My current class in Johannine Literature has been a nice romp through much of the New Testament. These books have always been a mystery to me—due mostly to lack of reading them. But even with reading them, its good to have a guide. After reading Revelation for the first time, I put the Bible down and probably couldn't tell you a single thing that happened. Lampstands and angels and horses were everywhere, but I couldn't make heads or tails of them. I got that John was on Patmos, but then once you queue the acid sequence, the plot sort of . . . Well, I'm not sure if there is a plot. Ok, Round 2 with a commentary made a big difference!
The Synoptics and Paul tend to get a lot of attention, but the Johannine “school” has a significant portion in the canon—The Gospel of John, 3 “letters” of John, and the Book of Revelation. Not a bad showing. Let's hear it for John! A rich literary bunch there. So we're studying epistolary forms, apocalyptic literature, Greek rhetoric, not to mention that crazy gospel genre. (Did ya'll know that its no longer cool to assume that the Gospel of John was written way late? Its now theorized to be pretty-darn historically reliable!)
Its not just a matter of quantity, either. Where else do you get, “God is love” ? (1 John 4:8). Let’s give some more context: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7). *Sigh* What more do you need? I’ll build a theology off of that! I’m willing to ignore the fact that 1 John puts additional stipulations in other portions of the book if you are.