While the riddle is a widely recognized oral genre, conventional methods of form criticism do not include criteria for identifying traditional riddle units in the gospels. This book lays the groundwork for a new approach to the Johannine discourses on the basis of modern folkloristics and oral communications theory. Such an approach reveals thirty-eight riddles in the Fourth Gospel, most of which are clustered in larger narrative episodes which show Jesus engaged in "riddling sessions." Jesus' riddles mystify the other characters in the Fourth Gospel, but his answers are directed primarily to John's own audience. Knowledge of these answers distinguishes the audience from Jesus' confused opponents. This book explores the riddle as an oral genre; develops criteria for identifying riddles in written texts; and analyzes each of the passages in John which contain riddles, producing new insights for every passage discussed.
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