The Gospel of John: The Book of Signs

Next Session: Oct 16, 2023

Created by Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J., this course invites students to join a process in which we will read each of the first 12 chapters of John in sequence. By "read" we mean: 1. attending to the typical literary forms in which events are cast (miracle story, trial, call narrative, encomium), 2. learning the themes and "buzzwords" favored in the gospel ("my hour," "true," "remain," "love"), 3. appreciating the symbolic and representative nature of the dramatis personae, 4. becoming aware of the awesome hostility that emerges as the Jesus group separates from the synagogue, 5. noting how the acclamation of Jesus develops over time and is influenced by the historical events experienced by the Jesus group. All of this is typical biblical criticism, to which we will add materials from the world of sociology and cultural anthropology because we want to understand Jesus and John as the Mediterranean peasants they were.

Note: this course may be taken independently of the STEP course "The Gospel of John: The Book of Glory". Either course may be taken and profitably enjoyed independently of the other. No prior study of the Gospel of John is required for either.

Course Content

Unit 1 - John 1-2

Unit 2 - John 3-4

Unit 3 - John 5-6

Unit 4 - John 7-8

Unit 5 - John 9-10

Unit 6 - John 11-12

Course Format

  • Created by Notre Dame Theology Professor.
  • Seven weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All lecture text available online in text format.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read assigned chapters from the Gospel and accompanying texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 4 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.


Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J.

Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J.

Within New Testament studies, Rev. Neyrey claims competence in Greco-Roman philosophy, rhetoric and study of the progymnasmata. His scholarship includes two books each on Matthew and Luke and Paul, and a book on John. He authored the Anchor Bible commentary 2 Peter, Jude. His research articles have touched on all the gospels, most of Paul's letters, Hebrews, and topics such as miracles and prayer. Rev. Neyrey's current research project is God, In Other Words: Cultural Interpretation of the Christian Deity. His main scholarly effort has long been on the use of social science models and concepts for the interpretation of biblical documents. This enterprise has been captured in his recent book on Matthew, Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew, and the book he co-authored with Bruce Malina on Paul, Portraits of Paul, An Archaeology of Ancient Personality. He currently sits on four editorial boards for journals with a New Testament focus.

B.A., 1963, and M.A., 1964, Saint Louis University; M.Div., 1970, and M.T.H., 1972, Regis College, Toronto; Ph.D., 1977, Yale University