Sunday, February 8, 2015

NT: John 5-8

I mentioned a few posts ago that the Gospel According to John would present a different personality to Jesus. I once heard John’s Jesus as being “large and in charge”. That’s probably apropos. It will become obvious during the crucifixion.

Chapter 5 has a few interesting tidbits between the run-of-the-mill healings and miracles. The first one that struck me starts with Jesus healing the cripple at the troubling waters:

15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Here we see an explicit statement of conflict between Jesus and the Jews very early in the gospel. The phrase “the Jews sought the more to kill him” pulls no punches. If you search through the prior three Gospels, the words “Jew” or “Jews” appear sparingly, and never in reference to an intent to persecute or kill him. It’s always the Pharisees that appear to be scheming against Jesus. This is possibly meaningless, what with Pharisees being a subset of Judaism at the time, but the explicit use of the broader term “Jews” makes these passages sound accusatory of all Judaism, thus conveying a sense of greater conflict.

The second passage that jumps out at me is at the end of the chapter

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Jesus makes clear his association to Moses, thus the reader might presume that, as in the prior Gospels, Jesus’ intent is to carry out the prophecies and commandments contained in the Hebrew Bible.

Chapter 6 brings fishes and loaves, walking on water, parables, abandonment by some disciples, a hint at the Ascension and a bit of prophecy concerning Judas. Of note - and I’m surprised that I never noticed this - is that Jesus appears to have teleportation ability!

21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Chapter 7 begins a stretch where John differs from the Synoptics entirely. Jesus is in Galilee, he avoids the Jews, he alludes to his eventual demise, and we get a brief back-and-forth on the nature and heritage of the Christ.

Chapter 8 is also completely new material. He saves the adulterous woman (”...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her“), engages in more banter about his nature and about the relevance of the Mosaic texts, then escapes a stoning.


Chapter 5 is completely different than the Synoptics (see the Gospel Parallels), while Chapter 6 is about 50% new. Both are chronologically situated during the “Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee” period, but John’s view of this period is a substantial detour from previous Gospels. He omits the vast majority of prior writings.

Chapters 7 & 8 also represent a complete divergence from the Synoptics, although he makes up for it with many memorable quotes.

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