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3 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2011 - 12:02AM #1
iamachildofhis
Posts: 10,677
iama:  "The disciple whom Jesus loved," the Apostle John, recorded The Gospel of John shortly before his death when he was in his nineties.  It has been said that John was able to give to us "the heart of Christ."

Clement of Alexandria says, "Last of all, John, observing that in the other Gospels these things were related that concerned the body (of Christ), and being persuaded by his friends and also moved by the Spirit of God, wrote a spiritual Gospel." "speaking of the four Gospels, Gregory Nazianzen says, 'Matthew wrote the wonderful works of Christ for the Jew; Mark for the Roman' Luke for the Greeks; John, a herald, who reaches the very heavens, for all.'" "Irenaeus, the pupil of Polycarp who was the friend and pupil of St. John, accepted this Gospel and says that John 'for sixty years after the Ascension preached orally, till the end of Domitian's reign; and after the death of Domitian having returned to Ephesus, he was induced to write (his Gospel) concerning the divinity of Christ, co-eternal with the Father; in which he refutes those heretics, Cerinthus and the Nicolaitans.' It is quite certain that Justin Martyr used this Gospel, and that it was combined with the others in the Diatessaron of Tatian (about 170 A.d.)."

John 1:1

Biblia.com Bible Study online


Notice the similarity of John 1 to Genesis 1.  What terms and concepts are similar?


Genesis 1

You can move your curser over the links to view the texts of the given references.


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The wonder of Christmas is that the God Who dwelt among us, now, can dwell within us. - Roy Lessin
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"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
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Justice is receiving what you deserve.
Mercy is NOT receiving what you deserve.
Grace is receiving what you DO NOT deserve.
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2011 - 1:47PM #2
JRT
Posts: 340

 


The Gospel of John





If I had to give my readers one clue and one clue only that would unlock the Fourth Gospel and allow its honesty and wonder to flow forth, it would be that in reading John one must always keep in mind that the author is not writing history or biography. Indeed, this author is constantly poking fun at anyone who would take his message literally, misunderstand his use of symbols or attempt to literalize the words he has attributed to Jesus. Can any of us imagine for one moment an itinerant prophet named John the Baptist literally saying the first time he meets Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," and then claiming for this Jesus the status of a pre-existent divine being? Yet that is what John the Baptist does in the first chapter of John. It is a text that sets a pattern that this gospel writer will follow. What does it mean to name Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? What does it mean to claim for him a pre-existent status? What experience is this author seeking to communicate? That is the question with which one is confronted in the opening chapter of this book, and that is only the beginning.





In the second chapter, we find equally enigmatic words. Here we are told that at a wedding party Jesus actually changes water into wine so that the party can go on! Can any of us imagine a set of circumstances in which that narrative would be taken literally? Medieval alchemists spent centuries trying to turn iron into gold and failed. Given the price of good wine today, perhaps they would have been more successful if they had followed Jesus' example and tried to turn water into wine. Surely John did not think of this as a literal story and the suggestion later in the story that Jesus' freshly fermented beverage was so superior to that which was served first that it violated the social norm of the day, which was to serve the "good stuff" first and then when the guests were well drunk to bring out the "screw top gallon bottles." So we need to ask just what it was that John was seeking to communicate when he opens his second chapter with this story and calls it "the first sign" of Jesus' public ministry that "manifested forth his glory." Perhaps this author drops another clue that these words are not to be taken literally when he begins this particular narrative with the words, "On the third day," since these words would be deeply fraught with meaning in the company of believers to whom these words were addressed.





In the next episode described by John, Jesus is in Jerusalem and there he drives the money changers out of the Temple. In the earlier gospels, this story of the cleansing of the temple is the provocative final act that leads directly to the crucifixion. John, however, places it at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Once again the Jewish audience that first reads John's words would immediately identify this narrative with a reading from the book of Psalms (69:9), which stated that the Messiah would show zeal for the house of God — zeal indeed that would consume him. They also knew that John was using this episode not to describe something that happened, but to make a messianic claim. These readers would have been familiar with the account from the book of Zechariah, which said that when "the day of the Lord" came, "there would no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of Hosts (14:21)." That was destined to be only the first of many references that John would take from the book of Zechariah, a book that shaped the Jesus story far more than most of us have imagined.





Continuing the same theme in chapter three, John has Jesus say to a man named Nicodemus, "unless you are born anew, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. " Nicodemus is baffled because he hears these words literally and wonders how it is possible for a grown man to be born anew when he is old, "Can I climb back into my mother's womb and be born a second time?" Literalism makes no sense, but John is not writing a literal story.





In the fourth chapter of John, the author has Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well about water. The conversation began when he asked the woman to give him a drink from the well. When she demurred and retreated into the boundary that separates Jew from Samaritan, Jesus said to her, "If you knew who it was that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." The woman looked at him with the blank stare of literalism and said, in effect, "Man, you don't even have a bucket!" The Jesus of John's gospel then says, "Whoever drinks of the water I give will never thirst again." The woman still trapped in the prison of literalism responds, "That is great. Give me your water and I will never have to come again to this well. That would make my life easier."





As if that were not sufficient warning that this book is not to be read literally, John continues his theme when he relates the story of Jesus' disciples returning and interrupting this private conversation. They then urge Jesus to eat. To this urging, however, John's Jesus responds by saying, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." The disciples, still blinded by the literalism through which they hear his words, say to one another: "Has anyone brought him food?" The theme of anti-literalism goes on.





In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus is made to place his message into Eucharistic language and then to watch as his words are once again heard as if they are meant to be understood literally. Here he says: "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me." The literal-minded disciples are repelled by what seems to them to be a reference to cannibalism, and they begin to draw back and to cease following him. Time after time, the author of the Fourth Gospel displays the truth that this book is an interpretive book not a literal one. It is a symbolic book, not a historical book or a biographical story. No one can read the Fourth Gospel with literal eyes without missing the essence of his message. Yet, throughout Christian history, this book has been read with literal eyes and this literal misreading has been used to buttress the case for orthodoxy, binding creeds and such rationally incomprehensible ecclesiastical doctrines as the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity.





One other unique aspect found in John alone is the fact that Jesus time and again is quoted as calling himself by the name, which, according to the book of Exodus, God revealed to Moses as God's own at the burning bush. Tell them, God said to Moses on that occasion, that "I AM" sent you. So John now has Jesus say, "Before Abraham was, I AM!" When you see the Son of Man lifted up, then you will know I AM." There is no "he" in that latter statement, despite the fact that the translators add one because they do not understand what this gospel writer is trying to say. At the time of Jesus' arrest in the dark of night in the Valley of Kidron, John portrays Jesus as approaching the band of soldiers and Temple police led by Judas and asking, "Whom do you seek?" They respond, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus says, "I AM." Translators once again render that "I am he." John's context, however, renders that translation inoperative, for John goes on to state: "When he said I AM, they drew back and fell to the ground." It was strange behavior for an armed guard confronting an unarmed political prisoner if he had said something as mundane as "I am he." If, on the other hand John was portraying him as uttering and claiming the divine name as they were about to arrest him, then that would be quite another matter.





"I AM" is a key concept in the Fourth Gospel repeated over and over again. John alone has Jesus say such things as: "I am the bread of life; I am the door; I am the way, the truth and the life; I am the vine; I am the good shepherd, and I am the resurrection." Jesus even asserts through that "I AM" claim that he is the exclusive pathway to God, a statement that has been used throughout Christian history to justify the basest forms of religious imperialism and to fuel the most insensitive kind of missionary evangelism.





John's gospel must not be literalized if it is to be understood. It is a profound, even mystical, interpretation of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, written by a person deeply rooted in Palestinian Judaism and its words are designed to lead John's readers beyond literal words into a life-giving relationship with God. History reveals what a high price has been paid because Christians have insisted on literalizing the words of this gospel. At the Council of Nicea, a literalized understanding of John was used to justify the new orthodoxy of a man named Athanasius, which was destined to cloak the Christian story in a hierarchical authority system in which it became oppressive, insensitive and anything but life-giving. When the shell of literalism is broken, however, the gospel of John enhances life, expands consciousness and calls us into a new relationship with the one whose deepest claim is to be a doorway into a new experience of that which is transcendent, holy and other. The call of John's Jesus is not into an engagement with a supernatural being, created in our image, who somehow lives above the sky and who, in the person of Jesus, was thought to have masqueraded as a human being. This is, of course, a caricature but only a little one. John's gospel is a work to be entered, a message to be breathed, and a doorway into a life to be lived. It was not written to enable us to play religion's oldest game, "My God is better than your God and I control the doorway into true belief. No one can come to God except through my faith system"





I once was repelled by the Fourth Gospel because I related to it as if it were a literal document. When I broke the bondage of that mindset, I found in this gospel a real understanding not just of God and of Jesus, but of life itself. Someday, I hope to spell out that thought in detail. For now, I must content myself to sketching a new vision of this gospel that all can see.





--- John Shelby Spong

the floggings will continue until morale improves
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 06, 2011 - 7:34PM #3
iamachildofhis
Posts: 10,677

Dec 6, 2011 -- 1:47PM, JRT wrote:



JRT: The Gospel of John


"in reading John one must always keep in mind that the author is not writing history or biography



iama:  The Apostle John walked 3.5 years with the reality, historical Jesus, and so, there is historical data presented, which is also, to the extent of the coverage of Jesus' activities / words / etc., biographical.


But, I agree that John's Gospel is recorded to present eternal truths regarding God-Son, incarnate, and His message / His purpose for incarnating.


The eternal God-Son, exists, now, as the eternal God-Man.



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The wonder of Christmas is that the God Who dwelt among us, now, can dwell within us. - Roy Lessin
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"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
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Justice is receiving what you deserve.
Mercy is NOT receiving what you deserve.
Grace is receiving what you DO NOT deserve.
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 07, 2011 - 2:46AM #4
Namchuck
Posts: 11,704

As modern scholarship has soundly established, the Gospel of John is, as a previous correspondent pointed out, neither 'history' nor 'biography'.


The author of the Gospel of John even admits he is writing religious propaganda (John 20:31), which is a clue that it should be taken with a grain of salt.


One would be hard pushed to make an historical case for Jesus. Even those who suggest that Jesus is a completely mythological figure have as much 'hard' evidence to advance for their view.


That Jesus was the "Son of God" is merely a belief no different in kind from a belief in Osiris, Krishna, or Quetzlecoatl.

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 07, 2011 - 12:15PM #5
iamachildofhis
Posts: 10,677

Dec 7, 2011 -- 2:46AM, Namchuck wrote:



Namchuck: As modern scholarship has soundly established, the Gospel of John is, as a previous correspondent pointed out, neither 'history' nor 'biography'.


The author of the Gospel of John even admits he is writing religious propaganda (John 20:31), which is a clue that it should be taken with a grain of salt.


One would be hard pushed to make an historical case for Jesus. Even those who suggest that Jesus is a completely mythological figure have as much 'hard' evidence to advance for their view.


That Jesus was the "Son of God" is merely a belief no different in kind from a belief in Osiris, Krishna, or Quetzlecoatl.



iama:  "Modern scholarship" isn't reliable scholarship!


The Apostle John, one of Christ Jesus' 12 chosen disciples, lived to be a physical age of ~95 years of age.  He was known by historical, Christians of the first century.  He, also, recorded 1 John.  This man, John, was especially close to Jesus Christ during his 3.5 years of public ministry.  Read what John states in the following.  Click on the alphabet links at the site, and then run your cursor over the references.  You will find testimonies of other recorders, too, regarding their witness accounts of the reality, human, Jesus Christ.


1 John 1:1


The Word of Life



1 a"That which was bfrom the beginning, cwhich we have heard, dwhich we have seen with our eyes, ewhich we looked upon and fhave touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 gthe life hwas made manifest, and we have seen it, and itestify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, awhich was with the Father and hwas made manifest to us— 3 cthat which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed jour fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so kthat our 1joy may be complete."



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The wonder of Christmas is that the God Who dwelt among us, now, can dwell within us. - Roy Lessin
.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
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Justice is receiving what you deserve.
Mercy is NOT receiving what you deserve.
Grace is receiving what you DO NOT deserve.
.
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2011 - 1:37AM #6
Namchuck
Posts: 11,704

Dec 7, 2011 -- 12:15PM, iamachildofhis wrote:


Dec 7, 2011 -- 2:46AM, Namchuck wrote:



Namchuck: As modern scholarship has soundly established, the Gospel of John is, as a previous correspondent pointed out, neither 'history' nor 'biography'.


The author of the Gospel of John even admits he is writing religious propaganda (John 20:31), which is a clue that it should be taken with a grain of salt.


One would be hard pushed to make an historical case for Jesus. Even those who suggest that Jesus is a completely mythological figure have as much 'hard' evidence to advance for their view.


That Jesus was the "Son of God" is merely a belief no different in kind from a belief in Osiris, Krishna, or Quetzlecoatl.



iama:  "Modern scholarship" isn't reliable scholarship!


I disagree. Moreover, modern scholarship is far more reliable than mere conditioned belief. 


The Apostle John, one of Christ Jesus' 12 chosen disciples, lived to be a physical age of ~95 years of age.  He was known by historical, Christians of the first century.  He, also, recorded 1 John.  This man, John, was especially close to Jesus Christ during his 3.5 years of public ministry.  Read what John states in the following.  Click on the alphabet links at the site, and then run your cursor over the references.  You will find testimonies of other recorders, too, regarding their witness accounts of the reality, human, Jesus Christ.


1 John 1:1


The Word of Life



1 a"That which was bfrom the beginning, cwhich we have heard, dwhich we have seen with our eyes, ewhich we looked upon and fhave touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 gthe life hwas made manifest, and we have seen it, and itestify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, awhich was with the Father and hwas made manifest to us— 3 cthat which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed jour fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so kthat our 1joy may be complete."


Yes, as I've said elsewhere, I'm familiar with the Christian myth.


I find the myths that human's have invented fascinating. They give us one of our clearest windows into the human psyche.



.





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3 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2011 - 3:23PM #7
withwonderingawe
Posts: 5,288

Iamachildofhis


I love the Gospel of John, he teaches us more of Christ in that first chapter than “John Shelby Spong” could ever possibly know.


It seems to me reading through what JRT posted Spong had a problem with prophets having visions or knowledge and power beyond the common man’s ability.


Spong; “Surely John did not think of this as a literal story….”


I’m not an educated Bible scholar by any means but I could figure this out faster than Spong could comb his hair.



I believe when John the Baptist says “I knew him not” it wasn’t that he had never met him after all they were cousins. There are family events which people get together for, both of their fathers Joseph and Zacharias died at some point perhaps a funeral or two?


Instead I think he meant, I didn’t realize but now I understand.


If we are to believe Luke’s account and he seemed to have interviewed those who were there, “eyewitness”, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. If we believe the Bible to be God’s word then why not believe that the Holy Spirit could reveal things about Jesus to John that other men might not perceive. In Barclay’s translation of the New Testament he makes it pretty clear that the Baptist had seen a vision where Jesus appeared to him and explained, when you see the sign of the dove you’ll know that it is I, the Son of God.


Spong seems to get lost in his worry over whether John should be taken literal or fugitively, although I do as a Mormon appreciate his rejection of the Trinity.


But why not take John both ways, yes Jesus could turn water into wine. Were there unseen angels pouring in a concentrated mix or does a God have the ability to change the molecular structures of atoms. Does it matter, either way a miracle occurred.


I think most people would take this statement "Whoever drinks of the water I give will never thirst again." as symbolic. It goes back to an Old Testament metaphoric use of famine and drought.


In Isa 29 it speaks of a time when “an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite”


Or Amos 8
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord”


Jesus is saying if we listen to his words our souls will be filled with truth and we’ll never thirst for it again.


I guess I just don’t see what Spong’s hang up is??

Wise men still seek him.
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3 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2011 - 11:01PM #8
teilhard
Posts: 51,423

Yes ... 


Those who come to The Holy Scriptures -- or ANY Sacred Texts -- with a Mind-Set World View that is Materialist, Skeptical, Atheist ... will no doubt come away ... unimpressed ...


Those who come as Open-Minded Seekers will have a DIFFERENT "take" ...

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2011 - 2:07AM #9
Namchuck
Posts: 11,704

Dec 8, 2011 -- 11:01PM, teilhard wrote:


Yes ... 


Those who come to The Holy Scriptures -- or ANY Sacred Texts -- with a Mind-Set World View that is Materialist, Skeptical, Atheist ... will no doubt come away ... unimpressed ...


Those who come as Open-Minded Seekers will have a DIFFERENT "take" ...




In other words, if your bull**** filter is set extremely low, you'll end up believing anything.

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 10, 2011 - 10:28AM #10
teilhard
Posts: 51,423

No ... It means that one's Mind-Set is ONE important Aspect in ANY Exploration ...


Dec 10, 2011 -- 2:07AM, Namchuck wrote:


Dec 8, 2011 -- 11:01PM, teilhard wrote:


Yes ... 


Those who come to The Holy Scriptures -- or ANY Sacred Texts -- with a Mind-Set World View that is Materialist, Skeptical, Atheist ... will no doubt come away ... unimpressed ...


Those who come as Open-Minded Seekers will have a DIFFERENT "take" ...




In other words, if your bull**** filter is set extremely low, you'll end up believing anything.





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