Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


THBS501 Biblical Studies OR THBS562 Introducing the Scriptures


THBS604 The Gospel of John: Theology and Spirituality

Teaching organisation

THBS611 is a fully online unit that involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The canon of the New Testament includes a gospel, three letters and an apocalypse attributed to John. Known collectively as the Johannine Literature, the Gospel of John, the Letters of John and the Book of Revelation are considered unique in the New Testament in that they seem to derive from a community and sources independent of that of other New Testament documents.

This unit builds on the knowledge and skills developed in the prerequisite Biblical Studies unit. It examines the historical context, literary forms and theological content of the Gospel of John. Students will be encouraged to apply multiple, methodological lenses to a reading of selected passages from the Johannine Literature to develop a critical understanding of its distinctive contribution to the literary and the theological legacy of the early Church. In addition, the unit will focus on contemporary readings of Johannine Literature and the application of those readings to one’s personal and professional faith practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Demonstrate an understanding of the evidence used to reconstruct the history and development of Johannine Christianity
LO2Demonstrate advanced hermeneutical and exegetical skills in critical analyses of selected passages from the Johannine Literature
LO3Apply knowledge and skills gained through critical examination of the Johannine literature to situations relevant to one’s professional and/or personal faith practice


Topics will include:

  • The place and shape of Johannine Christianity in the context of first-century Christianity
  • The relationship of Johannine Christianity to Judaism, the Graeco-Roman world and other expressions of early Christianity
  • The authorship, genre and provenance of the Gospel and letters of John and Revelation
  • An examination of the Gospel of John, the three letters of John and the book of Revelation from literary, historical and theological perspectives
  • Central themes of Johannine theology

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The Gospel, Letters and the Revelation of John are ancient texts that require interpretation via the application of specific historical knowledge and interpretive skills. For modern Christians, and especially for teachers, ministers and pastoral associates in faith-based organisations, Johannine Christianity and its literature remain central to their spiritual and professional lives. For this reason, the curriculum for THBS611 has been designed to build students’ capacity and competency in reading, interpreting, teaching and preaching the Johannine texts as leaders, teachers, pastoral assistants and/or ministers in faith-based organisations.

THBS611 is a fully online unit that involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. THBS611 is shaped by the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model of pedagogy – sometimes called “Scaffolded instruction” – and, hence, uses a mix of direct instruction and synchronous engagement, as well as asynchronous collaborative and cooperative learning opportunities. Formally structured learning activities, such as lectures, tutorials and workshops, will be presented in an online environment using videoconferencing or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment, including contributions to cooperative learning in the form of online facilities, such as forums, reflective journals, wikis, blogs and interactive chat. The GRR model, as used in THBS611, is designed to encourage students’ autonomy and facilitate students’ capacity in the development and application of the necessary knowledge and skills within the context of their personal and/or professional lives.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In this unit, all activities, direct teaching, structured learning, assigned readings and collaborative tasks build towards the assessment of students’ ability to apply the necessary knowledge and skills required to interpret the Johannine literature effectively. The three assessment tasks are designed to provide progressive engagement with key Johannine texts and, therefore, focus on different contextual situations. Each of the three assessment tasks has been designed to test the students’ developed and developing capacity to understand and interpret the Gospel, Letters and Revelation of John in a meaningful and relevant way; which aligns with the achievement of each of the unit’s learning outcomes. 

The first task requires students to describe the state of current research on the socio-cultural, historical and/or literary contexts of Johannine Christianity (LO1) and communicate their results via an oral or written review of selected scholarly literature. Students will have the opportunity in subsequent weeks to develop, refine and improve their skills in interpreting key texts from the Johannine literature within different contexts (LO2), founded upon their knowledge of relevant scholarship (LO1) and utilising one critical approach (LO2), which will culminate in Assessment task 2 – an exegetical analysis of selected passages for the Johannine Literature. This final task will provide students the scope to demonstrate their attainment of all three learning outcomes via a written, oral or multimedia presentation demonstrating the application of critical approaches to Johannine texts within a contemporary pastoral, theological, academic, liturgical or pedagogical situation.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Literature Review

Oral or written presentation of the current scholarship on the socio-cultural, historical and/or pastoral circumstances of Johannine Christianity or an issue/theological theme from either the Gospel or from one of the Letters of John – e.g., a literature review, op-ed article, or multimedia presentation.

The purpose of this assessment task is to provide students the opportunity to develop a foundation for subsequent exegesis of selected passages in the Johannine texts




Exegetical examination of one or more key passages from the Fourth Gospel, the Johannine Letters or the Book of Revelation - e.g., exegetical essay, commentary, or journal article.

Building on the foundational work done in assessment one, this assessment task provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their skill in interpreting Johannine texts within a specific critical framework.


LO1, LO2

Proposal for Teaching, Preaching or Praying John

Written or multimedia proposal on the application of one or more key Johannine texts to a pastoral, pedagogical, or personal situation – e.g, lesson plan, outline for a retreat, homily plan, design of an educational wiki or blog.

The purpose of this assessment task is to bring the knowledge skills acquired throughout the semester to bear on a practical application for the interpretation of the Johannine Literature and/or passage/s examined in assessment tasks one and two.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Conway, Colleen M. John and the Johannine Letters. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017.

Ha, Tung Chiew. Biblical Narrative Learning: Teaching Adequate Faith in the Gospel of John. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015.

Harrington, Wilfrid J. Sacra Pagina: Revelation. Sacra Pagina Series 16. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1993.

Lieu, Judith M., and Martinus C. de Boer (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Johannine Studies. Oxford University Press, 2018

Loader, William R. G. Jesus in John’s Gospel: Structure and Issues in Johannine Christology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2017.

Moloney, Francis J. Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of John. Sacra Pagina Series 4. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005.

Neutel, Wendy E. S. A Journey Round John: Tradition, Interpretation and Context in the Fourth Gospel. The Library of New Testament Studies. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015.

Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John. Sacra Pagina Series 18. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002.

Thatcher, Tom. What We Have Heard from the Beginning: The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2007.

Wahlde, Urban C. von. Gnosticism, Docetism, and the Judaisms of the First Century: The Search for the Wider Context of the Johannine Literature and Why It Matters. The Library of New Testament Studies. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015.

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