Marjorie raised the issue of the size of the passage under consideration. The passage about John was small and had little meat to it.

I agree. It seems to me that its presence relates to political issues in the early church — or at least in John’s community. These issues don’t relate to us directly. There seems little meat there.

Again. I have been following the paragraph structure of the NRSV. Sometimes we get small chunks that way. It also means we will spend an enormous amount of time working through this gospel. Like the postmoderns I find liminal texts interesting — prologues and introductions. I consider them worthy of closer looks. But this could get tedious.

More importantly we may be looking at texts outside their wider contexts by doing this.

Solutions (proposed)

1) We all commit to reading the gospel of John in its entirety at some point and we all blog on how the gospel as a whole strikes us. This will give us a working start point for discussion — for example — does the closer reading we do as we go along change our general sense of the whole or confirm it. It also allows us to read the passages in their wider context(s).

2) I start posting by pericope instead of paragraph. A pericope is the name for the larger sections usually given a sub-title in most modern translations. It is based upon sounder scholarship than the individual paragraphs — and so has greater agreement across the translations. It normally conforms to the lectionary readings found in the earliest Christian writings.

Pericopes will be quite a lot larger passages in most cases — sometimes they are a single paragraph but at others they may be an entire chapter — like Jesus’ priestly prayer (chapter 17). They will provide more meat to chew on (metaphor chosen with apologies to vegetarians present). It also means our responses will likely vary as we respond to different details.

Having said all this. I do think it is useful to notice things that don’t speak to us and reflect on why. Appreciating that some obscure point that matters little to us now may have been very important way back when is a useful discipline — it distances us just enough from the text to make us doubt whether truly understand it.

All this is tentative of course. I’m open to other notions on how to proceed.


3 responses

  1. David said: “I do think it is useful to notice things that don’t speak to us and reflect on why.”I’m going to be provocative again and say that my attitude toward the Bible suggests to me that there are many parts of it worth very little time. (I’m not talking about John particularly, but the Bible as a whole.)

  2. The pericope way of doing it sounds fine to me.

  3. like Crystal, I’m for pericopes (and perhaps we can work a trilobite discussion in as well) 😉

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