This Tragic Gospel: How John Corrupted the Heart of ChristianityLouis A. Jr. Ruprecht
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Despite the subtitle of this book, which some general readers may find alarming, Ruprecht's argument is well reasoned and reflects concerns not new to scholars and Bible translators. The author, who teaches religious studies at Georgia State University, places in juxtaposition the gospels of Mark and John, suggesting that John was written not to supplement Mark's book, but rather to replace it and create a more strident, less human portrait of Jesus. Ruprecht dissects the two gospels and shows how the Johannine influence has prevailed in Christian history, in particular with reformers like Martin Luther. He also explores how John's gospel may have fed into the centuries-old plague of anti-Semitism in the church and beyond. In contrast to the self-assured Jesus described in John, Mark's Jesus is conflicted and ambiguous, working miracles but commanding those he healed not to tell anyone. And where (in Ruprecht's view) Mark sees Jesus' suffering as without purpose, in John suffering was itself the purpose. Although Ruprecht's ideas may surprise and discomfit nonspecialists, they deserve a read and are accessibly presented. (Aug. 8) ( Publishers Weekly , April 28, 2008)