|dc.description.abstract||This thesis argues that Jesus’ death-and-resurrection is the supreme σημεῖον in the Fourth Gospel (FG). By focusing on the present text of the Gospel, without regard to questions of tradition and redaction, the above proposition is discussed and defended in three steps. Firstly, an analysis of the seventeen occurrences of σημεῖον in FG demonstrates that the word’s meaning and referent cannot be limited to the miraculous activity of Jesus. A Johannine σημεῖον pertains broadly to any deed of Jesus viewed from the perspective of its function of revealing Jesus as the divine Messiah and Son of God. In this context of broad meaning and reference, the crucifixion-and-resurrection – arguably the greatest complex deed of Jesus – is the supreme σημεῖον.
Secondly, an analysis of five important and significant Johannine themes –namely δόξα, ὕψωσις, ἔργον, ὥρα, and πίστις – lends strong support for the thesis. As regards δόξα, it is clear that the function of the σημεῖα is to reveal Jesus’ and the Father’s glory (2:11; 11:4, 40). This is precisely what the crucifixion-and-resurrection did supremely, so that the Fourth Evangelist (FE) can describe it as the glorification of the Son of Man (12:23). From this perspective, the cross-and-resurrection may be described as the supreme σημεῖον. As regards ὕψωσις, FE employs it to paradoxically describe the crucifixion as the exaltation of Jesus. Thus, it overlaps with δόξα. Part of the investigation of ὕψωσις is a brief consideration of σημαίνειν, which FE consistently and exclusively uses to refer to the manner of Jesus’ death (12:33; 18:32; cf. 21:19). In connection with the typological use of Num 21:8–9 in John 3:14, FE’s use of σημαίνειν appears to be a subtle indication of the view that the crucifixion is the supreme σημεῖον. As regards ἔργον, it is clear that the cross-and-resurrection is the consummation of Jesus’ ἔργον. On the basis of the overlap and near-equivalence of ἔργον and σημεῖον, it may be concluded that the cross-and-resurrection is also the culminating σημεῖον. As regards Jesus’ ὥρα, it describes the cross-and-resurrection as the “hour” of Jesus’ glorification and exaltation. The earlier σημεῖα announce (2:4) and precipitate (11:47–53) the emergence of Jesus’ ὥρα. Put differently, the earlier σημεῖα precipitate the arrival of the supreme σημεῖον of the cross-and-resurrection. Finally, as regards πίστις, the σημεῖα play a positive role for the faith of those who witness them and of the readers (2:11; 20:30–31). This is also a role of the cross-and-resurrection, as 19:35 and the post-resurrection narrative in John 20–21 attest. Overall, these five themes focus on the cross-and-resurrection, and in many important ways they project it as the supreme σημεῖον of Jesus in FG.
Thirdly, an analysis of five carefully chosen passages from the Gospel bolsters the thesis that Jesus’ death-and-resurrection is the supreme Johannine σημεῖον. The first passage, the temple incident pericope (2:13–22), is significant not only because it is the Johannine Jesus’ first appearance in Jerusalem during his public ministry, but also because it recounts the first demand for a σημεῖον in FG. Jesus’ deeply revelatory deed in the temple should have sufficed to indicate to the Ἰουδαῖοι that he is the true Messiah and Son of God. But in unbelief they not only fail to heed Jesus’ all-important message but also confront him with a demand for an authenticating σημεῖον. Jesus’ response consists in an allusion to his death-and-resurrrection as the true σημεῖον that will justify his attempt at regulating the temple worship.
The second passage, the feeding miracle and the Bread of Life discourse in John 6, is significant because it recounts the second demand for a σημεῖον in FG. The feeding miracle, with the dominant symbolic element of bread, should have sufficiently communicated to the Galileans that Jesus, who gives physical food, is ultimately the giver of eternal life. However, not only do the Galilean multitude fail to discern the message of the σημεῖον; they also (like their Jerusalem counterparts), in unbelief, demand Jesus to produce an authenticating σημεῖον. Jesus’ response, which is explicated in the ensuing discourse, is substantially the same as before: the true σημεῖον of his identity as the giver of life for the world is his death-and-resurrection. His sacrificial and salvific death is graphically described in verses 51c–58: Jesus’ flesh is true food and his blood true drink. Those who eat and drink of this food shall have eternal life now and shall be assured of full salvation on the last day. The resurrection of Jesus is included in the “ascent” of the Son of Man back to the Father in 6:62.
The third passage, the account of the raising of Lazarus in John 11, is significant in its pivotal role as the catalyst for the Sanhedrin’s official decision to put Jesus to death (vv. 47–53). In itself the raising of Lazarus is a σημεῖον pointing to the identity and role of Jesus as “the resurrection and the life” (vv. 25–26). In other words, it is a σημεῖον that signifies the greatest σημεῖον of the cross-and-resurrection. John 11 shows that Jesus’ task of giving life for Lazarus can be accomplished only at the cost of his own life. Jesus’ death is necessary if believers in him are to receive eternal life. But death itself is not a problem for Jesus, for just as he is able to raise Lazarus from the dead, he is also able to raise himself up from the dead (10:18). Thus, the raising of Lazarus points to the far greater reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
The fourth passage is 19:16–37, which recounts Jesus’ crucifixion and death. There are at least six aspects in this account that, individually and collectively, support the status of Jesus’ death as a σημεῖον. First, the crucifixion took place in explicit fulfillment of the scriptures, signifying that it was divinely ordained. Second, the crucifixion was the exaltation and enthronement of Jesus as the true King not just of the Ἰουδαῖοι but also of the world. Third, the crucifixion was the saving sacrifice of the true Lamb of God. Fourth, the crucifixion was the ground for the formation of a new community of those who believe. Fifth, the cross was the consummation of Jesus’ work as the divine Messiah and Son of God. Lastly, as the most important deed of Jesus and as the greatest of all the σημεῖα, the reality and significance of the cross is vouchsafed by the eyewitness testimony of the beloved disciple. All of these factors, of course, have meanings and significance other than in relation to the σημεῖα. But individually and collectively they establish the fact that the cross is not a disqualification of Jesus’ messianic claims. On the contrary, from FE’s post-resurrection perspective, the cross is the supreme σημεῖον of Jesus’ identity and role as the true Messiah, Son of God, and Saviour of the world.
The last passage is John 20, which recounts a catena of appearances of the risen Lord. These appearances, individually and collectively, establish for the witnesses and the readers the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. The fundamental point is that the one who was crucified is now alive again. Thus, the supreme σημεῖον is not the cross alone, viewed in isolation. Apart from the resurrection, the crucifixion cannot be a positive σημεῖον for Jesus. By the same token, the resurrection presupposes the death of Jesus. Together, they constitute the supreme Christological σημεῖον in FG.||