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Creation Imagery in the Gospel of John: New Book

June 11, 2015

I’ve just received news of the publication of the book by Carlos Raul Sosa Siliezar, arising from his recently completed PhD thesis written here:  Creation Imagery in the Gospel of John (London:  Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015).  The publisher’s online catalogue entry here.

There is, of course, an obvious allusion and conceptual link to the Genesis creation account in the opening words of the GJohn, “In the beginning.”  But how much farther does “creation imagery” extend in the GJohn, and what prominence or role does it have?  Numerous previous scholars have made various proposals on the matter, and so Sosa Siliezar’s project was to make an independent analysis and, thus, an assessment of those previous proposals.

His first step was to devise a set of criteria that would permit some basis for identifying allusions and use of creation imagery.  Curiously, this hadn’t really been done before, and so, in the words of the book of Judges “each man/woman did what was right in their own eyes”!  I found his criteria cogent and appropriate, and his judgments sound and convincing about whether and where there is use of creation imagery in the GJohn.  His results will, however, show up weaknesses in a number of previous scholarly proposals on the matter, but that’s the nature of the scholarly enterprise.

His main conclusions are that the GJohn uses creation imagery in a limited number of places, but has these positioned so as to underscore their significance.

First, John uses them to portray Jesus in close relationship with his Father, existing apart from and prior to the created order. Second, John uses creation imagery to assert the primal and universal significance of Jesus and the message about him, and to privilege him over other important figures in the story of Israel. Third, John uses creation imagery to link past reality with present and future reality, portraying Jesus as the agent of creation whom the reader should regard as the primal agent of revelation and salvation. The book concludes by underscoring how these findings inform our understanding of John’s Christology and Johannine dualism.

I think that his study is a significant contribution to studies of the GJohn, and should receive due attention.  Carlos was one of the very top PhD students I’ve supervised in my 18 years in Edinburgh, and I hope that he will be able to make further contributions to scholarship in NT studies.  He is currently teaching in the Central American Theological Seminary (Guatemala).

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3 Comments
  1. Brian Casey permalink

    My largely amateurish GJohn studies were aborted a year or so ago, but I’m intrigued by this book.

    I note especially your phrase “positioned so as to underscore their significance,” and I wonder whether Carlos included any commentary on past (Bultmann or D.M. Smith ’65, e.g.) propositions for a rearranged ordering of the text. Or, did Carlos assume, for his purposes, the existing, canonical text’s order?

  2. Kevin Conway permalink

    This actually sounds very interesting for both scholars and pastors and the referral certainly helps lean me towards reading it (of course, the price means I’ll have to wait till I get near a a good biblical studies library).

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