The Consciousness of John's Gospel: A Prolegomenon to a Jaynesian-Jamesonian Approach

Jonathan Bernier


This article is concerned with what I call the consciousness of John's Gospel. This term needs to be clarified: I am concerned not with the psychological biography of the evangelist, nor am I interested in performing psychoanalysis upon this saint, now long dead. The possibilities of and for such historical psycho-biography and/or psychoanalysis remain open but, thankfully, need not be addressed herein. This article is concerned rather with what I call the ‘cognitive form(s)’ immanent within John’s gospel, including consciousness, construed primarily through exegetical engagement with the prologue (1:1-18) and the Johannine Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan woman (ch. 4). The theories advanced by the late psychologist Julian Jaynes will largely inform the understandings of cognition and consciousness presupposed in this article, with Jaynes’ theories brought into dialogue with Fredric Jameson's historical materialist hermeneutics. Hence, this is something of an experiment (what genuine exegesis is not?), an exploration of certain homologies between Jaynes’ thought and Jameson’s, wherein Jaynes provides a grammar for commentary upon Jameson and Jameson a grammar for commentary upon Jaynes. This commentarial dialectic in turn constitutes a grammar for commentary upon John’s Gospel in a (hopefully) innovative and enlightening fashion. It is thus a prolegomenon (and claims to be no more than that) to possible future directions in the study not only of John’s Gospel but also early Christianity and the history-of-religions more generally.


Fredric Jameson; John

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391