More Thoughts on the Gospel of John

February 27, 2016

Sixteen months ago, I wrote a posting entitled “Who Wrote the Gospel of John.” Since then, I have continued my studies and am now up to the thirteenth chapter, which is the start of something presented as a speech by Jesus to the disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. It runs to the end of the sixteenth chapter, and has passages in which themes are repeated and ideas restated.

In my studies, I have found evidence confirming my theory that the origin of the gospel was the spoken words of the Evangelist – presumably the disciple John, son of Zebedee – given in Aramaic and translated by at least two persons in his community. One point of evidence is the portions of the gospel that give quotations from Hebrew scriptures. The translators would have been familiar with the Greek translation of these scriptures, known as a Septuagint – so when the translators recognized a passage they used the words of the Septuagint as their translation. In other places where the Evangelist speaks of what has been written, the translators may not have recognized the passage and so simply gave a literal translation of the Evangelist’s words.

The order of events in the Gospel seems to have been determined, not by the actual order of events in the life of Jesus but by the Jewish calendar of religious festivals. As you read the gospel, you get what Jesus said at one religious festival, then the next, then the next. When you reach Passover, you have the account of Jesus crucifixion and subsequent events because Jesus was crucified either on the eve of Passover or on the first day of Passover.

This order indicates to me that the Hebrew scriptures would have been read in the community of believers just as it was in the synagogue from which they had been expelled, indicating that those in this community considered themselves to be practicing, not some new religion called Christianity, but the correct version of Judaism – the Judaism of their prophet, Jesus.

The fact that there are passages in the last discourse where ideas are repeated indicates that there were at least two translators who heard the Aramaic words of the evangelist and remembered their differing translations. When they obtained the services of a scribe, they recounted the teachings of Jesus as they had heard them from the Evangelist, and the scribe didn’t think to ask if two passages might not have come from the same Aramaic source.

In future blog posts, I’ll focus on the picture of Jesus that has developed for me as I have studied his ministry as presented in this Gospel.

One Response to “More Thoughts on the Gospel of John”

  1. Revd Vyvyan Chatterjie said

    Nice work.. Blessings, Vyvyan

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