Yes, Virginia, there is more than Donald

One grows tired of reacting to a failed democracy – especially when the faithful electorate hires a demolition expert to finish the job. Yet, we must be diligent; there is no second inning in this ball game. Nevertheless, the mariner must have a reprieve; who thought religion would be considered a haven?

Mariner was up late a few weeks ago browsing late night – AKA early morning – television. He stopped to watch one of those New Testament films about the life of Jesus. It was wholly graphic in nature, typical of these productions, with no nuances about philosophy, Judaism, Christianity, culture, dogma or doctrine. The kind with Jesus portrayed by a blue-eyed European with coifed hair.

Also typical was the straight-line portrayal of the best of the Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (Admitting Matthew is mariner’s favorite gospel because it is a sociological dance between the Old Testament and the New Testament.) Poor gospel John is always denied recognition because he doesn’t tell the same story as the Synoptic Three.

PBS has an introduction to the Gospel John that is better than mariner can produce so he copied the paragraphs and inserted them below:

John’s gospel is different from the other three in the New Testament. That fact has been recognized since the early church itself. Already by the year 200, John’s gospel was called the spiritual gospel precisely because it told the story of Jesus in symbolic ways that differ sharply at times from the other three. For example, Jesus dies on a different day in John’s gospel than in Matthew, Mark and Luke…. Whereas in the three synoptic gospels Jesus actually eats a Passover meal before he dies, in John’s gospel he doesn’t. The last supper is actually eaten before the beginning of Passover so that the sequence of events leading up to the actual crucifixion are very different for John’s gospel. And one has to look at it and say, why is the story so different? How do we account for these differences in terms of the way the story-telling developed? And the answer becomes fairly clear when we realize that Jesus has had the last supper a day before so that he’s hanging on the cross during the day of preparation before the beginning of Passover.

So here’s the scene in John’s gospel: on the day leading up to Passover, and Passover will commence at 6 o’clock with the evening meal, on the day leading up to that Passover meal is the day when all the lambs are slaughtered and everyone goes to the temple to get their lamb for the Passover meal. In Jerusalem this would have meant thousands of lambs being slaughtered all at one time. And in John’s gospel that’s the day on which Jesus is crucified. So that quite literally the dramatic scene in John’s gospel has Jesus hanging on the cross while the lambs are being slaughtered for Passover. John’s gospel is forcing us, dramatically at least, through the storytelling mode, to think of Jesus as a Passover lamb. Jesus doesn’t eat a Passover meal, Jesus is the Passover meal, at least within the Christian mind in the way that John tells the story.

PBS did an excellent job of showing why John is less popular. Unlike Matthew, who plays ping-pong back and forth between Judaism and Christianity, John tells the gospel story in the context of the Old Testament. The reader must be familiar with both religions in order to see the spiritual differences. That being possible, the Old Testament, compiled in stages since 4000 BC, and the new New Testament being compiled as we read, have very different beliefs in God, spirituality, ethics, and doctrine.

If one of these late-night Jesus productions used John, not only would the storyline be different, the purpose of dialogue would be to articulate differences between Judaism and Christianity – which is the true motivation for John. John clearly does not intend to accept any Jewish dogma. Hence the reputation for spiritual clarity rather than historical sequencing.

That was refreshing, wasn’t it?

Ancient Mariner

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