Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Gospel of John (4)

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).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Gospel of John (3)

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."

Further comment is here.

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.