n HTS : Theological Studies - Fictive-friendship and the Fourth Gospel : original research




The phenomena of friendship and giftship in antiquity have been the focus of much anthropological interest, yet those terms are still used much too broadly, wherein any one can be friends and anything exchanged is a gift. This article argued that proper friendship requires equality of exchange and status. When inequality of exchange is present, we will almost always also have inequality of status. These two things together naturally and necessarily result in the absence of frank speech. At this point, proper friendship (defined by frank speech) and the exchange of gifts (defined by equality of value) are impossible, and we have fictive-friendship, a term I have introduced in this article. Fictive-friendship refers to the practice, often but not exclusively amongst elites, of using friendship language to mask relationships of dependence (patronage and clientage). I closed my argument by looking at two examples of fictive-friendship in the Gospel of John.


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