This is a report on a paper presented by Prof Richard Bauckham, formerly of University St Andrews and fellow of the British Academy, at the New Testament Research Seminar, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, 13th of February 2012. The list of forthcoming papers in the NT Research Seminars at Durham University can be found here.
Prof Bauckham’s paper was written as a companion to his essay on ‘individualism’ in the Gospel of John, which he presented at the British New Testament Conference (Nottingham, 2011). In the present paper, Prof Bauckham offers a fresh interpretation of John’s usage of the ‘oneness’ language (focussing on the word ἕν), and assesses its relevance for understanding the divine and human community. He examines the Scriptural uses of the community language, with a special emphasis on Jesus’ prayer in John 17, and also the developments of this language in systematic theology.
The word ‘one’
According to Prof Bauckham, in 12 instances in 8 Johannine texts, the word ‘one’ becomes a very potent theological term. Although one might be compelled to regard this word as straight-forward, this initial impression is in fact wrong, as it is used by John at least in two different ways.