The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic (Hardcover)
John Shelby Spong, bestselling author and popular proponent of a modern, scholarly and authentic Christianity, argues that this last gospel to be written was misinterpreted by the framers of the fourth-century creeds to be a literal account of the life of Jesus when in fact it is a literary, interpretive retelling of the events in Jesus' life through the medium of fictional characters, from Nicodemus and Lazarus to the "Beloved Disciple." The Fourth Gospel was designed first to place Jesus into the context of the Jewish scriptures, then to place him into the worship patterns of the synagogue and finally to allow him to be viewed through the lens of a popular form of first-century Jewish mysticism.
The result of this intriguing study is not only to recapture the original message of this gospel, but also to provide us today with a radical new dimension to the claim that in the humanity of Jesus the reality of God has been met and engaged.
“We now approach our scriptures with a literalism that is unparalleled in the history of religion. This new and imaginative book by John Shelby Spong will liberate many people from this unnecessary complication of the religious life.”
“Spong is writing for a lay audience, and he does so magnificently. His thoughts are bracing, his writing exciting, and his conclusions thought provoking. Those who love reading about religion in general and Christianity in particular may want to go through this volume more than once.”
“No one has done more to articulate a vibrant, post-mythic vision of Christianity than John Shelby Spong. Bishop Spong’s masterful interpretation is destined to become a classic.”
“Bishop Spong’s in-depth struggles with and work on the Gospel of John have resulted in a book that challenges dominant assumptions and interpretations. This book will help anyone who cares to think about faith in open, dynamic, hospitable, and inclusive ways.”
“Leave it to Bishop Spong to uncover a message of universal hope that is deeply rooted in Jewish mysticism. Spong’s synthesis of Johannine scholarship will lead both clergy and lay readers to a new appreciation of the surprising origins and message of the Fourth Gospel.”
“Spong is always readable and informative, but this book reads like a cross between a detective story and an adventure saga that is founded on excellent scholarship. I could not put it down.”
“Spong invites readers on a stimulating and challenging journey to read the gospel of John afresh and to consider Christianity from a new perspective. This is a must read for every Christian who has tried to make sense of this gospel.”
“Spong stands on solid scholarship. . . . More important than the negatives to the profoundly persuasive author is the unburnished positive: . . . The Fourth Gospel calls on the faithful to believe that Jesus achieved ‘the mystical oneness with the God who is the source of life.’”
“In his 24th book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic, the always provocative Bishop John Shelby Spong takes on the Gospel of John, opening new windows of insight and challenging the ways the fourth gospel has usually been understood.”