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Violence As Sign In The Fourth Gospel

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Chapter Summary

In early Christian memory Jesus and Jerusalem were twin sites of violence. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus' history of violence, a history that culminates in the violence of crucifixion, begins in Jerusalem when Jesus picks up a whip to clear the temple. The violence narrated in the Fourth Gospel is inaugurated in this chapter, with Jesus' act of aggression in the temple and his gnomic remark regarding the destruction and restoration of temple space. Jesus' appearance in the temple, whip in hand, functions as a self-revelatory sign. The Fourth Gospel represents Jesus' action at the temple as an instance of symbolic violence, a form of communication by which Jesus attempted to make his definition of reality the dominant one, indeed, to displace the space of the Jerusalem temple with and by the space of his own body.

Keywords: Fourth Gospel; Jerusalem; Jesus; symbolic violence



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