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Commentary on John (Ancient Christian Texts) Hardcover – January 7, 2013
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About the Author
The Rev. Joel C. Elowsky (Ph.D., Drew University) is associate professor of theology at Concordia University Wisconsin and the editor of John 1-10 and John 11-20 in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, as well as We Believe in the Holy Spirit in the Ancient Christian Doctrine series. He has also edited Marco Conti's translation of Theodore of Mopsuestia's Commentary on the Gospel of John in the Ancient Christian Texts series.
- Item Weight : 2.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 375 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0830829113
- ISBN-13 : 978-0830829118
- Publisher : IVP Academic (January 7, 2013)
- Product Dimensions : 7 x 1.7 x 10.1 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I recognize that at times I was too tired when I sat down to read. In addition, Cyril wrote this to be a reference. Commentaries like this one are not designed for casual reading.
The translator in his introduction provides helpful advice in how readers can enter Cyril’s world of thought, which covers John 8-21. Volume 1 covers the first seven chapters of the gospel. In short, passive reading is not recommended.
One thought that helps me is that Cyril is engaging in “doctrinal explanation” and “he clearly employs the Gospel of John to refute the arguments of the Arians, Jews and pagans” (xvii). He equips his readers to answer their arguments.
He strongly defends the divinity of Christ and is careful to use precise language, “When we say that the Son and the Father are ‘one,’ we do not confuse the individuals who are numerically distinct, like some who say that the Father and the Son are the same person. Rather, we believe that the Father subsists on his own, and the two come together into one identity of substance” (77). He glorifies God by continually defining the members of the Trinity.
A point of view that differs from more recent reference works is just one aspect that makes this and the related volumes valuable. Cyril frequently looks at a passage from more than one angle, which helps to clarify the possible meanings.
One example is the beginning of John 9, where the disciples asked Jesus who sinned, the man born blind or his parents. The answer, of course, is that neither of them sinned. In explaining the passage, Cyril makes reference to an Old Testament passage that refers to God visiting “the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.” He then describes the distorted view of some, who thought of God as bearing grudges and being severely wrathful. He suggests what it might mean for God to visit sins upon the third and fourth generations. In the end he justifies his view that the meaning of this passage does not contradict the idea of God being long-suffering and abundant in mercy.
The way Cyril uses Scripture to interpret Scripture and his tendency like others at that time to “interpret a given text in light of the overall sweep of God’s salvation” (xxii) is something to watch and enjoy. The latter differs from the emphasis today of discovering the original intent by looking at surrounding verses and historical context. Cyril does not ignore this; for him it’s step toward the goal of defining how a passage fits into the oikonomia, the technical term used for God’s plan of redemption. He repeatedly uses this word, which shows the centrality of it to his exposition.
This makes 12 volumes in the Ancient Christian Texts series, with five more projected. The related Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, differs in that you have multiple sources in one volume. Here you get a key early text that shaped the thought of Christians.
Top reviews from other countries
In this masterful work, St. Cyril of Alexandria lays out an indepth understanding of the first 7 chapters of the Gospel of St. John. Those who have never read St. Cyril will be astounded at the way St. Cyril brings together numerous Scriptural texts, as though threads in a tapestry, to paint a cohesive picture or pattern of the Scripture. His knowledge of the Scriptures is clearly very intimate (we know he had much of it memorized) and he has a very discerning eye. It is amazing to see how St. Cyril sees Christ in the text but also paints a cohesive understanding of the Christian revelation in every verse he reads. There is no inclination of our modern notions of subdividing the faith into ‘Christology’, ‘Soteriology’, ‘Trinitarian theology’, ‘eschatology’. Rather St. Cyril will tell us that there is no way to understand the Christian revelation of the God-man who took flesh, though being the Son of God, that by own proximity to the Father and immortality He might renew our union with the Godhead, in Himself, which shall be fully realized in the age to come when Christ becomes all in all.