John’s Gospel, Trial, and Metaphor

The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel

Andrew T. Lincoln has written an excellent book on the Gospel of John.  In this book, Truth on Trial, he explores a major theme in John, lawsuit.  He also discusses many key discourses in John, as well as the OT/LXX background, namely Isaiah 40-55 and the cosmic trials that happen there. 

No doubt working off Ricoeur, he explains how this trial doesn’t leave us alone.  Here’s a quote in which Lincoln describes metaphor and trial: “It [lawsuit motif/metaphor] does not so much supply new information as a new way of seeing that is designed to evoke particular responses.  The narrative’s metaphorical discourse has the power to give its readers the experience of the cosmic trial and to affect how they perceive and live in the world.  It creates the possibility of participation in the metaphor’s referent because it draws readers into the trial and confronts them with the necessity of their verdict and of living with its consequences.  In generating and evoking an alternative perspective on reality, it becomes a metaphor to live by” (Andrew T. Lincoln, Truth on Trial[Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), 141-2).

Lincoln also discusses the Jewish parallels, the literary issues, the theology of John related to lawsuit, and he even explains some contemporary aspects of the trial metaphor.  You really can’t study John in depth without this book!


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