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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Structure.

1.

The first part ( 1:19–12:50 ), now often called ‘the book of signs’, is regularly distinguished from a second one called ‘the book of glory’ ( 13:1–20:31 ; see Brown 1966 ). In that outline ch. 21 is usually considered as an appendix written by a member of the Johannine school (and 7:53–8:11 as a non-Johannine text; see JN APP). It is difficult to come to a consensus concerning the first part. One can state that it is punctuated by seven miracles (two at Cana and Capernaum, two near the Sea of Galilee, two in Jerusalem and one at Bethany near Jerusalem), and by different tableaux and discussions (the meetings with the Baptist and his disciples, with Nicodemus and with the Samaritans, the temple cleansing in Jerusalem, the disputes in Jerusalem, the acclamation near Jerusalem, the anointing at Bethany). One can often find chiastic and concentric schemes in the text, but it is difficult to establish the author's plan with their help alone.

2.

The whole book may be considered as a unity. If the geographical indications are studied, four cycles become apparent. A first grouping ( 1:19–3:21 ) leads from the region across the Jordan ( 1:28 ) to Cana ( 2:1, 11 ) and Capernaum in Galilee ( 2:12 ), and finally to Jerusalem ( 2:13, 23 ). A second grouping ( 3:22–5:47 ) starts in Judea, probably across the Jordan ( 3:26 ), and takes the reader through Samaria ( 4:4 ) to the second stay at Cana in Galilee ( 4:46 ) and finally to Jerusalem ( 5:1 ). A third grouping ( 6:1–10:39 ) starts on ‘the other side’ of the Sea of Galilee ( 6:1–16; cf. 6:17, 22, 25 ) and leads again to Jerusalem in Judea. The last grouping ( 10:40–21:23 ) carries one from the region across the Jordan ( 10:40 ) to Jerusalem ( 12:12 ), through Bethany ( 11:1 ), and finally back to the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee (see Gyllenberg 1960; 1980; Kieffer 1985 ). The regions across the Jordan and on the other side of Galilee are somehow starting-points. Galilee and Samaria are, with the exception of the end of ch. 6 , regions where Jesus is well received, whereas in Judea violent discussions during Jewish feasts lead to various threats to kill him ( 5:18; 7:1, 19–25; 8:37, 40; 10:31–9; 11:53 ).

3.

If one considers more closely the Christological aspects in the Fourth Gospel, one can observe a dramatic progression from Jesus' initial signs and encounters ( 2:1–4:54 ), his works and discussions at Jewish feasts in Jerusalem ( 5:1–10:39 ), the climactic sign of raising Lazarus and the bridge section on the coming of Jesus' hour ( 11:1–12:50 ), to Jesus' farewell at the Last Supper ( 13:1–17:26 ), and finally his hour of passion, death, and resurrection ( 18:1–21:23 ). The Prologue and the encounter with the Baptist can be considered as two Christological introductions, and both 20:30–1 and 21:24–5 as two conclusions (see a slightly different version in Mlakuzhyil 1987 ).

4.

In presenting the material I shall draw attention to these different geographical and dramatic groupings without putting them into the centre of the commentary; proper analysis of the structure and development of each single scene is more important.

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