Blackwood, Alan Charles
The theology of judgement in the Fourth Gospel: christology and eschatology in John 5.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
Full text available as:
This thesis addresses the apparent puzzle of the theology of judgement in the Fourth Gospel. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as both judging and not judging while eschatological scenarios are presented and alluded to in which humanity will be judged at the last day and also in which will be no final judgement. This puzzling theology is particularly apparent in John 5 as has been noted many times in Johannine scholarship. In order to resolve this puzzle a hypothesis in initially proposed and the remainder of the study is devoted to affirming that the hypothesis does, in fact, provide a resolution.
The hypothesis which is proposed at the beginning of this thesis is that John 5 presents a unified theology of judgement which is bicameral in that it consists of two eschatological compartments – one for Christian believers and one for the rest of humanity. The eschatology which John 5 presents for Christian believers is one in which they have been exempted from any end-time judgement process, but have already obtained the salvific benefit of eternal life which they shall continue to enjoy in a heavenly realm following bodily death. In parallel, John 5 presents a more traditional eschatology of a judgement tribunal for the rest of humanity at the eschaton where Christ, as God’s appointed judge, will sit in judgement of those who have rejected him and those who have not had the opportunity to accept him. The salvific benefits of such a bicameral eschatology are directed entirely in favour of Christian believers. In addition, the hypothesis proposes that the Christology of the Fourth Gospel has developed specifically to empower the Johannine Christ to act as the bringer of life to Christian believers and as the deliverer of Judgement to the non-Christian portion of humanity.
This thesis seeks to substantiate the validity of the hypothesis by firstly establishing three prerequisites for its applicability to the text of John 5. Firstly, it is necessary to establish that the Christology and eschatology which the hypothesis addresses are indeed to be found in the Gospel and in John 5 in particular. Secondly, it is necessary to search through Johannine scholarship to establish how the problem has been addressed before and whether any proposed solutions can successfully stand as obstacles to the application of the hypothesis. Thirdly, the hypothesis requires that John 5 is a unified text with no redactional insertions by secondary editors. All three of these prerequisites are addressed and a case is made for proceeding with the application of the hypothesis.
Actions (login required)