THST 698 - Topics in the Gospels: John

Graduate Course Description - Fall 1999

Felix Just, S.J.
Department of Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University
Mondays, 4:30-7:00 p.m. in StR 249 
Office: Sullivan 33;   Phone 8-5933
Office Hours:  M 3-4, W 9-12, F 10-12, & by appt.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God - John 1:1
image courtesy of Monastery Icons - used with permission

See The Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Letters - our growing collection of on-line resources


  Course Description & Goals:

In this graduate seminar we will study various historical, literary, and theological aspects of the Fourth Gospel.  We will also try an innovative approach to New Testament Studies, namely by integrating the use of the Internet as fully as possible into our studies, along with more traditional methods and resources available in print.  Students will not only find and use resources already available on-line, but will also join me in writing and publishing new materials on the World Wide Web.  Only a few materials related to the Fourth Gospel are currently on the Internet (some brief introductions, isolated articles and book reviews, incomplete bibliographies), and some of these contain strong biases.  Our goal, in addition to gaining a thorough knowledge of the Fourth Gospel, will be to produce a fairly comprehensive website devoted to the academic study of John.  By participating in the development of this material, which will be permanently accessible on the Web, students will hopefully also gain an excitement for biblical studies overall.

Specific Goals and Objectives:

A) To attain a thorough knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the Gospel of John:

  1. we will investigate its structure, themes, symbols and terminology, including a basic knowledge of the ancient Greek alphabet and grammar.
  2. we will also consider the relationship between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of the Gospels, as well as the history and development of the Johannine Community in its first-century context.
B) To become aware of the process, the complexity, and the rewards of doing biblical studies:
  1. we will learn and use traditional library-based research methods and resources, as well as standard classroom-based teaching and learning methods.
  2. we will also learn and use newer internet-based methods and resources for research.
C) To experience the inter-disciplinary nature of biblical and theological studies:
  1. each student will choose one area of interest or specialization (see some suggestions below).
  2. as we study particular chapters of John, each student will contribute to the learning process from the perspective of his or her chosen specialization.
D) To learn and be encouraged to produce material good enough for publication:
  1. we will prepare multiple drafts of all materials, revising them throughout the semester.
  2. we will receive written and oral feedback, not only from the professor but also from other students.
E) To become familiar and comfortable with academic publishing on the internet:
  1. we will explore and study biblically related materials already available on the web, especially looking at the content, but also considering its formal presentation.
  2. we will learn about and practice making and updating our own academic web-pages.
Some Possibilities for Student Specialization:
Course Books:

Required Texts:

  1. The Bible. Any modern translation, preferably a "Study Edition" with good introductions and notes.
  2. One good, large commentary on the Fourth Gospel (see recommendations below).
  3. Brown, Raymond. The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1979.
  4. Culpepper, Alan. The Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1983.
  5. Rensberger, David. Johannine Faith and Liberating Community. Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press, 1988.
Optional Collections of Essays:
  1. Ashton, John, ed. The Interpretation of John. 2nd edition. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1997.
  2. Segovia, Fernando F., ed. "What is John?" - Readers and Readings of the Fourth Gospel. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996.
Recommended Commentaries: (either purchase or borrow from the library a major commentary by one of the following scholars; ideally each student will pick a different one so we can share a variety of insights)

Course Work/Expectations:
  1. Regular On-Time Attendance and Active Participation in Discussions
  2. Weekly Reading of Assigned Texts and Presentations of Specialized Research
  3. Final Preparation of Your Specialized Research for Publication on the Internet
  4. Use of Library Materials and Resources;  Use of E-Mail and the World Wide Web
Note: A student assistant will be available all semester to help us with any technical aspects of this course.
Course Grades:
Tentative Weekly Schedule: 

In most meetings of our seminar, we will do three things:

a) take a brief overview of the primary texts assigned for that day, especially the material not part of that day's focus;
b) consider some historical (Brown and Rensberger) and literary (Culpepper) aspects from our secondary reading;
c) study the focus text in depth, with contributions from each student based on his/her chosen specialized research field.
Date Primary Reading and Focus Secondary Reading
Aug. 23  -- Introduction: Bible / Greek / Computer / etc.
Aug. 30 John 1-21 overview;
John 1, esp. Call of First Disciples
Brown: Pref. & Intro (pp. 5-24)
Rensberger: Pref. & Ch. 1 (pp. 13-36)
Culpepper: Pref. & 1 (pp. v-xii, 1-11)
[Sept. 6] [Labor Day - no classes] [gather specialized research tools and resources]
Sept. 13 John 2, esp. Cana Brown: Phases One and Two (25-91)
Sept. 20 John 3, esp. Nicodemus Rensberger: Ch. 2-4 (37-86)
Sept. 27 John 4-5, esp. Samaritan Woman Culpepper: Ch. 2 (13-49)
Oct. 4 John 6-8, esp. Bread of Life Discourse Culpepper: Ch. 3-4 (51-98)
Oct. 11 John 9-10, esp. Blind Man & Pharisees Culpepper: Ch. 5 (99-148)
Oct. 18 John 11-12, esp. Lazarus & His Sisters Culpepper: Ch. 6 (149-202)
Oct. 25 John 13-17, esp. Foot Washing & Paraclete Culpepper: Ch. 7 & Concl. (203-237)
Nov. 1 John 18-19, esp. Trial & Crucifixion Scenes Rensberger: Ch. 5-6 (87-134)
Nov. 8 John 20, esp. Mary Magdalene & Thomas * S. Schneiders on Mary Magdalene
Nov. 15 John 21, esp. Peter and the B.D. Rensberger: Ch. (7 (135-154)
Nov. 22 [SBL meeting] Johannine Epistles Brown: Phases Three and Four (93-164)
Nov. 29 reread John 1-21 Conclusion: Johannine Christianity Then & Now
[Dec. 6-10] [Final Exam Period] Final Projects due

Legal Disclaimer:

Everything in this syllabus is subject to modification in the course of the semester. Your suggestions for improvements are most welcome!

Return to the HOME PAGE of Felix Just, S.J.
This page was last updated on  09/27/01.