I’ve started a new class on a new day with a whole lot of new people. Who Is That Woman In Bible Study? is the post that kicked it all off two years ago. Delving into the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) with six hundred southern women was quite a paradigm shift. I then signed up for a second round and learned about the good book’s conclusion, Revelation. There’s much in between the beginning and the end, so what the hell, I’m doing it again.
This time I’ve decided to change things up and take the class at a different location. I joined nearly nine hundred women last Thursday morning, ranging in age from nineteen to ninety-six, to study the Gospel of John. There’s a different vibe in this environment. Maybe it’s the energy generated by the large crowd or the fact that we are not in a sanctuary or the demeanor of the expository lecturer. I can’t put my figure on why, but I definitely do think I’ll enjoy it.
My intention in this series is to make blog posts shorter. That being said, there are a few things I’d like to review before I start to dig in.
The Bible is divided into two sections, the Old Testament written before Jesus came along and the New Testament with content written after Jesus died. Among other bodies of work, the New Testament contains four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called Synoptic Gospels and give us insight into Jesus as an historical figure. They primarily document what Jesus said, his gospel or “good news” about the kingdom of God, and what he did.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:14-15 NIV
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23; 9:35 NIV
I found it interesting that each of these men had a target audience. Matthew focused on convincing the Jewish community to believe Jesus; Mark and Luke concentrated on the Romans and the Greeks respectively.
The Gospel of John is theological rather than historical. The class notes say this Gospel was written twenty to thirty years later (A.D.80-100) than the other three. A quarter century is a long time for John to contemplate Jesus’ good news. After so much reflection, John must have been compelled to clarify what it all meant.
The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
Okay, so we have twelve apostles appointed by Jesus to go off and spread the good news. According to Matthew, their names are Peter, Andrew, James (son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. We know Peter became the head honcho and Judas committed suicide. John and Matthew both wrote gospels that made the cut when the New Testament was compiled. It must be asked, “The other two thirds had nothing to say?”
One will find gobs of information available about the Gnostic Gospels uncovered during archeological digs. I’d like to point out that the Gospel of Thomas (the apostle who went to India), the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) are included in this collection. I’m of the opinion that these three gospels are authentic and give us perspective from three additional individuals who were close to Jesus while he was living.
It’s a new day and we are contemporary people.
Let the games begin!