Reconfiguring the Gospels

RublevRublev Shipmate
It's thought that John's gospel was written as a supplement to Mark.

So John does something different to the Synoptics in his narrative with striking omissions, additions and changes.

For example, in John6:68-69 Peter's famous Confession of Christ is retold as a tribute to the faithfulness of the twelve disciples.

What was John trying to do in reconfiguring the gospels ?


  • What do you think he was trying to do?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I was struck by that passage in John 6 this morning in the Daily Office. I'd never really noticed it before. Why would you take a set piece like Peter's Confession of Christ - which is the hinge point in the Synoptic narratives - and use it as a comment on the Bread of Heaven discourse instead. And John is full of unexpected twists like that. Why does he make such a radical configuration?
  • Why is it thought that John's gospel was written as a supplement to Mark? I understand that they were written for different communities, as were all gospels, but I am open to different opinions.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I agree with LKK, there is no evidence to suggest John supplements Mark. John's sources are completely different.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 21
    Clement of Alexandria said that John was written as a supplement to the others: 'John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels...composed a spiritual gospel' (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.7).

    John omits SOM, Peter's Confession of Christ, the Transfiguration, the Words of Institution at the Last Supper and the Agony at Gethsemane. It's curious that he would leave these out but perhaps he thought they were too well known to need further reflection.

    Instead of parables John presents symbolic discourses on the Logos, the Bread from Heaven, the Vine and the Branches, and the Farewell Discourses.

    He adds the I Am sayings (which are a unique source) to show how Christ can meet the spiritual needs of everyone.

    Rather than presenting a chronological narrative of the life of Christ it presents Him in His personal relationships with men and women. And John does the same thing in His resurrection narrative making it the most moving account of the gospels. To me that is John's reader response method - the gospel being 'written that you may believe' (John 20: 31).
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    That’s rather different to seeing John as a supplement to Mark alone.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Mark is generally taken as the original template gospel because 91% of Mark is in Matthew, 53% in Luke and 8% in John. Mark is probably the most innovative of all in inventing the gospel genre. The other Synoptics offer different perspectives and emphases with Matthew presenting Jesus as the new Moses in SOM and Luke portraying him as the great storyteller in his collection of parables. He also seems to have been the only evangelist who spoke to Mary.

    But John is presenting a radical new depth in his theology which is probably why he is described as a spiritual gospel. He begins with his remarkable Hymn to the Word connecting the story of Creation in Genesis 1 with the theological meaning of the incarnation of Christ.

    It explains the striking omissions and additions in John if you read him as offering an expanded commentary upon the theological meaning of the life of Christ presented in Mark.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    I think you may have answered your own question.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I have sketched a map. There are numerous ways to explore John's theology. It all depends what you find interesting in his gospel.

    When it comes to Peter's dramatic confession of faith I'm intrigued that John would throw that away as it were. Instead we see Jesus declaring Himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman.

    Perhaps John thought it was more persuasive to his readers to reflect upon a whole series of responses to Jesus - men and women, rich and poor, positive and negative - so that they could locate themselves within the story. It's certainly a more dynamic and interactive account than the Synoptic chronological narratives.

    And John's three resurrection stories of Mary, Thomas and Peter provide a remarkable climax. You are practically drawn in the walk in the garden with Mary and encounter Jesus, it is so vividly described.
Sign In or Register to comment.