Description: Nineteen hundred years ago, someone called the Beloved Disciple told stories about Jesus and his days on earth, including reports of what Jesus did and said. These stories had been todl for decades, but then someone took the stories and wrote them down, turning them from oral tradition into the book we know as the Gospel of John. Scholars have long concentrated on the content of this Fourth Gospel, analyzing how it differs from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and wondering how the different Gospels relate to the Jesus of history. Thatcher builds on all this previous scholarship to as new and exciting questions: Why was this Gospel written? Why would these followers of Jesus turn the oral stories into written Gospel? In exploring the reason for writing the Fourth Gospel, Thatcher focuses on how stories and written texts operate to reflect and to create memory with in groups of people. He uncovers how early Christians strove to remember Jesus in the decades after his ministry and how Christians came into conflict with one another about which memories were best. With this interest in the social memory of early Christians, Thatcher provides original insights into the Gospel of John and shows new answers to old questions. Writing in an engaging and accessible style, Thatcher uses numerous diagrams and modern parallels to show how Gospel texts shape the memory and identity of Christian communities, not only in the ancient world bu today as well. Endorsements: ""Tom Thatcher effectively rewrites the agenda for the study of the Gospel of John for the next decade. Dotted with diagrams, drawings, and numerous contemporary examples, Thatcher carefully leads readers into new and unexplored territory. He works with contemporary ideas of social memory and builds on the thesis that we discover the fourth evangelist's message in oral rather than written form. He presents us with new understandings of history and of the purpose of the Gospel of John."" --Robert Kysar, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching and New Testament, Emory University ""This may be the first treatment of the fourth gospel that takes into account its predominantly oral communication environment. In a carefully crafted argument, Thatcher uses Maurice Halbwach's suggestive reflections on social memory to develop a series of provocative speculations about what lead from Johannine tradition to a written gospel. This book is sure to stir up some rethinking of the relation between the composition of John's Gospel and the social memory of the Johannine community in which it was embedded."" --Richard A. Horsley, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion, University of Massachusetts, Boston ""Rejecting a lengthy developmental composition history, Thatcher confronts the text - and us - with the fundamental question: why did John write, and write this kind of gospel? Unsettling in the best possible sense, this book offers a new point of departure for Johannine studies. It is my hope that the new perspectives Thatcher has introduced will initiate a genuine reevaluation of our thinking about one of the most intriguing texts in early Christianity."" --Werner H. Kelber, Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Rice University About the Contributor(s): Tom Thatcher is Professor of Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University. He is a founding member of the John, Jesus, and History project and the author/editor of numerous books and articles on the Gospel of John, including What We Have Heard from the Beginning and John, Jesus, and the Renewal of Israel.