Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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John
(Aired 29 May 2007)

    Whether this commentary goes well or not, for the foreseeable future, I will not attempt to do another commentary on the Bible.

   But under pressure from you the public, I have decided to do the promised commentary on the gospel of John since I promised in a way to do it. For me Religion is a very private matter so you will indulge me if I do not want to do this publicly too much.

   The other three Gospels are what are known as synoptic gospels, that is, they appear to be eye witness accounts of the life of Jesus Christ much like a news or historical report, John's gospel is more philosophical and it seeks to introduce Christianity as an alternative to the Jewish faith, everyone knows that the Jews expected the messiah to be a deliverer who would liberate them from the Romans and make them masters of the promised land as they were at the time of David.

   Of course we believe that Jesus Christ was indeed the deliverer, and that he did not intend to deliver them physically but spiritually with a new religion which would be universal, not just for the Jews but for everyone who would listen and believe. 

   Those of you who spoke to me, particularly liked the analytical way I sought to establish the authorship and time of the three Synoptic Gospels so first I will address authorship and time of the fourth gospel.  

   There is some confusion as to who authored this 4th Gospel, that it was started by John the youngest and most "Beloved Disciple" is stated in the gospel itself, and this title of most "Beloved Disciple" fits John best, since whilst he was hanging from the cross and seeing that the end was near Jesus asked John to take care of his mother Mary as if she were his own mother, and he asked her to accept John as her son, that's how much he loved and trusted John. People say that Jesus had natural brothers, that may be so, but if true why would he literally entrust his mother to John? Wouldn't his natural brothers have done that?

   There are problems with identifying John, the son of Zebedee, and the "Beloved Disciple" as the author of the 4th Gospel, passages are clearly edited in later such as  chapters 15,16, 17 and 21, then there are the contradictions, John 16.5 contradicts John 14:4 and the functions attributed to the Paraclete at 14:16&17 and 14:26 differ from those in John 16:7-11 and 16:13-14 and there are numerous other such examples which I will not go into here, the evidence therefore is that whoever wrote this Gospel, it was written by more than one person who not only added to it but who actually had different interpretations of certain fundamental Christian truths, now remember that the Jerome Biblical Commentary is sanctioned by the Catholic and other Christian churches so what I am telling you here is not heresy.

   As to time, the gospel was the last to surface, between 90-100 AD.

   Now for the differences, John's Gospel does not seek to bring the events in Jesus' life into chronological order, in fact the structure of the gospel actually has everything out of sequence with the other Gospels, John also does not refer to the old testament as frequently as the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke do, and unlike them from the very beginning of the Gospel of John declares that the word was god, was with god and was made flesh and dwelt among us, John 1:1-9 and so the fourth gospel assumes from the very beginning of the gospel, that Jesus Christ was the son of god.

  After the wedding in Cana we have the incident of chasing out the money changers from the temple, this was the first time Jesus Christ sought to tell the Jews the fundamental concept of the Christian religion which was that that the new temple would be his body so from here, very early in the gospel, in chapter 2:21 and 22 the writers of John would begin to change the rules and the beliefs of the fundamental Jewish faith to one of Christianity i.e that his body would be the new temple and not the Jewish Temple. 

  Next comes the discourse with Nicodemus, now Nicodemus comes to visit Jesus in the night because he was probably afraid to be seen with Jesus during the day since he was high up in the hierarchy of the Jews and being seen with Jesus was bad news, hence the saying creeping around like Nicodemus in the night; and here for the first time Jesus tells him that unless he be is reborn of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and that unless he denies the Jewish faith and becomes a Christian he cannot prevail in paradise, I obviously cannot give every incidence of this philosophy contained in the gospel of John Ladies and Gentlemen, but I will give you enough from the first third of the John Gospel that space and time allows, which would lead you to conclude that the crafters, or evangelists, who wrote the gospel of John sought to downplay the Jewish religious beliefs and put in place a completely new and different religion i.e. Christianity.

   next comes the dialog with the woman at Jacob's well in Samaria, first of all it is important to note that Samarians were despised by the Jews and predictably the Samaritans were also largely taught by their interpretation of history to hate the Jews, so at John 4:9 when Jesus Christ is talking to a woman from Samaria at Jacob's well, he was deviating drastically from what a Jewish Rabbi would do. But not only does he go there which was incomprehensible to his disciples, he instructs a Samarian woman to give him some water from the well and then he tells her that he is greater than Jacob since whoever drinks water from Jacob's well will thirst again, but whoever drinks from his well will never thirst. Incredibly in the end he convinces her that he is not a mad man by saying these things, but in fact he could be the messiah.

   Chapter five verses 1-18 shows Jesus again challenging the Jewish belief that no one should violate the concept of the Sabbath by working on that day, so when he heals the man and instructs him to get up, take his bed and walk the Jews found this troubling since they perceived that the action of lifting the bed was in fact work forbidden on the Sabbath and so disregarding the miracle of healing the man, they condemned Christ for it and according to John they decided at that time, to kill him. 

  Chapter 6 describes that it was the near to the feast of the Passover and he performed the miracle of feeding 5000 thousand people who were assembled to hear him speak with just a few loaves and a few fish, now the feast of the Passover was the biggest Jewish holiday, it still is, it was the day when they commemorated that the angel of death had passed over Egypt and that they were saved since as instructed by Moses himself they locked themselves in their homes, ate unleavened bread, bitter herbs and plastered lamb's blood on their doors, it was what had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and to them it was the holiest of days but on two occasions Jesus Christ did important things that set the stage for his new religion, one was this mass feeding of 5000 people and the other was the last supper when he changed forever the Jewish holiday of the Passover to the Holy Mass.

   Later in the gospel chapter 7 verses 2-5 we learn that it was the feast of the Tabernacles this was an eight day feast to celebrate the harvest, and Jesus did certain things to replace its importance in the Jewish calendar. For example when on the last day of the feast the Jewish Priests circled the altar in Jerusalem and performed the ritual of the water by pouring water from the spring of Siloam through a silver funnel into the ground symbolically asking the ground to be kind to the crops in the coming year, Jesus said to them, "if any man thirst let him come onto me and drink" this was the crescendo of everything that was written in chapter 7 about the feast of The Tabernacles and Christianity. And so I have run out of time tonight since analyzing the forth gospel would take years but it is an incredible work of philosophy to replace one set of beliefs and customs with another and that is why we treasure it we have only looked up to chapter seven of a 21 chapter gospel but the rest follows much the same pattern downplaying Jewish beliefs and replacing it with Christian beliefs.

   From this day onwards ladies and gentlemen in view of your incredible thirst for this sort of knowledge, since the pressure for me to do this was enormous, I expect that the priests, pastors and teachers of all Christian doctrines will understand that if they cannot make you understand what they are saying, even if you are not educated, it is their fault since they were unable to explain it properly to you. Especially since they are interpreting for you some of the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity and it can be very interesting and provocative, your response to me has made me understand that.

   Finally I want it to be clearly understood that I am not inviting a debate on all of this, there are conflicting views to the ones that I have expressed here tonight and some of them are very persuasive but they are not compelling, and so these are the most popular and widely held views of Christian scholars today not the only ones.