The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

John Shelby Spong


John Shelby Spong contends in The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic that this last gospel to be written was misinterpreted by the framers of the fourth-century creeds to be a literal account of the life of Jesus when in fact it is a literary, interpretive retelling of the events in Jesus' life through the medium of fictional characters, from Nicodemus and Lazarus to the "Beloved Disciple." The Fourth Gospel was structured first to place Jesus into the context of the Jewish scriptures, then to place him into the worship patterns of the synagogue, and finally to allow him to be viewed through the lens of a popular form of first-century Jewish mysticism. Spong’s intriguing study seeks to recapture the original message of this gospel, but also to provide us today with a radical new dimension to the claim that in the humanity of Jesus the reality of God has been met and engaged. (Modified from Amazon Kindle review)


Below are the chapters we will consider in the first week of the book study.


Wednesday, January 30

Part 1 Introducing the Fourth Gospel


Chapter 1 Setting the Stage


Chapter 2 John: One Gospel, More Than One Author


Chapter 3 Separating John from the Other Gospels


Chapter 4 The Work of a Palestinian Jew


Chapter 5 Tracing the Jewish Roots of the Prologue


Chapter 6 Permeating Wisdom: The Doorway into Jewish Mysticism


Chapter 7 John the Non-Literalist