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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cultural Background and the Gospel of John

Discuss the possible cultural background of the Gospel of John. Suggest what sort of historical-cultural situation John’s Gospel might have been originally intended to address.

The Gospel of John differs from the Synoptic Gospels by “translating” certain elements when compared to the Synoptic Gospels in order to probably reach a different audience. For example, in the Gospel of John, it is mentioned that the presence of eternal life exists here and now . The New Testament speaks in a tone (in regards to eternal life) as an event to take place in the future and the Gospel of John speaks about eternal life as being already here which would be similar to the Synoptic Gospels phrase “the kingdom of God” being present now and to be fully realized in the future. This translated point that eternal life exists here and now suggests that the audience were not Jews and would not be familiar with the meaning of the phrase “the kingdom of God”. This would then suggest that the audience were Gentiles. The tradition of the Early Church holds the belief that the Gospel of John was written by either “John the Elder”, or “John the Apostle”. Even though it is uncertain who exactly wrote this Gospel, the consensus is that this Gospel was composed in Ephesus, Syria, or Alexandria . These three areas were predominately Gentile, or in the case of Alexandria, separated enough from Jewish influence that the audience would understand the changes that the Gospel of John speak of if compared to the Synoptic Gospels. When looking at the choice of words that the Gospel of John uses and in light of the historical information as to where this Gospel was composed, it is logical to suggest that the intended audience were Gentiles who would not understand Judaic concepts or beliefs.



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