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The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel: Issues & Commentary Hardcover – April 1, 2002
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"This is a book with extraordinary strengths. In form it harks back to the approach of Sanday in 1872: Blomberg not only tackles many topical questions but works through the Gospel itself, chapter by chapter, asking pertinent historical questions. The evenhandedness of the evaluation, the eminent good sense of so many of the judgments and the clarity of the exposition (not to mention the excellent bibliography) conspire to make this an outstandingly useful book." (D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois)
"There has been no full-length defense of the historicity of John's Gospel for some years. Blomberg fills that void, taking us through the text and interacting intelligently with more skeptical scholars. I warmly welcome his sane contribution to the discussion and hope it will be given the attention it deserves by scholars and students alike." (David Wenham, lecturer in New Testament, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England)
"Not since John A. T. Robinson's work has there been such a 'tour de force' argument about this Gospel and its origins and historical substance. Highly recommended." (Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary)
"The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel accomplishes exactly what is needed at this juncture in Johannine scholarship: a decisive vindication of the integrity of John's Gospel in matters of history." (Andreas Köstenberger, assistant professor of New Testament, Southeastern Baptist Seminary)
"A challenge to those who in the past have too easily dismissed the historical significance of John's Gospel and an encouragement to those who have felt that this dismissal has been arbitrary and premature. This is a prodigious piece of work and one for which a new generation of readers will be profoundly grateful." (Colin Kruse, lecturer in New Testament, Bible College of Victoria, Australia)
"Craig Blomberg's highly acclaimed volume The Historical Reliability of the Gospels is now matched by an equally persuasive and compelling treatment of John's Gospel. . . . This is an exceedingly valuable book that will serve students and academics alike." (Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College & Graduate School)
About the Author
Craig L. Blomberg (Ph.D., Aberdeen) is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado. His books include Interpreting the Parables, Neither Poverty nor Riches, Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, commentaries on Matthew and 1 Corinthians, Making Sense of the New Testament: 3 Crucial Questions and Preaching the Parables. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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The reviewer below has given the basic outline of the book so I'll just elaborate briefly on the most important section. The meat of the book, which is the commentary section, moves through each chapter analyzing all of the events and discourses, discussing positive indicators of historicity and interacting with typical objections to it.
The major objection to the Gospel of John is how different the book is, theologically, from the Synoptic Tradition. Why is there so much of a difference in outline? Why is Jesus portrayed as being more explicit about his divinity in this book? Another major problem scholars face when approaching this book is differentiating the actual words of Jesus (that John is quoting) from the author's own theological reflections. Scholars, evangelical and critical, as a whole, are not nearly as optimistic about the historicity of this Gospel in comparison with the Synoptics.
Nevertheless, I find that Blomberg makes a great case for the overall reliability of John. The commentary section starts off with a discussion of the crucial question of authorship. If indeed the disciple John is the author of this Gospel, then the probability that the Gospel is generally historically reliable becomes very likely. After all, John, as a disciple that accompanied Jesus during his ministry, would have certainly been in a great position to record accurate history regarding these events, which in most cases he was an eyewitness. Not surprisingly, the majority of scholars reject traditional authorship. However, Blomberg manages to piece together a very solid case for Johannine authorship, beginning with the very important data of the testimony of the early church on this issue.
As far as the actual commentary is concerned, one aspect that is particularly helpful, and very revealing I might add, is how Blomberg constantly demonstrates that the concepts in John can be gleaned from references to the Synoptic Tradition as well. It may be somewhat surprising to the reader to discover that certain phrases and concepts propounded by Jesus in John's Gospel can be found, though usually in less explicit form, in the Synoptics themselves.
The discussions of the various miracles, including the turning of water into wine, the raising of Lazarus, the feeding of the 5,000, and Christ's resurrection also prove to be helpful as each passage is broken down, arguments against historicity are countered, and favorable indications of historicity are given.
While more could be said, hopefully this will suffice. A more detailed review that may be more helpful to the reader can be accessed from tektonics.org. I'll conclude by stating emphatically that Blomberg has written a volume that demands consideration from the scholarly world, particularly those that are the most critical of John's Gospel.
Blomberg also defends the thesis that the cleansing of the temple in John 2 is a separate event from the cleansing mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels toward the climax of Jesus' ministry. Blomberg also shows that the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well makes good historical sense, and that the Nicodemus of John 3 could be the Nicodemus Ben Gurion of history.
Blomberg also highlights the historical accuracy of the geography in John 5, the realistic details of the intra-Jewish debate between Jesus and the Pharisees, and even the likelihood of an informal excommunication policy in John 9:22.
Blomberg also defends the idea that the fellowship meal in John 13 was indeed the Passover meal of Matthew 26 and Mark 14.
Blomberg also defends the essential historicity of the details of the Passion Narrative.
While I would hesitate to say that this book is as great as his other writings on the Gospels, Blomberg does the body of Christ a great service with this book. It doesn't replace the need to use other Johannine commentaries, as this one is selective in nature and highlights the texts that shed light on historically substantial issues. But it is a great aid for the expositor.
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