An Essay Written for A Humanities Course That Studies the Bible As A Historical Document
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN: "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 to!
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 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
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.).
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.