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Themes in the Gospel of John

The gospel according to John is usually distinguished from the synoptics for many reasons, including its new vocabulary. John includes many of the same stories and parables that the other gospels use, but his theology and ecclesiology are more fully developed. There is also a more conscious focus on signs, such as the use of light and water. In these pages, the intention is to look at the temple theme in John, along with his use of the symbols of light, water, and representative figures.

In this gospel, Jesus becomes a multifaceted symbol of life and nurturance, whether through the metaphor of the living water (3:121) or through the metaphor of Jesus as the bread of life (as in John 6:41). Fiorenza (1983) divided this gospel into three different sections: Jesus' public ministry and the book of signs, which includes chapters 112; instructions for the disciples, chapters 1317, and the passion and resurrection narrative, which includes chapters 1820. She indicated chapter 21 was probably added by a later redactor.

John's gospel is the latest of the gospels, located in time about 2030 years after the Markan account. It is quite different in its use of symbols, which is fully developed. One of the important ways in which John uses symbols is by adapting important symbols from the Jewish tradition for application for Jesus. These either associate Jesus with the symbols or identify Jesus as the symbols themselves.


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Themes in the Gospel of John. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:48, March 28, 2015, from