Jesus’s Puzzling Retort to the Royal Official (John 4:48) in Isodiegetic Perspective

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When a “royal official” (βασιλικός) urges Jesus to help his dying son, Jesus surprisingly retorts (John 4:48): “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe!” Researchers find this outburst out of place in response to this desperate father, but this paper argues that it can be explained by use of an isodiegetic perspective, where the Johannine storyworld is informed by a larger narrative tradition in which the tetrarch Herod Antipas (ca. 4 BCE–39 CE) is a known adversary of Jesus, whose adherents strive to entrap him and get him killed. In view of the official’s expected patronal loyalty to “king” (βασιλεύς) Herod, his healing request can reasonably be presumed to be a trap until his appeal “Lord, come before my child dies!” (John 4:49) clarifies that the man is not acting as a client, but as a father.
Translated title of the contributionJesus märkliga genmäle till mannen i kunglig tjänst (Joh 4:48) i ett isodiegetiskt perspektiv
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193–209
JournalNovum Testamentum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • βασιλικός
  • Herod Antipas
  • Herodians
  • loyalty
  • shared storyworld
  • Gospel of John


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