Lectionary Year A
March 3, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
There are three major events which follow the prolog/introduction of the Gospel of John and which precedes John 4. The major events tied primarily to Jesus' words are as follows; 1. Jesus turns water into wine; 2. Jesus clears the temple of sinful traders; 3. Jesus explains also to Nicodemus (us) we must be born of the spirit.
Following John 4:42 are more works and words of Jesus. 1. Jesus heals a nobleman's son 2. Jesus heals a man who had sat at the pool of Bethzatha for an extended period of time.
In the events beginning in Chapter 1 through Chapter 5, I found Jesus working primarily with words. These chapters also include extended proclamations by Jesus identifying Himself as God in the flesh.
B. Organization of the Compositional Whole
I outline the Gospel of John into the following 5 sections:
1. Prolog and Introduction Chapter 1
2. Jesus identifies Himself through Words and Works Chapter 2 - Chapter 12
3. Jesus' Words and Works with His disciples Chapter 13 - Chapter 17
4. The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Chapter 18 - Chapter 20
5. Jesus appears to and charges the disciples to follow Him Chapter 21
This outline is similar to the outline in the Word Biblical Commentary which divides this Gospel into 4 major sections. The principal differences between Word Biblical Commentary and my own outline are 1. Word Biblical Commentary titles my number 2 "The Public Ministry Of Jesus;" 2. Word Biblical Commentary includes the private time Jesus spends with His disciples, Chapters 13 through 17 with Chapters 18 through 20 in their section 4 titled "The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.
One division of the Book of John I found interesting was offered by Dr. Vernon McGee. One of his suggested outlines simply divided the Gospel into 3 sections; 1-12 - Light; 13 - 17 Love; and 18 - 21 - Life.
C. Issues of Authorship
90 - 100 AD is when most of the sources I consulted said the Gospel of John was written. This would make John a rather old man when he wrote his testimony. Some do agree that this is the actual writings of John speculating that "for seventy years John had thought of Jesus. (And) day by day the Holy Spirit had opened out to him the meaning of what Jesus said. So when John was near the century of life and his days were numbered, he and his friends sat down to remember." (Barclay,1977, 24). In addition internal evidence states that the author was an eyewitness to many of the events in this testimony. However, the most compelling evidence supporting this claim is from the writings of Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. According to Word Biblical Commentary "He wrote: 'John, the disciple of the Lord, who leaned on his breast, also published the gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia" (Word Biblical Commentary,1999, Ixvii)
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