My students and I are reading through the Gospel of John right now in my classes. I have always found the gospel of John to be not only enigmatic and illusive, but deeply enriching and attractive.
Today in my classes my students wrestled with why John refers to himself through the Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” rather than “John.” When the standard answer–humility–was raised, I began to wonder if there isn’t a deeper meaning to the text, namely, that John is the “every man,” that he ‘represents’ (an unsatisfactory term, to be sure) the possibilities of intimate connection with Christ for all of us. In that way, we all can become “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It’s the sort of crazy idea that could explain some apparent problems in the text (like John’s unique depiction of the language of Jesus), though almost assuredly would create many more.
In case my students read this, I’ll not elaborate on those solutions until after our discussion on Thursday, when we will (hopefully) explore in much greater detail why the authorship of John matters in our interpretation of his gospel.