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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The minds behind John's Gospel, and more besides ?, 11 July 2010
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Community of the Beloved Disciple (Paperback)
Even a fairly cursory reading of John's Gospel will tell you that it's very different from the other three New Testament synoptic (or `common viewpoint') Gospels. John's Jesus is a figure who in some sense `pre-existed' with God before coming to earth; whose teachings set the community of fellowship much more sharply over against `the world' and `the Jews' than is the case with Matthew, Mark and Luke; and whose community, closed in on itself, seems to be centred around Spirit-filled personalities like the Beloved Disciple. And these stresses are as strong if not stronger in the letters of John, written (probably) by a different person from the one who wrote the Gospel.

In this short but profound and scholarly book, Catholic New Testament scholar Raymond Brown explores just why it is that John's Gospel and the Johannine letters are so distinctive. He begins with an exploration of how an anti-Temple group among early followers of Jesus might have focused on particular memories about Jesus, and fostered the development of a high and exalted view of his nature (a high `Christology', in the theological jargon). He then postulates a `school' of Johannine writers that went on to elaborate the Gospel itself later in the first century AD, mostly in opposition to Jewish groups that had remained faithful to the synagogue. Tracing the further evolution of the school's thought through the letters, amidst growing tension over whether leadership structures in the community should be more, or less, formal, he concludes that one `strand' of the school merged with the great (or `Catholic') church, while the other spun off into what would become Gnosticism in the second century.

It's a fascinating reconstruction, very lucidly argued, and eminently readable. It makes a lot of sense, on the one hand explaining how the Johannine community's rather unstructured ecclesiology could have accommodated itself to more `orthodox' patterns of church leadership seen in the slightly later writings of Ignatius, while on the other accounting for continuing second-century speculation that draws on the perhaps disquieting strands in Johannine thought, for example the downplaying of `the flesh' (which would later lead to docetism, the denial of Jesus earthly, bodily reality). While some elements of the thesis may be questionable, for example early Samaritan influence on the developing Johannine Christology, the book is a wonderful and paradigmatic evocation of an evolving - and all too human - Christian community and its thought as it develops in creative, as well as destructive, tension with both itself and the wider Christian community of the time.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enduring quality, 10 July 2007
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Community of the Beloved Disciple (Paperback)
I read this book about a year ago and its themes hauntingly remain with me. Why did to the Johannine community become schismatic? Who were the secessionists? What is it about John's gospel which, if not read in a canonical context can lead to distortions. Fr Brown answer these questions and paints a mesmerising picture of the Johannine communities and the tensions which caused the split in the community. And, we can learn so much from the past - why is that fundamentalist and bible christians often quote the Johannine literature rather than the synoptics - is it not because such groups are exclusionary by nature and they find the Johannine texts (if misread) particularly apt for sectarian interpretation?
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5.0 out of 5 stars jhgjhg, 19 Oct 2010
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This review is from: The Community of the Beloved Disciple (Paperback)
this book was pretty good
it gave alternative opiniond on the formation of the fourth gospel.
claims there was a group linked with John that wrote the gospel with a spin in favour of John rather than peter.
interesting arguements, nicely written great for New tastament class.
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The Community of the Beloved Disciple
The Community of the Beloved Disciple by Raymond E. Brown (Paperback - Feb 1999)
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