Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Four Gospels Book of John

In The Four Gospels Seminary Course, I am selecting to write about "The Word According To John," since this is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I must admit that I learned just as much from the interesting emails as I did from the book itself. The analyses which Amy has provided bring new insights into each book and the book also provides new ideas simply by the way it has been translated. So many of our holidays today have been derived from the "Holy Days" described in the chapters of The Unvarnished Gospels.  It is fascinating that so many of our traditions and rituals have not changed much in over 2000 years.

The Book of John seems to contradict itself (as well as contradicting the other Gospels in several areas) as one proceeds through the chapters. While there ARE contradictions in other books about Jesus and/or what He did during his lifetime here on Earth, John seems to bring about more than other books. Perhaps the way it seems to be more "preachy" (where the voice it is written in seems more dictatorial) makes it appear quite different from the other three books. John does have an easier feel to the actual reading, but provides much more material for discussion since it doesn't agree with the other books as much regarding what and/or how Jesus did things. In The Unvarnished Gospels, the other three books seem to agree with each other in most instances in sharp contrast to John.

John has in some chapters a "polarized" feel to it where he writes something that is opposite to or goes against what he wrote in a previous chapter. It is quite plausible that some of the items in question may be disputable due to the amount of time which had
passed between the actual events and the time that John was actually written. For instance, many stories change over time; becoming more grand and/or distorted with each telling. As a result, since it seems that John was written without the author actually witnessing the events as they unfolded, it becomes seemingly obvious as to why so many situations and/or particulars contradict the other three Gospels and even some of John's own material. Someone who does not witness a particular event and is simply writing down what others say happened has a good chance of writing material which does not necessarily agree with what is already known about the event. In addition, since said person did not witness said event, they would not be averse to writing something in a later chapter which does not agree with what they wrote about in an earlier chapter.

By no means am I attempting to justify these issues which appear to be rather glaring mistakes; but I believe that it is rather easy for us to see these mistakes that we could just as easily have made ourselves were we to write the same type of material where the subject matter happened quite possibly before we were born or otherwise was not witnessed by us. Like the old saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20." The real beauty of all four Gospels is that even today we can see for ourselves the spirits which exist within ourselves comprising the truth and all that is good which Jesus so desperately wanted all people to see and understand. The translation of this book does render it much easier to read as it replaces outdated or obsolete words with the language of today. It is a shame that so many Bibles use such outdated wording and phrases, as I believe this is what turns so many younger individuals off. Once a person has been "turned off" to reading the Bible, it becomes much more difficult to regain his or her interest. As such, this book in particular goes a long way towards making Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John a more pleasurable reading experience, even for someone who has already read all four books in the regular style.

Submitted by Erik Michaels

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