The spatiality of John is conceived as a concept of narrative, and forms the structure of the gospel in connection with the important theological statements. This Ph.D. project analyzes to which extent the narrative in the Gospel of John implicitly contains spatiality and against which background it is to be interpreted. The central issue addressed here is the relationship between soteriology and spatial aspects of metaphors in John and whether this is an overarching strategy of his writing.


Methodological approach

The spatial movement of thought in narrative research takes place in certain concepts which frame the spatial motifs and the formal structure of the images. The view expressed in this research is whether the linguistic findings of the spatial motifs make other aspects more important. Following the metaphorical issue (the metaphor of the house) John’s narrative describes the present experience of salvation through the household bringing a social-structural perspective to the foreground.

The theological value of John’s narrativity comes through spatial metaphors which provide a guiding structure for a better understanding of salvation. The study assumes that the space metaphor in John is a language pattern of the protective and saving experience of space.

The starting point of the investigation is chapter fourteen of the gospel of John: the beginning of the farewell speeches. The image field to be taken on this occasion is a house which contains many rooms. This is laid out on the horizon of the path scheme, under the concept of orientation. A central question of the investigation concerning the usage of conceptual metaphors is according to which criteria these metaphors are to be determined.

The conceptual metaphor of John will be related to the cognitive methodology of George Lakoff/Mark Johnson who assume that everyday metaphorical statements are the bearers of emotional and cognitive structures.

The different pictorial forms fulfill the theological-spatial function intended by John and lead through the creative-conceptual metaphor to a gain of knowledge based on specific life-consciousness, everyday experience and perception.

First results

Essential area of this research is John 14, 2-6. This section of John’s Gospel deals with the departure of Jesus and with the salvation message of the house (οἰκία) and its mansions (μονή). This course of action can be recorded by the description of the dimension of the space (the Spatial Perspective). The spatial movement of thought takes place with certain concepts which are context-dependent and determine a strong spatial structure. The path concept is pointed out and sharpened in John narratively through the metaphorical development of houses and rooms. The spatial statements here form a structural principle, which specifies a particular path. The essential point of view is that by the motif οἰκία, as a local image forms this one adjustment to the local center τόπος. As a matter of fact, the motif οἰκία has a saving perspective with a double function:

1. For the purpose of protection and

2. To illustrate the collective point of salvation – the common household

The copulative metaphor of John 14, 6 is connected with a construct ὁδός (the content of everyday experience) and two abstractions ἀλήθεια and ζωή (relation to thought). John 14, 6 involves an interaction of all spheres of meaning in order to present a potential of action as innovative and linguistic-creative. It is not to be assumed that the abstractions stand against a primary meaning of the path metaphor, but that they elucidate the remedial perspectives of the path metaphor. The path (way) as an orientation, under the perspective of property in John 14, 2 describes a guiding certainty which provides an existence under spatial perspective for life. This spatial perspective is to be identified by the spatial metaphor concept as orientation and access to salvation.

Summing up, the fact that the metaphorical spatiality in the Gospel of John forms a structure with an exit (egress), a direction, an intention, and a goal (purpose). The guiding principle of this work is that the salvation in John 14, 2.6, under this concept (concepts into spatial structures) brings the essential moment of spatiality into the language, and at the same time the prerequisite (condition) for the salvation, with the aim of the perception of space. In light of all this the spatiality of John shows a striking possibility for the orientation, security, and allows the condition for a knowledge, which allows life and a hold in this life. The assumption of this metaphorical conceptualization in John represents imagery, on the basis of elementary human experience, in order to make the theological statements promising and understandable.

This Ph.D. thesis is being written within the program Ancient Languages and Texts (ALT) of the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS).