Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Daniel A. Smith, Ph.D.


Definitions of χρῖσμα in 1 John 2:20 and 27 have inadequately explained the term as physical ointment, rhetorical symbol, or simple alias for the Holy Spirit or Paraclete figure from the Fourth Gospel. This thesis employs a variety of exegetical methods, including rhetorical-critical, socio-historical and grammatical analysis in order to respond to the need for a historically contextualized definition. Specifically, the models of limited good, patronage and brokerage are applied to the text, along with insights from group formation theory and memory studies. Comparisons with Philo, Xenophon, and other ancient authors lead to a rhetorically and culturally informed interpretation of chrisma, significant for understanding the community addressed in the text historically and theologically. The thesis contends that χρῖσμα is 1 John’s culturally symbolized term for a communally experienced instructive reality that establishes group ethos and enables a communal lifestyle in conformity to correct christology.