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Session 6: The Gospel of John

Aims

By the end of this session you should be able to: 

  • give an overview of the themes and structure of the gospel of John

  • be able to state approximately when the book was written and who the author may have been

  • give an account of how the main themes of the gospel relate to your faith journey and ministry as well as that of the church as a whole.

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Prayer

God love and life

May I learn more of you and of your love for

your people and your world as I look into the gospel

of John.  Open my eyes to new things in familiar passages and open my heart to the moving of your spirit.

Amen.

Introduction

This session introduces us to the main themes of John's gospel, when it might have been written, and some interesting things within it that we might never have noticed.  It is structured in the same way as the previous sessions.

Part 1 Questions for Reflection

Have you ever noticed how different in style John's gospel is from the other three and how differently Jesus speaks?  How do you feel about the explanations given for this?

What do you think about the placard in the video 'Get Jesus or you Got Hell!'.  How effective do you think that would be as an evangelistic tool? What does John 3:16 mean to you?

How do you feel about Thomas - can you relate to him?

Part 2 and Questions for Reflection

0:00 - 5.09 Introduction

Paula notes that the gospel of John has been perceived very differently from the other three gospels and has not always sat comfortably with tradition. Is this a new thought for you?  What did you make of it and how do you feel about the gospel yourself?

 

5.10 - 7.59 Themes

What do you make of the similarities and differences between the themes and language that run through the blocks of writing whose authorship is ascribed to John?  Had you ever noticed that only these books talk about Jesus as "Lamb of God"?

8.00 -  13.50 Authorship

Did you think that the author of John's gospel was 'the beloved disciple'? What do you make of Paula's idea that we could all see ourselves as the 'beloved disciple'?  How do you feel about the fact that it is clear we can't really know who it was that wrote the gospel?

13.52 - end Structure and Date

Paula's insights into the issues with timing are interesting, what do you make of them and the idea that John 8 was added at a later date? Does it make any difference to how you see the stories, and if so what is the implication of that difference for you and your faith journey?

What do you think about the idea of the gospel of John, and the other Johannine writings, being authored by a community rather than a single person? What do you think that means for us as church communities today, passing on our experiences of Jesus and our faith?

Spotlight on Doctrine

The doctrine of the Incarnation is one of the key ideas of the Christian faith but you may be surprised to hear that it is not unique to  Christianity.  Other religions carry the idea of their deity coming to earth in corporeal form (Hinduism for example believes that god has been incarnated on earth many times in many different forms, each with a different name, and the images of these forms are part of their worship).  How does the prologue to John's gospel fit into your understanding of the Christian faith and what difference does it make to your life? Could Christianity still be Christianity if Jesus was not God?

Spotlight on Spirituality

For many people, as Paula notes, John's gospel is the one they love the most.  Why do you think this might be?  There is much more use of sign and symbol in the fourth gospel than in any other and because of this it seems to emphasise the mystery of God - incarnate and yet still 'other', unfathomable, great and unknowable. For some Christians, particularly Anglo-Catholics, this view of God is extremely important and forms a major part of thier life of faith.  Does it for you?

Reflection & Prayer

What has particularly struck you in this session?

 

Is there anything you found difficult and why do think that was?

 

What has particularly challenged you for your own faith journey, and what has comforted you?

Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into the gospel of Luke and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied.

To Do in Church this Week

Pay particular attention this week to everything in your church that speaks of the incarnation but also the mystery of God.  Where are these things to be found?  Had you noticed them in the same way before and how to do you feel about them now?

Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the discussion Forum.

Resources

Introduction to John's Gospel, by Fr Denis McBride

The Gospel of John Part 2 by Paula Gooder