What is it about?

For the author of the fourth Gospel, there is neither a Christless church nor a churchless Christ. Though John’s Gospel has been widely understood as ambivalent toward the idea of “church,” Andrew Byers argues that ecclesiology is as central a Johannine concern as Christology. Rather than focusing on the community behind the text, John’s Gospel directs attention to the vision of community prescribed within the text, which is presented as a “narrative ecclesiology” by which the concept of “church” gradually unfolds throughout the Gospel’s sequence.

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Why is it important?

There have been very few monographs in recent decades on Johannine ecclesiology. And although studies abound on themes of participation and deification in New Testament studies, the theology of the fourth evangelist is regularly overshadowed by that of Paul, or even of Peter. 'Ecclesiology and Theosis in the Gospel of John' offers a robust exegetical treatment of "narrative ecclesiology" in which the evangelist portrays a reconfiguration of God's people as a divine community deified through belief in Jesus.


I wrote this book in order... • to demonstrate the centrality of ecclesiology (alongside Christology) in John's Gospel; • to shift scholarly emphasis on the "Johannine community" to the Johannine vision of community; • to offer a rigorous historical-critical exegesis of John's Gospel alongside theological interpretation; and • to bring John's Gospel into the recent scholarly trend of noting theosis themes in the New Testament. I think the book will establish that the Prologue is an early Christian "deification text." The emphasis on the Shema as a source for the Johannine oneness motif will contribute to the ongoing and intense debates about Judaism and John's Gospel, affirming the "Jewishness" of the evangelist's roots and putting to rest claims that the Gospel's use of "one" stems from Gnosticism or the experientialism of the mystery religions.

Dr Andrew J Byers
Cambridge Theological Federation

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This page is a summary of: Ecclesiology and Theosis in the Gospel of John, January 2017, Cambridge University Press, DOI: 10.1017/9781316823750.
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