Michael Card

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

William Lane, John Long


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Degree Program

Department of Philosophy & Religion

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In the history of the interpretation of the Gospel of John a significant source of background material has been seriously overlooked. That source is the Wisdom corpus of the Hebrew Old Testament. This thesis investigates the foundation the gospel of John has in this material. More than providing an interesting background for a study of the gospel, this source will be seen to provide a key to understanding the basic unique themes of the gospel as well as the intention of the evangelist.

John, writing in the late first century, is familiar with the works of the synoptic writers. They have based their gospels on the notion that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets (the first two subdivisions of the Hebrew Bible). John, seeking a fresh expression, writes to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of what was spoken in the Writings (the third subdivision of the Hebrew Bible) as well. The date of the writing of the gospel coincides with the time of the final debates on the canonicity of the Writings. John recognizes that if these documents are to be included in the Hebrew Bible they will be an important source for any account of the Messiah. Indeed, Jesus used these scriptures and seemed to hold a high view of them, quoting from them at various times when referring to his own divine nature.

It will also be seen that John's method of personifying Wisdom in his expression of Jesus has its parallels in the history of Jewish religious writing. In fact, the life situation which called forth John’s presentation of Christ as Wisdom personified is similar to other instances where Wisdom is personified. Thus, we are provided with two strong supports for the thesis that John is indebted to Jewish Wisdom: first, an intention on the author’s part which can be demonstrated and, secondly, a number of other parallels in the history of literature which demonstrate the same phenomenon.


Arts and Humanities | Biblical Studies | Christianity | Philosophy | Religion