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John on... - reflections on an unusual Gospel 

Useful books for exploring John's gospel, relating aspects of our contemporary culture to both the traditional Judaism of Jesus' day and Jesus’ interpretation of his mission and message


John onJOHN ON…Reflections on an unusual Gospel
By Terry Young 
Words by Faith 
ISBN 978-0-9954850-4-5

JOHN ON…Reflections on an unusual Gospel (Study Guide)
By Terry Young  
Words by Faith 
ISBN 978-0-9954850-5-2
Reviewed by the Revd Dr Martin M’Caw 


These two books go together. The Study Guide uses the same headings as the chapters in Reflections. Its overall pattern contains an excerpt scene-setting and summarising paragraph from Reflections followed by the same questions as found at the end of each chapter in the parent volume. Young’s reflecting is more for Fred and Freda attending the Bible study group rather than their minister preparing sermons in the study, although some ministers could do with adopting his lighter approach!

Young recognises St. John does not keep strictly to the chronological narrative of Jesus ministry and life as he uses Jesus words from various contexts to present more of an in depth insight to God’s redeeming purpose behind the incarnation. The chapter headings reflect the recurring themes in John’s Gospel: The Word, The Father, The Spirit, Signs, I Am, and Glory, to name a few.

Young’s approach relates aspects of our contemporary culture to both the traditional Judaism of Jesus day and Jesus’ interpretation of his mission and message. He frequently alludes to incidents and aspects from his personal life, encounters with people, presentational problems and films to lead into the nitty gritty of the points Jesus and John are making. In the chapter headed ‘I Am’ he illustrates how in the internet age ‘a wealth of videos explain, in just a minute or two, something profound in the text’. In the chapter headed ‘The Father’ he uses a four paragraph analogy from Star Trek IV to make his point. I’m into the internet but, for me, Star Trek is an unexplored world: so not all of his analogies may clarify the point.

Young’s illustrative approach can be distractive, rather like watching a moth caught in the light from the projector rather than concentrating on the nub of what is being presented. The chapter headed ‘Belief’ has less distracting analogies, linking belief to the various stages of growth and maturity on the permanent learning curve of life. Similarly the chapter headed ‘Signs’ points to how they relate to something specific and pertinent to the occasion.

If we can make allowances for some of Young’s analogies we have two useful books: one for personal study, and one for the Bible study group. 

The Revd Dr Martin M’Caw (Retired Baptist Minister. Wing Chaplain No.2 Welsh Wing RAF cadets)

Baptist Times, 04/01/2019
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