It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

(Albert Einstein, 1921, in response to Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless)


In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1.18)


Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.



Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

(William Butler Yeats)   



Exegesis Guidelines


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Westminster College 

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 REL 208: The Gospel of John

Fall Semester • 2007 



Welcome to Religion 208: The Gospel of John! This course is a general introduction to, and an exploration of, the Gospel According to John. More specifically, our aim will be

to read carefully and critically through the Gospel According to John;

to become familiar with the methodological issues involved in Johannine interpretation;

to compare the Gospel According to John with other canonical and non-canonical Gospels;

to cultivate a reading of the Gospel According to John that is both critical and creative by developing exegetical skills using modern methods of interpretation, especially historical-critical and literary approaches;

to explore the meaning of the Gospel According to John in its historical context (e.g., cultural, geographical, literary, political contexts) as well as in relation to contemporary thought; and

to discern major themes and issues in the Gospel According to John and to consider their significance for the history of western civilization and for us.

Achieving these goals will not be easy; the course will require hard work on your part. At the same time, you can expect this course to be full of exciting, challenging, enlightening, frustrating, and rewarding experiences.


This course is designed so that anyone, religious or not, who does the required work can attain the goals mentioned above. This course is not designed to persuade you to a particular faith or religious point of view. Nor is it intended to build up or disparage existing faith. Students who consider themselves to be followers of any religion, or no religion at all, are all welcome on this semester journey with the Gospel According to John.

 Requirements and evaluation for the course


For my criteria for evaluation of assignments go to Evaluation and read the information carefully.

NB: If you have any questions regarding any assignment, please 1) ask in class for the benefit of others or 2) make an appointment to see me.


Assigned readings are essential and should be completed before the classes for which they are assigned—use your best judgment to divide the readings evenly for each week. Keeping notes on the readings is highly recommended. Occasionally I may assign additional readings, but these will ordinarily be short. You must come to class with written questions or comments you have about the readings (see Participation). The primary focus throughout the course will be on readings from the Gospel According to John.



You will prepare a discussion starter covering

the main idea(s) of the reading assignment

your critique or response to it, and questions you had while, or after, reading the assignment new(including references to previous readings).new

You should aim for 10–15 minutes. You're expected to have read the text(s) thoroughly and be able to share the penetrating questions or issues you dealt with in your reading, preparation, or even further research. NB: you don't necessarily have to understand everything before class, but you should demonstrate that you prepared and that you can discern, and are familiar with, the major issues in the text(s). Remember that questions are more valuable than answers. You should include or suggest challenges, discoveries, insights, questions, etc. for class discussion. See my “Evaluation” web page under Presentations for evaluation criteria (ignore "Communication Skills" section of the Presentation evaluation page). If you'd like to use "smart" equipment, let me know as soon as possible.



You will submit a 3–4 page exegesis paper on either John 13.1–11 or 18.1–11. For ideas, look at some critical commentaries and academic journals (i.e., scholarly books and articles on John with lots of [foot]notes). This must be on time (in the R-drive). If not, you must write another paper. new If you need some tips for doing exegesis, see the Exegesis Guidelines page. You may find the Tips for writing papers helpful. new

You must submit (on the R-drive) and discuss with me the following two preliminary, ungraded assignments, the quality of which may affect your final paper grade. Make an appointment as early as you can (see schedule below) to bring a hard copy of these for discussion.

1) Proposal: Submit in one file

1.1) a paragraph stating your interest, including which portion of text you propose to analyze and


1.2) a preliminary bibliography that includes at least 10 secondary sources (besides course textbooks or reference books) you found to be promising for your paper, including 5 journal articles.

You may use Web sources for your research, but they will not count among the 10 sources required for this assignment. NB: Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they also exist in print form.

Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for the bibliography.

Submit your proposal as early as possible in the semester, so that it can be approved for you to begin your work.

2) Draft: Submit in one file

2.1) a clear introductory paragraph that includes the thesis of your paper,


2.2) two sample paragraphs, and


2.3) your revised bibliography (or works cited).

The paper should represent original work (i.e., your own thoughts), not a mere digest of other people’s opinions. Your own reading and re-reading of the relevant texts, as well as review of other materials, are fundamental to the task. I want to know what you discover in your engagement with the text(s)—a "text" can be written works, art works, music, plays, movies, interview, research results, poll data etc.—whether or not you agree with the authors or the opinions presented in class, including mine.

Focus on honing your ability to argue for your opinions and conclusions by supporting them with evidence from texts (especially primary sources, in this case mostly 1 Corinthians and other Pauline texts) and other relevant sources.

Your final bibliography (or works cited) must contain at least 6 secondary sources, including 3 journal articles used in your paper.

Use only printed sources in your paper, even if you used Web sources during your research. NB: Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they also exist in print form.

Use footnotes to document your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian). Learn the automatic footnote function of your word processor.

Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments.


Throughout the semester, you’ll be responsible for learning significant terms covered in our texts or in class (see the “terms” file on the R-drive). You will be responsible for the definitions and, when appropriate, significant biblical passages related to the terms. Use 1) the course texts (e.g., glossary, index), 2) the resources listed in Resources to consider below, or 3) any other appropriate sources of information. The terms may constitute a part of any quiz or exam.




There will be 2 short quizzes (ca. 15 minutes long) and 1 longer quiz at midterm (ca. 30 minutes long). They will cover the materials in the course, including the reading assignments and terms, we will have covered by the time of the quizzes. The final exam will cover the entire sweep of the course. See my Evaluation page under Quizzes and examinations.

In lieu of the final exam, you may take a 30-minute oral exam. You must inform me at least a month before the exam date to discuss this option.


Grades will be assigned as fairly as possible. See my Evaluation page under Grades for more information. The final grade for the course will consist of the following:

exegesis paper


NB: participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

final examination




discussion starter


quiz #2 (ca. 30 mins)


quiz #3 (ca. 15 mins)


quiz #1 (ca. 15 mins)


NB: If you have any questions about how you're doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.


You may earn extra credit any time during the semester.

Submit a 2–3 page reflection paper relating something from popular culture (e.g., movie, play, TV show, book, any performance) to a particular NT text or theme (consult the instructor). It should be mostly critique and not merely a plot summary.

Do other extra credit assignments described in the file on the R-drive.

NB: The instructor reserves the right to make the final determination concerning any extra credit. You may submit more than one, but the maximum extra credit earned (in addition to the percentages earned through regular assignments) will be 5%.

 Required books

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NRSV), 3rd ed. You may use another Bible, if you wish, but the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) will be the common text for class assignments and discussions. In all cases, you are encouraged to use other English translations (e.g., NIV) and Bibles in other languages in addition to the NRSV. The Tanakh is especially recommended for comparison of Old Testament passages.

Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John 1–12. New York: Doubleday, 1966.

Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John 13–21. New York: Doubleday, 1970.

Brown, Raymond. An Introduction to the Gospel of John. New York: Doubleday, 2003.

 Recommended books (* = highly recommended)


Tanakh. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1985 (5748).


Achtemeier, Paul. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.

Aland, Kurt, ed. Synopsis of the four Gospels. New York: United Bible Societies, 1982.


Brown, Raymond E. Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine. Wipf & Stock, 2002.


_____. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.


_____. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.


_____. Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible. New York: Paulist Press, 1990.

Duling, Dennis C. and Norman Perrin. The New Testament: Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History. 3rd ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1994.


Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1979. (See my "Resources" page under "Miscellaneous" for the first edition of Strunk.)

 Resources to consider

See my Resources page for McGill, AV, & Web resources, esp. The NT Gateway.

R-drive: for helpful materials, check not only the course folder but also the "Religion" folder.

Bible concordances (McGill library)

Ferguson, Duncan S. Bible Basics. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.


Turner, Nicholas. The Handbook for Biblical Studies. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982.

 Keeping in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for the latest messages from me regarding course matters (e.g., changes in the syllabus). Also visit this page for updates to the syllabus, as well as my homepage for other information and resources related to the course. Please feel free to make an appointment any time about any course matters.

 Tips from former students

For some practical advice from former students, see the tips page.

 One last word …

Regardless of how demanding all of this is, I’m pretty much a nice guy. I promise to be as fair as possible. I recognize that you’ll be quite busy this semester, striving after all your passions. I understand. I have my passions too, e.g., my wonderful family, music, philosophy, nature, mountain biking, fixing things, food. But I’m also very passionate about education, both yours and mine—I don’t just mean the business of acquiring knowledge, but more importantly the total development of honorable human beings. I don't require you to share my excitement about all the things we'll cover, but I do expect you to complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that as well as you can, I will make myself available outside the class time and the office hours. I'll be more than glad to help you out when you're stuck while doing an assignment. Or if you have any questions, concerns, complaints, and even compliments, I will do my best to take the time to listen and offer my response. Keep in mind that I'm here to help you learn. So, again, welcome to Religion 208: Gospel of John!

C o u r s e   S c h e d u l e

R 18:30–21:30          PH 131


Assigned readings

= required

> = recommended

+ = read in the library (do not check out)

Project / texts

bold = text for presentation

red bold = due date

highlight = R-drive file (only on campus & Internet Explorer)


Class / topics

Week 1


Aug 30 R

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

Fisher: Effective Learning

Brown, Intro: vii–xvii; xxi–xxvi (skim); 1–14

Brown, Gospel: v–vii; App. 1


>Bible in 50 words

>The NT Gateway (excellent Web resources)


>Chronology (info & links)

>Do you know how to think? (a self-exam)

Copy all relevant Web pages to your hard disk or diskette

Reminder: bring your Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation)

Translation comparison


>Optical Illusions


>Bible Hunt


>Perception quiz


Bible Hunt

General orientation

Optical conditioning

Greek NT: 1st page


Apostles' Creed

Nicene Creed

Week 2


Sep 6 R

Brown, Intro: ch. 1 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 1 [optional])

Brown, Gospel: 1 (skim "Notes" prudently), App. 2

Brown, Intro: ch. 2 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 2)

Brown, Gospel: 2–5


>The Greeks (interactive site): read about Socrates, Plato, etc.

>Blogging the Bible (an interesting viewpoint that might resonate with your life)

John 1.1–18


Reminder: bring your Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation)

John 1.19–51


>Transmission errors

>Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts (very helpful)

1. "An Overview of Johannine Studies"

•Discussion: Woomer

2. "The Unity and Composition of the Fourth Gospel"
•Discussion: Sumpter

Week 3


Sep 13 R

Brown, Intro: ch. 3 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 3)

Brown, Gospel: 6–12, App. 3


>Jesus in Synoptics & Jn

>The Diatessaron

>Jesus & Superman? (scroll all the way down to see the comparison)

>From Jesus to Christ

>C. S. Lewis: historical Jesus

John 23

Phraseology: KoG & KoH 


>Redaction & hermeneutics (funny, interesting & instructive)

3. "Johannine Tradition: Relation to the Synoptics and Historicity"
•Discussion: Smeltzer

Week 4


Sep 20 R

Brown, Intro: ch. 4 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 4)

Brown, Gospel: 13–16, App. 4

Brown, Intro: ch. 5 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 5)

Brown, Gospel: 17–19


•Paper appointments: BarkerLeipheimer

John 4

John 5

Quiz 1

4. "Proposed Influences on the Religious Thought of the Fourth Gospel"

•Discussion: Olson

5. "Echoes of Apologetics and the Purpose of the Gospel"
•Discussion: Sahar

Week 5


Sep 27 R

Brown, Intro: ch. 6 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 6–7I)

Brown, Gospel: 2023

Brown, Intro: ch. 7 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 8)

Brown, Gospel: 24–26



>John 6 in praise song "I Am the Bread of Life"

•Last date for proposal: Sep 28 (R-drive; file name = "last name proposal.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)

•Paper appointments: McCartyWoomer

John 6.134

John 6.3571

6. "The Author, the Place, and the Date"

•Discussion: McCarty

7. "Crucial Questions in Johannine Theology"

•Discussion: Leipheimer

Week 6


Oct 4 R

Brown, Intro: ch. 8 (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 9)

Brown, Gospel: 27–29; App. 1–2

Brown, Intro: ch. 9, "Editor's Conclusion" (cf. Brown, Gospel: Intro, 10)

Brown, Gospel: 30–33


>"I Saw the Light"

John 7.152

John 7.53–8.59

No class (review course materials & work on exegesis paper)

8. "The Language, Text, and Format of the Gospel"

9. "The Outline of the Gospel"

Week 7


Oct 11 R

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for gradingask Qs, if any)

Brown, Gospel: 3437

Brown, Gospel: 3840

John 910

John 11


>Dylan Thomas "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"

•Discussion: Himes

•Discussion: Gabriel

Week 8


Oct 18 R


Oct 20–23 (break)

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

Brown, Gospel: App. 6 (review of chs. 112)

Brown, Gospel: 41–45

Brown, Gospel: 46–47


>Video: “From Jesus to Christ, pt.3: Jesus in the Gospels (AV; very good for review)

John 12

John 13.1–30

Quiz 2 (early dismissal)

Week 9


Oct 25 R

Brown, Gospel: 48–49

Brown, Gospel: 5052, App. 5


Happy !

•Last date for draft: Oct 29 (R-drive; file name = "last name draft.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)

John 13.31–38

John 14

•Discussion: Dressler

•Discussion: Barker

Week 10


Nov 1 R

Brown, Gospel: 53–54

Brown, Gospel: 55–57

John 15.116.4a

John 16.4b17.8



Nov 2 F

Movie night with the Nas 7:47-ish

directions on the R-drive (view in MS Word: in menu, click View>Print Layout) or click here

Week 11


Nov 8 R

Brown, Gospel: 5859

Brown, Gospel: 6062

John 17.926

John 18.127



Week 12


Nov 15 R


Nov 21–25 (break)

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if any)

Brown, Gospel: 63–64

Brown, Gospel: 65–66

John 18.28–19.16a

John 19.16b–42

Quiz 3




Week 13


Nov 29 R

Brown, Gospel: 67–70

John 20



Week 14


Dec 6 R


Brown, Gospel: 71–73

•Last date for paper: Dec 3 (R-drive; file name = "last name draft.doc"; see example of file name on R-drive)

•Last day for extra credit papers: Dec 11 (R-drive; file name = "last name extra.doc")


John 21

Faith, history & text

Final thoughts

Dec 11 T

Reading Day (Review for final exam?)

Dec 13 R

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 18:30–21:00 (regular classroom)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!



Exegesis Guidelines


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