Original Research

The Jewish background of the oneness language in John’s Gospel

Brury E. Saputra
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7557 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7557 | © 2022 Brury E. Saputra | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 March 2022 | Published: 23 June 2022

About the author(s)

Brury E. Saputra, Faculty of Theology, Aletheia Theological Seminary, Lawang, Malang, Indonesia


Interest in the oneness language of John’s Gospel started in the 1970s. Many scholarly contributions have been offered ever since. Recent studies show that the oneness language in the Gospel closely related to how the Jews had utilised it. This study attempted to sketch the Jewish background of the oneness language useful to understand the similar language usage in John’s Gospel. It employs the narrative approach associated with N.T. Wright. The focus is on the common Judaism of the Second Temple Period, as presented by E.P. Sanders. The structure of the article follows the framework offered by N.T. Wright, namely monotheism (the oneness of God), covenant (the oneness of God’s people) and eschatology (the one future of God’s people). It also explores the impact of the destruction of the Temple on the oneness language of the time. The article concludes by confirming that the oneness language usages in common Judaism illuminate a reading of the similar language found in the John’s Gospel.

Contribution: This study further applies N.T. Wright’s narrative approach to reading the oneness language in John’s Gospel. It also provides readers with a framework to read the oneness language in the Gospel based on the Jewish monotheism as the language’s narrative substructure.


Common Judaism; the Shema; John’s oneness language; Jewish background of the oneness language; the destruction of the Temple; N. T. Wright’s narrative approach


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