Bishop Spong on the Gospel of John

fourthgospelAfter five years of study and writing, retired Episcopal Bishop John Spong has published a new book that argues that the Gospel of John signals in several ways that its author did not intend it to be read as a literal account of Jesus’ life and teachings.

Spong summarizes his conclusions by suggesting:

  1. John is a composite of writings from at least three writers, none of whom were John Zebedee or any other of Jesus’ disciples.
  2. Jesus probably didn’t say the things that are attributed to him in the gospel.
  3. Probably none of Jesus’ “signs” ever actually happened.
  4. Many of the characters in the book were invented by the author.
  5. The book itself ridicules literal interpretations.
  6. The author exaggerates details to signal that we are not dealing with literal reporting.

Clearly (and not unsurprisingly), this is a very different way of reading the Gospel of John than has been customary. What might change in our understanding of Jesus, the Gospel process, and the life of the church?

You can read more of Spong’s own commentary on his book at the Huffington Post. Or better yet, read The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic (HarperOne, 2013) and then tell us what you think.



One response to “Bishop Spong on the Gospel of John

  1. For another take on Spong’s book, consider the post from Bart Ehrman, another biblical scholar who’s work is often controversial in many of the same ways as Spong’s:

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