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Christianity / Bible / New Testament / Gospels /
Gospel according to John


Gospel that has been included in the New Testament, but which differs from the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) by having clear Gnostic elements. This is particularly clear in the opening, with its emphasis on the Word and use of dualism between darkness and light.
Early on the gospel describes Jesus as a power that really doesn't take part in this world, but this changes into the more traditional view later in the gospel. Most of this gospel has the same chronology and central elements as found in the synoptic ones, yet there are incidents only mentioned in John, or incidents left out of John, that play a major part in the other gospels.
On the level of single happenings, John and the synoptic gospels are very different. In common are the cleansing of the temple; the royal official of Capernaum; feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on the water; anointing at Bethany; entry into Jerusalem; and the Passion itself.
It is different form the other gospels that there are no stories of exorcisms in John, while there are as much as 7 miracles. There are no parables, only parabolic discourses. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus spends his mission in Galilee, while John tells us that Jesus spent much of his time in Judea, and often in Jerusalem, as well.
According to the tradition, the gospel was written by a witness to the life of Jesus, by the name of John. This is strongly doubted, due to the specific way of using of sources by the author, and because people who then would have known of the gospel, like Ignatius, have mentioned nothing of it. Rather, the gospel is dated to around 100 CE, was written in Greek, and little is obvious on its geographical origin.
There is no consensus on the question whether the author of John knew of the other gospels, none of them, some of them, or all of them. All possibilities appear equally likely: Did he make his gospel as an addition to the others, or did he use a parallel source?
Structure is often missing from John, there is only limited chronology up until chapter 12. From then on, the evolving crisis between Jesus and the Jews is the central motif.
Festivals are central in the narratives of John, while miracles are connected to speeches — so that the miracles must be interpreted symbolically.
From chapter 13 and onwards, the gospel consists of speeches, the Passion, and the resurrection. The trial of Jesus, and the crucifixion is presented differently in John from the synoptic gospels.




By Tore Kjeilen