Michael Boling – Major Themes of John’s Gospel and Their Application

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John provides the reader of his gospel with six major themes which, when understood within their context, have multifarious applications for the modern reader and to the body of Christ at large. The six major themes of the Gospel of John are God, the Christ, salvation, the Spirit, the new covenant community, and last things. Each has subsumed within it thematic elements which transcend John’s Gospel and which, perhaps more importantly, can be related to the holistic message revealed throughout Scripture.

Andreas Kostenberger avers that God as outlined in John is chiefly characterized by two overarching concepts: “the one who sent Jesus and as the Father of the Son” [1]. These conceptualizations of God are important to understand as the focus of John’s Gospel is relayed through the modality by which John presents God. The focus of John’s Gospel is not on God Himself, but instead on His Son. The Jewish people were cognizant of and had a devout belief in a monotheistic God. This is evidenced by the Shema, the chief prayer of Judaism and an “affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God” [2]. The purpose of John’s writing was not to develop additional theology concerning God. His purpose was to reveal, initially to the Diaspora Jews and Jewish proselytes and eventually to the world, that Jesus was the Messiah; a belief which unfortunately has largely not taken root among many Jews. Modern believers can take heart that Jesus took the form of man, experienced all the issues that humanity has to deal with on a daily basis and yet was still without sin. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins and thus has provided us with a modality by which we can have a relationship with God the Father. This is a message which the church today needs to explicate more than ever not only to the members of the congregation but to the world at large. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Major Themes of John’s Gospel and Their Application”

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Michael Boling – John’s Description in His Gospel of Jesus as the “Word”

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The depiction of Jesus as the “Word” by John in his prologue has multifarious purposes. It can be argued that John’s chief purpose is to relate Jesus with the Old Testament theology surrounding the words from God as indicative of divine speech and ultimately to creation itself. Throughout his gospel, John consistently refers to Old Testament terminology so any discussion of the reasoning or sources for John’s usage of logos must begin there in order for this concept to be properly understood.

The Old Testament is replete with discussion of the Hebrew expression of word, dabar. Genesis equates this expression initially with the act of creation and later in a depiction of revelation and deliverance [1]. The immediate nature by which the word of the Lord is employed throughout the Old Testament is consistently annotated in the narrative. Additionally, verses such as Psalm 107:20 describe God “sending forth His word” and the resulting action that took place once God spoke. All of these elements are subsumed within the concept of Jesus as the “Word.”

Carson lucidly outlines the connection between the Old Testament usage of word and John’s purpose by stating:

“In short, God’s Word in the Old Testament is his powerful self-expression in creation, revelation and salvation, and the personification of that Word makes it suitable for John to apply it as a title to God’s ultimate self-disclosure, the person of his own Son” [2].

Continue reading “Michael Boling – John’s Description in His Gospel of Jesus as the “Word””

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Michael Boling – Aporia: The Story of the Adulteress, John 7:53-8:11

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As noted by author Gary Burge, the concept of aporia was developed by theologian Edward Schwartz in 1907 in an attempt to categorize what have been labeled as literary seams in the Gospel of John. These aporias, more commonly known as literary seams, are located throughout John’s Gospel creating for many scholars a conundrum as to their exact purpose and arrangement within the gospel text. Many esteemed theologians have sought to establish sound hermeneutical raison d’être for the aporias found in John’s Gospel, in particular why they have been assimilated over time into the Johannine text. One particular aporia, the story of the adulteress or pericope de adultera, located in John 7:53-8:11, is a story that lucidly evinces the divinity and compassion of Christ compared with the legalistic coldness of the Jewish religious leaders. There are admitted difficulties in ascertaining the original source of this aporia, most notably the glaring absence of this particular text in many of the oldest and respected manuscripts. Nevertheless, the story of the adulteress is an integral part of the surrounding context and thus is not in conflict with the holistic purpose of John’s Gospel.

Scholars D.A. Carson, Sir Edwyn Hoskins and William Hendrikson have contributed exceptional exposition on the story of the adulteress. These three renowned theologians clearly explain to their readers why the story of the adulteress has continued to be an accepted part of the canon throughout church history with diminutive argumentation on the part of the theological community. Their exposition chiefly revolves around addressing the exclusion of this text by ancient manuscripts and the early church fathers, its diverse placement within the context of John’s Gospel, and the atypical Johannine flavor of this aporia.

As noted by Carson, the efforts of theologians such as Zane Hodges to prove the merits of the inclusion of the story of the adulteress in the original Johannine autograph have been confronted with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Carson rightly denotes that John 7:53-8:11 is “present in most of the Medieval Greek miniscule manuscripts”, but is “absent from virtually all early Greek manuscripts that have come down to us, representing great diversity of textual traditions.” Hoskins avers the recent inclusion of this pericope in the Latin Vulgate but recognizes its omission from much earlier manuscripts. He notes that “in the Greek Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and in the Washington and Koridethi manuscripts, the text of the Fourth Gospel runs continuously from 7:52 to 8:12, without any sign of a break.” Additionally, he asserts that “no Greek commentator on the gospel before Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) makes any reference to the passage, and even Euthymius judges it to be an insertion, since the accurate copies either omitted it or marked it with obelisks.” Hendrikson states that the “oldest and best manuscripts do not have this story. It makes its first appearance in Codex Bezae. It is found in the later uncials (the so-called Koine text) and the cursives based upon them.” Hoskins lucidly notes that “whereas the passage is authentic in the theological and doctrinal sense of the word, its authenticity as part of the original Gospel of Saint John is a matter of free critical investigation.” But wait, there’s more!

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