Interlude: a few facts re: Gospels

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John, which will be conducted for around 40 days. On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.  

Religious tolerance illustration#14: John study

Hello Lightworkers, We are taking a little break, in that today’s post will provide background information about the Gospel of John. This information is standard and you may know it already.

I give information only sparingly, since there is already enough information out there–in fact, too much. Who needs more piles of facts? Instead, I aim for inspiration and illumination. Today is an exception. I will provide some facts.

The genre of Gospel: canonical and non-canonical

While there are four Gospels in the New Testament, other early Christian works (outside of the NT canon) fit the literary genre of Gospel, such as the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas, among others. Canon means “rule”. The canon is constituted by the sacred scriptures, authorized by the early church, to be the rule for faith and morals.

It is debatable, why certain early Christian works were not included in the canon, especially those contemporaneous with the NT itself. Did Mary’s authority, in the Gospel of Mary, challenge the emerging precedence of Peter in the church? So that Mary’s leadership, like that of females more generally, needed to be suppressed?

Gospel of John within the Bible

Considering just the four gospels within the NT (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the Gospel of John is distinctive, because it freely elaborates upon many of the stories about Jesus, which are found in the other three Gospels. John’s theology of the Word, Light, and Life, and his emphasis on miracles (which he calls “signs”), are also unique.

Three of the Gospels (Luke, Mark, Matthew) are called synoptic,—from the root, syn=together + optic= related to seeing or the eye. These three can be “seen together,” since they share much source material.

All four gospels, including John, consist of earlier sources (whether in writing or transmitted by oral traditions): a) sayings and sermons (teachings); b) miracles (e.g. healings, nature miracles like ‘stilling a storm’, provision miracles like ‘feeding the multitudes’); c) controversies (e.g. Sabbath disputes; doctrinal debates); d) the account of Jesus’s passion (i.e. trial, crucifixion and death); e) the empty tomb stories,  resurrection appearances, ascension; f) birth narratives (only in Luke and Matthew); g) possibly a “signs” source, i.e. a cycle of miracle stories, upon which John depends.

Question : if you were to dig up these sources – in a jar, from the desert – and to compile a book out of them, what principles and message would motivate your composition? How would you tell the story, in terms of your themes and audience?

Be sure to subscribe to this Bible Study, so that you will receive posts in your in-box. We will cover John for around 40 days.

 

 

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