Syllabus: “The Gospel of John and its Earliest Readers” (UNC Chapel Hill)

For a taste of my recent teaching (advanced undergraduate), see the syllabus for my John seminar, posted at my page.

This course traces the evolution of John—both as a written text and as an object of interpretation—to illuminate the shifting interests and anxieties of Christians living in the 1st–3rd centuries CE. Our study takes its departure from the idea that texts and the meanings attached to them are “symptoms of culture”—that is, that they implicitly encode the “wishes and fears, projections and identifications” of the communities and individuals that produced them (Garber 1998; Beal 2012, 2015). In the hands of its author(s) and earliest readers, the Gospel of John was not merely a portrait of Jesus, but a site at which Christians carved out a distinct identity vis-à-vis their religious competitors (e.g., “the Jews”), worked to reconcile biblical and classical tradition, and debated the meaning of bodily death.