A Handbook on the Gospel of John


It is essential for the translator to have an overview of the structure of the Gospel of John, and also of some of its literary characteristics, before he begins to transIate. But even prior to these considerations the translator should be conscious of the fact that he is translating a Gospel, and not simply a biography of Jesus of Nazareth. This is not to say that the events of the life of Jesus are unimportant. They are important in the translation of the Synoptic Gospels, and no less important in the translation of the Gospel of John. However, for the writer of this Gospel there is an inseparable relation between event and interpretation, and so he combines narrative and discourse in a way that may at times seem odd to the modern reader.

For John it is the Spirit that gives life, and the mere presentation of the deeds of Jesus without the significance given to them by the Spirit would be regarded as meaningless.
Throughout this commentary it is assumed that the present arrangement of the text of the Gospel (with the exception of 7.53--8.11, which presents severe textual problems) stands as the author (or final editor) intended it, and the arrangement is intentional and intelligent. None of the suggested rearrangements of the text have any manuscript support, and it is doubtful that any of the theories behind such rearrangements make any better sense of the text than that of the present order.

At least one scholar has suggested that the manner in which John presents his material is closer to a symphonic masterpiece than to a logically ordered set of propositions. That is, a theme is introduced and then followed by a second or third theme, and so on; and these themes are interwovell into various patterns. A theme may even be dropped momentarily, only to appear later in combination with other themes (for example, the theme of "light"). But throughout the Gospel the person and work of Jesus Christ bring all these diverse themes into a closely knit unity, and in this way the author achieves his purpose.

Published 1980 Pages 689

Eugene A. Nida and  Barclay M. Newman Jr


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