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Book Review Example: The New Testament

2021-07-19 13:28:09
7 pages
1696 words
University of Richmond
Type of paper: 
Book review
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1. Portrayal of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John

An evident striking difference of the Fourth Gospel is the way in which some of its Johannine themes stand out in contrast to other writings examined. Even to the readers, the Fourth Gospel is significantly different from the other three within the canon. Based on that, there exist numerous proofs indicating the difference between the book and those of the Synoptic. There is no evidence of the suggestion that Jesus Christ is the Word of God, creator of the world, and similar to God (Ehrman, 2000). Additionally, there is no indication that he was from heaven and would soon return. No proof suggests the widespread belief that to see Jesus is comparable to seeing God and to hear him is similar to listen to the Father.

Despite the significant and essential variations among the Synoptic Gospels, they are much more comparable to one another than any of them is to John. The most notable accounts in the Synoptic include the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary. The other is that in all the three, Jesus ministry begins with the baptism by John followed by duration of temptation by the devil in the wilderness. After his return, he starts spreading the news on the coming kingdom of God. The proclamation majorly is in the form of parables. Moreover, he performs miracles. Jesus then proceeds to the mountains where he transfigures. His identity in the books is not clear.

In contrast, the book of John contains none of the details. There is no mention of the birth of Jesus or about the mother being a virgin and the other events. The stories of John are unique and are nowhere else. Characters such as Jesus, the Jewish leaders, Pontius Pilate and several female followers appear in the Synoptic but are not present in the writings of John. Stories such as the feeding of 5000 people and walking on water are only in John except for the Passion narrative (Bible, 2000). In John, we come across some of the most impressive miracles such as turning water into wine, raising Lazarus from the dead, healing of the lame man by the pool of Bethzatha and restoration of the blind mans sight.

The other difference between the Synoptic and the book of John is in the stories they have in common. One of the variations is in his deeds. Jesus never performs many miracles as he does in the Synoptic. He does nothing to hide his abilities but openly performs the miracles to demonstrate who he was. An illustration is in the raising of Jairuss daughter in the Synoptic and raising of Lazarus in John. Lazarus event is a public spectacle as compared to that of Jairus that takes place privately.

What is shocking in the Synoptic Gospels is Jesuss refusal to unveil his identity. When the Pharisees approach him and request him to perform a sign, he refuses and calls them sinful for wanting a sign when his preaching was sufficient. An analogous lesson is evident in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. He was asked to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple. However, one wonders what is alluring about the request. An explanation gets given that the Angels of God will come and rescue him before he falls. There is a presumed assumption that perhaps the crowds of faithful were down ready to witness the intervention on Jesus behalf. The result would convince them of his true identity. In the Synoptic context when tempted to perform miracles he refuses and that enables him to hide his personality.

Neither of the narratives is in the Fourth Gospel. The book of John does not refer to the action as miracles but rather deeds as they are signs of who Jesus is. The primary purposes of miracles in Johns writings are to convince people of Jesus so that they could follow him. The objective is apparent by the Evangelist when he determines the importance of the deeds: Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which were not written in this book. But these are written so that you many come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (20:30-31) (Bible, 2000). Jesus never uses parables and does not focus on speaking about the coming of the kingdom of God. He, however, centers on himself as the one sent from God.

In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus comes from his Father and is about to return. His message brings about eternal life, and he is equal to God. He existed before and came is back to reveal his glory. He is the only way to God: I am the way, and the truth, and the life (Bible, 2000). In John, he virtually takes about himself in the entire reading which is in contrast to the Synoptic. In general, John is different from the Synoptic in both context and prominence, and also words and deeds.

2. Antichrists According to 1 and 2 John and their Beliefs

1 and 2 John appear to be a group of works produced by the same author at approximately the same duration. Clues are available in the letters detailing the historical context and the main reason that lead to their writing. The most crucial event indicates that the community experienced a serious shift. The author of 1 John suggests that a faction of the society had split from the rest. Those who detached themselves were labeled as antichrists a term referring to people were opposed to Christ. The author indicates that they have denied that Jesus is the Christ (2:22) (Bible, 2000). Additionally, they get contrasted to those who remain remained as realizing the truth.

The author's context implies that those who secede from the community, a group that was labeled the "secessionist" are Jews who failed to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah (Ehrman, 2000). However, they were once Christians, but certain factors made them change their stance. The other instance where antichrist is evident is in 1 John4:2-3 referring to "the deceivers who have gone out into the world (Bible, 2000). The description implies of secessionists who at the particular period were of the opinion that Jesus was not flesh and blood of human beings but instead was a divine creature. For the antichrists, it was not possible that God could have a real blood existence. It was because of the characteristics that associated with him such as immortal, all powerful and all knowing. Thus, there was no possibility of Jesus being a human and that he merely appeared to be.

Nonetheless, their proponents like Christians from Ignatius supported their views by highlighting examples such as the death of Jesus on the cross that justified his human nature. The secessionist from the Johannine community came up with a docetic form of Christology. From the biblical readings, it is evident that the writings are sensible. An example is in the opening words of 1John which seems to point at the people who doubted Christ's human nature. We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes(1:1-2) (Bible, 2000) In realization of the historical perspective of the epistle, the words become more understandable and transparent. The author disapproves those in doubt by reminding them of their traditions on the Word of God. He was a real human, shed pure blood plus he was visible. There is an emphasis on the importance of the blood for forgiveness and actual sacrifice of evil.

After the group excluded itself from the rest and their practices, the mentality they developed significantly had an impact on Christology. The view that Christ was flesh and messiah began decreasing, and people embraced the divine aspect more. Additionally, his role was to enlighten the society about Gods existence but got rejected by those living in darkness. While the last Gospel book was near completion, more members of the Johannine community believed that Jesus was equal to God. The developing and further comprehension of Jesus progressed further even after writing the Gospel. Nonetheless, the conservative Christians were unhappy with the situation, and this resulted in a split. A moral accusation resulted in their inability to practice the Commandments of God (2:4), and they failed to love their brothers and sisters (2:9-11; 4:20) (Bible, 2000). There was an argument that if they were in denial of Jesuss human nature, they as well undervalued the importance of their flesh.

Based on that, there is the argument that the antichrists were the ones who taught others to disobey the commandments and sin. Nonetheless, the issue is not clear due to the complexity in the interpretation of the setting at the period and what the objectives were. Minimal evidence is available that proves authors of the writings were dishonest on the assessment of their opponents. Nevertheless, what is evident is the perception he had of the situation. From the authors analysis, it is apparent that a section of the community split and taught different ideologies. They educated that Jesus was not a real human instead of a divine person. Also, they never upheld the commandments by showing love to one another, therefore, qualifying as liars and antichrists. The society progressed viewing them as threats out to deceive others. If that was the context as seen in the eyes of the Elder, there are additional details about the historical occasion of 1, 2 and 3 John.

The author was the head of a community distant from the one he discusses. He had the belief of influencing his audience hence there was a need for them to believe and act according to his wishes and will. 1 John was in specific directed to neighboring worship centers that had not joined the secessionists movement and an appeal for them to remain faithful. Likewise, 2 John was similar in context to the first. There is more ambiguity on what specifically brought the need to write the letters and their target audience.



Bible, H. (2000). King James Version. Texas: National Publishing Company.

Ehrman, B. D. (2000). The New Testament: A historical introduction to the early Christian writings. Oxford University Press, USA.

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