An analysis of the contribution of Professor C.H. Dodd to Johannine scholarship in the English-speaking world

King, Joseph Stephen (1983). An analysis of the contribution of Professor C.H. Dodd to Johannine scholarship in the English-speaking world. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f93e

Abstract

This dissertation is an analysis of the contribution of C.H. Dodd to Johannine scholarship in the English-speaking world from 1900-1975. It also places Dodd's Johannine studies in the context of his New Testament work, without which they are liable to be misunderstood.

The analysis reveals that, despite his meticulous scholarship, Dodd was not an innovator in Johannine studies. The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel was the classical expression of an approach that had long been standard in English-speaking scholarship but it quickly became almost a 'child out of its time'. Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel gave definitive expression to a movement long-burgeoning in English-speaking scholarship yet Dodd did not 'weigh' the tradition that he recovered nor adapt his understanding of the Fourth Evangelist to the implications of his discoveries. Few scholars have realised that Dodd's two major Johannine studies are in tension with each other. Dodd apparently did not understand that the implications of Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel went against his long-held definitive understanding of the Fourth Evangelist as the ‘Master Propagator' of Christianity to the Hellenistic world.

Dodd was the most significant English-speaking New Testament scholar within this period yet his contribution to Johannine studies has been overestimated. He enjoys a reputation for changing his mind, but he never moved to essentially new positions. Any changes of position are minor compared to a central isolated and insulated consistency. He was not significantly influenced by his colleagues. Much modern Johannine scholarship is now discontinuous with that of Dodd. It has fastened onto insights that Dodd considered insignificant. Dodd's dilemma was that he was by nature inclined to pursue the quest for the historical Jesus for which the evidence of the Fourth Gospel is problematical whereas modern Johannine scholarship is rightly concerned with the quest for the Johannine community.

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