My publisher has finally released the complete edition of The Gospel of John, in two volumes, and well more than 1,000 pages! This is twice the length of the first edition!
For those who haven’t heard, this is a restoration of the original version of the gospel, as written by two eyewitnesses of Jesus himself, Lazarus “the Beloved Disciple”, and the gifted scholar-author John the Presbyter. In subsequent decades, early religious leaders changed and changed again the text to make it conform to whatever their personal beliefs were about Jesus. And a couple pages of the original got lost, and other pages transposed. In short, the gospel we have today is a beautiful, inspiring mess, but a mess nonetheless. This work seeks to re-establish not the original manuscript, which was never finished, but what John the Presbyter had hoped to publish.
It includes a book-within-the-book that tells the adventures, yes, adventures of the gospel manuscript – how the author, John the Presbyter, was turned in to the Roman authorities (probably by Saint Paul!) and sentenced to Patmos, and his nearly finished manuscript was spirited off for safekeeping in distant Sinope, on the Black Sea. But there a new governor, the famous Pliny the Younger, was bent on killing all Christians, and once again the manuscript was at risk. It was taken by a young fool named Marcion to Papias of Hierapolis, who had been a student of the now-deceased Presbyter. He and Polycarp of Smyrna finally completed and published the gospel, 35 years after the Presbyter’s exile.
The translation also completely reworks chapters 4 and 20, basing the restoration more on the extremely early Aramaic recensions of the text – remember, Jesus and his people spoke Aramaic. The new renderings bring out far more clearly the nature of Jesus’s relationship with Mary Magdalene.