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Irish Biblical Studies

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Recent scholarship on the Fourth Gospel has suggested that this document was produced by a Christian community which was involved in an intense conflict with a local synagogue, the focus of which was christology. This study attempts to relate the Johannine prologue to this context, using Berger and Luckmann's model of legitimation . John's christological portrait of Jesus in the prologue is best understood in terms of the author's use of traditions and imagery which were authoritative to both him and his opponents, in order to defend the legitimacy of his and his community's beliefs. By looking at the prologue from this perspective, our understanding of the development of the distinctive Johannine portrait of Jesus is enhanced.


Permission to post this publication in our archive was granted by the copyright holder, Irish Biblical Studies ( This copy should be used for educational and research purposes only.

The original publication appeared at: McGrath, James F. “Prologue as Legitimation: Christological Controversy and the Interpretation of John 1:1-18,” Irish Biblical Studies 19 (June 1997): 98-120.