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With the book of John, we come to the most read, most loved, most studied and most commented-on book in the New Testament. John is a unique and personal blend of memoir, history, reflection, philosophy and teaching by the disciple who knew Jesus best. From the very opening verses, it sets itself apart from the other Gospels. Whereas they represent different aspects of a similar history, John tells a different history about the same person. Much of what John writes cannot be found in the other books (Nicodemus, Samaritan woman at the well, woman caught in adultery, raising of Lazarus, Farewell Discourse), and he omits many of the key incidents in their accounts (Sermon on the Mount).


Our concern is not to analyze this book, or compare John with the other Gospels. We are focusing only on the racial teachings. And here we at once come upon a momentous discovery. Up to this point, throughout this study, we have surveyed the different books and extracted any passages that either directly mention race relations or even have racial implications.


But with John, this straightforward method doesn't work. We realize that whereas other books have more or less racial content, the Book of John is itself a racial message. From the very first verses, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God," we have left the narrow insular world of the Old Testament. John is the first non-Jewish book in the Bible (I mean this sequentially, not chronologically, since it was one of the last books written). John is the Gospel to the Greeks, to the Romans. As such, John subordinates the thoughtworld of Judaism to the viewpoint of the foreigner, using his language and philosophical beliefs: word, light, dark, image, cosmos.


The other Gospels require considerable translation for the non-Jew to comprehend the message: what is a Messiah?, what is monotheism?, what is the Law? who was King David? what is a Passover lamb? For the run-of-the-mill pagan, there was a tremendous amount of backstory to learn before he could even make sense of Jesus' life, teachings, death and claim of resurrection. And much of early Christian evangelism seems to have been geared to proving that Jesus was the fulfilment of Old Testament promises and prophecies -- a matter of secondary concern to Gentile listeners to whom those promises did not apply.


But John removed much of this Jewish "womb" and presented Jesus as the universal savior, whose Jewish origins were not central to his significance. You can "get to Jesus" without having first to go through Jewish history and doctrine. The Jewish element is there, but it is muted. This is the most remarkable achievement of this book, apart from its unique contents.

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