Original Research

The Johannine prologue: A hermeneutical key to the community theme

Godibert K. Gharbin, Ernest van Eck
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2621 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2621 | © 2022 Godibert K. Gharbin, Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 June 2022 | Published: 13 October 2022

About the author(s)

Godibert K. Gharbin, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Ernest van Eck, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


As John wrote to a community grappling with incarnating its communalistic values, he furnishes readers with remedies for addressing such sociocultural maladies. However, to appreciate the Johannine response to colossal cultural failure, we must begin from the Johannine prologue because the narrative develops the enigmatic constructs it postulates. Although the community theme is one of such, it has not received attention despite the gamut of academic interests in the prologue and the ubiquitous acknowledgement that it is a compendium of the major themes in Johannine prologue. Therefore, this article aimed to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the major themes in the Johannine prologue and the divine remedy to these challenges – how the believing community can epitomise the eternal community. The study employed a narratological analysis because it analyses and guides the reader to recreate the Johannine theological concept of community, studying the poetics and meaning of what the prologue promulgates. The findings indicated that the Johannine prologue is the hermeneutical key to understand the community theme: it establishes its legitimacy, explicates what it entails and lays the foundation for its narratological development. Thus, no academic autopsy on the community theme should ignore it.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The Johannine characterisation of a community challenges the relational dimension of a community – the anthropological view that defines community by the ‘quality relationships’ between group members – by redefining a community as a group of people participating in the divine community. This research thus intersects with the disciplines of anthropology and sociology.


John; community; social-scientific; Logos; prologue


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Crossref Citations

1. Building a united community: Reading the Johannine concept of unity through the eyes of an Akan
Godibert K. Gharbin, Ernest Van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 79  issue: 4  year: 2023  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v79i4.8419