The Catholic University of America

Marianus Pale Hera, S.V.D. Defense

Final Examination of Marianus Pale Hera, S.V.D.

For the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology

Friday, May 11, 2012 11:10 a.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. Frank J. Matera, Ph.D.


Christology and Discipleship in John 17

Jesus’ prayer in John 17, known as “Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer,” is significant for its literary context, and it is rich in theological content.  It brings Jesus’ farewell speech to its climax and anticipates his glorification in his death on the cross.  Although historical approaches often consider this passage to be a later addition, its content is truly Johannine.  It presents Jesus as the Son who is sent into the world to reveal the Father to the world.  It also illumines John’s understanding of authentic discipleship.  Consequently, John 17 is rich in its teaching on discipleship as well as in its teaching on Christology. 

The theme of discipleship in John has received significant attention in the last four decades.  However, as the first chapter of this dissertation shows, the relationship between Christology and discipleship in the Johannine narrative in general, and in John 17 in particular, has not been sufficiently investigated.  This dissertation explores the relationship between discipleship and Christology in John 17, i.e., how discipleship has its basis in the Gospel’s Christology, and how the Christological teaching of the Gospel leads to authentic discipleship. 

In the second chapter, a narrative reading of selected passages from chapters 1–12 shows John’s tendency to present Christological teaching that leads to teaching on discipleship.  The reading of these passages also identifies the elements that indicate the Christological character of Johannine discipleship.

The third chapter of this dissertation deals with the literary context, the text, and the structure of John 17.  This chapter shows that throughout the Farewell Discourse John presents his Christological understanding of Jesus as a basis for his message about discipleship. 

The exegesis of John 17 in the fourth chapter confirms that John’s teaching on Christology and discipleship are intimately interrelated to each other.  All the elements that indicate the Christological character of discipleship are on display in John 17.  The dissertation concludes that Christology, which is the center and heartbeat of John’s thought, is not an end in itself but leads to discipleship.  The twofold message of Christology and discipleship is a distinctive Johannine trait.