The Presence of the Risen Jesus in and among His Followers with Special Reference to the First Farewell Discourse in John 13:31-14:31

Posted: February 11, 2012 in General

The following PhD Dissertation Abstract is published here with permission from the author Dr. Won-Ha Hwang, my South Korean friend, pastor, and New Testament scholar.

Won-Ha Hwang was born on 4th February in 1969 in Kangwondo, South Korea. After his B.A. at Kosin University in 1995, he obtained his M. Div. in 1998 at Korea Theological Seminary. After serving in several congregations, he decided to study further at the University of Pretoria. He obtained his M.Th. with distinction in 2004 and completed his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Prof. Jan van der Watt in 2006. His thesis is entitled “The presence of the risen Jesus in and among his followers with special reference to the first farewell discourse in John 13:31-14:31”. Currently, Dr. Won-Ha Hwang is serving as pastor of Sansung Presbyterian Church and as Lecturer of New Testament at Kosin University in South Korea.

[The first farewell discourse of Jesus in John 13:31-14:31 does not indicate the separation of Jesus from his disciples but rather the permanent presence of the risen Jesus in and among them. According to the first farewell discourse, eschatological promise, knowing and seeing the Father, glory, love, pastoral ministry, deeds, prayer, Paraclete, remembering, faith, peace and joy, and the words of Jesus all serve as the replacement of the physical Jesus. The physically absent Jesus thus becomes present through his first farewell discourse.

The author of the Fourth Gospel delivers the true divine identity and significance of Jesus throughout the entire narrative. He aims at guiding his readers through the narrative of the Gospel with the purpose that they will “see” (meet) Jesus, confess him as Christ, and receive eternal life. Nobody reading this text should or could stay the same, since he or she will be confronted with the protagonist of the text, namely Jesus. The text of the Gospel thus becomes the “presence of Jesus” among the readers. This functional purpose of the Gospel accounts for the first farewell discourse in John 13:31-14:31. In response to previous scholarship that understands the Johannine farewell discourses solely as a testament, the present study convinces that the discourses interface with classical literature, specifically the following literary styles: Greek tragedy, consolation literature, and the literary symposium tradition.

The multiplicity of the generic associations of the discourses sheds new light on the nature of Jesus’ departure as well as his continuing presence in spite of that departure. No longer designed to evoke only the themes of departure and absence, the testament of Jesus in John emphasises instead Jesus’ abiding presence. While the material from Greek tragedy will only further emphasise the theme of departure, the material from classical consolation literature and the literary symposium tradition will accentuate the theme of continuing presence. John has thereby transcended the usual expectations of the testament. Thus the physically absent Jesus becomes present through his first farewell discourse: the reader is confronted with a dynamic portrait of Jesus and this confrontation results in an acceptance of Jesus as Christ, as well as the receiving of eternal life. According to the first farewell discourse, eschatological promise, knowing and seeing the Father, glory, love, pastoral ministry, deeds, prayer, Paraclete, remembering, faith, peace and joy, and the words of Jesus all serve as the replacement of the physical Jesus. Therefore, the first farewell discourse does not indicate the separation of Jesus from his disciples but rather the permanent presence of the risen Jesus in and among them.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s