Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The Gospel of John, or the fourth Gospel, is narrower than the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in the compass of its themes, yet perhaps it penetrates more directly and deeply into the mystery of the person of God’s Son. The Gospel is the last, the most artistic from a literary point of view, the most reflective, and the most explicitly theological of the canonical accounts of Jesus. Written late in the first century c.e. at a time when Jewish Christians were no longer welcome in synagogues and when Gentile Christians formed a minority in Greco-Roman society, its purpose was to lay out sufficient evidence pointing to Jesus of Nazareth as the one sent by God to reinforce the faith of believers and to commend Jesus to the rest of the world.
To say that the Gospel of John is anonymous is technically true, for the author alludes to himself merely as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and does not supply his name. The unanimous and uncontested consensus of the church fathers, including the scribes who appended titles to the Gospel records from about the year 125 c.e. and the numerous bishops and elders of Asia Minor (now Turkey) in the second century who claimed to have known the author face to face during his period of residence at Ephesus after he fled Palestine during the Jewish/Roman war that ended in 70 c.e., is that the beloved disciple was John, the...
(The entire section is 1261 words.)
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