Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

Bruce G. Schuchard

Scripture References in this Resource

1 John 1:1, 3; 1 John 1:1–4; John 1:1–5; John 1:6–13; John 1:14–18; 1 John 5:13–21; 1 John 1:5-2:28; 1 John 2:29-4:6; 1 John 4:7-5:21; 1 John 4:7–5:13


Brickle, Jeffrey E., “Aural Design and Coherence in the Prologue of First John.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2010. 236 pp.

The dissertation focuses on the aural features of the Prologue of 1 John. These features reflect an underlying design which facilitated the communication of its rhetorically powerful message within the dynamic oral culture of the late first century. The complexity of the passage’s grammar and syntax has long puzzled modern biblical scholars—who typically read in silence and evaluate ancient documents from a print-based viewpoint—and hampered attempts to discern a coherent structure. The dissertation surveys these scholarly attempts to resolve the Prologue’s complexity. Drawing on findings made by the study of orality and contemporary approaches to aural analysis, we propose that attention to the Prologue’s aural characteristics offers an important key to understanding its form and function.

The dissertation first explores the Prologue’s visually-evident aural profile. This is carried out by attending to the role of the passage’s grand organizing scheme before undertaking a more detailed, linear analysis. Here we explore, for example, the central function of its two featured digressions, the highlighting of three central themes, and the placement of three recurring sound patterns which instill stability and movement into the overarching structure. As a means to uncover aural features of the Prologue not readily apparent through a visual investigation of the text, we next introduce and apply the approaches to Greek pronunciation and aural analysis advocated by Chrys Caragounis in his book, The Development of Greek and the New Testament. The dissertation employs Caragounis’ “Historical Greek Pronunciation” (HGP) as a test case to determine the impact on the Prologue’s aural landscape. This is followed by an analysis bringing to bear on the Prologue the principles for beautiful and effective composition elucidated by the ancient teacher of rhetoric, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in his treatise, On Literary Composition. A final chapter draws together the results and implications of the study. Here we note (1) the key role played by sound patterns in the passage’s development and foregrounding, (2) the effects of the HGP on its soundscape as well as the results of “hearing” the Prologue through Dionysius’ keen ears, (3) the connotations our study has on our assessment of the author’s literary skills, and (4) the theological outcomes supported by the passage’s aural contours. In addition, the final chapter offers suggestions for further ways to apply research in ancient media culture to the Prologue through the aspects of aurality, performance, and memory.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.