More Information
ISBN: 9781907713231
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 15
Publication Date: 14/06/2012
Pages: 246
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

Communal Holiness in the Gospel of John

The Vine Metaphor as a Test Case with Lessons from African Hospitality and Trinitarian Theology


In this book the author contends that communal holiness is the central theme of the vine metaphor in John 15:1-17. Illumination of the Johannine vine metaphor is illustrated by drawing on background information on the vine and its metaphorical usage in the Ancient Near East, Old Testament, and Second Temple Period and to suggest understanding in light of the communal holiness of the covenant people of God. Comparing the themes of holiness and corporateness pertinent to the covenant the book also reflects the covenant with Israel in relation to John’s understanding of the people of God. The notion of covenant, which embraces reference to the people of God as vine/vineyard in the Old Testament and Second Temple Period, underlies John’s vine metaphor.

The book focuses research on ANE viticulture to determine the context(s) of when the vine was used to refer to Israel in a covenant relationship with God. In this historical context the Johannine vine metaphor receives fresh meaning and relevance for the people of God.

Author Bios

Musa Victor Mdabuleni Kunene

MUSA KUNENE is from Swaziland and is currently a pastor at St Helens Church of the Nazarene in Merseyside, UK. He received his PhD in 2010 from the University of Manchester and has a MA in Theology from Nazarene Theological College, Manchester and an MA in Religion from Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma, USA.


This work is a readable and balanced study of the vine imagery in John 15.1-17, arguing that its central theme is that of communal holiness. Kunene believes that the notion of covenant, with its associated ideas of holiness and corporateness, underlies John's metaphor; while the Johannine understanding of the people of God, in his view, stems from the biblical motif of the covenant with Israel. This intriguing presentation will provide a fresh and helpful contribution to the field of Johannine studies, and I commend it to you warmly.

Stephen S Smalley
Dean Emeritus of Chester

This book is a valuable reminder of the New Testament’s focus on the community of faith as the locus for holy living, an important corrective to Western individualist readings of Scripture. By bringing together a focus on the covenant motif, via the vine metaphor, with insights into ancient communal concerns by reference to his own Bantu tradition, Kunene presents a compelling reading of John that opens a fresh window for contemporary Christian interpretation and church practice.

Dwight D Swanson
Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow in Biblical Studies,
Nazarene Theological College

Dr. Kunene’s work fills a gaping hole in the interpretation of the vine metaphor in John 15 by ably demonstrating its implications for the understanding of communal holiness, situated in the context of Trinitarian theology. His work also shows that the teaching on holiness or sanctification is not to be confined to John 17 as is often done by those within the holiness movement. This book is important not only for its academic grounding of its thesis but also for its relevance to the life of Christian congregations as they continue the pursuit of holiness that is demanded by their covenant relationship with God.

Prof. J. Ayodeji Adewuya
Professor of New Testament,
Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Tennessee

Table of Contents

  1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Abstract
  4. List of Abbreviations
  5. Foreword
  6. Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
      1. 1.1 The Project
      2. 1.2 Problems and Necessity of Research
      3. 1.3 Methodology
      4. 1.4 Scope and Limitation of Research
      5. 1.5 Definition of Terms
      6. 1.6 Working Assumptions
      7. 1.7. Outline
      8. 1.8 Preliminary Conclusion
  7. Chapter 2
    1. The Vine Metaphor in Recent Scholarship
      1. 2.1 Introduction
      2. 2.2 The Vine Metaphor in the Old Testament
      3. 2.3 The Vine Metaphor in John 15:1-17
      4. 2.4 Conclusion
  8. Chapter 3
    1. Viticulture and the Vine Metaphor in the ANE and the OT
      1. 3.1 Introduction
      2. 3.2 The Vine in Jewish Metaphorical Usage
      3. 3.3 The Vine as a Metaphor for Israel in the OT
      4. 3.4 Conclusion
  9. Chapter 4
    1. The Vine Metaphor in the 2nd Temple Jewish Literature
      1. 4.1 Introduction
      2. 4.2 The Pleasant Planting
      3. 4.3 The Vine Metaphor as a Negative Portrait of God’s Covenant People
      4. 4.4 The Vine as a Metaphor for Social Justice
      5. 4.5 The Vine Metaphor as an Appeal for True Worship
      6. 4.6 The Vine as a Metaphor for Blessing and Prosperity
      7. 4.7 Conclusion
  10. Chapter 5
    1. The Vine Metaphor in the Gospel of John
      1. 5.1 Introduction
      2. 5.2 A Reading of the Metaphor (15:1-8)
      3. 5.3 Conclusion
  11. Chapter 6
    1. Mutual Abiding and Shared Life in John 15:1-17
      1. 6.1 Introduction
      2. 6.2 The GOJ and the Mutual Abiding Motif
      3. 6.3 Kanagaraj and the Mutual Abiding Idea
      4. 6.4 Beyond Kanagaraj
      5. 6.5 Aspects of Mutual Abiding in John
      6. 6.6 Aspects of Mutual Abiding in 1 John
      7. 6.7 The Means of Abiding
      8. 6.8 Conclusion
  12. Chapter 7
    1. Mutual Abiding as Johannine Hospitality Language
      1. 7.1 Introduction
      2. 7.2 The Case for Hospitality in the GOJ
      3. 7.3 Hospitality Among the Swazi: Community, Kinship, and Buntfu
      4. 7.4 The Case for the Trinity in John: The Nature of Implicit Trinitarian Allusions
      5. 7.5 Intra-Trinitarian Hospitality: The Model of Hospitality in John
      6. 7.6 Trinitarian Hospitality to Humankind
      7. 7.7 The Children of God as a Reflection of Trinitarian Hospitality
      8. 7.8 Conclusion
  13. Chapter 8
    1. Towards a Johannine Theology of Corporate Holiness
      1. 8.1 Introduction
      2. 8.2 Individualism and Corporateness in Recent Studies
      3. 8.3 John’s Corporate Metaphors for the People of God
      4. 8.4 The Case for Holiness in John’s Corporate Thought
      5. 8.5 Aspects of Holiness in John
      6. 8.6 Conclusion
  14. Chapter 9
    1. Conclusion
      1. 9.1 Summary
      2. 9.2 Contribution to Scholarship
      3. 9.3 Implications for Further Research
  15. Bibliography