UNIT ASSIGNMENT: REFLECTION PAPER 1 – JOHN AND THE SYNOPTICS

John and the Synoptics

The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel in our New Testament canon. We read it, rightfully so, as a book that speaks to us/the Church today. But this book also represents an ancient writing written by an author in the first century to his community/church. Our goal in this course is to re-discover, with the help of Culpepper and Koester, this 1st century community of faith and their encounter with the proclamation of Jesus.

Although we will not be reading 1, 2, and 3 John, scholars believe these books originated from the same School or Community as the Gospel. That is, although they were probably written by different authors, they originated from the same community of believers who held to the teaching of the Christian faith as offered by the Fourth Gospel. Generally, the Book of Revelation is considered outside this Community. The members of the Johannine community shared a similar theology or outlook based on their view and practice of Christianity in the 1st century. The Johannine community is easier “to see” in the letters than it is in the Fourth Gospel as an author explicitly addresses a particular church or community of faith and even in some cases names certain people. However, the Fourth Gospel also reflects the theology/ beliefs/social practices of a community that lived after Jesus had died. That is, while the Gospel of John narrates the story of Jesus and his works and deeds, the author is selective in the history and emphases he chooses to underscore. The selection and shaping of these stories of Jesus tell us not only something about Jesus, but they also tell us something about the Johannine community and what was central to its theology.

Think of this dynamic in terms analogous to churches today. While many denominations can properly be characterized as “Christian,” and there is a great deal of unity between these denominations or church groups in their beliefs, there are also some distinctive trademarks of these denominations/church groups. Such emphases allow us to speak of Baptist, Church of God, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. We are all basically reading the same Bible, but these denominations pull out certain distinctions that become identifying marks.

Another example might be how different a minister from these various traditions would preach the same biblical passage. So the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are unified in telling the story of Jesus, but they do so in different terms with degrees of differences and emphases that often tell us about what was important to the author and his community from a later period than Jesus. As we already noted, the Gospel of John is profoundly different from the Synoptics. If we read the story of Jesus in this gospel closely we not only discover more about Jesus and his followers, but we learn something about the author and his community of a later period. For instance, on the one hand, John tells us many stories about the disciples. But what he chooses to tell and what he chose to emphasize may reflect on John’s church. That is, the disciples function as representatives of what a community member should believe and do.

We can read John for what the author believes on a number of issues. So in this section, Culpepper explore how the author thought about such issues as ‘sin,’ ‘revelation,’ ‘faith,’ ‘the church,’, and ‘eternal life.’ We could take these same issues and ask what Mark or even Paul thought about them and we would find both unity and diversity. In the Koester volume, the author explores one category (“God”) in great detail. In his exploration of the Fourth Gospel, Koester is interested in describing how John’s community thought about God. So the views of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel are understood to represent what the Johannine community would believe in and emphasize. Koester explores God as John presents God. Such categories or types are used of God as “creator God,” Father, Sender, etc. In the telling of that history of Jesus and his followers, an ancient author used his literacy and literary skill to tell this story of Jesus and his community.

UNIT TWO OUTCOMES

Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:

  1. Utilize the complimentary methods of interpreting John as both literature and history.
  2. Grasp the features and implications of the Fourth Gospel’s particular theology.
  3. Articulate John’s understanding of the condition of humanity and the role of faith in addressing the human predicament.
  4. Identify the literary features of the Fourth Gospel’s “scenes.”

 

UNIT TWO RESOURCES

 Textbook: The Gospel and Letters of John

 Textbook: The Word of Life

 Bible

 

2.1 TEXT/MEDIA: TEXTBOOKS; BIBLE

 

INTRODUCTION AND ALIGNMENT

Overview of the Gospel of John as a work, with a particular theology and literary strategy.

 

RESOURCES

 Textbook: The Gospel and Letters of John

 Textbook: The Word of Life

 Bible

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Read chapters 4-5 in The Gospel and Letters of John.
  2. Read chapters 1-2 in The Word of Life.

 

2.7 UNIT ASSIGNMENT: REFLECTION PAPER 1 – JOHN AND THE SYNOPTICS

INTRODUCTION AND ALIGNMENT

Upon completion of this assignment you should be able to:

 Utilize the complimentary methods of interpreting John as both literature and history.

 Grasp the features and implications of the Fourth Gospel’s particular theology.

 Articulate John’s understanding of the condition of humanity and the role of faith in addressing the human predicament.

 Identify the literary features of the Fourth Gospel’s “scenes.”

RESOURCES

 Textbook: The Gospel and Letters of John

 Textbook: The Word of Life

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. You will write a 5 page reflection paper on the subject of John’s relationship to the synoptic gospels. 2. Both textbooks should be used as sources and your paper should be written based on the SOR Manual of Style. Structure your reflection paper by writing on the following topics:
  2. How is John similar to and different from the synoptic gospels? Is there evidence that John is aware of the existence of the synoptic gospels?
  3. What difference would it make to Christian belief today if the Gospel of John was never written? How would the central themes of the Christian faith change?
  4. If you had to choose your favorite gospel, what would it be? How does it relate to the Gospel of John? Or, if it is the Gospel of John, why are you drawn to it?
  5. You must write your paper as a MS Word document (.doc or .docx). Use Times New Roman 12 pt. font and double-space your paper.
 

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