Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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John is fundamentally different from the other gospels. It has lengthy discourses and dialogues which are not found elsewhere. Little of what appears in the Synoptics is also in John, and most of what is in John does not appear in the Synoptics. His symbolic geography also differs from that of the other gospels: Jesus's ministry is mainly in Judaea, rather than Galilee, with regular visits to Jerusalem. The temptations of Jesus, his parables, the Sermon on the Mount (including the Lord's Prayer), the institution of the Last Supper, and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane are all lacking. On the other hand, John has the stories of the wedding in Cana with the changing of water into wine (2: 1–11), the dialogue with Nicodemus (3: 1–13), the interview with the Samaritan woman (4: 4–42), of the healing of the man ‘who had an infirmity thirty and eight years’ (5: 1–16), the healing of the man born blind (9: 1–41), and the raising of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead (11: 1–46). The strongest polemics of Jesus against the Jews appear in John, including the lengthy diatribe in 8: 12–59 which includes the fateful statement: ‘Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it’ (8: 44). The medieval conception of the Jews owed much to the rhetoric of John 8.110 The prologue about the Logos, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (or rational principle underlying everything), a deliberate echo of Gen. 1, is the best-known introduction to any of the four canonical gospels (1: 1–14). Many of the most famous sayings associated with Jesus are also to be found in John: ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' (3: 3); ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (3: 16); ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth’ (4: 24); ‘I am the bread of life’ (6: 35); ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (8: 32); ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’ (11: 25); ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ (14: 6); ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (15: 13); ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (18: 36). Whatever its peculiarities of composition and provenance, the rhetoric of the Fourth Gospel has had the most profound impact on Christian discourses of the last 2,000 years.

Chapter.  1307 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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