Syreeni argues that the gospel of John is a heavily reworked edition of an earlier Johannine work. Syreeni contends in this monograph that the original gospel ended at chapter 12 with the notion of Jesus' disappearance from the world, rather than with the passion narrative that completes the gospel in its present form. Parts of the farewell tradition in chapters 14-17 continue this plot by promising Jesus' spiritual presence as the Paraclete (14:16-19); the departing Jesus also prepares his disciples for living in a hostile world.
In Syreeni's view the passion redactor edited John 1-12 and the farewell tradition in order to incorporate the whole passion-resurrection storyline, freely using the existing gospels of Mark and Matthew. The letters of John, written after the predecessor gospel but before the final edition, reveal a schism in the Johannine community. Syreeni argues that this schism was caused by the majority faction's acceptance of Jesus' corporeal death and resurrection, as it was then recorded in the new gospel. The dissidents reckoned only with baptism as the decisive salvific rite, but 1 John 5:5-8 stresses that Jesus' salvific work consists in water (baptism) and blood (the blood shed by Jesus at crucifixion and commemorated at the Eucharist). Furthermore, Syreeni argues that the passion redactor designed a new character, "the disciple whom Jesus loved," to witness Jesus' passion, and particularly the water and blood from Jesus' pierced side (19:34-35). The doubting Thomas narrative (20:24-29) is another appeal to hesitating Johannine Christians to accept the crucified but resurrected Christ as their true Saviour.