Seminary/School of Divinity


Fall 12-2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work



John Martens

Second Advisor

Scott Carl

Third Advisor

Paul Niskanen


This work systematically examines the usage of ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω in Gospel of John in order to unveil the nuanced distinction between the words. Particular focus is placed on the Greek text of John 16:23, in which both ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω are used in distinct ways. The history of interpretation of ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω is presented from the patristic to modern biblical exegesis in order to give the work an historical framework. Then the various theological and literary concerns of the Fourth Gospel are related to John’s usage of the word. Topics such as the divinity of Christ, irony, eschatology, praying in Jesus’s name, and John’s Passion Narrative are enriched by John’s distinction between the two words. The discussion draws from the work of Richard Bauckham, Richard Trench, and R. Alan Culpepper. After the distinction is shown in John’s Gospel, this work examines the Shepherd of Hermas in order to give an historical context for the distinction between ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω. By examining every instance within the Shepherd of Hermas, the distinction between ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω is not only maintained but it provides extra-biblical insight. For John, the distinction between ἐρωτάω and αἰτέω is closely tied to the Christology in the Fourth Gospel. His usage of ἐρωτάω implies a practical request or question to a peer; whereas αἰτέω provides a soteriological tone to the question or the request being made that is best understood in the creature-Creator or redeemed-Redeemer relationship.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.