Academic Programs 

The Gospel of John and Johannine Literature (SC-575)
Summer 2007

A general introduction to the Gospel of John, I-II-III John, and the Book of Revelation from the perspective of contemporary Biblical scholarship, with special emphasis on the history, theology, Christology, and spirituality of Johannine Literature and its relevance today.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 11 – Friday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wayne Rollins
Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

To: Participants in SC 575. “The Gospel According to John and Johannine Literature”
From: Dr. Wayne G. Rollins
Re: Preparing For the First Session and For the Week

Dear Friends,

In preparation for our week together on the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John, and the Book of Revelation, I would like you to do your best on the following assignments. Please note that none of these are to be handed in. Just bring your notes, ideas, and questions.

I. The first is reading John’s Gospel carefully before the course. You will discover images, ideas, and concepts that will come as news to those of us primarily familiar with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Make a schedule that allows you to read John’s twenty-one chapters with some leisure. Take three deep breaths before reading each section to prime your mind and imagination. Read slowly. Highlight those passages that get you thinking, and enter a question mark when you find yourself at odds with the text.

In addition, pay special attention to the specially asterisked sections of John’s gospel listed in the day-to-day syllabus. Mark these sections in your Bible, and do the following for each section:

a. Write down in one sentence what you think “John” is trying to get across to his first century readers in this section and why (this is exegesis).
b. In one sentence write down the message (“Word”) you find in this story that you think we need to hear, the world needs to hear, men need to hear, women need to hear?
c. List the words that seem to be part of John’s favorite vocabulary (they’ll add up)..
d. Write one question for discussion.

II. Read as many as possible of the syllabus assignments in Sandra Schneiders, Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. Schneiders is one of the most vital, imaginative, earthy, and spiritual lecturers on John. Also, she is no academic slouch. Make notes in the margins on ideas, facts, or insights that strike you, and when you have completed the reading, do the following: (a) write a one-sentence summary of the chapter; (b) copy one quotation from Schneiders that you found especially enlightening or provocative (noting the page number), and explain in a paragraph why the quote struck you as important.

III. Read the preface, introduction and “Prologue” of Collins, TheApocalypse, selecting two additional chapters of your choice. Jot a few notes to share on Friday on what you have found of interest.

IV. Extra-curricular: bring any materials you’d like to share from what you’ve used or come across in your work in understanding or explaining John, the three epistles, or Revelation (in the form of story, poem, quote, sermon, movie, music, drama, art, etc.) .

Also, please observe our BYOB policy. “Bring Your Own Bible” to every session. The Biblical text and your response to it is what it’s all about! It will be a busy and lively week, which I hope will provide us with a deepened personal and scholarly understanding of Jesus of Nazareth, of John and the early church, of the Holy, of ourselves, and of the Word then and now.

Wayne G. Rollins

P.S. Credit students: please note the Book Review Assignment in the following syllabus.



A general introduction to the Gospel of John, I-II-III John, and the Book of Revelation, from the perspective of contemporary Biblical scholarship, with special emphasis on the history, theology, Christology, and spirituality of Johannine literature and its relevance today.

"Last of all John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the gospel, being urged by his friends, and inspired by the spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel."

-Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, ca. AD/CE 320

“We may therefore make bold to say that the Gospels are the first fruits of all Scriptures, but of the Gospels, that of John is the first fruit.” - Origen, Comm. on John 1.6, ca. AD/CE 200

"God's love letter to the world." -Henry Ward Beecher, ca. 1850

Kai ho logos sarx egeneto - John 1:14

On the role of the theologian and Biblical interpreter: "The author wishes to point out that he offers nothing 'new'; neither a new understanding of Christ nor a better Christological theory. Religion is not a question of new things, but rather of things eternal. If, however, current history were to succeed in re-establishing contact with eternal history, then something new indeed, uncontaminated and free from the dust of usage would appear." -Romano Guardini, The Lord, 1956.

“It’s eternity in a person that turns the crank handle.”
-Franz Kafka (1873-1924)

“Where love stops, power begins, and terror and violence.
-Carl Gustav Jung, 1952

“The Mona Lisa and the Fourth Gospel share two artistic qualities, beauty and enigma.”
- W. G. Rollins, 1963

Books for Purchase

Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel and Epistles of John: A Concise Commentary (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1988) [= Brown]
Collins, Adela Yarbro, The Apocalypse (Liturgical Press, 2006) [= Collins]
Sandra M. Schneiders, Written That You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel ( NY: Crossroad, 1999) [= Schneiders]


1. To develop first-hand familiarity with the Gospel of John, the Johannine Epistles, and the Book of Revelation--- their origin, authorship, structure, content, meaning, and relevance in light of recent biblical scholarship and interpretive approaches (historical, geographical, literary-critical, theological, linguistic, psychological, and spiritual)
2. To develop a sense for and skill in the art of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics.
3. To develop a day-by-day method of reading scripture critically and spiritually.
4. To reflect on your own life situation in light of your readings and class discussion and to articulate the “Word” that is triggered in you by the “Word” that was triggered in John.. .


1. Daily attendance at all sessions. Classroom exchange is as important as the reading. (For credit and CEU students, each hour of absence = reduction of one third of the letter attendance grade; consistent tardiness also reduces the grade. See the instructor for “makeup” in case of an emergency). (1/8 of the grade).

2. Readings and class participation. See syllabus below and attached letter to participants.

3. *Book Report: Credit participants will make one book report presentation [a ten-minute class presentation (ungraded), plus a written version to the instructor for grading; see below]. Select a title from the attached Book Review Selection List for Credit Students of books on hold in the library. Register your choice with Reserve librarian, Marie Rovero. (If someone has already selected the title, search for another.) Be prepared to present your book review any time on Tuesday through Friday (a definite time for your report will be set at our first session on Monday).
The class presentation (ungraded) should be “light fare,” introducing the class to the major features and contributions of the book (positive or negative). Prepare a xeroxed sheet for class distribution, citing author, title, and publication data, listing a few quotations that captured your attention and captures the essence of the book. Close with a paragraph on the contribution (or lack of same) to the course, and formulate one question worth discussing.

The written review (due no later than August 15) is to include the following: (a) a fairly detailed précis of the book and its purpose, (b) a thoughtful discussion of five to ten ideas you have found helpful, informative, or problematic, explaining why, and (c) a conclusion evaluating the book’s relevance and value for the course. Maximum length: seven pages. (3/8 of the grade). Please mail (or hand deliver) your review to the instructor with a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope).

4. *Final Project. A 10-15 page paper is due, no later than August 15 (with extensions possible using the Hartford Seminary “incomplete” forms). The subject must be a key term, theme, passage, or issue rooted in your reflection on John’s Gospel, the Epistles of John, or the Book of Revelation. A 3x5 card listing your Final Project topic and reasons for your choice is due the last day of class for approval by the instructor. Your paper should open with a statement on why you selected this “project.” It should conclude with observations on the relevance of your research for readers today. The body of the paper should be steeped in citations of John’s Gospel, based first on your own personal observations, and second, on secondary sources. Final Project papers are to be mailed/delivered to the instructor’s address in hard copy with a SASE. Students electing an “incomplete” are responsible to submit the incomplete form to the instructor prior to the end of the last class. (4/8 of the grade)

5. See the attached letter to Participants for pre-class reading suggestions
*Required of credit and CEU participants only. All academic papers are to conform to conventional technical, grammatical and stylistic standards referred to in the General Guidelines for a Research Paper. The Hartford Seminary Grading Guidelines will be the standard of evaluation for work in the course.

Schedule and Reading Assignments

(Because of the compactness of the week, reading assignments are best done prior to the course, bringing notes from your reading to class. See invitational letter with reading suggestions following the schedule.)

Monday Prospectus on the Fourth Gospel and the Art of Criticism

A. Background Reading: Schneiders, “The Fourth Gospel as Sacred Scripture,” 9-22, and “The Fourth Gospel as Text,” 23-47. Brown, on critical issues, 9-19.
B. Getting to Know the Turf: Map Assignment : Consult the map in your Bible to locate the sites, then be able to locate them on the map to be distributed in class (one "trick" item):

Caesarea Philippi Salim Jerusalem
Bethsaida Aenon Bethphage
Cana Samaria Bethany
Nazareth Sychar Judea
Sea of Tiberias Mt. Gerizim Dead Sea
Caesarea (Maritima) Mt. Tabor Galilee
Sea of Galilee Mediterranean (the Western Sea)

D. Background : PBS Television excerpt on the age of the Gospels from “From Jesus to Christ.”

Tuesday In the Beginning: Setting the Stage

A. Background Reading: Schneiders, “The Theology and Spirituality of the Fourth Gospel,” 48-61; “Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel,” 63-77; “Born Anew,” 117-125
B. Passages for the Day:
• *John 1:1-18, The Prologue
• *John 1:19-51, The Problem of John the Baptist, Finding the Messiah, and Stages of Discipleship in John
• *John 2: 1-12, The Wedding at Cana, Celebration vs. Purification
• *John 2:13-25, Cleansing the Temple and Johannine Misunderstanding
• *John 3:1-10, Nicodemus the “Man” and the Reality of Rebirth

Wednesday Women, Healing, Light, and Matters of Life and Death

A. Background Reading: Schneiders, “Women in the Fourth Gospel,” 93-116; “Commitment in the Fourth Gospel, “ 78-92; “The Community of Eternal Life,” 149-61
B. Passages for the Day:
• *John 4:1-45, The Samaritan Woman at the Well, Unforgettable in John
• *John 5:1-18, The Healing at the Pool of Bethzatha and a Theology of Sickness
• *John 6:1-15, Feeding 5,000, and Reflection on Food and What Really Nourishes
• *John 6:16-26, Walking On [or “by”] the Water: Diachronic and Synchronic Reflection on Water
• *John 8:1-11, The Woman Taken in Adultery: A Story with a Past
• *John 8:12-59, Jesus as Light of the World: The I Am Sayings in John
• *John 9:1-14, The Man Born Blind Who Sees, and the Man Born Seeing Who is Blind
• * John 11:1-57, Mary, Martha and Lazarus: On the Borderline Between Life and Death

Thursday The Passion Narrative in John: Death and Revelation

A. Background Reading: Schneiders, “A Community of Friends,” 162-79.
B. Passages for the Day:
• *John 12:1-8 The Anointing at Bethany: The Johannine Version
• *John 12:12-50 The Entry Into Jerusalem: Christology and Theology
• *John 13:1-36 The Last Supper and the Creation of a Community of Friends
• *John 14-16 The Farewell Discourse and the Ingenious Truth of the Paraclete
• *John 17 The “High Priestly Prayer” and the Four Faces of the Holy
• * John 18-19 John’s Passion Narrative. the Gospel Tradition, and Mel Gibson
• Foreground. Excerpts from The Gospel of John , the 2005 DVD motion picture with narrator Christopher Plummer and the entire Canadian cast reenacting the story of the Fourth Gospel, word by word. A daunting and impressive enterprise.

Friday The Resurrection Narratives in John, the Johannine Epistles, and The Book of Revelation: Three Stages in a Trajectory

Background Reading: Schneiders, “Seeing and Believing in the Glorified Jesus,” 180-188; “Encountering and Proclaiming the Risen Jesus,” 189-201;” “Contemplation and Ministry,” 202-210. Collins, The Apocalypse: read the introduction and prologue, selecting two other chapters of Collins’ book that interest you. Come prepared to give a brief review of what you’ve found and what you would like to discuss.
Study guide sheets on the Johannine Epistles and Revelation.
B. Passages for the Day:
• John 20-21. Surprising Aspects of the Resurrection Narratives in John
• I John 1-5
• The Book of Revelation
C. Reminder: 3x5 on Final Project Due for Credit Students


(Books are on library reserve for students to sign up and take out for book reports).

Beirne, Margaret. Women and Men in the Fourth Gospel: A Discipleship of Equals. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003.

Brown, Raymond E. The Churches the Apostles Left Behind. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1984.

Brown, Raymond E. The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1979.

Charlesworth, James. John and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Crossroad, 1990.

Coloe, Mary L. God Dwells with Us: Temple Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel. Collegeville, MN:: The Liturgical Press, 2001.

Countryman, L. William. The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel: Crossing Over Into God. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1994.

Culpepper, R. Alan, and C. Clifton Black, eds. Exploring the Gospel of John. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Desrosiers, Gilbert. An Introduction to Revelation: a Pathway to Interpretation, Continuum, 2001.

Donahue, John R., ed. Life in Abundance: Studies of John's Gospel in Tribute to Raymond E. Brown Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005.

Fehribach, Adeline. The Women in the Life of the Bridegroom: A Feminist-Historical-Literary Analysis of the Female Characters in the Fourth Gospel. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998.

Fortna, Robert T. , and Tom Thatcher. Jesus in Johannine Tradition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Freudmann, Lillian C. Anti-Semitism in the New Testament. New York: University Press of America, 1994.

Howard-Brook, Wes. John's Gospel and the Renewal of the Church. New York: Orbis, 1997.

Kelly, Anthony J., and Francis J. Moloney. Experiencing God in the Gospel of John. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2003.

Koester, Craig R. Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.

Kysar, Robert. John, the Maverick Gospel. rev. ed. ed. Louisville: John Knox/ Westminster, 1976.

Kysar, Robert. John's Story of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989.

Kysar, Robert. Preaching John. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

Malina, Bruce J., and Richard L. Rohrbaugh. Social-Scientific Commentary on the Gospel of John. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998.

McCane, Byron R. Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus: Trinity Press International, 2003.

Menken, M. J. J. Numerical Literary Techniques in John: the Fourth Evangelist's Use of Number of Words and Syllables. Leiden: Brill, 1985.

Murphy, Frederick J. Fallen is Babylon: The Revelation to John, The New Testament in Context. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998.

Neyrey, Jerome. An Ideology of Revolt: John's Christology in Social-Science Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

Onstad, Esther. Courage for Today, Hope for Tomorrow: A Study of the Revelation. rev. and expanded ed. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1993

Pagels, Elaine. Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas. New York: Random House, 2003.

Painter, John. Reading John's Gospel Today. Atlanta: John Knox, 1979.

Rensberger, David. Johannine Faith and Liberating Community. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988.

Reinhartz, Adele. Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John. New York: Continuum, 2001.

Sanford, John A. Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John. New York: Crossroad, 1993.

Schaberg, Jane. The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament: Continuum, 2002.

Schüssler-Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Revelation: Vision of a Just World, Proclamation Commentaries. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.

Spencer, F. Scott. What Did Jesus Do? Gospel Portrayals of Jesus' Personal Conduct: Trinity Press International, 2003.

Staley, Jeffrey L. Reading with a Passion: Rhetoric, Autobiography, and the American West in the Gospel of John: Continuum, 2002.

Talbert, Charles H. Reading John: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Fourth Gospel and Johannine Epistles. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

Talbert, Charles H. The Apocalypse: a Reading of the Revelation of John. Louisville: Westminster, 1994.

Thompson, Marianne. The Humanity of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.

Von Wahlde, Urban C. The Johannine Commandments: First John and the Struggle for the Johannine Tradition, Studies in Contemporary Biblical and Theological Problems. Mahwah: Paulist, 1990.

Wiles, Maurice T. The Spiritual Gospel: The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel in the Early Church. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960.

Williamson, Lamar , Jr. Preaching the Gospel of John: Proclaiming the Living Word. Westminster John Knox: Louisville, 2004.


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