Gospel of John in Historical Inquiry – a book note

Front cover: The Gospel of John in Historical Inquiry

It is not often I recommend a book that book that retails new at £120, but when this one landed on the sorting table a Book Aid last week I thought its contents significant enough to do so.

James H. Charlesworth with Jolyon G.R. Pruszinski, editors, Jesus Research. The Gospel of John in Historical Enquiry. T&T Clark Jewish and Christian Texts Series 26. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-0-5676-8134-8. Hbk. pp.371.

Table of Contents (partial)

  • Paul N. Anderson, Why the Gospel of John is Fundamental to Jesus Research
  • Dale C. Allison, Jr., Reflections omn Matthew, John, and Jesus
  • Harold W. Attridge, Some Methodological Considerations Regarding John, Jesus and History
  • George L. Parsenois, How and in What Way Does John’s Rhetoric Reflect Jesus’ Rhetoric?
  • Urban C. von Wahlde, The First Edition of John’s Gospel in Light of Archaeology and Contemporary Literature
  • R. Alan Culpepper, John 2:20, “Forty-Six Years”: Revisiting J.A.T. Robisnon’s Chronology of Jesus’ Ministry
  • Craig S. Keener, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel’s Depiction of the Baptist
  • James H. Charlesworth, Can Archaeology Help Us See Jesus’ Shadows in the Gospel of John?
  • Jan Roskovec, History in John’s Portrayal of Jesus
  • Michael A. Draise, Jesus and the Historical Implications of John’s Temple Cleansing
  • Petr Pokorny, Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of John

Most experts who seek to understand the historical Jesus focus only on the Synoptic Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. However, the contributors of this wolume come to an important consensus: that the the Gospel of John preserves tradition that are independent of the Synoptics, and which are often as reliable as any known traditions for understanding the historical Jesus. As such, the contributors argue for the use of John’s Gospel in Jesus research.

From the back cover.

So, if you are fortunate to have access to a research library I would recommend this as an addition to your reading list.

Please note that I cannot make any part of this book available on-line, because it is in copyright.

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary on John by Alfred Plummer

lfred Plummer [1841-1926], The Gospel According to John with Maps, Notes and Introduction

The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary series was written for students learning Greek in Schools and Colleges in the United Kingdom. I plan to make the rest of the series available as I get access to hard copies. The notes on the Greek text in this volume are by Alfred Plummer. Plummer wrote commentaries on most of the books of the New Testament, including the International Critical Commentaries on Luke and 2 Corinthians. A list of other books by this author hosted on this site can be found here.

My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this public domain title for digitisation. The maps at the end of the commentary are particularly nice.

Alfred Plummer [1841-1926], The Gospel According to John with Maps, Notes and Introduction. Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913. Hbk. pp.382. [Click to visit the download page for this book]

Table of Contents

  • Preface by the General Editor
  • On the Greek Text
  • Introduction
    1. The Life of S. John
    2. The Authenticity of the Gospel
    3. The Place and Date
    4. The Object and Plan
    5. The Characteristics of the Gospel
    6. Its Relation to the Synoptic Gospels
    7. Its Relation to the First Epistle
    8. The Text of the Gospel
    9. The Literature of the Gospel – Analysis of the Gospel in Detail
  • Text and Notes
  • Appendices
  • Maps

The Life of St John

The life of S. John falls naturally into two divisions, the limits of which correspond to the two main sources of information respecting him. (1) From his birth to the departure from Jerusalem after tho Ascension; the sources for which are contained in N.T. (2) From the departure from Jerusalem to his death; the sources for which are the traditions of the primitive Church. In both cases the notices of S. John are fragmentary, and cannot be woven together into anything like a complete whole without a good deal of conjecture. But the fragments are in the main very harmonious, and contain definite traits and characteristics, enabling us to form a portrait, which though imperfect is unique.

(i) Before the Departure from Jerusalem.

The date of S. John’s birth cannot be determined. He was probably younger than his Master and than the other Apostles. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, who was probably the older of the two. Zebedee was a fisherman of the lake of Galilee, who seems to have lived in or near Bethsaida (i. 44), and was well enough off to have hired servants (Mark i. 20). He appears only once in the Gospel-narrative (Matt. iv. 21, 22; Mark i. 19, 20), but is mentioned frequently as the father of S. James and S. John. Salome (see on xix. 25) was probably the sister of the Virgin, and in that case S. John was our Lord’s first cousin. This relationship harmonizes well with the special intimacy granted to the beloved disciple by his Lord, with the fact of S. James also being among the chosen three, and with the final committal of the Virgin to S. John’s care. Salome was one of those women who followed Christ and ‘ministered to Him of their substance’ (Mark xv. 40; comp. Matt. xxvii. 55 ; Luke viii. 3). This was probably after Zebedee’s death. S. John’s parents, therefore, would seem to have been people of means; and it is likely from xix. 27 that the Apostle himself was fairly well off, a conclusion to which his acquaintance with the high-priest (xviii. 15) also points.

pp.xi-xii

Commentary on John by B.F. Westcott

Brooke Foss Westcott (12 January 1825 – 27 July 1901)
 Brooke Foss Westcott (12 January 1825 – 27 July 1901). Image source: Wikipedia

According to F.F. Bruce this is the best of Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott’s commentaries. My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy for digitisation.

This title is in the public domain.

Brooke Foss Westcott [1825-1901], The Gospel According to John: The Authorised Version with Introduction and Notes. London: John Murray, 1894. Hbk. pp.307. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

Introduction:

  1. The Authorship of the Gospel
  2. The Composition of the Gospel
  3. Characteristics of the Gospel
  4. Relation to the Other Apostolic Writings
  5. The History of the Gospel
  • Commentary

F.F. Bruce notes:

It was after Westcott’s election to the Regius Chair in 1870 that his commentaries began to appear, although he had been laying the groundwork for them in his Harrow years. The first commentary to be published was not one of the projected Macmillan series: it was the commentary on the Gospel of John in the Speaker’s Commentary series (so called because it was sponsored by the Speaker of the House of Commons). This work, based on the AV, appeared in 1880; it was the one volume in the Speaker’s Commentary destined for immortality; it is still reprinted (and most deservedly so) from time to time. A posthumous edition, adapted to the Greek text, was edited by his son Arthur Westcott and published in 1908.

F.F. Bruce, “Bishop Westcott and the Classical Tradition,” Spectrum 11 (September 1978): 20.