I am about to embark on a very long thread, on the Gospel and epistles of John. As many of you know, my colleague, Hugo Mendez, assistant professor of New Testament and early Christianity at UNC, has started publishing on a major project involving the “Johannine Community.” That phrase will not mean a lot to many of you. To New Testament scholars it means volumes. In fact there *have* been volumes written about it. It is almost certainly the most important view about the Gospel of John and 1, 2, and 3 John to be developed over the past fifty years. We all teach it in our classes. And Hugo wants to challenge its existence.
Hugo is on the blog and I asked him if he’d be willing to write some posts about his views. But then we both realized that I would need to set it up by explaining what the issue is all about before he shows his different perspective. And when I started thinking about how to introduce the matter, I realized, YIKES! Now *that’s* complicated. And I went down the rabbit hole.
To make sense of Hugo’s views, you’ll need to go down it with me. There’s nothing overly-complicated about any particular feature of the view (no especially difficult passages in the rabbit hole itself); but you have to see how it gets built up (or dug down) to make sense of it all. And that will take probably a couple of weeks of posts.
I checked, and lo and behold, I did this once, six years ago. So here we go again! The first thing to discuss is what is *distinctive* about the Gospel of John in relation to our other Gospels, since it is these distinctive features that require some explanation. So I start there.
The following is an edited version of how I lay it out in my textbook on the New Testament.
The Gospel of John from a Comparative Perspective
One of the most striking features of the Fourth Gospel is the way in which some of the distinctively Johannine themes stand in such stark contrast with the other early Christian writings that we have examined so far. Even to the casual reader, the Fourth Gospel may seem somewhat different from the other three within the canon. Nowhere in the other Gospels is Jesus said to be the Word of God, or the creator of the universe, or the equal of God, or the one sent from heaven and soon to return. Nowhere else does Jesus claim that to see him is to see the Father, that to hear him is to hear the Father, and that to reject him is to reject the Father.
Exactly how different, then, is the Fourth Gospel from the others?
Comparison of Contents
Despite the important and significant differences among the Synoptic Gospels, they are much more similar to one another than any one of them is to John. Suppose we were …
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