Original Research - Special Collection: Context Group

Fictive-friendship and the Fourth Gospel

Zeba A. Crook
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 3 | a997 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i3.997 | © 2011 Zeba A. Crook | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 November 2010 | Published: 03 October 2011

About the author(s)

Zeba A. Crook, Department of Religion and Classics, Carleton University, Canada Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Canada


The phenomena of friendship and giftship in antiquity have been the focus of much anthropological interest, yet those terms are still used much too broadly, wherein any one can be friends and anything exchanged is a gift. This article argued that proper friendship requires equality of exchange and status. When inequality of exchange is present, we will almost always also have inequality of status. These two things together naturally and necessarily result in the absence of frank speech. At this point, proper friendship (defined by frank speech) and the exchange of gifts (defined by equality of value) are impossible, and we have fictivefriendship, a term I have introduced in this article. Fictive-friendship refers to the practice, often but not exclusively amongst elites, of using friendship language to mask relationships of dependence (patronage and clientage). I closed my argument by looking at two examples of fictive-friendship in the Gospel of John.


anthropological exegesis; equality of exchange and status; friendship and giftship in antiquity; Gospel of John; patronage and clientage


Total abstract views: 4452
Total article views: 7208


Crossref Citations

1. Jesus’ Friends in John 15 and the Hellenistic Royal Court
Jacek Rzepka
The Biblical Annals  vol: 12  issue: 4  first page: 503  year: 2022  
doi: 10.31743/biban.12393