Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies

First Advisor

Gregory Robbins, Ph.D.


Christology, Descent ascent Leitmotif, Going, Coming, Being sent, origin, Identity, Authority, Structuralism, Thematics, Themes


The thesis of this dissertation is that the Descent/Ascent Leitmotif, which includes the language of not only descending and ascending, but also going, coming, and being sent, performs a significant literary and christological function in the Gospel of John. The Evangelist's Descent/Ascent Leitmotif becomes the Gospel's organizing principal, drawing together a constellation of verbs and a number of themes, including Jesus-Son's origin, identity, relationship to God, authority, signs and works, life, and glory.

In the introductory chapter, after providing a layout of the dissertation, the discussion turns to the spacial dimensions and christological importance of the vertical and horizontal depictions of the descending, ascending, coming, going, and being sent verbs. The focus of chapter two is to explain and illustrate, using a version of the Cinderella story, a method that serves to identify the Leitmotif and the verbs, motifs, and themes the Leitmotif draws within its constellation. This approach, titled a thematic structural method, integrates works from thematic scholars Horst Daemmrich and Eugene Falk with works from literary structural scholars A. J Greimas and Roland Barthes, and is a tool to analyze the influence of the Leitmotif as the Gospel's organizing principal on the relationships between the Leitmotif and numerous themes from which John's Christology emerges. The task of chapter three is to explain the rationale for the selection of the Leitmotif's verbs of descending, ascending, coming, going, and being sent.

Chapters four and five investigate how the Evangelist, with the repetition of the Leitmotif, constructs his narrative to tell the story of the historical Jesus and shape the Evangelist's Christology. Additionally, the focus is to analyze the transforming influences of the Descent/Ascent Leitmotif on the themes of Jesus-Son's origin, identity, relationship to the Father, and authority, through his signs and works, life, and glory.

The Descent/Ascent Leitmotif depicts a divine round trip, and the emphasis of chapter six is to examine the role of the Leitmotif in Jesus-Son's departure from the world and return to God. The Evangelist's use of the Leitmotif in Jesus' prayer to the Father (John 17) and the promise of the Paraclete are included in this chapter. Due to the Descent/Ascent Leitmotif's inherent spatial overtones, elements related to Jesus' return, including heaven, world, the hour, and his form after his resurrection, are explored from a cosmological and ontological perspective.

Publication Statement

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Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Susan Elizabeth Humble

File size

268 p.

File format





Biblical Studies