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The Farewell of the Word: The Johannine Call to Abide.

The Farewell of the Word: The Johannine Call to Abide. By Fernando F. Segovia. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991. Pp. XVI + 341.

This is the first volume of a projected trilogy on the Johannine corpus. Segovia deals here with the opening of the Farewell Address in John; the later Volumes will deal with John 17 and with the Letters. The monograph is clearly a product of S.'s mature scholarships, and evidences a transition in his methods from earlier purely redactional (and "excavative") study of layers to an "integrative perspective." The book dialogues continuously with previous scholarship, building on at least a decade of S.'s research and publications. The result is a thorough and reasonable literary, structural, sociological-rhetorical treatment of John 13- 16 that future scholarship will have to consult.

The Introduction summarizes and categories scholarship on the "type scene" of Farewell Address (treating Stauffer, Munck, Michel, Cortes, and Kurz), recaps the compositional difficulties scholarship has found in the address and their traditional and most recent resolutions, and sets forth S.'s own aims and methodology, which he characterizes as an "integrative approach." He then devotes four chapters to analyzing the major units in the farewell speech in John 13- 16. Each of these chapters shares the same structure, touching on the outline and delineation of the unit, its literary structure and development, its literary-rhetorical analysis, and its strategic concerns and aims. Although this makes for a thorough analysis, the fourfold treatment of the same unit of text unavoidably becomes very repetitious.

S. goes on to explore the interrelationships of these units to one another and to the farewell speech as a unified whole and in the context of the genre of farewells. This involves two steps: a synchronic treatment of the farewell address within the comparative perspective of farewell-type scenes in antiquity; and a diachronic answer to the compositional difficulties of the speech in terms of additions which meet changing community needs. Thus S. combines elements of a literary-rhetorical treatment of the text in its final form with redactional and source analysis of stages in its compensation.

In his synchronic analysis, S. concludes that the Johannine farewell amply uses the motifs of farewell speeches in antiquity and is a complete example of the genre. It includes references to approaching death; moral exhortations and calls to obedience, with extensive words of encouragement and advice; prophecies of failure or dangers; retrospective accounts of Jesus; promises of a successor; and final instruction. It brings these motifs together in a unique way, using most of them in all four units of the speech.

From a diachronic point of view, S. sees the farewell speech "as a repository for ongoing and developing messages to the community" (327). "[A]s the perceived situation of the community changes, so do the messages" (328). But these additions are carefully integrated throughout. From both synchronic and diachronic points of view, the discourse calls "an embattled Christian community to abide and endure in an oppressive world" (328).

S. frequently begins by stating one or more majority positions about a structure or topic, then several minority positions, then states his preference among them and the critical reasons and evidence for his choice. In many sections of the speech he finds inclusions encompassing a chiastic three- or four-part structure. These seem generally convincing: he avoids excessively complicated chiasms, and those he finds seem to correspond to what is known about oral influence on structuring speeches through inclusions.

This reviewer found little to disagree with, and would quibble only with an occasional judgmental tone (as when S. attributes to Stauffer, Munck, and perhaps Michel a theological concern to stress the Jewish background of NT farewells so as to avoid "any sullying contact with pagan tradition" [8, 10; cf. 14]). Also a bit confusing was the contrast between the almost labored scholarly style of the book as a whole, and the brief allusions to reader response, intercultural dialogue, and liberation from oppression in the Preface (viii-ix) and "Final Word" (328-29).

This is careful, scholarly, and exhaustive analysis of John 13:31-16:33 as a farewell address. It summarizes scholarship to date and moves it foreword with a persuasive synthesis of reasonable positions.

Marquette University, Milwaukee William S. Kurz, S.J.
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Author:Kurz, William S.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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