Revelatory acts of God in the Gospels : how divine visions and voices promote reverence for Jesus within the canonical narratives
Batluck, Mark Daniel
The following thesis examines the way “revelatory acts of God” in each of the canonical Gospels engender reverence for Jesus. “Revelatory acts of God” are disclosures of God by vision or audition (also called, “revelatory experiences”). Thus, any event in which characters hear a voice from heaven or see a vision from heaven is a “revelatory experience.” But what role do these accounts have in the four Gospel for engendering reverence for Jesus? That is, how do God’s direct interventions within these narratives inspire characters to respond to Jesus? The answer to this question is the focus of this thesis. Scholars have noted the power of revelatory experience to “drive and shape” the veneration of Jesus in early Christian devotional practices. Hurtado notes the “demonstrable efficacy of such experiences in generating significant innovations in various religious traditions” (Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 65). However, one wonders what “faith-producing” role revelatory experiences actually have in the Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels include revelatory experiences as a distinguishing feature of their accounts, with the baptism and transfiguration being two of the most commented-on passages of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, such revelatory acts of God are curiously rare in John prior to Jesus’ resurrection. This thesis will analyze the role of revelatory experiences for producing reverence for Jesus in each Gospel and explore the differences between the Gospels in how these accounts are employed. This research focuses primarily on the responses of characters to the revelatory in the Gospel narratives. The purpose of this thesis is to highlight the way audiences in the four Gospels are or are not “shaped” by such revelatory experiences and what implications these findings may have for the interpretation of each Gospel.