History of the Two Hundred Year Scholarly Debate about the purpose of the Prologue to the Gospel of John. How does our understanding of the Prologue affect our interpretation of the subsequent text?

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A new summary of the most-oft asked questions about the Prologue to the Gospel of John that have been posed by some of the most influential Biblical Scholars over the past 200 years and the problematic nature of its interpretation.


“Stan Harstine has provided a brief and valuable study of issues that have dogged the interpretation of the Gospel of John from the time of its earliest use in the Christian Church. No doubt the most beloved of all the Gospels, it is nevertheless shot through with many questions that have perennially bothered interpreters… Harstine offers a good overview of the opinions about the unity of the Prologue in itself.”
-Francis J. Moloney, SDB, AM, FAHA,
Senior Professional Fellow,
Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry,
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

“The greatest contribution of this work… involves viewing this Gospel as an organic turbiniform or verticilliform whole (Harstine uses the double helix of a strand of deoxyribonucleic acid and a conch shell as visual examples) wound about in such a way that the author’s usage of eight key words – world, receive, word, testify, light, truth, life, and believe – overlay one another, and then mining the spiral, taking core samples, much as an archaeologist might do. Harstine’s case for taking this sort of approach is both evocative and enticing…”
-Dr. Joseph Peter Becker,
Steamboat Church of Christ, Colorado

Table of Contents

Foreword by Francis J. Maloney
Author’s Preface
Chapter One: History of Scholarship
Pre 19th Century Scholarship
19th Century Scholarship
Questions Over the Prologue
After World War Two
After 1980
The New Millennium
Chapter Two: Status of the Question
1. Authorship
2. Logos-Hymn
3. The Prologue’s Role
4. Chronological Considerations
5. Poetry, Prose and the Baptist Material
6. Style and Structural Elements
7. Diachronic and Synchronic Concerns
8. Oral Nature of the Process
Chapter Three: The Unaddressed Concern?
Approaching the “Text”?
Chapter Four: Proposal for a Helical Reading of the Fourth Gospel
The Literary Function of the Prologue
Elements of the Helical Reading

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