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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

An Outline of John

The plot of the Fourth Gospel follows a pattern of descent and ascent. Jesus comes into the world from the Father seeking “his own,” those who will believe. Then, Jesus confronts the world. His ministry divides believers from unbelievers. The hostility of unbelief leads to the “hour” of his crucifixion, which John treats as an exaltation. Jesus returns to the glory that he had enjoyed with the Father from the beginning. The Gospel is clearly divided into two parts: first, the account of Jesus' confrontation with the world, which many scholars refer to as the “book of signs” (chapters 1 through 12 ); and second, the account of Jesus' return to the Father when the destined hour arrives, referred to as the “book of glory” (chapters 13 through 20 ).

  • Prologue ( 1, 1–18 ). A hymnic section introduces us to Jesus as God's Word, which has come into the world.

  • The Book of Signs ( 1, 19–12, 50 ). Jesus' confrontation with the world represents God's judgment against unbelief. This section falls into two parts:

    Gathering Witnesses to Jesus ( 1, 19–4, 54 ). Jesus demonstrates his glory to disciples and others who will believe in him before the confrontation with unbelief begins.

    Confrontation with the World ( 5, 1–12, 50 ). The light has come into the world for judgment. Jesus confronts those who refuse to believe with testimony to his divine origin.

  • The Book of Glory ( 13, 1–20, 31 ). Jesus' whole life has been moving toward the hour of his glorification and return to the Father. This section falls into two parts:

    Preparing the Disciples for the Hour ( 13, 1–17, 26 ). At the Last Supper, Jesus delivers lengthy discourses about his return to the Father and its meaning for the disciples.

    Jesus' Arrest, Crucifixion, and Resurrection ( 18, 1–20, 31 ). John understands the crucifixion as the moment of Jesus' life‐giving exaltation and return to the Father.

  • Epilogue: Resurrection Appearance in Galilee ( 21, 1–25 ). Second conclusion reports further appearances of Jesus and points toward the destiny of two leading disciples, Peter and the Beloved Disciple.

Now it is time to read through the Gospel. You will find it easy to pick out the symbols and the sharp divisions between characters in the story. Remember that John wrote to encourage faith in Jesus as Son of God, because that faith is the source of eternal life. What happens to faith in each episode? Why do some characters move toward a more complete faith in Jesus while others pull away and become hostile?

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