The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic

I had it drawn to my attention this morning that John Shelby Spong has a new book coming out soon: The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. As it is about the Gospel of John, it is obviously of interest. I have a great ambivalence about Spong’s writings. On the one hand, his willingness to be a Christian iconoclast, not simply accepting traditional dogmas and viewpoints, I appreciate greatly. On the other hand, he sometimes presents as widely accepted scholarly viewpoints things that are his own idiosyncratic take on things – for instance, he suggests that the Gospels are in the genre of midrash, when his understanding of that term does not reflect that Jewish approach to commentary on Scripture.

That said, the idea that the Gospel of John might be either the work of a Jewish mystic, or about Jesus understood as a Jewish mystic, is worth exploring, and so I still look forward to seeing what Spong will do under this title.

The Progressive Christianity website has a sample from the book, the preface, which you can read as a pdf. It is mostly autobiographical and expressions of gratitude, and so doesn’t really give a sense of what the book’s contents are going to be like.

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  • Ian

    Interesting. The bible study group I participate in is about to head into John’s gospel. Could be an interesting other take.

    The preview is a bit useless though. “I have moved all the content from this preface into chapter one so you don’t miss it, so feel free to skip the rest of this preview…”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      Yep, very strange choice for a sample preview! :-)

  • Dan Ortiz

    I agree with you James. I am torn regarding Spong, I admire his public ministry, but his writing does not necessary match to it. Having said that I’ve only read his liberating the gospels, which in hindsight could be seen as a kinda mythicist book.