Text, Context and the Johannine Community adopts a new approach to the social context of the Johannine writings by drawing on modern sociolinguistic theory. Sociolinguistics emphasizes language as a social phenomenon, which can be analysed with reference not only to its broad context of culture, but also, through the use of register analysis, to its narrower context of situation.
The Johannine writings have increasingly been seen as the product of a distinct Johannine Community, depicted by some scholars as a sectarian group, opposed both to wider Jewish society and to other Christian groups. This model has largely been constructed on historical-critical grounds, yet given our lack of reliable external information about the origin of the Johannine writings, a more fruitful approach may be to examine their lexico-grammatical and discourse features to determine what these imply about interpersonal relationships. This study compares selected 'narrative asides' from the Gospel of John with a passage section from 1 John and with the two shorter Johannine Epistles. It concludes that register analysis of these texts does not support the idea of a close-knit sectarian group.
Revd. Dr. David A. Lamb is a Church of England vicar, a tutor for ministerial training, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK.
1. The Rise and Fall of a Paradigm? The Johannine Community in Recent Scholarship 2. The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Development of Raymond Brown's Model of Community 3. Text and Context: The Contribution of Sociolinguistic Theories of Register 4. The Antilanguage Antisociety: The Contribution of Sociological Commentators 5. The Register of the Johannine Writings: Do They Reflect a Particular Community? 6.Conclusion: The Death of the Johannine Community? Bibliography