JOHN'S GOSPEL IN NEW PERSPECTIVE, by Richard J. Cassidy. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1992. 132 pp. $18.95 (paper). ISBN 0-88344-818-1.
The Word and the World: The Cosmological Tale in the Fourth Gospel, by Adele Reinhartz. SBL Mon. Series 45. Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1992. 156 pp. $25.95 (paper). ISBN 1-55540-799-4.
These two words are interesting and readable contributions to the field of Johannine studies, each trying to arrive at a plausible explanation for the composition of the Gospel. Cassidy states his objective at the outset: to establish that John responded to the conditions of Roman rule in setting forth his Gospel, and that the historical realities of "interplay" between Rome and Christians at the time of John's writing seem to confirm his (p. 5). Some of the timely realities considered are: the Jewish tax, the imperial cult, the titles ascribed to Jesus, and selected portions of the Gospel. Throughout, Cassidy argues that John "consciously chose" to deal with special themes and elements (p. 28) that would speak to the "readers of the Gospel who lived within the context of Roman rule" (p. 54).
Reinhartz, on the other hand, argues for a larger, overarching purpose behind the Gospel. She sees a …