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.

Walk with Prof. Harold W. Attridge

Posted: July 27, 2014 in General

Harold 2I started my contact with Prof. Harold W. Attridge, firstly, as a reader of his writings, especially his significant article “Genre Bending in the Fourth Gospel” (JBL, Vol. 121, No. 1, 2002: pp. 3-21), and, later, as a facebook follower and friend. When I met him first time in Aarhus, Denmark, for The Gospel of John as Genre Mosaic conference I realized that he is a humble human who is able to accommodate the ‘other.’ His keynote address entitled “The Fourth Gospel: Does Genre Matter?” persuaded majority of the participants to take heed during the four days’ discussions. I never forget the four significant days we walked together (along with other scholars) back and forth from Radisson Hotel in the central part of the city to the Aarhus University conference hall. These 3-4 kilometers walk through the city, both in the morning and in the evening, gave us extra strength for our discussions all through the four days. During the meal times and during the walk times I didn’t forget to explore the rare opportunity to interact with this extraordinary scholar. We discussed the topics such as Dydimos Judas Thomas and Indian Christian traditions, US academia, John and Genre studies, and Dialogue in the Gospel of John. In one of the occasions in Aarhus I gifted him a copy of my dissertation. Another coincidence was that my Princetonian professor George Parsenios (Attridge’s student) clicked pictures for both of us.

Harold 1Prof. Attridge is currently serving as Sterling Professor of Divinity at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School from 2002 to 2012, has made scholarly contributions to New Testament exegesis and to the study of Hellenistic Judaism and the history of the early Church. His publications include Essays on John and Hebrews, Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus, The Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius Josephus, Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex, and The Acts of Thomas, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has edited twelve books, most recently, with Dale Martin and Jurgen Zangenberg, Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee; and The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue? Professor Attridge is the general editor of the HarperCollins Study Bible Revised Edition (2006). He has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, Novum Testamentum, and the Hermeneia commentary series. He has been active in the Society of Biblical Literature and served as president of the society in 2001. Professor Attridge is a fellow of Saybrook College.

For more details refer the following links:

Yale University link:

Wikipedia link:

His Curricula Vitae:

Infancy Gospel of Thomas:

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

Jan 2Prof. Dr. Jan G. van der Watt is well known for his simplicity, integrity, and esteemed scholarship. When it comes to his personality it is hard to distinguish between the boundaries of friendship and professorship. He is both a friend and a professor at the same time. His ability to accommodate the ‘other’ and capacity to adopt extra steps to understand his students are conspicuous. Another significant quality we find in him is his ability to balance between ‘speaking’ and ‘hearing’. Prof. Jan is an excellent scholar who has a lot in store for his students and at the same time he is always willing to hear what others (especially his students) say. His expectation from his students is extremely high and he leaves them independent as much as possible. As a “world class” New Testament scholar, he does not compromise in the case of originality and global standards. At the intervals of our one-on-one discussions, he never failed to ask his usual question, i.e., “What is new in that?”  For me he is a New Testament mathematician who prefers to explain things with the help of tables and diagrams. Prof. Jan never forgets to advise his students to sustain clarity of thought and simplicity of style in the process of writing. I was really fortunate to have such a scholar as my Doktorvater. Read more about him below.

Jan (born 5 November 1952) is a South African biblical scholar and Bible translator who moved to the Netherlands in 2009 to take up a chair in New Testament and Source texts of early Christianity at Radboud University in Nijmegen. It was announced on 5 October 2010 that he has been appointed “vice-decaan van de Faculteit der Filosofie, Theologie en Religiewetenschappen”. For a quarter of a century previously, he was professor at the  University of Pretoria, where he was named as one of the 100 most influential academic thinkers in the 100 year history of the University of Pretoria, South Africa (see under Leading Minds. Apart from other influential former South African scholars such as Cilliers Breytenbach (Belin) and David du Toit (Munchen), Van der Watt is also rated as international acknowledged researcher that is regarded by some of his South African peers as international leader in his field, though not verified by external international criteria (see under rated researchers). Van der Watt is internationally best known for his monograph: Family of the King: Dynamics of Metaphor in the Gosepl According to John.

He was born on 5 November 1952 in Germiston, South Africa. He obtained no less than eight university degrees, all with distinction. He also represented his university in rugby and athletics and received provincial colors for athletics which enabled him to be selected for the South African national competition. In 2008 he received the University of Pretoria Commemorative Research Medal – Honoring our Leading Minds (1908–2008). This medal is awarded to a select number of researchers (100) in all fields, called “Our (= Univ. of Pretoria) leading minds (1908-2008)”, that have played a significant role in establishing the University of Pretoria as a leading research institution over the past 100 years of the history of this institution. He has been acknowledged as a world leader in studies of the Gospel according to John, by the National Research Foundation of South Africa currently the highest rating for a theologian in South Africa. this indicates unanimous international recognition as well established researcher with significant recognition as world leader in particular field–this rating is done through international peer reviewing). He has successfully supervised 30 PhD’s and 84 masters candidates. He is currently the General editor of the Review of Biblical Literature (2005-), a member of the SNTS and an Alexander Von Humboldt scholar. He has been married to Shireen (née Crous) for three decades, and they have one daughter (Nireen), a medical doctor.

Jan 1Publications

Books (author, co-author or editor)

  • 1988 Christ is your hope. The letter to the Colossians – a semantic discourse analysis. UPTS 5, Pretoria, 134 pages.
  • 1990 Jesus of Nazareth. Proclamation in context Co-author with S. Joubert, Pretoria, 140 pages.
  • 1991 Co-editor of Theology in Context, Orion: Pretoria 1991, 618 pages.
  • 1995( ‘It is fulfilled’ The re-interpretation of the cross-events in the Gospel of John. Pretoria, 85 pages.
  • 2000 Family of the King. Dynamics of metaphor in the Gospel according to John Brill, 450.
  • 2004 Metodology of New Testament exegesis illustrated, (only electronically available in English and Afrikaans) currently being translated as book into Korean as well as in Russian to be used as textbook at Universities in Russia and South Korea.
  • 2005 Christology and Theology in the Gospel according to John. Co-editor with Prof Gilbert van Belle, and P. Maritz, Peeters:Leuven 560 pages (collection of essays by leading international scholars on Johannine literature. Most of these contributions were delivered at the SNTS meetings which were chaired by the editors.
  • 2005 Salvation in the New Testament. Perspectives on soteriology. Editor. Novum Testamentum Supplements 121, 550 pages.
  • 2005 Aprocypha of the Old and New Testament. The hidden library of the early Christians. Translation of these documents into Afrikaans. CUM: Vereeninging. 800 pages. Several reprints.
  • 2005 Review of Biblical Literature. SBL: Atlanta. 600 pages (General Editor).
  • 2006 Imagery in the Gospel of John/Bildersprache im Johannesevangelium, co-editor with Frey, J., van der Watt, J.G., and Zimmermann, R., WUNT 200, Mohr Siebeck:Tübingen, 495 pages.
  • 2006 Identity, ethics and ethos in the New Testament, Van der Watt J.G. (ed). BZNW, De Gruyter: Berlin. xiii + 645 pages.
  • 2006 Review of Biblical Literature. SBL: Atlanta. 600 pages (General Editor).
  • 2007 Review of Biblical Literature. SBL: Atlanta. 600 pages (General Editor).
  • 2007 Introduction to the Gospel and Letters of John. T&T Clark:London, 192 pages.
  • 2008 Imagery in Luke and John. Festschrift for Prof Ulrich Busse. Peeters:Leuven (co-editor with Proff. Jos Verheyden and Gilbert van Belle) 280 pages.
  • 2008 Review of Biblical Literature. SBL: Atlanta. 600 pages (General Editor).
  • 2009 Reading the Bible in Africa. A South African Perspective. (with N. Ndwandwe, E. Mahlangu, D. Forster). Brill. 230 pages. (forthcoming end of 2009).
  • 2009 Encyclopaedia for the Bible and its Reception. Vol 1 and 2 (area editor of Johannine writings and the General Epistles), De Gruyter:Berlin & New York. (forthcoming April/May 2009).
  • 2009 Ethics in the Gospel according to John. Eerdmans:Grand Rapids, 300 pages (forthcoming end of 2009).
  • 2009 Ethics and language, Van der Watt, JG and Zimmermann R (eds.) WUNT, Mohr Siebeck:Tübingen, 320 pages (forthcoming end or 2009).
  • 2009 Eschatology and the New Testament, (Ed.) WUNT, Mohr Siebeck:Tübingen (Forthcoming end of 2009).
  • 2009 Review of Biblical Literature. SBL: Atlanta. 600 pages (General Editor).

Academic dissertations

  • 1978: (A) The use of the term “in Christ” in Colossians. (BD-dissertation–New Testament) University of Pretoria.
  • 1979: (A) A semantic discourse analysis of Colossians (MA-dissertation – Greek) University of Pretoria.
  • 1986: (A) Eternal life in the Gospel according to John (DD-thesis- New Testament) University of Pretoria.
  • 1999: Dynamics of metaphor in the Gospel according to John (D.Litt.-thesis – Greek), University of Pretoria.


Through 2009, he has written 52 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and 36 articles in books and collected works. For one of them, the 1999 “Commentary on the Gospel according to John,” and “Commentary on Colossians” published in Bybellenium: A one volume commentary, CUM, 1314–1370, 1594-1604″ he won the Andrew Murray Prize as well as the South African Booksellers Association prizes for the best Christian publication.

Bible translations

  • 2002 Die Boodskap–die Bybel in hedendaagse Afrikaans(The Message–the Bible in everyday Afrikaans) (Not to be confused with ‘The Message’). Responsible for translating half of New Testament from Greek, sections of Psalms from Hebrew, and General Co-Editor. Won the South African Booksellers prize for best Christian publication in 2002.
  • 2003 The Gospel according to Mark. in The multi-translation of the Bible. CUM.
  • 2003 The Gospel according to John. in The multi-translation of the Bible. CUM.
  • 2003 The letter to the Colossians. in The multi-translation of the Bible. CUM.
  • 1999 The New Testament for children in language they could understand – translation of the New Testament Carpe Diem, 591 (together with S. Joubert and H. Stander)
  • 1999 The Message with Psalms and Proverbs, CUM, 1100 pages. (Not to be confused with ‘The Message’ in English). Over 100,000 in print. Won South African Booksellers Association prize for best Christian publication in 1999.
  • 2001 The Multi-reference Bible, CUM (editor of New Testament with F. Janse van Rensburg).
  • 2004 The Multi-translation of the Bible. Co-editor for the New Testament.. CUM. 2004.

Compiled by Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India.

Frank TolmieProf. Donald Francois Tolmie currently serves as professor and Head of the Department of New Testament Studies at the Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa). He holds a DTh in New Testament Studies, as well as a PhD in Greek from the University of the Free State. He is a member of various international and national societies: Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS), Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the New Testament Society of South Africa (NTSSA). His fields of specialization includes the Gospel of John and Pauline literature and he furthermore focuses on narratology, rhetorical analysis, the translation and theology of New Testament texts. He has published the following academic books: Jesus’ farewell to the disciples (Leiden: Brill); Narratology and Biblical Narratives (San Francisco: International Scholars Publication) and Persuading the Galatians (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck). Currently, he is working on a “Commentary on the Letter to Philemon.” Prof. Tolmie served as one of the manuscript committee members (along with Prof. Ulrich Busse and Prof. Christoph-H. Hübenthal) of my PhD Dissertation at The Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Holland. His 1999 work entitled Narratology and Biblical Narratives: A Practical Guide (San Francisco/London/Bethesda: International Scholars Publications) was one of the significant resources I used for developing the methodological framework of my dissertation.

See the following links:

Character Studies:

Character Studies:

PhD Dissertation online:


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

Ulrich BusseProf. Dr. Ulrich Busse serves as Professor Emeritus at Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany. His research focus includes Johannine and Lukan writings, biblical and Hellenistic imagery Design, and historical and bibliographic databases. His current projects are Introduction to the imagery of John’s Gospel, Contributions to the Lukan theology, and Computer Assisted Biblical Studies. His membership of Academic Associations consists Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, Cambridge (GB), Catholic Biblical Association, Stuttgart, German Society for the Exploration of Palestine, Wiesbaden. He also serves as Associate Professor of the Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria (SA).

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Busse graciously served as one of the manuscript committee members that externally evaluated my PhD dissertation entitled “The Nature and Function of Dialogue in the Book of Signs (John 1:19-12:50)” in 2014. My personal interactions with him in Nijmegen as well as reading of his works, especially his Das Johannesevangelium, Bildlichkeit, Diskurs und Ritual: Mit einer Bibliographie über den Zeitraum 1986-1998 (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium CLXII. Leuven: University Press/Uitgeverij Peeters, 2002), enabled me to understand the potential of this experienced New Testament scholar. For more details concerning him (CV) go here.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India


Seminar Session:

12th Sep.: “Reading the Gospel of John to the Nepali Context”
At Nepal Ebenezar Bible College, Jorpati,  Kathmandu, Nepal


Other Sessions

6th Sep.: Preaching at Bethshalom Puthalisadak Church (Nepali Service)
7th Sep.: Preaching at Bethshalom Puthalisadak Church (English Service)
8th till 10th Sep.: Teaching Johannine Theology at Bethshalom Faith School of Ministry
12th Sep.: Facilitating an Academic Forum on “Nepal Christian Theology”
13th Sep.: Preaching at Baisepati Church (Nepali Service)



6-13 September 2014


Resource Person:

Johnson Thomaskutty, UBS, Pune, India

downloadMy long cherished dream came true when I received my PhD degree with distinction from the prestigious Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands, on 19th June 2014. The title of the dissertation in Dutch was “De eigen aard en functie van de dialoog in het Boek der Tekenen (Joh. 1:19-12:50).” In English it is, “The Nature and Function of Dialogue in the Book of Signs (John 1:19-12:50).” In his concluding speech my Doktorvater Prof. Dr. Jan G. van der Watt made the following significant statements to all those who have honoured the ceremony with their presence.


Dear Dr. Johnson Thomaskutty,

It feels like yesterday when we first met on that summer day at Serampore near Kolkata. I remember that I was very excited to see the place where William Carey worked and left such an important heritage. There I encountered William Carey, or at least his house and study room, with his desk and chair, and of course also Johnson Thomaskutty, a young scholar who was working on John and was eager to present to me his work on John. People spoke well of you in Serampore and told me that John will never be the same if John . . . Johnson finishes his studies. And today we are so far. You are now a doctor in New Testament studies and of course your field of specialization is John. Between Serampore and Nijmegen you did drink the water of Princeton, but you needed Radboud University Nijmegen to really taste the clean running water (for those who are not Johannine scholars, this is a pun on John 4 where Jesus offers the Samaritan woman running water). I am very glad that today we could finish what started so many years ago in Serampore. I am glad for you and of course I am also proud. Proud because you showed what it meant to work hard and diligently, to persevere and what it means to be a person who is always willing to learn and push yourself and the boundaries of knowledge a little further. That makes me proud.

I expect a lot from you in India—that is also why I did not hesitate to accept you as PhD candidate. You showed potential from the very beginning. You will make a difference, of that I am sure. Your personality, that is always friendly and open, your vision that always sees another opportunity and new challenges, your lust for life that makes it a pleasure to watch you plan and explain what is still to be done, all those things make me excited about your future.

I wish you a very good future as doctor in New Testament studies, for me and I am sure for you too, the most wonderful and exciting subject to study. Your career is now really taking off with force, since now you have shown and is acknowledged by your peers as a capable researcher who thoroughly deserved the right and earned the opportunity to partake in our academic quest for more and richer knowledge of the New Testament.

May God bless you in your further ventures as doctor in New Testament studies.

Prof. Jan G. van der Watt

Chair in New Testament and Source Texts of Early Christianity

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

The Netherlands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I started preparing a short travelogue concerning my second trip to Bangladesh, I opted to entitle it “Bible for the Bangladeshis.” It is mainly due to the reason that I would love to look at my time in Bangladesh from the biblical point of view. Moreover I witnessed the need of propagating the biblical lessons to both the rural and urban areas of life in the country. The 2014 Church of God [its international headquarters in Anderson, Indiana, USA] Convention held at The Church of God Mission Compound, Lalmanirhat, Bangladesh, was a rich experience for the organizers and the participants alike. The convention was inaugurated by The Honorable District Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Habibur Rahman. A Muslim by birth and practice, the District Deputy Commissioner keeps a solemn relationship with the Church of God Missions in Bangladesh. The festival was convened from 24 to 26 April 2014. There were about 700 delegates (including children), mostly from sixty-eight rural Bangladeshi churches, gathered during this great event. The meetings were blessed by the presence of youths and office staff from Dhaka (Senpara), Lalmanirhat, Kaunia, and Kakina. The general theme of the conference was “Let Your Light Shine!” based on Matthew 5:16. I along with others such as Rev. Donald Armstrong (the Asia Pacific Regional Secretary of Church of God Ministries) and Rev. Judith Milita Das were invited and honored as speakers of the conference. Rev. Tapan Kumar Borman, Chairman of the Church of God Ministries Bangladesh, takes active steps in inculcating the biblical lessons among the rural and urban communities of the country.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the very start of the convention itself the organizers and the speakers understood the need of expositing the biblical lessons to the contextual realities of Bangladesh. As the gathering was diverse and from the remote village set up, our speeches were not flavored by theological and rhetorical jargons. The organizers divided the gathering into three groups, youths, men, and women. Topics such as “Love Your God”, “Love Your Church”, “Love to Give”, and “Love Your Family” were expounded by the help of appropriate Old/New Testament passages. Our speeches were well connected to the theological, ecclesiological, give-ological, and family-ological lessons of the bible. But, the overarching theme of all the speeches was “vertical horizontal love.” In my speeches, I emphasized the aspect of God’s love with the help of John 3:16 and First John 3:1. How God exemplified himself as a God of Love in history and how the people of God responded to him? These questions were adequately addressed with the help of the contextual realities of Bangladesh. In another session, I expounded how church as an agent of God should function on the surface of the world. The role of Church as the body of Christ, community of believers, and the miniature form of the Kingdom of God was also interpreted with the help of appropriate biblical texts. The three levels of the church (i.e., individual, congregational, and universalistic) and its kerygmatic, didactic, koinonic, and diakonic duties were highlighted with precision. The aspect of the family is brought to the notice of the attendees in a very spectacular way. In the speeches it was pinpointed how individuals are connected to the families and how families form the society. Biblical references from the Book of Joshua, Book of Psalms (119:54), Book of Acts (16:15), and Gospel of John (4:53) were interpreted relevantly to the public. In one session, God’s giving of his Son to the world was expounded to instruct about the responsibility of “Christian Giving”. In another session, the aspect of “Believing and Unbelieving” was narrated from the Gospel of John. In all the speeches and lectures our attempt was to direct the attendees toward the biblical lessons as paradigms for the contextual realities.

The evening public meetings were organized at the convention ground. Rev. Donald Armstrong and I were the speakers. Rev. Armstrong spoke about the need of getting involved in Christian missions in the Bangladeshi context. In order to state his concern rhetorically, he brought his 15 years long Tanzanian mission experiences. The following two evenings, I spoke on themes such as “Believing is Living” (based on John 4:46-54) and “Five Models of Discipleship” (based on John chapter one). There were about 700 delegates attended the evening sessions. The issues such as poverty, religious fundamentalism, child abuse and child marriage, casteism and untouchability, communalism in its various forms, polygamy, and others were discussed during all the sessions. Through the sessions the youths were alarmed against drug addiction, smoking, alcoholism, pornography, and other evil practices. Biblical passages were exegeted and interpreted into the Bangladeshi context in order to teach the delegates concerning Christian morality and ethics. The delegates and the organizers together acclaimed our initiatives to throw light on the social issues on the basis of the biblical mandate of morality and ethics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn 28th April 2014, The Church of God Ministries Bangladesh organized a Mission Consultation at The Assembly of God Church, Dhaka. We experienced the huge transition from the rural set up in Lalmanirhat to the thickly populated urban set of Dhaka. The consultation was scheduled from 10 AM till 3.30 PM. There were about 20 delegates attended the consultation. Most of them represented different theological institutions, mission and ecclesiastical bodies, NGOs, and other Christian organizations. While I presented my paper entitled “Globalization and Mission: Reading John’s Gospel” in the forenoon session, Rev. Donald Armstrong presented his paper entitled “A Pivot towards a Practical Christianity” in the afternoon session. In my paper, three important aspects were considered seriously: first, the ‘global’ aspects of the Gospel of John in relation to the ‘local’ concerns; second, the Trinitarian nature of John’s theology and its significance in a glocalized cultural context; and third, the mission theology of John in relation to a globalized cosmic order. The task of the paper was not analyzing the gospel as a whole. Rather to develop an interpretative frame for the gospel in a globalized social context. In Rev. Donald Armstrong’s paper, he cautioned the delegates about the bad effects of sex trafficking. He mentioned, “The Church of God, Anderson, Indiana is making a pivot to include an issue that is of prime concern by people in the United States and the Western world. This issue is one of Human Trafficking that is taking place around the world. With the increased ease of travel between countries, the ease of working across borders in places like the EU and North America due to the free trade pacts we find that Human Trafficking is on the increase instead of decreasing”. These two papers aroused among the delegates biblical and practical awareness in getting involved in the Missio Dei.

The rural and urban contexts of Bangladesh inspire outsiders for being engaged in missions in its entire means. Those who understand mission either as evangelization or as theological and ethical transformation or as social liberation have all can play their respective roles in the Bangladeshi context. While Indian theologians highly regard the western theologians and the reputed institutions and universities, the Bangladeshi theologians have a great regard for the Indian Christian theologians and their contributions toward the scholarly world. In a context in which theological resources are scarce and theologically equipped personnel are less, the Bangladeshi scholars attempt their maximum to inculcate awareness concerning the biblical lessons among the masses. Rev. Tapan Kumar Borman (Chairman and CEO of Church of God Ministries Bangladesh) and Mrs. Shikha Borman deserve appreciation for organizing these programs at the rural and urban contexts of Bangladesh. We the Union Biblical Seminary faculty and authorities are delighted to see our graduates like Tapan and Shikha take active endeavors in leading organizations and institutions in varied contexts.

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

51W4VhPAfTL__SL500_AA300_Understanding the New Testament through a contextual lens

Scholars continue to unearth valuable understandings of the historical and religious worlds out of which the New Testament writings emerged. This beautifully-crafted introduction notes more than two dozen contextual crises and how the biblical text addresses and reflects them. From the ministry of Jesus, to the rise and progress of the Christian movement, to the epistles of Paul and other leaders, to a vision of God’s final cosmic victory, the New Testament books are succinctly introduced in literary, historical, and theological perspectivesDesigned for optimal use in a 14- or a 10-week undergraduate or graduate course, each chapter is designed with four primary features in mind: (a) contextual crises shedding light on the subject; (b) connections with the biblical writings being discussed in that chapter; (c) primary features of the book(s) being discussed; and (d) an application section dealing with the relevance of the biblical content then and now. Anderson also uses call-out boxes and shorter vignettes to heighten particular themes, while images, charts, and maps are used to make information accessible for students.

About the Author

Author of nearly 200 published essays and several books, Paul N. Anderson is Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, where he has taught an annual introduction to the New Testament course for more than 20 years. Anderson also serves as Director of the George Fox University Congregational Discernment Project. He holds a PhD. from the University of Glasgow, Scotland; and a M.Div. from Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.

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