Topic Lecture 7 - St John's Gospel

These notes are assembled after listening to the lecture delivered by Rev. Dr. Nikolai Sakharov. Disclaimer: Any errors are completely my own as I intertwine the lecture material with my own reflections and additional source material.

The Gospel of John is a unique Gospel. It is particularly close to the Orthodox Church. Once the Catholic Church was compared to the apostle Peter, the Protestant church to the apostle Paul, and the Orthodox Church was compared to St John the evangelist.

What the synoptic mean? Is synopsis. A common vision. This is in reference to the Gospels of Matthew Mark and Luke. If we speak about Christ, then we need to present a common vision of Christ. Now John's Gospel gives us a different aspect. It is no coincidence that many people of this particular Gospel, because it has a profound personal impact like no other Gospels. St John's Gospel sends us into the most intimate dialogue with its reader. And the works of Christ recorded in this gospel penetrate the very depth of our inner selves. Father Nikolai was raised in an atheistic society, but he witnessed many people coming to Christ as a result of St John's Gospel, and it was no coincidence as it had a profound personal dimension.

How should we approach the text of the Gospel? How should we study it? What should we study? As mentioned, every form of literature has its own criteria. We might be looking in some texts for the politics style, and other text for the whether historical facts are recorded and consistency of the account.

So what criteria should we be using to study St John's Gospel? Scholars believe that to the 19th century that the Gospels were some kind of memoir of the apostles. And this view was held by the church actually until very late. See the book by David Stross (?), The life of Jesus, written in 1885. For the first time Stross used the term myth in relation to the new Testament. And in the 20th century, science and ousted the church from the field of biblical studies altogether. These included the structure of the narrative, historical analysis, historical verifiability, logical consistency. An interesting in the field of theology, the field of science brought to modern man.

We also find testimony about the authorship of the gospel in St Irenaeus, who wrote about 180 A.D. John remained at Ephesus until the time of his passing around 117 A.D.also have reference John's authorship of the gospel in Clement of Alexandria: "and last for the evangelist, John perceived that all the external facts been made plain in the Gospels, and he was urged by his friends by the Holy Spirit, to compose a spiritual Gospel". If you want to know more about what the fathers of the church set about the Gospel, there is a book by Maurice Wiles (?) Which is recommended for those who wish to study a patristic approach to the Gospel.

But some say that the language of the gospel implied a much later date. And there is no historical evidence that John was actually present at Ephesus. St possible for example, never mentions John in his letter to the Ephesians. Is this a valid argument? This is rather an invalid argument, if we think about it in the modern terms, if a scholar was to write to a particular university, he/she would not go mentioning another name which was unrelated.

So scholars started to search for another author, another John. 

Do we remember in the Gospel of John who it says whom Jesus loved? Of course, it was Lazarus. Because Jesus wept, at his death. So one of the scholars indicated that possibly it was Lazarus who wrote the Gospel of John. And if you look at chapter 21 there is a question about the death of the disciple. And in the Gospels we will never hear, anything that is said, from the beloved disciple. He is rather silent personality. He never speaks. And some even question whether he would live forever, on earth, although Christ never said this.

Barnabas Linders (?) commentary, said that the whole Johannine community was the beloved disciple. And yet another scholar believed it was Lazarus and Mary who wrote the Gospel of John together since Mary was the 1st to witness the Lord's resurrection. In this instance it was considered to be a cooperative endeavour. And there are many books on this topic, and there are very many candidates. But the Orthodox perspective is of course the youngest disciple, John wrote this gospel.

So scholars searched for various influences to the Gospel of John, and they found themselves in a jungle, confused state, mess. Because the whole period from from the first 60 years of the first century to the middle of the second century, was one of the most intensive religious quests. Various philosophers, the Gnostics, special monastic communities, various myths and sacraments, and Eastern religions, all this constituted one complex setting. It was very difficult to place any direct dependence on John.

Influences on St John's Gospel


Bultmann (?) believed that St John Hellenized Christianity. First of all there are very strong parallels with Platonism. Platonic philosophy maintained that behind this passing from this material world, there was a real eternal change in this world which led to the contrast between mind and body, spirit and flesh, world above and world below. Perhaps you can hear similarities with John's Gospel, about from on high, he speaks about the true minds about the truth, about one true God, this is very much Platonic vocabulary.


Secondly, stoicism: a particular and very important point is the concept of the Logos (?). The Stoics as you know, believed that focus was God, and in some sense also the whole universe. The Stoics were by no means crude pantheists. For they found seeds of divine Logos in the mind of man. There was a possibility of a special relationship between divine eternal universal laws and any human being. And what they saw as a duty of a human being was to live in accordance with this divine logos, to cultivate the seed of eternal logos within ourselves. This is how man becomes a child of God. Again we see parallels with John's Gospel.

Hermetic writings

A third remaining trend or influence comes from so-called Hermetic writings. What are these? At the beginning of the first century these two branches of Greek thought, Platonic and Stoic merged into one, and they appeared in a collection of works which were distributed in the second third and fourth centuries, known as hermetic writings. What can we say but these writings? There is a considerable emphasis on knowledge. Salvation was really to be found in knowing the truth knowing about God and the world, how to pass through and beyond this world, into the heavenly spheres. Much emphasis is placed about knowing the true God, chapter 17:3. Consider also light and life, in the context of the nature of God.


John's Gospel is used widely by Gnostic writers to claim their apostolic authority for their views. But also by the Orthodox fathers of the church, who wanted to refute that Gnostic heresies. The first commentary that survived in almost its complete extract, was the work of of Gnostic Heraklion (?). Again similar ideas in the Gospel of John, I'd is about knowledge, about life, about truth about sacraments. In this context what saves us is knowledge, one has to know the authorities of the world, about man about God, and about the way for man to escape from this world and to be united with God. But really the fourth Gospel is decisively different.

There is a difference between knowledge of God in the Gospel, and the knowledge within that Gnostic context. Or any other difference which deals with incarnation? What is it? The knowledge in the Gospel of Christ, is really about personal knowledge, it is not about information in the world. In the Gospel, it is about relation, and communion with God. It's about ontological knowledge, personal knowledge. We know God through love, through communion. This is what is implied by knowledge. Our type of knowledge implies ontological knowledge, ontological union, with God. Consider for example the term knowledge in the context of Adam and Eve, when we are told: Adam knew his wife. Which means he entered in full communion with his wife, including all levels, physical, spiritual, all of the levels. It was that tell a tear of the communion. And this is type of knowledge that is implied in the fourth Gospel, knowledge as communion.

Rudolff Bultmann believes that in the fourth Gospel, nothing else but the question form of the salvation myth which belongs to the Mandaeism. These were a Jewish sect, whom broke with Judaism in the first century, and they believed Jesus was the son of the founder of the Mandaeism, supposedly sent John the Baptist. They believed that it was sent John the Baptist who was sent from above, not Christ. And they believed that this world was made out of a fusion of light and darkness to the body of man belong to the kingdom of darkness but his soul comes from the kingdom of light. Thus it is the light that is trapped in the darkness of the human body. 

If you notice in the fourth Gospel we have a very interesting portrait of sent John the Baptist. There was a tendency to emphasise that John the Baptist was not the Messiah. And this is perhaps where the notion of myth arose. How did the Mandeists see  it? The king of light sends down to earth his son suitably disguised in a human form so he can reveal to human beings there are heavenly origin. And to instruct them how to return back to their true home. This sounds very much like the fourth Gospel. And then the person who was sent to do this work by God... And when their work is done they go back to heaven and the son collects their sparks of light, their souls into his hands, it is kingdom. And when they have all returned to heaven the work is done. There is a passage with Christ talks about bringing together all the children of God. This is very much like the notion of the Mandaeis. The Mandaens had a special liking towards the baptism ceremony. And not just once but regularly. For them the baptism rite equated to the rite of purification. They would wear white robes for every baptism, and for the ceremony. Thus the similarity between the Mandaeis and the fourth Gospel is obvious. So Bultmann believes that the Christians turned the cosmological myths of the Mandaeis into Christianity. They applied what was applied to sent John the Baptist, to Christ.

However we can see weaknesses in this point. Firstly the Mandaeis literature is very much later in the piece, the documents were distributed around the seventh century. Many scholars now tend to believe like Barrett and Burkitt (?) That actually it is not Christianity that is dependent on the Mandaeis but the Mandaeis on Christianity very much. There are also many other differences. For example, how do we become children of God? We're not defacto children of God until we find our salvation in Christ. And then become a child of Christ through Christ. And the Mandaeis believed that every man is heavenly de facto. The real innocence is the divine light that is contained within the person. The Mandaeis, as well as many other Greek writers and hermetic writers, believe that man's redemption comes through information. For us it comes through personal love and communion. There is a difference in the concept of knowledge. And how did they see sacraments? For us any sacrament increases out into communion with Christ himself. Every sacrament is Christ himself. For example consider Eucharist, we communion of the body and blood of Christ himself. And it is there, that the sacrament finds its fulfilment. If you take baptism for example, it is not just about washing hands, or going for a swim. We are baptised into Christ, St Paul says. We are baptised into the person. And for the Mandaeis did not have that notion of person. Sacraments were a kind of magical ritual. Your apply a certain formula and then something happens.

And so some scholars believed, that the Gospel of John could not have been written by John the apostle because many of the things spoken come from later date, e.g. ideas, and vocabulary much later than the first century. But all these theories collapsed in the recent archaeological discoveries prove them wrong. We're speaking here but the dead Sea Scrolls. When they came to light, there are no less parallels with contemporary Judaism in the fourth Gospel than in the Greek world or the Mandaeis. E.g., the manual discipline, the Damascus covenant, the commentary under cavicle (?). John Ashton, the Oxford Scholar believes that in light of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of John is now considered as thoroughly Jewish document. In many ways these Scrolls have demonstrated that many of John's ideas which were thought to be of Greek influence, and probably of a later date, are quite explicable of a Palestinian-Jewish... there was already and established Jewish community when Christ was born. This means that the early date of the fourth gospel is not impossible, and we as Orthodox can only welcome this finding. We can prove that yes John was actually John the Apostle who was the writer of the Gospel of John.

When we come to the synoptic gospels, scholars believe that John belong to an independent tradition. He probably didn't even know the synoptic gospels. And it is a question whether he knew them or not. Our Orthodox tradition says yes he knew because of what St Clement of Alexandria said: "John, the last of all evangelists, after all the external facts had been made plain in other Gospels..." This phrase implies that he actually read them. And perhaps the question itself is not entirely relevant for us today.

There are stories that are not in the synoptic gospels: the woman of Samaria, the miracle at Canaan, which is an interesting detail which is not recorded in the Synoptics. The disciples of Christ baptised, as well as John the Baptist baptising. Even distinguished professors like George Mantzarides in your Orthodox tradition, have asked why is such an important event like the raising of Lazarus is not mentioned by any other evangelist. Well what do we say to that? Why was that the case? It was such a grand event the whole of Judaea witnessed it.

For John, the raising of Lazarus, had a very important theological significance. And that is why he records it. The synoptic writers, they speak about, other resurrections that John doesn't mention. For instance the raising of the son of the widow of Nine (?), And the raising of Jairus daughter. In fact it is possible that Christ raised many people, and all his miracles are not recorded. Christ did much more than we here in the Gospels but for John, he perceived the raising of Lazarus is having a special significance in the career of Christ as a whole, and having a theological significance, as a holy action which would proceed Christ's own resurrection. 

Yes, there are similarities as well, but the temple entry into Jerusalem, the anointing Bethany, and some other parallels like miracles like feeding a 5000 between the Gospel of John and the Synoptics etc. There are some differences in chronology and in geography in the synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John. For example, in the synoptic gospels Christ comes a Jerusalem in the last stage of his ministry, while in John's Gospel he frequents Jerusalem often, and Jerusalem is mention quite a few times, in visits to the temple quite often there. One of the other differences is the style of writing of the Gospel of John, which are very different in terms of its structure. The synoptic gospels, for example, are composed of stories, little short stories about Christ. In John we find developed dialogues between Christ and other heroes of the Gospel. 

What can we say as a result of all of this findings? How does this comparison with the synoptic gospels help us to understand John's Gospel? How far does historical research advance our understanding of the actual text? And if you read modern biblical scholarship, the books try to contextualise the words of the Gospel. They try to put them in their context, into their Sitz im Leiben. There is a tendency to treat the Gospel, not as a universal of revelation but as a reflection of a particular historical situation. Something, that we can admit as Orthodox, but we wouldn't dwell on that. Because any Gospel is a universal revelation, because it is tied to particular historical context, but for us the new Testament is universal in its nature.

Possible Inconsistencies in the Text

Let's examine how this logic works of historical analysis. We have already gone through the various strands of thought, platonic, stoic, Gnostic, and so on, so scholars combine all this findings and they believe it is possible to reconstruct the actual history of the Johannine community, where the needs of the community dictated the content of the Gospel. Raymond Brown, writes on the "community of the beloved disciple", which still stands as the starting point for any Johannine study. And Lewis Martin (?), the "history and theology in the fourth Gospel". So let's examine how their logic works.

These scholars have noticed that the text of the fourth Gospel has been edited and re-edited several times. So how can we see this for example in the prologue of the Gospel is a far more theologically developed piece of the text it obviously doesn't correspond any style to the rest of the Gospel. It is like a poetic him. E.g 1:1-17. There are also in the text, many chronological and geographical inconsistencies for example chapter 6, we suddenly find ourselves in Galilee but in chapter 5 Christ was in Jerusalem. And another interesting example, chapter 14, verse one, Christ says: "Arise, let's go away from here", it looks like the end of the discussion but here Christ carries on with his discourse of the Last Supper for another couple of chapters. This can easily be explained by our cultural context whereby it is not that easy to remove oneself from a dialogue depending on the background.

In chapter 5, verse 25: "Christ said: 'I say to you that the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they who hear shall live". And just three verses below, Christ repeats the same thing: "for the hour is coming, who all in the graves shall hear his voice... And therefore come forth to the resurrection of life... And those who have done evil". It looks like the original idea in chapter 5:25, is corrected, clarified, interpreted. Additionally, we hear about the wedding in Canaan, where Christ turns water into wine, but then there is a puzzling comment in chapter 2, verse 11: "this is the beginning of miracles that Jesus did in Canaan of Galilee"; okay, but where is the rest? We don't hear about the rest of the miracles in Canaan. Well it depends how you interpret this phrase. We can always interpret this, is that this was the first miracle and there were many more to come throughout Christ's life. Scholars like Faulkner, "the Gospel of science: the reconstruction of the narrative source", believes there was a miracle walk that was incorporated into the Gospel of John by John. And this is why we have that strange phrase "the beginning of miracles". In chapter 20:30-31, reads like it is the end of the Gospel, "and truly Christ did many other signs... Which are not written in this book... But these are written so you could have life in his name." But the Gospel continues, we do not say in there. There is chapter 21. Scholars believe the chapter 21 is actually an appendix. And so scholars believe that the text has been edited, and re-edited.

But when we come to the actual content of the Gospel, we find that there are numerous polemical passages. Christ is said to be arguing with Jews, Pharisees, the Samaritans, in such a way that he seems to speak on behalf of a certain group. As if the evangelist, tries to give Christ his own voice and concerns, he puts on his lips the words that express concern not of the subject of Christ himself but the Christian community. See the conversation with Nicodemus, in chapter 3. Christ says: "truly, truly I say to you we speak what we know and we testify what we have seen". Why this Christ speaking plural, about himself? As if Christ is speaking on behalf of a certain group. And also there is a Samaritan woman, and Christ says in 4:22, "you worship what you do not know, we know to worship the salvation of the Jews". Who is speaking in this passage? Christ speaks, "we know", about himself. Like, he speaking on behalf the Jews. So the evangelist, tries to sort out polemical questions, that are vested in his own community.

St John the Baptist continually repeats "I am not the Messiah", 1:20, and 3:28. So why to drive this point so persistently? There must be something behind. And if we look at the Johannine Epistles, we seen the first epistle that in John's community there was a schism, a split. 1 John 2:19, John the evangelists says: "they went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they were of us they would have continued with us". He speaks of a certain group of people who departed from his community. How do we explain these polemics? Brown, suggests that we need to dig deeper into the historical setting, as to understand all of these strange passages, these strange polemics, which formed an influence the content of the Gospel. That is how we can ultimately understand the fourth Gospel.

What would be the historical settings of these polemics? Perhaps the main historical event in the first century, which gave birth to Christianity as religion, was the expulsion of the Christians from the synagogue. When did this happen? Because we know that Christians worshipped alongside Jews in the synagogue. Until the mid-first century all Christians were Jews, who were worshipping in the temple when Christ came. And these early Christians, understood that Christ was the fulfilment of the old Testament prophecies, and were standing in the temple and confessing Christ as the Messiah. And in fact, Judaism was quite liberal at that time, in the first half of the first century, it was pluralistic in its nature, it would accommodate many other religions, such as Platonism, other Greek philosophy, and Christianity as well was in this liberal environment. That's why Judaism flourished, in a universally acknowledge religion. It's a liberal trend increased its popularity. But what happens next? We know that around 66 A.D. Jewish laws began, and they were directly formed for the Jews against the Roman authorities. And in 70 A.D. the Jewish feast of Passover, Emperor Titus, the Roman leader arrived in Jerusalem and the siege began. It consisted of five months of siege, and the great temple of Jerusalem was burned. And the whole city, 1 million Jews were killed at this time. Just imagine what this meant for Jewish people at that time. Hundreds of thousands of captives were taken to Caesarea. And after this devastation, the cultural and religious and educational centre of Judaism, that is Jerusalem, there was a Jewish party that settled in Jamnia. A place which was away from Jerusalem. And it is there that the pharisaic party took a leading role in the revival of Judaism. The Pharisees were not liberals at all. They wanted to read Judaism from outside influences. And they introduced new liturgical texts into their services, one of them which was cursing Christians, and it was from that moment the Christians could no longer be side-by-side in the temple with the Jews. Christians had to confess through these liturgical texts that Christianity was heresy, and they honestly couldn't do that as Christians themselves. And at this time, the Christians began to be expelled from the synagogue. And he's around this point, that Raymond Brown and Lewis Martin, build their theory of the history. 

So now if we open the text in the first chapter, verse 35, Raymond Brown believes that here we are dealing with the very outset of the Johannine community. "The next day John was standing with two of his disciples... And they follow Jesus". This is how the community started. So the Johannine community consisted of Jews who believed in an old Testament type Christology. In verse 38 if we look at the kinds of Christological titles written by John they include: "Jesus called Rabbi"; verse 41 "the Messiah", "one of whom Moses wrote in the law in the Prophets"; "the son of Joseph", "son of God", "king of Israel". What kind of ID to these titles give us? Do they speak about the pre-eternal existence of Christ? Do they speak about his divinity? Not at all. They speak about him as a kind of old Testament prophets, but nothing special about him and his divinity. This kind of Christology which was at the outset for the community when they worshipped in the synagogue, which is why the Jews in the temple initially accept these notions there was nothing wrong with them. But then, if we move further into chapter 4, we hear about Christ's visit to Samaria which is not found in the synoptic gospels. And here we hear about an interesting type of Christology, Christ is now not just the son of Joseph, he is like 4:42 says: "he is the saviour of the world". Now we have a very different type of Christology. This is a theology which is universal, speaks about Christ is the saviour of the world. And this side of Christology Brown believes is precisely what caused the controversy between Judaism and Christianity. This is the kind of Christology that brought Christians into conflict with the synagogue. And from that time, from the time of expulsion, the middle period begins in the history of the community. After the expulsion, life in the community is preoccupied with the polemics with the Jews. After chapter 4 we hear, how the Jews are portrayed constantly in a negative light. Christ rebukes them, he argues with them, in a very intense way. And chapter 15, crisis: "now they have no excuse for their sin". But it was at this stage that the Gospel was written down.

And then there comes a new period where the community was expelled from the synagogue, and it became exposed to the rest of the world. Christ is now the true light of every man. And along with these influences from the Greek world and the gnostic tendencies, and finally the community is split into two. John is within the Orthodox Church, separating himself from the Gnostics. This is how we understand the history of the Johannine community.

Raymond Brown himself, and once written in an introduction, that we should be careful not to exaggerate, not to give a wrong weight to  every little detail, however it seems he has himself not taken his own advice. For example why couldn't Christ simply have said "Love one another"? You don't need a historical context for these words. It was simply Christ expression of divine love.

Orthodox Approach to John's Gospel

How should we as Orthodox, treat the text of the gospel? Why can we accept this narrowing down of the gospel to this particular historical setting? For us the gospel is a universal revelation. Yes it was born within the context of history, but for us it is an eternal self revelation of God, no less than this. Of course it touches upon history but it shouldn't deny its universal nature. Secondly, for us, the Gospels, and the new Testament as a whole is a spiritual text, we cannot deny a spiritual dimension to our Scripture. If we say it was just the product of human talents, we will narrow the gospel to this drama of literature. For us Scripture above all is a revelation of God, which came into being through synergy, through co-working between God and man. And we preserve in our church the right attitude toward the gospel, within our Orthodox tradition. We keep our gospel in the altar, we venerate the gospel and this is the attitude that the first Christians had. For us, if you want to entertain an Orthodox approach to Scripture, without this belief in scripture, we believe in the divinely inspired character of the text. If we choose a different path it could be very interesting but it won't be Orthodox.

And we shouldn't be afraid to take this perspective into our academic studies, until now Orthodox biblical scholarship, has not yet entered the international arena of biblical studies. There is a great contribution to be made worldwide. 

Q&A. John Barton, re-read the new Testament, and once wrote: "we are dealing not with actual text we are dealing with a person". Through texts we have this notion that every evangelist is communicating to us the person of Christ, so we as readers can enter communion with Christ. For example, St Clement of Alexandria uses the same word "to partake" (metalavo) both for the holy Eucharist and for being immersed in the holy Scripture.

One of the gnostic myths which tell us very much about the certain medical figures, that would deliver information about, about God but a personal communion is not is not required, personal knowledge of the saviour is not required. In all of these Gnostic myths, the Redeemer is only one who delivers information, but he doesn't actually die for his flock. In our case, Christ died for us, he is the good shepherd that lays down his life for us, and this produces a completely new category which is unknown did Gnostics. It is indeed love. The gospel expects our response through love, in the gnostic doesn't require it. For Gnostics all that is required is certain sets of ideas and proofs, not love. Who has read the Jesus gospel? This piece of literature, it is said that Jesus laughs at finding his disciples in prayer, and he said to give information about how to pass from this world to the next. And from our personal experience of Christ as Orthodox, we could not possibly recognise Christ in this kind of literature.

In our church the gospel is a companion for our whole life, it is not just an object, for academic study. This is the main difference between Gnosticism and Christianity. Through Christ we enter into communion and are able to know God. In the other monotheistic religions, we are not told of a pre-eternal God being Incarnate, and entering into a relationship with humans. To such an extent that we know him not only as God but we know him as a person. The new Testament is above all his revelation for us personally. If you look at the old Testament we knew how magnificent God was his impotence, adjust it was, yes he was still a universal God but there was something missing. Remember in the book of Exodus Moses said "he couldn't see the prosopon" the person of God. And that is why Moses said, there is something more to come, there will be another Prophet who will teach you everything. Because he was speaking about Christ.

Q&A. Yes we read the Gospel person but also in the context of sobornost. There is no truth for us without this idea of sobornost. It means that we live in a believing community, within a body of Christ, in our church. And for instance this may be a main difference between Pentecostal understanding of the gospel as individual truth given to every man who is free to interpret what he wants, Christ speaks to everyone personally… Yes we acknowledge the latter, but we also have in mind this community, and ecclesiastical dimension, which allows for the common understanding of Scripture, tradition, and above all sacraments. Because if you know for the first Christians who would gather for their agape meals, they actually communed in the body and blood of Christ, was linked completely with words about Christ. And once we separate the sacrament the communion of the Eucharist, from the gospel itself, then both sides lose. Because we enter personal communion with Christ through our Eucharist as well from Scripture, they are one and the same thing for us as Orthodox. We cannot interpret scripture without tradition, as well there is no tradition without scripture, without a church. 

Where can we see a touch of gnosticism? Above all, when people are trying to read the Gospels with impersonal spectacles. Once you have an idea of knowledge which is not related to your personal life then we're dealing with gnosticism. And this is the same tendency which prevails in biblical studies these days, when researchers feel you do not have to enter communion with Christ, God, to study the Gospel. In fact it has now become a scientific discipline and people are detached from what they are studying, in the hope they can introduce objective pronouncements. And really when we consider this, if we want to be objective, as Orthodox, we strive to interpret what the Gospel always intended us to understand as objective; which is faith in Christ. Really, this so-called objectivity in modern academic circles, is limiting. For some of these academics, if not most working in biblical studies, faith is a non-starter because it is something which would influence, or bias your approach to the study. 

Q&A. We know that there is something fishy going on, when people try to dissect texts. For example a logical analysis, based on logical positivism, cannot accept the logic of the Gospels, so it dissects. When John says for example "the hour is coming, and now is", from a chronological perspective how is it possible to say is coming, and is now is; it is either coming or is. So scholars try to dissect the text to make sense of it. And the same goes with mistranslations. Once you start doing this, it is not canonical, it is a symptom that something is not consistent within your perception of the new Testament. If something doesn't fit your ideology, then you can change it. So you can have faith which is truth or you can have ideology which places different meaning on the actual text. We must avoid ideology.