Updates & miscellaneous musings!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Gospel of John--Really worth the trouble?

ScriptureMonkey: you should read the gospels. I'd like to hear your opinion on them
eeuuugh: Maybe I should, not right now though.
ScriptureMonkey: fair enough
eeuuugh: what are they about?

I realized tonight that I've never read The Gospel of John all the way through, so I'm doing that now.
And no, it's not appropriate to the season, because Jesus' birth (and the wise men, and all that) is only mentioned in Luke, and briefly, though you wouldn't know it from what a big deal people make of them.

Anyway, John? Kind of sucks.
Christians like John even more than the other gospels (a lot of tracts they give out say shit like, "Read the Bible every day! Start with the Gospel of John!"), I guess because it makes the biggest deal out of Jesus being God, and they're into that. But it's turgid repetitive prose hardly seems the best way to win converts.
It's the latest of the gospels (despite what it implies, it was almost certainly written a generation after Jesus lived), steeped in Greek mysticism, ahistorical, anti-semetic (a lot of actions are attributed to "The Jews"), vaguely boring...

And worst of all, Jesus just comes across as kind of an ass.
He's talking to a Samaratan woman who mentions that Jews think they're more important than Samaratans. He replies, "You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."

So, "Yeah, the Jews are better than you, but I'm better than the Jews, so, it rocks to be me."

"The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

"Oh, fyi, that's me. LOL."

It's not too different from scenes in the other gospels, to be sure, but only in the sense that the "C3PO in a robot factory" scene in "Attack of the Clones" was like "Empire Strikes Back" since both had 3PO getting dismantled.
The basic idea is more or less the same as its predeccessors, but it's more caught up in how everything figures into an obnoxious pre-determined plan than in actually telling a decent story.
Just as we need Han Solo, we need the sermon on the mount.

Worse still, John** cares more about working out his theology than giving you any reason to believe in it.
You get sentences that are vaguely mystical but mostly just confusing like "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth." God's awesome, Earth...something. Whatever, man.

John has its moments to be sure--"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is John's, and it's one of my favorite things in the Bible.
And that double-bladed light sabre fight in "Phantom Menace" was pretty cool, but it didn't make up for Jar Jar.

John does disserve some points for originality. Matthew and Luke were (probably) both mostly a hodgepodge of Mark and The Q Gospel, while John did it's own thing.
And it's pretty damn impressive to have something you wrote being widely read 1800 years after you died.

But next time you're looking for your Jesus fix (and you will be), I'd still recommend Matthew's completeness or Mark's originality over John any day. Or, alternately, The Brick Testament, if you're into that kind of thing.

**There's no reason to believe The Gospel of John was written by John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, John the Divine, or anyone else named John, really. But that's what the book's called, so what else am I gonna call him?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

My Photo
Location: Oakland, CA, United States