John’s Gospel in brief

Ted Grimsrud

During the Spring of 2012, I have had the challenge of writings a series of (very) short Bible study reflections for the Mennonite World Review (which was Mennonite Weekly Review when my series of articles began in February).

This has been an excellent discipline. I have written these kinds of reflections for MWR several times before, and I always enjoy doing so—not least because I am often asked to write about texts I am unfamiliar with.

For some time, I have wanted to look more closely at John’s Gospel. I have tended to focus on the other gospels much more (including a recent series of thirteen sermons on the Gospel of Luke). John is a bit different, to say the least.

I benefited from insights from the fine commentary on John by Gail O’Day that is included in my favorite commentary series, The New Interpreters Bible (published by Abingdon).

The format for these reflections allows very little opportunity for in-depth analysis of any sort. And they are meant to be accessible to non-scholars. So it’s a challenge to find something to say that has substance.

I did find myself, as I expected, much more attracted to John than I have been before. John, as argued by Marcus Borg in his book Jesus: A New Vision, has provided most of the proof texts used by those who assume a divine (not human) Jesus who is kind of an otherworldly super savior of individuals who had little to say about social and political concerns. However, such usage of John misreads the book terribly.

In my reflections (which may be read here), I could not really develop a counter perspective in any overt and detailed way. But I did try to suggest another way of reading John.

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