Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Theology (ThD)

First Advisor

Rev. Francis Berna, IVD, PhD




Christian spirituality is rooted in the Gospels. In proclaiming the truth of Resurrection and the presence of the Risen Jesus, each Gospel stories Jesus into human imagining. The Gospel of John is experienced as radically different from the Synoptic texts. Something in it affects everything of it. It seemingly knows Jesus differently, engages a reader differently, Gospels differently, even and actually loves differently.

This study considers what the Gospel of John does to a reader. Though not an exegetical study in the strict sense, it depends on a most simple, most beautiful, and most intimate line in all of Scripture: that the Word became flesh and dwells among us. It names Incarnation as the unfinished and evolving mystery that creates, shapes, and energizes the difference of the Fourth Gospel, staking a definitive claim on the whole of the biblical text and intimating the presence of an irrevocable and pursuing passion in God for human being and becoming, for choosing to dwell particularly in and depend on the human person in the evolving and expanding fullness of creation. It considers how Incarnation gives itself as gift to the poiesic textuality of the Gospel so as to do God differently within the bodied experience of each reader. It argues that the raison d’ etre of the Fourth Gospel is experiential intimacy with God through-with-in the person and presence of Jesus.

Beginning with an overview of the biblical text as the dwelling place of revelatory presence and divine mystery, it situates intimacy with God as integral to biblical thinking and imagining. In considering the Christian experience, it names the Gospels as Spirit-boldened events of linguistic art that engage and transform a reader through intimacy with Jesus. Drawing from the hermeneutical insights of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, an understanding of textuality and the complexity of language is offered, serving as a bridge into the reality of the difference and the more of the Fourth Gospel. These biblical and linguistic foundations create space for exploring a Johannine dynamic of intimacy centered in the mystery of Incarnation and dependent upon the potent and poiesic fullness of the narrative as Word and word, an intimacy that fleshes living faithfulness through-with-in the real and bodied experiences of a reader encountering the real and bodied Resurrected presence of Jesus in the Gospel.