I don't suppose this is an original thought but thinking about John's Gospel, its author and the way in which it is sooo different to the Synoptic Gospels, I am taken by the relative parallel between John 1: 18 and John 13:23
'No one has ever seen God. The only begotten God, the one being in (or near) the breast (kolpon) of the Father, that one brought out the knowledge of him (exegesato).'
'One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast (kolpo) of Jesus.'
How do we know who God is (according to the Gospel of John)? Through the knowledge shared with us by the one (the Son) being in or near the breast of the Father.
How do we know about the Son (and thus about what the Son knows about the Father)? Through knowledge shared with us by the one (the author, see John 21:24) being in or near the breast of Jesus.
In other words, despite the immense differences between the Synoptics and the Fourth Gospel, we cannot dismiss the Fourth Gospel as some kind of fictional creation because its claim is that it is written by one who was as intimate with Jesus the Son as the Son was intimate with the Father.
We may not know the name of the author, or, if the name is John, we may not know which John the name belongs to, but we know something very significant about the author: he was an intimate of Jesus. One question then is whether this intimacy was that of one of the Twelve or another disciple. Generally the signs in the Fourth Gospel point to 'another disciple'; and generally the Synoptics give signs that there were other disciples of Jesus than those named therein (e.g. the host of the last supper).
A key book in my reading at this stage in preparation for teaching the Gospel of John is John Ashton's Understanding the Fourth Gospel (OUP, 1991). I think I need to get hold of the second edition.
For the record, and as a good summary of the understanding John Ashton has, I include here a blurb for his book (concerning the second edition, 2009):
"In this fully revised new edition of a pioneering study of John's gospel, John Ashton explores fresh topics and takes account of the latest scholarly debates. Ashton argues first that the thought-world of the gospel is Jewish, not Greek, and secondly that the text is many-layered, not simple, and composed over an extended period as the evangelist responded to the changing situation of the community he was addressing. Ashton seeks to provide new and coherent answers to what Rudolf Bultmann called the two great riddles of the gospel: its position in the development of Christian thought and its central or governing idea. In arguing that the first of these should be concerned rather with Jewish thought Ashton offers a partial answer to the most important and fascinating of all the questions confronted by New Testament scholarship: how did Christianity emerge from Judaism? Bultmann's second riddle is exegetical, and concerns the message of the book. Ashton's answer highlights a generally neglected feature of the gospel's concept of revelation: its debt to Jewish apocalyptic."
I am also wondering about the work of Thomas Brodie who has written on the sources of John's Gospel, a thesis which ties the gospel to the other gospels, but his overall theory of the composition of the New Testament (in summary, generated from the prototype of the Elijah-Elisha narratives) leaves me cold. Notice of his major commentary on the fourth gospel is here.
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) is on a journey of understanding in respect of Scripture and human sexuality. In August 2007 it held the first of three Hermeneutical Hui. It was an introduction to hermeneutics. The second was held in May 2009. It's topic was Scripture and Church. The third is likely to be held in 2010. It's topic will be Scripture and Human Sexuality.
During the second hui a point was made in a discussion between some evangelical Anglicans: we have not done work ourselves on how we understand the Bible in relation to homosexuality ... or marriage and divorce ... or, for that matter, the ordination of women.
We may organise some hui ourselves. In the meantime this blog may be of service in developing an evangelical hermeneutic 'Down Under' (Australians welcome too!).
Why a specifically 'evangelical' blog? Well, it's possible another site may be developed which will be a kind of 'whole of ACANZP' site. On such a site presumably everything will be up for discussion, and all perspectives will contribute. On this site I hope we will not have to debate matters on which evangelicals generally have a common understanding. Comments from other perspectives are very welcome - but posts from other perspectives will be directed towards this other proposed site. Out of the deliberations here I hope some good ideas will feed on to the larger site.
There will be no posts/comments accepted which are not in accordance with respecting 'the other person', whoever that may be, as one made in the image of God; similarly for posts/comments which make presumptions about the sins and failings of 'the other side'.
I will keep under review Anonymous comments. My preference is for commenters here to name themselves when simply discussing issues. Those wishing to talk about their experiences may have understandable reasons for remaining Anonymous.
If you wish to submit something to be posted, please let me know in a comment or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, a last word from our sponsor, Soren Kierkegaard,
"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
We are guided by traditional interpretation: quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (what is believed everywhere, always, by all) - Vincent of Lerins, d. 450.
We are wary of 'private judgement': it is more likely that the judgement of many scholars is correct than our own judgement as individuals.
We seek what the text meant when written and when incorporated into the canon of Scripture, and seek its meaning for today -both how we understand the text and how we might apply it.
We explore the world behind the text (the historical context in which the text was composed), the world within the text (the narrative world created by the text itself), and the world before the text (the world in which we as readers belong) in order to understand the text from multiple perspectives.
We read any text against the background of the whole of Scripture, seeking an understanding which is not contradictory of the remainder of Scripture; and seeking the light of Scripture as a whole to illuminate the understanding of its parts.
We acknowledge the role of our own cultural context affecting the way we read Scripture: like fish in water we may not be aware that other contexts for life exist in which there may be more light!