Adult Formation Journal: February 18

Dear Saint James’ Learners,

If you haven’t read the assignment for tomorrow, fear not. If you haven’t attended the sessions lately, fear not. If you feel guilty, have lost interest, or don’t want to be singled out, fear not!

I hope that all of the 80 parishioners who registered for “Learning More about the New Testament” will attend at least one of the two remaining sessions, if not both. The focus of adult formation at St James’ is to know that God is always with us, to be in community, and to continue our journey of learning more about God and how to be more faithful disciples of Jesus. So, please, come to one of the learning groups this week and next week.

I will be covering the book material and facilitating meaningful conversation, and I will do my best to make each session an event in which you will move deeper in your faith and closer to your fellow parishioners.

Attached is the outline for tomorrow and information about adult formation in the season of Lent and Holy Week.

(scroll down for an outline of The New Testament chapter 9 study guide)



The New Testament: A Very Short Introduction

Chapter 9: Johannine Literature       

Learning Group Discussion: 2/19-2/25

Cave icon
Icon mosaic of St John the Theologian over the entrance to the Cave of the Apocalypse, Patmos.

Reading Assignment Outline

A church divided: the letters

  • Author: the “Elder,” maybe author of Gospel
  • Date: maybe 100CE, maybe earlier (author) or later (historical/communal prayer)
  • Context: three-letter packet to the same divided Johannine church
  • cause of division is disputed understanding of Christ
  • not clear about specific aspect of Christ that was at issues, maybe his full humanity
  • author first insists on God’s transcendence, God is a mystery
  • God is known above all in love: “God is love”
  • such love does not arise from human instinct, but is learned by the community from the love God showed in Jesus Christ (1 John 4:7-16)
  • the love of God must be expressed through love of others (1 John 4:20-21)

Jesus reveals God: the Fourth Gospel

  • Author: John, the son of Zebedee and one of the Twelve, or a disciple of John
  • Date: maybe 90CE
  • Context: maybe Ephesus, Roman persecution
  • conflict between Christians and Jews, between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians
  • differences with Synoptic Gospels:
    • facts of Jesus’ ministry
    • character of Jesus’ ministry
    • Jesus speaks differently
    • John is more explicit about Jesus’ identity; Synoptics are more implicit

Heavens opened: Revelation

  • Author: may have been a Palestinian Jewish Christian who fled to the Diaspora
  • Date: 64-70CE or 81-96CE
  • Context: word “revelation” is in Greek “apocalypse,” a term that denotes the disclosure of realities previously hidden
  • apocalyptic is a form of resistance literature for those who experience themselves as marginalized or oppressed
  • complex imagery but simple message – God is in charge, history is in God’s hands
  • God’s fundamental victory of evil and death has already been won, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • encourages Christians not to do violence against forces of evil but to resist by refusing to acknowledge their authority
  • Christians do not recognize the emperor as supreme; there is only one Lord

Discussion Questions

  1. What message in the Johannine letters speaks to you the strongest?
  2. How would you compare the Synoptics with John’s Gospel?
  3. What is your reaction to the imagery of Revelation?

Scripture Passage and Prayer

1 John 4:7-16

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”