The Fourth Gospel has two travel scenarios, one mundane or earthly, the other heavenly or spiritual. On the earthly level Jesus travels from and to Jerusalem, on the spiritual level he travels from and to heaven. The first level is real, but the second level shows us what really is at stake. What is more, the mundane is there not for its own sake, but in order to direct us towards the heavenly spheres. The dialogue with Nicodemus (John 3) is crucial in this respect. Here it becomes clear that the way in which Jesus is depicted as a traveler from and to heaven, as the one who is sent by the Father and who will return to his Father, is closely intertwined with the question of epistemology. In other words, here we see what it means that “no one has ever seen God” and that “the only son has made him known” (John 1:18). We analyze the logic of the dialogue and its background in (mostly) Jewish apocalypticism. This results in a “thick” interpretation of the words “no one has ascended into heaven” (John 3:13) and what these imply for claims to spiritual knowledge. It is argued that the dialogue with Nicodemus centers around such claims. What is more, the theme runs through the gospel as a whole. The implications for Johannine sectarianism and the didactic outlook of the Fourth Gospel are discussed in the final section of the paper.
|Title of host publication||Jewish, Christian, and Muslim travel experiences|
|Subtitle of host publication||3rd century BCE – 8th century CE|
|Place of Publication||Berlin|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2023|
|Name||Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – Tension, Transmission, Transformation|