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1, 2, and 3 John (Sacra Pagina series, Vol. 18) Hardcover – July, 2002
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In the opening Historical Prolegomenon, a 24-page chapter, Painter situates the commentary in relation to other scholarship by reviewing some of the history of interpreting the Johannine Epistles and stating his own position. We learn that he has built on the interpretive tradition going back to Theodor Haring (German analytical article, 1893), Robert Law (influential study - The Tests of Life, 1906), Alan Brooke (ICC, 1912), and the commentaries of C.H. Dodd (1946) and Rudolph Schnackenburg (1953); also that Painter's work on the commentary started with research done with C.K. Barrett (Durham 1965-1967). He presents some key views and proposals of these scholars (except Barrett) and of others from Westcott (late 19th c.) to Judith Lieu (late 20th c.), including Bultmann (briefly) and R.E. Brown. From the start, then, the reader gets the impression that Painter will deliver a serious, well-conceived study.
The Prolegomenon is followed by an important multi-section Introduction.Read more ›
Painter takes a moderate view on the authorship question, believing that while we can't be sure that the Apostle John wrote any of these letters, it's irresponsible to completely rule it out either. In addition, when it comes to favoring either a 'polemic' or 'pastoral' interpretive emphasis to the letters, Painter seems to opt for the polemic. His interaction with Lieu, while charitable, is often in the form of critique rather than endorsement, and his exegesis regularly ties the text to the opponents of the author. This is very much in the Brown tradition of interpreting the letters, at least on an overall level. As one who thinks the letters are both polemical and pastoral, I can see how a reader might find Painter's treatment a bit imbalanced in his stress on polemic. However, I think Painter is mostly on target in his treatment of polemic. The pastoral thrust of the letters, however, might be a bit neglected in this commentary.
Painter's exegesis is mostly good, as is his interaction with other scholars. His focus on hospitality is predominately good, though it could have been better. In addition, I was pleased that Painter conversed with Kruse's commentary here. It is a regretably common practice for non-evangelical commentaries to ignore evangelical scholarship almost entirely in formulating their own proposals. 40 years ago, perhaps this was justified. But not any more. Painter thankfully does not adopt such an elitist framework in his consultation of the commentary encyclopedia.Read more ›