John’s Gospel: The Way It Happened, by Lee Harmon
[Notice Of Adverse Review: This book was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. Sometimes honesty is not flattering.]
If there’s one thing you need to know about this book, it’s that John’s Gospel really didn’t happen this way, or anything close to it at all. It is generally my habit to spend most of my time commenting on aspects that a book gets right so that there is praise, but aside from the author’s apparent rejection of the Trinity and the recognition that Holy Days are also Sabbaths in the view of the Bible (and the resulting rejection of a “Good Friday” Passover), there is really nothing positive I have to say about this book. Nearly every aspect of this book is an assault on legitimate biblical hermeneutics, contains a great deal of condescending and hostile attitude towards genuine Bible believers, and is an account of John that is largely a projection of the author’s own misguided and mistaken Christology, history, and “realized” eschatology projected onto an image of John that betrays some fundamental aspects of the pathetic fallacy, presenting those views sympathetically in a dying old man that would be entirely ridiculous had the author chosen an honest approach to his bogus left-wing “Christian” philosophy.
There are a lot of aspects about this book that are fraudulent, whether it is false dilemmas between gnosticism and Jewish legalism or “orthodox” Catholicism, whether it is the wholesale adoption of the documentary hypothesis by the author and its highly reductionistic tendencies within scripture to conflate every “Mary” and “John” within the Bible or contemporary history into one figure, and even the conflation of all of the Passovers and Holy Days in general into one incident because the author apparently lacks the understanding of human history and behavior well enough to see that similar patterns of behavior may manifest themselves over and over again and that God in His graciousness is longsuffering and not quick to judge, allowing human beings the chance to repent and change their ways despite their hardened patterns of behavior. We ought to be thankful as well that God is merciful and patient even with those misguided and mistaken theologians who call God “Satan” for his justice in meting out the death penalty in the Old Testament, showing the Marcionite tendencies of this author to divide scripture and pit multiple accounts and multiple aspects of God and Jesus Christ against each other rather than recognizing the wholeness and balance of authors who each present different accounts with a different emphasis that complement rather than contradict each other.
In fact, that is the essential flaw (and there are many) of this book, and that is the way in which it follows the bogus hermeneutics of heretics in seeking to pit the scripture against scripture so as to provide the space for the author’s own ideas to be smuggled into “Christianity” as a reputedly legitimate explanation. Rather than recognizing the truth that all scripture together provides the boundaries of legitimate interpretation, this author (and those of his ilk) create their own interpretive schemes and seek to use sleight of hand as well as illegitimate means of interpreting and dividing scripture (positing the existence of imaginary redactors or seeking to denigrade the legitimacy of those parts of the Bible that disagree with their own pet heresies), and the end result is work that is probably better fit to feeding goats or other related purposes than it is for actually providing anything worthy of reading, much less worthy of believing. Even those scholars who would consider themselves “liberal” or “open-minded” Christians would probably view the realized eschatology and the attempts of the author to redeem John as an authoritative Gospel, once it has been lopped and cropped and twisted beyond all recognition, with a tolerant and condescending pat on the back rather than genuine belief.
Perhaps the most offensive elements of this book are the ways in which it goes out of its way to deliberately twist the biblical history of the 1st century. Whether it is the positing of a fictitious Johannine community that had gotten caught up in eschatalogical hopes during the Jewish War of 67AD, or the way in which the book pretends that instead of being one of the twelve, that Matthew was a fraudulent Gospel-writer who was more interested in following Jewish legends and quoting the Apocalypse of Baruch than he was in actually presenting an honest account. The fact that the author himself creates a fraudulent and bogus account of John’s writing of his gospel, along with equally bogus chronologies of the book of Revelation (discussed in a previous and likely equally worthless and inaccurate volume by the author), with a complete ignorance of the epistles and the way in which they help frame the boundaries of acceptable and legitimate exegesis (rather than the entirely bogus eisegesis provided by this author and others like him). This is the kind of book that will probably be far more praised by a certain segment of those who claim to be Christians than it will actually be read, but for those who have the ill fortune to come across this book, a warning about its contents is entirely appropriate. Caveat lector.