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Book Review: The Gospel of John: Contemporary Readings by Johnson Thomaskutty

The usual tendency of reading the New Testament writings by making use of the ‘there and then’ perspectives tends to disregard the ‘here and now’ realities. The contemporaneity of the New Testament writings with special emphasis on the Gospel of John is considered in the current work through fourteen different articles. The words ‘contemporary’ and ‘contemporaneity’ are used with the following senses: ‘modern,’ ‘present-day,’ ‘present,’ ‘current,’ or ‘immediate.’ In the articles, first of all, Johannine themes are explored in relation to the first century CE socio-religious and politico-cultural contexts, and then, things are discussed by taking into consideration the twenty-first century realities of the world. A merging of the ‘there and then’ and ‘here and now’ aspects shall enable the reader to understand the full potential of the text. The articles in the book take into consideration the ‘behind,’ ‘in’ and ‘in front of’ the textual realities to demonstrate the poetic and universalistic nature of the Fourth Gospel. A reader of the current book can understand aspects such as reading the text in the South Asian context, the spirituality of the Johannine text and its contemporaneity, global missional aspects, culture-dynamics, humanhood, and pandemic COVID-19 realities in the light of the text. The book also deals with topics such as ekklēsio-academics, polyvalent hermeneutic, Dalit interpretation, disability concerns, postnormal reflections, vulnerability and empowerment, oneness and ecumenism, and new normal aspects to establish the contemporaneous outlook of the Fourth Gospel. 

The fourteen articles reflect the context-text-context integration in order to establish the contemporaneous and ‘everywhere and ever’ significance of the Fourth Gospel. A reader of the reflections can notify how the contemporary socio-religious and politico-cultural aspects align within the framework of the Johannine narrative to provide a new way forward. A crosspollination of the Johannine spirituality that is wider and contextualized with that of the contemporary socio-religious and politico-cultural aspects enables us to understand its inclusive nature. The above articles agree that Johannine spirituality is liberative, transformative, and accommodative as it takes into account a wider spectrum of the human life situations. The contemporaneous nature of the Johannine message is reflected through its gnomic significance.

This monograph is a revised version of some of my academic presentations. I am deeply indebted to some of my academic and ecclesiastical colleagues who inspired me to the field of Johannine studies. The ideas of some of the chapters in this book were presented in different national and international consultations and delivered as lectures in some of the prestigious institutions, such as The United Theological College (Bengaluru), Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, USA), British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS, UK), TransLe International (Australia), Christian Institute of Management (CIM, India), Union Biblical Seminary (Pune), Fellowship of the Indian Missiologists (FOIM, Bengaluru), Nepal Theological Form (NTF, Kathmandu), Hindustan Bible Institute (HBI, Chennai), Ecumenical Christian Center (ECC, Bengaluru), South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS, Bengaluru), Everest Theological Institute (ETI, Kathmandu), South India Biblical Seminary (SIBS, Bangarapet), Native Evangelical School of Theology (NEST, Mysore), and others.

Johnson Thomaskutty

Endorsements

In this volume, Dr. Thomaskutty engages recent Johannine scholarship, provides a careful reading of the text, and consciously interprets the text from his South Asian context. This results in a compelling and fresh reading of the Gospel of John with the potential of opening doors to new conversations that would enrich both academic and faith communities not only in Asia but globally.

Kar Yong Lim, Professor of New Testament, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia, Seremban, Malaysia

Dr. Thomaskutty’s Contemporary Readings of John negotiates masterfully the subtleties of Indian contextual realities, socio-historical setting of John’s Gospel, and its global relevance. This important collection of essays touches on numerous topics from authorship and theology of John to interreligious dialogue, and hope in the midst of COVID pandemic. I heartily recommend the book for everyone who wants to gain a fresh and theologically insightful perspective on John’s Gospel.

Esa Autero, Professor of New Testament, South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary, Florida, USA

 This volume is a refreshing reconsideration of the interpretation of the Gospel of John from diverse perspectives, including the Asian. Professor Thomaskutty has traversed the otherwise intransigent strictures of traditional biblical hermeneutics through this attempt. It is a compendium of sorts, bringing together contemporary readings of and reflections on the Gospel of John and thus, provides the reader with a panoramic view of both Western and Eastern Johannine interpretations and everything in between.

Gregory Thomas Basker, Chairperson, Department of Biblical Studies, The United Theological College, Bengaluru, India

Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  1. Reading the Fourth Gospel in the South Asian Context
  2. Jesus and Spirituality: Reading the Fourth Gospel in the Light of the Indian Culture
  3. Reading John’s Gospel from a Glocal-Mission Perspective
  4. Culture-dynamics in the Johannine Community Context
  5. ‘Humanhood’ in the Gospel of John
  6. “Breathe the Breath of God”: The Message of the Fourth Gospel in the Pandemic Covid-19 Context
  7. Ekklēsio-Academics in the Johannine Community as a Paradigm in the Indian Context
  8. A Polyvalent Hermeneutic of John 2:13-25: Theoretical and Exegetical Considerations
  9. A Dalit Interpretation of John 5:1-47
  10. The Irony of Ability and Disability in John 9:1-41
  11. Reading John 11:1-45 from a Postnormal Times (PNT) Perspective
  12. Empowering Grace amidst Vulnerability: Characterization of Mary of Bethany and Judas Iscariot in John 12:1-8
  13. Oneness in John 17:1-26 as a Paradigm for Wider Ecumenism and Dialogue
  14. Normal, Postnormal, and New Normal: A Theology of Hope in John 20:1-29
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Modern Authors

Author

Johnson Thomaskutty, PhD., is Professor of New Testament in the Department of Biblical Studies at The United Theological College, Bengaluru, India. He is author of Dialogue in the Book of Signs: A Polyvalent Analysis of John 1:19-12:50 (Brill, 2015), Saint Thomas the Apostle: New Testament, Apocrypha, and Historical Traditions (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018), and editor of An Asian Introduction to the New Testament (Fortress, 2022).

Links

Amazon

Amazon.in (https://www.amazon.in/Gospel-John-Contemporary-Readings/dp/9391694667/)

Omega Book World (https://omegabookworld.com/product/the-gospel-of-john-contemporary-readings/)

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