Truth in the dock, the Spirit at the bar: John’s distinctive themes

This post is in the series Rite Reading. (2 of 2 posts on John)

In the first of these two posts on John’s gospel, I looked at some of the ways he differed from the other gospels. We saw how much he organised his writing around Jewish festivals in Jerusalem, and also took a look at the problems his language created for Christian attitudes to the Jewish people. Today I want to go on to explore, especially, two key themes that are have a significant impact in the life of the church and are well reflected in the lectionary’s choices.

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Retelling the Jesus story after long meditation: John’s gospel

This post is in the series Rite Reading. (1 of 2 posts on John)

I expect this to be the first of two posts on John’s gospel as I resume this series after Christmas. But anyone coming to this version of the story after reading the other three immediately sees significant differences in both style and content. Short pithy sayings are out, and long meditations are in. There are no exorcism stories from Jesus’s ministry, but the cross is portrayed as a casting out of Satan, described as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). Disciples who occur as significant characters in the synoptic gospels, like James and John the sons of Zebedee, don’t get a mention, while others like Philip and Thomas, who only appear as names in the first three gospels, get speaking parts in John.

St John: one of four paintings of the evangelists in Venice’s San Sebastiano church by Paolo Veronese. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Continue reading “Retelling the Jesus story after long meditation: John’s gospel”