- Series: The Library of New Testament Studies (Book 321)
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: T&T Clark (February 12, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0567033309
- ISBN-13: 978-0567033307
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus: Modern Foundations Reconsidered (The Library of New Testament Studies) Paperback – February 12, 2008
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'This extremely interesting and instructive work creates a middle path between the harmonization and distortion of historicity in John. It deserves attention! The author lays open the aporias (perplexities) in the Johannine text and then proposes workable solutions for the furthering of Johannine exegesis. I warmly recommend this book.'
Craig Keener, Eastern Seminary, USA
'This volume challenges biblical scholars to rethink the foundations of much of our study. It will, I believe, make readers assess their own methods and stimulate new discussions of John and the quest for Jesus.'
'Paul Anderson has in his masterful The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus traced the history of the Gospel of John ever since its getting kicked upstairs as the "spiritual gospel" by the early church down to its elimination from the quest of the historical Jesus in modern times; he then reassesses what role John might in fact play in learning more about the historical Jesus.'
"...Anderson has offered an interesting volume which includes many valuable insights and a welcome challenge to the critical consensus in John-Synoptic studies. At many points, the book rightly exposes the manner in which much critical scholarship can become so entrenched in its own orthodoxy that it fails to consider other alternatives that are on the table...this volume makes a positive contribution to the areas of John-Synoptic studies and should be read by all those interested in joining the dialogue." —Michael J. Kruger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2008 (Michael J. Kruger)
About the Author
Paul N. Anderson is Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University. He is a founding member of the 'John, Jesus, and History' Consultation at the National Society of Biblical Literature meetings.
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More study has been focused on the Synoptics recently, not to mention the claims of Thomas and Q, or the now mostly discarded idea of Gnostic redeemer myth, than John. Most liberal scholars of the last century held that John was the least historical, least accurate, least early, of the gospels, and had no real claim to have been written by John.
Yet John is cited--arguably--as early as 1 Clement, about 95 AD, and Ignatius, about 110 AD, and is actually the gospel apparently most in use among early Christians, at least to judge by the fact that there are more fragments and papyri of John than any other gospel.
Anderson goes through all the various streams of research into John, citing their weaknesses and their strengths.
He finds that "where the great promise of critical scholarship has been its objective neutrality, the historical treatment of John comes across as less than that. When John's material is deemed different from the Synoptics it is excluded; where it is similar it is related to a derivative relationship to a non-Johannine source" (p 89).
For example, Anderson explains how Bultmann's approach "falls flat when tested on the basis of its own evidence" (p 77). Bultmann imagined that a "Theios Amer (a miracle-working God/Man) mythic construct prevalent in the contemporary social milieu would have affected" (p 90-1) the story told about Jesus.
Most problematic here is the timing. The Gnostic myths came later than the gospels. Nor does a possible influence mean an influence. Nor is it plausible that Second Temple Jew would use Hellenistic myths. On the contrary; it is clear John heavily uses the Old Testament and typological figures there--never Hellenistic myths.
Furthermore,it is also possible to see the Johannine Jesus as a "wisdom-imparting sage...Jesus not only brings divine wisdom; he is the Word and Wisdom of God: (p 94) as well as the "institution -challenging cynic" (p 94).
As for John's composition "the most plausible and least speculative of Johannine composition theories involves a two-edition theory of composition inferring that first edition of John was finalized around 80-85" ( p 78). And he argues that "The unreflective notion that religious typological ideas were simply taken over by Gospel traditions...is too simplistic. Religious typologies....were applied to interpretations of Jesus' ministry...because they made sense" (p 36).
Nor does he agree with the idea that the differences between the Synoptics and John suggest isolation by the author of John. Instead he proposes using "cognitive criticism...(which) examines the relation between the ministries of the purveyors of Jesus and their presentations of Jesus' ministry" (p 37).
One very helpful addition to this book is the way Anderson gives a review of all the strengths of one stream of scholarship versus the weaknesses of the same arguments, as detailed by later scholars.
John's Gospel differs so significantly from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) that the question arises often between scholars: Do we trust John, or the other three? In one simple example, the Synoptics present a one-year ministry of Jesus, whereas John indicates at least a three-year ministry. But since John's Gospel reads so mystically (a more acceptable word may be "spiritually"), and since he seems outnumbered 3-to-1, most scholars through the centuries have given it little weight. It gets relegated to the pulpit as the "fourth Gospel," as if it didn't deserve a name.
Recent archaeological discoveries, however, have proven John's Gospel spot-on in a number of its claims. John is also the one Gospel that claims to be an eye-witness account. Anderson jumps on the bandwagon of recent scholarship and presents his argument that this Gospel is equally historically accurate, and as important to understanding the life of Jesus, as the Synoptics. And, of course, I believe he is right.
The casual reader may find little to hold their interest in this book, but the scholar and the pastor cannot afford to be without it.