Just as hot cross buns are nothing much to taste without sultanas and diced dried apricots [my faves for this year's homemade buns], so are the Gospel accounts of the events of Holy Week and Easter if we imagine only having Matthew, Mark and Luke and no John.
Here are a few of the ways in which John enriches us (if not entrances us with loads of puzzles):
- a key event is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, an event not even hinted out in the other Gospels (John 11);
- John tells the anointing of Jesus by a woman differently (but with enough similarities for us to accept that it is the same anointing): "six days before Passover" (not two); at the home of Lazarus (not Simon); with the anointing woman named, Mary (not anonymous);
- John's Last Supper is devoid of elements of "the institution of the Lord's Supper" narrative, otherwise made known to us not only in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but also in 1 Corinthians 11:17-31;
- Only in John's Last Supper is a ceremony of foot washing narrated;
- And there is the somewhat oodles of doctoral theses generating challenge of John's chronology re his timing of the Passover: the Synoptics place the Last Supper on the evening of Passover (so Jesus dies the next day, during Passover), whereas John times Jesus' death to occur when the lambs for the Passover meal are being slaughtered (19:14), so the Last Supper is not actually a Passover meal;
- only John supplies the so-called Farewell Discourses through his chapters 14-17;
- then there are his Resurrection Narratives, though we can note that when it comes to Resurrection Narratives, there are considerable divergences across all four Gospels: only John tells us of Jesus' encounter with Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Peter and the Beloved Disciple.
Now my point here is not rehearse things likely well known to readers of ADU but to note that I am delighted this Holy Week and Easter to have the assistance of a new commentary on John's Gospel.
David F. Ford is a renowned British theologian and tells us at the beginning of The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2021) that he has been working on this book for a couple of decades (p. vii).
At the end of the commentary, as he discusses at greater length the people and books that have influenced him and been conversational partners with him, he mentions an opportunity in 2009 to engage in a "sustained conversation around John that has acted as an inspiration and a benchmark. Richard Bauckham had retired from St Andrews University to Cambridge and Richard Hays was in Cambridge for a six month sabbatical. We put twenty-one three-hour sessions in our diaries, and the three of us read the whole Gospel together" (p. 439-40). Oh, to be a fly on the wall ...
Like all commentaries, there is much to look up on specific passages and their associated puzzles and controversies, and I intend to do that over the next week re the kinds of matters I have listed above. It could be a bit boring, however, from a blogging perspective, to list all the things he says (even if each is interesting in its own right) so I will simply finish here with his opening paragraph, not least because I have never previously thought of his summary description of John's Gospel before, though it is one of those brilliant, lovely insights that are completely obvious (especially if we think of John 10:10 as both a summary of Jesus' intended mission and as the centre/middle of the Gospel)!
From page 1, my bold:
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). John is a Gospel of abundance. The prologue first sounds this note; the first sign that Jesus does turns a huge amount of water into good wine: the Spirit is a wind that blows where it will and is given "without measure" (3:34); the "living water" that Jesus gives is "a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" (4:14); when Jesus feeds five thousand with five loaves, there are twelve baskets of fragments left over; through Jesus there is abundance of glory, healing, light, life, trugh, fruitfulness, joy, and love; the last sign that Jesus does brings about a large catch of big fish; and John's closing sentence responds to the impossible task of writing all that could be said about what Jesus did: "if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (21:25).
There is, indeed, an abundance in this commentary of things to be enriched by.
May all readers of ADU have an enriched, abundant Holy Week and Paschal Festival full of meaning and significance.
This is my recipe for Hot Cross buns (using a breadmaker, in my case a rather recent and IMHO brilliant Panasonic one):
(in this order in the bread maker)
1 cup of sultanas and diced dried apricots (either in the nifty breadmaker device which releases them automatically at the right time, or added to the dough cycle when your breadmaker signals for that to happen).
3 to 3.5 teaspoons of breadmaker yeast mixture (can this be obtained outside of NZ?)
3.5 cups of high quality flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon oil
270 mls water (with the Panasonic this can be as it comes out of the tap; otherwise slightly warm)
Press start on the "raison dough" cycle
Near the end of the alotted time, prepare a thick flour-and-water mix for the crosses.
Once dough is ready, make eight (possibly nine) balls of dough and place in a container such as a roasting dish and let rise for about 30 - 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn oven on to bake at 180 degrees Celsius
Add the crosses to each potential bun
Once 180 degrees is reached:
Place container in the oven for however long it takes to cook the buns.
Option: make a hot syrup from brown sugar and a little water (or brown sugar, honey and a little water).
When the buns are cooked, pour the syrup over the buns (hence the roasting dish as this catches any excess syrup flowing off the buns).
Place the buns on a cooling rack