9.12.10

The Gospel of John

I am enjoying this morning, it takes me back to English teacher days, there are a lot of transferable practices, looking at language, rhetorical devices and metaphor.

"It's a very good place to start...."

In the beginning...was the Word...

The sense of Jesus having been sent...is more obvious here.

The dramatic irony - we see what the characters do not see, there is a use of dramatic irony throughout. The truth about Jesus is declared also in ironic statements where Pilate for example does not understand the import of what he is saying about the claim: 'I have written what I have written'. Indeed. That is the truth. But 'What is truth?', asks Pilate - how very post-modern!

The idea of Jesus' body as a temple and that meeting place between heaven and earth. Paul will have us understand that also we are the acceptable temple, the temple of the Holy Spirit and the body.

The irony of being lifted up to humiliation in the crucifixion which is the ultimate enthronement and exultation.

A gospel of very vivid metaphors which have shaped our language and are taken up into Pauline theology.


We have to look carefully at how John is using language and not what we would want to make of it. There are limits. Read scripture through scripture, the new in light of the old. Jesus is not saying that all became before is false and I am true but instead you understand the manna, the water because of me - look to me: I AM!


I have to decide on some pericopes to exegete but this might not be so easy in an unfolding gospel.

For example, commentators treat 1:1-18 as prologue but some treat 1-5 or 1-13 as prologue. It is difficult to decipher the beginning and the end of sections. Some say 14 is the end of the prologue or is it instead the beginning of a new section in which we are being led to consider glory and grace.

"The Book of Signs": 1:19—12:50 (Wedding at Cana, Dialogue with Nicodemus, Samaritan Woman at the Well, Healing at the Pool of Bethesda, Bread of Life Discourse, Man Born Blind, Raising of Lazarus, etc.) Does Lazarus and his raising signify the end of this section before we move on to "The Book of Glory": 13:1—20:31 (Washing the Disciples' Feet, Farewell Discourses, Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, Passion Narrative, Crucifixion Scene 19, Resurrection 20, Appearances, esp. to Mary Magdalene and Thomas)

Jesus knows....

He knows where he has come from...the Father...

He knows how all is to end

"...through believing you may have life in his name..."

But then...

... then have the Epilogue: 21:1-25 (Another Resurrection Appearance at the Sea of Tiberias/Galilee - added later)

See this St John's video on John


Richard Burridge is good on the seven signs - these acts are signposts and are revealing Jesus' identity. After the feeding of the five thousand we have discourse about Jesus being bread - look carefully we have combination of sign and discourse. Richard explains Bultmann's theory about the bringing together of two styles of writing but Burridge disagrees and thinks that this combination was all a part of John's writing purposes.

I AM sayings - Burridge discusses these sayings too. I remember following the indaba discussions 08 on this part of John's gospel, there are quite a lot of links online to General Synods' unpicking of these sayings. Burridge looks at how Jesus is fulfilling/replacing OT practices.

Burridge uses Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to give his exposition shape - very interesting.

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