The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John

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The Gospel of John

An Essay Written for

A Humanities Course That

Studies the Bible As A

Historical Document


"The Man from Heaven," "Bread of Life," "Light of The

World," "Living Water," .... and of course, "Son of Man."

This is who Jesus is in The Gospel of John. Jesus' life is

portrayed very differently from the other Synoptic Gospels;

he lives completely within symbolism, and glorification.

In reading the Gospel of John, I felt that Jesus was (more)

clear to me, unlike my feelings in reading Matthew and Mark.

Perhaps this is because I have gained knowledge of who the

historical Jesus was since my first readings. However, I

find that John writes about Jesus and Christianity more in

the way that conventional American Christianity practices

today! I see the verses most familiar to me (John 3:16), and

I see the symbolism that I am used to. Most importantly, I

see the lengthy teachings and sayings of Jesus, that are less

frequent in the earlier gospels. This is the Jesus I am used


Throughout this essay, I will show the parallels and

differences from the Gospel of John and the earlier gospels

(mostly Mark), as I discuss the anonymous evangelist(s)'

conception of the word of God.

1. John 3:15

2. John 6:48

3. John 1:4

4. John 7:37-39

5. Has been believed to be: John, Son of Zebedee.

The Gospel of John was written between 90-100 ADE. A late

book in the New Testament, it deals with different problems

than the early Gospel of Mark. Although the book does not

try to stray from the special traditions of Christianity

(after all, The Christian Church has become strong by this

time), the book the Life of Jesus, to meet the needs

of the community in 100 ADE.

What were the changes that the Johannine Community had to

deal with; and, how does the Gospel of John differ from

earlier gospels to deal with these changes?

The entire new testament is apocalyptic writing, by authors

who (obviously) believe in the Parousia. We see a lot of

different religions of the time develop a "Christ" figure ...

it is a sign of the times; it reflects that most people were

desperate for help from political and social problems that

they could not escape. This is the community that the Gospel

of Mark wrote for: the desperate, looking toward their God

for help. Now the Gospel of John has to deal with the Parousia,

that Christians

believed was coming.

The Johannine author(s) clearly had the Gospel of Mark

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available to them (and also possibly the Gospel of Luke).

6. I will compare only Gospel of Mark, as it is a main

source for all later Gospels.

With the entire tradition of the Jewish Christian

apocalyptic, the idea could not be completely thrown out.

What develops from this is the Johannine "Realized

Echatology" (CH Dodd). This suggests that the "future is

here now:" resurrection, judgement and eternal life are here

.... as [you] believe in Jesus.

"He who sü8üTüsü÷üsü=ü in Him is en( condemned; but he who

does not believe is condemned already, because he

has not believed in the name of the only begotten

Son of God." -- John 3:18

I have mentioned many times that the Gospel writers were very

traditional. The Johannine Community, although disenchanted

with the idea of a "Second Coming of Christ & Resurrection,"

did not want to pünüfü=ü8üsü(üsü8ü ü throw out the belief.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming

when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of

God; and those who hear will live." -- John 5:25

Sounds a bit like "hedging your bet," doesn't it? But

seriously, the new understanding has shifted from Mark's Day

of Judgment (occurring at a specific, unknown time), to

John's Day of Judgment part of every day; where, reward or

penalty will be seen at one's own time.

Before concluding, I would like to make a comparison of the

style and presentation of Jesus through the Gospel of John

and the Gospel of Mark (the earlier gospel). As N. Perrin

pointed-out, John 12:25-26 and Mark 8:34-35 appear to be

written as the same thing. We know that John had the Markan

writing available to him. How does he translate it?

7. Matthew 24:29-31, example of this. Matthew is nearly a

straight translation of Mark (with many additions).

Mark 8:34-35:

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself

and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would

save his life will lose it; and whoever loosed his like

for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

John 12:25-26:

"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates

his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am,

there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him

My Father will honor."

There is certainly an apparent poetic style in John that is

not as strong in Mark. However there is also a "flip" in the

scripture, which shows a stress on the important part of the

saying. Perhaps this particular passage is a straight

translation from Mark, or because of the tradition of this

saying, it is how John has written it from word-of-mouth

(Quite possible, many sayings of Jesus were passed through

word of mouth.).

I have a personal interest in the parallel of events

throughout the history of people. Out of cultures as

desperate, and as powerless in political change as the Jews,

it is not a surprise that the common person searched for a

God who, as they believed, would come one day to judge the

villains, and to help the helpless.

Now we see the incredible change in South Africa! A huge

8. Social History, is actually my passion. Jesus'

following is a great study of the politically represented a

population of politically helpless people see Mandella as the

Messiah in their struggles; able to make a miracle in only

"three weeks" after the elections. We hope it will not be

"business as usual."

A 2000 year old document of Revelations (Written, according

to Perrin, by John) still has a huge following in cultures

all over the world .... including our own. Still, it is a

belief for the desperate; yes, even in our country.
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