Original Research

The pragmatic nature of focalisation in John 4:1–42: Reading John as a performative text

Risimati S. Hobyane
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 45, No 1 | a3067 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v45i1.3067 | © 2024 Risimati S. Hobyane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2023 | Published: 24 April 2024

About the author(s)

Risimati S. Hobyane, Department of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This article suggests that the process of crafting a narrative reflects the author’s intentional introduction of bias to guide the reader towards taking specific actions based on their reading. The reader is intentionally steered towards a particular cognitive and pragmatic engagement with the text through the author’s selection, organisation and presentation of narrative materials. This claim forms the impetus for the current exploration. The article explores the pragmatic nature and/or power of the author’s selection of narrative material in John 4:1–42 on the reader. It seeks to demonstrate that the selection and presentation of narrative material are not neutral in their pragmatic intent. While acknowledging a few insightful contributions to this topic, this article contends that certain pragmatic dynamics related to narrative material selection have not been extensively explored by scholars, particularly in the context of utilising focalisation as an analytical tool.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary: The distinctive contribution of the article lies in its demonstration that focalisation, when employed as an analytical tool, particularly in the context of John 4:1–42, exerts pragmatic effects on the implied reader of the text.


Fourth Gospel; performative; narrative analysis; focalisation; literary artistry; John 4:1–42.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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