Nepali Christian Theology: Missiological Perspective (Norbu Tamang)
  • Theological Development in the Nepali Context: Historical Perspective (Ram Kumar Budhathoki)
  • Nepali Christian Theology: A Shared Task of the Church and Academia (David Rai)
  • Closing Discussion: Contours of Nepali Christian Theology (Johnson Thomaskutty, UBS, Pune, India, Moderator)

Also see the link:

Michael LabahnI was privileged to have Dr. Michael Labahn of Halle University, Germany, as one of the resource persons during the “John and Genre” conference at Aarhus University, Denmark. His paper entitled “A Narrow Gate to the Johannine Gospel? Rethinking the Relationship between the Johannine Prologue and the Gospel of John” was an attempt to find the interrelationship between the prologue of John (1:1-18) and the gospel proper (1:19-21:25). In his paper, he attempted to outline some of the genre dynamics at work in the process of reading the prologue and the gospel proper interactively. Prof. Labahn discussed this dynamism with the help of literary and narrative theories.

Prof. Labahn contributes largely to the church and to the academia. He is both a committed Christian and a productive thinker and scholar of New Testament studies. His monographs include: (1) Jesus als Lebensspender. Untersuchungen zu einer Geschichte der johanneischen Tradition anhand ihrer Wundergeschichten, BZNW 98, Berlin – New York, 1999; and (2) Offenbarung in Zeichen und Wort. Untersuchungen zur Vorgeschichte von Joh 6,1-25a und seiner Rezeption in der Brotrede, WUNT II/117, Tübingen, 2000. He also contributed numerous articles and book reviews in academic journals and books.

In our one-on-one conversations Dr. Labahn took special interest in understanding the status and development of New Testament scholarship, church growth, and poor and the bible in the Indian and South Asian context. In turn, my four days long interactions with him helped me to understand the relationship between the church and academia and the current status of New Testament scholarship in Germany. As a person who was much inspired by German NT scholarship, my interactions with a German scholar in person was encouraging and persuasive. I would love to honor him for his simplicity and friendly interactions with me all through the conference.

Go to his CV here:

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

George 2I owe my thanks to many people who have helped me in my academic pursuit. I thank Prof. Dr. George L. Parsenios of Princeton Theological Seminary, USA, for permitting me to enroll for the PhD Seminar on John’s Gospel during the academic year 2004-2005. As a ThM student of the seminary, it was a challenge and an honor to learn from such a reputed scholar. In our class, we profoundly discussed Alan Culpepper’s Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel. That was the first time I was introduced to such a significant work. From then onward I never left Culpepper aloof from my theological discourses. I learned from George the lessons of interpreting John in connection with dramatic aspects, classical works of the past, and literary and narrative design theories. As a requirement of the course I also wrote a term paper under his supervision entitled “Seeing and Believing: The Role and Function of Thomas in John’s Narrative Framework.” That turned out to be the primary motivation (along with Prof. James H. Charlesworth’s inspiration in his class on “Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth”) for my current work entitled “Dydimos Judas Thomas: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions”. I was again privileged to interact with him another time in Aarhus University, Denmark. His paper entitled “The Silent Spaces Between Narrative and Drama” brought me back to his own earlier propositions. I really enjoyed reading his books Rhetoric and Drama in the Johannine Lawsuit Motif and Departure and Consolation and applying several of his propositions into my PhD Dissertation. Thanks to Dr. George Parsenios for his significant contribution in my life.


George L. Parsenios is an associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his M.A. (Classics) from Duke University, an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University. His teaching and research explore the interaction of early Christianity with classical literature, as well as the interpretation of the New Testament in the early church. He is the author of two books and several articles. He regularly teaches courses on the Gospel of John, First Corinthians, and Paul the Pastor.

Major Writings:

Rhetoric and Drama in the Johannine Lawsuit Motif, WUNT 1.258; Mohr Siebeck: Tübingen, 2010.
Departure and Consolation: The Johannine Farewell Discourses in Light of Greco-Roman Literature, NovTSup 117; Leiden: Brill, 2005.
“‘No Longer in the World’ (John 17:11): The Transformation of the Tragic in the Fourth Gospel,”Harvard Theological Review (2005) 98: 1–21.

For More Details Refer:

Princeton Theological Seminary site:

Jesus’ Wife:

Amazon site:

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.