Language and Social Identity in John 6:25-71: A Hallidayan Discourse Analysis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Michael Halliday has written extensively on the nature and functionality of language, and one of his favoured approaches to language is that it is social. He describes language as “the creature and creator of human society”. One of the functions of language is to express and form social identity.

This paper seeks to adopt Halliday’s systemic functional linguistic theory on the bread-of-life discourse and the dialogue that follows directly upon it in John’s gospel. Halliday’s approach is applied to the Greek text of John 6:25-71 to explore how the language is used to provoke a reaction on those listening to the words of Jesus and being faced with his claims. In the linguistic interaction that takes place between Jesus and the people he forces them to search their motives and to make a choice with regard to how to relate to him — whether to be with him or to leave him.
It is the thesis of this paper that a close study of the linguistic form and structure of the oral interaction between Jesus and the people clarifies how the language specifically is used to create social identities.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • Co-text, context, discourse analysis, SFL, systemic, functional, linguistics, Halliday, metafunction, functionl, system, grammar, word, sentence, phrase, pericope, clause, predicator, complement, intra-linguistic, extra-linguistic, top-down, bottom-up, lexico-grammar, texture, micro-structure, macro-structure
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
EventMemory, Orality, and Identity - Socio-Cognitive Perspectives on Early Judaism and Early Christianity - Lund University, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies
Duration: 2013 Nov 15 → …


ConferenceMemory, Orality, and Identity - Socio-Cognitive Perspectives on Early Judaism and Early Christianity
Period2013/11/15 → …

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)