The Proclamation of Truth: A Critical Analysis of the Use of John 14:6 in Nostra Aetate 2 and Ad Gentes 8 and 13 in Light of Exclusivity and Inclusivity
Gospel of John
I am the way, the truth, and the life
proclamation of truth
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AbstractOne of the prevailing contexts leading to Vatican II was the increasing impact of historical-critical exegesis on the way of theologizing in the Catholic church. This paper concentrates on the theme of the proclamation of the truth and the use of biblical warrants in Nostra Aetate and Ad Gentes specifically the citations of John 14:6 in NA 2 and AG 8 and 13. I focus on these documents since John 14:6 is not employed in other Vatican II documents and because interreligious dialogue and mission are significant contexts in which to analyze the theme of proclamation of truth. This paper asks if the use of the phrase “via et veritas et vita” in these documents is justified in view of the Johannine literary and historical contexts. It also explores the implications of citing John 14:6 in NA and AG in the context of interreligious dialogue and mission. I suggest that in the light of the communal and farewell meal context, Jesus’ claim, “I am the way and the truth and the life”, underscores his exclusive role in the Johannine community and affirms group identity while it also potentially provides an opening for inclusivity by means of the recognition of otherness. The first part of the paper analyzes the use of “truth” in NA and AG particularly the places where John 14:6 appears. Considering the question whether the conciliar use is justified, the second part examines John 14:6 in its literary context and in light of Greco-Roman segregative commensality. Lastly, I gather the insights from the first two parts regarding the usage of John 14:6 in NA 2 as well as AG 8 and 13 and assess critically its implications regarding inclusivity and exclusivity in the context of interreligious dialogue and mission according to Vatican II.
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