The author's aim in this study is to identify the most appropriate conceptual background against which to read and explore the concepts of "Life" and "Light" in the fourth gospel. He proceeds to exegete other selected passages from the fourth gospel that relate to "Life" and "Light". The reason for doing this is to find out if they can add meaning to our understanding of "Life" and "Light" in the prologue. He reviews and compares crucial literature on the fourth gospel. Attention is given to the development of the debate on the religious background that influenced John. He also seeks to discover if there are any fresh ideas on the religious background of the fourth gospel. He makes reference to primary material like the Dead Sea Scrolls, first century Palestinian Judaism, Josephus, and Philo of Alexandria. The following proposed backgrounds will be reviewed: Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria, Gnosticism, Hermetic Literature, Mandaism, the Old Testament, Rabbinic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan background.