Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Religion (MAR)

Committee Chair

Scott Shauf


Historically, there has been the attitude that the writer of the Fourth Gospel, due primarily to his emphasis on the high Christology of Jesus, is uninterested, or even unconcerned, with the issues of social justice. The contention of this study is to show that this is just the opposite. By placing the Temple cleansing episode at the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, instead of the end as the Synoptics do, the author of the Fourth Gospel uses Jesus' Temple episode as the vehicle for showing the importance of caring for those in society who have no voice and no future. By considering the social implications of Jesus' actions and the unlikeliness of Jesus surviving anything that looked like an insurrection against Roman rule, this work shows that the author must have had other reasons for leading off Jesus' ministry with an action that would have spelled certain disaster at worst, and severely limiting his ministry's effectiveness at best. After presenting the major obstacles that would have eliminated the possibility of future ministry, this work shows how contemporary believers can reinterpret the actions of Jesus, and the potential intentions of John, as direct evidence that care for the oppressed and marginalized were indeed issues close to the heart of the fourth Gospel's author.