Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6

Article excerpt

The Christology of the Fourth Gospel: Its Unity and Disunity in the Light of John 6. By Paul N. Anderson. Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1996. 352 pp. $25.00 (paper).

Anderson's work is a revision of the dissertation submitted in 1988 to the University of Glasgow. It focuses on John 6 because Anderson sees that chapter as a proving ground for source-critical theories about the gospel as a whole. Bultmann, Fortna and others have concluded that the fourth evangelist borrowed material from a "signs source" and a "speeches source" in composing the first edition of his work. An ecclesiastical redactor later made additions to the work intending to make it more palatable to the church. Therefore the gospel now shows widely varying views on christology, eschatology and sacramentology because of its multiple authorship.

Anderson examines this reconstruction and finds it deficient. The material assigned to the signs and speeches sources shows no significant difference in style and vocabulary in comparison to the evangelist's own contributions. Thus he concludes that the entire chapter is from a single author, although it did undergo a revision late in the first century.

Nevertheless John's gospel contains concepts which appear to be in tension with one another. There is a messiahship based on the "prophet like Moses" notion of Dt. 18:15-22 and another along the lines of David Redivirus. The same gospel that emphasizes Jesus' equality with God also teaches subordinationism. It maintains both realized and futuristic eschatology. Anderson's explanation for such polarities is that the evangelist was a dialectical thinker. He believed that theological truth is best expressed by juxtaposing concepts that are at least in tension with one another if not in direct conflict. He was also a critical thinker who was engaged in dialogue not only with other groups and individuals, but also with himself He was more tolerant of ambiguity than he was of monodimensional attempts to express divine truth. …

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