Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book Review: John, the Maverick Gospel

Robert Kysar
John, the Maverick Gospel
Third Edition
Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox, 2007.
Available from in the USA
Availabe from Alban Books in the UK

Robert Kysar's update of his well known introduction to John is much welcomed (first published in 1976) and it attests to a lifetime of learning in the Fourth Gospel. The Introduction covers the usual matters including the language of the Fourth Gospel, relationship to the Synoptics, structure, purpose, destination, and date. Then Kysar examines Johannine Christology which focuses on the Father-Son relationship (chapter one). What is covered next is the Johannine Dualism where Kysar is concerned mainly with John's Gospel and the problem of evil (chapter two). Johannine concepts of faith (chapter three) comes up for discussion as does John's eschatology which takes into account also views of the Spirit, Church, and Sacraments (chapter four). Finally, in the conclusion Kysar looks at the "Future of the Maverick Gospel" including modern and postmodern interpretations.
This is a good introduction to John's Gospel. I appreciate the way that Kysar has changed his mind and he rejects reading John in light of the so-called birkhat ha-minim and he acknowledges the weight of Bauckham's Gospels for All Christians perspective. Some parts I cannot embrace as I do not share Kysar's enthusiasm for postmodern perspectives on John. Kysar is right that John is maverick Gospel but I would hardly call it a "heterodox form of Christianity" since its reception was very positive (with a few exceptions) in the early church. The only way this volume could be improved is with a chapter on the reception-history of John. If you're teaching on John or preaching on John this is a user friendly book (with many diagrams) that can help.

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