[This layman's observations on the Gospel of John falls far short. It turns out that basically every saying attributed to Jesus in this gospel is inauthentic (see Religious Tolerance). Plus I missed four chapters of "secret teaching" that Jesus gave to his disciples (i.e., an opportunity for the author to put words in Jesus' mouth). At least I was on the right track. -JoT 2006]
In "Mark's" gospel, when Jesus is baptized, it's Jesus himself who sees the dove and hears God's voice. By the time that "John" writes his gospel, however, that claim has come under fire. Critics of the early Christians have pointed out that any self-styled wise man can claim to have seen a dove descend from Heaven and heard God's voice. That doesn't prove that Jesus is the Son of God; it only suggests that maybe he was crazy.
So John rewrites Jesus' baptism scene. Instead of Jesus seeing the dove and hearing the voice, John the Baptist sees it and hears it. In fact, the gospel quotes him as an eyewitness, all the better to bolster the claim that Jesus was the Son of God.
John makes other edits to improve the story as a tool for proselytizing, such as omiting Jesus calling out, "Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?")
Another feature of John's gospel is the pagan inflence. In authentic stories about YHWH, he himself causes evildoers to do evil (see Pharaoh). But in John's gospel, "the devil" causes Judas to betray Jesus. Here we see the influences of Persian dualism and Greek idealism. From Persia's Zoroaster came the idea of a "prince of darkness," which fits nicely with the Greek idea that God is only good and perfectly good. It's this pagan idea of God that makes the stories of the Garden of Eden and Cain's sin hard for modern Christians to take at face value.
For a clear example of the Zoroastrian idea of the devil replacing YHWH as one who causes people to do evil, see
"Again the anger of YHWH was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying 'Go number Israel and Judah.'" —Samuel 24:1
and from the same story rewritten 500 years later
"Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to number Israel." —1 Chr 12:1
Gay Pride Parade, Seattle
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