I’m so glad you’re inspired to study the gospels for yourself! In my experience you gain so much in taking the time to read through them, and really allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Person of Christ. No matter how many times I read through the gospels, I am moved and new by fresh things I missed previously and how it meets me in the season of my life. The context of everything read is so valuable for full understanding.
I like the take the J Warner Wallace uses in his book, Cold Case Christianity. The disciples didn’t become Christian until after they had witnessed the life, ministry of Jesus, and they fully understood Him to be God incarnate through their resurrection witness. In the same thread, reading the Bible for ourselves brings us into an understanding that doesn’t come from anywhere else.
I was reading recently another interesting discussion on John. As I mentioned in my previous post on this thread, the early church was dealing with heretical invasions, and John wanted to encourage them to remain true to the Gospel of Christ. The heresy (just like now) was always attacking the identify of the Person of Christ.
I stumbled over a name of one of the heretical teachers. A Gnostic teacher, Cerinthus, had sought to infiltrate the church in Ephesus with his own brand of religion during John’s time. Paul even warns the Ephesian elders, before the fact, that false teachers would attack in Acts 20:28-31!
Bible Gateway encyclopedia has a brief overview of Cerinthus here.
@Jennifer_Wilkinson You wrote:
This seems to negate his point that John contains specific claims to deity and Mark doesn’t because the church’s view of Christ changed between the writing of the two gospels. Am I missing something here?
No, I’d say you are paying close attention! Greg Koukl will agree that conspiracy theorists often don’t stand up to their claims because they contradict themselves in the process.
It’s also valuable to consider that Paul’s letters to the churches, like your excellent Philippians 2 reference (which is believed to be an early hymn or creed of the church) which were written before John’s gospel, further clarify the dual nature of Christ being fully God and fully man. There is exceptional evidence for the Christian church’s belief in the deity of Christ before John’s gospel was written which still would be first century.
You asked a very thoughtful question:
Why did Luke stay close to the synoptic tradition and John did not?
It seems to me that Luke, a companion of Paul, was committed to accuracy, but, unlike John, lacked the full eye witness experience. Luke’s version is based on interviews of eye witnesses (including Mary, Jesus’s mother) and reported his findings with great historical data included as well (names of officials, rulers, and other historical details.)
I truly believe John’s emphasis was in maintaining the true identity of Christ which is essential to the Gospel message. As Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15.
Dr. Craig Blomberg, in his book, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel Issues and Commentary
makes the very interesting point that John assumed a great deal of core knowledge was already in circulation for his audience based on the pre-existing Gospels, and “John still provides many points of “interlocking” with the Synoptics.”
Blomberg further states that: “The recurring motif of ‘testimony’, presented in almost a forensic fashion, designed to convince people of the truth of Christianity (or bolster fledgling faith) and supported particularly by the contents and placement of the ‘beloved disciple’ passages, further reinforces John’s intent.”
OK…I’ve gone on long enough