This Tragic Gospel: How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity

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John Wiley & Sons, Jul 23, 2008 - Religion - 320 pages
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This Tragic Gospel suggests that the "Gospel" of John intended to supplant the first three gospels and succeeded in gaining undue influence on the early churches. This study focuses on the tragic moment when Jesus prays for deliverance from his impending death in the garden of Gethsemane. Ruprecht contends that John rewrote this scene in order to convey a very different dramatic meaning from the one reflected in Mark's gospel. In John's version, not only did Jesus not pray to be spared, he actually mocked this prayer, embracing his imminent demise with godlike confidence. Ruprecht believes that this dramatic reinterpretation undermined the tragedy of Jesus's death as Mark imagined it and so paved the way for the development of a kind of Christianity that focused far less on compassion in the face of human suffering. John's Jesus offers the faithful food so that they will never hunger, water so that they will never thirst, and the promise of a world in which no faithful person ever sheds a tear. Mark's Christians do suffer, but they witness to suffering and death differently...with compassion. Mark's Christ suffers, like all Christians after him, but he embodies a tragic hope in the promise of a faith shored up by love and compassion.
 

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An erudite, convincing argument by a dissident Christian scholar. It demonstrates how the authors of the Johannine school (whose Gospel of John was probably never even seen by the apostle John) not only distorted the authentic teachings of Jesus, but succeeded in discrediting the far deeper interpretation of Thomas, and in slandering the latter as well. Few people realize that the famous "doubting Thomas" legend is a story which occurs in no other text of those times than in John: the book of the main rivals of the school of Thomas! The only weakness I can find in Ruprecht's book is that, for me at least, the author spends a lot of time on the relation with Mark, and the nature of tragedy, instead of on the original, authentic Christianity represented in the Gospel of Thomas, which the Johannine school was determined to stamp out, because it seemed to refute the avatar interpretation of Jesus = God, as well as undermining the authority of priestly interpretation and dogma, over individual spiritual experience and inspiration. Perhaps I'm taking this controversy further than the author would, but in any case, this book is a landmark event in early Christian studies, though it will take some time to gain wide attention, if only because of the shock of the subtitle. However, Christians (and other religious folk as well) must learn to accept the fact that most scriptures have been redacted by different writers with different agendas ... one need not throw out the sublime, poetic passages of John... in all probability, they were written by someone entirely different from the inventor of the three anti-Thomas stories in that gospel ... to say nothing of its anti-Semitic passages. 

Contents

How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Introduction
1
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 1 In the Beginning
17
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 2 The Heart of Christian Compassion
37
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 3 Marks Tragic Gospel
79
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 4 From Tragedy to Triumph
103
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 5 Secret Caves and Secret Teachings
125
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Chapter 6 Martin Luther and the Beloved Disciple
157
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Epilogue
185
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Notes
189
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Selected Bibliography
209
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity About the Author
223
How John Corrupted the Heart of Christianity Index
225
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About the author (2008)

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. holds the William M. Suttles Chair in Religious Studies at Georgia State University and is an active member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Biblical Literature, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Society for Values in Higher Education.

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