This the second of a series of four books covering the four gospels. Based on the work of contemporary scripture scholars, and using the New Revised Standard Version, they are an attempt to offer some overall insights into the four gospels for the general reader.
There has been much discussion among scripture scholars about how Johns gospel came to be written, and as to why it is so different in style from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In all probability Johns gospel reflects communal memories of what Jesus said and did, but not the same memories preserved in the other gospels. The Evangelist, with his own creative and dramatic style, and the Redactor, later shaped the tradition into the written gospel we have today.
These pages should not replace reading and meditating on the gospel itself. While it is important to understand what the evangelist means, the reader is also invited to let the gospel speak to the heart as well as the head. There is an age-old tradition of contemplating the gospels, and so the reader is invited to undertake an imaginative journey, looking at the people, places and actions of the various actors in the gospel stories, identifying with them imaginatively in the hope of better appreciating each gospels message.
Philip Fogarty is an Irish Jesuit who works in Ireland and in the US. A writer and retreat-giver, he is a regular contributor to The Sacred Heart Messenger.
Set beside the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John is very different in its treatment of the Good News. Using the expositional skills of a lifetime as a teacher Fr Fogarty set the Gospel in its historical situation, as presenting the traditional view of the Beloved Disciple and his followers.
Its special relevance was based on the divinity of Christ opposed by the synagogue community in which the Christians originally lived. The difficulties for the ordinary reader are carefully dealt with. But though exploring these theological and historical insights, the author is also anxious that his readers will immerse themselves not in the commentary but in the text of the gospel. The actual words of the evangelist (as relayed to the reader by his editor) are what all guides and commentaries lead the readers back to.
- Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic, 11th March 2010