Why John Wrote a Gospel: Jesus-Memory-History
If the ancient audience of the gospel of John was 80 percent illiterate, why did John write a gospel? Why didn't the author of this collection of narrative remembrances of Jesus simply allow those recollections to continue to circulate orally? Drawing on Maurice Halbwachs's social memory theory as well as folklore theory, Thatcher, who teaches at Cincinnati Christian University, answers these and other questions in his tedious exploration of the composition history of the gospel of John. Thatcher argues the gospel operates as a ""spiritual community experience"" rather than as a personal recall. Consequently, the gospel functions not as a repository of memories of the disciples' experience of Jesus, but as a rhetorical device to preserve the community's memory of conflict with the world around it and its spiritual response to those conflicts. Thatcher concludes John is an apologetic treatise that shows more interest in the ""historical Jesus"" than the Synoptic Gospels do. Although accompanied by pictures and charts designed to appeal to students, Thatcher's book requires familiarity with gospel studies and social scientific scholarship to be useful to anyone other than insiders in the biblical studies guild.