van der Watt, J. "Johannine Style: Some Initial Remarks on the Functional Use of Repetition in the Gospel according to John." In Die Skriflig 42(1) 2008:75-99.
van der Watt observes that the patterns of repetition in John's Gospel have not been widely studied in terms of their actual function. He will analyze the repetition of three different elements to see how the patterns may have been used to increase effectiveness of communication (van der Watt 2008, 76). While the text describes an author who already knows what will happen it also describes or implies a reader who increases in understanding as time progresses (van der Watt 2008, 77).
The first term analyzed is ζωή and other words in the same word group. The words are used 63 times in the Gospel, which accounts for about a quarter of the New Testament uses (van der Watt 2008, 77). A chart on p. 78 locates all the uses by chapter and verse. van der Watt continues with a verbal analysis of the uses. The larges cluster, around chapters 3-6, establishes the concept, allowing it to be used later with little illustration (van der Watt 2008, 79).
When ζωή is paired with αἰώνιος van der Watt finds a further pattern. After a chart of the instances (van der Watt 2008, 81-82), he observes "eternal" is omitted with reference to God and when "life" is in close combination with different nouns (van der Watt 2008, 81). There is thus a pattern of usage. The terms ζωή and ζωὴ αἰώνιος are used interchangeably in John, suggesting the "eternal life" is the pattern to be understood throughout (van der Watt 2008, 83).
The concept of "love" as expressed in the ἀγαπόω and φιλέω word groups is a second one surveyed by van der Watt (van der Watt 2008, 84). After a chart of the instances (van der Watt 2008, 84-85), we see that in John 1-12 God is the one who loves his people. Human love is mentioned only in terms of human self-interest (van der Watt 2008, 84). From the outset, "love of God" is a repeated concept, pointed primarily at the Son, but also at the world. The context additionally shows Jesus exhibiting love to his disciples (van der Watt 2008, 86). In contrast, when people love something there is a consistent negative connotation. This sets God's love apart from that of humans (van der Watt 2008, 87).
van der Watt goes on to describe repetition in John's Gospel as a mechanism to create cohesion. For this concept he examines both the "amen amen" sayings of Jesus and the repetitive use of the term ἀκολουθέω "to follow" (van der Watt 2008, 89). The verb for following is used almost exclusively for people following Jesus. There is a significant extrapolation that to follow Jesus involves laying one's life down and changing previous patterns (van der Watt 2008, 90-91). The thematic and syntactic similarities indicate the author wishes the ideas toremain the same throughout. The result is a life change in those who follow Jesus (van der Watt 2008, 93).
In sum, John uses the repetition of words and themes to draw the reader into appropriating certain purposes for himself, such as realizing God's love and following Jesus (van der Watt 2008, 95).
van der Watt concludes his article by reviewing several of the ways John builds arguments, such as in a linear or relational pattern (van der Watt 2008, 95ff).