"The fact is that the thought of the gospel [of John] is so original and creative that a search for its 'sources' or even for the 'influences' by which it may have been affected, may easily lead us astray. Whatever influences may have been present have been masterfully controlled by a powerful and independent mind. There is no book, either in the New Testament or outside it, which is really like the fourth Gospel" (C.H.Dodd, The Fourth Gospel, p.6).
Scholars have variously claimed the Gospel of John is of Gnostic, Hermetic, Mandaean, Hebraic, etc., origin because of its many unusual elements. Whilst this might suggest of the apostle John - the one whom Yah'shua (Jesus) loved in a special way - an hospitable mind which might have produced merely syncretism (the unification and reconcilliation of different schools of thought), careful study reveals the presence of a uniquely creative spirit that could, in the crucible of his own profound religious experience, fuse all the diverse elements of his contemporary world into one magnificantly effective instrument of Christian proclamation. John is sensitive to the various strands of religious language and experience that were around him, whether in the Hebraic or Hellenist world and expresses the Gospel in a medium that all could understand. Remarkably, this ability to communicate the Good News to persons of diverse religious background, continues to be of effect even today, making the Gospel of John possibly the most popular of them all.
The Johannine writings had a magnetic attraction for me from the very moment I became a believer in 1977. The sensitivity, depth, breadth, luminosity and creative scope of them drew me as none of the other writings did, or have ever done. And whilst I cherish and love the other writings of the New Testament, which are both inspired and brilliant in their own right, none but the Johannine writings have really struck so resonant a chord in my soul. As I read them I feel "at home".
Accordingly when I first came to teach theology some 5 years later, I persuaded my Religious Studies class to make the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles the choice for our New Testament Study. I have never regretted that decision. Since that time, which has seen me probe deeply into the rest of the New and Old Testaments, I have retained a special fascination for the Johannine writings which culminated some twenty years later in what we in NCAY called the Grand Unified Echad Doctrine or Echad Doctrine for short. Propelled principally by John, it has led us into our own "third heaven" of joyful discovery and revelation.
The New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh (NCAY) is very much the incarnation, in living souls, of this Johannine revelation which has led us to regard ourselves as a 'Johannine Fellowship'. This is not to say that there are other 'churches' or 'fellowships' - Pauline, Petrine, Jacobean, or whatever - but rather it is to say that the Johannine revelation is the pinnacle or apex of the revelation of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Accordingly, an in-depth study of the Johannine writings is of high priority for us.
It is our prayer that this study will be a blessing to the Elders and anyone else interested in Johannine theology.
Johannine Essays is a series of short lectures given to theology students between 1982 and 1983 studying for the Advanced Level Certificate in Education at London University when the author was then Principal of St.Albans College, Oxford, a private tutorial GCE (General Certificate of Education) establishment (not a part of Oxford University). The original one-year course covered the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles and was entitled The Johannine Writings. It consisted of 25 lectures, 21 of which were prepared as essays and 4 further being given ex tempore from notes. The 21 essays are reproduced here. If there is sufficient demand, the remaining 4 will be reconstructed from the original notes.
The course is being offered to the School of Zaqenim (School of Elders) as part of their training to understand these important firstborn writings. The essays are technical in nature and focus on the mystical and symbolic aspects of the Johannine writings. Elders training to be Evangelists (Sub-Apostles) and Apostles will find these useful in getting a solid grounding in Johannine thought which, though Hebrew in origin, nevertheless makes an appeal to those grounded in Hellenistic (Greek) thought too. They therefore bridge, in an important way, the world of the ancient Middle East with that of Roman and Greek Europe without being Hellenistic themselves.
The Apostle John founded the Ephesian School which trained many of the great luminaries like Polycarp who would become the sub-apostolic fathers after the passing away of the original apostles.
One or two or the original essays have been expanded and updated to include current theological knowledge, and all have been cosmetically changed to include the Divine Names in Hebrew together with the more familiar Greek ones (in parentheses).