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Wheaton Theology: Marianne Meye Thompson on the Absence of John’s Gospel

When the Anglican moderator introduced the next presenter, he told a story of the Bishop, who was facing a panel of interviewers for a new job. “We noticed in your writings that references to the Gospel of John are largely absent. We’re wondering if you could explain this lacuna. To this, the Bishop replied, ‘I think of John’s Gospel in much the same way I think about my wife. I love her, but I don’t understand her.’”

Marianne Meye Thompson addressed this glaring gap in Wright’s historical Jesus scholarship. The Synoptic Gospels are central characters in Jesus and the Victory of God (aka “JVG”), but John has only a bit part. (This seems to carry over, then, into Surprised by Hope where John’s Gospel might add shape to the nature of heaven and the resurrection of the dead.)

In his defense, Wright pointed out that his decision to leave out John’s Gospel was a practical one. For one, the book would’ve been 1500 pages, instead of 700. But more significantly, “Dom Crossan, in a bit of scholarly bullying, said that the first thing he would do when he received JVG would be to flip to the Scripture index to see how much I used John. If I used John too much, he would know that I wasn’t doing serious scholarship on the historical Jesus.” Perhaps this perspective seems inscrutable, but Wright situated his books, at least partially, in his conversations with the Jesus Seminar. He made these points in Wheaton’s basketball gym, so he said, “Sometimes you have to go play a team on their court with their fans if you’re going to prove that your team is actually better and can still win.” In the same way, Wright was engaging the Jesus Seminar and other liberal Jesus historians on their own turf. And it seems that he is winning in front of their own fans.


Full Hands . . . Full Heart offers another summary of the two-day conference in her brief post.

TableTalk, a Reformed magazine, devoted a whole issue to Bishop Wright's views of justification.

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